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Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Drown yourself in more despair with Danganronpa 2


Farewell, sweet joy
Apr 23
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] So I finally took down Danganronpa's mastermind, and boy was the big reveal a phenomenal moment during the game's final case. Even though the ending left me with some s...

Strong Style: One match, One belt!

Apr 23 // Soul Tsukino
We start the show greeted by Okada and after the credits roll, we see him in the studio. He is the reason NJPW has returned to Osaka-Jo Hall and he is the reason the building is sold out. My my, That's heel talk. He says Styles stole the belt from him and he is looking to get it back. Styles is a great wrestler and he keeps you on your toes. You have to have a great mind as well as the body when you fight Styles. IWGP Title: "The Phenomenal One" A.J. Styles vs. "The Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada The Bullet Club vs. CHAOS with the big belt on the line. No love lost here as Styles beat Okada for the title one year before this and Okada hasn't forgotten.  Okada comes out with Gedo as always. Barnett puts over Gedo's importance to Okada's success. Styles enters next ad JR brings up the Georgia Mountain Center in Gainesville and the shows from his WCW days. I remember hearing about that place and "Georgia Power Safety Night". Crap does that bring me back. The ENTIRE Bullet Club comes out. Really? The ref is going to allow this? Barnett brings up a neat point that Okada's look is a reference to Asian good luck charms to bring in lots of money. Neat bit of info there. The crowd is already chanting for Okada while the Bullet Club go too sweet. We come back from the commercial break as we get this match underway. Some circling around leads into a lock up that rolls into the corner. Okada goes for a hit, but just pats Styles on the chest instead. Armbar by Styles into a wristlock, Okada rolls out of it into the reversal then AJ counters right into a side headlock. Okada rolls into getting a side headlock on the mat. Okada shot into the ropes and Styles leapfrogs into a roll up and into a series of arm drags before a standoff. Styles rolls out of the ring after that. Great chain wrestling to start. Styles gets back in the ring and we restart into in a knuckle lock but Styles kicks and then hammers on Okada's back. Styles goes into the ropes and runs right into a HIGH Backdrop. With Styles retreating into the corner, Okada hits some strikes and gets Styles down and hits a running low dropkick into the praying headlock. One of the derp club members jumps up briefly to break the lock but Okada goes right back to Styles but then starts in with the Club. Styles tries to attack but Okada counters and hits the ropes when Amber Gallows grabs the foot and Styles hits a spinning kick. Okada goes down as Styles hits a high knee drop as we go to break. After the billionth commercial for David Hasselhoff's new stupid show, we are back in the action. Styles brings Okada to his feet and pays for it as Okada hits some strikes, but rebounds off the ropes right into a Bret Hart backbreaker and then snaps Okada's throat right under the bottom rope. Okada to the floor as the Club beat up on him and the Ref just stands there with his finger up his nose. Okada back in as Styles hits a snap suplex. Okada gets up and hits the forearms but once again rebounds off the ropes right into a dropkick. Okada goes outside and ONCE AGAIN, the club beats on him. Red Shoes the ref finally sends them out and act like babies the whole time as Karl Anderson calls the ref a son of a bitch. Nothing is happening in the ring before Red Shoes comes back. Styles grabs a takedown on Okada and grinds down on him in a chinlock then into a headlock. Okada elbows out and hits some forearms to Styles, but AGAIN, goes to the rope where he is met with a strike. Okada returns and gets a running start into a big hit as they both go down. We come out of a break of all the same AXS commercials they've played too many damn times and we aren't even halfway done. Both guys struggle to get up and Okada lands a forearm strike and hits a DDT with a kip up. He gets Styles up on the ropes for a dropkick but Styles kicks away from that but gets met with a strike anyway.  Into the corner and Styles hits Bloody Sunday DDT! He whips Okada into the corner but Okada sends Styles over the rope onto the apron. Styles goes for the over the rope forearm but Okada gets him on the ropes. Okada NAILS his high dropkick to send AJ out of the ring to the floor. Styles against the barricade but Styles reverse and nails Okada sending the both into the ringside seats. He drags Okada back into the ring and goes inside. Okada tries a strike but Styles hits a flapjack and goes for the pin, only to get two. Styles puts Okada in the corner and goes for a dive but Okada moves and Styles goes into the corner. Styles goes to the apron for his flying forearm but Okada nails the dropkick again right to the gut. Okada hits a knee and gets Styles up into a suplex position but Styles elbows out. Styles hits his own suplex and then rolls out of the ring and gets his slingshot forearm. Styles tries for a styles clash but Okada reverses it into a ushigoroshi neckbreaker! Back from another break as both guys get up and Okada goes for the tombstone but Styles blocks it. Okada with a forearm and Styles hits back. Exchange now as they just going back and forth and then nose to nose before Okada hits the Dory Funk Jr. uppercuts. Styles with a big hit and floors Okada. Styles with a chop and then goes for the ropes to run right into a Dropkick. Okada gets him up in the tombstone, Styles counters, Okada counters, Styles counters and finally hits it. He goes to the apron and hits the springboard 540 splash. He goes for the pin but Okada kicks out. The crowd goes wild as Styles tries to pick Okada back up but he's no go. A.J. goes outside and climbs the buckle taking Okada up with him. Okada hits a few palm strikes and gets Styles up in the fireman's carry, but DROPS HIM. Oh wow, Styles tumbles down to the apron and the floor. That's not good. Styles climbs right back up(!) to the apron and goes for another springboard and Okada nails him with another dropkick. Both guys got hurt on that one. Okada gets Styles up and hits the tombstone! He picks Styles up and goes for the Rainmaker but Style hit's the Pele kick. The crowd goes "oooooh." Styles goes for the Styles clash Okada counters out, Styles counters into a roll up, and they reverse it before Okada drills Styles with a clothesline. Styles back up and Okada goes for the Rainmaker, Styles ducks it and goes for a suplex, but Okada reverses that. Okada NAILS a back suplex and then hits the Rainmaker and gets the win! Holy crap what a finish! We come back from break as both guys are still down and I don't blame them. Okada gets up and leans on the ropes before he is presented with the belt. He gives the rainmaker pose and the crowd goes wild for it. Gedo has the mic. Rainmaker's property has returned to his waist. He will win G1, Tokyo Dome, and be unopposed from now on. Okada has some words for the crowd. He will win the G1 tournament. He will show us all a bright future and take ALL of Pro Wrestling to the next level, and then the money will reign Backstage Styles falls on his face on the floor. Okada has some words saying he couldn't wish for more being in a sold-out building and winning the belt.  He wants to come to the Osaka-Jo every year. They drink beer to celebrate as Gedo DOWNS this beer. Gedo says it's a good beer but Okada's never had it before. That must be some damn good beer. In the studio, Okada says he was nervous but it felt great to beat the guy who beat him for the title. Styles is a great wrestler and he raised Okada's caliber.  This is just one of those matches where my words do not do it justice. This was a great main event and both guys brought everything. I'm not a fan of the Bullet Club crap in the beginning, but I guess you'd have to establish why the club wasn't running down to help Styles later and allow the Okada win to take place. A great way to end these matches from this show! See you all next time!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Dominion's main event!
Hello, Japanator readers and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Ths week we conclude our look at the 2015 Dominion card with the main event of that show. We've had some incredible action so far from this show so this is expected to be a real barn burner. So let us go back one last time to the Osaka-Jo Hall and July 5, 2015, for the action!

