Category: Anime


Because I need stupid puns in my writing!

Puns in my blog mean we've reached an all-time low

More school hijinks this episode. I find it cool how Vice-president and Haru can potentially have all these experiences without any time passing. In this case the entire storyline taking place within a short amount of time will actually make sense! As far as vice-president and Haru are concerned, this episode throws a wrench into things, since it’s heavily implied that Chiyu, Haru’s childhood BFF, also likes him to some degree. And here I was hoping for a simple tale about a school idol and the fat kid going on the internet together. Ah well.

I'm honestly surprised there's not more fanservice in this show all things considered...

Afterward we get into super exposition time. Something that might throw people off is that since people are speaking through their internet connections in this show, they don’t have to use their voice. Basically, thought speak, with them staring at each other and reacting in real time despite not actually talking. It’s pretty crazy.

What we learn is that leveling in Brain Burst is really difficult. Like worse than DnD. The game is apparently capped at level ten, where you get to meet the developer and throw a party or something. However, no one has been able to do this. Vice-president used to be one of the seven badasses in the burst linker program who reached level nine. Most of the level nines decided to maintain a truce, since getting to level ten would require beating five other level nines without losing once, risking the loss of the brain burst program if they did. Basically, it’s so ridiculously harsh that they all stopped playing, with the exception of vice-president, who wanted to throw a giant level ten party or something. She killed the red king with a surprise attack, then was forced to retreat when the others teamed up on her.

They forgot to turn off friendly fire.

Another interesting thing to note is some history about Accel World. It’s been 15 years since people installed Neuro-Linkers, the devices that allow people to enjoy the matrix lifestyle. As a result however, the only people who have literally had them their entire lives are kids. A prerequisite for the brain burst program, other than hating social life, is to have one of these permanent models. In other words, all Brain Burst players are kids. I suppose that could explain their behavior.

 

Finally, we get to the plotline of the next story arc. Someone in school is after the vice president. They know her identity and want all her points. If she uses her full shonen power however, that person will run away screaming and altert every other burst linker in brain burst to her location. And so Haru, the newly christened “lackey #1” agrees to help with next to no hesitation.

She's actually pretty casual about sticking it in, all things considered. *Ba-dum tish!*

Only problem is, the culprit might be Chiyu. Of course, being the protagonist Haru has a heart of gold, so he’s very troubled by this decision and goes off to confront it head-on, much to vice-president’s annoyance. Fortunately Taku, who is also Haru’s childhood BFF and Chiyu’s boyfriend, shows up and reassures him vaguely using a half-assed socratic method, thus leading Haru to go and do the intimate cable connection with her to read her memories. Because he’s her FRIEND, DAMMIT and that’s totally OKAY! I’m sure that’s exactly what Taku had in mind. What follows is an awkward, extended sexual metaphor. Granted they did state right out that such a connection is something only lovers typically do, however it’s hard to justify Haru’s position in this case even though he does find something suspicious.

I think Haru’s characterization is consistent and though out pretty well, since despite his generally nice personality he’s also extremely unsure of himself when he’s not gaming. Real life circumstances are challenging his morals and frankly he doesn’t have the backbone to back them up. Hopefully we’ll see some consequences to this and some positive changes in Haru’s character. Or they could just play video games online. That’d be cool too.

Kids nowadays just don't understand the concept of grinding...

Advertisements

Too bad stage selection is stuck on random

In my attempt to actually keep up with a series, I’m starting with Accel World. This is complicated by the fact that I really didn’t summarize the plot of the first episode much. So, a quick re-cap:

Haru is at the bottom of the food-chain at school. Picked on and forced to be a bully’s lackey, his only escape is virtual reality, which seems really advanced, as it turns him into a cartoon pig. His only accomplishment is apparently online squash. His life reeeally seems to suck right now, and he inadvertently takes it out on people around him since he doesn’t want to be pitied. Enter the student council vice-president with a really long name. She takes a liking to him and beats his high-score in squash. Then invites him to lunch where she gives him the brain burst program, which amps up his reflexes using computers or something. After that she warns him not to go on the internet for a while. He ignores this advice and suddenly gets assaulted by a psycho on a motorcycle.

This was when Haruyuki learned the benefits of grinding.

The second episode picks up immediately afterward, with Haru and his fancy new avatar getting their ass kicked. As it turns out, Brain Burst is basically a fighting MMO with high stakes. The points you get from the game let you use hax in real life, but the only way to get more is to beat people up online. Since Haru wants to repay her for getting rid of his bully, he decides to team up with miss vice-president, because it’ll obviously endwell. He displays more intelligence than your standard protagonist by insisting to keep their relationship strictly business, but he didn’t count on her being a maser troll. Ah, high school drama.

What do you mean you didn't stick it in?!

