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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trinity Blood Manga Preview

So, it's Halloween, nice. Costumes, candy, spooks, frights and freaks, what isn't to love about this day, a Holiday for some, religious day for others. Know what else reminds me of Halloween ... Vampires. From Dracula to Blade our blood-sucking brethren will always have a place in entertainment from books to movies to our history and mythology, legend and mystery. Anybody with an ounce of Goth in them finds the concept of vampires intriguing, which brings me to Trinity Blood, a new manga from Tokyopop. Vampire stories have been done to death (love puns) in all entertainment forms, but that does not mean they are tired. Trinity Blood, also an anime from FUNimation, tells the story of Father Abel Nightroad, a vampire who feeds on the blood of other vampires. He works for the Vatican (!) in the far off future in a landscape where vampire are as common as humans and there is a second moon ... but enough of the book cover info. What is Trinity Blood at it's heart, how is it different form other manga? It's gorgeous, simply stunning art for one. Kiyo Kyujo handles said art penning the story crafted by Sunao Yoshida with character design by Thores Shibamoto.

The story I cannot tell you too much about as it's still unfolding, but what can be said is the various factions at work, political and religious in-fighting and sabotage will be sure to satisfy anyone who's ever shown a passing interest in ... well any soap opera. The story is very serious, but there is also a nice touch of humor, hell Nightroad is a freaking klutz. What I'm getting at is the Trinity Blood Manga is well worth the price of admission, damn I wish I could say more, but I will not ruin it. If you're a fan of Blood, anything Gothic by Clamp (X) you must pick up this book. Nothing gets me in the mood for Halloween like vampires.

I'll get more into the series as the volumes go by, take a more serious look at the manga, anime and books as a whole, but no worries, this series rocks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Impression

No blog entries in months = a lot of busy, busy work. I love writing about games and anime, but guess what ... when you go home tired (and late) all you want to do is sleep. It's a good thing, this work, actually means I will have more time to blog later about anime and more, really, no joke. I cannot wait to revamp this blog, will be so sweet. For now check out this site, http://nintendo.smugmug.com/, it's very cool. I love me some Pokemon, and this site is great. Check out what fans of the series have drawn, very nice and fun. Anyway, get ready for more anime, more trailers and more entry blogs ... blog entries. Good times. See you in less than two months (really).

Monday, August 7, 2006

Portable Dragon Ball Z

Looking for some fast and fun Dragon Ball action on the go? Look no further than Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 for the DS and Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai for the PSP. Neither of these games sets new ground for the high-flying fighting game franchise, but what each game does deliver is solid fighting action sure to please anyone who's picked up a DBZ title in the past, or has an interest in the anime.

Supersonic Warriors 2 is not so much a sequel as a 1.5 upgrade from the original Supersonic Warriors on the GBA. You play from a side-scrolling type of perspective, much like Street Fighter of old. Choose from a slew of characters, pick a team of three and play through various what if story lines not realized in the anime. Yeah there are more modes than this, but not really worth getting into. SSW2 is a fun romp for DBZ fans on the DS, but nothing to write home about. Hey, the cover art is pretty sweet, and the games nice and fast-paced. Did I mention I played the original to death and am doing so with this one also. :P

Now onto Shin Budokai, a port of the mega-popular Budokai Tenkaichi on PS2. I love this game. The Tenkaichi title was great, not just a great anime based game but a great fighting game, and Shin Budokai takes that formula and shrinks it down. Throw in all the usual game play modes, story, vs. etc. and the large line-up of characters mix in a fighting system that works well on the portable and boom ... instant ramen .... er DBZ action. Where this game really stands out is it's graphics, which are some of the best I've seen on the PSP, but hey, that's just me. The best feature, the one that really made me smile is a simple one, one that will escape attention and that's the use of the original Japanese voices for each character. Sounds weird, but I cut my anime teeth on fan-sub DBZ adn there is nothing, NOTHING, like Goku in Japanese, good times.

Hey, both titles are fun. I would only recommend SSW2 to DBZ fans with a DS, Shin Budokai on the other hand I suggest to anyone with a fancy for fighting games. Go ahead, take them for a rental ride and let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Naruto Uncut Impression

Hopefully you've read what I just wrote about Basilisk (if not, get going, dang). I mentioned it was a mature series, great ninja action and reminded me of Ninja Scroll. I also mentioned no to buy it for your kids, to use the edited Naruto ... yeah edited. If you've seen Naruto on Cartoon Network then you've seen the edited version of a great show that is really not for the faint of heart. Viz recently released a box set, a box set I would love to see every other anime series mimic (Shaman King, One Piece, listen up).

The Naruto Uncut Box Set 1 is an Otakus dream come true. The US has a view of anything animated being for kids, a view I hate, and really want to educate so it's changed. Naruto is a very popular show in Japan, hell around the world, and guess what, it's not just for kids. TItles like One Piece and Shaman King are similar. All three titles, and many more have been 'kiddied' down for TV here in the states. Any blood, smoking, drinking ... anything adult has been removed and the shows, while still popular, suffer, or I should say the true die-hard fans suffer. What the Naruto set has done is take a popular series, one that's been edited, and give us Otaku the original series, uncut, in both English and Japanese with the original opening themes, wraps it in a nice box and delivers it to fans craving ... well everything listed above.

Naruto is a series not to be missed by anyone, ANYONE, with even a passing fancy in anime. I write about a lot of series, and usually recommend all of them in some manner form get 1 DVD to buy the box set. This is because I write about 1) what I love and 2) what is good. I have to be picky. A series like Saikano I did not like, not at all. I did not dig the story, the character design, anything about this series, but I know there is an audience for it, I'm not that audience. Enough of that rant, Naruto is a series I love, I watch every Saturday night because it's good, it's refreshing, it's engaging. It's a new series that is not cliché, and this box set delivers it, I mean delivers IT. A true full anime experience, a series how is was supposed to be seen after it was kiddied down for release. An experience that I hope to see more of with licensed shows. GIve me Bleach, give me HunterXHunter, give me Beet all uncut in a nice box set so I don't have to look for fan-subs to see a series how it's supposed to be seen. Give it to me like this so the anime industry stays strong by giving fans what they really want, so pirated items are a dying breed.

Take note all of you publishers, if a series becomes popular and contains mature themes, bring it over this way. The US anime market is not a bunch of 10 year old, some of us have 10 year old so hook us up. Thanks Viz for starting what I hope will become a major trend with shows on TV that have been kiddied down.

Basilisk Vol. 1, Scrolls of Blood Impression

In the mood for some ninja action a little more adult than Naruto? How about a true spiritual successor to the original Ninja Scroll? Look no further, Basilisk from FUNimation has you covered and then some. (Yeah, want some cool Basilisk wallpaper, just click here).

At it's heart Basilisk is a story of two warring ninja factions, the Kouga and Iga clans. These clans have been at war for hundreds of years, and have been an uneasy enforced era of peace for 400 years. The Shogun decides to break this treaty and pit the two clans against one another in a fight that will determined the heir to the Shogun. Two scrolls, one for each clan, contain a list of 10 ninja from each clan to participate ... if that's the best term to use. The winner is the first clan to kill the 10 ninja listed by crossing their names off in blood on the scroll.

So, this sounds pretty straightforward, 10 ninja vs. 10 ninja, each with their own strange and fantastic skills from having a rubbery body to manipulating ones blood to being super elastic. These ninja are as fantastical as those found in Ninja Scroll, with character design to match. Intertwined within this war are the two young leaders of each clan, Oboro and Gennousuke. Two leaders who are set to wed (no official announcement yet) and who truly love each other. This love is translated very well in volume 1 as is the hate every other member of their clans hold for one another. How is young love to survive when the shackles have been removed after 400 years and the blood will flow? That's the story of Basilisk, will love survive, will there be peace, or will these skilled ninja just kill the hell out of each other.

