Friday, February 29, 2008

Shuffle vol. 1 Impression

A new twist on a classic anime formula. Shuffle volume 1 from FUNimation takes the harem formula seen in classics like Tenchi Muyo! and Ranma ½, throws in some demons and lets the fun begin. Meet Rin, just your average high school boy looking for an ordinary life. He lives with his childhood friend Kaede, who also happens to be the best looking girl in school and is the envy of all his peers. One day two new students arrive, both attractive young ladies, and both have their sights set on Rin. Sounds pretty normal for an anime, but here’s the twist. Sia and Nerine, the new girls, is the princess’ of the Gods and the Demons respectively. See in the world of Shuffle the human, demon and god worlds are all connected and with special permission said races can travel between each. The reasons for the girls interest in Rin is revealed as he’s had interaction with each and it’s these deep ties that have the girl’s fathers forcing him to choose one as his future bride. Throw in the pushy fathers, now neighbors, a little demon girl, green haired school mate, angry, jealous boys at school and the stage is set for zaniness and romance all mixed in one.

While I mention Rin first, he is by far not the most important part of this series. It’s all about the ladies, perfect for pin-ups, each with their own unique personalities. Sia acts more like a demon, bad in school and loud while Nerine is quiet and shy. The box art for volume 1 shows nothing but the ladies. The animation is good, nothing groundbreaking, but pleasing to the eyes with excellent voice work, especially when situations get extreme. Character design is spot on. Each design feels so familiar with enough personality to relay a newness this genre has needed. This is a romantic series any guy can get into and that I’m sure the ladies will also enjoy as it never goes over the top with hentai-ish actions. We get stories of learning to cook, studying for better grades and first encounters all of which leave the viewer feeling happy. For a genre that’s been done many, many times Shuffle offers up enough unique characters that the familiar situations will feel fresh again. Not too much more to talk about here. Shuffle is work the gamble so if you’ve enjoyed Ranma, Tenchi, Dual or the like you will dig Shuffle.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 Images

Check out these new pics for the upcoming Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 on PlayStation 2. The gameplay is improved form previous installments and with an expanded character roster and story there is nothing not to love. The PS2 still has legs ... now where is our PS3 Naruto???

Ragnarok: The Animation vol. 2 Impression

More fantasy adventuring awaits with nine more episodes of Ragnarok: The Animation vol. 2 from FUNimation. Roan and Yufa continue their adventures, but with the appearance of Yufa’s brother, at least his body, and his pure evilness there seems to be a much larger conspiracy. The Dark Lord is beginning to unveil more of his plans, send out more of his agents. Demons are becoming bolder and humans are taking notice. Roan faces his own inner demons as he comes face-to-face with the fact he cannot truly protect Yufa. He seeks more power only to be saved by a Crusader, which leads him on a new path himself as a Crusader. Yufa also sets off on a new path as a Priest in order to gain more power to help others. After each character faces their inner-demons they reunite stronger than before, ready to take on the growing threat of the Dark Lord. Iruga, ever the strong, invincible member of the party finally shows even his powers have limits, translation he gets beat up pretty bad a few times. Takius breaks down over and over as she learns she’s just a pawn, always has been, of her master, a master who just happens to serve the Dark Lord.

The paths of each member into the darkness with their emergence into the light stronger than before strikes every member of the team. Where volume 1 reminded me very much of Slayers, this volume got much darker with the humor not as prevalent. Darkness and despair, yes that’s the name of the game, but with a story that’s becoming more and more engaging, characters that are now showing a depth not imagined in the first volume, Ragnarok is moving along at a lovely pace any fantasy anime fan will enjoy. I like the characters, Roan had to grow on me, but I like him now. The story is cookie cutter but with a tasty new frosting spread on top. The action is getting deeper, and does not draw out too long and the bad guys, they are just getting started. Did I mention there are nine episodes in volume 2? This is value for your anime buck you cannot ignore, and with limited shelf space in retailers it never hurts to add this extra value. I suggest checking out various anime, but this time I will say if you like fantasy anime then buy Ragnarok: The Animation vol. 2.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Record of a Fallen Vampire vol. 1 Impression

Eternal life and eternal love collide in The Record of a Fallen Vampire volume 1 from Viz Media. Vampire King Akabara has lived a long life; one recently spent searching for his lost love, the Vampire Queen Adelheid. The queen was sealed away by humans years ago when she almost destroyed all life on the planet with her immense power. These same humans created thousands of fake seals around the planet to hide the real location of the queen from Akabara. In all his years of hunting for the proper seal the king is in turn hunted by human and dhampires alike. The bigger threat are the half-human, half-vampire dhampires, but it’s the emergence of the Black Swan that can truly lead the demise of Akabara. Please note there are possible spoilers ahead. See the Black Swan appeared to fight the king with powers that absorb the king’s magic. Appearing in a new host female the memories and powers are passed down from swan to swan along with a power boost. We join the story with dhampire Jin Renka fighting Akabara with his spiritual swords Koryu and Kinyo, and getting his butt kicked as the new Black Swan shows up. This 49th Black Swan, Yuki Komatsubara, is closer than ever to matching the power of the king, but she’s done in by the king’s experience, a tactic that the next swan will know about. As the king battles he meets a little dhampire girl named Laetitia in the woods and promises to get her somewhere safe where she will not be hunted. Fast forward fifty years and the king, with his little buddy Laetitia approach a new seal, where an ambush is set by Jin and a few more vampire hunting friends. The trap does not work so well, especially with Laetitia’s backup. She shoots a big gun from distance and is now known as the Mountain Cat. All is in the kings favor until the 50th Black Swan shows up, and indeed she is stronger than the king, but she wounds, does not kill the king and behold, it’s Yuki ... what the is all Jin can say.

