Question: Am I bad luck? Because as Tim and I realized this week, whenever I ask for something to happen in an anime, it never ever happens, even if it would be self-evidently awesome and the writers are nuts for not going wi... | subscribe
As long as Kosuke Fujishima's most celebrated manga has been running, it wasn't actually around during Benjamin Franklin's time. We can discern this because if it had been, his famous quotation would have stated that the only...
When I dream of becoming God, these fantasies usually don't involve a white-haired pretty boy with fox ears who follows me around and does my bidding; clearly, I've been doing it wrong. Now that Kamisama Kiss has taught me the error of my ways, my visions of deity will probably contain more sexy fox men and less sending other drivers to burn in eternal hellfire when they forget to use their blinkers. It's probably healthier this way.
Have your own delusions of Godhood been too full of wrath and too light on supernatural boyfriends lately? Then you too could probably use some Kamisama Kiss in your life.
Magi is an interesting fantasy work in that familiar, if comfortable context of shounen manga adaptations. The story takes on a One Thousand and One Nights motif, as protagonists Alibaba, Aladdin and Morgiana find their way out of poverty and slavery in a world disturbed by magic and conspiracy. This TV anime adaptation is now on its fourth cour, second season, currently airing in Winter 2014.
To me, the unusual setting is already a big selling point. Much can be said about ninjas or samurais, but what about plain, old fashion fantasy but inspired by mixes of far-East and near-East motifs and concepts, as themes cross between typical character development and international politics and nation-building? Magi is not something you find everyday.
However, strengths aside, Magi is a very long series. So really, the question is, will this series be worth the capital investment both in time and money?
I've got some major love for One Piece. On top of keeping up with it on a weekly basis for about eight years, I've spent a good amount of money on merch. Figures, manga, art: I've sunk a lot of hours into getting all that stuff into my room. The only thing that I haven't really been satisfied with are the One Piece games. In general, they've been sub-par experiences that seem quickly pushed out to make a quick buck on the backs of fans.
The only one I've enjoyed at all was Unlimited Adventure for the Wii. It was a straightforward action game with a stand-alone story that was fun for a while. Unfortunately, it eventually outstayed its welcome with boring level design and little else to do besides run around, switch characters, get lost and punch things.
With some hesitation, I was looking forward to the release of Romance Dawn, an RPG for the 3DS. Hey, I love One Piece and I love RPGs. That's sure to be a great combination, right? Uh, well, let's just say that it leaves a lot to be desired. Hit the jump to find out why.
When Fate/Zero Set 2 starts off, we're thrown right in the middle of a major battle. Caster has created a huge monster and it's up to Saber, Lancer, Rider and Archer to defeat it before it can cause major damage to the general populace. After he is dispatched, it's back to the Grail War and tons of talking, plotting, planning and backstabbing.
To make it clear, I enjoyed the second half of Fate/Zero but there are flaws within it which the audience should be aware of before picking it up. Just how big are the flaws? Join me after the jump to find out.
I'll be honest with you. Before playing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for the first time, I had to dust off my PS Vita, charge it up for a few hours and install a stack of updates. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've gone through these motions in order to play a game on this handheld, as the software library just hasn't been that appealing to me. To give you some perspective, the last game I played was Persona 4: The Golden. According to my Backloggery page, I finished it on April 5th, 2013.
Of course, this is just how I've fared, and I'm sure there are loads of games out there that many others have had a good time with. Saying that, there are a fair few titles coming out soon that have my interest, including Mind Zero, Project Diva F 2nd and of course, Danganronpa.
But would this odd-looking bear and his devilish personality ultimately win me over, or would my Vita find itself banished back to a dark corner to patiently await the next game? You're just going to have to read on and find out.
Before we take a look at the latest volumes of Fairy Tail, let’s take a look at where we’re at in the story. The members of Fairy Tail are in the midst of the Grand Magic Games. Held to determine which guild is the strongest, Fairy Tail has been at the bottom of the rankings for the last several years due to all of the strongest members being shifted through time in prior volumes. In order to restore their reputation, the time-displaced members gather together and challenge the world, though things are quite a bit different from when they last were around.
After barely squeaking by the first portion of the competition, the members of Fairy Tail have not been performing well in the one-on-one fights. Lucy and Mystogan both lost their matches, leaving both Fairy Tail teams dead last. They’re going to have to make some points quick or they risk falling too far behind to catch up. However, if there’s one thing you can bet on, it’s that Fairy Tail will find some way to come out on top.
