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Kamen Rider W photo
Kamen Rider W

S.H. Figuarts (Shinkocchou Seihou) Kamen Rider W gets a half-boiled trailer


Now, count up your sins!
May 20
// Salvador GRodiles
To this day, Kamen Rider W still holds the top spot on my list of favorite Kamen Rider series. Due to my love for the show, I always feel joyful when a new thing that's related to the detective-themed tokusatsu gets announce...

OP Up! - JC Staff Edition

May 19 // Red Veron
[embed]35026:5621:0[/embed] "Hey World" Anime: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Here is a show with both a ridiculous title and has ruined google search results for certain Greek gods for a while. This is the show that popularized the "boob string" thing that has been pretty much forgotten along with the show.   [embed]35026:5622:0[/embed] "Light my fire" Anime: Shakugan no Shana III Here is a rockin' opening for popular Shana series. It's got an otherworldly supernatural magic mixed with a modern day urban setting with a short and petite swordwielding girl with red hair. It has everything I want but I still haven't gotten that far in the first season of this show. Definitely in my Top 20 list of shows I need to to watching.   [embed]35026:5623:0[/embed] "Kawaru Mirai (カワルミライ)" Anime: Heaven's Memo Pad Here is a detective show with a cute NEET (which stands for No Employment, Education, Training) detective handling crimes and murders in Tokyo. It's a mix of mystery and light action in an urban setting, which I highly recommend.   [embed]35026:5624:0[/embed] "Silky Heart" Anime: Toradora A popular show about love story featuring a short petite tsundere and a secretly nice mean looking guy. This opening has a really catchy song and is very nicely made to suit the beats of the song.   [embed]35026:5626:0[/embed] "Kibou no Uta" Anime: Food Wars: Shokugeki no Souma It's that show that has very nicely drawn food as well as some fanservice (for those who like men and women) for a great feast for the eyes. Shounen cooking shows aren't rare but we haven't gotten a new one lately and we've been due for one in a long time.   Is there an anime and/or opening from JC Staff that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Three Decades
JC Staff is a studio that has been around since 1986 and has made a lot of shows and probably some of your favorites as well. Most of their shows are very beautifully made and they've made a few of my favorite shows, which I'...

Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Check out the trailer for Shout! Factory's Dairanger streaming event


Can we expect a special surprise?
May 19
// Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to companies that decide to people a taste of one of their titles since it exposes more folks to said property. As we get close to the weekend, Shout! Factory has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming Gosei...
Xenoverse 2  photo
Xenoverse 2

Bandai Namco announces Dragonball Xenoverse 2


Hope it's better than Dragonball Super
May 17
// Nick Valdez
With E3 a little under a month away, expect all sorts of announcements. One of cede announcements is Bandai Namco's Dragonball Xenoverse 2. After a weird countdown clock that kept breaking suddenly, and waiting only a year a...
Anime Expo photo
Anime Expo

Uh-oh: Anime Expo could be harmed by sudden regulations


Why now?
May 16
// Josh Tolentino
I think we can all agree that youths need protection from creeps and other predators, but what's happening at this year's Anime Expo in the name of protecting the children seems to be a bit...undesirable. Last week, the ...