The art, by Yuri Kimura, is pleasing to the eye with a style reminiscent of Shojo vampire titles, but possessing a taste of more Shonen titles. The vampires are pretty, but not girly-boy pretty. The settings are nothing ground-breaking, but they do relay the level of society with cities and countryside both represented. The story could have been very cookie-cutter for a vampire tale but Kyo Shirodaira avoids cliché by utilizing dhampires as well as a love story between a king and queen that seems so basic, yet has planet destroying consequences. Figuring out where the Black Swan came from, what the motivation of the current 50th swan is as well as the history of the characters will make this one manga to watch for vampire fans out there. Fans of Vampire Hunter D may also find this title of great interest as it offers up great action mixed with powerful vampires, dhampires and a story that draws from so many other vampire epics without ripping them off.

King of Hell vol. 18 Impression

King of Hell volume 18 picks up with Majeh on the run, while he was still alive. With his father branded a traitor and his friends turned against him Majeh is at the end of his ropes. Weeks on the run under constant attack wears on a man, and when your sensei confronts you and delivers the news of why you are being hunted as well as news of your parents execution, well it can make one give up. This is exactly what happens but its Majeh sensei that spares him and instructs him to disappear, to learn to live by the sword. After this we cut back as Majeh and team continue their hunt for the Insane Hounds, and they happen upon the same bar with the same bandits that tricked the hounds. Moments before they arrive at the bar a mysterious hooded man arrives, beats the spit out of the bandits, ask for info then moves on his way (more on him in future volumes, that’s it for this one). Third time’s the charm for this pathetic groups of bandits and this time they think they can target these kids, until Dog beats them down, Majeh adds to the pounding until they finally give up the dirt on what happened to the Hounds, they try to trick Majeh with the same quicksand to which they just jump out of it and onto the entrance to the supposed Sa Gok Headquarters. Cut to the Insane Hounds, who are not dead, just lost. They come across some failed experiments, mutilated martial artist worked on by Book Sa Ryoung and the Sa Gok. First they run, and then the Hounds turn to confront the Sa Gok … head on. Back to Majeh at the entrance to Sa Gok Headquarters where they encounter two glorified doormen. Time to step up Chung Poong, and he does as he faces off against a massive enemy with skin of stone. Seems he’s lacking confidence to which Majeh cheers him on. As the fight continues the volume ends.

I love the art of Jae-Hwan Kim and it delivers yet again with fast paced action and a humor mixed in that I just adore. The adaptation by R.A. Jones is outstanding and when you throw in lines like “I saw it kid! Don’t get cocky!” you have to wonder how much Star Wars Jones is watching. This volume of King of Hell is a mixed bag as we get some flashback on Majeh, the continued search for the Insane Hounds, the Hounds journey as well as the beginning of a massive battle with glorified doormen. This is neither a transition volume, nor is it a full action epic, it’s as I said a mixture. Fans of the series will be very pleased as King of Hell keeps on going. For those new to the series you’re better off starting at least a few volumes earlier as the book does a great job recapping the story thus far. Solid art, story and pace … King of Hell is one must have book.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV Trailers

New content for Grand Theft Auto IV ...

Dilettante Video

Phil Bell Video

LCPD Most wanted


Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress Announced

I'm a huge anime gaming fan, no matter how good or bad the game, if it's based on an anime I'm down with it. Fortunate for me the Naruto Ultimate Ninja titles are rock solid. The first Ultimate Ninja Heroes is still in my PSP and getting a sequel with more characters and story is just money. Check out the official announcement below and check back in with me as I post images and video.

"Santa Clara, Calif., (February 20, 2008) – Leading video games publisher and developer, NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc., announced today that NARUTO™: Ultimate Ninja Heroes™ 2: The Phantom Fortress™ will launch exclusively for the PSP® (PlayStation® Portable) system this summer in North America. Developed by CyberConnect2, NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress continues the frantic, action packed one-on-one battles the series is known for. The game also introduces a new storyline based on the popular NARUTO™ animated series, rated T for Teens, from VIZ Media, as well as a roster of more than 20 characters and frantic head-to-head multiplayer action with game sharing capabilities.

The storyline of NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress revolves around a mysterious phantom castle that has suddenly appeared over the Hidden Leaf Village, draining the townspeople’s life energy. When Naruto infiltrates the castle to find out who is behind this terrible scheme, he finds himself confronted with threatening illusions, visions of the past and a strange masked woman with a vendetta against the Leaf Ninja. Joined by his friends, it will take all of Naruto’s courage to unravel the puzzle behind the castle and defeat this powerful new enemy.

In NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress, players take a custom party of four NARUTO characters through over 100 floors of the castle, experiencing fierce one-on-one battles, exciting mini-games and dramatic story twists in an all-out game of survival. Along the way, players will be able to power-up each party member in a new character customization system, equipping abilities and items to gain a decisive edge in battle. Updating the series’ trademark fast-paced combat system, players will be able to pull off acrobatic flying attacks, flashy combo strikes and unstoppable jutsu skills with ease. Additionally, players can customize their game experience by choosing to play through the full game with English or the original Japanese voices.

Players will also be able to hone their fighting spirit against their friends in the game’s intense multiplayer mode. An incredible variety of team configurations are available as players do battle to see who has the strongest ninja jutsu. NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress supports game sharing for multiplayer action on two PSP systems with just one copy of the game.

NARUTO: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress will launch exclusively for the PSP system this summer. For more information please visit: and"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bleach Manga vol. 21 & 22 Impression

It’s no secret I’ve become a huge Bleach fan. I’ve been sure to read all 22 volumes of the manga as well as most of the anime. The story of Ichigo Kurosaki, the Soul Society and Hollows if fun, just plain fun. Recently I’ve been spoiled as Bleach moved back to the pages of Shonen Jump, but even with this move picking up the manga is still a must for fans of the series. Enough about my thoughts, onto the manga.

Bleach Manga volume 21Bleach Vol. 21 – Time to get back to the land of the living, but before that Ichigo and team must first recover. The Soul Society story arc comes to an end with everybody involved, on the Soul Society side, coming to grips with the recent events not to mention all the healing that must be done. These chapters are not covered in Shonen Jump, so it’s imperative that fans don’t miss out. We meet Captain Unohana, learn about Lady Hisana, Rukia’s older sister and how she affected Rukia’s brother and his commitment to justice. It’s a nice wrap-up to the arc and sets the stage for things to come. Now we get to the Shonen Jump chapters where Ichigo, Chad, Orihime and Uryu return to the land of the living and school. Ichigo is now a Deputy Soul Reaper with official badge and all. He still fights Hollows, and the reunions at school are classic from booby grabbing with Orihime to Kon repairs. A new student peaks Ichigo’s interest, his name Shinji Hirako, a Vizard. See he’s seeking Ichigo’s membership in his group, a group that consists of Reapers who embraced their Hollow power. Did I mention they carry zanpaku-to? Who is this new group that wants Ichigo, and how are they similar to him and his inner Hollow? Things get really interesting as Grand Fisher shows up, but he’s taken off his mask to become an Arrancar (I hope I have this straight, Vizard are fallen Reapers while Arrancar are Hollows who’ve taken off their mask). Kurosaki faces off against Grand Fisher, and dispatches him very easily, but it’s Isshin, Ichigo’s father, who does this. Did not see that one coming. We are also introduced to Uryu’s father, who unleashes the power of a Quincy and promises to restore his lost power, if he will cut off all contact from the Soul Reapers.

Bleach Manga volume 22Bleach Vol. 22 – Ok, so getting over the surprise of Isshin, we learn that Urahara knows him (how many secrets does this guy have). A little girl, Hiyori, shows up, she’s another Vizard and his here to help Shinji. She seems a wee-bit evil with a mean streak, so keep an eye on that. The main part of volume 22 is the arrival of two Arrancar, Yammy a big lug and Ulquiorra, a cold looking powerful Arrancar. They are scouting the area, looking for strong spirit energy. Chad and Orihime show up to battle sensing the spirit energy only to have their collective butts kicked, Chad protecting Orihime and Orihime after Ichigo shows up. Ichigo goes head to head with Yammy, but his inner Hollow gets in the way. Yoruichi and Urahara show up to protect the fallen and take on Yammy, who happens to get his arm sliced off. After a brief battle Ulquiorra decides to withdraw to report to Lord Aizen, who looks s very evil now (must be the lack of glasses). While everyone deals with the magnitude of this new threat and heals we are reintroduced to Renji, Ikkaku, Yumichika, Rangiku, Toshiro and Rukia who all show up at school, as students, intending to stay in the area and monitor the new threats. Living arrangements are getting sorted out, and we also see a few of Ichigo’s other friends and family starting to awaken their spirit powers. All of this and a new crush for Kon, good times.

When Lord Aizen made his move we knew it would create interesting new story paths, but the way Bleach is now shaping up, oh man, it’s going to be great. Not only do we have Ichigo and his crew, we have the depleted Soul Society, the Vizard’s, Quincy, Arrancar … yeah that’s everyone. The battles to come will be epic, but what intrigues me the most is the inner battle Ichigo is waging with himself, and his dad. What is Isshin’s history, with his wife, the Soul Society, what is Ichigo? This story point is what will keep me going, and the triad of fights to take place … yummy. Here’s looking forward to the next volume of Shonen Jump and volume 22 of Bleach.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Claymore vol. 10 & 11 Impression

Claymores, female warriors bred to fight Yoma, monsters that disguise themselves as, and feast on humans. Viz’s manga follows one particular Claymore named Clare who is actually the lowest ranked of the Claymores. These silver eyed witches as they are called consume the flesh of Yoma and they become part Yoma, despised by the very humans they protect. Volume 9 of Claymore ended with Clare being dispatched to the north along with 23 other Claymores for a showdown with an army of Awakened Beings.