Tokusatsu Film School photo
Tokusatsu Film School

Prepare for Tokusatsu Film School with Garage Hero's Inzector Alpha short


The orientation has started
Apr 22
// Salvador GRodiles
Whenever a person gets ready to start school, they usually go through a brief orientation to get acquainted with the facility they'll be studying at. This same principle applies Garage Hero/Garage Pro TV's upcoming Tokusatsu...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 2

Apr 22 // Jeff Chuang
Just so we're on the same page, it's a tradition in the Japanese navy to serve curry for a meal on Friday. It's gotten to the point that Yokosuka, famous for its naval bases, exports curry as its major local eats. You can buy this navy-themed eats in packs and take it home with you. Thanks to anime, manga and games like Kantai Collection, this marriage of curry rice and Navies continue in popular nerd culture. It would be criminally negligent for Haifuri to skip this massive opportunity to play up its moe side. And yes, even today, the cooks of each boat will make curry their own way, resulting a curry rice flavored based on the ship. This is why we have Harukaze curry in episode 2, named after the scrappy destroyer that carry our protagonists. In this week's Haifuri, Mike-chan and crew once again dodges certain death from an attacking boat that outgunned Harukaze's meager weapons. By running in circles while generating a lot of smoke, the Harukaze was able to sneak near the Admiral Graf Spee (a German cruiser) and deal damage to its hull, slowing it down enough so the destroyer can outrun the larger ship. In the process, Harukaze (or Mike-chan specifically) rescues an exchange student who was escaping the Spee on a runabout. As an aside it also turns out the runabouts on board these historic warships are all modern, jet-ski-like. As the episode ends, while our unfortunate students make the best of their poor and beaten ship, Shiro-chan gets an emergency call from the Musashi. The story is comfortably letting the action and character expositions drive our interests at this point, which is good. I think someone actually interested and engaged in Haifuri will need that extra time and attention before the story gets complicated, because the audience is likely still in a "who was her name again" phase of learning the crew. We might now know that the secretary character is a fun person with her acting and the first officer is has a bit of dere once she gets worked around to Mike-chan's bottomless genki. The doctor (I guess she isn't a real doctor?) is a weird one and the group dynamics between the bridge and engineering teams seem to be developing. There was even a shower scene. I suppose adding one more character to this group, at episode 2, is no big deal? The ending animation this time around shows us that there will be a group of characters that the show focuses on. One of them seems to be the girl from the German boat. In some ways it just affirms my concern that how Haifuri can successfully juggle so many characters, but at the same time I think one more person is not going to make any more difference. I think Haifuri has a tall, tall task of making something more compelling by the end of next week's episode. Arguably, on the surface, there's an unexpected war game happening on top of a moe style anime, but discerning viewers would demand more from this formula. But at the same time, there's a lot going on that the more interesting tidbits may get lost. I guess at the very least there's a lot of cute girls running a battleship to look at, and that might be enough. [Haifuri is on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Daisuki!]  
Haifuri photo
Curry on a boat
At the end of episode 1, Haifuri drops its full name and a cliffhanging curve ball--the protagonists are framed as traitors and attacked one of their own. It's good to learn that the second episode keeps up the pace and follo...

Persona 5 photo
Persona 5

You've got 'til May 5 to figure out what Persona 5's counting down to


Investigation Team Go!
Apr 22
// Josh Tolentino
It's been a while since we last heard from Persona 5, following the  delay in the game's release date from late last year to sometime this year. Atlus seemed content to know that most folks who cared knew what Persona w...

Review: Fafner: Exodus

Apr 21 // Salvador GRodiles
Fafner: ExodusStudio: XEBEC Zwei Viewed On: CrunchyrollPremiere Date: January 8, 2015 When people say that patience is a virtue, they are not kidding. From day one, Fafner Exodus moving forward, as Kazuki and the gang has adjusted to their lives after Soushi’s return during the end of Fafner: Heaven and Earth. Even though the new series takes place two and a half years after the movie, the show does its best to get its audience reacquainted with the main cast again. Unfortunately, the drawback is that the newer pilots from Fafner: Heaven and Earth gave off the least amount of impact, as their presence wasn’t as big as Kazuki and his friends. Luckily, this isn’t too much of an issue when most of the new gang was placed on the team that was meant to help a section of the Earth Forces who were interested in coexisting with the Festum. Thanks to this angle, the show’s first half mostly focused on the movie group who remained on the island to help the newer pilots and the folks who left to help the military group with their mission to communicate with a new Mir that was heading to Earth. All in all, this direction worked well in distributing the cast so that people could get acquainted with new characters. After all, this element is important since the show’s death scenes have to hit the viewers hard. Of course, none of the veteran characters were safe from this aspect, which conveys the risks that the gang has to go through to achieve their goal. While it took a while for the series to pick up, the payoff worked well since the show dealt with the idea of sacrificing one’s humanity for the greater good. Whether it was the Fafner upgrades that change the pilot's bodies or the inner conflict between the Earth military, Exodus place the main cast in more intense scenario than the previous shows. Hell, there were the losses turned the tides on some of the major events in the series. Through this format, the series dealt with the team facing off against other humans, which was a great change of events from the previous installments, as it placed everyone in a big corner. Due to the situation, it made the veteran characters and the new pilots question their own actions while they tried to find their own resolve in the big conflict at hand. Compare to the original Fafner series, Exodus’ animation quality has improved from its predecessor. While it wasn’t on the same level as Fafner: Heaven and Earth, the fights between the Festum and the Fafner units left us with some dynamic air fights, along with a few moments where a character’s finishing move felt fulfilling to watch. Since there were a few machines that fought similar to the ones of the deceased characters from the first title, it worked as a way to appease to those who’re interested in seeing how they would fight with Xebec’s current skills. While Hisashi Hirai’s style suffers from a case of his characters from different shows looking similar, the guy’s art has improved a bit— in comparison to his art in Gundam SEED and Linebarrel of Iron.  His designs may not be the best out there, but they work with what Fafner: Exodus has to offer. If anything, it showcases his improved skills from the Majestic Prince anime. Just like the previous Fafner installments, Angela returns to sing the show’s opening. As always, she manages to hit the high notes well in both “Exist” and “Dead or Alive,” with the latter featuring some aspects that likely paid homage to “Shangri-La,” the first series’ theme song. Hell, the same can be said about the ending themes since it complements the previous tunes when the show’s credits drop in. It may have taken a while for Fafner to get a new series, but the show’s resolution to the war between the humans and the Festum made it worth the wait for anyone who wished to see the story progress further. While the program brought us a conclusion to Kazuki and Soushi’s story, there’s still a chance that a new installment could happen one day. Despite Exodus’ first half trying to get us more acquainted with the new cast and the movie’s characters while they cram a bunch of important things into the story, the payoff turned out well when the series set the pieces for the ultimate showdown between the title’s factions. Most importantly, its ending was a great of example of how patience can reward those who’re willing to wait— even if most of the new cast’s development was a bit rushed in the beginning. [This review was based on a streamed version of the series viewed by the reviewer at personal expense.]  When people say that patience is a virtue, they are not kidding. From day one, Fafner Exodus moving forward, as Kazuki and the gang has adjusted to their lives after Soushi’s return during the end of Fafner: Heaven and Earth. Even though the new series takes place two and a half years after the movie, the show does its best to get its audience reacquainted with the main cast again. Unfortunately, the drawback is that the newer pilots from Fafner: Heaven and Earth gave off the least amount of impact, as their presence wasn’t as big as Kazuki and his friends. Luckily, this isn’t too much of an issue when most of the new gang was placed on the team that was meant to help a section of the Earth Forces who were interested in coexisting with the Festum. Thanks to this angle, the show’s first half mostly focused on the movie group who remained on the island to help the newer pilots and the folks who left to help the military group with their mission to communicate with a new Mir that was heading to Earth. All in all, this direction worked well in distributing the cast so that people could get acquainted with new characters. After all, this element is important since the show’s death scenes have to hit the viewers hard. Of course, none of the veteran characters were safe from this aspect, which conveys the risks that the gang has to go through. 
Fafner: Exodus photo
Patience is a virtue
There’s something wonderful about seeing an older title receive a sequel after a very long time. It shows that the team was pushing hard to continue the story they set in place, and it lets the viewers see the program e...

Star Fox Zero photo
Star Fox Zero

Behold the glory of the Star Fox Zero anime


Barrel Rolls aplenty
Apr 20
// Josh Tolentino
Star Fox is back, folks! And it seems back in a way that explicitly recalls the glory days of SNES-based 3D games and peppy animal-people bloodlessly fighting other animal-people. If nothing else, that Saturday morning carto...