Since I was a child I've loved all forms fo ninja shows from those cheesy Sunday morning kung-fu flicks to Ninja Scroll. There's something about the dark and mysterious world of ninja, deadly assassins, who use all their cool tools to carry out their trade, a something that grabbed a young boy and never let go. Basilisk, like Naruto, has rekindled that love and intrigue. I'm older now, but dang if high-flying ninja action does not send chills down my spine. The art of Basilisk at first put me off with big, bushy eyebrows and standard looking dress for an anime of its ilk, but that was changed big time once I began watching. I keep brining up Ninja Scroll, and that is the biggest compliment I can give Basilisk because the character design, personalities, voice work, the whole package is as memorable as NS, and really what the NS series should have been.

At the end of the day Basilisk is a good series that could potentially turn great, we will see how the next volumes turn out. If you like ninja's, pick up this title, don't take a flyer on it, but remember, it's mature, lot of blood, adult stuff in here. DO NOT buy this for young kids, get them the edited Naruto. I really want to talk more, but for now just take time to check out the series, you won't regret it.

Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles Impression

Found this out yesterday, good times. 'Ultimate Ninja' is great fun, and carries a look and feel similar to the anime. Well, with 'Uzumaki Chronicles' we finally get a realistic looking Naruto, similar to the manga (which I prefer to the anime). Enough from me, check out the official press info ...

NAMCO BANDAI GAMES AMERICA INC. ANNOUNCES "NARUTO(TM): UZUMAKI CHRONICLES(TM)" FOR PLAYSTATION(R)2 SYSTEM

New Action Adventure Title Based on the Hit Anime Series Scheduled to Appear in Stores Winter 2006

SANTA CLARA, Calif., (August 2, 2006) - Leading video games publisher and developer NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. announced today that "NARUTO(TM): UZUMAKI CHRONICLES(TM)"will be available this Winter, exclusively for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system. Based on the hit animated TV series SHONEN JUMP's NARUTO from VIZ Media airing on Cartoon Network, this action adventure title offers players a chance to become Naruto, the aspiring ninja with the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox Spirit sleeping deep within. Set in a vividly rendered 3D environment, gamers can play through the story-driven missions to save the Hidden Leaf Village from the threat of evil and fulfill Naruto's dream of becoming the Hokage (leader).

"On the heels of the resounding success of 'NARUTO(TM): Ultimate Ninja(TM),' fans of the series have been clamoring for new NARUTO adventures on the PlayStation 2," said Naruo Uchida, NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.'s Senior Vice President. "With 'NARUTO: Uzumaki Chronicles,' we will deliver another layer of gameplay depth to the franchise by introducing an original storyline and providing an opportunity for fans to engage in large-scale ninja combat, all the while exploring familiar locations of the Naruto universe in an adventure setting."

"NARUTO: Uzumaki Chronicles"  introduces a lush, never-before-seen 3D world that will test the players' Ninjutsu skills as Naruto, the feisty orphan who wants to become the most respected and admired ninja of all time. A brand new story drives the missions as players experience the trials and tribulations of a ninja-in-training - fierce competition from fellow students and constant challenges from their teachers. Players can collect status-boosting chips and plates to customize all aspects of Naruto's abilities and face-off against multiple enemies using either close combat moves or long-range weapons like shurikens and explosive cards. With familiar characters like Kakashi, Sasuke and Neji that can swoop in for assistance, "NARUTO: Uzumaki Chronicles" offers mini-games and lethal attacks straight from the popular anime series to satiate any aspiring ninja.

First introduced into the Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine in Japan in 1999, NARUTO -- by revered creator Masashi Kishimoto -- quickly became Japan's most popular ninja manga. In 2000, NARUTO was expanded into a series of graphic novels with more than 65 million copies sold in Japan. NARUTO consistently ranks as one of the most popular titles serialized in VIZ Media's SHONEN JUMP monthly manga anthology and one of the top graphic novel titles (also published by VIZ Media) in the United States. VIZ Media was named the Master Licensor in February 2005, obtaining the television, home video and merchandising rights to NARUTO for North America and Latin America.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: The Genie & the Amp Impression

Anyone seen Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi on Cartoon Network? If you're reading my blog the answer has to be yes. So when this series first came out I was interested, but then turned off. Why? Well, the show features the J-rock/pop styling of Puffy Ami Yumi, but in a very kiddie cartoon format. Hell it works, especially for the younger Meguzzi target audience, and once in a while I'll tune in. So these ladies do put out good music, have a foothold with their series on CN, and now onto video games. Nintendo DS, say hello to The Genie & the Amp.

The story is simple, in keeping with the cartoon it's based on. You take either Ami or Yumi on a side-scrolling, semi-3D, adventure to get your musical inspiration back. See the genie will help you, for an autograph. (Yeah, a genie, don't ask, it's a cartoon, it makes sense). So while you can play the game with the buttons moving from right to left and so forth the fun comes in using the stylus to strum your guitar strings (4 total) to unleash various attacks on your enemies. Easy to learn, difficult to master. Mix in music based mini-games and the charm of the show and what we have here is a formula sure to satisfy any Ami Yumi fan, and especially any young child looking for a fun, non-abbrasive time on their Nintendo DS.

Seeing new uses for the touch screen is always fun, so D3 Publisher and others, keep up the good work, keep these unique games coming, and be sure to make the price point good for all. ;)

The Darkness Video Game Impression

The Darkness is rising ... again ... for a different publisher. Originally scheduled to be published by Majesco and since handed off to 2K Games the next title from Riddick developer Starbreeze is looking nice. Being in limbo is not good for a video game (just ask Starcraft Ghost) but The Darkness has nothing to worry about. Behind closed curtains at Comic-Con show attendees (yup, regular people, not just press) were privy to the first few stages of The Darkness as Jackie comes into his power.

What Is It? Based on Top Cows comic of the same name we follow Mafia hit man Jackie Estacado, who on his 21st birthday is not only looking to be wacked by his adoptive uncle, but also comes into an age old power known as ... yup, you got it, The Darkness. While the license is from Top Cows comic, the original story is not scripture. Paul Jenkins pens the game, he was an original writer on the printed page, so this game will delight fans new and old. We will get more info on the story as the game gets closer to launch, lets just say it's not for the faint of heart. Game play wise the games first level puts you in the back seat of a Mafia driven convertible in first-person mode. You're on rails, and will laugh your ass off at the commentary by the two wise guys in the front seat, and the first time you see all the Irish construction workers shooting at you. The game will be primarily FPS with occasional moves to an over the shoulder third-person perspective when needed.

Why Should You Care? This is not your ordinary FPS. While the demo displayed the gorgeous settings (these are the guys who did Riddick after all) it's the game play that raised an eyebrow as you don't feel like you're floating through a level. You see your arms, if you get too close to a call you will raise your guns up and if you fire too close to a wall the gun will recoil out of your hands. It's little touches like that that impressed as the games still in the works. I touched on it a little earlier and will reiterate here, the voice work is looking good, or I should say sounding good, really good at this point. The music changes to match the mood, and if you have a killer stereo setup like the demo booth then you will be totally immersed in a very Gothic, gritty, bloody world. Oh, there is a really cool TV in the game, where you can watch real shows like Popeye and even the news. Sounds silly, but it's so fun. The screen in clean, no health bars, no ammo counts, nada. Just you, your arms and the environment. You know your health based on red flashed when you get his, similar to King Kong, and once you gain the darkness power your darklings eye color will tell you the power you are using.