Claymore Vol. 10Claymore vol. 10 – The battle with three Awakened begins and while the Claymore teams come out on top they are not with a few severed limbs. While they pass this test little do they know it just delayed the inevitable, a full assault from the armies of Isley the Silver King. Raki makes an appearance as he continues his search for Clare. He encounters are young girl, Priscilla, who is accompanied by a man name Isley. Raki is taken in by the two and trains with Isley to improve his swordsmanship. Isley is amazed by the bond Priscilla has with Raki … could it have something to do with their mutual ties to Clare, is there a tie to Clare for Priscilla? While he trains with Raki, Isley dispatches The Silver Eyed Lion, to take care of any life in the village of Pieta. Every Claymore is to be wiped out no matter what. While the Awakened beings he takes do not fare bad they are still taking losses so Rigaldo unleashes his own power showing how helpless the Claymore truly are. The volume ends as Clare faces off against the Silver Eyed Lion, being mocked as too small a fry to bother with.

Claymore Vol. 11
Claymore vol. 11 - Clare continues to fight Rigaldo going beyond her limits in order to defeat a very elite Awakened. The price for her efforts is the (spoiler) death of Helen who brings her back by syncing their powers while taking heavy damage from Clare’s extremities which have a life of their own. The victory is short lived as the final six Claymores face off against unbeatable odds. In a side story we find Galatea back at the Organization headquarters questioning the thinking in sending so may Claymore North to which she’s pretty much told questioning authority is not always a good thing. The next generation of ‘Eyes’ is revealed in the form of the twins Alicia, trained since childhood to be nothing but fighting machines. As Galatea learns these new Claymore are more formidable than even the number one as one fully awakens to fight while the other keeps the humanity grounded bringing her sister back. A truly frightening ally. Back North Raki stands with Priscilla and Isley as Priscilla talks of each of the reaming six lights being snuffed out. Meanwhile the beast from the Abyss face off as Luciela of the South battles Isley for dominion over her territory.

Volume 10 really jacks up the action as its Claymore buffet time. If this is your first exposure to Claymore then you’ll think it’s just a one-shot story of chics with swords getting sliced and diced, the slaughter is that bad. The best part about volume 10 is the introduction of Isley, his manner and civility. For a beast of the Abyss he sure seems like a hell of a nice guy with Raki, and what’s his relationship with Priscilla? The battle with the Silver Eyed Lion is great also, the speed, the power, this will look great animated. This takes us into volume 11 where battles are concluded, new ones begin, and many questions are introduced. What is the fate of Clare and the remaining six Claymore’s? How will Isley’s battle with Luciela go and what role will the new Claymore’s play in the upcoming power struggles? The stage is set and the manga is just getting rolling. The art style remains excellent, characters and their true alliances/purpose are blurred just enough to leave readers waiting for more and the action, oh the action is just getting rolling. Eleven volumes in, it’s not too late to get on board, especially with the anime coming soon. Claymore is hot, right up there with Hunter Hunter and Naruto on my favorite anime list. Good times, read up now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

FUNimation Acquisitions: One Piece, Claymore

Two big announcements from FUNimation today. First up is the acquisition of One Piece, second the acquisition of Claymore.

Officially about One Piece. "One Piece is currently in its third season, airing Saturday nights as part of Cartoon Network’s “Toonami” block. The series chronicles the adventures of a young boy who has vowed to become the king of the pirates and find the greatest pirate treasure of all-- the pirate Gold Roger's legendary “One Piece.” The first FUNimation released One Piece DVD hits shelves during Toy Fair. Following an exclusive run in 98 theatres nationwide, One Piece Movie 8 -- the Desert Princess and the Pirates Adventures in Alabasta will be available on DVD on February 19th. The first FUNimation dubbed television series episodes will be released on DVD in May."

Officially about Claymore. "In a world where monsters called Yoma prey on humans and live among them in disguise, humanity’s only hope is a new breed of warrior known as Claymore. Half human, half monster, these silver-eyed slayers possess supernatural strength, but are condemned to fight their savage impulses or lose their humanity completely. FUNimation Entertainment will release the first volume and starter set of the Claymore anime series in fall 2008."

Both One Piece and Claymore are provided in manga format by Viz Media. I've always loved the One Piece manga and after viewing (and writing about) the One Piece movie I am geeked about what FUNimation is cooking up with this hot property. They will finally do it justice. As for Claymore, this is one I've been waiting for since I first picked up the manga. The story of Clare the Claymore carries with it an art style unique and enthralling as well as a story not of the cookie cutter variety. I've just finished volume 11 of the manga (and will be writing about it) and I must say this series just gets better and better. These two announcements from FUNimation just shore up their space as a top player in the anime market, one they share with ADV, Viz and Bandai. With limited shelf space in stores (more on that soon) and the price of licenses these two are huge wins for FUNimation. Good times.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Jenna Jameson's: Shadow Hunter # 1 Preview

Jenna Jameson's: Shadow Hunter # 1 Preview
From the vivid mind of Jenna Jameson and Witchblade co-creator Christina Z comes Shadow Hunter, the sexiest and deadliest demon slayer ... ever!! A young, orphaned woman, living a humdrum life in the big city, has her world turned upside down when she realizes her family is from hell ... literally. Ignited visions of a demonic past, dark passions, and a strangely dangerous power all surface along with revelations of her true lineage. As she struggles to come to terms with her new role, she must find her place in this world, and ends up saving humanity one demon at a time as the sexy, sultry and badass Shadow Hunter. Read the preview for Jenna Jameson's Shadow Hunter now for free.

