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Salvador G-Rodiles

RIP photo

Rest in Peace: Creature Artist Yasushi Nirasawa passes away

An amazing monster designer has left us
Feb 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Sad news, everyone; it turns out that the great creature illustrator Yasushi Nirasawa passed away at the age of 52 on Feb. 2. According to his Twitter page, his passing was caused by kidney failure. In case this is your first...

Impressions: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash episodes 1-4

Feb 05 // Salvador GRodiles
Perhaps this is what makes Grimgar an interesting series to follow. Compared to many other titles in this genre, none of the characters overpower each other. In fact, they all play up the idea of an RPG group where each member has a major role to fulfill. You have your basic party of a Thief, Dark Knight, Fighter, Hunter, Mage and Healer, which make up the core group of the main cast. However, the kicker is that they’re not very good at using their jobs in battle. Instead of the series focusing on a tale about a group of adventurers saving the land or trying to escape from an unknown world, Grimgar touches upon the struggle of the main group trying to make a living in a new location. Even though their tasks seem to be simple in the eyes of many folks who play RPGs or Dungeons & Dragons, the series does a fine job in showing the audience that fighting a creature that’s usually depicted as a weakling in most titles (such as the show’s goblins) can be a threat to those who’re trying to learn the ropes of battle. In a way, it covers that feeling that comes from doing something for the first time, as the cast lacks any previous combat experience. Since the group has no memory of their life in their own world, this gives Grimgar a nice sense of mystery, as the viewers are unsure of how the characters actually are. To an extent, they’re all basically amnesiacs living an entirely new life, which makes one wonder how they’ll change when their memories return to them. Because of this angle, these elements made the series' story intriguing since this could play a major role when they uncover the truth about themselves. With the cast randomly shouting out terms related to our world, there’s plenty of promise with the story's mystery. Despite the series’ fantasy look, the meat of show focuses mostly on the group living their everyday life. The first three episodes gave us the rundown on Grimgar’s setting, along with showing us the gang’s routine during each day. Surprisingly, there’s also a feeling of innocence and curiosity between the main gang, as the staff handled a couple scenes that seemed like they would be played off for perverted laughs in a way that focuses more on the characters’ reaction than what’s happening in front of them. In this case, it works surprisingly well in grounding the group’s relationship with each other. For the most part, the show’s direction resulted in the whole thing being decent. While the show’s first three episodes didn't grab me at first, their story elements utilized made way for a major event that pieced everything nicely. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see this sort of scenario happen this early in the anime since the group was still getting used to hunting goblins for a living. Perhaps the most impactful thing about the outcome is that it resembles a scenario from a D&D campaign or a tough RPG where the player’s mistake can result in a huge consequence, regardless of how small it seems. Of course, Grimgar's visuals are a treat, as the backgrounds are colored in a way where they resemble a watercolor painting. To top it off, the characters’ colors and shading mesh well with the environment which gives off a nice soothing vibe. Thanks to this aspect, this helps most scenes look great when it focuses on the cast performing their daily routine. Even though the show’s soundtrack had some weak rock tunes here and there, there are still a few subtle fantasy tunes that suit the show’s setting. The main opening is alright and the series features a few vocal tracks that pan over a scene, which can be enjoyable at times. Since the music’s quality is the type that grows on the viewer with each passing episode, I could see it getting better later on. At the end of the day, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash presents us with some intriguing ideas on the concept of characters being trapped in a game-like fantasy world. While the show’s presentation resulted in the whole thing being average, episode 4’s tragic event delivers enough impact to make it promising. Since the show gives off a nice .hack//SIGN vibe, I’m hoping that it’ll improve when things start getting even tougher for the main party. In the meantime, the title’s recent event could cause the series to level up soon. [You can live the Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash life at FUNimation]
Grimgar photo
Living the fantasy life isn't easy
There’s something great about playing anime roulette when one chooses a show to cover—especially if it’s a title that one isn’t too familiar with. Before I jumped into the anime adaptation of the light...

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger photo
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

What's that? Kakuranger pre-orders have revealed their location

Insert cheesy sound effects
Feb 04
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that I've learned in my life, it's that you never underestimate a ninja's ability to strike from the shadows. As I was rejoicing over Shout! Factory's plans to release Kakuranger this year, the group caug...
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger

Zyuohger's full trailer shows off its blocky gimmicks

How to use a Rubik's Cube as a weapon
Feb 01
// Salvador GRodiles
Whenever I get to see Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger in action, my interest in the show starts to rise slowly. With Toei uploading a three-minute trailer of the program on their YouTube channel, they manage to hit us...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Let's bring happiness to Gurumin's monsters

Monsters have feelings too
Jan 30
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Most monsters may be immortal beings, but that doesn't mean that they're free of life's problems. With three major bosses down, it looks like I'm closer to rescuing all...
Ys VIII photo

Get shipwrecked with some new Ys VIII screenshots

When sailing goes wrong
Jan 29
// Salvador GRodiles
It almost feels like it was yesterday when Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana's key details were revealed to the public, as my experience with the series has changed from then. Right now, I was able to go through a majority of the ca...
Nights of Azure photo
Nights of Azure

Grab your potions: Gust-Chan enters Nights of Azure's realm

Let's get mixin'
Jan 28
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a really long time since I played a Gust game. The last one that I went through was Mana Khemia: Alchemist of Al-Revis, which restored my faith in their alchemy-themed titles after Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana left a...
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger photo
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

