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First Impressions: Space Patrol Luluco

Apr 29 // Salvador GRodiles
With a limited timeframe of five to six minutes (not counting the show's opening and ending), each episode of Luluco seems to end right when the segment is about to reach its peak. One moment, our Main Heroine Luluco joins the space patrol to raise money to free her dad from a frozen state, which eventually led to her busting her first criminal. Then things end before we reach that huge bang that gives the segment a proper closure or cliffhanger ending— other than Luluco pointing out that the segment is over. Even though there’s nothing wrong with the show’s premise, every other episode lacked the sparks that piece everything together. In most cases, the audience barely has enough time to take things in. Perhaps the issue with Luluco is that Imaishi’s direction with the show doesn’t work for a five to six-minute format since TRIGGER’s previous shorts felt more complete, such as Inferno Cop. Then again, Imaishi’s direction with the 14th Japan Animator Expo short, “SEX and VIOLENCE with MACHSPEED,” showed us that he could handle a short so it might be that Imaishi and Akira Amemiya don't make a great combo— especially when you compare their collaboration to Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima working on a project together, such as KILL la KILL. Despite the pacing issues with Luluco’s running time, the folks at TRIGGER delivered nicely in the animation and art department. A good chunk of the show’s sequences show off some ridiculous levels of perspective to each character that moves on screen. Then again, this style is a thing that Imaishi and most of the veterans who came from Gainax apply to their animations so it’s something that we can expect from their major projects. To an extent, it reaches a similar level of randomness present in Gainax’s titles like FLCL. Combined with the simplistic array of colors spread across the cast's designs, Luluco’s presentation is one of the best things that the show has to offer. The title’s Panty & Stocking-like look matches the silly tone that the series is going for. I mean, we have alien Street Sharks-like characters and Over Justice, a guy who’s basically Inferno Cop with Kamina’s shades! The show's presentation has a ton of personality and it looks like TRIGGER just wants to use them to mess around while they have fun with their project. If there's another thing that Luluco has going for, it's the relationship between Luluco, Nova and Midori. The idea of pairing up a guy who wants to shoot everything in sight and a girl who was in charge of a criminal organization with a girl who only wants to save her dad worked nicely on TRIGGER’s side, as their interaction made way for some great jokes, such as storyboard joke during the fourth episode's launching sequence and the build-up to Luluco's reaction to the mission. While Luluco’s short length holds the series back a bit, the animation and cast still manage to hold the show together. With the way how the series is going, it might be a show that’s better to watch in one sitting than one that should be seen weekly. However, the next episode might be the one that’ll cause the anime to reach a new level since the newest character has a major connection to Luluco. After all, we just started season two so we can expect TRIGGER to hit us with a huge surprise. [You can Gun Morphing with Space Patrol Luluco at Crunchyroll.]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
There's not enough time for justice
Whenever a show presents itself as a short, it’s important for the staff to establish a beginning, middle and end in the piece. If it’s a comedy, then the jokes have to be properly established so that the viewers ...

We brain-dove Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online, and came back with answers

Apr 28 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]34881:5504:0[/embed] 1.) With the Stand Alone Complex subtitle, First Assault Online seems to be related to the Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex TV series. Does the game take place during a specific moment in the show's timeline, or its premise related to events in the show?   The game is inspired by the Stand Alone Complex TV series, but when we were watching the series, we were particularly excited by Episode 24 of Season One, in which Section 9 is forced to take on an opposing Special Ops team to clear their names. The episode really made us imagine what it would be like to fight together as a perfectly synchronized team like Section 9, which is what helped us decide to bring it to life in a team-based shooter. 2.) Players can choose which member of Section 9 to play as during a match, each of whom has a special ability or trait (like Thermoptic Camo for the Major). How did the team decide which special abilities to assign to which character? Were there disagreements?     We worked very closely with the anime creators and discussed what skills would match each character from the original anime. In result, the currently designed skills are in line with the original characters. We also designed these to add more excitement within the FPS game. We plan to consider these also when we design more skills in the future. Another part that we'll also consider is player feedback. We are all open to the players thoughts and would love to hear any great ideas.   3.) On menu screens and in-the game, players can view clips from the Stand Alone Complex anime series. Are there plans to add ways for player to view whole episodes or acquire the series to view on their own?   As we chose to make the game an FPS, we found that it was not easy to to deliver the feel of the original anime. Making the game an FPS might have been slightly easier, but we were most confident in making a FPS game and put our efforts into melting the original anime within our game.  We used these short cuts to give the fans something close to the anime and also make other players interested in the Ghost in the Shell story making the game more enjoyable.   4.) More recent works in the Ghost in the Shell universe have concentrated on Arise, a series set earlier in Motoko's career. Are there plans to add content related to the Arise series to the game?   We believe that both SAC and ARISE are great series. We think that more recent fans would be more familiar with ARISE and previous fans would be more familiar with SAC. If we have the chance, we would definitely like to add contents related to the ARISE series. We'll have to see what we can discuss with the anime creators. [Check out more of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online for free this weekend on Steam!] [embed]34881:5504:0[/embed]
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A 'major' incursion
A team-based multiplayer shooter isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a Ghost in the Shell video game - the first thing is a Basset Hound simulator. But after that, Nexon and Neoples have done a p...

What Would You Do? The Death of Goku

Apr 27 // Lindo Korchi
Unlike most of the, What Would You Do? scenarios that have been published to date, this one is really difficult. In my mind, I'd be placed in a dark place, consumed by negative emotions and thoughts; unable to rationalize in a logical way or perceive my situation in a clear perception. It won't be a good place. As much as I don't want to admit this, I'd have to rely on my family and friends to get by. I don't like the concept of relying on people 100% of the time as I think people should always have a backup. However, I'd say critical times are the exception. And thus, this would be it. But I don't like that either. It's as if my destiny is temporarily given to someone else to decide. Here's why: due to my ego leading to my father's death, I won't be me anymore. I'd have to rely on my inner circle to help restore the broken pieces. If not, then how much hope would I really have? While it's true that no matter the cause, I'm still in control of my life, decisions, and bare responsibility for myself. But that doesn't eliminate the unstable state of mind that I'm placed in. This is why we hear stories of people who've gone through devastating times in their lives who've stated that they wouldn't have made it through without their family. There's a reason for that. [embed]34978:5576:0[/embed] It's devastating events, like this, that temporarily remove logical control from a person to a degree, which can lead, and has led, to dark places. Thus, I'd focus on having a circle of individuals who truly care for me, so that if such an event happens, I can trust that they will help me through the journey. If not, I'll endure the long journey on my own and try to make it through, but the risk of making mistakes and losing myself increases. And I don't want that. In the end, people need people, no matter how "strong" or "independent" we think we might be. It's good to keep in mind. My question to you: what would you do?
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Step Four: Think Deep
[Ed. Note: What Would You Do? is a new column run by our newest contributor Lindo Korchi, examining popular scenarios from anime to develop a proper plan of action (or inaction) for any situation.] When it comes to the Drag...

