Monday, June 29, 2009

Megan Fox Video Game Trailer

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Megan Fox Video Game Trailer

She is easy on the eyes and not too bad with her voice either. Megan Fox takes on some voice work in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen The Video Game. In this video, if you listen and don't just look, she chats about being involved in not just the movie but the game also. Can you guess who her favorite character to use is ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NYX #1 Comic Impression

NYX volume 1
Written by Marjorie M. Liu, art by Kalman Andrasofszky, NYX follows a young mutant named Kiden Nixon. Published by Marvel Comics (CONFIRM), NYX takes on the tougher challenge presented to mutants, not foes and bad guys, but fitting in, living a normal life and avoiding being a target.

Kiden is one of the few, less than 200, mutants left on the planet, She has built a life for herself but how long will her normal existence remain? Living in a small apartment with three other mutants, Kiden does what she can to scrape by. Meeting rent is a challenge when the landlord targets just Kiden but even with these challenges life still moves on. A troubled past is slowly catching up with Kiden and what happened over the past 48 hours that’s put her into a very tight situation. Seems not all mutants get to face their foes in the form of a super villain, some must cope with a life as normal and you and I.

So the story synopsis is really quick as this is just the first issue of NYX. Readers can get the full series but looking at just this first issue a few things need to be chatted about. First up the art of Andrasofszky; it’s got a realism not seen in most Marvel titles. Minus the mutant thing this could be a story about a real ‘family’ facing real issues with real body types (no Jim Lee spandex heroes here). The art really touches on the writing of Liu. What is great about this story, in volume 1, is readers get to see a mutant that could be a real person. Kiden if very flawed, has a very dark and troubled past and seems like so many missing children. The story points are driven home by the NY settings and art style. A mutant who is scared to head back to school, who is just trying to make rent, this is a really well told story and the ending is just a great cliff hanger.

Overall the story and art mix perfectly to tell an excellent tale (one volume in) that more refined comic readers will dig. I wish you could hear the partial sarcasm in the refined comment. As a younger reader I wanted nothing but action but over time grew to appreciate a great story, fine growth in characters and a few good mysteries to be revealed. As an adult NYX really hits on the type of story I’m looking for, an evolved mutant story, and a mature mutant story. Since I hate waiting for the next chapter I’m off to buy the entire series and have to say I encourage anyone looking for a realistic mutant story to do the same.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One Piece Season 1 Third & Fourth Voyage Impression

It’s amazing where some devil fruit power and determination will get an up and coming pirate. Just ask Luffy as he continues to assemble his crew and take on some of the most well established pirates this side of the Grand Line. In volume 3 of One Piece from FUNimation Luffy begins his fight with Arlong while in volume 4 of One Piece season one comes to a close with a visit to birthplace of one very famous, dead, pirate king. All aboard (and other pirate puns) for some great anime action.

One Piece Season 1: Third Voyage
The fight with Don Krieg isn’t going so well but as always a new soon-to-be crewmember saves the day. This time it’s Sanji who steps up and keeps Luffy from drowning. A revived Luffy then continues to pound on Krieg, and of course wins, but choices must now be made. During the fight Nami fled with the Going Merry and all the treasure it contains. She’s always said she was not a pirate and it seems she’s proving that. The crew heads off in pursuit, now with Sanji as a cook in search of his own dreams. The destination, Cocoyashi village, Nami’s hometown. Seems Nami is a member of the Arlong pirates, a ruthless group of fishmen who rule the village and are responsible for a few losses in Nami’s life. Her past, reason for being a thief, is soon revealed and yet another fight begins. Zoro, not fully healed, takes on Hatchan the Octopus while the Navy also gets involved and shows their dirty side. The fishmen are legendary in their skill and power, but can they match-up against the Straw Hat Pirates? Time to find out, and to see what happens when someone makes Nami cry.

The animation in both volumes is good for a long running series and reflective of the source manga. These characters are not meant to be very detailed, but their clothing, ships and environments are so unique and well designed that the simple animation works. It’s a great series to watch as there is no log in animation quality. The voice work in both volumes also continues to shine thanks to the new cast for this uncut version of One Piece, a godsend that we can’t thank FUNimation for enough. The story in this third collection wraps up the first major encounter for Luffy as a captain. Buggy does not count; he was still pretty solo with just Zoro. Learning about Nami and her background shows another layer to Luffy in that he does not care, all he cares about is his navigator and helping her. This fight is also a new level as it’s a larger crew encounter against non-human foes that are a step up from Krieg and Buggy. Top it off with the navy now taking notice and Luffy is on his way … where, that’s to be determined.