Why You May Be Sad? Besides not coming out till 2007, it's the curse of licensed games. Why The Darkness? Why not the sexier Witchblade or former Top Cow alum Fathom? For a series that has pretty much run it's course it was interesting to see it picked up as a video game. The Darkness does have a fan base, but by choosing this title, this license there is a chance the casual game player will take a pass.

Two reasons you should not pass it up. First the developer, Starbreeze Studios. These guys brought you The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. That game freaking rocked, and all they're doing is building on top of that excellent platform and then some. Second, this is not your daddy's FPS. The wild card in this game is the Darkness itself. A power that allows you to call upon demons/darklings, and harness the power of shadow. Other FPS may have BFG's and whatnot, but how many have demons as weapons, not many.

2007 looks to be a really interesting year in the console war as everyone is looking to establish their footholds. The Darkness is going to be a worthy addition to any gamers library looking to help their preferred game system take the lead in the next generation. Get ready as The Darkness is rising.

Stan Lee Interview Comic-Con 2006

On Saturday, July 22nd at Comic-Con in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />San Diego I had a treat, a really rare joy of getting five minutes to sit with Stan Lee. Now five minutes is not a whole heaping lot of time, but I made the most of it by asking questions as quickly as possible on a variety of subjects. Stan ‘The Man’ Lee is just great, a real pleasure to talk to, I just wish I had more time with him (like an hour) but I have to say thanks very, very much to Activision for getting me this five minutes. After a quick intro and being asked to serve as tech support for AOL we began …<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

 

(Q) In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, who is Stan Lee’s Ultimate Alliance of four characters?

Stan - Well I think Spider-Man and maybe Thor against Doctor Doom and Galactus ... if I may.

 

(Q) With comic artist and writers becoming more and more involved in video games and their development, do you see this becoming more mainstream, another outlet for a true comic experience, or just a fad?

Stan - Well it’s more than a comic experience; it’s a true entertainment experience like the motion pictures or the television. These video games are really like motion pictures except they’re interactive, the people who like them, love them and are very involved in them and more and more people (artist, writers) are getting involved in video games.

 

(Q) What can you tell me about your new Sci-Fi show, Who Wants to be a Super Hero? What's unique about this particular project?

 

Stan - I am so surprised. We started the whole thing almost as a gag. Everybody was doing reality shows so I said why don’t we do one, my new company Pow Entertainment, not Marvel. So we thought what will we do, and thought why not what we know best, super heroes. We came up with the idea Who Wants to be a Super Hero, and I figured, gee I don’t know; let’s send out a call for contestants, but what if we don’t get any? We got thousands not from only this country but from all over the world when we put out the call on the Internet. We finally narrowed them down to a few hundred, then after a lot of interviewing we narrowed them down to about a dozen men and women. This thing has progressed to the point I really think it’s going to be a tremendously big show. Even the critics who have seen it have been one of them, from one of the trades papers said before she started the interview, “I tell you I love the show and my parents who were watching with me love it” and her parents had to be in their 50’s and this is about super heroes.

 

The thing about the show is we try to keep it entertaining and funny. It’s serious but also a lot of built in humor to it. It is not mean spirited, it’s a very, I think, very nice show. All of the contestants and this is a strange thing too, they’re all competing for the one prize and yet each time one got eliminated the others felt so bad about it they would comfort the one, and hug him or her. They really formed into a tight little clique of friends. Now that the filming is just about over they have all stayed together and we've been meeting as a whole group you know they love each other and they’ve bonded. You don’t get that in many reality shows where there are contestants. This show has its own different flavor, it’s replete with surprises, nobody knows what’s coming next, but it also has humor and is warm hearted. Now I sound like I’m touting it, but  believe me I was the last one to be convinced, other people have convinced me and now I’m beginning to believe it’s going to be a big show.

 

Thanks very much for your time, and it’s been a pleasure meeting you.

Stan - My pleasure, thanks for listening to all that.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rocket Slime at Comic-Con

Another Square Enix title I spent time with was the cute, but addictive Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime for the Nintendo DS. Now if there is one thing the DS does very, very well it's unique fun to play games that are addictive for one main reason, game play. In this aspect Rocket Slime excels, but also goes a step further because while this game is very kiddie looking any gamer will love to play the multi-player 1 vs. 1 or 2 vs. 2 battles. At heart Rocket Slime is a very Zelda-ish, Pokemon-ish adventure RPG where gamers wander around 'collecting' friends (hit them on head, carry back to village. Bad guys invade your town/country and you proceed to fight them. Ok, so I mentioned collecting friends. You wander around towns, forest, dungeons, etc collecting not only friends but weapons and items also. Any friend you collect and deposit in a town will remain there for you to visit, almost like your very own fish bowl. There are over 100 slime to collect, and anyone who's played a Dragon Quest game knows what to expect.

Now this game is not just about collecting, there is a lot of fighting to be had. These battles are carried out via tanks, and Wifi comes into play if you want to challenge 1, 2 or 3 friends to a battle. Items you find will be used in your tank as ammo, even friends can be shot in cannons. Your tank has multiple screens/levels that you wander around. You grab whatever items you have, load them to the cannon and fire away. The greatest fun in this area was breaking into your enemies tank, picking them up and shooting them out of their own cannon, and watching them fly across the top screen on DS. This was also done to all the friends in the tank. Your friends do what they are told, so you want them to fire from one cannon, they will only shoot from that cannon. While I only briefly played this game at E3 I spent a good amount of time with it at Comic-Con and I cannot wait for the final version. Sometimes no matter how simple the graphics, with great game play you are good to go.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Another Look at Square Enix at E3

At E3 this year I played every game Square Enix had at their booth, and man are they great. (Hey, I'm an RPG nut, so it's all good.) Anyway going back to Square Enix at Comic-Con I expected to see much of the same, and I did, but there were changes.

In 2005 Square Enix did not have much of a video game presence at Comic-Con. There were the ever gorgeous Kotobukiya figures, and a plasma showing trailers for Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children but that was about it for FF fans. This year, totally different story are Squenix was out in full force with their same game lineup as seen at E3. So what was new and cool, lets take a look at ...

Final Fantasy XII -- Most gamers want this title in their hands now, but no worries, time is fast approaching when hours will be widdled away behind a TV monitor. The graphics continue to impress, and it was interesting to note the detail seen within a cut scene was also present in game play. Just stop running around and fighting and look around, there is so much detail in the environment. I also got my first hands-on taste of Limit Breaks, or as they're call in XII Mist. Sweet attacks that you unleash after building up the required meters. There were fun to watch and pull off, and never fail to remind gamers they are indeed in a Final Fantasy game, and it does live up to standards. Remember the grid system from FFX, well now you have a license system. Think of it as the love child of the Job System and Grid System. As you gain license points you get to take a test for your learners permit ... oh wait, you get to assign different attributes to your characters. What this means is you want your small little girl character to be the brute of the team, she can, the big mean gruff guy, make him the healer. Gamers are not limited to set classes, you can determine your own path, similar (again) to an online RPG. Setting gambits is also fun, but going old-schoo FF by putting the system on wait is refreshing. Each character will wait their turn to fight letting you control each one as opposed to letting the gambits rule the day. All in all the game is looking freaking sweet, making the wait well worth it.

Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII -- Another game taken for a spin at E3, Dirge has been tweaked since the show and will be improved a little more before release. As you may or may not know this is one of the first real attempts are getting an FPS into the Japanese market, think of it as my first FPS for beginners. Due to this the game was moved to a slight third-person perspective, has auto-aim and is not super fast. Forget all of that, well almost. The third-person is still there, but the controls have been tweaked to appease U.S. gamers and the game is overall much faster. There are new levels being added for the U.S. The game is taking on shape, and this is one nice slim super model in waiting, not the local ... yeah I'll avoid offending any of the femme fatal out there. Oh, Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode, is a cell phone game tied to Dirge that fills in a lost chapter during the game, that give some background on Vincent.

