Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episode 3

Aug 03 // Salvador GRodiles
Speaking of goals, this week’s episode was one of the first ones to actually introduce a major conflict in the show’s story. Sure, the idea behind sealing the unsealed Spark Dolls was a big goal for XiO, but there needs to be a bigger element to prevent the course from losing its delicious taste. Thankfully, the mysterious lady that was controlling the nocturnal creature known as Teresdon, a monster that looks like a dinosaur crossed with a giant turd, might become a recurring villain. In all seriousness, the monster shares more similarity with a mole than fecal matter. I mean, the guy burrows underground; therefore making it a ground-based monstrosity. Yes, Teresdon is another recycled creature but at least that gives Tsuburaya the chance to resell more SofuBi figures to people who're unfamiliar with Ultraman's classic creature. Since I’m still new to the franchise, it’s neat to see these old-school suits make a return— even if it’s the result of the series having a low budget. Even though Asuna’s passion for fashion got in the way of the mission at hand, the way how her actions coincided with the important scenes were hilarious. Due to the timing behind her antics, the most annoying segments caused by her were laughable. Honestly, I’m surprised that the lady’s decision to wear high heels while pursuing a dangerous person to be disappointing.  I guess this has to do with the brief moments that we spent with XiO’s members. Let’s just say they continue to show potential. From the looks of it, the whole purpose for her predicament was meant to convey the bond that the organization has. While they could’ve saved this moment after we’ve been acquainted with the crew later on, the staff isn’t running on the same episode count that many long toku shows have so they have to take advantage of their timeframe. For what it was, it gives me hope that the rest of the characters will get a similar treatment to the crew’s action girl. In other words, I’m hoping that we get a Dr. Gourman episode down the road. Speaking of which, the show deserves some props for having Gourman create the Ultlaser, a weapon that pays homage to the original Ultraman. Since I heard that the franchise tends to have lots of scenes where the people shoot at the large creatures, the fact that the gun does the Giant of Light’s hand gestures is a good sign that these segments are capable of being better than before. If anything, this will determine if the studio have found the balance on how to handle the franchise. On the design side of things, the show’s docking vehicles continue to serve their purpose in keeping our giant monster battle appetite in check. Hell, Musketty’s form-changing ability that’s based on the vehicle that it combines with still manages to change up the ante in these segments; thus maintaining its role as the title's appetizer. X’s Eleking Armor has a nice super robot vibe to it. I guess it’s the armored beast head on his shoulder that makes him look like a badass. From his electric gun whip to his shockingly destructive finisher, this week’s battle brought us some neat moments. Even Teresdon got with the program since his burrowing attacks had it do a spinning move that turned the reptilian creature into a drill. To an extent, it was a nice improvement over the last fight. While it seems that Ultraman X’s format might be limited to the hero using a new Monster Armor each week, I’m hoping that they’ll get to have him change Forms on the fly during the later battles. As nice as it was to see them change things up each week, it’s still important for a series to give each power-up more screentime since it can make the toys look cooler. If the show’s opening is anything to go by, the staff is likely saving this feature for the title’s big fights. Seeing that episode 3’s monster had a human sized partner that got away, this is a great sign that Ultraman X is setting up for the show’s first major arc. Considering that the series will likely run for 22 episodes, this gives the team more time to develop the show's story further. Until then, we can count on XiO’s crew to keep us entertained. Not only that, X’s priceless inability to comprehend basic human manners will act as another aspect that’ll tickle our funny bones. [You can catch Ultraman X on Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel] Speaking of goals, this week’s episode was one of the first ones to actually introduce a major conflict in the show’s story. Sure, the idea behind sealing the unsealed Spark Dolls was a big goal for XiO, but there needs to be a bigger element to prevent the course from losing its delicious taste. This was set up by the fate of the mysterious lady that was controlling the nocturnal creature known as Teresdon, which happens to look like a dinosaur crossed with a giant turd. In all seriousness, the monster shares more similarity with a mole than fecal matter. I mean, the guy burrows underground; therefore making it a ground-based monstrosity. Yes, Teresdon is another recycled creature but at least that gives Tsuburaya the chance to resell more SofuBi figures to people. Since I’m still new to the franchise, it’s neat to see these old-school suits make a return— even if it’s the result of the series having a low budget. Even though Asuna’s passion for fashion got in the way of the mission at hand, the way how her actions coincided with the important scenes were hilarious. Due to the timing behind her antics, the most annoying segments caused by her were laughable. Honestly, I’m surprised that the lady’s decision to wear high heels while pursuing a dangerous person to be disappointing.  I guess this has to do with the brief moments that we spent with XiO’s members. Let’s just say they continue to show potential. From the looks of it, the whole purpose for her predicament was meant to convey the bond that the organization has. Yes, they could’ve saved this moment after we’ve been acquainted with the crew later on, but the staff isn’t running on the same episode count that many year-long toku shows have. For what it was, it gives me hope that the rest of the characters will get a similar treatment to the crew’s action girl. In other words, I’m hoping that we get a Dr. Gourman episode down the road. Speaking of which, the show deserves some props for the Ultlaser, a weapon that pays homage to the original Ultraman. Since I heard from Bueno and his group that the franchise tends to have segments where the people shoot at the large creatures, the fact that the gun does the Giant of Light’s hand gestures is a good sign that these segments have become even flashier than before. Hell, this might be a sign that we’re getting more elements to up the ante in the series. If anything, this will determine if the studio have found their direction on how to handle the franchise. On the design side of things, the show’s docking vehicles continue to serve their purpose in keeping our giant monster battle appetite in check. Hell, Musketty’s form-changing ability that’s based on the vehicle that it combines with helps change up the ante in these segments. X’s Eleking Armor has a nice Super Robot vibe to it. I guess it’s the armored beast head on his shoulder that makes him cool. From his electric gun whip to his shockingly destructive finisher, this week’s battle brought us some neat moments. Even Teresdon got with the program since his burrowing attacks had it do a spinning move that turned the reptilian creature into a drill. To an extent, it was a nice improvement over the last fight. While it seems that Ultraman X’s format might be limited to the hero using a new Monster Armor each week, I’m hoping that they’ll get to have him change Forms on the fly during the later battles. As nice as it is to see them change things up each week, it’s still important for a series to give each power-up the time to shine since it can play a good role in making the toys look cooler in action. If the show’s opening is anything to go by, the staff is likely saving this feature for the title’s major battles. Seeing that episode 3’s monster had a human sized partner that got away, this is a great sign that Ultraman X is setting up for the show’s first major arc. Considering that the series will likely run for 22 episodes, there’s plenty of elements that the team can mess around in the next few weeks. Until then, we can count on XiO’s crew to keep us entertained. Not only that, X’s priceless inability to comprehend human mannerism will act as another aspect that’ll zap our funny bones with laughter.
Ultraman X photo
This guy is no Elekid
Another day, another city to be ruined by a giant monster. Yup, that’s Ultraman X’s format for ya. I guess that those pesky creatures just want to walk the Earth after being freed from their toy-like states. Not t...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 13-16

Aug 03 // Nick Valdez
Episode 13 For the final day of Totsuki's survival camp, students are challenged to serve some kind of egg dish to 200 people within 2 hours at an all you can eat buffet. The major push of this episode goes toward introducing two new rivals, Alice Nakiri and her henchman Ryo Kurokiba. Since Alice is related to Erina, they have quite a fierce family rivalry (which leads to some funny introductions between the two and Souma), but Souma pays them no mind and ends up developing an egg souffle. But Erina quickly looks down the idea and notes Souma is making a huge mistake, When Souma gets placed next to Erina in the serving area, he's quickly dominated by Erina's eggs benedict dish covered in dry fish egg powder. The other students seem to be faring well, but Alice's egg dishes are completely ignored since they look like plain eggs served different ways. But Souma's dish is also struggling. No one seems to be choosing his souffle and they're collapsing fast.  Episode 14 Finally realizing what Erina was talking about the episode prior, Souma stumbles when he sees his egg souffles crumbling and ignored (since buffet goers usually don't eat every food when they're prepared, a souffle was a bad idea since they don't hold form for long). After taking a brief pause, Souma decides to draw in 190 customers within the final 30 minutes of the task. Jumping into this impossible task, Souma decides to live cook each of the dishes in order to draw attention. This episode had the slickest cooking animation I'd seen yet. To reflect his massive task, and how fast he was going, Souma was accent with speed lines, quick edits, and it was the right kind of flashy. This show has trouble at times since it wants everything to look slick (since cooking isn't exactly full of action), but thanks to this sequence we get all the action we need. Souma was able to complete his servings barely before the buzzer sounds. As we check in with the rest of the students, we learn Erina served something like 400 dishes, Alice (whose egg dish actually was meticulously calculated through science cooking) served 300, and everyone else managed to make it through the task. After some celebration of the final task of camp, about 2/3 of the students who first attended camp made it through the week. Souma then realizes he's glad he came to Totsuki Academy in the first place.  Episode 15 With the Totsuki survival camp over, it's time to head into the next arc, The Autumn Elections. After Souma and Erina miss the bus home, they have a chat about the Autumn Elections which will serve to get their name known to restaurant owners and chefs. That's also why the survival camp exists as sort of a preliminary exam for the Elections. But as the gang returns to the Polar Star dorm, an unexpected guest shows up, Souma's dad Joichiro. Souma then learns some interesting things about his dad: he travels worldwide and cooks, he was a former Elite Ten member at Totsuki (the ten best cooks in the school), and he and Dojima were once members of the Polar Star dorm and their Shokugekis helped expand the dorm to what it is today. At the end of the episode, Joichiro challenges Souma to a Shokugeki in order to see how much Souma has/hasn't grown.  And with a new direction for the series, we also get a new opening sequence. Highlighting some folks we haven't met yet, and playing around with how wacky its visuals get, this opening is fun and intense at the same time. But I think I prefer the first opening's song. Also, maybe because the show's spent a huge chunk of its budget, there were plenty of shortcuts here. The animation surely taken a hit, but that's okay given that it's not necessary until we get to bigger scenes.  Episode 16 As Souma and his dad enter a new super early morning Shokugeki, they get the household caretaker Fumio, the nudist Isshiki, and a poor sleepy Tadakoro to be the judges. To reflect how early it was, Fumio decides the challenge will be a breakfast dish that invigorates the three for the day ahead. Souma creates an apple risotto, an interesting choice given that apples would be hard to cook within a risotto. But thanks to some apple juice, the risotto is filled with the right kind of flavor and ultimately leads to the image above. But Joichiro unleashes his worldly strength and produces an all vegetable ramen (one he perfected working with a vegan monk), and resoundingly wins the challenge. Which makes that 0/490 for Souma, and it also explains why Souma's never nervous for anything since he's been trying to overcome his dad's strength all these years.  Remember when I mentioned how action lines can be used weirdly two episodes above, that happens a ton here. Have fast moving backgrounds clash with the static characters in an attempt to make them feel like they're being adequately animated is a cheap ploy. And it's certainly a lack of budget seeping through. I hope it's being saved for the Elections themselves. If it's anything like it is in the manga, it's gonna be sooooooooooo good.  I'll try to keep these closer together once the Elections start, so hope you'll keep reading! 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Eggcellent
Shokugeki no Soma is quickly turning into the highlight of my week. The only problem with covering a Shonen-type series like this is that each episode isn't very substantial on its own, but the overall package is compelling e...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episodes 6-9

