Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Log Horizon (Rogu Horaizun)

This will be my first official post going under my new blog title, design, and URL. I'm pretty happy about everything, really. I've kept my NERV (Neon Genesis Evangelion) page background because it really has become a staple to me, but everything else has changed. Except for the content. I'm a bona fide NWA (Nerd With Attitude) and I will keep bringing the best in edgy nerdiness to you. 

Today I shall review the Fall 2013/Winter 2014 anime Log Horizon. The reason I chose to view that show at this time of all times is because the anime I had previously finished was the rather epic Sword Art Online and I really wanted to watch something that might be similar in terms of content. 

Log Horizon certainly is similar in terms of "gamers stuck in a game where they can't logout" setup, but the two shows are actually as different as they can be in terms of style and theme.

There's no doubt that Sword Art Online was a full-blown action/romance anime that focused on one character in particular. The pacing was fantastic, the romance was heartwarming, and the action was everything for which an action anime fan could hope. It was epic beyond epic and quickly developed a fervent fanbase and a set of fervent detractors. 

Log Horizon is completely different once you throw out a few basic startup tropes. So different that it will probably please a lot of the people that disliked Sword Art Online

The first thing you might notice is that Log Horizon actually focuses on a much larger cast of characters and teamwork is held in higher regard. I think anime fans who are also gamers might like this approach more since they'll understand that you can do much more with a good group than you can do solo. Log Horizon also has a lot more humor and it doesn't take itself as seriously as Sword Art Online. This is neither good nor bad, but they are differences I noticed and I imagine that fans who don't like one show will probably like one of them but not the other or vice versa. Personally, I preferred Sword Art Online

Another change is that the main character of Log Horizon (although initially told to be a solo player) is actually more of a strategist type of character that actually works better in a group. Kirito was the badass solo fighter in Sword Art Online with a serious attitude and possibly a sister complex in vein of Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan, but Shiroe is a completely different character.

Shiroe rarely fights since he is more of a strategy type of person, but when he does fight it is almost always to give support to others. He works better from the shadows and he is often misunderstood as a villain because of his unwillingness to be public. The creepy way he wears his glasses and smiles probably has something to do with it, too. Of course, few people really know just how positively he has affected the lives of everyone in the town of Akihabara. I rather liked that part of the story. Sometimes your heroes should be the guys that stand in your shadows and don't hog the glory. Am I right?

Around are some fairly neat and interesting characters like Akatsuki, Naotsugu, Nyanta, and Minori. Akatsuki is the typical loli assassin character that we've come to know so well. Nyanta is a bit more unusual. Oh, we've seen Nyanta's type before in anime, but not as often. Cat people who can fight with two swords just aren't that typical. 

There are plenty of other characters, too. Like I said, Log Horizon has a larger cast and focus than Sword Art Online

Since Shiroe doesn't fight and he is the more analytical type he will often give long inner monologues to the audience about how the former-game-world-now-real-world of Elder Tale works and things like that. He's very thorough, too. That's one thing I didn't like so much about this series. The time spent giving explanations could have been put to better use.

And if you haven't guessed it then I'll go ahead and tell you that this anime is not action-centered. There aren't any signature fights like there are in One Piece or Attack on Titan. There are some cool scenes and moments, but nothing that would make me recommend this to action anime fans. 

This anime is just so much more laid back, but it isn't quite deep enough in the characterization department to be put in the same category as .hack//SIGN

So who would I recommend this anime to? Well, I'm not sure. I mean, if you just love anime about gamers trapped in games then this would certainly be what you'd want to watch. Otherwise, I'd say that maybe it'd be perfect for folks who like slice of life with a bit of humor and even romance thrown in. The pacing isn't very fast and the delivery is rather tedious, though. Normally tedious information can be delivered if the pacing is quick enough as was the case in Sword Art Online, but oftentimes it didn't feel like anything else was happening in Log Horizon other than information delivery. 

The second season of Log Horizon coming this Fall should help in the action and character development part. I hope so, anyway. The final few episodes of Log Horizon were when things were just starting to get really, really interesting to me. What I'd like to see more of is Shiroe's past, too. I want to hear more about his time spent in the Debauchery Tea Party more than anything else. 

Anyway, that's pretty much all I have to say as far this anime is concerned. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought I would. Of course, I probably chose a bad time to watch it. Watching anything game-related after Sword Art Online is not recommended. But for all I know I could have the same thought now about Sword Art Online if I had started Log Horizon first. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Celebrating 17,000 Views (?)

It's nothing really special, I guess. Plenty of blogs get hundreds of unique pageviews per day and I know quite a few of my views are from people trying to phish my site and other people trying to pimp their "penis enlargement" ideas. They are probably the same people, too. 

However, there are a few folks that stumble upon my site by honest means and actually take a look around before vanishing into the ether. The reason I started my blog was probably a silly one, I'll admit. I just wanted to post some stories and I posted half-assed reviews to kill some time. Nothing too complicated really. Just some fun. A lot of entries I made were needless and I went back and deleted them a couple months ago. One of them had over 800 views or some such insane number (for my blog, anyway), but I still deleted it because I didn't feel it was worthy of my blog anymore. 

I've tried to make it a habit to really keep this blog free of useless posts. Or what I consider to be a useless post, anyway. 

Pageviews really don't matter to me as much as visits. I'd like for more folks to interact with my blog and such, but I will take what I can get. I don't have any author interviews or voice actor interviews or anything cool like that. If I did... Well, that'd be pretty fucking cool. But I don't. I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard because there are plenty of author folks floating around in cyberspace and some of them are bound to be insanely desperate (or just really nice), but I just can't think of any questions I'd like to ask. 

So there goes that idea. For now, anyway. 

Still, 17,000 views (excluding my own views and the views of a well-known phishing site) sounds impressive. I don't know if it is impressive considering how long my blog has been around or what, but I know I am getting more and more views and visits that aren't from spammers and such. Just about 40% of all of my page visits come from returning visitors and the duration of their visits has gone up little by little. Now I don't get a lot of daily visits or views, but I am getting more the more I blog. 

I am getting more readers. I'd like to get more active followers, but considering my site content and my half-assed approach I doubt that will happen anytime soon. 

I have been trying to streamline my content, though. I want to focus more on my strengths. That means focusing on what Jacob does best and what Jacob does best is nerdy shit. I don't want people selling me their penis enlargement pumps anymore. I want more discussion, baby. So I'm going to focus and try to see what's working and what isn't.

But more importantly, I'm going to write and post what I enjoy no matter what. And if all I ever get is a single page view from some spammer trying to sell me Asian porn then that's fine with me. I like Asian porn, too. So that works out. It's a joke, people. Just a joke. 

