Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gun Blaze West vol. 1 Impression

Gun Blaze West offers up a unique manga adventure as its set in the wild, Wild West. Created by Nobuhiro Watsuki of Rurouni Kenshin and Buso Renkin fame this new manga from Viz is sure to please fans of Watsuki’s previous work due to the similar design and fun storytelling.

Meet Viu Banes, a young boy with grand designs on adventure in the Gun Blaze West, a secret land hidden somewhere out West where only the toughest hombres survive (kinda like the Grand Line in One Piece). Viu takes on a much older boy in an arm wrestling competition in order to win a gun belt, runs down an apple thief and takes on a notorious gang all while training to get stronger for his journey. Where Viu is hot headed and quick to react, his older sister, Cissy, who’s the local school teacher, keeps him grounded. Viu has a mentor, the apple thief Marcus Homer, who just wasn’t cut out for the wild west but is inspired by Viu and trains with him, training that inspires Marcus and (spoiler) leads to his going where all mentors in anime go … anyway this happens while taking on Bill Kenbrown and his gang, a group that’s fled capture and is trying to hide out in Viu’s town. So the bad guys get taken care of and we fast forward five years to meet a now 14 year old Viu, ready to head out and find Gun Blaze West. In the first town he comes too he meets Will Johnston, a bouncer who uses ropes are weapons, and who also has a part of a map to Gun Blaze West (oh yeah, there was a map hidden in the gun Viu gets from Marcus, typical mentor stuff). After this interesting encounter Viu now has another companion to travel with and poof, volume 1 is done.

I touched on the fact that the art is similar to previous Watsuki titles, which is both a positive and negative. The style is simple with vivid settings and character designs which allows for the portrayal of true character emotion and a true visual treat, but it’s this simplicity that makes Gun Blaze West look childish at times, and this title is anything but. The story follows a very Shonen formula with a young boy with grand designs on his future and the ability to overcome any odds and inspire others to join him (One Piece and Naruto are similar in this aspect). I for one love this story type and its how the author twists and turns this template that can hook a reader. The old west setting really helps also as this is an area not really addressed in manga. We’ve seen western manga and anime (Trigun and Wild Arms) but those were fictional western settings, not like GBW which uses the actual United States. Volume 1 does a great job of introducing characters and settings, getting the story rolling then setting up the reader for volume 2. I’ve read a lot of manga that just seem to lose you right off the bat. Gun Blaze West is not one of them; this is a solid action manga that fans of Shonen titles will just dig. If you’re looking for an adventure set in the Wild West then I must recommend Gun Blaze West.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McFarlane's Dragons Series 7: The Fall of the Dragon Kingdom

McFarlane Toys has worked very hard to establish a solid reputation in the action figure market with ventures into sports, comics, movies, anime, military and dragons to name a few. It's the last set of figures listed that I wanted to touch on. Seven series of Dragons figures have been released by McFarlane, but for me this seventh series is my first venture into the highly detailed beasties. From the packaging I already knew these were the figures I dreamed of in my youth while reading DragonLance and DragonRealm novels. what I did not know is the story these figures are weaved into, a story outlined in four chapters, one of which comes with each figure. Read the full Fall of the Dragon Kingdom story online now. There are also more goodies from wallpaper to sweet pics of each dragon.

This seventh set of dragons contains the Warrior, Fire, Water and Ice dragons as well as the large, three headed Hydra boxed set. Check out the images below. Each figure is highly detailed and very easy to assemble. My personal fave is the Ice dragon. Each figure looks great and displays even better, but it's the Hydra that takes the cake in this set. Easily three times as large as any other dragon the Hydra's size really relays the challenge the dragon kingdom faces with the resurrection of the ancient and evil Hydra.

With his final breath the evil dragon sorcerer Dy'Grunus unleashes the legendary Hydra, long imprisoned in a volcano. As the Hydra ravages the land it's up to King Draako, his allies and enemies alike to take on this ravenous evil. Ancient barriers created to stop the Hydra fail and those who worshipped the Hydra learn there is no benevolence in their idol, only death and despair. Seeking vengeance the Hydra move towards the Speaking Chamber which houses the Rune that's elevated dragon kind to their current societal level. Will the Hydra be stopped? Will dragon kind survive? These are just a few of the questions answered in McFarlane's story, one that I was pleasantly surprised by and which is most-def worth checking out. Take a look at the figures below, read the story and prepare to get hooked.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Turok Video Game Trailers

Yup, I'm video happy tonight. Next week gamers get their hands on Turok for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While the story and settings have changed the character of Turok still holds faithful to his comic origins. Check out these two vignettes for Turok focusing on the creatures and weaspons found in game. Good times.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis Trailer 01

Check out the first trailer for Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, the latest Alchemist video game from NIS America hitting the PlayStation 2 this March. Yes, the PS2 does indeed still have some legs left.