Tell me, whey does an FPS work on a cell phone, but developers are like fricking tards when it comes to the PSP?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

One Piece: Grand Adventure Impression

One Piece: Grand Adventure is Monkey D. Luffy's second adventure on the GameCube and PlayStation 2 (well, third actually behind Grand Battle and Pirate Carnival). So, while Pirate Carnival looks to be a series of party and mini games, Grand Adventure is the sequel to 2005's fighting game Grand Battle.

So what's different, why get excited? Besides the usual list of updates, cleaner graphics, tweaked controls and an expanded roster of characters there are two BIG things to get excited about. First the Adventure mode (hence the title, duh!). Similar in concept to the adventure mode found in Soul Calibur, gamers will take on a series of missions and task that sway in and out of the actual anime story line. Guide your pirates over the open ocean and live out all the adventures you've come to love on TV. Next thing to get excited about, well it's not a game play feature, is the fact this games been developed for the US market. Only Otaku will get excited by this because for anyone unfamiliar with anime or One Piece will see this as another licensed fighting game. Most games that reach the US based on an anime are ports, ports of games based on anime that have had a longer TV run on foreign soil.

Step back time. Check this out, lets say One Piece has shown 20 episodes on US TV, and prompts a video game here. Well, that video game is being ported from Japan, and when it was developed there One Piece was at or over 100 episodes already. In a nutshell (a big one) this means we US gamers, have not seen all the characters and settings the Japanese market has and thus will have a stripped down game (for the same price dammit). You will see weird character changes, especially with a title like One Piece where it's very adult in Japan, but been kiddied down here. Now characters don't smoke, they have lolli-pops. ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH, don't get me started. It's a good thing to have a game developed here because it wil be true to the anime we've seen, know and love. Good times. I suggested giving the manga a spin if you've never seen the anime or played the previous games. The story is great, art is great, and it's not just for kiddies.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Eureka Seven - Vol 1: The New Wave Impression

Namco Bandai's upcoming Eureka Seven - Vol 1: The New Wave is fun, really, really fun. I had the pleasure of playing at this year's E3 in Los Angeles. Since I've only seen volume one (DVD) of Eureka Seven I went into this game not knowing what to expect other than sky-surfing LFO's (think big mech's riding waves on giant boards in the sky) and maybe some characters from the anime. Well, I did get the LFO's but thus far there is nada on the character from the anime front, but that could change the deeper you go into the game and story. This is a sort-of prequel to the anime. Now since I don't know to much about the story at this poitn I'm not going to yammer on about it, let's get down to the nitty gritty, the gameplay.

Vets of the various Gundam vs. games will find the LFO controls easy to grasp, and will not be disoriented as you surf the trapar waves in one directs while targeting enemies going every which way. This is how flying mech games are supposed to be. I spent five minutes with the game and in that five minutes I came away a very excited fan-boy. I want to play more, I want to know the story, how it ties into the anime, I want to get outside my LFO and surf around (which you can do) and I want to immerse myself in an anime based video game starring giant mechs not ending in undam. (BTW, I LOVE me some Gundam action, I have every game released here in the states for Gundam, no joke, even the Dreamcast game, solid!)

Hey, listen, the New Wave does not kick up for a few months so do yourself a favor and check out the anime, buy it, borrow it, watch it online. The music hooked me, and while there are tons of giant robot mech anime out there Eureka (pronounced L-wreck-A) Seven does enough to separate from the crowd, and great character design never hurts. Good times.

Speed Grapher Vol. 1 Impression

DECADENCE - ANGER - CONSPIRACY - LUST - MONEY - CRIME - INNOCENCE - DEATH

These words, taken from the back of the box for Speed Grapher Vol. 1 from FUNimation pretty much sum up the show. Ex-war photographer Tatsumi Saiga is living a hum-drum life in Tokyo, taking pictures for tabloids to make a buck all while around him the rich get richer and poor ... they just remain the same. While following up on a tip Saiga stumbles upon a side of Tokyo only the most powerful and rich ever experience, an underground club where no desire is taboo, a club where Saiga meets Kagura Tennozu, a girl with special 'gifts.' With a kiss from Tennozu, Saiga gains his deepest desire, which looks like is to be able to destroy/kill through the lens of his camera. Sounds off-kilter, well it is.

Speed Grapher is not an anime for the young or faint of heart as volume one has plenty of adult situations, violence and things that are just wrong (wait till you see the underground club, good times, if you're into that kind of thing). So as stated above we have Saiga who loves taking pictures, even at his own expense body-wise and Kagura Tennozu, a young girl who's mother, Shinshen Tennozu, just happens to be ultra-rich and the most powerful woman in Tokyo (she runs the underground club). She also happens to be quite twisted herself (very sexual) and utilizes here henchmen as super powered thugs. Suitengu is one white haired badass you don't want to cross, even if you only owe him $1, you better pay up. Mix in a bunch of dirty politicians, some cops, including the very, very horny detective Hibari Ginza (she's always after Saiga, and gets him, good times) and you have a base for a very different anime.

Volume one will do one of two things. 1) Turn you off to the series because you don't like the overly sexual content thinking it detracts from the show or 2) leave you wanting more. When I say wanting more I don't me dirty, perverse stuff, it's not everywhere, but rather wanting to find out more about the characters, these strange powers some individuals have (including Saiga thanks to Kagura) and just how things will play out. I want to see volume two as one really set the stage. Four episodes that expose you to most of the main players, hides nothing about their outward personalities, and pulls no punches in it's story telling or art style. It's dark, it's gritty, and you come away feeling a little dirty, in a good way, as even the 'hero' has his vices.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The Law of Ueki DVD Impression

The Law of Ueki, what an interesting story. We know this story, other-worldly begins pick earth kids to fight for their glory, kingdom, throne or something else of consequence. The most recent example that comes to mind is Zatch Bell! where Momodo are paired up with an Earthling who utlize their book to fight other Momodo till one is left, and thus king.

That basic concept is what you have with The Law of Ueki where POWERFUL CELESTIAL BEINGS select middle-school kids to fight for them in a tournament to determine who will be the next king ... of where, who knows, but that's besides the point. I did not put too much hope into this Vol. 1 of The Law fo Ueki from Viz Media, but woooooooooo, was I surprised. Yes, I've already said this formula has been done before, but I never said it was a bad formula. Do you know how many giant-mech anime I own, or fighting games? Anyway my point is no matter how cool, lame, common or unique the story concept without unique twist, turns, characters and settings it will fail. The Law of Ueki need not worry.

Tsubasa Fukuchi's art style is instantly engaging, reminding me very much of One Piece, yet a little more down to Earth due to the setting (modern day Japan, middle school). The narrative does not take itself too serious, but also does not turn into an Excel Saga type of adventure. Kosuke Ueki is very care-free kid, even as he loses his talents, and appears to have a truly good heart, which is why he's picked to represent Mr. K in the upcoming tournament. Granted the power to turn trash into trees (whaaaaaaaaa!!!!) Ueki will lose his talents (think popularity wtih girls, ability to study) if his powers are used against non-combatants, or against an opponent who's already lost their power. Sounds weird and it is, but it's this strange mixture that make Ueki so charming. Anybody can have super powers, a giant robot, magical armor, but turning trash into trees, that's pretty sweet.