I'm nowhere near my goal of 5 million unique visitors per day, but Hell wasn't built in a day, either. These things take time. Okay, that isn't really my goal and I don't even think that it's mathematically possible, but it's just a number I threw out there for shits and giggles. 

Next time I want to celebrate 17,000 unique pageviews, bitches. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

HP Chromebook 14

Well, it's time to christen my new laptop with a review about my new laptop. I know that sounds a bit incestuous, but I have been looking forward to making this review on my laptop all day. Seriously. After that I'll finish my Log Horizon episodes up but for now I blog!

The HP Chromebook 14 was a bit of a whim buy on my part. Yes, I had been wanting to get a laptop, but I had just kind of thrust that urge aside for a while. However, I had this insane urge to buy a laptop three days ago. I'm talking the "pregnant woman craving pickles in her Coke" type of urge. So I went online and did some browsing. I also went to Wal-Mart and checked out some of their vanilla brand of computers. While I was at Wal-Mart I played around with the HP Chromebook 11. I played around with the others too, but the Chromebook seemed more fun. I just wasn't fond of the small screen, though. I can barely distinguish letters in my right eye without my glasses so I'm really not a big fan of small-ass screens. 

I'm real happy I went with the 11's bigger brother. Now let's talk a bit about the pros and cons of my purchase. And yeah, there are a few cons. Just about everything has cons these days including laptops and computers that cost a thousand dollars. 

I personally have never used a laptop. I have never owned one before, either. So naturally this Chromebook seems like the greatest thing since the invention of the Roku to me, right? Well, yeah, but I can offer a bit of objectivity. I can't tell you jack about how fast Apple's Mac Book runs by comparison or anything like that, but I can tell you what the HP Chromebook 14 can and can't do for you. 

For starters you really need a Google account. So if you use Blogger, YouTube, or Gmail then you are already in luck because that means you have one. You can't log in to this laptop without a Google account. You can do a few things as a guest, but you really need to log in with your Google account if you want to get all the bells and whistles. If you don't have one then you'll need to get one.

Now if you don't like the idea of relying on Google for what is essentially access to your laptop then don't get a Chromebook. But if you are like me and use Google Chrome all the time anyway then there shouldn't be a problem as long as you have a strong password. 

Naturally, Google and Google Chrome are your defaults when it comes to your homepage and your search engine. This shouldn't be a big deal since it is a Chromebook, but if you want to change that then... Well, why bother getting a Chromebook anyway?

One of the things the Chromebook offers is 100GB of free space in the Google Cloud for two years. Once that two year deadline is reached the Emissaries of Google will come to your house and perform Satanic rituals in your front yard until you offer them your pets as sacrifices to make them go away. Okay, they won't really do that, but you will have to pay some sort of fee to keep renting your space.

As far as gaming goes this isn't really the ideal gaming device. While this laptop is certainly fast and it can have up to eleven tabs open without getting too bogged down I wouldn't really call this a gaming machine. You'd really need to move up the quality and price ladder just a bit for that. This bad boy is only $350.00. Keep that in mind.

There are quite a few keyboard shortcuts you'll need to learn. Some of them are a bit of a pain to perform, but most of them are fairly easy to remember. To turn your caps lock on you'll need to hit "alt + search" and that was a pain in the ass because you got to hit the buttons just right or else it won't turn on. However, you can change some of your shortcuts around. The search button summons your start menu to the screen and you can search both your computer and Chrome and the same time, but I don't need that function so I decided to turn "search" into my caps lock by going to my settings in Chrome and changing its function. 

As far as ports go we have 2 3.0 USB ports, 1 2.0 USB port, and an HDMI port. So that should cover a lot of your basic needs. There's also a slot for a memory card because saving files on the laptop itself isn't ideal because... Well, there's 100GB of storage data to be had in the Google Cloud. It's like Google's way of telling you not to save shit on your laptop unless you just have to do so. 

Battery life is stated at about nine and a half hours depending on how many porn videos you have downloaded to your device. Obviously, the more shit you add the quicker your battery will be used up.

Have I covered everything? Almost. There are a few more things I'd like to mention.

The first is that the screen isn't that great. It's certainly serviceable, but if you look at it from any angle other than head on you'll start seeing shapes and subliminal messages telling you to kill yourself. Okay, you won't really, but you won't be able to get a clear picture unless you look straight at the screen. And that's fine with me because this motherfucker's mine and I don't want you looking at it anyway. 

This isn't a dealbreaker for me.

The keyboard also doesn't light up. Some people like it when their letters are shiny and whatnot and if that's you then you might not want this device. But I'm almost illiterate in one eye and I can still type by the light of only this screen. 

I love the feel of this laptop, though. And it looks damn nice. So nice you'd think it'd cost more. 

There's no Microsoft Office, but there is a Chrome equivalent and you can save all of your stuff in the Cloud or on your memory card. Or on the laptop if you so wish to defy the Google Gods in such a manner. These programs require you to be online, though. Also don't hook your printer up to this. There's a way you can print what you have on this laptop out, but you need to give the instructions a good once-over.

This laptop offers you a bunch of Google apps, too. So there's bound to be something on here to entertain you. 

P.S. - The version of this that comes with the free 4G of T-Mobile data is a bit misleading since you only get that data if you are within range of T-Mobile. I can barely get one bar of T-Mobile data where I am right now. That doesn't bother me, either. But it might bother you. I'm sure if you live in a more populated area you'll get stronger signal. I live in Alabama, though. And Alabama is like... Well, Alabama. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sword Art Online (Sōdo Āto Onrain)

This one has been in my queue for quite a while. I think it's probably been there ever since I got my Roku in June of 2013. The anime itself debuted in 2012 during the summer season and it is based off a popular set of light novels by Kawahara Reki. Since its debut it has already received a dub and played on the Adult Swim's Toonami lineup. The popularity with this one is indeed strong and I can see why. 

I'm typically not much of a gamer. I can play games and I have in the past, but I don't spend hours at a time gaming these days. I'd rather spend that time watching anime. Sword Art Online is an anime about gaming. Anime-wise I'd say it's like a more actionized version .hack//SIGN, but if you want more mainstream comparisons then I'd say it's like a VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) adhering to the rules of The Matrix. Basically (as far as the first world is concerned anyway), if you die in the game you die in real life. 

In short, Sword Art Online is an anime about gaming and gamers. Only this anime makes gaming seem so much more badass than it really is. 

Our main character Kirito (real life name: Kirigaya Kazuto) has entered the world of Aincrad in the popular new game Sword Art Online. Using his NerveGear he is able to synch with the virtual world, but something odd happens when he tries to log out: he can't. 

Before long all of the players realize they are stuck in the world of SAO and the only way they can escape is by beating all 100 levels of the game. If any of their family members in the real world try to remove the NerveGear device then shocks will be sent into the brain of the user and that essentially will kill them. This is all thanks to the evil genius of the game's creator, Kayaba Akihito. 