Evil gets slashed: Kakuranger heads to North America

Kakuranger, Ninja Ninja!
Jan 24
// Salvador GRodiles
You know that Shout! Factory's Super Sentai releases are doing fine when they throw a big surprise announcement at our faces. During their special Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger streaming event on Saturday, Jan. 23, t...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Pierce the heavens with Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure

Watch out for the cute ones
Jan 23
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Due to a majority vote during my final Ys-related stream, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure ended up taking the lead, with Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale and Ys ...
Super Robot Wars OG photo
Super Robot Wars OG

Get Pumped: The next Super Robot Wars game gets an amusing teaser

It's about to get hot in here
Jan 22
// Salvador GRodiles
No matter what type of mood I'm in, a new Super Robot Wars trailer always manages to lift my spirits. I guess this just has to do with my love for seeing cool-looking machines doing badass things. Speaking of which, it turns...
VS GAG photo

What if Darth Vader and Kamen Rider Black RX crossed swords?

Wake Up, the Hero!
Jan 18
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hit theaters last month, I was in the mood for seeing someone do a video where a Jedi or Sith fights one of the various heroes from tokusatsu who wields an energy sword. Lo...
Garage Hero photo
Garage Hero

Watch indie toku studio Garage Hero train in the ways of wire action

Keep it up, GPTV!
Jan 17
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something awesome about seeing a production team honing their own techniques on their own time, Seeing their regimen gives people the chance to see the hard work they put into mastering their skills, and it work...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim's last boss is about to get sunk

Farewell, island life
Jan 16
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here. Also, I started a Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, which can be watched here.] So I managed to get to Ys VI's final boss last week, but I felt that it would be better for...
Nitroplus Blasterz photo
Nitroplus Blasterz

Shift into high gear with Nitroplus Blasterz's gameplay trailer

Gotta mash those buttons hard
Jan 15
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not have gotten the chance to dive into Nitroplus' visual novel games, but their stuff has always been something that I've been interested in checking out (such as Demonbane and Full Metal Daemon Muramasa). However, I ...

