Anime Online - Reviews, Community, Series, Wallpapers en-us Sun, 03 May 2015 11:07:55 +0000 PhotoPost ReviewPost 5.2 60 Naruto New Legends Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:55:07 +0000 <a href=""><img border="0" src="" alt="" /></a><br /><br />by: ZeroLightX<br /><br />Description: Free to Play. Jogo: Naruto New Legends. MMO RPG PVP. Ir à ??guerra em um jogo com 6 Aldeias, 2 Organizações, ou ser um Ninja falta. Escolha a partir de 30 clãs para lutar por cargos mais elevados ou simplesmente Arena lutar contra outros jogadores e participar em todos os tipos de eventos. Junte-se a nós em um jogo de luta ritmo rápido e desfrutar de sua própria aventura em Naruto New Legends! D Gray Man Fri, 18 May 2012 06:32:25 +0000 <a href=""><img title="dgray-man-939065.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="dgray-man-939065.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: vkitty<br /><br />Description: D.Gray-man follows the adventures of 15-year-old Allen Walker, whose left arm can transform into a monstrous claw and destroy akuma, evolving machines created by the Millennium Earl to help him destroy humanity. As ordered by his master General Cross Marian, Allen becomes an Exorcist, people who can destroy akuma, for the Black Order, an organization attempting to stop the Earl. He becomes a powerful asset for the Order because he can detect disguised akuma with his left eye. Allen is sent to recover pieces of Innocence, a substance that gives certain people, called Exorcists, the ability to destroy akuma. The Earl decides to call together the Noah Family, superhuman descendants of Noah who can destroy Innocence. Both sides start the search for the Great Heart, the most powerful piece of Innocence that will assure victory to the side that finds it. Audiosurf Wed, 08 Dec 2010 17:47:49 +0000 <a href=""><img title="audiosurf_characters.png" border="0" src="" alt="audiosurf_characters.png" /></a><br /><br />by: Lord Canti<br /><br />Description: Ah yes a very very VERY fun game I have just started playing, already have almost 10 hours of game play and just got the game yesterday really. ^^; Yes its that addicting. But here we go and now its time for you to learn to Audiosurf :3 (Audiosurf is an award-winning[4]puzzle/rhythm hybrid game created by Invisible Handlebar, a personal company created by Dylan Fitterer.[5] Its track-like stages visually mimic the music the player chooses, while the player races across several lanes collecting colored blocks that appear in sync with the music. The game was released on February 15, 2008 over Steam; the full version was for a long time only available for purchase through Steam, but was later released as a retail product in Europe, by Ascaron. Audiosurf is the first third party game to use Valve's Steamworks technology. The Zune HD version was also released as Audiosurf Tilt.) Basic outline of it from Wikipedia so you know who its made by and such things. Gameplay and Features: Audiosurf is an amazing 3D like game in which you use Music from your computer and ride the song in miniature space ships collecting color blocks either for points, powerups or to avoid hitting gray blocks. It contains game modes and difficulties for all sorts of riders and different rules for the colors. Each color has a different score: Red-80, Yellow-50, Green-30, Cyan-20 and Purple-10. You also see White and Black blocks that give you 2000 bonus points if they are at the bottom of a column. If you fill up a column with uneven matches you get penalized and lose points and you cannot collect colors for about 10 seconds. This is called Overflow and with Ironman on you fail the song when this is done. Theres also the option to change the colors you see in the options menu. There are 3 difficulty levels, Casual, Pro and Elite with Six different game modes: Mono, Pusher, Eraser, Vegas, Double Vision, and Pointman. Each game mode has their own unique craft for you to use and the abilities of each vary from which difficulty level you play. There are online leader boards and every time you finish a song you are automatically placed in the top, Globally, if your score is high enough. You can get all sorts of points boosts by what you do in the game or what mode your playing on. Such point modifiers are: Clean finish, Stealth, Match 21,11,7, seeing red, butterstick, and Ironman. Clean finish-Finishing with no colors of sorts in your collector Stealth-Hitting no grays in a mono ride Match 21,11,7-Collecting colors of those multitudes for a bonus score. Seeing red- Collecting the majority of red blocks on a ride Butter Ninja- Collecting the majority of yellow blocks on a ride Ironman-completing a ride with its intensity up and difficulty as well. Cannot over flow a column or you fail the song. Game modes Note: Casual non mono modes use only three colors: Red, Yellow, Cyan Casual modes: Mono- You simply hit colors and avoid grey blocks, very easy and relaxing. Pointman-You hold the the space bar for hint arrows and right click when you come upon a block and left click to use it later for a good bonus score. Double Vision-You can play with a friend or by yourself. You use two crafts on a ride and try to get a really big score since your points are pretty much doubling. Challenging by yourself but still fun. One person can use the mouse while the other the arrow keys or specific keys on the keyboard. Pro: Note: Pro non mono modes use four colors-Red, Yellow, Cyan and purple Mono Pro- An upgrade from mono where the speed is faster and there are more gray blocks. You push right click to jump and left click to widen your block grabbing ability so you can hit three lanes at once. My personal favorite. Vegas: Hold right click to shuffle the board once your start collecting all sorts of colors. Helps generate powerups to make amazing bonuses! Eraser- Pick a color and make it disappear with right click then bring it back with left click for good bonuses when your have alot of that same color. Pointman Pro- An upgraded version of pointman, you capture the blocks and store them for later. Pusher- You hold right click or left click to move color blocks left or right into the column you want. DV Pro- An upgraded version of Double vision thats faster and more challenging. Highly advised to play with another person ^^ Elite -cue epic music- Note: With elite non mono modes all five colors- Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Purple Ninja Mono- The hardest difficulty on mono in which right click you shoot the grays you collect as shurikens(not advised) and the left click you spread your fins to collect out of reach color blocks. Very hard and fast yet still fun. Its insane with the ironman mode on. Eraser Elite- Hardest difficulty for eraser, same as the first. Erase your mistakes and bring back colors to make good chains Pointman elite- Hardest difficulty for Pointman, you left click the blocks to capture them and put them where you need them. Pusher Elite- Hardest difficulty for Pusher, you push the blocks from side to side to create the chain you need. Very challenging yet insanely fun. DV Elite- Hardest difficulty for Double Vision, insanely hard to do by yourself since your eyes are everywhere but! Not impossible to do by yourself. Visuals Warning: NOT FOR PEOPLE WITH EPILEPSY!! YOU WILL HAVE A SEIZURE FROM THE COLOR CHANGING!! They also have a warning screen before the game starts up. I just had to put this by itself. The graphics are stunning! The colors themselves will leave you in awe and inspire you to continue to playing. In the options menu you can change the way you see the colors. You can change the screen affect from Negative, Rust(dark metallic colors), Outline (colors are outlined, kinda looks like a coloring book, and Paint(everything looks watercolor like but still amazing. With also four different graphic details: Minimal, Normal, Enhanced, Premium. You can also change the background color from White, Black or Gray. Mix and match background colors with screen affects to make even more amazing visuals. They even have a free ride mode where you just watch the screen change colors with either the classic mode in which you use, I assume from what it looks like, the first ship they made and you dodge the changing color blocks while listening to music of your choice. You can toggle auto pilot with spacebar. Or you can pick Visualizer where you just sit back and watch color changing visuals and listen to music. Very relaxing ^^Its just hard to explain how amazing it looks and how smooth the colors just flow, its like swimming in a wonderus paint swirl. Reception: Audiosurf was positively received with the broad majority of critics. On Metacritic, the title holds an average of 85 out of 100, suggesting favorable reviews.[7] 1UP awarded Audiosurf an &quot;A&quot; rating citing the massive replay value.[8] IGN gave the title an 9.0 out of 10, and stated that &quot;[Audiosurf is] one of those games that offers something for everyone.&quot;[9] Eurogamer were slightly less impressed, giving the game a 7 out of 10, criticizing its rough edges, yet remained convinced that the title had enough potential to become &quot;a bite-sized obsession.&quot; From wikipedia Final thoughts: I had saw this in a trance video by Dj Sharpnel, someone was using this program. I went to find out what it was and discovered something purely amazing. Though it costs to play the full version its worth every penny. The demo just teases you with only four to six songs of your choice to ride with a few game modes, All of casual and pusher D: . I just couldn't wait to buy it, it kept me up all night and I bought it as soon as I found out how much money I had through Steam. Its also a big fan of Jrock and Jpop since its Jpop week right now so Japanese music fans should be happy about that :3 Its just a purely amazing and addictive game that will keep you entertained from the most serious of gamers to those who like to go along for the ride ^_^ 2nd Chance - James Patterson Sat, 08 Aug 2009 23:04:54 +0000 <a href=""><img border="0" src="" alt="" /></a><br /><br />by: jazzy2103<br /><br />Description: The plot: A children's choir exited a church, innocently enough they streamed onto the street,&quot;then came the gunfire.Lots of it.Not just a single shot.A strafing.An Attack.&quot;The first in a series of racially determined attacks,everyone in the choir survived but for one ten year old Tasha who was shot from an impossible angle with incredible accuracy. Having recently solved the biggest case San Francisco may have ever seen,Lindsay arrives on the scene.Can she solved this case like she did before?One thing's for sure,she will have to face her past,protect her loved ones and see through the killer's clues to survive this one. A shocking twist to be expected. Xenosaga Episode 1 Mon, 27 Jul 2009 05:28:53 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Xenosaga_Episode_1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Xenosaga_Episode_1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: FLawEdmiNd<br /><br />Description: Xenosago Episode 1: Der Wille zur Macht is a sci-fi RPG released for Playstation2 developed by Monolith Soft and distributed through Namco. Der Wille zur Macht is a reference to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who published many books, three among them lend their titles to the Xenosaga trilogy. 'The Will to Power' in English. Many things are going on at once in the story of Xenosaga. Three separate storylines that converge into one make for some great gameplay. In the beginning there was a ship, floating in space and temporary home to Shion Uzuki, head of the KOS-MOS project. On a transport mission to deliver a Zohar Emulator to the Galaxy Federation the mysterious beings known as Gnosis attack and successfully get away with the Emulator. After much drama Shion and co. are rescued by the Elsa. While that all is going down, orders have been given to Ziggurat &quot;Ziggy&quot; 8 to find and rescue a prototype realian containing ultra-valuable information from the U-TIC Organization, one of the main villains. After obtaining MOMO, Ziggy is then instructed to head for Second Miltia. Except that's not allowed. More fighting which eventually leads Ziggy and MOMO to the Elsa, where both forces team up on U-TIC. After which they combine forces and go on their merry way. Encountering a huge Gnosis on their way Shion and co. are aided by Jr and the Kukai Foundation, which is being charged with the destruction of the Woglinde (above mentioned ship). Diving into the Encephlon to retrieve KOS-MOS' black box proves the Gnosis attacked and that the Kukai Foundation is not guilty. A pivotal character is met during their dive, one whom dictates the next phase in the stoy. In the shortest amount of words: the great villain of Xenosaga managed to capture MOMO is a staged attack on the Kukai Foundation and hides her away in the Song of Neplilim. In his madness he calls Proto Merkabah (from seemingly nowhere..) to destroy Second Miltia and the Kukai Foundation, of course the party breaches the space station and retrieves MOMO ultimately destroying Proto Merkabah. However, the damage has already been done. To explain the story more would leave me at risk of spoiling the whole game. This is the definition of RPG. Playing the game for the story. Ultimately the goal of Xenosaga is to protect the Zohar, an ancient relic discovered on Earth before it was destroyed, and to ensure the Y-Data does not fall into the hands of those who wish to meddle with the universe. Throughout the game the implication of such defense may anger the player, as this means you must travel long and far aided by few save points, fewer item boxes, and much stronger enemies. The battle system is classic turn-based fighting with little alterations; enemies hold fixed positions on the map so the player can usually choose which battles they would fight, though the enemy will chase you if you're spotted. For the purpose of leveling it is wise to fight each foe on the map. In battle characters have ether, tech, and skill options to help them defeat whomever. Ether is the magic of Xenosaga and is rarely necessary beyond healing until your characters aren't so weak. HP is so scarce that wasting a turn with something like +speed is useless unless it's part of a plan and the character is boosted. Or it's the boss and you have some time. The boost gauge fills during battle which allows the player a choice of giving an immediate turn to whichever character they chose i.e. it's Jr's turn and Shion is boosted. Right after Jr is finished his actions regardless of who's next in line, Shion plays. You can continue like this for as long as your boost gauge allows . Tech refers to special attacks characters can make during battle, at a certain AP cost. These attacks vary between characters and sometimes hit harder on certain types of enemies/carry status effects. AP, or action points, dictate the attacks available to player. At different periods in the game the player controls A.G.W.S. pronounced 'eggs' which are small mechs that don't have really have anything special, besides the fact they can't use ether or items. Their stats may be higher but the limits placed on them almost ruins the experience. The graphics of this game are relatively under par showing many jagged edges and things that could simply be designed better. One might wonder why so much attention was given to the story line and less time spent on arty stuff. Seeing is believing you. That aside, the massive space battles against crazy aliens look great and the more important cut scenes look very appealing too. They could be considered a little treat to the player for enduring the confusing puzzles only to be met with 10 minutes of filler cut scenes. I wasn't very aware of the music in Xenosaga except during oh-my-gosh battles or the frequent scenes involving death, angst, wtfness, revelations, admonitions, confessions, and that one cut scene were everyone was happy was for a change. Those times when I heard the music it was very fitting of the atmosphere and sounded amazing. Xenosaga has a bad reputation for it's mighty cut scenes I heard. It is true that once a cut scene starts you can get up, fill your drink, grab a bag of chips and sit back but it's worth actually watching whats going on instead of driving yourself nuts with impatience. The story is so rich with detail that skipping ahead to the better part isn't relevant. Overall I would say the best part of this Xenosaga is the story. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES Fri, 12 Jun 2009 00:30:19 +0000 <a href=""><img title="persona3fes.JPG" border="0" src="" alt="persona3fes.JPG" /></a><br /><br />by: Tano-kun<br /><br />Description: [B]Story[/B] Somewhere in the heart of Japan, a great catastrophe that happened years ago has greatly affected the victims of the mysterious incident responsible by the Kirijo Corporation. After the main character has been away for ten years, he comes back only to find out about the Shadows and world of Tartarus. The SEES (Special Extracurricular Execution Squad) recruits him after a sudden ambush of the school dorm, which unlocks the main character’s Persona. Can the SEES group make amends for the mistake of the Kirijo Corporation and find out the root of the cause for this incident? [B]Review[/B] It’s very accurate in the daily routine of school. Of course, there’s some difference only because it’s based on the school system in Japan, but other than that, it does have certain déjà vu feeling. From waking up in the morning to taking tests, the game gives a great taste of school life in different point of view. The Persona interconnected with social relationships (social links) make this game very elaborate. In a sense, the idea of strengthening ourselves through relationships actually makes a good point. As human beings, we are born to the socially active. During the battle sequence, there is a very useful list of various commands used. Moving around finding enemies has some advantages. For instance, commanding your group to split up to either search or attack. Sometimes, it can be useful; but if your members are weak when battling Shadows individually, then it’s not a wise choice to use this command. In addition, I love the knock down move that happens after all enemies are down. [B]Final Thoughts[/B] Overall I had a great time with playing Persona 3 FES. Considering this was probably my first RPG/Simulation game (actually it was P3), Atlus has done an awesome job with combining various things that make the game special. I commend their efforts and hope they will continue with this series last for at least a couple of decades. [B]Rating[/B] – 10/10 Cromartie High School Tue, 10 Mar 2009 20:32:55 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Cromartie_High_School_1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Cromartie_High_School_1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: majorMotoko<br /><br />Description: Takashi Kamiyama finds himself in Cromartie high school trying to prove the point that with the will to study and learn it is possible to do it anywhere. Little did he know that Cromartie wasn't just a high school full of thugs and punks trying to prove who's the baddest of them all but of gorillas with above normal intelligence, robots that believe they are humans and a Freddie Mercury look alike that rides a horse to school. If that wasn't enough Takashi finds himself in the middle of all kinds of strange scenarios that always end more confusing than they began. Eiji randomly adds extras about the characters through out the manga which is nice because you get why they are the way they are.He also adds little things about himself at the end of each volume which I've never seen any manga author do. My Bloody Valentine Sun, 25 Jan 2009 11:13:14 +0000 <a href=""><img title="mybloodybig.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="mybloodybig.