First Impressions: Ace Attorney

Apr 24 // Christian Chiok
The series began just like the very first case of the game began—showing off the murder and the culprit. Right off the bat, it already felt rushed and not as dramatic as the game. Afterward, the series introduces Ryuuichi Naruhodou, or rather Phoenix Wright for us English fans, riding his bike heading to his first case ever. While not part of the game, I liked this scene since it’s a common way to introduce the main character of a series.  Then we are introduced to “The First Turnabout,” also known as the tutorial case of the first game. The anime took a less dramatic approach by having a less intense background song during the introduction of the case. Not using the original game soundtrack, and well as using rearranged versions of some of the iconic tracks was definitely something many fans of the series, including myself, found bothersome. It made things feel less authentic. I know some people hate when they use CGI on anime but I personally thought that they pull it off well when they introduced the court. While many fans are complaining that the art style of the series doesn’t match the game, I personally have no complains with it. I do think that the art style is less serious than the game, but it doesn’t take away from the series. Then are introduced to Masashi Yahari, also known as Larry Butz, who is the accused of this case, childhood friend of Phoenix Wright, and the reason why Phoenix Wright became a defense attorney. While the first case does indeed reveal that Larry is the reason Phoenix became an attorney, the series did get a bit ahead of itself showing scenes of what is supposed to appear in latter cases. During the testimony cross-examination sequences, I really like the formats that they are using, but going back to the soundtrack issue, the lack of the original songs such as the famous testimony and cross-examination tracks from the game was disappointing and took away its identity. I did like that they added one of the wrong answers he usually says though. I thought it was a nice touch, especially with this being the first case. Being that the first case/tutorial case was actually short in the game, I felt like it was nicely adapted into the first episode, naturally any longer would have been highly unnecessary. Some stuff felt highly unnecessary like when the witness was pointing his finger at Phoenix, air emitted out of the witness’ hand this pushing down Phoenix, as well as Phoenix’s “Objection! scene, which the same thing again but this time with the witness, blowing his wig off his head. Nevertheless, that scene was great. Starting from the adaptation of the second case, “Turnabout Sisters,” is where the series felt a bit underwhelming since It feels a bit rushed. Starting from Episode 2, we got the main gist of it, such as the crime and the main dialogue with the involved characters.  What makes it feel rushed is that some of the extra details were excluded, which gives a better understanding of the overall case. Both Episode 3 and Episode 4 cover the main gist of the case—the two trials and the interaction with key characters of the case. Cross-examinations and testimonies felt rushed, and even a witness was removed. Things just happened too fast and it feels 25% of this case was removed. I did enjoy when Phoenix Wright was asking multiple questions to the witness though, something very common in the games to squeeze out more information. So far the series is a bit underwhelming, but enjoyable nonetheless. I just feel that it shouldn’t been rushed. If you aren’t familiar with the games, you can still watch it as it could be enjoyable but you aren’t getting the full set. 
Ace Attorney photo
Rushed & Underwhelming Trials
Growing up as handheld gamer during my middle school days, I played many games on the DS including the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. What made Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney more interesting than your average Visual Nove...


Strong Style: One match, One belt!

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

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 2

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

Review: Project X Zone 2

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

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

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

Review: Trillion: God of Destruction

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

Strong Style: Osaka ass-kicking time!

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

Week Ender - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

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

First Impressions: Kabaneri of The Iron Fortress

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

Review: Nights of Azure

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

First Impressions: Haifuri

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

OP Up! - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

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

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

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

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

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

Strong Style: Back for more!

Apr 09 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted this week by "Mr. Charisma" Katsuyori Shibata! Tetsuya Naito/Tomoaki Honma vs. The Bullet Club (Back Luck Fale/Yujiro Takahashi) This is an odd one. The Bullet Club enters with a cute girl on Takahashi's arm. Jim Ross makes a Rick Rude and Ric Flair reference with these two guys in the ring. I swear I can hear the spinning from Rude's grave as he says that. Honma comes out for his team. "Honma is a unique guy"- Jim Ross. As he gets in the ring The Club attack as Naito just kinda hangs back and lets it happen. Yep, Naito heel turn coming. The bell rings with Yujiro beating on Honma, who hasn't even got his coat off. Naito doesn't seem to really care as he dicks around at ringside. Yujiro tries for a suplex but Honma gets him over instead and takes off the jacket. He tries for a tag and Naito again doesn't care. Honma tries for the headbutt and Fale runs him over like a truck. Yujiro takes back over with some punches and the crowd starts in with the Honma chant. Whip into the corner as Fale comes in and kicks and punches  before going for the corner charge but misses. Honma goes for the tag and gets nothing. Fale slams Honma hard but the pin only gets two. Fale goes for the bad luck fall but Honma wiggles out and lands some clotheslines to Fale and it takes three shots off the ropes to take him down. Naito finally tags in and lands a low dropkick and takes both guys down before he just sits in the ring a bit before decided to hop up top and hits a diving moonsault on the Club outside the ring. Back from break, as Naito is sitting in the ring, looking bored. Fale climbs back in and Naito hit Fale with a dropkick and then a low dropkick to the knee. Naito then locks in the figure-four and the crowd in booing. Fale gets into the ropes and breaks. Fale gets up and flattens Naito with a clothesline before tagging in Takahashi. Naito comes off the ropes and hits a flying forearm. Honma wants the tag and Naito doesn't do it so he tags himself in and gets some running shots in before being taken down. He ends up fighting off both guys as Naito is outside the ring looking bored again. Fale lands a massive clothesline and Yujiro tries a pin but fails. Yujiro gets a gut wrench up but topples over with Honma landing on Yujiro's head. Honma hits a running headbutt but only gets two . Yujiro and Honma exchange hits before Honma hits a headbutt and then a slam before climbing up for the kokeshi headbutt and he LANDS IT! Honma gets the win! Naito just walks away. Honma wants him back in the ring but Naito gets in and walks right back out again. Backstage Naito rambles a bit before if the reporter remembers the name of his "team" of Los Ingobernables (we'll see more of that soon enough).  Honma wonders what was he thinking. NEVER Openweight Title: Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii Here we go again! These guys have a long history going back 6 or 7 years when Ishii turned on Makabe when Global Bash Heel broke up to form CHAOS. Recently they've been feuding over the title and damn near killing each other every time. By the way, before this one starts, as I was putting this  together I found this picture: I don't know the context or where this picture is from, but I can't stop laughing and also I'm now hungry for pastry and fruit. Togi seems the same. Can we make this a meme? ANYWAY "Are you in the mood for a slobberknocker?" - Jim Ross. If there ever was an appropriate time for THAT question, this would be it. Ishii comes out and we get a "Killer" Karl Kox reference out of JR. Stare down right at the start. Hard lock up now. Ishii has the lock up before running off the ropes and running OVER Makabe with a clothesline. Screw that "feeling out process" garbage! Togi rolls right out of the ring as Ishii climbs up the rope?!? He JUMPS OFF THE TOP ROPE with a cannonball and clips Makabe right in the shoulder! DAMN! Togi rolls into the ring but he's in pain. Ishii starts with chops and headbutts as he puts Togi down, But Makabe is back up but Ishii lands more chops to send him down again. Ishii gets Togi over with a suplex. Ishii lands a few headbutts but Togi gets up again and lands a forearm. He rebounds back and Togi gets a powerslam. Ishii tossed into the corner where Togi lands the punches to the head and a northern lights suplex for 2. Makabe pops him right in the head. Ishii lands a forearm and then goes to works with chops and strikes right to the center of the chest. Ishii then gets a powerslam in but again only gets 2. Togi is asking for a strike now and it's only pissing him off. Togi strikes right to Ishii's head and now they are swinging strikes at each other. Right to head! Ishii lands a hit to the jaw but goes off the ropes and runs right into a clothesline. Double strike and both guys go down. Ishii gets up and lands the running low clothesline on a sitting Togi. Ishii strikes him again but BARELY gets only two. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Makabe knees him in the head to counter. Togi picks him up and snake eyes right to the face. He locks in the full nelson and gets the dragon suplex but only gets 2 again. Togi gets another clothesline and then hits another to the back of Ishii's head. That will shorten your career. Togi runs him over a third time but Ishii throws a strike to Togi's neck. They trade strikes to the neck and Makabe ends up the better and Ishii is hurt now. Togi picks him up and hits a series of clotheslines and Ishii is out. The doctor is checking on him but Togi yells at the old fart and then Togi picks Ishii up on the ropes and hits the spider German suplex as he climbs the ropes with the King Kong knee drop and gets the win! We get words from Shibata now. Sakuraba was the one who brought him there and how they started as a team but began to focus on himself more. He started to like pro wrestling more and feels Sakuraba wasn't expecting that. Osaka Jo is where he had his first match after training with Sakuraba so it is only fair that the match happens here. He got motivated after Sakuraba defeated him last time they met. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba: The story here is that Sakuraba trained Shibata in MMA and they had a match against each other in PRIDE back in 2007. They were partners when Shibata returned to NJPW but Shibata has gone on his own way. Sakuraba comes out wearing that weird mask of his. It's like a kabuki mask with horns on it. I liked his EVA entrance better. Josh talks about their MMA match in 2007 in PRIDE fighting. Shibata oddly takes him time coming out but pops up and deadpan walks his way to the ring. He walks right up to Sakuraba and glares at him. Back from break, as the match begins. Circling to begin before going into the wristlock, Double body hug into the ropes. Shibata with a smack in the back on the break. With a trade of some kicks before they go down to the mat and Sakuraba goes for the armlock. Shibata counters out and we go back up. Shibata goes for the full nelson and then for a penalty kick but Sakuraba escapes that. Both go out but Sakuraba right gets in and attacks with kicks on Shibata. Shibata gets him in the corner and goes for the running knee but Sakuraba follows him in with a strike and then a choke, Shibata throws Sakuraba down and growls at him before landing a running kick. Strikes sends Sakuraba down before Shibata gets a hanging dropkick to the face and then another one! Shibata lands a knee strike and then does some goofy kicks to Sakuraba's head. He kicks Sakuraba in the chest and then stomps on the heads in the ropes. Sakuraba leaps right up and gets into Shibata's face before landing some knee strikes and then kneeing him into the corner! He strips the pad off his foot and lands some strong kicks right into the chest and Shibata BEGS him to give him more! Finally, he gets enough and falls over. Sakuraba lands a strong knee strike and Shibata is outside the ring. Sakuraba LAUNCHES himself over the top to Shibata on the outside! Talk about uncharacteristic. He didn't learn that from PRIDE. Back from break, as both are outside the ring. Sakuraba rolls back in and Shibata crawls into the ring . He jumps up and nails Sakuraba with a running knee and sends Sakuraba down. He goes for a leg lock but Sakuraba grabs and ankle lock before transitioning to a rear chinlock and into a sleeper. Sakuraba goes and wrenches back on BOTH arms and Shibata had to get the rope break with his teeth. Sakuraba breaks and then gets hit with a clothesline for his trouble. Sakuraba scrambles and gets a rolling pin for two but he grabs and armlock while using his own shinbone to choke Shibata. That's neat! Shibata gets to the rope Sakuraba gets up and lands some kicks on Shibata and then goes for a wristlock again. They get up and into the ropes where Shibata shoos him off but he goes right back to it. Shibata lands a suplex and a big kick He picks Sakuraba up for something but Sakuraba gets a rear choke into the sleeper and Katsuyori fights out of it! Sakuraba goes for the kick and Shibata slaps him in the face before locking into his own sleeper. Sakuraba counters with an armlock but Shibata lands some knees and locks in the rear sleeper again. Shibata shoots off the ropes and DRILLS a penalty kick onto Sakuraba and gets the win! As Sakuraba is nearly unconcious in the ring, Shibata calmly walks out of the ring, up the ramp and turns, making a small bow. Backstage Shibata says that Sakuraba is as tough as he always was and that this was a big day for him in Osaka. He says the bow after the match means he respects Sakuraba for all he has done. He hopes Sakuraba gets a better taste of today's wrestling. Studio words as Shibata thinks Sakuraba was having fun during the match and even used a plancha during the match to show how much he got into it. I can't imagine getting your face kicked as being fun but whatever, right? We get some wrap-up and end it for the week. This was a fun one with three big matches and they were all good. Even with the storyline of Naito turning heelish in the tag match it still was a good showing and kinda cool that Honma bassically won the thing on his own. Next week we have Shibata's buddy Hirooki goto and Shinsuke Nakamura in what is sure to be a rip-snortah (to quote Michael Chavello) and more! See you then! /ul/34929-strong-style-back-for-more-/Match 1-noscale.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Makabe and Ishii have more fun
Hello Hello, fans and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at new Japan Pro wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are back at the Osaka-Jo Hall looking at the Dominion card from 2015. This week's matches are a bit of a ...

