Sunday, 30 December 2012

Anime review: Gokicha!! Cockroach Girls

Title: Gokicha!! Cockroach Girls

Year: 2011 / 2012 (I think it's still ongoing)

What is it about: A cockroach trying to befriend human.

My review: What can Japanese do? They made me feel for a cockroach! Yes, after watching two 8-minute episode of this, I actually felt for a damn cockroach! A cockroach, for goodness' sake!

Anyway, this anime is really unlike any other anime. This anime tells a tale of a kindhearted cockroach who tries to befriend human being, but fails at every attempt. She'll get stepped on sprayed with insecticides and tossed around, but she is still hopeful in coexisting with humans. She is also mindful to other creatures such as crows and other cockroaches. I think this cockroach is more thoughtful and friendlier than many humans!

At the end of episode 2 where this anime currently stopped, our little cockroach girl here tried to persuade another cockroach friend to not steal food from human, and then something terrible happened to her. I cried! If a cockroach in reality is like her, it will definitely make a perfect pet or even a friend. Sadly, they are not.

If you watched this anime, you will think twice before stepping on a cockroach. It's crazy.

My rating (out of 10): 10

Game review: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: Gears of Destiny

Title: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: Gears of Destiny (That's one hell of a long title)

Year: 2011

What is it about: It's in Japanese, so I'm not too sure. But I can tell it's about little magical girls traveling between time and space.

Genre: Fighting game with a proper storyline.

My review: It will be a big advantage if you can comprehend Japanese language well because there will be lots of talking and talking and talking in this game, and it will be in Japanese. There are no motion cutscenes in this game, just static pictures and fully voiced dialogue with words. However, this is only to be expected in a fighting game like these.

There are a total of 11 chapters in this game (plus one unlockable chapter which I'm having a hard time unlocking) and they are termed Sequence. In each sequence, there are a series of characters you can choose to battle with and battle against. Each choice will lead you to a slightly different route in the storyline, but nothing too major. Usually it's just the dialogue that will change. Therefore, if you wish to see the various outcome of the storyline, then you will have to repeat the sequence many times with different combinations of characters. At certain times, the storyline also differs depending on whether you successfully beat a particular opponent.

Though this is a fighting game, it's actually a very friendly one. No surprise here considering the fact that this game is filled with loli girls. Characters in this game greets each other and converse in a friendly manner before engaging in combat. There is hardly a character where I would consider a foe. They are all friendly. Only at times, some misunderstanding happens and the characters battle for real but no one character will die from it.

Say, an evil guy (in this case, they are all girls) resurrected a supposedly highly destructive dark powered entity in front of you. What will you do? Here, what you do is introduce yourself and give the dark powerful entity a cute name! Exactly! And guess what, this newly resurrected dark figure is the final boss, and she really is cute! She even looks harmless and you wouldn't guess she's a powerful dark being.

That said, I advise you to not judge a book by its cover. The final boss in this game is one of the toughest I've ever fought. Don't let the cuteness fool you. Without a good strategy and hand-eye coordination, you wouldn't stand a chance against her. I just finished the game after losing like a million times to her, and my fingers still hurt!

Anyway, here's a brief description of the battle system. Your skills differs according your distance from the opponent. At close proximity, the battle will be two-dimensional, but you are allowed to move slightly in or out. Your attacks will be dealt mostly with melee weapons. At a far distance, your skills switches to long-range magical powers, and you will get a complete three-dimensional field where you can float around. There are not much of combo you can do in this game, but still it's an interesting battle system.

In conclusion, this game is quite confusing in terms of storyline, but it's very cute. The battle system is simple but interesting. There are no difficulty settings in this game, but the opponent really poses a challenge to you. I really enjoyed this game. It has lots of eye candy.

My rating (out of 10): 8

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Anime review: Black Rock Shooter (Anime)

Title: Black Rock Shooter

Year: 2012 (The anime)

What is it about: Girls fighting and going crazy in the most awesome way.

My review: There's Black Rock Shooter (BRS) game, then there's the anime including an OVA, and they are completely different from each other. In the game, BRS (and White Rock Shooter) is voiced by Maaya Sakamoto. Surprising. In the anime, BRS is voiced by, guess who, Kana Hanazawa! This is even more surprising because Kana Hanazawa isn't the type who voice in these kind of anime. But in this anime, you'll definitely be amazed by what Kana can do.

That is one reason why people actually watch this anime. You get to see Kana Hanazawa doing stuffs she usually doesn't, which turns out to be very badass. BRS is a killing machine, and there are lots of other killing machines too. This anime is where you get to see the most awesome catfights ever! Yes. In this anime, you hardly see any males. You see only girls fight each other with machines designed to kill, yet they don't die. So, these fights go on and on for 8 whole episodes.

Even so, this anime actually centers around two entirely different worlds. One of which is the human world where you see the everyday school girls. The other is where the girls' alter ego fights each other to the death (but then again, they don't die). This anime tries to link both worlds together with a storyline from the human world to explain what's going on with all the fighting in the other world. Sounds complicated? It is. Other than enjoying all the fight scenes in this anime, you will not get a single thing of what's going on. Worst, the explanation begins at around episode 6. Even so, it'll still keep you scratching your head.

