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Promoted Community Blog: Break it Down: School Days

Sep 17 // MrRasczak
School Days, at first glance, seems to be one of the more derivate animes you could possibly imagine. It has every trope of the romance genre out in full force. You have a smoothened out, bland protagonist in Makoto Itou (complete with one of those oh-so-punchable anime protagonist faces), a shy, wispy love interest in Kotonoha Katsura, and an electric, tomboyish friend in Sekai Saionji. Their love triangle, in any other anime, would form the basis of the entire plot. Will he pick Konoha? Will he pick Sekai? 12 episodes of vacillation later we’d have our answer and go home happy. But, the unthinkable happens. Within the first episode Makoto confesses to Kotonoha, Sekai congratulates him on having the balls to go ahead with it, and the show goes on. This is where School Days is so effective, it tells the story after. If this were any other show, it would have ended with the confession. We would have had 12 episodes of fun and games, maybe a little fanservice, but ultimately it would have ended with Makoto getting the girl and watching the sunset from the riverbank. At this point, School Days shifts from your standard romance story to a tale of jealousy, mental abuse, and the slow dehumanization of characters through their actions. Out of all the anime I’ve seen, no show has ever shown the awkwardness of physical intimacy and first dating quite like School Days manages to. There are so mnay little touches that feel like the show pauses and decides to cut through the all the trappings of anime to something that actually can speak to teenagers in all their foolishness. In one great scene, Kotonoha is railing off this long fantasy about what she imagines her first sexual experience will be like. It involves Europe, hiking in the mountains, being trapped in a cabin as it snows outside, huddling together for warmth in front of a roaring fire. Meanwhile, we get a shot of Makoto’s room, with the opening image being his tissue filled trash can and then a shot of him flexing his hand with a single sentence of him remembering how soft her breast was from an earlier make out session. If it comes off as callous and immature, that’s the point. Teenage life is full of callousness and immaturity. In the episodes that follow we begin to see Makoto’s relationships slowly become more toxic and self-destructive. He quickly transcends simply being a terrible person to being poison to all he touches. By episode 3 Makoto has admitted that he finds Kotonoha boring to be around, and pushes for physical intimacy as a way to relieve that boredom. When Kotonoha rebuffs him, he finds solace in Sekai, and the whole tragedy begins with Makoto’s influence extending to nearly every other girl in the series. He never forces himself upon them, but capitalizes on their own emotions for his own gratification. He takes from them without having to give anything back. By either curiosity or their own boredom, nearly the entire cast eventually finds their way to his bed. In a recurring theme, Makoto is marked as being apart from the normal selection of anime romance protagonists. Keichii from Oh! My Goddess he is not, nor is he the comical pervert of Golden Boy. Rather, he comes off as someone using sex as a form of escape from the rest of the world. In place of facing emotions, he simply moves on to whatever girl in his immediate vicinity happens to be willing to get naked. This is meant to reflect the nature of dating sims as games with concrete goals rather than as essentially visual novels. Players are meant to work hard to get a single girl, but then once they get her, well, are they really expected to stay with her for the whole rest of the playthrough? There are seven other girls they could potentially seduce. It’s the movement from cutesy role playing to the aggression exertion of power as a way to relieve boredom, just as how School Days plays out. He has a brief moment of self-reflection near the end of the series, but he makes no point of acting upon it. Women as Agents One of the big criticisms I’ve seen leveled against a lot of harem animes and anime based on dating sims is that they go out of their way to develop the female characters as perfect reflections of the main character’s desire. They don’t have true agency because their sole purpose for being is to provide something the protagonist (in this case the viewer or the player) could imagine themselves dating. Tsundere and yandere archetypes are just that, easily digestible collections of tropes that serve as the framework to hang whatever trappings the creators care to add to her. In School Days, women can be classified into two tiers, with Kotonoha and Sekai being in the first tier, with all other women in Makoto’s life operating in the second. Kotonoha and Sekai together represent the impossible ideal of Makoto’s desire, with Kotonoha being unconditional romantic love (it should be noted that she is one of the few girls to never have sex with Makoto) while Sekai represents more grounded, carnal love. It’s the dichotomy of the chaste, beautiful angel and lustful whore split across two people, and it is Makoto’s inability to see either of them as true individuals capable of pain that drag the lot of them down. Both women suffer horribly, emotionally and physically, as a result of his actions, and it their fate that School Days asks us to see as tragic. Nowhere is this hammered home more than in the final episode. Despite having killed Makoto, the scars and baggage of having been in such close contact to him remains. Where killing him should have been liberation, it only serves to seal her fate. Convinced that she is carrying his child, Sekai can do nothing but face Kotonoha. If the two could simply stand down and realize what fools the both of them had been, the final bloodshed could have been avoided, but instead the series must end with two women fighting to the death over the severed head of their mutual lover. The women from the second tier, however, are able to interact with Makoto differently. Unlike Kotonoha and Sekai, side characters like Hikari treat their interactions with Makoto with equal coldness. Hikari just wants sex, as do all the other girls. When the immensity of Makoto’s philandering is finally revealed to the school, the other girls have no trouble abandoning and letting him fall into despondency. The tables have turned. Makoto has no power over them and so they can walk away knowing that they avoided the fate of their friends. Of special note is the role (or lack thereof) of Makoto’s mother, who is nonexistent in School Days. All we know is that she is divorced and apparently shows little concern for Makoto or his state of being. Whether this is a deliberate choice on the part of Overflow or merely casting her aside to avoid any complications, it might explain why Makoto is the way he is. Perhaps his actions are an emulation of his father, or maybe he blames his mother for breaking apart their family. There is little evidence given, but the lack of parents seems to indicate a breakdown of guiding principles somewhere in the world. The Darker Truths of Relationships Finally, perhaps the one must underappreciated element of School Days is the sheer boldness to present an anime that skews towards the idea that relationships can be unhealthy, and that they can lead to people being deeply hurt. Whereas in seemingly every other show the audience is yelling at the protagonist to grow a pair and just tell the girl how he feels, School Days is about tearing out your hair and begging the girls in Makoto’s life to escape the cycle of abuse they’ve become trapped in. Anime about relationships, especially about those involving teens and young adults, rarely venture into the territory of exploring what those relationships are actually like. We see it rarely enough in American media, to say nothing of anime where the fetishization of middle and high-school life is firmly set as a creative bedrock. Complications of sex, so often brushed aside or made the topic of “special” episodes of TV, are at the forefront of School Days. These are children acting in a vaccuum, and as children are wont to do, they pretend to adulthood. Sekai, before starting her affair with Makoto, volunteers as a kind of impromptu matchmaker between him and Kotonoha. Despite later admitting in an internal monologue that she has no idea what she’s doing, she plays house with Makoto, allowing him to kiss her and to practice initiating physical contact. It’s a bizarre, awkward scene that illustrates just how much these characters are fumbling in the dark. Later we meet Taisuke, Makoto’s only male friend in school. Coming off as a laughable joker, giving the old wink and nod every time a pair of breasts show up on screen, he quickly becomes a lonely, distanced character. The one girl who has a crush on him, Hikari, eventually solicits Makoto for sex, leaving Taisuke with no one. Lonely, despondent, he stumbles upon a dazed Kotonoha, professes his love for her and proceeds to rape her before she can respond. Part of the reason this scene is so terrible is because of how understated it is and how sudden it developed. Taisuke and Kotonoha just happened to be alone, and he chose to take advantage of her in her state of weakness. We know that his is how the majority of assaults in America take place, not by evil guys jumping from the bushes, but by people that the victim knows. Taisuke, despite being kind of a pervy guy, never struck me before as being capable of doing that, which I realized is exactly what every person who has ever lived next to a serial killer says to the news crew. Nothing particularly graphic is shown, but they take a moment to focus on the characters in the aftermath. Taisuke seems oblivious that he has done anything wrong, Kotonoha stumbles out, and a day later it’s simply another blow to Kotonoha’s already fragile mental health state. Still, relationships are not totally bleak in the world of School Days, and there are even healthy relationships. One character, Nanami, is said at the beginning to have a boyfriend, and the two have a touching scene later in the series around the time of the school festival. It’s a small moment, but it’s still acts a slight counterbalance to the drama of Makoto and the others. The (Infamous) Ending No discussion of School Days is complete, it seems, without picking apart the ending and  reeling back in horror at how grisly the scene is. For those who haven’t seen it and don’t care to watch it, Makoto is killed in a mad rage by Sekai after he blows off their christmas dinner to spend the night with Kotonoha. When she confronts him about it, he pushes back and makes out with Kotonoha in front of her. Later, in a rage, she stabs him in the stomach and kills him. She then chops off his head and puts it in a bowling bag and heads off to meet Kotonoha, but not before engaging in scene with a trio of characters who are half greek chorus, half witches from Macbeth. At last she meets Kotonoha. The two acknowledge each other, brandish weapons, and start fighting over the head of Makoto. Sekai is killed and Kotonoha cuts into her stomach, discovering that there was never any fetus. At the time it certainly was grisly, and an escalation of violence as of yet unseen in the series. Cheating is one thing, but your mind doesn’t really wander to a murder that borrows the MO of the Manson family. It was shocking, it was brutal, and it was a big, bombastic  ending to a series of characters whimpering along to Makoto’s tune. The final scene, of Kotonoha cradling the head of Makoto in her family’s sailboat, presumably off the coast of France, does at least fulfill her saccharine romantic desires. I posit, however, that the ending might have worked too well, to the point where all other discussion is either inchoate or lacks any momentum. The ending of School Days is no different from a particularly bloody rendition of Romeo and Juliet, even following a similar theme of teenage idiocy. The game actually took this a step further and made Sekai be Makoto’s neice, making it a further betrayal of blood. It is strong, and it is satisfying to a degree to see Makoto die, but I can’t help wondering if the graphic nature of it has overwhelmingly overshadowed the greater purpose of the series. Whatever you think of the ending, it’s important to remember School Days for the whole of its parts. It’s a strong, short anime that takes an idea and skews it towards darkness in a way that feels believable and grounded enough in reality to make it impactful. It is certainly steeped in anime tropes, but the slivers of humanity that shine through are laser-like in their precision. There is enough here to make Makoto and the others caricatures at first that show a surprising level of depth and life. And though their drama and stakes might seem small compared to other shows, it is nonetheless as gripping and saddening as any show based on a dating sim has a right to be. If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to leave them below, I’d love to read them.  
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Back to school!
[Awesome user MrRasczack has a great breakdown of School Days, everybody's favorite "Nice Boat" anime. Want your deep thoughts to get on the front page? Write a cool community blog! -Josh] When the anime adaptation of Sc...

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Marlin Clock recounts Nodame Cantabile
[Community member Marlin Clock is featured here as the winner of March's Monthly Musing c-blog contest. Is someone cutting onions or something? Excuse me.] First off, I’ll get the obvious spoiler warning out of the...