There really is no escape except to beat the game, but Kirito is up to the task. Kirito was a beta tester so he has a bit of an upper hand over others, but his role as beta tester leaves him ostracized by many of the others. Before long he finds himself working as a solo player and leveling up without the help of others. 

But no one can survive in Aincrad without the help of others for too long. Especially when dying in the game means dying in real life. 

Oddly enough, the story of Sword Art Online ends at episode 14 of this 25 episode anime. Episodes 15 through 25 should technically be renamed ALfheim Online, but that could be too confusing. Let's just say that episodes 15 through 25 take place in a different game under different rules. 

The Aincrad portion of the story is excellent. At first I thought the pacing was moving a bit too fast, but it's actually just perfect for the show as a whole. Obviously, we don't need to see all 100 bosses on each level being beaten. We just need to see a couple. 

Once the Aincrad ordeal is over Kazuto finds himself struggling to adjust to life in the real world. The girl he grew to love in the game is still in a coma and he doesn't know what to do with himself after spending two years in a video game. Then one of his allies from Aincrad and a friend in real life shows him a picture of what looks to be a girl trapped in a birdcage in a game called ALfheim Online. The girl is none other than Asuna, the one Kirito had fallen in love with and even married in-game. 

Needless to say, Kazuto quickly revived his character Kirito and entered the world of ALfheim Online in order to save his damsel in distress. 

But how did Asuna get trapped in ALfheim Online in the first place? You gotta watch to find out. 

On the whole, Sword Art Online is an excellent anime. If there is one issue I have is how it manages to feature a sister complex near the end. I know are popular as hell in anime these days, but can't we just have one anime that doesn't feature a sister with unusual feelings for her brother? 

I also thought that the transition between the two different storylines left a little bit to be desired. It didn't quite feel as genuine as the first part of the story. With the introduction of the real world I thought the intensity placed in the gaming world felt a bit out of place. I guess that's only normal, though. Since the series tried ever so gradually to stress that real world things are actually more important than gaming. Still, gaming is apparently very important if you want to save the love of your life. 

Or was this not the lesson I was supposed to learn? 

You can sign me up for the Sword Art Online universe. Count me in for the manga, light novels, and whatever the hell else I can get my hands on. I'm excited as well for the second anime Sword Art Online II which will come out in July of 2014. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dragon Ball Vol. 1: The Monkey King by Toriyama Akira

Every popular story has its origins in something more obscure. This is certainly the case with the ever popular Dragon Ball series. In the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty a Chinese novel called 西遊記 was written. Yeah, I know you can't read that, but it apparently means Journey to the West. Just reading about that book is pretty fascinating and I'd like to read it one day myself, but that isn't the focus of the this entry. 

One of the characters of that old Chinese novel is a character named Sun Wukong. Of course, the Japanese equivalent of that is Son Gokū. In the States we just call him Goku. 

In the old Chinese novel Sun Wukong is called the Monkey King and he wields a staff that can change size. He wears cloud-walking boots, too. This should sound extremely familiar if you know your Dragon Ball. If you don't then consider this a bit of a lesson in both Dragon Ball history and Chinese literature. Rúyì Jīngū Bàng is the Chinese term for the staff, but the name for it in the manga series is Nyoi-Bo. In the Funimation Dub of the anime it's called the Power Pole. In place of the cloud-walking boots of Sun Wukong, Goku gets a flying cloud named Kinto-un from the Turtle Hermit. 

Dragon Ball was originally released in 42 tankōbon. You've probably heard me talk about Dragon Ball Z, but there isn't really a Dragon Ball Z as far as the manga is concerned. Sure, later issues were retitled Dragon Ball Z, but that's because of the popularity of the anime. 

If you are curious then the Dragon Ball Z part of the story doesn't begin until issue 17 of the Dragon Ball manga and continues until the final issue 42. Much like Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, the two anime are an adaptation of the same manga. So don't be thrown off by the different titles. 

I haven't stressed this before, but if you want to watch Dragon Ball Z (or read the retitled manga) then please start with Dragon Ball first. I never did it that way, but I wish I had. It would have made certain events in Dragon Ball Z that much more impactful. 

Anyway, let's get down to the manga. The first volume is comprised of eleven chapters and a lot of familiar faces (to me, anyway) are quickly introduced. The first is Son Goku, our main character. For some odd reason he has a monkey tail, but everything else about him appears to be normal. Except for his inhuman strength. No, Goku isn't anywhere near strong as he later will be, but he can still lift up a car and take a bullet to the face without getting killed. 

Goku lives out in the boonies by himself although there is this odd-looking glowing ball that he calls his "grampa" sharing the house with him. In this volume he's introduced as being 14 years old and that took me by surprise because I could have sworn he was much younger. Perhaps that was the Funimation dub of the anime misleading me again. Still, Goku is the very definition of innocence and naivete. 

The first character Goku meets is the city girl Bulma. Bulma is a feisty sixteen year old girl on the lookout for both love and the infamous dragonballs. With the help of her handy dandy dragon radar, Bulma has made her way out to the middle nowhere in search of the four star dragonball. This just happens to be the very same ball that Goku calls his grampa. 

Unfortunately for Bulma, Goku has never seen a car or a girl before and this leads to a slight skirmish. Perhaps this is a sign of me becoming more mature or less cool, but I was pretty shocked when Bulma came out with a gun and shot Goku in the face. No, it didn't hurt Goku that much, but it made me remember just how violent and mature Dragon Ball is even though it often indulges in a bit of immature humor. Think about it. A sixteen year out girl shooting a fourteen year old boy in the face? It's played off like it isn't a big deal, but that's a pretty fucked up scenario anyway you look at it. 

At this point in the series it's pretty obvious that you shouldn't take anything too seriously. It's just a silly and fun read. That's not too say things aren't going to get serious later on, but Akira has a goofy humor laced throughout this entire series and it's front and center in the first volume. There are plenty of sexual innuendoes that will keep you grinning like an idiot. The second chapter called No Balls had me laughing so hard and I'm sure the title of the chapter should give you an idea of the level of inappropriateness involved. 

After Bulma finally manages to coax Goku into let her have his "grampa," Goku joins up with Bulma to make sure nothing happens to the four star ball. And thus the epic journey begins. What are they searching for? The dragonballs, of course! What are they? Well, when you get all seven of them together you get to have one whole wish. Of course, that requires a lot of journeying to strange lands, but these two are certainly up to it. For the moment, anyway. There's just no telling who else might be on the lookout for the dragonballs, too. 

Later chapters introduce such characters as Oolong the Terrible, Pu'ar, Lord Yamcha, Kame-Sen'nin the Turtle Hermit (Master Roshi or Muten Roshi), Chi-Chi, and the Gyū Ma'ō (Ox King). All of them will become very familiar to you in future volumes. Or if you are reading the manga for the first time after having seen the Funimation dub of the anime then you get the chance to see your favorite characters in a new light and with their original (for the most part) names, too. 

