Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Anime 2009 Picks

Spring. Meh. We're a few short weeks from things warming up again. Also a few short weeks away from the grass growing green again, and my lawn is freaking huge.

Still, on the plus side, there's new anime. This here's the big season, so this list is likely to be very long. In other words, settle in.

Disclaimer: I'm not another douchebag cynic anime fan. If an anime can manage to merge a good storyline and lots of panty shots almost seamlessly, more power to them, and I ain't holding it against them. (This just might be because I lack the large, ceramic, EVA-01-shaped model up my ass that most anime bloggers seem to have that makes them so stuck up.) In other words? I'm more likely to have Queen's Blade on my list, rather than RAINBOW Nisha.

Anyhow, on with the show! But first off, let's see what we're working with.


Apologies for the huge image. But its good quality, so why not? Anyways.


Full Metal Alchemist


Synopsis:
Long-awaited and rumored second TV season of the anime adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s ridiculously popular manga. One hopes none of you require a detailed description of the series, but one is provided below nonetheless. Unsurprisingly, scant information has been released regarding the story of this new season. What is known, is that Yasuhiro Irie (Kurau: Phantom Memory) will be the new director, replacing Seiji Mizushima (Gundam 00), and also that the seiyuu for Ed and Al will remain the same, while almost everyone else will change.

After losing their mother, Alphonse and Edward Elric attempt to bring her back using the forbidden science of human alchemy. However, alchemy operates on the theory of equivalent trade, and breaking the human alchemy taboo carries a heavy price. Ed loses his leg, and Al loses his body. Ed is able to seal Al’s soul inside of a huge suit of armor, at the cost of his arm. Years later, Ed (now with two mechanical limbs) and Al (still trapped in the armor) leave their childhood home, each brother concerned with the other’s happiness. Ed, who has a natural talent and skill for alchemy, becomes nationally certified and is soon known everywhere as the “Fullmetal Alchemist.” (ANN)

Opinion: What the hell? I thought we were done with this show! What? Its back now? And its a remake and not a sequel....hm...interesting.

In truth, at first I loved this series. The plot, the characters, the awesome steampunk setting...all great. But, not long after *that* death, it just...lost something. And when it did, it lost my interest, as well. The rumor (more accurately clarified as "fan hope", which is what most internet rumors truly are) is that this brand-new series will be a more accurate adaptation of the manga.

I lost interest aroud the time that this show started making up its own plot that diverted from the manga, so if this is true maybe the remake can be the series I wanted the original to be.

Going past five episodes? Well, it remains to be seen, really. Most likely, what'll happen is that I'll get this series next year when its all finished, when I can see how faithful it is to the manga.


Guin Saga

Synopsis: Adaptation of Kaoru Kurimoto long-running novel series that began in 1979 and currently spans 122 volumes.

The heroic adventure series follows a “Conan-esque” character named Guin with a leopard mask on a fantasy land. The Middle Country suffered through the fires of war, plagued by demonic hordes, and begrudged by their enemies. In these dark times the people of the Middle Country have entrusted their fate into the hands of a noble warrior, Guin. The first arc, the Marshes Episode, focuses on Guin’s escape from invading Mongaul armies while he protects the young twin heirs of a defeated country. (ANN/Official Site)

Opinion: When I first heard about this series, I really kinda blew it off. Honestly, in terms of my being interested its still quite a bit low on the list. Especially since its main character is some douche with a leopard on his head. (What is this, Gekiranger?) Plus, it seems a lot less high fantasy (like, Lord of the Rings) and more sword-and-sorcery (Conan the Barbarian), which has never been my deal. Lots of oversized swords (that part's okay), "heroes" that are either shirtless or in loincloths, a bunch of evil spellcasters that are rulers over kingdoms, and lots scantily-clad princesses the heroes spend all of their time rescuing from the aforementioned spellcasters. Generally an all-around "meh" from me, but we'll see how things with this one shake out.

Going past five episodes? Not a chance, unless I suddenly get broadband. There are simply better series to waste my time on.


Sengoku Basara


Synopsis:

In the age of the Warring Countries, Japan was fragmented in semi-independent provinces, governed by feudal lords or daimyo, who confronted each other in an endless struggle for power. Ambitious daimyos from every corner of the Archipelago had shouted their battle cry. Those were days of unrest and chaos. As war spread throughout the country, the map of power underwent rapid and dramatic changes.