Super Toku Time: Brought to you by O.J. Sprite

Feb 19 // Salvador G Rodiles
Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Episode 47 You know that a show’s about to end when the entire staff brings in their A-game during an episode’s timeframe. Besides the glorious showdown between the Kyoryugers and the Deboss Legion, a new challenger's entering the ring. This time around, Yuko inherited the title of Kyoryu Cyan, which means that Ayumi Kinoshita’s a Ranger once again. Since I enjoyed seeing Kinoshita as Jasmine/Deka Yellow in Dekaranger, I was happy to see that Nosan’s sister will get to use her strength to protect her daughter and the rest of Earth’s inhabitants. Unfortunately, we had to shed some more tears again, since another character heads off into the afterlife. Just like Aigaron’s death, I didn’t expect to care for Dogold when he and Utchy had their final confrontation. Speaking of which, the combination attack between the two lightning-based characters on Endorf was simply amazing. In a way, I can see why Dogold was ridiculous when he had Utchy in his body during Kyoryuger’s early episodes. Even though things are setting up for a great climax, I’m going to miss Kyoryuger. Thankfully, I’ll get to see action footage on TV when Saban releases Power Rangers Dino Charge in 2015-- I guess I should be grateful that Saban’s skipping Go-Busters. In fact, it’ll be interesting to see if Saban will incorporate elements from Go-Busters into the new Power Rangers series. Oh, wait. I’m supposed to be talking about my thoughts on Kyoryuger episode 47. Anyway, the finale’s going to be one heck of a joyride, and I’m ready for the massive tears of joy! Hopefully, my laptop won’t get wet during my closing thoughts; otherwise, I might die in the middle of my farewell letter to Kyoryuger. Kamen Rider Gaim Episodes 16 and 17   Thanks to DJ Sagara’s help, Kouta’s ready to PUT HIS FRUITS ON! While Kouta manage to escape with a new upgrade, Micchy wasn’t able to use his “Solid Snake” skills to escape from Yggdrasill Corporation’s headquarters. Since Takatora love his brother very much, Micchy’s about to learn about the truth behind the Helheim Forest’s appearance. Unfortunately, the staff pulls a fast one on the viewers, since we don’t get to see the secret that shocked Micchy. Aside from the debut of Gaim's Lemon Raiment Arms, Urobuchi’s doing a fine job with convening Micchy’s betrayal. But first, I would love to talk about the current situation in Zawame City, which is causing a mortal wound on the Beat Riders’ reputation. Ironically, the culprits happen to be Team Red Hot, which shows how low they’ve fallen after Pierre stole their Warring Driver. In a way, it shows that there are a few folks that plan to use the Inves to commit crimes; thus adding a realistic take on the scenario that everyone’s going through. That, and we needed a quick target for Kouta to use his Fizzy Orange-Lemon Form. While Kouta has the upper hand against the other Riders, he still has ways to go before he can take on the Energy Armored Riders. Hell, he barely stood a chance against Yoko when she transformed into her Peach Soda Rider form. Even though Armored Rider Marika’s debut was major last week, Micchy’s the real star of the episode. Of course, we can't forget about Pierre’s role in the big picture. Speaking of which, you have to respect “Mister Dangerous” for maintaining his honor as a baker when he was supposed to kidnap Kouta’s sister. Best of all, he didn’t betray Micchy, since Pierre was still planning on stealing Kouta’s belt. In fact, he left Hideyasu with a nice surprise when Akira was in the middle of enjoying Pierre’s fine sweets. Of course, I’m going to have to hand it to Gen for surprising us with the way how Micchy handles his new position within Yggdrasill Corporation. Just like the other members of big group, Micchy has his own ulterior motives that’ll mess with Takatora's huge plan later on. Since Ryouma’s playing along with Micchy’s scheme, there’s a chance that Kouta will continue to play a role in the future experiments to come. Depending how things go, the Cantaloupe Soda Rider might be the main villain until the third arc grows into a healthy tree. Hopefully, Pierre will get an Energy or Mixture Form later on, because the Durian needs to reclaim its title as the true champion! In the meantime, I’ll sit back and brace myself for the next twist that’ll enter the stage. On the side note, I wonder if durian soda exists in real life. Come to think of it, Pierre should get a different power up, since he deserves a better weapon than those Nerf Bows that the Energy Riders use -- "It’s Nerf or Nothing." Also, let’s pray that Marika sticks around for a good chunk of the series, since she’s been a great female Rider so far. If the show's staff decides to kill her off early, it won’t be enough for me to curse Gaim; however, I’ll be disappointed over the fact that they lost the opportunity to give Marika the recognition that she deserves.
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Crisp and clean, no caffeine?
[Editors Note: This story has been promoted from our community blogs. The words and content expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Japanator or its staff. To start your own community blog, or learn more, click here...

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Monthly Musing

What Grinds My Gears: Weird Fetish in Anime

Rank57 tackles this hot topic for this month's Monthly Musing.
Jan 02
// Rank57
[Community member Rank57 is featured here as the winner of December's Monthly Musing c-blog contest. Lots of hot topics here! Oooh, sizzling!] If you are not a 15 year old girl, or better yet, if you don't have a huge cr...

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Favorite Soundtracks

Opinion & Questions: Favorite Soundtracks

Robo Panda Z muses about excellent soundtracks
Nov 21
// Robo Panda Z
[Robo Panda Z has written an informative piece on some favorite musical pieces, most of which revolve around the excellent Final Fantasy VIII! Check out November's first promoted c-blog and let it inspire you to create a si...
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Remake-Worthy: Lunar Legend Tsukihime

Check out Irothtin's promoted blog!
Oct 29
// Irothtin
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Type-Moon and its works. I wrote a giant post about them earlier this year, for goodness' sake! And in said post, I mentioned the ever-dreaded Tsukihime anime adaptation. Or, if you really...
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Monthly Musing

Monthly Musings: Why Air is Remake-worthy

Lifesong's promoted Monthly Musing!
Oct 12
// Lifesong
[It's the first promoted post for October! Lifesong offers up the case for Air! Post your own blog about a remake-worthy anime and you could be featured on the front page too!] Yes, I am going for the lowest hanging fruit I c...

Top 5 Best Eyepatch Gals

Mar 01 // Marlin Clock
Honorary Mention: Mirai (Senran Kagura)  Yes, I did say I would name five, but this girl has been recently brought to my attention, and I simply could not ignore her vim! While my introduction to this gothic loli has been brief, it has been quite an eye-opening experience. Not only does she have impeccable fashion sense, but an arsenal of adorable and hilarious implements under what can only be considered a hyperskirt. She can summon tiny F-16s that fly her away at a moment's notice. I'd like to see you even try and say that's not awesome. It's just not possible.  5. Minene Uryu (Mirai Nikki)  The story of her eyepatch is about as brutal as it can get.  In a fight to become the next Supreme Being in the universe, she sacrificed her eye in order to save her life as it was cruelly pierced by an artfully thrown dart. She would later on to become one of the most noble of the anti-heroes that inhabited her macabre tale, ultimately being the most important character in the entire story.  4. Asuka Langley Shikinami (Rebuild of Evangelion)  She's a troubled redhead who's also a pirate. What more do you need to know? Alright I'll give some more. Jeez you people are so picky.  You see, in another life this girl went about her days the way most children in this world do. She would destroy God's messengers, relive childhood trauma, get throttled violently by a wimpy teenager, all without knowing the sweet feeling of black velvet upon one's eyelashes. Thankfully, through the power of exploiting media franchises, we got to see this young lass born anew! Clad in the most traditional of eyewear, she now fights for the glory of all her kin. Now Marlin, you may be saying, have you even watched the new Rebuild? No. No I haven't, but that doesn't mean I can tell an awesome eyepatch when I see it.  3. Rikka Takanashi (Chuunibyo demo Koi ga Shitai!)  Showing us that eyepatches do not need to be the exclusive territory of badasses, Rikka brings a soft touch to our list. She is also unique as the only member to retain her eye despite it. In a tale of coping, her eyepatch was perhaps the most meaningful, representative of the trouble she has in letting her father go. While it is a pity that the removal of her eyepatch is what activates her most powerful delusions, the fact that she still uses it keeps her among the greatest to ever wear the article.   2. Mei Misaki (Another) Mei was really the standout performance of Another. While the show was clearly in the point of view of Kouichi, the main focus of every new revelation always came back to Mei. She was as mysterious as she was likeable. While much of the characters tried to get Kouichi, and subsequently us, to shy away from her, it only made us want to know more. She even became quite adorable after getting to know her and seeing her interact with him as a normal person. Plus, she definitely has the most plot relevant eyepatch, concealing Another's own version of Death Perception.  1. Nice Holystone (Baccano!) Any who don't know the story of this blonde bombshell should hold their manhoods cheap! This is a fair soul so dedicated in her passion that at the ripe age of 14 she blew herself to high heavens, and, despite losing her eye and retaining scars, held the fortitude to go back and continue to practice her precious art. She is no mere ordinary eyepatch wielder; she understands its tactical importance! Many will not take advantage of the space created when their sundered eye is relieved. Not Nice Holystone. Ever aware of the necessity of backup plans, she even keeps a bomb hidden beneath the patch, hidden cleverly in that empty socket!   Despite her fiery soul, she has the tenderest of hearts.  She is always looking out in the best interest of her love, the equally ridiculously named Jacuzzi Splot, and quick to protect the innocent with him when they come into danger. When the Flying Pussyfoot found itself becoming a shootout, she and Jacuzzi quickly made a plan that saved many lives. Truly her fire and heroics show that she is the most deserving of this number one spot.
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A promoted article from Marlin Clock!
[How about another promoted article for this month's Bloggers Wanted? Marlin Clock is on hand to give us the low down on the best eyepatches available on the market, as well as the lovely ladies they are attached to. Hit the ...

Promoted Story: Top Five Mecha

Feb 24 // SeonArikale
5. Junchoon (The Five Star Stories) Ask any of my friends, and they'll tell you that The Five Star Stories is probably my favorite manga ever, hands down. I can go for hours on the intricate plot lines, the art, the characters, and just the setting. Everything about this series oozes how much effort Mamorou Nagano puts into crafting this epic piece of story telling. It's an amazing mix of fantasy and sci-fi, if only it weren't so rare to acquire any volumes. That said, Junchoon, with a silent 'ch', was one of the central plot points for the early volumes. A mech designed by the king of a small planet as a test bed to replace the ageing and out of date machines it was fielding against much more technologically advanced invaders. And this is where the themes of destiny, magic, and duty that so often come to the fore in FSS gets embodied in this unit. Not only does our main hero of the series end up working on Junchoon and making it a force to be reckoned with, but his wife's sister takes her place as the Junchoon's partner before both fall into hibernation until they're needed to free the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of an evil emperor. All the mecha in Five Star Stories look like giant suits of armor, but the Junchoon not only looks different enough to stand out, but the pay off we get for the plot line this very unit kicks off cements it as a cornerstone of the series. 4. YF-21 Sturmvogel (Macross Plus) Long ago, in the distant past of the 90s I, for the first time saw, a small series by the name of Macross Plus. Everything about it was awesome, the music, the characters, the plot, and of course, the mecha. But while the star of Macross Plus is undoubtedly Isamu Dyson and the experimental YF-19, which would go on to be the signature unit of the larger TV series Macross 7, my favorite has always been its co-star and rival unit. The YF-21 piloted by Guld Goa Bowman. The 21's unorthodox piloting mechanism, and more zentraedi inspired design set it apart from the usual slew of Valkyrie fighters in Macross canon, and in the end serves as an awesome counterpart to its sister unit. Like most of the other fighters in the larger franchise we get to see the YF-21 unleash a hellstorm of missiles, changing between a fighter, a humanoid form, and its hybrid gerwalk, and also some of the most beautifully detailed dogfights I've yet to see rivalled in a number of later series. If it weren't for the 21 and its pilot proving to be a comparable match to our hero, we'd never even get to see how truly awesome Isamu was. Cheers for the underdog says I. 3. ARX-7 Arbalest (Full Metal Panic!) So here we've got an awesome example of a mech that has a nice mix of real world feasibility, with the extra bit of sci-fi to make it intriguing. The Arbalest is the prototype for a new generation of Arm Slaves with an unstable 'Lambda Driver' system that can give the unit super powers...when it works. So I won't get into too many spoilers here on just how they get it working, but I'll say this, the Arbalest moves like a soldier, and the reliance on more conventional weapons and tactics that soldiers use, just scaled up, leaves room for some interesting battles throughout the franchise... when its pilot isn't getting into crazy hi-jinx pretending to be a normal high school student. 2. Jehuty (Zone of the Enders) Let me make one thing clear, unlike what I hear from many other people, who say they only got Zone of The Enders because of the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo and nothing else, I shake my head. I saw the initial ideas that went into the game and at a time when the internet was still growing into what it is today, got as much information as I could from magazines on this project. At a time when I was looking for a game where I could take control of a mech and experience the battles I had seen in anime, this folks, this was the game I had been waiting for. The demo was the sweet bonus. And with a sleek design like Jehuty at the fore of the series it clearly influenced the way many designers thought about animating combat robots, especially those meant to operate in space. Infused with the powerful element known as Metatron, Jehuty is capable of bending space to store equipment, using an arm mounted blade that can sheer through almost anything, to eventually moving faster than the eye can see. Also, yes, its cockpit is a bit literal, but I guess that just adds to the charm of the design. So, what could I put as my favorite mecha? what could possibly top everything else? Well... 1. RX-124 Gundam TR-6 Woundwort Ex (Advance of Zeta: Flag of the Titans) We start with obscure, and end with obscure, somehow I should have seen this coming. Gundam has always been one of my favorite franchises, but over the years I find myself drawn to the side stories, the novels, the manga, and the alternate universes that populate its extensive library. Advance of Zeta followed the exploits of a team of test pilots under the Titans. The Woundwort ends up being the culmination of experiments at Mobile Suit technologies and can be outfitted for a number of different mission profiles. Honestly this Mobile Suit in particular is just one of the many gorgeous designs in this little set of side stories, and I only feel more in love with it thanks to the release of last years SD Gundam G Generation Overworld, in which the Woundwort Ex finally appeared as an unlockable unit. Featuring some of the best animations in the game to go along with an appearance that can be beautiful and fearsome all at the same time. Is it too much for me to wish this thing gets a proper anime appearance? Maybe a movie? Ah well...guess I'll keep wishing. So there you have it, my Top Five Mecha, I'm sure there'll be those naysayers, but I'm curious to know what some of you out there think.
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A promoted article from SeonArikale!
[The first promoted article for this month's Bloggers Wanted! SeonArikale gives us the all of the juicy details about his top five mechs, from both anime and video games. Hit the jump to see if your own favourite has made his...