What Would You Do? Becoming a Ghoul

Apr 08 // Lindo Korchi
Becoming a ghoul....well, that's something different. Due to realizing I'll live an entirely distinct life from my peers, I'd panic. But one of the main concerns that come to mind is food. That's when the shocker will really begin to set in. I'm telling you, in all honesty, if I'd go to the local small shops to have some baozi, dumplings, or fried rice and I despised the food, I'd suggest you run away. You'll definitely hear vocals at a whole new level as I sink into falsetto exclaiming, “NOOOO!!” While I can easily make this post dedicated to the food challenges, along with how it'll drive me crazy, it's best to just move on. At the end of the day, I have to live with my current reality. I have to find a way to discover the positive aspects of my new life and, fortunately, I've found a few. I'd bravely enter the mountains, jungle, or forest and simply live life to the extreme. As a human, I'm unable to do such. I can't just walk up to either of these three places and say “bring it”, I'd eventually die within a matter of weeks – and that's at best. The possibilities of being devoured by a bear, bitten by a snake, constantly living in fear, and starving to death are very real scenarios. Very. Real. But as a ghoul, that's not the case. If a bear tries to devour me, it's going to be a sad day for the bear. I'm x amount of times stronger and faster than the average human and can easily wipe him out – making the bear my meal. If a snake attempts to bite me, I'd literally laugh. I got bitten by Rize Kamishiro and survived, there's no way a snake's bite can bring me down. With the knowledge, strength, and confidence that I have to be able to survive on my own, the notion of living in fear won't exist. [embed]34918:5545:0[/embed] I can live a peaceful, free, and adventurous life in the mountains, jungle and forest. I won't have to deal with the problems of government, society, or daily drama. Nor the nuisance of consuming processed food as all my supplements will be raw, natural, and healthy. I can survive on my own, provide myself some sort of shelter, hunt my own food, and explore without many limits. The only time I'd really go to the city would be to catch a plane to another country and explore its nature and wild side of life -- and I'll fit in just fine. Speaking of, I'd likely hit up Aokigahara in Japan to check out the territory and its mystique atmosphere. Maybe that's when fear will begin to creep in. Interesting indeed. Now putting that aside, what would you do in such a situation? [Image credits courtesy: Umibe] [embed]34918:5545:0[/embed]
What Would You Do? photo
Step Three: Take it Slow
[Ed. Note: What Would You Do? is a new column run by our newest contributor Lindo Korchi, examining popular scenarios from anime to develop a proper plan of action (or inaction) for any situation.] Previously, we had to con...

Strong Style: No Foolin'

