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SlowMotionKarma Blog

"E3 Madness" or "HeadCRABS for everyone!"

 

  E3 time again! Talk about a flood of news… I just can’t seem to keep up with everything. You want to know more about what I’m gonna talk about, go to gamespot.com or something and check out the E3 junk. Here’s my quick run-down:

Consoles:

  Nintendo *shudders* Wii: I have to have it. It is the first console after the Dreamcast that I’m dying to get my hands on. Zelda: Twilight Princess looks great playing on the Wii. A FPS weapon/sword action game called “Red Steel” looks like great fun. The new Sonic game is making up for “Sonic Heroes” and it is supposed to incorporate the motion-sensing abilities of the WiiMote. I can’t suggest harder for anyone reading this to watch the Nintendo press conference. The Wii is simply amazing. Wow. The only possible downside is the “Nintendo selection” of games.

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  Sony: The PS3 is truly a powerhouse, in theory. From what I saw, they are offering up the normal PS titles, and they look better than the last generation. What makes me want to own this one is “Assassin’s Creed” from the makers of the Prince of Persia games, and Heavenly Sword; another third-person awesome fighting game. They’ve also “compensated” their controller with gyroscopic motion-sensing technology to add a rip-off of Nintendo’s controller. Downside? It’s gonna cost $599, official.

  Microsoft: I’m already planning on buying a 360 simply for Lost Planet, and maybe Halo3. The only problem with Halo3 is, I don’t know anyone else who owns a 360, so it won’t be as much fun as 1 or 2. There are a few other games I’m looking forward to, but Lost Planet will be the deciding factor. Other than that, nothing new. There’s gonna be Live Anywhere that links your 360, PC and mobile phone. I’m still not gonna pay for internet AND Live service though… then there’s Vista… I’m not sold on that either. It better be everything they are claiming…

  Games I’m looking forward to now: Crysis, Red Steel, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Assassin’s Creed, Spore, Bio Shock, HL2: Episodes, STALKER, Neverwinter Nights 2, Prey, Indiana Jones 07[WT], Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Dead Rising, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Army of Two. There are a few more, I’m sure, but I can’t think of them all.

 

  More game stuff you say? I’ve played SiN: Episodes: Emergence. The first play through I had it set too hard, so it seemed impossible to get through. It uses an adaptive difficulty that you set (casual to extremely challenging). If you find the right setting, it is a great, challenging action game. It looks great; like a cartoon-ish Half-Life, and the character models are quite good. My only real gripe is the lack of weapons. There are only three, and they aren’t balanced well. I’m sure they’ll be releasing more weapons as the games progress, but I think, at least, they would’ve made darn sure the weapons they did include were well balanced. Oh well…

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  It’s RPG time for me apparently. I finished Xenosaga II today so I could have an endgame save on my new memory card, I’m still playing Baldur’s Gate II, (after updating drivers this last time) SW: Knights of the Old Republic II is working now, and Skies of Arcadia is still waiting patiently. It’s piling up. On top of all of that, I bought Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter last week. Then there’s my anime I need to watch.

 

  All of my fansub anime on my PC is relatively unwatched, and I’m still downloading. I’m almost through with Kenshin. Only 3 more discs to go. I’ll probably have the review out next Friday. *Sigh* I love it, but it really takes dedication to get through an anime series that is over 26 episodes. Just like Lord of The Rings, you really have to commit to it. Not too much new news in the anime category.

 

  I got my headcrab plush. What an awesome thing it is! It was even more funny because I had it over at my aunt’s house and as each of my two cousins, and my aunt first saw it (one at a time as they came in), it went like this:

Person: “What is that?”

Me: “It’s a headcrab.”

Person: “Head… crab?”

Me: “Yeah, a headcrab.”

Person: *picks up headcrab, looks it over, then puts it on top of their head (like a hat)* “Like this?”

Me: “Well, it attaches to a person’s head and turns them into a zombie… but it’s not a hat.”

Person: “Oh…” *puts headcrab over face* “(muffled) Like this?”

Me: *sigh* “No. The plush is ¼ the size of the ‘real one’, and it’s just a collectable. You don’t wear it.”

Person: “Oh.” *looks at it some more* “Can it fit on the cat?”

  Hilarious! Also, I got the artbook “Raising the Bar.” It’s a really great collectable, full of cool junk about HL2 and how they made it. Then there are the two tee-shirts which rule and the posters that I just realized I don’t have any room for (but will soon make room for).  I’m happy with my selection, and I think everyone should own a headcrab plush.

 

  That’s pretty much all for me. My time has been occupied with 1) watching video of E3 stuff, 2) watching Kenshin, and 3) playing equal amounts of GRAW, SiN: Episodes and Xenosaga. Pretty boring… well not for me, but posting-wise. I was planning on putting something more… substantial up here this time around, but I had to talk about E3 for a bit.

 

Defeat your to-do list with your unbending spirit, Gundam!

"It's All Coming Out Now" or "HTML Tags!!"

 

  I’m about ½ way through Rurouni Kenshin. So I’m guessing another week and a half and I’ll be through. In the mean time I’ve gotta post something here so it won’t get all stale and start stinking.

  Anime news. First and foremost, Volume 2 of ROD Read or Die manga is out! Pick it up! Secondly, Saikano OVA: Another Love Song is coming out on the 9th. Get it... maybe? I haven’t seen it. I’m scared to take the plunge. Saikano is such a beautiful story. I’m nervous with that they’ve done with it. Also, no one I know has seen it; mostly for the same reason. *sigh* Sucks for me. Eureka Seven is out on [as] and online at [adultswim.com] on Fridays all day. Check it out if you haven’t. Another stellar BONES production!

  Speaking of BONES, I’m bumping them up (officially) as one of my top 3 favorite anime production companies. I took a mental tally of all the BONES anime I liked, and it turned out to be… well, all of ‘em. Wolf’s Rain, FMA, RahXephon, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, even Mars Daybreak. Their newest anime (still in production) is called Mukoh Hadan. It’s supposed to be a historical samurai-era drama. Pretty exciting!

  Another anime I’m waiting for (as I’m sure many of my friends already are tired of knowing) is Glass no Kantai. The reason I’m so anxious for this is because it’s supposed to be an epic space opera; a particular genre that has failed to turn up something good in a while. Everyone says, “what about Stellvia?” I say, “Stellvia is a slice-of-life anime, not space opera! Get it right or feel my wrath!” Why then, am I so excited even though I know next to nothing about it? Simple: GONZO. Next paragraph!

  Video game news. SiN Episodes: Emergence is out on the 9th as well. I’ve already pre-purchased and pre-loaded it over Steam. Not too long now, and I’ll be blasting baddies in a car with a hot red-head! Aww yeah! Also in the Steam category is, of course, Half-Life 2: Episode 1. Another pre-purchased/loaded game ready to go. It’s a bit farther off, June 1 is the release date, but it’s Half-Life. Never too early to celebrate Half-Life. Prey is out in June as well. Looks like it will be pretty cool, a chaotic experience at the least. Portals opening up everywhere that you can walk through, those gravity ramps that make you walk on walls, or the ceiling while fighting, pilotable space vehicles.