Check This Out! Surprise of the Season Kotoura-san

Feb 02 // Lifesong
Never say never. This season the number one show I've come to anticipate each week is Kotoura-san, an anime made by the not so prestigious AIC Classic. Kotoura-san is an adaptation of a 4-koma that I nearly didn't watch. The story follows a young mind-reader who has given up on having normal human interactions. It starts with her childhood and gives a very convincing testimony to how difficult such a power would be for a child and the people around her. She has been ostracized and bullied for as long as she can remember, but when she transfers to a new school she meets a boy who is unashamedly honest with himself. This boy befriends her and promises to stay by her side. If you are going to pick on his girl, you better remember the heart. Should you read this and think that Kotoura-san sounds awful.. well I can't really blame you for that. I read the premise and thought the same thing. Romantic comedy 4-koma? Pffft not worth the time of a single episode. Those were my exact thoughts. What the premise doesn't convey is just how touching this story actually is. Soul crushing drama is not something I would have ever expected from 4-koma. While it is true that Kotoura-san is funny to say that it is a comedy is only half of the truth. Kotoura-san manages to pull at the emotions in a way that every drama hopes to achieve. It does it in a way that feels both human and distinctly original. Sure there are plenty of action oriented shows with mind-readers. Playing cops and robbers with mind-readers is common place. Even in comedy you can find them easily enough. How often have we taken a serious look at just how difficult it would be to be born capable of reading the thoughts of everyone around you as if they were words? It's a refreshingly different take for this to be taken seriously without giving the girl a super villain to prove her worth against.  You know that feeling when your doing your thing, fortune-telling, when someone has thoughts about you that are so vile you throw up? I don't but I still felt sick watching this. Manabe is the second surprise of this story. He is a young high school student who accepts Kotoura-sans abilities, befriending her without hesitation. It takes two great characters to make a good romance and that is exactly what he provides. He is a bit of a pervert and most of his running gags involve Kotoura seeing his fantasies, as well as the many other odd things that go on in his head; however, that is put to good use in a way you will need to experience for yourself to really believe. He is not ashamed of his fantasies which is what allows him to get close to Kotoura-san. He is constantly saying and doing things that make him both surprising as an anime character and endearing for the way he defends Kotoura-san. It is a cute dynamic the two have going. This is one show I hope to convince a few people to check out. Everything about this anime works better than it looks or sounds like it will. Three episodes in and my emotions have been pulled on more skilfully than Little Busters has managed in sixteen episodes. The jokes feel original enough that they won't grow old any time soon. Perhaps the drama is not quite on the level of Sakurasou just yet, but it pulls at the heartstrings effectively. Most importantly this anime comes with a real human side. It stings in a way that I would never expect from a show about a mind-reader. It may not be the prettiest anime of the season but it is doing so much with what it has. This is one that all anime fans on the lookout for hidden gems should check out. Even if your not so inclined, Kotoura-san is likely worthy of your time. Give it a shot, I do not think you will be disappointed with what you see.
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A promoted article from Lifesong!
[What is this? Even promoted blogs are getting the spread treatment? Goodness! Lifesong is back to tell us about an anime you may have been missing, so why not read up a little bit and see if it tickles your fancy! With Febru...

Ecchi with plot: The Ambition of Oda Nobuna

Nov 20 // Rank57
Japanese history always drew my attention, not to the point of making me study it more seriously, but at least making me check anime or games were based on it. What kept me away from The Ambition of Oda Nobuna were the images I saw from it and some quick reviews. "Cute girls as historical warlords. Yeah right, this is another harem hentai trying to attract the otaku crowd". That's what I thought, yet I decided to check a few episodes.  Man, was I wrong. Yes, Oda Nobuna hangs around with her bras showing, most of the main historical figures are represented as moe girls or big breasted babes, and the main protagonist is a teenage boy who came from the future. Even so, with this ridiculous premise, The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is a fine example of ecchi and moe used with intelligence, with a great plot as a background. Or perhaps it is cute girls as a background to an accurate historical tale?  Time for a strategy meeting. Yes, the generals are hot girls, but whatever Anyway, the show still portrays feudal Japan with a surprising amount of detail, without ever, EVER giving priority to show breasts. Oda Nobuna(ga) is still a warlord trying to conquer and unite the country, there is intrigue, war strategies well applied, drama and everything just works, although the 12 episodes made the plot seem rushed, especially towards the end.  Sagara Yoshiharu, the male protagonist, is the teenage student who came from the future, and one of the greatest things about this show. He is an avid gamer who knows everything about The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, a game that portrays the life and conquests of the one responsible for uniting Japan. The thing is that Saru, as he ends up being called by everyone, actually uses the fact he came from the future to his advantage. First, he saves Nobuna's life with the help of his cellphone. From there, he displays impressive amounts of knowledge, to economics to modern architecture techniques to war strategies. He just implemented what he learned from the game or copied what we use in modern days, but still, to the eyes of the feudal Japanese, it's impressive, and it's great to see how this advantage is used and portrayed. Using this kind of knowledge, Saru becomes one of the most reliable generals under Oda Nobuna.  Our intrepid hero The other characters follow the lead. There's a reason why Oda Nobuna is a tsundere, as she is a warlord and must keep her behaviour as such. Inuchiyo and Goemon would be the main source of moeness, but both help Saru with his plans and both are incredibly useful. Katsuie Shibata is the main big breasted girl, but her role as the strongest warrior in Oda's army is more accentuated (no pun intended). Every character fulfils their role, and no one feels forced or put there just for the sake of fan service. My only complaint is the usage of magic: Hanbe Takenaka's brilliancy as a strategist is outplayed by her magic powers, as she can overpower an army and put down a fire alone. This takes some of the "realism" the show could have had. To put it short: this is not a harem anime. Nor an action one, as there is no "PUT YA GUNS ON!" and people mowing an entire army with lightning (except for a quick Hanbe intervention). The battles and even minor conflicts are resolved with intelligence and strategy. The numbers make a difference in battle. All in all, The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is the most accurate historical anime I have ever seen, even if most of the important figures are replaced with cute girls. An example to the anime industry, as yes, it is possible for ecchi and moe to coexist with a good plot.
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Promoted Blog: How to fix Capcom