Don't worry, you're not suffering from a case of deja-vu! In a trend that is becoming increasingly common, we have a Game of the Year equivalent for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, rolling up the DLC and re-releasing it to those of us that passed it up the first time around. Or the fans that are happy to double-dip, I suppose.
Unlike most other games, Full Burst actually comes with some new content that wasn't made available as DLC, so there's incentive for owners of the original game to check this out. You can either upgrade your current copy for a small fee, or go all-out and purchase a physical copy at a lower price than your typical game. Not bad.
But I've already talked about Ninja Storm 3, so this review is going to focus on what Full Burst brings to the table. Hit the jump to check out what I made of it, but let's just say that the $9.99 upgrade is pretty reasonable indeed.
The first volume in the Hello Kitty (reviewed) series published by Perfect Square was all about travel, and it didn't disappoint; we went all over the world and beyond. This second volume promised to have our mouths watering, and once again, it didn't disappoint; I think I have cavities.
Jacob Chabot and Jorge Monlongo return and are accompanied by Ian McGinty and Stephanie Buscema for a whole new set of adventures featuring Japan's favorite feline (move aside, Maru). All of the stories are food-related, though that isn't a stretch in Hello Kitty's cake-filled world under regular circumstances.
Nisekoi turned out to be one of those happy discoveries you sometimes stumble upon when you aren't looking for anything particular, read a silly synopsis, and think, "Why not?" I wasn't too sure what to expect from this coming in, except that it was probably a romantic comedy.
And it is.
It's a romantic comedy that's apparently published in Shonen Jump, and the first volume which comprises the first seven chapters had heaps of fighting in it -- between the lead male character and a girl he has to pretend to date in order to appease the rival gangs they belong to.
Let's have a quick look at the copy before I move on with my thoughts:
It’s hate at first sight—or rather a knee to the head at first sight —when Raku Ichijo meets Chitoge Kirisaki! Unfortunately, Raku’s gangster father arranges a false love match between Raku and their rival gang leader’s daughter, who just so happens to be Chitoge! Raku’s searching for his childhood sweetheart from ten years ago, however, with a pendant around his neck as a memento...but he can't even remember the girl’s name or face!
Oreshura, or Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru, is an elaborate reimagining of a simple idea. Short for "My girlfriend and my childhood friend argue a lot," the shortened name makes marketing and looking up the show on search engines easy, but more importantly it curtly sums up a really messy premise. Let's not beat around the bush: It's a harem anime. If that alone turns you away, I won't think any less of you.
But being the postmodern animals that we are, saying an anime is a harem is like saying air smells like something that you can breathe; it doesn't convey or express the quality (if it's smoky, fresh, or stale) or if you would like more or less of it. More importantly, have you had an Oreshura experience before? How do you compare this harem anime with the countless before it? How does this light novel story with a childhood friend and his girlfriend shed light upon the adolescent condition? Is it worth your time, for those of you who care to discern the dancing angels on the animated pin?
Falcom's Ys series is the unspoken hero of the action RPG genre.
Starring red-haired adventurer Adol, the Ys games are sprawling quests that test your reflexes as they throw you into large worlds with monsters that desire only to smash you to pieces. They're not complicated games, but Falcom has damn near mastered the craft of action RPG creation.
Ys: Memories of Celceta is an interesting beast in that it's the first time Falcom has directly tried their hand at making Ys IV. You see back in the day, Falcom outsourced the fourth game to two separate developers, Hudson Soft and Tonkin House. Both were great games (The Dawn of Ys and Mask of the Sun) in their own right, but for many years, fans hoped for Falcom to go back and tell their version of Adol's journey in the forest of Celceta.
Does Memories of Celceta hold up to the legacy left behind by Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys and Ys IV: Mask of the Sun?
When you think Shoji Kawamori, his work on Macross immediately comes to mind. It's been one of the most influential properties in Japan since it's debut. However, another major show that Kawamori worked on is Aquarion. You might know it as the show where the mecha pilots had some rather...interesting...reactions whenever the robots would combine. I haven't seen it, but from what I heard it was a ratings success in Japan despite some problems with its story and pacing.
Years later, Kawamori came back to his hit franchise and made a pseudo-sequel, called Aquarion Evol. Considering my love of Kawamori's work on Macross and my passion for all things robotic, I decided to give Evol a whirl. The big questions were, will I be able to follow what's going on? Does Evol require extensive knowledge of the previous show in order to understand the nuances of the characters and story? In short, no. However, prior knowledge definitely wouldn't hurt.
