Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #236

March 3, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 The story in the Mushishi Special of a girl who can’t go into the sun and the eclipse which takes a toll on her family and her town, and her selfish wish for the sun to never to return, fit perfectly in the world of Mushishi.

I rather enjoyed the beginning sequence of little stories and tidbits about the upcoming eclipse being talked about by various people. Various people that don’t include Ginko, though he is mentioned but not by name. There was a feeling of anticipation for him to show up on the screen. It has been so long since last we met our wanderer that I felt my heart swell as he stepped into view.

The Mushishi Special does the trick of making one very excited for the upcoming new ongoing anime. This double episode filled me with good feelings but, as Al pointed out to me, made me forget the melancholy that generally underlies much of the series.

hisui_icon_4040 The Mushishi Special is sort of herald for the new Mushishi anime. The original anime covered lots of the manga but at the same time it also left a decent amount uncovered. But Mushishi is really episodic. There is not really a beginning, a middle, or an end. There are no real story arcs or many connecting threads. It is mostly just Ginko going around Japan and helping people with their spirit problems while researching said spirits at the same time. There are some reoccurring characters but no one who need more than a breif introduction.  So it is a story that can always be restarted with minimal fuss and ended with little sense of abruptness.

The special starts during a Solar Eclipse. The Mushishi are on high alert as the spirts are extremely active during a large natural event like an eclipse. In fact some of them can only act on such a day. In one town a huge Mushi uses the darkness to block out the sun in the area permanently.  While Ginko tries to free the town from endless darkness there are two girls in town who might have a solution but little desire to tell anyone about it.

I was a little shocked that overall this was not that melancholy a story. It really felt like it could easily go down the road to a sad or bittersweet ending. Mushishi as a whole like to go that way. But surprisingly everyone gets what they want it this episode. It is certainly not the way the originally wanted it but in the end they might have actually gotten more of what they needed than what they wanted. (And not at some horrible price.) I sort of figured they would go for the gut punch with this one. Color me surprised.

Overall it was more Mushishi. It was slow but pretty. Thoughtful but not overly ponderous.  Subdued but not comatose or completely morose. It is not an episode that would win anyone over who was not already predisposed to the series but a nice treat to its established fan base. I am sure they are just itching for the new season on the way.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #235

February 17, 2014

hisui_icon_4040 I think is was easy to dismiss The LEGO Movie as utter trash cinema based on a toy like Battleship or the Bayformers movies. It did seem like something that had the distinct potential to be horribly mediocre. But a careful look at the pedigree of the movie was far more encouraging. Phil Lord and Chris Miller worked on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs which was another animated movie that was easy to dismiss but got a good amount of praise. The duo’s major involvement with the first Cloudy movie and then the lackluster reviews of the second movie (which they were largely uninvolved with) shows that their touch can really make a movie. So the almost universal praise for The LEGO Movie makes far more sense when you know that fact.

The movies signature song Everything is Awesome says everything you need to know. It just sums up the infectious joy that permeates the movie. It goes out of its way to try to make everything just plain fun. At the same time if you think about a lot of the little pieces of the movie are brick jokes that point the way to big events later on in the movie. In fact this is totally a movie that rewards you for paying attention. There is always two or three things happening in the background begging for a re-watch on video with a pause button. Just watching the main character go to work is an Easter egg hunt in of itself. The posters, billboards, and characters in the background are always doing something that will reward another viewing.

In many way the 80’s Space Man sums up the movie for me. As a kid who grew up with LEGO in the 80’s the figure was just something you had. You had to get a space set and you had to get the 80’s Space Man. So him showing up is not totally surprising. But when you see that he has that crack in his helmet that almost every 80’s Space Man got when you removed his helmet wrong struck such a cord in me. That part of the darn helmet always broke because its plastic was so much thinner (especially if you try to take it off with you teeth.) The character totally works if you never had that figure as a kid BUT if you did it is an immediately says with wink and a nod that, “We know” without saying a word.

There are also some interesting meta-contextual themes running through the course of the movie. Like the Toy Story movies it has a simple story that extremely entertaining but there are some deep cogs moving in the background if you wish to explore their mechanisms. I don’t want to give them all away but the loving critique of big budget summer movies it fairly obvious but at the same time never mean-spirited. It reminds me of Hot Fuzz in the respect.

I assume that like 80% of the people who read this part of the blog have already seen the movie and are just nodding at what they are reading. Another 1% just never wanted to like movie and all the hype around it only makes it worse. This really for the last 19% who keep saying, “I know it keeps getting good reviews but it is a film about LEGO. How good could that be?” I’m telling you take that leap you might fall into that 1% but I’m firmly convinced you will be part of the greater 99%. If nothing else, the sooner you see the movie the more likely the movies little final act reveal will not be ruined for you. It is a nice perk to be able to go into the movie and for it to be a surprise.

