If your life has been lacking in sugar sweet pop idols, as well as chilling doses of horror and/or murder, a recent announcement by Hulu might be the one magic bullet to take down both your problems.
Indeed, the streamin...
Animation savant Paul "Otaking" Johnson has struck again, following up his great, '90's-style anime tribute to TIE Fighter with a similar tribute to the classic shooter game R-Type.
Once again, Johnson's mastery of the ...
I've been trying to avoid all mention of Nintendo and Atlus' joint project Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, partly because I don't want to be tempted into picking up a Wii U. That said, the thing really does make an impressio...
Deaths may be a fact of life, but it's always sad when someone is taken too soon. That's the case for Japanese voice actress Yuko Mizutani, a veteran of Japan's voice acting scene who was best known for playing Sakiko Sakura,...
Putting anime in my superhero comics? It's old hat. But putting The [email protected] in my blockbuster Hollywood hero brawls? Now that's something I can get behind! From the galactic heroes at Bin1 Pro...
I think we can all agree that youths need protection from creeps and other predators, but what's happening at this year's Anime Expo in the name of protecting the children seems to be a bit...undesirable.
Last week, the ...
It took the newest trailer for Persona 5 to make me break my self-imposed media blackout about the game. After all, I already knew I wanted the damn thing, so I didn't need any extra convincing. But I did watch it, and it was...
One of the more common pieces of fan mail we get comes in the form of inquiries from fans looking to break into anime creation.
It's not an uncommon impulse, to want to try your hand at making what you love to watch, but impu...
Also, a new voice for Igor!
It's time, folks! Or rather, it will be time...in a few short months. After months of silence last year's delay and weeks of drip-fed promotion culminating in a final countdown, Atlus has announced the Japanese release ...
File this one under "Hold on, let me check what year it is", because Tenchi Muyo! is set to be A Thing again!
Well, that's not entirely fair. Fans of one of the most influential harem anime of modern times haven't ...
The time has almost come for the PlayStation 4 to be graced with a proper [email protected] presence, and Bandai Namco has seen fit to remind us all of that fact, with some new gameplay footage straight from the Nico Nico Chou...
Sony isn't the only place putting the deals out for Golden Week. Steam, that hive of all other things Japanese when it comes to gaming, has just pulled the trigger on its Anime Weekend Sale. Running through Monday May 2nd, th...
Apr 28 //
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!]
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...
If you have an interest in cool Japanese things - and I'd wager you do, having visited this site and all - you might be aware that Golden Week, that most anticipated cluster of Japanese holidays, begins tomorrow, on April 29t...
It's been a long time since it has truly sucked to be a European gamer, but this latest development certainly qualifies, particularly for Europeans and residents of Australia and Oceania that are fans of Atlus' games. NIS Ame...
It's been a while since we last heard from Valkyria: Azure Revolution, Sega's PS4 follow-up to one of the PS3's (and PSP's) best games, Valkyria Chronicles. Now the company's loosening the tap a bit as the game's planned late...
It's been a while since we last heard from Persona 5, following the delay in the game's release date from late last year to sometime this year. Atlus seemed content to know that most folks who cared knew what Persona w...
Star Fox is back, folks! And it seems back in a way that explicitly recalls the glory days of SNES-based 3D games and peppy animal-people bloodlessly fighting other animal-people. If nothing else, that Saturday morning carto...
Apr 19 //
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!]
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.
It looks like it's almost officially A Thing now: After weeks of rumblings and rumors regarding its existence swirled, more concrete (though still unconfirmed) information has emerged around supposed plans by Sony to produce ...
Apr 18 //
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.
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.
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 ...
If you've just seen the trailer for the new, Japan-originated Godzilla movie, Godzilla Resurgence, you might have been surprised to find that none other than Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi are collaborating on the film.
Apr 10 //
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!]
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...
Apr 01 //
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]
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...
Apr 01 //
Josh Tolentino [embed]34850:5522:0[/embed]
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
My Hero Academia
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.
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.
Bungo Stray Dogs
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.
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.
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!
You've heard (and probably seen) the new Final Fantasy XV anime episode by now, but surely it's the game itself that matters most? Indeed, Square Enix's premiere boy band road trip simulator will be ready for consumptio...
If you're an anime fan of a certain age, you're probably going to find this news quite exciting (or perhaps terrifying): New episodes of FLCL are on the way!
For the uninitiated, FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly) was a G...
Here's a quick PSA for folks hankering for a classic visual novel to read: MangaGamer is discontinuing sales of two titles by March 31st: Shuffle! and Soul Link, both developed by Navel.
According to the company, t...
It wouldn't be a niche JRPG without some vaguely salacious feature, and Trillion: God of Destruction is set to provide on that front, thanks to a set of romance-sim-inspired features. The latest trailer covers the game'...