Apr 02 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Hiroshi Tanahashi IWGP Jr. Tag Title: Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice vs. Reddragon These three teams lock horns again for these belts because they are pretty much the entire Jr. Tag team division.  JR makes note this is the first time NJPW has been in this arena in 21 years. We have truncated entrances. The Bucks have Cody Hall with them and are the champions coming into this match. We start with Matt Jackson and Beretta and JR mentions both guys are wearing headbands and how that would have driven Bill Watts bonkers back in the day. Listening to the story of Ol' Cowboy Bill and biscuits, that doesn't surprise me. Kyle tags in and gets a headlock on Baretta and the Bucks interfere but the men in the ring send them out to the floor. Rocky tags in and get some kicks on Kyle before landing a senton for a 2 count. Fish comes in but Matt Jackson tags him out quick. Matt tries something on Rocky, but Rocky pops him right in the mouth. Matt tries to tag out but Reddragon leaves him inside. Rocky then goes ballistic with his corner clotheslines. The Bucks bail and try to leave, but Reddragon stops them at ringside, only to have Vice dive over the ropes and nail them. The Jackson go back out and superkick both men of Vice on the ramp abut Rocky makes it before 20. The Jackson's then land double kicks from the ring and a dive from Matt takes out all four opponents. Back from break as Barretta is going to town on everyone. He takes out both Jacksons and then hits a swinging DDT on Fish. The Jacksons hit each other on the ring apron and the Vice hits a double team on one of the Jacksons. Back in the ring, Rocky goes off with his clotheslines again on both Reddragon. Rocky hits a diving dropkick on Nick Jackson who is hanging on the ropes and nearly gets a pin. Bobby Fish gets hit by both Vice members before Kyle comes in and takes them both out. Rocky up top but Reddragon takes him down with double kick. Fish hits a top rope falcon arrow and tries for the pin but it's broken up. Fish tries a heel hook on Romero, but both Jacksons dive in from the top to break things up. Nick hits the running cannonball and a senton but only gets two count. They go for the buckle bomb kick combo. The Bucks set Romero up for a top rope suplex but Beretta throws one of the Bucks into a suplex but he rolls threw it. O' Reilly goes for the tombstone and the Bucks land kicks on Romero who is then dropped on his head, then kick Kyle too. The Bucks land the More bang for your buck to win the match to retain the titles. Backstage the Bucks toot their own horn and say they are the main event no matter what match on the card they are on. They bring prestige to the titles or so they say. IWGP Tag Titles: The Kingdom vs. The Bullet Club Revenge match time as Anderson and Gallows look to get their titles back. The last time we saw these two team Karl Anderson said he was DONE with Maria. We will see about that loverboy. The Club comes out first with Amber in their corner. "Hi Maria!"- Karl Anderson. Oh lord Kingdom comes out and the hentai camera guy is already at it again. We jump in with all four men go right at it. Karl goes out and Kingdom goes to work on Doc. Punches and dropkicks before a clothesline sends Doc out and then a Kingdom dive sends them both down. We go with Taven and Doc in the ring with Taven landing the springboard kick to the mush. Gallows saves the pin but that only leads to the Kingdom working over Anderson more. They work over Doc before going back to Karl who is looking at Maria and gets his ass kicked for it. The Club then work over Taven with kicks and punches but doesn't get the pin. Anderson hits an F5 and nearly gets the pin but he is looking at Maria. Count gets two. Maria climbs up on the apron and screams at Anderson but he is still drooling. Doc comes in and what he says he is going to do to Maria is not repeatable. Maria jumps down as Karl starts after her and she runs right into Amber who drops her. She climbs into the ring where the Bullet Club is waiting for her. She then proceeds to kick both of them in the balls. Back to Anderson and Taven before Bennett comes on and nearly gets the pin. We skip ahead now as Kingdom goes for a spike piledriver but Amber stops with a trip. Maria jumps up to protest but Doc KICKS HER IN THE HEAD. Bennett is PISSED but Doc and Anderson double up on him before hitting the magic killer for the pin as the Bullet Club win back the titles! We see another look at Doc kicking Maria right in the side of the head and then showing her laid out on the floor. In the studio now as Tanahashi said it was excited to be in the Osaka-Jo Hall. He is mad that because of Yano he is not in the main event at this arena and Okada is. Yano is a strong guy and has a strong grip in his matches Hiroshi admits. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano As we saw here a number of weeks back, this stems from the first round of the New Japan cup where Yano scored a major upset and pinned Tanahashi. Since then they've met in some tag matches and Tanahashi scored a win over Yano the last time we saw them face each other. Yano comes out with a handful of DVDS a chair and a bottle of water. Fitting this guy is in the main event of the April Fool's episode.  Josh pretty much said Yano was a pain in the ass during his training days and followed comics as much as wrestlers. Hiroshi comes out playing air guitar. He also has a bandage on the side of his head. That probably hurt. We are back as action starts. Yano avoids the lock up and hangs on the ropes screaming at the ref. Hiroshi misses a clothesline and Yano tries to get into the ropes to protect himself but Hiroshi slides out of the ring and grabs Yano's feet, straggling Yano in the ropes. Hiroshi then opens up with elbows and forearms. Yano goes for the hair pull pin again but Tanahashi kicks out. Yano gets whipped into the ropes but holds on. He goes right for the buckle pad but we see Tanahashi doing the same thing in the opposite corner! Hiroshi grabs hold of Yano and tries to send him into the buckle but Toru stops short. Tanahashi charges and he runs right into the buckle. Yano hits a leg sweep and sends Hiroshi outside the ring and into the barricade. Hiroshi reveres a whip sending Yano into the barrier, but in the follow-up charge, Hiroshi goes over the barrier and slams his head on the floor. Yano grabs Tanahashi and drags him into the audience and starts beating on him. Yano bolts back into the ring as Hiroshi struggles to get up as the count is going. He just makes it in the ring right before the 20 count. He gets met with a kick to the head. Tanahashi gets up and is met with an eye rake before Yano sends him into the bare buckle again. Tanahashi goes to the apron and Yano strangles him on the ropes before putting his fingers up Tanahashi's nose. Yano tries another whip into the buckle but Tanahashi reverses it. He hits a flying forearm on Yano but only gets two. Tanahashi hits a sweet elbow strike combo but Yano kicks him in the guts to stop that. Tanahashi grabs Yano by the hair and goes for the cradle pin but it only gets two. Yano back up tries to throw Tanahashi over the top rope but he skins the cat Steamboat style and gets a full nelson on Yano who tries for the rope. Hiroshi switches to a waistlock and then lands a German suplex. Hiroshi goes up top but Yano shoves the ref into the ropes sending Tanahashi down on the buckle. Yano grabs Hiro and lands a powerbomb into a cover. We return from commercial with both guys are just getting up. Hiroshi goes for the charge but Yano pulls the ref in and he gets squashed. Yano somehow gets a chair and waffles Hiroshi with it. Hiro recovers and hits the slingblade before heading up. He hits the high fly flow but Yano covers himself with the chair and Tanahashi rolls off in pain. Tanahashi gets up and goes for a dropkick but Yano catches him and slingshots him into the bare buckle AGAIN. He then hits a powerbomb right onto the CHAIR. Can't feel good. Pin only gets two though. Yano tries for a cradle but Tanahashi blocks it. Tanahashi is sent into the metal buckle AGAIN before Yano grabs a handful of tights for a 2 count. Yano kicks low for another failed pin attempt. Hiroshi had enough of this and kicks Yano right in the balls but can't get the pin either! Back up, Tanahashi hits a rolling neckbreaker. He then hits the slingblade clothesline before he heads up and hits the high fly flow! He gets the pin and Revenge is sweet!  Tanahashi is holding his balls but he is celebrating while Yano is rolled out of the ring. Backstage Tanahashi he gives credit to Yano. He says that Yano is talented in strange ways. Tanahashi is disappointed he's not in the main event. In the studio, he talks about being revived by this match and being ready for the G1 climax with this win and we head out for the week!   A mixed bag this week. Honestly, the 3-way tag match didn't feature anything that these teams don't already do in EVERY MATCH they do. It was alright if a bit predictable. The Tag match was better than that god awful mixed match they had. The Main event was good so the show isn't bad, but not out of the park either. Next week we take another look at Dominion with Sakuraba taking on Shibata! See you all then! IWGP Tag Titles: The Kingdom vs. The Bullet Club Revenge match time as Anderson and Gallows look to get their titles back. The last time we saw these two team Karl Anderson said he was DONE with Maria. We will see about that loverboy.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Starring Toru Yano of course!
Hello again you motley crew of April fools and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. While most wrestling fans have their eyes to Texas this weekend for Wrestlemania, we turn our eyes...

JapanaHow: How to unite with your waifu

Apr 01 // Salvador GRodiles
The most important thing to take into account during this process is that your waifu only exists in the second dimension. Since we fall into the category of disgusting 3D beings, the first step is to create a version of ourselves that could live in the anime and/or manga world. But wait, how does a real person accomplish this task? Well, the easiest way is to have yourself immortalized into a doujin manga where you and the lucky 2D girl end up hooking up in a glorious relationship that transcends all life in the entire freaking universe. If you lack the talent to create this scenario, then you can always hire a skilled artist to cover this step. To those who lack the money to pay someone to do this, you can always hold the person hostage and force them to create the award-winning romantic tale about you and your waifu. Sure, this option is illegal, but it's very important for someone to do what they can for the sake of true love. Another option is that you can believe in the you who believes in you until your hand subconsciously draws the scene in the style that’s similar to your waifu’s creator/parent. However, this might make it hard for you to capture the right lines and forms that give your girl the beautiful appearance that you adore. Since my art skills are a bit below average, I won’t be able to provide you all with the proper steps to create the right illustrations that’ll do justice to your waifu's best assets. If your comic speaks out your true feelings, then your waifu will materialize in front of you, as she gives you a huge kiss for your hard work. This will result in the two of you embracing each other so hard that she shall be immortalized on your body. Luckily, this form is temporary so your 2D beloved shall get her privacy when she needs it. If you want to summon her again, then you can activate this mode with a special figure that captures her true beauty. Best of all, it’ll come with a mecha musume feature that lets her become a weapon. That way, you can defend yourself before you call her to your side. For those who aren’t happy with this process, the next segment involves jumping into the nearest rocket or spaceship you can find, so you can head into space. Once you’re there, you’ll likely encounter a mysterious destructive alien force that’ll kill you while it’s on its course to Earth. Depending on how close you are to your waifu, there’s a chance that she’ll unite with you, which will result in your resurrection— as long as you have faith in her. Of course, the catch in this method is that you have to transform into your beloved so that you can save the Earth from large monsters and giant space invaders. On top of that, your waifu's soul will reside in your body, which might make most folks sad since they won't get to embrace her physically. For the last method, I guess you could always open up a detective agency with your waifu. When the time to apprehend the culprit arrives, you two could use your matching belts to merge into a hero that has the two of you controlling both halves. Before I forget, the only place where you can get these belts is in a suspicious building that's located in any city that resembles Chicago. Like with the first step, you’ll have to get her to join the physical plane; otherwise, you won’t be able to turn her into your special partner. With all said and done, I bet all of you're wondering why my methods involve teaming up with your waifu to become a single entity. Well, the truth of the matter is that both parties need a strong motive to strengthen the bond between a 3D person and a 2D individual. One of the biggest factors that can push someone to achieve this goal is to battle a group of evildoers who intend to ruin the world that blesses us with the privilege to interact with our one true love (a.k.a. our beloved waifu). [image by makacoon]
JapanaHow photo
Never doubt the power of 2D
Whenever things get rough, you can always count on your waifu to help you out of any rough situation. Whether you’re trying to escape from a large ruin or about to face defeat against a powerful opponent, these 2D ladie...

