Friday, April 22, 2011

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

The End of Madoka

WARNING: Here be spoilers

After a month long delay Puella Magi Madoka Magica came to its long anticipated finale, which will no doubt polarize viewers. Going into it, I expected a sorrowful tragedy after a grueling 8 episodes (yeah the first two don't really count) of watching everything go to Hell in a hand basket. Between Sayaka turning into a Witch, to Kyoko's death, to watching Homoura go back time and time again to stop Madoka's untimely death. As a deconstruction series of Magical Girls one could only expect the worse, instead we got a Gainax Ending. Maybe.

In the end Madoka's ending is bittersweet, Madoka transcendens space to become a God so that other Magical Girls won't have to suffer the little bastard QB finds a new energy source, but alas the quest of being Maho Shoujo is not over as new demons take place of the witches. Okay this post may sound negative but in all actuality I really did enjoy Madoka's ending. After marathoning all 10 episodes to prepare for the finale, it started to get a bit soul crushing. Watching Homoura shoot Madoka again, that isn't easy! Good ending and all I did find it a tad funny and half expected the cast to start saying "Congratulations!"

CONGRATULATIONS! Okay sillyness aside while this ending may have bordered on a tad Deus Ex Machina, I'm quite willing and ready to forgive and forget. Madoka sacrificing her self (how appropriate for Good Friday) makes her all the more lovable now, but not as loved as Mami ;) and Homoura became my favorite character of all time! Some might find this a tad anti-climatic I however think it was perfect. We were treated to some badass action in episode 11 as Homoura unleashes a barrage of hard core artillery fire proving she is AWESOME.

Akemi Homoura
Time to die Walpurgis!

Awesome as she is Homura is unable to defeat Walpurgis on her own, and as she prepares to turn back time Madoka comes to make her wish. As the universe erases it self to restart in a new way, Madoka is erased from time and space except for poor Homura. Now she can't get her lesyay.

Eat your heart out Michale Bay

A bitter-sweet ending at its finest without too much of an asspull this series will still remain among my top favorites. One can hope this will get a proper R1 License and not a royal screwing by Aniplex, less I mention $400 Garden of Sinners movie -_-

Post Script: There has been much talk of an alleged sequel or spin-off, if this does happen let us hope we won't get the same mind warping results of End of Evangelion, but all the same stay true to what made Madoka great.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pokemon Black

Pokemon Black Version

An interesting legend that has been around for a while, even before the release of Pokemon Black and White, as the origins point to 4Chan you have to take this with a grain of salt, otherwise it is an interesting story. For those of us who grew up playing the Generation I games, I think we remember Lavender Town and the ghosts of Pokemon Tower that were unobtainable until you revived the Silph Scope. This urban legend comes from and has been reposted a number of times from other sources, below is the full story.

Super creepy Pokémon hack

I stumbled on this unsettling story of an obscure Pokémon bootleg/art-hack that I thought might be neat to share on here. I think this originated from 4chan, so I’ve no idea if this hack actually exists. It probably doesn’t, but it’s still a great concept/tale!:

I’m what you could call a collector of bootleg Pokémon games. Pokémon Diamond & Jade, Chaos Black, etc. It’s amazing the frequency with which you can find them at pawnshops, Goodwill, flea markets, and such.

They’re generally fun; even if they are unplayable (which they often are), the mistranslations and poor quality make them unintentionally humorous.

I’ve been able to find most of the ones that I’ve played online, but there’s one that I haven’t seen any mention of. I bought it at a flea market about five years ago.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sam Riami's Noir?

Sam Raimi's Noir?

Sam Raimi of Spider-Man and The Evil Dead fame and Rob Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess, Legend of the Seeker) have been announced as being attached the live action adaptation of the anime cult classic Noir the 2001 action series that practically defined "Girls-With-Guns." I guess it is no surprise a series like Noir would get considered for a live action TV Series and really this could work....COULD WORK.

I need not mention over the last few years we've been treated to some real turkey live-action adaptations of anime. From The Wachowskis Speed Racer to the unmentionable Dragonball Evolution, not to mention the ever dreaded Americanized remake of Akira. So here we stand in the face of another live action adaptation, however this one can work.