Review: Project X Zone 2

Apr 19 // Anthony Redgrave
Project X Zone 2 (3DS [Revieweed])Developer: Monolith SoftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: November 12, 2015 (JP), December 10, 2015 (KOR), February 16, 2016 (NA), February 12, 2016 (EU, AUS)MSRP: $39.99 Project X Zone 2 is a strategy role-playing game featuring characters from SEGA, Namco Bandai, and Capcom. It will be one of the most bizarre crossovers for players that are not familiar with a lot of Japanese franchises as the game goes deep into each company's library bringing out characters from Sakura Wars, God Eater, and yes, even the Sega Saturn Mascot Segata Sanshiro. The large variety of characters can be intimidating but the game doesn't go too in-depth narratively into any one franchise going for generalised statements around the lore of each one. The game contains an encyclopaedia or "Crosspedia" for players wanting to learn more about each character, terminology, and aspects of the game. It's an all-inclusive document that works well for explaining the background behind each character but not so much for teaching players the advanced aspects of gameplay.  This title is a sequel to Project X Zone and continues the story of two warring factions Shinra and Ouma. They're original teams containing original characters for this cross-over series that recruit heroes and villains from games to fight for their cause. As the story progresses you will collect a bevy of different heroes, anti-heroes, and even antagonists to fight for Shinra as they try to stop Ouma and their plans. The story is pretty thin and serves as a means of delivering all the characters to different franchise locals like Kamurocho, Mallet Island, and Sword Valley. It is thrilling to see where the game will take you next and which character will be recruited into the party. As a newcomer to the Project X Zone games, I did not feel I was missing much from not playing the prequel. A lot of the story is self-contained bar some lines of dialogue making light reference to previous iteration or characters mentioning that they have met before. Plot progression can be meandering at times especially during the middle-end of the game as once you've seen all the characters the circumstances you end up in makes you feel you're taking one step forward followed by two steps back.  On the gameplay side, Project X Zone 2 is fairly shallow on both the strategy and role-playing sides of the SRPG. The game is too easy for strategy and positioning to have any impact on battles and choosing upgrades feels less of a customizable choice but rather a necessity so you aren't underpowered for the next stage. I never felt my choice in upgrades affected my gameplay or strategy when going into battle. In the later game when your party size balloons, micromanaging equipment, and upgrading attacks become tedious and would have benefitted from an auto-assign function. The positioning of units only mattered when it came to the combat portions as they adjacent units can be called for assists or support. Therefore, bunching units together as much as possible was the strategy I utilised throughout the game with little consequence. Almost all the stages require the player to eliminate all targets so more variety would have been welcomed to incorporate more strategy in the game.  The actual combat is an area where the game really shines. Having to choose attacks carefully and choosing the right time to attack confirming critical hits helps keep the fights engaging each time you do them. I really enjoyed the displays of signature moves that can be combined with support attacks and assists to become a large ball of chaotic numbers flying around with a cinematic finish. The developer had fun to include as many nods and authentic moves from each series' to help sell the game as a large collaboration of different franchises.  I think my favourite thing about Project X Zone 2 is the way it treats each franchise. The title gives each one respect and an opportunity in the limelight. Having the music change to the respectful game track of the character being controlled tickles my nostalgia nerve and is a very nice touch. It works especially well when the music cue kicks in before the character is introduced giving hints of the next party member. As a game light on story, it is also light-hearted with the scenarios it puts the party in. One moment you are walking down the catwalk Space Channel 5 style then frolicking amongst sakura petals recreating a Sega Saturn commercial. If you find this baffling, the game does too with characters acting appropriately to the situation. It's goofy, funny, and really endearing to the each franchise. It's the characters portrayals that I really like within this title and the ways they interact with each other. Sleaze ball characters like Majima and Vashyron will get rebuffed by females, Chun Li's maternal relationship with her partner Xiaoyu, and Ryu's obsession with training. Sadly the same cannot be said for all original characters as Reiji is a boring straight man present to move the plot forward. The art for Project X Zone 2 does a good job in normalising all the characters from the different series into one style. Some realistic characters like Natsu, KOS-MOS, and Segeta Sanshiro look great in their stylised cartoony form while Kazuma Kiryu didn't fair so well in transition. The sprite work and animation are phenomenal keeping everything smooth during fights and looking amazing as each move is executed. Due to the gameplay, everything meshes together into a flurry of attacks and numbers but heading into training mode and trying each move individually you can see the sum of their parts and it is excellent.  Overall I enjoyed my time with Project X Zone 2. The action portion of the combat felt like a good mix of action and strategy, I had a lot of fun with the character interactions, dialogue, and premise of the game. The game works best in short bursts as each stage is 30-40 minutes long bracketed by dialogue scenes that allow players to quickly catch up with the skirmish before engaging in battle once more. The title does have issues with narrative pacing, strategic and gameplay difficulty so while not posing a challenge for strategy fans, it will allow more action centric players to complete the game without frustration. It's a great game to have in your collection if you want to experience a fun wacky side quest with many special guests along for the ride. [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.] Kizumonogatari: Wound TalePublished by: Vertical Inc.Written by: NisiOisiNIllustrated by: VOfanTranslated by: Ko RansomReleased: December 15, 2015MSRP: $14.95
Project X Zone 2 photo
Hey, I think I know that guy!
As an idea Project X Zone 2 is wonderful. It takes players through different worlds celebrating the creativity and unique aspects of each game. Having our favourite characters mingling together as they form a vanguard against...

Annotated Anime: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable episode 3

Apr 19 // Josh Tolentino
The big reveal of the episode comes quite quickly, courtesy of what amounts to a director's cut edition of Josuke and Jotaro's interrogation of the defeated Angelo, who notes that, unlike the JoJos, he was given his powers by a strange man wearing a school uniform and wielding a gnarly-looking bow and arrow. It just so happens that the bow and arrow were last seen in the hands of Enya, Dio's confidant and the crazy old lady that Polnareff fought back in Egypt. It seems that someone's been going around handing out Stand powers to anyone that survives their gift, and that someone lives in Morioh. And, as it turns out, it seems that Koichi has come to a similar conclusion (minus the revelations about Stands) independently, thanks to a bit of good old-fashioned detective work. It's refreshing to see that people other than the principal JoJos are competent and capable, though again, given the intro, it's fair to conclude that Koichi will be part of the squad soon enough. In fact, that's likely what will be happening next week, as Koichi gets himself shot through with the very Stand-installing arrow, for the man in a school uniform is one of the Nijimura brothers, the younger of which, Okuyasu, is a Stand user himself. His Stand, The Hand, can "scrape" things into oblivion, and demonstrates the fact by essentially wiping objects, and even spaces from existence, leaving the things on the other side to close in and fill the void. The result is a cool teleporting punch effect that puts to shame a character with a similar gimmick that came out in one of the more recent chapters from Bleach.  Thankfully for our heroes, Okuyasu's kind of a dope, and goes down after taking a few flowerpots to the nads. Koichi remains shot through the throat with the arrow, and gets pulled into the house by Keicho, Okuyasu's brother and the man Jotaro and the rest have been looking for. We'll have to see next week just what the brothers' plans were for the Bow and Arrow, and why they'd need to go around giving Stands to all and sundry, but Diamond is Unbreakable is certainly picking up speed. It'll be interesting to learn just how Okuyasu turns face to become part of the squad later as well. [Catch JoJo's Bizarre Adventure simulcasting on Crunchyroll!]    
Diamond is Unbreakable photo
A Wild McGuffin Appears
In today's episode of Diamond is Unbreakable, the plot thickens a tad, shedding more details on just why Morioh is so boned. Similarly, we meet a new foe who will, given the way the OP sequence goes, will be a member of the squad before long.

PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Sony may sell an upgraded PlayStation 4 model codenamed 'NEO' soon


A half generation update?
Apr 19
// Josh Tolentino
It looks like it's almost officially A Thing now: After weeks of rumblings and rumors regarding its existence swirled, more concrete (though still unconfirmed) information has emerged around supposed plans by Sony to produce ...

