Ongoing Investigations: Case #071

At some time in the past I used to have some amount of skillz, but no more. Nothing has proven this more than me playing the New Super Mario Bros. Wii. You can play it like a standard Mario game in which case it plays pretty much like every old school 2D Mario platformer. It really reminded me of Super Mario Bros. 3 quite a bit. The other way to play it is is multiplayer which just adds to the madness. The second you add another player on the screen the game changes completely. It makes many things in the game that were simple very hard and several hard tasks very simple. If you play the game with the right people it will add to the fun especially if you use the bubble trick during some scrolling parts and if you use the team ground pound. Also partners can make getting the coins so much easier. But if you play with some other people death by scrolling and “stolen” powerups can lead to some petty grudges. Our little group pretty well together. We beat the game proper without too much difficulty but having some very good players did not hurt. We still had to go back and get all the star coins but I think we had a great time.

Playing New Super Mario Brothers Wii with 4 players is the only way to roll, seriously. It is fun, it is insane, it is hysterical, and it is deadly! Biggest issue that we all had was when someone would get hit there would be a slight pause of delay which totally threw off your rhythm causing much mayhem and plenty of extra deaths. This was never more evident than in the hidden world in World 8 with the rollercoaster-like contraption. I also found the game to be the right mix of difficulty, which is certainly ramped up with multi-player. While I agree that is references Super Mario Bros. 3 a lot, I think it really took a ton for Super Mario World, possibly my favorite, and things from Mario 64 and even Super Mario Bros. 2 U.S. This game was a wonderful culmination of great pieces from each older game and I have faith that when they make a sequel, they had better make a sequel, that they will fix some of the annoyances and add even more fun stuff! I can’t recommend this game enough, it’s a gem, Mario’s still got it!

Continue reading

What do the characters we hate say about us?

This week we look at the characters we hate and once again ask you the readers decide if that it means anything about Narutaki and I. It is often said that what we hate the most in others in what we hate about ourselves. Does the fact extend to anime characters we hate? Do the characters that get under our skin the most provide some insight into our psyche? Does it tell us something different then what the characters we like or are they merely opposite sides of the same coin?

If there is one thing the internet has enough of, it is hate. Hate for shows, hate for people, and plenty of hate for characters. Unfortunately, we will be spreading such ire today. What would our former post be without its companion piece? However, I would like to point out this post isn’t about bad characters or poorly written development, it is about characters we dislike for inherent flaws in their personalities. I would even argue, if I can passionately oppose a character that means they are actually written rather fully. Once again we are trying to explore what, if anything, it means to dislike a character with such fervor. This, much differently from the previous post, can get a bit hairy and quite intense at times. But we will do our best to be respectful. Maybe.

Continue reading

Ongoing Investigations: Case #034

Picked up the Gundam SEED movies in a Right Stuf sale a few weeks back and just sat down to watch the first of three. I was pretty blown away by the amount of fan-service inserted into just a 90-minute movie. Kira, Athrun, and Cagalli each have an individual shower scene. Flay is also pimped out quite a bit throughout her appearance. And one scene between her and Kira that was merely implied in the TV series, is full blown in the movie. It was almost laughable how quickly events were flying by but since I’m watching these after knowing the plot it didn’t really matter. I was looking for an abridged version of the series that I could sit down and watch once and while because I loved SEED that much! It’ll be interesting to see the other two now, where is the Mu fan-service?

I for one appreciate more naked Cagalli and only regret there is not more. They seem to focus on the battles as opposed to the people. This makes for good robot porn but makes the people less important which was not the case in the original TV series. I guess in a way the purpose is to increase the fan-service while giving you a good recap of what happened. I think the SEED movies really only work as a supplement to people who already saw the TV show. You could figure out what was going but it would take some effort. That should not be the case. On a somehwhat unrelated note is it ever important that they discovered an alien skeleton in the Gundam SEED series? They make such a big deal about it in episode 14 and then it just fades into the background like it never happened.

