Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto

Bakumatsu, as I will affectionately term this series for the rest of the review, is not really that bad a show. Indeed, it has (almost) all the elements of an excellent show.

Well, except for likeable, identifiable protagonists. … Or a sense of continuity. … Or a good sense of dramatic tension.

Ok, so maybe it’s lacking in a few departments. However, I really do need to stress that this show isn’t as bad as I’m about to make it sound. I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of this show, even if it was lacking in a few areas. So I feel I really should mention, right now, that it is worth watching, if you have some free time. Honest. Continue reading “Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto”

Villian’s Exposition: Command and Conquer, Act on Instinct

Very few people today will deny that the original C&C was an amazing game. In addition to a fairly realistic physics engine, an intriguing plot that actually bordered on the believable and an interface that streamlined play, Command & Conquer was also one of the first games to standardize the use of live-action cut scenes – usually for mission briefings. Prior to C&C, the third installment of the Wing Commander series was the only successful game to incorporate what, at the time, seemed like a minor point, even if it did make the games that much more awesome.

Today, the mission briefings for C&C seem a bit hammed-up, and certainly nothing to write home about. With the exception of Kane’s murder of Seth in one of the later Brotherhood missions, about the only “action” in them is when the screen would cut to CGI explosions. For the most part, you had an actor either standing in the open or sitting at a desk. Continue reading “Villian’s Exposition: Command and Conquer, Act on Instinct”

Villian’s Exposition: Otakon 2007

Otakon, as usual, proved to be full of ups and downs – not all of which were related fully to the convention itself, but nevertheless affected the overall experience. To give you the full story of my voyage, as it’s obviously the most important of them all, I’ll begin with my personal timeline.

After pre-registering in early June, via the “send us your money later or be destroyed” method due to a planned panel (which allegedly fell through due to an unfortunate administrative shuffle), I mailed in my precious $50 the first week of July. Continue reading “Villian’s Exposition: Otakon 2007”

Villian’s Exposition: Faulkner in Anime?

One of the nice things about cinema and television, as media, is that they can transport the viewer to an imagined world with greater precision than a novel or radio drama. This isn’t to say that books do a bad job at it, and, in fact, I find that a well-written story will often immerse me in the world of the tale far better than if there were visuals. However, because television and film are audiovisual media—rather than “videolinguistic,” to create a word—they can effectively create a world that all viewers will at least perceive as the same, if not necessarily interpret similarly.

And honestly, this is one of the reasons I like that we’re seeing so many cinematic and television adaptations of famous novels. It’s nice to see an old work return to popularity among the I-don’t-want-to-read-it generation, and plenty interesting to actually see how other people interpreted the same stories. Yet it is the act of cementing these stories—forcing them into a single, uniform scheme of the senses—that makes them accessible to our oh-so-lazy lives.

Continue reading “Villian’s Exposition: Faulkner in Anime?”

Villian’s Exposition: Black Isle

When I began writing for this issue, it was with every intention of bringing to light the recent shortage of games in the post-apocalyptic genre (Left Behind doesn’t count). It seemed a pertinent enough topic, given the current political climate and how good such games as the Fallout series and Wasteland, among others, were.

Yet as much as I missed taking down super-mutants at 1,000 paces, I realized that what I really missed was PC games that spent as much time on the game as gameplay. Oh, sure, we’ve still got some of the heavy hitters in Blizzard and Bioware, but we’ve also lost the names that ate up hour after hour, leaving us to question how it had gotten so late when we finally looked up. Continue reading “Villian’s Exposition: Black Isle”

Villian’s Exposition: Blue Seed and Arjuna

Does anybody still remember the huge environmentalist craze of the late ’80s and early ’90s? The 50 Simple Things books? Captain Planet? Ahh, those were the days, weren’t they, when all we needed to do to make the world a better place was to use canvas bags at the supermarket, cut the plastic rings from our 6-packs and sort your recycling properly.

Now, of course, there are such matters as more fuel-efficient cars, realistic solar power plans and all sorts of other issues designed to combat climate change on a grand scale. Continue reading “Villian’s Exposition: Blue Seed and Arjuna”

Utawarerumono: Wait, Excuse Me, He’s Not the Father . . .


Just in case you’re wondering, it’s Ooh-tah-wah-ray-roo-mo-no. Utawarerumono. Like many of the words in this show, it’s something you’ll have to learn a bit about via outside sources, thanks in no small part to our friends at ADV films.

But I get ahead of myself. For those of you who watched this show on fansub, you’ll know that it has an interesting plot that develops gradually, with characters ranging from unique to tediously archetypical. It’s got attractive, if at times generic, art and the character designs are actually fairly interesting.
For those of you who didn’t… Well, the art is the same, at least. The plot is largely unchanged as well. However, the ADV subtitlers have (in the first volume) managed to severely damage any credibility they may have built up over the years (or at least, this subtitling team has). Continue reading “Utawarerumono: Wait, Excuse Me, He’s Not the Father . . .”

Villian’s Exposition: Yamato and Nadesico

Ahh, the space opera: an epic tale of conflict and human emotions told in the timeless backdrop of the space between the stars; the modern-day successor to the classical romances of the middle ages, featuring such names as King Arthur and Sir Lancelot.

Although the quintessential space opera, Star Wars, is American, it is a genre that works especially well when animated, and as such it is a common setting for anime. While there are many that stand out, for the purposes of brevity – and to better adhere to the material I’ve already bothered preparing for this article – I’ve decided to focus your attention on two this month: Space Battleship Yamato and Martian Successor Nadesico. Continue reading “Villian’s Exposition: Yamato and Nadesico”

Hellsing OSTs: Ruins and Raid

The music of the original Hellsing series has been described as everything from masterful to unpleasant, but it never fails to evoke a strong reaction.

Within the context of the show, the music was integral to setting the dark mood and frantic pace of the action sequences, and did so without a hitch.

The OSTs, Raid and Ruins provide yet more of what you heard in the show, with extended-length tracks that fuse jazz, blues, rock, and alternative together into something different from the sum of their parts. Continue reading “Hellsing OSTs: Ruins and Raid”

Hellsing Ultimate: Flashy, but Plenty of Room for Improvement

This month, I got my hands on the first DVD of the much-anticipated Hellsing Ultimate OVA, and I have to say I’m a little disappointed.

The original show ranks high on my list of favorite anime, although I probably wouldn’t put it in the top five. Still, it combines vampires, gunfights, a dark and realistic setting and an exceptional plot into a single series, and to top it all off it was animated by Studio Gonzo – famous for such shows as Last Exile, Full Metal Panic! and Samurai Seven.

It’s a lot to live up to, but fans were salivating at the idea of being able to continue beyond the not-ending that wrapped up the original series. Since Ultimate was created to better follow the manga – and was written after the last of the books was released – it promised to provide both more of the vampiric action that had propelled the original show to fame and a satisfying resolution to the source of the technologically created “freaks” (as the lead characters affectionately call them). Continue reading “Hellsing Ultimate: Flashy, but Plenty of Room for Improvement”