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Japanator Recommends: Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning photo
Japanator Recommends: Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning
by Elliot Gay

I loved Sunrise's super hero TV anime, Tiger & Bunny.

Despite the quality of writing dropping in the last few episodes, I was truly fond of the main cast and had a great time just watching them interact with another. When the series ended leaving several plot threads dangling in the wind, I waited in anticipation for a season 2 announcement.

One that unfortunately never came.

Instead, Sunrise announced two feature films, The Beginning and The Rising. The former would be a retelling (groan) of the start of the series and the latter would be a brand new storyline. Keeping my expectations low, I went to check out the first movie.

Much to my surprise, I had a grand ole' time.

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Japanator Recommends: Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time photo
Japanator Recommends: Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time
by Eric Koziol

The Growlanser series has had a slightly inconsistent release schedule in the West. The second, third, and fifth games made it out --while the first and sixth never did. Now the PlayStation Portable version of the fourth game in the series, released as Growlanser IV: Over Reloaded in Japan, has finally made it Stateside, as Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time.

Available on PSN for $29.99, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is ready to play on your Vita as well as your PSP. If you’ve enjoyed the previously released Growlanser games or are looking for a tactical RPG to keep your portable Sony systems busy while you are on the go, keep reading to see if Wayfarer of Time is the game for you.

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Japanator Kind Of Recommends: Way of the Samurai 4 photo
Japanator Kind Of Recommends: Way of the Samurai 4
by Josh Tolentino

There's no doubt that the Way of the Samurai franchise is an intriguing series, but is nearly opaque to those unfamiliar with the franchise. One's enjoyment of such games can depend significantly on prior experience with Acquire's work.

With that in mind, we were lucky enough that both I and our own Josh "Totsu" Totman had copies of Way of the Samurai 4, and we've decided to write a special dual review, one from the perspective of a longtime fan (me), and the other from a series newbie (Totsu). 

Read our thoughts and scope out our scores below.

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Japanator Kind of Recommends: X-Men photo
Japanator Kind of Recommends: X-Men
by Salvador GRodiles

You know, it has been a while since I have gotten the opportunity to experience anything related to the X-Men franchise. The last time that I got to watch something related to X-Men was when I saw X-Men: The First Class in theaters. Prior to that, I watched the first two live-action X-Men movies, along with X-Men Evolution and the cartoon from the 90s. 

From what I can recall, the story of X-Men takes place in a world where super-powered beings known as Mutants have to deal with a society that has yet to accept them. Each medium that has gotten their hands on the franchise has given us a different take on the story. Seeing that Madhouse is taking another shot at the Marvel Animes, this might give us an opportunity to see another take on Xavier's elite team that fights for the sake of coexistence between humans and Mutants. 

Join me after the jump to find out if the X-Men anime succeeds in delivering an interesting new take on the franchise.  

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Japanator Recommends: Double Dragon Neon photo
Japanator Recommends: Double Dragon Neon
by Brittany Vincent

WayForward Technologies is responsible for a glut of some of the best reboots available over the past few years, including the excellent A Boy and His Blob and BloodRayne: Betrayal. Revitalizing classic franchises is a lucrative operation, and WayForward seems to have pioneered a fantastic formula for them. Double Dragon is the latest to receive this treatment, in the form of Double Dragon Neon. The classic brawler is brought back to life with some decidedly different energy, a facelift, and new reasons to kick some more butt with Billy and Jimmy. Trust us -- it looks gaudy, loud, and silly, but there's tons of fun to be had here.

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Import Review: Hatsune Miku Project DIVA f photo
Import Review: Hatsune Miku Project DIVA f
by Chris Walden

I don't think I need to tell you just how massive the Vocaloids are, so it's absolutely no surprise that the popular Project DIVA series would see a fourth portable release. However, Project DIVA F isn't on the PSP like the three games before it, as the virtual idols have stepped up to Sony's newest handheld system.

However, Sega has offered a few new features to accompany Hatsune Miku in her console transition, aside from the expected graphical upgrade and new songs. Is it worth your time? Well, if the professionally taken photograph in the header hasn't sold you already (it was done in-game with the not-so-great Vita camera), see me after the jump for all the hot details. 