One Piece Season 1: Fourth Voyage
The fight continues and Luffy is still trapped. Both Usopp and Sanji get involved. Eventually Luffy is saved … drowning again and he really steps up in pounding Arlong and destroying his complex in the process. Every member of the crew must make choices, realize more about themselves and grow, trust in their captain even more. Eventually, the village saved, Arlong defeated, Nami agrees to leave Cocoyashi village and join the crew. The crew sets off for the doorway to the Grand Line, Logue Town. The famed home and execution place of Gold Roger holds its own dangers for Luffy as he must deal with a tough as nails naval officer, Smoker, who has his own devil fruit powers. Some old foes are also on Straw hats tail as Buggy has managed to pull himself back together and find a new lady to fight with. Logue Town is known as the Town of the Beginning and the End and as Luffy explores the area he seems to follow a path Rogers himself too, even to the execution platform. Zoro has an encounter with a Sergeant Major in the navy while obtained some new swords and Usopp encounters the bounty hunger Daddy the Parent only to learn about his own father. Sanji takes on a cooking challenge and we catch-up with Red Haired Shanks as Hawk Eye delivers news of Luffy’s bounty and growth. A new road lays ahead, one to the Grand Line but first the Straw Hat Pirates must pass the challenges of Logue town.

Wow, tons of action here as the fight with Arlong finishes and what’s in store in Logue town is just tasty. Learning more about Gold Rogers and seeing how Luffy leaves an impression on Smoker and others, it just sets the stage for the grand adventure that is to come. Seeing Red Haired Shanks again as well as the mysterious dragon (who?) just leaves viewers wanting more. This is the end of the first season of One Piece and all the adventures to this point were just appetizers for what’s to come.

Overall these are great additions to any anime collection as One Piece is a rare beast of an anime that mixes great style, action and humor into bite size collectible chunks. I for one cannot wait till season 2 begins, not bad for a series that was once a joke here in the states. Funny what a little re-dub can do.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Samurai Harem: Asu No Yoichi vol. 1 Impression

The classic anime harem formula is on full display in Samurai Harem: Asu No Yoichi volume 1 from Tokyopop and it’s a guilty pleasure many an Otaku will savor. Yu Minamoto has crafted an enjoyable story and brought it to life with art that’s pleasing to look at.

His entire life Yoichi Karasuma has lived isolated in the mountains. Trained in the art of Bushido by his father he is now sent to live in the city with the Ikaruga family, at their dojo, to further his training. After an encounter with a local bully, whom he seems to think is a sparring partner (poor Wa-San) Yoichi begins to settle in with the young ladies of the Ikaruga dojo. Ibuki, very busty and a more traditional sword fighter, Ayame the fashionable socialite, Chihaya the manga writer and Kagome, the youngest sister. It seems that Yoichi for all his training has never encountered beauties like these and he just happens to get into awkward situations over and over again. Plenty of panty shots are wrapped around an evolving love triangle between Yoichi and two of the sisters. How will his relationships evolve, who will he end up with and will Wa-San ever defeat him in a fight? These are just a few of the questions to be revealed, but until then let the awkwardness continue.

So first the art, it’s excellent. While Ibuki starts off as the primary lead, her busty look with long straight hair has been done to death in this type of series. Now Ayame in her preppy style with cell phone and different art direction, now she is worth paying attention to as she is not cookie cutter. Beyond these two even Ikaruga is an average looking character. Each is unique but none really stand out. The backgrounds are well done when needed, but again nothing super special, its modern day Japan. The story also is predictable, well, except for who is in the triangle. I guess I have a soft spot for this type of anime. The nervous romance that is unexpected is always the best.

Overall Samurai Harem is pleasing on the eye, offers up some fan-service and by the end of volume 1 really weaves a tale that will capture the reader’s heart and bring them back for more … with plenty of humor mixed in. Not for everyone, but fans of the harem, romance genre will dig this puppy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trailer: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Shia LaBeouf & Peter Cullen

So the movie is out in just a few days, ditto for the video game. These two video game trailers for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are just fun to watch. First up is Peter Cullen (Optimus) and Frank Welker (Megatron) chatting about coming together for the second game. They don't discuss any ground breaking news, but hearing and seeing them do the voices is timeless for fans of the show.