  E3 is coming up very soon. Can’t wait for Nintendo’s press conference. Go Revolution! Yes, I’m still calling it Revolution. I refuse to call it the “Wii.” That’s just wrong. But the controller is so right! Also in the Nintendo section is the new Zelda game coming out for the Gamecube. And with the rumors/likelihood the Gamecube is about to get ANOTHER price break, I’m pretty sure I’m getting it. Finally I get to play as a cool, grown up Link! No more stupid kid… I’m also looking forward to anything on Crysis (for the PC), and Lost Planet (X360). Lost Planet might be the reason I buy a 360 now.

  And Crysis… wow. Played Far Cry? If you haven’t, then play it now! If so, then imagine that, with better graphics, and better story. Bam! Crysis utilizes the CryEngine2 and they say they are focusing on the story more than Far Cry (which didn’t really have one). Even if the story isn’t any better, the gameplay speaks for itself. Come on! Volumetric clouds! Motion blur! Deformable environments! Those Crytek guys sure know how to make a game, and make it look great.

  What have I been up to? Today I went w/ Blue to see American Dreamz. Wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but still pretty entertaining. I liked Dennis Quaid as the prez. It got a little bit “chick flick-y” at a few moments, but overall it was a pretty fun satire. Next up was “Thank You for Smoking”; another satire. They hit my “satire movie” spot, but I think one viewing is enough, no? I’ll buy them… after I get everything else I want.

  After I beat Oblivion’s main quest, I haven’t really played it since then. I’m waiting for a few more cool mods to come out. The Osprey and Wizards Tower (both Official mods from BethSoft) I’m going to get, along with a bank mod and another mission mod/add-on that looks pretty cool. I’m holding off for a bit because I remember how I messed up Morrowind when I added mods one after another. Fixable messes thankfully, but still annoying. Things like adding a door to one I’ve opened because the mod assumes that door is closed. Now I have two doors there… So I have to go into the TES CC and fix it. This time, I’ll download them all and merge them together, test it in the editor, then add it to my game. What have I been playing then? Half-Life 2’s mod called “Causality Effect.” Not too long, but there are 4 endings. Also, I’ve been playing Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn over. I’m about 1/3 through. Then it’s off to my newly acquired Throne of Bhaal expansion that I’ve never played. My favorite PC RPG ever! Sorry Elder Scrolls…

  Other than that, it’s been pure anime for me. Rurouni Kenshin hardcore viewing, along with Ergo Proxy for dinner. Then there’s Fate|Stay Night waiting in the wings. I’m also downloading the first few episodes of the new Ah! Megami-Sama season. I’ve even been watching Eureka Seven on Saturdays, just ‘cause. There’s just so much out there right now. It’s almost overwhelming.

  A few days ago I went to the Valve store and bought a few things. A headcrab plush (pic below), the “Raising The Bar” artbook, a shirt with “Good Dog” on it and a symbol of Dog, another shirt with the HL:DM logo dealy, and a poster pack of the box covers to Half-Life 2 to put on my ceiling. All in all a good haul. I’ve wanted the artbook for a while now, but it was just too expensive. I think it was $49.99 when it first came out. But now, it is much more affordable.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting 

  It’s taken me a few hours to figure out how to get this stupid pic into the blog, so that’s all I’m going to type now! Grr! What the heck is wrong with 360! I'm gonna write them and tell them to put some "picture button" on their little entry editor thing so I don't have to fight with the stupid thing anymore!

  FedEx-ed Headcrab for you, Gundam!

RahXephon

  Why is it that people with issues always end up piloting a giant mecha? I suppose if that wasn’t the case then anime like RahXephon wouldn’t be as good, now would they? First I will say I’m not going to compare this with Evangelion. There are similarities, no doubt. I will go as far as to say RahXephon was influenced by EVA, but I find these two anime to be worlds apart in terms of content, story, and message. Now, let us never speak of that again.

Story and Characters || 9 | 10

  There are quite a few characters in this anime; too many to properly describe here. What I will say is BONES took extra care in this category, and it shows. Just off the top of my head, I count 20 characters that play a significant role in the plot of RahXephon. Every character is well developed with many facets to their personalities and agendas. Those that stand out for me are Megumi, Ayato, Haruka and Itsuki. The wonderful part of such a well developed, large cast is it makes the story, the journey with these characters, all the more involving.

  Then comes the story. RahXephon’s plot is as complex as theoretical astro-physics. You will/should watch this anime more than once to fully appreciate the complexity and arrangement of the story. On top of that, the story unfolds like poetry; each piece of the puzzle revealed at the right moment while turning over a few more pieces. And just when you think everything is understood and explained, another facet reveals itself. It’s obvious a lot of time and care went into the story and characters and I’m thankful to those responsible for creating an anime with such substance.

  Both of these aspects, the characters and the story, serve each other. The characters all have some part to play in the overall plot, no matter how small it may seem at first. The story reciprocates by developing the characters further, making them grow, change and prove even more interesting as the episodes progress. Everything seems to flow together, at first a mass of unconnected threads, but slowly untangling; by the end turns out there was only one all along. I’m sure I still don’t understand/grasp everything that has happened in this anime, but that’s just something that will keep me coming back to it.

  There are a few plot points that seem slightly odd to me but I could count those on one hand. I would give a short synopsis of the plot, but I feel that would be cheating you from such a wonderful experience. Overall this is a complex, satisfying story filled with wonderful, equally complex characters and everything unfolds beautifully.

Art and Animation || 9 | 10

  I have a feeling I’m going to be using the phrase “like poetry” a lot in this review. Truth is there really isn’t any other way to explain it. The settings in this anime are quite amazing. There is such variety visually inherent in this series and it is well represented in the art design. From the interiors of Tokyo Jupiter, a normal world pulled from normalcy, the “average” city has an underlying feeling of a foreboding nature. From the first frames of the series you feel as if something here isn’t exactly right; like a dream you started trying to rationalize. Then outside to the real world, crumbling ever so slightly; BONES really knows how to use color to convey the emotion of the story. Add that to the varied designs and the locations become an integral part of telling the story. Another category they took quite a bit of care to create.

  The character designs share the care the rest of the series has received. The designs of every character are spot-on. They fit the personalities and background of the character they represent, even if you aren’t fully aware of it at first. A few favorites are Megumi, Reika, Maya and Itsuki. Of course that’s just personal preference. Each and every one is beautifully designed.

  The mecha designs are some of my favorite out of any series. The RahXephon is probably the most “normal” of all of the designs. And even it is quite original. The Mu send mecha called Dolem into the “real” world which the RahXephon must fight. This is where the mecha design shines. Instead of creating a clone of the RahXephon or some other bipedal creation, the designers created unique, functional designs that are some of the most original I’ve ever seen in an anime. While they look like they were created to perform a certain function and nothing more, each Dolem has its own “personality.” This results in each encounter with the Dolem being a new experience rather than “just another mecha battle.”