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII Pre-Order Announced

Those of you looking to score Crisis Core have a wee-bit of extra incentive as there are limited quanties of a Shinra UMD Case out there for pre-orders at certain retailers. So run out to, EBGames, Game Crazy and GameStop to get yours.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Yumekui Kenbun - Nightmare Inspector vol. 1 Impression

Nightmare Inspector from Viz is a delightful trip into the mind of stranger’s twisted dreams. Anyone who’s bothered by dreams, no matter how disturbing need not head to Dr. Phil but rather go straight to the Ginseikan Tea House. There’s more than your standard cup of Earl Grey being served up in Shin Mashiba’s manga. Meet Hiruko, a Baku, and an eater of dreams. See when you’re bothered by a dream Hiruko can help, and his price is the dream you’re troubled by. Depending on the type of problem you have, Hiruko will decide is he helps you or not. With a touch of his staff it’s off to dream land where you guide Hiruko through the dream, which he in turn helps to resolve before consuming it. The troubled patron is freed from their nightmares; learn a lesson and Hiruko gets a tasty treat … and if it’s bloody all the better.

Mashiba’s art style is hauntingly detailed with a nightmarish feel that takes the reader inside these troubled dreams. Each character is unique in appearance, and could be the man, woman, child you walk by down the street. The issues each encounters and not too farfetched from an obsessed movie fan to heartbroken lovers, distanced father and son, a girl doomed to repeat the same actions and a weather vane … ok not every story is normal but herein lies the tastiness of Nightmare Inspector. See the art is very good and is perfect for relaying the emotions found in each story, stories that stand apart from one another and make for perfect reading on short trips, commercial breaks or trips to the John … s house. The story setting, Taisho Era in Japan, is haunting with its Mercury Lamps and feeling of gloom.

With an art style pleasing to the eye and short stories that will pull you in with a quick story setup Nightmare Inspector is a great read. Enthralling collections of standalone stories don’t come around often so take the chance to pick up this unique manga.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Turok: Son of Stone DVD Impression

Turok, Native American and Dinosaur Hunter. That would look very cool on a business card, and the training video to accompany it would be Genus Entertainment’s Turok: Son of Stone. Turok is a comic character that fathers, grandfathers and sons alike can talk about due to his rich history dating back to the mid 20th Century. Turok was your comic book hero that broke all the molds. No tights, superpowers or alien background. Just a Native American in the wrong place at the wrong time, with dinosaurs on top. That being said Turok: Son of Stone looks to retell the basic story of the original comic (as opposed to the Valiant comic’s version of the 90’s) and offer us a true version of the hero that lives on in video games.

The movie opens with Turok, his brother and gal-pal Katori running around. They encounter a rival tribe, fight breaks out, Turok turns into killing machine (with a hidden power never really addressed in the feature) and then is banished by his own tribe for his actions. Protect your friends, get banished, nice. Fast forward 20 years and Turok is a grown, bitter loner whose nephew, Andar, tries to convince him to come back to the tribe, where Turok’s brother is now chief, and Katori is Andar’s mother. Turok refuses, and Chichak (son of guy Turok killed) shows up and wipes out the village as revenge for the death of his father at Turok’s hands. Chichak gets some revenge, killing the chief and kidnapping Katori. After all the killing is done, then Turok shows up to fight, faces off with Chichak, chases him and Katori with Andar and they all stumble into a lost land, one filled with dinosaurs and other beastly creatures. Turok, Andar and the rescued Katori end up with a tribe descended from Turok’s own, undergoes some test (fetch eggs Turok) while Chichak ends up with a group on Neanderthal cave dwellers whom he uses to attach the tribe Turok catches on with (whew!) There is an epic final battle, soul searching by Turok and T-Rex chomping goodness, but I won’t spoil that part for you here. Did I mention Chichak has guns, another fact not really explained? Well now I have.