Tales Worth Telling: On Manga, Anime, and how they changed Japanese storytelling

May 16 // Yussif Osman
Japan has a long and vibrant tradition of storytelling. Of course, there is the current massive industries of anime, manga, light novels and video games, but long before television and anime there was kamishibai, a practice where a street performer would narrate a tale whilst flipping through illustrations on a mobile stage; or rakugo, where the comic or storyteller would perform multiple characters in dialogue with one another with nothing but a fan with which to gesture, meaning characters had to be well developed and distinct. And then there is kodan, the heroic tale and predecessor to modern Shounen series. Stories told in these ways, for the Japanese people became news and sensation, novel and theatre for people of all classes. A culture so drenched in the art of storytelling has a great deal to teach the world about how to build worlds, create characters and set plots in motion. In contrast to much of Western media, the bestbetter anime and manga do not patronize the viewer or reader. One Piece for example, is not about what someone thinks people want to see, it is about the story the author and artists want to tell. Hayao Miyazaki was once asked about the creative process for a creator in Japan, in contrast to a creator in the West. In the West, films are often made by committee. I am not saying there is anything wrong with writers' rooms, on the contrary, collaboration can be a wonderful thing, the problems arise when a studio, which has ultimate creative control over a property, makes assumptions about what people want to see. A number of films come to mind, Fox's interference on Josh Trank's Fantastic Four or the X-men movie universe as a whole, where executives felt the need to simplify characters for an audience who just 'won't get'. I also think of the 4Kids dub of One Piece, where it was assumed that orchestrated music would not appeal to young viewers and certain themes would be inaccessible. I'm not saying that this never happens in Japan, in fact it's probably happening now more than before, but for the most part, Japan with its massive storytelling industry has put emphasis on the importance of story and not just delivery. This is evident in a passion for characters in and of themselves and in a will to drive story and touch readers and viewers, to say something true about the human condition, more than just attempting to entertain. This is storytelling for storytelling's own sake. When composing each new story, Hayao Miyazaki was concerned with just that, the story, something he has said himself. Japanese animation has confronted the world with rich and deep stories with both real and bizarre characters that speak about what's real in us, in the human condition. One Piece, which is the manga and anime I will use as my primary case study comes to mind here. Overwhelming enemies who engage in fantastic and brutal battles with the rubbery Luffy says a lot about life and the need to overcome moments of adversity by literally bouncing-back and meeting life head on, thus the head-strong, if not simple character of many Shounen heroes. Even these stories, in all their whimsical adventure, do more than just entertain, they resonate, like I've said before in my article on Digimon, high stakes make for high hopes and therein I believe lies the appeal of epics like Attack on Titan and why it became so popular. And outside the Shounen genre and the work of Hayao Miyazaki we have a plethora of incredibly moving stories, from Makoto Shinkai's 5cm per Second to works such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Boy And The Beast, you have a compelling and grounded premises with fantastical characters and circumstances which only enrich and make more vivid the narrative as the characters themselves remain very human, full of awkward subtleties and quirks which make it possible to empathise with them. At this point, I would like to bring up the tradition of drawing on manga to create anime. There are huge benefits to doing this, not simply because you can simply copy a story on to the screen because it often doesn't work that way, often anime take a concept and re-interpret or build upon an idea, but the benefit of manga is the vast worlds that the characters have emerged from and that has been built around them. Something I find that Japanese media has done very well, whether that's anime, manga or video games, is build tremendous and beautiful worlds and I don't just mean that on an aesthetic level, I refer to histories and politics, nations and ideologies all built from scratch from which incredible stories can spiral. More developed worlds, mean longer runs for readers and viewers to become invested, people grow-up with the characters and see them through their journeys and become committed to the worlds they live in. Worlds you can invest in are richer, richer worlds help make more interesting characters with more interesting histories and good characters with a great world to interact in, makes for a great plot. These three components: world, character and plot when executed well, I believe are responsible for producing a great story. Recently in Western media, this has also been evidenced with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I will illustrate this now with an anime/ manga which I believe does this best in One Piece. In One Piece, we're faced with the setting of a number of oceans and seas in their own hierarchy of fury and adversity, inhabited by a complex hierarchy of pirates and forces, such as the Marines and the Seven Warlords of the Sea, the revelation of each one being something we always look forward to. Hierarchies and structures within which characters explore their given world, create a framework in which viewers and readers can actually look forward to things, to more of the Wizard Saints in Fairy Tail or more Dragon Slayers. Then there is the notion that the most expansive sea in the series, the New World is largely unexplored and home to range of bizarre islands, from lightning countries to flaming tundras. But perhaps the most thrilling part of reading or viewing a great world is discovering it from scratch as characters do and One Piece, like many anime and manga does this artfully, leaving us thirsting for more. One could also turn to the slow revelation of the plethora of villages in Naruto or the wider cosmos in the Dragonball series'. And of course one of the most compelling parts of One Piece, is the world's history itself, the missing century and lost civilization which left behind ponelyphs describing its history, secrets that revolutionaries and pirates are trying to unearth and the World Government is trying to keep hidden. I hope what I've illustrated here is a network of circumstances and characters which interact in complex and far-reaching ways to create what is a compelling plot. Whether they were exploring a new country, liberating one or unearthing new secrets, the Straw Hat Pirates have never bored me and when it has been less thrilling, it is only because of the drastic scale that the series can often rise to. And even away from the high-stakes of One Piece story arcs, the characters and the themes they represent are warm and intimate, such as friendship and how it should be cherished, Usopp's wish to be brave or Robin's wish to live. I'm not saying great things don't come out of the West, when it comes to animation, I would in particular like to highlight such work as the Batman and X-men animated series' or Transformers which were all incredible, but I'm not trying to make a point about Western media, I'm trying to make a point about anime and manga.  But while we're on the topic of Western media, this is a good opportunity to bring up a handful of ground-breaking series' which have been heavily influenced by anime and manga and in doing so, illustrate how the world's love of Japanese media has created a demand for better storytelling. An obvious series that comes to mind is the Avatar animated saga and its sequel the Legend of Korra. In the tradition of long-running manga, Avatar brought us a vast world to explore and high-stakes politics to understand alongside enchanting and compelling characters heavily influenced by Eastern culture and civilization. Less obvious is Steven Universe, which I have said in a past article, is heavily influenced by such anime as Revolutionary Girl Utena in its style and themes of fluid sexuality and gender roles. There are many others, such as the French conceived Sav! The World Productions and their creation the award-winning Oban Star Racers, or the more recent Miraculous Ladybug. I go as far to make the case that the popularity of anime and manga in the West, made it more acceptable to tell more serious stories for younger audiences and so helped to mainstream the now massive comic book phenomenon. Like you, I love the Japanese format of storytelling, the amazing characters and stories it produces set across interesting and diverse worlds. So I took it upon myself to try it, to take inspiration drawn from anime and manga to produce stories in the same vain. Hei Stories, a youtube channel which uses audio and illustrations in the kamishibai style is a platform for original stories in the fantasy genre which aim to stretch the imagination and compel listeners to invest in complex characters. The first story that is being uploaded is Seeking Scarlet At The End of The World, which takes influence from Middle-Eastern and Asian culture to tell the story of a young woman with phenomenal abilities set in a world under siege. As the Raindance movement is hijacked by the Great Secret Keeper, his acolyte, Iconoclast, assaults Polis Earth, with the Orion Alliance long gone, not even the mythical Guardian seems anywhere in sight to stop her. Despite the crisis, the displaced people of the Deepa Wali culture celebrate life into the night and continue to pray. In a universe where material beings are not the only life forms and where the cosmos is ruled by an Eclipse King, I wanted to create a story of hope and cover contemporary political and social issues we're currently faced with such as the refugee crisis. I hope you will enjoy it and join the conversation here and on youtube about storytelling and what kinds of stories engage, inspire you and humanize other human beings, whether they are in your city or across oceans. So what does make a good story? Sincere, warm characters full of agency in a developed world, from Shakespeare's turbulent Scotland to Tolstoy's revolutionary Russia, a good world and characters people can be passionate about go a long way in creating a story that can resonates with readers. With Japanese media so aware of this, I look forward to every season, knowing it is bound to bring something entertaining, inspiring and compelling and above all, shedding light on the human condition and the world we live in.  
Japanator Original photo
Stay A While, and Listen
I won't hazard a guess as to how many of you have read my previous articles, but something that may have come across is the emphasis I place on the importance of good storytelling. Whether it was Digimon or GAT...