Review: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

Jan 15 // Salvador GRodiles
[embed]34698:5355:0[/embed] The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], PlayStation Vita)Developer: Nihon FalcomPublisher: XSEED Games (NA), NIS America (EU)Release Date: December 22, 2015 (NA), January 29, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 (Regular Edition), $49.99 (Lionheart Edition) Before the game’s main story begins, players are thrown into the middle of a mission you’re storming a military base that’s filled with robots, along with a few tidbits that hint at a major crisis in Erebonia. Then Trails of Cold Steel focuses on Rean Schwarzer's enrollment at the Thors Military Academy, which places him in the newly created class called Class VII. During his new academic life, he’ll have to bond with his classmates as they learn about the reasoning behind their group’s creation, along with encountering a few suspicious scenarios that are happening from behind the scenes. Throughout a good chunk of the adventure, Trails of Cold Steel’s story moves at a very slow place, as it takes a long time for the major events to kick in. Mind you, this isn’t a bad thing, as players are showered with many elements that expand a few great treats, such as the Erebonia region’s historical background, the culture of each location in the territory, and a ton of other stuff that gets people acquainted with the land. This is accomplished through the books that players read throughout the adventure, the characters that they interact with, and the quests (both main and optional) that they undertake. All in all, I was entertained by the title’s presentation since it throws each piece at the player in a steady manner. When it comes to Trails of Cold Steel progression, the whole formula felt similar to titles like Persona 4 and Mana Khemia: Alchemist of Al-Revis since the meat of the game focuses on Rean’s school life and his ordeals with his classmates. You spend most of your time attending classes, spending time with your Class VII buddies, and undertaking different tasks for the Student Council. Then the story takes the group on a field trip where they test their skills in different towns and large environments all over Erebonia. With the group consisting of nobles and commoners with their own problems, the developing chemistry between the party ended up being entertaining. For the most part, the formula doesn’t deviate from this path too much, but that doesn’t stop it from getting dull and/or repetitive as the events and narrative that lead up to each activity holds the entire package together nicely. As players start to see other segments that hint at the real conflicts in the story, the whole segment manages to feel rewarding during each of the game’s chapters. Whether it’s seeing the events unfold through mysterious characters that are up to something huge, political struggles between the top noble classes, or the main cast’s dilemmas, the game's story blends different styles of world-building elements into one tasty treat; thus pleasing those who were pulled in from the beginning. For players who got to play the Trails in the Sky saga, Trails of Cold Steel’s combat system brings back the turn-based benefits and the S-Break mechanic/the ability to use any character's ultimate move during any moment in battle. As an added feature, the game throws in a few mechanics that give off a nice Persona 4 vibe. With the introduction to Link Attacks, this lets players find new ways to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. All in all, this new addition to the game acts as another feature for players to make sure that enemies don’t take advantage of the random battle bonuses (such as dealing critical damage or gaining life). Throw in the ability to switch party members like in Final Fantasy X, and we have ourselves a some good ways to turn each encounter into a fun time. Perhaps the best part out of the team attacks is that their power can be improved through methods outside of spending time with your classmates. Through minigames and using each character in your adventure, players can increase their link levels of their allies very easily— even if some of the social events can only be done on certain days. Best of all, this allows for other party members to support each other in combat. Thanks to these new features, I found myself coming up with various ways to mop the floor with my enemies. The game’s Arts feature, the Trails series’ term for magic-like abilities, feels like an improved version of Final Fantasy VII’s Materia system, which grants players endless possibilities on how they want to tailor their party; therefore resulting in a rewarding experience when a setup works well in battle. Trails of Cold Steel may not have the greatest looking graphics on the PS3 and Vita, but the simplicity and style behind its designs work well in giving the game a nice presentation that's good enough to pull people into Erebonia. At the same time, the Falcom’s 3D models manage to do great justice to Nakae’s lovely character designs, which is one of the benefits of its simple look. As a person who’s been digging the Ys series’ upbeat and fast-paced music, Trails of Cold Steel’s soundtrack lives up to Falcom’s great record of having some amazing tunes in their titles. For example, the boss theme track known as “Tie a Link of Arcus” is a harmonious fusion between electric guitar and violin music that always gets my blood pumping when I’m about to fight a tough adversary. The same can be said about the main battle song “A Glint of Cold Steel,” a tune that somehow creates a wonderful melody that mixes techno, rock, and piano music together. In terms of the area tunes, they all manage to suit the locations theme, such as the Nord Highland’s piece, "Land of Blue Skies," having some soothing panflute segments that feel you’re exploring the mountain regions of Peru. While we’re still on the topic of sound, the game’s English voice cast knocked it out of the ballpark. Sean Chiplock’s (Magi’s Cassim, Danganronpa’s Ishimaru) performance as Rean worked well in conveying the guy's various reaction in his quest to find his place in life, along with his fumbles during the beginning of the story and his serious moments. Also, Carrie Keranen (KILL la KILL’s Satsuki, Madoka Magica’s Mami) was able to convey the Class VII Instructor Sara’s laid-back personality and drunk side wonderfully; thus making her one of my favorite teachers in an RPG. Overall, XSEED Games did a great job in ensuring that each person gave it their all with their roles in Trails of Cold Steel. At the same time, it helped show how well their localization work on the game blended with each performance. In terms of downsides, there were a couple minor issues present in the game. One has to do with two Quartz items called Dragon Vein and Septium Vein. The former’s description says that it’s supposed to regenerate the user’s HP outside of battle; however, it only restores their EP, the points used to cast Arts. As for the latter, it says that it’s supposed to grant players the healing skill Teara, but the ability isn’t available when someone equips in on one of their party members. Nonetheless, this error is very small, as both items are still useful. Most importantly, it doesn’t change the fact that Trails of Cold Steel’s English script flowed nicely throughout the story, which shows how dedicated the team was at making sure that the lines hit us in a positive way. Also, it was neat to see that one of the academy’s students speaks in a Scottish accent. Another problem includes a few instances where Trails of Cold Steel would lag during panning scenes or when the player is navigating through the Orbment section of the menu in Trista, the game's main town. In the end, these problems don’t happen frequently to the point where the whole adventure goes through tons of slowdowns. When they happen, they are very brief, since a majority of the game’s segments ran smoothly. In the end, my time with Trails of Cold Steel was like a great relationship where the problems didn’t get in the way of the strong bond. The title’s slow narrative and world-building aspects benefit the adventure more than hurting it, as it prepares players for the major events in its sequel. While there were a few references to the previous Trails titles, newcomers to the series aren’t exposed to the who, what, and why behind these events, since they’re more of an extra tasty topping to the yummy Teriyaki Chicken Pizza that’s right in front of us. Just like any tasty delight, the reward for savoring every moment makes this game a nice course that'll satisfy anyone who loves to consume RPGs. [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.] [embed]34698:5355:0[/embed]
Trails of Cold Steel photo
It's time to hit the books!
It’s hard to believe that we live in a world where The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC and Trails of Cold Steel went West during the same year. This outcome has made me believe that Hell has frozen over, as this ...

