Watched the first episode of Eden of the East. I can’t really comment on what this anime is about, because quite frankly, I don’t have the slightest clue yet. But with top notch production values from the folks at Production I.G, likable leads and intriguing story, it won’t take me long to find out!
Starts off with Saki on a post college graduation trip, visiting Washington D.C., which in her mind, is the center of the world. At the front gate of the White House, she tries to chuck coins into fountains a good 100 yards away. A couple of nearby police officers become suspicious of her actions, and are about to question her until a fateful meeting with our male lead, Akira, in all his naked glory, sets the episode in motion.
Why he’s completely naked, or why he’s holding a cell phone and gun, I assume we won’t find out until later in the series. But we find out that he was seemingly on a mission to kill someone (Saki, perhaps?), until his memory suddenly leaves him. The episode focuses on Saki trying to track down Akira after accidentally leaving her passport and wallet in the jacket she lent him, and Akira trying to gather bits and pieces of who he is.
The first episode is as vague as it gets, but it hints at some serious subject matter, with seeds of politics, terrorism, espionage and ‘Akira being Saki’s prince’ being planted throughout. But its contrasted with jovial, and at times humorous, interactions between the two leads. Their amicable nature and strong chemistry will definitely benefit the show as it unravels a mysterious plot. Oh, and since the episode takes place in D.C., there’s a fair amount of english (decent for the most part) spoken.
Animation wise, it’s gorgeous, stylistic and current. The OP and ED are also very decent. You should probably look else where if you’re looking for action. But if you like your anime that have a nice current feel, some serious elements, and characters that develop faster than the story, this one’s for you. With only 11 episodes, though, and a film immediately following the series, I expect it to pick up a bit faster.
The year is 2018. The world is a post apocalyptic mess - an ongoing result of the global war between humanity and machines. The Resistance versus Skynet, to be precise. The reason? Fourteen years prior, Skynet deemed humans to be a threat to its own existence and extirpated much of humanity in an event known as Judgment Day. But therein lies the problem, you see. The question of why machines are so hellbent to wipe out humankind is never answered. At least not in this film. It was, however, answered during a few visits to the Wikipedia pages of Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Even newer questions about franchise’s line between man and machine are raised in Terminator Salvation. Instead of answers, though, we are treated to action. Lots of it. That is fine, of course, if you are a person that dives into a film to see the protagonist shoot first and ask questions later. But those looking for the heart and driving elements that separates ANY film from being good or bad - the story and the characters in it - lose out.
The narrative follows two characters: John Connor and Marcus Wright. Connor, played by Christian Bale, is a grizzled and hardened soldier destined to be humanity’s leader. He is the most important, and almost religious, figure in this Terminator universe. A saviour that provides hope. Despite the weight of the entire world on his shoulders, “JC” is hardly layered, or interesting. The young Star (Jadagrace) was more enjoyable - and she was mute. While everyone will be quick to jump on the actor, the script, calling for Connor to be cold, and often emotionless, deserves some of the blame. But even Bale suffers through uncharacteristic bouts of overacting. And oy vey, that voice. Christian Bale is arguably one of the most talented actors today, so it’s hard to understand why he couldn’t give John Connor his own unique characterisitcs instead of resorting to the now creepy joke of a voice. Still, Bale isn’t bad nor great. And despite his character’s status in the film, he isn’t the most pivotal.
Marcus Wright, played by Sam Worthington, is a character that mysteriously wakes up in 2018 after being executed in 2003. He is headstrong, fearless and confused. Looking for answers in a an unfamiliar world, he displays heroic tendencies. Soon we discover that he is in fact a cyborg with human organs, mechanical endoskeleton, circuitry, and a partially artificial cerebral cortex. The real discovery is how much more complex and human he his compared to John Connor, making him the most fascinating character in the film. But because of rapid transitions into action, he never meets his ultimate potential as a cyborg that suffers through the internal conflict of believing they’re human. Even so, Terminator Salvation becomes more about Wright than Connor, and the film was stronger following his story.