Waterscape photo
Waterscape

Haruka Misawa's aquariums deliver a new take on fishes and plants living together


If only they were for sale
May 15
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something wonderful about seeing people using their creativity to improve their pet's living space. When done right, the new environment gives the animal the ability to frolic in a manner that grants them more freedo...

Weekend Japanatainment - Rebirth Edition

May 15 // Red Veron
[embed]35016:5612:0[/embed] Here is a video with dogs and a meme. There are some shibas in there and Japanese writing. Just watch and enjoy the dancing doggies.   [embed]35016:5613:0[/embed] This is a commercial for paid antivirus in Japan. Very Japanese as well as cute and weird.   [embed]35016:5614:0[/embed] One of my favorite Japan-based Youtuber duos, Simon and Martina, who now live in Japan recently went to a conveyor sushi restaurant where eating five plates gets you a chance to get a free capsule toy.   [embed]35016:5615:0[/embed] Here's a video from the old Weekend Japanatainment feature, this one is from 2007 and very weird. It's the ending song from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya with some odd mashups. Just watch.   GOT ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR WEEKEND JAPANATAINMENT? SEND IT TO US OVER AT: Send us an Email at: [email protected] Also reach out to us on our Twitter and Facebook!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
BACK AGAIN YO
So the last time I did this feature was when I took over almost 7 years ago, but I stopped because life got in the way. But now, it's back again bishies! Back to give you lovely readers some Japanese-related entertainment to ...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Have a miserable summer with Danganronpa 2


Aren't vacations meant to be fun?
May 14
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] For a second, I thought that Danganronpa 2's second trial was going to repeat a scenario from the first game, but the team managed to change things up again. Even thoug...

Gems of Japan: Tasting Yakisoba & Okonomiyaki in Asakusa

May 14 // Lindo Korchi
When checking online, it didn't take long for me to discover that the most popular Okonomiyaki shop was Sometaro, located in Asakusa, Tokyo. I decided to begin my journey there.When I arrived at the shop, there was a queue that lasted for 40 minutes. After, I went inside. It was small, cozy, and warm. After viewing the menu, I gravitated to the noodle dishes and saw "yakisoba", or fried buckwheat, and decided to give it a try. I had yakisoba from the convenient store and didn't like it; a friend told me that I had to have one from a restaurant to really enjoy it. Which persuaded me to order. [embed]35014:5607:0[/embed] I believe I ordered the gomoku yakisoba. I was amazed to see that one of the staff members brought out all the ingredients and cooked my meal right before me. As for the taste? Although I like Japan, I'm not going to kid myself into liking something because it derives from the country. At the end, it was so-so. On top of that, it wasn't filling at all and I was still left hungry. However, the presentation was good. A couple of days later, I returned. This time, to order the dish that Sometaro is most famous for -- okonomiyaki. [embed]35014:5608:0[/embed] I believe I chose the gomokuten okonomiyaki. As with the yakisoba, all the ingredients were brought and cooked right before me. As for the taste? It was pretty good. I would've needed two or 1 1/2 to be full, though. The presentation was also extremely well, as it had more ingredients. Overall, I'd recommend okonomiyaki as it's really tasty. However, the most popular okonomiyaki is associated with Kansai, or to be more specific, Osaka. So if I choose to eat okonomiyaki in Osaka, I'll be interested to see if there's much of a difference, overall.When you try either one of these dishes, regardless if it's at the same shop or not, let me know your thoughts on it and which dish you prefer.
Gems of Japan photo
There Can Only Be One Winner
During my first trip to Japan, I heard a lot of people talk about Okonomiyaki. I didn't know what it was, except that some people labeled it the Japanese equivalent to pizza. I don't agree. It's more of a pancake than anything else. Nonetheless, I was interested in this pancake-pizza.

