Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Things No One Cares About: Sweet Rein

This is the time of the year that everyone looks at Christmas related media and me being the eternal tag along I guess I should too. However to be original I shall do the whole review in rhyme. Oh wait, that is about as original as Doug Walker's It's a Wonderful Life parody and it's be totally annoying to boot. So on second though I will not be doing that. Anyway,what was I talking about,Sweet Rein...let's go with that

Sweet Rein is a shojo manga by Sakura Tsukuba recently released overseas to capitalize on the Christmas season. Tsukuba is probably better known for Penguin Revolution,a manga about the weirdest talent agency ever. My Anime List classifies this as a spin off of that manga but that's only due to a side chapter in the last volume. So for all two of you that were fearful that this story would not make sense without having read Penguin Revolution,rest easy.

The plot is a series of loosely connected one-shots about a girl,Kurumi becoming a Santa and her magical transforming reindeer partner,Kaito. Despite being a Christmas themed book,half the stories take place in the summer. They tend to involve Kurumi and Kaito helping fulfill a child's wish and Kurumi denying her feelings for Kaito. It also does play up the master/slave relationship the couple have and how the power dynamic affects said relationship.

It does toy with Santa tropes by making Santa follow a magical girl route and being more of a group of people rather than one old portly gentleman. It's interesting to see a different take on becoming a Santa that's not just a "oh god we have to save Christmas because Santa is a klutz" plot. It really doesn't use the magical girl tropes though that would have been kind of funny. Instead focusing on more of a child of the week structure in lieu of a monster. I feel there is more they could have done with that premise alone but they don't so the potential is out there lurking.

The plot introduces black reindeer who have hurt their masters and therefore are sentenced to live forever. Introduced in book two it really doesn't come back up till the final chapters of volume three. It doesn't do much for those chapters and is really just an excuse to do a redemption story for a new character. I could also nit pick about how Kurumi doesn't age past seventeen despite this taking place over three different Christmas. However the minor issues are lampshaded by the manga-ka. It does set the tone of this story as a silly little adventure that isn't letting little things like time get in the way. This also extends to the characters that are written with love.

Kurumi has the typical shojo protagonist problems of a dead mother and a workaholic dad. While she does not exactly jump at the opportunity to be a Santa by the end ff the first chapter she accepts it. So when it comes to actually letting go off the position till next year she's hesitant. There could be the underlying question of is she doing this out of the goodness of her heart or just to stave off the loneliness. However, she clearly enjoys the job so that angle is dropped pretty early on. She also really doesn't jump right into the relationship with Kaito despite his obvious affection. Their relationship grows as she realizes that his devotion has less to due with his servant like position and more with actual feelings for her.

Kaito himself is less complex but it is funny to try and figure out who is more desperate for this relationship to continue. He is an idiot to the extreme but he is also honest and his love is pure. His love and devotion to Kurumi is heavily influenced by his grandfather's own relationship with a Santa. While he doesn't have the (relative) depth Kurumi has,he is just a happy guy that you can't help but like. Plus he gets to be the receiver of most of the slapstick which can negate any ill will you have towards him.

The rest of the cast are unremarkable with the exception of the character who tests Santas to see if they are worthy and Katio's older brother. He get's his own Santa and the few chapters focusing on them are some of the funniest parts of the manga. Kurumi's friends are pretty blatant stock shojo characters that add nothing to the plot outside of being "like OMG you should totally hook up with him". Also they seem to take the fact that Katio is a magical transforming reindeer pretty well. In fact everybody's only reaction to him and Kurumi being a Santa is mild surprise. It is not a real problem,just rather weird.

The art is your typical Shojo style with beautiful people and sparkles everywhere. The author admits to really liking to draw naked people and animals,hence why there are quite a few beach chapters. Luckily she happens to be good at drawing what she likes as the art is fantastic. Special mention to Kaito as a reindeer as it's is very well drawn. He also has the happiest look on his face at all times as a reindeer He looks so happy that I wish I could be a reindeer just to look that happy.

As mentioned early there are a few side stories that are added to each volume that are mostly okay. There is a vampire story that plays like Usagi Drop as told by an idiot and seems to be here because the manga-ka wanted to draw a sexy vampire. The second one being about the Kurumi and Katio which is labeled a side story for some reason. Then there is the aforementioned Penguin Revolution story that I didn't read because I want to read that series first.

I'm going to be honest here for a moment this is cheesy as all get-out. The characters are not that complex and the plots make the third season of Hell Girl look brilliant. However the whole series is written with love and it shows. To me that,the constant poking fun at itself and the creative take on Santa mythology make up for all the cliches. It is something you will enjoy as you are reading it and then probably forget abut a few days later. Weather that makes it worth a read is up to you but I had fun with it.

Till Next Time:Stay Positive

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Diabolik Lovers

As most are aware,vampires have taken a turn for the romantic in recent years due to books like Twilight and Vampire Knight. Becoming beautiful creatures that are more focused on protecting a boring girl rather than whatever it is vampires regularly do. Maybe abduct ladies and give orphans a motif. Either way times have changed and vampires have changed. Diabolik Lovers knows this and wants the audience to regret ever having played into them.

Diabolik Lovers is brutal and sicking show that aired during the 2013 Fall anime season. Taking the current vampire trends and tropes and turning them on their head. Using your typical reverse harem plot and turning it into an unwanted harem in the worst way. It also manages to use the vampires more sexual connections to delve into the psychology of an abusive relationship. It all forms this wonderfully disturbing show that is not for the feint of heart.

The anime is based of the visual novel of the same name and since I can't really read Japanese I have no idea how faithful the adaptation is nor do I care. The story follows a young girl named Yui who goes to live with the Sakamaki brothers due to her father's job. She learns that they are vampires and then some terrible things happen to her. Noting even view her as a person but treating her as an object for their amusement.

The official synopsis that is given for this series honestly makes it sound completely ridiculous and it's honestly half the reason I watched it:for cheap laughs. Taking the plot at face value it is fairly silly with a heavy dose of the Grand Theft Me trope but does have equal amounts of foreshadowing so it's not out of nowhere. That is okay because while Slayer's plots are a vehicle for the comedy here it's a vehicle for the horrors of the cycle of abuse. Before we go any further lets' explain the cycle of abusive just so we are on the same page.

The Cycle of abuse is a four step model developed by Lenore Walker back in the 1970's that describes the nature of an abusive relationship. The first step is tension building,which is the lead up to the actual abusive outburst. Here the victim will try to change there behavior to prevent an outburst. The acting out phase is just that. Then there is the reconciliation phase which is where we see the I can change routine most often. It can also be where we see just flat out ignoring of the incident. Finally we go into the calm phase where the relationship normalizes before going back into tension building. It's a vicious cycle that can go on for years due to the hope of things getting better.

Our main character Yui is constantly trying to change her actions to keep one of the six brothers at peace and it almost always fails. The brothers attack her through insults and placing blame on her. Sooner or later they move to the acting out phase which is usually the sucking of her blood in increasingly sexual ways. Often implying that she likes it just to hurt her even more. After that they move right into disregarding the incident and throwing her aside. After that she normalizes for about half an episode and gets drawn right back in.

It is sicking to see it happen so many times yet Yui won't do anything about it due to fear for her own life. Again something that is probably a fear of many abuse victims and it can keep them in the relationship. She has a chance to escape about mid way through the series but stays due to a hope that things will get better if a certain mystery is solved. This mystery for the most part does remain a mystery due to lack of explanation. On the flip side of that all the boys are given a reason for why they are so abusive that stems back to Coredlia, one of their fathers three wives. It doesn't make what they do acceptable but again it shows how the abused can become the abuser.

As the show progress and we learn the above mentioned reasons for the abuse it,the plot slowly moves into confronting this behavior by having the boys work through their mommy issues. It helps keep the plot watchable because again the plot is pretty silly. Once they are free of these past issues they are able to finally move on. The final part also implies that Yui has become a vampire and now the boys actual do view her as a person. This signals the end of the abuse and maybe some happiness for all involved.

The above ending happens about halfway through the episode then the credits roll. After that is each guy telling her why they should pick him. Maybe that's how it happened in the game but here it's a little jarring. This is a show that for the most part avoided feeling like a visual novel. Some adaptions like Clannad and Stein's Gate had the feeling of going through routes however here that's not present. It made the story feel more organic and flow better. However this scene just sort of throws a monkey wrench into that and feels forced.