The rematch between Haru (AKA Silver Crow) and the ghost rider knock-off is kinda funny. After getting in a surprise attack Haru intends to use the timer to win automatically. Not just incredibly cheap, it’s something you wouldn’t expect from a main character. Haru continues to be unique… 😀 Things don’t as planned however and Haru is forced to reach his hidden shonen potential to kick reason to the curb and surpass the impossible. Or in this case a guy who confused an MMO with a racing sim. I could’ve done without the Harley-Davidson trivia though….

My dream of a world where people use usernames in everyday conversation...

What is even a street fighter?

In typical late fashion I’ve put together a list of anime I decided to check out for this season. Success is debatable.

Shining Hearts

That bread is huge.

I thought it was a swords and sorcery anime, but for the most part it seemed to be about making bread in a fantasy setting. If it ends up anything like Yakitate Japan it’ll be a winner, but I somehow doubt it. As for the characters, the main character seems laidback, while his three co-workers definitely want his balls. That’s about as eloquently as I could ever put it. Everything seems nice and happy, but shit is gonna hit the fan based on obvious foreshadowing. I’ll watch some more of this, but only because I like the artist (-_-;). A good possibility of this being stupid harem though. We’ll see how this goes.

Maken-Ki!

Perfectly understandable given the circumstances. I wasn't sure if they were real either.

The protagonist has an irritating design. His personality is stereotypically shonen to an aggravating degree except during fanservice portions, where he reverts to being a perverted character stereotype. The girls are cookie-cutter and irritating, most especially the tsundere. Super-powers are mystical items that random characters have for no apparent reason. I was going to watch this for the art style, but not anymore. This anime literally has nothing original going for it. It doesn’t even try to present things in an innovative way.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san

So wait, does that mean he's into tentacles?

The premise of this anime is interesting: A guy is living under the same roof as a Cthulu god while his parents are on vacation. However take away the Lovecraftian context and you get little more than a stereotypical anime about a guy being dragged into a hidden world by some attractive, mystical high school girl. The show uses comedy at every opportunity to carry it from one situation to the next. Understandable, since it’s not something you would want to see taken seriously (my cthulu wallpaper can attest to that). In other words, pure slapstick comedy with random Cthulu references for flavor. Expect Swimsuit, hot spring, karaoke, festival, and other episodes to show up. I think my worst mistake in watching this was taking the premise seriously. My bad.

Upotte!!

When you think about it, angry teenage girls are a good metaphor for the arms race.

In an effort to learn from my mistake where I took Haiyore! seriously, I started watching everything else on my list with next to no expectations of quality. That may or may not work. In the case of Upotte!! it definitely helped me not turn it off after seeing the opening, what with the overflow of fetish fuel presented. I can definitely see the relation to Strike Witches, with a combination of transforming assault rifle school girls with slice of life. It’s probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen; I was still confused even after they explained it. That confusion may or may not prompt me to try watching more of this show. Despite the weird concept however, it’s not really that notable aside from the fact that the creators seem to have done their homework.

Queen’s Blade Rebellion

It's about time this series got a pole dancer...

Going in, I expected this show to be little more than boob-shots. What I got was a confusing plot and… boob-shots. Also robots and a complete lack of any adherence to physics. I would elaborate, but frankly just thinking of this show makes me tired…

Jormungand

Still a better love story than twilight.

This was another anime that I feel like I’ve seen before. A child soldier named Jonah teams up with an arms dealer named Koko and her merry band of psychopathic mercs. It felt like watching Black Lagoon all over again, which isn’t a bad thing. For one thing, it doesn’t take place in Japan, so the environment feels fresh and interesting. Also, a notable thing about the art style is that all the main characters have DEAD eyes. It’s notable in various anime to give the psychopaths, evil guys, or psychologically damaged people eyes with no shine that you typically see in most of the bubbly characters. Black Lagoon did this to the characters when they go serious or pissed off, and many of the antagonists in Hellsing also shared this trait. However this is the first series I’ve seen where literally ALL of the apparently major characters have dead eyes. It’s a good art trick that points out how screwed up these people are, most especially Jonah, who looks like he’s going to shoot someone in every scene he appears in.

Polar Bear Cafe

And then they shot his kneecaps

It’s an anime where a Polar Bear runs a cafe. You can’t possibly lose! The fact that the animals are drawn realistically instead of the cartoonish style I was expecting makes the anime surreal, especially given the show’s focus on comedy. That said, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a plot. Mostly it’s just gags. I may keep up with this one just to see more of the panda’s bullshit.

Accel World

I'm surprised they haven't pulled out the GITS references yet

This show has a familiar premise; characters interacting in a virtual world through extremely convenient interfaces in the near-future. They fight online for truth, money, justice, and possibly free future porn. I swear I’ve seen this movie before… The thing that stands out is the main character Haru; He’s the polar opposite of your standard male protagonist. Physically speaking, he’s a short fat kid with a particularly cartoony face that portrays him in the most unimpressive way possible. He gets bullied in the first few minutes into buying lunch for some punks only to later hide in the bathroom and log onto the internet to escape his problems. He tops that off by treating his childhood friend like shit when she tries to help him. His crowning achievement in life is virtual squash and his virtual avatar is a chibi-piglett.