Ys VIII photo
Ys VIII

Ys VIII's new trailer is filled with high-speed goodness


Did Adol stock up on espresso coffee?
May 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Is it me or does Falcom's latest Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana trailer feel like Adol and his comrades are loaded on a ton of caffeine? Not that it's a bad thing since the gang's movements are making the game look really f...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Two new Attack on Titan game trailers show how it's actually played


Slicin' and dicin'
May 13
// Nick Valdez
Tecmo Koei is one of my favorite developers. I'm a simple man with simple videogame needs, so the fact they pretty much reinvigorated the beat 'em up genre with Dynasty Warriors and their various spin-offs means I'm going to...

Week Ender - 10 YEARS AGO EDITION

May 13 // Red Veron
[embed]35015:5603:0[/embed] "Umi no Opal" Anime: Soukou no Strain Here's another show on my list that I need to watch, it involves space wars with giant robots and time dilation with faster than light travel. The ending is pretty calming with that sweet sounding song.   [embed]35015:5604:0[/embed] "Rock The LM.C" Anime: Red Garden Here's another show from a decade ago that I never got around to see. It involves four girls at a private school in New York city. Mysteries and murders happen that adds to the intrigue, I would tell you more but I don't want to spoil it for myself. This ending is a bit minimal with a concert going on with some shots of the cast.   [embed]35015:5605:0[/embed] "Yuukyou Seishunka" Anime: Code Geass Oh look a song by Ali Project, you know it's them just by their style. I like this ending with the stills featuring the characters in situations not seen in the show.   [embed]35015:5606:0[/embed] "Alumina" Anime: Death Note A very stylish opening that still holds up to now, especially the use of the color red. I love the way the ending communicates the sinister character of Light.   Is there an ending/opening/anime that you loved from 10 years ago? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Back in the year 2006...
I'm gonna take you all for a nostalgia trip (or a history trip, you young whippersnappers--- GET OFF MY LAWN!). 2006 was a great year for anime with shows that are still enjoyed today. Someone on my twitter feed reminded me t...

Persona 5 photo
Persona 5

So I translated that new Persona 5 trailer


And boy, are my arms tired!
May 12
// Josh Tolentino
It took the newest trailer for Persona 5 to make me break my self-imposed media blackout about the game. After all, I already knew I wanted the damn thing, so I didn't need any extra convincing. But I did watch it, and it was...
Anime Industry :( photo
Anime Industry :(

Want to make anime in Japan? Don't expect to get rich doing it


Not unless you're a celebrity, at least
May 12
// Josh Tolentino
One of the more common pieces of fan mail we get comes in the form of inquiries from fans looking to break into anime creation. It's not an uncommon impulse, to want to try your hand at making what you love to watch, but impu...
Space Cowboy photo
Space Cowboy

Aim for the stars with Boomslank's Space Cowboy t-shirt


This shirt is out of this world
May 12
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that I love about space, it's when a show uses its presence as a means for the main character to become something huge. Better yet, these titles are even more awesome when the protagonist gets to go to sp...

OP Up! - 10 YEARS AGO EDITION

May 11 // Red Veron
[embed]35012:5598:0[/embed] "Red Fraction" Anime: Black Lagoon I have only seen a little bit of this show and I promise I will watch more. This is a show that still holds up and is one that is still recommended by many. There isn't much going in this opening, but this is a good example of "less is more" where the opening creates intrigue and gives you that feeling that this isn't like those other anime that you watch all the time.   [embed]35012:5599:0[/embed] "COLORS" Anime: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Oh hey, it's that show that spawned those memes such as "I shall pleasure myself with this fish" or "notto this shit again". Yeah, this show is still quite popular and is still enjoyable with all the twists and turns inside. It's got drama, action, giant robots, and some enjoyable politics too.   [embed]35012:5600:0[/embed] "INNOCENT SORROW" Anime: D.Gray-Man A show based on a manga that just kinda went silent. I loved this show and even did my first cosplay based on one of the characters. I heard that the author still makes a chapter every now and then but it is a shame since the universe it created was an interesting one, mixing eastern and western influences in a early 1900s setting.   [embed]35012:5601:0[/embed] "PUZZLE" Anime: Welcome to the NHK! I haven't seen this show in ages and I believe it would be hard for me to say much about this show not because of the amount of time since I have seen but it would be because of the themes it tackled. There is some stuff in this show that I would have a different opinion on because I am older now and would probably relate to the many things that this show discussed. Oh this show is about a adult shut in who gradually comes out of his shell because of a neighbor and a cute girl. Just look it up, it's worth a watch anyways. Also read the manga, since there are things omitted for TV broadcast rules and such.   [embed]35012:5597:0[/embed] "Bouken Desho Desho?" Anime: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya It's that show about that girl who does stuff and still cosplayed by people since it is easy since the uniforms are hella cheap now. This is one show I really recommend, it's a good comedy with some mystery and stuff that hits you out of nowhere when you watch it in the broadcast order. Watch it on the broadcast order, you will enjoy it much more. I would tell you more but this isn't just one of those "cute girl does cute things" kinda shows, it has some of that but it has a overarching story that brings everything together.  Is there an anime from 2006 that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Great Anime from 2006
The year 2006 was a great one for anime and a lot of the anime that premiered in that year are considered to be the best and are still enjoyed by anime fans to this day. I looked at the list of the anime that came in that yea...