JapanaHow: Tips for Bathing Your Catgirl

Apr 01 // Josh Tolentino
1.) Assess your Catgirl's needs Every Catgirl or Catboy is different, and this goes for grooming as much as personality. Before beginning the bath, ask yourself a few questions: Is your Catgirl a human with cat ears or a human-shaped cat? What type of coat do they have? Is their fur confined to the head and scalp or does it extend downward into a set of clothing-like strips on the body (also known as the "Felicia" cut)? The answers to those questions can influence everything from the type and quantitiy of shampoo called for to the need to use soap or other human-targeted bathing tools. 2.) Make your Catgirl want to bathe This step may be difficult, and will depend on your Catgirl's personality, as well as your relationship to your Catgirl. Playful Catgirls may be happy to take a bath with you, and in cases where you are your Catgirl's master (or they your maid), they may be obliged to follow your commands. More adventurous or headstrong Catgirls may need more cajoling, or even a bit of trickery to get into the bathing state of mind. Try placing favored treats, precious gems, or high-level equipment in the bathing area to attract them to the location. 3.) Do not ambush your Catgirl This is important. Catgirls, like cats, have keen senses and a hunting instinct, and can become violent if shocked or cornered. It is unlikely that a mere human would be able to take them by surprise. Furthermore, ambushing a Catgirl, even with the best of intentions, can be interpreted by authorities as harassment, coercion, or even assault . A Catgirl's consent is required before any bathing takes place.  4.) Comfort your Catgirl when it's over This can be a fun and engaging activity for both of you. Catgirls may be cold after bathing, and will likely want to stay warm as they dry out. Pet or stroke your Catgirl gently (within the limits of the law), and be rewarded by appreciative mewling or cooing. [Special thanks to WikiHow, Sketcher2007, Kedama, Mako Tatekawa, and Hisashi Kawata]
JapanaHow photo
No need for a cat-astrophe
Hello, and welcome to JapanaHow, our new semi-regular How-To column covering the basics of life once you've Made Anime Real.  If you're one of the growing number of people who've Made Anime Real, you may find yourself th...

Franchises That Would Be Great With PlayStation VR

Apr 01 // Christian Chiok
Here’s a list of games that will be fantastic via PlayStation VR: Senran Kagura: I mean, the game has both Asuka and Yumi, the most waifu material compared to many characters from any franchise. If you read my Senran Kagura: Estival Versus review, you already know that the game features a Dressing Room where it allows you to play the 2D grils as you wish. Instead of rubbing your hands on the PS Vita screen, just imagine yourself actually grabbing them. Granted, you’re probably still grabbing air but since you can see yourself virtually grabbing them it would be a lot better, right? With PlayStation VR, being in Katsuragi's place will be reality.  Dead or Alive: Probably a lot more realistic than the former since the characters aren’t animu grils. With the release of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, just imagine how great that game would be with PlayStation VR? Never again will you have to go outside since you will be able to do many things with them, such as playing Volleyball, or perhaps take them on a date. Being able to watch my waifu Honoka playing in the beach as I was with her will finally become reality. PlayStation VR will make RL grils irrelevant and will show the world how that vidya/2D grils is the true answer to happiness.  Free!: Who says PlayStation VR can only be enjoyed by men? I personally never watched Free! since it has too many naked men for my taste, but I’m pretty sure the ladies love it. I don’t think the series never has any video games so this would be the perfect opportunity to makes its debut. I mean, the series has a lot of naked men and bromance—which women love, I think. If you're a guy that enjoys Free!, which obviously is fine, you'll be able to experience the splash with your bros as well, as the GIF shows. Obviously there’s also the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, which are going to be compatible with PC gaming. With PC being an open platform and even Steam allowing all types of games, just imagine all the types of games we can enjoy, considering there isn’t an age restriction when it comes to PC games. Websites like J-List, which specialize in adult products will sure benefit from it. I mean, they already have products that will almost let you experience the real thing. How better would it be if you can visualize it? It is obvious that VR technology will take over the world, and probably lead us to extinction since it is perfectly obvious that 2D people will triumph over 3D people. For once taking care of a 2d people, whether it’s a waifu or husubando, takes a lot less effort, and secondly, they will be under your total control. 
PlayStation VR photo
A Dimension Closer To 2D Girls
Ever since Sony unveiled the pricing and the release date for the PlayStation VR, many PlayStation fans were excited about this upcoming piece of technology. I mean, just imagine the entire possibilities of lewd games that we...

HOW TO MAKE ANIME REAL

Apr 01 // Red Veron
ANIME photo
SECRET NINJA ARTS
[Editor's note: We deeply apologize for this unauthorized post. An unknown individual identifying himself as "DJ DarkShadowEdge789" broke into our offices and made this post and video. We will keep this post up for evidence.] DJ DARKSHADOWEDGE HERE WITH A SPECIAL ABOUT TO MAKE ANIME REAL FOR YOU WATCH MY VIDEO PLEASE

Christian's Top 5 Games of All Time

Apr 01 // Christian Chiok
5. Dragon Ball Z Sagas Easily the best Dragon Ball Z game of all time, even above old classics like Dragon Ball Z: The Legend, Budokai 3, Tenkaichi 3 and the recently released Xenoverse. There’s so much depth in this game that it puts many games like Devil May Cry to shame. Additionally, the graphics were fantastic that it could have been released in the following console generation. Personally, it looks a lot better than Burst Limit. 4. Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles (& 2) These games were so great that I didn’t even finish them. During the first couple of minutes into the game, I realized that this game was too great for a pleb like me, and I should probably stick to crappy games like the Narultimate or the Gekitou Ninja Taisen series. The game adapted the Naruto series perfectly, as we know it’s the best anime of all time. 3. Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles Probably the best game Takara Tomy ever made, even above Gekitou Ninja Taisen 4. The story craps all over the original Naruto series, which is the best anime ever made as I stated above. Not to mention that the game was released on the best and most powerful system of the seventh generation, the Wii, meaning that it’s graphics were fantastic, looking better than most games on PS3 and Xbox 360. 2. Dragon Ball Final Bout I take it back. This is the best Dragon Ball game of all time. I remember being the cool kid that played this game while all of my pleb friends played The Legend. The game is EVO material and it craps on games like Street Fighter. I mean, have you seen all the high-play videos of this game? The voice acting was amazing too. It's definitely the best Dragon Ball games forever. 1.  Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo Hajike Festival It was only obvious that this gem should be my Top Anime game of all time. As a matter of fact, this game is my favorite game of all time period. The depth this game has is too much for our unintelligent minds. There’s so much that you can do in this game that it puts free roaming games like Grand Theft Auto V to shame. I mean who wouldn’t want to just walk forward and press buttons and do nothing else? So yeah, this concludes my Top Anime Games of all time. Now that you learned it, you probably feel ashamed of yourself. Hopefully, you learned a lesson here and realized you need to up your taste and try these fantastic games. 
Top 5 photo
The Best Anime Games of All Time
Since I made a Top Anime and Top Video Games of 2015 earlier this year, I thought that it would be a great idea to share my favorite Anime/Japanese games of all time. I take much pride of my list and I figure that the world needs to know how glorious it is, and that my taste in video games is better than anyone else. With no further delay, here are my Top Anime/Japanese games of all time.

Japanator's Spring 2016 Anime Preview Guide!