I had been wanting to try High School Debut out for a while, I finally found a copy of the first book on the cheap at the Strand. The basic premise is as follows: Haruna was a complete tomboy who did nothing but play softball in middle school, now in high school she has made it her goal to be more girly and find a boyfriend. She totally sucks at this and decides she needs a coach, like in softball, enter tall, dark, totally cool Yoh. After some coercing, he agrees to be her coach on the condition that she DOESN’T fall in love with him. Now, I have mentioned before that a predictable plot doesn’t really bother me if the characters are good. Haruna is a rather enjoyable protagonist and it did have me laughing out loud a couple of times. However, it wasn’t sticking out of the crowd and it used its tropes a little too frequently. I’d say pass on this series, even though Yoh is incredibly cute.

After going to NYCC, having Mr. Scott VonSchilling talk about it several times, hearing generally good reviews, and finding a buy one get one free sale I picked up Scott Pilgrim volumes one and two. I guess I was curious about this title in two major respects. How was it as an OEL manga and was it entertaining overall? The first question is simple. It’s not an OEL manga no matter how some people may market it. It’s a comic from someone influenced by manga but it never tries to pass itself off as anything other than an American comic. This is certainly to its benefit because it does not try to fit itself into to some fictitious manga template. In fact,  most OEL manga would be much better served to adhere to this philosophy. As for the entertainment value, it was entertaining but nowhere near the level of awesome the hype would have led me to believe. Scott Pilgrim is a unemployed slacker dating a high school girl until he meets a girl in his dreams that he can’t get out of his head. If he wants to date her, he has to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends. It has a quirky sense of humor and likes to make music and video game references. It sort of reminds me of Blue Monday in that respect but the sense of humor is different. The main characters are interesting but the side characters are numerous and not as developed. That might change as the books go on but they mostly seem thrown in for no reason other than to be there. Its quirky sense of humor will either endear it to people or turn them off. It’s mostly a matter of having a resonance with the author.

Read Kekkaishi 16 and loved it through and through. Karasumori is really getting out of control and everyone is starting to take notice. Even giving an appearance to a character we had only heard tell of. It is great to see the overall mystery of the series starting to be explored though we are still without too much information at this point. Middle of the book are some funny chapters about a girl who falls in love with Yoshimori when he saves her after she falls off the roof of the school. She then proceeds to stalk him much to the amusement of the audience and the chagrin of both Tokine and Yoshimori. These chapters were just supposed to give us a break between arcs but it was nice to see Tokine finally taking a little more notice of Yoshimori. There were a number of cute moments throughout this book. And we end, where I had been reading the Japanese, with the start of Yoshi helping his brother on a mysterious mission. I love that they always give Masamori two-sides when he appears. You can just never really figure him out. Great as usual! Why isn’t everyone and their mama buying this again?

They are too busy reading Soul Eater so they can’t be bothered to read Kekkaishi. And so I weep for anime fandom. I finished off the original Space Pirate Captain Harlock. Overall an enjoyable show that earns its place in the pantheon of anime space operas. Though it’s a little more pulp sci-fi than stuff like Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Banner of the Stars. It stays the story of one ship vs. the most powerful armada in the galaxy. The plot would probably throw feminists into hysterics because the alien invaders have a military made of beautiful women who use trickery and deception to beguile men’s minds. While it can be seen as misogynistic, it’s mostly done so they can have willowy women on the screen. Tadashi Daiba and Kei Yuki sort of fade into the background as the series goes on in favor of the man that is Captain Harlock and his amazing ship/friend the Arcadia. They realized that Harlock is the selling point of this series. The audience wants more Harlock then you better give it to them. But every named member of the crew gets their day in the sun with at least one episode having back story. I must also point out that randomly in one episode we have full frontal nudity in a series without that much fan-service. It also has the odd habit of having episode titles that clearly says who dies and shows them being killed in the preview. I would suggest fans of old school anime should check the series out but I think most of those people have already seen Harlock.

Because one must ALWAYS share the Kekkaishi love, this is the pic of the week: