Friday, December 31, 2010

Project Otaku Powerlevelling Part 22




Here's what happens when you make the mistake of not completely reading up on a story before you check it out.

I read the first few chapters of Chrome Shelled Regios about a year before the anime announcement. It had potential as a series that was part-fantasy, part-fighting, but since I couldn't get any further with the manga, I just dropped it.

When I began watching the anime, it threw me off guard to see the staunch differences. Post apocalyptic now but still mixing in school drama, my interest in this series drained.

As the story developed, it grew less interesting. There's a nonsensical prequel that's interspersed randomly in each episode, that's not only never really explained, but in Engrish so it's hard to understand. Like Yozakura Quartet, you get the sense that there's a more fleshed out universe in a different adaptation, we just never get a chance to see it because the series itself doesn't know whether to adapt the manga or the light novel. In the end, it's another series that loses to Japan's strange desire to burn their way through remotely adaptable properties and turning them into forgettable anime.

Duel of the Music Queens Match Four: IMPACT EXCITER's Young Alive vs. i-magination's Jounetsu no Counter



Young Alive!: Hm. This may be more of a ballad...oh, nevermind. Very cheery song, which fits, given the title, actually. Another song in which I'm loving her willingness to try different pacing to match up with her song.

It actually sounds like an mid-career Masami Okui song, with the upbeat guitar solo near the end. I don't have much to say on this one, as this is one of those songs that you really enjoy, but there's nothing specifically stand out-ish about it? (Other than it'd be awesome to have this as Vivid's Opening theme.)



Jounetsu no Counter: Oooh. This one has an opening like a dance track. Sounds like Red, except with a bassline. I love Lute playing in the background (thank my friend for that--I did NOT know the name of that instrument), and while I guess for some people it might be a weird track to dance to, I couldn't stop moving.

My second favorite song on the album, and probably one of my favorite Masami Okui songs of all time. (Next to Key, Naritai, Process, Bay Side Love Story, I was born to fall in love, Love is Fire, Mask, Senjou no Madonna, Reincarnation, Live Alone, Beats the Band, endless life, Souda Zettai, Niji no You ni, Naked Mind, A & C, I can't, Spicy Essence, Koishimasho Nebarimasho, Kiss in the Dark, In This Arm, Truth, Rinbu Revolution.....the list goes on....)

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

Last song of the year. Kirby Krackle, creating one of the greatest superhero songs of all time. The video makes it even more amazing.



This song perfectly captures the life (and loneliness) of a superhero.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

Unlike a lot of the "hardcore" anime watching population, I am usually unable to stomach J-Dramas. With a few notable exceptions, I find them all to be quite boring. Tokyo Dogs, with former Kamen Rider Mizushima Hiro ("Walking the path of Heaven...") as a main protagonist, is one of these notable exceptions.

In addition to being hilarious, the end theme is awesome. Another case of EXILE doing good work.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

Novel idea in the hands of two dope (if quirky) rappers. Check:



OG Original Gamer. I gotta know what their gang sign is. The Pac-Man symbol?

Project Otaku Powerlevelling Part 21




Another nineties series I picked up, Saber Marionette R is three-episode OVA sequel to the far more "popular"/well-known series Saber Marionette J, penned by the writer of one of my favorite anime, Bakuretsu Hunters. The series is set three hundred years after the adventures of the original Cherry, Lime, and Bloodberry, and the hapless protagonist Otaru, and in a world that is apparently much worse off.

Already, the series is off to a much less interesting start than the original, as darker and edgier is generally the more boring direction. In the end, what we are given is a far more forgettable, but more "action packed" version of Saber Marionette J. Hapless boy ends up with three hot cyborg girls. But where the original series had mysteries to solve and, (at least mildly) made one question what constitutes being a human, this series avoids all of that to shove weak fight scenes (it's not a fight if you don't have the HOPE of winning) and more misogyny down your throat.

Just go enjoy Saber Marionette J. And maybe J Again and J to X.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

I am just different. That's the only answer. One of Gambino's most clever songs. That's saying a lot.

The Pull List: Fantastic Four



Sometimes, all you need is an interesting take on a superhero to make them worth reading. Nowhere is this more true than with the Fantastic Four.

Done correctly, it's a series that's not as much about superheroic action as it is the ultimate adventuring family. Your family goes mountain-climbing on vacation? Neat. The Fantastic Four go mountain-climbing too. In an alternate universe. On a different planet. Up a volcano. To stop an alien race. Before breakfast.

It's a tightrope act--you balance the family stuff with the big adventures and bigger ideas. Reed Richards is the smartest man on the planet, after all--he needs to constantly be thinking ten steps ahead of everyone else, and that means his solutions to problems can't be the same level of other heroes.

So when they hired this new guy, Jonathan Hickman, a writer who had been known for gigantic ideas and concepts, I gave it a try, and it was excellent. (It helped to have one of my favorite artists of all time, Dale Eaglesham, on the book back then.) The opening story, "Solve Everything", begins with Reed Richards finally using his mind to attempt to, literally, solve everything. The result is exactly the kind of story I mentioned above that makes a great FF tale.

This is another comic that I dislike being behind on, especially as it moves towards it's big story, "Three". Rest assured I'll be catching up soon.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

Getting down to the last few. One of my favorite m-flo and hip-hop songs of all time. The original's a little cooler than this one, but lives are awesome.


Watch m-flo - Mirrorball Satellite 2012/flo jack in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra

Exile's usually hit or miss for me. I want to like them as a fan of Japanese music, but they're a little too boy band-ish for me, so I don't offer them any extra credit that I might give to another artist. When they're dope though, I still give them a shot. Like in this track.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra

What happens when two of your favorite artists work together on a song? Well, generally, it depends. Sometimes there's just too much concentrated awesome, and they can't control it right, so it cycles back around to suck.