In conclusion, this anime is just weird. If you don't enjoy mindless fighting, you will most probably get bored even at the beginning of this anime, unless you are a die-hard Kana Hanazawa fan. Even so, I really did not notice it was Kana who voiced BRS and also Mato whom BRS is her other self.

Rating (out of 10): 4

Friday, 21 December 2012

Anime review: Persona 4 The Animation

Title: Persona 4 The Animation

Year: 2011

What is it about: Venturing in a different dimension, solving crimes.

My review: Persona 4 is one of the best games ever. Persona 4 The Animation, however, is among the crappiest there is. Before spending on this anime which cost a lot more than a usual 25-episode anime does, I suggest you save it and treat yourself a good buffet instead. This anime is completely worthless. If you had already played the game, this anime is just a few excerpts from the game crumpled into 25 episodes. This means, much of the original storyline is either missing or is altered real badly. I didn't bother watching all 25 episodes. It bores me from the 4th onward, an  I immediately skipped to the last episode. Even so, it's just a huge disappointment.

Unlike the game, the characters in this anime hardly does anything but talk and talk and talk. All the fighting are left to the Persona. And a good battle is between opponents of an equal strength. In this anime, it's really like watching the old-day Ultraman. The Persona first loses, then after the characters' inspirational talk, the Persona suddenly gain incredible strength to be able to defeat the opponent in a single blow. This happens every time, and it also applies to the final boss which is supposedly unbeatable. Every time when they are at the verge of losing, weird stuffs happens and they gain sudden power. That is cliche beyond lame.

In conclusion, don't even bother watching this anime. If you are interested in experiencing Persona 4, get the game instead. I learned the hard way, that every anime made based on a video game tends to suck really bad, regardless how good the game actually is. If you are really interested in watching this anime, just watch the first episode. It will satisfy you more than watching the entire series.

Rating (out of 10): 1

Anime review: Fortune Arterial

Title: Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku

Year: 2010

What is it about: A boy newly transferred to a high school ends up befriending a vampire girl who is trying to be human.

My review: I really can't believe this anime started as an adult game (I didn't say that). Anyway, this anime is like any other ordinary anime involving daily lives of Japanese high school students. Everything is actually quite normal, and I'm a fan of animes which talks about real life, rather than magic, demons, and battles after battles after battles. So, it's just the way I like it. Then, this anime becomes not so normal when two characters are introduced as vampires. Because there are vampires among the school students, this ordinary daily-lives anime became a little more interesting, just the way I like it too. I also liked anime which has a little special something to spice things up a little, because an anime which solely talks about ordinary daily life can be quite boring at times.

In this anime, the main focus was at Kouhei who tries to adapt to the new surrounding after having transferred to a new high school on an island. Meanwhile, this anime also focuses on Erika, a vampire who is also adapting herself to the human world and is trying her best to live as a human. Other than that, this anime comprises of short storylines centering a particular character, which in the end the storyline somehow links up. Towards the end, the storyline then focuses solely on Erika's hardship of trying to be human.

Unlike the typical vampire stories, this anime doesn't have much action going on. I'll get to that later. This anime is rather innocent and decent looking. To my surprise, not much of fanservice too. Again, just the way I like it. Well, some character does have huge boobs and ultra-large eyes. But they are still within an acceptable range. So, I'm okay with it. There are also quite a lot of comedy going on in this anime, and they are pretty well generated too.

There are, however, a few problems with this anime. First of all, although I think the storyline of this anime is pretty good, there is nothing very special about it. If this is an anime that involves vampire, I expected the vampire to show off its abilities, perhaps in a battle or two, and creating a bit of an action. This however, didn't happen and Erika's existence as vampire merely shows how she battles her thirst for Kouhei's blood and it doesn't really spice the anime that much. This was, however, a perfect recipe for a romantic anime. So, I thought I will be expecting a good love story out of that. Sadly, not so much, as Kouhei the main character hardly treats anyone any different from the others. Erika merely gets a little more attention, and by the end of the OVA which is the sequel to the final episode, Erika's relationship with Kouhei only begins to develop.

I won't complain much though, as I had really enjoyed watching this anime. This anime is really a decent and friendly one (albeit a little somber), not the violent or over-ecchi type like Rosario Vampire. And also, this anime is very very cute!

My rating (out of 10): 7

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Anime review: Kowarekake no Orgel

Title: Kowarekake no Orgel

Year: 2009

What is it about: A humanoid robot who rebooted herself after being trashed.

My review: This 1-episode anime (or OVA if you would) is quite similar to Chobits in terms of storyline. It's about a trashed robot who was picked up by a random guy, and was then rebooted (In this case, she rebooted herself). Then she was taught about the world around her.

However, don't expect this anime to be as ecchi as Chobits. Instead, this anime is really a potential tearjerker. However, the problem is that the main character is rather emotionless in expression. Then again, it really didn't matter because the focus is on the robot. While Chobits focuses on humour, this anime focuses on storyline. The robot even has a very special name: Flower. And Flower is downright cute!