I won't lie, I'm skeptical about this and with little details on what the series is gonna be like it's no wonder. Questions race through my mind and every other Noir fan out there, will this be anything like the series? Will it be Americanized (as opposed the European setting, even you can't mess that up unless you really try) and will Yuki Kajiura's music be featured in the series? Can Starz! Network make a good work of art and not sour the remaining anime community from live action treatments of shows? Possibly. At present we only have more questions than answers. There's a few things I'd like to see my self in a Live-Action Noir TV Series. I'm not going to focus too much on the plot setting as things like that will be fleshed changed meddled around with for its new format anyway.

  • French/European Setting
  • A Japanese or otherwise Asian girl playing Kirika (Whether she's English, French, America, all Japanese Chinese whatever)
  • License Kajiura's music or otherwise rearrange/cover them.
  • Keep the girl on girl love themes? I will say tread lightly on this. There is such a thing as too much and too much pandering to the base can hurt the quality rather than help it. In other words don't turn it into an episode of MANswers.
That's really about all I can think of. I want to see this project do well. Noir is a show I particularly enjoy and something like this could actually go well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Halo Legends

From Master Chief to Cortana

Halo Legends is an 100 minute collection of short anime stories from the Halo game universe and franchise. The already massive multimedia franchise spans four major games and several novels! Naturally only a matter of time before Anime gets it's turn. Comprised of eight self contained episodes all created by different studios from around Japan the package has a little something for everyone. Hardcore fans may not care for some the liberties taken, while non Halo game fans and players may enjoy it. Similar to The Animatrix which told small stories of The Matrix trilogy and Batman Gotham Knight which told stories from Batman between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Halo Legends each has their own canonical interpretation on an expansive storyline.

The Episodes

Halo Legends contains eight short episodes packaged on one DVD and Blu-Ray Disc each with their own short story to tell. The stories take place at various times and places in the Halo universe.

Origins I & Origins II

Plot: Created by indy studio Studio 4°C the same team behind The Animatrix create a portrait of the backstory 100,000 year long Halo universe. It is comprised of two parts.

Thoughts: This is perhaps the worst inclusion of the collection. No doubt Halo has a long expansive history all of which is probably intresting, but the way the episodes present this is one long narration by the character Cortana (voice of Shelley Calene-Black taking over from Jen Taylor) over some animation and a lot of stills. It's the most uninteresting backstory and dullest presentation I've seen. Granted the universe is probably big enough to fill one full movie with it but this tells us everything quickly over the span of two 15 minute episodes. I could have saved my self the $20 and go to Wikipedia to read it.

The Duel

Plot: Created by the acclaimed studio Production I.G the minds behind Ghost in the Shell and the animated segments of Kill Bill: Volume 1 The story takes place long before the Human-Covenant War, Duel tells the story of an Arbiter, Fal 'Chavamee, who refuses to accept the Covenant Religion.

Thoughts: Acclaimed director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) helped bring this episode to life with a young new director Hiroshi Yamazaki. Unfortunately for I.G this wasn't their better work. The story is infamous for taking extreme creative liberties with canon material and serves up a very uninteresting Samurai morality play. No surprise Samurai are long staple of Japanese fiction but the overly experimental style wasn't pretty. Clunky CGI models combined with a bad photoshop water color motif make this a visually unpleasant story. Combined with a cheesy skyward scream of NOOOOOOOOO, this episode nearly prevented me from continuing the series. New creative styles are always good, but this was neither the time or place to use it.


Plot: Created by the lesser known and many times disliked Bee Train (Noir, Batman Gotham Knight: Field Test) this story focuses on the tragedies involving the SPARTAN-II recruitment in 2517, and the SPARTANs coming to terms with their origins. After SPARTAN Daisy-023 and a group of fellow Spartans escape they find themselves confronting ghosts of their past.