The six boys themselves all have a  personality and abuse style that is fleshed out well enough given the shows fairly short run time(fifteen minutes per episode for twelve episodes). Ayato is sort of pushed to be the be true pairing as he does show the most actual interest in Yui. Tending to favor insults about appearance and displays of power . Laito uses the feeling of being watched/stalked to keep her in check and continually refers to her as Bitch-chan. The more childish Kanato has temper tantrums and tries to twist Yui's kind nature into something sinister. The two oldest brothers Reiji and Shu are usually too busy to outright abuse her as they save their hate for each other. They still use her if for nothing else to destroy her sense of what little safety she has. Suburu is the kindest of the brothers and really doesn't due much to her due to being more of a broken person.

Their own back stories are pretty sparse told through mini-flashbacks and one odd time travel style episode. They have just enough characterization to give them some distinction but not truly enough to make them the complex characters they could be. Maybe given a little more time it could work out but as it stands they are just average characters.

The animations is a more traditional Gothic look that heightens the fear and anxiety that the script is playing out. The main mansion has a very old feel that invokes your more traditional vampire tropes to show that these are not your daughter's vampires but something more sinister. All the boys are impossibly good looking and this is what makes the knife twist so deep when they start being malicious and harmful to Yui(also impossibly good looking). The music is mostly piano pieces written by a drunk Danny Elfman and one guy laying down smooth bass guitar tracks at all other times. None of it's really bad but the reuse of music gets a little grating when it is not that good to begin with. The opening is kind a of a guilty pleasure in it pure cheese factor.

So who is this series for:honestly it is hard to tell . People who have been in that kind of relationship probably don't wanna watch it and the content is going to be to graphic for the shojo audience. It's more for the crowd who is sick of seeing vampire romanticized to such a ridiculous degree,those who want to see the cycle of abuse in action or if you are like me and on occasion like to feel slimy while watching a show. If you fall into any of those categories then it is definitely worth your time.

Also sorry for the delay on this one.The series ended this past Tuesday and the last couple days have been hectic so I've been a little behind...sorry.

Till next time: Stay Positive


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Things No One Cares About: Slayers Great

I was honestly planing to do this entire review as Tony the Tiger but that would be stretching a joke too far, even for me. Also I'm not a giant orange tiger...anymore. Though I'm not really sure that would make talking about this movie anymore interesting anyway. Sorry to play my hand so quickly, but that's all I can say about this film. There is nothing to rave about or get properly annoyed at it's just sort of there.

Let's talk background in hope of reaching an arbitrary word count of lets say:648. Slayers Great came out in 1997 alongside the third and for a while final season of the anime. Slayers Perfect had it's weird atmosphere and mood going for it. While Return was more of a return(I'll be here all week) to a more humorous story with better pacing. This one has no such thing instead trying to mix the two previous films and creating a portal to the mediocre dimension.

The story is serviceable with a slant towards the serious but has no weight to it. Yeah the plot in Return was bog-standard but it still had me invested in it. Here the plot is resolved in a pretty anti-climatic way and I never really felt like anyone was in any danger to begin with. The first half of the movie goes towards building up to the golem battle with a few interesting moments here and there Then the climatic golems battle takes up the rest of the short run time and is just ungodly boring outside of a few decent sight gags. It feels slow and plodding despite being billed as a big exciting battle to decide the fate of the town.

The whole production just doesn't really know where it wants to go trying to keep the moody tones  of Perfect and the more comedic twists of Return. However it just doesn't have a big comedic set piece to make that leap and just sort of coasts by with mediocre humor. Plus the ending just sort of happens with very little accomplished letting the plot be resolved fully in the credits.

The comedy here is really hit and miss lacking the true laugh out loud moments that some of the other movies possess. The first half more relies on the dialogue and putting the one-shot female character through the ringer and it does elicit a chuckle here and there. The second half consist of goofy reaction shots and some decent sight gags that both become stale after the first five minutes. If the kept up the female character's despairing then it still wouldn't help the second half. Again nothing truly unfunny but nothing great either.

Lina and Naga as characters are in rare form this movie and it does play up how volatile their relationship actually is and it actually drives a majority of the plot. Too bad this is not a plot worth piloting as they'll have to wait till Gorgeous to do it better. It does play on some more subtle characters traits for Naga such as her talent for golems. The new characters are actually pretty funny with at least one or two good lines and as mentioned the female leads despairing is great. The villains are weird and ineffective but less in a funny look how stupid they are way and more they were never a credible threat to begin with way. They play out like a watered down version of the villains from the Sorcerer of Atlus story albeit lacking a third villain that plays them for chumps.

I am just going to skip being witty and say don't bother with this one. It's not that funny nor that interesting. This was a struggle to talk about and probably a struggle to read. I'll see you next time for probably Slayers Gorgeous or maybe Diabolik Lovers.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Things No One Cares About: Slayers The Hourglass of Falces

Slayers started out as a series of light novels involving Lina Inverse,a short tempered sorceress,Gourry Gabriev,the dim-witted swordsman and a rotating cast of companions. It evolved into a successful anime/manga franchise that is much more well known. I've already discussed the first two movies based on the prequel series,Slayers Special, and I finally got my hands on the last three movies so we'll look at those in more detail in the coming weeks but we're going to talk about something Slayers related I actually did read this week,The Hourglass of Falces.

Slayers manga has always sort have taken a backseat to the novel and anime components of the franchise. The longest part of the manga(Super Explosive Demon Story) only covers the first eight novels in 7 of 8 volumes. The fourth volume being an adaption of Slayers Return. The various manga projects tend to cover various side stories and alternate time lines. Luckily they usually are wrote by Kanzaka himself which at least insures great writing if nothing else.

However like Lina's companions the artist for the manga tends to rotate. You have the Rui Araizumi the Gourry to Kanzaka's Lina who is responsible for the light novels illustrations. Then there is Tommy Ohtsuka that' has drawn the Slayers Special manga,Knights of the Aqualord and a few others. Shoko Yoshinaka who worked on Super Explosive Demon Story and Kanzaka's other big franchise,Lost Universe. However for Hourglass we have yet another artist simply know as Arashi who's only other work is a hentai compilation manga. After reading this manga that fact came as no surprise to me. So enough talking about Slayers lets talk about Slayers.

The story is fairly typical and nothing special,but like most Slayers stories it is more a vehicle for the comedy more than anything. The plot concerns an island that sits between some mystical pillars that can power some weird Groundhog Day style magic. It brings up your typical letting go of the past themes that has been done pretty well elsewhere. It tries to bring up a moral dilemma of letting these people stay stuck in the time loop or actually breaking the spell and ends up coming off as silly in the wrong way.

There is also the problem of it feeling just too long even though it is only four chapters long. Sections are spent on exposition from various characters on happenings that could be summed up in maybe a panel or two. Even more ridiculous is that the last chapter just seems to start mid-battle with little lead up. It is jarring as heck and feels rushed despite the manga taking its' sweet time up to this point.

The plot usually takes a back seat to the jokes though sadly they just aren't able to handle the driving that well. There are a few good jokes but they are few and far between. This is the man who has wrote the excellent Return and Gorgeous,here he is not bringing the A-game. Most of the jokes are meh and the ones that are funny have been done better in another part of the franchise.

So the plot is passed out drunk in the back and the comedy is too short too reach the pedals. Luckily some one gave the characters the map and by god are they trying to salvage this god forsaken road trip.The advantage to having Kanzaka writing is that he knows how to write these characters. Everyone is playing the parts they need to play and their interpersonal relationships are kept intact. This is the first and I believe only project where all of Lina's companions get to team up. For me this is the first exposure I've had to Luke and Millina from the later novels and it just makes me want to read those novels even more if this is how they interact.

As for the original characters for the manga there are three and they are all terrible. The villain is poor mans version of Rezo the Red Priest from the early novels and the women who serves as his motivation is might as well be the patron saint of purity sues. She gets a rushed back story about being a prostitute who never forgot how to love. The other original character Noa is a moe blob that redefines useless. Kanzaka may have unintentionally created the first moe blob style character with Amelia way back in the 90's but she actually has character,spunk and is genuinely funny. Noa has none of that and angst about everything while declaring her own uselessness. She actually wets her self at one point and I'm just embarrassed for her. Her design actually ties in beautifully to the biggest complaint about this book:the art.

If the comedy is the driver and the characters are navigating then the art is the moron attempting to car surf. However he really can't do that well and they have to keep pulling over to pick up the idiot who doesn't look that great after making out with the asphalt. Everyone just looks ugly and off model in the book. Lina and Gourry get off by looking half way decent till they have a reaction then it's straight back to looking ridiculous. Zelgadis looks like Arashi could decide if he wanted to draw Zelgadis or Blackjack and in the end tried combining them. However this is to say nothing of the female characters and the idiocy of what happened there.