At first I frowned on the animation shown on the box, but upon starting up the movie I was please to see that this was not some cheap knockoff, Saturday morning cash-in, but rather a well designed and animated adventure, that had authenticity due to the feedback of Native American advisors and modern day dinosaur designs (T-Rex tail up my friends). The violence of the feature, splattering of blood, also sets this feature apart from what would be deemed childish. Indeed this is for adults. The voice acting is solid with only a few minor hiccups where you think there would be more emotion. As for the story, it’s too short. This feels like the pilot to a longer series, and knowing what Adult Swim has going on this might not be a bad thing. Besides a solid feature the Total Turok feature is money. Interviews with the movie creators as well as native advisors and Valiant comic talent is wonderful and when you throw in the fact they outline the entire history of Turok, the comic history, it’s a great starting point for someone looking to get into the franchise and pick up some old issues.

One off DVD features based on comic franchises don’t always go right (Dr. Strange anyone?) but with Turok that’s not an issue. Fans of the franchise must pick this up, and if you’ve ever had a passing interest in Turok, there are worse things you could put your dime on.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ragnarok The Animation vol. 1 Impression

Ragnarok, the end of the world. This is actually the case with the MMORPG Ragnarok Online as gamers spend time adventuring online in a game based on the manhwa by Lee Myung-Jin. Now fans of the Korean property will have something to watch in between their playing and reading times. FUNimation has released Ragnarok The Animation on DVD and while it shares a name with the game and manga it’s a unique beast all by itself.

The story is standard dungeon crawling fare. You’ve got main characters Roan, a Swordsman and Yufa, an Acolyte, out looking for adventure, to gain treasure and experience. As they journey they are joined by Takius (Mage), Maya (Merchant), Iruga (Assassin) and Judia (Hunter). The storyline begins to develop as we learn about the death of Yufa’s brother and his possible return as an ultra, mega bad guy. Viewers are treated to a look at Roan and Yufa’s youth, their ties to Iruga, Maya’s childhood and a peek at Takius background all mixed in with monster and ghost fighting.

Ragnarok delivers solid character designs and animation, but that’s to be expected from a Studo Gonzo property. What is delicious is seeing designs that fall right in line with those of the game, making it easily identifiable to players. Having not played the game myself that’s about the extent I can speak about it. The storyline is, as I said, standard fare for a dungeon crawler, but that’s not a bad thing. Ragnarok reminds me so much of Slayers, and that my friends is one of the greatest compliments I can pay. Time will tell if Ragnarok lives up the the memorable settings found in Slayers, but when FUNimation packs in 9 uncut episodes you can’t miss. With great character design, smooth animation, great action and storytelling the future for Ragnarok The Animation looks really bright. I’ll get back to you on that soon, as soon as I finish volume 2, good times. Pick up Ragnarok now.

Wild ARMs XF on PSP

Wild ARMs is hitting the PSP. Check out the official press release info here ...

Filgaia – A world slowly descending into chaos and decay.
Though much of the past is still a mystery, it is said that long ago that an event of catastrophic proportions occurred, transforming a once verdant world into a desolate wasteland. All over the planet, humanity wages war on each other, desperately trying to gain control over the world’s rapidly dwindling resources.

During these perilous times, the Kingdom of Elesius, a country known for its political power and military strength, was enjoying an era of peace…until the loss of the first Princess, Alexia Lynn Elesius, to a tragic accident.
Many people speculated that this was no mere “accident” and that something more sinister had taken place, but the truth of the matter was quickly buried in rumors and lies.

With the death of the first Princess, and with King Hrathnir confined to his sick bed, the Council of Elders began usurping the power of the throne.

Wild ARMs XF offers a unique strategy role-playing experience with a hex-based grid system producing more tactical positioning options, a large number of unique job classes and a wide range of mission objectives.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hell Girl DVD Impression

Your grievance will be avenged. This is the core theme of FUNimations latest horror anime (more psychological) Hell Girl. She looks like any other school age girl you’d pass on the street with a depressive air about her and red eyes not usually seen in young children. Did I also mention that she will ferry your most hated rival to hell for a price … the price of your soul? Urban legend speaks of a website, the Hell Correspondents that can only be accessed at midnight and only by those willing to pay the ultimate price for revenge. Go to the site, enter the name of the one you have a grievance against and Hell Girl Jigoku Shojo appears, handing you a doll, a simple straw doll with a red thread around its neck. She informs you that by removing this thread you will carry out your vengeance, but every deal has a price, and that price is when you die you go to hell, to suffer eternally. So is the anime Hell Girl.