  Of course no amount of design work would mean anything without great animation to bring them to life. Throughout the series, RahXephon maintains a high level of animation quality. There are a few sporadic scenes that look like they needed some more in-between animation work, but overall the characters, mecha and battles are smoothly animated and detailed throughout. The battles are choreographed beautifully. The drama is portrayed artistically. The angles and cuts used during important scenes or exposition help to tell the story and add emotion; while at the same time remain as detailed and beautiful. Again, like poetry the series unfolds, and the animation adds to this greatly. There aren’t reused sequences to speak of. Even the RahXephon’s launching sequence varies from episode to episode. Just another category the creators took great care in creating.

  The opening and closing sequences are as beautiful as they are relevant. Tossing aside the average opening that introduces characters in-turn with action scenes between, the opening and closing paints a picture of RahXephon. Everyone is represented, along with the story. The heart of the series is there and no matter what episode you’re on, it fits perfectly. Some series shows you everything in their opening, while some show nothing relevant. This series strikes an almost perfect balance. The closing animation is just as good, adding more of the mystery and beauty of the series to the credits.

Music and Sound || 8 | 10

  The opening theme, I’ve just discovered during this viewing, is composed and arranged by Yoko Kanno. That would explain why it was/is my favorite piece from this series. I shouldn’t have to say more about it, but just in case… the opening song puts you in the proper mood to watch RahXephon while at the same time complementing it through the lyrics and overall composure of the song. Add that to the opening sequence, and that’s one I can watch over and over. The closing song isn’t quite as appealing as the opening. It’s even a bit creepy sounding. But for this series and for the ending sequence it actually works. Not something I’d listen to on its own and not a reason for me to watch the ending sequence every time but good enough.

  The rest of the musical score isn’t as good as the opening. Most of the music is appropriate for the series. There are a few tracks that seemed like they were trying to convey “weird” and just ended up sounding like they belonged in another series. The most important scenes in the series were well represented by the music fortunately. It just seemed to me that having a series that places music and musical composition at such an important level would’ve done a better job.

  Another part of this series that made me proud was the sound effects. It’s a science fiction series with mecha battles. That means the sound effects need to be great. And they are. Fitting the original mecha design, the sound effects are “believable” considering they are coming from a giant weapon. On top of that they just plain sound great. Occasionally there are a few standard machine sound effects but most of those apply to the Terran fighter planes and such so it creates a form of “base” that makes the Dolem and RahXephon’s sound all the more appealing. In keeping with the musical nature of the series, the attacks and other mecha related effects have a melodic feel to them. Just another piece that helps to bring life to these monstrous machines.

  Another sign of the improving English Dubbing quality, RahXephon’s English VAs are pretty good. They all fit the characters pretty well and they carry the weight of the story in their portrayal. Again, my favorite female character in the series just happens to be voiced by Hilary Haag. I’m not complaining. Although the English version is well done (and great for when I don’t feel like reading) I actually prefer the original Japanese voices slightly more. Maybe it’s because I became attached to these characters the first time I saw it (which was in fansubbed form), or maybe it’s because they just did a better job; I can’t tell.

  Since I’m not fluent in Japanese, the English made it easier to comprehend everything that was going on. I blame that on having to read subtitles and process them while at the same time trying to take in the visual aspects of the story. So for me, they end up being almost equal. If you understand Japanese fluently, then you’ll probably want to go with the original version.

Presentation || 9 | 10

  Art, animation, music, sound, characters and story all meld together beautifully and the result is a wonderful anime. It is obvious the amount of time, care and determination the creators poured into this series. Everything about it screams “deep” or “artistic” or “poetic.” RahXephon is simply a beautiful anime.

  The official age rating is “TV14.” As far as content goes; there are a few freak-outs, a few “violent” mecha battles, and one or two of each violent (involving humans) and nude scenes. I don’t have any objections to the official rating although I think in general a 14 year old might not understand everything going on in the story. I’m trying to be very careful in the wording of that sentence considering most 14 year olds will argue they are old enough to understand, while other older people or parents would argue you should be at least 16-18 to properly understand the series. All I can say to that is: if you aren’t sure if you should show this to a “younger” audience; watch it yourself and make your own decision.

  To echo everything I’ve said more than once in this review; this is an excellent, beautiful anime full of depth that flows like poetry. RahXephon is in my “required anime” category. If someone were to ask me for 10 anime they absolutely must watch, this is most likely going to be on that list.

"Final Thoughts" or "Procrastination"

It's like a rubber band that's stretched too tight.

One tiny nick, and it snaps and flies away.

One tiny little cut will destroy it.

People had known about the problem, but they'd ignored it.

Then it was too late.

"It's nobody's fault."

Every one of us on this planet committed our sins, over and over in the course of living our lives for a long, long time.

We all knew the answer, but we still asked:

"Why did this horrible war break out?"

We all asked:

"Why is this planet being ravaged by destruction?"

The world order came crashing down that day.

It was bound to happen.

Humans have done a lot of damage to this world, and no one ever tried to heal it.

No one ever tried to end the wars.

Weapons we never thought we'd use are being used, one after another.

And nobody is trying to stop it.

It's like using those weapons is our poor attempt at healing the planet.

It's as though we're using them to clean up all our past misdeeds, like a child that cries as he puts his toys away...

One after another...

But I came to know all these things.

We went on living our lives... while we... destroyed everything.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

-Shin Takashi from Saikano

Just something I wanted to post from my recently finished reading of Saikano manga. Truly one of the most beautiful stories, and my favorite manga. And now I must get on my RahXephon review.

Quit procrastinating and write that review, Gundam!

DNAngel

  Shojo or shounen? I pity the fool (males) that don’t watch (or read) shojo just because it’s “for girls” because you’re missing out on wonderful stories like this. Not the “best” out there, but if you want to be that picky… well, that’s your prerogative.

Story and Characters || 8 | 10

  Daisuke Niwa is about to declare his love to the girl of his dreams, when she declares he is her best friend. Shot down! But his life is about to get even more complicated. On his 14th birthday he inherits the Niwa’s special lineage. He is also the famous phantom thief Dark Mousy. Why the weird name? They never say… but Daisuke must indulge Dark’s profession unless he wants to stay transformed forever. Dark is a master thief who enjoys the chase more than anything. He is very “forward” to use one word. Everything is a challenge to him; be it the theft, his rival Krad, or the ladies. But there is a seriousness to him that exposes itself every now and then, which makes Daisuke wonder if he really is such a terrible curse.

  Risa Harada is the girl of Daisuke’s dreams. She has a twin sister, Riku. They couldn’t be more opposite. Risa is pretty self-centered, worries more about what to wear than anything, and dreams of a “man” who is worthy of her. She’s not very independent. Riku is more down to Earth; she enjoys nature and other outdoor activities. Some would call her a tomboy, but I don’t make that connection. Regardless, she is much more mature than her twin, and is quite stubborn.