You also get to hear them talk differently. All of these characters seem to have a strong southern twang going on. Some folks might not like it, but it really does make sense considering the setting of the story and who the majority of the characters are. In a way, this first volume could be described as saying it's about Japanese rednecks who live in Chinese houses and go by Chinese-sounding names and just happen to have super powers inspired (to a degree) by an old Chinese legend. 

It really is a goofy story and it's even goofier considering that Oolong the Terrible, Lord Yamcha, and the Ox King have the honor of being the villains of this volume. I don't say that to sound insulting, but Goku's first fight against Yamcha isn't quite in the same league as so many of the later fights in the story. 

But you have to start somewhere and the first volume of Dragon Ball is the perfect building block for a great story. Hard to believe this story is thirty years old. 

P.S. - The first volume equates to about the first six episodes of the anime. Emperor Pilaf and his henchmen don't make an appearance at all during this volume so any appearance by them before episode ten should be considered filler. 

 P.P.S - Akira modeled Goku after Sun Wukong to a degree, but he wasn't the only character to get that treatment. Bulma is from Xuanzang, Oolong is from Zhu Bajie, and Yamcha is from Sha Wuling. If you look that up it actually makes sense what with Zhu Bajie being a pig and Sha Wuling being a guy from a desert and that good stuff. I'm not quite sure how Akira got Bulma from Xuanzang, but I'll take his word for it. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roku HDMI 3500R Streaming Stick

I don't know when I became such a tech junkie, but I've really been updating my viewing gear lately. I've updated my blu-ray player to a 3D blu-player with WiFi. I've also updated my own piece of crap flip phone to a Samsung Galaxy Centura. Combine that with my Roku 3, my Kindle Fire 7" (which is already out of date), and my LG flat screen (which isn't a Smart TV), and you'll find that I am slowly but surely joining this century. I suppose all that is left is for some sort of computer upgrade. 

Not too long ago I purchased this Roku Streaming Stick thingy. Why? Well, I really like my Roku 3. Love it, in fact. If I could I'd somehow make some babies with it and raise a horde of Rokabs. That's probably too much information, though. 

The main reason I wanted to get the streaming stick was because I wanted to see how good it was considering the price. It was only about fifty bucks (half the price as my Roku 3), but it looked like it might have be an improvement. So I bought it. That's my sound reasoning on the subject. 

The Roku Stick is small. Really, really small even compared to the Roku 3. The Roku 3 is about the size of the palm of my hand, but the streaming stick is as long as my index finger and as wide as a wristwatch. The actual stick is detachable from the fitted USB cord that comes with it, too. 

Basically, the end of the cord with the large USB head plugs into the AC adapter while the end of the cord with the small USB head would plug into the streaming stick itself. Plug the adapter into your plug outlet and then stick into your TV's HDMI port and you're ready to stream once you set up your internet connection. It's insanely simple. 

If you already have a Roku account then all your channels should be there and you shouldn't have to sign up for Netflix again or anything like that. In fact, if you want to be really lazy you can plug both of your Roku devices up to the same TV in order to minimize the amount of channel changing you have to do. 

The stick itself has a reset button, but nothing else in term of things you'd have to worry about. It's a very low maintenance system and that is what I like about it. 

What makes the streaming stick different from the Roku 3 is both picture and speed, though. The picture on the stick is fantastic. I could see the difference and everything just looked so good. 

But the speed... The speed doesn't touch the Roku 3. Not even close. I can skip over 300 episodes of One Piece in no time on the Roku 3. I just hold down the arrow and they'll zoom by. Not so on the streaming stick. The stick is a lot slower and will require a bit of patience if you are watching a very long series and lose your place. The Funimation channel never remembers my last spot and so everytime I leave the channel I have to go find my last place each time a come back. 

With the streaming stick that is even more of a pain in the ass. 

The headphone jack on the remote of the Roku 3 is no longer on the streaming stick remote. That could be a downside to some people since there are sites like Pandora that are on Roku. In return the stick remote offers shortcut buttons to Netflix and three other channels. I'm not sure if that's an even trade although with how slow (comparatively) the stick is I can understand the need for shortcut buttons. 

The streaming stick is also not ideal for playing games since it doesn't quite have the speed. I don't really use my Roku for games but every now and then I will play a game of Angry Bird in Space and that can be really fun. So ixnay on the games for the streaming stick. 

However, the best thing about the streaming stick is that it seems like the ideal thing for traveling because of its very small size. The Roku 3 is small, but not small enough to fit in your pocket. 

You could also plug the USB straight into your television or laptop if your system can support that. Some USB ports can't provide the continuous power, but if yours can you don't even need an outlet. Just plug the USB cord into your TV or laptop and then plug your stick in and everything will be connected to your TV or computer. You won't even need the AC adapter. 

I won't be tossing out my Roku 3 anytime soon, but I can certainly find a use for my streaming stick. My advice would be to choose what you might think will fit your needs the best. If not for it's lack of speed and slow bootup times... I'd totally recommend it to everyone. For now, if you want speed then get the Roku 3. 

Led Zeppelin From Worst to First

I didn't make this list already? Hmm. I guess I need to correct that. Led Zeppelin is one of those bands you just think of when it comes to heavier music. They are one of the archetypes like The Beatles or Elvis that everybody knows. Are they the best band ever? I wouldn't say that. I hope that the best band ever is still yet to come, but if I had to choose one then it would probably be The Beatles (at least from a purely objective standpoint). My personal opinion is Black Sabbath, but opinions are like assholes.

Notice that you won't find Coda on here. I consider that more of a compilation and I don't like listing compilations. 

08. In Through the Outdoor - I like to call this the John Paul Jones album and I'm pretty sure you know why. I don't dislike this album because there are a few pretty good jams on it like In the Evening and I'm Gonna Crawl (tell me that one couldn't be a James Bond theme song), but it just doesn't really gel with me as an album. South Bound Saurez is a nice little ditty, but it's a far cry from many of the other songs in the Zeppelin catalog. The same can be said of Hot Dog and the ten minute epic Carouselambra. And just what the hell is with Carouselambra? It's a trippy enough song, but you can barely tell Jimmy Page is on the song until about the four minute mark. The more well-known songs like All My Love and Fool in the Rain are popular radio fodder, but they are far too soft for my taste. 

In Through the Outdoor is an album that doesn't have a lot of balance. Or teeth. There are times it tries to be heavy, but those moments are frequently drowned out by keyboards. It's almost like Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were trying to compete with each other with John Paul Jones coming out on the winning end each time. Of course, Jimmy Page's heroin addiction might have had something to do with that. 

