Thirty Day Anime Challenge – Days Nine & Ten

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Before I answer a couple more questions from The Thirty Day Anime Challenge I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on the breaking news regarding Telltale Games. It’s sad to see this company of interactive storytellers go bust. A talented studio dies, due to poor sales, whilst the likes of EA continue to prosper. Maybe instead of buying FIFA packs we gamers should have purchased Telltale episodes instead. So many people moan about greedy micro-transactions, but yet they don’t support the more consumer friendly content creators. We pinched pennies waiting for Telltale stuff to go free on PS Plus and this is the end result.

I wish the two hundred plus staff, who lost their jobs without getting any severance pay, all the best with finding new employment in the industry. Commiserations also go out to anyone who bought The Walking Dead season pass. Looks like the game is deader than a zombie, so those remaining episodes are unlikely to ever get released. A former “Game of the Year” winner deserved a better finale than this. For anyone unacquainted with Telltale I recommend giving their back catalogue a look. Tales from the Borderlands is hilarious and arguably more fun than the mainline Borderlands games. Telltale’s rendition of Batman is excellent too. Puts some of the Caped Crusader’s cartoons to shame.

Okay, enough with the doom and gloom. Let’s answer some anime queries…

DAY NINE: Favourite Anime Villain

I am going to pick Light Yagami, from Death Note, even if it feels weird to brand the protagonist of a series a villain. Like other memorable antagonists, from fiction, Light has a creditable motivation for his actions. By harnessing the Death Note’s power he schemes to rid the world of crime. Fair enough. If I owned a killer tome I too might feel compelled to punish rapists and animal abusers. Murder is however illegal and Light is eventually forced to commit heinous deeds in order to escape arrest. His transgressions only grow worse when he develops a God Complex. A model student eventually transforms into a villain who can even make the act of snacking on potato chips look wicked.

DAY TEN: Favourite Fighter Anime

Back when I was a teenager Dragon Ball Z would have easily secured my nomination for best fighting anime of all time. Now that I’m older and wiser I have however realised that DBZ is more of a yelling show than a fighting one. My pick for this category therefore goes to Kill la Kill. Just like Akira Toriyama’s best-known work, this series is packed with action and even has an arc set in a fighting tournament arena. Another connection worth mentioning is that Kill la Kill features garments called “Goku” uniforms. Kill la Kill is worth watching for the wackiness, intense battles and superb soundtrack. Out of the many fighting cartoons I have seen this Studio Trigger production, about a girl who wields a “scissor” blade, stands out as a “cut” above the rest.

Thirty Day Anime Challenge – Days Six to Eight

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Time to write some original content, as it appears that sites cannot survive solely by reblogging other people’s posts. I thought the readership would appreciate me promoting their work, but alas the numbers don’t lie. View counts are down and some have even branded me lazy in the comments section. To make amends I will answer some more questions from the Thirty Day Anime Challenge. In theory I should be answering one of these every twenty-four hours, but that sounds like too much hard work. Hmmm, I guess that commenter was correct about me being slothful!

DAY SIX: Anime I want to see but haven’t yet

I want to watch Grave of the Fireflies, but haven’t yet because I am a pussy. Whenever I think of picking up the DVD I reconsider due to the subject matter. A movie about war decimating families and kids starving to death sounds downright depressing. Isn’t entertainment meant to be fun? For me the appeal of anime is the kickass action, bouncy boobies and hilarious comedy. The synopsis for Grave of the Fireflies reminds me of In This Corner Of the World – a film that made me feel miserable. One day however I will cross off Fireflies from my bucket list. Just like Akira or Ghost in the Shell it has the reputation of being a critically acclaimed feature that every anime fan should experience at least once.