  One of Daisuke’s classmates, Satoshi Hiwatari, is a quiet, mysterious boy who is hiding a dark secret. I think he is one of the best characters in this series. There are other characters; Daisuke’s quirky grandfather, sweet but equally odd mother, classmates and a few other characters that I will not disclose here to not ruin the story. One character that comes in later in the series, Mio Hio, is another minor character I enjoyed, but I unfortunately can’t say much about her. Needless to say, all the characters have a depth to them you don’t see too often in average anime, and it really makes this series shine.

  The story essentially revolves around the relationships between Daisuke, Riku and Risa and it was quite good in my opinion. Dark and his thieving take a backseat to the love story(s) between all the main characters and is more of a supporting character than anything. Although in the last few episodes, the story focuses more on Dark’s situation, it still is more about Daisuke than anything. There were a lot of moments in this series that brought back the memories of my own initial foray into the love and dating aspects of life; the awkwardness, anxiousness, not knowing what to do, and not really understanding the feelings you are experiencing. D.N.Angel a sweet, simple, innocent story about first love, true love, and growing up. All main characters are developed throughout the course of the series; and they develop properly. Each character grows in their own way and ends a better person from where they started. There are a few moments that made me feel like the creators were throwing girls at Daisuke, but they all end up being either interesting side stories or a catalyst to the main romance of the series. A few aspects were a bit underdeveloped, but that’s getting dangerously close to being “nit-picky.” Overall the story is and carries the anime and it was refreshing to watch this series again.

Art and Animation || 8 | 10

  The major complaint about this series is from people who read the manga and are unhappy with the character design changes. Having read the manga I can understand their position, but as an anime series I don’t really have any qualms about the character designs. I personally think they improved the Harada twins design, although at the cost of Dark’s. Overall the characters are designed quite well for the series. Each has his/her own feel that matches up with their personalities perfectly, and you can’t really expect more than that. I especially liked Mio’s design. Such a carefree character design!

  The setting design/art design is quite refreshing as well. It seems like a Southern European city, with giant fans, along a coastline. I can’t remember if this is an actual city, but it feels like more of a fantasy than a real city. There is an aura of magic to this series, and the art design reflects that. Everything is familiar, yet different. It ends up being very quaint and charming, almost out of a romance novel.

  Like most semi-recent anime, there are bits of CG animation in this series. Unlike some, it is minimally invasive in this series. All in all it actually helps. Instead of blatant CG, they blend it with the design of the series and it turns out well. I don’t like it when two completely different forms of animation are mixed together. They just seem out of place. D.N.Angel uses CG as a tool, utilizing it to create sweeping pans and more crisp and fluid static animations. And if you aren’t looking for it, it just might end up looking like great cel animation. In the last 2 or 3 episodes, a CG “item” is introduced that isn’t “blended” quite as well, but it’s the end and it only gets about 8 minutes of screen time total, so no biggie.

  Throughout the series the animation quality rarely dips, and even when it does, you’d have to be looking pretty hard to tell the difference. There are a few parts where the character’s… what word to use? Distort maybe? It’s not as bad as that word makes it sound. The eyes end up slightly farther apart, hair length changes slightly, etc. The only real oddity that most people I know have noticed is the Harada sister’s necks becoming almost pencil thin which only happens in a few episodes. Again, overall the animation is vibrant and fluid, with nary a reused animation sequence. Pretty great for a 26 episode anime.

  The opening and ending sequences are simple but wonderful. Everything is fluid and complementary to the feel and design of the series. Each of the main characters and important story elements are well represented. They did a great job with the opening on this series. It’s one I don’t mind watching every episode. The ending sequence is a bit more subdued than the opening. It focuses on the Harada twins and ends the series with a soft, storybook feel. Some of my favorite OP/ED sequences.

Music and Sound || 9 | 10

  First, the gushing. The opening and ending themes in this series are absolutely adorable, and that’s not a word I use often. They encompass the feel of the anime perfectly, all five of them; and in their own right, they are sweet, soft songs. They make the opening and ending sequences that much more watch able. The first and second ending songs especially grasp the uncertainty of first love and really make for a great ending. They all really convey the emotion of the series.

  The rest of the music in the series is classic shojo anime music. A sort of classical/fantasy feel, the score fits with the series perfectly, of course. There are a few moments where I would’ve picked a different song, but still overall everything was great.

  Sound effects in this anime mostly revolve around magic or flying. Thankfully they are all fitting and not that generic “poof” magic sound effect you hear in a lot of anime. The comical moments have a few of those but it just adds to the comedy on-screen. Everything else is standard footsteps and clothing rustles. I’m pleased with the effects in this series. They take a backseat to the music but they are wonderful in their own right.

  Voices. I’m pretty equal on the Japanese or American scale. Both casts perform quite well, which is crucial in this type of anime. I think the Japanese Hiwatari is a bit too subdued at times, but it’s not too bad considering the character. *Fanboy ramblings* Hilary Haag is a great Riku. I just love her voice! It was made for anime dubbing I swear. My favorite English voice in the series *Fanboy ramblings over* Also, in contrast to the Japanese version, Hiwatari’s VA did a good job, especially in the last few episodes when his character gets pretty intense. The Japanese Daisuke sounded more like a 14 year old (I believe a female did it); although the English did a pretty good job too. But both audio tracks are quite good so it comes down to what language you prefer. The English sticks pretty darn close to the original script/story, far as I can tell considering I’m not fluent in Japanese.

Presentation || 9 | 10

  Every element in this series is well planned, and executed wonderfully. From the setting to the character designs, animation, the sound and music, and most importantly, the story; they all mix together to create a sweet anime about love and growing up… and a winged thief. Such is anime. There isn’t much to put here that I haven’t said already. I recommend this to anyone who is up for a love-ly story.

  For some reason, this is rated “TVPG.” The young viewers might not get the story, so they’d be disinterested. But anyone 13 and up wouldn’t have a problem with the content in this anime. The only violence in the series are a few brief fights between Dark and his rival Krad, which involves them shooting feathers at each other. There isn’t even a drop of blood that I can remember. The girls and even Daisuke, trip every now and then, but if that is too much for you, you shouldn’t leave your house. There are a few scenes at the very end that get a bit intense, but if you’re old enough to understand the story, then you’re old enough to watch it. I would give it a 13+ rating solely because that’s about the age I’d guess you’d be able to understand the emotions and story carrying this series.

  I recommend this to anyone really, unless you’re heck bent on watching only your “gender” of anime. If that’s so, then you should be watching DBZ and Naruto for the 6th time instead of reading my review.

Bakuretsu Tenshi

  If I had to describe this anime in one phrase, it would be macaroni anime. It boasts a “spaghetti western” feel, which in Japan is called “macaroni western,” hence the name. Basically this series is comprised of almost nonstop, flashy, fluid action. Made by the anime powerhouse GONZO, “Burst Angel” is loads of adrenaline pumping fun; visceral anime action at its finest.