I’ve watched 2 volumes of Hell Girl so far, and for the DVD and a few episodes into the second DVD viewers are treated to random stories of wrongdoing and vengeance from school ground bullying to cheating wives and corporate betrayers. Each story is tied together as Hell Girl is called in by the wronged. Half-way through volume 2 you meet a writer, an investigative reporter who’s looking into the Hell Girl stories, and his daughter who seems to know when someone has contacted the Hell Correspondents. These two are starting to add a connection to each episode, and it will be very interesting to see where their investigation goes, how, if at all, they will contact Hell Girl. Jigoku is not alone in her acts. She has three associates; one older gentleman, a younger one and an attractive young lady who each help carry out the torture of those who have grievances against them. Interestingly enough each person as they are faced with death are provided a chance to repent, but they don’t and off on their boat ride they go to hell.

The story found in Hell Girl is very engaging as viewers are exposed to the worst of people’s hearts. Each story can stand on its own. There are no loose ends as you will be left satisfied with each episode, but don’t expect gore or fast paced action. This anime is about storytelling, about the bad people going to hell, and it’s a hell of a story. The animation is fluid, soft on the eyes with colors seen in the ordinary world and vivid scenes each time someone in condemned. No two torture scenes are the same as each person’s evil varies. The eerie music with the “Your Grievance will be Avenged” voice makes viewers open their eyes in anticipation of what’s to come. Jigoku would make any top 10 list of scary little kids and each of her supporting characters are average looking in both design and dress allowing the viewer to associate all the more with them. The opening theme Sakasama no Cho by SNoW is haunting and hopeful at the same time, and one of my new favorite chilling tunes.

If you’re looking for a thrilling anime with unique stories and chilling results topped with smooth animation and design then Hell Girl is for you. Much like Mushi-Shi, Hell Girl delivers delicious anime that satisfies on intellectual levels most anime don’t approach. Pick up Hell Girl for yourself.

Venus Versus Virus vol. 1 Impression

Take one mysterious girl (or is she a grown woman?) team her with a youthful schoolgirl, mix in some monsters, called Virus and you’ve got the basic idea behind Venus Versus Virus. Demons roam the city, seen by those with special sight. These same humans who can see Virus are also the preferred target due to their high spiritual energy. School girl Sumire falls into this category and this is how she comes into contact with Lucia. Lucia is part of the Venus Vanguard, a group that fights Virus, and she works alone until she comes in contact with Sumire, and a hidden power is revealed, one which Sumire cannot control, that could do more damage than any Virus if it’s not contained. Think of this power as a souped up Virus hidden as a secondary personality in Sumire. Its strange stuff and the monsters are even stranger in Venus Versus Virus.

I was … tepid when I first received Venus Versus Virus from ADV Films. First you’ll always notice a DVD in a gray case. Second the bright, vivid character designs tend to put me off as I like my supernatural anime to be not so cheery. This however was not the case as Venus Versus Virus reminded me of Burst Angel in its dual heroine action with fast paced action and unique character designs. Story wise you get a mystery. Who and what is Lucia, what is the origin of the Venus Vanguard, what is Sumire’s true power and who is behind the Virus? These questions will be answered in future volumes, but I cannot say I’ll be there. Why? Simply put I do like Venus Versus Virus, but my supernatural fix is most def going to be filled with a few other anime out there.

With some bright vivid character designs, a developing story and good animation Venus Versus Virus is worth a look for fans of the paranormal, but with titles like Tokyo Majin from ADV and Hell Girl from FUNimation you’ve got other options.

Naruto: Ninja Destiny Trailer

Check out the first trailer for Naruto's upcoming Nintendo DS romp Naruto: Ninja Destiny. This DS title looks to be very similar in gameplay to the Namco Bandai Naruto titles under the Ultimate Ninja headings. How will it measure up ... we shall see, but it's Naruto so it's gotta be fun, right?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fracture Screens

LucasArts will unleash a revolutionary first-person shooter in the form of Fracture for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The big hook for this title is the ability to drastically change the terrain, to deform the battlefield for both offensive and defensive purposes. Check out more on LucasArts official site for Fracture and check out these new screens for the game.