Perhaps this album was Jones' unintended revenge on Page for dominating Presence so thoroughly. 

In the Evening 6:49
South Bound Saurez 4:12
Fool in the Rain 6:12
Hot Dog 3:17
Carouselambra 10:32
All My Love 5:51
I'm Gonna Crawl 5:30

07. Presence - Jimmy Page called this Led Zeppelin's most important album and I can understand why he calls it that. Written and recorded during the time when Robert Plant was recovering from injuries caused by a car accident, Presence is quite possibly one of the heaviest and most straightforward albums in the Zeppelin catalog. It's difficult to believe that this album was recorded and mixed in eighteen days. Eighteen days!

The centerpiece of this album is undoubtedly the ten minute epic Achilles Last Stand. Maybe it's not quite the radio darling that Nobody's Fault but Mine is, but Achilles Last Stand for my money is a much better song. The first time I heard it I could only marvel at John Bonham's insane drumming and John Paul Jones' masterful galloping bass. The primary draw is Jimmy Page, though. Not only does he dominate the song Achilles Last Stand, but he also dominates Presence.

You won't find the experimental passages that found a way on all of the other Zeppelin albums. There's almost nothing acoustic or laidback about this album. It's relentless and in a way that is what turned a lot of people off just as often as it turned people on.

Achilles Last Stand 10:25
For Your Life 6:24
Royal Orleans 2:58
Nobody's Fault but Mine 6:16
Candy Store Rock 4:11
Hots on for Nowhere 4:43
Tea for One 9:27

06. Led Zeppelin III - Of the first four albums this one is probably the most jarring since it is the most folksy. This album was their "acoustic" album. I really like it, though. Immigrant Song and Since I've Been Loving You are probably the two most well-known songs from the album and those alone should prove that this album is certainly not entirely acoustic. Out on the Tiles and Celebration Day are also pretty hard rockers. The rest of the songs are largely acoustic, but they aren't bad. One thing Led Zeppelin could do well that many other heavy bands then couldn't do was play unplugged. They showcased that just a little bit on the first two albums, but they expanded even more so here. And it works. Acoustic doesn't mean bad, people!

Gallows Pole is acoustic, but it also rocks. Friends sounds absolutely evil with its middle eastern-tinged verses, does it not? Bron-Y-Aur Stomp is a blast and a perfect song to break out with some drinking buddies. Assuming your drinking buddies like acoustic Welsh hoedowns. 

Immigrant Song 2:26
Friends 3:55
Celebration Day 3:29
Since I've Been Loving You 7:25
Out on the Tiles 4:04
Gallows Pole 4:58
Tangerine 3:12
That's the Way 5:38
Bron-Y-Aur Stomp 4:20
Hats Off to (Roy) Harper 3:41

05. Houses of the Holy - How do you follow up one of the greatest rock albums of all time? Well, with another of the greatest rock albums of all time, of course. The odd thing about Led Zeppelin that they made a career of doing that. Houses of the Holy is a turning point in the career of Led Zeppelin, though. With this album they distanced themselves from their blues roots and really pushed for sleeker production and multi-layered musical passages. The Rain Song, an idea supposedly suggested from George Harrison, and No Quarter are perhaps where that new direction is executed the strongest.

However, Houses of the Holy was not without its points of contention for many fans. Those points being D'yer Mak'er and The Crunge. They are undoubtedly silly songs, one of them being a James Brown-influenced jam with the other being a reggae-influenced romp. I can understand the dissent, too. When you consider just how many songs were recorded for Houses of the Holy but didn't make the cut for whatever reasons it really is kind of mind-boggling. The songs are fun jams to an extent, but how the hell did D'yer Mak'er make album over The Rover? How did The Crunge make the album over Black Country Woman or Houses of the Holy?

The Song Remains the Same 5:32
The Rain Song 7:39
Over the Hills and Far Away 4:50
The Crunge 3:17
Dancing Days 3:43
D'yer Mak'er 4:23
No Quarter 7:00
The Ocean 4:31

04. Led Zeppelin - This is where it all began. With this album they helped pave the way for a new brand of music that they would further expand upon with later albums. You could argue that without Led Zeppelin there wouldn't be heavy metal, but I don't think that is quite true. I think that without Led Zeppelin there wouldn't be any progressive rock. At least not the same way there is today. However, the first Led Zeppelin album isn't very progressive. It isn't until their third album that they really start to tear down some walls, but Zeppelin was just as good as being bluesy as anybody and they proved that from the start. While Dazed and Confused is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the album, it's songs like How Many More Times and Babe I'm Gonna Leave You that make me appreciate this album. Of course, every song I just mentioned is cover of some sort. Even Dazed and Confused had its roots elsewhere. 

However, it's the album cover that really sends the point home. It was controversial upon its release, but it has since gained a bit of a reputation as being a symbol for both rock n' roll. That and it's also famous for looking kinda like a penis. I don't really see it, but that's what I've read. I'd say all those people are nuts. 

Okay, the cover does look oddly phallic. The whole "nuts" thing was a joke. I thought it was mildly amusing, okay?

Good Times Bad Times 2:44
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You 6:40
You Shook Me 6:30
Dazed and Confused 6:26
Your Time Is Gonna Come 4:34
Black Mountain Side 2:13
Communication Breakdown 2:29
I Can't Quit You Baby 4:43
How Many More Times 8:28

03. Led Zeppelin II - It's not perfect. Have you ever really listened to the guitar solo in Heartbreaker? That guitar solo is actually a half-step out of tune. It's sloppy as hell and yet somehow it manages to still be listenable and an inspiration to other aspiring ax-men. Whole Lotta Love is one of their most well-known songs, but even that one was accused of being wholly unoriginal much like most of Zeppelin's early material. 

What Zeppelin offered though was a mysticism and a charisma and damn good musicianship, too. Yes, they blatantly took other people's songs (Deep Purple did, too), but they made them their own and perfected what was already there. Don't even try to be pretend you listen to the Willie Dixon song You Need Love on a regular basis. Nope. But you've heard Whole Lotta Love a gazillion times, I bet. 

And why? Because it's good. Even the lesser known songs like The Lemon Song and Thank You are really good in their own right. In fact, The Lemon Song was one of the very first guitar riffs I ever learned. Thank You, on the other hand, is one of Led Zeppelin's few ballads and I like it because of its distinct 60's flavor. It's not terrible like a lot of 80's ballads. 