Volume 1 of The Law of Ueki will introduce readers to the world Kosuke Ueki inhabits bringing a handful of supporting characters into the fold as it goes. You see Ueki for who he is, and witness the ways he learns his power and uses it to protect those he cares for. At the end of the day I would say The Law of Ueki is a great read for anyone with a passing interested in Zatch Bell!, and for those who don't care for Zatch due to its more child-like art and story telling, you MUST pick up The Law of Ueki. If it's crazy powers and even crazier combat you're looking for The Law of Ueki is for you. Ok Otaku, get up, go out, and buy this manga, it's money!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja, Ultimate Game

WOW, it's been a while, almost two months. Take some pre/during/post E3 work, mix in a week vacation, add a dash of the flu with a smidgen of work backlog and you have a formula perfect for ... well utter chaos. I'm still here, and still blogging. My list of things I want to write about is so freaking huge, and Comic-Con is coming up soon too, yikes! Time to get back into the swing of things, so lets talk about 'Naruto: Ultimate Ninja' which is on the Anime Gaming Guide now.

So, why did I pick Naruto this week, it's simple the game kicks major ass. Besides looking cool as hell and drawing from the manga from Viz (which any true anime/manga/Naruto fan must have) 'Ultimate Ninja' sets a new standar for anime based video games, a standard and level only seen in 'Dragon Ball Z' titles. The controls are fluid, and not bogged down with too many different commands. The graphics are sweet, some of the best use of cell-shading I've seen, and the fun, OH THE FUN! You really get into this game, it's great, no joke. Fans of Naruto will love this game (duh!) but get this, so will casual and hard-core fighting game fans. The mix of Smash Bros. and Power Stone fighting styles are very apparent in both charceter movement and level design and layout. The action is over the top, no ninja stealth stuff here, and it's just a fun all around romp. Check out the videos, check out the screenshots and then buy this puppy for yourself. If you doubt, go rent it already. Good times, and wait till you see some of Namco Bandai's other offerings such as 'Eureka Seven.'

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Impression

So, why 'Advent Children,' why not? I missed many a class as a sophmore in college guiding Cloud, Tifa and gang on their adventure. I love RPG's and no one game hooked me as much as the original 'FFVII' (ok that's a lie, it's a tie between this, 'Lunar' on Sega CD and 'Phantasy Star III' on Genesis). Anyway I drooled over 'Advent Children' from the time I heard it was coming out till I viewed it this past week. It's not an anime, it's not a game, but go ahead and tell me if you think it does not fit the audience of the anime guide. If you have even a passing interest go out and rent/buy this movie, it's worth it and the game recap on the special edition DVD is priceless.

So besides being geeked about 'Advent Children' what else is going on? How about a little show called E3 next week and an Anime Trailer page on AOL. Yup, I get to go to and cover E3 for AOL Games, and I will be concentrating on Anime based game announcements (like Bandai's Eureka 7, IGPX, Mobile Ops... so many yummy flavors). The Countdown to E3 has begun so check it out now. Tune in next week because it's my first E3 and I'm really feeling like going blog crazy. Pics, games, sooooooo much to see and do. I'm Charlie and E3 is Wonka's factory.

'Hey James, E3 is cool and all, but you said Anime Trailers???' Oh, I'm so glad you noticed, that's right, anime trailers on AOL Games. Is it games, not really. There are some game trailers but you will find trailers for good ol' fashioned anime at http://videogames.aol.com/gamingguides/anime/trailers. Now bear with me as I am getting more and more content for this page, but it is coming around and any feedback is greatly appreciated. Tune in for more very, very soon. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny Impression

'Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny' on PS2 takes me back to my care-free teenage years. How can a current-gen game take me back to the 16-bit era of gaming when I would mow grass for hours just to afford one game, just fire-up AI2 and you will see. So when I was younger I scammed... er, traded some baseball cards for my buddy's Sega CD. Unknown to him he left 'Lunar: Silver Star' in the drive. I fired this puppy up and was treated to what is still to this day one of my all-time favorite games. Everything about Lunar was RPG cliche, but from the opening anime sequence to Alex rise to Dragon Master, sweet, sweet bliss. (The remake by now defunct Working Designs on PS one was so freaking great.) Lunar had a big influence on my love of anime, and the feelings I have playing 'Atelier Iris 2' are very reminiscent of what Lunar used to do to me.

NIS America is a godsend to gamers like me, ones that cut their teeth on Atari, but really took a bite out of the 16-bit era. Between Lunar, Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy all on the 16-bit systems I was hooked. The story, the character design, the hours of building up character levels, the bitter-sweet endings... it was video game crack. NIS brings over games like AI2 that other companies would not touch, but thanks very much for doing so. AI2 begins with a lengthy opening animated sequence showing various character, settings and plot lines from the game. Press start and you're thrown into a quick couple of battles that force you to learn the battle system, then it's on to typical rpg fare with your main character as you wander around a few towns, talk to tons of characters and look for your brother... then the adventure begins. Quick battles (btw would be a perfect game on the PSP, hint, hint) a fun alchemist system (item creation) and odd mix of character makes for a fun romp. All in all it's the fun game play and feelings of nostalgia that drive me to put this game in our main spot on AOL Games, Anime Gaming Guide (posting on 04/26 in the afternoon).

Pick up 'Atelier Iris 2' if youconsider yourself an rpg'er, or even rent it. It's very rare to get an old-school game that is not part of a compilation of stuff we've seen. Take it for a spin, have fun with it then go back to waiting for the next Final Fantasy (or Blade Dancer on PSP). Good times.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Grandia III Impression

Ok, right now I'm tied up playing three different games. While nobody can argue wit me playing Kingdom Hearts II and Star Wars: Empire at War who would have guess that third game I'm hooked on is Grandia III. So why am I hooked you say, well it all starts with the Opening Theme 'In the Sky' by Miz. Now I would love to get this in mp3 format, but no dice. I do have the next best thing. Watch the opening sequence here. Listen and see. The opening is just the beginning (duh) but this is a great game, a truly great RPG. It's kinda lost in the mix with Square Enix other big titles but don't miss this game. Really, go and pick it up now, good stuff, and I love me a good RPG. Well that's enough praise for now, just check it out. Good times.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Impression

Hola, quick note for you of a series you must take a look at. Distributed by ADV Films, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is a fantasy adventure that some may put off due to it's child like here, but this is no kiddie series. Now you may have heard the name Loki before as he's the Norse God that cause all kinds of trouble for his fellow gods (including Thor). You may also know him from Marvel comics (think ugly ass green outfit). Anyway, this is another take on Loki, a Loki that has a good heart, a Loki banished to Earth in child form for all his trouble-making. So, Loki is on Earth and a detective, solving paranormal mysteries, which usually involves some other aspect of Norse mythology. All work is done in an attempt to get back to Valhalla. This series is good fun as we get to see different Earth based child incarnations of various gods and some of the DVD extras are pretty sweet as you're treated to a crash course in Norse Mythology, to better understand the anime. Add it all up and you have a very good show, one I cannot wait to see every month, and trust me, I had my doubts. Great opening theme, love the character design.. you must check out this series, no joke, good times. Don't take my word for it, go and watch the trailer at http://us.video.aol.com/video.index.adp?mode=1&pmmsid=1442840&_AOLFORM=w708.h344.R1.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Most Anticipated Anime, 2006 REVISITED

Some of you may remember that back in January I wrote about the anime and video games that I could not wait to get my hand on in 2006. Don't remember, take a look here, http://journals.aol.com/animesentinel/anime/entries/540. ANYWAY, since some of these titles have come out and the such it's about time I take a look back and realize how dead-on I was, and also how much of an ass I was on what I wanted. LETS DO THIS THING...

(I will only comment on items I've been exposed to thus far, so no notes yet for items like Okami and Trinity Blood. Numbers listed are my original rankings.)