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Japanator Recommends: It's Over 9000! photo
Japanator Recommends: It's Over 9000!
by Brittany Vincent

For the record, as many of you may well be aware, I'm a bit of a Vegeta fangirl. We're talking massive amounts of fanfiction, being banned from the school library back in 6th grade for printing 100 pages of Vegeta pictures, and carrying around a hefty portfolio full of said images to ogle during Algebra, which I subsequently failed. Now that I've grown up a bit, keeping my outbursts to small Vegeta keychains and the occasional t-shirt to keep my inner rabid fangirl in check, I look for other outlets to get my Vegeta fix.

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Review: Eryi's Action photo
Review: Eryi's Action
by Chris Walden

You may remember Nyu Media from some of the other games they have localised, namely Cherry Tree High Comedy Club and the eXceed Collection. The games were pretty darn good, so we just had to check out what their latest offering would have in store for us, especially as it was another title we hadn't heard of. There's nothing like digging up a gem to show the rest of the world!

Is this game as good as the previous two games? Unfortunately not. Is it worth playing? Yes, but you'll probably want to hear my explanation after the jump. Just watch make sure you watch out for spikes, falling platforms and extra-bouncy mushrooms. Y'know, just in case. 

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Japanator Recommends: Persona 4: The Animation photo
Japanator Recommends: Persona 4: The Animation
by Brittany Vincent

You could devote every bit of 200+ hours to completing Persona 4, as I did with Persona 3, but sometimes life gets in the way -- you know, that thing that bugs you in between work, games, anime, leisure, and sleep? High school doesn't last forever (that's how I was afforded so much time for Persona 3) and we have to devote time and attention to other pursuits, too.

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Japanator Recommends: School Days HQ photo
Japanator Recommends: School Days HQ
by Brittany Vincent

Ah, high school: tests, cute teachers, culture festivals, crushes, maniacal students, and terrifyingly infatuated students. Er, wait. That's not the high school we remember. That sounds more like the goings-on at Sakakino Academy of School Days fame, where love triangles, debauchery, and psychotic ex-lovers are only a few of the lovely happenings between our hero (?) Makoto and the rest of the colorful, vengeful cast. JAST'S cult classic dating sim returns with School Days HQ, an English localization of the 0verflow-spearheaded drama/harem visual novel in all its eroge glory. Is it worth buckling in for the long, confusing road ahead? In a word, absolutely.

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Japanator Recommends: Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike photo
Japanator Recommends: Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike
by Elliot Gay

The original Tales of Vesperia, released in 2008 on the Xbox 360, was something of a break through for the current generation. In many ways one of the first big JRPGs to hit an HD console, Vesperia got a lot of things correct. Despite being the first HD Tales game, it has yet to be visually surpassed within its own series. The main character, Yuri, was also something of a revelation. At 21, he was one of the older Tales main characters and far more mature than most JRPG fans are probably used to.

It goes without saying then that I was excited to catch the animated prequel Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike. I wasn't expecting much beyond some ToV fanservice, but what I ended up finding was a fantastic edition to the Vesperia lore and a great stand alone film in its own right.

Follow me after the break as I ring my bell, loud and clear.

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Japanator Recommends: Rurouni Kenshin photo
Japanator Recommends: Rurouni Kenshin
by Elliot Gay

Live action adaptations of long running manga are more miss than they are hit. A great majority of filmmakers attempt to condense years of story and character development into a relatively short runtime, typically leading to rushed, inconsistent films. 

Maybe that's why news of an adaptation of the 28 volume long Shonen Jump series, Rurouni Kenshin, was a bit troubling.

I would imagine that most people shudder at the thought of trying to adapt a Shonen Jump property into a live action film. Nobody out there wants to see a live action Naruto, One Piece or Bleach; we all know how poorly that would end. Yet Japan has always done well with period pieces and samurai film, making Kenshin seem like the perfect fit. 

And fit it does.

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Japanator Kinda Recommends: Panty and Stocking photo
Japanator Kinda Recommends: Panty and Stocking
by Brad Rice

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt was, without a doubt, a unique venture by Gainax. Unlike all their other shows about giant robots and emotional teenage boys, this one featured two hyper-sexualized angels looking to earn their wings and get back into heaven.