MFW his squash habits boost him to harem-level popularity levels later on.

They basically made the main character about as uninteresting and pitable as possible. This actually makes the fairly straightforward plot more interesting. Whereas most series have forgettable protagonists in favor of the cute girls and crazy action sequences, you actually remember Haru because of these features. He stands out, and you probably root for him out of pity if nothing else. His struggles have more meaning because it’s clear from the beginning that Haru is at the absolute bottom of the food-chain in every social circle he is or will be involved in. You don’t know where his journey will take him, but it’s gotta be better than what we see here. That said, I’m still calling bullshit if this series turns into a harem, unlikely as that seems.

That’s all I got through. Everything else seemed less agreeable to my awkward tastes. I don’t know if I’m going to chronicle any of these episodically, especially since this is two weeks late, but who knows, maybe I can stick to a schedule for once. Practice makes perfect… As for the series themselves, it’s nice to get into something with no prior knowledge bogging me down, but I notice that my perception is still skewed regardless. I need to work on that…

Anime: Making me long for shitty classes, asshole friends and absolutely no adventure. This is why I can't have nice things.

Black Rock Shooter (BRS) is a cool concept. The sales figures for her figurines probably say more about how cool her design is than anything I could say. Narratively speaking, a badass alter-ego that not only spawns whatever artillery or sharp objects she can think of, but ignores all forms of stabbing, bludgeoning and harsh words, is also pretty self-explanatory. Heck, most people who watch this probably know about BRS in some form. The crazy part of this anime was that the “normal cast” was just as compelling as their sharp and pointy counterparts, after a point.

How about some support, mother? After all your daughter is in a battle to decide the fate of high school girls everywhere!

The plot revolves around Kuroi Mato and her crazy high school friends, albeit only the female ones, because let’s face it, the BRS franchise mainly catered to otaku who like the character design before the implied les-yay showed up during the OVA. Now all sorts of people can enjoy it! Well, except for the normal people, but no one likes them. Anyway, as it turns out, high school girls deal with a lot of shit in their day-to-day lives, and they have to blow off steam somehow, so they… create spiritual alter-egos who use those emotions to fight it out in an alternate world based on a child’s book! I mean what else can they do to relax between homework, school clubs, social lives, chores, and japanese societal expectations of women? Understandable, I think.

 

Yeah baby!

 

The character design for Mato threw me off initially, since I thought she should have looked more like her counterpart in the face area.

As the series progresses (all eight episodes of it), you learn the backstories behind all five of the main characters, essentially the people connected with the titular alter-egos important enough to get their own design. Much character development is had by all, with notable scenes of the characters freaking the hell out. This is probably why the artist for the “real” world is noteworthy. The character design doesn’t seem to stand out until you see some of the various expressions on all their faces. Of course, you also get several exciting CG fight scenes, which fulfills the action quota that many fans expected. Initially I felt like the action was just there to show off the cool CG, but by the end it grew on me, particularly the girls’ penchant for unique weaponry.

 

That moment when you realize you're only here for the psychadelic mega-cannon

 

The main thing that kept me from watching the series for a while was the whole “touchy-feely girls” thing. Watching this, Rinne no Lagrange, Hanasaku Iroha, and others, I’m a bit tapped out on anime focusing on “girl-talk.” Each of these have female leads in high school, and as a result their character development is, well, girly. It’s understandable, but really, I should probably invest myself in a hardcore shonen title before going back to new anime after this run… That doesn’t mean BRS isn’t a show you shouldn’t watch however. It’s got a unique style to it, along with mindfuckery thanks to the CG world. I highly recommend it.

 

...and then my sanity shattered!

BRS was produced by Ordet with CG production by Sangizen.

Now if only they’d localize the PSP game so I could review that….

Hopefully this is only the start of Redjuice's success...

So following the aggravating disappointment that was Negima’s end as well as the sad example of unimaginative thinking that was Mass Effect 3’s ending, I sat down and finished the anime “Guilty Crown.” As you can probably tell by the less than optimistic title to this post, that didn’t end well either.

The series follows a young man named Shoe who goes off and gets involved with terrorists after he inadvertently absorbs their superweapon. With the idealistic goal of making friends and gaining the affections of a convenient pop idol who can pop off a headshot at 50 meters, Shoe embarks on a journey to take down a bunch of vague tyrannical government agencies that in no way represent American intrusion into the Japanese economic system. After getting made fun of and generally shown how much of a beta he is to the terrorist alpha leader Guy, he ultimately comes into his own, mastering his mystical power of FRIENDSHIP WEAPONS to demolish the tyrannical puppet government at the cost of his new/old friend Guy. While this only takes up the first half of the series, I liked it. I was rooting for Shoe despite the terrible (English) connotations of his name, and honestly was interested in seeing him grow.

Character designs distract you from suspecting how screwed up some characters can get.