The second trailer is Sam himself, Shia LaBeouf, taking the game for a spin and talking about his involvement, something gamers should be used to by now, that being talent involvment in games tied to movies. He really shows some nice insight into the storyline possibilities of the games, looking at it from both good and evil perspectives as well as how the story can be expanded. Not bad at all I must say. The only odd thing is the trailer stops rather suddenly, you just feel there is more, but not a bad few minutes. Check it out and enjoy, the movie is almost here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Schoolgirl Milky Crisis Impression

Schoolgirl Milky Crisis, a book I’ve had for a few months now and one which I’m still reading, for good reason. Unlike most books this collection of work, articles, speeches, insight from Jonathan Clements is the perfect … throne room read. This book is so tasty in bite size chunks, each section captures a unique angle, a different look at the world of anime and manga as well as related industries. Reading like greatest hits of Clements work this book is a very enjoyable read for anime and manga fans everywhere. If you want to get official anime, check out Clements co-authored Anime Encyclopedia and the Dorama Encyclopedia, but if you’re looking for some funny stories that only a lifer in the industry would know, well then look no further than Schoolgirl Milky Crisis … it’s worth the pickup just to understand the title. Props also to Steve Kyte’s illustrations, very nice.

Who is Jonathan Clements; in a nutshell he is an anime/manga lifer, a translator, voice actor, co-author, public speaker, interviewer, insider … his is what any anime and manga journalist wants to become when they look back on their career. He is worthy of your attention as these stories cannot be made up, the lectures cannot be attended. Learn from one in the know as it’s not often someone like Clements comes along with such a mixture of East, West and everything in-between. That’s who Clements is to me, but check out some of the sections from the book that make it a must have for all anime fans …

Behind the Scenes – Insider knowledge like this only comes from getting, well, behind the scenes with music, dubbing and more less than glamorous task.

Interviews and Profiles – Big-time interviews, nuff said.

Five Girls Named Moe: The Anime Erotic – A speech given on anime porn, hentai, in Wales, and the chapter name is worthy of a book in and of itself.

Around the World – Anime and manga outside Japan, even in Europe.

Rubber Monsters – Godzilla to Power Rangers, a staple of anime that is not anime. Chapter title would have had totally different meaning if put after the Anime Erotic chapter.

Chinese Animation – An extension of around the world, but takes a closer look at some top titles in China which ya gotta figure will hit the States.

Industries and Marketries – Making a buck, from creator to the public’s hands, a madhouse that could be its own anime.

Highbrow Skills in a Lowbrow Medium: Translation Japanese Animation – Speech from UK, different but great view of not just translating but how it’s an art, a true skill.

Toy Stories – High hopes for this section, but nope, did not like (one part of book now down with, just did not dig it).

Manga Goes to Hollywood – look at more western type anime as well as very Hollywood Spriggan titles. How good is the Hollywood influence on anime, you gotta read.

Digital Animation – Look at digital, from a speech, good or bad it’s here from Ghost in the Shell on.

Obits and Memories – Interesting, not see in most books, but a look at those who have left us, their legacy on the industry and why readers need to care.

Overall, Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is a truly unique read, great source material for a research paper (hint to you folks in college) and one hell of a legacy for Jonathan Clements. One only has their current life to live so why not take a look at Clements life and the adventures he’s had in the anime and manga trade.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Detroit Metal City vol. 1 Impression

Detroit Metal City volume 1 from Viz is all about awkward situations. When you take a huge fan of Swedish Pop and make him the lead singer on one of the vilest and up and coming death metal bands, well the situations are going to get very strange. Welcome to the life of Soichi Negishi.

DMC, Detroit Metal City is an up and coming underground death metal band headlined to Krauser II. On stage Krauser spits on and abuses the audience and his lyrics relay a tortured soul, one who will kill and rape any in his way. Backstage it’s a different story as once the makeup is off Krauser II is plain old, boring, Swedish pop fan Soichi Negishi. He is the opposite of everything DMC but time and again his two lives crash into one another. From encounters with a school crush to his ultra twisted manager crashing his apartment even to his countryside home where his brother is totally into DMC the strange situations never end and DMC just keeps gaining steam. Krauser II seems to have an easier life than Negishi, but he has nothing to hide on stage where if his identity is revealed Negishi’s dreams of Swedish pop will be gone forever.

Short summary but this series is all about awkward situations. Know this, the content is very mature and suggestive which, strange as it may sound, really adds to the humor. The story is not War & Peace, but it is well told. We meet Negishi and learn about his situation but don’t really hear (yet) how he got there. Each time he seems to be cornered be it on the street with the cops as Krauser II or in his apartment with his elderly neighbor, he always seems to get out like Jack in Three’s Company. No situation really carries over and they all have just plain funny points. Seeing a decked out Krauser II doing some tutoring, funny. The art is not great from an award winning standpoint; it actually reminded me of so many underground comics which is perfect for this story. It’s tough to put into words how the art must fit the story and content to a tee.