Aug 03 // Anthony Redgrave
Those expecting lots of T&A in this trilogy will be sorely disappointed. We spend more time looking at the bare chests of Kyon and Koizumi than the girls. These episodes feature more Haruhi and Koizumi as they drag the North High Literature club around the tourist sites. Haruhi brings the selfish bold headed charm into Nagato's meek world and it comes as a nice change of tone from the lovey dovey storyline. Laughs can be found in each episode from visual gags to Kyon being treated like shit throughout the trip. I especially liked the boy's interaction with one another as Koizumi is played off as an extreme version of himself from Haruhi which means some uncomfortable situations for Kyon.  Despite Haruhi energizing the show, the first episode has the pace of Aunt Jane's Japan Holiday slide show. They spend too much time going to different sites, messing around in the gift shop, praying at the shrine, and even on who sat next to whom instead of pushing the story along. The show had slowed down and I don't think it can handle more characters than Nagato, Asakura, and Kyon at once. There are fewer character interaction and more time on what they're doing which proved to be charming but meaningless. Asakura gets some character development in this trilogy as we finally understand her fear of getting Nagato with Kyon. However, these set of episodes contain almost no drama. Whenever it gets to be an interesting moment it is immediately diffused in place for a joke thus losing all tension.  Ultimately I think these episodes can be skipped. Viewers that pay attention to this show will already know why Asakura is worried about Nagato's relationship and if they don't then a synopsis search online will clear it up. They are nice distractions but don't provide any information that we have not seen before. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
The Hot Spring Trilogy
We've now hit the middle of the season so it's time for some fan service-y filler episodes. In Haruhi they went to Koizumi's beach house to solve a murder, in Nagato Yuki-chan they're heading to Tsuruya's Hot Springs under th...

Annotated Anime: GANGSTA episodes 3-4

Aug 03 // Anthony Redgrave
We know already that Nic is a deaf mixed race killing machine and is feared in the town because of his dog tag. But we don't know that much about Worick apart from his faux pirate appearance. Episode 3 introduces Worick's other job as a Gigolo. Yep, good looks can't be wasted in Ergastulum as his past had caused him to enter the sex trade from an early age. Unlike Alex, Worick isn't strong armed into continuing this profession which makes for an interesting comparison between the two. The Handymen don't only deal death and sex but also drugs, Twilight drugs to be exact. This drug is a critical part of the story as Alex and Nic make their rounds through the city emphasizing the necessity and reach the drug has on the town.  The next episode explores how Nic met Worick. We find that Worick was educated as a young man and Nic was assigned as his bodyguard. Like all great duos they didn't initially get along due to Worick feeling sour for receiving a disabled bodyguard but they do warm to each other. Or should I say, Worick cools off about Nic's disability. I find with GANGSTA's story telling a little hard to follow at times. This might be intentional as it's gradually feeding information to the viewer as showing its whole hand would ruin the big reveals but it's hard to grasp the lore when there are multiple names used interchangeably i.e. dog tags, Twilight, Twilight drugs. That's when I have to resort to wiki to set things straight but potentially ruin major plot points. The episode ends with Nic engaging with another dog tag of the same rank. I'm really hoping the next episode opens with some action. GANGSTA has shown it's got an interesting world and it would be a cherry on top of a blood filled sundae if it has some great fight sequences.  I wonder if they're gonna meet a dog tag that Nic doesn't have to slice and dice? [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation] Ergastulum
GANGSTA photo
That's Nic's Girl
I tend not to look too deeply into a new anime series' before I watch them. If I'm a late comer then I'll do a quick wiki search to get a feel for the show before diving in but apart from that I came into GANGSTA like a sprin...

Attack on Titan: Junior High preview released

Aug 02 // Soul Tsukino
The series has a familiar start it seems with a gathering of the town.. sort of...okay it's the first day of the school year ceremony. A guest arrives to watch over the ceremony. The reaction is one of surprise. But as you can see things stray a bit from how these events played out in the original. Yeah, this is gonna be a different kind of Titan series.. I mean THIS is the school they are going to: It looks like the Industrial arts wing of Hogwarts. I mean the titans are still scary. But I have a hard time seeing this series having people chewed in half or having met their end going face first into a giant tree. But fear not! This little preview DOES show there is a lot of eating going on. I just D'awwwwed. I bet you did too, be honest. The series looks to be released sometime in October of this year, so in the meantime see this preview of the adventures of Mini-Erin and all his buddies. [embed]34116:4965:0[/embed]     The series has a familiar start it seems with a gathering of the town.. sort of...okay it's the first-day school ceremony.
Attack on Titan photo
But will Senpai notice them?
The mega-popular anime and manga series Attack on Titan has played host to several spin-off stories from the series. Now you can add one more to the list with Attack on Titan: Junior High, where things get slightly smaller, a...

Nisekoi: Who has the best claim to Raku's Heart?

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
All the suitors without keysIf Nisekoi had made anything clear on Raku's true love it's that he had given her a key. This is bad news for Tsugumi and Haru as they don't have or have not revealed their keys in the show. Relationship wise they are also the furthest from Raku and are indirectly linked via another love interest; Tsugumi is Chitoge's bodyguard and Haru is Kosaki's younger sister. They may have their fantasy crushes on the young master, but he only sees them as friends. I guess friend zoning exists in anime as it does in real life.  3) Onodera KosakiIt pains me to put my favourite girl at the bottom of this short list, but there isn't enough hard evidence to support her claim. Kosaki only has her key and a vague history about playing with Chitoge and Raku as a child. But the show does present her as the most likely candidate. Raku and Kosaki have romantic feelings for one another and they the share the most "flag" moments throughout the show's two seasons. Their relationship can be compared to Persona 3's protagonist and Yukari Takeba from Persona 3, it is strongly hinted but not canon if you choose not to pursue her in-game. Raku's flashback to the promised girl always depicts her with brown hair and since Onodera is the only girl with dark brown hair this can be another strong indicator. However, hair can be dyed and flashback images always change depending who tells the story (especially if it's a teenager talking about their extremely young adolescence) so this cannot be counted as strong evidence. I'll get to the picture book evidence a bit later. Until Kosaki takes Miyamoto's advice and womans up she will be stuck in last place.  2) Chitoge KirisakiThe only one that is in a relationship with Raku even if it's a fake one. Chitoge has a strong claim as Raku's true love starting with their history as recounted by their parent's. The Bee Hive and Yakuza have had dealings in the past so it is likely that Raku and Chitoge had met before. Kosaku only really remembers her middle school days with Raku and her mother doesn't recognise Raku when he starts working there over summer. But Chitoge's parents do recognise Raku as the boy that Chitoge had played with as a child on multiple separate occasions. This means she had met and interacted with Raku in the past before they had met again in high school years later. In the latter half of the second season, Chitoge's ribbon leads onto a key item; the picture book that connects Chitoge, Kosaki, and Raku. Young Raku liked the girl wearing a ribbon in the picture book so Chitoge asked her mother Hana for one. The same ribbon can still be seen on Chitoge as it represents her love for her mother, but previously it was to impress young Raku. In the finale of the episode, the same picture book could be seen in Kosaki's room. If we're being cynical it could be a coincidence that Kosaki had the same book but it doesn't explain why a teenage high school girl would still have it in her room. My best guess is that she kept it close because of sentimental value or she still uses it on a regular basis seeing that it is out and not stored on the bookshelf.  What puts Chitoge at number 2 occurs mid-way through season 1 as she attempts to open Raku's lock with her key and it breaks. According to the Nisekoi Wikia, Chitoge possesses "immense strength" and "astonishing amounts of sheer power". Even though these adjectives cannot be quantified it can be assumed that she has the power to break a thin bit of metal like a key with her fingers. A wrong turn inside the lock could break the key using her strength, but it's more likely is that it doesn't fit. Opening Raku's locket is the definitive piece of evidence for being the chosen girl regardless of everything else and if the key doesn't fit then you're not the one.  1) Marika TachibanaAs a character Marika fluctuates up and down my favourites list. She is the spoiled Veronica to Kosaki's sweet girl next door Betty but isn't afraid of putting in 110%. She's sneaky, very flirtatious, and a tad bipolar but also very genuine in her feelings for Raku. She's not after money, status, or superficiality and is completely infatuated with the boy because of her memories of him. In fact out of all the girls she has the best memory of the boy and why she is in love with him. Her flashbacks are detailed, numerous, and even though we don't see his face, his blue spikey hair is recognisable. Just like Chitoge their families have had a history of previous dealings with one another. Even Raku's father states that Marika is Raku's fiance before they have even met. Excluding the possibility of senility that comes with old age, Raku's father would have a decent memory to support the proposal whether it was from Raku himself or an arranged one between Police and Yakuza.  The problem is that Raku doesn't feel the same way towards Marika as he does towards Kosaki or Chitoge. There's never a moment where Marika captures his eyes and instead the gendered stereotype roles are reversed with Marika pursuing Raku. Raku is actively uncomfortable with Marika's advances but appreciates her company and friendship. The show definitely hints at Raku falling for Chitoge gradually because of their unique relationship, but it's never shown for Raku and Marika.  If effort could be considered then she would be ahead by a landslide. Giant sculptures of Raku made out of chocolate, rigorous training to become the perfect girl for Raku, and in an extremely sweet scene the end of an OVA saving penny by penny for Raku's dream house that he drew with Marika when they were younger. Her efforts go beyond those of Kosaki and Chitoge but are mainly played off for laughs without the impact having an effect.  Getting back to brass tacks there are two pieces of evidence that put Marika in the top spot. She has a key (although it hasn't been tested yet) and an old photo showing them together with Raku's father. This supports Raku's father's testament on Marika being the girl Raku was going to be engaged to. This is the closest we have come to locking down who Raku's chosen girl is due to her past connections with Raku supporting solid evidence in the form of a photograph, witness testimonies to the engagement, and strong memories of the pair interacting in the past. The picture book that bind Chitoge and Kosaki together is missing but to me it just says that Raku liked the girl in the book, he doesn't say the girl looked like the promised girl or any connection to the promised girl. The book may have inspired the locket and keys idea but without more information about this book I cannot draw any other conclusions. With the second season OVA coming up maybe we'll be getting some more information on Raku's true love. I'm still a huge supporter of Marika at this point, but I have a feeling it'll wrap up with Kosaki and Raku in a Hollywood ending. I would love to see a fan voted ending a la visual novel with a good, bad, individual girl and harem endings.  So who do you think will end up with Raku? Will there be another key contesting for Raku's heart? Put a comment below cause I love to hear your theories and thoughts on this. 
Nisekoi photo
Best Girl Battle Royale
Nisekoi is a series that was a chore for me to watch especially during the first season. Too many overreactions over misunderstandings that dragged each episode out to its obvious conclusion. There wasn't a massive amoun...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 702