The second half of the series takes fans’ expectation of a cool action sci-fi shonen romp and punches it in the face. Shoe’s growth is implied to be complete, but that too is quickly shot down along with his right arm. More than half the main cast dies on both sides and by the end Shoe is left with  a rather bleak resolution to the crisis after fighting Zombie Guy and getting most of his schoolmates killed. Apparently he can barely see, has poor motor control, and didn’t grow his arm back. I have to say that while I can admire bits of sacrifice as far as some plotlines go, the series basically left Shoe with next to nothing besides a replacement girlfriend in a wheelchair. Admittedly, it could’ve ended much worse, but I feel like Shoe sacrificing himself would’ve fit in with the series’ theme near the end. It’s bleak and depressing regardless, but I can’t help but feel this ending was actually crueler to poor Shoe. Kinda screwed up, to be honest, because the way I saw it all his hard work doomed him to a debilitatingly slow death in a physically broken form without the love of his life to help get him through it. Even his surviving friends seem to not have been in contact with him on a regular basis.

Now that we’re past the review, let’s see about something else- some odd facets I’ve noticed through these fictional endeavors about myself, in particular this show. I find myself largely content in my day-to-day activities, but whenever I consider the future, I either experience gut-wrenching terror or dark, poisonous fatalism. I have no real dream or ambition beyond having the means to live comfortably and carefree. I’m told I’m good at writing, among some other things, but I honestly can’t tell whether I’m just kidding myself because I’m lazy or if I genuinely don’t care. Even with some kind of talent I have no idea how to utilize these skills effectively and the ways I have been taught don’t work for me. These shows, games, and other mediums that I peruse consistently point out characters with goals that they not only work reasonably hard toward, but seem to have the proper skill set to achieve. I’m fully aware that the plots are what make things work out for the protagonists most of the time, but I can’t help but be jealous on some level. I look at a number of goals I might find myself working toward and soon discount even the process of working, because I’ve already found it to be a fruitless and unsatisfying endeavor. Even what work I do get done feels empty and not my own. Take this blog for instance. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that it will not be successful, will not help me in any feasible way, and will ultimately be left to collect dust when I can no longer work on it for whatever reason.

I guess you could say that I’m like a lot of people who want validation for their continued existence. Being an unemployed full-time student who has never taken a significant break from school, I have yet to see a real payoff for any work I’ve ever done, and don’t feel as if I can really contribute anything to people.

I could go on about these issues of mine, but it’s midnight where I am and about the only thing that will make me feel useful in the morning is a good night’s rest. As for Guilty Crown, it’s an entertaining series with a unique flavor, not to mention character design by a Deviantart user. Need something out of the ordinary but still recognizable? It’s a good bet.

Like a bad Monday

Asura’s Wrath is an exciting game. Mythological adaptations fighting each other while screaming at the top of their lungs plus space ships? How can you go wrong? To be honest, I loved the game. On a basic level, the game works really well. The melee combat and Quick Time Events (QTE) work great, the voice-acting is… enthusiastic, the art style is really emotive, the core aspects of the game are great. It’s the extraneous stuff that really screws up the game.

The shooter segments are little more than you mashing buttons until a QTE occurs. Everything in these segments is a barrier between you and the next fight. While I can understand the placement of some random bosses to break up the story, these just seem odd to me. Similarly, story events between “episodes” are still pictures (drawn by different artists each time) with voiced dialogue. It’s little better than telling the story through random text files. Considering how great some of the cutscenes in this game are, it seems odd for them to resort to this.

When you’re in the melee combat segments, the game is great. Brutal and dynamic. Why the game couldn’t be just this is beyond my understanding of game design I suppose. It starts off relatively easy, seeming to skip from QTE to QTE, but the battles get harder and harder (if not bigger in scope), with more on the line. It reminds me more of Enslaved than Devil May Cry, however the controls are responsive and I encountered no glitches. Asura has a huge amount of unique animations for different enemy types, and Liam O’Brien’s yelling really brings out the brutality. Considering how short his effective range is I was surprised how smooth the combat was. The character animations remind me of Street Fighter IV, and you really see it when getting a close-up of character’s faces. Speaking of faces, what is Ganondorf doing in a Capcom game?

And from the darkest depths I heard a voice.... "Tingle Tingle Kooloo-limpah!"

Speaking of storytelling, why in the name of all that is anime are there episodes? Why not just continue to tell the story? If they wanted an anime, why not make an anime? It interrupts the action at the worst time, every time. Not only that, but they show a “next episode” preview literally seconds before the next segment is about to start. It makes me want to go to a restaurant and punch it so hard it turns into a TGI Mondays.

Every anime needs a hot-spring episode!