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: FLawEdmiNd<br /><br />Description: Overview: We start off with some kids partying, but in 3-D. They live in a small town, dependent on the local mine for a reliable infrastructure. Harry Warden, a miner, goes absolutely crazy. His path of terror rips through a hospital, killing at least ten people. Meanwhile, the idiot teenagers have brought their party into the dark mines. Needless to say, all the high teenagers trip out. That is, most of them die. Young Tom Hanniger witness the dreadful of some teen, then the lawless shooting of pick-axe wielding Warden. Skip ahead ten years. Media is buzzing around the town and one survivor, Axel Palmer has become sheriff, quaintly married to survivor and Tom's old sweetheart Sarah Mercer, now Palmer. All hell breaks lose when Tom Hanniger shows up in town hell bent on selling the old, dark mines. Coincidentally Harry Warden is back with his pick-axe wielding, gas masking wearing self. Did I mention this all happens on Valentine's day? Review: So this is pretty much one of those trendy movies only high teenagers actually enjoy more than once. The cast is for the most part gorgeous and tortured looking; jailbait for the mind. It's hard keeping pace with the movie as things tend to happen for no apparent reason. For instance: kids partying innocently BAM there's a serial killer cutting out everyone's heart. The tortured antihero is all brooding then BAM an ugly miniature pug prances on the screen, accompanied by uts dwarf master. he dies by the way. Considering I saw this in the theater with the benefit of a huge screen and wicked sound system my review may be a bit biased. The sound was amazing, when they where in a cave one could hear the echo of sound off every surface. Gun shots were accompanied by very relevant ricochet sounds, and death never sounded so personal. After watching more than 30 movies I would say anyone could begin predicts the events of the movie. My Bloody Valentine is like watching the 29th movie but being able to call what'll happen next. It's the classic case of crazy ex returning, crazier than a bottle of Prozac. It's easy making assumptions when all the right clues are dropped yet subtle hints were given every now and then suggestion the opposite. Twice I questioned my prediction as to who the new killer was. In the end however, it actually is what you thought. The movie was able to hold its own for much of its running time. The characters were strong and believable albeit a little too poetical and angsty for real life. More than once I wanted to shout at them to grow up and forget about that stuff. Though they all have mastered the sexy pout. The action was relative and only reached that 1980's fever pitch once or twice, three times if we're nice. All the elements of the film worked well to their end. My eyes were searching the screen for little clues and nuances that gave away the parts I couldn't solve with my own common sense and mind. However, there were some very unbelievable scenes hiding in a movie that for the most part, eluded the viewer into thinking this was actually possible. That is to say, this movie was trying to be a serious situation et saying one man can lift a grown woman five feet into the air on a pick-axe. With one arm. The actual look of the movie was amazing staying with dark tones to build the dire atmosphere. The sky was rarely clear and all the surfaces looked grungy. I suppose this isn't a big deal what with all the HD. THX breakthroughs. This movie was nicely complied in almost every aspect. If this were a tag I would compliment the designer on the composition, depth, sharpness, blurring effects, style, and maybe even on showmanship. The entire venture was successful in my opinion, though many people at the theater were mumbling about its bad quality. I don't usually watch blood-and-guts movies (unless they feature zombies!) so I would have to say this movie was a modest achievement. I high recommend seeing the movie in a theater where you have access to wicked 3-D-vision. World of warcraft Mon, 19 Jan 2009 19:54:23 +0000 <a href=""><img title="world-of-warcraft-1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="world-of-warcraft-1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Little negi sensei<br /><br />Description: Ok this is truley a great game and un-like alot of mmorpg's this game has a story.You get the story when you first enter the world.Dont worry you dont have to read.This game has an ingame chat channel and an out of game chat channel.Millions of people play so you have no problem finding people to help you.There are 10 diffrent races.Humans,gnomes,dwarfs,night elfs, dreni,undead, blood elfs, tarun,trolls and orcs.And from there theres diffrent classes.Hunter,mage,warrior,warlock, ect.If you still think im jivin ya you can get a 10-day free trial at WARNING-------This game is highly addictive it will cause you to forget everything you love in life if your not careful.Or it will make your house VERY dirty as you can see from the picture.and yes people actually have houses lookin like that because they sit day and night playing it. In my perfect world this game gets a 100,000,000 out of 10.Yes its that good. Fable II Sat, 25 Oct 2008 09:27:15 +0000 <a href=""><img title="fable2_051908_15687.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="fable2_051908_15687.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: aceman67<br /><br />Description: [b]Outline[/b] Fable takes place in Albion, 500 years after the first game. The Hero's Guild is no more, done away with centuries ago when the fabled hero's became complacent and useless. The old ways of Strength, Skill and Will are all but a memory. You start the game as a penniless street-urchin, who, with your sister, buy a music box from the &quot;Old Kingdom&quot; era that has the magical power to grant its users one wish, which is to live in a grand Castle, like the one they can see over looking the now vast city of Bowerstone. But when they use it, it disappears. Disappointed you and your sister go to sleep in the cold winter night, only to be awakened by the Castle guards, having been summoned to the Castle to speak with Lucien Fairfax. Lucien is researching old kingdom artifacts and history, especially those pertaining to Heroes. After having you and your sister step onto what appears to be a Cullis gate, it begins to glow. Lucien informs that both of you are of a special bloodline, that you are the &quot;Fourth&quot;, and that neither of you can be allowed to live. He shoots your sister then turns his gun on you, and you fall from a window to the streets below, where Theresa, the blind seeress cares for you. Ten years pass and you set out on your own with your trusted canine companion to forge your own destiny and get revenge for the death of your sister. [b]Gameplay[/b] The gameplay in Fable 2 is a huge improvement over the first installment. All combat was reduced to one button for each talent, X for strenth, Y for Skill (If you develop this skill, you can use the left trigger to select which parts you wan to shoot while doing an aimed shot), and B for will (If your hero learns more then one ability, the Left trigger can be held down to select different spells). The combat itself is very smooth. Melee combat is very easy to master and is actually remenisent of the Prince of Persia series. Raged combat with Pistols, Crossbows or Rifles is well executed and very intuitive. All will ablities default to Area Effect which can be turned into a directional by pointing the left control stick towards an enemy. My only beef with the Will Abilities in fable 2 is that they removed a heal spell, making you rely on potions and food (Which is another beef I have since 2 thirds of the games food make you fat (And only one type of food, Celary, makes you thin, and its very hard to come by) and most of them give an Alignment bonus, either pure or currupt). All weapons in Fable 2 are in different quality classes, rusty, iron, steel and master. Melee weapons have Longsword, Cutlass, Katana, Mace, Axe and Hammer. Ranged weapons have Pistols (Weak but quick reload), Rifles (Powerful but slow reload), and Crossbows (A balence between the two). The economy in the game is amazing. whether you spend or perform jobs in a town can directly effect whether that town prospers and grows (And grow it will). Another cool thing is that every property, houses and shops, with a few exceptions, can be purchased, making it possible for the player to literally buy everything, which can make you mayor of a town, or emperor of Albion. Gone is the minimap, and to replace it, you have a dog, and a pretty realistic one at that. Your dog will follow you where ever you go and can even assist you in combat, and help you track down treasures, if you give him enough training. Because the minimap is gone, Lionhead saw fit to give you some kind of assistance in finding things in the game, which is 10 times larger then the original fable, by giving a golden pixie dust trail to quest objectives, making it virtually impossible to get lost if you take a wrong turn. This doesn't always work with some quests (Like the Archeologist quests), in these instances, you have your dog to help you out. Family life in Fable 2 was greatly expanded. It is possible to get married, have multiable children, and even have more then one family if your skillful enough. Because of this, Lionhead also added protected and unprotected sex, and along with it, STD's if you're not careful. [b]Finishing up[/b] All in all, Fable 2 is a excellent game. The story line is great and isn't a handholding experience like the first game. You really are free to do things your own way, and everything you do has lasting effects on the world around you. A solid 9/10. Loveless Sun, 19 Oct 2008 23:26:17 +0000 <a href=""><img title="LOVELESS_2B_2Bimg024.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="LOVELESS_2B_2Bimg024.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Akura13<br /><br />Description: When 12-year-old Ritsuka discovers a posthumous message from his brother Seimei indicating he was murdered, he becomes involved in a shadowy world of of spell battles and secret names. Together with the mysterious Soubi, the search to find Seimei's killer and uncover the truth begins! But in a world where mere words have unbelievable power, how can you find true friendship and hapiness when your very name is Loveless? Kimagure Orange Road- I want to return to that day Thu, 02 Oct 2008 07:16:12 +0000 <a href=""><img title="2622.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="2622.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Ralisation<br /><br />Description: Once you've finished the TV episodes of KOR and is now starting the movies,you should say goodbye to those heartfelt cheerful enjoyable school days between the characters.They are unfortunately over.With already plenty of character development,being 48 episodes and a lot of fillers,it is serious time. If you really love this series and already had deep feelings towards the characters or especially Hikaru,take a deep breath before watching.It might strike you hard,blow you away.KOR despite being 48 episodes long did not managed to pull any drama out of it,even the last few episodes weren't that striking as this.I don't see those two perverted friends of Kyosuke anymore nor have I seen Yusaku around,felt like a lack of something.Well very straightforward,this is the movie where the love triangle in the TV episodes are resolved,meaning someone has to suffer and I sure hinted someone before.Even so,you should be able to guess it out if you finished all the episodes in the TV series. Animation didn't change,same style like in KOR TV. Unable to rate,considering it was done way back in 1988. I did not took extra notice on the soundtrack or the BGM,the ending theme was rather good but also quite long.Voice acting still very great even after years had past. Moving on to the story...This movie actually did not provide a conclusive ending.In fact it was a poor one and I thought it was worse than in the TV episodes.Instead the next movie Shin Kimagure Orange Road does the job.I'm not gonna spoilt it all here.The aim of this movie is to end this love triangle and I thought was done very well,set up a very good opening for the next movie.Expect no comedy or any ESP power stunts.So be prepared,don't avoid it.If you are truly a fan of KOR,never miss this. 8/10 Story Up ahead minor spoilers.Warning The main focus is the characters involved in the love triangle,meaning Madoka,Kyosuke and Hikaru. Madoka whom I thought was an awesome character in the TV episodes was not shown many opportunities to keep that up.Instead Hikaru who was initially very annoying and childish was given the spotlight as she had to be...,you know.I sympathise her for being so truthful to the indecisive main lead Kyosuke and had to suffer her emotions due to the long delay of Kyosuke bringing up the matter that he love Madoka not Hikaru herself.So last of all,Kyosuke whom I detest for being so indecisive and trying to be nice to both of them in the TV episodes.But that was ago,in this movie he had covered up everything he should had done before in the TV episodes and very amazingly done.After realising how hurt Madoka truly felt,he hesitated no more to tell Hikaru the truth.Not only this,despite Hikaru's countless attempts to try and get back him back,he did not go soft.Instead he go on with what he planned to even though hurting. Definitely worth commending,for his remarkable will to resolve everything,to make his love feel better and finally to stop hurting Hikaru's feelings any further.All of his actions resoundingly told every viewers that he truly love Madoka and care for Hikaru which therefore makes him the best character of this movie to watch. 10/10 Character I will repeat again,never miss this if you are a fan of KOR and also the next movie Shin Kimagure Orange Road which will provide KOR the greatest possible closure of this beautiful classic anime.It had been fun watching and I really felt nostalgic after so long ever since I first saw KOR. 9/10 Enjoyment Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Fri, 19 Sep 2008 05:37:20 +0000 <a href=""><img title="148241_wallpaper_star_wars_the_force_unleashed_03_1280_1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="148241_wallpaper_star_wars_the_force_unleashed_03_1280_1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: aceman67<br /><br />Description: I just got done playing the game, and I have to say, its not what I expected, but its far from a terrible game. Worth the $59.99 I shelled out for it. Its a good button masher and the visuals are amazing. The environments could have been a little more destructable but when you get down too it, using the environment against your opponents all the time will actually get you killed, especially later on in the game when you’re facing hordes of them and the only things you can rely on is your lightsabler, jumping, and force lightning. The story was pretty decent, kept you wanting to finish the story just to see how things ended. Voice acting by the main characters were good, but more work could have been done on the secondary ones. I also wish they had James Earl Jones doing the voice of Vader, but the guy they got (Matt Sloan) did a believable job. The best voice acting I found was done by Jimmy Smits, who played Bail Organa in the game and the Movies as well. As for gameplay, some parts of it are well executed, like the jedi duals, while others, not so much, like some of the camera work in some areas (It can work against you in some areas which can get you killed), and your characters interaction with the environment while walking around (You occationally get stuck on some invisable little bit on the ground that you have to jump over to get around). All in all the game comes off as polished and complete with some minor jaggyness around the edges. An 8/10 in my books. Bishonen Wed, 10 Sep 2008 16:01:04 +0000 <a href=""><img title="bishonen_image.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="bishonen_image.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: K.A.David<br /><br />Description: Synopsis Jet is a really handsome “hustler,” a male prostitute in Hong Kong. His beauty is depicted as being androgynous, to the point of making one doubt as to how he should be admired. Men and women alike turn their heads whenever he passes by. The movie begins with him wondering around the bustling streets of Hong Kong. There, one might mistake him for a rich teenager off to spend his free time enjoying his youth. But this illusion is shattered when a middle aged man approaches him and leads him to a room, while he gladly tags along. During one of these idle wondering about the streets in search of wealthy “patrons,” Jet fancies looking at his reflection on one museum’s glass window. As he was consciously grooming himself, he notices a couple smiling inside, with the girl mentioning how narcissistic he was. Jet didn’t care much about the girl, but his eyes were on the guy with her. He soon acknowledges the fact that he has a crush on this young man. This fact he mentions to one of his fellow hustlers, Ching. Ching then warns him that it wouldn’t be a good idea to fall in love, and states that he bases his advice on his own experience. But later, it is discovered that Ching has submitted a call on the newspaper, describing how Jet is desperately searching for that guy in the museum. It couldn’t be blunter: “I saw you in the museum. Please meet with me, I can’t stop thinking about you: Jet.” When Jet learns of this, he gets furious, as many men have stepped forward, claiming to be that guy from the museum. But soon, the real young man meets with him, and he happens to be a policeman. His name turns out to be Sam. Soon the two become intimate friends. At one point, Sam brings jet to his house and introduces him to his parents. Jet, who has decided not to tell Sam about his “occupation,” acts as sweet and timid as a teenage girl. All the while, his crush for Sam has developed into a thick cocktail of passionately sincere love and deep and unquenchable lust. Jet is torn between keeping his progress with Sam and telling him the truth about his being a hustler. Sam seemed very disciplined and upright, and his mother even related that she once caught him smoking and she saw nothing wrong with it but Sam was ashamed of himself. This begins to make Jet feel anxious. In reality, Sam has a dark and murky past, intricately woven with the various twists and turns of infidelity, as he has a relationship with upcoming celebrity K.S. while being in a romantic relationship with Ching, who was not yet a hustler then. These signs of unfaithfulness and indifference are ironically shown with soft kisses and racy scenes in both the shower and on the bed. In the end, Jet learns of Sam’s past but accepts it. The problem came from Sam himself, who couldn’t accept his own past. He ends up committing suicide as he leaves Jet crying on his bed as the credits begin showing. Review Let me warn you first that this movie depicts Homosexual content, and it is not for the shallow minded people who cannot comprehend the aesthetics behind homoeroticism. Thus, we proceed. The movie showcases several famous stars of the Chinese film industry, with some of them debuting in it. The main character, Jet, is played by Stephen Fung. Sam is played by newcomer Daniel Wu, who would later be dubbed the “Young Andy Lau.” Terence Yin also debuts in this film as K.S. while Shu Qi plays Kana. Let’s start with the good points. The movie has a delightfully intricate story line, with so much irony that one should be warned not to expect anything while watching it. The fact that it was Jet, who was the hustler, that ended up being innocent, and Sam, who was the policeman, who turned out to be the heartless infidel was one of the most striking forms of irony I have ever encountered. The title of the movie, Bishounen, is Japanese for “young male beauty,” and true enough, the movie showcases just that. It showcases various types of male beauty, from the bad boy (Ching) to the utterly androgynous (Jet) to the “boy next door” (Sam). Now, to the bad parts. The story, no matter how intricate it is, is nonetheless corny. It’s all the same cliché we see in movies, with just a bit of difference. It explicitly points out how love is the most important thing in the universe. Ha! What about this thing called survival? Shouldn’t you be thinking how you’re gonna live for the next day before you think about love? There are also flaws in the plot. One main flaw is the fact that Sam managed to figure out that it was Jet who posted the message on the newspaper. This was as possible as a bunch of spare airplane parts being assembled back to an airplane by a tornado. And it was even more impossible to actually find Jet, considering the millions of people in Hong Kong. Then there is Kana, that girl that Sam was with in the museum. Who was she? She was only shown momentarily, namely in the museum, in this bar where a lesbian picks her up after she turns Jet down, in an antique shop where she has a picture of her, K.S. and Sam and in this scene where she brings Sam’s final letter to Jet. The creator might have either created an enigmatic character of mystery shrouded with ambiguity, or just plain forgot to develop the character. The latter seemed more likely. I also found that old woman narrator to be quite useless. Why put a narrator when e can already see the character’s motions? And why a woman? I also think that Terence Yin, great an actor as he is, isn’t suited for the role. What about Nicholas Tse, wouldn’t he suit the role better? Imagine a bed scene between him and Nicholas Fung… All in all, the movie is exceptional for its brilliance in emphasizing male beauty and attempt at intricacy but horrible mediocre in theme and bad in a few minor details. It is nonetheless advisable to watch it if you’re looking for aesthetic matter. Crisis Core: FF7 (US Version) Sun, 07 Sep 2008 05:53:23 +0000 <a href=""><img title="925138_69620.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="925138_69620.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Trunks<br /><br />Description: [img][/img] First off I will just say I loved the game, but there are a few areas I'm going to note on in my review that could have used a bit of work. So don't think this is any sort of hate-bashing review, because it isn't. First I will cover the scales. 1 is the worst, 10 is the best [b]Story: 10 - [i]Accurate and informative. Takes you back and reveals the FF7 history[/i][/b] [b]Battle System: 6 -[i] I will explain this in detail below as to why it is a 6[/i] Game Mechanics: 8 - [i]Decent convenience factors added such as stores and missions from the main menu[/i] Replay Value: 5 to 8 - [i]situational based, will explain below[/i] Graphics &amp; Visuals: 10 - [i]Top notch for a hand held[/i] Game flow: 8 -[i] This is how often you actually get to play the game without being interrupted by cut scenes or movies[/i] Mini-games: 7 -[i] Some are enjoyable, others are very tedious after a while[/i] Over-all: 8.5 - [i]Extremely enjoyable, has a few faults, but none detract too much from the overall enjoyment.