Thoughts: The very fact that directors Kōichi Mashimo (Noir, Blade of the Immortal) and Koji Sawai (Ranma 1/2, Blade of the Immortal) were attached to this project is what made me pick this up to start! Though after the waste of Origins and The Duel, I was growing more skeptical that the rest of this project would turn out decent shorts. Homecoming actually proved to be the strongest episode yet! For being so short, it packed plenty of story and emotion in one small punch. The very iconic anime style art proves to be deceptive as the story is quite dark and tragic, and truly was one of the best of the collection. It's a bit unfortunate that studio Bee Train gets little to no credit for this, no surprise when you see the big I.G logo down in the corner of the poster, considering this is probably one of their high points. Bee Train being a former subsidiary of I.G this project really kind of fell into their lap as opposed to being directly approached like 4°C, I.G, and BONES. Homecoming is one of the strongest episodes of this series and probably will make you cry.

Odd One Out

Plot: A non-canon and satirical interpretation of the Halo universe featuring SPARTAN-1337. 1337 crash lands on a strange planet, who's inhabitance include Dinosaurs, cave children and a AI simply known as "Momma." The screwup of a Spartan fights to get off the planet and show his worth.

Thoughts: Odd One Out comes to us as a fun off canon episode from Toei Animation the studio that brought us the Dragon Ball series, no doubt making many childhoods! I guess it comes as no surprise a vast majority of Halo players hate this episode for being a stylistic self parody of the Halo games and universe, and not being a Halo Player my self, that probably explains why I like it as much as I did. The episode is the only real breather episode in a collection of otherwise very serious (narm aside) stories. The episode is a fun shout out to Dragonball and One Piece. The animation is silly and zaney and a lot of fun, but again loyal Halo players will probably take offense to it.


Plot: Taking place during the Battle of Algolis, Prototype tells the story of a Marine who, despite orders to destroy an advanced prototype armor, uses the suit to buy time for civilians evacuating from the planet.

Thoughts: Created by Studio Bones the people behind Fullmetal Alchemist, Prototype returns the serious and gut wrenching formats following the breather episode Odd One Out. Featuring creative interpretation from the acclaimed Shinji Aramaki this episode features more impactful drama as seen in Homecoming. This episode is splendidly animated and written and is my other favorite of the collection. After thinking no one could top the great job in Homecoming, Prototype proved me wrong, it wasn't another action episode it had a lot of the human drama that I enjoy in a story like this. When I think of Halo I don't think of a real storyline quite like this but I think this proved me wrong. If you asked me which do I like better Prototype or Homecoming, I simply cannot choose because both episodes are easily the very best of this collection.

The Package

Plot: An all CGI Film taking place during a SPARTAN-II raid on a Covenant Assault Carrier using Booster Frames to recover "the package".

Thoughts: Created by Casio Entertainment and Shinji Aramaki this episode doesn't have a lot to say for it. As a story it's pretty shallow and not as deep as the other stories presented. It is pure action and feels like something out of Star Wars (not that's a terribly bad thing). Dai Sato the writer behind such shows Cowboy Bebop, and Wolf's Rain doesn't craft an elegant story in this case but rather a pretty typical action story. Hardcore Halo fans will be disappointed even more to find Master Chief and Cortana are voiced by different people for reasons unknown instead of Jen Taylor and Steve Downes. The Package is mediocre but not terrible.

The Babysitter

Plot: story about the rivalry between the SPARTAN-II Commandos and the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers as they're sent to a Covenant-controlled world to assassinate a Covenant San 'Shyuum.

Thoughts: Studio 4˚C concludes the collection with one more episode, thankfully this one was rather good. A good story of comeradery in battle between soldiers and the friction between units it's a good story with a good plot. Animated nicely this is a great conclusion.

Halo Legends is rated PG-13 and is available from Warner Home Video on Blu-Ray and DVD. The two disc edition includes a 60 minute making of featurette and the Blu-Ray includes a look at Halo 3: ODST.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

The Winter series Puella Magi Madoka Magica has been running away with the popularity since episode 3 and is finally returning. (AT LAST!) It's only appropriate this blog take a long look at it as the epic 13 episode anime concludes this month.

Magical girl has long been a staple of anime and often pushed aside in the Western Markets (which dashes hopes of a potential license). Series like Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha are perhaps the best known series of this genre of Anime (if you could call it a genre). Now Madoka will go down in the category and perhaps even eclipse the others.

