Mahoutsukai No Yome, or The Ancient Magus’ Bride, is more than likely going to be one of the top contenders for best anime of the year. Initially I was a bit nervous about the fact that Wit Studio were busy with a new project and that they may have fallen into the trap of telegraphing things in a way similar to Ufotable Studio. However, I’m pleased to say that this is not the case. Mahoutsukai No Yome feels wonderfully unique, just like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and that is one hell of a tall order.
The animation is quite different from Attack on Titan, which is a pleasant change and gives off the impression that this is its own project. Another reason why it feels unique like FMA: Brotherhood is the setting. The modern depiction of London and rural England are reminiscent of FMA: Brotherhood’s starting points for their own protagonists before the long journey ahead.
Mahoutsukai No Yome depicts its protagonist as a girl with severely bad fortune in the sense that she is abandoned, alone and finally sold as a slave. Lost in the pools of despair, what hope is there for this girl? An eccentric millionaire pays a hefty sum to acquire her, and trumps all the other bidders in moments, but the reasoning remains unknown at first. The eccentric gentleman presents her with a simple plan; to become his apprentice. With that decision, and the use of thorn magic, they teleport back to his humble rural home.
The world of fantasy and magic is made apparent very quickly as our young female protagonist must adapt to this ‘larger than life’ journey she’s had thrust upon her by fate. Even though she was purchased by human trafficking means, she is given complete freedom by our mysterious gentleman, though he does make his desire for her to pick up his mantle quite clear, and would very much want that to be the case. From that point onwards, in the first three episodes at least, we just begin to learn about the setting with our protagonist as she discovers the friendly, harsh and vastly indifferent world of magic.
Through this process of learning what being an apprentice entails, the world opens up to be absolutely beautiful as we get to see it along with her. One of my favourite aspects of the show is how subtle the world of magic around her is; how the creatures and various important characters she meets along the way interact with her.
The way the water sprites hold the character’s hair as they work in unspoken affectionate mannerisms is very noticeable - our protagonist is no stranger to this either, because the smaller creatures around her climb on her in an almost cat-like fashion. Even the fairy of the house she resides in reveals her own affection quietly.
The musical score for Mahoutsukai No Yome is splendid too, with specific songs chosen to highlight the emotional impact of certain scenes. It lands "on the nose" and runs away with all the emotions for this show. In episode three, we actually have meaningful interactions with the magical denizens of the world, and this is a huge part of the anime, only now, having an impact and meaning as to why she was chosen to be the apprentice, and why we should care. The scenes are gorgeous and have an almost movie-budget quality to them. Each angle, point of music and scene setting is carefully chosen to really emphasise an emotion, the point of view it comes from, and where we as the audience should typically stand.
Mahoutsukai No Yome is stunning, to say the least. It hits every note and truly stands on its own merits, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone vaguely interested in fantasy anime.
Coffin Hill was a spooky experience; not horrific, but intriguing in a dark and mysterious way. If I had to attempt to blurb the first trade paperback volume (which covers the first seven issues),the words: dark, horrific, interesting, and well thought out, would all be enough to cover it.
Eve is our protagonist, a young cop with a big case under her belt but she can’t escape her family’s bloodline that resembles Europe in the 1600’s, because the family has a large presence and superstition about them. While no one can quite put their finger on it, there is a lot of throwback to the Salem days in America with the witch hunts.
Upon returning to the not-so-humble beginnings, the town has changed drastically since she left as a young girl, and the story jumps between the present and past quite efficiently, to fill in the gaps of the mysterious past, and how it affects our protagonist in the present. It has an eerily familiar feeling to Hack/Slash with the young female lead, and the melancholic vibe of the whole story, and art style.
The contrast between the past and the present could be summed up with one word - wisdom. Eve had money, a family and a good future, but like a spoiled child, rebelled against everything, as teenagers do, to pursue instant gratification of forbidden acts that would land her in what we can only imagine to be mind-shattering horror.
Eve finds herself at the center of a supernatural plot revolving around witches who can’t cross over the planes of existence, who desperately want to remedy that by possessing and sacrificing people of the town. Ultimately, Eve’s family were guardians managing the balance between the regular world and the dark, demonic one. Eve, not being aware of this, feels alone and confused. She only now begins to understand the true responsibility given to her, from a rebellious teenager who tried to find her own way of life to arbitrator of the supernatural. Can she find solutions to all of this chaos in her town? With love triangles and old wounds creeping up, the drama and action isn’t lacking at all in the volume.
In regards to the pacing of the story, the world building and character development over the first trade is very different from something like Saga because while that lends itself to action and war, Coffin Hill feels more like a horror novel in comic format. The dialogue and spacing from each panel to story progression is much slower in comparison, so it might not be a solid read for everyone. It also has much more dialogue than I recall in Saga which may weigh in on people’s decision to read this.