Story and Characters || 8| 10

  This series is about four ladies who are in the business of fighting. Sei is the oldest of the group (at 19), and the calm, collected leader. Amy, the youngest, is a sharp-tongued, yet cute as a button, computer whiz who acts as the information specialist. Meg is the obligatory loud, outspoken redhead and is the best friend of Jo who acts as the point girl of the group. She’s quiet and almost comatose when doing everyday activities, but give her a target or a goal and she is an almost unstoppable fighting machine. The female characters each have distinct, albeit unoriginal (for anime), personalities, and its interesting watching them interact. There is a fifth central character, Kyohei who works for the ladies as their personal cook and who, quite often, is pulled into the action by some odd twist of fate. It’s hard for me to consider him a main character because he is sort of forgotten toward the end.

  Jo and Meg are incredibly close friends. Most of the anime focuses on these two characters. Meg, contrary to how she looks and acts, is constantly getting into trouble which makes Jo, who is fiercely loyal, fight to save her. Other than that, there isn’t really a story to speak of. There is a loose tie to all the main enemies the heroines encounter, which receives a feeble attempt from the writers to wrap up at the end of the anime. But that isn’t the appeal of this anime. The appeal is the action. Jo only reloads her twin .357 Desert Eagle hand cannons once in the entire series! That is the kind of anime this is. Normally I would be bothered by the fact that she can fire off two of those at the same time without effort; or the fact that she never needs to reload. In this series, it actually adds to the appeal. Watching the action unfolding, with Jo brutally trampling every obstacle in her path is extremely exciting.

  And did I mention she also pilots a large, powerful mecha called Django when she really wants to do some damage? Well, she does, and the mecha battles are just as visceral and appealing. The series handles the various missions in pairs of episodes, and the missions cover every generic plotline in an action anime. From securing a top-secret data disk, to infiltrating a secretive cult in a private school, to stopping political coups in various regions of Japan, Jo and the group get into all manners of trouble. Watching them get out of it is what gave them the 8 in this category.

Art and Animation || 8 | 10

  GONZO helmed this anime. ‘Nuff said. The settings, backgrounds, and overall art design paints an interesting world that is essentially a futuristic spaghetti western theme. Crumbling Tokyo never looked so cool. Even the more generic forest settings have a distinct feel in this anime. And while the many different environments/settings are varied, they all have a similar feel that helps pull the series together.

  The character designs are great. They’re obviously designed to conjure thoughts along the lines of “sexy” and “cool.” The main ladies’ costumes are wonderful, and I’m not saying that out of a base otaku fanboy instinct. I’m a sucker for original character design, and they are original. Meg’s bright yellow cowgirl ensemble, Jo’s minimalist coat-and-holster look, Sei’s Chinese inspired clothes, and Amy’s sweet little-girl meets plug-suit outfit shows you immediately what kind of personality they have, and looks good too. They stand out in the crowd and are some of the most interesting designs I’ve seen in a while. Unfortunately, some key animator or someone decided to change the character design in a few areas around the third quarter of the anime, so Meg and Sei’s erm… bust line expands to gigantic proportions for a few episodes. It hurt the series in my opinion, having such a drastic change out of nowhere (just in time for their bathing suit scenes) and it’s the only reason this category didn’t get a 9. Fan service I can handle (and maybe even welcome) but there’s a limit.

  Being a GONZO anime, there has to be CGI. And is there! All of the mecha in Burst Angel is CG, as are the environments most of the time when they are taking center stage. It’s obviously CG and doesn’t blend in quite as nicely as other anime, but I found it to be very appealing nonetheless. The CG is designed and animated smoothly with a distinct flair. This has to be the first anime that uses “bullet time” in their action sequences. Bullet time was inspired by anime, but this has the slowed down bullets, camera spins and others you’d normally find in a live-action action movie of late.

  The non-CG animation is hard to describe. Most of the time it is crisp and clear, fluidly animated. But there are moments intermittently throughout the series that seems to suffer with lower quality drawing and animation. Oddly enough, it happens around the time the main characters experience their sudden design changes. I can’t say why this happened, since it comes and goes, but it is noticeable. Considering everything going on animation-wise in this series, it wasn’t too much of a hindrance.

  Opening animation shares the quality of most of the series. It’s cut together in an interesting way. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I find myself watching the opening more often than not. The ending sequence is very simple, and once you’ve seen it a few times, becomes a “skipper.”

Music and Sound || 7 | 10

  This is the most puzzling aspect of the series to me. I can’t quite recall the ending song from when I watched the fansubbed version a while back. On the DVDs, the ending song is in English on the dub side, but Japanese on the sub side. I’m guessing Funimation recorded the English version and changed it. I gave this category a 7 simply because I don’t want Funi to bring down an otherwise well-done score. But I won’t hesitate to say the English ending theme is horrible. They try to capture the spirit of the Japanese version, but it just comes off as a rip-off to a charming song. The Japanese version is much nicer, although it doesn’t seem to fit quite right with the feel of the series.

  The opening theme is… original. It’s not my personal favorite, but it adds an interesting feel to the opening sequence. Maybe it’s a Japanese thing, but the only anime that did good with a jazzy-esque opening song was Cowboy Bebop. There are other anime that have an opening with the same type of song; I just don’t get it I suppose. The rest of the musical score is quite nice actually. There are very original and varied tunes that go perfectly with the series. I especially like the western-themed music that pops up every now and then.

  Sound effects in this anime are great. The guns sound like guns, the mecha sound like they are actual machines that have weight to them, everything sounds wonderful. In an action series, it’s crucial to get the sound effects right. I’m happy they did this so well. Jo’s guns sound mean; they’re probably my favorite effect in the series.

Presentation || 8 | 10

  This is an action anime pure and simple. It is an exceptional action anime. Gunfights, fistfights, mecha battles and the word “patisserie” (what Kyohei aspires to be) makes this a refreshing and fun anime experience.

  The DVDs surprised me with their level of content. The insert in the DVD cases are 6-8 page booklets with character illustrations, environment illustrations, cast info, background info, and various other interesting tidbits. The bonus features include the standard clean opening and endings, and previews sections. They also include episode commentaries, selections from the Bakuretsu Tenshi radio shows, interviews with the Japanese cast and crew and even an interesting preview of another CG animated show. Funi really surprised me on this, and I had to give credit where credit is due. Well done DVDs.

  Official rating is TV14. Pretty accurate. There is quite a bit of nippleage with the female characters, especially in their inflated forms. And of course there are the violent action scenes. Most are pretty tame, just a bunch of flash, but a few show blood. Nothing too bad, and I wouldn’t have problems with a 14 year old watching.

  I really enjoyed this anime. It was a fun ride. They picked “action series”, and they did it wonderfully. I have no qualms recommending this to friends. If you’re up for action this is the anime to watch.

Yumeria

Moe. A slang term for a deep attraction to a girl in anime, manga, or video games. The moe characters possess various “ideal” traits that illicit a deep desire or attachment to the character. Most commonly moe characters are young in body and mind, with some form of helplessness or naiveté; although there are many other “types.” Considering this isn’t a lecture about moe, I’ll leave it at that. It has become a profitable niche category in popular Japanese culture. The pinnacle of a “moe distribution system” would be the harem genre, and Yumeria is just that.