Final Impressions: Ultraman X

Jan 12 // Salvador GRodiles
From day one, it was obvious that Ultraman X was going to go down a full circle, as the return of the villain that X knocked into Earth’s Sun ended up being a huge thing. Despite, the final villain Greeza resembling a random tokusatsu grunt character, the gang at Tsuburaya made sure to turn this guy into a menacing entity. From the moment it stepped foot on our planet, we were treated to a hopeless scenario where many defense facilities fell to this powerful entity. Like with many giant monster shows and movies, all we heard was a creepy screech that when an area was about to go bye bye. Throw in a major loss for the home team, and we’re taken back to the most of the franchise’s intense finales (such as the original Ultraman series). Going back to Daichi’s character, I was surprised by how much is defeat affected me during the show’s last moments. Yes, his character comes off as a bit of an avatar for the viewers to witness the situations around them, but his will to see his dreams come true shined through the image that his presence gave off. Despite my slight issues with how they didn't give Daichi’s personal dilemmas the spotlight too much, this didn’t stop me from being affected from his defeat. That being said, this shows that Tsuburaya added enough spices to make us feel this way. Going back to a thing I said in a previous post, the thing that made Daichi’s character great for me was his ideals and the way how he bonded with the entire cast. For a guy to gain the trust of a giant dinosaur monster deserves a huge freaking medal. Through his role as a scientist at Xio, we grew to love Gourman and Rui’s antics. In combat, we saw him bring out the best out of Asuna, Hayato, and Wataru. On top of all that, his pact with X helped the giant learn more about Earth customs and mannerism, which is something that a bland character could never achieve. While the series mostly centered on the random monster attacks caused by the Ultra Flares, the amount of screen time that each character was given gave us that wonderful sense of family and teamwork that XiO uses during each big crisis. The science division gave us Rui’s huge obsession with nonhuman lifeforms and the amazing timing behind Dr. Gourman’s random appearances, which made them one of the great representations of the show’s concept of being able to live alongside other creatures. With segments like Tachibana's dilemmas as a parent and Wataru having to accept that he might not get to date his childhood friend, the show’s brief character-focused episodes brought life to the cast, as we see them deal with other issues outside of protecting the city from danger. Everyone’s working towards the same goal and the contributions of each member play a role in saving the day— regardless of the size of their task. Aside from the gang’s teamwork skills and dilemmas, X’s segments where humans bonded with the franchise’s monsters were some of the most heartwarming segments of the series. The Houlinga and the Pigmon episodes were two moments where one can’t rely on stereotypes to judge the world around you. In this case, the common misconception was that almost all creatures want to obstruct everyone’s way of life. This also goes back to the franchise’s idea that most of the show’s giant monsters are like animals. You have your vicious territorial creatures and you have those who tend to be peaceful around others. In the end, I found these segments to be the ones that express the show’s coexistence theme the most. Despite Tsuburaya’s tendency to cut corners on certain segments (such as reusing older monsters from the franchise), Ultraman X’s new angle shined well through in through, as the potential shown from day one continued to go higher each week. The Mons Armors allowed for the crew to experiment with different action scenes and attacks, an element that helps many of the Heisei Kamen Rider shows in promoting their toys. This also allowed for X to use a variety of moves outside of the Ultra Warriors' usual beams and wrestling moves that they're known for. Since each form had a cool gimmick, I’m hoping that this could evolve into a new trend for future Ultra titles— as long the gang continues to show the same passion that went into X’s different transformations. With the few original designs that entered the show’s realm, the team didn’t hold back with these arcs. These segments mostly gave off a ridiculous finale type of feeling, as they ended up being played during the key points in the series. Overall, Gargorgan, the Gua Army’s updated look, and Greeza’s final form all had some neat designs that gave off that menacing feeling that many major adversaries from giant monster titles exhibit. Other than the powerful bad guys, Demaaga, Rudian, and Houlinga were some other great examples of some nice costume work that was put into the franchise’s new characters. as a guy who loves great-looking monster suits, the costume team deserves some praise for their work on the X-exclusive creatures. When I first decided to watch Ultraman X, I came for the fierce giant warrior on monster action. However, I ended up staying with a fun tale about a group of people who fight to protect the peace while doing their best to turn the world into a place where all types of life forms can live together. Sure, the story with Daichi’s parents was never resolved, but we can only hope that the show's upcoming film will give our hero the ending that he deserves. With Tsuburaya doing some interesting things with the series, let’s hope that this is a sign that they’ll keep this rainbow strong with their later installments. In the meantime, X got me more interested in the Ultra franchise, so I plan to dive further into it in the future. Thanks to its fun run, I guess you could say that it’s one of my favorite tokusatsu shows from last year. [You can unite with Ultraman X one last time at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Somewhere over the rainbow
This might just be me, but 2015 felt like an average year for tokusatsu. The usual stuff ranged from average to enjoyable, and only one of them was consistently fun. However, things weren’t too bad, as I discovered the ...

'Lucky Man' race photo
'Lucky Man' race

Check out Japan's recent 'Lucky Man' race event

May the winner have an amazing new year
Jan 10
// Salvador GRodiles
When it comes to receiving good luck, most of the requirements for this blessing usually require a prayer or a special type of offering. However, there are some cases where you'll have to compete against a large group of peo...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Did Sal break Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim?

Let's fix this thing!
Jan 09
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Ladies and gentlemen. There's a small chance that I went against Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim's natural order. Long story short, I ended up clearing a certain dunge...
Ultraman photo

Prepare to unite with Gecco's glorious Ultraman statue

Giant monsters and invaders beware!
Jan 08
// Salvador GRodiles
I haven't gotten the chance to pick up Viz's release of the Ultraman manga by Linebarrels of Iron's creators yet, but it's hard not to notice the amazing detail that was placed into collectibles company Gecco's ...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' opening will turn the world into your stage

Gotta Break Those Chains!
Jan 07
// Salvador GRodiles
After hearing Kamen Rider Girls in the first two Kamen Rider Battride War titles, it feels a bit strange that the group didn't return to sing Battride War Genesis' theme. My guess is that it might have to do with their album...
Cosplay photo

Beat Down Boogie's newest video gives the spotlight to the kids

Prepare to go 'daw' a lot
Jan 06
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something wonderful about getting the chance to share a hobby with one's own kid. It acts as a way for the parents to bond with their children in a whole new way, and their teamwork gives off a warming aura to those ...
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger

Strike: Animals go bowling in the new Zyuohger trailer

Who invited the zoo?
Jan 03
// Salvador GRodiles
With one month left until the 40th Sentai series' premiere, another wild Zyuohger trailer has appeared. Right now, I'm still on a neutral position on how I feel about the show; however, the series' idea of having four of the...
Touhou photo

Here's a nice extra helping of the Memories of Phantasm doujin anime series

The new year is off to an amazing start!
Jan 03
// Salvador GRodiles
As the old year goes away, the gang at Manpukujinja have uploaded the sixth episode of their Touhou doujin anime, Fantasy Kaleidoscope ~The Memories of Phantasm~, on their YouTube page. Just like the previous episode, t...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: It's time to enjoy Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim's island life

Grab your coconut drinks, everyone!
Jan 02
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Due to some circumstances last time, it turns out that my adventure through Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim has started sooner than expected. With this game being the first...
Mythos photo

Let's kick off the 2016 year with a sweet new Mythos trailer

Myth Form!
Jan 01
// Salvador GRodiles
This might sound weird of me to say this, but one of the things that I'm excited the most about the 2016 Tokusatsu Year is that we might see more independent toku projects enter the scene. In regards to these indie prod...