In this never-ending conflict, one man finally seemed to be just one step from establishing total control over the country. He was the lord of Owari, the Sixth Heavenly Devil King. His name was Oda Nobunaga. But now, a young general clad in azure makes his unexpected appearance in this confused scenario, heading a huge army of cavalrymen from the Northern provinces. He is known as Date Masamune, the One-Eyed Dragon. And he is coming for Oda Nobunaga’s head, and for ultimate supremacy! (Official Site)

Opinion: Well, let's see. Warring States era. Based on a Dynasty Warriors-esque game, so its pretty much a guarantee there will be lots of fighting. From the promo picture, it seems to possess some pretty cool character designs. Now, if the main character is heroic, I believe we have ourselves a winner!

Going past five episodes? Contingent on how well these first five episodes go, really.

Senjou no Valkyria: Gallian Chronicles


Synopsis:

In a fictitious continent reminiscent of 1930s Europe divided in two by the Empire and the Federation, the Empire has set its sights on invading a small neutral country called Gallia—situated in between the two great empires. Welkin and his fellow soldiers of the Federation’s 7th Platoon are engaged in the battle. (MAL)

Opinion: I was interested in the PS3 game this is based on almost from the jump. Having played the demo of this and loved it, and my girlfriend having played the full game itself and loved it, I only hope now that they can turn this clearly awesome game into an equally awesome anime. Incidentally...how many World War I-esque anime are there? There simply cannot be that many.

Going past five episodes? I certainly hope so, depends on bandwidth and actual quality, though.

Pandora Hearts

Synopsis: Oz Bezarius, heir to one of the duke houses, has just turned fifteen. His life is rich and carefree, darkened only by the constant absence of his father. At his coming-of-age ceremony, however, everything changes. For no reason that he can discern, he’s cast into the prison known as the “Abyss”, only to be saved by a “chain” known as Alice, the bloodstained black rabbit. Why was he cast into Abyss, how does Alice factor into it all, and what does the organization known as “Pandora” want with him… (Manga summary from ANN)

Opinion: I can't tell if this is going to be crazy awesome or far, far too dark for my tastes. I know it'll have pretty animation, but that aside? Nada. Still, it IS a shounen series, so it should be somewhat decent, I think.

Going past five episodes? Probably not. Even if it DOES turn out to be good, I have my priorities.

Queen's Blade: Rurou no Senshi


Synopsis: The story follows a competition to decide the next Queen. The strongest warrior will rule the country and expand it. The contestants need to be older than 12, but they need not be human, intelligent, or even of that country. The rules for the tournament allow murder, and the choice of any weapon.

Opinion: Been waiting on this one since it was announced back in late '08. I'm actually still a little disappointed it didn't come out in the Winter. In this, I'm looking for a lot of bad-ass fights, along with an absolutely sickening amount of fanservice. (Unlike some bloggers, one of which actually responded, "BOOBIES. No." upon hearing about this show.) No plot required. Honest.

Going past five episodes? Probably, yeah.

Hayate no Gotoku 2

Synopsis: Hayate Ayasaki is an unlucky teenager who worked since childhood to make ends meet due to his parents’ irresponsible behavior. One day he finds out that his parents ran away from home, leaving behind a massive gambling debt on his shoulders. While running away from the debt collectors, he ends up meeting Nagi Sanzen’in, a young girl who is the sole heir of the wealthy Sanzen’in estate, and due to a misunderstanding, Nagi ends up falling in love with Hayate. After he rescues Nagi from some kidnappers, she hires Hayate as her new butler. (Wikipedia)

Opinion: Hayate the Combat Butler has been on my "I should really watch this" list for ages. Unfortunately, its STILL there so I guess the sequel will have to be put there right after it for now.

Going past five episodes? N/A.

Tears to Tiara

Synopsis: Riannon is set to be sacrificed to appease resurrected demon lord Arawn. As her brother Arthur attempts to rescue her, Arawn defies those who resurrected him and frees Riannon from her captors, leading to her admiration of him. Arawn acts as a leader and assembles a party of companions. (MAL)

Opinion: Could this be the high fantasy anime I've been waiting on? Yeahhh...I doubt it. The main character is one of those, "See, I know I'm supposed to be evil, and I do kinda act evil, but I'm still the good guy!"-types. (Honestly, when you have to use that many words to describe a "cliche", is it REALLY still a cliche?) And to me, the main character is vitally important to having a good/great series.