While the most interesting Sword Art Online-related news of the week was the yesterday's infodump regarding IBM's VR take on The Kirito Show VR Edition Sword Art Online: The Beginning, folks interested in actual videoga...
Destructoid's Jordan Devore claims that grabbing Platinum Games' rollicking brawler Transformers: Devastation for less than a Jackson* is the centerpiece of this weekend's PSN Flash Sale. I respectfully disagree, because...
When IBM announced its intention to Make Anime Real™ by producing a Sword Art Online-based virtual reality experience, I was a tad skeptical. After all, even the most advanced VR tech in the world can just barely convi...
One of the sadder events in recent memory for gamers was the passing of former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. Aged 55, he played a key role at Nintendo for many years, contributing to the development of games like Balloon ...
The Danganronpa games are fantastic. Stylish, tense, and utterly engrossing, they're easily among my favorite visual novels, and I recommend that everyone play them. Thankfully, that just got a lot easier, as people won't hav...
The long-planned live-action Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell takes another step towards being An Actual Thing™, as the casting announcements have begun to roll in. And in a move that seems to break with ...
It's no surprise that here at Japanator we're into Japanese games, but we're also into saving a bit of money while getting them, which makes Square Enix's Publisher Weekend sale on Steam quite relevant to both of those intere...
Feb 28 //
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Cyber Connect 2Publisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: February 4, 2016 (JP), February 5, 2016 (EU), February 9, 2016 (NA/SA)MSRP: $59.99
Indeed, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is purportedly the last of the series, despite this particular installment being the first of its kind that Cyber Connect 2 have brought to this generation of consoles, complete with jazzed-up visuals and just the right place in the Naruto storyline to take advantage of some high-octane ninja magic.
And there is a lot of ninja magic in this one. With the characters at the height of their power and the stakes almost literally apocalyptic, there's no holding back on a grand series of massive, world-shaking battles.
That's what the whole single-player mode really is, come to think of it. With the previous numbered installment covering the minor and major skirmishes of the Fourth Ninja World War, the entirety of the story is spent almost exclusively following the original members of Team 7 - Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi - as they take their final steps and confront the last three villains of the saga. I'll decline to name them here on the off chance that there's a reader out there whose primary source of information about Naruto is these games, but suffice it to say that the matchups are suitably grand in scale and significance. The game makes few allowances for people new to Naruto, but the story is simple enough to follow even without in-depth familiarity, and Naruto fans will find that the visuals and action lend a spectacular, explosive edge to a manga finale that practically slogged at the end.
With the narrative being as condensed as it is to the principal cast, one might be forgiven for thinking that Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 would have a shallower bench than usual, but the opposite is true. Dozens of characters across the entire series' timeline are present and playable. Young or old, dead or alive, if one was a ninja in Naruto, one is on this game's roster.
Of course, a large cast has always been a selling point for the series, so that's hardly surprising at this point. Perhaps more damning is the fact that many of the fighters available are, but for a different costume and a high-resolution touch-up, almost identical to their incarnations from previous titles. Though that does dull the value proposition somewhat for longtime players, in this case it's better to have too many options for play than too few.
Both concerning and comforting is how similarly the game plays to almost every other edition of the franchise. The controls haven't changed - most characters control similarly, and differ mainly in their selection of combos and available powers - and minor adjustments to balancing won't really resonate outside the minority of players that take the combat and competitive aspect of the game seriously. That said, folks into either aspect of Ultimate Ninja Storm 4's combat are well-taken care of. Online play comes with a number of desirable options for customization, stat-tracking, and organizing tournament and ranked play. The online experience is quite connection-dependent, though, so one shouldn't expect matchups from faraway lands to play especially well.
The real party piece is the new ability for players to swap between any member of their chosen team during a match, almost at will. Whereas in previous games players would select a character and two supports to be called at the tap of a shoulder button, a flick of the right stick can switch out characters to extend a combo, escape a bad situation, or even move over to a more suitable moveset. In adding this new feature, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 evokes shades of Marvel vs. Capcom, a similarly frantic fighter, and one whose vision of team-based play fits well with the coordination and combination techniques so common in the manga.
In the end, the game doesn't stray too far from formula, trading the risk of the overly familiar to refine and emphasize the aspects that made the game so notable in the first place: A massive roster, eye-popping visuals, and an obvious love for all things Naruto. That doesn't make for a huge amount of novelty, but thankfully, endings aren't about the new, but about remembering all that came before. In that, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is a good way to go out.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Cyber Connect 2Publisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $49.99
Ninja War Never Changes Endings are hard.
Whether you're putting the finishing touches on a blog post or finding a way to wrap up a decade-and-a-half-long epic, concluding almost any affair in a way that satisfies all involved is a challenge.