And unlike most Gainax shows, Panty and Stocking has a very different art style. Hell, everything about the show is different than what you've previously experienced.

Follow me after the jump to see if this show is worth your time, or if it should be flushed down the toilet, along with its humor.

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Japanator Recommends: Atelier Meruru photo
Japanator Recommends: Atelier Meruru
by Brittany Vincent

As a newcomer to the Atelier series, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the cheery art style, gorgeous pastels, and sunny disposition exhibited in the game's trailers. It surely resembled a rollicking good time, but coming in late to the end of the trilogy. I didnt' know if this would be a tale I could fully immerse myself in without eventually revisiting the previous two entries in the series.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tale of the Princess of Arls was an accessible and wholly engrossing, one that, in a world of samey shooters and hackneyed dungeon crawlers, stood out to me as a shining beacon of sugary sweet core characters and a fantastically written script. In short, my first encounter with the Atelier series was an excellent one.

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Japanator Recommends: The eXceed Collection photo
Japanator Recommends: The eXceed Collection
by Salvador GRodiles

Most of you remember that time when I lost against Michelle when I attempted to grab Cherry Tree High Comedy Club. Little did she know, I manage to come across another game that fell out of her purse when she knocked me out. It turns out that the other game was also published by the same company that localized Cherry High Tree Comedy Club.

Instead of the game being a visual novel game, Nyu Media's other localized title is a bullet hell shoot em' up that resembles the Touhou games, since it features girls with magical abilities. 

Brace yourself, because Japanator is going to experience a barrage of bullets that will overwhelm any person after the jump. 

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Japanator Doesn't Recommend: Rental Magica photo
Japanator Doesn't Recommend: Rental Magica
by Brittany Vincent

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya achieved something wonderful with its deliberate swapping of chronological episodes and the order in which each serial was broadcasted. Once viewers pieced together the puzzle it was a joy to rewatch the series in the order it was meant to unfold.

Rental Magica has the same trick up its sleeve, but the fact that its episodes aren't necessarily following the flow of time only seems to serve as a fruitless gimmick in an attempt to hide the fact that there's really nothing inventive going on here at all, even if it is dressed up in a gorgeously-animated package.

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Japanator Kind of Recommends: Vampire Hunter D Vol 18 photo
Japanator Kind of Recommends: Vampire Hunter D Vol 18
by Pedro Cortes

While light novels are a relatively new concept stateside, they've been around for ages in Japan. They've been the source of many popular franchises, including Slayers, Boogiepop Phantom, Kara no Kyokai, A Certain Magical Index, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and so on. Light novels are conducive to an episodic format and with their rather intense release schedule, there's typically a lot of material.

One of the more famous light novel series to get an adaptation is Vampire Hunter D. There are many whose first foray into Japanese animation was the 1985 film, which was a loose adaptation of the first book. Nearly thirty years after the release of the first novel and the movie, the Vampire Hunter D novel series is still getting releases in Japan and now in the states.

So with that in mind, I dove into volume 18 of Dark Horse's Vampire Hunter D series, Fortress of the Elder God. How was it? Well, it could've been better. Much better. Hit the jump to find out why.

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Japanator Doesn't Recommend: Unchained Blades photo
Japanator Doesn't Recommend: Unchained Blades
by Bob Muir

I'm not the biggest RPG nut, but over my last decade of gaming, I have appreciated most of the RPGs I've played. After starting on Pokemon, I've played a Final Fantasy or two, and even delved into Persona. But until recently, I'd never even bothered trying the dungeon-crawler subset, specifically the type inspired by Wizardry.

Wizardry was surprisingly popular in Japan, leading to numerous spin-offs and games based around exploring labyrinthine dungeons in the first-person. These games are usually very light on story, focusing on navigating an area and fighting lots and lots of monsters. Because an RPG's story is usually more important to me than the actual combat, it makes sense that I'd avoid this sub-genre, though I might make an exception for intriguing battle systems.