DAY SEVEN: My anime crush

Technically speaking, I have already answered this back when I participated in the Five Flaming Hotties tag. To see a list of my favourite animated women click HERE. For the sake of this post I’ll mention someone who barely missed out on making the Flaming Hotties quintet – Nene Romanova. I suppose you could say she was my first anime crush, as she appears in the first anime DVD series I ever purchased (Bubblegum Crisis 2040). Out of the four Knight Sabers she was my favourite. Nene is funny, looks good in a uniform and has geek girl appeal thanks to her computer skills. Completing the package is a cute voice, provided in the English dub by voice actress Hilary Haag.

DAY EIGHT: Favourite anime couple

My vote goes to the Clannad pairing of Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa. One advantage this couple has over other anime lovebirds is that we see their relationship develop over two seasons. Whilst other shows end with the leads sharing an inaugural kiss Clannad covers how Tomoya and Nagisa went from high school sweethearts to husband/wife and finally parents. I dig this ship because they compliment each other so well. Tomoya supported Nagisa with her health issues and Nagisa’s influence, in turn, saved him from a delinquent existence. If you haven’t watched Clannad I highly recommend that you do. Given my earlier comments, in the Day Six section, you know I dislike tragic stories. You can therefore rest assured that Clannad is completely devoid of tearful moments (muwahaha.)

Sword Oratoria: Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side

What is it with Japanese creators and their ridiculously long show titles? Do you think they are overcompensating for something? This twelve-episode DanMachi spin-off follows the Loki Familia guild, on their journey through a dungeon infested with monsters. The fantasy themed story is pretty straightforward, aside from some mysteries that sadly remain unanswered by the time this cour finishes. Oh the joys of anime adaptations based on light novels that have yet to reach a definitive conclusion.

The protagonist of this tale is a stoic fighter named Ais Wallenstein. She resembles a less fleshed out Violet Evergarden. If you prefer girls with a bit more personality fear not, as she is accompanied by an emotional Elven sidekick (who secretly has the hots for her.) Sword Oratoria is a three star series in my opinion. Nothing special, but DanMachi fans who seek more animated adventures set in the same universe should enjoy it. For more information please click below to read MIB’s assessment of the recent UK home video release.

Sword Oratoria: Is it Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side(Cert 12)

2 Discs DVD / 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 303 minutes approx.

Release Date: September 3rd  

As the lengthy and cumbersome title suggests, this show is a spin-off from an existing series, featuring one of the characters from the fantasy comedy Is it Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? and giving them a moment in the spotlight. I’ve not seen the parent show but it would appear this isn’t an issue as the lead and her support cast are introduced as if this was a fresh series.

The titular dungeon is not, in fact, a vast underground lair where people are interred and subject to daily torture, instead it is the name given to the multi-level area beneath the Tower of Babel in…

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Red Metal’s extensive coverage of the Zelda series has convinced me to give Breath of the Wild another chance. It will be nice to go on another adventure with Link, after all these years. Back in the day I had a grand time completing Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. In recent years however I have shunned the series due to its use of clunky stylus/motion controls.

Breath of the Wild is very different to the Zelda titles of yore. It’s a big open world with a big emphasis on survival. Gone are the days when money would literally grow on trees (um bushes.) Foraging is required to make an income and health restorative meals. Wish me luck guys. I don’t have a good track record of finishing open world games. Often I’ll neglect the story in favour of exploration… something I am sure Grand Theft Auto and Skyrim fans can relate to.

Extra Life

Introduction

Though Skyward Sword was released to a positive reception, certain players voiced their displeasure over the sheer amount of filler present and the hand-holding nature of the game. The latter aspect was especially ironic given the challenging nature of Skyward Sword. Series producer Eiji Aonuma, though mostly satisfied with what he and his team created, ended up agreeing with these reservations. The series’ next installment, A Link Between Worlds, seemed to openly defy the design choices behind Skyward Sword, featuring a terse narrative and a largely non-linear design. In an era when gaming placed a great emphasis on storytelling, A Link Between Worlds would have been a sleeper hit had not been part of a famous franchise. Emboldened by this installment’s success, he and his team sought to “rethink the conventions of Zelda” for the series’ next console installment. He made their intent known at…