File this one under "It's happening!", because it really is: Sword Art Online is getting a game adaptation in the medium that it helped make famous: Virtual Reality. IBM have announced a new online VR game project title...
Feb 17 //
In case you've forgotten, episode three ended on what seemed to be a dramatic cliffhanger, with the Yakumo the 7th's mistress Miyokichi showing up, seeking the master. In a different story, she'd be like a live grenade tossed into the cast, exploding the old, comfortable dynamic and setting the plot in writhing motion.
Except she's absent for most of the fourth episode, which devotes its eye solely to the relationship between Kikuhiko and Sukeroku (née Bon and Shin), living together in an apartment following their promotion to futatsume. It's at this time that some of the subtle subtexts lurking in Shouwa Rakugo bubble up to the fore, clear to see even for folks who aren't into close reading or other film studies piddle-paddling.
It's hard not to see Kikuhiko's longing for his best friend, even as he only slowly comes to realize it himself over the course of the next few installments. But for us viewers, it's plainly evident in the married-couple banter the pair exchange, Kikuhiko's apparent indifference to the opposite sex (including a bond with Miyokichi that seems more maternal than romantic), and even the way the camera and framing of the scenes treat Sukeroku.
Of course, this cat isn't out of the bag (or closet) just yet. The show's historical context virtually ensures that Kikuhiko's path of self-discovery would be an ambivalent one. Hell, we already know what he's like in the future, and "out and proud" isn't one of those things. At this point, we're on the hook to find out just how he, Sukeroku, and Miyokichi are involved in leading to the present state of Yakumo Yurakutei the 8th.
If nothing else, the journey to finding out remains riveting as ever. Ably voiced by Megumi "Rei" Hayashibara, Miyokichi is less a plot grenade than a fire pot of character work, playing a grounded, perceptive, utterly attractive woman for whom a term like "temptress" feels both accurate and unforgivably reductive. Her role in catalyzing the events that lead to Kikuhiko discovering his own style of Rakugo also can't be overstated.
It's not all happy, though. As good as one feels for the characters and their journey so far, the shinjuu in the title still looms. In fact, Kikuhiko discovering how to make his mark on Rakugo brings him one step closer to the sly, sinister, troubled old man we met in the first episode, and to whatever tragedies made him that way.
[Watch more of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu on Crunchyroll!]
The plot thickens The last time we checked in on Shouwa Rakugo, it was shaping up to be one of the best (or at least, most grown-up) anime series to air in years. Anime fans looking for more mature, grounded plotting and complex character work...
Rejoice, ninja fans, because Naruto has come to Steam! And no, I'm not referring to the bountiful slate of Ultimate Ninja Storm releases, but instead to a raftload of honest-to-goodness anime, courtesy of ...
Rin Haruka Oh my gosh i just finished clannad after story for the second time and i need at least 5 more tissue boxes sniff sniff Hiroko Yamamura hikevinperdue Yeah! I ordered three things all at different times and they all came in at the same time. Thanks name withheld ordering company!Salvador GRodiles Since my condition hasn't improved that much from yesterday, my Jtor Live segment won't be happening tonight. If anything, it should be back this Saturday.Salvador GRodiles Since I'm feeling under the weather right now (curse you, spring season), this week's Jtor Live shall be pushed to Sunday.Anthony Redgrave Hearts over Hanekawa! <3Salvador GRodiles As a heads-up, this week's Jtor Live is being pushed back to Sunday. Anthony Redgrave Someone's got a new desktop background :DAnthony Redgrave I don't know what this is, but it's tres Adorbs!OverlordZetta I am choosing to believe Umaru randomly decided to make this reference and no one can stop me.Anthony Redgrave Just going to leave this hereAnthony Redgrave "In the name of the moon I will punish you!" with a posed lookAnthony Redgrave Double the Onodera. Double the festive fun!OverlordZetta I swear it looks like the Red one just wants to jump out and kill whoever is looking at the picture.Anthony Redgrave WoahOverlordZetta Hi everybody! I posted a blog about Symphogear today, but for some reason it decided to go up on the day I started it, rather than today. URL is here: http://www.japanator.com/blogs/OverlordZetta/symphogear-we-need-to-talk-34502.phtmlSalvador GRodiles As a heads-up, this week's Jtor Live will go live on Sunday.OverlordZetta Next year's Super Sentai robot has been leaked! And it... is a Minecraft robot: [img]http://i.imgur.com/2awbJSM.jpg[/img]OverlordZetta Why is Tsuburaya so much cooler than Toei? Coming soon to Crunchyroll, now (ep1 only) on YouTube: Ultraman Nexus! [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEwPG4yEiS4[/youtube]OverlordZetta I think some of you will be able to really appreciate this one. [img]https://i.imgur.com/jRneXHn.png[/img]