[This post originally appeared on Destructoid.com]
No, that isn't an encoding error up there in the headline: "htoL#NiQ" is indeed this PS Vita game's title, and is essentially a very stylish way to type "The Firefly Diary" i...
After reviewing Ranma 1/2 set 2 earlier this month, I knew it was time to hunker down and dig deep. This series had a seven season run, and while this latest re-issue from Viz Media has resequenced the episodes to align more with the manga, there are still seven planned sets. It would seem as though 50-60 episodes in would be the appropriate time for Ranma fatigue to set in, which in my mind, makes set 3 a make-or-break experience.
The premise of Ranma 1/2 should be familiar enough by now: Ranma Saotome of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts has fallen victim to a Chinese curse that turns him into a girl when he's splashed with cold water, and back to a boy when splashed with hot water. Several other characters are under similar curses, and much hilarity ensues at the show's large cast of characters falls in love with one version of Ranma or the other, and so on.
Does set 3 do the trick to keep things interesting, or does it start to grow stale?
Ranma 1/2 was my first anime. Sure, I might have watched a few feature-length titles like Ninja Scroll or Akira before sitting down to watch Ranma 1/2 with my half-Japanese friend who was always up on the latest games and anime out of Japan, but it was really the first anime series that I was exposed to, and it set the stage for what I’d come to expect from anime thereafter.
I have to say that Ranma 1/2 set that bar pretty high, as I found myself disappointed by a lot of what my local Blockbuster had on offer at the time, but as Karen noted in her review of Set 1, even the Ranma 1/2 episodes that were widely available in the 1990s were scattered across a few (and expensive!) VHS tapes that offered an incomplete presentation of the series, so I relish the opportunity to really dig in with Viz Media’s re-release of the series given how rare and expensive their previous DVD releases have become.
So, does Set 2 go above and beyond what Set 1 was able to offer? I believe it does, but I also think this is the point at which potential fans will need to make the decision as to whether or not to continue on with the lengthy series.
That's because Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is quite a lot like its predecessor, Trigger Happy Havoc. That means it's one of the few games where "spoilers" really matter, and the more I say about it, the more I risk lessening the experience for potential players.
Here then, is the quick advice: If you played and enjoyed Trigger Happy Havoc, go get Danganronpa 2 now. It's everything the first one was, and more.
But if you're new to the series, get the first game and play through that before starting off with this one, for despite a premise and cast that's friendly to series newbies, Goodbye Despair works best when taken as sequel to Trigger Happy Havoc.
And if you're still hungry for more info, keep reading. No spoilers, of course. That path leads only to despair.
Despite its pacing problems and general lack of an overarching story, I enjoyed Persona 3 The Movie: #1 Spring of Birth. As far as animated film adaptations of long games go, I think it did a novel job of compressing hours of gameplay and story into about 90 minutes. The first film had the unlucky task of handling the least interesting part of Persona 3's tale, the intro hours, but director Noriaki Akitaya and the production team managed to shift the focus enough that it totally worked. Fortunately for new director Tomohisa Taguchi and for us viewers, the next chunk of Persona 3 is far more intriguing.
Picking up after the end of Spring of Birth, Midsummer Knight's Dream begins with the crew taking down yet another large Shadow, only now with the help of Mitsuru and her powerful ice Persona. With all the hard work they've put into their after school monster hunting activities, it's about time for some R&R. Summer vacation is in full swing, which means its time for an all expenses paid island trip Yuki, Junpei, and Aikhiko go on an adventure to pick up girls, things go poorly, and the three young men are left to soak in their own self-pity. This doesn't last too long, as Yuki notices a beautiful blonde-haired girl staring off into the ocean, dress flowing in the wind. Who is she, and where did she come from...?
Back when Kamen Rider Battride War was first announced, many toku fans were excited over the fact that they were getting a Dynasty Warriors-like game that featured their favorite Heisei Riders from Kamen Rider Kuuga through Wizard (Gaim didn't exist back then). At the time, Namco Bandai seemed like they had a good tokusatsu video game on their hands. However, the company made a slight error when they commissioned Eighting (Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the Kamen Rider Climax Hero series) to develop the game instead of Omega Force (the Dynasty Warriors series).
While Eighting's known for creating many interesting fighting games and multiplayer brawler titles, the team rarely tackles the hack ‘n’ slash genre. Due to Eighting's inexperience in this department, the first Battride War game felt like an underwhelming title. Even though the team managed to almost get each Rider’s fighting style right, the game’s small character and boss roster prevented Battride War from reaching its true Form. Thankfully, the title had a few fun aspects for Kamen Rider fans, which gave players hope that Eighting could learn from their mistakes when they complete Battride War's next installment.
Since the development team have updated a few of game’s key elements, Kamen Rider Battride War II might be the Rider Musou-like adventure that we’ve been waiting for.
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 reading. And you can't always be sure that the story you're reading is going to be one that you'll want to invest dozens of hours in. On one hand, you've got a menagerie of engaging tales that capture the imagination and ensnare the reader until the very end. On the other, you've got a set of stories with dull, flavorless dialogue and uninteresting protagonists.
Why waste time on a less-than-stellar adventure when there are juicier ones at your disposal? I find myself asking this question and others when it comes to World End Economica Episode 1, Spice and Wolf author Isuna Hasekura's three-part visual novel series that follows a teenager who runs away from home and attempts to make a living for himself in the world of day trading. It's ambitious in scope, but ultimately ends up failing due to a lack of interactivity and a protagonist that's difficult to root for.
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.