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Thoughts on Berserk

This write up from Jeffrey Botah reminds me what an excellent series the nineties Berserk was. An exceptional rise and fall tale set in a medieval/fantasy world that should appeal to Game of Thrones fans. Highly recommended to anyone who isn’t squeamish. I would rank Berserk as one of my fave anime of all time, were it not for the inconclusive ending. Back when the movie trilogy came out I was disappointed to learn that it was just an abridged version of this story, rather than a continuation. One of these days I’ll have to check out the new anime. I just need to muster up the willpower to deal with its horrible CGI.

Jeffrey's blog

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(Possible spoilers)

Berserk. That shit is messed up and you know what? I’m fully here for (most of) it. It’s an anime that had been on my list for a long time and I finally got around to watching it. If I’m getting this right, there are two Berserk series and I watched the one from the 90’s so I’ll watch the other series at some point. Berserk is a story about a swordsman named Guts who pretty much on sights anything that moves, his supreme inability to control his sword erection earns the interest of a man named Griffith who forcibly recruits him into his group the Band of the Hawk, where the real story begins as they journey to achieve Griffith’s dream.

From the beginning, the anime didn’t even try to hide that it would have a dark tone and it tried even less to hide that it…

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Review of Harvest Moon: Light of Hope

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Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is technically not a Harvest Moon game. The team responsible for producing the classic Harvest Moon games of yore is currently releasing titles under the Story of Seasons banner. Natsume, the publisher who holds the rights to the Harvest Moon name, has meanwhile decided to continue the franchise by hiring lesser skilled developers to make new sequels. The situation reminds me of the time when Eidos and Sports Interactive parted ways. After the split, developer Sports Interactive lost ownership of the Championship Manager brand. This forced them to release new games under the guise of Football Manager. Eidos went off to make Championship Manager games in house and ultimately run the series into the ground.

OVERVIEW

When I say that Harvest Moon is now in the hands of less talented developers I am not kidding. Just look at this game’s graphics. The characters may look cute, but there is no disputing that these visuals are below the standard one would expect from a PS4 release. In particular the low-res buildings look especially bad on a big screen. Gameplay wise things aren’t much better. The farming on offer hasn’t advanced much from the rather basic Harvest Moon GBA game I enjoyed many moons ago. In order to grow crops one simply needs to plant seeds and water the soil on a daily basis. Fertilizer is only required if you elect to grow something out of season. Seems easy enough. I wonder why Zimbabwe had so much trouble with farming when Mugabe kicked out all of the white farmers.

Still, who cares about farming? In this game I didn’t find agriculture to be particularly profitable. Rather than sell produce I just gifted my veggies to the local townsfolk or cooked them into stamina replenishing meals. If you seek riches I would recommend foraging for seashells at the beach. Those things sell for a surprisingly high price. I also hear that mining for ore can be lucrative, although that venture requires some investment. To crack open the rocks that house gems one needs to first upgrade their trusty hammer. Later in the game you can also trade eggs, wool and milk by populating your barn with livestock. I like how you can name the animals you buy. My cow, lamb and chicken were christened Mooris, Baary and Hen-Tai.

VERDICT

My rating for Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is a three out of five. The game is inferior to rivals Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons in terms of content. Without too much trouble I was able to complete the four-chapter story within a couple of in-game months. Despite its faults I must however say that I appreciate the relaxing experience it offers. Rather than start the morning with fifteen minutes of meditation, I can instead turn off my brain by doing chores for quarter of an hour on Harvest Moon’s virtual island. Even if I have already saved the land, by repairing the isle’s mystical lighthouse, I still intend to continue playing the game for the foreseeable future in short bursts. There are plenty of trophies yet to earn and a mailbox worth of villager requests to complete.