Iron Man New Game Images, 01/08

Few new pics for the Iron Man video game based on the upcoming Robert Downey Jr. movie of the same name. The movie and game hits this year, for now check out these new pics ...

Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit Announced

It's no secret that there are ... things going on over at Atari, if and when games will get published to name just one. While I cannot speak to the issues, and if games like Alone in the Dark, but at least we know the immediate future of Dragon Ball Z.

Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is the name for Atari's first next-gen title, and from the looks of it gamers can expect the same fast paced action found in previous DBZ Tenkaichi titles. Burst Limit is heading to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and for more detail here is the official press release ...

"NEW YORK, Jan. 16 -- Atari, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATAR) one of the world's most recognized brands and a third-party video game publisher and distributor, today announced that
Dragon Ball Z(R): Burst Limit is in development for Xbox 360(R) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PLAYSTATION(R)3 computer entertainment system. Exploding into the next level of intensity with next-gen graphics, online gameplay and lightening fast action, Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is being developed by NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. and is slated for a 2008 release.

Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit is revolutionizing the series by entering the realm of next-generation gaming. Complete with fierce online battles and radical 3D graphic effects only possible on Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3 system, Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit will blur the line between video game and iconic anime series. Jam-packed with graphically enhanced playable characters, realistic battle stages and environments, players can take hold and experience Dragon Ball Z(R) as never before.

"Atari is excited and ready to offer fans the next iteration of the Dragon Ball Z video game series on the next-gen consoles," said Donny Clay, Producer, Atari, Inc. "With explosive cinematic graphics and online gameplay, fans of the series and of the fighting genre will surely enjoy Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit."

The immensely popular Dragon Ball Z(R) series is the gold standard of anime-based video games, with more than 30 different games and over 11 million units sold since May 2002."

The first thing you'll notice is this game is being put out by Namco Bandai who've handled such anime series as Naruto (on Sony properties), .hack// and Gundam. My question is will other Atari titles face the same fate, being handed off to new developers, and if so who? Time will tell, for now all we can do is wait and see.

Interviews: Stan Lee, Richard Knaak, Naruto, Star Wars & Turok

Over the years I've had the fortune to chat with influential folks in the industry. I've checked in with some game developers, one of my favorite authors and even Stan the Man Lee ... be it for only five minutes, but still. Check out how these interviews went as I've put a few links below. Good times.

Turok Producer Interview - Posted Nov 2nd 2007
You'll be seeing more from me on Turok very soon. This interview was my first chance to dig into what the game is about. There are some really good video behind-the-scenes out there, but start with this snippit of info. Just how does the new Turok vary from Turok's of old ... read and find out.

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja Producer Interview - Posted Oct 26th 2007
Naruto is very near and dear to my heart, I love the character, series and art. Having a chance to get some dirt on Rise of a Ninja before it's release was a pleasure.

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron Developer Interview - Posted Sep 16th 2007
First gaming interview I did for Comics Alliance, this one about the upcoming PSP Star Wars game. I chatted with the folks at Renegate in the UK, the developers of the game.

Interview with Richard A. Knaak - Posted Aug 23rd 2007
I met with Knaak, one of my favorite authors, at the first Comic-Con in NY. He was awesome, such a great guy. I spoke to him about DragonLance, DragonRealm, gaming, Warcraft ... great interview.

Stan Lee Interview - Posted July 25th 2006
Back in 2006 I was given the chance to spend five minutes with 'The Man' when Marvel Ultimate Alliance was released.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dark Side of the Horse Intermission

Back on Comics Alliance I started a semi-monthly feature that looked just at Star Wars comics from Dark Horse. I, like many of you, loves me some Star Wars lore, both before, after and during the movies. I've read novels and they are great, but seeing new and old characters in print is priceless and I started this feature to look at the latest from the Horse. Here are a few links, three to be exact, to my first three Dark Side of the Horse features. I'll be continuing this feature on Anime Sentinel, my newly re-launched blog, but you knew that as you're here.

Dark Side of the Horse - Taking a look at two comics and one sweet 30th Anniversary book. Not a meaty as I would like, but a good start.