Review: Trillion: God of Destruction

Apr 18 // Josh Tolentino
Trillion: God of Destruction (PS Vita [Reviewed])Developer: Compile Heart & Preapp PartnersPublisher: Idea Factory InternationalMSRP: $39.99Released: March 29, 2016 (US), April 1, 2016 (EU), July 23, 2015 (JP) Well, saying Trillion is "a game with one battle" may be a bit misleading. Players will actually fight the titular boss quite a few times as they trudge towards victory. Trillion is an ancient god out to consume the underworld, and the Great Overlord Zeabolos is all that stands in his way. After being killed in his first battle with the beast, Zeabolos makes a pact with a mysterious interloper (she's named "Faust", just to give you a hint of what she's all about), granting him the ability to bestow his power onto one of his subordinates, tasking them with training up to eventually take on the threat and kill it - or die trying. The wrinkle in this grand plan is that only one of these lesser Overlords - who just so happen to all be cute anime girls themed after various Deadly Sins - can take Trillion on at a time, and will likely buy the farm doing so. But progress is guaranteed, as any Overlord that wounds Trillion will pass on her strength to the next girl in line, and so on until victory. It actually makes for a touching story about sacrifice, legacy, and struggle against certain death, and in my opinion is one of the most effective stories produced by Compile Heart. Given that Compile Heart is known mainly for Neptunia titles, one shouldn't go in expecting Shakespeare, but the moments it goes for "work" more consistently than the comparatively inconsequential narrative offerings that are par for the course for the studio. [embed]34899:5568:0[/embed] In fact, there's a certain irony to this, as these types of games are usually much stronger in gameplay than story. While charming characters and cutesy anime-soaked banter is to be expected, it's usually deep, complex battle and progression systems that are the true draw. Unfortunately, this is where Trillion is least compelling, or at least makes the worst impression.  Trillion isn't a tactical strategy game, as some folks who assumed it would be Disgaea-like were thinking. It's actually closer to a hybrid of Nippon Ichi's ZHP: Zettai Hero Project, and an old-school dating sim/training game, the kind with character stats to raise periodically, such as in the Tokimeki Memorial series, the newer Long Live The Queen. And raising your stats is the name of the game, as Trillion, the final boss, is a tough nut to crack. Simply getting close enough to land a blow will be any given player's first real achievement, and after that, it's a matter of whittling down the boss's trillion hit points. Yes, one thousand billion HP. That and other absurdly large numbers are Trillion's primary stylistic gimmick, and while somewhat inconsequential in the grand scheme of things (the game's approach to shorthand quickly reduces these numbers to easier-to-manage sums). They do help set the game apart from some of its peers, as well as hammering home the idea that the whole game is about making incremental progress, grinding away at a threat rather than challenging it to a brief, flashy showdown. Getting your Overlords strong enough to burn through all that health is the game's primary goal, and that takes a lot of grinding and raising your Overlord's stats. That takes grinding...a lot of it. Which brings me to Trillion's primary problem, that being that the bulk of its gameplay consists of puttering through various menus to assign your Overlord to train her stats. You'll go through a menu, select a task, and a brief animation will play, showing how well the Overlord did, earning her some points to spend on buying stat increases. Training increases her fatigue, which in turn increases the chance that she'll be injured and unable to train for several days. Fatigue in turn can be managed by resting or doing fun things like going on dates with Zeabolos himself. Some of these "dates"can take on an awkward air given that some of the Overlords are Zeabolos' blood relatives, but they are technically demons, so... Anyway, this kind of light time management makes up the bulk of the game, and can feel quite tedious thanks to a lack of fun stuff like flavor text or a more detailed, interesting approach to presentation. Story events pop up during the daily cycle of activities, like the "skits" in a Tales game, and these are easily the best part of the Trillion: God of Destruction. In many ways, these events were what kept me pushing through the menus long after the daily grind had ceased to be interesting. I normally dislike bringing a game's price into the argument considering that value is such a personal thing, but one feels that a game charging this price should have more. The event scenes and character art are cute, but there isn't enough of it to balance out the inherent repetitiveness of the training cycle. Overlords can also be assigned to delve into the Valley of Swords, a randomized dungeon complex. Delving the dungeons resembles a roguelike in the style of Shiren the Wanderer, where your girls and enemies take their turns simultaneously, with tactical positioning and turn sequence being the key to surviving. Expeditions into the Valley can net your girl stat-boosting gear or usable items, but are given hard turn limits, necessitating careful planning of a route to the good loot.  All of this grinding must be done before Trillion wakes up. Each phase of the game is divided into multiple weeks of training occasionally interspersed with training matches against Mokujin, a Trillion-sized simulacra. The training matches are important for figuring out the bosses' pattern and how to deal with the smaller minions and hazards that appear in your Overlord's path. And once Trillion himself wakes, your Overlord goes to battle, armed only with the gear you collected, the knowledge you gained, and the stats you grinded, all of it shielded by "affection points" gained by treating her nicely during the cycle. Chances are, though, is that she'll eat it trying to take him down, leaving the next girl, armed with her predecessor's knowledge and stat bonuses, to grind through the next phase and try again, stronger than ever. Unfortunately, the battles themselves aren't especially engaging, mainly consisting of walking up a long corridor full of minor enemies and deadly squares, while trying to keep out of the instant-kill areas and get close enough to start attacking. The controls for some reason are extremely unwieldy, and never stop feeling awkward. Movement simply should not be this much of a hassle in a game this outwardly simple.   Add to that the fact that fights with Trillion are easy to predict. Once the pattern is found, it's only a question of having high enough stats to succeed. This tends to exacerbate the tedium of the training sections, and highlight how thin the content can feel once you've stopped fully engaging with the game's other systems. Trillion: God of Destruction is a spirited game with a number of interesting concepts, brought down by fumbled execution and anemic presentation. Like its titular final boss, its big, strong idea is hobbled by a swarm of niggling flaws. Though its strengths in narrative and characterization will persuade some to put up with these issues (perhaps enough to finish the game multiple times to get all the endings), there's no avoiding the feeling that putting a dent in a boss deserves to be more fun than this.   [embed]34899:5568:0[/embed]
Trillion PS Vita Review photo
By A Thousand Billion Cuts
The Final Boss Battle has been a staple of game design since about as long as games have had combat in them, and for the most part, a game is about how players lead their heroes to that final encounter, often plowing through ...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: It's time to finally escape from Danganronpa's despair


The end is actually near
Apr 16
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here and here.] I may have said that I was going to put an end to Danganronpa's despair last week, but I didn't expect for the last trial to end up the way it did. Honestly, I...

Strong Style: Osaka ass-kicking time!