For example, the film is at its most immersive when Marcus, Star, and Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) share the screen. Yelchin himself, has become a bit of a revelation lately, and his portrayal of the street smart, intense, and protective Reese stood out as the second best performance of the film. Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Jane Alexander, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Ironside, Common (who seemed to rap through his lines), and a special cameo from a political figure, all played a part, but didn’t have the screen time to matter. In the end, all character growth is stunted because the film called for more destruction than development.
That isn’t to say the action was poor. On the contrary. The action scenes, along with the CGI, were every bit extravagant, and frankly, the best this year. Anything you could ever ask for in a multi-million blockbuster is present: multiple vehicle chase scenes, grand explosions, cyborg to cyborg combat, etc. The many different machine models Skynet had to offer were a sight to behold. Truly pushing the boundary of sci-fi technology. McG’s vision of the future perfectly resembles a world annihilated by war: desolate, desperate, barren, and bleak. Painted with strokes of sepia and gray tones.
Terminator Salvation’s action/CGI, while its strong points, is also its own worst enemy. It’s far too abundant. After sitting through car scenes, truck scenes, motorcycle scenes, helicopter scenes, jet scenes, fight scenes, and more fight scenes, we’ve spent too much time exhaling instead of thinking. What is this film really about? A big war with both sides trying to infiltrate each other. That’s it? If it’s about something meaningful, I must have missed it amongst the flying robot limbs.
In a way, Terminator Salvation is the anti-thesis of Star Trek. Here we have two films rebooting their franchise. Being able to satisfy the oldcore legions is obviously a priority. But being able to garner fans in this new generation is equally important (especially with plans for a trilogy). Star Trek was able to make their story accessible to newbies and has become an unmitigated success because of it. Terminator Salvation made no such effort, and in the process, was able to make their story even more convoluted. Expecting our generation to know important pieces of information from 1985 (T1) and 1991 (T2) to be able to follow this film’s story is idiotically selfish.
Rock it, Girls!
Despite its lack of content, K-ON! is the series I’ve been waiting eagerly each week for. It’s the anime equivalent of a Coldstone Sundae. All of the characters are charming. There is no real conflict. The art is pleasant. The OP and ED are BRILLIANT. Every episode will put you in a good mood, and leave you wanting more. Sure, the girls are over-cute and Mio is a shut-in fanboy fantasy, but the ensemble interactions make these faults easy to overlook. Download K-ON! because everyone is/will be talking about it. Watch it because it’s fun.
The screaming fans of the semi-serious Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi are upset by Kyoto Animation choosing to offer another moeblob this spring season. I say good job! While K-ON! is not deep, serious, or boundary-breaking, it IS eight kinds of fun wrapped in enough cute to kill a bull elephant. This series focuses on Sakura High’s “Light Music” Club, its wacky band members, and insane advisor. Nothing here is particularly new, especially to fans of Lucky Star. Moeblob Hirasawa Yui (guitar) will remind any observant fan of Hiiragi Tsukasa; Akiyama Mio (bass) is what you get when you combine equal parts Hiiragi Kagami and Asahina Mikuru; Tainaka Riku has all of the boke goodness of Izumi Konata; and Kotobuki Tsumugi is nearly 100% Takara Miyuki down to her laugh and personal affectations (albeit with one HUGE twist). That said, even a die-hard Lucky Star fan like myself finds himself returning week after week.
W-W-Would you like some cake?
The art style plays up the overall cuteness of the characters, but has a less-finished look than Lucky Star. I believe this style is a deliberate choice. The slightly faded look gives the whole show a fanciful feel that fits perfectly with its tone.. The costumes and detail are nearly flawless with my only real gripe being a dearth of actual animation music playing outside of the OP and ED. The voice acting is top-notch from relative unknowns. Satomi Sato (Ritsu) shows incredible range that perfectly matches Ritsu’s mercurial personality; Yōko Hikasa proves equally comfortable in both Mio’s shydere moe-queen mode and her forcefull tsukkomi roles; Aki Toyosaki’s super-cute Yui is pitch perfect and steals the show in episodes 5 and 6 with an excellent “hoarse-voice” variation that leads to at least one hilarious bit.
The series reached its midpoint last week at Episode 7, the Xmas episode. The road to the midpoint included Yui and the club’s introduction, an awesome trip to the beach and the club’s first “live”. The series has really been picking up steam with each episode and shows no signs of getting any less funny. If you enjoy anime that’s very fun and a little mindless, you should not miss this one.