Apr 01 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]34850:5522:0[/embed] Mayoiga Studio: Diomedea Broadcasting: April 1, 2016  Mayoiga might be a dark horse of this spring, and not just because original anime productions tend to be the dark horses in these adaptation-dominated days. For one, it's got some notable talent behind it, including Tsutomu Mizushima, director of my two favorite anime of the last two years (Girls und Panzer and Shirobako), and Mari Okada, the popular but divisive screenwriter of Ano Hana and Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Second, this story of people visiting a mysterious, uninhabited village after signing up to a weird bus tour is an actual crowdfunding success. The anime industry has met with mixed results from its flirtations with crowdfunding campaigns, but this is one of the few times a full-featured seasonal series has made it onto the airwaves.   [embed]34850:5523:0[/embed] JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Studio: David Productions Broadcasting: April 1, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Need I say more? It's JoJo's! The next step in David Production's lengthy plan to adapt all the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga continues into the roaring '90s, starring a new fellow named Josuke Higashikata. Diamond Is Unbreakable is a wide favorite among JoJo's fans, even beyond the better-known Stardust Crusaders. I myself will admit that I haven't read the original manga version, so Josuke's small-town Stand-wielding adventures will be new to me.   [embed]34850:5524:0[/embed] Terra Formars: Revenge Studio: Liden Films Broadcasting: April 2, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) I never quite cottoned onto Terra Formars, despite its tonal similarities to the parts of Attack on Titan that I liked. That said, it did turn out to be an alright, properly absurd edgy battle show, one whose other positive qualities ultimately outweighed the super racist-looking designs on the Martian roach-men. Perhaps the fans saw past that as well, because if certain rumors are true, it's due to the show's solid performance on foreign streaming services like Crunchyroll that Terra Formars is getting a new season at all. As for me, I'm looking forward to the ways they plan to weaponize obscure insects and animals in a recreation of a modern-day, Japanese take on the old Visionaries cartoon.   [embed]34850:5525:0[/embed] Ace Attorney Studio: A-1 Studios Broadcasting: April 2, 2016 Ace Attorney or Gyakuten Saiban, as it's known in Japan, is perhaps the greatest evidence both for and against the practice of localization, i.e. adapting content to suit the culture and language it's being sold to. I love the Ace Attorney games. They're are all pretty well-written and practically ooze character and charm. The problem is is that this anime is called Gyakuten Saiban. I'm attached to some schlub lawyer named "Phoenix Wright" and his pals "Mia Fey" and her sister "Maya Fey". I don't know "Ryuuichi Naruhodou" and his friends. Still, stories are stories, so we can hope that it carries over well enough,   [embed]34850:5526:0[/embed] Macross Delta Studio: Satelight Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 Wow, has it really been seven years since Macross Frontier? I would've thought they'd be less content to sit on it the way they have, considering that every year brings a new Gundam or two, but here we are. I've actually been avoiding contact with Macross Delta and its new story of mysterious diseases that can only be cured by the power of song, Valkyrie-piloting idol groups, knightly Valkyrie orders. Still, based on the lengthy previews available online, things are looking up.   [embed]34850:5527:0[/embed] Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear Studio: Kinema Citrus Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 This one isn't quite another Polar Bear Cafe; The miko in question isn't the bear, but a human named Machi, tending to the shrine where the bear, Natsu, is worshipped. The twist here is where the bear is the worldly one: Machi's a complete bumpkin with no knowledge of the modern world, and Natsu's great bear knowledge includes the vagaries of society, technology, and rice cookers. Kinema Citrus is on a roll of sorts with the warm family comedies after Barakamon, and they may be playing to their strengths with this show.   [embed]34850:5528:0[/embed] Joker Game Studio: Production I.G.  Broadcasting: April 5, 2016 (Broadcasting on Crunchyroll) Japan doesn't have the best track record for exploring its imperial period, but recent stories like Night Raid 1931 and portions of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu have been braver about exploring this more modern, more divisive period. Joker Game, an espionage-themed mystery thriller set just before Japan joined World War II, appears to be taking after Night Raid 1931 in its tone and premise. With a Ghost in the Shell director onboard, we could be looking at a cool, historical take on Standalone Complex, or at least Arise.    [embed]34850:5529:0[/embed] Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Studio: White Fox Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) A young Japanese high school student living an ordinary life gets dropped into a strange and unfamiliar world. Sound like seemingly every light novel adaptation ever made? You wouldn't be wrong, but Re:ZERO's twist will either make or break the show: Time rewinding. Ordinary high-schooler Natsuki Subaru returns to the moment he arrived in the other world whenever he gets killed, remembering everything that happened up to that point. It's more All You Need Is Kill/Edge of Tomorrow and Groundhog Day rather than ERASED or Steins;Gate, and while that storm of names obviously means the gimmick isn't nearly as novel as it could be, some solid direction and writing could make the show sing in a way most others in its genre don't.   [embed]34850:5530:0[/embed] Kiznaiver Studio: Trigger Broadcasting: April 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Some of the luster may have come off of the Trigger brand since the cute-but-forgettable When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace and the divisive Ninja Slayer, but the studio's still around, and still has a ton of talent. As for the story itself, I find its central idea of a weird system that links people together by having them share their wounds on a physical level seems a bit on the nose as a way of securing world peace. But hey, we don't have that in real life, and the world's definitely not at peace, so what do I know?   [embed]34850:5531:0[/embed] Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto Studio: Studio DEEN Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 (Streaming via Hulu) Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto has one joke, and it's that the titular Sakamoto is the best. The best at what, you ask? Everything. He's just super awesome at everything he does and seems to know it. That's a problem when the premise anchors something serious like Sword Art Online (ha!) but it's golden when it's the core of a gag show. Already in the trailer I'm seeing it as something like Mahouka through the lens of Cromartie High School or Tonari no Seki-kun.  Studio DEEN has been on a hot streak lately with arguably the best show of last season and solid comedies like Konosuba, so let's hope they can continue the trend.   [embed]34850:5532:0[/embed] Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Studio: Wit Studio Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 A lot of fans were disappointed when it was announced that the next season of Attack on Titan would be delayed to give time for the manga to build up more material. This new project from Studio Wit and the Attack on Titan team feels like them trying to fill that void. I'm not even being facetious: Kabaneri looks like an off-brand Attack on Titan, set more in a steampunk early-Meiji-period Japan (called "Hinomoto") than a quasi-European countryside. Mankind lives in walled cities called Stations and travels in ironclad armored steam trains to escape the threat of giant, iron-skinned zombie-men called Kabane. Sound familiar? I thought so.  That's not necessarily a problem, though. The animation looks good, the character designs pleasantly retro, and to be frank the Attack on Titan template is far from completely exhausted. Besides, I wasn't that hot on Attack on Titan myself, so having Wit try their hand at something original in that vein might be a good way to see just where my problems with it lie.   [embed]34850:5533:0[/embed] My Hero Academia Studio: Bones Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 (Streaming via FUNimation) Now here's the hype monster. My Hero Academia is the big Shonen JUMP hit of its time, and excitement to see BONES - a studio known for top-shelf animation - adapt the manga has been through the roof. I'll admit that I have yet to read a chapter of the thing despite having a subscription to JUMP, but as a reader of western superhero comics, the premise has me intrigued. On the surface, it's bog-standard "earnest boy protagonist" stuff, but seeing Midoriya strive to become a hero as the only unpowered boy in a school full of superpowered kids ought to be engaging. And the presentation is up there with some of BONE's best.   [embed]34850:5534:0[/embed] Bakuon!! Studio: TMS Entertainment Broadcasting: April 4, 2016 "Cute girls riding motorcycles" would be the quickest way to describe Bakuon!!, and...well, I'm having difficulty saying much more than that. To its credit, though, I am getting a sort of Girls und Panzer vibe from it, in that the show (or its trailers, at least) seems to understand that "cute girls" and [insert subject matter] are equal parts of the whole when it comes to making widely entertaining moe, rather than simple fodder for otaku. Not even a favorite moe show of mine, K-ON!, truly understood that.   [embed]34850:5535:0[/embed] Bungo Stray Dogs  Studio: Bones  Broadcasting: April 6, 2016 Osamu Dazai. Doppo Kunikida. If you know those two names, but don't know anything about Bungo Stray Dogs,  then congratulations: You're more familiar with Japanese literature than most outsiders, or are capable of using Wikipedia.  In any case, Bungo is more than just a nickname frustrated Destiny players use for their developer of choice, but also the key to understanding this mystery detective show. The names above are code names, drawn from the history of literature, and the people bearing those names have powers apparently related to the works of those authors. It's like having a guy in your squad named Chuck Palahniuk who suffers from a split personality and is really good at beating people up and not talking about it. If nothing else, Bones appears to be aiming to make this one its marquee production, putting director Takuya Igarashi on it. Among other things he helmed Star Driver and Captain Earth, two shows that were very pretty, if not always narratively satisfying.    [embed]34850:5536:0[/embed] Kuromukuro Studio: P.A. Works Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 Given that P.A. Works made its name on personal, often high-school-based fantasy soaps, you'd think they'd spend their 15th Anniversary making one of those. I can't say I'm unhappy to see that they're instead making what looks to be a samurai mecha anime.  Kuromukuro's premise is fairly standard for the times, in which a time-lost samurai gets transported to an alternate 2016 in which mecha are standard equipment in life and industry. What's less standard is the involvement Tensai Okamura, director of Darker Than BLACK and writing staff that had a hand in Moribito.
Spring 2016 Anime Preview photo
New blooms, new shows!
It may be April 1st today, but it's also the start of the Spring Anime Preview, which means that folks can have fun with boisterous humor and anticipation for the latest in Japanese cartoon goodness. This is Japanator's Spring 2016 Anime Preview Guide! Head on below for a roundup of the most notable anime series of the quarter, and tell us in the comments about what you're planning to watch!