Apr 16 // Soul Tsukino
We start things off with a greeting from Hirooki Goto   IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA Omega took himself out of the Super Jr.'s tournament and challenged whoever won the tournament. Makes sense. Kushida won with a stellar victory over kyle O'Reilly so the Time Splitter gets the shot. The men have met before and there is no love lost here so this should be good. Kushida comes out first carrying the trophy for winning the BOTSJ tournament. The Cleaner comes out with the Bucks with him, of course, and sweeping a broom down the ramp in an oddly cartoony kind of way. The ref holds up the belt and we get started with some staring but Omega smacks Kushida right in the mouth with a slap. Kushida doesn't take kindly to that and start throwing some strikes of his own. H picks Kenny up into a reverse atomic drop and then nails him with a dropkick. Kenny quickly stops this onslaught by grabbing Kushida right b the belt and launching him outside. Kenny goes out after him but Kushida meets him and sends him into the metal barrier. He grabs a trashcan that the buck brought out and puts it on Omega before landing a dropkick sending the cleaner out into the front row. Omega stumbles back into ringside but Kushida grabs his arm and bashes it on the metal barrier. Kushida gets back in the ring and Kenny rolls in. Omega somehow fires off a dropkick sending Kushida back outside and Kenny gets a running start and does a big swan dive over the top rope! We cut ahead now as both guys are back in the ring. Kenny gets the full nelson for the dragon suplex but Kushida squirms out. Kushida gets out of another lock attempt that ends out with Omega going flying outside. The bucks try to help him up but Kushida jumps on the turnbuckle and does his own swan dive on all three men! Back from commercial as Kushida rolls back in the ring. Omega stumbles in but Kushida hits the running dropkick and then leaps up top for a moonsault that only gets two. Running kick to the face! Kushida goes for the arm lock but Kenny scoops Kushida up into a stampede into the corner and a clothesline. Kushida gets up and goes for the baseball punch but Omega counters into the full nelson and a suplex. Both get up and trade a few kicks before Kenny gets caught and sent right into the middle buckle face first. Kushida lands a kick to Kenny's arm as he gets up and then locks in the hoverboard lock! Omega is struggling but finally gets to the ropes! Kushida goes after the arm again with an arm wrench and then lands a standing enziguri. He seems to have tweaked his knee landing for the enziguri, but he tries for a springboard back elbow, only to get kicked right in the knees. Omega slaps Kushida few times before he grabs him and sends him on the top turnbuckle. Kushida fights him off but Kenny jumps right back up. Kushida sends Omega down but Kenny gets up and goes back up and gets a leg locked suplex. Kenny goes for the pin but pulls the tights too much as Kushida squirms out. Kenny goes for the gutwrench but can't get it because of his arm Somehow Kenny gets up and gets Kushida up with a powerbomb with one arm. Pin gets 2. Omega goes for the one-winged-angel but Kushida counters out into a Pele kick. Kenny gets hit with a suplex and nearly loses but Kushida's leg gives out and he can't get the pinfall. Kushida goes up and tries for a corkscrew but misses. Omega nailed him with a high knee to the face and then goes for the one-winged-angel but Kushida gets the hoverboard lock in for the counter. Omega nearly gets to the ropes but Kushida brings him back in and the cleaner submits! We have a new champion! Hell of a match! Backstage Omega says the title is now garbage because Kushida holds it and he has to clean him out. Kushida said he had to win for all those he beat in the tournament. He takes pride in the match and that New Japan can count on him. We get some words from Goto. He talks about only being in the arena for concerts before and how it is a great crowd. He doesn't really want to talk about the match but he wished it was the main event. He was angry at Nakamura after all he did and had to beat him in their last match for it.   IWGP Intercontinental Title Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Shinsuke mocked Goto leading up to their previous match by6 saying that he couldn't see Goto as a challenger for his title, even making mocking binnocular motions at him during a tag match. When they met one on one goto took Nakamura to the limit and beat him for the belt. I bet Nakamura sees him now!  Nakamura comes out in a red sequence ninja gear. complete with face mask and headband. A sight to behold. JR compares Nakamura to Shawn Michaels and Goto to Bret Hart. Good comparison t make when you think about the two guys and their approach to things. Back from Commercial and we get started. Nakamura  gets off a few stray kicks but they do nothing. Cautious knuckle lock starts into a Goto waist lock counter into a Nakamura  wristlock. Trading an arm lock as Josh talks about training with Goto. Nakamura  counters out of a lock into a cartwheel into a reverse into a headlock. Nice chain! Goto sucks Nakamura  in and gets a headlock Into the ropes and Nakamura  does his belly thing again. Goto goes for him but Nakamura  spins right around and nearly nails Goto but Goto reverses and sends Nakamura  down for a pin that gets 2. He applies a chinlock and drives an elbow into the head. Goto then cranks onto a headlock and then into the leg scissors. Nakamura  gets into the ropes but Goto squeezes a bit more before the break. Elbow to the neck as the story is being told of Goto going for Nakamura's neck now. Goto gets Nakamura  into the corner and gets a few strikes. Whip into the corner but Nakamura reverses and goes for the high knee but misses. Goto strikes sending Nakamura out. Nakamura  lands the apron kick and then a knee lift before dragging Goto around and sending him into the barrier. Nakamura then lands a knee right to Goto's back sending him outside the barrier. Returning from the break as Nakamura is back in the ring. Goto gets back in and is a met with a kick by Nakamura. Snapmare into another knee into a chinlock. Goto gets in the ropes and Nakamura  breaks. Arrogant kicks by Nakamura  and it's pissing Goto off. Nakamura  then shuts it down with a kick to the chest. Nakamura  starts messing with him again and Goto strikes back. Nakamura  tries a running strike but gets an elbow to the mouth for his trouble. Both guys trade forearm shots. Nakamura tries to run the ropes, but Goto does the same, going for a clothesline. Nakamura catches him and gives him a suplex! Nakamura sends him into the ropes but Goto bounces off and counters into the clothesline. He lands some tough kicks and sends him into the corner and into a perfect bulldog! There is a move you don't see much of in Japan! Pin only gets two and Goto goes for another suplex. but Nakamura is in the ropes.  Knee by Nakamura  into a spin kick that takes Goto down. Nakamura  goes for a kick but Goto catches him. Nakamura lands and a knee and sends him into the corner for Good vibrations. He goes for the big face wash but Goto moves out of the way. Nakamura catches him though and gets him up on the buckle for the running kick. Nakamura tries for a pin but doesn't get it Both guys struggle up and Goto fires off the ropes but runs right into a kick to the mush. Shinsuke tries for a pin but is unsuccessful. He starts in with the MMA knees to the head and then goes for the booma ye but Goto dodges it. Both guys get back to their feet. Goto tries for a clothesline but Nakamura a counters right into an armlock then into a triangle choke! Goto gets into the ropes to break it. Nakamura  gets a standing front facelock before sliding into a sleeper with a body scissors. Goto fights out of nearly passing out and they stand up before Nakamura  hits a lung blower and then a reverse powerslam. Nakamura  hypes himself up and goes for the Boomaye and gets NAILED with a clothesline! We are back as both men struggle up. Goto goes for the Saito suplex and Nakamura  tries to counter but Goto gets it anyway and nearly gets the pin off it. Nakamura  sent into the corner and hit with a clothesline to the back of the head. Goto picks him up and sits him on the top buckle before dropping him with a hanging neckbreaker. Goto lands some strikes but Nakamura struggles up into the corner. He picks Nakamura  up on the buckle again and tries for the ushigoroshi but Nakamura slides out and NAILS a superbomb on Goto and then hits the boomaye! Nakamura's in pain now with his neck and can't make the cover.  Both up now as Nakamura  hits an elbow and they start exchanging strikes right to the head before Nakamura  hits a scissors kick and Hits the boomaye again and goes for the pin but Goto kicks out! Goto dodges two more boomaye kicks and catches Nakamura  and hits the ushigoroshi! He hits the shotenkai and goes for the pin but Nakamura  kicks out! Goto hits some headbutts and gets in the shotenkai again for the pinball and the win! Goto beats him again! Backstage Nakamura  is in a stairwell. He wonders why there is so much press back there. He says there is some magic in that belt insinuating a rematch Back in the ring, Goto gives a BANZAI! to the crowd. He leads a cheer from the ramp. Backstage he says that losing here wouldn't change anything so he had to win. His next goal is the G1. Studio words as Goto talks about breaking the pattern of Nakamura  beating guys in rematches and once again says that he is focused o the G1 tournament. With that, we end the show. These were both great matches. This shows that Kenny Omega can have really good matches when he and the Bucks aren't dicking around on the outside. The IC title match was even across the board and both guys brought a lot into the match. great show tonight! Next week is the main event as we see A.J. Styles defend his title against the Rainmaker! See you then! /ul/34951-/match 2-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Another helping from Osaka
Welcome back puro fans to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Before we begin I'd like to send my thoughts to those in the Kyushu area of Japan right now as they've been hit with a couple of s...

Week Ender - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

Apr 16 // Red Veron
[embed]34943:5562:0[/embed] "Junshin Always (純真Always)" Anime: Myriad Colors Phantom World A very pretty ending with all the soft colors and pretty patterns. We also get the cuteness of the characters from the show.   [embed]34943:5563:0[/embed] "Hey! Calorie Queen" Anime: Dagashi Kashi Saya and the other chick are really nice in this ending. It takes on an Alice in Wonderland motif with Saya being Alice and she looks absolutely cute. The other chick is dressed up as some other character I don't know. The song is absolutely cute as well.   [embed]34943:5564:0[/embed] "Be My Steady" Anime: Prince of Stride: Alternative I love this ending. The use of a few colors but using shapes and simple visual effects just totally give a striking effect. I really like that red and black with some white thrown in and the whole thing looks like a K-Pop boyband video.   [embed]34943:5565:0[/embed] "Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no Youna" Anime: ERASED An ending that starts out simple then gets some great visuals, though lacking in detail, the outlines and few details are brought out by the pretty colors. A lot of the imagery also has meaning behind it that relates to the show.   Are there endings or openings that you loved from last season? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! Yo.
Week Ender photo
All Them Colors
I am really digging the use of a lot of colors in openings and endings lately, it's a trend I am fully embracing and wish that the creativity with the new style leads to more beautiful eye candy. This week's selection of endi...

