[Originally posted at Destructoid.]
Visual novels are a finicky medium. It's difficult enough to drum up interest because of their exotic origins, and harder still to find an audience due to their nature -- it's a bunch of re...
How do you like your fighting games? Personally, I like mine with a sizable dose of pop culture references and eye-melting color palettes infused with a healthy dose of humor that's hilariously self-aware. That's what you get with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, the most gleefully insane anime-inspired fighter the genre has seen in some time.
Distilling a good 25 years' worth of story arcs from the wildly popular JoJo's Bizarre Adventure into an accessible fighter that anyone can enjoy is no easy feat, and yet developer CyberConnect2 has done an admirable job that should be praised. Even if your heart is as black as professional jerk Dio Brando's.
At the beginning, I loved Princess Nine. It may be a cliche to say "I laughed, I cried!", but the fact is, I really did laugh and cry. The show seemed to be capable of doing something nigh-impossible: present a story unabashedly about girl power, without demonizing the male characters and rehashing the war between the sexes. Instead of getting bogged down in just dealing with sexism, the show transcends the gender gap and becomes about universal human struggles that apply to everyone: wisdom versus ignorance, passion versus apathy, and fear of the unknown versus the courage to try something new and dangerous. There's an awful lot going on in Princess Nine, and for a little while there, I was in anime heaven.
Then I saw the final third of the series -- and suddenly, I wanted to break all the discs over my knee and throw the pieces into an industrial wood chipper. However, a cooler head prevailed, as I eventually realized that despite my disappointment with the final arc, this is a quality release that deserves a place on many fans' shelves.
Besides, I have no idea where to find a wood chipper.
I've been a fan of the Monogatari series since Bakemonogatari and have followed the entire franchise since the start. Nekomonogatari: Black came out in late 2012 and was widely accepted by fans as a very pleasant addition to the franchise that returned to the roots that had been established in the first series but mostly abandoned in Nisemonogatari.
Serving as a prequel to the first series, Nekomonogatari: Black tells the story of that fateful Golden Week when Araragi discovers that he might have feelings for the class president Tsubasa Hanekawa. Before he can truly explore those feelings though he learns of her troubled home life. That issue has to be pushed aside however because Hanekawa has also been possessed by a ghost known as the Sawari Neko which is causing her to attack random people around the city.
The wacky ensemble comedy of Ranma 1/2 occupies an interesting niche in Western anime fandom. The show wasn't likely to be someone's "first anime," in the way that contemporaries Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z generally were, but it was very likely to be someone's second, or third anime. Since it was one of the first anime TV series made widely available on VHS in the '90s, a lot of us have fond memories of it that may not be necessarily earned; after all, when a lot of us first saw it, we had almost nothing to compare it to.
I was a typical anime fan in this regard, since my local Blockbuster had a few Ranma 1/2 tapes among its meager anime offerings somewhere around 1997. The store only had the first two volumes of the TV series and a handful of OVAs, but I remember watching them to death back in the day -- especially the TV series episodes. Needless to say, just hearing the original theme song is enough to bring on crashing tidal waves of nostalgia. Going back to watch it in 2014, for the first time in well over a decade, I had to wonder if the show would seem anywhere near as appealing to me now that I'm older and supposedly wiser.
The answer? Imagine a picture of a slightly disgruntled Panda holding up a wooden sign that says "Yup!" This was good stuff then, and it's good stuff now.
Originally released in 2012, Nyaruko: Crawling With Love is a bizarre little romantic comedy which takes a typical harem anime set up and inserts tons of references to Lovecraft into the mix. The end result is a weird series that will make some people laugh and some people run for cover.
The story is pretty simple; while out and about one day, the hero Mahiro is attacked by a monster only to be saved by a Nyarlathotep who goes by the name Nyaruko. After being saved, Mahiro learns that his life is in danger and Nyaruko moves in to protect him at all costs. Along the way he meets more aliens including a Cthugha named Kuko (who is in love with Nyaruko despite the fact that they're supposed to be enemies) and the wind deity Hastur.
There's something comforting and satisfying about Japanese turn-based RPGs, growing your party and exploring the unknown in the name of loot and power. Every progressive inch forward is one step closer to realizing your ultimate demolition team, and along the way are formidable opponents that continually challenge you to step up your game. I'm admittedly a little picky with my RPGs, but when I find one I enjoy, it's just like curling up with a good book -- and Demon Gaze is undoubtedly one of them.
There's something inscrutable about Blast of Tempest. Even now that I've had a few days to digest everything and figure out the answers to most of my lingering story questions, I still feel that there's something about the show that I don't quite get. And it's not that I don't "get" it in some artistic sense, where I don't understand the themes or whatnot; I mean, I'm not sure I completely understand what even happened. Or why it happened.
Or, as Shakespeare once wrote:
What seest thou else In the dark backward and abysm of time?
Wit Studio is probably best known for their work on the hit anime Attack on Titan, but in stark contrast with high octane action and drama we might associate with Wit, they released a quiet yet ambitious short film OVA, Hal. Being a relatively new studio with some real production chops, Hal feels like a showcase that displays what the studio is capable of, pulling out all the stops and putting their best foot forward.
Before I was a professional writer, my primary source of income was working in the customer service industry. Every single day I would deal with customers face to face and while most of them were perfectly fine, there were some that were less than pleasant. The same could be said for my co-workers. While some of them were great, some of them could be classified as difficult or just plain strange. This is why Wagnaria has always spoken to me in a way that very few other anime ever have. While I might not have ever worked in a restaurant, I can still identify with the characters of the series who are dealing with their own issues, hassles and oddities.
When the first season was released in 2010, I was absolutely floored by just how good it was. Always quirky and hilarious, I connected with it very quickly and when it disappeared I was very sad. Then the second season came along and it was like meeting an old flame and falling in love all over again. Once again though, the series eventually ended and my heart was broken.
Now, the series is back in a special premium NIS America release and is ready to be served up just like a tasty entree. Does it stand the test of time? Join me after the jump to find out!
As far as bundles go, this is a bit of a strange one. Part-movie collection, part-video game, Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day is something that could only be pulled off on a home console. I suppose it's not surprising to see that Bandai Namco is the company publishing it, as it wasn't too long ago that they were offering a similar package with Tekken Hybrid, which included Tekken Tag Tournament HD and the Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie.
Interestingly, the four films that the 'Short Peace' refers to were actually released in Japan in the middle of last year. These short films were animated by Sunrise, combined and released in theaters as a single showing. Crispy's Inc and Grasshopper Manufacture collaborated to create a game based on the Short Peace films, titled Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, which was later released in Japan in a bundle with the four films. It only took three months to hit our shelves after the Japanese release, which is pretty impressive.
But is this media mash-up worth a place in your game collection?
The second volume of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Volume 2 completes what is better known as the first season of the Magi anime. These next 13 episodes wrap up the Balbadd arc and bring the story to the end of the second dungeon for Aladdin and Alibaba. In that sense, it completes a story. In another sense, given Magi's ongoing manga, the first season of the anime is only just the beginning.
Watching the series through the second time, it gave me time to focus on some of the little things that I either didn't notice or didn't pay much attention to the first time around. The visuals are better; the animation got a bump compared to the TV airing as, presumably, the production team went back and made minor fixes. The famed Morgiana dance scene looks better than ever on home video.
Unmistakably, the first and second volumes of Magi go hand in hand. And now that we have the whole season, we can talk about the bigger picture: the way Magi the anime is trying to tell its story.