Well here he is all finished and stuff. Took me several months longer to finish than I wanted. Too many things goin on but hopefully I can start busting out more customs especially for Anime Expo in July. I’m sharing an artist booth with my girlfriend. She’ll be selling her hair pins and I’ll be selling my custom figures (that I need to get cracking on).
Anyways, on to this custom…
This was a commissioned piece from someone in the Republic of Ireland. Those familiar with Final Fantasy IX would know this character as Kuja. This version of Kuja however was based on his character design in Final Fantasy Dissidia. I used a Play Arts Kingdom Hearts Axel as the base figure and used a clay mixture of Kato Polycaly and Premo to sculpt onto it. I was able to bake it in pieces in a polymer clay oven then hand painted it with Vallejo paints.
Click the photo to see more.
Custom FF Dissidia Kuja figure by ~SomaKun on deviantART
Hello everyone! I guess I’m the resident Custom/Anime guy on otakuberries ^_^. If you’re not familiar with the “Customs” thing, I’ll try and explain as short as possible. My friend Pete introduced me into the whole action figure customizing thing. Basically we would take an existing figure and modify it to look like something/someone else using different media. But then sometimes I’ll go off and sculpt figures from scratch. Most of my posts may consist of either my own or other people’s customs or figures. I would like my first post to be about a fellow sculptor/customizer’s Metroid work.
Most gamers should be familiar with Metroid. Red3183 has put out some amazing Samus pieces. His latest piece is a bronze statue of Samus. He hasn’t thoroughly explained his process but I think Red is taking some classes so he’s doing all this at school. But if you’re at all familiar with sculpting, molding and casting then you’re probably familiar with what has to take place to get what Red has achieved. This piece is still rough but already it looks pretty damn cool. All he has to do now is just clean and polish it and he’ll have a trophy Samus that he should be proud to display in his trophy room… if he has one. If not, he should haha ^_^.
I love the flow of this piece and it looks well balanced. The pose and the sculpt itself is amazing.
Height: 11 1/2” (with Base)
Weight: 19 1/2 lbs.
Material: Solid Bronze (Figure and base are separate pieces/bolted together)
Bronze Samus WIP01 by *red3183 on deviantART
Another amazing piece he had done, by scratch might I add, was another Samus piece but this one is articulate. You can pose her in really dynamic poses and the paint job is wonderful.
Hand made from scratch
Sculpted in Castilene
Molded in Smooth-On silicone rubber
Casted in Smooth-On resin
Hand painted with Tamiya Acrylics
1/6 scale (12”)
Close to 300 hours to complete (1st figure-30 hours each additional figure)
Only 6 made (5 sold, 1 for me )
Custom Samus Action Figure by *red3183 on deviantART
Check out his Deviantart to see more of his work and processes.
I know I’ve written about this game in one of my blogs but I just can’t get enough! Plants vs. Zombies (PvZ) is a really fun tower defense game that I know you too will have fun with especially if you’re a casual gamer or just want to kill zombies.
Basically, in Plants vs. Zombies, you are up against a horde of funny and sometimes outrageously crazy zombies that are threatening to take over your house and eat your brains. To keep them from invading and saving your brains, you must plant a vast army of plants around your house. You’ll encounter some zany characters like orange-cone zombies or pole-vaulting zombies. There’s even a zombie riding a dolphin, or riding a zamboni machine. My most favorite of all is the balloon zombie using a balloon to get through your defense.
The gameplay moves at a fast pace like with all tower defense games and you’ll obviously spend a few hours playing PvZ without even realizing it. When May 5 came, I downloaded PvZ through Steam and since then have logged over 40 hours in game time playing it. I have 4 more Achievements to go and I’d be fully done, 100% finished with the game. Darn those zombies! Here’s proof below of my gameplay as of yesterday (Steam Rating is 10 out of 10!):
Here’s what Plants vs Zombies (available for both PC and Mac) generally includes:
—-Five different modes of play: Adventure, Survival, Puzzle, Zen Garden and Mini-Game Challenges
—-50 levels in the main Adventure mode and more than 50 more in the other game modes, with limitless replayability
—-More than four dozen plants, from cherry bombs and peashooters to melon-pults, wall-nuts and sunflowers
—-Dozens of different zombie types, including back-from-the-dead miners, businessmen, football players, even a zombie bobsled team!