Still, I love the designs, and the animation quality looks nice. Even if this isn't *the* anime fantasy series I'm looking for, it should be a nice distraction until the real one comes along.

Going past five episodes? Possible. Depends on how I feel about the main character by episode five.

Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!

Synopsis: Meet Plug, an unusual girl from a parallel world. Plug is a "Juuden-chan," capable of "recharging" people down on their luck, spreading good cheer wherever she goes!

Opinion: I admit it. This could be a little on the jejune side. Still, a girl charging up people's luck and spreading happiness and good cheer everywhere? Come on. Its screaming "bright and happy show", so how can I avoid it?

Going past five episodes? Ehh...maybe later.

Tayutama ~ Kiss on my Deity ~


Synopsis: The story centers on Yūri Mito, a student at the Sōsei Academy and the only son of the man who runs the Yachimata shrine. At Yachimata, there is a legend of a deity named Tayutayu-sama who protected the area, but this deity and other so-called “Tayutai” have been lost in time. Mito and his friends discover a relic on the school grounds with mysterious patterns on them. Then, at the opening ceremony of the new school year, an equally mysterious girl named Mashiro appears before Mito. Mashiro is somehow tied to the relic and the legend of Tayutayu-sama. (ANN)

Opinion: Cute girl in the promo pic. Description hinting at delving into Japanese myth and folklore (though, admittedly, it sounds like a healthy dose of "shit-got-made-up" will be tossed in), which I've said before I show no small amount of interest in. This is at least worth the five episodes I intend to give it, if not more. Unless its like School Days, in which case I'll be sending thwacking bunnies after all involved.

Going past five episodes? I'll probably want to, at least.

Shinkyoku Sokai Polyphonica Crimson S


Synopsis:
Second anime adaptation of the Ocelot visual novel series that has expanded into various additional light novels and manga. A previous anime adaptation exists, but this new adaptation is not officially listed as a continuation or second season, and is being done by a new studio.

In the continent of Polyphonica, spirits materialize in the world, surviving on the music that is played by humans, and live together with them. While the spirits don’t appear often, some spirits have enough power to materialize in human or animal forms and live together with humans. Dantists, who play special music called “Commandia,” are widely respected in this world. They also usually are in contract with powerful spirits. The story of Shinkyoku Sōkai Polyphonica revolves around the new Dantist, Phoron Tatara, the spirit that he made contract with, Corticarte Apa Lagranges, and their friends, in their daily life and work. (ANN/Wikipedia)

Opinion: I'm mainly interested in this series due to the rather...out there concept. And I've long been a fan of the idea of songs granting power of some sort (my favorite example of this in a story being the Sil, where the universe was literally sung into existence). Still, this is a sequel, so I'd best watch the original series first.

Going past five episodes? N/A.

Wow. Admittedly, I'll also be following the Koihime Musou OVA (which is apparently a more faithful to the original eroge adaptation), the Lupin vs. Detective Conan OVA (whoever thought of this deserves a bunny), but this is just ten series.

This time last year my plate was full with nearly twice this. Oh well. No complaining from me. I'm behind already, this just means its catch-up time!


Winter Anime 2009 Picks

I'm crazy late with this, since its just two weeks or so until the Spring Season Anime will be out. Honestly, this should've been done in December, but I just didn't feel like it. Oh well. No more excuses, onto the list, huh? First of all, here's what we're working with, as far as the full season:






Akikan



Synopsis:
Kakeru Daichi buys a can of melon juice soda from a vending machine, which then suddenly transforms into a girl that he nicknames "Melon". Other "Akikan" ("empty can") girls appear, however they need to be infused with carbon dioxide from kissing to survive.

Opinion: I make no excuses. This series sounds downright vapid. But, the girls look cute, and every now and then I like to watch a series and just veg out. I'd call it a guilty pleasure, except I'm a man who proudly admits he's a Sentai fan. Its possible I'm past the concept.

Going past five episodes? ...Why? I've got better stuff to get with my (very) limited bandwidth.


Asu no Yoichi!


Synopsis:
A boy swordsman, Yoichi and his father stays in the mountains training for his descent into the city. Yoichi comes down to lodge with four beautiful sisters. A new, more severe "training" awaits him.