Even though I’m the guy at Japanator that watches toku shows, my experience with superhero stories in general is below average. While I’ve kept up with many of the cartoons and films that are based off of DC and Marvel’s characters, I never got around to reading the original comic books that many people grew up with.
Based on my limited experience with the genre, I find the heroes' inner struggles to be one of the most interesting things about their adventures. Since Zetman focuses on two heroes, whose backstories and moral values differ from one another, the premise of this show is right up my alley-- the question was whether or not it could deliver on its promise.
Battling evildoers is a serious occupation, so let's find out if Zetman's main characters have what it takes to become true champions of justice.
I knew basically nothing going into Vividred Operation. I wasn't watching much anime during the Winter 2013 season anyway, and Vividred kind of got blurred together with all those other shows in that broad category of "cute girls with [insert gimmick]." I had seen some figure designs floating around, so I had a vague idea that the series featured young ladies who are prone to wearing short-shorts, but that was about it.
Since I had zero expectations, I wasn't disappointed; however, I have to wonder how the show would have come across if I'd been anticipating anything in particular. If I was expecting a magical girl show, which Vividred basically is, I would have been let down; If I'd been expecting a sci-fi show, I would be annoyed that the show doesn't really deliver on any of the interesting ideas it presents at the beginning. I guess if I'd wanted a moe fetish-fest I would have been reasonably satisfied, because seriously, this show loves butts. This show loves butts like Attack on Titan likes killing people off-- no, I think it loves butts even more than that. There is simply no describing how much this show loves 14-year-old girls' butts.
It's pretty widely known on Japanator that I'm the go-to gal when it comes to creepfests and ghoulish delights. I seek out chills and thrills wherever I can find them, so I was excited to take Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo for a test drive. It's not often I'm able to soak up a good horror novel (they're tougher to judge than manga because, well, all that reading) so when the opportunity arises, you know I have to dig right in. Miyuke Miyabe's novel was tame for the most part considering the media I regularly consume, but the collection of authentic Japanese ghost stories was one that kept me glued to the pages.
When I first started watching Good Luck Girl, I had just finished up the sex comedy B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time), which was surprisingly hilarious given its lack of actual sex. I'm a big supporter of anime comedies, especially when they actually make me laugh -- because let's be honest, they usually aren't very funny.
Good Luck Girl had me cracking a smile as soon as the Poverty God herself made an appearance. The combination of an excellent English script, hilarious localization, and some ingenious sight gags had me giggling all the way through. I'm glad I took a chance with it, because I came out pleasantly surprised, and with a new favorite ending sequence. Seriously, I really can't get enough of it.
I've mentioned this several times before on Japanator, but just for the record, I love dungeon crawlers. Next to a good old-fashioned story-based RPG, the random dungeon genre in particular is my favorite kind of video game. I've played everything from Azure Dreams way back on the PS1 (still one of the best) to The Nightmare of Druaga on the PS2 (one of the worst).
So when I heard about Sorcery Saga: Curse of The Great Curry God, a game that seeks to combine the joys of random dungeon exploration with a cute story about saving a local curry spot from an evil chain restaurant, I was psyched; it's probably worth mentioning that I'm also fond of curry, so this was like a match made in Karen-heaven. Was the game everything I was hoping for, with a side of pickled onions? Not quite, but let's be clear: it's still a lot of fun.
I was really excited to play Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers, as it seemed like a great way to finally learn all about this famous, zodiac-inspired series. While I had some knowledge of the show from the odd video and passing mention, I'd never put any time to watching or reading Saint Seiya. It's a shame really, as I'd heard some good things, but just didn't have the time to get acquainted with a whole new series. This is why I was excited to play Brave Soldiers.
This game doesn't attempt to be a balanced tournament fighter. Instead, it joins games like Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution and the Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi series in the "good, dumb, party fun" category. Which isn't a bad thing, because pitting itself against popular, competitive fighters would have been a recipe for disaster for Brave Soldiers. Instead, the game seeks to sacrifice combat depth for a huge cast of characters and crazy special moves. Now, I can get behind that, but unfortunately, the game falls a bit short of its goal.
AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match assembles a colorful cast of characters from anime series you may not have watched into a game you probably wouldn’t even look at it because of the name. But wait! Don’t go just yet! I’ve got more to say about it. Stay with me here. It’s actually an excellent 2D fighter, and one you’d do well to support if you want to see more just like it.
As a Sailor Moon fan, or "Moonie" of 15 years, it's kind of amazing that I never got around to reading the entire manga until now. I guess it's not that weird when you think about it; early on, I was all about anime and had little interest in manga, then by the time I was interested, the old Tokyopop editions of the manga were out of print. I did buy the Japanese editions at Kinokuniya a few years back, but that was more for the sake of having them as collectibles; my rudimentary Japanese knowledge only provided me with tiny bits and pieces of the story.
Still, all this time I've been hearing from fans that the manga is far superior to the anime. The manga's alleged quality has almost reached mythic status: "Tuxedo Mask is so much more useful in the manga," Moonies whisper reverently in my ear. "Rei's character is so much more interesting. The tone is so much more mature than the anime. The end of the last arc actually makes sense," etc. etc. etc.
All this is a roundabout way of saying that while I'd like to approach the manga with fresh eyes, and avoid the mistake of constantly comparing it to the anime, I really can't help it; I'm a fan who's seen all 200 episodes of the TV series (and all three movies), and I can't pretend otherwise. I can only say that I've endeavored to avoid comparing the two in a way that seems unfair. That bias acknowledged and out of the way, were the fans right about the superiority of the manga: the original, unadulterated Sailor Moon story? To be honest, even as I sit here the proud owner of 14 volumes of Naoko Takeuchi's fantasy opus, I'm still not sure.
A girl and her werewolf. It's a tale as old as the setting sun, right? Or at least as old as the twilight.
Mamoru Hosoda has had a solid career so far. He's covered a variety of subjects and each film has been released to critical acclaim. What could he tackle next? Well, Wolf Children is the tale of a single mom, essentially. A woman who's raising her two children in the best way she can despite the world being against her. And it's harder than you'd think, because these two children are part-wolf.
Wolf Children follows a young woman named Hana who falls in love with a man who has been sneaking into her college classes. He's cold at first, but soon warms up to Hana and reveals his deep dark secret to her: he's a werewolf. The myth basically plays no role here-- he's just a guy who can turn into a wolf. They eventually have two adorable "pups" together, Ame and Yuki, who gain his abilities to swap between human and wolf. However, before they're even out of diapers, he passes away in an unexplained accident, leaving Hana to raise the children on her own.
Despite all the hours I've spent with it, I still feel like I've only scratched the surface of what you can do in Manga Studio 5. I've used art software to make comics before, but this is the first time I've ever used software that was specifically intended for comics, and it makes a big difference. Using various illustration and photo-editing programs to make comics can be done very well, but you're always kind of jury-rigging those programs to get them to do what you need them to do; it never feels natural. It's so nice with Manga Studio to have a program that's actually tailored for making comic pages, with specific tools for panels and dialogue balloons that make life so much easier.
Of course, I didn't want to just tell you about my experience with Manga Studio 5 when I can show you instead, so I made a little comic page. The good news is that it stars everyone's favorite Japanator mascot, Ai-Fi! The bad news is I've decided that I'm really bad at using screen tone and should probably never touch it again, but that is absolutely not Manga Studio's fault.
Not even original light novel scribe Reki Kawahara could have predicted how big his Sword Art Online franchise would eventually become. Since the first novel was published in April of 2009, Kawahara's creation has seen 12 sequel novels, five separate manga series, a video game (with another one the way), a spin-off light novel series, and a 25-episode anime. I'd say he ended up doing pretty well for himself.
Yet Sword Art Online's success has not been limited to Japan. Indeed, the show has somewhat crossed over into the mainstream through airing on Cartoon Network's Toonami block. Aniplex has decided to give the series quite the deluxe BD treatment, but the question is whether or not these box sets are worth their relatively high asking price for fans.
Hayao Miyazaki's latest movie, The Wind Rises, is a story about a historic person: the project lead on the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane. It's decidedly unlike the imaginative, family-friendly adventures that Studio Ghibli is best known for. Instead, this is a film for adults, with deliberate pacing and lengthy decisions that reflect the gravity of the subject matter.
The aging animator has called it quits (again) after his movie debuted in France, so this may very well be Miyazaki's last full-feature film. I say aging, not only because Miyazaki's particular style and exacting needs over his animators and his animation process gets harder on him as the years go by, but also because he is a survivor of World War II: a first-person witness to the events that happened behind Japan's battle lines. It is in that way which The Wind Rises documents the legacy of someone whose creations were bore out of his imagination, but with deadly consequences.