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The Doflamingo family were world nobles living in Mariejois, but the patriarch decided to leave to give his family a more humble life. It could be he was under the impression of "the grass is greener on the other side" but when you live in Mariejois also known as the Holy Land of One Piece I don't think you can get any greener grass. Sadly the Doflamingo family are not seasoned veterans of the property market as they move into a village that absolutely hate the World Nobles. It's not like the family did anything wrong or were misunderstood by the villagers leading to a tragic backlash. The people living around them loathe the world nobles for their history of slavery and treatment towards the outside world. Like a tumbling snowball, things go from bad to worst as the Doflamingo family are forced into hiding and are hunted on a daily basis by the residents of the North Blue. This is where another episode would've helped viewers empathize with Doflamingo as we can already see he and Corazon had had a rough childhood, but it was all crammed into the first half of this episode. Literally the patriarch of the Doflamingo family introduces himself to the villagers at the market and is immediately attacked. No provocation, no misunderstanding, just pure hatred.  Back in the present Corazon covers for Law despite the latter's attack on the former and much to Law's surprise he is accepted into the Doflamingo family. The proceeding montage of Law bonding with the other family members is nice as we finally see some happy moments amongst an enemy crew. It's nice to see that these villains aren't one-dimensional killing machines, but they value each other's presence and companionship. The way the episode is presented helps me understand Doflamingo more as a person. He maintains the ruthlessness of a World Noble but values his family that he had lost to commoners thus having no remorse for slavery and absolutely hating anyone thinking they are above him. This makes it even more intriguing why he ended up killing his brother and father.  The episode concludes with Law stating his real name and adding himself to the list of D. members. Corazon also speaks and sparks the beginning of how Law became indebted to Doflamingo's brother. Corazon's voice is badass and didn't think it would fit a goofy violent guy dressed as a clown. It's sad knowing that we won't hear that voice for much longer as I think he will meet his demise in the next two episodes.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Yep this one's pretty good
Doflamingo remains one of my favourite One Piece villains. Despite the shit I had to put up with in Dressrosa it is all worth it to see the good episodes. Doflamingo has one of the more interesting backstories of all the characters in One Piece and I love how you can see how it had directly affected his personality and actions. 

First Impressions: Bikini Warriors

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The answer is "Yes, but not at 30 minutes apiece". The archaic simulacra of fearsome adventurers wearing nothing more than a napkin worth of armor is played for humour purposes rather than an epic adventure. Standing at 4 minutes each the first episode sets the tone by having our heroes, only being defined by their class or in the case of the dark elf her race wiping on a dungeon due to their impractical outfits. One shopping trip later they are back dungeoneering with better gear but still in their revealing unmentionables and succeeding this time due to the "higher stats" of the armour. And that's it. Each of the three episodes explores a fantasy RPG trope from ungrateful kings to adventurer's rights to plunder any home. These are one note gags so it's good that they had the courtesy of limiting each episode to 4 minutes instead of padding it out a 30-minute episode with fan service. That is not to say Bikini Warriors is light on the cheesecake. I think I spent most of the first episode staring at the Warriors crotch area and not because I'm a red blooded male. It's because they re-use the same shot of her getting knocked back with the camera fixated on the genital region about 4 times. Every episode ends with the leads being humiliated in some way, sometimes it's karmically just and others it's maliciously cruel. If it were a more adult show there would be a lot more un-consensual things that occur after the credits.  I'm all for a cheeky tease and a wink from la belle du jour, but some of the endings of Bikini Warriors leave a sour taste in my mouth. I know it's an acquired fetish but when it's just to get the girls out of their already revealing outfits and into nothing without it feeling fair or consensual makes me feel uncomfortable.  The leads are varied and have some nice character designs and differing personalities. The pink haired warrior is cursed with the wet blanket personality and uninspired character design channeling the spirit of Tyris Flare from the Sega Genesis Golden Axe series. The Wizard is the child of the group but has been gifted with a sizable rack like the rest of the cast. I would think a flat chest would suit her character better, but I guess you won't get the same effect in a bikini. Rounding out the party is the ditzy Paladin and an older sister Dark Elf.  If it weren't for the short run time I wouldn't have given Bikini Warriors a watch in the first place. It's a condensed fan service heavy show that doesn't require a huge commitment to follow each episode and it'll be interesting where they will take the show once they start running out of fantasy tropes. 
Bikini Warriors photo
They're Warriors In Bikinis
I think we are all aware of the ridiculous concept of armour for females in a fantasy setting. As males level up they get to wear more extravagant armour while the ladies are rewarded with higher statistical armour but is represented as beach wear rather than fighting gear. It's a silly trope that is still used to this day. But can there be an interesting anime based off it? 

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal bumps shoulders with Ys I's evil creatures


Ramming baddies has never felt this good
Aug 01
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] It's finally time for to change things up around here, and I figured that it's time for me to test my ramming skills in Ys I. Of course, I'll be testing my luck in...

Annotated Anime: GATE episodes 4-5

Aug 01 // Josh Tolentino
When last we left Itami and his scouting platoon, they'd just blown the crap out of a giant dragon with a rocket launcher and timely help from Chuka the naked elf and Rory Mercury, the goth-loli demigoddess that's taken a liking to the "Warriors in Green". As the squad returns to the newly-built SDF base built on Arnus Hill (and an attractive and defensible star shape, to boot), Itami inadvertently takes a centrally important role once again, thanks to his decision to take in native refugees. The brass are still figuring out what to do about the "Special Region", and those with a mind for geopolitics are contemplating the implications of Japan's access to new, virtually untouched real estate. Will the soldiers Glorious Nippon have to gird their loins, not just to fight the locals, but against people from their own world?  That's the question looming over episode 4, and where GATE tips its political hand just a bit. Maybe this sort of logic - added to the portrayal of non-Japanese Earthlings as craven opportunists - prompted folks to declare it a work of right-wing nutjobbery. And while that characterization is doubtless crude, I'm inclined to think the offense is coming mainly from Americans unused to seeing America portrayed as being real "sinister", at least not alongside the Chinese. Crude characterization is what it is, but so far GATE's distrust of foreign powers is hardly unusual and fits (albeit awkwardly) in the premise of a more "realistic" contemplation of cross-dimensional relations. Foreign policy critiques aside, the incident makes Itami look more appealing as a protagonist. I've always had a soft spot for those sorts of Tylor-esque, Is-He-An-Idiot-Or-A-Genius types, and Itami fits the bill to a tee. He might just be far more cunning than anyone (at least, anyone from his side of the gate) is willing to give him credit for, and that's how he'll be the one to end up changing both worlds before this is all over. The episodes also catch up with the refugees, all amazed by baths, food, Daikon radishes, MOPP suits, earth movers, and the practice of saying "itadakimasu" before meals. Chuka the elf seems to be acting as if her father is still alive (you never can tell with elf magic), and is also quite out of sorts about how to repay the soldiers for their aid. Thankfully, some dragon scales turn up, lest the girls have to resort to taking up The Oldest Profession. The show also takes some time to catch up with the hilariously named Pina Co Lada, princess of the Empire that sent the soldiers through the Gate the first time. She's on her way to find out more about the Warriors in Green, and has been caught up defending the city of Italica from bandits that just so happen to have once been members of the Empire's allied armies. Y'know, the ones the Emperor sent to get killed by the JSDF so as not to pose a threat to the depleted Imperial forces. Incidentally, Italica happens to be where Itami and co. show up to sell their scales. Come to think of it, the more interesting story in GATE right now is less about how the people of our world deal with the discovery of the Special Region, but how the people of the Special Region deal with the disruption caused by their interactions with our world. It may have been the Empire that first sent its troops to rampage through Ginza, but by and large the world most changed by that war isn't ours. Over on the other side, most of the furor lies in political maneuvering and question as to finding out just what the JSDF is doing on the other side of the Gate.  Compare that to the impact of the JSDF's incursion on the Empire. The Empire lost most of its army, as well as nearly every noble leader. The Emperor sent his own allies to slaughter under the JSDF's guns, to put their armies in the same dire straits as his. Villages like Coda and towns like Italica were left leaderless, barely able to defend themselves against bandits. It's an interesting dynamic to see in anime, and perspectives from this angle of the less-powerful are all too uncommon, even if the current storyline, which has Pina cooperating with Itami's squad to break the siege of Italica seems like it's just going to be used as fodder to demonstrate the soldiers' moral superiority once again. Where GATE has been stumbling seems to come from the same place as those ridiculous kill counts from the earlier episodes. The need to demonstrate the dramatic difference in power between the modern-day soldiers and their quasi-medieval opponents has ironically undermined the show's own premise somewhat. It's the same with GATE's ostensible dedication to some form of realism. And I'm not just talking about its 2ch-level grasp of geopolitics, either. For example, why are the press back on Earth so in-the-dark as to what's happening on the other side, when Itami is apparently able to update his favorite light novels via broadband internet? Can't someone just email the soldiers or send a TV signal through as well?  Further, how could anyone say the JSDF's made "peaceful first contact" with the natives when the first thing they did upon crossing the threshold is slaughter a whole generation? If the Special Region is anywhere close to the real-world's population levels around the medieval age, losing 100,000 able-bodied men, not to mention most of the Empire's ruling class, would have far more dire consequences. Chances are the people of Coda should've run screaming as soon as they heard of the Warriors in Green coming, Fire Dragon be damned.  That all sounds like nitpicking, and it definitely is, but in fairness, it's GATE that first asked us to do it with its very premise. We can hardly be blamed for complaining when a story that claims to be realistic doesn't match up to what we know from our own lives.  This isn't to say that it's all for naught. GATE is a fun and engaging watch so far, but a little more verisimilitude would be welcome. [Catch GATE on Crunchyroll!]        
GATE photo
Eh, It's A Living
I like GATE so far. Far from earlier rumors seemingly trumpeting it as "Japan's Tea Party: The Anime", the show has been a thoughtful and interesting take on a topic close to my nerdy heart. And with some of the action r...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 10