First Impressions: Kabaneri of The Iron Fortress

Apr 16 // Yussif Osman
Ikoma is an engineer, so that's a nice change to soldier or 'guren' titan hunter. And at least in the first episode he has no special ability apart from his ingenuity, he builds a weapon that can pierce the iron heart of a kabane and after becoming infected, manages to halt his transformation. I'd like to add here, that that is an incredibly graphic scene and I applaud how bold the studio was willing to be with it. But as far as Ikoma goes as a character, it might be hard to tell the difference between him Eren and Yuuichirou. That's not to say I don't like that archetype, but they're all basically young men in a post-apocalyptic world, desperate to survive and punish the enemy, whether that's titans, vampires or kabane. But actually, I enjoyed spending time with Ikoma more than I did with Eren or Yuuichi. There are subtle differences. Ikoma isn't driven by a bloodlust against the enemy in the same way he predecessors were, rather he seems driven by a wish define the kind of person he is, to become 'someone I can be proud of', so in the first episode this materialises as someone who can fight back and make up for being helpless when it seems someone he cared about was killed by kabane and in the second episode this this means being someone who will save others, even though he's been rejected by them. I realise he's still basically the same character as his predecessors but the creators are at least trying to explore the archetype, enough so that I'm able to like this character the most out of their creations. The next question, is do we actually want more of the same? And I argue yes. Teturo Araki, director of Attack on Titan was brought back for a reason. Wit Studio have proven finally with Kabane that they do this kind of story very well, creating a fantasy thriller which is exciting and has a high level of intensity, so even if I feel I've seen this before, I'm looking forward to seeing how it will play out this time. And that is the appeal of these kinds of stories, whether that's the Walking Dead or Attack on Titan, discovering how the survivors will not only find their way out of the crisis, but how it will affect them. When writing The Mist, Stephen King emphasised that the story isn't about the monsters in the mist, but about the monsters in the mall, i.e. the survivors themselves. So like Attack on Titan, Kabaneri covers such issues as fear and paranoia and how they affect us as a society, an issue I dare say is quite relevant today. As for how humanity will get out of this mess, again the answer seems to lie with people with special abilities as revealed in the second episode, i.e. the kabaneri, Ikoma being one such being. These are half human, half kabane hybrids who seem to be invulnerable as well as possessing heightened reflexes, speed and strength. I feel like I should come down on the series for using this anime trope, were it not for the human dynamics we've been given quite early on. We have the proud and furious Ikoma, the mysterious Mumei and the homicidal if not honourable Kurusu, tempered by the level-headed Kibito, serving the naïve Ayame. I know what you're thinking, aren't these just the characters from every anime I've ever watched? Well my answer to that is yes, but I think the issue with this show isn't that it's bad because it's not doing anything different, but that it is good because it's doing what we know well, so well. It's a good anime as far as we know anime. My hope is that the 'Iron Fortress' of the title refers to the train they find themselves on in the second episode, I do love my claustrophobic thrillers and think it would make for some tense and compelling storytelling in this apocalyptic setting. I'd like to end on a note on the animation style which I really enjoyed. We have what looks like an animation style from decades ago coloured and stylised in a never before seen, modern way. And unlike say Naruto, it is consistent. As such, the show looks stunning and aids in supporting a solid viewing experience. I think this summarises what I want to say about my first and second impressions of Kabaneri, it is good, it gives us more of the same but it does so well, making us want to know how it will play out this time and reuniting us with characters we know and love.  
Kabaneri First Impression photo
More of the same? Thankfully, yes!
So what can we expect from Wit Studio this time around? Well, more of the same - don't take that as a criticism, it's an observation. Wit Studio has brought us a number of post-apocalyptic stories, where humanity is on the br...

Tokusatsu Film School photo
Tokusatsu Film School

Here's a quick look at Garage Hero's Tokusatsu Film School series


The class bell is about to ring
Apr 15
// Salvador GRodiles
As Bueno and the rest of Garage Hero/Garage Pro TV are working hard on Strega, the group launched the first trailer for their tokusatsu tutorial series, Tokusatsu Film School. Since the first episode will focus on teach...
WTF Fridays photo
WTF Fridays

WTF Fridays: Every Anime


BAN THIS SICK FILTH
Apr 15
// Red Veron
Below is the fan remix
GiTS Movie photo
GiTS Movie

Here's Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi in live-action Ghost in the Shell


Johansson in the Shell
Apr 14
// Nick Valdez
If you haven't heard, America is getting a live action version of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell. To celebrate the start of production, Paramount and Dreamworks just gave us our first look at Scarlett Johansson as the l...
Godzilla Resurgence photo
Godzilla Resurgence

Check out the Studio Ghibli Kaiju short that inspired the new Godzilla


Prelude to Resurgence!
Apr 14
// Josh Tolentino
If you've just seen the trailer for the new, Japan-originated Godzilla movie, Godzilla Resurgence, you might have been surprised to find that none other than Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi are collaborating on the film. Tha...

Review: Nights of Azure

Apr 14 // Christian Chiok
Nights of Azure (PS4)Developer: GustPublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: October 1, 2015 (JP), March 29, 2016 (NA), April 1, 2016 (EU), April 8, 2016  (AU)MSRP: $59.99 Players will play as Arnice, a holy knight and half-demon agent serving Curia who has been asked to investigate the occurrences on Ruswal. In Rusawl, she was reunited with her childhood love Lilysse, a Saint whose fate is to seal the remains of the Nightlord. With the story taking a "yuri" route with both protagonists, the "main character's love must sacrifice their life to save the world" trope isn't the common one found in most game. In Nights of Azure, instead you will get a  charming, adorable romance that isn't filled with the usual stereotypyes one might dread from the portrayal of a same-gender relationship.  The gameplay itself is a bit simplistic but still good nonetheless, especially as Gust's first take on Action-RPG. As Arnice, you will be able to execute strong and weak attacks as well as guard and dodge from your opponent's attacks. You can use various overpowered transformations and perform special attacks. Luckily, offering a variety of weapon types adds more to the gameplay, Is important to choose the right servants to accompany you in your quest. Servants vary from those that specialize in offense, defense and healing, so it’s important to have a good mix all of three. Additionally, each servant will have its Burst attack that can be used in exchange of Arnice’s SP. Most of the fun relies on using the servants than Arnice herself. It's even better when you equip the right servants and use them appropriately.  When not spending time completing the story, you'll be spending your time at the Ende Hotel where you will be completing Daytime Activities, Events as well as visiting both the Arena and the Altar of Jorth. Everything servers to add more content to the game. The game includes a lot of “Events” in which can result in a side quest or an exchange of dialogue among the characters. While a lot of it is full of the generic tropes you find in your usual anime series, it doesn’t make it less charming. Unfortunately, it can get real repetitive. In the Arena tasks you to complete battles with certain objectives such as only defeating enemies with servants, or beating certain amount of enemies in given time. The better you perform, the better result you will get thus better rewards.  The purpose of the Altar of Jorth is to level up Arnice and her abilities. While servants level up after returning to the hotel, Arnice must collect Blood via quests and combat for her power up and learn nice skills. You may only level up once per visit, sadly. You can also complete Daytime Activities which will grant you skill points that you can use to strengthen yourself for the next fiend hunt.  Unfortunately the game suffers from being one of those games that is awfully easy until the final boss battle where it receives a severe difficulty jump. Additionally, with the Arena's task being easy to complete, the only challenge is aiming to get the highest result in them. I also had a bit of an issue with the 15 minutes limit every time you went out to hunt, but it wasn't a concern either.  The game has that typically beautiful art-style commonly found in Gust games, and with the power of the PlayStation 4, it’s more beautiful than ever. Om top of that, the game also runs at 60 frames per second which is essential for Action RPGs or any action games in general. You will encounter stuttering moments a lot though, and moments when the game feels that is running below 30 frames per second. It can easily mess with the gameplay when the action gets heavy. It’s a bit of a shame that the game didn’t offer cinematic cutscenes, which is common in many RPGs, especially if they aim if they aim to add another layer of emotion to the scene. Thanks to the dialogue, the cutscenes are still enjoyable however, especially when accompanied possibly one of the best selection of soundtracks found in any recent game by Gust.  It definitely had this Final Fantasy vibe. I would still recommend Nights of Azure if you're looking to expand your Action RPG collection on PS4. With a well-crafted story that offers multiple endings, combined with good gameplay mechanics, a variety of Servans add another layer of strategy to the real-time combat. Not to mention that aside from the man story, players will be able to enter the battle arena as well as complete side quests, adding more hours of fun while leveling up your characters.   [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Nights of Azure photo
Would You Save The World Or Your Friend?
Being a big fan of Gust, I always anticipate their next RPG title. When Nights of Azure got introduced, I thought the premise and the characters were quite interesting. Focusing on a same-sex relationship right off the bat be...