Top 10 Most Wanted Anime
03) Naruto - I don't have the DVD yet, but I love spending my Saturday's watching Naruto on Toonami. The ONLY thing that pisses me off is how short the episodes are... and recap shows. Guess what, I know what's happened thus far. There is no reason to have two recap shows.
04) Macross - Pissed me off. I watched this on the Newtype DVD and I don't know why all of the sudden nobody in this show takes anything series. And the voices, sorry, I grew very accustomed to Harmony Golds voice cast. This is a case of my expectations being too high, that and nostalgia.
09) Hikaru no Go - Good action and pacing for an anime based on a board game. Makes me want to learn go, if only anyone I know had ever heard of the game :(
10) Eureka Seven / Desert Punk - I missed the boat on both of these, the are now in my Top 5, np. Eureka Seven (hitting on PS2 also) looks gorgeous, and Desert Punk, not since Slayers have I laughed this much during a show. Both titles, must have.

Top Continuing Anime
01) Samurai 7 - Good stuff. Samurai fans rejoice, this is a true work of art.
02) Fullmetal Alchemist - HOT, HOT, HOT. Everything about their Erlic brothers is sweetness. I'm on DVD 8 and 9 right now.
03) Scrapped Princess - So-so ending. I found myself getting this anime not so much because I had to have it, but because I had already invested so much time in it.
04) Samurai Champloo - Great ending to a great series and I get to play the game very soon.
05) Loki Ragnarok - Really, from the opening theme song this beauty of an anime, it just rocks.
06) Tenjho Tenge - Hot babes, even hotter fights. My wife, an anit-non-Otaku, really likes this series.
07) Fafner - Good anime, but not hooking me in the ways I hoped it would

Top 10 Most Wanted Games
01) Kingdom Hearts II - This game is fu^$^%$^ awesome!
02) Naruto (Clash of Ninja, Ninja Council) - I love Naruto, and I love these games. Light on character options, but deep in gameplay, both the GC and GBA outings are good fun for any Naruto fan.
05) Black - I don't have the full game and the reviews were lower than I thought they would be, but the demo disc I have for this is a lot of fun. It really is, to quote one of my favorite game mags, Gun Porn.
08) Star Wars: Empire at War - The only PC game I've wanted in a long, long time and dear lord it's sweet.
09) Metal Gear (AC!D 2) - Great looking, a little easier. Everything I hoped it would be.

Most Wanted Missing the Cut --
- Shadow Hearts: From the New World - Everything I expected. It still just misses the Top 10, but one hell of a game.
- MS Saga: A New Dawn - Gundam, nuff said, but this surprised me as one hell of a deep RPG.

Taking me by surprise (new stuff dummy) This is a short list, but Grandia III on PS2 had me hooked with it's opening song and great gameplay. I'm splitting time between this and KHII right now.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Eureka Seven on PlayStation 2

Have you been there yet, you know, that page I update? The Anime Gaming Guide on AOL Games has a new feature and this week it's 'Eureka Seven.'

Bandai's upcoming mega-hot anime title may seem like a strange choice for the main slot, but it's not. This past week 'Eureka Seven' for PlayStation 2 was announced and this press release got me so geeked I bumped 'Monster Rancher EVO' from the DL slot (sorry Tecmo, but ES was in my Most Anticipated Anime/Games 2006 list). Oh, speaking of this list, I'm going to revisit it, as EA was tied for #10, well that's moving up a few slots and others are moving down. Back to the announcement. The DVD hits on Apirl 25th, comes with t-shirt and CD (why would you buy just the regular DVD, don't be stupid.) It's going to be hot, and to see a game announced now, before the DVD is out and before the airing on Adult Swim is HOT, just freaking HOT! Take a look at Bandai's official Eureka Seven site, and tune in for more.

OH, WAIT A SECOND!!! There was another announcement this week. Ubisoft has picked up the licensing rights for 'Naruto' on Xbox 360. Yes, I know there are 'Naruto' games out there already, a GC and GBA game from Tomy, an upcoming PS2 title from Bandai, but this announcement is special. First, it's on a next-generation system. Not enough for you, how about Microsoft making a true push to appeal to Japanese type gamers and that market as a whole. Ok, so check out this conspiracy theory... Xbox is an American Gaming Machine. No good RPG's (traditional ones), tons of Mech-Assault-ish games, sports games and racing games. The original Xbox failed hard in Japan, only Bills money kept they system afloat (and Halo, another genre not too popular in Japan, that of the first-person shooter). The 360 will change that, and Naruto is the start. Don't agree, tough, this is my blog, start your own. Well, time to head home, I have a date with Sora, Donald and Goofy, later!

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked Impression

It's been awhile but I'm back. In addition to getting the flu I've also had the joy of shoulder surgery. I chose to have this done, stuff needed to be cleaned up. Anyway from now on whenever I update the Anime Gaming Guide (http://videogames.aol.com/gamingguides/anime) on AOL Games I am going to blog right here and explain why, give my POV on the game I've just updated. So for this week the game I've put in the main spot is 'Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked.' Ok, so by now if you're reading this you've seen SC on Adult Swim or you've bought the DVD's. Sad to say the show is over, run it's course, that's the exact reason why I cannot wait for Sidetracked and why it's in the anime guide. From the first minute you watch SC you wan to pick up a sword and get down to the crazy hip-hop beats (and if you don't, whatever). The style, design... everything about this show is unique and just plain cool. This is a feeling of coolness not felt since you kissed Spike and the crew of the Bebop bye-bye. From what I've read so far, and what I will play very soon, this is not a hack-n-slash, generic, licensed game, it's innovative and different. Take this weird trio on a side-quest adventure while you fight with either Mugen or Jin all the while listening to thumping tracks that affect the combos you perform and combat itself. Genius game play idea and one that will truly carry on the feeling of the SC anime. Here's to hoping this game lives up to what I expect, and that's why it's on the anime guide.

'Kingdom Heart II' image? You noticed huh. While I updated the anime guide this week with SC last week's update was for 'Kingdom Hearts II' on PlayS 2. I will be taking this game for a spin tonight for the first time, but after playing the original and Chain to Memories this puppy is going to be gravy, just nice, brown, warm, juicy gravy on my gaming pallet. I don't have to tell you why this game is on the anime guide, it's great. (But James, um, it's not based on an anime.) On an anime, well yes, technically you're right, but have you read the manga from Tokyopop, seen the Card Game (coming soon, maybe, to the US) or seen any of the animated films that all them there Disney characters are in? There is a tie-in for this, and since movies like the Lion King just ripped off Simba the White Lion then this could be considered and anime tie. Stretch yes, anybody complaining, nope. That's all for now talk to you later.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Comic-Con in NY was Fun (but no SD)

Last year I had my first experience with Comic-Con out in San Diego, and boy was it a hoot. The size of the conference center, the number of attendees, the booths, the cos-players, the comics, the anime, the manga, video games ... enough to send you into a joyous shock. I loved it. I cannot say the show in New York (first annual) had the same impact on me. First off I spend a better part of last week with and recovering from the flu, preventing me from writing about the show earlier and second the show was over sold.

Now going into this I had to temper my expectations as I knew it was the first annual, but I knew deep down if it was half the show that San Diego puts on then it would be well worth the trip. Yeah, well, this is a yes and a no. I was very impressed by the gaming room layout. On the top floor of the conference center there was a cavernous room dedicated just to video games and in the back a ton, few hundred, tables laid out just for some card battling action. I saw this before the public was let in, but never made it back due to the crowd issue (more on that in a min). The hall with the main show itself was kinda cramped as the two larger rooms were dedicated to an art show and the other to a travel show. We got stuck in the basement.