That doesn't happen here. Childish Gambino teams up with mc chris to bring a song with one of the sickest beats this side of...well, Gambino's Culdesac, really. (Ya'll heard that shit by now.)

Enjoy.

Project Otaku Powerlevelling Part 20




It is rare to find an anime with so much potential that is completely wasted, in my eyes.

More often than not, when a certain anime sucks it simply is not surprising. I look at the premise and am disinterested, or it is an adaptation of something that's only one to two volumes old and the material is just not developed enough.

That said, usually somewhere in a series that I DO find interesting is that certain something that makes it worth your time, if not a work of art. So as said, it's rare when I find a show which I DO think can be good, end up being terrible.

Such is the case with UFO Princess Valkyrie. Before I'd watched the series and started, I did not expect too much from it. The description sounded interesting, but I've seen series before that have alien characters come out of nowhere, and they are not usually that good. It was not until I saw how they were playing the series itself that I grew interested.

It takes place on an Earth that is post-interstellar space travel, to the extent that humans can not only leave Earth, but travel to planets as if they were flying a plane. This level of progression in the human race in a story is almost unheard of--this is even more true when the same story introduces aliens. That spark of originality gave me hope Valkyrie could be more than just another moe series.

...Imagine my surprise when we find out that the primary focus of this story, is the main male and his eight year old/twenty-plus year old "wife", who transforms to deal with the Threat of the Episode, EVERY episode. That's not only repetitive, it's disappointing. Insulting when every episode teases you with other races, and alien technology. It's like the potential is waving at you every episode, but they're purposely not doing anything with it because THAT WOULD BE HARD.

This series epitomizes mediocre. There are other seasons, but I literally crossed all them all my list and replaced them after finishing this one. Blah. I want to watch Asobi ni Iku yo again to clear my mind of this crap, just thinking about it.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

Got the B-U-B to the B-L to the E to the G-U-T (S)...

EVERYONE'S had this problem before...

I'd have shown ya'll the video but...nobody needs to see that.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

It's weird to hear an artist who you normally don't care about that's suddenly released a song that you really enjoy. I still can't tell Jason Mraz from normal college rock guys, but this song's just catchy.
I'm a little bummed I missed the guy's performance when he came to town a few months ago, but college towns tend to get a lot of musical acts, so hopefully I'll still get the chance to see him.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One Extra

Basically BASIC was the first language I spoke...



Your hustle ain't always gotta be on the streets. Real Talk.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty One

Saving the epicness for today. This is seriously *the* best Rock song I heard all year. Naruto fans have no doubt heard this song a few times, but I encourage you to try listening without generic opening credits.

Project Otaku Powerlevelling Part 19



Occasionally, stuff like this happens. As an anime fan, there are a few OVA releases every year, and it's a guarantee ONE of them is something you'd love as a television series.

Early Reins is one of those OVAs. It's a simple set-up, but very cool. It's a story of a train hijacking in the 1800's. Admittedly, if this were the plot of a Gunsmoke episode...well, I probably forgot about it because I'm sure it IS the plot of a Gunsmoke episode, but as an anime, there's something about it that makes it...not necessarily cooler, but...more attention-grabbing?

It also contains something ELSE I'm a fairly big fan of: Gender-swapping. Often times a cliched idea or story can be made more interesting by flipping the gender that's normally involved with that cliche. Here, the main characters are all female, and the story was cooler for it. Unlike Melty Lancer, where the girls were shown-up by everyone from their boss to their "THIS guy again?" villain, the cast of Early Reins are all legit Action Girls, taking out the hijackers with shocking efficiency.

The other thing that caught my attention while watching this one episode OVA, is how the series refused to glaze over violence, but didn't overdo it. Less than ten minutes into the series, a background character catches a bullet to the head. No cutaways, no unnecessary flashes to miss what happens--there's just a hole in the guy's head. It's realistic, and it's that realism that makes it so shocking.

Of course, what gives the OVA it's hook to be a potential series, is it's main character, Margaret. A crackshot marksman with a desire for justice, she's the example of how gender-swapping a cliche can allow you to see what was once thought overdone with new eyes. Her squeaky-clean, honest character and the fact that she was being made a sheriff in a new city had my mind full of cool Western stories with her as the central character, in awesome anime-esque gunfights (Grenadier but with less boobs) and the other characters dropping in occasionally for guest spots.

All we ended up getting was this OVA, but it's still worth checking out.

Young Justice Preview

Hopefully everyone has seen the Young Justice premiere when it aired November 26th. Good character designs and a pretty decent story, though it's just getting started.

The series comes on officially January 7th, but there won't be any new episodes until the 21st, as they have to go through the episodes they've already shown us. Fortunately there's a preview to hold us off until then.



Thanks to the guys at Spinoff Online for pointing out this trailer's existence.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

TheLinkUp: Special Edition

Okay, I quit doing TheLinkUp, because I had those sites in my blog roll so if people truly want to know, they can visit the site themselves.

...But this one was of particular note, after seeing it on Donald Glover's website, IAmDonald. It's called MeinMyPlace.com and it's one of the best ideas I've seen on the internet.

It's a picture blog, full of nothing but beautiful women, in various states of undress, inside their houses. That's it. There's nothing particularly "adult" about it--it's just celebrating the intrinsic beauty of women. Not even "model" women. The girls on the site look less like models and more like, that one cute girl you saw at the party you went to Saturday night. The beautiful girl in the grocery aisle who you couldn't help but take a second glance at because she was just so dazzling (but you didn't ask for her number because you were both in the medicine aisle and you were picking up Pepto). That one girl that sat next to you in Biology class in college.

It's not about "Hey look what we can do when we get perfect lighting, $500 lingerie or $1000 dresses, and the best make-up artists in the world so we can make girls without all this feel like crap". It's about: "Dude. She's ALREADY beautiful. You just weren't paying attention."