Jenna Jameson's: Shadow Hunter # 1 Preview

Jenna Jameson as a comic ... yeah, we can dig that. Check out this preview for Jenna Jameson's: Shadow Hunter # 1. Before you read the story check out the Shadow Hunter Contest and enter now.

From the vivid mind of Jenna Jameson and Witchblade co-creator Christina Z comes Shadow Hunter, the sexiest and deadliest demon slayer … ever!! A young, orphaned woman, living a humdrum life in the big city, has her world turned upside down when she realizes her family is from hell … literally. Ignited visions of a demonic past, dark passions, and a strangely dangerous power all surface along with revelations of her true lineage. As she struggles to come to terms with her new role, she must find her place in this world, and ends up saving humanity one demon at a time as the sexy, sultry and badass Shadow Hunter.

Street Fighter IV Abel Images

Check out Abel, the latest fighter revealed for the upcoming Street Fighter IV.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remastered Dragon Ball Z DVD and BluRay

Dragon Ball Z has seen its fair share of releases going from VHS to DVD, getting remastered and so on, but two recent releases have caught my eye for good reason. Dragon Ball Z: Broly Double Feature BluRay and Dragon Ball Z Bardock/Trunks Double Feature DVD from FUNimation are steps above your average remastered editions and well worth the purchase by fans of the series or anyone looking to add to their HD collections.

First up, Dragon Ball Z Bardock/Trunks Double Feature. This double dose of side-story DBZ action chronicles the future story of Trunks before he appears to cure Goku and battle the Androids. The true highlight to this feature is an alternate reality Gohan who loses an arm and goes Super Saiyan as it’s supposed to be, not with controlled power like we see in the Buu saga. Next you get the story of Bardock, Goku’s Saiyan father who has visions of the future, battles familiar enemies and dies as do the rest of the Saiyans, but gets a glimmer of hope as he sees his son rise to power. Both are good stories, and getting each in one collection rocks. The tin case with original release cover art from 2000 is neat and the long transfer description works for me. To put is simply FUNimation went through a lot of trouble to make this upgrade happen. Seeing these features in HD brings them back to life. It was like watching them for the first time as each color jumps out even more and you are not left with a feeling of watching an older anime. Does this hold true for Broly …?

The short answer on Dragon Ball Z: Broly Double Feature BluRay is yes … and no. These are by far my favorite DBZ movies as I love the Legendary Super Saiyan. Broly delivers on the action in both Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan and Broly- Second Coming. So first up Vegita is lured to a planet, new Vegita, to become Saiyan king, but it’s a trap. He’s to be killed by the Broly who will in turn be killed by a meteor heading for the planet leaving Broly’s father to rule Earth. Goku of course gets in the way, and it turns out he really annoyed Broly as a baby. Rage takes over, great fights happen, Goku wins, but Broly does not die. If he did die then there would be no Second Coming which sees Broly on Earth and fighting with Goku’s children, Gohan and Goten. Throw in a young Trunks and the spirit of Goku and you have yet another epic battle that ends with Broly defeated (but not dead, good times). This disc was released only on BluRay, which is a shame, not for us BluRay owners, but rather for non-owners missing out on this treat. See these movies were two of my first fan-subs back in college and they were not the greatest. To see these movies in HD, remastered, re-created just brings back memories that don’t compare to the vivid images FUNimation is treating us too. Add to this that there are not many good anime options on BluRay and this is a must buy right up there with The Simpsons Movie.

Death Note vol. 1 DVD Impression

Death Note vol. 1 on DVD from Viz Media offers up an anime unlike any other where viewers will question the actions of Light Yagami and wonder just what they would do with a Death Note of their very own. When a bored Shinigami (god of death) named Ryuk gets bored he decides to drop his Death Note on Earth to see what happens. Super genius student Light Yagami finds the Death Note with its English instructions and begins to write criminals names in it, and just like that they die. There are rules, many, many rules for using the Death Note and anyone who touches it can see the Shinigami who owns the note. Light decides to use the Death Note, experiments with its uses, how to manipulate deaths and even befriends, to a degree, Ryuk. Seems like a good idea so far, killing criminals, but the law, specifically a detective named L, does not see it that way, they see it as murder. This touches off a battle of wits between Light and L as they both maneuver and position themselves to one-up the other all while remaining hidden.