There's nothing much to say about this anime though, as it only has one episode. This really puts Chobits to shame, considering how much this anime could convey in 28 minutes time. This is indeed a very impressive anime.

My rating (out of 10): 9

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Movie review: Captain America

Title: Captain America: The First Avenger

Year: 2011

What is it about: The usual. Bad guy tries to destroy the world, hero saves the day

Genre: Action

My review: I had never liked Marvel and any of its movies because they seem to be running out of ideas. Some of them is just disappointing. Usually, it's always the same thing over and over again, where the antagonist will try to take over the world and a random superhero will take him down.Often, the antagonist will die in the lamest ways possible.

Captain America, however, is a bit special. I won't deny that there are parts where they are still cliched. But still, this movie is more interesting than it looks. Usually, Marvel superhero movies will take place in a very advanced era. Captain America takes place during World War II, and Hitler's name was mentioned though he has nothing to do with this movie.

One thing I hate about the typical superhero movie is that the heroes are often overpowered to the point where he can just beat the crap out of the bad guy. There are a few who isn't like that, and Captain America is one of them. He don't fight the bad guy alone like many others. He has his own platoon consisting of prisoners of war that he rescued, and they served him loyally. Those people are actually useful. In fact, some of them actually saved Captain America's life.

If you didn't already know who Captain America is, he basically a normal guy made powerful by (I'm quoting someone here) the most American way possible: Steroids. The only powerful thing Captain America has is his shield made up of Vibrium, an extremely strong metal that isn't found on the periodic table and is totally fictional. His shield can block just about anything, and he sometimes uses it as a weapon. Other than that, he merely has a normal handgun which he hardly use.

One major drawback he has is the design of his costume. Sure, his costume looks cool and flashy, but the flashy part will just tell the enemies where he is and where to aim. Even his colourful shield looks like archery targets, but I guess that's okay because it can block anything. It's funny to see him infiltrating enemy territory without being sighted. For all I know, the enemies might be blind.

In conclusion, this movie is worth watching although the bad guy hardly does anything and dies in a lame way. This movie is also an interesting prequel to The Avengers, which is by far the best movie Marvel has ever came up with. In fact, the entire Captain America movie serves to lay out the settings for the Avengers. That's why he's called the First Avenger.

Rating (out of 10): 5

Monday, 17 December 2012

ClariS

Introducing Clara and Alice, two junior high school students from Hokkaido who are extremely talented and had sang their way to stardom. Problem is, nobody actually know who they are. All we know is they had beautiful voice, and had sang the opening and ending theme for several famous anime and games including Nisemonogatari and Nendoroid Generation.

These two girls apparently started singing when they were in kindergarten, and had since then attended music classes. Then they begin to sing covers and upload it in the Japanese version of YouTube, Nico Nico. That's when their voices are recognized and immediately they became famous. They continued their effort to the point where they released four single albums and recently a debut studio album. Easily they could be just as famous as the likes of say... I don't know... Justin Bieber (My apologies if this offends you. I know they are beyond comparison, but it's the best example I could think of for now). But they took a different turn and prefer to stay anonymous. They hide their identity and had an artist depict them with anime characters. They prefer to use a pseudonym rather than revealing their real name. Not many people know who Clara and Alice actually is other than their family members. All that so that they will not be sidetracked from their studies.

I have no idea how they do that, but they sing really good songs and fortunately, they still continue to sing. I'm looking forward to whatever they are coming up with. Whoever Clara and Alice is, I truly appreciate them.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Anime review: Sora no Woto

Title: Sora no Woto (Sound of the Sky)

Year: 2010

What is it about: A rookie who joined the military for free music lessons.

My review: It's quite hard to describe this anime. There is not much of a fixed plot. My first impression of this anime is that it is going to be another Valkyria Chronicles. I was entirely wrong. Sure, this anime involves soldiers and the military. But the major difference between this anime and Valkyria Chronicles is that this anime takes place in times of peace, whereas the latter takes place at times of war. Another thing is, this story centres round a platoon consisting of young girls. So there is really nothing much to be expected from this anime other than a little girl trying to adapt to her life in the military while taking trumpet lessons from her senior.

This anime is not the type where it gives you the feeling of suspense at the end of each episode, nor is it the type where there is a tension atmosphere throughout it's anime. It's rather carefree, and somewhat the happy-type. It's also a bit funny. Their missions have nothing to do with go out and kill someone (obviously. They are little girls.), but rather, to purchase items or at the worst scenarios, a search-and-rescue mission. To wait for a phone call from HQ is actually one of their 'missions'!

These keeps going on and on throughout the anime. Then we get to see a little flashbacks of war times to spice the anime a little. That's when things get a little more interesting, when we get to know the characters a little more. Just a little though, until the last two episodes that is. The final two episodes is where their lives are actually jeopardized by a potential war. In the last two episodes, it's where we see a little more actions than the others. There's army, tanks and so on marching to face each other and prepare for combat. This anime also takes a somewhat unexpected turn towards the end, though it is actually predictable that there won't be a mass battle going on. Keep in mind that this is not a war anime, but a post-war anime where the characters are enjoying times of peace while the high tension lies within the negotiation for truce.