First Impressions: Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto

May 10 // Nick Valdez
In Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto, the entire school is enamored with the super attractive, super athletic, super smart, and most importantly, super cool Sakamoto. All the girls have crushes on him, all the guys want to be his best friend, and all he wants to do is tend to himself. Naturally his aloof attitude causes dissent among some other students who make it their mission to take them down a peg. But since Sakamoto is a super cool genius extrodinaire, he always manages to best them without trying and somehow become cooler each time. And that's it. That's the premise of the entire series. You enjoyment going forward entirely depends on whether or not you find this single joke amusing.  For those that stick around, each episode is broken up into two 12-13 minute segments. These segments usually cover a chapter or two of content, and all hinge on a single joke. Regardless of the set up, the punchline is always the same. And that's definitely going to devalue the series moving forward. For the first six stories, Sakamoto essentially "teaches" a character how to live their life properly (how to stand up to bullies, how not to bully, etc) by doing nothing to help them. The gag is that Sakamoto is so magnetic, that even the most mundane of skills are read as "super skills" and although he's basically doing nothing it seems like the greatest thing in the world. It's all about how each of Sakamoto's fellow students reacts to Sakamoto's magnetism, and in the first episode their reactions are taken to the extreme.  But can focusing on nothing but the ancillary characters make for a good series? I'm not so sure yet. See, the gag worked for the first episode as we're still getting used to Sakamoto's exaggerated and cartoonish characterization (and has made for plenty of good memes online) but it definitely wears thin as the accompanying plots of the follow up episodes follow the same formula. It's visually interesting as Sakamoto's exaggerated motions make for captivating scenes, but there's not a lot of meat on the bones. That's going to be the ultimate struggle of the show moving forward as the show has a main character they can't really develop. Since the gag is his disconnection from reality, it's going to have to rely on these ancillary characters and plots to succeed.  And it seems like Sakamoto is trying its best to do this. As the episodes roll on, the stories are getting odder. As Sakamoto himself is distancing further from reality, it's like he's becoming less human. Rather than the aloof cool guy showing off in the first episode, he's instead a cold and uncaring individual who only does things to satiate his curiosity. He literally looks through people, refers to them as "humanity" (thus confirming his holier than thou personality), and he refers to one character's as an acne face. When he helps Kubota, most likely a recurring character to bounce Sakamoto off of, get a job at McDoodle's Sakamoto is incredibly wrong about this situation. Kubota's being bullied so he needs money, but Sakamoto assumes he just needs money in general. It's a hilarious miscommunication, but Sakamoto is really only doing what he wants and eventually helps Kubota in a roundabout way. If the show can continue to magnify the less "cool,cooler and coolest" aspects of Sakamoto's personality, they just may develop him in the roundabout way he's so fond of.  The unfortunate thing with gag manga and anime is that what you see is almost always what you get. Generally all humor is subjective and surface level, so if you're looking for a show to stay invested in, chances are this isn't it. But in the same breath, Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto is made with the humor in mind. You're supposed to watch it in passing here or there every few weeks. Taking in a new fifteen minute segment every now and again. It's basically like an afternoon cartoon serving as a palette cleanser for the heavier properties you've seen.  I won't be following this show moving forward, but I'll definitely watch it in a few weeks once it's got a few more episodes under its belt. 
Sakamoto Impressions photo
Haven't you heard? It's alright, I guess
I fell really hard into the manga scene about 10-12 years ago. I pretty much checked manga scan sites everyday. They're not so cool now that I can afford to buy whatever volume of manga I want (and, you know, it's still theft...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 5

May 10 // Jeff Chuang
Again, I have to applaud Haifuri on delivering a lot of stuff I wanted. It gave us fleet battle action this week. It gave us a lot of adults trying to explain and base the chaotic running away that happened to the Harekaze the past four episodes. It asked the important questions, such as "why did you fire on the Harekaze?" and "Why do you use 'washi' for 'I' (because normal people don't use that term)?" It gave us dolphins. It gave us cute girls in swimsuits. It even had time to give us a couple character backstories, such as the traumatic memory of our helmswoman Rin-chan, who wanted to overcome her cowardly countenance but ended up using her running-away skills for the greater good. To do all this in the 23-or-so minutes allotted, however, Haifuri also had to give us rodents of death that can interfere with electronics to disable some missiles? Speaking of which, there were some pretty good hardware fanservice this week in Haifuri. We saw Musashi's fearsome type 94 cannons quite a bit and up close, in action. The anti-sub missiles had even a close-up cut as they deployed the two-fold parachutes for torpedo insertion. That part wasn't even all 3DCG, which was both amusing and unexpected. There was even a blimp in the beginning... Still, it's hard to downplay the roles of those pesky rodents. I mean, really? Is this how you want to play it, Haifuri? Just because a few freaky hamsters ran around the missile pods, we can't stop the Musashi with military hardware that is possibly 100 years more advanced? I suppose if we think of the instructors' fleet as a typical bunch of coast guard types, maybe, but these sure are well-armed ships that doesn't seem to do anything. The plot device rodents definitely undermines the mutiny subplot in terms of the tone, but I suppose I can give Haifuri the benefit of the doubt for the time being, until it unravels some more of its thickening plots, of the other variety. Anyway, for those of us who watch anime for the more dramatic, Haifuri provides even one somewhat-abrupt, but rewatch-worthy scene as Mike-chan forces herself from the rest of the crew in a mad dash to rescue the captain of Musashi, despite Shiro-chan's plea. It seems from the few cutouts that they were able to show us inside the bridge of the Musashi, Moka-chan has barricaded herself in it. Perhaps equally interesting, but in a light-hearted, biting truism kind of way, was a quick interplay between Shiro-chan and Mike-chan when Mii-chan gave a toast for the crew, mentioning the captain's un-captain-like nature. I guess in a season of TV anime where impact short anime series can be a thing, these normal half-hour battleships of the late night variety have to punch at least on the same class. High School Fleet definitely showed that it can, and non-stop, although not everything may come together very well. [High School Fleet is on Crunchyroll, FUNimation, and Daisuki.net!]
Haifuri photo
Gerbils on a boat
High School Fleet, in some simple ways, delivers exactly what you expect from a show like this. It might not seem like a tremendous undertaking for a show ostensibly about cute girls doing cute things to give us exactly that,...