[/i][/b] ------- Further Explanations of above noted sections, note these are going to be the faults I found, that doesn't mean this game is bad, it just means it has these faults as any game has a few: [b]Battle system-[/b] You may be asking why I rated this so low, well... while the non turn-based elements that they incorporated into this game are good in theory, in practice they are a bit cumbersome in places. The first place they missed a bit here, was the DMW system. Now you might be thinking, &quot;Yes, I have read about how people don't like the system&quot;. The problem is, it is not that I don't like the system, I just think that they could have polished a few elements with it. I will name these polish points as &quot;smudges&quot;. [b]First smudge - 'phase modulations'[/b], you will on countless occasions run into a situation where you are JUST about to finish off the last monster and end a battle when you get forced into one of these phase modulations. Sure it's cool the first few times to finish off the monster with a cool attack, but after this happens 20+ times it will start to irritate you because you just want to kill that last monster and move on. A lot of the times when this happens you will get either a useless result out of it, No result, or a longer attack that finishes off the monster but was a waste of time since you were just about to deal the killing blow with your sword. The useless result factor comes into play when you get a buff to an element that was already maxed/buffed before the phase modulation. They also on occasion added flashing images while the DMW is spinning the middle image. These images cannot be bypassed after seeing them a first time, which wastes even more of your time. This also leads into my next area to cover. [img][/img] [b]These seem to pop up at very inconvenient times.[/b] [b]Smudge two, Phase Modulation Attacks[/b] - Aside from not being able to skip the aforementioned images the attacks that come from the DMW also cannot be skipped. The summon attacks you get can be skipped, however only certain ones. Why SE (Square-enix) chose to punish the player like this by making them watch the same attacks over and over without the option to bypass them after the first few times is beyond me. It just adds even more wasted time to what could have otherwise been a good idea, if only they added an option to skip these after the first time it would have been MUCH better. Do you as a player honestly -WANT- to sit through the same 5-10sec long attack sequence over 50 times throughout the game? I didn't either. You can also land a 'late' phase modulation attack which will occur after you've killed all the monsters. That means you will have to watch the sequence anyway, even after the battle should have ended. [img][/img] [b]Can't be skipped, why can't it be skipped?[/b] That is it for the things that could have been fixed with the DMW, the next aspect that didn't seem to work quite as well as it could have, would be the pace of the battles being too fast to actually execute needed commands. You will be left running and dodging just so you can use a healing item, or curative spell. It isn't hard to scroll over to items or a spell, but with the speed of the battles and the constant attacks coming from the monsters it makes it very difficult to pull off. Far more difficult that it needs to be. This adds to the 'cumbersome' factor that I mentioned above. [b]Replay Value elements mentioned above:[/b] This game has replay value, that I won't deny, however depending on how you played the first time through it could either have great replay value, or almost none at all. If you went through the game the first time just to see the story and play the game casually then the second play-through with the New Game+ will be enjoyable. However, if you spent time getting levels, powerful items, and doing all the missions then your second play through will be so easy that most replay value will be taken out. The only remaining value at that point would be to watch the story a second time. While this is enjoyable the rest of the game will have almost all of the challenge removed. I don't recommend a New Game+ if you went through and made your character a powerhouse. If you fit this category then you will get more replay value if you simply start the game over from scratch. [img][/img] [b]A very young Cloud, if my time-line for FF7 is correct he is supposed to be 16 in CC.[/b] Finally, I am going to cover missions. Since this is one of the major side-quests/mini-games in CC. This is also why that section only received a 7. Mission, these were a GREAT idea, HOWEVER, poorly implemented. Why do I feel these were poorly implemented? I feel SE wasted far too much time working on the quantity of missions, but didn't spend as much time working on their quality. As you play through them you will notice there are only about 10-15 maps total that get recycled over and over again in different ways. There are some places where dialogue is also recycled. However there are very few missions where you actually get dialogue, and only one mission where you get dialogue scenes in every sub-mission. The lack of dialogue adds to the fact that they didn't have any real storyline added to the missions. It was pretty much just: Accept mission, collect items in a recycled map, find and fight mission objective boss/monsters, rinse and repeat. After the first 150 or so missions of doing exactly what I just mentioned it will get painfully tedious. All tedium could have been removed had they just cut the missions in half, to say 150, and used the rest of the time adding quality to them. In other words, adding storyline or making a larger selection of maps. Personally I don't care if they recycled the maps, but I wish they added some sort of storyline to missions so that they weren't just the same exact thing repeated over and over again x300. In fact, after the 153rd or so mission I started to get more enjoyment out of reading the Shinra briefs you get when selecting the mission than doing the missions themselves. ----- Phew! Now with all of that out of the way (Sorry I am long winded) I'll get to the actual review since I covered a lot of things above this might be shorter than the above areas. CC, being the prequel to the very famous FF7 delivers what I consider to be a KO punch as a game. The storyline does not disappoint you, if you were playing this game in hopes to learn what happened before FF7 then you will not be disappointed. The flow of the story I felt was very smooth and well organized. From the development of bonds such as you will see Cloud and Zack form, to Sephiroth's descent into insanity. All of this in recognizable locations from FF7 that have been redone in stunningly beautiful graphics. The game starts out right away grabbing you firmly with a great action movie sequence done in what can only be described as PS3 quality graphics. I was shocked at just how detailed and realistic this was for a hand-held system. The real-time graphics (what you see when you are running around fighting, etc) are not as high quality as the movie sequences, but they are still amazing. The movies give the graphics a 10, while the real-time graphics get an 8. They are still visually amazing for a hand-held system. [img][/img] CC has also added something new to familiar elements such as materia. They have added what they call a materia fusion system. While I found this system to be a bit more confusing that it needs to be you can easily find information about it online and it adds a bit of an interesting twist and gives you something to work toward in strengthening a certain materia with specific stats. If you just wish to experiment it will provide plenty of that. However if you plan to seriously work on it then I'd highly suggest reading up on it because it is very difficult to figure some things out on your own. Phoenix downs in this game have also received a slight change in functionality. Since you are the only one that will be fighting monsters and bosses instead of using it on a fallen comrade you either use it on yourself during battle, or out of battle. What this then does is give you a buff called &quot;raise&quot; that does not go away until you die. When you die this buff instantly revives you with full HP. Very helpful for certain bosses, what this basically means is, if you have enough phoenix downs you can survive indefinitely as long as you always keep one active on yourself. The battle system, as mentioned above, goes off of the new DMW system. Which is something like a slot machine. Most of which consists of random results and overall not one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Adds a bit too much of a clunky and at times very interrupting element to the game. It is also incorporated into how you level up. Now, while I was not overly thrilled with how you level up in this game, I've learned that it is far from random. The level up system goes based off of what would seem like random DMW spins, but there is still hidden EXP that comes into play. When you get a certain amount of EXP over what you need for your level the DMW will have a 100% chance to hit the level up spin. This was confirmed when I was cursed and fought for about an hour, then after the curse wore off leveled up 5 times in a row. A level up is gained when you get a &quot;jackpot&quot; or 777 on the modulating phase screen as shown below. [img][/img] I didn't much care for the &quot;Activating Combat Mode&quot; and &quot;Conflict Resolved&quot; messages before and after every battle. Had they given you the option to enable or disable these then it would have been alright. The problem here is that after these messages happen for the 500th time they will start to either get stuck in your head, give you a headache, or just become -really- irritating. CC brings back an old element that you might have seen in other games you may have played. The ability to break the traditional 9999 values that we've been accustomed to, with the use of special accessories and materia fusion. With the right items you can get your HP to 99,999, and your MP and AP to 9999. Furthermore you have the ability to do upwards of 99,999 damage with a single attack. It all depends on what you have equipped and what abilities you use. In CC you get two combat bars other than your HP. The other two would be your MP, and your AP. MP should be self-explanatory, it is used to cast magic spells. Your AP is used for special attack materia, one such example is an attack materia that has you spin in a circle and attack all enemies around you in a 360 degree strike. There are many many other different types of attack materia that do all sorts of things, but you'll have to find out for yourself. The musical score in this game has been mixed up a bit. There is old and recognizable themes, some that have been revamped, and others that have not been. This is mixed with a all new musical score that personally I found to be enjoyable. I am one for nostalgia, so I personally would have liked to see more of the old FF7 music in this game, but that's just me. Another nice aspect is how much they pack into the main menu to make things easier. You can shop from the main menu, accept missions (if you are at a save point), and do materia fusion. Adds a bit more of an easy access to the game, though this also means at the same time it takes out a bit of the exploration you do in games where you would run around different places to do said things. Though that isn't missed to terribly with how well the game flows from location to location. [img][/img] So what this all boils down to is a very solid game, it has a few places where it could have been improved upon, some places where painful tedium could have been removed, and a few irritating elements that could have either been redone, or completely removed. However no game is going to be perfect in every aspect, this one makes up for the few issues with a compelling and immersive storyline, an overall nostalgic feel, high quality and breath-taking graphics, and a cast of enjoyable characters, new and old. You can actually connect with the characters in this one on an emotional level, which you don't get very often anymore. You know, the kind of connection that you made back in FF7 with Aerith, and as you know what happened with her. This holds true in this game, even for those of you who already know how this one ends. For those of you who don't, I won't spoil it. I highly recommend this to anyone, as it is one of the best games for the PSP. I highly recommend this to anyone, as it is one of the best games for the PSP. [img][/img] [b]Amazing graphics for a hand-held, just wow.[/b] [i] Image copyright: All images used for review have their rights reserved by their respective creators and have been used only for example and display purposes. No claim of ownership has been placed on any images.[/i] Densha Otoko (Train Man) Tue, 12 Aug 2008 23:14:16 +0000 <a href=""><img title="51RaWjIP3ML.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="51RaWjIP3ML.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Tano-kun<br /><br />Description: [B]Synopsis[/B] Densha Otoko ( Train Man) is a 22 year old “otaku” (anime fanatic) who spends his time looking at anime related things in Akihabara (Tokyo shopping district known for electronics and anime items.) and has never had a girlfriend. After doing his usual shopping for anime figurines in Akihabara, Densha Otoko happens to board the subway train where he encounters his first chance of love. Unfortunately, the meeting is anything but romantic. On the train, there happened to be a drunk guy bothering the passengers. As the drunkard threatens the girl that's reading her book, Densha Otoko steps in to stop the drunkard. He is able to hold him long enough for the authorities to arrest the drunkard. After Densha Otoko helped fill out a witness report for the authorities, the girl who was threatened by the drunkard asks for his number and other contact information. Later, Densha Otoko receives a package filled with Hermes cups, which leads to the girl now being referred as “Hermess.” Now, with the help o f seven random online buddies, he faces his greatest challenge—falling in love. [B]Interesting Facts[/B] Densha Otoko movie is based on a true love story and has gotten so popular throughout Japan. It has not only been made into a movie, but also a manga and television series. Just the movie release alone, in June 2005, had grossed around $35 million in Japan. [B]Cast[/B] Takayuki Yamada – Train Man Miki Nakatami – Hermess Eita – Hirofumi (twixter) Tae Kimura – Michiko (housewife) Ryoko Kuninaka – Rika (nurse) Kuranosuke Sasaki – Hisashi (business man) Yoshinori Okada – Yoshiga (geek 1) Hiyori Miyake – Tamura (geek 2) Makoto Sakamoto – Muto (geek 3) Naomi Nashida – Hermess's friend Momoko Shimizu – school girl Ren Osugi – drunkard [B]Review[/B] First of all, I am astounded at the fact that this is based on a true story. I know it's hard to believe, right? Anyway, the story of this anonymous otaku is definitely an inspiration to all fellow otakus. I thought it was a very touching movie about seemingly unrealistic romance story. Throughout the whole movie, I noticed that it's not really so dramatic. The movie did have a lot comedy. Although it was suppose to be about a romance story, it didn't seem like there were that many romantic moments. Regarding to the acting, it was alright. I wasn't too blown away from the acting. Takayuki Yamada played his role of Train Man really well though. It was very convincing. He's like my hero because of being an otaku myself. Yoshinori Okada, Hiyori Miyake, and Makoto Sakamoto were very funny acting their roles in the special battle scenes. At first, I didn't really know to think after finishing the movie. Although I wouldn't say it was the best movie I've seen, it's probably one of most memorable for me. [B]Overall[/B] Along the way, the movie was exciting and made me laugh a few times. I loved the message it sends to others. People have the power to make things happen only if they choose to act on it. Sometimes, we don't always have the courage to some things. When we need help, we can turn to others such as friends or family for support. You won't know if something is possible or not until you try. Thank you Train Man. [B]Rating:[/B] 8 out of 10 For more information, check out 5 Centimeters Per Second Mon, 11 Aug 2008 19:07:04 +0000 <a href=""><img title="aa8be0b9f443c0_full.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="aa8be0b9f443c0_full.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Tano-kun<br /><br />Description: [B]Plot[/B] Oukashou: Ever since Takaki Touno and Akari Shinohara transferred into the same primary school, they have been close friends. After primary school graduation, Akari unexpectedly moves to Tochigi for family reasons. Though they communicated with each other through letters, their close relationship continued to fade. When Takaki knew his family would be moving to Kagoshima, he decided to see Akari a week before the move. On the day of his planned visit, a snowstorm delayed his arrival at Iwafune station. Even after his late arrival, he was able to meet up with Akari. Under an old cherry tree, they finally shared a long awaited kiss. In the morning, Takaki and Akari exchanged their farewells as they both went their separate ways. Cosmonaut: Now, Takaki is currently a high school senior. Kanae Sumida, a girl who has feelings for Takaki, is hoping to confess to him before graduation. Aside from having short conversations with Takaki, she always watches him from a distance. Kanae is often absent-minded about the future of going to college and spends her time surfing to relieve stress. When she finally wants to confess to Takaki, she learns the truth. She cannot give whatever Takaki has been searching for. In the end, Kanae doesn't tell Takaki her feelings. Byousoku 5 Centimeter: The scene begins with Takaki typing on his computer. Although Takaki has another girl for three years, he still thinks of Akari. He spends his days going on with his life still hoping to see Akari again. As for Akari, she's already engaged to someone else. Akari finds an old letter she never sent, which makes her reminisce about her past with Takaki. Her memories of Takaki doesn't cling to her so much anymore. In the end, Takaki finally decides to forget about what he has lost from the past and live in the present. While walking across a railroad track, he passes someone who looks like Akari. After the trains have passed, she isn't there. With reassurance of moving on with his life, he smiles and walks away. [B]Review[/B] Despite it's unfortunate ending, the film describes perfectly how relationships sometimes don't work out. For me, I have came to realize life is how you make it. In other words, despite our past misfortunes, we are the only ones responsible for changing our future. Allowing memories that cause us to linger in the past will only end up hurting us more. Throughout the whole story, I like how the theme of how time and distance between people can affect their relationship. It was very tragic to see the attraction between the couple wane, but it was a good lesson in how fate has other plans in mind. The voice actors and actresses were very good. I think that the director, Makoto Shinkai, made the right choice for the voices. Another thing was the background music set with each mood of the scenes. The background song near the end just blew me away. Every time I think of the song it always resonates in my mind. The artwork was very good. In terms of the character design, I would have to say it definitely passed. The designs of the characters were very seemingly realistic. The faces of the characters always looked so innocent. Compared to Makoto's 2004 film, The Place Promised In Our Early Days, everything has improved. With 5 Centimeters Per Second, Makoto Shinkai still has his touch with directing such amazing animated films. The designs has become a little better. The narration by the characters throughout the film idea is about the same, but this time 5 Centimeters Per Second is divided in 3 episodes and was able to flow very successfully. [B]Final Thoughts[/B] Generally, I had high admirations for this anime film. It made me sad, yet happy at times. I would say this film would be alright for all ages. There seemed to be no real obscenity and vulgarity in any way, shape, or form. For those looking for an anime with drama, romance, and slice of life, this is definitely a must-see. Although it wasn't based on a true story (at least I hope not), the message it conveyed was genuine. As I mentioned earlier, it's better to live in the present than the past. If you're looking for an anime movie that involves some thinking about reality, I would recommend this film. [B]Rating:[/B] 10 out of 10 Eureka Seven Sun, 10 Aug 2008 04:36:33 +0000 <a href=""><img title="psalms-of-planets-eureka-se.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="psalms-of-planets-eureka-se.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Tano-kun<br /><br />Description: Plot The story begins Renton Thurston, son of the military hero, Adrock Thurston, who is solely driven by the urge ride the Trapar waves with his LFO (Light Finding Operation). He also wants to leave his hometown someday to join the infamous group, Gekkostate. Renton's life drastically changes when the LFO typeZERO aka Nirvash crash lands into his grandfather's mechanic shop/garage. He learns that the pilot of typeZERO is a girl named Eureka. When the military arrive to arrest Gekkostate, Eureka has no choice but to fight with the damaged LFO. Afterwards, Renton's grandfather tells Renton to bring a special part called the Amita Drive to typeZERO. During the battle, Renton boards the LFO and a surge of power is released, which completely overwhelms the military. When Renton regains consciousness, he is invited to join the Gekkostate. Although his dream of joining Gekkostate, Renton soon figures out that there's more to his current situation than he thought. Mood At the start, it's mostly comedic antics. It's very mild for teenagers because there's only some blood and nudity. There's absolutely no fan service. However, the story eventually transitions toward more romance and gets more serious with focusing on plot. It's only considered mecha just because the plot has the military involved. Overall I would recommend this anime to anyone who wants to watch a comedy/romance. It delivers a good message about accepting someone despite their past. The whole story plot was so original I couldn't really foreshadow what would happen next. I was satisfied even if it was only 50 episodes. So aside from the originality of the plot, this series can be enjoyed by both the guys and girls. I give this anime a 10 out of 10. Last Exile Sun, 20 Jul 2008 04:32:46 +0000 <a href=""><img border="0" src="" alt="" /></a><br /><br />by: DreadAngel<br /><br />Description: [b]A Wrap Up f it all...