Finally, like many other animes, this anime has its own set of flaws. The first, this anime tends to get things a little mixed up. I know a great war has taken place before the events of this anime, and apparently the war is so destructive it wipes out all of human technology. But it is really weird to see on one side cutting edge technology with spider-shaped tanks that can climb walls, and on another side a girl who have no idea how a telephone works. Another thing is about the typical way an anime tries to cut short its length. When the main character joins the military, she suck real bad in blowing a bugle. But after an inspirational talk from a random guy, she instantly became a pro. Though I won't blame it entirely as she really had been practicing hard, but failed at every attempt.

In conclusion, this anime is actually a pretty pleasant one. Not often can you find a soldier story that has nothing to do with fighting and blowing stuffs up. This anime will also put you in tears just by hearing the song "Amazing Grace" played with the trumpet at the right moments. The most amazing this about this anime is that an emo kid is voiced by Aoi Yuuki who is famous for voicing the most talkative and annoying characters, and then there's a priestess voiced by Misato Fukuen. Guess what, both of them spoke German!

Rating (out of 10): 7

Friday, 14 December 2012

My list of anime to watch

Recently, my big exam is over. And I've got a bunch of anime that I had saved for this moment. It will seriously take me forever to finish watching everything. I will do my best to write a review each time I finish watching one. So, here's the list:

1) Sora No Woto. It's what I'm currently watching. This anime is really not bad, though it's not quite what I expect.

2) Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari. Not sure if I even wanna watch these. Half of the first episode has lost me. I do enjoy the soundtracks though. Some characters are also voiced by high-profile actors and actresses such as Kana Hanazawa.

3) Carnival Phantasm. Fate Stay Night is a horrible anime, and they managed to turn it into a joke. Interesting...

4) Fortune Arterial. Cute. Very cute girls... No, vampires...

5) Gosick. Cute and dolly female version of Detective Conan turned emo. Weird...

6) Persona 4 The Animation. Having played the game for a good more than 200 hours, I will probably save this one for last, assuming I have the time and determination to watch it. I might as well just skip to the last chapter. I place my bet where it is going to be a lame anime.

7) Steins Gate. It's physics and chemistry all over again. Fortunately, we have Kana Hanazawa as catalyst XD


Movie review: Sadako 3D

Title: Sadako 3D a.k.a. The Ring 3D (Japanese)

Year: 2012

What is it about: A ghost who is a product of a girl bullied and killed by being tossed into a well, searched the Internet for a body to possess. 21st Century ghost! XD

Genre: Horror

My review: Sorry, I didn't want to scare the reader by posting a picture of Sadako herself. This movie is quite remarkable in the sense that it is not a typical horror movie where a ghost jumps in front of someone, that someone screams, and then dies. In so many horror movies that I've watched, I find every bit of those movie a cliche. The ending, in particular, as the typical ending for these sort of movie is every human dies and the ghost wins. Not so here, as they put a little kick-butt in this movie.

Yes, you heard me. In this movie, the human fights the ghost and not let themselves to be attacked. Even when almost all else fails, the main character tries to reason with the ghost! You don't see that very often. It's also quite funny to see two characters in the movie are actual actors of Kamen Riders! Such as the one in this picture. If he is not familiar to you, he's Kamen Rider Kiva.

So, what do you do when a hostile ghost jumps on you? Run? No. Grab a pole and stab it on the head! These action happens a lot after the main character is tired of running away from multiple Sadako's failed clones, and decides it's time to teach them a lesson. Throughout the process of escaping the horde, she will think of intelligent ways to troll the ghosts. Now that's epic! You can forget what I wrote for this movie's genre. It's not horror. It's action plus comedy. In fact, throughout the period of time when I was watching this in cinema, the audience hardly screams. Instead, we get a whole 2 hours of laughter!

The problem with this movie though, is that it is not so realistic. The main character apparently has a power where she could shatter all the glasses in a corridor just by screaming. There are times where she actually shatters Sadako with her scream! Other than that, the poles or steel pipes that she occasionally used to stab or whack the Sadako copies are available to her like a Keyblade. If you are not a fan of Kingdom Hearts, this means that she can just grab a pole when she needs it, anytime anywhere. So often she just chuck the poles aside and makes a run after stabbing a ghost. What an idiot. But still, she survives.

Then like other ghost stories, this movie also involves people dying one by one. It also involves shocking the daylights out of the watchers. Fortunately, things are kept in control in this movie, unlike many other horror movies that depends on scaring the audience. This movie focuses more on its plot.

In conclusion, this is one ghost movie that is actually watchable. It's is quite exciting and funny at times. Oh, at the last part of the movie, the way Sadako's curse was put to rest is really cool.

Just so you know, Sadako is starred by Ai Hashimoto, a 16-year old at that time. Pretty amazing huh?