The Japanator Awards 2015: Sal's Top 5 Anime of the Year

Dec 31 // Salvador GRodiles
5. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Ever since I watched Fate/Zero and The Garden of Sinners, it was certain that ufotable should be the go-to studio for all major TYPE-MOON-related adaptations. When it was announced that they would be remaking Fate/Stay Night’s “Unlimited Blade Works” route, this seemed like the perfect ingredient to bring joy to the hearts of fans of the original visual novel game. In the end, the studio struck us with a spectacle that did justice to the route’s great moments. To top things off, they were able to add some nice touches that benefited those who watched Fate/Zero before diving into the original Fate/Stay Night visual novel. While my only experience with the series is the anime installments, Shiro’s sheer determination to become a true hero of justice against all odds showed us how most folks are able to accept reality’s harsh truth when they take a risky path in life. Like with most dreams, it takes a lot of guts to journey into a realm that many individuals consider to be crazy, which is one of the things that made this series worthwhile. With ufotable applying the elements I mentioned earlier, it felt like we were getting the key things of the experience that Studio DEEN denied us in their movie version of Unlimited Blade Works. Also, the pretty colors and dynamic battles acted as the cherry to complete this delicious ice cream sundae. 4. Gatchaman Crowds Insight Speaking of heroes, when a person walks the path of true justice, he/she might have to find a way to bring a resolution to both opposing parties. In order to accomplish this feat, one must undergo a major sacrifice; therefore making this path a difficult one to take. This is where Gatchaman Crowds Insight shined over its predecessor, as it challenged its main heroine in making the proper choice that would benefit society. Usually in life, there are lots of moments where people follow a certain trend or view while pressuring others to do so. The real kicker was that this happened within the team as well, which kept us guessing on how things would get resolved. With the way how the new character Gel’s abilities were used in this factor worked amazingly in creating the right conflict for the show’s main cast. Just like its predecessor, the series handled this theme without resorting to the typical good punching out evil to save the day scenario. Instead, it showed us how the media and technology affect people’s lives in many ways. Whether they were positive or negative, the effects it had on the characters made way for a ride that kept me invested throughout its run. Also, the music continues to be catchy as hell. 3. One Punch Man Despite my love for Gatchaman Crowds Insight and its special take on the superhero genre, One Punch Man knocked my expectations out of the water. Right when you felt that this show was going to focus on a hero’s unfortunate journey to find that one adversary that would give him the fight of his life, the series hits us with the message on what it is to be a good hero. To an extent, it took me back to Tiger & Bunny where you had certain people who were only in it for the fame and those who really wanted to protect those who need help. Because of this moral, the low-rank heroes (such as Mumen Rider) were the ones who expressed this theme the strongest— especially when you compare them to the show's higher ranking superheroes. When the show focuses on Saitama one-shotting his opponents, the buildup towards this moment always manages to increase the audience’s excitement, which results in a satisfying conclusion that leaves them with a burst of joy. Combined with the great punchlines thrown into these scenes, there’s never a dull moment in One Punch Man. Seeing that this show is running on an average budget, it’s amazing to see that the anime adaptation was being made by a group that placed their heart and soul into each frame of animation. That being said, the payoff from their work is shown nicely in the final product, which shows that this title packs quite a punch. 2. Japan Animator Expo I’m not going to lie. While I had a good time with this year’s offering of anime, the Japan Animator Expo was the one that stood mostly stood out for me. Each week was a great surprise as we many shorts acted as a canvas for various animators to express their full creativity without anyone holding them back. Whether it was Hiroyuki Imashi’s spiritual sequel to Panty & Stocking, Akira Amemiya of Ninja Slayer expressing his love for the classic Tsuburaya toku series Gridman, the follow-up to "ME!ME!ME!," or the perverted humor of Hiroyuki Okiura's (Jin-Roh and A Letter to Momo's Director) Robot on the Road, there were a ton of wonderful surprises that left my jaw wide open. Combined with an array of comedy and wonderful love letters to classic stuff like Ultraman and Daicon IV, this project was jam packed with lots great treats. Even though there were some pieces that would’ve worked better as larger pieces, I found the majority of them to be shining gems. In the end, most of these shorts left me with a wonderful impression in a shorter time span than the titles mentioned earlier in this segment. Seeing that it isn’t too often that an opportunity like this one drops by, this played a role in Japan Animator Expo making it on here. Also, Megumi Hayashibara (Slayer's Lina, Cowboy Bebop's Fae) and Koichi Yamadera (Cowboy Bebop's Spike, Ranma's Ryoga) deserve mad props for voicing every character in the project. 1. Shirobako If a group's dedication and commitment were to affect my decision in this year’s segment, I’d have to say that Shirobako takes the cake on this one. While I wasn’t able to catch the series when it premiered last Fall, the great things that I heard from it in the past gave me the drive to marathon it before the curtains closed on 2015. And boy was everyone right about it being stupendous. In fact, this method caused me to experience a huge joyful waterfall of tears as I rooted for Miyamori and the rest of Musashino Animation on their quest to deliver solid anime titles to the masses. Despite me being a person who gave up on pursuing the path of animation, my knowledge of the medium and my experience with going to school with other possible future animators went hand in hand in improving the whole show for me. The drive and determination behind each member of the studio showed us how they were willing to jump over all of the hurdles that would ruin the project. All in all, it was amazing to see how each character grew between each project that they tackled, as it felt like we were working with these people in real life. When the team got hit by impossible odds, Shirobako drove me into a state of rage, as the situation drove a huge stake through the staff’s objectives. However, the journey also made me feel sadness and joy when they tore down each wall. It’s not too often that a show throws me into different states of emotions during each episode, as P.A. Work’s hard work paid off with how they handled each dramatic moment in both of Musani’s productions. Most importantly, it changed the way how I view donut from now one; therefore deserving the number one spot in my heart. Honorable Mentions: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc
Japanator Awards 2015 photo
Let's go nuts!
It felt like it was only yesterday that we started 2015 with a bang. I guess that’s what happens when one loses track of time. While I had the great luck of catching more shows this year, it turns out that most of them ...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Let's crush Ys: The Oath in Felghana's last boss

