Springtime

•April 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Ah, spring! The birds chirping, the sun shining, the satyrs playing their pan flutes. You couldn’t ask for better ambiance for sitting on a plastic tarp and drinking in the park.

Speaking of flutes, you know what game had a great soundtrack? Actraiser!

Actraiser was the first of Quintet’s quadrilogy of god games, which also includes Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma. Actraiser in particular brainwashed a generation of children into having a mild interest in classical music.

Would the following piece be as enjoyable if it weren’t for years of conditioning via chip tunes? It’s hard to say. As an extension of the laws of nature, it is difficult to imagine anyone who would want to deny themselves of music. But then again, there’s no accounting for taste.

Enjoy your spring!

Evangelion Drama for TV

•April 5, 2009 • 3 Comments

Yahoo Japan ran a ballot on April Fool’s Day where visitors could vote for their dream cast in a hypothetical live action Evangelion TV series. I’m a few days late reporting this, but the votes have been calculated! Let’s see who the fans would want to see playing their favorite character.

Hiroshi Abe as Gendo Ikari
(Main character in Trick)

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You can’t walk through the DVD section of Tsutaya without running into this guy’s mug plastered all over whatever new series of his that’s being pimped. Certainly he has the experience, but does he have the chops to play a total bastard?

Abe seems a little boo boyish, more reminiscent of the college-aged Gendo that wowed Yui then the perverted dictator with power fantasies. The only thing that handsome scowl says to me is, “attendance to this weekend’s company picnic is MANDATORY.”

Nanako Matsushima as Misato Katsuragi
(Main character in The Ring)

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Misato is a mix of your friend’s hot old sister that used to baby-sit you when you were kids and the tough single mom that works two jobs to keep food on the table. She’s progressive as far as female characters in Japan go and needs a powerful actress to match.

Matsushima seems like too much of a mom to keep the character in balance. Sure she’s got the serious, self-assured angle covered, but Shinji needs a best friend just as much as he needs a mother. She narrowly beat out Ryoko Shinohara (Officer Yukihira from Unfair) who could have brought the depth Misato needs.

Continue reading ‘Evangelion Drama for TV’

Talking About Cowboy Bebop (1)

•March 30, 2009 • 2 Comments

Ever since I picked up that book at Nakano I’ve had the Bebop Itch. You know, that nostalgic tingle that begs to be scratched. And once you start scratching, you can’t bring yourself to stop! You wonder what you’ve been doing all this time without this feeling of cool relief.

But I’m older now, and nostalgia alone isn’t enough to warrant my time. I need something meatier! Something like… literary deconstruction of the series from Otaku? Oh yes, please. Their words are the perfect ointment for this nasty rash I’m developing.

Session 1: Asteroid Blues

A Tragic Escape that Overlaps with Spike’s Past

By Makoto Ishii

While this Session is the first episode of the series, re-watching it after finishing all the Sessions reveals unexpected elements.

Before the opening credits we see: Spike holding a bouquet in hand as he walks rain soaked streets, a gun fight, blood running down Spike’s arm and face, and finally, Spike’s smile as he presses the detonator. This allusion to Spike’s past becomes apparent in later episodes, yet is presented before the story even begins. In other words, this Session is essential in discussing Spike’s character.

Continue reading ‘Talking About Cowboy Bebop (1)’

Nakano Broadway (1)

•March 27, 2009 • 3 Comments
I took a trip to Nakano Broadway last week during my short visit to Tokyo and I dug up some real gems! Nakano is absolutely insane and once you step inside, don’t expect to see the sun until it raises tomorrow because you will be there all day!
I could go on and on but here are some of my favorite finds:
SUPER METROID

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Great game or greatest game? Super Metroid will always be the pinnacle of 2-D design and exploration in my book. The sense of foreboding loneliness, the open environment, the self-contained organic settings. Super Metroid shows how much atmosphere a game can create without a scrap of dialogue.

Classy cartridge art

Classy cartridge art

Getting this baby in the original packaging for 1600 is a steal! As usual, the Japanese box art blows away it’s American re-drawn counterpart.  Time to brush up my mockball skills.