I fail to see anything wrong in pointing out natural beauty. For those who need to be enticed to go to the website...

















*looks at the posted photos* Gorgeous.

Anyway. This post is mainly dedicated to the fact that I love women. I saw a post on a forum the other day entitled "I hate girls", and it was about how some dude was mad at women because his girlfriend screwed him.

...Eff that. I've had my heart broken by almost every girl I've ever dated, but you know what? I still love women. Aside from being pretty and smelling nice (lol), there's just something about the emotional connection I get with a girl that I really click with that's irreplaceable, regardless of whether I want to sleep with them or not. (Admittedly, I usually do. Not the point.) I value every female friend I have, for exactly that reason.

(...And also 'cause they help me understand women when I'm trying to ask one out. :D)

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra

Back with the comedic raps. But still dope.



It's less comedic, and more a re-do of Estelle and Kanye's "American Boy". I think this is the superior song, to be honest.

That should do it tonight. I'm coming back with a flurry of updates when I wake up.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra

Back with my boy, Childish Gambino, AKA Mr. More Talented Than You.



One of my favorite songs of his, especially in the last verse, where he slowly builds up his intensity and momentum, until you're like a full minute into his last verse and you realize through all these SICK punchlines he hasn't taken a single breath. It's that serious.

Album should be out 2011. For now, go over to http://www.culdesac-album.com/ to get his mixtape. It's legal, so don't get anti-piracy--support dude.

Also, I'm recommending his website, IAmDonald , if for no other reason than he has some FINE women on his front page. *bites lip, looks back at the page* The things I would d...*coughs* Okay, okay...on to the next song. I'm filling iPods up today. (Mainly 'cause most of 'em have crap for space.)

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra



'Cause I'm doing all these updates at like, 3AM...this song is definitely my joint and I identify with it for obvious reasons.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra

From serious to epic. Fairy, where are you going...

Seriously, Funkist NEEDS to be Fairy Tail's opening singers. The actual video for the first theme. I love that the lead singer puts so much emotion into singing the song, actually getting excited as they hit the dramatic parts of the song.



Slowly but surely, you're walking your way...

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra

Pause for a bit of seriousness....



Traphik = Truth. That needs a full song, by the way.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty Extra

Another game-related song. This one's not as cool as Kirby Krackle's Take It From Me, but it's epic in it's own right.



Favorite beats: Wood Man, Air Man, and the Wily Stage. Everyone else's?

Favorite line: "You old geezer/I'll take your old ass down anyday/You'll never be as smart as Dr. Light is, anyway." Awesome.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Thirty

I play too many games to say I couldn't identify with this freaking song.



Admittedly, I didn't really get the second verse the first time I heard it, but after watching my boys play CoD: Black Ops for like, five to six hours straight? It's almost like, I identify with it, or something...

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 17


Mai-Otome


One of my favorite anime series of all time is Mai-HiMe. So, much like with Kiddy Girl-and, I was looking forward to the semi-sequel that was Mai-Otome.

Fortunately, it turned out a lot better than that mess.

Mai-Otome does a far better (and, I'm assuming, more intentional) job of distancing itself from the parent series, likely to keep fans from wondering why they can't see certain characters from the original. (In my case, it keeps me from wondering where they are and why they can't handle things.) In fact, while nearly all of the original cast is around as identical descendants, none of them play any significant roles, those instead landing in the hands of the newer characters that were created for this series.

If I'm being completely fair, there's nothing WRONG with the new characters, per se. Certainly there's nothing wrong with the world, which is completely different (for reasons explained in the story) from the one in Mai-HiMe, which conceptually is a much stronger place to tell stories in. The character designs are definitely cooler, the fight scenes are more plentiful (though not quite as awesome, as power-wise the Otome < HiMe), and there are some great character moments that occur between the queen of Windbloom, Mashiro, and the main protagonist, Arika. Plus it's loaded down with shoujo-ai, if that's your thing.

Granted, the reason FOR the shoujo-ai is one of the major problems with the series. There are a few parts of the story that are just creepy. The Otome are girls who are essentially daughters of foreign dignitaries, that have put themselves through the Otome program for the purpose of gaining more prestige by defending their countries. This makes a lot of sense, and is a great theme to deal with for storytelling...until they add in the fact that apparently sex (more specifically, sperm) makes their Otome powers shut off forever. (Eww.)

I'm most okay with this, which furthers the theme of "sacrifice in the line of duty" (because aside from giving up one's life, what could be a bigger sacrifice than denying oneself love and a family?), though there still an "Ick" factor involved regardless of the reasoning. But the development with Nina and her relationship with her adoptive father...I can't begin to conceive of why this was a necessary element other than to please a niche fandom that's even more perverted than me.

All-in-all, the good parts of this series definitely outweigh the bad, and aside from the creepy bits not existing, the only problem with this series is that the tie to the HiMe-verse could've been *just* a little stronger, given what we eventually learn about how it relates to this series.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Nine

So if Green Lantern's on the Pull List, this song has to be the Song of the Day.



This song is the reason I became a Kirby Krackle fan. You know you love it too.

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 17




Upon finishing the first film, I had to find out what was up with the timewarp Tomino was putting viewers through, so after some digging I discovered the films would have more new footage as they progressed, with Love is the Pulse of the Stars having 70% new footage.

This makes sense, given much of the final parts of Zeta are reworked to tie things up in 100 minutes. The arrival of the Neo-Zeon forces to save the AEUG, the subsequent double-betrayal by the both of them, and the gigantic space war that ends the Gryps Conflict, all occur one after another in rapid succession.

It feels slightly rushed, but only slightly, and overall not much was lost. Of course, Zeta is from Tomino's Kill 'Em All days, so most of the characters drop like flies in this film, but there's still a major difference in how the main character's own story is ended.