Aug 01 // Soul Tsukino
But First! Since this is the final night of the round robin part I'll break it down for you a little clearer. And I will admit up front I was wrong. I believed this would lead to a four-man final with the first AND second place from each block move onto the finals (as with a lot of New Japan's tournaments), but that is not the case. The top men from each block will meet for the final match with the two second place guys wrestling in a 3rd place match. Yes, I am baka for getting wrong the rules of a tournament held last year. Anyway, this is how we break it down: Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14 points): A win tonight would eliminate Fale and Shibata. Holds the Tie breaker over Tanahashi (if both he and Tanahashi won).  Hiroshi Tanahashi (14 points): A win and a Nakamura loss would put him in the final. Katsuyori Shibata (12 points): A win and both Tanahashi and Nakamura loss would have him win the Tiebreaker over both as well as Fale. Bad Luck Fale (12 points) A win and a Tanahashi and Shibata loss would have him win the tie breaker. Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points): A win and he goes in no matter what since he'd win the tie with Styles AJ Styles (14 points): A win and Okada loss puts him in the final There, with that settled we are greeted with Okada to begin this episode. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura VS. Bad Luck Fale: If Fale wins than he is in the tie for at least the second place spot. Anything else and he's out. Also a revenge match for Nakamura as Fale beat him to win the Intercontinental title. Mauro and Josh bringing us the call tonight with a stuffed episode.  We start with a stare down. Fale goes for the avalanche and misses. We jump to Nakamura has the advantage, but Fale counters and hits the Grenade early. Fale goes to the top rope, but Nakamura jumps up with a kick and gives him a brainbuster off the ropes! Nakamura goes for a running kick and Fale spears him and goes for the Bad Luck Fall. Nakamura escapes and gets the big guy down with a sleeper. Nakamura hits a top rope Booma ya on the back of Fale's head before hitting a booma ya on the mat but only gets 2. Another booma ya and Fale is out for the 3.  Well, that was quick. I guess with 4 matches it had to be. Tanahashi gets to go to the finals.   Block B: A.J. Styles vs. Togi Makabe: Pretty much a formality as Togi is way out of the lead and A.J. Style is so far ahead no matter what, he's going to the finals. Styles made a hell of a comeback as he didn't start out very well in this with some big losses. A.J. bails as soon as the bell rings. Styles gets in and Togi gets an armlock before Styles bails again. Styles goes for some shoulder blocks and gets nowhere before he tries for a leapfrog and gets slammed for it. Makabe hits Styles in the corner but Styles counters and gets Togi out of the ring. Whip to the barricade and Styles jumps right over it and then hits Makabe. Cut ahead as Makabe hits a powerbomb on Styles. Styles seated on top and Makabe hits a german suplex right on Styles's NECK. Makabe climbs the top rope but decided against it before slamming Styles again. He goes up top again but misses. Cut ahead as Styles regains the advantage and put Makabe on top. Makabe gets a headbutt and Styles counters with a Pele kick. Styles hits the Styles Clash for the win. Again, cut down quite a bit, but not bad. Styles did his part to move on, let's see what happens. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.: This match pretty much means nothing now since Nakamura won.  Smith comes out with Taka Michinoku representing the Suzuki Army. Barnett brings up that Hiroshi may be underestimating Smith. Clip to chopping between the two. Hiroshi gets a few low dropkicks to get Smith down. Tanahashi with a leg whip sending the big guy down. Smith chucks Hiroshi over the top, but he skins the cat back in and drags Smith out. Hiroshi hits sliding kick before going over the rope to hit a plancha on Smith. "Gravity is a bitch."- Josh Barnett. Smith breaks the count and keeps on the attack before he hits the powerslam on the floor. Clip ahead as Smith gets Hiroshi down for 2. Smith hits a tiger suplex and NEARLY gets the three. Smith goes the bulldog roll, but Hiroshi gets the sunset flip and nearly gets it. Tanahashi gets a victory roll and another 2 count. Smith hits the bulldog bomb and GETS THE PIN? Wow. Did NOT expect that! Tanahashi is broken up in the back on the floor yelling in frustration. Kinda sucks knowing he got beat in a match that wouldn't have helped even if he did win. We get some words from Okada about this big match for him. He talks about the long tournament and losing to Karl Anderson and Naito, knowing he had to win tonight.   Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki: Same deal for Okada as it was for Styles. Okada will go to the finals and Suzuki has nothing to lose. That's... scary when you say it out loud. Suzuki comes out with Taka and glares at one of the photogs at ringside so scary I nearly pissed my pants. Okada comes out with Gedo as always. Back from the break as we get the bell. The crowd is hot for this one. Tentative knuckle lock up at first. Okada tries to mess with Suzuki on the ropes and Suzuki gets a quick armbar and then a knee to Okada and goes for the armbar on the ropes and KICKS Okada to the floor. That's what you get for trying to be funny with Suzuki. Armlock over the barricade as Suzuki is just being MEAN. Suzuki stares down Gedo but goes for another armbar on Okada. Kicks on the arm by Suzuki but Okada mans up and tells him to kick his arm. I should mention that Suzuki is stone-faced during all this. Suzuki ties up Okada in a knot before being broken from the ropes. Okada counters a charge with a kick and then hits a DDT, Okada gets a boot on Suzuki and finally gets the advantage. Suzuki suckers Okada in and punches him in the gut, but Okada gets Suzuki out into the crowd and gets a Randy Orton hanging DDT on the floor! Back in the ring with Okada going to the top and lands the flying elbow. Rainmaker pose cut short as Suzuki kicks the devil out of Okada. Kick right to Okada's injured arm. Armbar broken on the ropes again. Exchange of forearms leads to Suzuki getting the armlock again. At this point, I'm waiting for Suzuki to rip Okada's arm off and beat him with it. It's sound strategy, though. Take out his biggest weapon in the rainmaker. Also, Suzuki gets to hurt somebody. LONG armlock but Okada is not giving up! Crowd gets behind Okada now as he finally gets a foot on the ropes. Suzuki gets some strikes on the arm, but Okada gets the leg lock for his Red Ink submission finisher. Suzuki quickly gets to the ropes, but Okada gets his Heavy Rain slam (an F-5) Okada tries to whip Suzuki in but his collapses. He then turns around and hits a SWEET dropkick flattening Okada. Devilish bastard. Suzuki gets a rear naked choke as the crowd chants for Okada. Suzuki tries for the Gotch piledriver Okada sits out. He gets and knee and goes for the piledriver again but Okada gets the reverse into a falling neckbreaker. Both men are on their knees smacking each other with forearms. Back up for more forearms Suzuki ASKS to be hit and LAUGHS at Okada. I'm pretty sure the police in Japan have a special numbered code for when Suzuki is happy. Okada hits a pinpoint dropkick right on the back of Suzuki's neck. Okada tries for the tombstone, but Suzuki says no. Suzuki counters out of another suplex with an armbar but Okada counters with a Gotch version of the Tombstone. Suzuki gets up and gets out of the rainmaker with a straight punch to the face. Okada finally gets the rainmaker and scores the win! DAMN! Okada earned that one. He goes to the finals and will meet Nakamura for the tornament. Suzuki gives a scary rambling promo to the press. in the ring Okada talks about his next match again Nakamura. A few words from Gedo to finish it off. We get some words from Nakamura about the finals. Okada gives us some studio words about how tough the match was and looking forward to fighting Nakamura in the finals. The first 3 matches were clipped badly but were still enjoyable, but man that main event was a good one. Suzuki is just a wonder to watch and Okada made a really good opponent for him. Another entertaining show! Next week we get the 2 episodes as we look at the final show of the tournament in the season 2 finale of NJPW on AXS. I can't wait! Before we conclude tonight, I'd like to make mention the passing of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper earlier tonight. Piper was THE villain of the WWF back in the mid-1980's. There wouldn't have been a Wrestlemania without him. I first saw Piper as a kid when he made his WWE comeback at Wrestlemania 5 but have since been able to see his whole body of work. His interviews are classic and hope that however the means that fans still get to enjoy his work. Been a fan of his style since I was a kid during all his runs with WWF/E and WCW. He was a man who was clear about his past and his issues, even to his own detriment, but he was someone who genuinely did not want to see the rest of the business make the same mistakes he did. He was and still is a treat to watch. Thanks, Roddy. I'll be damned if I didn't think of you showing up to the pearly gates and say these words: [embed]34105:4962:0[/embed]     See you next week for the season finale.   But First! Since we've skipped ahead let's look at the point totals in each block heading into tonight's action! Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14), Hiroshi Tanahashi (14), Katsuyori Shibata (12),  Bad Luck Fale (12), Satoshi Kojima (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points),Tomohiro Ishii (8), Davey Boy Smith Jr (8) Yuji Nagata (8) Doc Gallows (6), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points), AJ Styles (14), Tetsuya Naito (10), Minoru Suzuki (10), Hirooki Goto (8), Toru Yano (8), Togi Makabe (8), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8), Karl Anderson (8), Lance Archer (6), Yujiro Takahashi (6). Block B looks pretty locked up while Block A is stillvery competitive! August 8th, 2014
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
On the doorstep of the finals!
Konnichi wa and welcome to Strong Style! The G1 Climax 24 tournament is almost over and the action is heating up. This week we skip ahead to day 11 of the tournament and the last day before the finals. Ton...

Hammerhead photo
Hammerhead

Animator Expo's 25th short is ready to smash things up


It's Hammering Time!
Jul 31
// Salvador GRodiles
It seems that I was right about the Japan Animator Expo project returning this week since their latest short is up on their site. Since this is the first episode of the series' third season, it's fitting for the 25t...