  This series has no depth to its storyline, there are Lolita themes, with many of the female characters underage, and perverseness runs rampant. The reason I like this anime is simply its goofy story and intriguing look into the moe culture. I don’t agree with quite a few of the themes in this anime, but if I don’t look too far into it, I can have a good laugh. It’s a fun way to spend 4 hours.

 

Story and Characters || 6 | 10

  This is the category in which I’m afraid Yumeria fails. Originally from a game of the same name, the story involves Tomokazu Mikuri falling asleep and traveling to a dream world where the future of existence will be decided. He draws in various ladies along the way, and they join him in his fight against the Faydoom. The male lead character is a generic harem anime protagonist. Average, average, average. While most anime of this genre find the main male character stumbling accidentally into awkward situations involving the ladies that surround him, and to comedic result; Mikuri enjoys and welcomes every bit. Considering all but one female character is either younger than him or related, I can’t say I agree with his actions.

  Each of the main 5 females each encompasses a version of a Moe character: Mizuki - sweet childhood friend, Nanase - voluptuous older lady, Kuyou - outspoken and forward spunky girl, Neneko - young “catlike” kid, and Mone - innocent and naïve mysterious girl. He meets Mone in his first foray into the dream world and wakes up to her sleeping, apparently naked, in his bed. She can only say “mone” (could it be a reference to moe? Gee, let me think…). After her, the other ladies soon enter his dreams, and subsequently, his real life, and the chaos ensues. Most of the series deals in fan service and jokes about being a pervert. For example; the way the ladies power up is by being touched by Mikuri. In the last few episodes the story starts to pick up, and there are a few twists and turns before the end. The idea for this series is interesting; the problem is they didn’t do anything worthwhile with it. Basically the story takes a backseat to showing the ladies in various skimpy outfits with Mikuri drooling over them. They try to redeem his character by making him “caring.” Problem is, after his constant advances and eagerness to grope and peek at the underage or “related” characters, his one redeeming quality doesn’t seem too significant. But for a hardcore harem, moe anime they achieve what they aimed for.

 

Art and Animation || 7 | 10

  The background artwork is well drawn. The dream world seems a bit similar to the real world; the only difference is the floating square rocks in the sky. Most of the other background work is modern-day Japan. The character designs are all done well, and suit the characters “personalities.” Outfits are mostly skimpy, or related to some fetish, but again, fit the anime. The colors are vibrant and the combat suits they wear are designed well. Animation is crisp and detailed. The quality remains steady, although the 12 episode length may contribute to that. The transforming and attacking animations are recycled a la Sailor Moon, but it’s understandable. I would’ve liked a bit more variety between the real and dream worlds. Other than that, a good job overall.

  Opening animation borrows a few attacking animations and combines it with simple sequences showcasing the characters. Its what I would expect from an anime of this type. The closing sequence is comprised of various stills having some relation to the characters. A toy Mikuri used to own, the cap Neneko wears, etc. I watched them a few times, but after a while they just get in the way. Well done, but not memorable.

 

Music and Sound || 7 | 10

  Most of the music is what you would expect from a harem anime. Some goofy, some sentimental, come comedic, etc. The background music fits the scenes and isn’t overdone or underdone. The music helps the scene along. The opening and closing songs are sweet pop songs sung by soft-voiced ladies. Everything fits together. The themes are appropriate to the opening and ending and the background music accenting the episodes.

  The sound effects are also standard harem anime fare. There are a lot of “normal” effects; cars, horns, footsteps, and a lot of “normal anime” effects; the flying “woosh”, laser/energy blasts, comedic “bonk” sounds, etc. They are all of good quality; they fit with what warranted the effect.

  Voices are done well also. In both English and Japanese versions, the VA’s fit the characters. Like in most harem anime, a bunch of young girls yelling at once can get a bit annoying. It’s just something that is to be expected, and if you are watching an anime of this genre, you just have to put up with it. I think they did a good job.

 

Presentation || 8 | 10

  This was probably the hardest category to rate. With the lackluster story and slightly creepy comedic elements, I was tempted to give this a lower score. The decision that ended with me settling on an “8” turned out to be simple. This anime was never supposed to be deep, or meaningful. It was a moe anime, pure and simple. So as a moe anime, it did everything it was supposed to, and it did it well. The female characters fit their molds perfectly, and they were well animated/designed and quite cute. I don’t agree with the apparent Lolita complex the main character seemed to revel in, or the attraction to his “cousin”, but these themes are found in other Asian media. Just because I don’t understand or agree with it doesn’t mean its wrong; there’s just a big culture gap in that particular area. One of the main reasons I enjoy watching this anime is the glimpse into the moe culture.

  It may seem like all I did was bash this anime, but I actually like it. There are a few funny parts, and others I find entertaining. It’s an easy viewing. You don’t have to remember anything, think about anything, or even really pay attention to follow it. A fun, quirky 4 hour break from reality. And although I’m not attracted to the characters, nor do I feel any attachment to them, they are very cute and likable. That’s a plus in my book. Yumeria isn’t in my top 20, and it’s not something I would recommend to anyone but I’m glad I have it around for some mindless distraction.

  ADV rates it TV14. I suppose that’s accurate. The only “objectionable” material is the nearly constant fan service. The characters do a Sailor Moon transformation with the quasi-nudity to go along with it. But as I see it, if you “get” the themes and reasons behind this anime, then you’re old enough to watch it.

  Substance, meaning, or depth is lost on this anime. If you’re interested in moe culture, you love moe characters, or you find humor in pervert jokes then this anime is for you.

"Funny Oblivion Moments." or "ETA: Wednesday"

Everything’s getting here Wednesday. That’s a good thing. I’m “off” on Friday. That was my main worry. A package was going to get there Friday while I’m at home. One of the problems with online shopping. It’s still better than most other ways, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. So over the next 2-3 weeks there will be 5 anime reviews coming down the pipe. I think I’m going to save Kenshin for last since it’s so long. I’ve also been pondering my game reviews. The last “review” I did was for PoP: The Two Thrones and it was a sort of half-donkey-ed. I’m just worried it would be too long. If you think my anime reviews are exhaustive, then you don’t want to see my game reviews… Maybe I’ll just to an abridged version… As for manga, I’ve never done one and I don’t really plan on it since I don’t own/plan to own that much. All I will say on that matter is:

                1 | Read the Read Or Die manga and the Read Or Dream manga.

                2| Read Saikano.

