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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Fullmetal Alchemist TCG Impression

So the basic law of "Equivalent Exchange" states that in order to gain something, something of value must be given up in return. For Ed and Al this meant a body, leg then an arm (to save a soul). Pretty steep price for trying to bring your mother back to life with forbidden alchemy, but that's just the beginning.

Fullmetal Alchemist follows Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse Elric. Fullmetal is the name given to Ed when he becomes the youngest state alchemist ever, mainly due to his automail (metal) leg and arm. A leg lost trying to bring back his mother, and an arm sacrificed to bond his brother's soul to a suit of armor when he lost his body, also trying to bring back their mother. So, after this disaster we see Ed and Al years later where Ed becomes a state alchemist to utilize the resources of the government to find the Philosophers Stone, a legendary stone that will amplify any alchemy. Why find this stone, well to get his arm and leg back and his brothers body, to be normal again. It is this simple quest that drives every facet of FMA from the manga to the video game.

I won't spoil the story for you, but how you get into it is your call. Do you pick up the manga? How about the anime? Maybe you'll try the video game? These are the best choices, I recommend all of them, but an "Equivalent Exchange" of this level will lighten you wallet big time. So check this out, here are some good and bad points about each.

card games for FMA just recently came out so I can't tell you too much about it now, but check back soon because I will. Listen, this is my opinion, what I think, so if you disagree, tell me. The manga rocks, what do you think?

One Piece Manga Impression

Pirates are cool again, and it's not because of anything Johnny Depp has done. Monkey D. Luffy arrived on our shores with Shonen Jump a little over a year ago, and One Piece has flourished ever since. The story is simple; Luffy gets inspired as a boy by a pirate ('Red-Haired' Shanks), grows up wanting to become king of pirates and eventually sets out on his journey to accomplish this. Eiichiro Oda (creator) takes this simple formula and enriches it with his characters, design and story telling. Luffy is not your ordinary pirate which should be apparent by his straw hat and Gum-Gum Fruit enhanced stretchy abilities (think of a less serious Mr. Fantastic). The friends & foes Luffy meets, sights he sees and adventures he has is what makes One Piece such a fine read, watch and play.

Ok, check this out, the manga is great, no edits, no cuts. Someone gets cut, stabbed, hurt, or wants to smoke they do. Good stuff. The anime is clean, great reflection of art from the manga, storyline is good, but dang if the voices don't annoy the hell out of me, and the edits, OH THE EDITS!!! No stab wounds, no we get suction cup missiles instead of spikes, or we get someone with a lollipop and not a cig, what gives? (This is a mistake that I really, really hope is not repeated with Naruto.) I get that kids like this stuff, but why do you butcher a great series, didn't you learn anything from Dragon Ball Z and their mistakes? None the less, I still watch, hope they release an un-edited version, and move onto the video game, 'One Piece Grand Battle' on PlayStation 2 (also no GameCube).

'Grand
Battle' is great, a fans dream. The characters are a little SD (super deformed) but it works, as does the 'Power Stone'ish play style. Run around, throw objects, collect items, attackand climb your way to victory. The controls could be a little more improved, and I hate being locked into a chain attack when facing nobody, but these are minor gripes when compared to the rest of the package. The game starts out with the animated intro from the anime (don’t' get me started on this crap... I mean rap type of intro song) then you get menus, music and voices right out of the show, you are living One Piece (nice!). The first play mode you get is Grand Battle, which is just good old' fashioned fighting against the CPU or a friend. Next you get your Story Mode, with some odd story lines, but it works. You get some Mini Games with various task to complete, Grand Tourney, single elimination fights and Training, Mix these modes with the design and you have a pretty good formula enhanced because you also have unlockables in the form of Treasure (In a pirate game, no!) Galleries and Art. These are a very nice bonus for fans of the series, and guess what, that's who's buying this game in the first place.

All in all, One Piece is very enjoyable from any angle you tackle it, and will only get better as Luffy and his crew advance on their journey giving us more wackiness. Throw in the upcoming TCG Bandai's created and you can really immerse yourself in the world of One Piece... that is unless you ate some Gum-Gum Fruit, then all you will do is sink.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Cromartie High DVD Impression

Ah, September, time for all the little kiddies to head back to school. Nothing like seeing all the school buses out knowing there is no more sleeping in, no more goofing off, it's time to get closer to adult hood. For me I love the memories this time of year brings back. New clothes, new teachers, sometimes a new school, seeing friends again, the Gorilla, riding the school bus, Freddy riding into school no his horse, smell of pencil shavings, rivalry with Bass High... wait, what?

What do you mean you don't have a Gorilla at your school? Yes it's normal to ride a horse to school; Freddy does it all the time. Who's Freddy!!! Next you’re going to ask me who Mechazawa is. I swear some people act like they've never heard of Cromartie High School. Ok, education time.

Cromartie High is just the biggest, badest school there is with all the toughest delinquents, robots, gorillas and more. It's also the funniest manga I have read in a long, long time. I picked this up a few weeks ago, Vol. 1 of the and Manga. Read the manga first, got so many looks for how much I was laughing, and then popped in the. Gotta say, I like the printed material more, but Vol. 2 of the does pick it up. Things just seem to come across better in the manga, but this is not always the case. I'm also a big fan of Excel Saga, have the entire collection, laughed my ass off to this, but I never got into the manga. The for Excel worked so much better for the pace and type of comedy, while I really feel that Cromartie is better in print, but whatever to each his own.

There are so, so many characters in this series I won't try to flesh everyone out now (that's what the official website is for) but I will tell you Cromartie follows the 1st year student Takashi Kamiyama, an honor role student, as he enrolls at Cromartie, a school known for its bad and dumbasses. Why did he go here you ask? To inspire a punk friend of his (that even the author forgets about) to go to school, and guess what. His buddy fails the entrance exam, for the easiest school anywhere.

DON'T WAIT, GO BUY/BORROW/READ NOW! Really, there are a lot of good anime and manga out there, but this really takes the cake for how off the wall it is, and who doesn’t need a good does on non-reality right now. Trust me on this, it's worth the read.