However, the art is gorgeous. Not many comics I’ve read put me off so much visually that I can’t read it, and while it may not be Skydolls beautiful, it still is a feast for the eyes, especially as it doesn’t hold back on scenes which help the impact feel so much more real and thus creating investment for the reader.
Ultimately, if dark, slow, meaningful pacing with a leaning to the supernatural witch-like magic interests you, definitely give Coffin Hill a read.
Hidden Agenda is an interactive crime thriller adventure developed by Supermassive Games, the team that brought you the interactive survival horror title, Until Dawn. This time around you are encouraged to join friends and work together to solve a crime using PlayStation’s mobile phone PlayLink feature rather than conventional controls. It’s a fun way to frantically swipe your phone and guide your character through quick time events and decision-making scenarios that make up the bulk of the game.
In Hidden Agenda, up to six people can join the storytelling adventure by installing the PlayLink app and connecting to the PlayStation 4. Each player is assigned a coloured mark which they identify with throughout the campaign. The tone of the crime drama is set from the opening scene and quickly gets players up to speed with the task at hand. The plot is centred around the interactions between the main protagonist, Homicide Detective, Becky Marney and “The Trapper,” a serial killer that rigs the corpses of his initial victims with deadly traps that are set to detonate as soon as the first respondent interacts with the prior target. Jonathan Finn is on death row and a few hours away from being put to death after initially confessing to being the Trapper, and as one would expect, goes back on his confession. Your job is to figure out whether the new evidence is in fact part of a bigger, more cynical crime or if Finn is just trying to avoid his death sentence.
The game features two different modes. The story mode brings you and up to five friends together and tries to access who is best suited to carry out specific tasks. The overall objective is to simply finish the story campaign with varying arcs with a ‘ripple effect’ that guides you in slightly differing directions.
Let’s just say that my first completion of the story mode was underwhelming to say the least; it did however make me want to jump back into the brief campaign to experience a better ending. Based on the group’s decisions, one person will be tasked to take control of a major decision while discussing the best answer with the other players. This mode is essentially and interactive movie night with friends and offers little competitive elements. At times you will be prompted to pull off a quick time event or search for hidden clues; the more of you that play the more likely it is that you’ll best the puzzle… in record time no less.
In the Competition Mode you are presented with the same story line and general mechanics with a slight variation; One of the players in the group will receive a “Hidden Agenda” where they will be prompted to try influence the players around them to make a certain decision. In this mode it is a case of the more-the-merrier as the group spends time discussing why the given choice is the most preferable. Surprisingly, more often than not, you end up with a stalemate with the options being tied on either side. In this instance a player can choose to use a Takeover play which they acquire by being the first to complete a task or spot a clue. This is a great way to force your hand but can open you up to suspicion that you are the one with the hidden agenda. It’s a super concept and at some point, genuinely captivating but loses its impact when playing with fewer people.
For the most part the characters look and sound terrific. There are some instances where the character reaction looks completely out of place and the emotion in their voices doesn’t tie in with the characters facial expression. At one point a character was just sort of re-enacting a scene from The Exorcist with their head spinning just short of 180 degrees. The game's Ripple Effect changes things up enough, specifically towards the end, but sadly Hidden Agenda translates more as to how you can ‘potentially’ enjoy the PlayLink concept rather than a complete experience. That said, at its price point you won’t be breaking the bank to purchase Hidden Agenda and it provides an enjoyable enough adventure for when you want to have the occasional guest around. If Hidden Agenda is a glimpse into what kind of gameplay the PlayLink feature has to offer, especially in the horror or crime genre, we have a lot of gems to look forward to in the future.
It's Moon Girl sans Devil Dinosaur in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #25. The Silver Surfer brings a dire message of cosmic significance and who will answer that call? Moon Girl of course. . . and she's bringing some new friends who are also without the rest of their team. Behold the Fantastic Three as The Human Torch and The Thing join forces with Moon Girl.
All-New Wolverine #27
ORPHANS OF X Part 3. When LAURA KINNEY took on the mantle of THE WOLVERINE she swore off killing. But does this make up for her past life as a child assassin? No matter how far she runs, it seems like Laura’s past will always catch up. And now it’s up to Laura and DAKEN, the son of the original Wolverine, to put that past in the ground.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #13
EIGHT YEARS LATER Part 1. Jump eight years into the future with the web-slinging and wall-crawling Spider-Man family! Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s super-powered daughter, Annie, is now in high school. But when this teen isn’t in class, she’s swinging through the streets with her parents. After all, keeping New York safe from super villains is a family affair! But what new threat has emerged to menace the wall-crawlers? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES!
Black Panther #167
KLAW STANDS SUPREME Part 2. The Black Panther’s greatest enemy springs his trap! And with T’Challa off fighting the former gods of Wakanda, who will come to Ayo and Aneka’s aid? And this is only the beginning. A cadre of villains returns as Wakanda comes to its knees!