Final Impressions: Haruchika: Haruta and Chika

Mar 29 // Soul Tsukino
After getting through all of the episodes, though, I feel like this show didn't quite deliver on its potential. Now don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this show. It's cute, knows when to put in some adorable humor along with serious topics, and had some compelling characters. But its execution and delivery were uneven and seems like it was being held back from it only being 12 episodes.  Breaking things down, you have GREAT episodes like the first four episodes, but then you had some weird episodes like Naoko's aunt's weird story and the episode with Motoko and the piano. The Miyo episode about the Rubix cube and her dead brother laid out a great mystery and have good clues leading up to the ending, same with Naoko's debut episode, while you had some episodes mysteries just come out of nowhere and not make much sense, like they were tacked on to have a mystery for the episode like the dog mystery. I liked the characters that are in this show. Chika shines as the star here. She has a Usagi Tsukino like quality of being in way over her head, but still does the best she can for her friends, even if she doesn't have a clue what is going on half the time. Haruta makes a good foil for her as the smart person that seems to figure things out quicker than anyone else and keeping Chika from getting too out there and hopefully on target.  But the problem lies with the other characters. Miyo, Muren, Akari, Naoko, and Kaiyuu all had time devoted to them to introduce them but then were immediately put in the background. Only Naoko got any more focus on her once she was introduced. Meanwhile, you had the club president and the Twins sitting there the whole time and never got much of character development or inclusion at all. They had to have motivations to be there as well. I'm not sure if the books delve into these characters anymore, but I felt disappointed they didn't get time of their own on the show. Visually This show is great. I love the animation style and even when the show had it's more "anime" moments it didn't get too cartoony with its art style. The multicolored eyes helped set this show apart for more as it makes the characters seem more alive and full of spirit for me. Great work. In the end, it feels like a show trapped by its short length and even its concept. I think with a full 26 episodes and scaling back on the mysteries this show could be a great slice of life show. Give it space to explain more into the characters and their motivations. Give stories time to play out without having to cram everything into such a short time. And showing us more of Chika, Haruta, and the others doing silly things outside of some convoluted mystery that ends up not amounting to much in the end. But for all its flaws, it's still a cute and enjoyable show.   After getting through all of the episodes, though, I feel like this show didn't quite deliver on it's potential.   Now don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this show. It's cute, knows when to put in some adorable humor along with serious topics, and had some compelling characters. But it's execution and delivery was uneven and seems like it was being held back from it only being 12 episodes. Breaking things down, you have GREAT episodes like the first four episodes, but then you had some weird episodes like Naoko's aunts weird story and the episode with Mokoto and the piano. The Miyo episode about the rubix cube and her dead brother laid out a great mystery and have good clues leading up to the ending, same with Naoko's debut episode, while you had some episodes mysteries just come out of nowhere and not make much since, like they were tacked on to have a mystery for the episode.   I liked the characters that are in this show. Chika shines as the star here. She has a Usagi Tsukino like quality of being in way over her head, but still does the best she can for her friends, even if she doesn't have a clue what is going on half the time. Haruta makes a good foil for her as the smart person that seems to figure things out quicker than anyone else and keeping Chika from getting to out there and hopefully on target. But the problem lies with the other characters. Miyo, Muren, Akari, Naoko, and Kaiyuu all had time devoted to them to introduce them, but then were immediately put in the background. Only Naoko got any more focus on her once she was introduced. Meanwhile you had the club president and the Twins sitting there the whole time and never got much of character development or inclusion at all. They had to have motivations to be there as well. I'm not sure if the books delve into these characters any more, but I felt disappointed they didn't get time of their own on the show.   Visually This show is great. I love the animation style and even when the show had it's more "anime" moments it didn't get to cartoony with it's art style. The multicolored eyes helped set this show apart for more as it makes the characters seem more alive and full of spirit for me. Great work.   In the end it feels like a show trapped by it's short length and even it's concept. I think with a full 26 episodes and scaling back on the mysteries this show could be a great slice of life show. Give it space to explain more into the characters and their motivations. Give stories time to play out without having to cram everything into such a short time. Ad showing us more of Chika, Haruta, and the others doing silly things outside of some convoluted mystery that ends up not amounting to much in the end. But for all it's flaws, it's still a cute and enjoyable show.
Haruchika photo
The story of love, music, and mysteries
What an interesting trip Haruchika has been. The concept of two reunited childhood friends trying to save a school club by solving mysteries was an interesting one from the start and a good hook. The fact that it was based on...

Senran Kagura Estival Versus: PS4 vs. PS Vita Comparison Video

Mar 28 // Christian Chiok
With the power of the PlayStation 4, fans can now experience the franchise in smooth 60 frames per second and crispy 1080p with great graphics.  Luckily, the PS Vita version doesn't fall too far behind. While cutscenes and stages may look less defined, it still manages to hold it's own and looks a little and performs better than the previous entry Shinovi Versus. As for performance differences, the PS Vita version loads levels a lot slower compared to the PS4 version, which jumps right ahead into the action. Additionally, the PS Vita version uses the system's features such as it's touch screen and gyro sensors, giving you a better experience when messing with the characters in the Dressing Room.  Check out the differences between the PS4 and PS Vita versions below: [embed]34893:5515:0[/embed]
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Console vs. Handheld Comparison
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is the first game in the franchise that makes it's way into consoles. Originally, the series was handheld-exclusive, with it's previous titles being on available on both the 3DS and the Vita, even counting other spin-offs like Senran Kagura Bon Appétit!