There is also a fundamental flaw in the presentation of the game’s story as a whole. They present a prologue telling you who the character is, what he’s fighting for, and what happens to set him on this path of revenge. Immediately afterward, there is a tutorial segment establishing that Asura has amnesia. Throughout the game he learns of his past. This is redundant and stupid. It’s poor storytelling, and ruins any attachments to the reveals later on in the story. Without the prologue, we would be learning about Asura’s past and the world at the same time as him. Instead, we already know, and so the reveals are negligible.

It's as if they were planning this all along...

That’s not to say the story isn’t good however. The tale of revenge, religious idiocy and awkward parenting is awesome while it lasts, and while short, combines some of the best elements from not only God of War and CyberConnect’s Ninja Storm series, but Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil 4 and Zelda as well. I’ll let you find those references for yourself.

Still, the real meat of the game is in the melee combat. The game has been described as an “eastern god of war” in some publications. While that certainly seems to be what CyberConnect went for (with a touch of shonen anime), it doesn’t measure up as a game. In fact there’s almost no “levels” in this game. You’re either in an arena combating enemies with melee or running through a rail-shooter segment. QTEs placed between cutscenes round out the levels. I swear to god the next time someone complains about Final Fantasy XIII I’ll simply reply that “at least it wasn’t as bad as Asura’s Wrath.” Only… XIII-2 seems to be doing the same thing as seen here. Oi…

In the end, this game tried to get me emotionally involved, but the episodic bullshit coupled with the sporadic storytelling quality kept it from being as good as it could have been. In the end, as badass as some of the characters are and as interesting as the story ended up, all I really wanted to do was punch things. Thankfully, this game delivers that in spades. Then again, maybe I should expect this from Capcom. Goofy storytelling that you shouldn’t take seriously coupled with typically good gameplay.

I think I’ll just draw from the wisdom of Augus: “Relax my son. Enjoy every moment: You fight, then eat good food. You fight, then drink fine wine. You fight, then sleep with beautiful women. Hell, fight with beautiful women! That’s what it truly means to live.”

As there were previously no pictures of Augus in this review, I was forced to rectify that.

Asura’s Wrath was developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Capcom.

If this review seems to have mixed opinions, it’s because Capcom.

Anime viewing~

This is a new sort of post for my blog. Seeing as how I regularly watch anime, I figure I could at least try to write something related to it, since I’m putting off the Dragon Age 2 review (because people care about that game right?) and Mario’s Time Machine (also relevant!). That and I need practice for my writing that isn’t related to school, because in school you only write about BORING THINGS!

Image

You can just tell this is going to be the best thing ever

~ Daily Lives of High School Boys – Picking on me just because I’m the younger brother…

Daily Lives of High School Boys is an anime based on the manga by Yasunobu Yamauchi. The show is literally exactly what it sounds like, but the characters are… exceptional examples. Whether it’s creating their own skits out of everyday situations or lamenting their complete lack of success (or interaction) with the opposite sex, you can be pretty sure it’ll be hilarious. Or disturbing. Hasn’t been both yet, however. It’s up to episode five and I have to say I’m enjoying it more than I thought it would, since I take fiction too seriously. The interesting part about this show is that a lot of the jokes are hilarious regardless of cultural background, or at least I think so. The situations are ridiculous, true, but the characters are also easy to identify with, a contrast with most anime protagonists who are defined by their power-ups or harem.

Basically, watch it. The thought of this anime being ignored makes me depressed for some reason.

Image

You may be surprised to find that PLOT is, in this case, being used in a misguided fashion.

~High School DxD – So much PLOT.

I watch it for the PLOT! YES! NOTHING SUSPICIOUS HERE GUYS!
…well, falsification aside, it’s really nothing special. The show starts off with the oddly perverted protagonist being killed after his first date impales him and reveals herself as a fallen angel. Then the female lead shows up naked with him in his bed, reveals herself as a devil, informs him of his new job as her servant, and introduces him to the oddly compartmentalized supernatural world. He then sets out to become a “harem king” even though he’s basically powerless. Then he gets a deus ex machina and goes about being a protagonist. I don’t even care.

I had hoped there would be more humor in the show, but so far it’s made up of pointless action with unnecessary gore, as well as… plot. Yes. Totally stole that joke from somewhere. To be honest I think the show would be more interesting if they dropped the action parts and just detailed Issei doing odd jobs around his town in order to rank up as a demon. That would allow for both humor and PLOT. Unfortunately this anime has something to prove, and it continues to go down a generic shonen path, barely dealing with Issei’s issues of having been betrayed by then forced to help kill his first love. I honestly can’t see this anime going past 12 episodes. The manga defines things a little more clearly, but I doubt it’s going to run that long without doing something really… different. I daresay the only reason I found this anime noticeable was because of the ending. Poledancing anime girls? Eh, why not… it’s not like I have a life or anything to get back to.

I don’t recommend watching this one unless you’re bored and need animated PLOT in your life.

Image

Are you guys done yet?

~Zero no Tsukaima f – same old same ol- wait, where are we going?