Slayers has always had a bit of fanservice here and there with Naga being the notable example. However she is played as more ridiculous and goofy parody of Ms. Fanservice. Here no one except Lina is below a C-cup and they are on full display. Amelia wears a stupid outfit that is supposed to tie into her family's habit of wearing provocative clothing that gives the artist free rein to draw panty shots galore. Noa has as the book calls them "Cow udders" and where a shirt that apparently doesn't button. It just makes the whole story feel cheaper than it all ready is.

In the end this is a really bad Slayers story that fails at almost every turn and is just shameful. It has it's moments but nothing to fully redeem it. Only read this if you really need a Slayers fix and have read everything else possible in the series.

Till next time:Stay Positive

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Slayers Return

After the success of the first season of Slayers in 1995,we had the not without it's merits Slayers Perfect. A very different beast form the relativity lighter TV adaption that played with tone and atmosphere. A year later and we have the second season known as NEXT and it too had a movie to accompany it:Slayers Return. Like NEXT,Return takes what was a pretty good predecessor and builds a product that blows it out of the water. Everything works,my problems with Perfect are washed away,and it's insanely funny.

Return is almost a pure comedy compared to Perfect and even when things get serious the film is still laughing. It's keeping up Slayers usual schtick of parodying fantasy cliches and anachronisms while taking the piss out of Perfect as well. It takes a one core joke:What if the villains were highly incompetent and runs with it. Admittedly most Slayers villains that aren't major ones use this joke. However here it's taken up to eleven and they really do expand on how bone headed evil can be. Even the super weapon that gets awakened half way through is single minded and stupid. If for nothing else to poke fun at the fantasy genre's high regard for elves as peaceful and wise.

They also have some subtle jabs at hero tropes with only the protagonists being anywhere near competent. The townspeople hold there own against mercenaries,who are slightly competent due to them not being really evil. It takes the main villain doing a face heel turn to make him even close to useful.In the end it even subverts his side switching for a joke. The whole set up leads to quite a few big funny set pieces that I will not spoil but are up there with some of the funniest Slayers moments.

The plot is pretty typical concerning aforementioned super weapon,Naga and Lina's failed attempt to stop it's revival and failing that destroying the beast. It's noting special but most Slayers plots aren't really that ground breaking anyway. The plot is more a backdrop to the comedy and as mentioned above that's where the movie and series in general shine. Perfect took itself a bit more serious and suffered for it with a plot holes. Return keeps the plot simple and benefits greatly for it. I'll admit that it still gives no real explanation for who Naga is and why she's with Lina but even that gets a lampshade hung so it's all good.

This time around editing is much smoother and even gets in on the jokes with some very clever misdirection that leads to a hilarious reveal. The film is shorter and moves at a faster clip which is fine because Perfect did faff about a bit before really getting to the main plot. Gone are random scene ends and replaced with smooth transitions and a much lighter color pallet. It feels more like a Slayers movie,something Perfect didn't quite feel like.

In the end is this movie worth your time:Oh hell yes it is. A vastly improved sequel released alongside a vastly improved second season. Highly recommended for anybody who wants a great comedy. As a side note this is the first of the films to have the author,Hajime Kanzaka, write it. I'd say more on that but that's another review.

Till Next Time:Stay Positive

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Things No One Cares about:Slayers Perfect

A couple of years back I finally watched Slayers at the behest of a friend and I was fine with it for the most part. After that I watched season two and was hooked on the series for life. After the abysmal third season I sat down to watch some of the movies,more specifically Slayers Perfect(released stateside as Slayers the Motion Picture) and I was yet again disappointed. The plot was weird,Naga confused me,and it just didn't feel like Slayers to me. I decided to give it a re watch because I like to re affirm my hatred. However I found that I may have been too harsh on the film.

This was the first of the five Slayers films mostly focusing on Lina's adventures before she meets Goury in the main series. Her companion is the ridiculous Naga the Serpent,Lina's self proclaimed rival. She is a butt monkey that could almost rival Goury and excels at creating golems. I tell you these things because the movie explains nothing about her outside of the rivalry. This is sort of the movie's first real problem:explanation. It just sort of drops you into the story with no real explanation of the characters or who they are. Coming from the TV series all your going to be wondering is where the hell is Lina's regular group and why this weird stripper is following Lina around.

Lina also tends to make some weird leaps in logic near the climax of the movie. Normally she is shown weighing her options and deciding what is best. Here she just decides they have to time travel with no indication of why she thinks that. Nor is there any hint from any other character that that is what they need to do. It sort of goes hand in hand with the choppy editing. Scenes just end abruptly with a black screen and poof next scene. It makes the movie feel disjointed up until the third act where the movie finally gets it together for a bit. The third act throws time travel and Goury's ancestor(?). This tends to be a sticking point for some and for a time I was in that camp. However looking back the whole time travel thing sits fine with me and makes sense. Mind you the method to actually time travel is bizarre but I just chalk it up to more bad editing As for the Goury part I just tend to ignore this since it's never brought up after this movie.

That's what the movie did wrong but what did it do right:everything else. Tone wise it's pretty dark for a Slayers movie but it oddly doesn't feel that out of place. The atmosphere matches this and the movie is fairly dark and scary. Events happen that are just plain eerie,very little background music is played and the color pallet is darker to build up the foreboding. The main villain Joyrock is as terrifying as a Slayers villain can be and has almost won by the time the plot has started. Everything just congeals into this mass of terror that even the comedy can't truly break. Don't get me wrong the comedy is great but it's more there to comfort you. It's wonderful in a weird way.

Looking back this movie was no where near the stinker I once thought it was and has a certain charm to it. It's marred by poor editing and some minor plot holes but it's worth looking past for some great atmosphere and comedy bits. Defiantly not the worst of the Slayers movies but we'll get there soon enough.
Till next time:Stay Positive

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Hamtaro,Ham-Ham Heartbreak

Hamtaro is probably one of my first anime that wasn't Pokemon. I was either scared or disinterested in most of the anime that ran during the Toonami block. So I turned to the adventure of that little orange hamster and his friends. I don't remember much of the show but really that not what I'm here to talk about. I would talk about it more but that would require me to re watch all 296 episodes and ain't nobody got time for that. Instead I'll be looking at it's video game tie-ins. The first one being Hamtaro:Ham Ham Heartbreak.

Technically it is the third game in the series and the second one released outside Japan. The first one being Ham Hams Unite for the Game boy Color which I'll get back to soon enough. Either way it was released in 2003 for the Game boy Advanced and is sort of a hidden gem for a system with a library full of found gems. That was a joke...moving on.

Hamtaro:Ham Ham Heartbreak is an adventure game that focuses less on item collection to solve puzzles and more on using words and actions.Ham Chats, a carry over from Ham Hams Unite, are the words used to solve the various problems of the hamsters.The beginning of the game explains why Hamtaro doesn't have his extensive vocabulary from last time(Spoiler:he's a klutz). All the words let Hamtaro and Bijou interact with the world and achieve their goals. Most of them have a few specific uses outside of the handful Boss teach you in the intro. As a side note Hamtaro does not seem to care if what is happening around him,if he learns a new Ham Chat then by god is he going to pull out his dictionary and write it down. Someone is crying their eyes out,screw them they just taught me how to say cry better record it real quick. I find it kind of funny.

So Ham Chats are puzzle solvers but what kind of puzzles are we solving. It's love,your basically hamster cupid and have to get hamsters to fall into or back into love. You do this by either giving people something or helping people out with a Ham chat word. That's basically the whole game and it's actually pretty fun. All the puzzles are creative if a bit on the simple side(it is a kid's game). It helps that the game is fairly short with six stages ,so the concept doesn't wear out it's welcome. There are three different ending sequences to get for fixing all the loves,beating the final boss and learning all the Ham chats. The game has a few more side things but they are mostly just for fun such as playing dress up or finding gems.

If I have to nit-pick it's that some of the puzzles can be slightly obtuse such as peeing on a fake reflection to make it lose it's cool.Luckily nothing approaching the normal moon logic this kind of game tends to run on. Then there is the fact that you have to sit through a short animation every time you want to pick something up in a room. Also Hamtaro and Bijou make this annoying squeaking sound with every step they take and it can be grating. However this are still nit picks and don't ruin an other wise solid experience.

The story is pretty simple:There is a hamster named Spat who hates love and you have to go around cleaning up his messes with the help of his nemesis,Harmony. This game is shipping Hamtaro with Bijou so she joins up and together you fight for love. Spat has no motivation beyond being a jerk but he does break down as the game goes on moving from simple rumor mongering to theft and finally attempted murder. I have a hard time believing that some characters actually trust a guy who looks like Satan in hamster form. His counterpart Harmony gets the same amount of back story and comes off as a bit loony. One could argue that her and Spat are in an alternate reality game that got way out of hand. Either that or God and Satan just got bored and decided to screw with some hamsters. It's not that complex a story but it works.Hey, it is better than the last game which is go find everybody because Boss said so. Most of the show's cast make appearances and despite not having seen this show in years I was still squealing like a 9 year old girl every time I saw one of them.