Also this.

narutaki_icon_4040 As per the entire Internet’s suggestion, we saw The LEGO Movie from Warner Bros. Animation. And it came as no surprise when everyone was right, especially considering some of the team is behind the unremembered, but awesome, Clone High series. The LEGO Movie a really high-spirited film with amazing animation. I want to see it again already!

The way LEGO is used in the film is exactly how it should always be done. Much like the many small productions we’ve seen online, the film uses LEGO for everything including all of the effects. Little details stood out to me during the movie. Like how paint on the LEGO pieces was imperfect, fuzzy at the edges, scratched or chipped; you could see smudges and cracks. It was great to see the movie trying to evoke the actual toys rather than working on making everything super slick. Nevertheless the animation is impressive on a ton of levels.

The humor is a blast as they skewer popular culture, mass media, and grown-ups. They tackle the mythos of being average, showing that being “normal” doesn’t mean being useless. And of course there are plenty of cameos.

I was surprised about the twists the film took near the end and ended up appreciating it all the more for those decisions.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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Fate/Stay Night: Back to the Future

February 6, 2014

hisui_icon_4040 When the news broke that there was going to be a new Fate/Stay Night anime in 2014 the speculation was fast and furious. The original Fate/Stay Night anime sits in place between the infamous meme spawning Lunar Legend Tsukihime and the critically acclaimed Kara no Kyoukai anime. It is not utterly reviled in a way that still makes Arcueid fans salty today but not really that popular either. Firmly in the mediocre middle. The Unlimited Blade Works movie is a bit shinier but the plot is a threadbare attempt to cram the whole story into 105 minutes. So when ufotable was announced to be doing a new Fate/Stay Night anime the crowd went wild. But the immediate question was what exactly was it going to be about.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #234

February 3, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 There is only one thing we like almost equally much as detectives: phantom thieves. Bandette (vol. 1) by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover is a delightful adventure set on the streets of Paris featuring (mostly) good Samaritan expert thief Bandette and her band of merry followers.

Bandette’s goals are a light mystery, her attitude is fresh, carefree, and yet she comes off as knowing everything before it happens. She is really quite a wonder, never seeming affected by all the trouble she runs into and never worrying how she will manage. One thing we do know is she has quite the affinity for rare, and first edition, books. Also candy. She has an oh-so-necessary secret lair and seems to have money and means.

Her friends come off as kind of Baker Street Irregulars, essential to getting her out of jams, setting up means of escape, and alerting her of any information they might find.

Colleen Coover’s art is so lively with a range of facial expressions and reactions which give the story such levity even when assassins appear. Her paintings of Paris give it all the mystique and romance that it deserves so much so I’d like to have her just make a travel guide for the city!

The first installment of Bandette does everything right; it is a bright, whitty, fun jaunt while introducing a villainous organization out to get Bandette, presenting a rival thief who begrudgingly helps her, tip-toeing around a possible love interest, and painting Paris as both light and dark. There are many mysteries and adventures ahead, I can’t wait for the next volume!

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hisui_icon_4040 Yankee-kun na Yamada-kun to Megane-chan to Majo is a delightful cross over comic letting the cast of two of Miki Yoshikawa’s most famous works have a bit of a meeting. Since both series are goofball comedies it is clear that their combination would be equially flippant but just as amusing. The plot uses the body swapping powers from Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches but most of the story revolves around the cast of Yankee-kun to Megane-chan.

Due to your standard meeting of characters running in the street while late to school there is the toast being carried in the mouth. But instead of the normal boy-girl collision this leads to Daichi Shinagawa and Ryu Yamada kissing and thereby changing bodies. This means that they are both desperately trying to find the other one to get back to where they belong.

For the most part this is a Yankee-kun to Megane-chan story. They definetly get the lion share’s of the attention in the story. Even Ryu spends most of the chapter in Daichi’s body which makes him practically a character who is half Yamada-kun and half Yankee-kun. Then again Ryu’s series is still ongoing while the Mon Shiro High School has not had a chance to shine in a while.

Also I accept any excuse to see Rinka Himeji again.

The story does highlight the fact that Daichi and Ryu are similar enough that no one at Mon Shiro High School can tell there is someone else in his body. If Adachi and Shiraishi had switched bodies that would not have been the case. You can tell that Miki Yoshikawa really likes a certain type of male delinquent as her main character. But I don’t think Kate would disagree with her choice of protagonist.

It is a fun little story that should be a treat for fans of either series. If you like both series it is even better.

Also is has a whole bunch of guys kissing.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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