Other activities I can look forward to are the monthly festivals. These events allow the player to partake in various mini-games, which include fishing contests and dog races. Thus far my pooch has managed to scoop the top prize, but I have fared less well in the angling tournaments. Most important of all I cannot conclude my Harvest Moon adventure without first getting hitched. From the five available bachelorettes I have my eyes set on the bespectacled doctor. She may not be the most attractive of the bunch, but she won my heart during the tutorial by generously gifting me tons of free cabbage seeds. When it comes to romance the ladies don’t have to do much to make me swoon. I’ll settle for any girl, providing that she doesn’t carry much emotional cabbage… um baggage.

Review of Trigun: Badlands Rumble

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It’s great to see Full Metal Panic return to our screens after a lengthy hiatus. The gap between FMP content reminds me of the time when Badlands Rumble first hit the scene. This ninety minute animated film was released in the year 2010… over a decade after the Trigun series aired in Japan! You certainly cannot accuse studio Madhouse of rushing out a product to capitalize on the popularity of a show. This story takes place sometime during the events of the Trigun series (so it isn’t a sequel) and sees Vash tangle with a robber named Gasback, whose life he spared twenty years prior.

OVERVIEW

Badlands Rumble takes place in Macca City, a settlement where Gasback’s former lackey Cain is the incumbent mayor. Years ago, the pair had a falling out after Cain betrayed Gasback during a heist. You cannot trust anyone named Cain it seems… just ask Abel! Gasback has decided to pay back his ex-henchman by riding into Macca and stealing a pricey bronze statue that is situated there. As luck would have it, Vash the Stampede arrives in town just before Gasback’s raid is due to go down. Talk about bad timing. Vash has a sixty billion double dollar price on his head. That could well attract the attention of the multitude of bounty hunters, who are presently in Macca hoping to nab Gasback.

Vash isn’t the only one suffering from ill fortune. Insurance girls Milly and Meryl are back and this time round their employer has tasked them with protecting the abovementioned statue. If said sculpture is damaged their company will be out of pocket. Guarding the statue will be no easy task, as wherever Vash goes destruction usually follows. Upping the ante is the appearance of wandering priest Nicholas D. Wolfwood. This man of the cloth, who carries a rocket launcher fashioned after a cross, has been hired to be Gasback’s bodyguard. Wolfwood’s church services will be required, as a redhead named Amelia is currently pursuing Gasback with the aims of avenging her late mother.

VERDICT

My rating for Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a three out of five. Fans of the Trigun series are sure to enjoy this new Vash adventure. It’s an enjoyable space western that delivers in terms of cool gunfights and humorous slapstick, courtesy of its needle noggin protagonist. Viewers of the old show are sure to appreciate the movie’s upgraded visuals. Thanks to the higher production values, both the animation and artwork have received a substantial facelift. It’s especially noticeable, as Trigun never pushed the envelope when it came to spectacle. Compared to something like Cowboy Bebop, which came out at around the same time, the series lacked polish and has therefore aged less well.

I remember loving Badlands Rumble, back when I first bought the DVD, but have to say that I liked it less on a recent viewing. This second screening helped me identify how the script rehashes ideas from the series. A criminal who desires revenge on his old gang is reminiscent of the episode titled Love & Peace for example. Amelia also reminded me of Elizabeth, who appeared in episode six, as they are both beauties who seek vengeance against an outlaw. Given the movie’s place in the Trigun timeline there isn’t much tension, as we all know Vash will escape from this trial unscathed. I did however dig the moments that question Vash’s no-kill philosophy. Not murdering may sound noble, but as Batman has learnt, is it ethical to pardon those who will just go off to do more harm?

One thing I can say about watching Badlands Rumble is that it rekindled my dream of seeing a Trigun remake that sticks more faithfully to the manga. Full Metal Alchemist and Hellsing have proven that such a project could work. Given the time it took for this movie to get made though, I suspect that the wait for a new Trigun show would be longer than Vash’s full name. For those of you who don’t know, his complete moniker is – Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gumbigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andry Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser the Third.