First Impressions: Haifuri

Apr 14 // Jeff Chuang
Haifuri is an original anime with a large cast of female-only characters. This is something that didn't strike me at all until it was all over, but thanks to that cue, it makes the Girls und Panzer comparison work. Given this element, the play-militaristic take on a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, the evoking of WWII-era war machines, and your go-getter cast of characters with a wide variety of schticks, it's inevitable to make that pairing. What bothered me about Haifuri, or rather, High School Fleet, is that fat cat Isoroku. It is a reference to Isoroku Yamamoto, who is probably the most well-known WWII Japanese military commander to the west, as he created the blueprint for Imperial Japan's plan to defeat the USA as the commander of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Well, I guess people do and can look with a sense of romanticism for legendary commanders of their enemy, so many years later, but are we ready to look at Isoroku similar to how we feel about The Desert Fox? Perhaps. I'm guess there's a joke there that I missed, with the whole fat cat at sea thing. I think that is neither here or there, however. The story drops the viewer right in the middle of action half way through the first episode. Like the marketing material, Haifuri episode 1 has a gap where in one scene we're playing out your usual moe high school hijinks, and then in the second half of the episode we're already playing a game of World of Warships, except with teenager girls busy shouting commands to automated systems that simplify the running of a WWII-era destroyer so 30-some-odd kids can do what hundreds of trained sailors did. Maybe World of Warships is not the best game analogy...Spaceteam? It sure seemed fun and not so much a matter of life or death, even if it kind of was. But there is that WoWs aspect to Haifuri. On one hand we have ancient refitted junk naval cruisers that are over a century old, on the other hand we have sleek futuristic ships blasting autocannon rounds and missiles (and can be operated by one person). If the story is about our adorable protagonists bonding over their naval trials, where Girls und Panzer shined, then the focus wouldn't be on the boats or the fact that they're on a boat, or even Isoroku and the other military otaku nods, but hearty, solid character development. And that just brings us back to the fact that Haifuri has dozens of protagonists onboard the Harekaze. The official English website has a helpful page that gives you a little profile on each one of them, as keeping them straight beyond the first handful will be difficult at this point. The captain, Mike-chan, looks up to her dad, who also captains a ship. Shiro-chan, who is her second in command, plays the straight man in the bridge bunny comedy scenes. The rest of the cast are full of eccentric, if oddly well-trained, characters that would not make up any normal high school class. But I guess that's not the point. What is the point is that this first episode was both fun and well put-together. Throwing the viewer a nasty curve ball at the end helps to drag us to the next episode, since mutiny isn't a term you'd expect from this genre--although it does occasionally happen in other shows of this kind. It would be safe to say that I'm at least curious where Haifuri will go next, even if it isn't exactly in uncharted waters. [It's on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Daisuki!]
Haifuri photo
She's on a boat
Keeping up with the news, one thing that I knew about Haifuri before watching the first episode was that it's about a bunch of moe high school girls working as some kind of sea patrol. The soft designs and color schemes on th...

Legend Hero photo
Legend Hero

Three Kingdoms-themed Tokusatsu Legend Hero's official stream now has English subtitles


Romance of the Three Henshins
Apr 14
// Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to companies who decide to make their works viewable to people from other regions since it lets them expand their audience. One fine example of this feat is that the YouTube page for the Korean and Chinese&n...
Godzilla Resurgence photo
Godzilla Resurgence

Godzilla Resurgence's new trailer will bring fear to your heart


The King of Monsters looks intimidating
Apr 13
// Salvador GRodiles
I might be a minority on this view, but I wasn't a big fan of Garreth Edward's Godzilla movie. Even though the film did justice to the King of Monsters, the film failed to make me care about the movie's main character, Ford,...

OP Up! - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

Apr 13 // Red Veron
[embed]34942:5552:0[/embed] "Naked Dive" Anime: Myriad Colors Phantom World I really like the pixellated square look that this opening employs as well as using it in a mosaic censorship effect that gets me excited when they use it to tease viewers with the nakedness of the characters. Also then colors, not as saturated as some of the other openings here but still great.   [embed]34942:5553:0[/embed] "one-Me two-Hearts (ワンミーツハー)" Anime: Divine Gate I don't know why but I always laugh my ass off when I see that part near the beginning of the opening when one of the main characters looking through a window with his hand pressed up against it. I know it's supposed to allude to something sad in his past but I just find it funny. Yes, I am a monster. I do love this opening's use of colors while still not as bright as other openings that tries to follow the latest trend of using a lot of hypercolors.   [embed]34942:5554:0[/embed] "Beat your heart" Anime: Bubuki Buranki This opening always has me looking forward to the part where they introduce the bad guys right after introducing the good guys. The opening introduces the good guys looking all cool and shows of a bit of their character while the bad guys are shown off to be kicking the protagonist's butts. It always makes me laugh.   [embed]34942:5551:0[/embed] "Re:Re:" Anime: ERASED An opening that instantly had me jamming after few seconds and I soon realized why: the song is from 2004 from the band Asian Kung-fu Generation and I've listened to the song for hundreds (if not thousands) of times. This opening too is simple but full of symbolism and does something super clever later. Are there openings that you loved from last season? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! Yo.
OP Up! photo
Last Season's Best (to me)
The new season is here and last season is sooooo last season but that won't stop me from looking back at some of the openings that I really liked. A lot of shows have taken inspiration from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and t...

Final Impressions: Myriad Colors Phantom World

Apr 12 // Nick Valdez
One thing I could never fault Phantom World for, thanks to Kyoto Animation's style and love of fluid animation, was its visuals. Regardless of where the story didn't go, the show remained watchable due to how pretty everything was. KyoAni isn't necessarily at the top of the production game, but most of the time their style is a saving grace. For example, one of the main gags was how many times Haruhiko found himself flung across spaces. A common trope, for sure, but these throws rarely looked the same twice. It's just a shame that the fights never quite lived up to their potential. Phantom World was never really focused on fights, so when some of them end up looking super great I was starved for more. But in the same breath, anime adaptations can't rest on visuals alone.  For the entirety of its run I couldn't quite figure out what Phantom World wanted to accomplish. At some times it seemed like a show that wanted to tell a story about kids dealing with Phantoms (and to a lesser extent, deal with the destinies unwantingly placed upon them), then it became a monster of the week show, then a few episodes focused on a singular gag, and then in some sort of last ditch effort, it tried a serious and emotional arc toward the end. Like I had been fearing all along.  In the final three episodes, a super phantom named Enigma began attacking ability users and stealing their powers. Since phantoms weren't successfully built into a credible threat through the season, it seemed weird to suddenly ramp up the tension this way. It's a clearly rushed endgame ringing hollow as we're told that this particular phantom poses a threat when others were clearly treated as jokes before. But the major through line of this final arc was Haruhiko's missing mother. Apparently she walked out on him years before and suddenly Haruhiko's depressed. Even when the show had multiple opportunities to bring up this backstory (such as the episode where Izumi was afraid of what her parents might think of her phantom hunting) or invest any time in Haruhiko at all (so he could at least develop beyond the guy who delivers exposition). Anyway, as Enigma wreaks havoc across the town she accumulates all sorts of neat abilities. Including the ability to pose as Haruhiko's mother.  In the midst of all this, as the rest of the phantom hunting club believes they're talking with Haruhiko's mother, they reveal they all had a bit of a crush on Haruhiko. Once again, there was very little build up to this little development but thankfully that never quite becomes the focus. In fact, the series ends without any of those cliched romantic entanglements anyway. The final battle itself passes by without much fanfare and Haruhiko saves the day by fully summoning the cutesy phantoms he's used in the past. So I guess all the character evolution I've wanted from the series was saved for Haruhiko himself. I'll admit I'm being a bit harsh since KyoAni is at least trying to salvage the series at the end, but it's such a disappointing foray overall. Each week things just kind of happened. It's even hard to summarize the final couple of episodes because there's not much more than a logline's worth of material in each. Everything is so hollow, it's like the series wanted to embody the textbook definition of "Phantom." A lingering spirit of a good premise.  When all is said and done, there's no real reason to search out Myriad Colors Phantom World for yourself. It never quite figured out what kind of series it wanted to be and that confusion kept it from becoming something truly engaging. You can try and argue that it's some sort of "turn off your brain" entertainment without a real message, but it was clearly trying to tell a story at its end.  Besides, why would you seek out a form of entertainment that offers you nothing but background noise? If you're looking for cheap entertainment there are plenty of anime that provide that already. Shows that know you're watching them because of stuff like cool visuals and do their best to provide just that. We as an audience deserve something better than a show with an identity crisis every week. 
Phantom World photo
Myriad of rushed conclusions
If you've been following along with my occasional thoughts on Myriad Colors Phantom World, you've no doubt noticed how many times I've gone back and forth on the series as a whole. While folks in the comments suggested that I...