Whole Lotta Love 5:34
What Is and What Should Never Be 4:44
The Lemon Song 6:19
Thank You 4:49
Heartbreaker 4:14
Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman) 2:39
Ramble On 4:23
Moby Dick 4:21
Bring It On Home 4:20

02. Physical Graffiti - Lots of bands have done double albums, but none of them did it quite the way Led Zeppelin did. They didn't throw everything in including the kitchen sink on this one just because they could. They actually combed through a lot of their unreleased material and combined it with their newer material to make a bit of a greatest hits album. Think about this. Only eight of the songs on this album were actually recorded in 1974. If they were to have released only those 1974 songs on this album then it would still have been a candidate as one of Led Zeppelin's greatest albums. The tracklist would have been something like Custard Pie, In My Time of Dying, Trampled Under Foot, Kashmir, In the Light, Ten Years Gone, The Wanton Song, and Sick Again

However, once you add in those older songs you get new beast. You get the multifaceted masterpiece that Physical Graffiti is rightly considered to be. It doesn't sound like any of the songs are out of place and that is the genius of Led Zeppelin in their prime. Some of the older songs could have been on the untitled album or Led Zeppelin III or Houses of the Holy, but they all seem to fit well here. You'd think they were all recorded during the same studio sessions. I only wish Hey Hey What Can I Do could have made this album. 

Custard Pie 4:13
The Rover 5:37
In My Time of Dying 11:04
Houses of the Holy 4:02
Trampled Under Foot 5:37
Kashmir 8:32

In the Light 8:46
Bron-Yr-Aur 2:06
Down by the Seaside 5:13
Ten Years Gone 6:32
Night Flight 3:36
The Wanton Song 4:10
Boogie with Stu 3:53
Black Country Woman 4:24
Sick Again 4:42

01. Untitled (Led Zeppelin IV) - It's probably a bit of a cliche to list an album that features Stairway to Heaven as number one. However, I think a lot of us take for granted just what a guitar masterpiece Stairway to Heaven is for Jimmy Page. The song contains the "Spirit" of rock. There's a reason that the guitar solo contained within that one song is frequently listed as one of the greatest of all time. Now consider that Jimmy Page actually had three different solos to choose from for that famous song. I've always wondered what the other solos were like, but I'm sure that the one we get to hear everyday on classic rock radio was the right choice. 

Describing this album should be a bit redundant, I would think. Everyone has heard this album multiple times and probably in multiple formats. Vinyl, 8-track, cassette, CD, mp3, etc. You've heard it a million times and you might even be sick of it by now. 

But someone somewhere is discovering Led Zeppelin's fourth album for the first time. Why? It's just one of those albums that are forever ingrained into the psyche of rock n' roll fans. At the risk of sounding slightly sacrilegious, this album is kind of like the rock n' roll bible. Not being familiar with it is just... Well, it's like saying you don't like bacon.

This isn't the most diverse Zeppelin album, but it is perhaps the one that is surrounded by the most mysticism. From the four symbols to the artwork and even to the lack of a title, this album encompasses just about everything Zeppelin stood for to people back then and what they stand for today. It's an institution.

You've heard them all, but they still stand up today as hard-hitting rock songs. Except for Going to California and The Battle of Evermore since those are more folky than anything else. Still good, though. 

Black Dog 4:54
Rock and Roll 3:40
The Battle of Evermore 5:51
Stairway to Heaven 8:02
Misty Mountain Hop 4:38
Four Sticks 4:44
Going to California 3:31
When the Levee Breaks 7:07

Myself; Yourself (Maiserufu; Yuaserufu)

I think I often surprise myself with the stuff I watch just to kill time until the stuff I really want to watch comes out. Right now I'm waiting to resume my One Piece quest, but Funimation has a huge gap of episodes missing on their streaming service so if I want to resume my quest I must buy the DVD's (if they have even gotten that far yet, I don't know) or wait for my heroes at Crunchyroll to upload all of the episodes. 

Unfortunately, it's going to be a while until I can resume my One Piece quest regardless of which choice I make. In the meantime I've been continuing with my Naruto Shippuden to the point where I will be caught up in about sixty episodes, but now that the end is in sight I kind of want to put it off a bit. Sure, the show is still continuing, but waiting a week for a new episode can be even worse than having hundreds of episodes worth of backlog. 

Naturally, I made the decision to search my queue for anything and everything I'd been wanting to watch at one point. 

I don't remember why I put Myself; Yourself on my list. I had never really heard anything good about it. In fact, I'd never heard of it at all. Its place in my queue was a bit of a mystery, but I have been known for my random decisions. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the show. At first, I didn't plan on blogging about it because it really didn't seem like anything I'd care enough to blog about. It just seemed "meh." I've seen so many anime at this point that some of them have just become so predictable that it's not even funny.

The dumbass dude who can't remember his best childhood friend is a very tiring trend in a lot of anime and, not surprisingly, Myself; Yourself starts off with that very same thing. 

Hidaka Sana was best buddies with Wakatsuki Shusuke, Wakatsuki Shuri, Oribe Aoi, and Yatsushiro Nanaka when he was five years younger and still living in the town of Sakuranomori. 

Five years later Sana returns and instantly recognizes Aoi despite the formation of Aoi's rather large boobies. Yay, boobies. Sana also recognizes Shusuke and Shuri.

However, he doesn't seem to realize that he's already run into Nanaka a few times at a shrine. When he sees her at school he assumes that he's some girl he's never properly met and begins to introduce himself. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nanaka slaps the shit out of him. 

Maybe it's just human nature, but I really wanted to see just how Sana was going to further fuck himself up so I kept watching. I knew this was going to be a romance of some sort and I figured he was going to end up with Nanaka, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy and he certainly didn't start off on the right foot. 

Myself; Yourself is adapted from an visual novel much like School Days and Shuffle! as well as many other anime and these types of adaptations can always be hit or miss because sometimes they just don't feel very organic. When it comes to visual novel adaptations some will go out of the way and try to include as many of the routes as possible and that can end up disrupting the flow of the plot or rushing the final outcome. 

Admittedly, Myself; Yourself seems to be predictable and inorganic, but there's a bit more than what's on the surface. At first, I thought I was going to be watching Suzuka Part II. The typical main male character likes a female character who acts cold and distant toward him no matter what even though she really likes him deep down. That kind of story gets on my nerves a lot.

Thankfully, Myself; Yourself didn't stay on that route for more than a few episodes and what helped this anime along until its ending were the underused side stories.

Mochida Hinako was this show's obligatory "loli" character. I'm not quite sure when these characters became such a hit in Japan, but it seem like there have been a lot of them lately. Normally, I'd say something like, "Gee, can't we just get straight to the point of the story and not introduce characters whom I know will have no impact on the resolution of the series?" but I'm not going to say that.

In this case the main story is almost an afterthought. There are so many detours going on in this short series that it's easy to forget there even is a main story (although the main story does have some teeth of its own).

Hinako is just one of those side characters, but she brings her own bit of charm to the series. So much of this show is spent being a little too dark and melodramatic so it's nice to see some humor and fuzziness being mixed in, too.