Review: Senran Kagura Estival Versus

Mar 28 // Christian Chiok
[embed]34893:5514:0[/embed] Senran Kagura: Estival Versus (PS4 [Reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: TamsoftPublisher: Marvelous EntertainmentReleased: March 26, 2015 (JP), March 15, 2016 (EU), March 18, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $59.99 Unlike the previous game which had a more serious tone, which involved the destruction of schools via the Shinobi Battle Royale, the ancient tradition amongst numerous Shinobi schools whereby every 50 years, the five elite students of each school will do battle, this time around the franchise took a more amicable turn, showing all the characters getting along, at least during the beginning. This time around, Hanzo Academy, Gessen Academy, Hebijo Academy and Homura’s Crimson Squad were brought to the Kagura Millennium Festival, an event hosted by Master Sayuri, the Mikagura sisters, and Ryoki, which took place in a world where our characters reunited with their dead loved ones. This time around the game offers a unified story instead of separating it per school. Learning from Shinovi Versus, I didn’t expect the story to be amazing this time around either, as a matter of fact, I appreciated that it didn’t take itself too seriously during the beginning, especially since it took place in a beach most of the time. However, during the second half of the story, the game took a more serious approach, showing character progression, and story progression, where we learn why this event was hosted in the first place. Just like any of the previous games, alongside the main story, you will be able to play the character’s individual story (Shinobi Girl's Heart) which stirs away from the main story. Depending on who you are playing as, their story could either be comical or dramatic. Overall each story is highly entertaining and adds many hours of action to the game.   Unlike the other games though, in Estival Versus, you got to unlock the character’s Shinobi Girl's Heart, probably because they contain spoilers. While that’s reasonable, I really that it gave you that freedom to play the game in whatever order you wanted. In Shinovi Versus, I wanted to get invested with the characters first before proceeding to the main story. Unfortunately, most of the stages feel repetitive as you're basically revising every stage in most chapters. The only difference would be the main boss you're facing at the end of the stage. If I wasn't really invested in the story, the game would be rather boring. The Shinobi Dojo returns, allowing you to play with other friends locally via ad-hoc or via online. You will be able to play free-for-all or Team Battle in various game modes such as Point Battle, Understorm, Capture the Bra, Shinobi Survival, Walker Battle, and Shinobi Deathmatch. The only difference between the PS Vita and PS4 is that the former lets you play up to four players while the PS4 version allows you to play up to 10 players. Naturally, the more the merrier, so the PS4 version is the way to go with this mode. With the power of the PlayStation 4, the game’s visuals have heavily improved, even on the PS Vita version. The characters model look a lot closer to an anime series, allowing you appreciate their beauty a lot more. Gameplay-wise the game shares similarities to the Musou genre, which consists of beating multiple enemies on the field and leveling up your character while doing it. Just like Shinovi Versus, Estival Versus is NOT a Musou, but a 3D beat’em up instead. You’ll have two attack buttons, normal and strong attacks, which can be used to execute powerful combos as you level up. Just like the other games, you will be able to perform a Shinobi Transformation, allowing you to each girl's true shinobi form and allows for powerful special attacks called "Secret Ninja Arts." These special attacks deal massive damage and have a wider range than normal attacks. You may also use Frantic Mode, which in addition to using Secret Ninja Arts, it makes you more powerful, but it weakens your defense. You can also block and parry attacks when blocking timely. While there might be a feeling of repetitiveness, the game does a really good job at making you feel like a badass, especially with a powerful and completely leveled up character (especially if they are wielding a cool weapon). One of the major improvements is the lock-on feature which now allows you to control the camera while still being locked on. In the previous game, locking on into your enemy limited your camera control by having the angle fixed into your locked on opponent, making you vulnerable to other enemies. However, even with the lock on feature, sometimes your attack doesn't go directly to your enemy, thus ending your combo.  Stages will now have Bombs hidden inside creates. Each Bomb will have a different effect, such as poisoning or electrocuting your enemy, making you invisible or even summon a Puppet, which is technically a robot that deals a great amount of damage. Naturally with the game running on PS4 as well, you will be able to enjoy the smoothness of 60 frames per second. Even the PS Vita version of Estival Versus has improved a little bit from the previous entry as it definitely feels a bit smoother as well. It wouldn’t be Senran Kagura without its perverted moments.  Naturally, the game allows players to customize the characters’ apparel, including their normal attire and their Shinobi and Frantic Mode attire. An improvement from the first game is that you can also customize their hair’s color, offering five options of different colors. Additionally, you can equip extra accessories such as tails, glasses, gloves and more. A lot of the clothing options are exotic and really bring out the character’s outer beauty. However, the customization menu also allows you to fully view the character models from multiple angles, and it includes a “perverted” mini game, if that’s what you can call it, that allows you to harass the character in any way that you wish. The PS Vita works similarly to Shinovi Versus and Bon Appétit, where it uses the system’s PlayStation Vita’s features such as its touch screen, back screen, microphone, and gyro sensors. However, in the PS4 version, you will have to use the PS4 controller, which works similarly as putting any of the previous game on the PlayStation TV. Personally, I prefer this minigame on the PS Vita version, as it is more natural. There’s also a Diorama feature, allowing you to control the girls by putting them in any pose that you wish, change the condition of their clothing, as well as their expression. You may also change the background and add any type of visual effect to it. It is obvious that the Senran Kagura franchise is aimed to a selective audience, but that obviously doesn’t make it a bad game. Estival Versus offers improved gameplay mechanics alongside an improved multiplayer mode that adds replay value to the game.  The game has a galore breast and panty shots shown during gameplay in the most comedic way, but beneath all that, it’s fun title that fans of niche Japanese games or Anime-style games should get. So if you own a PS4 or a PS Vita, then you should pick up the game.  Check out a comparison video between the PS4 and PS Vita versions here.
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The Path to Become a Strong Shinobi
After a year from its Japanese release, Senran Kagura Estival Versus made its way outside of Japan, making PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita owners very happy. This game is sequel to Shinovi Versus, so if you played it then ...

Annotated Anime: Haruchika: Haruta & Chika episodes 11 & 12

Mar 27 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 11 We pick up a little bit after the first round of the competition from the last episode. The Brass Band club has made it through City and prefectural competition and is now at the regional Class B competition level. Good for them! As the club is waiting for practice they are met with a strange woman. After Naoko finds that the piano they have to practice with is out of tune, this woman, named Motoko, challenges Naoko to make something beautiful even after finding out the piano isn't up to snuff. She then pulls out a musicaa (a reed instrument with a keyboard on it, pay attention to the opening of this song and you will see what it is) and plays. It turns out this woman has a link to Mr. Kusakabe, making Haruta jealous immediately. She's the granddaughter of his music teacher. We find out there is a mystery surrounding a piano that belonged to her grandfather and that she was the only one told about the key to its keyboard. The "mystery" here isn't nearly as heavy as some of the others have been. Eventually, they find the answer to the key but comes completely out of left field with little clues leading to it. But this episode seemed more than just the mystery as  Motoko and Naoko form a weird bond that you only find out the true depth of until nearly the end of the show. To be honest I'm not quite sure what this episode was trying to accomplish. We do find out some more of Mr. Kusakabe's past in this, and that he wasn't always the nice kind hearted teacher he is to the Brass band club, but at the same time, that information seemed like an aside. Not a terrible episode, but probably not the best-written episode. The resolution comes out of nowhere with no hint of where things were going and the point of the episode is a muddled and not quite clear. Let's hope the finale is more on point. Episode 12 The finals of the competition are next week so everyone is nervous. However, something pops up that makes Haruta and Chika panic as it looks like Mr. Kusakabe may be leaving them.  The episode opens right up with the class advisoer meeting with two men. With his snooping we find out that Mr. Kusakabe is being offered a conductorship for a big orchestra again. Haruta, of course, is devastated ad Chika isn't thrilled either., but they keep the secret to themselves. However, Haruta wants to tell Mr. Kusakabe how he feels before the teacher leaves. This leads the two kids to follow him. The mystery they solve is the big one. You find out why Mr. Kusakabe ditched his conductorship that has been an underlying theme of the entire show. You don't get any specifics, but you get enough to know why he did what he did. No dramatic reveals or clues or anything, but the ongoing mystery is solved. The show then runs the credits but there is still a third of the show left. We see everyone pcking up and going to the regional contest and we see them play. It's a really touching moment in the series as you see POeople in the crowd calling back to previous episodes and harkens back to the past episodes. Miyo's parents are there holding a picture of her and her brother together, Muren's parents are there, Naoko and her aunt are there, the reporter and Matoko are there too. After that, we find out the results. Not going to spoil it, but we also find out Mr. Kusakabe's decision as well as Naoko's feeling as well. If you followed the series up until now, this part of the episode is the most emotional of the entire series. Whatever they were lacking up until this point in the episode, the after credits scenes more than makeup for. It's not the best series finale I've seen. Heck, I don't even think it's the best episode of this series, but at the same time it's not terrible and it does wrap things up without being nightmarish bad like the Magikano ending or something similar. Its pacing is a little weird. Heck, I'd have put all the stuff with Mr. Kusakabe in the last episode with Motoko and I think it would have played out better, but for what was giving, it was all right. We pick up a little bit after the first round of the competition from the last episode. The Brass Band club has made it through City and prefectural competition and is now at the regional Class B competition level. Good for them!   As the club is waiting for practice they are met with a strange woman. After Naoko finds that the piano they have to practice with is out of tune, this woman, named Motoko, challenges Naoko to make something beautiful even after finding out the piano isn't up to snuff. She then pulls out a musicaa (A reed instrument with a keyboard on it, pay attention to the opening of this song and you will se what it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB1Q-PfUvN0)   It turns out this woman has a link to Mr. Kusakabe, making Haruta jealous immediately. She's the granddaughter of his music teacher. We find out there is a mystery surrounding a piano that belonged to her grandfather and that she was the only one told about the key to its keyboard.   The "mystery" here isn't nearly as heavy as some of the others have been. Eventually they find the answer to the key, but comes completely out of left field with little clues leading to it. But this episode seemed more than just the mystery as  Motoko and Naoko form a weird bond that you only find out the true depth of until nearly the end of the show.   To be honest I'm not quite sure what this episode was trying to accomplish. We do find out some more of Mr. Kusakabe's past in this, and that he wasn't always the nice kind hearted teacher he is to the Brass band club, but at the same time that information seemed like an aside.   Not a terrible episode, but probably not the best written episode. The resolution comes out of nowhere with no hint of wear things were going and the point of the episode is a muddled and not quite clear. Let's hope the finale is more on point.
Haruchika photo
The end of the song
We've come to the end of the line for Haruchika as we look at the last two episodes of the short series. How will things end and what mysteries will get solved. Let's take a look.


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