Manga and Recovery: Reopening a comic museum in Kamen Rider's hometown

Apr 12 // Yussif Osman
The people of Tohoku are unique in all of Japan, they have their own dialect, their own food and attitude, they're louder, more themselves than the rest of what is quite a conservative country. I found the people very brave and very proud, heroically living through and beyond what befell them in 2011, and so it doesn't surprise me that many of the most iconic and heroic manga characters originate from this amazing part of Japan. As I get off the bus at Ishinomaki, a town in Tohoku's Miyagi prefecture, severely affected by the tsunami, I have certain expectations, I basically expect devastation. But that's not what I find. Instead, I'm confronted by statues of Kamen Rider and his contemporaries. The members of Cyborg 009 are striking poses and Astroboy is with them. This way, people who arrive at Ishinomaki station by Robocon covered train or bus, get a flavour of the true character of this place instead of just associating it with tragedy, the way much of the world has. Instead, travellers are met with colour and hope. Among the heroes which adorn the city, there's also Robocon and Sea Jetter, plentiful in murals and wall art alongside posing statues. Amazingly, many of these statues actually survived the tsunami, defying tragedy itself and becoming symbols of hope. And there is sincerely something super heroic about this place, the way people continue to live and who they are. People laugh and gather, eat heartily and celebrate what they share at every opportunity, they work through dark hours, from 2am onwards, harvesting catches from the sea and come to one another's aid, to pull their lives out of the rubble and build something new. Miyagi is home to the world's largest temporary housing camp for displaced people in the world, in the form of the kasetsu units, but many of these kasetsu have been converted into entrepreneurial hubs, restaurants and bakeries; people make more than the most of what they have, in fact they redefined their entire situation. In the town of Funakoshi, a fisherman named Nakasato (in the absence of the town's traditional leadership) brings his community together to rebuild and aspire, they gather in the local school and celebrate their harvests of seaweed and fish whilst putting together plans to move their town uphill, away from the waters. In Ishinomaki, an amazing woman named Hashimoto cooks nightly a feast for volunteers and community members, bringing immense warmth to the oceanic cold. The town holds children's festivals and local organisations like It's Not Just Mud whom I worked with, build amazing playgrounds and return to the sea to swim and reclaim the community's heritage. Throughout my time there, I found people speak little about what befell them, instead they speak of the present and the future, making plans and moving forward. For some, that's opening a sake store or reopening a community antique shop, others are focused on their next harvest of clams or their next shipment of crafts, others are planning the reconstruction of their town and others looking forward to the next gathering, to the next community meal. I found the manga characters which adorn the city allegorical (and I believe the community does as well) to the state of the community itself. Sea Jetter defies the calamities of the sea themselves, Cyborg 009 are a family and team who through working together can achieve anything, Robocon and Astroboy are both gentle and mighty and Takeshi Hongo, the Kamen Rider, all in all represents every act of tenacity and heroism. So though as a manga fan, I may have been looking forward to the reopening of the UFO-shaped Ishinomaki Mangattan, or Manga Museum, I couldn't imagine how much it meant to the people who actually lived there and their children. The days following the re-opening ceremony are immensely moving, costumed characters await at the doors to greet children and they're all there, from the members of Cyborg 009 to Kamen Rider. The community has been making steps towards recovery gradually, but this is a milestone, this is to celebrate all that. Artwork adorns the second floor above the gift shop, including concept art and original manga pages, as well as a movie theatre where never before shown short adaptations of manga are seen. And on the third floor is something out of a dream, a manga library containing a boundless collection of ongoing and completed series from Dragonball to Sailor Moon and Prince of Tennis. Among the celebrated creators in town is Osamu Tezuka, manga pioneer and arguably the father of modern manga. But here, I'd like to place particular emphasis on Shotaro Ishinomori, creator of both one of the first superhero teams in Japan in the form of Cyborg 009 and the iconic tokusatsu series Kamen Rider. Ishinomori was a native of Tohoku's own Miyagi prefecture, making the region home of Kamen Rider, the Cyborg team and Ganbare!! Robocon, which Ishinomori also created. The result was that the Mangattan's official name would actually be the Ishinomori Manga Museum. In fact, Ishinomaki itself is often considered the home town of Kamen Rider. In my time in Ishinomaki, I would also be confronted with a high density of promotional art for the upcoming film 009 Re: Cyborg, a continuation of the Cyborg 009 series, based on an Ishinomori story, entrenching the characters' presence in Miyagi and presenting the community's children and people with yet something more to look forward to as they continue to pull their lives back together. Ishinomori's work may have brought joy to people across Japan for decades, but I believe most vitally it has helped lift the hearts of local people and augment the sentiment that there are things to look forward to, that life is worth living and that we should never give up. Remember every cheesy yet cool moment from a manga? Well in Ishinomaki they mattered, they and their characters still do. I once had a disagreement with a friend of mine shortly after the tsunami, he said that the last thing people would care about after the disaster was manga or anime, but after going there myself, I found that that was very, very far from the truth. I hope that in time, Tohoku will be known for what it's culture and what its people celebrate and have achieved, rather than for what befell them, for hope, pride and the Tohoku way.
Ishinomaki Manga Museum photo
The role of manga in post-tsunami Tohoku
Everyone knows what happened in March 2011, everyone has heard about the tsunami and the earthquake and Fukushima, that's why I went, but what I discovered when I arrived is something the world hasn't paid the same level of a...

Civil War photo
Civil War

Feel the Super Emotions in the Japanese Civil War Trailer


Someday I'm Sure
Apr 11
// Red Veron
Japanese movie trailers almost always follow a formula: they would start out happy with some happy music then it stops, and suddenly it hits you an emotional crescendo with some dramatic music that let's you know that things...

First Impressions: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable

Apr 10 // Josh Tolentino
It starts with the beginning. Previous JoJo's parts - or at least their animated versions - invariably began with some kind of epic setup scene: Phantom Blood opened on the carriage accident that first tied together Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando's fathers, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead to their battle. Battle Tendency started at the expedition that discovered the Pillar Men, who would be the prime antagonists for that arc. Stardust Crusaders began as Dio's coffin was pulled from the depths of the sea. Diamond is Unbreakable starts with breakfast. A hand prepares a hearty meal of bacon, eggs, and toast as a radio DJ greets the morning in the small town of Morioh. It's all well and good until the music starts to distort, revealing that the hand isn't actually attached to anyone. I've yet to see the significance of this grotesque tableau, but the shift in tone and presentation for this part in the JoJo's saga is clear enough to see. Diamond is Unbreakable focuses more on characters than events, where Morioh, its environs, and the people outside the main cast are just as significant as the superpowers and battles to come. In fact, there's little sense of crisis in the initial episode, a style unprecedented for JoJo's so far. Phantom Blood traded in scenes of domestic bliss, sure, but the feeling of fateful tension ran through every such occurrence. Here, there's little to do but play "Getting to Know You", with Jotaro and young Koichi serving as our lens for seeing the JoJo of 1999, Josuke Higashikata. Apparently the love child of old Joseph Joestar, the 16-year-old high-schooler is the 28-year-old Jotaro's uncle, technically. To be honest, he doesn't make the best first impression. Other than resorting to violence at the first mention of his weird hair, he's less obviously heroic, kowtowing to bullies in a way that no previous JoJo would countenance - at least until they insult his do.  As he rolls into his first fight, with the murderer/rapist Angelo and his Stand Aqua Necklace, we see more of what he's capable of. There's a level of quick-thinking and misdirection at work that recalls the creativity of old Joseph, but his personality and character are as yet a bit undefined. No matter, though. As I mentioned, Diamond is Unbreakable stands out for having a much stronger presence from minor characters. Josuke's mom is a treasure on par with Lisa Lisa in a series that's had a paucity of compelling female presences. His grandfather, an aging policeman, serves as an Uncle Ben of sorts for Josuke by dying to strengthen his heroic resolve, but like uncle Ben, his presence can't be discounted. And of course there's Jotaro, in a snazzy white outfit and playing the role of elder mentor to the young bucks.  Morioh itself seems to be a star of sorts in Diamond is Unbreakable, as well. Where all the previous parts preferred to play the jet-setter, traveling abroad quickly and never halting the journey, it seems this portion of the Bizarre Adventure will be taking place close to home. This ought to be an interesting development, one that seems to foreshadow the appeal of even other media, like the Persona games. It's a bit early to pass judgment as yet, but so far Diamond is Unbreakable  seems quite solid, both as a JoJo's show and as a departure from the aspects of the brand that have risked feeling trite after many, many episodes and chapters of development. I can't wait to see what's coming to town next. [Catch more of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure on Crunchyroll!]
Diamond Is Unbreakable photo
A Crazy Diamond in the Rough
I honestly didn't know what to expect going into David Production's latest phase in adapting the epic JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, Diamond is Unbreakable. Besides some background details gleaned from Wikipedia and the...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Let's put an end to Danganronpa's despair


You're going down, mysterious mastermind
Apr 09
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here and here.] Right when I thought that Danganronpa's punishment scenes wouldn't have any affect on me anymore, the game pulled a ridiculous move that broke my mind and body...
2020 Tokyo games photo
2020 Tokyo games

2020 Tokyo Olympics new logo search down to final four


Replacement logo on the way
Apr 09
// Soul Tsukino
At least one of the major issues that have plagued the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo will be resolved later this month as the search for a new logo has narrowed down to four. As we've posted before, The Olympic games of Tokyo h...

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