Rating (out of 10): 6

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Game review: Corpse Party: Blood Covered Repeated Fear

Title: Corpse Party: Blood Covered Repeated Fear

Year: 2011

Platform: PSP

What is it about: 100% pure sadism

Genre: Survival horror

My review: Corpse? Yes. Party? Not so much. You must be a very sadistic person to want to play this game. More specifically, sadistic towards little innocent school children. Even the cutest of girls are not spared from this cruelty. I really wonder which sicko could possible come out with a game like these.

The story begins with a group of elementary school students performing a charm found online that ensures their friendship lasts forever. This charm is apparently a curse that will transport them to an accursed elementary school that existed before the current school. It's a simple charm really, just tearing a white piece of paper. How in the world would that be such a deadly curse?

So then the group ends up in this accursed school, and they are scattered in different dimensions. Already they are seeing spirits and gory body parts all around the school. And that is the least of their problems. One by one those characters will be killed off. There are also many endings to this game. All of them bad endings where you will get to enjoy witnessing a process of one character getting killed in the most sadistic way possible. Some of these scenes are avoidable, and the stupid part is in order to unlock extra chapters, you have no choice but to deliberately enter into some of these wrong endings. If you are lucky enough to clear this game all the way to the 'good' ending, at least five characters would be dead. And to make it to the good ending is not easy. There is absolutely no way I can make it there without the help of a walkthrough. And if you failed to meet a requirement for the 'good' ending, you will sometimes have to restart the entire chapter which lasts for approximately 2 hours. This happens to me several times.

Now let's take a look at the gameplay. There is nothing much to play in this game except running away from ghosts and solving puzzles. Occasionally, you have to run away from insane human who wants you dead as much as the vengeful spirit does. That's about it. All you do in the entire game is run. Every character will have a fixed 30 HP throughout the game, but they are pretty much useless because every time you get caught by a ghost, you will most likely die instantly.

So what keeps me playing until the very end? First of all, it's the suspense. This game makes me curious as to what will happen next, especially to a character, with hope that they will somehow get out of trouble alive. Then they simply crush my hope by killing off most of the characters one by one. Secondly, the soundtrack. This game has some pretty cool soundtracks that are not like what you would have expect. Lastly, it's the characters of the game that keeps me going the most. The characters in the game is just too cute, and this includes the ghosts! In these ways, this game is really addictive.

Rating (out of 10): 2

Game Review: Atelier Iris 2


Title: Atelier Iris 2: Azoth of Destiny a.k.a. Atelier Iris 2: Eternal Mana 2

Year: 2005

Platform: PS2

What is it about: Long story full of adventure. But it involves saving their own world (and other worlds) from destruction.

Genre: Turn-based RPG

My review: It's quite an old game, but if you don't mind the outdated graphics of PS2, then this is definitely one game you must play before you chuck the PS2 aside. Atelier Iris 2, however, is not the latest in the Atelier Iris series. 3 is. I started playing with Atelier Iris 3 before Atelier Iris 2, and I can tell you one thing: Surprisingly, Atelier Iris 2 is a lot better than Atelier Iris 3.

Let me elaborate that. The first time I played Atelier Iris 3, I found that it is an awesome game. That is only to be expected in an NIS game. I love the gameplay and storyline. The battles are pretty animated too for a 2-dimensional game. Though, this game is the typical accepting missions from guild, bringing back a requested item, and receive your rewards kind of game. I'm not really a fan of these kind of games, but I still love Atelier Iris 3 anyway. That is until I started playing Atelier Iris 2.

Unlike Atelier Iris 3, Iris herself is not a playable character. But she shares the same significance in this game. This game is not about accepting missions and stuffs like that, but rather, real adventure in two different worlds. In this game, Felt the main character sets on a journey with his newly acquired sword, one of the two legendary Azoths, to another dimension where he meets the other characters. Felt's girlfriend, Viese, together with little Iris, stays at their home world to support Felt by providing synthesized items and teleporting it to Felt. This continues on for almost three quarters of the game where Viese decides to search for Felt and join the fight.

In Atelier Iris 3, the entire game revolves around a small town. Atelier Iris 2 on the other hand, has a huge world map, and there are many adventurous places to travel. Occasionally, the game also requires you to backtrack. During the game, there are a mixtures of humour and seriousness. In fact, the storyline is really epic. In Atelier Iris 3, you get the usual quests and missions and stuffs like that. But in Atelier Iris 2, you get to go for war! Your team actually plans to conquer a castle! Now that is cool.

Finally, in Atelier Iris 3, the final boss has very predictable moves. You can easily tell when he will attack and when you should defend.. The final boss in Atelier Iris 2 is much more challenging. One hit from this boss can drain your party's HP to the KO point. Fortunately enough, items are easily synthesized in this game.

Overall, this is what I consider among the best games in PS2, alongside Tales of the Abyss and Persona 4. If you don't mind turn based game (which I think you wouldn't mind if you are a fan of Final Fantasy or Persona series), then please give this game a try.

Rating (out of 10): 10

Anime review: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Title: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee (The first e is actually an accent e)

Year: 2011

What is it about: A little Japanese girl who somehow ended up living and working in Paris... and she speaks French yo! (technically)

Review: I have no idea what Croisee means, but I'm sure it's not a bread. I think it is fair to say this is also among the best animes there are. That is if you are not a fan of anything at the very least violent.