Review: Corpse Party (PC)

May 09 // Salvador GRodiles
Corpse Party (PC)Developer: Team GrisGrisPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease Date: March 8, 2008 (JP), April 25, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $14.99 From the beginning, Corpse Party sets the scene for an amusing horror story as it separates the main cast after they were transported to a spiritual plane when they failed to properly recite the charm known as “Sachiko Ever After.” This places the player in an intense situation while they try to escape from Heavenly Host Elementary school, a place that was thought to have been demolished; thus emulating that feeling that comes from being in a scary situation without any means to overcome spirits that are after your life. For the most part, Corpse Party’s scary moments aren’t the type of scenes that’ll make people jump out of their seats or scream loudly. Instead, they’re the kind of segments that are meant to shock players through the use of creepy descriptions and sound effects that complement the segments where someone gets killed in a messed up way, such as seeing a girl turn into nothing but blood and guts after being slammed into a wall at full force by two ghost kids. [embed]35006:5594:0[/embed] Even though most of these segments are shown through sprite animations or text on a completely black screen, the impact from watching your character or one of their friends suffer badly remains intact. To an extent, they give off a similar feeling to seeing one of When They Cry: Higurashi’s violent moments, which was the vibe that I was getting through each of the game’s five chapters. With each stage being around 20 minutes to an hour long during one's first playthrough, people won't have to worry about the scary moments overstaying their welcome. One thing the elevates these scenes, it’s the voice cast’s performances, as each person brings out the true potential of the characters that are experiencing fear or going insane from being in a place that’s hard to escape from. This stood out more during the game’s Wrong Ends, since they act as the “Game Over” sequences for the game and a good majority of them involve various members of the cast suffering an unfortunate fate. In some cases, it made up for the lack of visuals in the scenes with black screens. While Corpse Party’s spirits and messed up situations makes it sound like a really intense title, the game mostly has the players searching for ways to progress through the school without having to worry about facing death, such as finding special items or activating switches scattered across the school. However, this doesn’t mean that thing are safe, as the game has a few segments where players run from ghosts and have to avoid certain traps that could result in absolute death. Since none of the students have any items to defend themselves with, Corpse Party ensures that its players are in a state of vulnerability throughout the entire game. The only thing that can help folks overcome each challenge is to for them to be aware of their surroundings while they search for the items and clues to progress further, as it’s a requirement to overcome each chapter. In some situations, one wrong move could cause specific characters to go mad and do something foolish. Overall, this setup works nicely in making the players feel insecure at times, which captures the essence of many horror films— especially with the fact that the game is riddled with a ton of different Wrong Ends. Aside from school’s intense atmosphere, Corpse Party also involves the players trying to figure out the mystery behind the place they’re trapped in. This was one of the most intriguing parts of the title, as it delves into the twisted tales that lead to the Heavenly Host Elementary School being torn down, along with learning about the deceased students who were sent to the spiritual plane before you. Sure, some of the events were messed up, but they’re all still rewarding since they play a big role in giving the surviving students the ammunition to overcome the source of the hauntings. Despite the game’s creepy nature, the title’s characters are depicted in a simplistic style that gives them a cute look. All in all, Corpse Party’s designs shine well when the cast is placed in various dire situations, as certain characters look extremely menacing when they snap or appear emotionally broken when they watch someone die. While the PSP version’s character designs have a nicer updated look, the 2008 PC release’s portraits still have a special charm to them since their expressions still complement the game’s horror themes. In terms of the title’s presentation, the overhead view format with 2D sprites worked well as a callback to the original Corpse Party being a game that was made in RPG Maker. Other than the game’s five main chapters, the 2008 PC version of Corpse Party features a few extra chapters that expand on a few elements present in the game. While the game’s PSP release has more segments than its predecessor, the main thing that sets the latter apart is the last chapter, which is a retelling of the “Tooth” story from Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. While I didn’t play Book of Shadows, the scenario is still friendly to newcomers, as it expanded on a supporting character that was insane in the main story, along with a specific character that the player can only encounter in one of the game’s Wrong Ends. Compare to the other three bonus stages, "Tooth's" length was close to the game’s first chapter; thus making it a neat addition to this release. On the music side of things, Corpse Party's soundtrack sets the mood for its scary tone, as players are listening to songs that give off an eerie and unsettling vibe. A few of the tunes go well with the Halloween season and some of them play off on that feeling that someone dangerous is about to sneak up on you. With each chapter featuring different types of creepy tracks, players are treated to some variety while they try to survive. If anything, this feature's appearance is likely thanks to game launching as an episodic release in Japan. Corpse Party’s 2008 PC release may sport less extra content that its PSP version, but the game makes it up to people with its ability to let them fast forward the title's text, along with its array of extra Wrong Ends and other goodies, such as its take on the “Tooth” chapter and the title having different voice actors. Thanks to these features, this makes Corpse Party worth it for those who want to uncover Heavenly Host Elementary’s darkest secrets on their computer; thus teaching them the important lesson of not messing with charms that are connected to the supernatural. [This review is based on a Steam copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Corpse Party photo
Sachiko we beg of you!
For the longest time, I never got the chance to get into the horror genre of video games. It’s not that I’m afraid of playing a scary title; it’s that most of the major ones came out on the original Playstat...