—-Suburban almanac tracks your progress and provides vital stats on plant and zombie types
—-Crazy Dave’s trunk-o’-the-car shop where you can purchase special “power plants” and other zombie-exterminating tools as well as potted versions for your Zen Garden
—-New fluid animation technology for prettier plants and zippier zombies
—-14 original musical pieces that dynamically adjust to the intensity of the game in real time
—-So frighteningly fun you’ll soil your plants
If that isn’t enough to get you started, check out the cute music video with all the plants and zombies.
I <3 PopCap Games!
p.s. PopCap Games: If you read this post, you should make PvZ for all ports!
You’d own my soul* if this was available for iPhone or Wii. =)
*re-edited: Maybe not my soul but I’ll be playing everywhere I go.
Let’s face it, Peggle (iTunes link) is somewhat of a gaming phenomenon. Over the last year PopCap Games’ colourful hybrid of Puzzle Bobble and Pachinko has managed to find a home on just about every mainstream entertainment device from the Xbox 360 to the Nintendo DS, leaving a trail of addicts in its wake.
No multi-platform assault would be complete without a presence on Apple’s iconic iPhone however, and it’s just on that device that I too, as a latecomer to the game, finally succumbed to its charms.
The premise is the same as always: Fire a ball from a cannon at the top of the screen and try to hit as many orange pegs as you can in as few shots as possible. Run out of your assigned 10 balls and it’s game over, but a multitude of power-ups and bonuses can help you avoid that fate.
In short, a simple game with a simple premise, exactly the kind of thing that lends itself ideally to the iPhone’s form factor and control scheme: you can touch the screen to aim your cannon, touch a ‘wheel’ on the side of the screen for ultra-fine aiming, or double-tab the screen for even finer aiming resolution. With that level of control, even the pickiest of Peggle Masters won’t have reason to complain - even left and right-handedness can be configured.
The things about Peggle is its sheer joyful presentation. From the music to the colors, to the festive fireworks announcing your victory, the game’s overall feel just screams ‘one more level.’ It’s exactly that pervasive charm that had me lose track of the three hours I spent perfecting the game’s latter levels, oblivious of my wife’s departure to bed or the fact that it had gotten dark outside.
Those three lost hours accounted for just over two-thirds of the time that it took me to complete the game’s Adventure mode, which while not a lot in terms of overall game time certainly justifies the £2.99 price of admission. That’s not all however. The game also offers a fiendish array of individual Challenge modes, as well as a Duel mode allowing two players to face-off for the highest score by taking turns on the ball. Overall, the game’s modes and its inherent re-playability raise it a few notches above the myriad one-shot games populating the App Store.
Peggle’s iPhone implementation is not completely flawless however. During the game’s most visually intensive moments - usually on victory sequences - the colorful visuals seem to struggle a little. This is by no means a show stopper, and in no way affects the actual gameplay.
Take it from an avid iPhone gamer and newly-certified Peggle Master: I highly recommend this game - it’s pretty much guaranteed to keep you busy for hours on end.
Let me just preface this by saying I am in no way a Trekkie, as explained here. While the exposure has always been there, for whatever reason, I never chose to indulge in the franchise. But this didn’t stop me from watching Star Trek and enjoying a great experience. The question is - does it accomplish its mission in recruiting a new fan?
The opening scene of the film is important in ways not immediately noticeable. It serves as a chisel to the plot and to our main character. A massive Romulan spacecraft commandeers the USS Kelvin. The Romulan captain is Nero, played unrecognizably by Eric Bana, and he is searching for Spock. No reason is given, but his anger is palpable. After the Romulans ascertain information from the Kelvin’s captain, their menace is displayed; laying waste to the unmatched starship. George Kirk, next in command after Captain Robau is murdered, is able to heroically evacuate 800 people in 12 minutes, including his pregnant wife on the verge of labor, prior to his death.