The story does explore the different kinds of love and is pretty open minded about love from friendship to romance to sibling love. I think they have a gay couple in one area that you help out but that may just be me being hopeful or them being vague on some hamster's genders. Hamtaro and Bijou play well off each other and their little love scene at the end is adorable.

The graphics and animations have been upgraded from Unite and some Ham chats have a little more complex animations now. The game looks more like the show with everything being bright and colorful and every important hamster being unique. The areas are all your basic settings(mountain,beach,jungle etc.) from a hamster 's perspective which adds a nice touch to things and lends it self to some cool looking areas. The music is nice if nothing special and you can set a dance to most of the BGM if you find the track in the levels.

For the most part licensed games tend to get a bad rap and to be fair quite a few deserve the reputation. This is definitely not one of them and deserves a look for anyone who wants a good time.

Till next time Stay Positive

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Things No One Cares About: Free! Iwatobi Swim Club

A vocally straight friend and I were discussing Kill La Kill and he made mention of the teacher's weird and hilarious fan service scene. He found it gratuitous, I didn't. It reminded me of how he had mentioned Free! And it's own gratuitous male fan service. This is all the motivation I needed to watch Free! Iwatobi Swim Club.

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is known in most circles as the swimming anime and all others as "look at that body". Notable for it's high fan service aimed at females and a guy who is often shipped with water. It should also be noted for having actual interesting characters and a half way decent plot.

The plot follows a group of boys with girly names and their re founding of the high school swimming club after meeting up with their friend turned rival. They train for tournaments,have team building adventures and get characterization on motivations. The Free in the title refers to both Freestyle swimming and the characters desire to be free from the past. Most of the boys has something holding them back from becoming a successful and fulfilling their dreams. It adds a nice layer of depth to an other wise standard sports plot and made each episode worth watching. Every episode the we learn more about the characters and why stick with this whole mess even if they don't have to.

The show moves along at a nice clip while giving the characters time to reflect and let things soak in(pun intended) .It seems like the first competition did come up somewhat fast but once I made it to the end of the show,it came at just the right time. The series is also pretty funny for not being a pure comedy series. Haruka and Rei are the comically serious while Makoto gets to over react. They are also not above poking fun at themselves with jabs at Haruka's love of water and the gratuitous amount of male physique on display.

Our main cast has five boys:First is Haruka Nanase,the boy who loves water. He sort of comes off as just plain weird; sometimes often talking about the water as if it were a person, and seems to only eat mackerel. He is also an amazing swimmer (only freestyle though) and the glue holding the swim team together. He starts of wanting to be ordinary but every encounter with childhood rival Rin has him questioning what he actually wants and how he can get that. Figuring him out can be somewhat difficult just due to him rarely speaking. It's left to pieces of flashbacks and how other characters act around him. He has a dolphin motif that nicely contrasts Rin's shark motif.

His best friend/mother figure is Makoto Tachibana, the new swim team's captain. Makoto is sort of the Wilson to Haruka's House. He's always watching out for him and trying to keep him safe. When he does become captain of the swim club he evolves into the team mom constantly looking out for the boys and putting aside his own fears for the team. He's not as troubled as Haruka outside of a fear of water but is still the emotional center of the team. He has a Killer Whale,a symbol of leadership, as his motif which fits his personality to a tee.

Nagisa Hazuki is the most enthusiastic of the boys and has a hero worship relationship with Haruka. He is all boundless enthusiasm and excitement. He doesn't learn any real lessons outside of teamwork which he's pretty well versed in from the beginning . His bouncy personality is cute and he helps to keep everyone going. His goofy/flighty nature does well to hide his strong love for the team and when things go wrong he is trying his best to set things right. He is also the only person who will tease the boys about their girly names often adding -chan to their names. His animal motif is the penguin and more specifically the Rock hopper penguin as it's the teams mascot drawn by Haruka.

The last member of the new team is Rei Ryugazaki,who shares Haruka's role as the comically serious and is a lover of beauty. He is the last member to join and also gets one of the better jokes in the series which I really don't want to spoil. His obsession with beauty is fairly low key once he joins the team and most of his arc is focused on him becoming part of the team and culminates in a crowing moment of heart warming. He constantly struggles with the fact that he doesn't have the history the others have and he eventually learns what must be done so he can be "free" to join the team.

Rin Matsuoka is the rival and main antagonist of the series. Most of the series for him is spent taunting Haruka and the team. It's all a facade to mask his own crippling failure as a solo swimmer. Like Haruka they are trying to come to terms with their reasons for swimming and by extension living. He channels his rage into beating Haruka and is baffled when he doesn't feel satisfied by beating him. He is a joy to watch struggle through his issues and finally take his life in his hands and move on. I do wish that they would explore more with of his relationship with his family as there is a bit of a goldmine there from guilt over "ruining" his father's dream and his poor relationship with his sister

The supporting cast are nothing special but do provide a good laugh or two. Rin's sister,Kou, is used as a bit of an audience surrogate in regards to the fanserivce going on. Also I swear that Rin's kohai looks like a middle school age Yu Narukami without the panache. All of them are at least memorable but not particularity well developed.

The animation is gorgeous with bright colors and a clean look. The character design does leave a little to be desired as it's pretty much stock bishonen stereotypes. Being bishonen they do look very handsome so that helps. Apparently their bodies are also accurate to what a swimmers build would look like. I personally wouldn't know as I'm no expert on muscles outside of well that looks nice. The ending animation is bizarre and oddly compelling telling a weird little tale about Haruka in the desert looking for water with a random club scene thrown in. I couldn't tear my self away from it and was sort of disappointed the last episode lacked it. The music all around is not bad with the OP and ED being kind of catchy if generic. Also the rest of the OST does answer my question: What if Shoji Meguro tried to compose while massively drunk. The answer:not bad.

So in the end is Free! worth your time if you're not a lover of the male body? I'd say yes. If you can look past that there is a interesting plot with some fun characters. If you are a lover of the male body then hey your getting a pretty good show with some eye candy to boot. Till next time, Stay Positive.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters

A few months back I picked up the Carpe Fulgur collection on sale mostly to play Recettear because last time I checked three games for twenty dollars is better than one game for twenty. I think that is how value works,wouldn't know really. Oddly enough I still haven't touched Recettear instead opting to start with its' predecessor Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters. Then I stopped playing it because darn it the game was hard and the controls were being mean.

Fast forward to the present where I have a wired controller to play it and suddenly the game was...just as hard but hey at least me and the controller are on the same page. As I made my way through this tale of sisters I really started enjoying myself whaping monsters in the face and discovering the hidden chests. Mind you they game never went into greatness territory but it had a small encampment nearby. Anyway on with the review.

Chantelise is an action RPG with less a focus on leveling up(i.e there is none) and more on proper item set up. The melee combat is fun and works well, your sword never failing to cleave a slime in two. Chatelise's hook is in it's very odd magic system. There is no mana pool to draw from instead it's fueled by magic stones dropped from monsters at random. It does get quite annoying but the magic system will rarely leave you in an unwinable scenario in normal battle.Plus it will never do so in a boss fight. In the beginning you can only use two magic stones at a time and it eventually goes up to four at a time. There are different spells for charging up like colored stones and different effects on existing spells with different colored stone combinations. It adds a nice layer of strategy with the magic that is a bit undercut by the randomness factor. Though I hardly used the top tier spells as the were more trouble than they're worth.

The games other major element is treasure hunting. You have the basic random drops to sell to the shopkeeper to help pay her exorbitant prices. Then there are the hidden treasures that can be found in each section of the dungeons. It's actually pretty fun trying to complete all of them for the great items they yield. Sadly the hints you pay for to find the treasures  are vague and mostly unhelpful. Plus to get a hint you have to pay a bit of your maximum Hit Points,so your better of using a guide to help you.The game has a fishing side quest that plays like Mario Golf,a fact the game lampshades. The fishing itself is enjoyable and it's always funny to use Chante herself as the lure.

If I'm going to have any real gripes on the game play side it would be these. First the targeting system is less than helpful. Preferring to lock on to an enemy two rooms back as opposed to the giant crab starring you down. It is possible to switch targets with the camera However it's less than helpful and you are better off just canceling targeting and try again.