Oct 26 // The-Excel
It makes me churn a little when I see people not caring about the quality of a cancelled game because they just want to play it. They're the ones who enable Capcom to make sequels that do not need to be. But I'm getting off point. This isn't about sequels, it's about what led to this pitiful milestone release. This has been a long time coming, because for all the wrongdoing Capcom has been pulling the last few years, they got off relatively scot-free, if not a little worse for wear in reviews. Now that the big name developers and directors have bailed, maybe this is all they're capable of doing with Mega Man anymore. Predictably, early impressions for Rockman Xover are not looking good. Despite this, for the last few years, Capcom has gotten the idea that they can act with impunity because 1. The people who are boycotting or otherwise taking a stand against them aren't doing it right 2. There aren't enough people doing so 3. Sales figures are still counterbalancing any boycotting efforts This is what happens when people don't properly punish a company that acts out of line. To this day, Capcom is getting money it should not be getting. Now everyone pays the price. By not completely starving Capcom of all profit, they are doing whatever they please and you all swallow it up (or so it seems to them anyway). When I say "you", I mean the gaming community as a whole, because the minority that knows what's what is being drowned out by the people who only talk in dollar signs. For all the people who complain, a few months later, Capcom announces some kind of remake or sequel of a series everyone used to like just to appease to the people calling them out. A shadow of their lofty greatness as opposed to the genuine article will restore their image, just like they did with Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Darkstalkers and Marvel vs. Capcom recently, and no one learns a thing. Capcom will profit with this title (because Mega Man is still a big name franchise and "social RPGs" almost always make money) and the change that desperately needs to happen never will, because gamers are too short-sighted and selfish to effect any real change in the industry. If you don't like this, then buckle up because I'm going to tell you how to cause that change. And you have a lot of work to do. I've observed something during this console generation which applies to every major gaming company that missteps more than a few times. No matter what happens, Capcom has enough diehard fans and casual fans who don't know any better to survive the worst beatings that those in the know have to offer. I recall the Wii version of Okami as a particular sticking point with the community at the time over failure to properly credit those involved in that port and even those who worked on the original game. Gamers took offense and a number of them vowed to boycott Capcom for their flagrant disrespect for the hard work of the individuals who worked on this game, but in the end, nothing happened. Okami on the Wii sold well enough and everyone forgot about it by the time the sequels came out. (Funny how Capcom's scramble to fix the infamous cover watermark was viewed as a token of respect before word of this got out.) Earlier this year, there was a case regarding Dragon's Dogma where a junior developer was nearly driven to suicide, and people still bought the game even after the story broke. Whatever horrid working conditions caused that case live on because there's no incentive to change it -- that is, poor sales as a result of people boycotting Capcom out of principle, just like they didn't with Okami. Granted, this has more to do with Japanese business culture than Capcom and is on the same level as the people who refuse to shop at Walmart. I bet it happens all the time and this is a case that managed to make headlines. But since Capcom was outed for it, why not make an example of them? After those missed opportunities to make a change, the failing I'm seeing is that gamers are sayingCapcom should pay, but no one is doing anything to make them. People tell me that Capcom learned their lesson with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken in regard to mishandling gamers' trust with their money (free 2013 update to the latter notwithstanding), and they also tell me I'm silly for thinking Capcom needs even more punishment. Yeah, Capcom has learned its lesson, which is why they're still going at it with these half-hearted cash grabs and suboptimal working conditions. Isn't that right, Yoshinori Ono? How is anyone going to learn anything with that kind of attitude? Actions speak louder than words, and for years I've been seeing a whole lot of words and barely any action. Forgive the hypocrisy on my part, but I can't do it alone. You can't do it. One person cannot do it. Nor can a hundred. Nor can a thousand. Nor can a hundred thousand, no matter how strong they all think they are as a group. VGChartz shows that Capcom-published games routinely push millions of copies, even the "bad" ones like Resident Evil 6 that still broke the one million barrier. That's how many people we need to do it. Capcom is big, and we need to be bigger. Gamers need to all stand up at once and give them the biggest middle finger a Japanese gaming company has ever seen for any change to happen, because we've been taking it in the rear for far too long. Unfortunately, with the way the industry is set up now, no one can communicate to the most important game companies and tell them off directly, never mind foreign companies. Community websites and Facebook pages are only for advertising, not for feedback. Yeah, bad feedback on social media has pressed Capcom to say they are reconsidering how they'll handle DLC in the future, but that's just more words. (Update about Resident Evil 6: I don't want to have to bring up the fact that it has on-disc DLC because development on it started long before Capcom made the claim that they'll rethink that policy. I don't care that the DLC is free; this should never have happened in the first place. That said, it was going to happen eventually, like all potential ways to abuse monetization schemes, so it just sucks that it had to be a company with such a fine pedigree as Capcom.) Speaking of words, petitions mean squat. They imply support for a cause other than the surgical extraction of everything wrong with a company, which in Capcom's case is probably no longer feasible. Let me digress here for a moment: Suppose a petition does work. We get one game, maybe a handful, the signers wanted. Then what? Does the company change in any meaningful way as a result of listening to the fans? Are more games in their vein promised immediately regardless of sales and the company's current direction just because the fans made their voices known when they should not have needed to in the first place? Or do the fans wait and write up another petition for the next game they decide is worth more than the company decides it's worth? Given how long the petition process takes, I just don't think it's worth the effort and I'd rather see that effort bettering the industry rather than racing toward short-term gains. That tangent aside, we need unprecedented backlash to make Capcom turn over a new leaf, because like everyone else, I desperately want this bad Capcom to go away forever and a good Capcom, or even theold Capcom that did cool things in the last console generation and before, to appear in its place. But Exy, you're being too hard on them! Why kill the whole company off? Capcom still does good stuff once in a while. I know. Capcom was very good just a few years ago. I know this because of the lengths they went to to spread Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars around the planet. No one saw it coming, and Capcom did everything they could to make it work, and it totally did. They fixed the original up and even threw in new characters just because. They listened, even though it wasn't the most anticipated game of its season, and now few people play it anymore. (I believe it's due to poor timing, but I'm told that it was because it was on the one console most of the target audience didn't have, but that's for another article.) I can't emphasize enough just how much of a miracle Ultimate All-Stars is, and I feel it's been wasted. Who knows how long it'll be before we see such a defiance of region boundaries again? Then something happened and Capcom got greedy. I don't know what that something was or how long it took, but here we are. Whatever trace of good is left in the current Capcom is being overshadowed far too heavily by the bad. The way the industry is set up, we can't help them differentiate. If we buy only what we want and not what we don't want, we will get more of the good. "Voting with your wallet," as gamers like to say, regardless of how fundamentally broken that concept is. (Gotta write that rant sometime.) Unfortunately, too many people buy everything regardless if it's good or bad. Since the undiscerning gamers who make up a majority of the paying customer base aren't being reached, this ideal has no chance of success. The people who don't know any better are voting with their wallets as well, and their votes outnumber yours. I don't care about what the reports say about games held up by DLC and/or gems, games farmed out to subpar contractors, and ill-advised cell phone remakes not selling well. That they're being developed at all means something is wrong higher up. Kenji Inafune and Shinji Mikami and now Seth Killian all jumped ship just before and even during this all went down, and people still held hope. That's all gone now. Speaking of regions, I need to go back to something that's very personal to me: Voting with your wallet. Sure, it works fine for the usual domestic competitions of highly-rated games versus not-so-highly rated mediocrity, but how do you vote for a game that's not even in the ballot? But first, how do democracies work? Correct me if I'm wrong, but a big part of it is being able to vote out the people who run a state badly and then vote in good people, yes? When was the last time that happened with a game company? Who's going to tell the CEOs who keep companies from being supportive of their customers to go away just because a few hundred thousand people on the internet think they're Jerky McJerkfaces? Does anyone even know what the names of those Capcom executives are? Are they as bad as Bobby Kotick or even worse? Let's ignore the fact that we non-Japanese gamers shouldn't even have any votes in a Japanese ballot, so to speak, or even the fact that I have yet to suggest giving this article to the Japanese since they matter more to Japanese companies like I usually do. The only thing that ousts bad executives is major scandal, and below-average sales is not an example of it. Super bad sales, sure, but there needs to be a string of those, or something really, really bad. I'm talking Virtual Boy bad. You're not going to be able to just vote the problematic executives out, the people who actually make development decisions--not with your wallet, not with Facebook petitions, and certainly not with your internet posts. If there is actually a way to vote executives out, by all means go do it right now. But get all the shareholders to vote with you while you're at it. I'm assuming the reader of this article is not a Capcom shareholder, so to go back to my previous point, the next best thing is to coordinate a number of people comparable to Capcom's VGChartz numbers to make a difference. The best example I can think of that many gamers working together to remove a problematic individual from gaming is Jack Thompson, and he's never even worked for a gaming company! Countless people contributed to his demise, exposing his misinformed attitudes on gaming, wearing away at his reputation and possibly his mental state, and culminating in disbarment. Why can't we use that synergy to fix a gaming company? Probably because unlike Jack Thompson, gaming companies can distract gamers from their cause with a game. It works every single time, as the biggest American game companies can attest. But that's a whole different battle. There's hope, however, assuming the problems with Capcom are really all about the money as opposed to any respect for the Mega Man name. A comment on the Destructoid post from Tubatic gave me an idea: "I propose a year long Game Jam in which people make tons of Mega Man sidescrollers. It's the only way to revive and reclaim it, I think. Capcom just isn't going there." To which I replied, why not go all the way? Not only do we stand up all together and tell Capcom off, we should blatantly tread all over their copyright and sell such games en masse to send the message that people are willing to pay for them, even if they don't come from Capcom. Capcom doesn't get to see a cent of that money for something that belongs to them. (They don't care about it, right? Is that what you're trying to say, Exy?) Gamers think they vote with their wallets, so I further propose that those people who are still deluded into thinking that gaming is a democracy vote for write-in candidates. Disgruntled fans with talent and a drive to see this franchise retake its place in the top game series of all time should steal the franchise and hold it for ransom. Then we'll see just how much Capcom cares about Mega Man. The fans would essentially be detaining Mega Man against his will, but better for fans to do that than Capcom. This will only work if: 1. A lot of developers participate in selling Mega Man "tributes" for profit 2. None of those developers give any proceeds to Capcom for any reason, be it respect, hope for a new good game, or anything else 3. A balance between such projects made out of spite to Capcom and out of tough love to them is made 4. At least one of them sells big and the developer openly brags about all the money he's making from aMega Man fan product That last point is the most important. A handful of the best Mega Man fan works needs to make bank and have everyone know it. After seeing Rockman 4 Minus Infinity, I have faith in the indie and hacker communities to make games good enough for this to work. As an even more compelling proof of concept, fans decided to make a playable mock-up of Rockman Xover in Flash based on currently available media and assets just to spite Capcom. This is exactly what I envisioned: People taking the fight straight to Capcom and not to the online forums where anything of consequence rarely occurs. It's like what the old Japanese proverb says--and I'm paraphrasing here so correct me if I'm off--if a whole lot of people all illegally cross the street, none of them can get in trouble because there's too many of them. The same mindset needs to be applied to this Game Jam idea to have any effect. It will end in either a lot of lawsuits, a lot of buyouts, or desperation on Capcom's part, but if it's construed as a mass rebellion, it's my best idea to get Capcom to panic and rethink their strategy. Some people suggest that Capcom should sell the rights to Mega Man to a company that cares more about it. If they take Mega Mangames to the heights seen in the best ROM hacks and fan games, then I would be for it. But the problem of Capcom being Capcom would still exist. It would be a half-fix: Mega Man gets a chance at redemption, while Capcom just has one less franchise to work with. I would rather all of it be fixed at once. Mega Man needs to be taken by force if it's to get any better. Of course, this is a horrible idea--mostly because Capcom always has their other departments to make up the slack, not just because it's stupidly illegal--but Capcom is clearly hurting for cash whether they actually need it or not, so let's hit them where it counts. The title of this post is about fixing Capcom, but I really think we need to tear them down. There are just too many issues with this Capcom to expect a few fixes to make everything right. If this Capcom falls, the shock will be felt throughout the entire industry, like when Sega stopped making consoles. Again, Capcom is big, but we are bigger. The best legal way to do this, of course, is to boycott. Let me tell you how. Three steps. A lot of customers have claimed over the years on news posts that they are through with Capcom for some mistake they made. To me, this means cutting off all financial support completely. It's simple, really. If they get any money, they win. They interpret that statement as meaning that their current strategy is profitable, so there's no incentive to change. What you need to do is say no. No more appeasements. No more second chances. No buying anything of theirs on Virtual Console or whatever. No buying incremental upgrades for fighting games just to stay competitive. Nothing. This step is the easiest, but it is by no means easy or even the most important, as I'll explain below. The next step is the most overlooked: Don't just stop buying anything Mega Man or anything Capcom, make sure everyone else stops too. Urge random civilians everywhere, in game shops, online, at gaming meetups, not to support Capcom. Educate them. Maybe we'll get a fraction of the millions of people needed to change Capcom this way. It's our best chance. I would predict a great many of them won't listen or won't help, but if you really want Capcom to change, you won't let that slow you down. This is what I took issue with most with Operation Rainfall. Their primary goal wasn't about convincing the gaming community at large that there needs to be significant change to the localization process, but rather about getting three games that appeal to JRPG and Wii owners. Now that they have them, they're resting on their laurels. And now people are questioning if the effort was worth it. Like I said in my spiel about petitions above, they should be focusing their efforts on fixing the industry, ideally from the inside out, not begging to it. Don't make their mistake -- Remember, this isn't about Mega Man, it's about the industry. Get everyone you can to join your cause. There is a lot more at stake here than a bunch of cancelled games and a hideous iOS "anniversary celebration." Why should we still have to expect mediocrity at this point? How can any of you get excited for Ace Attorney 5 when we're missing an entire game of investigating? Maybe it wasn't that great, but on principle we still should have seen a glimpse of it anyway. Now here's the hardest--and most important--part: Stand strong and don't buy anything from Capcom, no matter how good the games are. It sounds like I'm repeating myself at this point, but this is where a great majority of boycotts fail: The boycotters let themselves be won over by announcements of new games. A lot of would-be boycotters don't seem to understand that getting excited for a new release is the opposite of a boycott. Still others hold the "Damn you Capcom, I want to boycott you so stop releasing games I'm going to buy" mentality. Even if tongue-in-cheek, that mentality is pushing us two steps back for every step forward. Then the whole process starts anew. Enough is enough. Say you're going to boycott Capcom, then stick to your guns. Resist the temptation to give them a dime. Give that money to talented fans instead, just as long as that money doesn't end up in Capcom's bank account. This isn't a vote, it's a protest. When a boycott is done right, it hurts the executives and the other people poisoning the company from within, but it also hurts the programmers, it hurts the artists, it hurts the musicians, and most of all, it hurts you. It's sad and unfair to the hard-working employees and maybe even to you, the Capcom fan or ex-fan, but it's the only way -- after all, this is what boycotts do. There's going to be a lot of collateral damage, but it's that or allow Capcom to destroy themselves. This Capcom needs to know the suffering everyone involved had to put up with for years. Think about what they've gotten away with, all the people they hurt, all the disappointments and the times they cheated you, because they are not. No matter how painful it is for you, hurt them hard. Show no mercy, for they have none. If they announce a new game, hurt them by not caring. When the new game is released, hurt them by stifling week one sales. When DLC is announced, hurt them by not buying it. Every time this happens, hurt them again and again. Once they're on their knees begging for another chance, hurt them more. Hurt them because you love them. If you really care about Mega Man, then hurt Capcom for all the times they hurt Mega Man. If you loveStreet Fighter or Resident Evil or Devil May Cry or what have you, hurt them for what they did to those series. Hurt them for every old Capcom series you love that has not been given a chance this generation. If you care about Capcom, hurt them for all the times they hurt their customers and their employees. Hurt them nonstop until their bad influences are completely driven out, and then we can rebuild with whatever's left. Hopefully, the affected programmers and artists and musicians will take Kenji Inafune and Shinji Mikami's lead and find better companies that are more than willing to take them in, and then they can hurt Capcom as well. For all I know, maybe that's what a lot of them want. If you're a Capcom employee or ex-employee and you're reading this, I'm sorry if it made you feel bad. Most likely, this isn't your fault. But I'm not one for third chances. If it sounds like I'm saying Capcom is beyond hope, notice how I've been using the term "this Capcom" throughout this post. I believe this Capcom has been corrupted from the one I grew up with, the old one I mentioned earlier. I don't like this Capcom and it pains me to see Capcom fans supporting them. This Capcom is not Capcom. This Capcom is the enemy. This Capcom did not give the world Mega Man X,Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil 4, or Mega Man Legends. Instead, this Capcom gave us Mega Man X on iOS, Street Fighter X Tekken, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, and now Rockman Xover. This Capcom would never have given us Ultimate All-Stars. The only thing that will stop it is a mercy killing, not just a mild prolonged sting. If Capcom dies tomorrow, then we can start talking recovery tomorrow. Clearly, no one at Capcom is listening now. If alarmingly low sales is what they need to reconsider anything they're doing, then so be it. Something is seriously wrong with Capcom and it's not going away without a fight. We can only claim victory once the people who made Capcom what it is now leave Capcom forever, or ideally, retire from the game industry forever. Once they're gone, only then will Capcom be able to find new direction, pick up the pieces, and win any fans back for good. It will be a slow, grueling process, but it can happen. It can happen when everyone in the world wants it to happen. I want it to happen. Let's make it happen. And if you don't want to shoulder that responsibility, don't interfere with the people who want this Capcom to perish. [Original artwork by Darka22] But of course, none of this is going to work. I'm just as ineffectual at getting millions of people around the world to listen as the best games writers are, and that's to say nothing of speaking to Japanese gamers,even if some of them do agree already that this game is the beginning of the end. And for that, I am truly sorry. I'm sorry for wasting your time with bitter rambling and dangerous ideas. I'm just as naive as everyone else involved. I've asked too many questions and the few answers I gave are not very encouraging, but I felt they had to be said. I don't know if any of this has a chance of reaching out to the people who can fix Capcom or can get enough people to get the process started. All I know is this: Capcom used to be good. Now they are not. I refuse to accept that this Capcom is Capcom. They are an evil that must be slain by any means necessary. Boycotting is so hip these days, but no one knows how to do it anymore. Until they learn, everything is for naught. All things considered, this is probably not the last straw for the fraction of the fanbase that can make this plan go, which is truly tragic since this means that this sad story will only continue. But once you've decided that enough is enough, this article will be here for you. I've said it too many times already, but things will get worse before they get better, and they need to. If you don't think so, if you want to show me that not everyone has to suffer to make things right, if you want to be the change, then prove me wrong. I beg you. But at the end of the day, the real question is this: What is it going to take for gamers to snap and take an actual stand? How much lower can Capcom go? What will Capcom at its most pathetic look like? Are they really getting close to hitting rock bottom? I don't want to think about the answers to these questions. I want them solved before we ever get there. But then again, I am naive. Note 1: For the record, I just want to say that I'm not the sort who cares very much for milestones and anniversaries. They're great when a game released on an anniversary happens to be very good because we humans like assigning sentimental importance to nice, round numbers, but the pressure to not miss anniversaries for frankly unimportant things is like a big arbitrary deadline. I bet Nintendo did nothing forMetroid's big one this year because they didn't have anything good to offer in time. Better that than, say,Other M part 2. Note 2: I don't want to suggest that you bomb Amazon and Metacritic reviews with unfairly low scores for legitimately good games because I think that's extremely petty and unproductive, but if that actually hurts them, don't let me stop you.
A feature by The-Excel
[Community member The-Excel's got quite a lot to say about fixing up Japanese gaming giant Capcom, and a mind to share his thoughts with everyone. If you've got some awesome insights of your own to share that beg to be shared...