Rather than the complete WTF the original ending gives you ("Comets go zoom!"), this time Kamille manages to both succeed and go on to live (hopefully) a decent life. Normally people argue that "happy endings" are cliched, and ring somewhat false, but that's not what happens here. The original story of Zeta Gundam is 50 episodes where the main character is continually risking his life for a group he's not technically apart of, in situations where he nearly dies, or those around him are dying, and he finally defeats the last villain...but is still screwed, for no other reason than the main writer was depressed. Love is the Pulse of the Stars corrects this, with no loss of emotional impact whatsoever. I can't complain about that.

Pull List: Green Lantern

Wanted to save this for last, but upon finding out about this project my friend asked me to hurry up and do this one so I could catch up on the comic and we could talk about it.



Green Lantern has been one of my favorite superheroes since the day I bought "Comic Book Superheroes" from Scholastic Book-Mart as a child. He was a hero who could literally create whatever he wanted with his mind--to children, who have the most vivid imaginations of all, that's concentrated awesome.

I was initially against this latest volume of GL as they swapped out my favorite Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, for the current (and past) protagonist, Hal Jordan, but I was eventually dragged back in with the promise of a gigantic battle between Green Lanterns and GL villain Sinestro's personal army.

From there, the story only grew and expanded, fleshing out into a full war across the universe between seven factions of different Lanterns, powered by the primary emotions of the universe. (That sounds weird, but when you think about it, what's the first, most pure form of energy that humans learned to tap into? Emotions. So these Lanterns--all of them--are using the most primal form of energy ever created.)

Green Lantern is one of the single most consistent series in comics, month to month, with the same writer (Geoff Johns) having worked on it every month for the last five years, and he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon, as he's creating yet another epic story inside the Green Lantern universe as we speak. Geoff has almost singlehandedly taken Green Lantern, who I had to begrudgingly admit was a B-List hero, to one of the top-selling comic books month in and month out, a task most people would've thought impossible five years ago.

It's also one of the most gorgeous comic books, maintaining a level of quality across it's five years of existence that's unsurpassed by most ongoing series, from it's previous regular artist Ivan Reis, to it's current artist Doug Mahnke, each issue is a joy to look at.



With a series that's full of epic stories, interesting characters, loads of world-building, and the feeling like the biggest story is always yet to come (and the last one was already awesome), the only reason I haven't caught up on this already is because I was attempting not to do so until I wrote this. Well. That's taken care. Time to see what the Entity of Hope can do!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 16



The second part of the Zeta: A New Translation trilogy, Lovers, is generally a less distracting film than the original. With original footage down to around 50%, you find yourself pulled out of the film less often than the first, which is good, because the middle of Zeta likely contains it's strongest parts.

Focusing on the AEUG's time on Earth after their Jaburo operation, this film is full of great battles, as the Earth's Federation is most powerful here, and excellent character moments. Slowly they drag Kamille out of the trauma-ridden events of the first movie, as he's introduced to war hero Amuro Ray, and potential love interest Four Murasame.

Actually, it never occured to me until I watched Lovers how surprisingly film-like the time on Earth was to begin with. While often time movie versions of series cut so much they don't compare to their counterparts, Lovers, with the very specific goals it had to accomplish (introduce Kamille and Quattro to Karaba, have Kamille meet Four, working towards the goal to make it back into space)...the fact that the movie is shorter worked to it's benefit, cutting out everything extraneous and ending up with a film that's stronger than it's television version, which often had illogical story jumps and puzzling character decisions that are never explained.

After I finished this, I was pretty hyped to see the third film, with it containing even more new footage, and the infamous "new" ending that was the selling point of the new films in the first place.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Six Christmas Edition Part 4

Last song.



It's a tad late, but Merry Christmas, folks. More updates to come.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Six Christmas Edition Part 3



Requested by a friend.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Six Christmas Edition Part 2

This man was blessed with real talent, and had no problem praising the one who gave it to him.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Six Christmas Edition

Still a bit late, but more Christmas music heading your way.

A Christmas hymn that I've found beautiful since I was a child, O Come All Ye Faithful is just one of those songs I can't help singing when I hear it.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Six

I missed a day. Normally I timestamp it, but I'll be honest 'cause yesterday was important.

Despite how I seem in my posts, I take my beliefs as a Christian quite seriously. So I thought (you'll forgive me for missing a day, I was with family almost the entire day), for Christmas, I would post a few songs that celebrate both my beliefs, and the day.

And one of my favorite Christmas songs, has always been Angels We Have Heard on High (In Excelsis Deo). It's such a majestic, beautiful song that the first time I heard it I fell in love with it, and it's one of my favorite songs to sing this time of year. I found an absolutely superb version by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that displays just how incredible this song can be, and what an amazing praise it is for my Lord and Savior. (Yes yes, I realize Jesus wasn't born today. Don't get all Scrooge on me, okay?)



I actually need to hear that one again. If you'll excuse me...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Marvel vs. Capcom special holiday trailer

Capcom's present to their fans:


Hopefully this will get Black Ops off the screen at my friends' place.

Friday, December 24, 2010

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Four Extra

I heard this in one of my friend's cars earlier this year and I was impressed. Way more impressed when he said he knew the guy that made it.




Gotta get a lot of these in over the next five days.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Four

This one's for my fellow Fairy Tail fans, and anyone who thinks Funkist is THE band for Fairy Tail songs.



Best shonen anime of the decade?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Three



'Cause this was my cell phone ring for the half of the year that W-B-X wasn't.

Project Otaku Powerlevelling Part 16




As a Gundam fan, you're pretty much required to watch Zeta Gundam (the second series in the Gundam "original" Universal Century continuity and held as the best of them all) at least once. And given how much I enjoyed Gundam Wing, I was glad to do it. Amusingly though, not a year after I wrapped up, I started hearing about A New Translation, the trilogy that would be remaking the series to bring it to a 21st century generation.