First Impressions: God Eater episodes 1-3

Jul 30 // Josh Tolentino
The good news is, that visually, God Eater is one of the best-looking shows I've seen in years. And it's not just getting by on style, either. Ufotable, as is their way, has created a technical tour de force with their newest series, using multi-layered shading and coloring techniques to create a unique look for God Eater, as well as finally make an anime where CG creations - in this case, the Aragami monsters and large parts of the backgrounds - don't stick out like a sore thumb.  That doesn't sound huge on its own, but considering the way CG is employed in most traditional 2D anime, it's significant. The few shows to do it well were often all-CG (like Fireball Charming or, err...Sega Hard Girls) or kept the 2D and 3D portions carefully separated (like Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex and Etotama). Even Ufotable itself never quite managed the blend with last season's Unlimited Blade Works adaptation. They kept mostly to digital effects, and the CG still looked awkward and out-of-place when used for things like Caster's skeleton warriors or that red water pouring out of the Holy Grail. In most 2D shows, you can usually tell when something's been modeled someone CG comes in just by looking. Whether it's slightly flat colors or an unusual slowness (or smoothness) to the movement, being able to spot the CG in an anime is the "Conspicuously Light Patch" of its age.  To be perfectly honest, that's still technically true in God Eater. It's easy to tell that the Aragami are mostly done in CG, and it's more evident when both monsters and people are on the screen together. Still, the blend on display is better than ever, to the point that after watching the stream on Daisuki, I deliberately sought out a higher-resolution version of the broadcast to see for myself. God Eater just looks that good. More's the pity, then, that the narrative portions of the show simply don't live up to the lavish visuals. In fact, many of the fears some Ufotable fans had about the studio's ability to take on a "heavy" narrative show after five years adapting Type-MOON's "Nasu-verse" for the screen have proven at least partly true so far. Without the dense (and more importantly pre-existing) fiction of the Fate franchise to back it up, God Eater comes across as an Attack on Titan clone where righteous anger has been replaced by a dreary, somewhat undeserved sense of self-importance. It's not all Ufotable's fault, of course. God Eater compared favorably to Monster Hunter in the story department mainly by virtue of actually having a story. As a TV series, God Eater faces much stronger competition, not least of all Ufotable's own stellar work expanding Unlimited Blade Works, just weeks ago. I'd have hoped that they'd be able to make God Eater's world seem less threadbare than in the game, but instead the early results actually seem more stilted than before. In a bitter irony, the game versions of the characters actually seem livelier than in the anime, despite the anime having more "cutscene" in the first three episodes than in the entirety of the game itself. The setup is simple: Ravenous monsters called "Aragami" have destroyed most of humanity, which now hides behind large walled cities under the administration of FENRIR, which employs "God Eaters", warriors that gain superhuman ability when infused with Oracle Cells (the same ones as in the Aragami). God Eaters wield massive weapons called God Arcs to defend mankind's last sanctuaries against the monstrous hordes.  Lenka Utsugi is a newly recruited God Eater in FENRIR's Far East branch. Quite, stoic, and obsessed with taking vengeance upon the Aragami for eating his loved ones, Lenka's a "New-type", who can wield a new, transforming variant of God Arc. His can turn from a massive sword into a massive gun. Being talented, though, makes no substitute for experience, and Lenka's impulsiveness quickly gets him into trouble, forcing the veterans of the 1st Squad, including laid-back badass Lindow Amamiya and his pals Soma and Sakuya to bail him out. Naturally, the kid's got that "something" about him, and by episode 3, Lenka and the squad are working together, and meeting Alisa, another Russian New-type who's got a great hat and, judging by the underboob, might have had the rest of her outfit chosen by her creepy scientist mentor/father-figure. I'm not the kind of guy to go drawing parallels to Attack on Titan When everyone an anime features gross monsters and the people who fight them in a bleakly-toned story, but in this case the parallels are warranted, and unfortunately leave God Eater wanting. The raw anger and passion that underpinned the mood of Eren Jager's saga is here replaced with a dull kind of stoicism. Lenka's strong-but-silent demeanor may be an improvement from the goofball harem tediousness of the God Eater manga's lead, but not by much, and certainly not enough to make Lenka a better lead overall. Worse, points of characterization and flavor that helped the game set a mood in spite of a barebones plot are excised or missing in action here. Story points that might have made God Eater feel less, for lack of a better word, generic, like the privileged status of the God Eater corps or other dynamics, are nowhere to be found, leaving a by-the-numbers "soldiers at the end of the world" moodiness in its place. To be fair, it's still early going, and the show is already forging some newer territory by using flashbacks to the apparent origin of the Aragami and its involvement with FENRIR's higher-ups. It's a sign that Ufotable is beginning to plumb deeper into the lore, which has historically been a strength of theirs as opposed to natural-feeling characterization. Events are moving at a good clip, too, skipping over some of the game's high school shenanigans (at the time used to lazily deploy exposition without spending on animation), so it might not be long before all of it takes a more intriguing turn. Still, there's no avoiding the sense here that some opportunities to make God Eater a more vibrant setting have been missed, and I've no doubt that at least some viewers not hooked on the visuals were turned away by this early narrative blandness. Heck, I'd probably drop the show if I weren't already interested in seeing my favorite MonHun clone get some love.
God Eater photo
No Free Lunch
I've said time and again that God Eater is one of the best - if not the best - attempt yet by competing publishers to take a sip out of Capcom's giant Monster Hunter milkshake. With God Eater, developer Sh...

Dengeki Bunko photo
Dengeki Bunko

Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax releases Oct 6 in the west


Limited edition exclusive to US
Jul 30
// Anthony Redgrave
If you have ever wanted to beat up an anime character in locked one on one combat then maybe Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax is the game for you. Dengeki Bunko is a publishing company in Japan that helps release light novels li...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's latest details are to die for


Who you gonna call?
Jul 29
// Salvador GRodiles
For a good while, it's been known that the latest bug-eyed hero in the Kamen Rider franchise was going to sport a supernatural motif. While we've seen glimpses of the show's titular character as a toy and a few ...
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Do New Japan pro wrestlers kick out in their sleep?


Jushin Liger looks to find out!
Jul 29
// Soul Tsukino
A television show in Japan recently tackled a question of just how much fighting spirit runs through the being of your average New Japan pro wrestlers.

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 9

Jul 28 // Soul Tsukino
  BUT FIRST: Let's take a look where we are in the tournament point standings: Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B:  Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). Block A is being led by Nakamura with a lot of guys nipping at his heels while Block B is once again a crap shoot. Things are getting down to the wire and both blocks are wide open. So with that in mind let's get to the fighting! Tanahashi gives us a greeting before we head to the arena. Block A: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomoaki Honma:  Oh dear. New Japan's loveable loser taking on the man who beat both of NJPW's top guys. Honma will give you a fight but well... I don't like his chances here. This feel like Honma's being sent to the gallows. Mauro runs down the records in the tournament for both guys. Bell rings and they jump right into bashing each other with forearms. This is intense!  The crowd responds to the fast action and are cheering for Honma!  We skip ahead a bit Shibata lands his running kick but is met with a running elbow. Honma goes for the running headbutt but misses. before he goes for it again and hits it this time. Honma is fired up as he whips Shibata in but gets met with a foot to the face, only to hit a clothesline anyway. Shibata regains the advantage and hits the hanging dropkick. Back from commercial with Shibata looming over a fallen Honma. Shibata gets a suplex, and Honma fights back. Shibata whips his opponent in but met with a headbutt!  Honma tries for a pin and doesn't get it. Honma goes for a Bernard driver as Shibata counters and gets a sleeper out of it.  Honma forces the break and Shibata goes for the penalty kick, which Honma catches. Shibata gives a bunch of rapid-fire slaps, Honma drops him with one mighty bitchslap to the face. Honma gets the Bernard driver and goes for the top rope diving headbutt, and misses. Both men are slow getting up. Shibata goes for the pin a few times before Honma hits a clothesline but doesn't get the pin either. Shibata gets a spinning chop that drops Honma. Shibata hits the GTS and the penalty kick before landing the pin and 2 more points. Shibata leaves as once again the crowd gives Honma an applause as he leaves. Some words from Honma post match where he admits he's not going to be the champion, but he will make sure people know he competed in the G1 Climax. Clipped, of course, but a fight none the less. Sure the outcome probably wasn't in doubt, but Honma manned up and took the fight to Shibata. Fun match! Block B: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada:   Mr. R rating vs. The Rainmaker. Takahashi is the NEVER Openweight champion here, but the belt is not on the line. A grudge match here as it was Yujiro who turned on Okada and CHAOS, costing Okada the IWGP Title. Yujiro attacks before Okada even gets to the ring. We get a couple of cuts as Okada gets the advantage with dropkicking Yujiro off the top turnbuckle. We cut again as Okada tries to suplex Yujiro, but he grabs the ref. With the ref distracted Yujiro hits the low blow. Takahashi hits a slam off the shoulder but doesn't get the pin. Yujiro goes for the buckle bomb, but Okada reverses into a 'rana and then dropkicks Takahashi in the back. Forearms are traded in the center of the ring. Good ol rake to the eyes to Okada but gets met with another Okada dropkick. Okada finally kills Takahashi with the Rainmaker clothesline and gets the pin. Post match words from Gedo and Okada. A reporter asks Okada if he feels better for beating Takahashi, and he simply answers "nope" before walking away. This match had some brutal clipping, but honestly seemed kind of tame with the build up. I expected a little more Crush, Kill, Destroy, Swag but then again, flatly crushing Takahashi had Okada making a statement as well. We get some words from Hiroshi Tanahashi about lingering injuries in his neck from the match with Bad Luck Fale before this match and that the matches with Shibata, him, and Nakamura were always exciting and tying with Nakamura in the match from last year weighed on him. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:  This is New Japan's version of Cena vs. Orton. These guys have met a bunch of times before and always put on a show. Mauro runs down the accomplishments of both men, even the fact that these two won a tag title together. The King of Strong Style vs. The King of the Air Guitar. The bell rings and things start slowly with some posturing. Arm works by both men and some basic headlocks and takeovers. Tanahashi goes for the arm, but Nakamura gets the leg scissors counter twice. Tanahashi  breaks up the basics with a kick to the gut,  Nakamura counters. This is pretty even. Tanahashi lands a dropkick to get the lead but Nakamura counters with a kick into a judo kick. Things go to the outside where Frank and Mauro talk more about Hiroshi's neck. Nakamura gets in some knees and goes to work on his rival. Nakamura focusing on the neck with kicks and knee strikes, but Tanahashi goes for the rebound. Nakamura goes for his favorite corner kick but Tanahashi counters. Hiroshi gets the advantage with some elbows before landing a senton for the top turnbuckle, only gets a two count. Tanahashi actually does the good vibration kick, but Shinsuke grabs a the foot and counters, before getting the good vibration kick into Tanahashi and landing some knees, getting a two count. Tanahashi gets a dragon screw leg whip on Nakamura. Back up both men trade elbows before Tanahashi kicks him in the knee. Nakamura gets a triangle choke that Tanahashi fights up from but goes back down.  Tanahashi stands up and kicks Shinsuke in the head before countering into a sweet cloverleaf leglock! Shinsuke gets to the ropes, but he is hurt. Tanahashi hits another leg whip as the crowd is getting into it. Nakamura hits a backstabber. He gets in a suplex and sets up for the Booma ya, but Tanahashi hits the sling blade clothesline. Hiroshi goes to the top but misses before Shinsuke hits TWO Booma ya knees Back from break with both men out. Both men drenched with sweat, forearm each other back and forth. This degenerates to just plain old slaps. Tanahashi hits the sling blade to the back of Nakamura's head before he hits the splash, he goes for another one, but Nakamura gets the knees up. Nakamura hits a top rope Booma Ya kick to the back of Hiroshi's head but doesn't get the pin. Ouch! Nakamura hits another Booma ya but again only gets two. The crowd is just waiting for the finish now. Nakamura goes for another kick, but Tanahashi gets a trip and goes for a surprise rolling bridge cradle (A move I seldom have seen since the 80s) and gets the win! Backstage words from Nakamura saying that while he lost, he is still in the hunt. We get some in-ring words from Tanahashi as he fires up the crowd and plays guitar. Backstage Tanahashi says he can't lost at this point in the tournament. In the studio, Tanahashi talks about using the rolling cradle on the anniversary of Karl Gotch's death. He mentions how much the crowds have been watchiing the G1 matches and wanting to win the tournament. We close with some words from Frank Shamrock before Josh Barnett comes back next week. This show was a big improvement in the way Mauro and Frank brought the importance of winning matches means now and puts more perspective on the whole thing. Shamrock's commentary was very good and brought a lot to the table, especially in talking about what it felt like to get hit with some of these moves. The second match suffered from some clipping but the matches were strong. Once again this episode shows me why this is the strongest hour of wrestling on American TV. To finish things off here are the matches not shown from day 8, and the update of points Block A:   Ishii beat Smith, Nagata beat Benjamin, Kojima beat Gallows Hiroshi Tanahashi (10), Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Katsuyori Shibata (10),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (8), Yuji Nagata (8), Satoshi Kojima (8), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6), Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B:  Tenzan beat Yano, Goto beat Naito, Styles beat Archer, Suzuki beat Makabe Kazuchika Okada (10 points), AJ Styles (10), Tetsuya Naito (8),  Hirooki Goto (8), Minoru Suzuki (8), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8),  Toru Yano (6), Togi Makabe (6), Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). See you next week! Block A: Kojima beat Benjamin, Smith beat Gallows, Fale beat Honma, Nagata beat Shibata. Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Archer beat Yano, Anderson beat Takahashi, Makabe beat Naito Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4).
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Clash of the Titans
Strong Style is here again with your coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Looks like my Friday nights are going to be busy for a while as yesterday it was announced that more episodes of New Japan wrestling have bee...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal gets his revenge on Chantelise's last boss