Coming Back Again and Again: Sket Dance

Oct 21 // Rank57
That's how it begins Comedy gold, charismatic characters, parodies, hidden plot, drama and laughter. Sket Dance has all of this, used with perfect timing. The story is about a school club that helps other students and even teachers to solve their problems. The SKET dan stands for Support Kindness Encouragement Troubleshoot. Given this summary, at first I thought the anime was about friendship, touching moments and helping other people. Well, it still is about that stuff, and some episodes are about the Sket dan helping people with serious problems, but the main focus is the comedy, and laugh you will. There are many anime that have characters who steal the show when they appear. Now, imagine when you combine a bunch of these show-stealing characters and put them inside the same school. What you get is something like Sket Dance. Let's start with the main 3 protagonists. Sketo dansu! Fujisaki Yusuke, or Bossun, is the leader of the Sket dan. His main "power" is concentrating, as he can gather all information and come up with a solution to most problems. He is one of the most versatile characters ever, as he can be the tsukkomi, the clever one who makes fun of the stupid situation, or the boke, the one who makes the weird situation. He can be a badass by delivering an inspirational speech, or a total child by getting all excited about a car toy. Onizuka Hime, or Himeko, serves as Sket dan's muscles. She is a ex-delinquent who can be gentle or a hothead depending on circumstances, and Shiraishi Ryoko's kansai dialect portraying Himeko is a total charm! Usui Kazuyoshi, or Switch, completes the team. He speaks through his computer. Normally he's calm and serious, but also like Bossun, he makes jokes all the time and gets easily excited, especially with his otaku hobbies. That censor All 3 main characters are loveable, and they are not the only ones. All characters in Sket Dance have an "automatic joke", like Saotome Roman's ability to transform everything into a shoujo manga, or Dante's (dubbed by Gackt!) difficult way of speech, or the "modern samurai" Takemitsu Shinzo and many, many others, including the lazy Chuma-sensei and his crazy experiments or Kunio-sensei's weird games. Each of them appear at the right timing to be funny and don't overuse a recycled joke; each appearance is as hilarious as the previous one. And then, we have the student council. At first, they appear as Sket dan's counterparts, even opponents. But as one would expect, each member is awesome with a unique personality trait. I just love every time Asahina displays her utter and total disrespect with people, sending them to die with her abbreviations! These guys deserve their own anime The parodies are constant, be it mocking battle anime, be it exploring clichéd scenes. Even the "otaku world" is portrayed in an awesome way, like when Switch presents absurd mahou shoujo anime like "The Angel of Extortion" or "Maternity Blue". The fourth wall is consistently broken, especially by Roman, and every now and then Sket Dance takes a break to develop the story, characters and relationships with some more serious episodes, especially when it shows the past of the 3 protagonists. And to top it off, the soundtrack. The show starts off with AKB48's subgroup French Kiss and The Pillows, have a go with Gackt and Evertset, but musically the main attraction is the band who was born with Sket Dance. There is an episode where there is a concert with various bands in school, and Bossun, Himeko and Switch end up forming "The Sketchbook". Well, the band actually exists and performs most of Sket Dance's openings and endings. There are many factors that make me love an anime, but the main one is charisma. Characters need to feel alive, inspire and be funny, and Sket Dance delivers those generously.
Promoted article!
[The first promoted article for the current Bloggers Wanted is here! Rank57 tells us all about Sket Dance, and why it's impossible to quit! I haven't seen the show myself, but doesn't it get you curious to try it out? Re...

Comparison to the West: A Tale of Two Monkeys

Oct 15 // Sideshow
Monkey VS Goku Monkey (Masaaki Sakai, voiced by David Collings) "Born from an egg on a mountain top. Funkiest monkey to ever pop. He knew every magic trick under the sun. To tease the gods and everyone and have some fun." Or so the opening suggests. There's not a lot I can say about Monkey that wasn't covered in the last post. He wants to fight, he hates being controlled and he has an extremely short temper. Despite that, he does have morals, a code of honour, etc. At one point he'll be expelled from the group for his violent behaviour and he'll go along with it, only to then come to his senses to "save the day". In episode 2, he starts wearing the Headache Sutra, which was explained in my last post. The difference however is there's an actual reason for Monkey to be wearing it. Tripitaka frees him and then he leaves, breaking his promise with Tripitaka. Makes sense. Goku (Shingo Katori) From episode one, I already know the differences here. Where Monkey is short tempered, Goku is lazy. Another thing I've noticed is Goku seems to be almost obsessed with pee. It became abundantly clear in episode two when he pees in a hot spring. Sure, this was to save Hoshi from being cooked in it but when you have one episode where 30% of his dialogue is fart related in addition to this scene, you tend to wonder whats going on an that little ape's head. There are good points to Goku, it just that it feels really plastic seeing them episode after episode. Goku makes a speech about friendship, Goku gets mad about the victim of the episode and flies off for "the final showdown". From a character perspective, he's the most noble of the four. Writing wise, on the other hand, he's just annoying and repetitive. (But I'll share my thoughts on that next week when we come to the 1/4 point.) The Edge: Monkey No, the nostalgia glasses are off. This choice was based on a personality level. The sheer randomness of his personality rather than the same thing episode after episode, is more appealing to me from where I'm sitting. Sandy VS Gojou Sandy (Shiro Kishibe, voiced by Gareth Armstrong) - Also known as the brains of the group. A fish spirit who banished from heaven for breaking the Jade Emperor's cup. Level headed and often speaking of philosophy. Sandy often states the obvious, things that the audience is certainly thinking. "What if this is a trap to capture you?", he asks Tripitaka, seconds away from an incoming ambush. He's such a well rounded character, there's not much else to say about him. His weapon of choice is hard for me to describe. Its a cross between a staff and an oar, in my opinion. Gojou (Teruyoshi Uchimura) - Upgraded to a pair of sai, Gojou is once again the brains of the group. Or at least that's what I would say. It seems that Gojou and Hakkai are either sharing or swapping personality traits. They both act as Hoshi's advisers, with Gojou being a little bit more aware of the obvious dangers.I said little. Hell, he's seen seducing or allowing seduction to happen from various women on the basis that he's simply told they fancy him. Its unexpected, is what I'm saying here. But its something that I'll accept with open arms as its feels like there's four main characters rather than three main characters and one wall flower. The Edge: Gojou Last week, I said that Saiyuuki's costumes are over detailed. This week, I'm making an exception with Gojou. His costume just looks so perfect for not only his character but his fighting style. Another thing that makes him stand out is the fact he is fighting with sais rather than a staff based weapon. His fight scenes are the most amazing to watch in Saiyuuki. Pigsy VS Hakkai Pigsy (Toshiyuki Nishida, voiced Peter Woodthorpe) - A womaniser and a glutton, hence the name. Also kicked out of heaven...but for feeling up the Lady Vega. And as you can probably guess, yes, this kind of thing does land him and the gang in a whole heap of trouble. In the third episode "The Great Journey Begins", Pisgy is woken up by a beautiful woman and follows her without question only to then be captured in by her spider-demon daughters and literally hung out over night. Its these scenes that make any non-fighting scene worth watching for it's comical value. On another note, I'd say that for a character whose suppose to be ugly, he certainly doesn't look that in the slightest. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that his costume is the most appealing out of the entire gang...nam style...ok, bad joke but you know what I mean. The simplicity of it. The only thing "piggy" about it, is his ears. I challenge anyone to say "he's hideous". Hilarious? Yes. Hideous? Not so much. Hakkai (Atsushi Ito) - Hakkai is the noble pig goblin. His behaviour can be somewhat compared to a young teen or child whose obviously getting picked on by the other kids. Wears his heart on his sleeve, etc. And before I go on about his personality, I'd like to take a minute and ask: "Does this look like a pig to you?". To me he just seems more like a cat than a pig. Getting back to base, for a pig character he certainly doesn't show these "pig" character traits as much as you'd think. Yes, he'll let any woman seduce him but rather than the Pigsy's: "Oooh! Beautiful lady!" tactic and pulls a Brock moment(Remember? From Pokemon?), Hakkai is more on par with the shy high school nerd who is asked by a pretty school girl if he wants to hang out with her. My other main problem I have with him is the lack of evolution from being expelled from heaven to now. We never see him overcome certain "pig" faults, lust, gluttony, etc. It feels like even if we've watched all 11 episodes and one movie, we've somehow missed Hakkai's personal character arc and this is the aftermath we're watching. The Edge: Pigsy Don't get me wrong, Hakkai's personality is great entertainment and certain scenes pull my heart strings like an elastic band. But lets face facts. In any Journey to the West retelling, the main characters are a Monkey, a Fish, a Pig and a Priest. So after 10 minutes of deciding, the question came down to: "Is this a 'Pig' character?" and if the answer for Hakkai is "no" then I'm sorry, the edge goes to Pigsy. Hands down. Out of the two characters, I'd rather watch the actual "pig" character. Tripitaka VS Sanzou Hoshi Tripitaka (Masako Natsume, voiced by Maria Warburg) - In all honesty, I've been dreading writing about Tripitaka and Hoshi. Simply because they're the exact same character. Word for word. So its hard to compare a character that's exactly the same (except for one thing we'll get to, don't worry). At least when comparing the likes of Monkey and Sandy, there's differences to point out. Anyway, Tripitaka was an orphan, adopted by a monastery. After finding his mother and "avenging" his father, he is told to go on a holy journey to India. The show maybe called Monkey but Tripitaka is the leader of the group. Now in most adaptations of Journey to the West, there's a common troupe with this character. The fact he's played by a female actor. I get that because the character is a boy priest and its easier for women to play younger men then grown men. (Fans of anime will know exactly what I'm talking about) But in this show they didn't really try hard enough to conceal that fact. An episode comes to mind "You Win Some, You Lose Some" where he's captured, again, and you start to realise that "Hey...Why are there lumps on his chest? Did the demons do that?" Sanzou Hoshi (Eri Fukatsu) - Same story as Tripitaka, a boy priest whose on a journey to India, leader of the gang, etc, etc. His kind heart and helping nature does become his undoing sometimes. Its also the reason why every episode they detour away from their Journey to India. The annoying fact about Hoshi specifically is something I've explained in the previous post. His "trust" in Goku is something that has got me shouting at my laptop, "Why rescue and travel with the one guy you obviously don't trust?". My plothole rantings aside, theres one point that is worth noting but its not on a character level. Its on an actor's. In keeping with tradition, Hoshi is played by a female actor. The reason for noting this? She shaved her head for the role. Now to some that doesn't say much however speaking as an actor myself, it takes a lot of confidence to be so committed to a production you would do something like that. And I certainly tip my hat to that. The Edge: Sanzou Hoshi Surprised? He may not be consistent with his trust for his fellow pilgram. His headache sutra prayer is enough is make me get my nostalgia glasses and shouting, "WROOOOOONNNNNNG!!!" but I'm going to stick my neck out here and give the edge to Hoshi on an actor level. I say this because both Hoshi and Tripitaka are the exact same character. It's hard to give an edge to two identical people. However I'll take this edge back the instant the show fails to cover up the fact that Hoshi is played by a woman. I.e. "Magical demon lumps" Wrapping up I present to you my personal choice of pilgrims for their journey to India. So what's you're thoughts? Given the information above, which four would you choose? When writing this, I've purposely left out certain facts like Pigsy's actor changes and the Horse becomes a main character in Monkey. Nor did I mention there are two reoccurring characters in Saiyuuki. These will take another post later down the line when we reach the halfway point. But for now enjoy today's post and look forward to next week's where we reach the 1/4 mark and the thoughts that surround my head about it.
The continuing saga of one community member's journey through classic literature!
[Here now is the next entry in community member Sideshow's awesome series of C-blogs about Journey To The West. In case you haven't been following it (for shame!) here's the first and second parts. And don't forget,...