Unchained Blades places a greater emphasis on story than most games in the Wizardry tradition. It features a multitude of playable characters designed by various manga and anime artists and an overarching reason for traipsing through mazes. It also adds new systems meant to play off of the fact that characters have a personality. While Unchained Blades features elements that might draw in players like me, it sadly takes more than a narrative and unique systems to make an engaging experience.

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Japanator Recommends: Oreimo Vol. 1 photo
Japanator Recommends: Oreimo Vol. 1
by Brittany Vincent

On the surface, a series like Oreimo may appear to be saturated with silly gimmicks and sexual hijinks with a hint of incest. When you get to know eroge-obsessed Kirino and all those important to her, it morphs into something completely different -- something many of us can relate to: a story about having to hide who you are and what you're passionate about in order to fit in with your peers, in turn losing sight of what makes you you and feeling ashamed you ever dared to assert your own identity.

Of course, it's also got those gimmicks and silliness. But there's more to it than that. The manga series, like the anime, follows the misadventures of Kirino Kosaka, younger sister of 17-year-old Kyosuke Kosaka, your average high school student. Kirino is clearly the favorite of the family, with part-time modeling work, an abundance of popularity at school, and excellent grades. She appears to be the perfect student and a normal 14-year-old with no "nerdy" or "socially unacceptable" hobbies to speak of.

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Japanator Recommends: Dirty Pair Features Collection photo
Japanator Recommends: Dirty Pair Features Collection
by Brittany Vincent

The Dirty Pair series has proven a mainstay over the years when it comes to the girls with guns genre, and for good reason: it brings laughs, slapstick comedy, action, and gorgeous women like Yuri and Kei together in a neon-colored package. It's an oldie but a goodie, with plenty of hijinks to whet most anime fans' appetities.

Recently I revisited Dirty Pair Flash, and found the Lovely Angels' updated escapades to be a little too juvenile and underwhelming, but I was also able to check out the original Dirty Pair Features Collection, all of which hail from the classic 1980s series with "normal" Yuri and Kei. This trio of Dirty Pair movies follows the spunky Angels through some very different sitations, but stays true to the heart of the series and serves up some delectably campy action, for the most part.

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Japanator Recommends: Flutter photo
Japanator Recommends: Flutter
by Kristina Pino

When it comes to sweet stories with feel-good endings, Juné Manga always deliver the right kind of boys love.

Flutter is a one-book story about two men that work for the same company, but generally not together. Asada has noticed his co-worker Mizuki and watches him almost every day. He gets a lucky break when they are assigned to a project together, and finally get the chance to properly meet and chat. They click almost immediately, but it wouldn't be yaoi if there weren't some drama around the corner.

Click through the jump for my full summary and thoughts.

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Japanator Recommends: exist†trace - VIRGIN photo
Japanator Recommends: exist†trace - VIRGIN
by Josh Totman

Well well well, looks like I have something new to fill my ear holes with.

Now I might be a little biased in this review because I had the great pleasure in seeing these lovely ladies live at Sakura-con last year. It was a wonderful concert once it actually started. We ended up waiting almost an hour for the ladies to come on stage. No matter, they made up for it.

There new album VIRGIN is out. Lets give it a listen shall we?

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12:00 PM on 08.05.2012

Japanator Recommends: Calpis

It's been a hot summer for most of us. What goes good with summer? A nice cold drink. Now normally this is where "cold frothy beer" would be the absolute correct answer, but I am pretty sure most readers either are under age ...

Josh Totman



Japanator Recommends: Deardrops photo
Japanator Recommends: Deardrops
by Brittany Vincent

Overdrive's ongoing theme of "rock epics" continues with Deardrops, which is the follow-up to the decidedly popular Kira Kira. Kira Kira was quite exciting and pretty popular at that, crossing rock and roll with cutesy J-pop and plenty of girls of all archetypes to chase, as well as raucous rock star dreams. In the case of Deardrops, it's more like crushed violinist dreams, in the case of protagonist Suganuma Shouichi.

Shouichi used to be on top of the world as a revered violinist, renowned all over the globe as a fantastic musician until a certain disastrous incident involving the paparazzi forced him from his throne. Unable to deal with the constant stream of issues, Shouichi stepped down from the fame and moved home to the town he grew up in.