Initially, A New Translation was not apart of my list. But as time ran short during the summer, I decided I would add it for the sake of making through a few more anime on the list in a single night.

What threw me off, though, was learning one of the goals of this trilogy was to maintain as much of the scenes from the original animation as possible. So there would be points, particularly here in the first movie, where you would be enjoying beautifully rendered animation from the 2000's, and then suddenly--bam. Timewarp'd back to 1985.

It's funny the first time, but after that, it seriously detracts from the movie. I don't really understand the mindset of the creators, much less the Japanese fans who saw Zeta well before these movies existed, so I won't try. All I know is that for me, the overall experience was lessened, and they would've been better off using all new animation.

That said, narratively the story is stronger than it was in the original Zeta, and the "let's kick the main character around for no reason" scenes cut down severely. (As I recall, Wong Lee doesn't make much of an appearance in this film, if he appears at all.) Overall, I appreciate the film for being a better story than Zeta...I don't care for it looking worse than the original, though.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jumping in Headfirst Podcast: Christmas Special

It's getting really close to Christmas, so I thought I'd throw this project up my friends and I did before they went out of town.





We get foolish on this ep, with the entire cast here to talk about all things jolly. (And Christmas-y.) Enjoy.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-Two



Setting: Exhausted. Schoolwork hitting hard. Just trying to keep up, do my best, and never give up no matter what they threw at me. Yeah, this song was on repeat my first semester.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty-One



This is an old song, but I played the crap out of it at the beginning of the year, as I was embracing my new life as a college student.

The Pull List: Darkwing Duck




My Pull List, admittedly, is mostly superheroes. DC and Marvel superheroes, at that. But BOOM! Studios has been releasing a lot of awesome comics lately, and a lot of them right out of my childhood.

Any kid that grew up in the nineties had the pleasure of seeing Disney Afternoon, a block of Disney cartoons that aired in the afternoons in syndication, and one which spawned both iconic properties (Gargoyles), and "cult hits" (Mighty Ducks). One of the biggest of these, without a doubt, was Darkwing Duck.

An affectionate parody of superheroes (Batman in particular, but all pulp heroes really), Darkwing Duck was one of my favorite cartoons of all-time, both then and now. It came as an immense surprise when I learned the character was being given his own comic book (an ongoing, no less), but from what I've read (and heard), it's the real deal.

If you're a fan of the cartoon, this is it, in comic book form. The art, the characters, and the plots--they're all spot-on. If you've never SEEN the cartoon, this comic book is a great chance to get involved. This is superhero adventure at it's best, with a dash of comedy tossed in for good measure. (Okay, a whole box of comedy.)

Jump-On Point: Darkwing Duck #1

The Pull List: Red Robin



Since my early teen years, I have been a fan of the third Robin (now Red Robin), Tim Drake. I'm not completely certain as to "why". It could be that he was relateable, at that age. He was a teenager that WANTED to be a hero, training hard under Batman and Lady Shiva to be the best crimefighter he could, never shirking his duties, but simultaneously being very much a teenager at school.

It could be that I was envious of his demeanor. The calm, logical way he approached his career as Robin was and is something I would like to emulate in my everyday life.

Or it could be that he's just been in awesome comics since I first read about him in Young Justice and his 180+ issue Robin series, a trend that continues with this new comic, Red Robin.

Initially, I had all sorts of problems with this comic, something the people over at ComicBloc forums can easily attest to. The opening twelve issue arc had me in an actual nerd rage (which can only happen over miniscule crap that doesn't matter) where I nitpicked the tinsiest problem in each successive issue, until I read the last three issues, which both brought Tim back to greatness as a character and finally allowed him to deal with all the trauma he had experienced over the past few years of DC events that one by one stole his family and friends.

Once I noticed that (and the gorgeous art by Marcus To), this series became a must-read, and has remained such after the writer switch to the very talented and very underappreciated Fabian Nicieza.

It's been a while since I read this series, but if you like globe-trotting, martial arts action, teen romance, superheroes, and cool-headed, tactical teenagers that take people down with their minds before ever fighting with their fists (and very beautiful artwork), Red Robin is the series to go to.



Jump on Issue: Red Robin 13.

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 15

Part fifteen, coming your way.


Melty Lancer

Admittedly, when you talk to me sometimes, I can come off like a chauvinist. It's not *all* the time, but I'm willing to cop to it, primarily because it's mostly just jokes. When I feel like being funny, I do NOT pull punches, and sometimes people can mistake that for my being a sexist jerk.

But jokes are exactly that--jokes. I love strong women, both in real life and fiction, and some series succeed or fail based on whether I think they pass the test of them actually *being* strong. (Same with the guys. Weakness does not entertain me.)

This is how Melty Lancer made it on this list. I love shows set in space to begin with, but noticing the all-female cast of "special forces" police, I kinda figured there would be some badassery going on.

This, is what I get for thinking. Initially, this six episode OVA displayed a group of characters that were just awesome as I wanted them to be...for about five minutes, and then for the rest of the show, they found themselves immediately and repeatedly upstaged by...well...everyone. Bad guys. Good guys. Random characters.

It would not have been too terrible, had they not been described as an S-Class team capable of handling anything once united. My expectations were set high, only to have them crash around me in their first fight scene, in which the villain is defeated through unforeseen variables rather than the team's actual abilities.

The story's plot itself is rather empty--so much so that I barely remember what it was about, just that it wandered aimlessly for most of the series before finally tying things up in the final two episodes.

I was hoping for Gunsmith Cats in space, with this one. But what I got was Kiddy Girl-and with even more protagonists. Disappointing. I need to watch Nanoha (or Kiddy Grade) to remind myself of the bad-ass female heroes in anime.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 14

Different anime, same bat-channel.






I'm guessing Yozakura Quartet is an awesome manga. I say "I'm guessing", because I've never really read it.