The art style remains faithful to the manga it’s based on which is a good thing, but it’s the story that suffers a little. This is to be expected as there is just more space in manga to flesh out the story and characters. In the manga we learn more about Light, his background, education, family and we see a progression from when he first gets the Death Note to killing an FBI agent (many actually) to facing off with L. In the anime the story moves much faster leaving viewers with an impression of Light being a little twisted right from the start, and it really does not give justice to Light’s brilliance, or the shrewdness of L. The moral choices are what will catch many viewers attention as you’ll wonder what you’d do with a Death Note and fear what others would do. In a time when high school and college kids are faced with shootings on campus, the thought of a Death Note would truly put fear into everyone. Light actually faces this situation with a bully in the anime, but takes the moral high road. Not everyone will see it this way, but for every anime fan who realizes they are watching an excellent anime there are other nut jobs who will blame this anime for something bad somewhere. Not to get off on a rant if you’re a fan of the manga you owe it to yourself to pick up the anime. It may be a little lighter on story elements, but it delivers a compelling story with excellent animation for a TV series that will have you filling in the gabs from the manga, or not, and wondering who’s name you would write down first (Bin Laden for me folks).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

D.Gray-Man vol. 8 Impression

Volume 8 of D.Gray-Man continues the story of Allen Walker with minimal Allen Walker in this volume. You can gain a deeper understanding of how I feel about the series as a whole in my old blog as I spoke about D.Gray-Man vol. 6. I still find the story, at times, confusing as it moves very fast and there seems to be so much back-story left to learn about, but I’m very pleased to say volume 8 really kicks up and continues the battle from volume 7 and starts to give hope for future volumes. As the book says, the battle on the seas continues as the team Allen left fights for their lives while continuing their search for General Cross. Lenalee unleashes a power never seen in a equip type innocence, one where her innocence protects her from death as she gives her all to protect her team. I am sad to say here long luscious hair ends up short, very sad. Allen is still recovering from his previous battle and appears in a few dream sequences, but it’s the battle on the ship that takes center stage. Thanks to Miranda’s time altering power the ship is holding together, but at the end of the journey we learn the real price humans are willing to pay to see the Earl defeated as the entire ship's crew is killed, only kept alive by Miranda’s power. A sad scene indeed, but one that gives hope the survived exorcist as they hunt for General Cross. Speaking of the dear ol’ general, he’s dispatched a modified Akuma to assist the exorcist, and he does by returning a hurt Lenalee and playing motor on the ship. That and it seems to have a hell of a sense of humor as well as a message from the general. Stay away from Edo, where he is, as the Earl is setting up a base with may level 3 Akuma protecting it. The general does not want the exorcist to get in his way, or get themselves killed. Really, does anyone every listen to request like these? We are also treated to some pretty sweet fighting from Lavi and Arystar and … well that’s the volume.

The story is getting better as now I’m not so worried about the Earl and history and more focused on the hunt for the various generals, Allen’s recovery and the beautifully drawn fights. Katsura Hoshino’s art is just a pleasure to look at with fights just begging for animation and a story that confuses at times, but is delivering fast and furious now. Volume 9 does not hit for a few months, so take the time to catch up, re-read past volumes as D.Gray-Man is fast becoming one of my favorite manga. Great art, good story mixed with outstanding action and flow makes for one heck of a smooth manga.

Universe At War: Earth Assault Xbox 360 Gameplay Trailer

Check out the first gameplay trailer for Universe At War: Earth Assault on the Xbox 360. This is one game I'm most-def looking forward too, good times.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Official MLB 2K8 Trailer

2K Sports rolled out the first trailer for MLB 2K8. Why to I bring this up? Well for one I do like and talk about video games and as an Orioles fan playing a virtual season is my only hope for wins ... that and no Angelos to veto my trades.

Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time vol. 1 Impression

Sweet Akane, just your average teenager with boys on her mind and Dragon Jewels in her body. Akane faces all the normal issues a teenager faces when housing Dragon Jewels; time travel, infatuation with evil guy, boy toys as protectors, you know the usual. This is the usual right? Isn’t this what they teach girls about in high school when they separate the classes to talk about body changes? No? Well, I bet it is on Viz Media’s new Shojo manga Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time. Akane is indeed a normal teenager, but she is also the possessor of the Dragon Jewel, an ancient jewel that transports her to the past, to the Heian period in Japan where she is immediately recognized as the Priestess of the Dragon God by Princess Fuji. Ancient Japan is protected by Sacred Gods, Black Beast of the North, Azure Dragon of the East, Scarlet Phoenix of the South, White Tiger of West. Due to the ever increasing presence of demons, Oni, in the land Akane ends up in the past with her friends Tenma and Shimon and all three are enlisted into the protection of the capital … with a few twists and turns of course.

Akane posses eight jewels, each of which will be passed to one of her protectors, the Hachiyo, who will serve to protect her in her quest to defeat the Oni Clan led by Akram. Twist time. Akram meets Akane, informs her he brought her to the past, and with mysterious mask in tow captures Akane’s heart, well as well as a teenage heart can be corralled. In addition to Akram, you’ve got the roguish Tenma, blonde haired, blue eyed Shimon (did I mention demons have these traits?), Major General Tachibana, Yorihisa the silent sword guy and Yasuaki the magic wielder. All these gents have various Shojo boy traits from beautiful looks to mystery to chivalries acts. There are still three more protectors to be introduced which will only add to this reverse harem story.