Overall the story crafted by Kiminori Wakasugi is unlike anything on shelves now. It’s not too serious, it’s very funny and mature to boot. A strange cast of characters, those that love and those that despise DMC, and a series of short story situations add up to a manga worth checking out. If you’re looking for a manga or story to compare this to, a, if you like this type of thing, forget about it. DMC is unique and very interesting. Give it a try, that’s really all I can say, but stay away IF lyrics about rape and treating women like trash is not something you want to see.

Friday, June 12, 2009

NEW PEOPLE, Center of Everything J-Pop

What is J-Pop? NEW PEOPLE will have the answer to that and much more when it opens in San Francisco in August of 2009. Founded by Seiji Horibuchi, NEW PEOPLE will be a must visit destination for fans of J-Pop, even culture buffs. The location will be over 20,000 square feet and located at 1745 Post Street. So the question is still there, what is J-Pop? It’s Japanese Pop Culture and its influence is on the streets, in anime and manga and right before your eyes and you may not even know. NEW PEOPLE will trace the evolution of J-Pop as it’s evolved in both the states and over seas.

Visitors can look forward to checking out several fashion labels making their debut on the second floor. There will also be art galleries to check out, looks at film, anime, fashion and more all around J-Pop. It will be a truly immersive experience in the heart of Historic Japantown. With three years of development time it’s gotta be something special and according to the press release the cinema will be …

“The spacious 143-seat underground cinema space is equipped with cutting edge High Definition digital projection and THX®-certified sound and is the soul of the NEW PEOPLE experience. Its core focus will be on some of the latest and hottest films from Japan, as well as an incredible legacy of classics, documentaries and anime – making it the only cinema of its type in the United States. These film genres are some of the most recognizable examples of Japanese pop culture and have captured the world’s attention.”

There is much more to be seen, outlined in the press release here. Overall this is really something to get excited about. Any true anime fan knows there are local shops to visit and get goods from, plenty of sites online to find J-Pop items but an experience like NEW PEOPLE could turn into an anime Mecca, a must visit. Heck, just the fashion alone will be worth the trip. Trust me on this one, being able to order online is great, but seeing products in hand, feeling them, it’s so much better and that’s just one floor of NEW PEOPLE. Check in as we’ll have more info as it present itself and don’t forget to check out the official site for some just released fashion info.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising E3 game trailer

Namco Bandai rolled out three new Dragon Ball titles at E3 and of course a new Naruto, but with a bit of a twist. This is not the next-gen, Shippuden based beast that would make PlayStation 3 owners drool, nope, it’s a PSP title set in Shippuden story-arc. Naruto Shippuden: Legends: Akatsuki Rising is the next chapters for Naruto on the PSP following the Ultimate Ninja Heroes titles. Each of those was more or less shrunk down version of the PlayStation 2 Ultimate Ninja titles but great anime gaming on the go. Now initial impression is that Akatsuki Rising is just Ultimate Ninja 4 shrunk down is very valid. That recent PS2 title remains the first Shippuden title released here in the states and continued the fighting action with updated characters and settings and really Akatsuki Rising is just that. This is shaping up to be a portable version of the PS2 title but that is a good thing as UN4 was a joy to play. Here is the interesting thing about Namco Bandai. They have new Dragon Ball on Wii, next-gen and DS so are they serving up anime fans on the PSP with Naruto? Is this why there are no PSP DB titles and nothing but a PSP title for Naruto? That is for further discussion but lets take a look at the trailer.

The mode of play to really keep an eye on is the Akatsuki mode where gamers get to see story points not touched on for the secret organization of rogue ninja. The game itself looks decent on the PSP but is a fighting game with story elements mixed in. Really not too much to add here. If you’ve played any Ultimate Ninja title then you know what to expect. The biggest thing Akatsuki Rising has going for it is its platform the PSP. This is a game system that is lacking in good titles, heck it’s lacking in pretty much any titles. A name brand like Naruto, a good game at that, will really help this system and give fans of the franchise something to play until the next PS3, Xbox 360 Shippuden title.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Dragon Ball Video Games Announced at E3

Three new games announced by Namco Bandai at E3 this past week show that Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z is still very relevant. An excellent, if a bit dated, anime (get it from FUNimation) the baby of creator Akira Toriyama really shone on the PlayStation 2 with excellent fighting titles under the Budokai name. There were other hits and plenty of misses but what DBZ did was put anime gaming in front of the casual gamer, a good gaming experience for more than just fans. Due to the anime having wrapped up years ago and the apparent passing of the anime gaming mantle to Naruto, the days of great, relevant DBZ gaming seemed long gone … not so fast. Atari was the publisher of choice on PS2, GBA, GameCube and Xbox but now its Namco Bandai’s turn. Three new titles, each unique and crafted for the DS, Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 but it’s the angle each game takes, the story points, that is very interesting. Let’s take a look at each title, game play features and the timeline they encompass …