This anime revolves around a little Japanese girl named Yune (Little is right. Look how short she is). Yune is Nao Toyama at her loliest! So Yune volunteered to work in a metal craft shop called something Du Roy located in Paris. Apparently she loves Paris so much that she taught herself French language to the point that she has mastered it, though she didn't really teach herself French culture. Note: If you are to watch this anime, you have to pretend that throughout the entire anime (other than Yune's flashbacks), everyone is speaking in French.

Most of the time, the story divides between Yune trying to learn the French culture and Yune tries to make friends with Claude the metal craft shop owner. Then it's the rivalry between the small craft shop and a huge departmental store. At this point the story makes you think as if Paris is incredibly small, and that the characters have never been out of Paris for their lives. Why? Because apparently the elder sister of the owner of the departmental store is an ex-lover of Claude. We are talking about a childhood love between the very rich and the very poor. It didn't work out for them, and hence the awkward moment every time they meet. Poor Yune was victimized  by the grudge Claude held towards the store (not because of the love story. In this anime, there's not much of a single mature love story.) because Claude always try to keep Yune away from the store, even though Yune shares a very good relationship with the store's owner.

This anime is not bad story-wise. First we are introduced to France, Paris in particular. Then we get to see French culture. Then all the drama begins with Yune's over-kindness and clumsiness by getting lost et cetera, to Claude's annoyance. On the other hand, Claude is a pretty short-tempered guy. Don't worry though, he doesn't scream. Then again, who in the world could possibly scream at a cute little Japanese girl? This is the power of loli. Also, we have Oscar the Santa Clause (She brought Yune to the shop from Japan as a "present". Lol.) who always keep an eye on Yune and tries to cool off Claude's hot head. Then things get a little emo with Yune's reminiscence about her sickly sister back in their hometown in Nagasaki.

Unfortunately tough, things ended pretty abruptly. This anime only has 12 episodes, and in the final episode it just felt like we're actually somewhere in the middle of the anime. The ending is too plain, and there's nothing special about it. I could easily think of more storyline that they could have continued from the final episode, but perhaps this anime is meant to be a short one and not a long-winded one. There are s quite a few unanswered questions, but I guess the anime production team believes in the simple yet profound concept.

In conclusion, I think anime does gave us an introduction to the peaceful lifestyle of France in the late 19th century. It's commendable how they actually hire a French as a narrator in the opening of every episode. Don't worry, Japanese subs are provided, and English too if you turn the subs on. However, don't expect to see the Eiffel Tower.

Rating (out of 10): 7

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Game review: Kamen Rider Super Climax Heroes

Title: Kamen Rider: Super Climax Heroes

Year: 2012

Platform: PSP, Wii

What is it about: Kamen Riders all suit-up to fight each other.

Genre: Fighting

My review: This game was so close to perfection. Let me explain. So far, I've tried only 2 Climax Heroes game. Namco Bandai releases one Climax Heroes for almost every newly introduced Kamen Rider. The first one I played was the first Climax Heroes on PS2. It was a huge letdown in terms of gameplay and pretty much everything else. There are also not many selections of Kamen Riders to choose from. The second one was when Kamen Rider OOO (called "Oozu") was introduced. Since then they had been putting more Riders in it. In fact, they put all 13 Riders in the Ryuki series, which makes it more like a Kamen Rider Ryuki game with extra characters in it. Worst of all, certain Riders doesn't even have their what Japanese call "hissatsu waza" ie. Final Attack.

Then came Super Climax Heroes, a major improvement from the previous installments. Super Climax Heroes changes everything from gameplay to the Riders itself.  The controls in Super Climax Heroes are more 3-dimensional, giving Riders more freedom to run around. Compared to the previous Climax Heroes games, the mission system in this game is easier, albeit much longer, to accomplish. More actions are available in Super Climax Heroes such as the ability to counter. More importantly all Riders have their own final attack. This is a huge achievement, given that this time there are LOTS of Riders for you to choose from. They even took the effort of putting the old generation Showa Riders in this game. I'll get to this later.

The Showa Rider, I feel, is really totally pointless. I mean, you're up against high-tech Riders with metallic armour and rockets. What could a Styrofoam suit possibly do for you? In Super Climax Heroes, we have our dearly missed Kamen Rider Skull, alongside a few other Riders from Movies, such as Ryuga and Saga. The thing is, they stopped there and didn't bother putting more Movie Riders such as Caucasus, Arc, and Orga. Personally, this is a disappointment for me because Orga was my favourite Kamen Rider.

Everything else was close to perfection, but here we have two major problem. First of all, they reduce the life bar from 3 to 1. This means that (it happens all the time in Vs. CPU mode) your enemies will die in a few slashes or punches. To make things worse, the 'very hard mode' in this game is really easy mode. There are absolutely no challenge in this game. To remedy this, or so they thought, they increase the level of difficulty in Heroes mode (where you go for missions) by decreasing drastically the amount of damage you deal to the opponent, and increase opponent's damage dealt to you to the point where a single slash can cost you a third of your life. Now you know what I meant by the Styrofoam suits.