I’ve been contacted by the dark brotherhood in Oblivion. If you know anything about them, then you know why I must ignore this path. I would’ve liked to kill him since he was a) In my house, b) evil, c) trying to pull me into his evil. I didn’t though, mostly because I don’t think I would be able to. You can’t kill “essential” NPCs, you just knock them out. Annoying? Sometimes. But I remember in Morrowind when I cleaned out a house to later find out it was a Thieves Guild HQ and it messed up my guild progression since they didn’t exist anymore. I suppose I can accept the no-essential-kills rule…

One thing BethSoft does need to add is the “dispose” button (or whatever it was called) that removed slain enemies. It’s too odd when someone attacks me in a city, I kill them, and from then on their carcass is lying in the middle of the street. I’ve started dragging them into bushes or bodies of water, but that’s still weird because now there are 3 or 4 bodies floating in the docks district in the Imperial City. *Sigh.* It’s still an amazing game. I’m just nitpicking. The only reason I even brought it up was because it seems like an easy fix for BethSoft.

Some funny things happening? Sure, I can tell a few. (None of this is scripted by the way.)

I was on a quest to tail a person (without his knowledge) as he went through his daily routine. Toward the end of the day, he decided to go for a walk outside the city gates. Everything was going fine until he wandered a little too far away from the city. A Mountain Lion started attacking him. Mind you, if I interfere (read: save him) he spots me and the mission is over. Without weapon, he attacked the Lion for a bit, then his RAI told him “you’re no match, stupid!” and he screamed out in terror and started running away. I, of course, followed and watched as the Mountain Lion chased him as he fled to the city gates. Wondering now what I should do, I kept following, hoping he’d make it to the gates and the guards would take care of the Lion. Well, he made it to within 10 feet of the gates when the lion caught up with him and killed him with one swipe. My Objective Cursor was still fixed on my target’s dead body. Super. How to complete the mission now? Of course it’s a game and I can just reload. The next time around he stayed inside the gates thank God.

Another time I was traveling between cities when I was attacked by a Minotaur. Almost out of health from a recent Oblivion Gate battle, I decided to run. Unfortunately, as I ran I ended up picking up 2 more Minotaurs, a bear, 2 Mountain Lions, and a pack of wolves. Seeing an inn ahead, I decided to seek shelter. I entered the inn and let out a sigh of relief just as the gang of enemies entered the inn behind me. The patrons and owners of the inn started attacking my attackers. They were no match for 3 Minotaurs alone, much less everything else. And since there was such little space, I had almost no health, and I couldn’t attack without risking hitting a person, all I could do was watch as they were all slaughtered. Reload.

Another time, I was entering an Oblivion Gate with some comrades to close the gate and save the town. We battled our way up to the foot of the hill that held the Tower at the top. You have to follow a twisting path up the hill to reach the door to the tower. So we all charge up the spiral path, cutting down all enemies that get in our way. Then I hear a rumble. Rockslide! I stop as the huge boulders tumble down the hill… knocking all 5 soldiers into the lava below. Funny thing was, they started attacking the boulders as they pushed them over the cliff. Super. Oh well, I prefer to work alone anyway…

I shot myself with my bow and arrow once. Testing the gravity theory, I shot an arrow straight up into the sky, and waited. Nothing. For about a minute I waited without the arrow returning to the ground. So I forgot about it and continued with my stalking mission (separate than the first). I moved a bit forward from my original position to get a better hiding spot. About 10 seconds later, I get hit with an arrow! Looking around for who shot me, thinking it was part of the quest, I didn’t even think about my own arrow. After being completely puzzled by that, I went into “Vanity Mode” (rotate-able third-person camera) and saw the arrow sticking vertically in my shoulder. Then it “hit me”, it was my own arrow!

I was practicing my archery at a Fighter’s Guild. Another comrade stood next to me and did the same. After a bit I stopped, as did the other. Problem is, he walked up to the targets and retrieved his, and my, arrows! Luckily he shot mine first (mine were more powerful). I walked over to the target and picked them up. “Thief!” He said I  stole the arrows. Me! So I had a bounty on my head, I was kicked out of the Fighter’s Guild, and I didn’t even get all my arrows back… Reload.

During another of my forays into the plane of Oblivion, I was attacked by a daedric wizard. They can’t fight up-close, they’re spell casters. So my strategy is to attack them head-on. After a bit of leveling up, they started running from me. I was chasing him outside the tower; over rocks, bridges, and up a narrow path. The sheer terror his RAI was experiencing (apparently) as he reached what he perceived as a dead-end told him he had a better chance of surviving if he jumped off the cliff into the lava below… so he did.

And of course, from my last post, you know of the luck I’ve had with horses. You have to get off your horse to attack. Whenever I do, the enemy sizes up the situation and decides to attack my horse instead of me; easier target. I’ve lost so many horses so many times I don’t even bother with them anymore. Besides I can run faster than most horses now.

There are also a few instances where a NPC brushes up against a shelf or counter or table and starts to knock over a pitcher or something. Being the “neat freak” I am, I catch the item before it tumbles over. I don’t pick it up; I “grab” it to set it straight. Clearly not stealing. But every time I did that, they accused me of stealing. Luckily all you have to do (if their disposition is above 50) is talk to them and they immediately forget about it.

Well, that’s about all I can think of at this moment. Just though I’d share a few interesting moments with everyone. Hope everything is going good with you all.

Find humor in the quirkiness of RAI, Gundam!

"My First Manga." or "Damned Oblivion Gates!"

Taking a quick break from Oblivion (read: eating) so I thought I’d post a little something here before another 2 week gap opens up in my OJ (online journal. I hate the word “blog”) again.

Last Saturday I finally bought my first manga. I’ve read a bunch of manga online, either direct scans or scanlations; although it’s taken me this long to take the plunge and drop the $8 for the physical copy(s). After I read Read or Die I decided to buy that manga series as my first; a sort of “best” opener into the world of owning manga. Unfortunately it has taken years to be released in America.  A few months ago I read on a ROD fan site that the manga was licensed and going to be released this year. The last few months I’ve checked in the local bookstores and last Saturday I finally saw Volume 1 sitting on the shelves. Tossing aside my “buy-it-only-when-its-all-out” rule I picked it up unable to wait, the desire to own my own copy winning out. As I passed over the rest of the rack I saw the Wolf’s Rain manga adaptation, only 2 volumes, so I decided to get that as well. Saikano was initially my second choice but they only had the first 3 volumes in the store. As I handed my manga to the cashier, she casually informed me that if I bought one more I could get another free. Buy 4 get 1 free. So I picked up the 3 Saikano volumes for the heck of it. In a few days when I order my new anime, I’m going to get the rest of the series. So ROD Read or Die, Saikano and Wolf’s Rain are my first three manga series. I’m rather proud of my selection and I’ve been reading them (starting with ROD first naturally) throughout the day when I’m not playing Oblivion or doing anything important. Can’t say how often I will be buying new manga from here on out besides the following volumes of ROD, I’m more of an anime man, but I’m sure something else will come around eventually.

So I ended up buying 6 manga and, since I only needed one more dollar to make 50 points or whatever it takes to grant me a personal shopping day at Borders, I got a bookmark. Stuck it to me. I guess it was pretty easy to talk me into it. I was in a good mood. Now I have 3 coupons for 25% off a book, a personal shopping day with 10% off everything and a bookmark. Super. Well there were a few books I’ve been wanting to buy *cough*DaVinci Code*cough*… everything works itself out in its own little way.