I haven't read ahead, don't know any friends--but you can always tell. Japan has a habit of adapting manga that are not even close to completion (Or have just started. See: Omamori Himari) in order to fill out more programming hours. As a result, the adaptation always feels like there's chunks of the universe missing, the story incomplete.

For most manga, this is a death knell (again, see: Omamori Himari), often reducing a decent plotline and interesting characters to stereotypical protagonists and a fluff story, but in YQ's case, the good parts of the original story come shining through. The incomplete part still remains though, as we're given a story about a city of humans and youkai who have slowly learned to live together, and a villain trying to destroy their harmony, that feels more like part one of a series with MUCH more story to tell.

Another thing that helps Yozakura Quartet is (thankfully), none of the characters are annoying, or particularly useless. They serve a purpose, both in and outside of battle, so none of them ever feel like they're wasting time simply being present on screen. I give them points in particular for creating a central female character perfectly capable of handling herself in a fight, while not slighting the male supporting character either. Both are completely competent fighters (this is important in an action series), and enjoyable to watch during their everyday lives. In fact, none of the characters are particularly unlikeable, which made the series a breeze to finish.

There's a remake OVA that started recently that is meant to be more accurate to the actual story. Despite it's flaws, the television series itself was well-done enough that I don't mind giving the story itself another shot, so I'll be talking about YQ again, I'm sure.

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 13

Let's knock out a few more of these.





I'd like to say I remembered exactly what happened in this movie, but man...I'd be lying. Now I know what they mean when people say it's better to be hated or loved, never in between.

What I took away from this movie is that the main character, Ryo, is probably a bad-ass, which was obvious to begin with. His sidekick, who's name fails me at the moment (just checked--Kaori), is the start of those really annoying tsundere-types, and there's an assortment of interesting characters that surrounds Ryo.

Other than that, it was a fairly forgettable use of about 87 minutes, but I'm not discouraged from continuing with the City Hunter franchise, as it's one of the few anime franchises that existed before the 2000 boom.

Duel of the Music Queens Match 3: IMPACT EXCITER'S Silent Bible vs. i-magination's Pure DIAMOND.

Match 3: IMPACT EXCITER'S Silent Bible vs. i-magination's Pure DIAMOND.



Silent Bible: ...Can we just, go ahead and make this the next Nanoha opening? While the title annoys me, the song itself is absolutely beautiful. There's a bit of "Starting Over" to this song, with the cacophony of different sounds all mixed together--strings, guitar, drums, piano. The song has a mystical feel to it, and Mizuki-san displays her vocal range and ability to switch up her pacing well.

Seriously. This has got to be the next Nanoha opening. Not Vivid, but for Force maybe?



Pure DIAMOND: Just as a starting point--love the title. Pretty intro--piano leading into a heavy guitar, then back to a piano as Okui-sama begins singing. I confess, at times like this, I do wish I understood Japanese, as I'm curious as to what she's singing about--the emotion in her voice during the verses is solemn and during the chorus it's almost pained, and definitely chilling.

This song is vaguely reminiscent of Two-Mix's White Reflection, for some reason. Anyway, I love how it effortlessly switches between different kinds of guitars for this during the solo. It's like...acoustic, I think (I'm not familiar with instrument names, sadly), then electric, then back to normal as the song prepares itself for Okui-sama to sing again. I confess, I'd like the computer-y effects were it not for last year's Auto Tune craze.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Twenty

Let's switch it away from the relationship-y type stuff. (Sorta.)

I'm not really the club music guy (obviously), but I kinda took to the beat on this one, as it's closer to the kind of stuff I normally bump. The song itself is proof that you don't need a recording studio to make dope songs. It's a little ahead of the game, so don't get hipster when you hear this song on the radio. ("Man, I knew 'bout this dude 'fore he was popular!" LOL.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

SotD Life ST Version: Day Eightteen

More brilliance from Timothy DeLaGhetto (a Fresh Prince reference, for those not paying attention), AKA Traphik.

A remake of a Justin Timberlake song, both he and a guy named Eebsofresh work together to make a track that's probably much better than the original:

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Pull List

In spite of my best efforts to catch up on my comics, over two years later I'm still behind several months. (It's entirely possible, actually, I am more behind now than when I started.)

However, I remain totally unwilling to give up. Keeping that in mind, I have decided to "streamline" my list of comics, keeping only those that make me happy and excited to read comics.

So I'm going through the 2011 February Solicitations, picking out what's awesome, and (briefly) detailing why, for those who are interested. So as to keep from having to read dozens of comics at once, I'll be posting a series to read as I catch up on it, one at a time.

SotD Life ST Version: Day Seventeen

Another song from my favorite piano pop songstress, Sara Bareilles.



Beautiful voice, nice lyrics with a good groove. Plus, for a break-up song, it's almost cheerful because of the music.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

SotD Life ST Version: Day Sixteen

Let's switch to a happier song, and over to Japanese music for a little bit. Hoping one day I can share this one with a girl, and yes I realized I used this once before--shut up, it's a great song. m-flo's excellent for relationship songs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Project Otaku Powerlevelling Parts 10-12

Project Otaku Powerlevelling continues!

By the end of May, I had already completed 12 series--well on my way to finishing all 50 shows. But I was running into a different problem. I was running behind on the NEW anime I had picked up for the Spring season. So Traveler and I picked three OVAs we could finish within a couple days, and spend the first week of June catching up on the Spring shows. We picked: Iczer-One, Compiler, and Dangaioh.

Let's start with:

Iczer-One




See, I should've known this series would suck when I checked MAL and a reviewer talked about how the series fell into the horror genre. But it fooled me with the random act of lesbian sex at the start. (Male readers are thinking: "Would've fooled me too...") Just as randomly however, we find innocent people being ripped apart by scary looking tentacle monsters from the inside, the main character is having nightmarish hallucinations, and my fun RAPIDLY comes to an end.