[/b] Last Exile aka Rasuto Eguzairu is an illustrious anime for those that love the perks and quirks of strange concoctions such as the revered series of Final Fantasy games. A planet called Prester, shaped with the form of a hour glass is the setting of this grand adventure. With two nations (Anatoray and Disith) divided by a horrendous gulf called &quot;The Grand Stream&quot; at warfare governed by an organisation called &quot;The Guild&quot; gives for a very traditional story yet with enough intriguing parameters to warrant its own classification. With elements of the Industrial Revolution with weird and wonderful steam powered machinery, steel constructs, exposed bolts, cogs and wheels coupled with could only be described as 18th/19th Century Science Fiction, the Vanships akin to flying old crank turning cars. A sense of grandeur is constantly expressed with character design, attire (Victorian Era, I love grandeur as you notice), dialogue all formal and archaic, however to call it stiff lipped and overly pompous is inaccurate, rather its the way the universe in Last Exile has always been for its people. Graphics are in a league of its own, at the time of its release, Last Exile showed the world just how great Gonzo was in its animation. Sense of flight conveyed with a strange sense of physics and reality intertwined. Aural wise, the music composition of some songs adds to the 18th/19th century feel with instrument choices while other songs relate to the feel of flight, free from the bonds of gravity, able to soar high above all else away from mortal concerns, the only concern is how much higher can you go. Its an anime that you need to view a fair few times to grasp what is happening in Prester. At first I was simply in awe and shock at the sense bombardment, festival of colours and the sounds of an orchestra to really get a sense of what the anime was talking about. After viewing it a few times, you get to appreciate the universe created yet you do wonder if the storyline couldn't have been developed better. (This is an apparent trend in Gonzo's earlier works as well) If you have a love for the Golden Age of Grandeur and Splendor, the fusion of physics and sciece fiction like Final Fantasy, the excitement of flight, this is one series not to be missed. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Sun, 13 Jul 2008 04:07:25 +0000 <a href=""><img title="metal-gear-solid-4-portada.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="metal-gear-solid-4-portada.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: All legends must end. Such was the tagline for the game in the trailers, but I think most of what was legendary ended with MGS3. [b] Plot[/b] To explain the plot in detail would be massive spoilers and would substitute as a college senior thesis, suffice it to say, Snake, Otacon and the Colonel are hot on the trail of Liquid after his disappearence from the Big Shell incident. [b]Gameplay[/b] I must say, the game play is an interesting blend of MGS3 stealth, and modern FPS controls. MGS4 eschews the typical control scheme for something a little more enabled for gunplay. It programs everything quite well, and maps a lot of environmental actions to a central action key (triangle). The Octocamo, snake's main uniform, will take the hue of those around it, which is an interesting change from dozens of different uniforms. The arsenal arrays literally over a hundred different weapons ranging from the standard issues (M4's, M9's, Mk23's and the like) to truly unique gun geek easter eggs (like the flintlock rifle, or the affinity for the entirety of H&amp;K's catalog) The controls are [fairly] smooth, only suffering in some parts when you want to hug up against a wall, and forwhatever reason you are too far/close/verticle/horizontal to trigger the action toggle. My biggest complaint is in how Konami's own hype machine boasted how new the combat would be. Each soldier supposedly has an emotional predisposition which is visited on the battlefield. Soldiers will be scared, pumped up, or depressed, and allegedly, this would make a difference in the game. Not only is it nearly impossible to affect, but it is only really featured in the first act. Similarly, the &quot;moral&quot; dynamics of choosing to aide, or not aide a side of a conflict are only seen in the first two acts. All of these things that were toted as being new and revolutionary, like the expansion card in Perfect Dark, or the Geomod from Red Faction, are actually surprisingly limited in their scope. [b]Sights and Sounds[/b] A+ on weapon sounds detail. A+ on military manuevers and detail. However, having lauded it, I have to complain about what everyone else is complaining about: the cut-scenes. We simply do not need forty-five minute cut-scenes. MGS4 was in a hurry to tie up all of its loose ends, and did so at the sacrifice of actual time behind the controller. The only good news is that they have virtually eliminated codec conversations in their previous form, and have made them at least a little more bearable, the few that did stick around. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] Perhaps it is expectation, perhaps it is precedent, but as solid (hur hur) as MGS4 was as a game, MGS3 still trumps it in my mind. MGS4 has wonderful gameplay, and a lot of Easter Eggs, but it borders on being a little bit too self-referential, especially when it does not have to be. It ties everything together in a way that seems to be convoluted for the sake of being convoluted, and goes out of its way on several occasions to tie in one more joking reference to one of the first games. Final Verdict: 8.7/10 Time Travel Tondekeman (Time Quest) Wed, 02 Jul 2008 06:48:02 +0000 <a href=""><img title="3annaba-cvrs.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="3annaba-cvrs.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Hantei16<br /><br />Description: Time Travel Tondekeman aslo known as Time Quest in several countries is a historical sci-fi comedy written by Junki Takegami. ****** Plot: Time Travel Tondekeman begins when a young soccer enthusiast named Hayato and his aspiring musician girlfriend named Yumi pays a visit to the laboratory of Doctor Leonardo, a character blatantly designed after Leonardo da Vinci. In the lab, Hayato and Yumi finds the Tondekeman (also called Takure in the version i've watched), a time-travelling talking kettle, they accidentally activated it and it brought them back to 9th century Baghdad. Once in Baghdad, Tondekeman becomes stolen by a squat, stout and villanous Arab minister named Abdullah. Hayato and Yumi, who are now stuck in the past, eventually meets the other supporting characters: an Arab kid named Alladin, and the royal lovers Prince Dandarn and Princess Shalala. Abdullah, with Tondekeman and a flamboyant hero-in-cape-and-tights genie in his command, will do everything to follow his master's orders, to get Princess Shalalah, and to shoo-off Hayato and Yumi to keep the powerful Tondekeman in his hands. The series follows the adventures of Hayato, Yumi, Alladin and Prince Dandarn in their quest to rescue Princess Shalala and retrieve Tondekeman from Abdullah's clutches. As the heroes follow Abdullah through the time portals created by Tondekeman the series takes the viewers through history meeting and seeing historically relevant figures on the way. Sound &amp; Graphics: Having been done during the late 80s, Time Travel Tondekeman flaunts the average visual design and quality of its day. The characters designs are done with a slightly chibi style with a rather vibrant color scheme. With varying settings through the course of the series it is quite convincing in showing the corresponding designs needed for the respective time periods used. Because it is rather dated, the soundtrack is quite dated as well but it is the kind of music that you'll usually hear in other anime titles during the 80s. Voice delivery and sound quality will vary depending on the dub and copy of course. But based on the one i've watch, it ain't bad but not remarkable either. Entertainment Value: Even with its rather complex concept, Time travel Tondekeman is pure and simple. There is no need for a deeper understanding of history, it doesn't require too much attention to detail, no need for a keen mind, any anime fan could simply sit down and get entertained. Replay Value: It is HIGHLY enjoyable but i don't see this series as something that is enjoyable to watch over and over again. I have watched it twice, my first Tondekeman experience was during 1994 and the 2nd one during 1999. The only reason why i watched it over again is because of the nostalgia factor. I'm not saying that it has a bad replay value, it is okay in this department but it isn't a &quot;watch the series all over&quot; kinda show. You might wanna replay it but only for favorite &amp; standout episodes, not the whole series itself. Still, it has one of the most entertaining endings i've seen in anime. ******* Overall it is far from being an anime marvel or an anime junk, it doesn't have anything special to boast but it doesn't have something to be ashamed about either If you're in for fun and simple entertainment Time Travel Tondekeman doesn't disappoint. Recommended to: Anyone who wants simple entertainment, aspiring inventors, history buffs The Cockpit: Kamikaze Stories Tue, 01 Jul 2008 11:48:03 +0000 <a href=""><img border="0" src="" alt="" /></a><br /><br />by: Hantei16<br /><br />Description: Since i've already written one review with a military theme i've decided to post another one once again now that i'm in the mood. As you can see my review won't delve deeper on how each episode ends, i would leave those parts untouched for you to imagine and see. The Cockpit: Kamikaze Stories is an OVA split into three different fictional short stories of war. Based on the events of the latter days of World War 2, it tells stories of glory, honor, and the other realities of war. ************* Plot: The first part, Slipstream, is set days before the bombing of Hiroshima, it tells the story of Captain Erhardt Von Rheindars. As an ace Luftwaffe pilot, Rheindars found dishonor by ejecting out of his plane to run away from from a dogfight just above German territory against three British Spitfires. However, he was still trusted by some of his peers and superiors in the air force and it eventually led him to another mission. He was assigned to escort a plane with confidential cargo inside along with his ex-lover and some VIPs. He was given a new and more powerful plane to pilot, the Ta 152H1. With a superior plane and his ace pilot skills, Rheindars is now souped up and ready to fly and regain his honor once again. The question is: will the mission end up as a success or a failure? What happens if the secret cargo is revealed to him? ***** The 2nd part is entitled Sonicboom Squadron, it tells the story of a young Kamikaze pilot named Nogami. The beginning of the story is set on August 5, 1945 and ends on the next day, August 6, 1945, where the city of Hiroshima in Japan was hit by an atomic bomb. On Nogami's first and supposedly last mission, him, along with the escorting party and the crew of the carrier that carries his rocket-powered kamikaze craft (called the Cherry Blossom) were attacked by american planes. This led to a failed mission and because of that Nogami survived to live another day. Once back in camp, Nogami reflects on his fate and meets a band of happy-go-lucky pilots who are set to escort him on his next mission. On another attempt, Nogami and his comrades were again intercepted by American fighters but this time, the &quot;Cherry Blosson&quot; piloted by Nogami gets launched. Will he be able to complete his mission? What other events lie ahead? ***** The third and final part called Knight of the Iron Dragon follows two Japanese army privates and a young messenger (who also happens to be a private) eager to fulfill his duties. Set on the Philippine island of Leyte, the timeline of the story follows the events after the Battle of Leyte Gulf (the largest naval battle in modern history). After a fierce attack by the Allied forces on a Japanese camp in Leyte, only two soldiers survived, an old Private named Kodai and one character with less importance. They eventually meet a young messenger in a broken tricycle named Utsunomiya, he was sent to call the other soldiers in but he was late because the American forces already rallied down their bases and the two privates are all that's left. After being asleep because of alcohol and exhaustion, Utsunomiya woke up to see his tricycle fixed again with new and improved equipment. Kodai tells him that engineers arrived and helped him fix the broken motorcycle. From this point on the duo rides together to make their way to the remnants of the Japanese base. What adventures lie ahead for Kodai and Utsunomiya? Will they be abel to complete their mission and arrive to their destination? Sound &amp; Graphics: The Cockpit: Kamikaze Stories is excellent in this department. The planes, ships, tanks, and other war-related equipment are drawn with great detail and with great color delivery. The European architectural structures present in Slipstream really does look European and not something else. Sonicboom Squadron which is mostly set at the sea and the skies displays and excellent use of camera angles and perspective, a lot of things happen do happen in one scene without even a slight angle change. This visual &quot;bareness&quot; helps the 2nd part deliver more emotional impact to the viewer. The third part set on tropical land is not bad either, the background really captures the feel and image of the Philippine countryside. The first part features a more realistic design on the characters which could prove to be dated and unattractive for today's fans. The 2nd part also features that realistic design but a bunch of goofy looking characters gets mixed alongside the realistically designed ones, this may prove distracting to some viewers. The 3rd part has a much more goofier cast but the usage of this style hardly takes away the intense drama that the story delivers. In fact, the 3rd part uses a lot of semiotics and symbolisms for the viewer to decipher. The sound never fails in any of the three episodes of The Cockpit. The crude roar of the engines, the explosions, the guns, and all things war are all convincing. Entertainment Value: Though not really a popular title with a rather brutal concept, The Cockpit may not be too attractive to a less mature audience. The common use of symbolisms and historical figures might prove to be boring and too much for some people. Like my first reviewed title, Zipang, The Cockpit isn't really a show for everyone. It requires a greater appreciation of history and a more open mind, it will raise issues such as morally right versus the common good, the realities of war, love, friendship, honor, death and many other issues. The biggest downside of The Cockpit lies on its length, a lot of people might find it too short for their tastes. Replay Value: Due to its shortness, anyone could re-watch it in a jiffy just to kill time or to appreciate it once again. Seriously. There's not too much of a problem here when it comes to the replay value *************** Recommended to: Aviation buffs, history buffs, WWII buffs I'm giving it an overall grade equivalent to the first title i reviewed. *images will be upped later on* Indiana Jones - The Temple of the Crystal Skull Tue, 27 May 2008 03:44:21 +0000 <a href=""><img border="0" src="" alt="" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: In an attempt to tackle this review in a light for those who have not seen it, I will do it in a means that diminishes the spoilers. Having said that, I cannot give my opinions unless I spoil some bits. Surprise. Harrison Ford is in it. Moving on, the fourth installment of this legendary series finds an aging Indiana Jones captured by Russian soldiers infiltrating an American military installation in search of a particular relic of paranormal value. This leads to a whole mess of Cold War intrigue and the search for, you guessed it: a temple of a crystal skull. That said, real spoilers below: Aliens? Really? Okay, one of the things I loved about the movies was that the movies, until the very end, tend to be very veiled and elusive about any supernatural elements that appear in the movie. The viewer does not really know what the Ark of the Covenant is until Indy chances upon it. This was scrapped. From the very first scene in the movie, you see inklings of where they intend on going with the movie. You can tell that these are not suspiscions, or myths, or legends, but a very obvious nudge from Lucas that the cast and crew is going to run upon some Paranormal Psychic Activity (TM). Also, it is a common trend in cinema to pick religion or extraterrestrials. It is against the rules to pick both. &lt;b&gt;Acting&lt;/b&gt; Moving on, I have to say that Mr.Ford did a fairly convincing job of his role. He was not Rocky. He was not Rambo. He was not an old man trying to play an old man. He was an aging professor who happens to also have a side job raiding ruins. While he does perform a few stunts, they are with a dogged sort of endurance, instead of a youthful vigor. Shia LaBoeuf's performance was wonderful only given how little he did. For an unfortunate speedbump of an actor, he did not prove particularly damaging to the movie's premise. &lt;b&gt;Audio/Visual&lt;/b&gt; The score, as composed by John Williams, was fairly ignorable. Except for the powerful variations of the Indiana Jones theme, the score is unremarkable. This is likely because Williams knew that the audience would not care about anything other than the aforementioned variations. The visuals were impressive, but largely unnecessary. One could tell that there were several CGI elements (read: animals) that ranged from completely superfluous to terribly infuriating. Without knowing one thing about the production, only Mr.Lucas' most recent movies, it is easy to see that he was making another self-satisfying piece of work that he can show to his grandchildren. &lt;b&gt;Final Thoughts&lt;/b&gt; In a word: entertaining. In another word: awful. This movie is entertaining like Spider-Man 3 was entertaining. I enjoyed lampooning it. I enjoyed the mindless action. I enjoyed looking at Mary-Anne. This movie, however, is by far, the worst of the Indiana Jones franchise, though that does still leave it as a decent movie over all. &lt;b&gt;8.0/10&lt;/b&gt; Zipang Thu, 15 May 2008 11:25:13 +0000 <a href=""><img title="230px-Zipang.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="230px-Zipang.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Hantei16<br /><br />Description: Plot: The Mirai, a modern-day battleship of the Japanese Navy, sails to join the American forces to perform joint military exercises in Pearl Harbor. On it's way, it is caught up in a weather phenomenon which transports it back in time. The crew eventually finds themselves sailing with a naval fleet led by the legendary Japanese battleship Yamato, the officers come up with the conclusion that they traveled back into 1942 during WWII at the early stages of the Battle of Midway, which was basically one of the events that led to Japan's impending doom during WWII. Not wanting to alter the course of history by getting involved, their only desire was to get back home. However, this desire proves to be easier said than done as they become gradually drawn into conflict when one of the officers decides to rescue a Japanese officer from a plane wreck. These are basically the main issues and theme centered on Zipang. How far can the crew go? Can they return to the present without changing the course of history? Will they remain uninvolved? How will the crew adapt to the ideals and the norms of a war-torn period? Yadda...Yadda... At first glance Zipang closely resembles the 80s science fiction movie Final Countdown with Martin Sheen and Kirk Douglas. Obviously, it is another realization involving the same central themes and aspects of the said movie but of course Zipang takes a different perspective. Having said that, Zipang still maintains its uniqueness and there's nothing else like it in the world of anime.Some might call it a copycat but it's good anyway, it's a deep plotted show that requires a greater understanding of history and an even greater appreciation for drama and the military. Sound &amp; Graphics: Zipang is excellent in the sound department, it is arguably the best anime series in terms of sound. The intense virtuosity of its orchestraic and military pieces greatly intensifies the scenes and compliments the theme. Add along its openers and enders that doesn't sound like just cool songs (of popular recording artists) with no lyrical and melodical relation to what the series is really about. *Voice quality varies depending on the dub* I would have to say that Zipang is a visual marvel. The character designs in Zipang aren't your normal pretty-eyed flamboyant type, they have a manlier look with crude facial features complimented by excellent uniform designs. Even with the use of unusual visual imagery on the characters, they still look like anime characters and not from somewhere else. The ships and everything else are done with great detail and extensive resemblance to reality, the chronological gap between the Mirai and the WWII vessels are excellently convincing, add along a fair share of CG effects...Zipang is an excellent eye candy. Entertainment Value: Zipang isn't something you'll see everyday, it isn't something that would appeal to a lot of anime fans. There's nothing intentionally funny about it, no action scenes with dynamic movement going on, no mushyness and romance, no blatant fan service, no teenybopper content, no mechas beat punching monsters, no women blatantly designed for sexual innuendo so don't expect to see these things. If you are the one who always wants a piece of the unusual then you're not gonna be disappointed. There are only a few anime series that can greatly appeal to a non-anime fan and Zipang is on that list, like what i've said earlier it requires great understanding of history and an even greater appreciation for drama and the military. It is highly entertaining but definitely not a best seller- not because it's bad but because it's like a fine dish with an exotic taste that most people won't bite on. There's a little deal of letdown in terms of Zipang's historical accuracy, the chronological unfolding of historical events is nearly 100% spot on. There are a few errors here and there that might raise the eyebrow of a history buff but those errors are so minimal that they don't even ruin the show at all. Come to think of it, they might have just altered a bit of history here and there. Replay Value: Backed up with an excellent plot, yummy visuals, and dramatic musical pieces this is absolutely worthy of being watched all over again. It will definitely lose a bit of charm the second time around but still, it is not something you'll want to throw or give away after you're done. Recommended to: History and military enthusiasts, an anime fan who likes to see the non-generic stuff, drama enthusiasts, couch potatoes, your grandpa who happens to be a WWII veteran. Pheonix: Endsong Sun, 23 Mar 2008 10:25:07 +0000 <a href=""><img title="xmes-01-00.