It's time for a cold serving of revenge
Dec 26
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here. The Gigantic Army stream can be watched here, and the beginning of my Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim stream can be seen here. Don't you hate it when you have to leave an im...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's chiptune opening will brighten your soul

Pixels Open!
Dec 25
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that I love about watching Kamen Rider Ghost each week, it's the show's opening by the ouendan group Kishidan. On a joyous Christmas day, Megaane has used his Retro Eyecon to turn "We Think, Therefore We...
God Eater photo
God Eater

Bon appetit: God Eater Resurrection and Rage Burst go West

Dinner is served
Dec 22
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since I got addicted to the Monster Hunter series, I've been hoping to play a hunting title on a home console instead of a portable system. Thanks to Bandai Namco's efforts, it seems that this will finally happen, as Go...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Embrace the cold with Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Don't forget to bring your winter coats
Dec 20
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] If there's one thing that's always consistent in many games, it's that their ice worlds tend to be filled with slippery floors. Because of these designs, this makes it ...
Trails of Cold Steel photo
Trails of Cold Steel

Aw, yeah: Trails of Cold Steel hits us with its best S-Craft attacks

Let's have a sophisticated fight
Dec 19
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not be too far in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky but its prologue chapter has already made me a fan of the game already. Since Estelle and Joshua's great chemistry pulled me in, I guess you could say that...
Death Battle photo
Death Battle

Pokemon and Digimon go head to head in Death Battle's season finale

Who are the champions?
Dec 17
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be a fan of the Pokémon game series, but I've always been a loved Digimon more-- at least in anime form. When Ben Singer/Wiz and Chad James/Boomstick announced that they were going to pit Red's Charizard against...
Tales of Berseria photo
Tales of Berseria

Awaken your inner beast with two minutes of Tales of Berseria

What a horrible night to have a curse!
Dec 17
// Salvador GRodiles
From day one, I was on board with Tales of Berseria's idea of letting the players sail through the game's world on a pirate ship. However, I didn't expect to see the game's latest trailer hitting us with werewolf-like creatu...
Ys VIII photo

Land Ho: Ys VIII sails to Japan next Summer

Expect to get shipwrecked again
Dec 16
// Salvador GRodiles
For a long time, the two main colors used in Christmas are red and green. Of course, white happens to be another one that's used during this occasion. Speaking of holiday colors, it turns out that Falcom has revealed new deta...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episodes 14-20

