Saigar Update: Group B Round 2

Posted by Demian @ 7:48 pm, January 31st, 2007

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Now that’s gar.

Second round of the preliminaries now:

Bright Noa uses his bitchslap of garness to destroy Maebara Keiichi and Heinrich Lunge. I don’t think even Bright’s manly instruction could ever make Keiichi gar. A justified victory.

Guts counters the beamspamz of Nanoha and memespamz of The Cabbage to win with an unprecedented 357 votes, the largest number in this tournament so far. Nanoha didn’t even come close with 205. Clearly, Guts is the one to beat in this tournament, up there with Archer and Akagi. Also, with Nanoha defeated, this tournament of manliness is finally cleared of all women, it just took to the second round for that to happen.

Group C will feature first Hiraga Saito vs. Saitou Haijime vs. Batou. This looks to be a clear victory for Saitou, though Batou may be able to stage an upset. Saito should just be content with being the slave of a hawt loli. Then there’s Tohno SHIKI vs. Akagi Shigeru vs. Harlock. Clearly, the only winner here can be Akagi. Garlock is impressive, but the shear manliness and fuck you attitude of Akagi can’t be beaten. And hopefully everyone knows now that SHIKI is not the gar Shiki that somehow lost in the first round.

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Manga Review: Eternal Alice Rondo V. 1

Posted by Demian @ 7:18 pm, January 30th, 2007

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Remember that odd little anime series that aired last January about mahou shoujo bunnygirls fighting to obtain a story about Alice? No? Well, I wouldn’t blame you. It was hardly the most exciting thing airing back then, with both Fate/stay Night and Mai-Otome on. But it seems the series was interesting enough to have the manga it was based on licensed by DrMaster and released in English, and due to it’s completely weird yet oddly gripping story, I decided to pick it up.

Key Princess Story: Eternal Alice Rondo, damn long title, is about Aruto Kirihara, an Alice enthusiast. As the name implies, he loves the Alice in Wonderland stories by Lewis Carrol, except in his world they were written by Alternative L. Takion, who is set up as the series’ antagonist. However, there is a third Alice story no one knows about, and if read can grant the reader’s wish. The only way to read it is to steal the pages of it from other Alice enthusiasts’ hearts. To do this, Alice users transform into bunnygirl themed battle outfits and fight eachother. Aruto meets one of these users, Arisugawa Arisu, who drags him into this world of Alice battles. She’s also the main romantic heroine. There’s also Aruto’s sister Kihara, who is also an Alice user and just wants to get into Aruto’s pants. Seriously, she insists they bath naked together every night, along with other suggestive things sisters shouldn’t do. Then there’s Kirika, Aruto’s buxom sempai and an Alice Researcher. That’s mainly the core cast as of V.1. If you followed the anime, you’ll notice that Kisa and her lesbian ways are absent. Sadly, she only appears in the first chapter.

So, Eternal Alice Rondo hardly has the most believable story ever, but there are a couple things to keep me interested. One, I enjoy the setting, which is a victorian-like european city, even though everyone’s name is Japanese, and I like all the references to the Alice books. It’s the victorian gothic fan in me. Two, watching bunnygirl mahou shoujo’s fighting eachother is always entertaining. The action isn’t all that great, kind of the wham, bam, what just happened; but it’s good enough for me. This series also has plenty of fanservice, some of it of the fetishy variety. The whole Aruto and his sexed up sister story is one of them, but you also see Aruto dress up as a trap, which is disturbingly cute (much like Impz). The series also seems to have a dark side to it I’m intrigued by. Later in the book an Alice user is killed by another by being stabbed in the heart with a letter opener. It’s a gruesome scene that appears out of place for a mostly light-hearted series. I remember reading some things about this series being dark, so I look forward to see what happens.

The artwork is suitable enough, if rather sketchy. It’d be nice if the backgrounds were more detailed. All the girls are moe/hawt in their own ways, and can be easily told apart. Never underestimate how important that is (I’m looking at you Claymore). This is the third DrMaster book I own, and I have to say I quite like them, or at least I like their presentation. The book is nicely bounded and printed with a full-color insert of Arisu. I liked how they kept the full Japanese title and just added the english one on the side. The inside cover also has flaps like a dustcover, but I don’t know why you would need them.

For those craving rich plots and detailed intrigue, you better look elsewhere, because Eternal Alice Rondo will be a mediocre series that fails all those expectations. I reccomend Monster for something deep. If your looking for a fluffy romantic shounen piece, and you don’t mind unrealistic plots, then flip through this next time your in a borders. It’s hardly the worst book you could get, and at the very least you can enjoy seeing trap Aruto. Admit it, you enjoy that stuff.