Promoted Blog: Comparison to the West: The Journey Begins

Oct 08 // Sideshow
Monkey - Episode 1 (Monkey Goes Wild About Heaven) Now to be fair I've forced myself to watch Monkey without my nostalgia glasses. Why? I'm going to point at the common Sonic fanboy "arguments" and go "thats why". You'll see what I mean when we head over to Saiyuuki. First things first, 90% of the voice acting is fantastically offensive. The whole "oh! Daniel-san!"stereotypical asian accent reminds you of the kung-fu films of yesteryear which does fit with certain characters I guess. But I'll admit it does get offensive very fast. The narrator especially but I feel he is the only person in the show that justifies the accent simply because he is portraying an all knowing wiseman. Second thing is that the special effects are cheesy as all hell. Shots of Monkey cloud-flying comprise of a tiny figurine on a cotton ball. Summoning his monkey army can be recreated with still images of a single person, copied multiple times and animated on a moving plane in Adobe After Effects. Having said that, this IS a show made in the 1970's so I'm letting it slide. The opening to the show is by far one of the flashiest openings I've seen in ages. From the song alone, it gives the sense that this is the most epic story of all time. "Born from an egg on a mountain top. Funkiest Monkey to every pop." etc, etc. I highly recommend you track this song down just to see for yourself. (Its Monkey Magic by Godiego for those at the back of the class) Trying to recap all 43 minutes of Monkey in a single paragraph is extremely hard partly because its 43 minutes but mostly because I didn't do so well at english in high school. The entire episode is an origin story for Monkey, who made of stone and capable of magic, telling the tale of how he acquired the magic Wishing Staff and how heaven tried to control him as a precaution. So they hire him as the Heavenly Stableman. But he started fighting when he found out that's not a high status in heaven. And then they refer to him as "Great Sage, Equal of Heaven" in name only and make him a Gardener of the Heavenly Peach Garden. But then he ate all the peaches, thus making him immortal and then goes crazy and fights all of heaven. And this is from being told he's not invited to a heavenly party. All of these scenes are sown together with fight scenes. And it must be said that the "staff VS sword" fight scenes are decently choreographed to the tune of drums and bass guitar playing in the background making it almost addicting. They're no Mark Musashi (Kodama from Garo) but its close. Speaking of production, the visuals overall are something that warrant certain frames of the episode to be sent into an art exhibition with its beautiful costume and set designs. But getting back to the last bit of the plot... Desperate to stop Monkey, Budda appears in his female form, making a first in many gender reversals for characters in the series, and places Monkey under a mountain for five hundred years...harsh. Budda then turns to heaven and hints at a journey that must be taken to save man kind. If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned Sandy, Pigsy & Tripitaka yet, its because this episode isn't really about them. Hell, Tripitaka is seen in the last minute of the whole thing. I'll go into detail about them in my next post when I compare them to their Saiyuuki counterparts. Saiyuuki - Episode 1 (Land of Fire)  Monkey/Goku is blonde. (I just thought I'd start by saying that.) Saiyuuki gets right in the action with the Goku, Hakkai/Sandy, Gojou/Pigsy & Sanzou Hoshi/Tripitaka taking on a bird demon and an army of ninjas. Now if I said Monkey's fight scenes are close to Mark Musashi then Saiyuuki is Musashi's genetic clone. A battle royale of animal spirits and ninjas. I think the main reason they chose this as a way to start the show is because Monkey is a cult classic and assumes that Saiyuuki's audience already know how they came to be. And to be honest, if I was writing a remake, I would start like this to. The show's opening is something that I'm still confused about. It starts with a beautiful painting and has the traditional storytelling narrator. After that is a shot of the mountains with Goku spinning his staff and then the show's name and episode title are seen on the mountain side accompanied by modern-ish music. It gets confusing trying to pin point what tone they're going for. But one thing that doesn't get confusing is the comedic writing. You'll have a scene of Goku, Hakkai & Gojou fighting over who gets to drink their water supply when Hoshi empties his bottle on a plant and gets shouted at since that's the only water they had left in the middle of a desert. So Hoshi starts to cry while the rest of the gang try to calm him down by pretending to see a town in the distance. This is the only joke I'm choosing to ruin since it happens after the opening but there are better ones. After reaching a town they encounter Hoshi's former master whose faced with a problem. His daughter is marked as a sacrifice to keep a demon from causing more chaos in their town. Hoshi volunteers to help. Their plans immediately backfires as Goku discovers that Hoshi's former master offered Hoshi up to the demon so his daughter wouldn't be sacrificed. Resulting in Hoshi and the others to be kidnapped. Goku then saves bringing Hoshi's former master and his daughter into the demon's lair and once again, things don't go as planned as the daughter is left behind. Afterwards Hoshi demands why Goku did that. And after a heated argument with Hoshi trusting his former master than his own pupil, Goku leaves, expelled from Hoshi's travelling party. And this is where I start having problems with the show. The next scene is a discussion between Goku and a cook called Rin-Rin which is basically to frame a flashback to when Goku was trapped under a mountain. From where I sat if they didn't include this scene I would think "Well Goku is reckless. He's a danger. It makes sense not to trust him.". But to include this scene something was rattling around in my brain. "Why go through all the trouble of getting someone out of a five hundred year prison, travel with them for god...budda knows how long and yet NOT trust him???" Up to this point the show has portrayed these four pilgrims as brothers, close friends, etc. What I'm saying is that if you're going to travel with someone on a journey that would take years to complete, how could you not trust that person? Hoshi is kidnapped, again, and discovers out Goku WAS right. Goku finally goes to rescue him, in the form of cloud-flying, after a pep talk. And while I say "cloud" I really mean leaf. A giant leaf. To be honest, I like this change. Its different but I think what makes it work is the scene itself. Quick scenes of Goku flying on the leaf created with CGI rather than a figurine. People with CGI knowledge, tell the others how hard it would be to do that? Nice, gentle flying music accompanying it. Its certainly one of the things that keeps audience members intrigued. And while its not as cheesy as Monkey's special effects, its on par with shows like Garo and Kamen Rider......and Super get the idea. Then, a final showdown which pretty much runs exactly like how the episode started, with everything returning normal. But I'll share my thoughts on that later. Trust me, it's going to take me another post to explain that. Oh yes. And after all this, Hoshi tricks Goku to put the headache sutra headband on. A headband that hurts Goku when Hoshi recites a prayer, which I'll remain silent about that prayer because I'll have to put on my Monkey nostalgia glasses on. But I will say that after this whole trust plot has finished and Hoshi has to trick Goku to wear this precaution, seems to scream out "Hoshi doesn't trust Goku as much as you think.". And its one of the biggest slaps to the face. What makes Saiyuuki work is it's comedy and fight choreography. Its visual aspects (costume & set design) however, aren't as impressive. It seems that they were going for a bright and colourful costume set but its overshadowed by the massive amounts of detail they give them and the dullness of most sets. An over detailed costume for the likes of Goku or Gojou seems impractical. And special mention should be given to Monkey Majik, the band who wrote and sung the ending theme forSaiyuuki, further illustrating how much nostalgia the producers are trying to generate. (Around The World - Monkey Majik) The Edge: Neither After seeing the first episodes of both I'm struggling to see who has the edge, the upper hand, etc,Monkey has amazing costumes and the special effects are something that SFX students should study up on. Saiyuuki, on the other hand, has a simplified script (for an 83 minute episode) and amazing fight scenes. So lets just see what the rest of the series (50 episodes of Monkey, 11 episodes and 1 movie forSaiyuuki) has to offer as we continue our  Comparison to the West! ....Didn't think I'd write this much...  
Part two in an awesome community-written feature series!
[Community member Sideshow has been running a fascinating series of C-Blog posts on Journey To The West and its many influences on Japanese pop culture, and such amazing efforts deserve recognition - and promotion! If you've ...

Promoted Blog: Comparison to the West: Introduction

Sep 26 // Sideshow
Journey to the West has been adapted time and time again throughout the years. From films like The Forbidden Kingdom to anime such as Saiyuki as inspiration to characters like say...Goku and sadly Rule 34...a legitimate, can pay to watch rule 34. But in 2006 Japan wanted to spark to nostalgia feel with it's tokusatsu show Saiyuuki. What makes this show worth noting is that it's the successor to the original Monkey. Thats right folks, its a comparison. A Comparison to the West! So, while I get started on my own little journey, look forward to the following blog posts: -The Journey begins (First episode comparion & impression) -A Tale of Two Monkeys (Main Character Analysis of both shows) -Quater point Wishing Staff (1/4 recap) -Halfway there (Should be obvious) -Three quater Nyoi-Bo (3/4 recap) -Journey's End (Final episode and Saikuuki movie comparison/final thoughts) Hang on to your magic clouds and prepare yourself for a Comparison to the West!

[Jtor community member Sideshow had some great insights into anime's adaptation of a classic piece of Asian literature. We can't wait to see the rest of his series, but in the meantime, check out his introduction and GET...


BAMP: Tomopop visits Good Smile Cafe

Jun 03
So, unless you guys are huge jerks and enjoy missing out being kept up-to-date on awesome things, Tomopop is still the bees knees. Aside from making me want to commit crimes to afford expensive pieces of plastic, they also ha...

Review: Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo - Anata to Koibito Tsunagi OVA

Jan 18 // The-Excel
To quote the anime blog Listless Ink, "Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo (その花びらにくちづけを) began as a simple yuri visual novel that features a really light yuri story. It emphasized the soft romance between two girls and quickly became one of a kind in a world dominated by fetishist and heavy materials. It was also the first ecchi visual novel that features purely yuri relationships. Because of its uniqueness, it soon gained widespread popularity not only within the niche, but among many anime fans." While I have yet to find that last sentence to be true anywhere, this contrast is the only reason I pay any attention to this series alone out of all of the hentai out there. Since day one, Fuguriya has prided themselves on deliberately having none of the hentai staples that make animated pornography unbearable in any of their products. In other words, it's exactly the kind of smut I can endorse. It's the exception to the rule, much like most of the things I like. The OVA was announced last September as the first production of the animation studio "chuchu" and like Fuguriya, it was formed for the express purpose of filling the yuri-shaped void in mature animation. And it couldn't have come soon enough.This OVA is loosely based on about 10% of the eroge of the same name, the third in this series. Anata to Koibito Tsunagi follows the relationship between the perpetually cool-headed Mai Sawaguchi and by-the-book tsundere Reo Kawamura. Mai's unending advances toward Reo fuel a tension that comes to a head when Mai misses school due to sickness. Reo visits her home and reveals that she's hopelessly in love with Mai. Thus begin the sexy adventures of one of the most popular yuri couples in recent history. However, if you watch this anime without any background, you likely would never guess any of this. Due to the criminally short runtime of 21 minutes, the animators had to make serious compromises to fit as much of the spirit of the eroge as possible. And for whatever reason, the events of the OVA are backward from the eroge it adapts; here, Reo gets sick and Mai comes to visit. Sure, there are bits of humor and heartfelt romance in the time between the kissing and caressing, but most of the duration is monopolized by the cleanest, most well-animated explicit sex in the history of Japanese animation. Before I continue, allow me to make an aside. After I watched Inception, I noticed a pattern with many of my favorite works. The shows and movies that most effectively hold my attention embrace brevity. Inception used cuts that were kept as short as possible, not repeating or showing anything that did not absolutely have to be seen. I often state that the original Di Gi Charat is my favorite anime of all time for the same reason, having minimal character development that was just enough to fully explain everyone's motivations. Azumanga Daioh, Nanoha, and FLCL are other works that earned my respect by keeping things brief by virtue of episode count (or by segmentation in Azumanga's case). By that pattern, I believe Sono Hana as a whole to represent adult-oriented yuri distilled to its absolute essence, disregarding its own constraints with a school setting. The eroge themselves run only several hours at maximum and can be completed in a single sitting or two. They could be meatier, but their relative lack of weight doesn't work against them. Consequently, due to its length, this OVA is Sono Hana distilled to it's essence, being a sample of what it's about as a whole. It strikes the right balance of story and passion despite its short length by mirroring the flow of the eroge. Everything about this production is lovingly done, from the minute physical reactions to the orchestral music composed for the purpose, though the music does get loud at points. As far as hentai goes, this OVA occupies an interesting rank. It's in a class all its own, literally—reviews for it call it "classy," "pure," "tasteful," "tame" and "art." Some have complained that they were unable to do what they normally do with it. Unusual labels for what is objectively porn, to be sure. This is accomplished by drawing attention away from the mosaic regions and to the faces, which tend to be much more expressive. The sheer emotion on display overshadows any hardcore feel, which is an accomplishment in itself. That people enjoyed it despite that confirms my hope that this OVA is if nothing else a beacon of hope for the future of yuri. It is, in a way, a prot of the ideal yuri hentai: erotic yet clean, with just the right amount of story. Yes, we all know porn has no story, but let's be honest; everything needs some kind of seed to get the affair started, even if it's just how the subjects meet. Koibito Tsunagi does one better by compressing an entire love story and all of its sentimentality into one episode. chuchu proclaims that their specialty is in "high-quality yuri", and there's no denying that they're on a good start.Unfortunately, I find it a little difficult to recommend to someone just looking for a self-sufficient shoujo-ai story. It's in there, but the viewer will need to look elsewhere to fill in the blanks left untouched by this OVA. You could be forgiven for thinking this is an adaptation of a one-shot, but it's a lot deeper than that. If you don't know the plot of the original eroge, you'll see two schoolgirls making out for half an hour when you press Play and not a loose adaptation of a much deeper story. The very first scene is sex in the nurse's office with no context whatsoever. There are bits of flashback in between that retell the start of their relationship and where it's headed, but the juicy bits themselves are joined with frequent jump cuts that can make the entire affair hard to watch for those unfamiliar with the series. The world in this animation also feels empty compared to the source, as Mai and Reo are the only characters in it. We don't even see other students walking out of the school in the first flashback. This reflects how the eroge doesn't show any other characters on-screen, but at least that acknowledged they were there. Here, it's like everyone else on the planet vanished, what with the outdoor shot of the school and absolutely no one else surrounding it. St. Michael's School for Girls isn't even featured as prominently as it should have been, as most of the episode takes place in Reo's bedroom. You could argue that this sharpens the focus on the main characters, but if not for the sheer size of the bedroom, it would have felt even more isolated than it already is. Additionally, if you are familiar with the original eroge, you'll notice almost immediately that a lot of liberties were taken. Particularly, the perspective was switched to Reo's point of view (which was probably for the best) and Mai's personality is entirely different from the one in the eroge (over which some have taken issue). As it stands, it feels more like a 1-episode abridged series or a pilot or even just a one-shot than a coherent product derived from a larger whole (which is exacerbated in the recap over the credits). It's a much better experience if you already know who's who. Therefore, this OVA is not the friendly introduction to the series that I was hoping it would turn out to be. Then again, minimal storytelling didn't hold back the above works, so maybe my knowledge of the series is tainting my opinion on this.The Sono Hana eroge are in a class known as nukige, games built solely to titillate. Superficially, every entry in the series can be summarized as "two schoolgirls do each other over and over." While that isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself for what it is, the only thing that makes it noteworthy is that it's the closest thing yet seen to pure yuri with zero subtext. All of Sono Hana is two girls going further and further with their relationship, nothing more, nothing less. The more respected girls' love stories are known for depth and emotionally charged drama that explores the nature of same-sex relationships. While Sono Hana is known more for its light, saccharine story and untainted ecchi content than any level of substance, it doesn't let that or anything else get in the way of what the audience came for. That's exactly what I think makes it so popular. The fact that there actually is any story to speak of, mostly in the form of character development, helps too. Now that it's been extended to animated form, many more people are now able to experience that for themselves.At Otakon this year, I attended a panel that discussed yaoi and yuri and how the latter "gets no love". More specifically, when it does get love, something always has to ruin it. It can't just be about two girls' romance, there has to be things like contrived love triangles, artificial penises, unrealistic proportions, and kinks that saturate the genre. One attendee reasoned that most hardcore yuri is written by normal hentai writers, so it's formed the same way, dicks and all. However, they concluded that all yuri that goes beyond subtext is doomed to this fate. Fuguriya was apparently sick of this attitude and chose to defy it; for that reason, they enjoy a loyal, albeit sizable, following. They have not only proved that more than a few people out there want clean explicit yuri with a strong emphasis on romance over lust, but they don't mind waiting months to get it. And yet for some reason, only two people at the panel had heard of this series. While it is expected (albeit sad) that what could be considered vanilla hentai is the exception, it doesn't make sense to me that it should be at a premium. I mean, you would think that since so many people think girl on girl is hot, there would be a lot more of it in hentai. But for whatever reason, that isn't the case. And that sucks for me, since I have to enjoy what little I have, just like everything else in my life. With any luck though, the success of this OVA will turn that around in the coming years.Above are the rankings for anime DVD preorders on Getchu on 16 June 2010. As far as I can tell, the OVA shot up to #1 very soon after it was available and stayed there since at least early June until release. Notice the entries below it: shows like Angel Beats!, Bakemonogatari, Seikon no Qwaser, Working!!, and others with more public exposure lose out to it. Granted, this is only one storefront, but it's very telling how a single episode in what is currently a very niche genre has earned this many preorders. The reviews seem to agree with these numbers, with all of them expressing anticipation for the next release from chuchu. There is little doubt that this will see some kind of sequel or expansion into a full series. It's a shame that we had to settle for a side story to the eroge instead of an independent work in the meantime, but you'll still find enjoyment in it if you're looking for a hentai that promises to never to shock you in any way. You'll be too busy going "awww" instead.If you're not against this kind of thing, go watch it. And you will see that even in the field of animated erotic imports, Sturgeon's Law is king. 99% of it is terrible, but the other 1% is more than worth the trouble. The only real problem with this is that it isn't of the couple I wanted. Oh well. Such is life. In conclusion, I waited a year for this and it was totally worth it, if only for a taste of something more to look forward to. Here's hoping that I won't have to wait another year for an announcement of an anime of Tenshi no Hanabira Some.A frame from the sequel to this eroge, Anata wo Suki na Shiawase, rendered by Peko. I wonder what he thought of the Mayoi Neko Overrun! anime.A note of caution: If you choose to pursue the source material, there isn't much in the way of English translations. Only the first eroge has been fully translated, and it's not related to this OVA. However, I can't in good conscious recommend it solely as a link to this anime, because although it isn't bad, it just doesn't represent what the series is best known for as well as everything that followed. Look it up if only to see where it all started. Translations for most of the other eroge are underway, but none of them are anywhere near finished. One of the pairs involves a grade school student hooking up with her teacher, but it is far raunchier than anything Kodomo no Jikan ever attempted, to the point that it spits in the face of that Nonexistent Youth proposition. Avoid anything named Amakute Hoshikute Torokeru Chuu unless you're brave. Also, beware any scene that occurs in a bath.Another note: As noted above, the characterization was altered in the transition to animation. If you want to see how Reo and Mai normally act and you don't want to see the OVA or play the eroge first, watch the Reo/Mai Diaries and you might be surprised at the differences. Incidentally, the entirely work-safe YouTube series gives a better introduction to the characters and the world of Sono Hana without any of the risk. It's formatted like an eroge, so it will probably look awkward if you haven't played any eroge before. The translation adds the interface of one so you can at least tell who's talking. However, as of writing, the translation is ongoing with only three episodes out of ten translated.[Update]The fansub group SHiN-gx announced a decalingual fansub of this OVA in the works. If you speak Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog, Norwegian, or Indonesian, you will soon have little excuse to not give this a chance. I have never seen anyone so dedicated to give a single work so much exposure before. How many anime have been subtited in Indonesian?

[Back in August, The-Excel wrote this massive piece on a yuri work that deserves to be revisited now that we're in full swing of Ero Week. Enjoy, and watch out for some of the NSFW links enclosed. The post itself is fine for ...


Is the Panty and Stocking ending one big trolling?

Jan 05
// KagatoTEG
[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Japanator as a whole, or h...

Japanator Recommends: K-ON! Hokago Live!