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="xmes-01-00.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Greg Pak and Greg Land Summary: Jean Grey is dead and so is the troublesome Pheonix Force that shared her consciousness. The X-Men have all moved on including her long-time flame Scott Summers (Cyclops). Now madly in love with Emma Frost, he has all but buried Jean's memory. But one still summer night, the Pheonix rises again and Jean Grey finds herself once more among the living... very much against her will. With the Dark Pheonix in control, Jean makes her way straight for Scott: needing his memories (and the power of his eyebeam) to make her new persona whole. [b]Review:[/b] The inconsistant X-Men are in peak form here in a mini-series that focuses on the long-running Jean/Emma/Scott love triangle. The confrontation, building for years, is very much worth the wait. The artwork is nothing short of amazing, the characterization is flawless and the action is kinetic. X-Men has never been quite this pretty before... or consistantly dramatic. Emma, Jean and Scott aren't always the warmest or most sympathetic characters, but for once, they really shine. If you weren't a Scott/Emma believer before, this series will probably make you one. Highlights: -Jean Grey's ressurection -Emma Frost hosts the Pheonix Force A must for any X-Men fan, no matter how casual. NYX (issues 1-7) Fri, 21 Mar 2008 23:10:02 +0000 <a href=""><img title="NYX_1_-_Cover_HG_.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="NYX_1_-_Cover_HG_.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Joe Quesada and Joshua Middleton [b]Summary:[/b] Kigen hasn't got the best cards to work with. Her family is fragmented, her brothers are out of control, and she lives in a neighborhood where drug dealers and gang warfare are part of every day life. When she was small, Kigen saw her police-officer father murdered in front of her and her life has been one disaster after another ever since. A wild-child of epic proportions, Kigen (now 16) spends most of her time high on something and starting fights with thugs who could easily end her. It's only a matter of time until Kigen finds herself on the wrong side of a gun. When she does, she discovers the power to stop time in its tracks. Most would be horrified, but Kigen is delighted. It's all fun and games now, but what's going to happen to Kigen and those around her when her attitude and her powers both backfire? [b]Review:[/b] NYX has two things going for it: amazing artwork and a story completely unfettered by the X-Men timeline. NYX never really feels like an X-Men offshoot. Unfortunately the same can't be said in reverse. With X-Men already drowning in it's own overstuffed cast, another story designed only to introduce more mutants is just about the last thing it needs. At least Kigen is a breath of fresh air. Her character is so incredibly flawed that it's really a challenge to like her. She's a selfish little brat who's lost her way in the world... a chain smoking, disrespectful little punk you'd pobably hate in person. Even so, the kid's got spunk and the longer you read the more you come to admire the street-smarts that have gotten Kigen this far more or less unscathed. There's an innocence and playfulness about her that is immediately appealing. Ironically, the only character here that immediately moves on to mainstream X-titles is X-23, a sexed-up lolita version of Wolverine. NYX is an interesting setup with a very interesting main character and beautiful artwork. Unfortunately, it's all dressed up with nowhere to go. The final few issues are rather pointless and the ultimate conclusion is a wimpy little &quot;so what?&quot; NYX fails in the same sense that most new MARVEL books do: it wasn't given the time to find an audience before it was yanked and recycled into a more popular title. It's still worth a look... if only to wonder what might have been if MARVEL had the balls to continue it awhile at their expense. [b]WARNING:[/b] NYX contains staggering amounts of drug-use, oddly censored profanity, and violence. There are multiple dramatic shootings, two suicides, and a few instances of vomitting/urinating on oneself. X-23 spends some time as a hooker. For a &quot;teen&quot;-centric X-Men book, it certainly isn't appropriate for most of the audience that would probably want to read it O_o; Maybe this contributed to it's failure? [b]Highlights:[/b] -introduction of X-23 (Kigen, Tatiana). Read it for the artwork and the unconventional approach to X-Men in general. It isn't required reading for an X-Men enthusiast, nor does it require familiarity with X-Men to enjoy. New X-Men - Academy X (1-15) Thu, 13 Mar 2008 08:48:44 +0000 <a href=""><img title="NewXMen13-01.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="NewXMen13-01.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Nunzio DeFillipis, Christina Weir, and various artists [b]Summary:[/b] The New Mutants have another go at their own title and this time they're forming honest-to-goodness teams. Dani Moonstar's &quot;New Mutants&quot;, Emma Frost's &quot;Hellions&quot;, Northstar's &quot;Alpha Squadron&quot;, and Cyclops' &quot;Corsairs&quot; all participate in a no-holds-barred field competition... all while navigating personal problems, death, relationships, and the prom! [b]Review:[/b] The New Mutants still haven't got it quite right... but this is a step in the right general direction. There's quite a bit of action, a few more interesting character developments and much more page-time for the Hellions (far and away the more interesting team). The New Mutants themselves remain chronically uninteresting, but this particular incarnation of the title is more of an &quot;ensemble cast&quot; deal than a showcase for the titular group. The relationships introduced round out a few characters. Sophia and Julian, in particular, are a good match: her character softens his and his brings out a bit of spunk in hers. Sophia can't carry a scene alone, but for some reason, she holds her own with Julian (scene-stealer extraordinaire). Interesting power-combinations make the Wither/Wallflower/Mercury mess worthwhile while Josh finally gets his act together and stops playing hide-the-sausage with his teacher on the side. Meanwhile Teen-heartthrob Jay seems to have a flame for Sooraya, a burka-wearing Sunni muslim who refuses to be alone with men. Only Prodigy/Surge rings hollow. But maybe that's just because I hate them both? Strangely enough, underdog Anole also grabs a good chunk of the best issue in the arc (13). The story, involving the unexpected death of a teacher and mentor, is surprisingly touching... I imagine even moreso if you're a fan of the character who kicks it. It's really too bad that it takes the death of an X-man to get some time for one of the other squads! The weakest arc involves a poorly concieved alternate-future-jump where Prodigy becomes the president of the United States... errr... Luckily it's only 2 issues... and it's the exception rather than the rule. The rest of the stories are a cut above the ones in &quot;New Mutants&quot;. The artwork also tends to be better in quality than the initial &quot;New Mutants&quot; run, though with a different artist on board virtually every week, the constant changes can get distracting here and there. Highlights: -introduction of Quill, Dust, Pixie, Loa, DJ, etc. -formation of squadrons -Icarus is traded to the New Mutants, Wither is traded to the Hellions -Hellion -&gt; Sophia -Elixir X Wallflower -Prodigy X Surge -Mercury -&gt; Wither -Julian sticks up for Kevin rather publically -death of Alpha Squadron's leader -Anole cries a lot There's hope for this series yet. As ever, there's a definate feeling of bloat (there are too many characters and not enough time to develop most of them) and the cast could use a trim. Even so, Academy X leaves you wanting to see quite a few of these kids again in the future. X-Men - New Mutants vol. 2 (vol 1-13) Wed, 12 Mar 2008 12:02:30 +0000 <a href=""><img title="New_Mutants_v2_012_Page_01_Image_0001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="New_Mutants_v2_012_Page_01_Image_0001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Nunzio Defilippis, Christina Weir, Keron Grant, Mark A. Robinson, Juan Vlasco [b]Summary:[/b] The Original New Mutants team has grown up and returned to Xavier's Instutute to mentor the next generation of up-and-coming mutants. But the newbies have a lot to learn about life, love and not-killing-each-other. Are the New Mutants, now in their early 20s, really up to the challenge? [b]Review:[/b] This isn't Marvel's &quot;A List&quot; writing team, that's for sure. Everything about this title seems a little half-assed, including the new set of mutants themselves. In spite of a few extremely interesting new power sets and personalities, most of it we've seen before and in better characters. Particularly disappointing are the two highest-profile female characters: Sophia Mantega, &quot;Wind Dancer&quot;, is a stripped-down version of Storm who can manipulate the wind and has all the leadership qualities of a wet paper-bag. Worse, she is a flat stereotype of a Latina who manages to learn perfect (albeit, oddly drawn-out) English from scratch in less than a month. Noriko Ashida, &quot;Surge&quot;, is an abraisive Japanophile fantasy and yet another &quot;hot asian chick&quot; included in a prime spot simply by virtue of being the stereotype du jour of the decade. She is incredibly unlikeable and, again, seems like a stripped-down version of Storm. Sometimes diversity doesn't do us any favors. Especially when it feels forced and exploits stereotypes. Can we get off the &quot;hot female&quot; minorities kick, MARVEL? That's not all the sucking to go around! Prodigy is a Bishop clone through and through, Icarus is a watered-down Angel knock-off, Tag has the single lamest power ever concieved (he can make people run away from whoever he touches), and Wallflower is a close second (pheremones). Thankfully, some more interesting newbies round things out a bit. Hellion, Wither, Dust, Mercury and Elixir all have cool power sets paired with potentially interesting personalities. But what New Mutants really has going for it is that it's never about fighting. It's about a bunch of teenagers at a boarding school coming to terms with who they are and powers they don't particularly want. Characters interactions, while not [i]fascinating[/i], are always the focus of the series. By the end of it, for better or worse, we have a good idea of the future X-men rosters we'd like to see (not to mention the ones we want to disappear into obscurity forever!) Highlights: -Moondancer and Karma become instructors at Xavier's, Northstar and Emma Frost become student advisors/squad leaders -introduction of The 2nd generation of New Mutants: Prodigy, Wind Dancer, Wallflower, Elixir, Icarus, Surge -introduction of The 2nd generation Hellions: Hellion, Rockslide, Dust, Mercury, Tag, Wither -introduction of Anole -Elixir/Wallflower/Rahne(teacher) love triangle -Wither is traded to the Hellions, Icarus is traded to the New Mutants The art changes often and is never particularly inspiring to look at. The writing is mediocre. There isn't much in the way of action, the main team lacks chemistry and quite a few of the characters we're supposed to like come off as gigantic idiots that it's hard to care about. New Mutants didn't last long. Cancelled after 12 issues, Marvel continues the students' stories in the &quot;Academy X&quot; series (which lasted only slightly longer before being completely reshuffled into &quot;The New X-Men&quot; ) Still, it's absolutely worth reading. For better or worse, this is the future of X-Men. And while half of these characters are already obselete: the cooler ones are clawing their way up in the ranks to become mutants worthy of inclusion in far cooler titles. You should know their backstories! L: Change the World Thu, 06 Mar 2008 19:55:40 +0000 <a href=""><img title="l-poster.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="l-poster.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: L, the awkward super-genius with a sweet tooth from the Death Note series gets his own film, without the burden of canon to bog him down! [b]Summary:[/b] In uber-b#tch style, a hot Scientist hatches a brutally nihilistic plan to eliminate the pollution of an overpopulated human race from the planet forever. To do this, she has worked to isolate and replicate two strains of a terriible virus. With the help of K and a small band of terrorists, they plot unleash the virus and then sell information about the strain and its cure to the United States. Little do they know, the scientist has absolutely no intention of creating a cure, much less distributing it. Meanwhile, after the death of Kira, L decides to end his own life on his own terms. He writes his own name in the Death Note before destroying it forever. With 23 days to live, L becomes the unwilling ward of two children who hold the key to unlocking the secret of the virus and its cure. [b]Review:[/b] The whole plot is straight-to-video cheese, the violence is incredibly fake and the canon Death Note mythos is ignored or rewritten entirely (the author of this adaptation admits to never having read the original manga and it shows). Misa, Ryuk and the Death Note all appear for about one minute of combined screen time. And that's about all of this that has anything to do with &quot;Death Note&quot;... Otherwise it's the most generic sort of adventure built around a character without a great deal of depth played by an actor without a great deal of ability. This is the cinematic version of fanfiction. It's obviously written to exploit the &quot;aww&quot; factor of L having to live with 2 kids for a few weeks and milking a false sense of drama in the countdown of his last days. It has its cute moments, like a chase in a crepe-truck, but for the most part its Warner Bros trying to wring more money out of a franchise thats already run out of material to work with. Unless youre a huge L fan... it isnt worth the price of a ticket. Wait for the video if you're a Death Note fan. If you have no interest in the series, there's no reason to waste your time with this. The Uncanny X-Men: She Lies With Angels Tue, 04 Mar 2008 10:19:54 +0000 <a href=""><img title="01.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="01.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: by Chuck Austen, Savador Larroca [b]Summary[/b] When little-brother Jeb's mutant powers awaken, Paige (Husk) returns to her hometown in Kentucky (X-men in tow) to sort out trouble between her own family and a hardcore anti-mutant clan who has has hated them for years. Unfortunately, Paige's other brother, Josh has fallen in love with that family's eldest daughter, Julia. As tension between the two families grow: Josh and Julia find themselves torn between their warring families. Meanwhile, Paige and Warren (Arcangel) finally get their shit together. It all ends rather badly in true Shakespearean style. [b]Review[/b] As poorly written as it is gorgeously-drawn, this arc is prettier than just about anything that's come before. The settings are lush, the light effects are gorgeous, and the characters are all improbably good-looking. Unfortunately it's weighed down by ludicrous archaic speech straight out of crappy romance novels. Whoever thought Romeo and Juliet needed ANOTHER update needs to be shot on principal... but whoever thought entire speeches needed to be reproduced in a super-hero comic needs to be tarred, feathered, waterboarded, mildly electrocuted and then hung. If you like Paige and/or Warren: it's worth the read just to progress their relationship (and see the incredibly cute scene where they consumate it). Otherwise, it's pretty negligable. Julia is a throwaway to introduce Icarus, we've all already read &quot;Romeo and Juliet&quot;, and unfortunately, thanks to the cancellation of the New Mutants lineup... Icarus doesn't last too long anyway. Highlights: -introduction of Josh/Jay &quot;Icarus&quot; (later a 2nd gen Hellion/New Mutant) -background on Paige's family -Logan gets an apology from Warren -Paige and Warren finally hook up In short, this is X-men at it's girliest. If buff, shirtless angels sweeping you off your feet and making love to you in moonlit Botanical gardens while reciting treacly poetry makes you quiver with excitement: this is a must-read. If the thought makes you a bit ill ~ you might want to skip it. Wolverine: Snikt! Fri, 29 Feb 2008 08:43:54 +0000 <a href=""><img title="wolv_snikt_v1_001_00_rougher.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="wolv_snikt_v1_001_00_rougher.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: You either hate Nihei or you love him. I happen to love him. Unfortunately, even the most rabid Nihei-fan needs to acknowledge that the man is a one-trick pony. And while no one does post-apocalyptic cyberpunk dungeoncrawls quite like Nihei, Nihei's never done anything else. Even his most fans have gotten a little tired of waiting for him to &quot;break out&quot; from the Blame! game. It should come as no surprise that Nihei writing Wolverine is simultaneously brilliant and insane... or that Nihei's Wolverine is little more than Killy with sideburns and claws. As a Wolverine spin-off, it's as perplexingly unnecesary and out-of-character as it is amazing to look at. Nihei A4 size and in full-color is pure bliss. The action is kinetic, the cyborgs are scary, and the backstory is appropriately sprawling. Oddly enough, Wolverine, as iconic as he is, gets lost in the shuffle. Wolverine floats in and out of Nihei's world like a ghost, displaying very little of his unique established personality in the process. Nihei isn't writing Wolverine: he's slapping a vaguely-Wolverine-styled generic hero into his own established universe. Not only is there no explanation for how the two world's connect, there's never a convincing reason for Wolverine himself to be needed in the other world at all. There are vague threads of justification (Nihei's vision is presented as our own Earth 100 years in the future and Wolverine's made of the only metal the baddies can't disolve instantly), but the whole thing never really meshes. ...It doesn't really matter. It's mind-bendingly gorgeous. And sometimes, that's enough. Those who are unfamiliar with seinen cyberpunk manga or with Nihei himself are likely to find the whole experience an exhilarating, otherworldly visual mind****. The rest of us are going to know that Nihei's played in this sandbox many times before and that this is one of the least inspiring corners. Whatever you think: it's undeniably cool that someone over at Marvel liked Nihei's sandbox enough to demand Wolverine be thrown into it ~ however odd the outcome. Seeing Nihei's work issue-sized and in color is reason enough to justify the price. Just don't expect it to make a lot of sense. A few more minor gripes: I'm just a wee bit bit put-off by the conspicious lack of a translation credit. The translator is included under &quot;special thanks&quot; while Nihei comes off as fluent in English (which he most certainly is not). On that note: I'm fairly certain that Nihei, like most Japanese people, hasn't read an issue of X-men in his entire life, leading me to believe that nearly all of Wolverine's lines are ghostwritten by a MARVEL editor. Wolverine: Xisle Fri, 29 Feb 2008 04:59:30 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Cover_001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Cover_001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: (by Bruce Jones and Jorge Lucas) Logan (Wolverine) takes his foster daughter, Amiko to the carnival for some down-time. When his mutant temper gets the best of him, he finds himself in hot water with his kid and stranded on a strange, surreal island. Alone, wounded and unable to regenerate, Logan must contend with a host of strange characters and occurances: including a stand-off with the beast within. Xisles is beautifully-drawn and the introduction is well-presented. Unfortunately the cliche, force-fed &quot;artsy-fartsy&quot;-ness of the whole affair doesn't make for anything particularly accessable or memorable. It's completely obvious what's going on to everyone but the hero, which pretty much destroys the whole point of the excersize. Worse: absolutely nothing of consequence happens here. It has no affect on any of the other X-men or Wolverine storylines. It is completely disposable. If you're going to check it out: do it for the art. It really is lovely. The writing... notsomuch. Next time leave the psychoanalysis to characters with more mental depth than Wolverine O-o; His Dark Materials Fri, 29 Feb 2008 04:11:16 +0000 <a href=""><img title="junior_nl.