I was MASSIVELY pissed about this. My anger could have been ameliorated though, had the main characters been better. There are two--Iczer-One, the title character--she's basically a creation of the villains who found a conscience and a lesbian crush. That, would be our other character, Nagisa. When I think about it, she's insanely realistic.

Nagisa cries her way through about half the series, and runs for the other half. They kill her best friend for ep. 1 and her parents in ep. 2, so I'd say she has good reason. Realism's crap for GOOD action stories though. You keep wanting her to finally put her powers to use and kick the crap out of the villains, but the writers are content to keep her realistic,annoying me to no end.

Does Iczer-One have an upside? GOOD QUESTION. Personally, in my mind I alter series with "writer power" so they turn out better. I revive characters, send characters to give smackdowns to villains, etc... (It's weird, but whatever. I don't control how YOU watch shows, do I? Leave me alone.)

I was GOING to reset the world and erase the villains from existence, in Iczer-One's case. I never got to do that though, as ICZER RANDOMLY DID IT FOR ME!!! I don't know WHY, but...whatever. Everyone alive makes me happy. NEXT SERIES.

Dangaioh




So after the WTF-ness of Iczer-One, I thought Dangaioh, which is classic super robot, would cheer me up. It starts off strongly enough, so initially I believed I was right.

The opening is vaguely Kamen Rider-ish, as the main characters wake up in a mad scientist's lab, suddenly finding themselves with strange new powers, about to be sold to a group of pirates that have control over the galaxy to be their newest weapon. As they haven't been brainwashed yet, all four of them escape in a group of futuristic jets that just so happen to have the ability to combine to form the giant robot Dangaioh.

Over the course of the first episode, there's basic introductions, trips to different planets, and a battle against an arch-nemesis that ends with a solid victory for the heroes. At this point, I'm thinking Dangaioh's a great series, and wondering why it never got a television series. Upon watching the second, and even third episodes, I'm more convinced this should be a television series. Likeable characters, good mecha, and a villain to smack around.

But then I hit that fourth episode. The one focusing on our "main character", and the last episode. Ugh. I should've seen it coming; the title of the episode was "The Demonic Revenge of Gil Berg", Gil Berg being the villain the heroes stomped in episode one. My memory's fuzzy, but I seem to recall the episode going something like this: The heroes land on the main character's planet, join the resistance group fighting against the series villain, reveal of the main character's "true identity", return of the villain in the episode title, and then...one-sided fight scene against Gil Berg's souped up mecha and two other villains' mecha against Dangaioh. Gil Berg destroys the mad scientist's space ship, ruins Dangaioh and leaves the heroes stranded in an asteroid belt, swearing to kill them all.

....And the show ends. Yes, seriously. Not even Mitsuko Horie helping to sing "Cross Fight" couldn't fix this. My solution for THIS series? Send those idiots back to their respective planets, and drop a crapload of Smart Bunnies armed with Custom Blue Lantern Rings for the villains. Why bunnies? Humor. The last thing the villains will see is a glowing, adorable little bunny. (Well...the last thing is probably a giant blue robot, but still.)

Typing this ALONE annoys the crap outta me.

Compiler



"Compiler?? THAT'S a weird series to pick, Sage! How'd you come to that one?"

I'm glad you asked. See this lady? Well, she made THIS song, which is one of my favorite anime openings ever. I thought it might make sense if I watched the show.

...Months later, I'm completely lost as to what to make of it. I thought I was missing some episodes, as things are pretty confusing from episode to episode, but near as I can tell, there are only two episodes. The story centers around two characters, Compiler and Assembler, and the two guys that somehow ended up with them. Both episodes have completely different tones, and start their stories "in media res"--it pretends as if we already know the characters and the relationship between all of them.

The first episode centers on the relationship between the title character, Compiler, and her chosen boyfriend, who's only memorable trait is "womanizing jerk", so we'll call him that from now on. It's your basic episode in a romance story, where the girl wonders if her jerk crush will ever...not be a jerk. The only difference being Compiler doesn't spend so much time making googly eyes over him or being a passive agressive bitch over it, and pretty much spends most of the episode ignoring him. It's not a terrible episode by any means, though the episode is somewhat obsessed with making you realize how classically sexy Compiler is. Little scenes with her wearing a robe everywhere, or always "just coming out of the shower"--we get it! She's hot, move on.

The second episode switches things up completely. Assembler and Compiler take Spineless Almost Shota and Womanizing Jerk to the movies, where they get into a fight with their old nemesis (so the show tells us) who have, because of their failure to capture Assembler and Compiler, been turned into women. A lot of "are you a homo?" jokes are tossed around, which is kinda weird, but the fight is slapstick action.

I forget how it ends, but neither episode bothers to come to any sort of actual conclusion. It's nice to say I've seen this anime, but after I've gotten this posted, the whole series goes back to being a random anime with awesome opening and ending themes.



The Pull List: Amazing Spider-Man



I've always looked at Spider-Man as a character who's just there. His cartoons are usually great, but aside from that I never think about the guy.

This isn't a big deal, as I feel that way about most comic book characters. They're only interesting if a writer I feel is talented begins working on them.

So when Mark Waid, one of my favorite writers of all-time, joined the Spider-Man "Brain Trust" that wrote for Amazing Spider-Man during the two year period during which it was released three times every month, I *had* to give the comic book a shot.

As it turned out to be even better than I thought, I continued to follow the series even through the shifting writer/artist teams for every arc, and the quality remained consistent.



The "three times monthly" release schedule ended a couple months ago (downgrading to only twice monthly, but with an increased page count), but the title has been handed over to Dan Slott, one of the most consistent writers from that period, so it's still in great hands. The writer appears to have great plans for the character, giving him new costumes (like the above), new powers, a new job in which Peter Parker can put to use his genius intellect, and introducing brand-new villains. Given how recent this change (dubbed the "Big Time" era by writer Dan slott) is, it's an excellent time to jump back on the book, and in my case a great time to catch up.