Opinion: Most typical series of the season. Swords, schools, dojos, and a cast of girls consisting of the "normal" and sweet girl, a tsundere, a loli, and the implied nymph wearing glasses. And yet, I'm watching. Why? Well, better a bunch of entertaining cliches than original ideas that I'm positive will put me to sleep. (See: RideBack.)

Will I go past five episodes? Well, its only 12 episodes in all, so yeah why not?


Shikabane-Hime: Gen



Synopsis:
Makina Hoshimura is a Shikabane--people who cheat death due to a strong dying wish. With her contractor, she is given the task of hunting and killing other Shikabane who endanger humans.

Opinion: Same as Shikabane-Hime: Aka, really. I'd love to try this series, but I'm much too busy using my currently meager bandwidth on more important shit.

Will I go past five episodes? N/A.


Slayers Evolution-R



Synopsis:
Having lost the Sword of Light, Lina and Gourry continue to search for a replacement weapon. They meet Amelia and Zelgadis in the kingdom of Luvinagard, but appearing before her is Luvinagard's Inspector of the Special Investigative Unit; a man called Wizer.

Opinion: See my entry on Shikabane-Hime. Except its not so much that there's more important stuff as that there are around three other seasons to watch first.

Will I go past five episodes? N/A.


Tower of Druaga ~ Sword of URUK ~


Synopsis:
Jil embarks on a quest with his companions for a fabled and powerful artifact rumored to be in the highest floor of the Tower of Druaga. However, other competitors, including the kingdom of Uruk itself, want the treasure for their own reason.

Opinion:
Sequel to last year's Tower of Druaga ~ Aegis of URUK ~. Gotta be honest--the last season DID have potential, but it missed the mark as it was lacking "that certain something". Not an expansive enough world and weak animation is probably it. I'm still waiting on the high fantasy anime that I'll fall head over heels in love with...but this ain't it.

Going past five episodes? Yeah, right. I still need to finish Aegis of Uruk first.


Chrome Shelled Regios



Synopsis: In the distant future, humanity lives in isolated mobile cities called Regios - such as Zuellni, which also has a self-contained school. Layfon Alseif enrolls and joins the 17th Martial Arts Studies Unit led by the third-year student Nina Antalk and embarks on a series of adventures.

Opinion: I've been waiting on this series since it was first announced back in early '08. It seems like the kinda series that has a lot of potential for a good story, and the set-up allows for lots of cool fights, both with the "Filth Monsters" as well as the "inter-platoon matches".

Going past five episodes? Already past that, with a third of the series downloaded.

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo



Synopsis: The story is set in the year 311 of the Orbital Calendar, when humanity has migrated to countless colony clusters in space. A space colony girl named Akiha Shishidō encounters a malevolent artificial intelligence named Leopard that has been installed on a colony. Akiha is joined by an Inter-Colony Police officer named Itsuki Kannagi, a taciturn young girl named Honoka Kawai, and a robot named Imoko “Imo-chan” Shishidō.

Opinion: When I first saw the series title of this, I was really not feeling it. (It just sounds like the kind of series that would be incredibly boring.) But then I saw the absolutely gorgeous fucking art (a Sunrise stable: see, Mai-HiMe, Gundam 00, and Code Geass) and realized that it didn't look nearly as boring as I thought it would be. This lead me to the synopsis, and any series with art like this that happens to be about outer space adventures is worth a look-see.

Going past five episodes? I sure hope so.

Hm. That's it. Thankfully short. But the Spring Season post is next and that's going to be a long one. At least, I hope it is.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Future of Television

Right, so here we are. Sci-Fi finally admitting flat out that they're done with the "Science Fiction" thing, now that they're changing the name of the network from Sci-Fi to "Syfy".


So, combined with this and the recent "rebranding of Toon Disney to Disney XD", I'm fucking done with television networks. I'd like to say that whole article felt like a slap in the face, but I'm tired of that phrase, and really its just television; its not that serious.

But it IS an insult. That "geeky" image is what made their network make any money in the first place. The rebranding is a result of lazy marketing at its finest. From the article:

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular.”


Okay, so first off, congratulations on stereotyping and insulting not only the people actually watching your channel, but video game fans, and females. In a single sentence! Impressive.