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="junior_nl.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [b]Summary:[/b] At the crossroads between a multitude of connected worlds: a boy and a girl meet. Sometimes, one meeting is all it takes to change everything. (armored polar bears, witches, gypsies, ghosts, angels, shapeshifting animal familiars, tiny spies on the back of dragonflies, clockwork insects, magical artifacts, harpies, shamans, strange creatures and airships may help move things along a bit...) The Trilogy contains three books: &quot;Northern Lights&quot; (The Golden Compass), &quot;The Subtle Knife&quot; and &quot;The Amber Spyglass&quot; [b]Review:[/b] There are a few books in this world that I genuinely think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. Not because they are true or should be emulated without question, but because they are relevant, uplifting and inspirational. They keep us up at night thinking about what we've read. They make us ask questions. And most importantly, they make sense of a seemingly meaningless universe. One is, oddly enough, The Bible. Even for those who aren't in the least bit religious, the Bible is a must. It is, quite simply, &quot;The Greatest Story Ever Told.&quot; The nastiness comes about from the percieved need to prove whether that story is true or not. I could really care less. It is a story so universal in it's adventure, appeal and insight that it can speak to each and every one of us on some level. This is another of those stories. And like the Bible: even if you are 100% against what the books have to say about the meaning of life, the purpose of humanity and the role of theology ~ it will still thrill your heart and move you to tears. Life is about being challenged. Morality is about making informed decisions about right and wrong, good and evil. It is about pain, suffering, loss, deciet, betrayal, rebellion, confusion, guilt, and all sorts of other little nasties we like to ignore in our modern fairy-tales. These books are dark, they are challenging and in spite of being &quot;Children's literature&quot; they contain ideas that we've learned to shelter our children (and ourselves) against. They are beautiful, seductive and subversive. Very much like the Bible. The controversy is deserved. The books are vehemently anti-Church, anti-establishment, and pro-earthly knowledge. They argue that sin is the very nature of the world, goodness, light and love. In repressing it: we are repressing life itself. Eve is innocent. God is absent and dying. The Authority that runs our universe now was once a man. Oddly enough, the books do not deny the existance of God or religion. In fact, they rely on the Bible having been, to a point, true. God exists. He was a good overseer once. There are angels, all of them are beautiful and a few of them are heroes. It is not religion itself that is evil -- it is the use of religious dogma to repress, harm, intimidate, wound, supress, opress and imbalance. If you are religious, you may even find yourself enraged by what you read. But rage is just as worthy an emotional experience as any other. Read them because you are brave, because you think that you know exactly who you are and what it is that you believe. Read them because you want to know more about what else might be out there. Read them to enforce what you already think you know. Read them to &quot;know your enemy&quot;. Read them to inspire debate. Read for escapist fantasy fun. Read them to cry your eyes out. I don't care why you read them -- but you really should. Pullman is offering you the fruit... I'm happy to play the serpent ~ Civil War: Young Avengers &amp; Runaways (issue 1-4) Wed, 20 Feb 2008 11:11:45 +0000 <a href=""><img title="scan0001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="scan0001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: Let me start off by saying I don't really give a crap about the Marvel Universe. All of my knowledge of what goes on outside of Runaways comes from my crazy male friends. One of them complained for weeks that the press spoiled the death of Captain America, another owns every volume of &quot;Thor&quot; every printed, the others sit around Starbucks and play comic book trivia games. One of the more popular games goes something like this: create a team of four of the ~lamest~ super heroes in the Marvel Universe and come up with a way they could work together to actually take over the world. Well after reading this and become aquainted with The Young Avengers I'm inclined to think that I stand a chance next time the game pops up... As far as I can tell, The Young Avengers are a big group of kids with incredibly lame names derived from better super heroes whose abilities they mimic: like &quot;Hulkling&quot; (mini-Hulk), The Patriot (mini-Captain America), and Iron Lad (mini-Iron Man). They're rounded out by a giantess, a generic hot-chick with a bow and arrow and assorted boys in spandex who mean nothing to me because I'm clearly not enough of a comic geek. Oh! And there's also a sorcerer-boy who had to change his name from &quot;The Asguardian&quot; to &quot;The Wiccan&quot; after he hooked up with Hulkling ( The Asguardian... The Ass Guardian... get it? ). Anyhow... my comic friends tell me that the &quot;Civil War&quot; is going on in every Marvel title. Essentially the super heroes are splitting into two groups: pro-super-hero registry and anti-super-hero registry. And they're... fighting... because... that's cool. Well, from the title, you'd think that the Runaways get to fight the Young Avengers. That might be cool, right? Well... the title's a bit decieving. In reality, the Young Avengers want to team up with the Runaways. A brief misunderstanding gives us one volume of surprisingly cool match-ups but it's soon resolved and becomes a cute excersize in &quot;wow, we're really similar&quot;! &quot;You have a witch? WE have a witch!&quot; &quot;You have a Skrull? WE have a Skrull too!&quot; &quot;You have super strength?! DUUUUDE!&quot; &quot;You're gay?! US TOOO!&quot; There are minor easter eggs and plot bunnies hidden for fans of each individual series: Chase and Molly reconnect, Nico gets a chance to show off as leader, and Hulkling and Wiccan share a heart-rending torture scene in which Runaways fans wonder what the hell the point is casting spells you need to repeat several dozen times before they do anything... Essentially, it's fan-wank. But it is entertaining, decently drawn and true to The Runaways' own universe. It's really not an essential sidetrip, but it is a fun one... and at only four volumes: it's probably one worth taking. You probably won't come out of it a Young Avengers fan. But it can't hurt to add to your arsenal of lame heroes for coffee-shop competitions :) Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203506993&amp;sr=8-1 RUNAWAYS vol 2 (issues 13-24) Wed, 20 Feb 2008 10:09:17 +0000 <a href=""><img title="img0011.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="img0011.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: The 3rd collected volume of RUNAWAYS covers issues 13-24 of volume 2. The Runaways are back and better than ever. Just when we thought the series might be losing steam, the strongest story arcs in series history hit back-to-back. Both are included in this installment. Back in Los Angeles, the Runaways are left to their own unique brand of haphazard vigilante justice without all of the gratituous Marvel crossovers and super-villains. The artwork is as good as it's ever been and the storytelling is more weighty than ever. We are warned, from the start, that someone will die... and when it happens: it hurts. In the first storyline, Alex's online friends band together and scheme ressurect him. Instead, they accidentally call back a much younger version of his father. Determined to extract revenge for The Pride, he sets up an ambush for the Runaways. Using the online gamers as pawns, Geoffrey Wilder manages to off one of the Runaways--setting the whole unit into a dangerous downward spiral and sending one member in particular over the edge. The second arc ( &quot;Live Fast&quot;/&quot;Dead Means Dead&quot; ) is impossible to discuss in-depth without spoiling anything... but it's painful, surprising, and brings new depth to characters desperately in need of some. Problematic issues are tackled: Nico's slutty behavior is addressed as is Xavin's gender-indentity. Oh, and if you weren't a Chase fan before: you will be after reading this. A short one-shot about Molly is also included to lighten the otherwise heavy mood and while it does very little to develop her character, it is quite a lot of fun. The only kill-joy in an otherwise solid chunk of euphoria is the final, terrifying announcement that Adrian Alphona, the artist responsible for the best and most frequent artwork in the series and writer Brian K. Vaughan are leaving RUNAWAYS in someone else's hands. We can only hope the new staff is just as enthusiastic and talented as this one. Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203501945&amp;sr=8-3 RUNAWAYS vol 2 (issues 1-12) Wed, 20 Feb 2008 09:43:21 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Runaways_V2_06_page_001.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Runaways_V2_06_page_001.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: The second hardcover collection of RUNAWAYS covers the first twelve issues in the title's 2nd run + the Free Comic Book Day giveaway &quot;X-men Runaways&quot;. There are two main story-arcs included here, unfortunately both are much weaker than the original comic. In the first arc, the Runaways find themselves up against &quot;Excelsior&quot;, a group of reformed teenage super-heroes who never amounted to much. This motley crew of has-beens wants to save the Runaways from lives of underage vigilante justice and inevitable super-hero mediocrity... sort of like super-hero-social-workers. While Excelsior tries to reform the kids, Gert appears from the future to warn of the rise of the super villain &quot;Victorious&quot;. In the future, Victorious destroys just about every super hero in the Marvel Universe on his way to world domination. The only way to stop him, is to turn him from the path of villany while he's still young. Future-Gert plants some drama-seeds by suggesting that Karolina will leave the group, implying that she and Victorious were at one point lovers, and dying in Chase's arms with the last words &quot;I never told you how much I loved...&quot; The kids set out to stop Victorious, now just a teenager with a super-hero fetish named &quot;Victor&quot;, and change destiny. The arc, while not entirely engaging and completely predictable, has it's high points and introduces us to some new relationship dynamics. Gert and Chase are squishy together, Nico learns to respect Chase, Karolina continues to question her sexuality, and Victor finds a place in the group as the 6th Runaway In the second arc, Cloak returns to ask the children to help clear his name in an attack on his partner Dagger. Implicated by security camera footage of a Cloaked figure using his powers to subdue and rape Dagger, Cloak is targetted by the police and The Avengers as the most obvious suspect. The Runaways have to travel to New York City, a city of first-rate superheroes, to figure out how to clear his name. In the process Nico runs into She-Hulk, Gert and Victor have sushi with Spiderman, Molly pwns Wolverine, and Chase finds out that he can use the Staff of One. The whole arc seems an excuse to create &quot;cute&quot; interactions between the Runaways and as many other Marvel characters as possible. That said, it IS pretty fabulous (and funny) to see an 11 year-old girl hand The Avengers their asses. Chase, Molly and Gert pretty much own this collection. Nearly all of the interesting moments belong to them... and Chase, in particular, seems poised to become a much more multifaceted (and powerful) character than we all first expected. On the downside, Nico is starting to come off as a bit of a skank :/ She's now had her lips on three of the five other original Runaways AND a random vampire-kid... Sorry Karolina fans: I'm afraid she's out of commission for a majority of this volume. Victor, for all of the focus on him in the first arc, is still more of a Gary Stu than an interesting character. He is too perfect and generic to be remotely interesting at this point. In spite of the lack of focus, lack of strong central villains, and inclusion of WAY too many Marvel crossovers for the casual reader's comfort: this installment does have it's moments of brilliance, drama and humor. While not nearly as strong as their origin story, the two arcs included here do move the story along and carve a welcome place for The Runaways in the larger Marvel Universe. The more we see of them with other costumed super-heroes, the more we come to appreciate them as exceptions to silly super-hero conventions. These kids never wear stupid costumes, they don't have corny catch-phrases, they don't call themselves &quot;The Runaways&quot;, and they've dropped their code-names altogether. They're just a group of kids with special powers who want adults to leave them, and other kids like them, alone. The artwork is still incredibly strong, the covers are gorgeous, and while a few &quot;anime style&quot; chapters stand out as mediocre in comparison: none of the artwork is bad. The free comic included (X-Men Runaways) is entirely disposable. Its writing and artwork don't even attempt to live up to the original series. While it's interesting to see a different take on the Runaways (Saturday Morning style), it's something you can read once and the forget about having ever existed. Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203502835&amp;sr=8-2 Berserk (episodes 1~ 25) Wed, 20 Feb 2008 06:23:35 +0000 <a href=""><img title="dvdberserk.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="dvdberserk.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: Franco<br /><br />Description: Berserk is based on the manga with the same name, which is about The Black Swordsman named Guts. [b]Storyline[/b] The series starts from the end with Guts hunting Griffith and his minions, then after the end of the first episode the remainder of the series is what I could best describe as the beginning of the series which shows the viewer how Guts and Griffith met, became enemies and also the love triangle between them and Caska. Guts is on a quest for revenge under the name of, &quot;The Black Swordsman,&quot; against a man named Griffith, who was once his very best friend and the former commander of the mercenary company, The Band of the Hawk. Then after the end of the first episode the remainder of the series is what I could best describe as the beginning of the series which shows the viewer how Guts and Griffith met as enemies of opposing sides, became friends through fighting, how Guts becomes the commander of the Raiders under Griffith and how they became enemies again fueled by the love triangle between them and Caska (don't want to spoil the other factor). The three main characters of the story are Guts, Griffith, and Caska. Guts seems to be a character that is driven by the need to survive in order to be able to find his purpose in the world and the only way for him to truly feel at peace is to be in the midest of battle on a battlefield fighting for his life in order to achieve it. Griffith on the other hand is a man who see himself as a king even if he has common blood, who is willing to pave the road to his kingdom with the bodies of men who are willing to die for his cause (even Guts is no exception to this ideal) and selling his soul to demons in order to become king. Caska is the heroine of the story who is deeply devoted to Griffith, but is torn between following Griffith or falling in love with Guts and live a life that doesn't include Griffith. [b]My Thoughts[/b] The plot seems like a normal knight series like Lodoss War with sword fighting and battles, but then the plot takes a 360 in the last 3 episodes into a hellraiser like theme where all hope for survival is gone and only death by being devoured by demons remains. The reason why I rated this series as average was because we don't find out how Guts and Caska survive, and that the last episode ends in hell and Guts all of a sudden is inside a blacksmiths shop. It has a superb storyline which will make the viewer want to watch but at the end it just leaves the viewer with more questions then answers and a yearning to see more. I would recommend this to anyone who liked watching Lodoss War and the Character Olsen. Guts is just like Olsen except that he is not under any demon control. Good Luck and Enjoy! P.S.: Just to let you know, the rest of the story continues in the manga. Official Website: RUNAWAYS vol 1 Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:32:44 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Runaways05p00.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Runaways05p00.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: Most of us go through the &quot;angsty teenager&quot; phase. We might act out, cut ourselves, question our sexuality, or feel awkward about our bodies... but pretty much everyone goes through a time where they think their parents are evil. What if they really were? Alex, Karolina, Chase, Molly, Gertrude and Nico are all living the lives of &quot;normal&quot; teenagers when they just happen to stumble upon their parents' sacrificing a young girl to legendary Biblical giants. Rebellion seems entirely out of the question until a bit of snooping turns up a cache of super-weapons, a psychic dinosaur, and instructions for unleashing Karolina's ability to fly. As the teens continue to discover special powers of their own, their parents start to suspect they might not be sitting at home doing their homework after all. After an explosive confrontation with their supervillain parents: the kids head to an old caved-in hotel and make camp. At Gertrude's insistance, they adopt &quot;code names&quot; to match their abilities: -Alex, a 16 year-old African-American MMORPG nerd, becomes &quot;Wilder&quot;, a born-leader with ambiguous powers determined to redeem his super-villain family name. -Nico, a 16 year-old gothic lolita-styled Asian-American, becomes &quot;Sister Grimm&quot;, a sorceress with a staff inside her that can only be summoned by drawing blood. -Gertrude, an overweight 15 year-old intellectual elitist, becomes &quot;Arsenic&quot;, psychic controller of a rather intimidating dinosaur partner called &quot;Old Lace&quot;. -Karolina, a conflicted 16 year-old lesbian, becomes &quot;Lucy in the Sky&quot;, a flying alien being somehow connected to the powers of the sun. -Chase, an incredibly likeable 17-year old intellectual wasteland becomes &quot;Talkback&quot;, a mechanical genius with access to his family's legacy of futuristic superweapons. -Molly, an 11 year-old Harry Potter fan becomes &quot;Bruiser&quot;, a little girl mutant with superhuman strength. Vague super-hero personas in place, the kids find themselves pitted against their parents (and each other) in a battle that will decide all of their futures. As silly as this all sounds, it all somehow comes together to form a credible teenage fantasy... not to mention one of the best super hero comics to come along in the last 25 years. &quot;Runaways&quot; is laced with snappy pop-culture references, in-jokes and stereotype reversals (the fat girl gets a good-looking guy, the &quot;stupid&quot; character is actually quite smart, and the final hero-heirarchy may surprise you). The fights are epic, the relationships are interesting, the plot-twists are believable and the characters are refreshingly loveable. With covers as lovely as anything you'll ever see on the manga shelf and vibrantly-colored interior artwork that remains incredibly solid even through ocaisional artist changes, there's virtually nothing about &quot;Runaways&quot; likely to turn off even a persnickity manga fan. The stories pop visually and the characters' expressions really breathe life into their adventures. I'm not a huge fan of super-hero comics, but &quot;Runaways&quot; makes me a believer. Not only is it just the thing to bring a teenager you love into the cult of comics, it's likely to remind you why you still bother with comics at all in the age of 600+ X-men. Can we get a &quot;Runaways&quot; film now please?! More Images from the First Volume (minor spoilers): Buy it here:;s=books&amp;qid=1203503198&amp;sr=8-1 A Traveller's History of Japan Fri, 15 Feb 2008 12:44:32 +0000 <a href=""><img title="hist.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="hist.