Second is what this game laughably calls a difficulty curve that is all over the place. The game starts out just pounding you in to the ground,especially with the first boss and his immunity to a sword in the face. After that the game just keeps beating on you with loads of enemies till about the third dungeon where everything becomes a cake walk. I breezed through the remaining three dungeons with only a slight hiccup on the first phase of the final boss. The final boss' attacks do minimal damage with a low level shield equipped and are so easy to dodge that it's hardly necessary to have a shield on. Overall though the game play is really fun and the game's short length ensures it won't wear out it's welcome.

On the story side of things it all flows well and has nothing really to say about anything. The story scenes are minimal but do well with what little there is to foreshadow some of the weirdness that makes up the plot's later half. The characters themselves of which there are four major players are likable if not particularly well rounded. Elise is a sword maiden and is kind if a bit dimwitted and her big sister Chante is a human turned fairy with a bad temper. Their relationship actually works very well and I could tell that they were sisters without the game having to say so. The other two women are basically the same personality wise but in a mentor like position. Again everything works and the ending does tie most loose ends up. Except for one...I think,it could just me being a ditz. Finally the translated script is very fun and witty. It doesn't rely on cursing and fart jokes instead going for violence being threatened upon character's shins. It works wonderfully and gets in quite a few good jokes.

The art style is reminiscent of one of the RPG maker games and I do mean that in a good way. The sprites are detailed and the backgrounds are pretty. It just lacks any real stand out locations,all being variations on ancient ruins and forests. A special mention to Elise's fishing catching animation in that my god is it cute. Other than that nothing terrible,noting outstanding.

In the end I consider this a good game with no real deal breakers in it. It may be nothing special but it has a heart and a sense of humor. It's the cheapest of the Carpe Fulgur games on Steam and well worth it if your needing an RPG fix. Just make sure use a game pad of some sort to save yourself from the poor keyboard controls.
Till next time Stay Positive.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Things No One Cares About: Requiem in Phony Brian

R.I.P or Requiem in Phony Brian is a one volume shojo manga by "Goth queen" Mitsuzaku Mihara. This is what happens when you let a goth kid try to write Hell Girl and this is their very first writing assignment after suffering a concussion at Hot Topic. It's not very good is what I'm trying to get at. I picked this up a used bookstore based on it's ridiculous sounding back blurb. It sounded so terrible that I just had to read it and now you get to suffer with me.

The plot follows an angel named Transylvania Rose,yes really, who I'll call TR for short taking a suicidal undertaker as a pet after he makes good on the suicide part. What follows is an angst ridden journey about why the undertaker is the way he is. Every other chapter is about getting TR to go back to Heaven or what appears to be heaven. It seems to be only populated by four people total so I can understand why they'd be lonely without her. The undertaker can purify suicides for no apparent reasons. However up till about chapter seven or eight it all basically works as a poor man's Hell Girl without the revenge. However once it goes full into the Undertaker's, Phony Brian, back story do things just get silly. His parents named him that because he was born out of wedlock and his dead girlfriend killed herself by drinking her own I.V fluid. I'd actually like this if it didn't take itself so seriously because this would be a decent black comedy. The book likes to think that it's smarter than it is dropping lines like: Who takes care of the undertaker when he's dead? All in all the plot is a sham that thinks otherwise.

The characters are not much better,all of the angel characters are flatter than my chest and are all unlikable and selfish. Phony Brian and his girlfriend have the chemistry of dead fish and are in an eternal angst off. I will admit that Brian does have at least reasonable reactions about being forced into being TR's pet,though he may be using that as an excuse to just mope some more. TR is again wholly unlikable and never seems to learn anything. I do understand her though when heaven is populated by a clingy valley girl and Mr. tall ,dark and brooding,I'd get out of there as often as possible. So,yeah the characters are a sham too.

Then there is the art which succeeds by being average. It's all very elaborate and flowing without being overwhelming. The character models are distinct enough that I can tell everyone apart and their outfits do look nice. For some reason TR's hair changes for no reason in the finale and it took me a minute to realize it was her. It's all just your bog standard Gothic art work,not great but not horrid either. It's a manga so I can't talk out the soundtrack but I'd imagine it being done by a garage band who goes on about how life is pain because the singer's boy/girlfriend of two days didn't text them good morning.

In the end we have poor characters in a poor plot that is at least drawn well. It barely edges into so bad it's good territory but it still falls short of that. Avoid this little train wreak and go watch Hell Girl since I can't stop bringing it up. Alternatively check out Mihara's other one shots,Slice of Black Chocolate is pretty good. Till next time: Stay Positive

Monday, September 16, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Himeyuka & Rozione's Story

Today I'm looking at some more short stories because apparently I can't be asked to read anything longer than twenty pages. This collection is known as Himeyuka & Rozione's story(H&R) and consist of four stories that are either boring or just confusing. Well that's about it for me so till next time stay positive.

Oh,you are still here. Well I can talk about this book if you want,it's fairly poor. The entire afterword of it is just the author apologizing for the book. I guess since you insist I'll go ahead and talk about it.
The art is nice enough with some average character design and some decent costume designs especially for the witch in the third story. It has the same problem as Glass Wings in that it sacrifices style over good story telling. So enough of trying to make the art feel good about itself,let's talk about the stories cause they are bad and should feel bad.

The first is the titular story as is usually the case with these collections. It involves a girl who looks like Loki circa Persona 4 and an inconsiderate young child that is supposed to be her childhood personified. To be fair this one actually works for the most part with the twist being cleverly revealed. Its still a typical don't grow up too fast story. This one manages to be at least memorable which is more than I can say for the next two stories.

I'm going to just combine the next two into one paragraph cause my grievances with them are basically the same and I'll be done faster. The stories are The Princess of Kikouya in District 1 and My Very Own Shalala. These are just forgettable,seriously. I read them then twenty minutes later could not remember a single thing outside of the title. Both are utterly generic love stories with nothing interesting about them. They do have some nice costume design for our leads but I still had to work hard to remember even that. The Princess story is abut a yakuza girl who hides that side of her for the boy she loves and you can guess the rest. Shalala is about a witch who needs a boy's tears and ends up in love with the boy she targets. It's not even a bad love story but there are miles of better romance manga out there . This is what happens when enough issues of Shojo Beat form together:bland garbage. Moving on.

The last story is ROBOT and no that is not an acronym,the Manga-ka just forgot to turn of caps lock for a minute. I'm probably going to reveal my ignorance here but I honestly didn't understand this story. It's after the Apocalypse and people keep getting there minds re uploaded to new bodies..I think. There are also robots(shocking I know) that the government views as a threat but don't seem to do anything about it. The main robot boy just mopes around for most of the time then randomly kicks people's asses. Then the plot starts going bananas and I stopped trying to understand it. It's like the the author got hammered and watched Ghost in the Shell and decided that being logical was for the weak. Like H&R,it manages to be at least memorable even if it's wants to just be confusing.

You are still here,you really are a persistent one aren't you. What more can I say it's a generic book with pedestrian characters(seriously not one character drives a car in this book) and pretty art. There is nothing to it and I'll probably forget about it completely come this time next week You satisfied invisible reader whom I'll never see? Good,till Next time Stay Positive.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thing No One Cares About:Ace Attorney Investigations

Phoenix is all set to come back this year in Ace Attorney:Duel Destinies which is great because the whole Hobo Phoenix affair was kind of weird. Speaking of Hobo Phoenix,there was a multi-year gap between Trials and Tribulation(T&T) and being a genius hobo. What was Phoenix doing that time...heck if I know. However thanks to Investigations we know a little bit about what Edgeworth was doing so let's talk about that.

Investigations is a sub series fro the Ace Attorney series featuring Miles Edgeworth and the more likable members of the Prosecutor’s office plus with new characters thrown in. The cases all revolve around a smuggling ring and a murder case know as KG-8. The game manages to shake up the stranded Phoenix formula with some heavier adventure game elements and different character dynamics. So lets talk about some Edgeworth goodness.

When I said a “little bit” in the intro up there I really meant little,the whole game takes places over the course of a few days(barring a flashback case), a month after T&T. The story is a solid and tight with some nice twists along the way. The cases are all pretty standard for an Ace Attorney game which is fine as they all are still pretty creative. However as a solid as the story is,it still feels a little like high class fan fiction. One would think the smuggling ring would have been able to stop Edgeworth before he nabs their leader. Also the last case drags on longer than need be,filled with so many big damn hero moments that it gets tiresome. Still satisfying when you do take down the ringleader due to his awesome freakout. it also takes too long to get to said case with everything else just feels like biding time.