I’m about to make another anime order as I’ve said earlier. I’m getting the entire Rurouni Kenshin series, Burst Angel, RahXephon, and…. Hmm… maybe Yumeria. For some reason I like that anime even though it’s pretty shallow… and has a slight Loli complex… I’m still waiting on Ghost in the Shell: Second Gig to come out so I can get the whole series. Unless of course if they’ve decided to continue it. I read somewhere that they were planning another GITS Universe anime but they didn’t say if it was a continuation of Stand Alone Complex, or something new. I might get Now and Then, Here and There instead of Yumeria. The only reason I’m leaning towards Yumeria is to balance out the anime. Kenshin is a balanced series with equal parts comedy and drama, RahXephon is serious philosophical mind-frag (not really) drama, and Burst Angel satisfies my “cool anime series” slot since it is equal parts action/fan service/mecha/comedy/drama. So all that is left is a comedy. Maburaho maybe, but I don’t think that’s all out yet. I think Hare+Guu is hilarious but that’s just barely coming out… Chromartie High was funny but I don’t feel like buying it now. Hmm, what else… well there are a few others I can’t think of at this moment. Maybe I’ll just get some cutie anime, or DNAngel. !!! Yeah! DNAngel is ThinPak-ed now. That’s it! Go me!

Back in my world of Oblivion I’m getting pretty fed up with those Oblivion gates that keep popping up out of nowhere. After satisfying the first two main-story missions, Oblivion gates start randomly (and not-so-randomly) appearing as you travel. I’ve lost at least 5 good horses to those gates since the wonderful RAI makes the enemies choose my horse as a “worthy” combatant over me (I’m intimidating I guess). And considering my horse likes to fight back, I can’t run over and save it for fear of killing it myself if it gets in the way of my blade or magic. And another main-quest element has you make a request to all the major cities of Cyrodiil. Of course they decline because an Oblivion gate has them preoccupied at that moment. 9 cities means 9 requests means 9 Oblivion gates I must close to progress in the story… I get a good set of daedric armor I can sell for about 9,000 septims total out of the deal but I’d trade the money for a moment without having to travel to Oblivion and close another gate for another helpless town. Maybe I’ll just focus on my Mage’s Guild progression. I’ve finally been granted acceptance into the Arcane University so I think I’ll bolster my magical proficiencies for a bit then get back to closing those gates… I’m also on a quest to find Nirnroot, a super rare plant someone wants to make an “Adventurer’s Potion.” I happen to love those gopher missions where you have to wander around the wilderness looking for some obscure item or material. It’s great for exploring the backwoods of the world.

My least favorite city was Bravil: a ramshackle town on a marshy river area. The metal is rusted over, the wood is warped and discolored and it’s always raining. Granted, I didn’t stay too long there the first time around. Lately I’ve wanted to return. Its one of those places you can’t seem to forget about; like the childhood vacation where it rained the whole way, you were stuck in the car the whole time, the park was closed and the pools were empty, but after you got home and thought back on it, you realized you actually had a good time just being with your friends or family. It sticks in your mind forever as more “ideal” vacations fade. That’s the kind of city Bravil is. And I think my third house is going to be there. I just need to get my shots first…

Well, dear readers that’s all for today. Back to Oblivion for me. Have fun doing whatever it is your doing.

Keep up with your journal, Gundam!

"Quicksaving before remodeling." or "My Second Life."

Haven’t posted in a while. Wonder why? Well I’m telling you anyway.

I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion during every free waking moment. It has become my second life, and I’ve never been happier. The depth of immersion is incredible. FIRST! I’m not going to review this game for a while considering it will take me “a while” to “beat.” I use those terms lightly considering I still haven’t done everything there is to do on Morrowind.

Back to the reason for this post. You know you’ve found a great, deep game when you’re quicksaving before you place bottles on a shelf. With the new Havok physics engine addition you can manipulate nearly every item that isn’t nailed down in the game. And after you buy your house(s), and the room-furniture packages that are available at one of the local merchant’s; you have a large house with empty shelves and containers. That means (to me at least) they need to be filled. Throughout the course of my journeys so far I’ve collected a handsome quantity of various weapons, armor, clothing, jewelry, scrolls, papers, potions, poisons, and other miscellaneous items. They all have a place in my main house, and mostly are easy to manipulate into place. Mostly because there are a few items that are exceedingly difficult to manipulate properly.

Potions are at the top of that list and I find myself quicksaving after placing every bottle successfully on the shelf. The upper shelves aren’t really a problem provided you have patience. It’s the lower two shelves that are frustrating. There isn’t a “crouch” function in the game. “Sneak” lowers your body a bit but it’s hardly enough to make a difference. You have to stand as far away as possible from the potion bottle you just dropped, pick it up at the very top and try to measure the depth of the shelf and how far away you are from it. If your little “hand” touches the next shelf, the potion will spasm since it’s one of those tricky programming things that thinks you want to move the potion “up” when you want to move the potion “deeper into the cabinet.” If you’ve placed other bottles on the same shelf, the one you’re trying to manipulate will knock it over if it touches. Understandably, a spasm-ing bottle will easily knock over anything within its radius-of-effect. If you’ve placed multiple bottles close to each other, a domino effect will knock over the entire shelf of bottles, effectively ruining the tens of minutes you’ve spent placing them. That’s why I quicksave. I’ve spent hours adding items to my various display cases, shelves, cabinets, chests and so on in my house. The potions and poisons amount to at least half of that time. It’s worth it though… I even have a servant woman that, as far as I can tell, wanders around my house making sure everything is fine. Point is: I have a servant woman in my house that I own in a game that owns my life at the moment.

“I’ll just play for an hour or so…” turns out to be “6 hours”, and I don’t even realize it. Wonderful. Of course there’s more to the game than just decorating and stocking a house. Hundreds of quests await me, and I haven’t even explored a fifth of the game world yet. I’d go on, but this would turn into a review, and I don’t want to do that yet. If you are a fan of: RPGs, video games, large detailed worlds, swords and sorcery combat, or decorating a house I highly recommend Oblivion. Buy it, and play it. Just make sure your computer can handle it.

In other news… I can’t remember… I haven’t really done anything else. There is some [adult swim] news I can share. They’ve acquired the rights to air Eureka Seven. It will start in April this year. I wasn’t able to see it all fansubbed, but from what I did see, it was interesting. On top of that, it was a Studio BONES job, and I like what they do. Can’t wait. They’ve also acquired Bleach, but that doesn’t start until the fall. V For Vendetta I saw whenever it opened. Great movie. It had a lingering Matrix feel, but it was original enough to separate from the other stuff (read: The Matrix Trilogy) the Wachows-whatevers did.

Nothing else too interesting to mention. I’m ordering Burst Angel and something next week, so there will be a few new anime reviews coming down the pipeline in a few weeks, if you’re keeping an eye on my journal. That’s it for me. I’m getting back to Oblivion now. Need my fix.

Get back to playing Oblivion, Gundam! (*sniff, sniff* I smell a crossover…)

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