Zero no Tsukaima is about a normal Japanese boy named Saito whose only defining trait is his uniqu ski jacket, and how he gets pulled into a strange portal that forges a contract between him and Louise, a rather craptastic mage in some fantasy world somewhere. He gains the admittedly badass ability to use any weapon with maximum proficiency upon touching it, based on the Norse Gandalfr myth. Soon afterward it’s revealed Louise is actually good at magic, just not the kind that anyone can teach her. Then there’s fighting and explosions and the two of them trying to advance their relationship. They fail, at least for three seasons.

This is supposedly the final season of Zero no Tsukaima. Admittedly, I only watchd the first season and skimmed through the next two, but I can tell that it only dragged on the plot. Whatever hijinks have ensued, it seems like they’ve only barely explained Louise’s powers and the reason for Saito being summoned. If the plot were really going to go anywhere I don’t think they’d still be at the school where the series started, so it’s no great loss. Five episodes in one of the character’s father tries to start a war, fails, and everyone goes back to what they were doing. While it seems they’ve shifted the setting to Saito’s new “kingdom” or something, I’m not holding out that much hope. I can only hope the plot does something new and interesting with the characters. I already know not to expect much action out of the show unless we’re in the final story arc of the season, but at least the romantic aspects of the show will be forced to actually go somewhere if this is really the end.

I’m gonna have to give it a “tl;dr.”

Image

I support this reboot

~Naruto Shippuuden – Tearing apart my heartstrings, datteboyo!

Why am I writing about Naruto? You either like it, or hate it. Or think it’s one of those weird animes that has gone on too long. Regardless, I have to say that Naruto has really gotten good. Without going into detail about the plot, I have to say that Kishimoto is pretty good at tugging at my heartstrings. You wish these characters could’ve had a nice relatively peaceful ninja life together, but the villain basically prevented all of that. I will be quite happy when that masked prick gets a swirling mass of “believe it!” shonen power down his throat.

Image

You have to be under 18 to pilot mecha

~Rinne no Lagrange – Fun in the sun at 200MPH.

Back to new anime, Rinne no Lagrange feels to me like a new Nadesico series. It’s just so upbeat, and while the characters obviously take things seriously, there’s room for humor and slice-of-life stuff alongside the plot, which has yet to be revealed. Said plot is about a high school girl who likes helping people out while wearing her PE uniform. She helps out an alien girl who isn’t wearing pants by piloting a cg mech reminiscent of Macross. Apparently the mech saved her from drowning when she was a kid, and only wants her to pilot it. How adorable.

The battle scenes are painful to watch due to CG and the oddly designed mechs. Say what you will about Gundam, the action scenes are always done well. I actually found myself disappointed when the mechs in this show transformed OUT of jet mode. One thing I will say is that this show has very cool music. Also, I love tropical settings. In the end, I’ll continue watching it as long as the plot keeps progressing somewhere.

Image

How she stuffs her hair into that hoodie I cannot fathom. Probably magic.

~Black Rock Shooter TV – Welcome to my CG-enabled nightmare.

Black Rock Shooter was originally a fan-made permutation of Vocaloid’s Hatsune Miku I believe. Having gained popularity with various figmas, fanart and one PSP game that I’ll never be able to play, they finally made an OAV telling some sort of story about the titular character. They even gave here a real identity.

Kuroi Mato is a Junior High School Girl who dreams of kicking ass and taking names in leather shorts, a kickass jacket and not much else. Her choice of weaponry just screams shonen and her bland expression tends to be one of her more endearing factors. While I don’t have a statue or figure of her, I do want one. Someday perhaps.

Plot-wise, the TV series is an elaboration on the OAV. While the OAV foused on Mato and Yomi becoming friends and having crazy battles in some kind of nightmare-metaphor world, the TV series seems to have expanded the number of core characters and made the battle sequences more than just a sort of metaphor.

The one thing I really don’t like about the TV series compared to the OAV is the character design. In the real world everyone has gotten rounder and a bit more cutesy, which is admittedly fitting for the “girls having feelings” bits. Meanwhile the battles between Black Rock Shooter and the other dark magical girls are done in CG. While they’re entertaining, they’re just not as cool as the OAV, and it has little to do with the OAV having high production values. CG scenes just look awkward to me. Fortunatey it hardly ruins the experience, and I’m happy enough that there IS a Black Rock Shooter TV series to accept the new design choices. Now if only that PSP game would come out over here…

And that’s essentially all the anime I’m watching at the moment. Come April that’ll probably change as there are quite a few series I intend to get into, specifically Accel World and Fate/Zero. With any luck, I’ll also finally start watching the Persona 4 anime. Tell me what you think, non-existent audience!

Or don't. That's fine too.

What? I posted something?! Heresy, surely… but frankly, with a long list of journalism classes in my future I figure I should keep my writing ability somewhat sharp if only to make up for my terrible people skills when I’m forced to start engaging in interrogative conversation. But enough about me- on to gaming!

At least the gratuitous Spanish isn't DLC...