All the characters are really great from returning characters like Gumshoe to new ones like Agent Lang He works as a great rival to Edgeworth with some decent development that elevates him from jerk to a great guy. Shame he's only in two cases with a cameo in a third. The other major new ally is Kay Faraday,who is not Maya. She's a thief not a medium and has a dead dad instead of a disappeared mum. Joking aside I actually do like her even if her and Edgeworth relationship is akin to Phoenix/Maya with less romantic overtones. Gumshoe gets special mention as his own brand of weirdness plays well with Edgeworth's seriousness. Edgeworth is what holds this game together with a much cooler head than Phoenix and takes the stick in the mud tendency up to eleven. He is fun to play as and it's always funny to see him defend his screw ups as something he meant to do.There are also quite a few cameos from minor characters such as Lotta Hart and Winston Payne and call backs to previous cases in the main series.

Game play remains mostly unchanged from the previous games with a couple of new twists. Little Thief which is a weird little mechanic that let's you recreate crime scenes,mostly used to extend investigation segments.While Logic is sort of like combing items in an adventure game but instead of items it's lines of thought. It usually revealing a new idea or updating some evidence. You rarely have that many to connect and brings up a minor problem with the game,it's difficulty or lack their of. It's a very easy game with every contradictions being glaringly obvious. It's like your case 1-1 of the original game extended to hell and back. Mind you the games have never been that hard but they at least tried to challenge you. There are a couple of hard sections but more due to moon logic and misinformation than actual difficulty. That's all I can say,so let's move on to something else.

The art here is on par with Apollo Justice having come out after that game with addition of actual character models as opposed to just portraits and it is really weird at first. The models do look nice and add a nice touch. The music is probably some of the strongest in a series with already stellar soundtracks. Lying Coldly is one of the best tracks and up their Cornered in terms of songs to get you pumped up.

So is Investigations worth of your time:Yes. Though if you are new to the franchise then you'll probably be lost with all the cameo's and references but be able to follow the main story just fine.
It's a great game either way and well worth seeking out for any fan of the franchise. Also if you buy it maybe it'll help get the second game localized and maybe I'll lactate live birds.

Till next time:Stay Positive

Friday, August 16, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Alone In My Kings Harem

Long ago in the ancient past of April 2013,we visited Glass Wings. A short story collection playing with the ideas of love between men and women or in the last one's case just women. I tell you that to hopefully form a decent segue into today's book which is also a collection of short stories. However this time it is all about love between men and men who look like ladies with very little fighting to be had. The book was brought overseas by DMP who have quite a few books of this nature such as Almost Crying. Alone in My King's Harem is written by Lily Hoshino who would go on to draw the art for Mawaru Penguin Drum. Does this have any bearing on the book,not really, but hey at least were in for some nice art.

Similar to Glass Wings I'll get my art griping out of the way first then talk about the stories. The art is excellent plain and simple. Panels flow well,backgrounds are lovely and the guys are pretty,almost too pretty. Yes this is were the art does fall short,the uke characters simply look to girly for their own good. If they had not slapped the yaoi label on this I would have told you this was a book with four stories about straight people with a random yaoi story at the end. Would the stories be any weaker if they were not all boys,no. However the manga-ka set out to draw cute boys and failed half the time. Either way the art is still fantastic and gives the stories a dream like feel.

The first story is the title story about a king and his concubine and that's really it. The boy sticks with this man through his highs and lows and is rewarded with the King's love. It's pretty simple and offers nothing outside of good feeling and some cute guys action. The king is tall and handsome and looks a little like Holland Novak, while the concubine is pretty,too feminine and a little weird. I could question if this boy stays with him because he truly loves him or because he has no where else to go. The story is mostly fluff,enjoyable fluff,but fluff none the less.

The second story,Night Circus,is the highlight of the book and is very creative. It's told in the style of 4-koma comics and follows a young trapeze artist through his dreams. The visuals are weird and fanciful and requires a second read once you wrap your head around what is going on. Without spoiling much it is a different look at the eyes of someone who is into bestiality. It's an enjoyable mind screw that sort of erases the previous story from your mind. I won't say much else as it is very short but worth it. Moving on to next one.

The Seabed of Night has the same very fanciful qualities of Night Circus,while revisiting the king/servant dynamic from the title story. It involves a brothel that grants impossible wishes ran by Rosine. The prince inspects the place with his loyal servant and said servant makes a deal with the owner to spend the night with the prince. The realize they love each other and ride off home. It's not bad with the idea of love from afar being akin to looking up from the bottom of the sea. The very dreamy art helps add to the places other worldness. It is probably the most explicit story after the last tale but even then not much is shown. Again a little more too it than Alone in My King's Harem(AMKH) but still pretty fluffy.

Up fourth is Adventures of a Canary returning to the more realistic style of AMKH. It follows a good looking guy and a guy working at a lounge,then he escapes and they run off. Like the concubine there is a question of is this really love or does he have no where else to turn to. Not much else to say about the story,it offers one twist that makes sense if you think about it and it is heartwarming. That's it,the art is still good and works. The last story is where this book goes weird.

The last story is two chapters:Mature Flesh and Moist Flesh. The previous tales have all had a more fantasy slant to them and can be taken as heart warming love stories. This one instead is a generic high school boy story that is really nothing more than hentai. It's not bad if that's what you want but it is just so different than the other stories. This is very jarring when up till now there has been implied sex and this one is almost two straight(pardon the pun) chapters of hot guys boning. Did I like it...yes but that does not make it any less out of place here.

In the end is this collection worth it,maybe. The art is lovely but the fact that some of the boys look too girly may kill it for some yaoi fangirls or help the non-yaoi crowd. Other than that there isn't much to it. Oh,Night Circus is excellent and well worth the two minutes it takes to read. Everything else is enjoyable fluffy romance(or hentai) and that is fine. Those looking for something more substantial would be better off with something like Heart of Thomas.

Till next time Stay Positive

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Things No One Cares About :Mii Plaza Games

A few weeks back the Streetpass Plaza for the 3DS was updated to be bigger and better. To be fair it is really cool looking but that's not what I'm here to talk about . No along with this update came four new games that utilize the street pass feature. They all work the same way as Find Mii 1 and 2,in that you collect allies by actually going outside or just have two 3DS consoles and pass each other. Outside of that each game does offer something different and we'll look at them in some semblance of an order. Since I haven't completed them this is based on my experiences so far

We will start strong with Mii Force,a side scrolling shooter. The story is pretty simple,some pirates are screwing with planets you get down there and stop them. Your street passes are your gunners and losing them leaves you defenseless. Each Mii color grants a different weapon and you can power up other guns with Miis at the expense of losing that Mii's weapon..It adds a layer of strategy that helps the game. The game plays out like Gradius lite and most levels can be a breeze. The added challenge of high scores and no hit runs does add some replay value. Though you can only use that spot pass team once and have to hire new gunners or find some more. It also has an excellent sense of humor with some great banter between the pirate leader and his lackey. I find this one to be the strongest of the bunch. Which leads me to the weakest one: Flower Town.

Flower Town is boring plain and simple. Your really growing flowers and arranging them nicely,that's it. The street passes you have water your plants for you and then you just sort of mess around with aesthetic items. The process for getting new flowers is easy to manipulate but left ultimately left to luck. The game also doesn't quite know when to keep it's mouth shut. Everything is explained in crazy detail and basic concepts are repeated every time you play the game. That being said there is quite a bit to do within the game. It has less of a daily feel to it like the other games,and if your into this kind of thing then you may lose yourself in it. As for me this is the low point of the set.

Next up is Warrior's Way,a conquer the world game. You build an army via street pass and take over this island of nations via rock,paper,scissors. Those who have the game great you as Monarchs from afar and you can fight them to gain control of their army. Those who don't just join your army with however many people they have in their plaza. In the game proper you divide your troops and have them fight. Each unit has a strength and weakness as shown by rock,paper,scissors. Though the disadvantage goes out the window if you have superior numbers. That strategy seems to be the most solid and there is no disadvantage to waiting a day or two to get the forces you need. Ironically it is the game that requires the least strategic planing despite being the only pure strategy game of the group. It's also silly that you can only conquer one country a day with no hand wave to say why. The game is not too bad but lacks the charm of Mii Force.

The last game is Monster Manor,where you clear floors by playing Tetris. Here your street passes give you floor tiles and you arrange them to find treasures and clear floors. There are some minor RPG elements with weapons having stats,affinities and being upgradable. Most battles boil down to being able to shoot faster than your enemy. This is where street pass can really screw you over as you can only make rooms with same colored pieces. If your sporting a rainbow of Miis then your passes could be wasted till next time. It's a fine game and it does try for some depth which is admirable.