We are introduced to the film in an engrossing visual spectacle - the way modern sci-fi cinema should be. But the effects in this film, and what you see in trailers, though breathtaking, does not define what Star Trek is about. It is character-driven to its core - and the two principle protagonists, Kirk and Spock, do an amazing job piloting.
Chris Pine, as James Kirk, terrifically infuses self-assured swagger, vehement ambition and nauseating ego to a character that displays the potential to be a leader of men, but the overbearing immaturity that can get him banished from a starship. Even better was Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock, the most fascinating character in the film. Quinto tremendously embodies reason/logic in a tact and self-righteous manner, and balances it all with the tormenting inner conflict any half Vulcan, half human, faces in trying to suppress emotions. The movie is best when these two characters share screen time - whether as a team or at each other’s throats. Their development is the best thing about Star Trek.
The rest of the Enterprise crew - Uhura, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov - all have their special moment to shine. But the character with the most pivotal moment, not only in the film, but in shaping how the story of this franchise can be told in the future, is Star Trek’s worst kept secret. Still, for the sheer spirit of surprises, I won’t spoil who this character is or the plot that surrounds them. I’ll just expand vaguely on their importance. By introducing this character the way they did (I can’t comment on how plausible/implausible things can be in a universe I know nothing of), the writers were able to start with a blank slate with the entire franchise. This allows J.J. Abrams the freedom to be able to satisfy the most dedicated of fans, at the same time incorporate his own brand of narrative that appeals to this generation. The execution was great in my opinion (paradox aside, of course) and future installments will benefit from this reinvention.
An epic ride is not without its bumps. Nero is quite underused. His development takes a backseat to the introduction needed for the main characters. The Romulans in general, while we feel for their plight, come off as the typical, one-dimensional, revenge hungry villains we see in a lot of films. The lighting was also an issue for me, especially in those compact, shifting shots inside the bridge of the Enterprise. They would produce a lot of annoying glares. Now, I didn’t see the IMax version, so I don’t know if these lighting effects were compliments to 3D glasses only, but I wasn’t fond of being blinded.
There really isn’t a good reason why I never hopped aboard the Star Trek starship (see what I did there?) in my life. But J.J. Abrams and company did a fantastic job of introducing the story in a very accessible way to noobs such as myself. Obviously, I can’t speak for the diehard Trekkies on whether or not this film succeeded in capturing whatever expectations they had. It did, however, succeed in giving birth to a potential Trekkie. I find myself more eager to educate myself on Star Trek lore. And in that regard - mission accomplished.
One of my favorite mangaka (cartoonist or comic artist in Japanese) is Miki Aihara. I fell in love with her work when I first read Hot Gimmick in 2003.
The story revolves around a 16-year-old girl named Hatsumi Narita. Her whole family lives in a company housing complex ruled by the wife of the company’s vice president, the self-righteous and tyrannical Mrs. Tachibana. Depending on how a family behaves within the housing complex can also affect an employee’s status within the company. If you get on Mrs. Tachibana’s bad side, life becomes hell in the complex. When Hatsumi’s promiscuous younger sister Akane thinks she might be pregnant, she talks Hatsumi into going out and buying a pregnancy test for her. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned for Hatsumi as on her way back, she accidentally bumps into Ryoki Tachibana, the son of Mrs. Tachibana who used to bully Hatsumi as a kid. Ryoki promises not to tell about Hatsumi’s secret, only if she becomes his slave.
This 12 volume series plus a novel (Hot Gimmick S) is rated M for Mature audiences since it addresses several adult themes such as an abusive relationship. What pulled me into reading Hot Gimmick is how the story digs deep into a problem found in every society yet it still maintained it’s shojo aspects. You can relate to one or two of the characters and with the way Aihara draws the artwork makes for some juicy and colorful senarios.
As of 2009, Viz is now publishing Hot Gimmick in the Vizbig Edition format and is slowly being released throughout this year. You get three (3) volumes in one (1) Vizbig book making 4 Vizbig volumes in total. The Volume One (1) in the Vizbig Edition is out now.
Hot Gimmick S is in novel format but is based on a “what-if” senario if Hatsumi didn’t choose Ryoki. This is also out now.
But of course, you can always stayed tuned here for more updates…