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: ---------------------------- Publisher: Interlink Books ISBN1-56656-260-0 ----------------------------- &quot;A Traveller's History of Japan&quot; isn't a book I would ever purchase for myself. I was warned on my very first day in the East Asian Studies department to be wary of any books including the words &quot;Japan: A History&quot; or &quot;A History of Japan.&quot; I consider it to be good advice, generally speaking. Then I somehow inherited this one. When I arrived in Shikoku two years ago, my apartment was fully furnished and full of things left by my predecessor, her predecessor, and likely countless others. &quot;A History&quot; was on the shelf next to &quot;Lonely Planet: Japan&quot; and &quot;Making Out in Japanese&quot;. Both of those went straight into the trash can, but this one seemed just promising enough to get shoved into the back corner of the closet. Having ignored the book completely for nearly two years, I'm a bit shocked to find that it's really quite good. Everything the book is gleaned from other, more in-depth works, but on the whole, it's a remarkably straightforward and readable summary of the major events that have shaped Japanese history. The pace is brisk, the topics are fairly complete and the editing is great. The author approaches Japan and the Japanese from a refreshingly informed and realistic viewpoint. Unlike many other books in it's genre: it hasn't been written by an unabashed Orientalist who thinks Japan can do no wrong. The spare, quoted and implied criticisms included are not only honest: but often hilarious. Cramming as much as 1,000 years into a single page leaves a bit to be desired in the details department, but for armchair historians or those just looking for a quick review of their old EAS curriculum: you could do far worse. Also included is a fabulous annotated bibliography, a glossary of romanized Japanese terms, a timeline of Prime Ministers, a timeline of Emperors, a Chronology of major events, a rundown of Japanese holidays, appendices for cultural notes, etc. For those who have already studied Japanese history in depth and are looking for a small, portable refresher or reference for dates: this is a great choice. For those looking to get their feet wet without committing to a much larger, more scholarly tome: it's also a good choice. So I suppose, in the end, I'm recommending a book with the words &quot;A History of Japan&quot; in the title. I only hope my old professors will find it in their hearts to forgive me. S.A. (volume 1) Sun, 03 Feb 2008 09:22:54 +0000 <a href=""><img title="sacov.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="sacov.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: {Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and} ---------------------------- Publisher: Hana to Yume Comics ISBN4-592-18131-X ----------------------------- Hikari is a fiercely competitive tomboy whose desire to be number one has driven her in a life-long competition with her childhood friend and rival, Kei. Effortlessly perfect in everything, Kei is always one-upping her. The two of them drive each other to such lengths of perfection that both have been accepted to the elite &quot;S.A.&quot; class in their high school. The S.A. is an elite group of rich, pampered students who spend their days in a special class that never studies. They throw tea parties, give music recitals and exploit the lesser students like hired help between random fabulous vacations. But even as the 2nd-ranking member of this elite class of students, Hikari's too busy breaking her back to one-up Kei to notice that he's been in love with her since they were children. If the setup isn't already enough like other shoujo series' to make you suspicious, check out the cast: [list] [*] con artist [*] androgynous female friend [*] a set of inseparable twins [*] a shotacon fanservice character [*] a big-brother type [*] a homicidally overenthusiastic self-proclaimed fiancee [*] obligatory childhood friend/love-hate couple who can't quite get their acts together [/list] In spite of having a heroine who is supposed to be tough, smart and sporty, she gets into trouble every 20 pages or so. It's up to our hero, blandly perfect in every possible way, to come to her rescue on cue. In essense, S.A. is the bastard offspring of Ouran Host Club, Kodomo no Omocha and Fruits Basket. Every locale, character, and joke is so painfully derivative that anyone who's so much glanced at any other popular shoujo comedy will find themselves suffering chronic deja vu. It's likeable enough on a surface level and will keep the pages turning at a brisk enough pace. But in the end, it is entirely disposable - not nearly original enough to justify buying it over any of the better, more original series' from which it's drawn most of it's incredibly obvious inspiration. Perhaps the most glaring error in it's execution is expecting normal readers to feel enduring sympathy for people who are rich, spoiled and need to expend very little effort to be better than the rest of us... It very difficult to relate to characters who value such ridiculously shallow displays of elitism. Admit it: if there were an S.A. at your school, you'd hate them. Myself ; Yourself Fri, 01 Feb 2008 14:35:37 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Myself_Yourself.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Myself_Yourself.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: K.A.David<br /><br />Description: [b]Synopsis[/b] Sana Hidaka returns to his hometown of Sakuranomori after 5 years of living in Tokyo. There, he returns to his four childhood friends: - Shuusuke Wakatsuki, his best friend; - Shuuri, Shuusuke’s twin sister; - Aoi Oribe, his cousin and landlady and - Nanaka Yatsushiro, his closest female friend. Sana discovers that some things in his hometown haven't changed and some have, including him. [b]Review[/b] Don't the three periods in the synopsis' ending sound intriguing? Before I begin, I would like to relate that I found this title through what is called serendipity. It’s the art of discovering through accident. Now, being interrupted twice already, let us proceed. I shall begin with the good points before I go to the bad. [b]Good Points[/b] The story telling was one of the greatest styles I have ever encountered in anything I've read or saw, be it literature or some cheesy TV drama. I have read works like that of Edgar Allan Poe and a few really great novels and I could say, this title definitely deserves a place among those illustrious works of literature. The title combines the usual aesthetic of childhood friendship-turned-love and the beauty of friendship that has lasted through the years with the mature story telling and direct detailing of the conflicts that is in life. It felt weird, watching something you expected to be just another romance turn into one of the most psychological and haunting stories you’ve ever encountered. You not only get the cuteness and the moé, but you get conflicts that make you think as well. The loss of a family member, the pain of a neglectful father, the undertones of incest implied derogatorily, unrequited love, suicide, being bullied, seeing one parent kill the other, suicide again and finding the place where you belong. Never have I seen a title that combines cuteness with psychological issues! [i]Artwork[/i] Speaking of cuteness, the art was very good, if not great. I have a technique in judging the art quality of a title (maybe you should try it). Consider that most, if not all titles will pay attention to the beauty of its female characters. Knowing this, you can be sure that you don’t need to worry about the girls, they’ll definitely be beautiful. Instead, look at the male characters. If the style is bishounen, then it’ll definitely pass! And this title passed. The male characters (particularly Sana) were quite handsome for protagonists, a far cry, perhaps from, say Uzumaki Naruto. [i]Cast[/i] The cast too was great. One of my criteria in checking a new anime is the cast. If the cast is not that good, there’s a high chance that I’ll pass. Luckily, Takehito Koyasu was in this anime, and he did great. I also discovered new seiyuu to watch out for, like Shinnosuke Tachibana (Sana) and Tomoko Kaneda (Aoi) whose cuteness I really liked. The music was pretty good, particularly the Ending Theme (I found the opening quite plain and common). The ending (Kimi to Yozora to Sakamichi to) had this haunting atmosphere that made me think of someone’s cherished childhood memories that were so painfully destroyed by fate. The drama! Even in the ending theme! [b]Anyway, let us go to the bad parts.[/b] Except for the dull opening theme, there weren't any bad parts. (What’s happening to me!? I’m becoming mild!!) I definitely recommend this anime. If there was one anime I would recommend you, it would be this. A cute series about the problems of teenagers and humans in general. Check it out! [u]Tip:[/u] before watching this anime, try asking yourself these questions: [list=1] [*] What is the importance of friendship? [*] Was I a good friend to my friends? [*] Instead of asking what I’ve been through, what have my friends been through? [*] Was I able to help them in times of need? [*] Who do I consider my dearest friend? Does he/she think the same way? [*] Is suicide the answer to anything? [*] Where should I hide my secret stash of Porn? [*] How could I make my boobs grow larger? Are large boobs hereditary? (boys are exempted from this one) [*] Is the answer to this question no? (please answer either &quot;yes&quot; or &quot;no&quot; ) [/list] Berserk (vol 1-32) Fri, 01 Feb 2008 12:22:57 +0000 <a href=""><img title="bers2.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="bers2.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: [i](This review is based entirely on the Japanese volumes... The series is licensed in English by Dark Horse)[/i] [b]Storyline[/b] Raped, neglected and baptized in fire: the young swordsman Gatts finds the friendship, love and acceptance he's always lacked in a motley crew of mercenary misfits called &quot;The Band of Hawks&quot;. Their leader, the compassionate and charismatic Griffith quickly becomes both Gatts' best friend and a brother-in-arms. But as they grow closer to one another, Gatts learns that Griffith is a man possessed, quite literally, by his own ambition. Griffith will rest at nothing in his pursuit of power. He uses everything from assassination to seduction to advance his own interests and attain his dream. Unfortunately the ultimate realization of Griffith's dream requires a sacrifice too horrible to imagine. Robbed again of everything he's ever trusted, believed in or loved: Gatts goes it solo again. This time, he is branded... marked forever as Griffith's prey: the one that got away. Consumed with desire for revenge and redemption, he travels a dark fantasy world teeming with demons, ogres, corrupt kings, fanatical religions, fairies and witches in hopes of finding and killing a God... [b]My Thoughts[/b] Berserk works on so many levels that it's hard to find someone who wouldn't enjoy the hell out of it. It is a sprawling fantasy adventure. It's more horrible than most horror. It's intelligent. It's beautifully drawn. It constructs a living, breathing world with it's own rules, myths, creatures and landscapes. There are incredibly tender romances, painful deaths, and hilarious asides. The characters are multi-faceted. Our heroes are all flawed. And for all of his stoic silence: Gatts' persistent loneliness is palpable. As the story progresses into the 30s, it has lost very little of it's appeal or momentum. The story flows along through a tightly plotted adventure to what most sense is a long-before set conclusion. Few series attract such rabid and devoted fans as Berserk - and for good reason. It's one of the most compelling fantasies in any format. Perhaps the only real reason NOT to recommend it it's incomplete state. With an average of only volume every 8 or 9 months: Berserk is a long-term investment... one where the ultimate payoff is unlikely to come any time soon. If you can handle the pins and needles: pick it up. 51 Ways to Protect the Girl/Kanojo wo Mamoru 51 no Houhou (vol. 1-5) Fri, 01 Feb 2008 10:39:37 +0000 <a href=""><img title="511.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="511.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: {Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and} ---------------------------- Publisher: BUNCH comics ISBNs: 978-4-10-771289-9 978-4-10-771305-6 978-4-10-771321-6 978-4-10-771338-4 978-4-10-771354-4 ----------------------------- Jin, 21 years-old, is fresh out of college and on his way to a job interview at a tv station in Odaiba. Caught up in the crowd, he runs into a Gothic Lolita trying to buy some tickets for a Sarin Helnwein concert. It's hard to tell through the makeup, bleach-blonde hair and froofy angel wings... but Jin thinks she looks familiar. Looking closer, Jin recognizes her as an old Junior High classmate, Okano. Embarrassed to be recognized as &quot;a normal&quot;, Okano brushes him off, insisting her name is &quot;Loliko&quot; and that she's never seen him before in her life. Soon after, Okano finds herself on the bad side of her own fandom when the Sarin Helnwein groupies turn against her and try to dump her off a bridge. Against his better judgment, Jin comes to her rescue. The two of them reconnect riding the ferris wheel, but seeing each other again brings back memories for both. Okano was bullied to the breaking point... and Jin, in spite of having had a crush on her, failed to protect her. Well he's about to get another chance... Five minutes later, at 7:45 that same evening, Tokyo is hit with an M8 earthquake. The two 20-somethings soon find themselves in a landscape filled with shattered windows, twisted metal, injured people, and a street flowing with raw sewage. They have to join forces with each other (and everyone else in Odaiba) to cross Rainbow Bridge: the only link between the island city of Odaiba and the rest of Tokyo. Little do they know that Odaiba wasn't the epicenter... and that they're heading into hell on earth. From here on, 51 Ways is a predictable but remarkably believable survival adventure. The catastrophic earthquake scenario is plausible (if not inevitable). Based on a well-researched novel by Minoru Watanabe, the series paints a picture not quite as explicit and horrifying as ones in other apocalyptic fiction, but one that is frightening in it's detail. For once, we're given a disaster scenario in which hundreds of thousands of people live to populate the world along with our heroes. Tokyo proves a big and busy place, even in ruins. Like many of Furuya's other works, we're also shown just how fragmented and superficial Japanese youth has become: gals, rock stars, Gothic Lolita's, otaku, salarymen, ganguro, and schoolgirls are all here in their self-imposed stereotypical, shallow glory. But while the ugliness of the fragmentation of Tokyo youth is striking - these people all come together in the face of disaster in a way that's ultimately hopeful. When you strip off the posing and expensive clothing: we're all the same. In the end, 51 Ways is one of Furuya's most optimistic and mainstream works. It would make a lovely gateway drug for more timid independant comic readers or shoujo fans looking for something with a bit more bite. xxxHolic TV 1 Wed, 30 Jan 2008 12:15:51 +0000 <a href=""><img title="xxxholic1.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="xxxholic1.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: K.A.David<br /><br />Description: [b]Synopsis[/b] Watanuki Kimihiro has been able to see supernatural creatures ever since he was young. To make matters worse, the creatures seem horribly attracted to him. Whilst Watanuki was walking in a crowd one day, a thick cluster of creatures began to follow him. Watanuki ran as fast as he could, but the creatures eventually caught up and engulfed him, rendering him to roll on the ground. As he was rolling, he touched the wall of an unusual shop. Somehow, he was lead inside where he meets an unusual woman who introduces herself as Yuuko Ichihara. Yuuko is a witch that grants any wish in exchange for something. Without spoiling the storyline, it's safe to say that from that day on, Watanuki's life has never been the same. [b]My Thoughts[/b] Firstly, I should mention the correct pronunciation of the title. It reads as &quot;Holic&quot; as the &quot;xxx&quot; stands for a variable. The series has its strong points and flaws. To make this review a more pleasurable thing, I shall begin with the compliments. Of all the works CLAMP (author) made into an anime, this would so far be the most serious. The story telling is eerie and mysterious with its well distributed silence. Elegant and heart-warmingly admirable with its perfect combination of ambiguity and humor in its dialogue makes it a great anime to watch. One can appreciate the beauty of its creepiness as well as the easiness of its humor. The anime combines CLAMP's signature childishness and stereotypicality (is that a correct word?) with a brand new atmosphere of maturity and formality. It borders between a work for entertainment and a work of serious literature. In it, you can see factors of stereotypical titles, like the love triangle (Watanuki x Himawari x Doumeki), the rivalry (Watanuki x Doumeki), CLAMP’s signature irritating characters (Yuuko, Maru and Moro, Mokona) and catch phrases (&quot;There's no such thing as fate, only inevitability.&quot; ; &quot;may your wish be granted!&quot; ). But even these somewhat typical factors are, in a need of a better term, improvised by CLAMP. The love triangle isn't really a love triangle in the strictest sense, as only Watanuki seems to treat it as such. The rivalry, too, is not accurately a rivalry. In fact, it mirrors the relationship between Shirou Kamui and Monou Fuuma from X, another work by CLAMP. The characters are an interesting part. It is CLAMP's signature to recycle characters and ideas from previous works. As I have done my research (I haven't read the manga) it seems like Yuuko was actually acquainted with CardCaptor Sakura's Clow Reed, the whole main cast of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, is aware of the existence of Shirou Kamui from X and Subaru Sumeragi of Tokyo Babylon. It seems like the black Mokona is also based on an original Mokona, the one from Rayearth. You can even see the debut anime appearance of the lead characters of Legal Drug in episode 6, as the two make a cameo appearance. Yuuko's catch phrases are also quite interesting. The preview of the next episode always ends with &quot;Anata no Negai wa Kanaimashou&quot; (may your wish be granted). Her other catch phrase is, &quot;There is no such thing as coincidence, only inevitability&quot;. The word &quot;inevitability&quot; is a rough translation of the word &quot;hitsuzen&quot;, a concept that explains the importance of one event to the conception and eventual happening of another. This is again a recurring theme in CLAMP’s works. The cast was quite interesting. I just finished the yaoi OVA series &quot;Okane ga Nai&quot;, before I began this series. Knowing that Jun Fukuyama is a cast member of both titles, I was impressed with his versatility. In Okane, I first mistook him for a female seiyuu, as he sounded so feminine when he voiced Ayase, but in xxxHolic, he was quite masculine. The other cast members too were quite talented. Sayaka Ohara’s performance as Yuuko was very impressive, capturing her combination of Sage like personality as well as her annoying but cute quirkiness (that was the first time I used the word &quot;quirkiness&quot; ). [b]Artwork[/b] The art, too was good, though there is something I need to comment on about it later. I have known that CLAMP was good at character design, but I must say that Yuuko Ichihara is their most interesting (if not obsession worthy) character yet. Not only is she unworldly beautiful, but her personality is the deepest that CLAMP has created so far as well. The male characters too looked interesting. Now that the rave part is done, let’s go to the ranting. [b]Rants[/b] (background music = Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor). There goes CLAMP’s one recurring flaw. The characters’ bodies are too long and thin. They looked like matches with arms. There are also flaws in the details in the plot, like the fact that Doumeki can’t enter the shop but in one earlier episode he enters it with Watanuki and Yuuko. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] All in all, I liked the series. As you could see, I see more compliments than criticisms, a fact that defies the very definition of the universe (how could that happen!? I don’t see anything wrong!?). I am eagerly awaiting the next season, which is scheduled for broadcast sometime in April 2008. This is a series for the intellectual, so if you think you’re one, try this series. Official Website: Bartender Tue, 29 Jan 2008 05:08:04 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Bartender_anime0.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Bartender_anime0.