So who was there, well DC Comics, Viz, ADV, FUNimation, Tokyopop, Darkhorse to name a few, but no big presence like Star Wars, big video game booths (some consoles upstairs as I said). All the booths were smaller, content really taken back. It was like the ugly little brother of the tall hot model that is Comic-Con San Diego. All this said, it was a good first effort minus the crowd issue.

The show was over sold. There was a line 200+ people deep that had paid and could not get into the show. Press were made to wait in this line also, and there was even a line (shorter) for exhibitors. I missed a panel I was going to attend and write about and had to have friends bring me an exhibitor badge to get me back into the main show. I could not go to the video game or card game room because I would have been trapped outside the main show, it was a mess. That is my one gripe about the show. It was fun, a good two days, and I'll tell you about Richard A. Knaak, Frank Miller, Peter Max and Manga Studio another time.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Comic-Con NY Cosplay

Nothing says a good convention like a good round of pics of cosplayers. For those of you not in the know cosplay is just dressing up in costumes as your favorite anime character or any comic/movie/game character for that matter. It's a term adopted by the anime/manga community, and it just sounds good. It's also my favorite part of any convention. Comic-Con in New York this past weekend was not the utopia of cosplayers I had hoped but it was still decent. For a show that in essence is the little brother that has yet to hit puberty of the well established Comic-Con in San Diego, this turnout was a valiant effort for year one, but must improve in 2007. (Oh, for good measure I've thrown in some of the strange show costumes of characters and the like.)

Enjoy, but then check out exactly what I'm putting this up against from last year, http://journals.aol.com/animesentinel/anime/entries/396

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Comic-Con NY, 2006

Last August I began this blog with a trip to San Diego Comic-Con, and it was a blast. Well, in less than 24 hours I will be attending New York's first annual Comic-Con and I'm both excited and curious to see how it compares to the original, and what content will be displayed, unveiled and released upon an unsuspecting public. The anticipation builds. See you in a few days with updates, images and other cool stuff. Good times.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gilgamesh -- Whose Side Are You On?

One think I've learned over the years watching anime is that you don't have to dive in from DVD Vol. 1. Sometimes it's good to wait till there are 3-4 volumes out so you can spend a good portion of the day watching each episode in a row. I did this with Trigun and Cowboy Bebop (box set) and those are still two of my favorite series even though I did not jump on from Vol.1. I've found a new series that matches this trend, Gilgamesh from ADV Films.

I've passed by this series on the store shelves quite a few times, caught first by the title then by the cover art. As I began watching this series my wife asked me why it's in black and white. Well, it's not, but it's a thought I was also having. The use of color is very subtle in this series. The grey tones set the mood the the entire anime, it's not a happy go lucky story. It's set in a world ravaged by one single terrorist attack (You'll learn more at the official site). The music is also very subdued and fits the visual feel so well.

One of my favorite things about this series is the character design. I feel like I'm watching a series set in the world of Blood: The Last Vampire. I don't know how best to describe the look, it's just unique, and so perfect for Gilgamesh. I've seen screen shots of the upcoming Blood+ and I must say Gilgamesh is what that series should have looked like. I'm just a few disc in (# 3 to be exact) and I am hooked.

The opening theme, Crazy 4 U, is catchy and sort-of off center for such a moody anime. Well, that does it for now, check out Gilgamesh, watch a trailer at least, and enjoy one of the prettiest anime on the market.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Princess AI Impression

Ok, who can tell me more about Princess AI? I'm going to be reading these manga very, very soon and I kinda know the story, but I want to hear from fans of the series. I have to tell you the art is freaking gorgeous. I'm very curious to see what I find as I delve into the world of Princess AI.

Monday, February 13, 2006

WarCraft The Sunwell Trilogy Manga Impression

Run, do not walk, to your local manga Mecca and buy Vol. 1 and 2 of Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy. Now I love me some manga, and I've been privy to read some more American based titles (Devil May Cry) to see how they adapt. Warcraft is one of those titles (check out the online manga here, Warcraft). It's based on a computer game, one which I do not know too much about, heck I'm a console gamer, not PC. Anyway it's set in the world of Warcraft and is sure to have characters and locations that series veterans will notice, but it's more than just the standard-fare 'lets turn a game into a manga' type of series.

This trilogy is written by Richard A. Knaak (Dragonlance: Legend of Huma, DragonRealm series) and illustrated by Jae-Hwan Kim. It was Kim's cover art for volume one that drove me to pickup this series (check out the pics to the left) but it was Knaak's name that sold me. The art mixed with an excellent story is well worth your time to pickup, I just hate the fact it's only a trilogy. I can tell you this, Warcraft: TST will find a place on my bookshelf along with all my favorite manga, Dragonlance collection and (out of print) Drago books. Good times. If you like fantasy pick up this series, it's a nice mixture of East meets West.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Totally Geeked for .hack//G.U.

I hope it's not just me, I hope I'm not the only schlub who cannot wait to get his hands on the next .hack// game. Really, have you seen the trailer??? Check it out at http://videogames.aol.com/gamingguides/anime, it's on the right side of the page. I know there is still not a solid release date or for that matter a lot of game info, but how can any .hack// fan not be super excited. I've played the games, read the manga, read the novel, watched the anime (all three) and I want more ... MORE! I never got into the TCG (you need friends for that) but I will, 100%, play online for real if that rumor is true. Man, you have to check out the trailer, it's so freaking sweet. Oh, the music is some of the best I've heard in a long, long time. If you like this music you need to check out the soundtracks for Noir and Madlax, A+ stuff, no joke.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mega Man X (and Zero) Collection Impression

Mega Man X. Best series of blue-bomber games ever. I remember playing the original Mega Man, the difficulty of Mega Man 2 and all the games to follow. On the NES and SNES there was no side-scrolling series I loved more (hey, I said more, there were other equal loves like Castlevania). Then came Mega Man X. An edgier more grown up Mega Man with his own storyline (hola Sigma) and cool new armor. Now you have to understand I was big time into anime like Robotech (Super Veritech) and Ronin Warriors and in both these series (more so Ronin Warriors) it was all about cool armor and the power it brought the wearer. MMX game me this power, game me more than just a color change and different weapon, and I loved it. Throw into the mix a badass named Zero (with a sword) and I was sold. Those were the days, and there is no going back ... that is until Capcom released their Mega Man X Collection.

I was a bit worried when I put this disc in my GameCube. Would it be the same? Would it stand the test of time? Would all my fond memories be crushed? Answers; No, No and No. These games are everything I remember, and I'm having as much fun playing them now as I did when I was a kid. It really goes to show that great gameplay is key.

Now X, X2 and X3 were all on the Super Nintendo with it's amazing 16-bit graphics and sound in addition to (grainy) animated cut scenes, while X4 through 6 were each on PlayStation (7 & 8 appear on PS2). As you play the games you see the gradual improvements in both graphics and sound, kinda like a short history lesson on 16 to 32-bit video games. There is also an increase in the quality of the cut scenes and the eventual addition of voice-overs, very nice. So we see the graphics and sound get better, but the story gets stranger and stranger. At the end of the day I did not buy this collection (or the originals) for the story, I bought them for the gameplay, and this series delivers.

Do yourself a favor and take this game for a spin, and if your a nut like me pick up Nubytech's custom controller. The one question I have for the folks at Nubytech is why make the controller so small? The gamers who grew up with MMX are older, and the ones who will buy the controller have bigger hands. Controls feel a little stiff at first, but the buttons you use get the job done, and the sweet graphics on the controller and the case make it a worthy addition to your China Cabinet (or shelf, whatever).