So are these games worth your time or should you just stick with Find Mii? I'd say yeah,if you use street pass often enough then they are worth your time.They all have enough going for them to give them some meat.If you had to buy just one then definitely go with Mii Force. They are all about five bucks on there own and fifteen for the whole's not a bad deal. I'll see you soon for Berserk 3:Descent.
Till Next Time:Stay Positive

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Tales from Earthsea

So I've been away for a while for reasons that would bore you so I won't go on but I'm back and that's all that matters(to me anyway).

I recently had a chance to sit down with a friend and watch Tales from Earthsea. I knew that the author and the fans of the books were displeased with it but figured people can be really nitpicky with adaptions. I mean I love P4 and yet that's all I did during it's TV adaption. However in this case I'm inclined to agree with them as this movie is atrocious. The pacing is plodding,the plot is a mess,and the animation feels phoned in.

The film is directed by Goro Miyazaki as opposed to his father,Hayao and this is the only movie he would direct till 2011's From Up On Poppy Hill which I have not seen. Based on a series of fantasy novel by Ursula L. Guin. Specifically the Wizard of Earthsea cycle which features Ged. That's all I'll say about the books as I really haven't read them. Let's get to talking about this movie then.

The movie opens with a scene off a Dio album cover with two dragons fighting then cuts to a long scene about politics that ends with the king stabbed by one of the main characters,Arren. Both scenes are not brought up again. After that it finally decided to pick a damn scene and cuts to Arren getting saved by Ged. All of this happens in a rather short span and I had no idea what was going on. After a while I really wished we went back to jumping around scene as being confused would have been better that being bored. Events happen that have no meaning,the action has no stakes,and the film just wanders. It's like the middle of Eva 3.33 except uninteresting and twice as long. There is a lack of purpose and as a result nothing happens. It spends time on a crappy romance subplot between Arren and this girl who lives with Ged's friend. The have the chemistry of a pair of redwoods and they just sort of fall for each other after she sings a terrible song. This whole thing culminates in a ending scene where she turns into a dragon. By the time this happened I just wanted the movie to be over and never questioned it.

The actual plot is even more boring and concerns a evil wizard who wants to live for ever and magic being dead. Everything is poorly explained and glossed over. There is something about Arren fighting his shadow that just seems to be thrown in and takes up more of the movies long run time. The film runs for about two hours but felt like almost four due to the horrendously slow pace. So the story is like your father on Wednesday afternoons: rambling,stupid,and awful at his job. If the story is the father then the characters learned being terrible from watching it.

All the characters are flat as the disc that the movie is on and also just as uninteresting. The villain has a poor immortality obsession,Ged's character is non-existent and most everyone else is bland. Arren whom I guess is supposed to be out main character has an arc that is schizophrenic. First dealing with the aforementioned shadow malarkey and then he has an obsession with living forever. It would help if I had any idea of these character's motivations and sense of them as people. However I don't so I don't. My friend and I decided early on that most likeable character was Arren's horse and rooted for him the whole time. We dubbed him Donkey punch and hoped he would save the day. Just saying when the horse is the best character,you are doing something wrong

To the movie's credit,there are are two good scenes that are frankly wasted on this movie and both involving Ged. One where he gives a wondrous speech about valuing life and why immortality is foolish. Had this film been in a better films it would have skyrocketed to greatness. However it's in this movie so it just fizzles out. Th second is a funny moment where Ged trolls the guards looking for him with magic that is hilarious. Again if this would have made a good move shine but nope wasted on this tripe.

I mentioned that the animation seemed phoned in and while I do stick by that, it does not mean it looks bad. It actually looks really good and flows really well. That being said it really has nothing special about it. They seemed to take the visual style from Howl's Moving Castle instead of giving it it's own look. Nothing really amazing but perfectly serviceable. There is a randomly violent scene that just comes straight out of no where near the end. It's really jarring as the film was pretty tame up to then.

So as we reach the end,what have we learned:probably nothing of value. However if we are talking about pointless things then it would be that this movie is bad and it should feel bad. Go watch a good Ghibl film or heck read the books,anything to avoid this garbage. I only hope that the director learned form his mistakes and did better with From Up On Poppy Hill.

Until next time Stay Positive

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Case by Case:The First Turnabout

Sorry for the delay I've been sick the last few days and not been in a writing mood.

This is the first episode(?) of Case by Case where I faff about and talk about every case of original Phoenix Wright trilogy. Why not include Investigations or Apollo Justice? Mainly because I haven't played the former and don't really want to do the later right now(and I lost my copy). If you want explanations of what Phoenix Wright is and game play malarkey that's what Wikipedia is for. Here I'm talking about plot,and how the cases compare and to somewhat determine the best case.

As this is the first episode it makes sense we start with the First Turnabout. It's our first time seeing our lead and like us he's greener than grass when it comes to being a lawyer. You get a good feel for Phoenix in this case as the man who believes in his clients. There is also the lovable loser Larry Butz who pops in and out of this series usually to unintentionally ruin Phoenix's day. He shows what the series is really good at which is characterizing even minor characters. Even when we only get a few lines of dialogue you can instantly know what kind of person they are.

The plot is really nothing special in this one but it does set the template of your client looks suspicious but they didn't do it. It's the formula that holds this franchise together and gets deconstructed wonderfully in Justice for All. Sadly the writing for this case is just not as sharp as others though it does get the awesome line: Mr.Sahwit,more like Mr.Didit. On the other hand there is the cringe inducing Harry butt joke from Mia who is in no way that naïve to not realize what she's say.Also introduced is the series' love for puns and half the fun is figuring out the weirder puns like Dustin Prince.

Along with the simplistic plot is always some pretty simplistic testimony that falls apart like wet toilet paper. On one hand it's ok as this again is the first case but it's jarring as the case right after it was difficult for me my first time after breezing through this case. The prosecutor,Payne,also puts up little fight as you take down his witness. It doesn't even make you establish motive which every other case does even the tutorial cases(where Payne is the prosecutor)from games two and three.

As a side note Mia's facial expressions are hilarious in a way not seen with her later appearances. I don't know if it's early installment weirdness or it was intentional but dang are they funny.

I feel like I'm beating up on this one just for doing it's job and it's really not a bad case just lackluster compared to other cases. Till next time Stay positive

The First Turnabout : 3 out of  5

Friday, June 28, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Jojo's Bizarre Adventure 2012

Jojo once held the distinction of being one of the longest running manga to not have a TV adaption,only having a thirteen episode travesty of an OVA series Last year changed that and we received the first part of this ambitious project to adapt the the whole series. This part cover the first two arcs of the series Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. I'll talk a little more plot on BT as I already discussed PB a few weeks ago. Without further ado:Jojo's Bizarre Adventure...2012.

The first half is again Phantom Blood and covers episodes 1-9. The story is a straight adaption which hinders it on the character side as Johnathan Jostar is still not that interesting but makes up for it by basically having everyone ham it up. No one has an indoor voice and everyone just devours scenery. It's a sight to behold and makes the whole show enjoyable. Special mention goes to Takehito Koyasu as Dio who manages to steal every scene he is in and is a terrifying presence even when he's only a head. Along with Smoky in BT they have made Wang Chun a little less of a stereotype though it's still a little jarring. Overall this section works and we also get to see Dio taken out to Yes' Owner of a Lonely Heart which is cool. Also be on the watch for episode three which is possibility the most manly thing to be put on TV. I might be pregnant now from the sheer testosterone pumping through the final scenes. A minor compliant is that if your not familiar with the original arc it will feel a little rushed but it's a pretty short arc anyway so it's not too bad.

The remaining episodes(10-26) cover the slightly longer Battle Tendency and we our introduced to the amazing Joesph Jostar The arc covers his battles with the beings that made the stone mask form PB. To me this is one of the best Shonen manga arcs I've ever read. It takes the concepts from PB and takes them to their logical extremes while exploring the source of Dio's power and having Jojo fight that. It has only about four or five major fights but each one is grandiose in it's own right. Overall like part one it's just having fun. Joesph is a fun character he's constantly thinking about how to outwit his opponents. He's the only man that can make running away look heroic He is also a world class bluffer,talking his enemies into giving him a month to train because he might be able to beat them. Tomokazu Sugita is obviously enjoying the role and fits Joesph to a T, pulling of the goofy engrish catch phrases with panache. The main trio of Joesph,Caesar and Lisa Lisa are all well rounded enough and I think we get a little more back story on our antagonists the Pillar Men here than in the manga. The only character I really don't care for is Suzie Q due to her and Joesph's romance coming out of nowhere. If I have any complainants about this part specifically is that near the end R.E.O Speedwagon's shtick of yelling exposition gets grating and the last few episodes seem to meander around waiting to get to the final one for the big epic battle.Overall it is a load of fun to watch and Joesph Jostar is a sexy charismatic stallion who,who dammit I forgot what I was saying. He's great is what I'm saying,(stupid sexy Joseph).