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: Glorifying the trade, [i]Bartender[/i] proves something that your parents have been unconsciously trying to teach you for years: alcohol fixes everything. [b]Plot[/b] Bartender is not overly ambitious in its approach. It’s a show about a bartender, Ryuu Sasakura, and his bar, Eden Hall. However, unlike the snobby bar jockeys and incompetent female bartenders who are hired for their bust size that we have all encountered, Ryuu has something very unique about him: he can make the perfect cocktail. This cocktail, in fact, is not one single recipe, but rather is a drink he prepares based on what the customer wants, which goes far beyond taste, but to an emotional level. He is not psychic, or magical, but rather uses his power of observation to pick up subtle clues, and listens while his patrons share their stories with him. In turn, he uses his vast array of liquor knowledge to give the customer exactly what they want. This is not a show for fourteen year old boys who want to see giant robots bash each other to pieces. This is a show for a mature audience that appreciates nuance and subtlety in its approach. It’s a show, therefore, that is an endangered species. Given the short nature of the show, there is not a lot of character development in Ryuu, but there does not have to be. Bartender serves to have a main character who is essentially static, but also without a defining flaw, however it never feels like he is too perfect, as he merely functions in the capacity of his job, which is often to listen patiently and interject his minimal guidance in at crucial points, whether it be answering a riddle posed by a washed up screen writer, or helping a couple on their first date. [b]Sights and Sounds[/b] The soundtrack is sparing, very sparing, but it executes sparing with a sense of dignity, rather than with a feeling of cheapness. In a way, the familiar melodies that play reinforce the comfortable, safe atmosphere of the Eden Hall bar. There is not a whole lot of animation in the show. It is a show that showcases its animation with Ryuu mixing a drink in a cocktail shaker, but what is animated, is rendered well. The style is not particularly memorable like Tezuka or Toriyama, but it looks good, and more importantly, mature. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] Bartender is worth watching if you even have a passing interest in slice of life shows. You may even end up like me and get your bartending license after watching this show! Results may very. [b]Final Verdict: 9/10[/b] Official Website: Blue Dragon Thu, 17 Jan 2008 06:04:06 +0000 <a href=""><img title="425px-Blue_Dragon.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="425px-Blue_Dragon.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: Three titans of the Japanese RPG: Hironobu Sakaguchi, legendary designer of the Final Fantasy Franchise, Akira Toriyama, famed character designer of Dragonball and Chrono Trigger, and Nobuo Uematsu, brilliant composer of the Final Fantasy games, all come together to create this star studded bucket of fail. [b]Plot[/b] Every year, a purple cloud descends over the land and terrible destruction is left in its wake. For this village, it comes in the form of a land shark. Of course, this year, plucky young protagonist, Shu, has decided that he's going to stop it! He doesn’t. One thing leads to another, and he leads a party of miscreants on a quest of good natured vengeance. [b]Sights and Sounds[/b] Being so used to playing RPGs on the PS2, it's hard then to remember that games can look as good as they do on the Xbox360. Still, having said that, I always feel like I'm being cheated when I see a game that relies on cell shading. There is just so much potential working behind the system. Technical griping aside, the game does look pretty good. One of the biggest things that bugged me about the game, other than the cast, which will I will address in a moment, is the voice that constantly feels like it has to narrate the dumbest details: every time your characters part for even the most brief span of time, when they come together again, a subtle female voice will mechanically whisper, &quot;join&quot;. Whenever you end a cut-scene, she will say &quot;playable&quot;. When you check something, and there is nothing, she will say, you guessed it, &quot;nothing&quot;. Of course, if there is an item there, there will be a text prompt. Nonsense. My next biggest complaint, or perhaps my valid complaint, are the characters. In fact, I venture to say that there is nothing about the characters I like. The main characters all look decidedly generic, wearing mostly earthen tones. Most of their clothes look like they come from another one of Toriyama's works. I don’t have the room here to illustrate comparisons, but look at Nene’s design and tell me that he doesn’t look like a geriatric cross between Freiyza and Piccolo. Tell me, I dare you. Anyway, looks are only skin deep, right? Well, that may be so, but annoying cuts straight to the core. Shu is one orange jacket away from being quite possibly one of the most frustrating main characters in the history of shonen. Hyper and an attitude greater than the entirety of the Bronx, he pulls his cocky Saturday morning cartoon show lines off without even the skill or ability to back them up. Don’t. Even. Get. Me. Started. On. Marumaro. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] It was supposed to sell the Xbox360 in Japan. It was supposed to be a return to old school RPGs. It’s largely forgettable except for the most die-hard fans. The scenery looks nice, the music is ok, and if you can get beyond the simplest plot ever, the combat system is actually pretty cool without being overly complicated, but that’s about all I can say for it. [b]Final Verdict: 6.8/10[/b] Official Website: Bioshock Thu, 17 Jan 2008 05:41:46 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Bioshockcoverfinalcropped.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="Bioshockcoverfinalcropped.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: Hype is something I don’t really ascribe to, which was when Bioshock came out, I was more than a little bit suspicious. As it turns out: I was wrong. [b]Plot[/b] It’s 1960, the Cold War is still in high gear, and America is in the middle of its Red Scare phase. In the midst of all of this, one man, Andrew Ryan, sought to create his own utopia under the sea. Of course, all is not good in paradise (or, rather: Rapture), and the world is slowly coming apart. The basic forces that hold the city together are being wrought apart by the pressure of rust and erosion, while something is slowly driving the whole place mad. [b]Sights and Sounds[/b] Wow, just wow. I am addressing this first, because you have to address this before you talk about more technical issues. From the get-go, the game immerses you in an immensely dystopic vision of the world in 1960. Art deco styled buildings and furnishings fill every corner of immense corporate sky rises, when in the recesses, the basements, you find bizarrely technical gadgets and rusted pipes everywhere. You walk into a bar, or at least you think it was a bar based off of the sparking, shorted-out neon sign. As the door slides open, the sounds of some wobbling 1960’s lounge fills the air. You hear then in a corner, something else, &quot;Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so…&quot; the deranged voice sings. Shadows dance in the corners of your eyes and suddenly the background music is playing a haunting chord which does not distort the music playing in the jukebox, but rather just makes it seem very insidious. From the ceiling, a bloody, ragtag figure jumps down out at you. It's wearing a beaten up rabbit mask. You swing your crowbar, hitting the creature across the eyes, killing it and knocking off the mask to reveal a face warped, cut, and covered in lesions similar to nerve gas poisoning or severe burns. He is called a splicer, and you will see much worse than him. [b]Controls (for the Xbox360)[/b] I’ve tried a lot of games that try to do magic with conventional weaponry, and often it is with mixed results. It was good to see then that this system worked fairly well together. It is convention FPS fare, with the main difference being that you assign a plasmid, or magic-type attack to your left trigger, and a weapon to your right. In this way, you switch between the two not by pressing a hotkey, but simply by pulling the trigger once to bring it up, and then again to use it. You switch between powers and weapons on the fly using the shoulder buttons which call a menu up that also pauses the game, so you don’t get killed switching from your wrench to your pistol. My only complaint is how awkward they made switching ammo types, which use the d-pad. This almost forces you to take your thumb off of the movement stick, which makes changing from anti-personnel to armor piercing rounds a real pain when you accidentally clipped that Big Daddy when you were fighting off splicers. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] This game has at least two points where you think you're going to be done with it, and you’re wrong, it keeps going. Just when you think you're going to get a resolution, you don’t. Needless to say, walking into Andrew Ryan’s office is one of the most ground breaking days of your gaming career. Solid gameplay with a few bugs. The controls were good, though the scaling system for difficultly makes the lowest peons take several shotgun shells to the face later on in the game before they die. Also, your dependence on hacking everything really slows the game down. Plus, you get tired of playing the hacking mini-game. [b]Final Verdict: 9.5/10[/b] Offcial Website: Coyote Ragtime Show Thu, 17 Jan 2008 05:20:46 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Coyote_Ragtime_Show_logo.png" border="0" src="" alt="Coyote_Ragtime_Show_logo.png" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: Scientifically engineered to be a new generation’s Cowboy Bebop, Coyote Ragtime Show shoots for the moon, and doesn’t even land in the stars. [b]Plot[/b] A group of ragtag ne’er-to-wells in their spaceship fly around in space to find their wealth while being hunted down by various law enforcement authorities and hounding mercenaries. Sound familiar? I thought so. Anyway, more specifically, a criminal by the name of Mister breaks out of prison and goes to recover the treasure of an old time pirate, the Pirate King Bruce. Along the way, they have to battle it out with robotic dolls wearing Lolita dresses at the hands of a woman known as Madame Marciano. While the show follows a largely direct path, there are some interesting deviations and anecdotes along the way. [b]Sights and Sounds[/b] Visually impressive, the show mixes seamlessly 3D animation with conventional 2D animation. The show, however, pulls almost every stock character in the book. In a lot of ways, I feel like they took characters from several different shows to put into this show, if for no other reason than to see how they would all react together. The music, like everything else about this show, resembles Cowboy Bebop in its free jazz-esque soundtrack, though it does oscillate between that and a very generic, very ill-fitting ambient, school girl anime sound. [b]Final Thoughts[/b] The problem with this show is how painfully unoriginal and uninteresting the characters are. You have the cantankerous main character; who is driven to find some faraway treasure, in fact, the only thing different about him compared to Luffy from One Piece, Spike from Cowboy Bebop, or any other pirate or mercenary is his age. He is surrounded by a girl who, of course, contains the key to their quest, and then two, very forgettable side characters whose names aren’t even particularly important, because the names, like everything else in the show, are all ridiculous. Also, there’s a black guy, who is as good of an example of Japan’s understanding of people with darker skin, on par with Barrett from Final Fantasy VII. What it really boils down to is what you are in to: if you like shonen anime that glorify criminals, then this is probably worth picking up. Half a season long, it might make a nice interlude between two longer series, or as a break that you desperately need to take from three straight power sessions of trying to catch up on Bleach, Naruto or One Piece. If you like cerebral shows, then look somewhere else. Coyote Ragtime Show is good, but it won’t raise an anime fan from fallowed land. Final Verdict: 7.5/10 Nerima Daikon Brothers Thu, 17 Jan 2008 04:29:14 +0000 <a href=""><img title="Nerima-daikon-brothers-open.png" border="0" src="" alt="Nerima-daikon-brothers-open.png" /></a><br /><br />by: OdysseanPromise<br /><br />Description: Proving that everyone wants nothing more than to spontaneously bust into song, veteran director Shinichi Watanabe (aka NABESHIN), steps back up to bat for his next new musical hit! [b]Plot[/b] The wackiness and inappropriate humor of Excel Saga coupled with, well, the wackiness and inappropriate human (and music!) of Blues Brothers come together in brilliant harmony to create a beautiful love child! The would-be band, the Nerima Daikon Brothers (who aren't, in fact, all brothers, or even men), want to strike it rich and stop harvesting daikon to survive from paycheck to paycheck. From episode to episode they go from one get rich scheme to another. Along the way there is a Japanese Police Babe / Cyborg, a Panda that everyone seems to want to shag, and a lot of dirty humor surrounding long, hard… radishes. [b]Audio and Visuals[/b] There is nothing terribly remarkable about the animation. It is good, but it is not over the top. The flat color style is reminiscent of animation styles from several years ago rather than the more popular approach of EVERYTHING IS SHINY in anime (see Onegai Teacher). Of course, what review of Nerima Daikon Brothers, an anime musical, would be complete without a review of the music? Admittedly, the melodies, which are catchy at first, get a little grating by the end of the show. What is notable is that all of the actors do their own singing, no voice doubles here! Of course, not all of these actors are trained in this aspect, and as a result, sometimes their notes fall flat, but you can’t fault them for trying! [b]Final Thoughts[/b] All in all, I would have loved to see a little more progression in this series, but it is twelve episodes long, so there really is not that much room for growth. What is remarkable is that there is definitely a progression in anime to take more risks with cursing and lewd humor, which is nice for us old farts. Part of this comes from an inability to make some of these jokes innocuous, but it is good to see that there are TV shows, and more importantly, dubbers somewhere in the hideaways of ADV, who have the cajones to translate things as they are: seriously raunchy, and seriously funny. All things considered this is a gem that is likely going to be overlooked, but if you want something new, something refreshing, then you have no further to look than this newest spoof! [b]Final Verdict: 9/10[/b] Official Site: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core (Japanese Version) Sun, 06 Jan 2008 05:50:51 +0000 <a href=""><img title="cc.jpg" border="0" src="" alt="cc.jpg" /></a><br /><br />by: tsurara<br /><br />Description: (this review is based on the Japanese release of the game. Some things may change with the Western release) It's hard to deny the power of the Squeenix marketting juggernaut. Final Fantasy remakes and spin-offs saturate the market to a point where it's difficult for other big-budget RPG franchises to exist at all. I'm convinced that Squeenix could package dog turds in attractive Final Fantasy collector's boxes and sell them for a substantial profit. For better or worse: VII is the most popular Final Fantasy installment, so it's gotten the most rehash: Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, Last Order, Before Crisis, Snowboarding, Ehrgeiz... The latest in the &quot;Compilation of Final Fantasy VII&quot; series is a PSP original by the name of &quot;Crisis Core&quot;. In the interest of full disclosure, I must make a confession: I don't think Final Fantasy VII is the best RPG of all time... and I actually think it's one of the worst Final Fantasy storylines there is. It was fun, it was revolutionary, and I remember playing it fondly: but the characters were animated turnips and I had a very hard time caring about any of them. The spin-off's have, so far, left me cold; convinced more than ever that VII isn't the Fantasy for me. Taking this into account: I fully expected to hate this game. But I love it. [b]Characters/Story:[/b] Zax is everything that the characters in Final Fantasy VII failed to be. He is personable, funny, interesting, sympathetic and incredibly charming. He's a joy to watch... and just as fun to play. Silent protaganists (like our turnip friend, Cloud) suck. We don't WANT to be spikey-haired versions of ourselves when we play a game: we want to be heroes. And Zax is a hero we can really root for. The story in Crisis Core is essentially the story of Cloud's sword and Sephiroth's wing. There are other origin stories and subplots scattered here and there, but the real emtional uderpinning of the game is Zax's relationship with his mentor Anjeel and Sephiroth's interaction with a new, incredibly annoying supervillain: Genesis. We learn, through the progression of cut-scenes and a series of Soldier missions, how Anjeel's beloved bastard sword makes it's way into Zax's (and eventually Cloud's) hands and how the Soldiers became &quot;monsters&quot;. Zax and Anjeel have a genuine, ocaisionally even sappy, relationship that will probably make this game doujinshi fodder for the ages. Meanwhile Sephiroth becomes an even more loveable villain, wading waste-deep in a river of anti-hero angst. Speaking of doujinshi... Boys, I have some bad news: this game was tailor-made for fangirls. Not to say that it isn't enjoyable for guys, there's still plenty of over-the-top &quot;awesome&quot; combat moments and badass displays of bravado. It's just that, as of the 5 hour mark: there are a total of four women in this game, with all but Aeris accounting for about 3 minutes screentime total. Aeris gets a good chunk of screentime, a remarkably likeable personality and a MUCH better outfit... if only she had something more significant to contribute. Apparently SOLDIER isn't exactly forward-thinking about women's rights... because there aren't any women in the organization. Consequently, there are next to none in this game. What the game DOES have is hot, plasticy-looking, spikey-haired men. Lots and lots and lots of them. One of them (Genesis) is even voiced by and modelled after a real-life plasticy-looking spikey-haired man (the Japanese pop singer, Gackt). And while they're all cool enough, sometimes the whole thing just seems like... a very pretty sausagefest. There are no ugly people in this game. Even relatively minor characters are hot. And I'm sorry, but who thought it was a good idea to have characters flying around on single wings? One-winged angels can't fly (which was sort of the point in the quote that originated them). I'm sorry, it's not aerodynamically possible... and it just looks silly O_o; But um... just pretend they have two wings and one is invisible... that seems to be working for me. [b]Gameplay:[/b] Buyer Beware! In spite of the &quot;Final Fantasy&quot; label, Crisis Core is NOT a turn-based RPG. It's an action hack-and-slash in the vein of the &quot;Sangoku Musou&quot;(Dynasty Warriors) games. As Zax, you will take on large groups of enemies with a small selection of materia, items, block, dodge, and attack commands at your disposal. While the game begins rather easily, the difficulty can ramp up quickly if you're not a veteran of action games. And without difficulty settings to adjust the strength of your enemies, it's likely that more casual gamers will not be able to finish the game on their own at all. Meanwhile, fans of action games could also benefit from difficulty modes. The hardcore will be able to breeze through Crisis Core in a matter of days. Even so, the system is fun... and while the enemies lack variety within stages: the battle system provides a certain level of unpredictablity missing from turn-based encounters. It's fast-paced, fun and requires a bit more interaction on your part. Summons, limits and experience points have been combined into a remarkably useable slot system. Lining up the faces of your allies or icons of your summons will reward you with various power ups, special attacks and help in battle while lining up certain number combinations will power up Zax and his materia. Materia can also be combined to form stronger materia, materia with bonuses and on occaision, materia that can't be aquired elsewhere. Weapons and armor are not available. Instead you are limited to two accessories (which, in true Final Fantasy VII form, can totally nerf the bosses as long as you equip the right ones before the right encounter). Shopping has also been simplified and is accessable through your menu, online-shopping style. While the combat system is usually tight, I did find myself a little annoyed with the small areas to which some battles are confined. Barriers aren't always marked... which means you won't know you've gone as far as you can until you've been backed up by an enemy trying to chop your head off and get sandwiched against an invisible wall. On the plus side: there are save points every few feet. Meaning you'll rarely have to lose progress just because your commute's over or a boss blindsides you. [b]Graphics/Sound:[/b] The graphics are amazing, the cinematics are flawless, the voice acting is fabulous and the music is wonderful. I can hardly imagine anyone taking issue with anything about Crisis Core in this department. This is easily the most polished game to hit the PSP... ever. [b]Overall:[/b] Crisis Core is both a satisfying prequel and an entertaining stand alone game. The combat system, while lacking some amount of depth and variety, is still quite fun. The presentation is flawless. The characters are much more interesting than their FFVII counterparts and there are quite a few nods to FFVII fans scattered throughout the narrative. Those expecting a free-roam turn-based RPG system are likely to be dissappointed, but fangirls and Musou fans will rejoice. If you don't mind the action-RPG combat system: this is a must-own. If you're wary of it, try before you buy.