Dec 16 // Salvador GRodiles
One of the deal breakers for this decision was that the show’s 14th episode presented us with another fight that’s on par with most final battles in tokusatsu. The Spectre siblings fused into a powerful entity, and we got to see Victory and Ginga perform their little fusion routine. Of course, this segment worked out nicely, as we got to witness an overkill of ultra proportions. I mean, if you have Exceed X and Ginga Victory together, whoever’s facing up against them is doomed. Honestly, it’s this type of action that gave this bit a fine closure to the Gua Army’s attempt to conquer Daichi’s world. While the next episode to follow was another recap, I guess this served as a point for the staff to gain extra time to finish up the rest of the show’s content. Again, X always manages to make up for these segments when it delivers something that makes up for it. This time, the highlight was its team doing a fine job with conveying Kamiki’s issues with trying to save the city while attempting to attend his daughter’s marriage. All in all, this episode managed to show us the struggle that many working parents have— especially when Japan is being attacked by giant monsters every week. Of course, the team’s decision to hold a giant monster boxing match made way for some great scenes of the Captain showing us his moves. Add an episode where we see an incident being told through the perspective of a reporter, and we have another fine addition to X’s track record of experimenting with its format. Even though this show mostly revolves around XiO thwarting stand-alone threats, the real treat is the way how they handle each segment, since each crisis makes a specific character the star. Of course, the big thing that’s making things exciting is that the Dark Thunder Energy seems to be the bridging element that’s setting up for the appearance of the program’s final catastrophe. Along the way, we cried over the bond between a young girl and classic Ultra series monster Pigmon. Not only did the creature sport a distinct type of cuteness, the show got us to care about it, as we're reminded of that warm feeling that comes from having a special friend that sticks by our side. This actually adds a nice layer to the icing on the Ultra cake. Thanks to my love for these types of moments, it was certain that X’s love dilemma and his fight against Gomora would hit me as well. With a romance-themed episode thrown into the mix, we now have a combo that teaches us about the life’s cruel moments. Honestly, it’s always interesting to see a children’s show cover these types of themes since many fictional titles tend to focus on the person we’re following getting the girl. Of course, Mu-chan is probably one of the silliest looking monsters to date, as she happens to have very cartoony cat look. And to think that her abilities played an important role in the episode’s topic. Back to the emotional segments, one recurring theme in X is Daichi’s connection to Gomora. The creature represents the final thing that his parents left behind, and it’s also the first monster that he bonded with. Of course, this resulted in another emotional moment for our hero, which contributes the series theme of coexistence. More important, it’s hard to go wrong with a segment where a large dinosaur-like creature performs special tricks for its best buddy while giving him a big thumbs up. It’s thanks to these themes that Lt. Tachibana’s moment was another strong moment for the series. Due to the way how Ultraman Nexus’ powers work, this was a neat way to write the Silver Giant into the series— even if it was for a brief moment. In a way, this segment showed us that distance can’t stop a mother from wanting to save her family from danger. Hell, the show deserves some props for retaining the Space Monster’s desire to eat other humans intact. Even though this contradicts with the group’s idea of coexistence, it shows that there are just some beings that can’t be persuaded. Based on my brief experience with the series, it’s practically impossible to make friends with a group of creatures that act as humanity’s predators. On top of that, they're considered to be evil creatures in their corresponding show. Despite the franchise’s recurring theme of reusing older monsters, the way how X gives them the spotlight makes up for this money-saving decision. Each episode depicts the creatures in a different way than their predecessors, and we get to see how they impact the main cast, along with the civilians who get to interact with them. During these last few weeks, the show treated us to a dynamic fight, the concept of making big sacrifices for the greater good, and the strong moments that come from a powerful bond. In a way, these aspects act as the bridge that connects most of the show’s episodes that seem like stand-alone segments at first. Because of the program's format, this resulted in each chapter being a blast. With two episodes left until Ultraman X ends, the show has already proven to us that it’ll likely end on a high note. Seeing that the Dark Thunder Energy occurrences are the major thing that’s affecting everyone right now, this means that the program’s last arc should put an end to its source. One thing for sure, I can’t wait to see X’s main adversary in action, as it’s going to be a fight to remember. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Never doubt a mom's love for her family
It’s been a while since we took a look at Ultraman X’s progress. Let’s just say that a few obstacles got in the way of this segment. Aside from being treated to a nice finale to the Gua Army Arc, a bunch of ...

Boomslank photo

Boomslank's "Long Distance" piece evolves into a nice shirt

It's all about that special upgrade
Dec 13
// Salvador GRodiles
Don't you love it when an artwork transforms into a sweet apparel? I know that I do. While we're on the topic of this wonderful phenomenon, our friends at Boomslank have turned their piece called "Long Distance" has been turn...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Get warmed up with Ys: The Oath in Felghana

I'm being serious here
Dec 12
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] When the cold begins to dominate many areas on the planet, it's usually time for people to find a way to keep themselves warm. Luckily, there are still warm places in o...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' five minute trailer is filled with Segata Sanshiro goodness

Dec 11
// Salvador GRodiles
You know that the universe is about to explode when Segata Sanshiro appears in not one but two games. Besides his appearance in Project X Zone 2, the legendary mascot of the Sega Saturn is reprising his role as Takeshi Hongo...