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Japanator Recommends: Oblivion Island photo
Japanator Recommends: Oblivion Island
by Hiroko Yamamura

When I opened up my package from Funimation, I admittedly frowned. Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror did not sound like something something I was going to jive with. Even if is a children's movie, it's a pretty generic sounding title. A 3D children's features sure sounded like a task I wasn't going to have the stamina for, and planned to scan the movie while playing video games --sending it to one of my poor editors for review after.

As you can probably guess, as usual… I was wrong. Was this movie Production IG's move towards becoming the next Pixar? No. Oblivion Island is its own picture, and has the luxury of borrowing from both American 3D features, and Japanese anime story telling, with unique results. Check out my non-spoilery review after the jump, and why this is one of my most recommended films of the year.

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Japanator Recommends: Starry Sky photo
Japanator Recommends: Starry Sky
by Brittany Vincent

Starry Sky, the manga adaptation of the popular otome game of the same name, is a bittersweet tale of young love that is simultaneously heartwrenching and saccharine, and while it occasionally dips into stereotypical trope territory, it still manages to conjure those many confusing feelings that younger people associate with falling in love. There's only one caveat: It's just a little difficult identifying with the seemingly perfect heroine who finds herself in a tangle of childhood friends and peers who are all inexplicably deeply in love with her. There's also a little too much going on for newcomers to the genre to identify with. 

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Japanator Kind Of Recommends: Fractale photo
Japanator Kind Of Recommends: Fractale
by Pedro Cortes

Fractale got some interesting press leading up to its release. Yutaka Yamamoto, production director of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and director of Kannagi, said that he was going to retire if Fractale didn't do well. That's a pretty lofty statement, especially from an anime director. There was also the incident where the Fractale Production Committee took down the stopped the American stream of their show until they removed the illegal copies of it on the internet...and then started the stream again a few days later. Overall, a lot of noise about a show that seemed to come out of nowhere.

So how did people like Fractale? Well, it pretty much got a resounding 'meh' from people on both sides of the ocean. So much for all the merch that was appearing before the show took off, eh? 

Knowing all this, I gave Fractale a watch. I mean, not everything is for everybody and it's entirely possible that the hype and bad press didn't help. Well, it isn't the best thing that Yamamoto has been involved with, but I think it's an OK, if flawed, show. Hit the jump to read why.

 

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7:00 PM on 07.29.2012

Japanator Recommends: Caramel Corn

One thing that kind of strikes me as funny is the name of this snack. Now we here in the US think of the name caramel corn and instantly think of caramel cover popcorn. Which is awesome by the way. So when I got to the store ...

Josh Totman



Japanator Recommends: Boogiepop Phantom photo
Japanator Recommends: Boogiepop Phantom
by Pedro Cortes

I didn't start off as a fan of horror. When I was a kid, I was terrified of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises. I hated monsters of just about any kind and stuck to safe and happy things. While my stance on the genre eased up as I got older, it still wasn't something that I gravitated towards. That all changed when I got Silent Hill for my birthday March of 1999. Over the course of a weekend, I devoured that game and I finally understood what people loved about scary movies and games.

I mention Silent Hill particularly because there are elements in Boogiepop Phantom that remind me of Konami's famous horror franchise. It isn't just Silent Hill; Boogiepop Phantom feels like it combines elements from several different sources to cobble together an uncomfortable and moody show. Believe me, that's a good thing! Hit the jump to see what I'm talking about.

 

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Japanator Recommends: Final Fantasy Theatrhythm photo
Japanator Recommends: Final Fantasy Theatrhythm
by Hiroko Yamamura

Square Enix's highly anticipated entry to rhythm games has finally arrived for the Nintendo 3DS. Pushing the already fully charged hype train is one of the most beloved of franchises, the Final Fantasy series. The series has always been lauded for its amazing music score, isn't it about time the music was able to come to center stage?

Theatrhythm is probably most recognized for its super cute take on the series's most beloved characters and its hard to remember for to write name. I swear I looked at the box every time I had to write the name down. How did the series handle our favorite heroes, take the world into 3D, and most importantly, present the music. Hit the jump to find out what's been bumping in my headphones over the past couple weeks.

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