It's time to taste victory!
Jul 27
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] With Chroma Squad's three story routes complete, Sal is ready to take on Chantelise's final boss again. Now that he's found a better defensive item, there's a slig...

First Impressions: Ultraman X episodes 1-2

Jul 27 // Salvador GRodiles
In a clash between a red and purple entity, the two figures collide with Earth’s Sun. This ends up causing the phenomenon that people refer to as the Ultra Flare, which awakens the monsters that were sealed under the planet as Spark Dolls (a.k.a. actual creature SofuBi/soft vinyl figurines). Luckily, a group called XiO was formed to protect the people of our world and our main hero Daichi Oozora ends up become the candidate who unites with the show’s Ultra Warrior. Ultraman X’s plot may sound like your usual setup in a giant monster show, but episode 1’s main charm lies in the battles between the large hero and the huge creatures. To an extent, the battles play out like your action scenes from the Godzilla movies, except that you have a guy who uses martial arts and wrestling moves against his foes. Other than that, the shown didn’t have much going for it since the first episode was focusing on the disaster caused by the Godzilla-like monster known as Demaaga. Sure, we got a glimpse of Daichi’s backstory about his parent’s death, but it wasn’t anything grand to pull most people in. At least his fear of height gave him some flaws that could shape his character later on. Thankfully, the second episode helped raise the program’s quality. If there’s one thing that makes series about an organization trying to save the world, it’s the supporting staff themselves. This was an element that made titles like King of Braves GaoGaiGar and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters’ first half fun to keep up with. Even though Daichi didn’t stand out much in the beginning, his comrades showed great potential. I mean, this series has a freaking scientist that’s a creepy goofy-looking alien. Honestly, Dr. Gourman’s presence in the show alone was enough to bring in some good laughs while we wait for the huge battle between Ultraman X and the Monster-of-the-Week. Of course, the silly alien isn’t the only character that’s fun since the rest of XiO’s members contribute to the show's segments. Rui’s enthusiasm for research and victory is cute and her interactions with Gourman were priceless. Even though the rest of the team mostly played the role of keeping the dangerous areas under control, the later episodes might flesh them out more. Hell, anyone who fights a giant monster with an advanced bazooka and/or gun deserves some mad props. One of the things that might push Ultraman X is that the hero can summon special armors through the use of the Cyber Monsters, digital creatures that are created from the data of the ones who’re sealed in the Spark Dolls. In a way, it’s almost like they were inspired by the Heisei Kamen Rider shows’ Form-changing gimmick. Sure, this means that the Giant of Light will likely have a bunch of different transformations, but it also lets the team experiment with the show's action scenes, such as the hero gaining the ability to fight with huge claws. Since I’ve heard that Tsuburaya toys mostly focus on the kaiju, this element might help them make the program's hero a more marketable character. Come to think of it, this new path might’ve inspired them to depart from the alien using the main hero as a host (or the Ultra Warrior using a human disguise) since the two Ginga shows and X involve a guy uniting with the Giant of Light through a special device. While XiO’s support vehicles that can dock into other machines are only used to stall the viewers until the big fight, their purpose could help with the merchandising side of things. Who knows, they might pull a Gridman/Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad and have them combine with the hero. For now, they serve as another feature that can help Tsuburaya expand on the show's toys. In regards to the two monsters shown so far, the creatures’ cartoony and pudgy designs give off a nice old-school feeling. While it seems lazy for Tsuburaya to reuse Birdon from Ultraman Taro, the franchise has been known for reusing older beasts, which is usually used to pull older fans in. That and to sell toys of the previous enemies to the new generation of children. Also, the staff's decision to feature a creature that looks like Rodan crossed with a chicken is a nice way to add goofy elements to any action scene. Compare to other children toku franchises like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, I was surprised to see that Ultraman X uses more practical effects than CG. Based on the program's first two episodes, the 3D models might be limited to the XiO defense vehicles. From Birdon’s flying scene to the show’s main fight sequences, the segments ranged from being hilariously cheesy to dynamically entertaining. For example, Birdon's flying segment would've benefited from using a CG creation or having the suit actor flap its wings like an actual bird. Nonetheless, it served as a silly moment before Daichi unites with X. Seeing that this is my first Ultra TV show, I’m not sure if this rule applies to the brand’s previous modern installments. One thing for sure, it shows that relying on mostly practical effects can look great or limit the type of sequences that appear on screen. For the most part, the first two major fights played out nicely and X's new Monster Armors might liven things up even more. With Ultraman X being my second entry into the Ultra franchise, the show has gotten better with each passing episode. Daichi may be a decent character at the moment, but his backstory and his connection to his parents’ Spark Doll might lead to him developing into a better protagonist. For now, the series' neat aspect is that its supporting cast gives off a nice dash of comedy to keep us satisfied until the main battle. Combined with the hero’s ability to equip monster-themed armors, I believe that Tsuburaya’s franchise has reached a new height. I guess you could say that we're in for an Xciting ride. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel] In a clash between a red and purple entity, the two figures collide with Earth’s Sun. This ends up causing the phenomenon that people refer to as the Ultra Flare, which awakens the monsters that were sealed under the planet as Spark Dolls (a.k.a. actual creature SofuBi toys). Luckily, a group called XiO was formed to protect the people of our world and our main hero Daichi Oozora/group member ends up become the candidate who unites with the show’s Ultra Warrior. Ultraman X’s plot may sound like your usual setup in a giant monster show, but episode 1’s main charm lies in the battles between the large hero and the huge creatures. To an extent, the battles play out like your action scenes from the Godzilla movies, except that you have a guy who uses martial arts and wrestling moves against his foes. Other than that, the shown didn’t have much going for it since the first episode was focusing on the disaster caused by the Godzilla-esque monster known as Demaaga. Sure, we got a glimpse of Daichi’s backstory about his parent’s death, but it wasn’t anything grand to pull most people in. At least his fear of height gave him some flaws that could shape his character later on. Thankfully, the second episode helped raise the program’s quality. If there’s one thing that makes series about an organization trying to save the world, it’s the supporting staff themselves. This was an element that made titles like King of Braves GaoGaiGar and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters’ first half fun to keep up with. Even though Daichi didn’t stand out much in the beginning, his comrades showed great potential. I mean, this series has a freaking scientist that’s a creepy goofy-looking alien. Honestly, Dr. Gourman’s presence in the show alone is enough to bring in some good laughs while we wait for the huge battle between Ultraman X and the Monster-of-the-Week. Of course, the goofy alien isn’t the only character that’s fun since the rest of XiO’s members contribute to the segments on screen. Rui’s enthusiasm for research and victory is cute and her interactions with Gourman were priceless. Even though the rest of the team mostly played the role of keeping the dangerous areas under control, the later episodes might flesh them out more. Hell, anyone who fights a giant monster with an advanced bazooka and/or gun deserves some mad props. One of the things that might push Ultraman X is that the hero can change his fighting style through the use of the Cyber Monsters, which have the data of the creatures who’re sealed in the Spark Dolls. In a way, it’s almost like they were inspired by the Heisei Kamen Rider shows’ Form-changing gimmick. Sure, this means that the Giant of Light will likely have a ton of different transformations, but it also opens the doorways to more unique fight scenes. Since I’ve heard that Tsuburaya has been struggling with having variety in their toys for their titles, this element might push the franchise in a great new direction. Hell, this new path might’ve inspired them to depart from the alien using the main hero as a host since the two Ginga shows and this one have the guy unite with the Ultra Warrior through a special device. While XiO’s support vehicles that can dock into other machines are only used to stall the viewers until the big fight, their purpose could help with the merchandising side of things. Who knows, they might pull a Gridman/Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad and have them combine with the hero. For now, they serve as another example of this show focusing on selling more toys. In regards to the two monsters shown so far, the creatures’ cartoony and pudgy designs give off a nice old-school feeling. While it seems lazy for Tsuburaya to reuse Birdon from Ultraman Taro, the franchise has been known for reusing older beasts, which is a decent way to pull older fans in. At least it was neat to see the classic beast in action since it looked like a goofy Rodan crossed with a chicken. Compare to other children toku franchises like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, I was surprised to see that Ultraman X uses more practical effects than CG. From Birdon’s flying scene to the show’s main fight sequences, it’s impressive to see that the company didn’t resort to using 3D models during the crazy scenes. Seeing that this is my first Ultra TV show, I’m not sure if this rule applies to the brand’s previous modern installments. One thing for sure, it’s a welcoming aspect that shows that traditional practices can still impress folks— even if they’re cheesy and campy. With Ultraman X being my second entry into the Ultra franchise, the show’s first two episodes hold up to where we can end up with a fun title. Daichi may be a decent character at the moment, but his backstory and his connection to his parents’ Spark Doll might lead to him developing into a better protagonist. For now, the series neat aspect is that its supporting cast gives off a nice dash of comedy to keep us satisfied until the main battle, which balances out nicely. Combined with the hero’s ability to equip special armors, I believe that Tsuburaya’s franchise has reached a new height. I guess you could say that we’re in for a show that’s both exciting and excellent. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Xanidium Beam!
For a good while, my only experience with the Ultra franchise was Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends, which was directed by Koichi Sakamoto (Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger and Ultraman Ginga S’ Director). Honestly, I&rs...