There were times while reading Tohko Mizuno’s manga that I was a wee-bit confused. The story, time travel, happens pretty quick, but if you stick with the story you’ll be caught up in the end, and ready for volume 2 as you will want to see how the relationships play out, not to mention the very Inu-Yasha’ish time travel, demon battling action that’s to come. Not bad for a manga based on a PlayStation game, Harukanaru Toki no Naka De, ‘media mix.’ I was impressed as the story is good, though not groundbreaking. The character types are what you’d expect in a series of this ilk and the art style satisfies the optical desires without breaking any molds or setting any new standards. Readers looking for a girl meets boy, and another boy and another and so on storyline this is the way to go. Pick up a copy and scan the art. The story and characters won’t surprise or disappoint you, so it’s your preference on art that will have you forking over your dollars or borrowing this from your friends. Preview Haruka online now.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Soulcalibur IV Vader & Yoda Images

A few weeks back at CES Namco Bandai unveiled Darth Vader and Yoda as guest characters in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Soulcalibur IV. I decided to share these images with you even though I'm sure you've seen them before, but I've also added in new images showing Maxi, Mina and Yun-Seong along with some new environments. This is the best weapons based fighting game around, and it's looking plain awesome so far. Check out more from the Soulcalibur Project and Namco Bandai games ... and of course the images.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Peach Girl, School Rumble, Mushi-Shi & Hell Girl T-Shirts Announced

Those of you looking to express your love of Hell Girl, Mushi-Shi, School Rumble and Peach Girl can now rest easy ... t-shirts are on the way! FUNimation and Right Stuf's Nozomi Entertainment announced today that these four series will get the apparel treatment this April. There will be seven T-shirts in all and each will feature exclusive artwork form these hot FUNimation properties. Sizes will range from Small to XXL with prices ranging from $18-19 a pop. Not bad price wise as they are on par with most anime licensed apparel on the market. What I really like about this announcement is these are not mainstream titles like you see with DBZ, Inu-Yasha, Naruto, Bleach and the like. These are unique titles that fans will truly enjoy. Personally I cannot wait for Mushi-Shi and Hell Girl, nice! For more information, visit and and check out the pics below of what Otaku will be wearing his spring.

Fairy Cube vol. 1 Impression

Fairy Cube Volume 1 Manga
Fairy Cube, new from Viz Media, is a Shojo manga full of vengeance and betrayal, the supernatural mixed with blood feuds and a story any Shojo and even Shonen fan can truly enjoy. Created and penned by Kaori Yuki, known for Angel Sanctuary and Godchild, Fairy Cube creates a world where fairies are not always good and the hero sometimes wants good bloody vengeance no matter the cost.

Ian Hasumi sees fairies, has always been able to see fairies and is treated like a liar, even nicknamed Ian the Liar, for trying to tell others about his gift. Only one other person believes him, his best friend and secret crush Rin Ishinagi, whom he shows these fairies too. This is not Ian’s only gift for he’s also cursed by a green haired version of himself, Tokage, who seems out to ‘get’ Ian at every turn. See Tokage is an evil lizard spirit who takes over Ian’s body leaving his soul to wander. There has been a rash of murders where the victims seem to have blood spattered wings. These victims have a habit of turning up ok, but with different personalities at times, the victims of fairy takeover, same as Ian. See spirits like Tokage are moving into the human plain and waging war on each other. Tokage thinks he’s won, taken Ian’s body and his girl, but he’s wrong. With the help of the mysterious Kaito (there’s always a mysterious guy) and the hard headed fairy Ainsel, Ian gets a new body, that of a deceased boy, in order to get back at Tokage and protect Rin. This is when the fun starts as the body is that of a young child whose grandmother knows Ian is not her grandson and has knowledge of fairies. On a quest for vengeance, not matter the cost, is where we find ourselves at the end of volume 1, an ending leaving the reader hooked and waiting for volume 2.

The art and design Yuki creates is pleasing on the eye and carrier that dreamy Shojo look that hooks the reader into a sense of comfort before delivering graphic scenes of bloodied victims. Quite delicious I must say and when you add in a story where the ‘hero’ wants revenge no matter whom else suffers, well it’s quite a trip. In volume 1 we are given a glimpse into the fairy world where Ian and Ainsel survive due to Ian’s knowledge and we are also left with a teaser at the end as Ian’s new grandmother knows he’s not the original owner of his new body, and she has knowledge of the fairy world. I’ve not even touched on the title, Fairy Cube, which refers to cubes with animals and other objects in them that turn up on many a school child. Ian for instance had one with a lizard in it. These three story elements, the cube, grandmothers knowledge and fairy world are just three items I cannot wait to see explored more as Ian seeks revenge on Tokage.

With art that stands above the norm and a story that hooks you with little effort Fairy Cube is shaping up to be more than just another Shojo manga, it’s looking to be a title worthy of your dollar and shelf space. This isn’t your little sisters manga, so sit back and get ready for a tale of fantasy weaved into vengeance all read right to left.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Viz Media Sponsors Japan! Culture + Hyper Culture Exhibit

Got this press release earlier today. Seeing this type of sponsorship just makes this anime fan happy ... especially since it's in driving distance ;)

Viz Media at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Participating in the Japan! Culture + Hyper Culture Exhibit Spotlighting Japanese Art and Pop Culture

Visitors Invited To The VIZ Media Manga Café And Lounge To Sample An Array Of Animation And Manga San Francisco, CA, February 5, 2008 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced its participation in JAPAN! CULTURE+ HYPER CULTURE, an exhibit taking place February 5-17 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The dynamic exhibit brings together more than 450 artists, 40 performances, and more than a dozen free events to showcase the best in Japanese theater and dance, music and fashion, architecture and sculpture, poetry and literature, photography and film.