Next we come to Hoshino Asami. She's probably my favorite thing about the series because she actually is a reasonably thought-out character that will provide an insane twist. Her scene with that crazy-ass granny lady is pretty dark, but that's nothing compared to her "admission" scene not too long after. If there's anything that might make this show warrant a second viewing it's Hoshino.

Although seeing Nanaka frequently catching Sana and Hoshino doing "couple-like" things together can get old quick.

Another thing I want to touch on is the relationship between Shuri and Shusuke. After watching a number of anime that feature "brother-sister complexes," I guess I've become a bit immune to the trope because I no longer find it so surprising.

It's still gross and weird, though.

Luckily, Myself; Yourself isn't very overt about the way it presents Shuri and Shusuke's relationship. In fact, it's subtle enough to where you could honestly debate about what their relationship really is... if you really wanted to debate something like that.

In the visual novel there is a way that Shusuke will admit romantic feelings for his own sister, but the anime smartly avoids such a direct confrontation of the subject.

The final reveal in this series concerns what happened to Yatsushiro during Sana's absence in addition to how Sana came by his fear of blood. The series is at its darkest during these moments, but I can't help but feel that the ultimate reveal of these issues is horribly rushed. The final episode alone seems like it is constantly on fast forward, even going so far as to advance ten years into the future to show how carefree and happy everyone is at the end.

There's a lot more ground that could have been covered. The fast forward to ten years later came almost an instant after Sana walked into Yatsushiro's bathroom to discover her with her wrists slit.

That's one helluva moment to just kick to the curb like that. Seriously. 

If I had to summarize this anime up in a word then that word would be "decent." It could be better, but I've also seen much worse. While it's not a great anime there are certainly some great and dark moments that provide a bit of meat to the story, but it could have been fleshed out so much more. 

I hate it when great plot points get devalued in favor of happy endings. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Two words: Hell yeah! It seems the only movies I've been to see in the theaters lately with the exception of the Evil Dead remake and Star Trek Into Darkness have been superhero movies. And I'm okay with that because they've been pretty damn good lately. Captain America: The Winter Soldier can be considered as yet another notch in Marvel's increasingly impressive arsenal of movies. This time we may very well have what can be considered as the true rival of The Avengers in terms of movie goodness. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier continues a popular trend of making an even darker sequel while striving for even greater spectacle and it really works in this movie for the most part. I really enjoyed the first Captain America movie even though it might not garner the same praise as Iron Man or Thor, but I can't imagine this movie not being considered one of the best sequels of all time. This movie is a flatout damn good summer action/superhero flick with a good story and a better cast. 

Naturally, Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson return to kick ass in their respective roles as Captain America and Nick Fury, but it's made pretty obvious from the beginning that the two characters don't always get along. In some ways, Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. represent some of the very things Captain America has always stood against, but it all comes down to the tremendous amount of time that has past since 1945 and how shitty this world and society has become. The greatest generation has given the torch to... us. I'd feel pretty out of it if I was him, too. 

I don't know about you, but I had been waiting for Nick Fury to actually get a bit of plot time. He's always been the guy in charge and until this movie he hasn't really been given a chance to flex his muscles. Well, I can now rejoice as this movie is largely about Nick Fury and his association to S.H.I.E.L.D. Samuel L. Jackson actually gets to shoot at people in this movie. That's reason enough to see it.

Scarlett Johansson (schwing!) co-stars as the Black Widow, this time as a sidekick of the Captain. She is a perfect representation of our cynical times and her character makes a for good dichotomy with Captain America. It's a shame they didn't get it on and make some superhero babies in this movie, but maybe they are saving that for the sequel. 

I was actually pretty surprised to see Robert Redford (I hadn't seen the previews), but he was an excellent addition to the cast. I think more of these Marvel movies should give more veteran actors a chance to flex their muscles in these bombastic technological marvels of film.

I think one of the reasons I liked the first Captain America so much was the presence of Tommy Lee Jones and I'm glad that the casting gurus behind the second film chose to get one the "old guys," too. 

As for the Winter Soldier himself... I think his character and his duels with Captain America could be one of the more uninteresting things about this movie. I wasn't blown away by his character or his background. However, there is a reason for this and it is a nerdy one. This is me, after all. 

The relationship between those two isn't that different from the relationship between Naruto and Sasuke in Naruto and later Naruto Shippuden. After a couple hundred episodes over the last few months of that I understandably thought, "This same character relationship again?" as I watched the movie. Of course, it's not exactly the same, but there are similarities. 

Still, that doesn't take anything away from how good the movie is. It just means that I've been watching too much Naruto Shippuden

Anyway, great flick. My advice? Watch this movie!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Naruto Shippuden (Seasons Nine, Ten, & Eleven)

Flashback Hell. That is a good way to describe season nine of Naruto Shippuden. The worst thing about the flashbacks of season nine is that they aren't even canon material. For the most part, anyway. It's agony to watch. I'm talking about 21 consecutive episodes of shit that is supposed to have happened during the original Naruto storyline or something like that. Basically, every episode starts out in the present, but someone decides to remember some memory and then next thing you know it's flashback time. 

Look, I don't mind flashbacks every now and then if they actually tell us new material that is important to the story. However, showing us shit we already know to kill time just gets on my nerves. 

Needless to say, I couldn't watch all of season nine. I watched a few episodes here and there, but I really didn't see the point of watching it all. I know what happened in Naruto. I watched all of the important episodes in the original series. I want to get on with the fucking story of Naruto Shippuden before I'm old and gray, thank you very much. 

I'm obviously not saying that you or your buddies won't like those episodes. I know plenty of hardcore fans online that swear by them. Some endure them all to prove their loyalty while others flatout like the fillers. 

I've just got too much shit to do, folks. I mean, at least the other filler arcs in Naruto Shippuden at least tried to tell an original story that kind of had something to do with the present situation. I could watch most of those without a problem. Season nine is bullshit, though. It's like buying a greatest hits album when you already have all the songs on the albums you already own. Maybe if you aren't familiar with anything then you might like season nine a bit because it does tell you some background and whatnot. 

But who the fuck starts watching an anime on season nine of the second series? 

Anyway, this concludes my review of season nine. I know it wasn't very informative, but neither was the season.

Now I'm going to go all Suzumiya Haruhi on your ass and save my thoughts of season ten for last. That's right I'm going straight into season eleven.

Except for episode 222, season eleven is filler. At this point it's become a very common occurrence in Naruto Shippuden that every other season is filler. However, these particular filler episodes aren't quite the Flashback Hell that season nine was. The stories in season eleven are mostly original filler stories taking place in the current timeline. Choose any of the 20 episodes you want to watch or skip them. This statement also applies for season nine's 21 episodes. Yeah, there's always a sparse amount of canon material somewhere that you will miss, but it's no more than a few minutes. The writers simply place it there to try and tie everything together or to give a taste of what's to come.