Every once in a while I feel compelled to play a game even if I know it won’t go well. I can just tell a game is going to be disappointing or stupid in some way, but I still want to play it for just a little bit because I’m excited by the trailers or something. Typically this happens when I end up playing a movie tie-in or something made by Michael Bay. Pffft racing games, I love them.

My ban-kai tops out at 88mph.

Bleach: Soul Resurrection, or Resurrecion if you’re feeling authentic, is a hackn’slash game based on the popular anime and manga whose name is basically unfathomable. It’s a fairly straightforward series where Soul reapers slay demonic “hollow” creatures for the sake of the innocent spirits they prey upon. Explosions and manly yelling abound. One aspect present in Bleach that makes it a staple of the current shonen genre is that most of the characters are extremely similar in terms of functionality. This is true of pretty much the entire series with nearly everyone having transforming swords, single-tone uniforms, and the universal ability to ignore physics. The protagonist, Ichigo, is basically the archetype for all the other characters in the series as well as in the game. He wields a sword that purifies his monstrous foes while making his more squishy targets bleed copious amounts of blood. Every other Soul Reaper, or Death God, is basically a twist on this theme, not to mention most of the in-game antagonists. As a result Ichigo is one of the smoothest characters in the game, and while many of the other characters have their share of hiccups, for the most part it’s a party of button-mashing goodness regardless of who you play as.

LIke Dynasty Warriors, without the capture aspect

As you could probably guess from any picture of him, Ichigo has a fairly simple playstyle- hitting things a lot with your sword. That’s the square button. There’s also a ranged homing attack (triangle) which drains your self-charging MP bar, and a special circle-button attack that drains it completely, forcing you to wait for the bar to recharge before you can use more advanced tactics again. As you take and deal damage, a side bar known as the Ignition gauge fills up, allowing you to enter a powered-up state with the L2 button that deals more damage for a limited time. As a bonus, if you use the button again while transformed, you use a special attack that basically annihilates everything on-screen at the cost of your transformation. Add to that a dash (R2) and block (R1) function, and you’ve got the basic set-up of a hackn’slash with tight, responsive controls that showcase on-screen in beautiful cel-shaded graphics. So what’s the problem?

From a visual standpoint, the levels are faithful cutouts of the environments from the game, those being Hueco Mundo, Soul Society, the skies above Japan and a hellpit. Unfortunately the minimap shows them for what they really are, that being simply-shaped arenas and hallways filled to the brim with assorted cannon-fodder enemies. Sometimes the game locks you in a specific part of the map and spams more enemies than usual, but it’s typically just a mad-dash toward the end. Oddly, however, time isn’t really a factor in your “score.” The game is mostly about collecting little green soul points from enemies and the environment, and spending them on a cheap (yet oddly more functional) copy of the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X. Essentially, the game is built around you hitting everything you see with your sword. Thats the square button, if you forgot.

Four sides of equal length, for those in need of a refresher.

Unsurprisingly, the story isn’t really the focus of the game; as with most anime tie-ins, it’s assumed that you have a basic understanding of the way the world is set up. This is even more apparent in the case of this game- it seems like the developers didn’t even consider that someone would play the game without being up-to-date with the series. Having read the manga myself I noted several major plot points and fight scenes were glossed over or ignored completely, to say nothing of the relevant characters that are missing. It could be understood if you assume that the game had a limited development cycle, but the fact that the campaign plays out flat and uninteresting isn’t going to endear anyone to the series. Add on top of that the generic half-related music and the terrible English voice acting that seems to derive sadistic pleasure from reciting random japanese phrases every other combo, and you might actually end up wanting some of your own characters to die if only to relieve your own boredom/sanity.

One area the game does excel in however is the visuals. As games get prettier over the years, most surmise that games will look more and more realistic. That’s debatable, but I think that the real potential for HD graphics is games like this. Cel-shading has been around for a while, but with this technology the characters literally look like they walked out of the show. It makes sense; if the developers aren’t trying to make it look realistic in the first place, they can be more faithful to the show and make everything look fantastic.

Admittedly, wishing for the protagonist's death isn't exactly a new thing in video games...

Admittedly the game is a little half-assed in some areas, but the game accomplishes what it set out to do. If you want to dash across familiar locales from the Bleach universe, cutting a swathe of destruction and high combos through hordes of hollows with little-to-no resistance, then you’re golden. Sure it locks all the characters in their most powerful states, and perhaps the cast of playable characters is on the lean side, but what you do get is perfect for what the game is- a beat em’ up. That, and a cash-in, but what franchise isn’t?

This should come as a surprise to no one, but if you’re not a fan of the series, you won’t know or care about anything happening in this game. I mean it should be self-evident from the moment you look at the box. Most tie-ins in the video game industry fall between mindless cash-grabs and a unique medium to tell an original story within the franchise’s universe, with the small chance of actually turning out to be a good game.

I'm not insinuating anything

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion was developed by Nippon Ichi Software.
Bleach is owned by Tite Kubo.
I own two cats and a dog-thing.