Impressions: Kamen Rider Ghost episodes 1-9

Dec 10 // Salvador GRodiles
Giving off a bit of a YuYu Hakusho vibe, Ghost starts off with a guy called Takeru Tenkuji getting killed by some ghostly creatures called the Ganma. Thanks to the work of the Sage, the guy’s now a ghost and he has to collect the spirits of fifteen heroic figures. If he succeeds, he can use their power to grant himself a wish, which could restore his life. However, he has 99 days to accomplish this goal; otherwise, he’ll remain dead. Since the hero needs to be challenged, he also has to obtain them before his enemies and rivals do. If there’s one thing that I love about the Kamen Rider franchise, it’s when they implement gimmicks where the tide between the heroes and villains changes each week. Kamen Rider OOO did this with the Core Medals and Gaim’s tendency to have characters switch factions while backstabbing others were two great features that made it hard for the audience to guess how the overall story would turn out. With Takeru having a time limit to collect the heroic spirits, this element gives the show that spice that can make people want to keep up with each episode. Not only that, both Riders are able to turn them into eye-shaped items called Eyecons, which goes well with the title’s spooky motif. Add the show’s second Rider, Kamen Rider Specter, to the mix early on, and we ourselves the perfect mix to challenge our main hero. Just like Takeru, Specter has his own reason for wanting to collect the heroic spirits. In fact, the guy has a few of them on his side already. Due to this rivalry, the show has that OOO feeling where anyone could lose their powers at any time. This format works nicely since it affects both sides’ fighting capabilities and the progress of their main objective. Unfortunately, the program’s super low budget prevents it from reaching its true potential. Likely because of the Ghost’s tinier budget, the series’ villains are all mostly the same Ganma grunt creature design, except that they gave them different molds and/or outfits. If you look at the creatures’ basic features, such as the Mozart Ganma and the Lewis Carol Ganma, the differences between the Monsters-of-the-Week are practically nonexistent. In fact, it makes the show look cheaper than your standard Heisei Rider show, which is unfortunate since the bad guys from the first episode sported one design that did a decent job in masking the basic Ganma design. That, and the Tesla Ganma was another one that stood out from the rest. Even though we’ve had shows like OOO or Drive where the monsters would evolve from their henchmen form, the team would make sure that each enemy has their own unique look and body build. Even if the series has to work with less money than usual, it could be possible for them to create an array of different bad guys if they would’ve utilized the two-part format again. Right now, the Ganma’s giant forms are the closest thing to them having something that’s doesn’t look the same, so let’s hope that we see some new changes down the road. This problem doesn’t just apply to the bad guys, as the action and visuals suffer dearly as well. Usually in these types of shows, the first few episodes would always have the heroes performing an array of ridiculous moves to get everyone excited. Not just for wanting to get them to buy the toys, but to make sure that they’re in for a good time. With over eight different Forms shown in the series so far, Spectre’s finishers are the only ones that almost achieve this spark. These mostly apply to Ghost’s scenes, which lack that ‘Oomph’ or ‘Bam’ that many Riders' special attacks have. For example, his first Rider kick during episode 1 had him do his finisher after barely jumping off the ground. While Riders like Kabuto have done finishers where they do a simple move like a roundhouse kick, the attacks are still enforced with good action direction, effects, and camera shots. Perhaps if they experimented with some effects and camera angles, we might’ve ended up with something better, since they could utilize special techniques to make up for the program’s low budget. In this case, this seems to be more of a case of poor action direction that doesn’t focus much on the flashy moves, since smaller titles like Fujiyama Ichiban and Garage Pro TV’s shows have been able to create cool-looking scenes and attacks with their limited funds. That being said, there’s a chance that a few members of Ghost's staff aren’t having fun with the production since that’s a factor that can make or break many projects. Other than that, the wire work for Ghost’s flying scenes felt strange, as his body movements are inconsistent while he's flying. Honestly, this could’ve been fixed with some effects to make him look more phantom-like during these segments. Hell, the typical ghost tail would've made these scenes amazing. On top of that, the fact that the team recycled an entire scene from the Kamen Rider OOO movie during episode 4 is a sign that the show’s production is going through a major struggle. However, things start to get slightly better in later episodes, though the obvious signs of the cheaper look still remain. Despite the show’s cost-related issues, Ghost still has some decent things going on. The main Rider’s hooded jacket looks cool, and his Halloween color scheme work well with the ghost theme— seeing that the show premiered in October. While it’s obvious that Specter’s design having similarities with Ghost’s looks is the result of a smaller budget, it’s still neat that they have a Kamen Rider #1 and #2 vibe going on, as the two classic heroes shared similar design features. At the moment, these two suits are the best costumes in the series so far, which will likely improve when they get their stronger forms. To an extent, both characters' costumes remind me of Kamen Rider Wizard's stylish looks, which remains consistent in Ghost and Specter’s different Souls that represent various historical figures. As the for the show’s story, one of its best elements is Specter’s backstory and reasoning for wanting to obtain the special wish. For a character that’s only been around for four or five episodes, his alignment is an interesting one since the villains don’t see him as a huge threat. Aran seems to know Specter and it looks like Saionji wants to manipulate him as well. Since it’s hard to pinpoint the second Rider’s alignment, this conflict serves as the main piece that save Ghost from its sad state. Even though the group’s mysterious actions are still on track, it’s a bit sad when the supporting cast outsmarts Saionji, who happens to be the main villain at the moment. For now, the only thing that could make him threatening is that he might become an evil Rider or a threatening creature later on. Seeing that Aran has his own motives, this element takes us back to how OOO and Gaim had a few of its characters switch sides or form new factions. Based on the new character Javel’s appearance, the show hints that they’re likely inhabitants of the Ganma’s world, which I could see becoming a big thing soon. Sadly, Ghost’s supporting cast doesn’t hold the same strength as he potential that the evil side has. Akari is your person who refuses to believe that spirits are real and Onari is the ridiculous buffoon that happens to be a monk. They may have been helpful to Takeru from time to time, but they seem to have those same aspects that made most of Wizard’s cast weak. Hopefully, this flaw is temporary, since a good dose of character development can solve this problem right away. I guess the Sage and his ghostly partner Yurusen are alright, as their appearances tend to have some amusing comedic timing to them. Speaking of which, Takeru could use this as well since his basic personality doesn’t make him stand out that much. Even though his quirk is that he brings hope to the people who’re being manipulated by the Ganma, he’s missing that special touch that made most of the franchise’s protagonists great. On the bright side, his quest and will to return to the world of the living could make him better later on. For now, he seems to be on the same level as Haruto from Wizard, which means that he’s close to hitting that same level of blandness that the title’s hero has. Due to its low budget and possible issues with the production’s management, Kamen Rider Ghost continues to suffer from being an average show in the eyes of its predecessors. Perhaps if Kamen Rider Drive’s second half didn't put the toys in the backseat, then the program would’ve gotten higher merchandise sales to would've allowed the latest installment to look better. However, it’s still too early to dismiss the series as a disaster, since there are many elements that can turn things around. With the program starting to shed light on Takeru’s dad’s experiments with the supernatural, I could see this aspect opening up to some shocking surprises that’ll lead to a frightfully good time.
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
G-G-Go Ghost!
If there’s one thing that’s scary about an ongoing franchise, it’s when the latest series gets a budget cut. In some cases, this scenario won’t stop the team from delivering an entertaining program; ho...

Dobutsu Sentai Juohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Juohger

Check out the 40th Sentai series' animal-themed suits and robot

Can we expect a farm setting?
Dec 09
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since I watched the Go-Busters V-Cinema, a part of me wished to see an actual series was similar to the alternate Go-Busters featured in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters v.s. Dobutsu Sentai Go-Busters. My wish may not have...

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