Skip whatever you want, though. You won't miss jack skipping episodes 176-196 and 223-242. Trust me. 

Season ten gives us that much needed canon material for which I've been yearning. However, there's still flashbacks galore. After all of the episodes I've seen I'm getting a bit tired of the "recap of the recap" schtick. In one episode they'll flashback to the first series for a little bit and that's okay every now and then, but in the beginning of the very next episode they'll recap the recap. As if we've forgotten something we've already seen at least five times at this point without even rewatching the series.

That being said, season ten does kick some ass. I don't know about you, but Naruto's fight against Pain and Sasuke's fight against Itachi seem like forever ago to me and I know I just saw it not too long ago. I'd been wanting to see some serious fighting going on for a while now, damnit!

Season ten doesn't exactly deliver on my hope for amazing fights, but it does feature two prominent fights. The first one to be mentioned is the fight between Sasuke and Danzo.

I don't know about you, but I've always thought Danzo was a worthless fuck. I hated his guts from the moment I saw him. 

However, Danzo's fight with Sasuke made me wonder who I hated more. I didn't used to hate Sasuke. I used to think he was kind of cool during the early Naruto episodes. I don't think so anymore, though. Seriously, fuck Sasuke and the horse he rode in on.

Sasuke is an evil douchebag and I dislike him so much that I really wish he'd just be killed already. Danzo on the other hand was never really an evil character. Yeah, Danzo was underhanded as hell and did some pretty screwed up things, but everything he did was for the Hidden Leaf.

When Sasuke and Danzo began dueling it out... I really didn't know who I wanted to win. 

Of course, that fight takes place after Sasuke's attack on the Five Kage Summit. 

In the world of Naruto there are five Kages and each of these Kages represent different lands. There's the Kazekage (Wind), Hokage (Fire), Mizukage (Water), Raikage (Lightning), and Tsuchikage (Earth). Before Naruto Shippuden we were only familiar with the Hokage and the concept of there being a Kazekage even if we weren't sure who that was exactly. I'm sure you all remember that Orochimaru was disguised as the Kazekage when the Kazekage visited the Hidden Leaf to watch the fight between Sasuke and Gaara. 

So we never really got formally introduced to any of the other leaders until the beginning of Naruto Shippuden when we were told that Gaara had actually made Kazekage.

All of the other leaders were still a mystery for the longest time. 

The Raikage got introduced when his young brother Killer Bee got attacked by Sasuke way back in episode 143. In case you don't remember, Killer Bee is the rapping-Jinchuriki of the Eight-Tails. Once you get used to his rapping he's pretty fun. 

Unfortunately, the Raikage is pissed about his brother being kidnapped by Sasuke and the Akatsuki so he decides to call a meeting of the five Kage to decide what to do about Sasuke and Akatsuki. 

In episode 199 we finally get to meet all of the Kage and it's about damn time! The Mizukage is pretty damn hot, if I say so myself. You'll think that statement is pretty funny if you've actually seen her abilities. 

Of course, "Madara" and his horde of cloud-wearing douchebags won't let anything happen without his say. So the Akatsuki and Sasuke's group decide to crash the Five Kage Summit. 

Sasuke does most of the grunt work and gets to fight pretty much all of the Kage at one point, but these are more or less mini-fights because the main attraction is the Sasuke Vs. Danzo fight. 

Now the reason Danzo is at the Five Kage Summit is because he is the Sixth Hokage. Lady Tsunade is still in a coma after her efforts to help the village during Pain's attack so she obviously couldn't make the Summit. When the old bastards in charge of the Leaf and the Land of Fire began the process of choosing a new Hokage the only two names thrown into the mix were Kakashi and Danzo. Unfortunately, the old bastards chose Danzo. I died a little inside when they did that.

The reason Sasuke has such a hard-on for Danzo is because Danzo is one of the few people responsible for making Itachi kill his own clan. Itachi holds some responsibility too, but Sasuke is forgetting this for the moment like he forgets pretty much everything when he wants. 

It's at this point during the series where I really do question Itachi and his motives. Yes, Itachi loved his little brother dearly. He's clearly the only Uchiha who was ever worth two shits. 

But why did Itachi place so much faith in Sasuke? Why the hell did he have to choose those exact methods push Sasuke?

Well, the answer to that question can be summed up by the very presence of the masked man calling himself "Madara." Madara has been built up to be a really big bad guy so far. I really hope the payoff is huge because the guy is almost being made out to be godlike at this point. You thought Pain was tough? Nah-ah. Here comes Madara and he wants to control the entire world and everyone in it. Of course, Pain wanted to do the same, but Pain himself was being manipulated by Madara. 

Still, I find myself siding with Danzo and what he said about Itachi being a traitor and telling Sasuke everything. That didn't exactly happen, though. Not exactly. Itachi never really said anything to Sasuke until the very end and Sasuke was far beyond comprehension at that point. Itachi was one of the greatest actors who ever lived and he owned that performance so no one saw through that.

Except for Madara. So naturally it was Madara who told Sasuke everything. 

So, no, Danzo, Itachi never really did betray the Leaf telling Sasuke the truth. But... Couldn't Itachi see that Sasuke was becoming a nihilistic asshole who would gladly destroy everything Itachi stood for if given the chance?

I know I'm getting sidetracked here, but it's these little points that actually make Naruto Shippuden a really good story. 

In the end, Danzo was shown to be a tragic hero. I didn't like him, but I did feel a little sad when Sasuke killed him. Danzo was fucked up, but he didn't deserve to die. Sasuke does deserve to die, though. I'm hoping he gets killed before the show ends. 

Anyway, back to the Five Kage Summit. When Madara makes his glorious appearance there it is to declare the Fourth Great Shinobi War to be official and he talks about his plan Project Tsuki No Me. 

It's a long and detailed plan but by making himself the Jinchuriki of the Ten-Tailed Beast, Madara wishes to turn the moon into a bigass sharingan that will control the world. That's the gist of it. 

To be fair, Madara says he only wants to create eternal peace, but the Five Kage that as being nothing more than mindless slavery and decide to join together to make the Allied Shinobi Nations (or whatever the hell its really called). Those damn Kage being so difficult. 

War = On. 

After Sasuke finishes up with Danzo someone else shows up to makes things complicated. It's Sakura, the Queen of All Things Useless!

Yeah, I'm being unfair, but I really wouldn't have minded if Sasuke had killed Sakura when he had the chance. Damn it, Kakashi, why did you save her?

The other prominent fight that occurs in season ten is the one between Killer Bee and Kisame (aka Shark Dude). Although that is really more like a Part 1. 

Anyway, I've had my say. I could say more, but I'm not going to. Just steer clear of the flashbacks and you will be good as gold.