Week Ender - Virtual Reality Edition

Jul 25 // Red Veron
[embed]34080:4952:0[/embed]"Yasashii Yoake"Anime: .hack//SIGNMuch like the opening for this show, this ending is just sets itself apart with some abstract and minimal visuals featuring the characters.[embed]34080:4955:0[/embed]"Sora no Kakera"Anime: Dennou CoilI implore you to find Dennou Coil on the internet if you consider yourself an anime fan. This show summed up is a show that is a part Ghibli, part Ghost in the Shell with a splash of Satoshi Kon other-worldliness. So good.This is one of those gentle endings where we get to see a character just going through a changing landscape with plenty of varying sights and events unfolding in the background. I love the song with a soothing vocals and nice guitar playing. That doggy looks so derpy.[embed]34080:4954:0[/embed]"L.L.L."Anime: OverlordPardon me while I haven't had the chance to check out this show yet but I have heard of cool things about this show. I am totally digging this ending with that rockin' song and those pretty character art with that digital painting that looks really good.[embed]34080:4951:0[/embed]"Your Song"Anime: Log HorizonOne of my fave ending songs, this one just fills you up with the warm fuzzies and makes you feel all happy even though the episode ends in something that is nothing like the feeling that the ending evokes in the viewer.Is there an ending from a VR themed anime that I didn't include? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! 
Week Ender photo
COUNTERACTION RISING
This week's Week Ender is all about the Virtual Reality and the great worlds beyond that VR brings us that are great settings for fantasy action anime. There's always something interesting with characters from a world similar...

Japan Animator Expo photo
Japan Animator Expo

Here's a quick sample of Animator Expo's Third Season


Summer is about to become cool
Jul 24
// Salvador GRodiles
At last, the Japan Animator Expo project has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming season. From the looks of it, the third installment sounds like it'll be better than ever. I mean, we get to see another Tsuburaya hero g...
Otakon 2015 photo
Otakon 2015

Otakon 2015 is upon us!


East Coast's biggest anime bash
Jul 24
// Jeff Chuang
Otakon 2015 is upon us! East Coast's largest anime con will roll out in full force tomorrow and throughout the weekend. As if it's easing its way into a 4-day event, Otakon's Matsuri even starred Back-On to perform some songs to get things going early. 

First Impressions: GATE episodes 1-3

Jul 23 // Josh Tolentino
Of course, future episodes of GATE could prove me entirely wrong. The game of subtext is a perilous thing, and if you can find strange ultranationalist right-wing readings in everything from Mahouka to Knights of Sidonia to Attack on Titan, a show that openly stars members of the actual Japanese military (or "Self-Defense Force" if you want to get technical) is even more vulnerable to that kind of examination. Still, based on the evidence at hand, GATE is a perfectly serviceable fantasy with an interesting nerd-catnip hook. It's the hook that does more work than any one aspect of the show thus far. After all, for about as long as fantasy fiction has existed as a genre, people have been wondering how the medieval, swords-and-sorcery mores of your average Tolkienesque would match up against the grim products of the military-industrial complex. Put plain, we've always wanted to see how Gandalf, Frodo, or Sauron might fare against a machine gun, tank cannon, or jet fighter. If you think that sounds likes a simplistic sort of thrill to base an anime on, you're right. "Guns vs. Dragons" is only a few steps removed from "Boobs" on the scale of primal urges driving creativity, but that doesn't mean thought can't be put into its execution, and on that front, GATE does deliver. A portal opens up in the middle of a Ginza thoroughfare, belching out tens of thousands of orcs, ogres, pig-men, quasi-Roman soldiers, and assorted fantasy staples to wreak havoc on Tokyo's innocents. The man in just the right time and place is 33-year-old Youji Itami, an off-duty soldier and doujinshi-loving otaku, whose training helps save lives just in time for the army to repel the invasion. Fast forward three months and a new Prime Minister (I like this particular off-hand joke about how long it takes to get things done) wants to flex Glorious Nippon's muscle by sending a couple of divisions of Self-Defense Force troops through the titular "Gate", to secure a place on the other side and force the dastardly invaders into negotiations.  One incursion and a second slaughter of fantasy troops later, and Youji is placed in charge of a recon team assigned to probe the countryside on "hearts and minds" duty, which is where the story begins proper, complete with a dragon fight, elf-lady rescue, and the requisite encounter with a gothic lolita (named "Rory", no less) demigoddess. This is the point where GATE reveals itself less to be some strange creature born of secret militaristic urges than a spinoff of the now monolithic "trapped in another world" subgenre of light novel adventures. It is kissing cousins less with preachy alt-history explorations like Zipang or The Final Countdown than with genre, er..."classics" like Familiar of Zero, Sword Art Online, and even Log Horizon.  Its closest relative would be Outbreak Company, though the otaku pandering in GATE is so far limited to portraying Youji and his pal as unashamed geeks and pushing the story into familiar harem-assembly patterns. Already you can see the shape of the show's romantic polygon as the taciturn wizard, bouncy elf, saucy goddess, and normal fellow-human girls take their places in the roster. Honestly the main thing that distinguishes GATE's storytelling has been in the soldiers themselves. Given that creator Takumi Yanai was formerly in the JSDF, it's hardly surprising that the story would be friendly to "the troops", but in light of that history, it's also telling about just which parts of the service GATE is happiest to play up. While the blowout victories against the natives is predictable, the shows spends most of its time showing off Youji and his comrades less as warriors than public servants. Most of the soldier glory shots in the opening sequence are of folks in uniform generally being helpful, pulling carts out of ditches and giving rides to refugees fleeing a dragon attack. Youji himself displays an unusual (for typical portrayals of soldiers, at least) wariness of force and its use, refusing to call for backup to avoid risking innocents or provoking the enemy, and generally being a laid-back, intuitive leader. The shades of Irresponsible Captain Tylor And Yang Wen-li are welcome, and help defuse the potential for jingoistic chest-beating in the early goings. Even the enemy gets comparatively sensitive treatment, with the rank and file types portrayed more as victims in a power play wrought by craven leadership (on both sides of the Gate) than bloodthirsty savages. If there's one thing that doesn't quite square with this even-handed treatment, it's in the abject slaughter and seemingly effortless victory of the modern forces. I mean, sure they've got machine guns and artillery support, but it just doesn't feel right that they're effortlessly gunning down a hundred thousand troops in a single night's battle. By all logic the mere first round of shelling and gunfire should've balked the enemy into routing or stalemate rather than to just dumbly march into the bullets, no matter how foolhardy the generals. I'm not any kind of realism purist here, but the body count just seems unnecessarily inflated to make the disparity in force more dramatic. Besides that, GATE shows a lot of potential to be a fun and eminently watchable bit of summer anime. With a bit of luck, it won't get too bogged down in the less compelling harem wish-fulfillment aspects, further capitalizing on its hook and sensitive characterization.
GATE photo
Hellish Dragon v. Hellfire Missiles
Confession time: When I first set out to write about GATE, I was actually prepared to defend it. That's a weird stance to take with regards to a program I had yet to even watch, I'll admit, but I really was about to get all p...

Check out this year's top-tier Sumo fashion crazes

Jul 23 // Soul Tsukino
The Kesho Mawashi is a special ornate sumo belt worn by the wrestlers at the start of the day's matches. These belts can be a design sent in by fan clubs, the wrestler's sponsors, or just something the wrestler came up with himself. I've got to say that Takayasu wins with the Charlie Chaplin reference. I have no idea why he uses that image and looking around I can't seem to find an answer. But go him for being different. So let's see what the trendy Sumo wrestler is wearing for the summer shall we?     I've got to say that Takayasu wins with the Charlie Chaplin reference
Sumo Wrestling photo
The latest in Ceremonial Sumo belts
Thanks to a YouTuber Kintamayama and his wonderful sumo coverage, we got a rare look at the ceremonial Kesho-Mawashi, or entrance ceremony belts that the sumo wrestlers are wearing in the current sumo wrestling tournament held in Nagoya. Japan.

Secret of Evermore photo
Secret of Evermore

Celebrate Secret of Evermore's 20th Anniversary with a remastered soundtrack


Don't underestimate a dog's loyalty
Jul 23
// Salvador GRodiles
Oct. 1 may not be here yet, but that isn't stopping Sean Schafianski (Chrono Trigger: Jazz Arranged Version) from releasing his Secret of Evermore arranged soundtrack known as Secret of Evermore: Remastered Tracks. In t...