Gems of Japan photo
Gems of Japan

Gems of Japan: Find golden sweets at this awesome Akiba pastry shop


Put This On Your List
May 07
// Lindo Korchi
When it comes to Japanese sweets, it's difficult to taste ones that aren't satisfactory. Unless we're talking about anko (sweet red bean paste), which I still haven't gotten quite used to. But during my first couple of days r...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Feel the music of Danganronpa 2


Hope is the only tune we're listening to
May 07
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] With Danganronpa 2's first trial out of the way, I can say that I was satisfied with the whole thing. The punishment scene pleased my expectations for ridiculous death ...
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Rickshaw Pullers

Japanese ladies love them some rickshaw-pullers


Women love a Shafu
May 07
// Soul Tsukino
When the single women of Japan are asked about the types of guys they are into, you get the usual answers of rock singers, pilots, and of course Foreign men, but the men of one particular occupation have seen their stock in the eyes of women rise in recent times. That of the hardworking rickshaw puller.
Otakon Matsuri photo
Otakon Matsuri

Mass Destruction: Two Persona singers are performing at Otakon Matsuri


Otakon: Dancing all Day
May 06
// Salvador GRodiles
I'm not gonna lie. When Atlus showed off their newest trailer for Persona 5, my excitement levels have gone up to a new height. While we're still on the topic of Persona, Otakon is getting Lotus Juice (Persona 3's battle them...
Corpse Hotels photo
Corpse Hotels

Book your dearly departed at a Corpse Hotel today!


A place you REALLY don't want to be
May 06
// Soul Tsukino
If you watch anime or pay attention to Japanese culture long enough, the subject of hotels inevitably comes up. Be it either Mountain hot bath retreats, hourly love hotels, and those ever quirky capsule hotels. But there is a new type of hotels that is on the rise, especially in Tokyo. Corpse hotels. And it's not what you think.

GET HYPE: Persona 5 launches in September

May 05 // Josh Tolentino
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Persona 5 release date photo
Also, a new voice for Igor!
It's time, folks! Or rather, it will be time...in a few short months. After months of silence last year's delay and weeks of drip-fed promotion culminating in a final countdown, Atlus has announced the Japanese release ...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 4

May 05 // Jeff Chuang
In some ways, High School Fleet 4 is very impressive for depicting life on a warship in this manner, because it is doing as much as it can to depict the ordinary life of high school sailor girls on an antique destroyer in an ordinary sort of way. The toilet paper (TP) crisis, in which a few dozen teenage girls are running out of TP, is in no way an ordinary problem for a group of people, that, in the viewers' minds, are anything but ordinary. I mean, did anyone expect to hear a description of the differences between Japanese TP and German TP this week? This month? As someone who have seen hundreds of Japanese anime set in the stereotypical high school context, I find Haifuri at least a curious mix. Which is to say, so we're going to a shopping mall on the seas to buy some TP. What's probably more puzzling and troubling, all at once, is the strange rodent (hamster, is it not?) that the Harekaze crew rescued on-board. Does it have mind control powers? Is this at the root of the various mutiny events? Needless to say it raises more questions than it answered at this stage of the game. Thankfully the story quickly quarantined the dangerous animal in the care of Harekaze's doctor, easing the mood that was more akin to from zombies on a boat, even if the episode sort of ends on that note. It's probably safe to say Haifuri plays around with a lot of trope-aware concepts. The mutiny plot thread drives this undercurrent, that ties in with the mind control, the distress call from Musashi, and the adults investigating a strange situation from the start. I like it, to put plainly. If post-modern entertainment is going to be aware of its viewers specific inclinations, it might as well play its cards from the start and give us it knows we have not had before in a way that's all too familiar. And if the only casualty here is my inability to remember all the crew's names, that's not a huge price to pay. I mean, I can remember the gunnery officer as the quiet, timid girl who got mind-controlled by a rodent, versus the torpedo officer as the one person who really, really just wants to shoot stuff up. I think this description will work when I communicate with anyone who has seen the show. This week's Haifuri involves the adults a lot more than last week. We got more glimpses of Shiro-chan's family, and who are the actual Blue Mermaids. And since there are never enough new characters to show us in Haifuri, here are two more ships, their captains, their cats, plus Shiro's sister's subordinate. Maybe now that Harekaze has made contact with the adults in these waters the girls will be spared of their weekly "pinches" and get back to school. Or maybe not. The important thing is we got a bit more of the setting, which arguably is also another character in this story with more characters than I can care to count. [Watch girls named after cats caring for a cat named after a human on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Daisuki!]
Haifuri photo
Toilet paper on a boat
What is the maidens' big trouble on a boat? They ran out of toilet paper. As Harekaze's expedition ran longer than initially expected, the crew listed the supplies they were short of, and it wasn't just torpedoes and depth charges. Haifuri takes us to go sundry shopping this week.