The Newer mutants Part 2. Someone is killing off members of an ancient group of mutants called the Externals. . . But Cable’s crew of New Mutants are jumping through time to find the killer once and for all. And their investigation leads straight to the vampiric mistress Selene!
Generation X #9
The return of Husk! That’s right, Paige Guthrie is back, y’all!!
Guardians Of The Galaxy: Telltale Games #5
The Guardians meet their match as Thanos’ plan to retrieve an ancient artifact finally comes to fruition! But what is the Eternity Forge – and how will the Mad Titan use it to ravage the galaxy? Will Groot throw over Rocket for Cosmo the Spacedog as his new best friend? This is the most important question, AND YES IT IS TOTALLY POSSIBLE!
Luke Cage #167
CAGED Part 2. Luke Cage is back in the one place he never wanted to be. With his mind mangled, Luke grasps for any foothold he can find. Which is hard, as. . . This is no ordinary prison. . .
Monsters Unleashed #8
VENOMVERSE TIE-IN! AND LO, THERE CAME A POISON Part 2. KID KAIJU has no idea what he’s capable of and now he’s accidentally summoned a POISON FIN FANG FOOM from another dimension. How can Kid Kaiju be a hero if he can’t control his powers? Continuing from the bombastic pages of VENOMVERSE, this issue will impact Kid Kaiju, his monsters and the Marvel Universe in ways you will never see coming.
Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur #25
FANTASTIC THREE Part 1. When THE SILVER SURFER comes to Manhattan with a warning about an ancient cosmic menace on a collision course with Earth, you better listen up! But without the First Family of the Marvel Universe around to answer the call, who’s going to step up and solve the impossible? Lunella Lafayette, that’s who! Without Devil Dinosaur by her side, Lunella must join forces with some new friends who are missing their pals, too: THE HUMAN TORCH! THE EVER-LOVIN’ BLUE-EYED THING! DON’T MISS THE RETURN OF THE FANTASTIC THREE! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES!
Punisher: The Platoon #3
During the Tet offensive, death surrounded Lt. Castle’s platoon on all sides. How far would Frank go to protect his men? Especially when the danger came from the indifference of his commanders? And while Castle was engaged in the grind of war, a kindred spirit on the enemy’s side watched and waited.
FIRE FROM HEAVEN Part 3. The Royals come face to face with the Prima Materia — the original Terrigen! But can they get it back to Earth? And will it save the Inhuman race — or doom it? And finally: Of the seven who left Earth, only six will return. The Royals lose one of their own!
Silver Sable And The Wild Pack #36
SILVER AND BOLD Part 1. After faking her own death, SILVER SABLE is back in the mercenary game, and this time she REALLY might not survive! In the wake of Norman Osborn’s control of the Symkarian government, one of Sable’s operations goes south, and she finds herself and a small group of hostages trapped in the clutches of a dangerous group of terrorists! With no equipment and no back up Sable has to make sure that she and the innocents trapped with her find their way out alive. Piece of cake.
SPIDER-MAN VERSUS DEADPOOL Parts 1 & 2. When Spider-Man learns that Deadpool is selling SHIELD tech on the black market it’s the last straw. Bromance? OVER. It’s time to hunt Deadpool! The two biggest characters in comics are facing off and it’s going to take them all over the Marvel Universe, no holds barred. As you can see from this cover, Deadpool’s even willing to use his laser-sharks. And it will all lead to the biggest Spider-Man/Deadpool story of ALL TIME! PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES!
Star Wars #39
THE ASHES OF JEDHA! The Rebel Alliance turns its attention to the shattered planet of Jedha! Once the site of great significance to the Jedi, Jedha was left in ruins when the Death Star annihilated the Holy City there. Now, new series writer Kieron Gillen joins artist Salvador Larroca to bring Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest to the remains of the tragic victim of the Empire’s fury!
THANOS WINS Part 1. Ask the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe how they fear the universe will end, and in their most honest moment, they will answer with two words. . . THANOS WINS. Now. . . see what happens when he does.PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES!
The Invincible Iron Man #594
THE SEARCH FOR TONY STARK Part 2. THE SEARCH FOR TONY STARK continues, as some very surprising people from his present, past and future come together to help. Who will wield the power of Iron Man? It’s all building to one of the most-anticipated moments in Iron Man history!
The Mighty Captain Marvel #126
DARK ORIGIN Part 2. They say you can’t go home again. . . but what about a creepy, dark version of your childhood home? CAROL DANVERS finds herself in just such a place and brings new meaning to sneaking out of the house! Plus, as ALPHA FLIGHT endeavors to find Carol, what they do find will change everything!
X-Men: Gold #16
THE DARTAYUS ODYSSEY Part 1. Invaders from deep within THE NEGATIVE ZONE have come to reclaim one of their own. . . And they’re taking one of THE X-MEN with them!