Dragon Ball: Raging Blast – The next-gen title for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, this is by far the most gorgeous of the titles. Fans of DBZ know that the animation from the Saiyan Saga to the Buu fights improved along with character design and this title reflects that perfection of design. This is an HD designed game that looks simply stunning and like Budokai titles before is all about fighting. The crazy flying, fighting, destructive environments seen in the anime are recreated in true HD. So what’s the hitch … the roster it seems. The screenshots revealed show Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta and Freeza and the setting seems to be Namek. Burst Limit for next-gen also had a limited roster and setting which for fans is a pain no matter how great a series looks. It’s a tough pill to swallow not having a larger roster for the price to be paid so hopefully more characters can be downloaded/purchased even if the settings remain in the Freeza era.

Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo – Created for the Wii and not that bad looking. This title takes a page from the handheld book and goes back to a younger Goku with a simpler look and feel with the original DB franchise which actually works better on the Wii. The game is a platformer and shows some origins a few gamers may not know about with these characters. It’s also nice to dispel some of the plot point Dragon Ball: Evolution established. There are RPG level-up elements and special attacks to be performed with the Wii-mote and due to the series layout it’s not as fast-paced or high-flying as DBZ, a good choice for Wii and younger for a more casual audience.

Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans – Ah, the handheld anime RPG. Strangely these types of games have worked and worked well as gamers relive the events of the anime turn-based style. New, unseen story paths will be included as seen in DBZ handheld titles before, the alternate what if angle and since this is just the Saiyan Saga there are more games to come and plenty of source material to choose from. Not too much more to add as the graphics are DS worthy, very pretty and the game play is an RPG. Dragon Ball Origins is a great DS title that flew under the radar but hopefully more gamers pay attention to Attack of the Saiyans.

Overall Raging Blast looks truly next-gen but could come up short with a limited roster. Revenge of King Piccolo could be the gem of the group with a storyline that’s not been explored on console and Attack of the Saiyans will also be of note due to the branching story paths. My only question is, with the support Namco Bandai has shown for PSP where is the DBZ fighter on PSP? How many Naruto PSP titles are shrunk down PS2 offerings? All things considered the greatest thing about these titles is they are all unique. Each takes on a different storyline and different game play type from fighting game to RPG to platformer. Will these games make DBZ a challenger for Naruto, hard to say, but with an established fan-base and unique offerings an anime gamer can hope.

Monday, June 8, 2009

IKKI from Viz and Children of the Sea vol. 1 Impression

Viz Media recently launched IKKI, an online beta that brings manga in a new manner. IKKI is a monthly Japanese publication with a focus on contemporary manga that launched in 2003. IKKI has since teamed up with Viz Media here in the states under the Viz Signature category and they are going beyond just print, they’re online. This new online magazine will be updated monthly and feature a series of manga, starting with Children of the Sea, featured in the screenshot. In addition to releases of the chapters from volume 1 of the manga visitors will also get to read an interview with series creator Daisuke Igarashi. The idea is that once all chapters from the first volume are release then the printed version hits shelves.

So first, Children of the Sea is a great story to begin with as it’s very deep. The art style is very un-anime, it’s fresh and real. Ruka is a flawed little girl, banned from her handball team and floating between her separated parents. Ruka meets a young boy Umi and eventually his brother Sora, two boys raised in the sea by dugongs. All three are searching for something, something the ocean holds in its depths. Volume 1 follows the trio as they not only search for this strange call but also as they discover one another, especially Ruka finding her place in life.

There are more story points than just this including global disappearances of fish from aquariums but the heart of the story really lies with Umi and Ruka. I’m sure Sora will come along as a deeper character later but so far the art matches what is a very compelling story. This is a must read online and really shows promise for what’s to come on IKKI. From the official press release future series include Bokurano: Ours by Mohiro Kitoh, House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono, Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida and I’ll Give It My All … Tomorrow by Shunju Aono. Add to the stories interviews, creator profiles and manga fans will get a no-cost preview of new series without sitting in a bookstore reading the volumes of manga (this sucks by the way, buy the books, support the industry).

Times are tough, money tight, but manga fans need to suffer as Viz is taking care of us. Going online and reading free manga, un-pirated manga, now that’s the way to go, pretty sweet.