Review: Stranger of Sword City

May 04 // Christian Chiok
Stranger of Sword City (PS Vita [reviewed], Xbox One, Xbox 360 [Japan only])Developer: Experience Inc.Publisher: NIS America (PS Vita), Experience Inc.Release: April 26, 2016 (Vita), April 29, 2016 (Vita [EU]), March 22, 2016 (Xbox One [US]), March 29, 2016 (Xbox One [EU])MSRP: $39.99 (PS Vita), $40.49 (Xbox One) One of the things that really caught my attention was the game’s robust character customization. Aside from the five races and eight classes to choose from, the game offers character portraits sporting three different art styles, one which makes your character look like an anime character. Unfortunately, you can’t alter a character portrait and the age, gender and race you choose for the character doesn’t really modify it either. On the subject of different art designs, for NPCs, the game allows you to switch between original art design by Yoko Tsukamoto and anime-inspired design by En Okishiji. Personally, I had to go with the new anime design since it was livelier for me. While the original design by Yoko Tsukamoto isn’t dreary by any means, as an anime fan, I just had to go with the anime option. Being used to games like Fire Emblem, the permanent death aspect of the game didn’t really bother me, especially since they still have a certain amount of life points before they are no longer at your disposal if they died. The amount of life points depends on the age of your character, so the younger they are, the more life points they will have, but the limit is three.  You should keep in mind though that the older you make the character, they stronger they will be. Permanent death isn’t really what made the game tedious for me though, because like Fire Emblem, restarting the game is an option. Me never playing any Dungeon RPG in my life, I treated the game like my usual Turn-Based or Tactical RPG, but oh boy I was wrong.  I would even say some Tactical RPGs are more forgiving than this game. Realizing that I was playing the game wrong, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of powering through the dungeon like I would usually do, I decided to go back to base every time my characters were in danger of dying. I would say that the game kind of encourages you to retreat often too since one of your Divinity abilities, called Flash Retreat, allowing you to retreat from any battle other than those against certain Lineage types. Considering that it takes half of your Divinity gauge, I thought that I should save it for very crucial moments but then I realized that I constantly faced those moments where I should have really used it. After your characters die, you can always go back to base to heal them but they still come back after a certain amount of time, usually 24 hours, which of course, it isn’t real time. Since not having a party of 6 usually put my other characters at risk, I usually navigated through the first stage of the dungeon, but even then the game was a bit difficult and some of my characters ended up losing a lot of health. Coming from Persona Q and from the general conscious with dungeon crawlers, I was already prepared to start marking the map myself, but thankfully the game did it for me. It didn’t make things any easier though as the maps was still full of roaming monsters and risky dark rooms. When I knew I had to go back to the guild and save though, I always crossed my fingers that I don’t encounter any random monsters or else that would mess me up. Besides saving of course, the guild has many uses. As previously mentioned, you can revive your characters depending if they have any life points left or even recover their health for a certain cost. You may also create other party members which will replace the fallen ones. Your created characters will start off leveled up equal to your main character. On top of the hard monsters you have to overcome, leveling up your character can get tedious as well. The grinding can get incredibly slow and it was a bit annoying trying to get some of my new characters up to speed with the rest of the current party. Sending a lower level character could really put you at a disadvantage since not only is that character vulnerable but protecting that character would only hinder collecting Blood Crystals. Stranger of Sword City may not have been the best choice to introduce me into the genre, due to it being challenging, but I still find it quite enjoyable since I do love challenges but I think the game would have been a lot more enjoyable if I had any other Dungeon RPG experience prior to this game. It definitely made interested in the genre and I feel veterans will definitely get their money’s worth with this game. 
Stranger of Sword City photo
Challenging Dungeons
Being a fan of all kind of JRPG games for as long as I’ve been a gamer, I always wanted to try my hands playing a Dungeon Crawler JRPG. I played so many types of JRPGS, such as turn-based, action and strategy. While I d...

Lynn photo
Lynn

Lynn and the Spirits of Inao gives off a nice Spirited Away and Castlevania vibe


Ghiblivania anyone?
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// Salvador GRodiles
I'm going to be honest with everyone on here: I'm a really huge sucker for games that look like a beautiful illustration. From Vanillaware's titles to stuff like Indivisible, I can't help to want these things insid...
Tenchi Muyo photo
Tenchi Muyo

Wait, what? Tenchi Muyo to get a fourth season


Talk about a blast from the past
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// Josh Tolentino
File this one under "Hold on, let me check what year it is", because Tenchi Muyo! is set to be A Thing again!  Well, that's not entirely fair. Fans of one of the most influential harem anime of modern times haven't ...

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