Throughout the exhibit, VIZ Media will welcome visitors to a special Manga Café and Reading Lounge. A selection of some of the hottest manga (graphic novel) series sweeping Japan and North America will be on display for exhibit-goers to read for free amidst an area adorned with related posters, signage and a display of vintage Japanese robot toys. Popular manga series such as BLEACH, DEATH NOTE, NARUTO, INUYASHA, HIKARU NO GO, and more will all be represented, along with screenings of VIZ Media's most popular anime trailers. Manga author Robin Nishi will also be on-hand to capture festival happenings in a daily drawing and free workshop. This is an ideal opportunity for exhibit-goers to immerse themselves in one of the most popular forms of Japanese pop-culture that has now spread into a global phenomenon. More information on VIZ Media is available at

More information on the VIZ Media Manga Café and Reading Room is available at:

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America's living memorial to President John F. Kennedy. Since opening in 1971, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has continued its efforts to fulfill his vision—presenting the greatest performers and performances from across America and around the world, nurturing new works and young artists, and serving the nation as a leader in arts education. Located in Washington, DC, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presents an unmatched variety of theater, musicals, dance, ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, and folk music, and multi-media performances for all ages and is one of the nation's busiest arts facilities, presenting more than 2,000 performances each year. For more information on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is available at
Other notable exhibit components that serve as an ideal complement to the Manga Café and Reading Lounge will be Robotopia Rising, a mechanized extravaganza that highlights the science and culture of Japanese robotics. The Genius Party Premieres will showcase a series of original films by Japan's top anime talents, who were each selected by Director and Genius Party Executive Producer Eiko Tanaka to create their dream projects, and a marathon of anime premieres is also scheduled to screen three new anime features.

More information on the Festival is available at:

“VIZ Media is honored to join with such a talented and future-inspired group of artists for this unique exhibit at the famous The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,” states Liza Coppola, Sr. Vice President, Marketing, VIZ Media. “Manga has become the epitome of modern pop culture and its influence is readily seen in fashion, video games, animation, live action film and modern youth culture. With roots in both Japan and America, VIZ Media has served as a direct conduit for Japanese pop culture for over twenty years. We look forward to everyone exploring this unique exhibit."

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga (graphic novel) publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan’s largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. (ShoPro Japan), VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America and a global licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including, magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, videos, DVDs and audio soundtracks and develops and markets animated entertainment from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at

One Piece Movie: The Desert Princess and The Pirates Adventures in Alabasta Impression

One Piece gets what it deserves, an anime that’s not dummed down, cut and hacked to suite an audience it really was not made for. Eiichiro Oda’s manga seen in the pages of Shonen Jump is fantastically drawn with unique characters that are both memorable and funny and weaved into a story of Pirates and Devil Fruit that makes even Captain Jack jealous. The action is fast paced with plenty of blood being spilled, but fans of the Fox Box version of One Piece would never know this. Luffy was never stabbed with spikes; he was hit with suction cups. Sanji had a stupid voice and never smoked, no he sucked on lollipops and Captain Smoker … oh the horror.

Say hello to One Piece FUNimation style. Having just picked up the One Piece license, FUNimation is not starting from scratch but rather releasing the movie One Piece Movie: The Desert Princess and The Pirates Adventures in Alabasta that picks up with the series well into its run. The Alabasta saga is condensed Campbell Soup style with fights being reduced in time and characters shown as if you already know them. The story follows Monkey D. Luffy as he and his crew assists Princess Vivi in freeing her land, Alabasta, from the clutches of fake hero Crocodile and his Baroque Works cronies. There are many fights, the entire crew gets involved and the good guys end up winning but it’s what FUNimation did with this translation that’s the true treat to fans of Oda’s work.

The manga has always been great and now there is high hope for the anime. The entire series will begin being released in box sets, uncut box sets, later in 2008 which will bring the series up to speed very soon. The voice actors chosen by FUNimation sound very similar to the original cast with one huge change in Sanji. Gone is the annoying Brooklyn accent, in is a … well normal sounding guy. Characters now smoke, bleed and die and it’s this change that you should be thanking FUNimation for. The movie is a service to fans of the manga like myself who have always been put off by the edited anime, and is an easy buy as it’s just a movie, not a $50+ investment when you may not yet be sold on the new product. Viz proved that a series can work in edited format (Naruto) with successful uncut box sets following. FUNimation is tapping into this principal with One Piece and I have nothing but praise. One can only hope a series like Shaman King gets the same treatment (hint, hint).

When all is said and done, if you’re a fan of One Piece, the manga especially, you owe it to yourself to get this DVD. It’s faithful to the manga action, and is indeed a refreshing reboot to a great series. Like Dragon Ball Z before it, One Piece is in for a makeover that even Tye Pennington would be envious of.