Dark Side of the Horse II - Four comics this time. Still not the meal I'd like to deliver, but a tasty treat indeed.

Dark Side of the Horse III - Now this is a manly mans meal. Two 30th Anniversary books, one large collection, five ongoing comics and two Clone Wars books ... the Force was indeed with me.

Dark Side of the Horse IV ... coming soon

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tokyo Majin vol. 1 Impression

Say hello to Tokyo Majin from ADV Films. Based on a PlayStation game series, this new action series from ADV Films is hot off the Japanese air waves and into your DVD player. Five Magami High School students, Tatsuma Hiyu (the transfer student), Kyouichi Horaiji (the delinquent), Aoi Misato (class president), Komaki Sakurai (archery team captain) and Yuya Daigo (wresting club captain) are all drawn together due to their special powers, powers to combat the supernatural evil unleashed upon Tokyo. Where have they drawn their powers from, where is this evil coming from, who is desecrating shrines and why are so many students disappearing? These are just a few questions introduced, and some answered in the first volume of Tokyo Majin from ADV Films.

Fans of horror and super natural anime will find a welcome addition to their collection with the surprising Tokyo Majin … surprising not for lack of quality rather that we’ve not heard about this anime before it hit our shores. Bleach, a similar action based super natural anime received great fanfare in the states before finally hitting from Viz, but what ADV has done with Tokyo Majin is release a series right after it aired in Japan (says so right in their press release ;) All kidding aside this series is hot. I know nothing of the game for which it’s based, but what I do know if the action, the animation and the story is all top notch. The fights are fluid, filled with combat, both physical and elemental that leaves you itching with anticipation for the turnout while the character designs are cool in a Persona III type of way. As for the final piece of the puzzle, the story is engaging as volume one introduces you to the characters after showing them in action. You begin to learn how they came together, and that they are just a small piece of a much larger puzzle.

How the story turns out is what will keep you coming back for more, but it’s the action that will have you watching from the edge of your seats. No doe eyed high schoolers here, just your slickly designed anime with great story and action that any action anime fan, ANY FAN, will dig.

Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 Holiday Anime & Video Game Recap

Back in December I wrote four different pieces on Comics Alliance about must have items for the holidays. This started with a guide to PSP games then extended to must have Video Games, 20 total. Next up I wrote about a handful of books to get and finally DVD box sets. These post were driven by content I've been exposed too, so there were certain games (BioShock) and DVD sets (Gundam SEED) that were left out, but worthy purchases. I really enjoyed writing about these, and wanted to take a look back with some notes on my choices and links back to the original post. Enjoy this look back at 2007 as these items (most) are still great purchases worthy of your collected holiday gift cards ;)

2007 Holiday PSP Must Haves - Nov 8th 2007
Ah, the first of my four post. This was also going to be the only holiday list I did as I have had greater exposure to PSP. I stand 100% by every game on this list, and have since had a chance to play both Silent Hill and MGS Portable Ops +. Silent Hill is a worthy chapter in the twisted history of the franchise while MGSPO+ is more of the fandom I love from Hideo's masterful franchise.

2007 Holiday Must-have Video Games - Nov 20th 2007
This was a follow-up to the PSP piece I did. I love PSP, but as I got my hands on more games I just had to expand and talk about more systems and games. This list is biased, games I played, and guess what, it's a photo gallery. See the original post was a short paragraph leading into a photo gallery. Not everyone understood the five games they saw listed were just the first of twenty games. For this reason I'm taking you right to the main article. Not every great game is listed as I only put games I played, but I'll admit I missed the bus on Soulcalibur Legends. It was a fun game, but Bleach on Wii is better.

Books for Christmas ... Really - Nov 30th 2007
Looking back at this list I have no regrets. Some of the comments were funny, but in the end these books and their content is for fans, and guess what folks, not all of you are fans so relax.

Must Have DVD Box Sets, Holidays 2007 - Dec 13th 2007
Another photo gallery, one I had a lot of issues narrowing down. I ended up picking some of my favorite collections from ADV Films, Viz Media and FUNimation. Each appeals to a different audience so check it out. If you could only get one of these series, apologies to all, I'd have to say Trinity Blood is the winner.