“It gives us a unique word and it gives us the opportunities to imbue it with the values and the perception that we want it to have,” he said."

See, here's your problem. And, what I meant by "lazy marketing". You made up a new word to give it the connotations that you want it to have. Instead, what you should have done was give the old term the connotations you wanted. Then it would've kept the meaning it had to your current fans, but had a whole new meaning to the new ones.

It can't be that hard. For three (or four, I forget) years straight, Apple ran these "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercials. For the undoubtedly small amount of people that haven't seen these, they featured a stoic, pudgy old white guy in a stuffy suit and glasses that played the part of a PC, and a hip, young douche that played the part of a Mac. And they would do these pathetically one-sided comparisons about how you only got a PC if you wanted to do boring shit (and were like the guy they had representing the PC), and you got a Mac if you were young and cool and wanted to video chat/play music/do-all-the-shit-that-a-PC-can-do-as-well-but-they-wouldn't-tell-you-that-because-they're-hoping-you're-stupid-and-don't-know-it (and were like the guy they had representing the Mac, which I would think NO ONE would want to be like but hey go figure).

For some unknown reason, Microsoft let them go for YEARS making these ridiculous commercials, irritating PC fans (because of the blatant bullshit) AND Mac fans (because of the young, hip douche that was supposed to represent Mac computers). I guess they were so secure in their sales that they just didn't worry about it. Which is a shame because it would've been stupidly easy to come up with a way to shut those commercials up.

...Which, eventually, sometime last year, they did. With EXACTLY the kind of commercial I would've used. They got people of all ages, colors, political leanings (during the election), and careers to say simply, "I'm a PC", illustrating that MANY kinds of people used PCs, and there was nothing wrong with this. This effectively shut Mac the fuck DOWN, and now that I think of it, I haven't seen a "I'm a Mac" commercial since then.

You see, THAT is how you change perception ladies and gentlemen. Its not that hard. What's important to keep in mind is reality /=/ perception. Perception, at the end of the day, is merely how people see one thing or another. Its not set in stone, and its easier to change than an opinion--oftentimes you need only display something in a different light, and the perception is changed.

That the suits at Sci-Fi were so lazy they merely changed their nomenclature, rather than change how their current name was viewed, shows an astounding lack of creativity at a channel where creativity should reign supreme. They could've easily rounded up a bunch of good-looking males and cute females that liked Sci-Fi and had commercials and "bumps" about how they were Sci-Fi fans, but they chose not to.

But, really...fuck what you heard. All of that is just bullshit to distract you from what's REALLY going on. I'm sure a select few people there think they're changing the name to alter the perception, but that's just a front.

What they want is an excuse to air whatever the fuck they want. As I've said elsewhere, I knew the channel was fucked when they actually had an exec say, "I could make this network a success if I didn't have to show all this science-fiction crap". Mind you, that's paraphrasing, but still. For goodness' sake, its a science fiction network! What did you think you would be showing; wrestling?! (Oh wait.)

We should really just get used to it, because that's the future of television. At the beginning of the 90's, numerous "special" channels were created for specific kinds of fans. Science-Fiction Network, Cartoon Network, and on and on. But since 2002 or so, that era has died out, and in its place will just be a bunch of miscellaneous networks with random names airing whatever they think will get the highest ratings. It won't matter if it fits with the network's "focus", because they won't have a focus.

Its because of this, I don't care about television channels anymore. Brand loyalty is impossible when they're so busy throwing fans to the side for money they don't care what they put on anymore.

Mind you, I'm not advocating giving up television, nor am I saying that's what I'm going to do. That's a futile effort at best, and laughable at worst. What I AM saying is I'm looking forward to the day now when television networks die out all together. When all you have left are the shows themselves.

The day where your cable or satellite service is just a box. I've said this before, I believe, in some of my earliest articles. I'm ready to skip over "a la carte" (pick your own channel), because all the channels are worthless anyway. Just let my service be a box with an enourmous (2 or more terabytes) hard-drive inside, that hooks up to a server allowing me to download the programs I want to.

New shows can be previewed in full for the first episode, and then after that charge like, five or six bucks for new shit, 2 or 3 for reruns. Prices being variable based on whether a person wants ads or no ads in their shows.

That's definitely the way to go, because these networks? ...Fuck 'em. Seriously.