There is nothing much to this game. It's a fighting game anyway. You'll get to see some cool final moves at first. But in the end, things become really boring. I'm also very annoyed by Kamen Rider Wizard's belt!

Rating (out of 10): 5

Anime review: Tari Tari

Title: Tari Tari

Year: 2012

What is it about: A schoolgirl who formed a new choir club to compete with another choir club in the same school.

My review: Tari Tari. Weird name, I know. But this one is definitely worth watching. I had always been a fan of music-themed anime. That was when I first watched K-ON. I fell in love immediately, until I found this anime a year later that is. And it was completely by accident.

So how is this anime better than K-ON (no offense for K-ON fans out there. I still love K-ON)? While K-ON lives up to its Fuwa Fuwa reputation, Tari Tari focuses more on storyline. K-ON focuses on performing as many happy and fluffy songs as possible, hence the two-season anime. Tari Tari on the other hand, merely have 13 episodes.

In that 13 episodes, the writer managed to get some drama out of every important characters in the anime. Most drama, however, comes from Wakana whom she has lost her dear mother without realizing how much love her mother had poured on her. Wakana's mother apparently is a very skilled composer, and is very famous. Most of the songs in the anime are composed by her, or at least inspired by her. She is almost more important than the main character who founded the new choir club.

In Tari Tari, we see characters becoming emotional one by one. Each character will either develop a mood swing, or gets into a conflict every 2 or 3 episodes. This includes the principal and vice principal of the school, which so happens to be the teacher and friend of Wakana's mother respectively. Don't underestimate this anime though, because it is capable of delivering meaningful storyline and come up with songs that touches. This anime also stresses the importance of teamwork and self-trust, to the point of denying the higher authorities in order to do what's right.

Overall, this anime is nice and fun to watch, but like always there will be certain parts in this awesome anime that will be flawed. I feel there are some things put in that anime that are rather unnecessary. Among them is the conflict between Sawa, a jockey-wannabe, and her father. They could have thought of a better storyline, or at least a better solution to the problem.

I am amazed by the final episode where the awesome performance promised in the middle of the series are performed. It definitely lived up to the promise. There is another problem, not with the anime itself, but rather the soundtracks. I'm not saying the soundtrack are bad, but quite the opposite actually. I've searched many times for the full version of certain songs in Tari Tari, but I just couldn't find them. As it turns out, these soundtracks were released well after the anime so it did took me quite a while before I managed to find these songs. There is however, one track which I still couldn't find the mp3 file although it existed in the popular rhythm game called Osu!.

In conclusion, as I have watched this anime many times, I will usually just watch the first few episodes and immediately skips to the last few episodes to avoid all the melodrama in between. I've got to say though that this is one anime in my list of best anime.

Rating (out of 10): 8

Anime review: Another

Title: Another

Year: 2012

What is it about:  I had no idea. People dying in the most anti-creative ways.

My review: Another stupid anime. I asked myself how did I managed to watch this anime all the way to the finish, and the answer: Mei Misaki. Apparently this is anime is so popular that it even has a live-action movie. What impresses me more is that Mei Misaki, one of the two main characters, in the live-action movie is starred by a mere (currently) 16-year old girl by the name Ai Hashimoto, who also starred as... wait for it... Sadako, the vengeful spirit from the latest installment of The Ring. Pretty amazing for a 16-year old girl.

At any rate, don't expect too much from this anime unless you are a fan of those Final Destination type of anime. I'm not. My first impression when I saw the cover of this anime was that this is a ghost anime. Then my expectation increases when I saw the opening of this anime: lots of dolls. I love dolls! Dolls and hospitals are the perfect ingredient for a nice creepy ghost story. In the first 10 minutes or so, that's exactly what happened: a girl holding a doll walking towards a mortuary in a hospital. A perfect recipe for an eerie suspense.

Then, it all started to deviate from what I expected. Apparently this anime has almost nothing to do with dolls. It's about a classroom that is cursed, and in the end everyone dies one by one. I was hoping for a ghost to jump out of somewhere, but no. It's just people dying in the stupidest way possible. No ghost whatsoever. There is also not much explanation as to what brought about this curse. At least, not from what I understood.

So, in the entire 12-episode anime it's just people dying and dying, mostly by accidents. And somehow, I felt that they love to get the characters killed by glass. There is a simple rule in this anime, which is contradictory to the principle of a typical anime: Pretty girls can't die. In this anime, however, you die no matter who you are. Be it accident or suicide. In the end, only one or two characters are left standing.

The one thing I liked about this anime is one of the two main characters: Mei Misaki. She one of the few characters in that anime that is decent, and didn't die, alongside Sakakibara the other main character in the story. Mei Misaki is a sweet little girl, who don't mind sacrificing her own interest for the good of others. Unlike other characters, who merely pretends to be sweet, but later reveal their true nature to be murderous.