Oct 20 // jel x
The core gameplay of Houkago Live! is the same as Project Diva or just about any other music/rhythm game: press the correct button in time with the music while a flashy video plays in the background. Where HL! stands out is it allows you to select which girl (and therefore which instrument) you will play. Similar to Rock Band, that instrument will be mixed to the front with it's own unique note chart. I really appreciated the thought that went into making each instrument unique. The guitar parts only use two buttons but have more complex patterns and combinations to hit. Drums come out fast and relentless with different buttons representing different parts of your kit. Keyboards make use all of the face buttons since there's just more things to push on a keyboard. And in a nod to the fans, the bass primarily uses arrow keys instead of face buttons since, you know, Mio is a lefty.Just about every other feature from Diva makes an appearance in some way. As you would expect, there are plenty of hairstyles and outfits to unlock including many notable ones from the show (except the "Don't Say Lazy" Outfits WTF Sega!?) and I like that there's no point/money/shop system, everything is unlocked directly through gameplay. Help items that make the songs easier (or in some cases harder) return in the form of snacks you receive from the girls after a performance. Even the Edit mode that allows you to create your own videos returns, now called "Sing!". This is where the language can be a real barrier and to be honest I did not get very far with this feature. I do know that unlike Diva you cannot use your own music in this mode, so aspiring AMV directors, you have been warned.One feature that IS new in HL! is Ad Hoc multiplayer. Sadly, I will probably never get to play this since I will never be in the same room with four other people that own a PSP and this game IF I WAS THOUGH we could each play as one of the girls and it would be probably be rad.Of course the real star of any music game is the soundtrack, and this is really going to determine whether you should get this game or not. The soundtrack is all K-ON! all the time. If you don't like the music from the anime then this isn't your game, but yeah, you know that already. I am a big fan of the music from the show, however I was a little disappointed that there is only 19 songs in the game. Granted, each song has 5 unique note charts with 2 difficulties, but even still you end up repeating songs a LOT. Further, all the songs are from Season 1 so if you were hoping to rock out to "No, Thank You" like I was you're going to be disappointed. I understand getting any Season 2 songs was highly unlikely since the game was already in development, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.All that aside, just about every Season 1 era song you would expect is here, including the b-sides from the OP and ED as well as most of the Character Image Song series. Each song has it's own appropriate video and setting and I have to say even with the repetition I was still enjoying myself. The instruments were different enough from each other to keep things interesting, but again, that will greatly depend on how much you enjoy these songs.It is also worth noting how the game re-creates the laid back vibe of K-ON. Much like the anime, there is a lot of eating cake and general fooling around in between playing music. The girls' clubroom acts as a hub of sorts, and while browsing the main menu the girls (in what I can only describe as "nendoroid form") wander in and out and generally do adorable things. Again, similar to Diva, you can give the girls snacks and gifts which will occasionally trigger a mini-cut scene, but it's much more natural and a lot less, well... creepy... than the Diva rooms' "voyeur-cam" angle. This is another area the language can be a barrier since the cut-scene events are obviously all in Japanese, but if you watch the show you can kind of get the gist of what's going on. None of this is essential nor does it intrude on the gameplay, it just creates an atmosphere that is right in line with the show.So to sum it up for those that might be interested in this game: if you are a fan of K-ON! and have a PSP definitely check this out, a lot of attention went in to making a good game that fits right in with the anime. If you are a fan of Project Diva but not necessarily K-ON!, it's worth looking into but the short song list makes it a tough recommendation. If you are just curious about these games and have never played them, I'd recommend checking out Diva first for the wider variety. Overall though, nice job Sega, I look forward to the sequel.

[Hey everyone. Jel-x did the noble deed of reviewing the K-ON!! PSP game so that Tim didn't have to slash his wrists doing so. We're extremely grateful, and want to reward him by putting his story right here on the front page...


Culture Month: Tokaido: Travelling along Japan's most important road.

Aug 24
// Aquagaze
[Aquagaze took a really nice and in-depth look at a documentary series called Tokaido, about recreating Hiroshige's trip from Edo to Kyoto. It's certainly not your typical documentary, and Aquagaze shows you why. -- Brad] You...

Revolutionary Anime: Sexy Commando Gaiden

Jul 16
// TheUndeadFish
[TheUndeadFish's pieceon Sexy Commando Gaiden caught some eyes and highlighted a genre that doesn't get enough credit: the gag series. Many of them are perennial favorites of the staff and the readers, but aren't recognized a...

My first eroge: KIRA☆KIRA

Apr 21 // Jonathan Tubbs
KIRA☆KIRAProducer: OverdriveScenario: Setoguchi RenyaCharacter Design: Katakura ShinjiPublisher: MangaGamerVersion: Uncensored (also available for All Ages)Operating System: Windows XP (32-bit) or abovePrice: €36.95KIRA☆KIRA has you play as Maejima Shikanosuke, student of the Ohbi Gakuen Christian school. Your fellow classmates include the optimistic new student Shiino Kirari, the and childhood friend Isurugi Chie, the gentle Kashiwara Sarina, and the passionate Murakami.After quitting the tennis team and getting dumped by his girlfriend, Shikanosuke becomes a drifter in school with no goal in his life. He is a part of the Second Literary Club at school but never attends it. After meeting the strange new student, Kirari, and attempting to go to the club for the first time, he learns from his childhood friend, Chie, that the club will no longer continue after the school festival.This has no real bearing on Shinosuke until after attending his first live concert with Kirari to see famous, local indie punk band, STAR GENERATION. Kirari is completely taken away by the band and comes up with the idea that the Second Literary Club should do a concert of their own at the school festival to leave a lasting impression for the club's final days. With Shikanosuke agreeing (if you so choose) along with Chie and Sarina to form their very own punk band, the story of this game truly begins.The story is sluggish to get through to the forming of the band part but once you hit that point, it becomes a solid adventure. The more the story progressed, the more and more I became interested in the little band that could and seeing where they would go.GAMEPLAYBeing a visual novel, there are moments where the game will have you make a decision that will cause the story to take a different turn. Most of the time it's an immediate effect on the story, other times you won't know until it's pretty much "game over."Luckily, Overdrive offers 100 save slots to work with so you can go nuts with trying to mark key moments. If you feel like you have made a mistake, the system allows you to load any where at any time. You are also able to name the save files allowing you to note what the save file is about.However, save files will not always be enough to save your butt. Overdrive recognizes this and uses a system that allows you to speed through parts you have already played through to take a new path or in some cases, correct your mistake. The dialogue system also saves what text you have read and what text is new with color coding. Old text is colored in blue while new text is colored in white. If the game comes across any new text in skip mode, it will stop skipping automatically so you don't miss any new story. A very handy feature when trying to find that new path.STORYAs stated above, the story follows bassist Shinanosuke, drummer Chie, guitarist Sarina, and vocalist Kirari as they all work together to put on a performance to have the end of the Second Literary Club go with a bang. That is only the beginning of the story. The band is noticed by STAR GENERATION and using their influence, the Second Literary Club now find themselves going on their very first tour. The band works hard together as they try their best to do everything they possible can without the help of STAR GENERATION. This is also the point where the story can go any way.In the middle of the tour, the story will branch out in three different ways depending on which female lead you are the most affectionate with. Each branch will have a different plot to how the tour comes to an end. This is actually great as it adds a good 4 to 6 hours of gameplay to the story for each female. It's great watching, er, reading how everyone comes together and the ordeals they overcome.Then there is a third part of the story that focuses on the days after the tour and your relationship with which female you have fallen. This is also the part where you and your love will embrace each other finally making the title into an eroge.But the story doesn't end there! After completing the courting plot line, the story continues with an epilogue following the events of what happens after. An amazing way to put closure to the game.Only once did the story ever have me screaming "get on with it!" besides the sluggish opening. A very solid story of having out right silly moments such as the band saying "fuck" to everything; endearing moments such as bond of friendship as everyone comes together after a fellow member cracks during a live performance; and going as far as toying with your emotions with a storyline that will induce tears.VISUALSStunning visuals is all I have to say. As my first eroge, I found myself stopping to explore the artwork for just the backgrounds alone. For a game that runs at a 800 x 600 resolution, I honestly couldn't tell from the detail of the art.The character models consist of the same poses and facial expressions with different clothing depending on the point of the story; a common trait in most games. The character designs are somewhat unique to common anime styles which was one of the drawing points for me to own this game. Get use to the these cut-ins as that is what you will be seeing often. Which is no problem for me.There are key moments in the game that will feature special CG art work of the characters to add emphasis on the story. During concerts, the game will make use of wipes, fades and various color effects to give life and animation to the still frames used. I was impressed and it drew me in.AUDIOThe score to this game brought so many types of emotion with just guitars. I loved every bit of it and wish I could own it on CD. The melodies would have a upbeat pop rock sound for moments of having a great time with your friends, a slow, rough sound, and gentle, classical style for tenderness. It was a wide gamut of types with guitars and I applaud Milktub for their excellent work. Check out these samples below to see what I mean: (I had a hell of a time choosing just three!)Sample 1 | Sample 2 | Sample 3The Second Literary Club band is suppose to be a punk band but one will have to question what Overdrive considers "punk" as the vocal tracks from the band sounded nothing like punk music. It is definitely a catchy J-Pop Rock style which is not bad.Speaking of vocals, the voice actors did a great job with their roles. Kirari (Nakamura Tomoko) grained the eardrums at first but I got use to her soon after as I got to know her character. Chie (Mizusawa Kei) hit all the sweet spots as she was average and I like average. Sarina (Kojima Megumi) is soft and sweet which compliments her innocent character. I absolutely loved Murakami for his teddy bear personality that his voice actor brought to life. There were only a few side characters that annoyed me but, overall, superb work from the cast.OTHER NOTESThere was one flaw that popped up repeatedly throughout the game and that was very poor grammar and spelling from the translated script. I'm not sure if this is something common from MangaGamer but it was enough to irk me time and time again. Oddly enough, I eventually got use to it and began to overlook it as I continued playing. I enjoyed the story so much that I was willing to ignore these issues.On completion of the very first scenario, the game will open an Extras section at the title screen allowing you to view a gallery of the game's CG, playback music from the various bands (including band covers!), and replay the intimate moments. It's actually fun to look through and note what you are missing, making it more worthwhile to go back and play the other possible paths. Well, if you are a completist.CONCLUSIONThe whole reason I blindly picked up this game was because of official art work I aimlessly came across of Kirari. Funny thing is I ended up liking Chie's character when deciding who to go with first. Outside of affection, I loved the entire cast involved in the story. Everyone is likable from the writing, the illustrations, to the voice actors doing a wonderful job in making them come to life. The visuals are gorgeous and the score from Milktub completes everything about this game.As my very first visual novel, I am greatly satisfied and highly recommend this title to everyone. And for those who are not too keen on the adult situations, MangaGamer has an All Ages version available. This version removes all adult scenes which, in all honesty, weren't really vital to the story to begin with.As a rising band story, I'll go as far as saying that this is way better than K-On! In fact, I really wish KIRA☆KIRA was an anime. Apparently there's a manga which I will now have to hunt down. So, again, this visual novel is a must get. Now my only concern is that this game has set the bar too high for other visual novels.Available now at MangaGamer for Windows XP (32-bit) and above:Uncensored Adult version - €36.95All Ages version - €29.95

[Jonathan Tubbs, who you might recognize from our sister site, has taken the plunge into the world of ero-ge with Kira Kira and shared his thoughts with us. He certainly goes in-depth and answers just about any qu...


"The Case for K-ON!" The Unsung Hero of K-ON!

Apr 08
// Lifesong
[Editors Note: This is a promoted Community Blog, written by one of our readers in response to April's Monthly Musing topic. If you would like to see your own Cblog on the front page, warm up your keyboard and ...

Gainax announces "A Certain Patriotic Reagan"

Apr 01
// Tokyogetter
[This is a promoted Americanator Community Blog, written by one of our readers. If you would like to see your own Cblog on the front page, warm up your keyboard and write something patriotic! ~Reverend J.D. Thompson...

A Few Thoughts On...Cardcaptor Sakura

Mar 28
// Dragonzigg
[This is a promoted Community Blog, written by one of our readers. If you would like to see your own Cblog on the front page, warm up your keyboard and write something awesome! ~Jon Snyder]  Cardcaptor Saku...

Does new anime suck? Quantifying the Qualitative

Mar 27
// AQua ng
Editors Note: This is a promoted Community Blog, written by one of our readers in response to March's Monthly Musing topic. If you would like to see your own Cblog on the front page, warm up your keyboard and w...

Does New Anime Suck...? Maybe there's just more to hate?

Mar 20
// SourGr8pes
[Editors Note: This is a promoted Community Blog, written by one of our readers in response to March's Monthly Musing topic. If you would like to see your own Cblog on the front page, warm up your keyboard and ...

Fanservice: Exactly what the hell is it?

Mar 18
[Editors Note: Let's take a breather from debating about moe, shall we? This is a promoted Community Blog, written by one of our readers. If you would like to see your own Cblog on the front page, warm up your keyboard a...

The Moe Menace: A Matter of Degrees

Mar 17
// Bacon5200
[Editors Note: This is a promoted Community Blog, written by one of our readers. If you would like to see your own Cblog on the front page, warm up your keyboard and write something awesome! ~Jon Snyder]  All r...

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