Thanks for taking this walk down memory lane with me. I know so far I've reprinted a few post from older blogs, but I'm just getting started. In the coming days and weeks I'll be taking a closer look at some of the newer games coming out on 08 as well as new anime and manga ... then it's onto the Dark Side of the Horse ... you'll see.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Witchblade vol. 1 DVD Impression

NOTE FROM JAMES: This post was originally on Comics Alliance back on Sep 20th 2007. It's a look at the first volume of the Witchblade anime from FUNimation. Learn more about me, and this new blog at my first post on this new blog as well as my old Anime Sentinel blog. Now onto the post.

Top Cow's Witchblade series which follows Sara Pezzini, an NYPD Homicide Detective and wielder of the Witchblade, has received many spin-off series chronicling the various possessors of the Witchblade throughout history, but none so unique as FUNimations's Witchblade anime.

The Witchblade anime has two things in common with the comic. The title and the Witchblade itself. Do not think you're getting an animated version of the comic, you're not. What viewers are treated to is a unique story for the Witchblade, one anime and comic fans can both share their joy in. Set in a futuristic Japan ravaged by a massive earthquake, the Witchblade's current bearer, Masane Amaha, is just trying to stay with her child Rihoko while avoiding child services who seek to separate the two.

The Witchblade, as seen in the comic, is an age-old weapon which can only be wielded by women, and chooses it's bearer. Masane does not remember how she came into possession of the Witchblade. She was at the center of a grand catastrophe, left with her child and no memories. Recruited, forcefully, by the Doji Groups Reiji Takayama, Masane is charged with the destruction of men, X-Cons, who transform into murderous machine-like monstrosities preying on society. She agrees to these conditions to protect her daughter Rihoko.

That is the basic story seen in volume 1 of Witchblade. There are many mysteries yet to be answered, enemies revealed such as Lady Reina Sohou, part of the NSWF Cloneblade team, and NSWF Chairman Father Tatsuoki Furumizu. How does freelance photographer Yusuke Tozawa tie into the story as he uncover more about the Witchblade and the rash of mysterious murders around town? All to be revealed in future volumes, but it's volume 1 of Witchblade that will hook fans of comic and anime fans in general.

The story sets itself up very well with plenty of action and mysterious story yet to be revealed. Strange enemies and stronger ones yet to appear keep the viewer glued to their seats waiting for the next time the ecstasy begins with the Witchblade awakening. See, Masane is a very docile woman, not very combative (except when it comes to her daughter) and does not really stand out in a crowd. She wants to live her live with her daughter and has no ambitions for power, making the Witchblade's choice as her for a bearer all the more interesting. When the Witchblade takes over, usually when it senses danger, a euphoric ecstasy consumes Masane as she transforms into one of the most sensual, sexy, plain erotic anime heroines we've seen in a long time. Masane as the Witchblade is everything Masane as a mother is not. Aggressive, violent, lusting for combat. The Witchblade shows its bearer as the ultimate weapon, but just who's in control? See, Masane tends to no remember what happens when the weapon takes over, a departure from the original comic where Sara was aware and somewhat in control. For Masane it's total transformation form hair to the barely there coverings of the Witchblade. A true feast for the senses, the Witchblade anime is not for the faint of heart or the young. It's a visceral experience that will keep viewers coming back for more until all mysteries and story elements are revealed ... and no it's not totally anime-ized with strange settings and big-eyed characters.

I highly recommend the Witchblade to anime and comic fans alike. It's a unique mixture of East meets West in animated format that all can enjoy. Witchblade fans owe it to themselves to check out the anime, and anime fans that dig this new series from Gonzo will want to check out Witchblade at Top Cow with their ongoing Witchblade comic, and their Witchblade Takeru Manga.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What's Old is New Again

Evening Ladies and Gents. James here, posting as Anime Sentinel. I've been posting about anime, manga and video games for over four years now. These post stared on my first Anime Sentinel blog (AOL Journals closed Dec 2008, post moved to this new blog) and then carried over to Comics Alliance, the comic community over on AIM.

It stared as a hobby, when I worked at AOL Games which then carried over to GameDaily and now I'm starting up ... or I should say carrying on with a new blog. See I'm taking the most recent post from my old blog along with some choice post from Comics Alliance, collecting them here and then ramping up with new impressions post here in 2008 about anime, manga, video games and now comics. It's time for a refresh, one in which I'll be reaching out to more Otaku out there. Good times, here's to new beginnings.