The storys in this world of ham work perfectly but the art catapults the series to greatness The authors signature sound effects are strewn through out the scenes and like everything else the art just oozes style. It's so over the top that the very act of walking around is made fun. The colors are very bright and the outfits are glam as hell with Caesar's outfit not looking out of place at a 80's club.

Unlike those abysmal 90's/00's OVAs this is how you adapt Jojo: with style and fun. I honestly can't wait to see the next season for Stardust Crusaders maybe I'll actually enjoy the arc this time. If you're looking for a good fighting show and haven't watched this then go ahead and do so, you won't regret it.

As Always Stay Positive.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Jojo,Schedules and a Hiatius

I've always written reviews for fun.A side project to pass the time and help me form my opinions Then these JoJo OVA's came along and I honestly could not sit through them. They are bad,they just are. I'm not giving them a full review because I can't finish them.Instead I'll use this post to sum up my thoughts on the ones I did watch and Startdust Crusaders as a whole.

I'll admit I really don't care for Startdust Crusaders for a few reasons.First is the pacing,there are too many fights and we're never given time to be breathe before hoping in to the next one.Despite that the arc still feels too long(clocking in at 17 volumes) and padded. Second Jotaro is just not that interesting a lead especially when you have his grandpa,Joseph,right there.Jotaro lacks the fun of Joesph which is ok I don't want another Joesph but give him something to make him likable.Outside of kicking Dio's ass because he pissed him off. Third outside of the two Jostars,I never got attached to the main group so when some of them die I didn't feel a thing. I about lost it when I though Dio killed Joesph but everyone else was a meh.

There are some good things,most of the fights are very well done the highlights being Joesph's fights with the Empress and Mariah Carey and while I don't care about the main group I did enjoy their dynamic Which these OVA's stripped the group of along with Joesph's sense of humor. These episodes take themselves too damn seriously and lack what makes the series great style and humor. The manga had him cracking jokes and fighting with his usual flair to probably cope with the dread he feels that his daughter might die. The OVA's have him almost as sullen as Jotaro,which defeats the point of him being here.Also for some reason Enya,the old witch can change into a young woman,no explanation given and the first time you see here she's in the young woman form.So honestly if I finished theses OVA's,you wouldn't see me for a while as I would be crying into my girlfriends shoulder for three weeks just to ease the hurt.

Enough about me whining lets talk about every ones's favorite thing:schedules. I'll still be doing the 2012 Jojo anime this week so no back out on that.After that Things no One Cares about will be taking a semi-hiatus for a few months.I'll still do them and Mistress Fortune may be on schedule.This is because I want to start a short project I may actually finish and that is a case by case review of the Phoenix Wright games.

This is going to be a look at every cases of the original 3 games,picking apart the plot,the characters and various other things.It's like a mini version of Arcwords except not called that. I am not going to cover Apollo Justice or Investigations(for now). These will start next week and since they are pretty short I'll be putting two out a week on Monday and Friday. I may slip in a regular review on occasion but no promises.
Also so people know I'm saving Case 1-5 Rise from the Ashes  for the week I cover case 3-5 Bridge to the Turnabout  to give the week an epic feel.See you Wednesday for decidedly less whining and next week for some Legal goodness.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Things No one Cares about:Futari To Futrari

Ok,I'll straight up say it:I have been a bad girl.I have not watched anymore of the Jojo OVA's and therefore can't speak on them yet. My only excuse is that I finally got together with a friend of mine and our relationship is taking up most of my time.That's not me complaining,I am pretty happy about this.This in tandem with my upcoming weekend trip has sort of screwed up my reviewing schedule. To avoid even more schedule slip,next week I'll be shooting to put out the OVA review by Tuesday and have the new anime project review by the following day.

To sort of make it up to you and in the spirit of love here is a re post from my short time reviewing on My Anime list.It's like watching old Cinema Snob episodes except with less anger and decidedly less talent.

Futari to Futari or Two and Two is a Shojo-Ai story about two couples and their very odd relationship.
The story is ok; it’s interesting enough to see the younger girls struggle with their feeling for each other and their older lovers. It moves at a nice clip but it’s really nothing profound. Luckily enough while the story is focused heavily on sex, there is never a feeling of shoehorning in the sex. It flows naturally and is usually pretty tame when it is. The drama is played well and never becomes overly angsty. Despite the odd nature of the four girls relationship, it is never really demonized and just shown in a way that the reader can make their own judgment.

The art is nothing spectacular, a typical art style for Shojo-ai. The characters are distant enough to not be confusing and backgrounds are nice. Also no nipples are on full blast here and the sex scenes are PG-13 at best. There are scenes of the girls teasing their lover and the aftermath but the actual act is rarely shown. My only problem is the water on the skin bugs me somehow; I can’t put my finger on it.

Finally the characters, there are only four of them and they’re semi-developed. Sayako and Ayumi are both in middle school and take a dominant and submissive role with their respective lovers, Keiko and Asumi. But this switches when they start sleeping with each other though Sayako still has some dominant tendencies. This being a shorter series no one gets particularly developed that much. Ayumi is scatter brained and Sayako is serious while their girlfriends are the opposite of them. We get a little back story on Asumi and Keiko near the end that sheds some light on their own relationship. So while not terrible character development, it could have used some more.

In the end is this manga worth your time?If girl/girl or abnormal relationships disgust you then kindly skip this and go read something else. However if you like girl/girl then I'd say yes because it’s a short read and it is enjoyable. Be warned it will leave you wanting more.

Well that was fun,probably should not do this again but hey you read my reasons up above so stick with me and let's end Jojo month with a bang.

If for some reason your interested in my other MAL reviews or want to see things I've watched then here is a link to my profile: 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Spyro 2:Ripto's Rage

I never did really get that something could actually be painful to watch but well the Jojo OVAs have made me believe in the concept. So due to it's awfulness and healthy doses of real life I'll need and extra week to slog though that show. Also to keep with the schedule,I'm going to skip the Jojo game and just do the OVAs and 2012 anime.

This week we'll look at something I did actually make it through, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage. Also known as Gateway to Glimmer if your European and snooty. Developed by Insomniac in the far flung past of 1999 for the Playstation as a sequel to the decent Spyro the Dragon. It has more of a sense of direction than the first game and delivers a much tighter game. Adding more characters with a little more personality. So enough stealing from wikipedia,let's dive right in.

The story and characters are nothing really to write home about. It has the stranded plot for a collect them all platformer. There is an evil jerk who wants to rule the land and you as the hero must stop him by collecting weird doodads. Spyro is your dude with a 'tude hero and does get a few funny lines here and there. The other four main NPCs are ok with Hunter being probably the biggest jerk in history rivaled only by Moneybags the bear. The villain Ripto and his little entourage are nothing special either. Though he is well liked enough to come back in the abysmal Enter the Dragonfly and a few of the GBA Spyros. It's not all bad,the little mini plots within each level are funny and are fun to go through.

Speaking of levels,the designs is really good for them each level being linear enough that you won't get lost but open enough that it rewards a little exploration. Each level follows the template of talk to guy with punny name,do some simple task with increasing difficulty(usually with either ramming or flaming something) then talk to first guy's pal for a doodad. It's a solid formula that starts to drag around the second hub world(Autumn Plains). It doesn't help that Autumn Plains is a long world with a bulk of the levels and they begin to run out of decent ideas halfway. I think they were saving the better levels for the last hub because it contains two of the best levels in the game,Robotica Farms and Metropolis. Sadly,the other two levels in that hub are meh.

As for the game play,it's your typical 3-D platformer affair,you jump around ,kill foes and collect trinkets. They throw in some gliding sections and a few shooter sections that play like an unofficial sequel to Panzer Dragoon. You spend the first two worlds collecting Talisman's and maybe some optional orbs then have to go back and collect some more orbs to fight the final boss. The difficulty tends to be all over the map. The main missions themselves are piss easy and so are some of the orb challenges. However some of those challenges go straight into frustrating,if you can hear the phrase "Trouble with the Trolly,eh" and not fall into rage fits then your either much better at this game than I am or have never played it. It makes 100% this game a right pain in the rear.

The graphics have aged well and look good for a PS1 game, most of the models are smooth and the worlds look cool. The character designs are nice and it is much lighter than it's predecessor . That's all I have to say about the look.

Playing through it again, I was still having fun but I do recognize this for what it is, a really fun kids game. So if your wanting to relive some nostalgia or give your kid something to do to keep them from pillaging the neighborhood then go ahead and find/dust off this one Just be prepared for them to learn some new curse words.
Till next time,Stay Positive.