In conclusion, I've come to realize that this anime is just not worth my time. I've got better ways to kill a character, but what's the deal with all these dying stuffs? Can't they think of a better plot? This is among the worst anime I've ever watched in my life. The OVA is slightly better in the sense that just one person died in a natural way. But instead of killing people, they killed a bird in a stupid way. Poor creature...

Rating (out of 10): 2



Anime review: Moshidora

Title: Moshidora (the acronym for Moshi Koukou Yakyuu no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no "Management" wo Yondara). This is certainly a competent contender for the anime with the longest title in the world!

Year: 2011

What is it about: A girl, who is unconsciously gifted with creativity, patience, and spirit mistakenly bought a book entitled "Management" by Peter F. Drucker which describes the management of a business company. Watch as she derive the fundamental principles from Management and apply them to managing a high school baseball team. I swear this is pretty damn cool! XD

My review: I just love a decent anime with a character voiced by Hanazawa Kana, and this anime is one of Kana at her best. In case you don't know who Hanazawa is, she voiced Kanade a.k.a. Angel or Tenshi in Angel Beats. Starring also are Hikasa Yoko who voiced Mio in K-ON, and also Tsuda Kenjiro who voiced Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh!. This is indeed rather surprising in terms of the characters in this anime.

Anyway, I had but one thing in mind when it comes to this anime: Perfect. This has got to be my favorite anime of all times. In many anime which are in my list of very nice anime, there will be at least something, just one tiny particular part, which just kills it. In this, however, I could not find any.

For a 10-episode anime, this anime is really appealing with its blend of creativity and drama. Until now, I really had no knowledge whatsoever about baseball. I don't know how it works, what are the objectives and so on. Even so, I find this anime very interesting. I am truly amazed by how a young girl is able to apply the principles in Management, principles to manage business companies and definitely not baseball, to manage a baseball club. I had personally glanced through Drucker's Management (I can tell you it's one heck of a thick book) and I could hardly understand anything.

That's what Minami, the main character, thought in the first place. It's dense. Fortunately she does have what it takes to decipher Management's contents. And it didn't take long before she could figure out how whatever she is reading could possibly save a baseball club from falling apart, and eventually take the team to what they called Nationals, sort of like an Olympic sports event for baseball in Japan.

The characters in this anime are quite well-designed, with each individual have their own personalities. The ratio of boys to girls in this anime is about 3 to 1, but (to all guys :P) don't give up on this anime just yet. You will definitely love those characters very much. Often the entire team works together really well, and every character plays a critical part in the development of their sports team. This includes Yuuki, a friend of Minami, who is hospitalized in the entire series. 

And what is a good anime without conflict? Once a while, characters does get into misunderstandings with each other adn conflict arises. But in this anime, these conflicts are resolved in a different way rather what you would normally expect in this kind of sports anime: guys punching and/or screaming at each other. Mind you, there are such scenes in the anime but it's all under control, so no worries. In fact, the characters in this anime are highly tolerant and friendly (Of course, they are Japanese after all), and they are great team-players. Most conflicts, though not many in this anime, are resolved through reason, rather than violence.

In terms of logic, this anime is quite well-researched. And whoever wrote the story of this anime did a good job in bringing in situations where Drucker's principles can be applied to not only save the team, but to bring improvement to them. Speaking of creativity, the coach of the baseball team devised a strategy (called the "No bunt, no ball" strategy) that apparently is very effective in consideration of not only the opponents, but environmental factors as well. If you know how to play baseball, maybe you should give this strategy a try. In this anime though, this strategy does not work immediately. In fact, the first time this strategy was implemented, the team loses badly to the opponent. But that is exactly how it should be. It's an experiment after all. In the end, after constant refinement throughout the series, this strategy has proven work. Much like the case of Thomas Edison (Google him).

If this anime is anything, it's a tearjerker. A very good one at that. As such, I advise you watch this anime alone. Towards the anime, you will receive a great surprise that I don't quite know how to describe. Unlike many anime where the final episode is a complete letdown, this anime has a truly amazing one. You won't expect who the 'hero' who saved the team at the last minute turn out to be. This anime is also worth watching with your headsets on, because the soundtrack in this anime is just amazing. Not just the opening and ending theme, but the background music as well. In fact, I have a folder in my mp3 player dedicated to just Moshidora's BGM itself.

In conclusion, this anime is a must-watch. This is one anime where you can actually learn something. I have to admit. This anime is, at the very least, live-changing.

Also I had been wondering, what if Minami happens to pick up Sun Tzu's The Art of War? :D

Rating (out of 10): 10

Introduction

This is a new blog that I had created. I actually have no idea how blog works, but I shall be experimenting. Currently, I am enjoying a long break between the end of high school days and the beginning of what I hope, university life. Therefore, I will expect this period of holidays to last for at the very least, nine months. What am I going to do between that time? Watch anime, of course. Since I had nothing else better to do, I foresee that I will be watching lots of animes that I am  saving for this point of time, and I will do my best to write my reviews on the animes that I watched, or games that I played. I am not sure how this blog will turn out, but it's just a random blog where I will be posting random stuffs. Then again, I am an otaku, and I got a feeling that this blog may well become an otaku blog. Have fun :D