Yay, I’m writing again! And reviewing! Rather than a game, this time it’s an anime? I wonder if that means someone will actually read this? Pfft, as if.

Toradora was an interesting time-waster. While it does have a few moments that prompted laughter (primarily involving a parrot), the characters are perhaps too deep to really be able to just sit and enjoy this series. Characters are examined to the point where you either begin to emphasize with their pain, or just end up hating them altogether.

Characters:

Left to Right: Taiga, Ryuji, Ami, Minori, Exhebitionist-kun

Ryuji is a scary-looking student with an obsession for cleaning/housework and mad skillz at cooking. Despite his initial presentation, he’s a fairly cookie-cutter protagonist when he interacts with people. His main feature, his Yakuza-looks, don’t get brought up much and really he could’ve looked like any other wide-eyed anime protagonist to the same effect. The only thing really remarkable about him is his obsession with cleaning. Too bad it doesn’t get played up much.

Taiga is the female protagonist of the series. She’s got daddy issues (and in this case the guy is actually quite an asshole) and a temper, but doesn’t come off as a complete bitch for whatever reason. She is extremely high-maintenance both physically (eating a lot for a Japanese person) and emotionally (cries too much). The show tries to play off the fact that she’s misunderstood and has it hard, but honestly fails at both. She, like Ryuji, monologues to the point that you stop taking her plight seriously.

Minori is a red head in Ryuji’s class that he has a major crush on. She’s portrayed as hyper, speaking oddly, and insightful at random moments. She switches moods so fast it gives people whiplash. She also ignores people that are talking about things she doesn’t want to discuss. All in all, irritating. Also prone to random self-loathing and turns out to be a surprisingly hesitant character. It’d probably be better if she really were as airheaded as she makes everyone think she is.

Kitamura is apparently Ryuji’s only male friend of any significance, and is kind of a dick. I couldn’t help but feel that he’s extremely good at reading/manipulating people. Every time he appears he either appears painfully ignorant or just completely disinterested. He also shamelessly flirts with any females that he doesn’t “like.” The only time he didn’t come off as a complete dick (and generally a fill-in character) was when his issues with the president came to the forefront. Judging by his plans for studying abroad after the show, I don’t think he got over them.

Ami is a teen fashion model that is Kitamura’s childhood friend. She alternates between being portrayed as a self-absorbed celebrity and a typical “mature” lady. She’s so hung up on not being able to live her childhood the way she wants it gets worse listening to her than Taiga. She’s apparently responsible for making the characters realize their “true feelings”, but honestly she just goads everyone to the point of instability, at which point the plot takes care of everything. She gets the “sad ending” as well.

"When you run through the hallways of life, your tears are the metaphorical nosebleed."

Getting into this show, I expected a semi-serious plot with some comedy tacked on. I suppose I can understand this show’s popularity given the amount of character-development, but to me it was overdone. The show also has several serious themes that frankly hit me out of nowhere.

Hit me like a flying exhibitionist

Toradora is basically about becoming an adult and learning to put up with the daily bullshit that life throws at us. That summary is nowhere near as depressing as how right that statement is. It’s annoying as hell, and as a result so is this series.

The characters interact and continue to beat around the bush, refusing to just come out and say what their issues are, deigning to operate within the confines of their more annoying personality traits (except Ryuji, who as a protagonist never really knows what’s going on until the plot demands him to give a cool speech). Some could argue it’s realistic, but I call it annoying. Like real people. Hmmmm….

It's time to duel?

Another theme the series brings up is how young people are predisposed to acting without thinking. Though they attempt to highlight this during the series a few times, I can’t help but think of how cautious and suspicious these characters are. None of these characters act without thinking their actions through. It’s kind of an annoying aspect of most anime, but it really stands out when the show has the characters contradicting their own monologues. Do all Japanese High School students think ten steps ahead all the time?

Yet when they do reach out and try to do something different from the norm, they’re immediately shot down, rather harshly, and left to brood in silence until someone yells at them. Considering all the crap Ryuji and company go through, I’m not sorry I decided to forgo most social interaction throughout High School. Still, I can’t imagine any young anime fan having much to look forward to if they think this is how their high school life and future friendships will play out. Maybe the Japanese simply have that bleak of an outlook on the world? It seems as if anything that happens after High School is something that will slowly suck your soul out according to these conceptions. The characters talk about dreams and yet have it constantly shoved in their faces.

Frankly this series pisses me off. Maybe it’s childish, but if this is supposed to be adulthood, then someone else can have it. Various aspects of society continue to annoy me enough as it is. Though I suppose I should be thankful that I’m not a completely feminine tool like Ryuji. Seriously, there comes a time when you have to tell certain people to flock off. At least he got the girl in the end, though this all could have been avoided if he’d been given the devious insight of his contemporaries…

I somehow doubt people will get the DMC reference...

see what I did thur?

Toradora is licensed in the US by NIS America