Jump-On Issue: Amazing Spider-Man #648

Winter Anime 2011 Picks



*So, it's about that time again. January is like a few weeks away, so before I'm swamped with schoolwork, I may as well pick out the anime of interest coming out this Winter.



Wolverine

What It Is: Wolverine is the second part of the Marvel Anime series, where Marvel's most popular characters are reinterpreted for a Japanese audience. This one centers around Wolverine during one of his trips to Japan.

Why I'm Interested: 'Cause it's a Marvel anime, mainly. Wolverine isn't exactly one of my favorite characters. But, each series appears to lead into one another, so there you go.



Infinite Stratos

What It's About: Japan engineered an armed powered exoskeleton "Infinite Stratos" (IS) and it became the mainstream of weapons. Since only women can operate IS, women dominate the society over men. Orimura Ichika is a 15 year old boy and accidentally touches an IS placed in the IS pilot training school. He is found to be the only man who can operate IS and forced to enter the training school. Ichika's busy school life surrounded by girls has begun.(MAL)

Why I'm Interested: Admittedly, I'd like this series a lot more if it were a complete Pink Bishoujo Ghetto, as series with more females than males can get harem-ish. Still, the trailer looked REALLY cool, so I'll give the series one or two episodes.



Cardfight!! Vanguard

What It Is: TV anime based on the game that is a collaboration between Yu-Gi-Oh! R manga creator Akira Ito, the original Duel Masters technical advisor Satoshi Nakamura, and Bushiroad President Takaani Kidani. (Chart)

Why I'm Interested: Hoping for another card game to supplement Yu-Gi-Oh! when I'm tired of playing that. It's that simple.



Freezing!!

What It Is: Set in a slightly futuristic world where Earth has been invaded and is at war with aliens from another dimension called the Nova, the story follows the adventures of a Japanese boy named Kazuya Aoi who enrolls for training at a special school for genetically modified girls called Pandoras who battle the aliens, and their male partners, called Limiters, who use a special power called "freezing" to limit their opponent's mobility. The protagonist makes the acquaintance of an unusual older girl named Bridgette L. Satellizer who appears to be the most powerful Pandora in her class, but has not yet chosen a male partner to be her Limiter, and in spite of the warnings of all his friends, he decides to be her Limiter. (MAL)

Why I'm Interested: I have a feeling this story's kinda weak, but the base concept is nice and I liked the manwha (Korean manga), so I'll follow this 'till it gets lame, or they cancel it.



Danball Senki

What It Is:
A robot fighting anime based on a video game sharing the same title.

Why I'm Interested: I love the design of the robot, and the idea of kids controlling sentient toys that can battle each other is very Medabots-ish. The only thing that disappoints me is America never getting the PSP game. I usually enjoy anime versions of this stuff more, though.

Hm. That's five series, not counting Fairy Tail and any older series I decide to watch with it. Should be plenty considering my workload for the next semester. I'll take it. At least, until the Spring season hits with the twice this. >_<

*Because apparently I HAVE to say it, the chart's obviously not mine. I don't care enough to build something like that, and I don't possess the kanji knowledge for it either.

Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL

First of all, I'd very much like to know what a "ZEXAL" is, but that joke's already been beaten half to death, so I'm going to move past that. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that one of my favorite anime (and definitely the best "children's" anime) of all time, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, would be coming to an end.

5D's, despite being stuck with the stigma of being "card games on motorcycles", managed to be geniunely entertaining while simultaneously giving shonen/children's anime fans a new character type in Yusei--someone who could believe in his friends without being a loudmouth that wouldn't shut the heck up. He's even different from the previous YGO protagonists in that he could be cool and calculating without the need for an alternate personality from the past.

But no one kills a money tree like Yu-Gi-Oh for no reason, so of course there's a replacement:



Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, the fourth series in the franchise. (They make their sequels work for them. >_< Pokemon is like, a year older and it's had HOW many sequels now?)

What you see in the photo, is our series protagonist. I am told, from people who read kanji just a bit better than me (still on Hiragana and Katakana), that his name is Yuuma Tsukumo, and according to the Yu-Gi-Oh! wikia, the school setting returns, because he's "the number one bad boy" at his school.

It does make me a little sad that we appear to be right back where we started in Duel Monsters and GX, with a school boy that no one pays much attention to until he curbstomps some legendary duelist, but hopefully ZEXAL will take things in an alternative direction like 5D's did.

What I'm most interested in, aside from the idea of being able to watch 5D's fully finished, and a brand-new anime series' universe to explore, is the new gameplay mechanic they'll be introducing into the card game itself. Having recently gotten into Yu-Gi-Oh! (TCG) again, learning about new mechanics to the game is more than passing curiosity to me now.

GX tried to place a focus on fusion summoning, but that was a miserable failure (to me), because to implement it properly in your deck wasted spell slots (plus the likelihood of getting the perfect monsters to fusion summon was unlikely).

5D's introduced Synchro Summoning, the idea of taking two monsters, combining their "stars". This turned out to be a far better idea, as Synchro Summoning has almost completely replaced fusion summoning altogether, having the same function but discarding the need for a certain spell, and requiring only that the monsters used in the Synchro Summoning add up to the total number of stars for the new monster. (Fusion Summoning required two exact monsters.)

ZEXAL's new method of summoning appears to be Excess Summon, during which two monster cards on the field of the same level are laid on top of one another to summon a new monster. Until I know the exact details of how this works (does it summon a monster of twice the level, do those monsters come back if your Excess Monster is destroyed, etc...), I can't say what effect this will have on the gameplay, but it does sound pretty exciting.

Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL information hits in the new V-Jump this Saturday, according to ANN. The anime itself is to premiere this coming Spring, which means 5D's itself only has another 12-15 episodes left in its run.