Gaming goodness from the past, that was Mega Man X Collection is all about, and packaged with the controller you're sure to please the MMX fan in your life.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hikaru no Go DVD Impression

Ok, I talked about this anime before, few weeks back, based on the DVD sent out with Shonen Jump and not I have to reconfirm. Hikaru no Go is good. It's a good read and now it's a good watch. If you like the manga you will like the anime, period. Don't give me that crap about 'but it an anime based on a board game' that fluff won't fly. I like anime for a lot of reasons, reason different (maybe) from yours so don't tell me it's no good. This is my blog and I say Hikaru is good stuff. Clean animation, good voice acting and an excitement to the games I did not expect to find. This is a story about growing up. It could have been in a space setting with giant mechs or alien babes, but it's set on a go board (with a ghost) and it works. Oh, and for all you aspiring go players there are lessons at the end of every episode that will really make you appreciate the anime (and manga) even more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Most Anticipated Anime, 2006

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Welcome to 2006, it's going to be a GREAT year for anime, no doubt. Not only will we see more manga (Bandai is jumping into the fold this year), but we are going to see some sweet titles getting licensed, and only a year or two after they aired in Japan, that is sweet. (Much better than the 3+ years of waiting we've had in the past, btw where the hell is Macross Zero???) So check this out, below are the titles I cannot wait to get my mits on this year along with the continuing series I look forward to wrapping up. I've also thrown in the video games I cannot wait to waste hours playing, and don't' worry, there is not a comic based title among them. 2006 is going to be a very good year indeed... did someone say PlayStation 3!!!

Top 10 Most Wanted Anime
01) Trinity Blood - Drool inducing anime, that's what this is.
02) Gundam Seed Destiny - Call this 1A, it's going to be sweet.
03) Naruto - I want on DVD so I can watch over and over again anywhere.
04) Macross - The original gets the re-release treatment. Who doesn't love a Veritech.
05) SpeedGrapher - Don't know too much about this, but very curious.
06) Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shambala - No-brainer.
07) Gun Sword - Had me hooked just with the character design.
08) Hellsing Ultimate - More vampire, more yumminess.
09) Hikaru no Go - Boring to some, exciting to me. Try playing a game of go, it'll hook you.
10) Eureka Seven / Desert Punk / Basilisk - three way tie, I really could not make up my mind here, they all look too good to pass up on so I'll take a nibble of each and decide later.

Top Continuing Anime
01) Samurai 7 - If you don't have it already, stop reading and go now to the store, really.
02) Fullmetal Alchemist - Alchemy at it's finest.
03) Scrapped Princess - Sweet 'bonus' figures, and the series is good to boot.
04) Samurai Champloo - Buy the sound track, it rocks.
05) Loki Ragnarok - Don't know how to describe this, it's just good, really good.
06) Tenjho Tenge - Fan service mixed with a great opening theme, mmmmmmmm.
07) Fafner - Dittowith the character design and opening theme.

So video game wise, not every number is just a game, some of these are series of games, but you'll get it, good times:

Top 10 Most Wanted Games
01) Kingdom Hearts II - Played the original, plus Chain of Memories and read the manga, bring on Part II already!
02) Naruto (Clash of Ninja, Ninja Council, Narutimate Hero) - Ninja's rock. Play every game, and if you don't have the system, buy it.
03) .hack//G.U. (part 1-3) - Hell, I would be happy with the trailer on DVD. This entire anime/game/manga/tcg series is a must have.
04) Okami - Art, plain and simple art on your TV. (Did I mention it's a game?)
05) Black - Art of another form. Primal, down and dirty shooting action. It's time to blow things up but good!
06) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Just cross your fingers it does not get pushed again.
07) Samurai Champloo - If it's anything like the anime its gotta be sweet, and plus it keeps your mind off the much delayed Cowboy Bebop game.
08) Star Wars: Empire at War - A PC game, on my list!!! It's true, I love console titles, but RTS is what I cut my teeth on with Dune, Herzog Zwei and the like.
09) Metal Gear (AC!D 2, Subsistence, GotP) - Snake tasted good on the NES and I guarantee it taste even better on the PS3.
10) Final Fantasy XII - While the battle system will be a departure from past titles I do love me some RPG action (and have you seen the bunny girls... interesting).

Most Wanted Missing the Cut -- I have to give a shout-out to these games just missing my Top 10.
- Blue Dragon - I may not be a fan of the 360, but when Toriyama does a games character design I will take notice.
- Shadow Hearts: From the New World - If you've played the previous games you know why this is on the list.
- MS Saga: A New Dawn - Gundam, nuff said.
- Gundam World - (ditto)
- Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII - A non RPG FF game...
- Wild Arms: The Vth Vanguard - I know the name of the game, and that's enough to get my interest.
- Code Age Commanders - Could this be the next .hack multi-media franchise? Tune in and see.
- Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition - I missed it on the first go around, and special editions are always sweet (see both Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3).
- Rogue Galaxy - A new cell-shaded RPG.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Peace Maker, RahXephon, Rune Soldier Impressions

2006, new year, new calendars and new anime. I cannot wait for some new titles this year including some Naruto on DVD and Gundam SEED Destiny. Enough about the future, what about 2005. Well, I spent a good portion of my little ol' vacation watching some ADV Films anime.

I indulged in three different series, PeaceMaker, RahXephon and Rune Soldier. Three series that have been out for a few years that you can pick up cheap(er) in their slim-pack collection, which is very nice (especially if you shop at a place like Best Buy, good prices). So, how were these series? Good to say the least.

Rune Soldier was the one I looked forward to the most, and one that I wanted to buy when it originally came out, but due to money crunch could not buy. I love Slayers, and was really hoping good things for Rune Soldier... I was a little disappointed. The animation was so-so, but I did love Louie, very funny. The series was a bunch of adventures with a few episodes tied together at the end to add some depth, but the series ends too early as you are presented with some questions in the very last episode you have to have answered. In the end, it's a fun watch but I would pick up the Slayers or one of the other packs above.

RahXephon surprised me, big time. I really expected this to be an Evangelion clone, that's why I did not buy it when it came out, even after watching episode one on the disc I received in NewType. It was not a clone, it was great. Yes there is a boy in a mech fighting invaders of varying sizes and types, both on land, with partners, and one stationed in space. Very similar to Evangelion, but instead of being a clone it's a good compliment to Eva, and if you're a fan of Shinji (and Aska) and who isn't, pick up this title.

Now, the final series I had the most questions about, Peace Maker. This is one of my favorite titles (hey, I'm a history buff also). I expected something in the vain of Kenshin, but I was alittle off. Take a look at the box art and you get ideas of revenge from a little boy, you expect him to become this great samurai, but it does not happen... at least not right away. If you love history and anime, if you love Kenshin or any anime with swords pick up this title, it's really good. By the end of the series I was attached to all the characters and wanted more, and you will too.

Well, that was my vacation, and I don't regret it. (Yes, I did other stuff, these were watched during down time.) Peace Maker and Rune Soldier each have manga which allow you to continue the adventures the anime just begins, while RahXephon leaves you very full. I'm off now, have to see what other anime I can get my mits on and indulge in the pleasure only an Otaku could understand.

I Love Comments!!!

So check this out, if you go to http://videogames.aol.com/gamingguides/anime you will see a small (small) section with Comic based video games, like X-Men and Spider-Man (Ultimate, not the movie crap). The reason I included both of these titles in the Top 10 list is because, while this is an anime section, I will include good comic based titles. I am very glad I was called out on this, I was curious to see the response on putting these in. So tell me, what two games would you add to the list to replace these? I'll add them in, and revise the list, just make sure they were released in 2005. I know what two I would put in.

On a very related note, what would you like to see on a page featuring just anime trailers, intros and such, you know video content? I'll have this puppy up very soon, and I'll post here when it's ready. Good times, and please, please keep the feedback coming, or email me directly at animesentinel@aol.com and shoot over your journals.