Neon Genesis Evangelion launched in the 90s and has forever been remembered as the series that changed Mecha forever. Magica will be the series that changed Magical Girls forever. The series written by Gen Urobuchi of the visual novel production company Nitro+ has deconstructed Magical Girls with a dark harrowing story of magic gone horribly wrong. This series has even shot to become one of my favorites of all time. Never before have I seen a show who's creators have enjoyed messing with people's heads. Between Urobuchi claiming this was going to be a happy show (and if you know his work, you know that's strangely off beat) and the terribly unfitting opening theme song well after the characters and their lives start going to Hell in a hand basket, then followed by the eerie ending song from Yuki Kajiura and Kalafina.

The animation style and character designs look very simplistic on the surface but looking deeper you'll find the art styles and the environments have exceptional detail. Between the massive fictional city to the school based on a glass prison (no really). The series earns an enthusiastic A+ from me!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hyouge Mono

When you look up or hear of Bee Train you'll probably hear the fierce hatedom especially if your name starts with Clamp and ends in FAN. But aside from that, let's take a look at Bee Train's new spring series Hyouge Mono. Based on a award wining manga, the series follows a time long ago (late 1500s I suppose) a warrior by the name of Furuta Sasuke and his strange obsession with tea and pottery....Yeah I'm thinking the same thing.

Hyouge Mono is one of the few comedy series from the studio famous for it's gunslinging girls, it's take on the .hack// franchise and it's long forgotten series of the late 90s. If anything you could liken this to the opposite of their adaptation of the popular manga Blade of the Immortal. Blade being very serious and violent, this being comical and only slightly violent. If you are the one who likes quirky Seinen then you might actually like this, however general and casual anime fans would best avoid Hyouge Mono, as the series is downright silly and not in a very good way. Visually this is a pretty series to look at and so far that is about its strongest attribute compared to the very sloppy job of Blade of the Immortal. In my case being Bee Train fanatic that is the only reason I took a look at this series though my hopes are not high for this series to be all that interesting. This already following the trails of another bomb Psychic Detective Yakumo this isn't another high point from the already misunderstood and overly bashed studio.

If you want to see what the studio is really made of or if you are a general action lover, I recommend the six-part OVA Murder Princess (which most of my fellow Bee Train fans do not seem to like as much as I do).

Hansaku Iroha

Hansaku Iroha is this April's new series from P.A. Works. The story follows our main female, Ohana Matsumae who is sent to live with her estranged grandmother, who she has never met nor spoken to, at her Taisho-era (1920s) hot springs inn. It's not a lifestyle that Ohana would have chosen, but she decidesnot to be discouraged and to make the most of her new circumstances.

Tradition in anime tends to make hotsprings or beach episodes full of fanservice with busty girls and plenty of nudity. If that is your fancy then this series is not for you as so far it appears to be avoiding those ever common tropes. The series focuses more on a drama/slice-of-life esque storyline of Ohana adjusting to her new surroundings, having to realize not everything will live to her dream, fantasy, fairytale life. Having to put up with her irresponsible single mother who has fled with her boyfriend (Parental Abandonment yaaaay!) to avoid creditors and a cold unfeeling grandmother who disowned her child long ago and her work mates, Ohana will have her work cut out for her. Hanasaku Iroha is actually shaping up to be quality work and what might be the best series this season. P.A. Works has been around for ten years but only has a small handful of productions and everyone excels in quality.

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief

What to Know Before you Donate

Little explanation is needed for the devastation caused by the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Even for a modern country like Japan, the results have been crippling and downright terrible to hear. Recovery is a long rough road ahead and help is still needed. However much or little you give can help someone in need, someone displaced by this disaster. It's not too late to donate to charity at all. As anime fans I think we can all feel the same way about it, no doubt.


Before you donate check the charity in question. Organizations such as the Red Cross are noble to donate but you might not see your money go where you want it too. Simply put The American Red Cross nor the United States State Department have been requested for help. If you want to better assure your contribution will go where it needs to go, Charity Navigator can help you navigate which charity is likely going to give you the most for your money. Still if you want to donate to the Red Cross feel free.