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I think this can describe the whole series so far.

Series Review: Betterman

Posted by Demian @ 6:13 pm, January 29th, 2007

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There is a criminal lack of good Betterman art.

Stepping into the wayback machine for this little known horror series from 1999. A little background first before my review. Why exactly did I watch an almost obscure series from so long ago anime-wise? Because it was directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani and produced by Studio 7, the same people who made Gaogaigar. It even has character designs by Takahiro Kimura, and if you’ve seen any of those designs, then you know that his women are incredibly sexy. He’s working on Code Geass right now, and anytime your fappin’ to Karen, you have Mr. Kimura to thank, not Clamp. Anyways, since I heard this took place in the same universe as Gaogaigar I thought I’d take a look at it, and I’m damn glad I did.

In the world of Betterman, a mysterious disease has been ravaging humanity that causes people to go insane and kill others and themselves. The cause of the disease, or even if it is a disease, is unknown. It could be a virus, a mutation, or the wrath of God. Nobody knows. Mode Warp is a scientific institute that researchs Algernon with the help of Akamatsu industries, who provides their research mecha Neuronoids. Neuronoids are ungainly robots who have to be piloted by two people, both Head Divers, people with abnormal mental abilities. One of these Head Divers is Keita Anno, who meets his childhood friend Hinoki Sai who he hasn’t seen in years. She is a Head Diver herself, and drags Keita into the world of Algernon.

The Betterman of the title is a super-evolved human who can transform into different forms to battle monsters through the use of seeds. Betterman has four distinct forms, such as Nebula, Forte, or Lamia; each with it’s own unique abilities. Other characters are Miyako Asami, a logical researcher from Mode Warp; Shigeru Akamatsu, the energetic head of Akamatsu Industries; his loli daughter Sakura, who can read people’s consciousness’ through the Limpid Channel; and Shou Yanagi and Kaede Murenai, a pair of Head Divers with psychic abilities. And these are just all the characters at the beginning. There are a ton of other mysterious people that appear throughout the series; some good, some evil.

Now, Betterman is a thinking man’s anime. Even though it follows a monster of the week formula most of the time, it’s plot is very complex and needs to be carefully paid attention to to understand. While some say Betterman isn’t understandable at all, I think all the mystery’s, aside from a couple small ones, are answered by the end of the series; you just have to pay attention to get them. One of the things I like most about Betterman is how logical it is. It uses cold, hard biological information to explain the many mystery’s and monsters that appear throughout the show. When was the last time you’ve heard of a monster being described as nothing but a mass of urine bladder cells? The terms can be confusing, but fascinating at the same time.

To me, Betterman is the best horror series I have ever seen. It’s the only anime to actually make me feel creeped out and afraid. Most of the action takes place at night in abandoned, cramped areas, where people have vanished or died. The mixture of this with the often eerie soundtrack creates a dense, claustrophobic atmosphere, where your constantly wondering whats around the corner. It helps that all the characters are wonderful, and you come to care about all of them. Keita can be an idiot at times, and his ability to pilot the neuronoid so well is kind of stupid, but his love for Hinoki and wish to protect her is beautiful and romantic. This is what makes the ending of Betterman so heart-rendering. Betterman has the most brutal ending I’ve seen since End of Eva, with deaths, mass destruction, revelations, madness, etc. I’m trying not to spoil it, but the ending left me so emotionally drained I feel I have to talk about it.

If you’ve been looking for a good horror-themed anime, or maybe one to get those brain juices flowing, I couldn’t reccomend Betterman enough. It’s unique mixture of mystery, horror, great characters, and realistic science are a winning combo in my book. It may be hard to get into, but you’ll be hooked if you stick with it. Betterman’s been released on DVD for awhile in English, and you can get the whole series for around forty bucks in a boxset. Not a bad deal, especially since the extras on the DVD’s, Mode Warp files, really helps clear up some of the plot. Now, if I could just find the full song for the damn ED. Why is it so hard to find songs for a show that’s a decade old?

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Takahiro Kimura is my god.

Saigar Update: Group A Round 2

Posted by Demian @ 5:19 pm, January 29th, 2007

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Moving on the next round now, where the competition is getting tougher and manlier.

Dio Brando steamrolled his opponents, Nero Chaos and Son Goku, into submission. A sad loss for the Type-Moon fans, but being able to stop time and drop steamrollers is really more gar then being able to walk around in just a trenchcoat.

Archer, Garcher, whatever, easily defeated Sagara Sousuke and Domon Kasshu. I was a little worried here since yesterday there appeared to be a ton of support for Sagara, but then it turns out he gets less votes than Domon. How Interesting.