OP Up! Virtual Reality Edition

Jul 22 // Red Veron
[embed]34079:4947:0[/embed]"database"Anime: Log Horizon 2A really great show about what would happen if people were trapped in a VR MMO game. No, this isn't about the main character being super strong and crushing everyone that faces him (Log Horizon features real character development). This one is more than that, it features politics and some social consequences of what might happen in such a setting.[embed]34079:4948:0[/embed]"Prism"Anime: Dennou CoilA definite must watch for anyone who likes anything Ghibli and the works of Satoshi Kon with a light dash of Ghost in the Shell. This one is about a near future where kids have augmented reality glasses and it has been long enough where urban legends have sprung up about AR technology. Combining the imagination of children with the world that this new advanced technology offers creates an amazing setting that is almost magical but still heavily grounded with reality.A cannot recommend this one enough. Try to find this show.[embed]34079:4949:0[/embed]"Obsession" Anime: .Hack//SignOne of the first and most popular anime dealing with virtual reality and being trapped in such a world (Or "The World" is the .Hack series. Part of what we would call a "multimedia experience" nowadays, the franchise spanned more than just anime with video games, manga, novels, card games, etc.[embed]34079:4946:0[/embed]"Ignite"Anime: Sword Art Online 2The main character is strong. There are boobs. There is a guy called Death Gun and has a gun that causes death. A lot of people like this show. I like the opening songs.Did I miss any anime about Virtual Reality? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS! I wanna know!  
OP Up! photo
Living in the Database
They weren't kidding when they said that the 90's is back, one promise of that decade was this exciting new technology called "Virtual Reality". This technology promised to take humans into new worlds beyond our imaginations ...

2020 Tokyo Olympics photo
2020 Tokyo Olympics

Plans scrapped for site of Akira's final battle


Futuristic biker gangs not to blame
Jul 21
// Soul Tsukino
The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, announced that the plans for the centerpiece stadium of the 2020 Olympic games have been completely scrapped and the development will start from scratch. The Prime Minister of Japan, ...
Boomslank photo
Boomslank

Rejoice! Five Boomslank shirts get reprinted


Now even cooler than ever
Jul 21
// Salvador GRodiles
If you're into wearing sweet-looking clothes, our friends at Boomslank have reprinted not one but five shirts. But that's not all folks; instead of re-releasing each apparel, P-Shinobi has updated "Airport," "Flag," "Live," "...
Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE: Sal suits up for Chroma Squad's Metal Hero Route


Crocodile Flash!
Jul 19
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The live stream is over, but you can watch it here.] The time has finally arrived, people; Sal is ready to add the finishing touches to the Japanatorger's final journey. Since he only has one more route left to finis...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 8

Jul 18 // Soul Tsukino
BUT FIRST:  Since we are skipping day 6, here is a points update. Remember that a win is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a loss gets you nothing.   BLOCK A:   Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8), Shinsuke Nakamura (8), Bad Luck Fale (6), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4) Yuji Nagata (4) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), AJ Styles (6), Togi Makabe (4), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4),  Lance Archer (4), Karl Anderson (4),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). As you can see we have a bit of a log jam in Block A. Should be interesting getting into the second half of this thing. In Block B Okada and Naito are on top, but both Minoru Suzuki and A.J. Styles have caught up and are now sitting with Yano and Goto just off the lead. We get a greeting from Shinsuke Nakamura as we head into this week's action. Block B: Minoru Suzuki vs. A.J. Styles: OH HOLY PURO GOD THANK YOU! *ahem* sorry. Like I said above, both guys had bad starts to this tournament but have picked up some wins to be back in the hunt to win this block. Suzuki has the rep of just being a mean son of a bitch while IWGP Champion Styles can go in epic ways. To say this was a match I am looking forward to seeing is an understatement. We are joined by Mauro and Frank Shamrock this week. Shamrock talks about meeting Suzuki when he was younger and how Suzuki used to just beat the crap out of him. Epic staredown to start. Suzuki with a hard chop as they aren't screwing around. Styles hits a dropkick and they are on the outside. We jump ahead with Styles kicking Suzuki in the corner. Styles goes for a flying hit, but Suzuki pulls the ref in. Suzuki Army member Taka Michinoku jumps in to start on Styles which brings out the Bullet Club and the Elite Squad out for a brawl that clears out of the ring quickly. Good.  Both guys wail on each other with strikes and knock each other down. We comeback from a break as both guys struggle to get up. Suzuki gets the lead here, but Styles kicks his way out of that. Styles holds the gun sign to Suzuki, but Suzuki grabs his hands and damn near breaks Styles's fingers. Styles goes for a spring board strike, but Suzuki gets a Fujiwara armbar while pulling back on his pointer finger! Told you Suzuki was mean. Suzuki gets him in a sleeper hold and goes for a Gotch piledriver. Styles fights out of it. Styles gets Suzuki into the Styles clash position, but Suzuki counters with an ankle lock! Styles reverses with an ankle lock of his own! Suzuki reveres into an armbar while pulling back the fingers. Damn dude, have a heart. Styles gets Suzuki up and hits the Styles clash! Styles is hurting as both men are up and exchanging strikes. These smacks sound like a rifle range. Styles hits the Pele kick before landing the Styles clash again and gets the win! Holy crap was that good! Considering this was called the 2014 match of the year I wasn't the only one to think so. I think I need a break. We get some words from both men after the match basically saying that their groups aren't finished yet. Block B: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Hirooki Goto: We haven't seen much of either of these guys on AXS's coverage of this tournament. While Goto started strong, both he and Tenzan have lost their last 3 matches so this battle is a must win for both guys.  Mauro points out that Tenzan is in his 19th tournament. He's been around a while but still keeps kicking butt. Strong lock up to start as Tenzan gets a headlock. These two are just bulling each other around. Tenzan levels Goto with Mongolian chops Tenzan goes for a suplex, but Goto blocks it. Tenzan gets hit with a knee to the head, but Goto can't get the pin. Goto forearms the crap out of Tenzan before they both start wailing with elbows to each other. Goto hits a headbutt to slow Tenzan down. Tenzan has the crowd behind him and he levels Goto with a few more headbutts. Tenzan hits the Tenzan driver but only gets two. Tenzan gets the Anaconda lock on Goto and hits the slam before Goto taps out! Wow. What a fight! That many headbutts in a wrestling match would have any American promotion wetting themselves in fear, but this is Puroresu. A fairly quick one, but full of action. We get some words from Nakamura. The story here is that these guys are both members of CHAOS. Shinsuke bings up the point Ishii is a tough person who faces guys bigger than him, but they have different styles so he will win. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii: Okay, call me surprised that this match is the featured main event. Nakamura, I get, but Ishii doesn't exactly light the world on fire. This is a battle of Strong Style as I expect these guys to swing for the fences in their moves. Lock up to start. Ishii doesn't seem phased by Nakamura's antics at all. Waist lock on Ishii but is reversed. They trade armlocks and after giving Ishii his trademark belly blow (not kidding here) Nakamura extends a hand but Ishii SLAPS Nakamura in response. Out of a break,  we have a stand off.  Ishii hits a stiff elbow, but Shinsuke responds. He gets Ishii in the corner for his kicks and Ishii grabs the leg. The story is here that both guys know each other well and counter each other before Nakamura hits a hanging DDT and gets in his Good Vibrations kick. Nakamura smacks Ishii around. The big guy ain't going for that and smacks Shinsuke right back. Nakamura gets a pin attempt but doesn't get the win. Shinsuke goes for kicks but misses all of them. Ishii counters and gets a SWEET superplex. Pin attempt only gets two. Ishii lands a powerbomb but still only gets two. Nakamura gets a sleeperhold, but Ishii gets right out of it. Shinsuke gets Ishii with a  falling powerslam! Didn't think he had that in him. Nakamura gets in the corner as Ishii hits a low dropkick!  Back to slugging it out until Nakamura hits a dropkick from the top rope, but the advantage vanishes with a MASSIVE clothesline from Ishii. Ishii hits a clothesline to the back of the head and gets a powerslam of his own. Ishii goes for a clothesline that Nakamura rolls through it into an armbar! After a valiant effort, Ishii gets to the ropes but his arm is gone. Nakamura hits a number of kicks, but Ishii runs him over with a clothesline! Ishii goes for a cover and only gets two! Back from a break as Ishii tries for a suplex,  Shinsuke counters. Shinsuke goes for the Booma ya but Ishii counters with a headbutt knocking Shinsuke stupid. Ishii goes for a corner charge, just to have Nakamura hit a kick to the head and hits the booma ya to the back of the head. Both guys are down now. Nakamura is first with a mafia kick to Ishii's face Exchange of elbows as Ishii tells him to bring it on and Nakamura does. Nakamura hits another Booma ya and a flying kick but Ishii kicks out! Ishii grabs a kick and counters with a headbutt, but Nakamura hits another boomya ya and wins the match! Damn! That was a good one. Ishii's shining fight, even if he lost. They shake hands and Nakamura raises Ishii's hand in a sign of respect. Crowd is chanting Ishii as he is on his hands and knees crawling back to the locker room. We get some in ring words from Nakamura and gives his trademark YEAOH! to the crowd. We get some backstage words from Ishii talking how special the match as. Nakamura gives his praise saying he was  a tough opponent. Back in the studio, Nakamura talks about it being strange fighting his teammate in the beginning but that it was a good match. He talks abnout saying he understands Ishii better now. This was a damn fine show. I have to wonder about the match order as I found it strange. All three matches were tough hard-fought battles and made for a real entertaining night. Now that Mauro brings up records of these guys and point totals, it makes each man's fight mean even more. Great Stuff! Before we head out for another week. Here is the action not shown from day 7 and the point totals  Block A: Kojima beat Benjamin, Smith beat Gallows, Fale beat Honma, Nagata beat Shibata. Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Archer beat Yano, Anderson beat Takahashi, Makabe beat Naito Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). Nakamura takes the lead in A Block while we have a 3 way tie at the top of Block B. This is making these matches really important now and anyone can win this. See you next week! BUT FIRST:  Since we are skipping day 6, here is a points update. Remember that a win  is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a lose gets you nothing.   BLOCK A:     Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8), Shinsuke Nakamura (8), Bad Luck Fale (6), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4) Yuji Nagata (4) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B:   Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), AJ Styles (6), Togi Makabe (4), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4),  Lance Archer (4), Karl Anderson (4),  Yujiro Takahashi (4).   As you can see we have a bit of a log jam in Block A. Should be interesting getting into the second half of this thing. In Block B Okada and Naito are on top, but both Minoru Suzuki and A.J. Styles have caught up and are now sitting with Yano and Goto just off the lead.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Day 7 and things are close!
This week Strong Style and AXS TV take us to the famed Korakuen Hall in for day 7 of the G1 24 tournament. Tonight's matches were held on August 1, 2014, and I'm looking forward to it! Before any of that though I'm riding hig...


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