We all get depressed sometimes. It's not an easy thing to deal with, in any way, shape, manner or form. Whether we've gone through it ourselves, or watched a love one spiral into hopeless despair, Sickness Unto Death is a title that grabs you with all those familiar feelings.
Sickness Unto Death is a two-volume release from Vertical, and title that flew under the radar for me. I picked it up at New York Comic Con after some insistence from the Vertical people. On the train ride home, I flew through the manga at a breakneck pace. I suspect you will, too.
Follow me after the jump, and I'll go into just what a manga about absolute despair is like.
I never thought any of the Senran Kagura games would make their way overseas, but I admit I was pleased to learn that XSEED would be localizing the title. Not because I'm a huge fan of the series, but rather that I hate it when publishers overlook a game simply because they've deemed the content too edgy for the international audience. I believe in the free market, and letting gamers decide for themselves whether or not a game is worth their money. Unfortunately, I know there are other news outlets who don't necessarily share my point of view, but I digress.
Senran Kagura Burst isn't really what I would consider edgy, though the script is often suggestive, with the visuals to match. It's a tale of two modern ninja clans, comprised of busty teens with a penchant to tear each others clothes to pieces mid-combat. Some might find that appealing, and others not so much. In that regard, I tend not to judge, but it was enough to catch my attention, and it sounds promising enough me. The question remains, does the game deliver?
Most long-running shonen franchises have theatrical releases to supplement their ongoing stories. Dragon Ball has 18 flicks between the original and Dragon BallZ, Naruto has nine movies, Bleach has four and so on. Being one of the most popular series of all time, One Piece itself has 12 entries.
See, but here’s the problem: Most of the time, they're terrible, throwaway bits of fluff. Their stories are rarely written by the original creators, so they’ll sometimes have contradictions with the original work. At the very least, these movies will have better animation, as it’s easier to dump a bunch of money toward a two-hour movie as opposed to a multi-hundred episode show. One Piece is no different, as the quality between movies has varied drastically. Some are pretty good (Giant Mecha Soldier of Karakuri Castle), some are pretty bad (Chopper’s Kingdom on the Island of Strange Animals) and some are awful rehashes of much better arcs from the show (Adventures of Alabasta and Episode of Chopper Plus). The thing is, all of these movies were left to the whims of whoever was writing and directing.
That changed with the tenth movie, Strong World. Originally released in December 2009, it was the first film in the franchise to be overseen by Eiichiro Oda, One Piece’s creator. He also provided a ton of designs, so if any movie was going to be consistent with the original universe, this was going to be the one. Now, four years later, FUNimation has finally brought it over for us to watch. Does Oda’s involvement make this a better flick than its predecessors? Hit the jump to find out!
Last week saw the release of the first volume of Sweet Rein, a Christmas-themed love story published by VIZ Media. It's a translation of Sakura Tsukuba's Yoroshiku Master, which is finished, and mercifully short (three volumes). Indeed, it's short enough that I decided that for the first time since Kimi ni Todoke I'd be giving one of these cutesy romance-type stories another shot.
Sweet Rein follows the story of Kurumi, a 17-year-old girl who was down in the dumps because she expected to spend Christmas all by her lonesome, when she suddenly encounters the lovable Kaito on the street. He bumps into her and a magical rein appears to bind them together, and thus begins a master and servant relationship in which she is a Santa and he a magical reindeer who can (and will) do anything she commands, including turning into a straight-up reindeer.
If you ask most people who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s what anime was, they’d probably say Akira. This film impacted not only the geeks and nerds, but had the sort of cross-over appeal that most shows don’t reach now. It was part of the early kick of adult-oriented, ultra-violent titles like Vampire Hunter D and Demon City Shinjuku that would appear in Blockbuster’s anemic anime shelf and would get rented over and over again, until the tape was falling off the spool.
Several years ago, Bandai released the Blu-Ray of Akira to critical praise and general adoration. Unfortunately, it went out of print fairly quick and became pricey in the after market. I know I’ve spent the last couple of years looking for a copy at a decent price. Thanks to Funimation, we’ve got a new version of the film for its 25th anniversary. Does the film still hold up or are those glasses getting rose-tinted? Well, you’ll just have to hit the jump to find out!