Next up is Group B; with the first battle being Bright Noa vs. Maebara Keiichi vs. Heinrich Lunge. This looks to be a difficult battle, as all competitors won with the same point range. Hopefully, Bright will come through with old-school garness and bitch-slapping. Then there’s Guts vs. Takamachi Nanoha vs. The Cabbage. Now, the real battle here is between Guts and Nanoha. There’s no denying that Guts is one of the best examples of gar around, but Nanoha has the power of meme and pedophiles behind her. Whoever wins this one, I know I’m going to her complaints about it.

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Narcissu Side 2nd Drama CD

Posted by Demian @ 5:39 pm, January 28th, 2007

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Stage-Nana released a drama CD for Narcissu Side 2nd at C71, whose script Agilis over at Neechin.net was kind enough to translate. It mostly about the new girl Himeko, the older girl on the 7th floor who Setsumi befriends when she first gets there, and her friends and how she first gets sick. It’s also suitably sad enough to bring a tear to my eye. If this is any indication of what Narci2 is gonna be like, then I better get the tissues ready. Though, I still have no idea when that might come out. You can get the translation pdf here.

Source: VisualNews

How the Wii Invaded American Television

Posted by Demian @ 9:19 pm, January 27th, 2007

Recently, I’ve found myself fascinated by the Wii commercials, mainly because, for commercials aimed at selling a product in the american market, they seem incredibly Japanese to me. They’re nothing like the commercials of yore, filled with mind-blowing graphics and violence that us americans love. Instead, it’s two guys, I like to call them Hiro and Ando, in salaryman business suits, driving around in their incredibly small hybrid car, to a distinctly traditional japanese soundtrack. When they approach potential users, they politely bow and ask them to play. And it’s never solely college guys their asking to play. It’s your mom, your uncle, your grandma, it’s the entire family. Gone our the solitary days of old, where it was just a man and his game. And, boy, are these guys everywhere. Their in the suburbs, the cities, hispanic neighborhoods, the heartland! They get hugged by burly macho men and fed nachos. Their the guests everyone loves, maybe because they bring high-priced electronics.

Now, clearly there’s a lot of smart marketing behind this. The Wii is meant for everyone, so you show people of all ages enjoying it. Still, could not the same thing be done by american businessmen? Would Americans not trust people of their own country into their homes? Is the wii so foreign to the consumer, that only two Japanese men and their environmentally friendly car, another foreign thing in America, can represent it? I’m probably reading too much into this, and you can rebuke me if I am, but the whole family coming together, playing together, reminds me of how group-oriented japanese culture is. Looked at this way, the Wii is more than a radically new gaming machine. It’s an export of uniquely japanese values of togetherness, humility, and eco-friendlyness. And I wouldn’t mind seeing more of those values these days. Geez, listen to me. I’m starting to sound like a certain scottish guy.

Butler Cafe’s are Mainstream?

Posted by Demian @ 5:45 pm, January 27th, 2007

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TIME’s editor: They have butlers?! In cafe’s?! Sauce now!

As I was perusing my most recent volume of TIME, the magazine, not the 4th dimension, there was a rather interesting article on Butler Cafe’s in Japan. My first thought was ” Why the hell is there an article on japanese fetish cafe’s next to predictions on the ‘08 election? “, but I read on. The article is on the Swallowtail cafe, apparently the first and most successful butler cafe, and it’s many female customers who follow anime/manga and are called Otome, and so on and so on. I love it when western media tries to describe this stuff. Even the most simple explanation would be confusing to any normal people. The article also describes goth-lolita cosplayers, who’s costumes apparently come from medieval times, not victorian, and maid cafe’s. If you don’t know what a butler cafe is, why would you know what a maid one is?

Anyways, the articled goes on to explain that the reason the cafe is so popular is because those hard-working corporate women of Japan need a place to relax and get their lazy asses served by members of the opposite sex. Maybe I’m wrong, but I disagree with that entirely. One, I hardly believe the clientele of butler cafe’s would be the corporate women of society. Instead, it’s those Otome who love bishounen and yaoi buttsechs, and have enough expendable income to go to a cafe everyday. I doubt they’d be any different from those same otaku who visit meido cafe’s day after day because they love moe. It has nothing to do with Japanese sexism, which apparently every western reporter believes Japan’s problems boils down to. It’s just another escapist niche that Japan happens to serve perfectly.

Of course, I’ve never met any self-proclaimed Otome, or seen much research about them. For all the talk of FYG, their japanese sisters seem to be neglected, at least in the english realm. Here’s the article if your interested, or just want to mock it. Interesting to note, it was written by a guy. I wonder if the perspective would be any different from a woman? Also, check out the article ” Yep, They’re Gay “. It’s about gay rams and is hilariously stupid. Only in America.