JAPAN (The Art of Final Fantasy V-VI)

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Art designer Yoshitaka Amano, along with director Hironobu Sakaguchi and composer Nobuo Uematsu formed the holy trinity of the Final Fantasy series during it’s heyday. Remove one and the balance of perfect design crumbles. Say what you will, but it’s undeniable that the series started to move in a different direction in the Playstation era when Tetsuya Nomura (aka “The Zipper Guy”) took over the art department. The games are still good, but removing the wispy contours of Amano’s art took the fantasy one step closer to reality.

JAPAN is a collection of character, monster, and setting designs from Final Fantasy V and VI. Nothing says “Final Fantasy” like Terra atop her Magitec armor, poised to move into Narshe. What I wouldn’t give for a similar collection of FF IV or FF I art! I would pay good money for this print of Chaos, assuming they made them (which unfortunately they don’t).

TALK ABOUT COWBOY BEBOP

My one eye sees the past... The other, the future...

One of my favorite things to read: Grown men waxing philosophical about their favorite cartoons. Actually, calling Cartoon Bebop a cartoon is being too kind to the genera. Cartoons should be glad that Cartoon Bebop chose to manifest itself as one of them. Really, the show makes everything else look bad by comparison, so I can’t recommend to anyone who wants to enjoy anything as half as much as they do now.

Ever wonder what those hallucinations in Mushroom Samba were supposed to symbolize? Or what Toys in the Attic tells us about Edward’s and Spike’ personalities? Or how the movie can be viewed as anything other then a two hour mess? The Library of Otakuology takes us on a head trip through the stars.

GENE KONG 

While technically I didn't buy this myself, it was a gift from Broadway!

Technically I didn’t buy this myself, but it was a gift from Broadway!

A nerdy researcher living in Manhattan gets totally owned by a gang of street punks. While hospitalized he sees King Kong on TV and decides to infuse himself with the growth hormones from an ape to give him the strength to fight back. His serum transforms him into a semi-intelligent man ape who proceeds to blaze a trail of bloody justice through the concrete jungle.

Wasn't that guy a Garbage Pail Kid?

Wasn't that guy a Garbage Pail Kid?

Or something like that. You’ll have to take my comments with a grain of salt as I don’t speak French. The comic is full of anti-consumerism commentary that makes it feel like a French version of The Dark Knight Returns, only with Donkey Kong instead of Batman. The sound effects are all written to look like street graffiti and the art is very soft (kind of like the Perry Bible Fellowship), done in what looks like water colors and colored pencils, making the sex and violence palatable even to your girlfriend.

The Laughing Salesman (6)

•March 17, 2009 • 1 Comment

Today’s episode proves that Moguro is an equal opportunity hater. And who doesn’t hate people that blame all their problems on others? Today’s customer, Aino Yumemi, is written to mean “romantic daydreamer.” If she was a Phoenix Wright character, her name would be Harley Quinn Romance.

Thanks to advances in Google Street View technology, the average person can track Moguro down, assuming they have the patience. Click here if you think you’re brave enough to find him while you’re waiting for next week’s episode (which will be late, I promise!)

The Laughing Salesman (5)

•March 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

From the lack of comments I surmise that most of you didn’t enjoy the interview with Jaguar last week as much as a new episode of the Laughing Salesman! While I appreciate your brand loyalty, I think we could all stand to learn a lot from Jaguar if we only open our hearts. Go back and watch it agian. I mean it. OK?

Today’s customer, Futa Debuno, has a wonderfully juvenile name. The kanji for “Futa” mean something like “thick/fat guy,” and “Debu” means “fatty” or “porky,” making his name the equivalent of Fatty McFatpants. Crude, but not unprecedented.

Given the amount of self-references, could we already be jumping the shark a mere fifteen episodes in? The Laughing Salesman was first broadcast on Gimme a Break, a two hour block of variety television, broadcast from 1989-1992 on TBS. It was hosted by a rotating panel of television heavyweights including “Beat” Takeshi and Kyosen Ohashi, who served as the model for Moguro.

Kyosen OhashiKyosen Ohashi, grade-A nightmare fuel?

Also note the bartender getting in on the mahjong action.

I’m sure the statue in the bar at 6:53 references something as well, but I don’t know. Any ideas?

Beneath the Planet of the Jaguar

•March 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

Remember our Chiba-based self made music superstar from a few posts ago?

Well, he’s back in a rare interview from 2005! I’ll let Jaguar speak for himself. Everyone looks like they’re taking pot shots at him, but that’s just the style of comedy in Osaka. No Jaguars were injured during the filming of this interview.