Thursday, August 16, 2012

Toonami: 12 Weeks Later

How has the return trip been T.O.M.? Let's find out with a quick follow-up from a previous review for the return of Toonami.

It has been a couple months sense Toonami's brilliant return to T.V. as Adult Swim's Saturday Evening Line-up. We left off with an almost eternally produced anime, two new series, and some reruns of some classic titles. Now 12 weeks later, we see that there are some changes in the lineup. We've also confirmed the following:

-Deadman Wonderland breaks 1mil viewers
-The Deadman Wonderland OAV will not play on Toonami as of yet.
-FLCL will not be on Toonami, despite rumors.
-TOM mentions reruns are coming, but hold out for some great things.

One Hell of a Cartoon.
First let us start with the series that are leaving the late-night block: Deadman Wonderland & Cowboy Bepop. I'm glad to see that they are taking Cowboy Bepop if only long enough to run another series. I love the crew of the Bepop as much as the next person, but it's time to let Spike and the crew take some time off. I'm very upset to see Deadman Wonderland stop though. Much like Highschool of the Dead, Berserk, and the original Hellsing T.V. series Deadman Wonderland suffers from a lack of more produced episodes. Maybe it is because the manga has also been on hiatus for the last few years. Maybe the anime didn't do well enough if Japan? I'm hoping we see a second season one day. I'd even settle for an OAV series or Brotherhood like series just to watch how Ganta's adventures turn out.

Now on to the upcoming lineup:

Like I mentioned before, I have a very hard time getting into Bleach anymore. Everything seems to be blurring into one giant arc that contently repeats itself and I don't know how much longer I can take it. Music is still great, so I guess I have to give them credit for catchy openings and endings.

Samurai 7
Funimation brings the anime remake of the original Seven Samurai to [AS]'s Toonami. Sadly I've owned this series on BluRay for almost a year now thanks to a bargain bin and have yet to watch past episode 2. Maybe they will keep me interested being on TV now? I sure as hell hope so.

Casshern Sins
We're halfway through Casshern's tale of emo robo-humans and bad-ass puppy-bots. The dark feel of Casshern woven with well designed battles has slowly become a boring trip down emo lane. If I see Casshern look down and to the side one more time, I may shoot myself. I hope the second part of the series really starts to pick up. If not, I may not have anything to talk about once it's over.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Alchemy's favorite brothers are still working their way to find a way to get each other back in their original bodies. Brotherhood is a great series that only suffers from a few VA's phoning in their rolls. Brotherhood is quickly spiraling down to it's climatic finale that is sure to keep people on the edge of their seats.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Our favorite Major is still kicking ass and taking names. Great music, beautiful animation, and insanely good voice acting keeps this series going. Expecting them to finish off the 2nd season and start over with the first, and more popular Laughing Man Arc.

Eureka 7
As T.O.M. mentions, it's lucky 7s at Toonami. Previously played on [AS], Eureka 7 returns with hopes that it will not only draw in new anime fans but bring back old fans. I missed a majority of Eureka 7's original run so this will be a treat for me.

A great improvement to the lineup with hopes that they will keep the fans coming back for more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FFXIV: A Realm Reborn Preview Pictures

With the coming of the now famous FFXIV: 2.0 A Realm Reborn, Sqweenix has decided to release some beautiful screen shots to get lost players back and perhaps nab a few thousand more. My poor PC won't be able to run this game judging just by the screen shots - but the long-delayed PS3 version my prompt me to purchase a 2nd PS3 to play it. (Yopo will most likely be using the other PS3.)

Check out a few screen shots & art that posted:

I will battle this larg... SQUIRREL!!
This is either a Black Mage being awesome or someone getting blown up. Could be both.

Not Pictured: Train of monsters she just aggro'd.

Looks like it's almost time for me to make a post about Siren.
2.0: A Realm Reborn is due out early 2013 for both PC & PS3.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Preview: Phantasy Star Online 2 (PC)

Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast (and eventually the GameCube, Xbox, and PC) was the first network RPG for many people, especially as it was the first popular home console MMO type game. PSO even helped inspire games such as Final Fantasy XI and the .hack series. This legacy of PSO changed not only Phantasy Star franchise but also spawned the way to many games such as the a lack-luster PS2/Xbox360 game and some great portable outings. Finally, Sega decided to bring back the Phantasy Star franchise back to it's Dreamcast years with the Free2Play Phantasy Star Online 2.

Pew Pew!

Phantasy Star Online 2 opens up years after the event of Phantasy Star Online (I'm not sure if episode III is considered cannon, but it's mention of the enemies being known as the "Arks" and the "Ark Cash" PSO2 works off of could have a connection...) Sega mentions that PSO2 could of been PSU2 instead but they decided to bring back the original PSO storyline. I'm very glad it became PSO2 though - just the name itself will bring back players that were burned.

It's not to say that this game has nothing in common with PSU for that matter. PSO2 is actually a "Best of" game from the entire online series. Here is a preview of some of the game features I found while playing the Japanese release.

Original Characters are for Lame-asses!

From the awesome opening past the start menu to pick your server/ship and enter your SegaID/Password. Once past all of that hassle you are given the main menu options. For free you are allowed 1 character (Arks Cash required for more) and introduced to a very in depth character creator that puts previous Phantasy Star games to shame. After spending about 45minutes on the character creation screen I entered the game. (Last found out my originality was null and void as there was a red-headed version of me in the field during a quest..) If an original character is not to your desire, many players have recreated some of their favorite anime/video game characters to play as. Equipment in the game also helps personalize your character as there was some pretty awesome masks, bikinis, and a wedding dress you could buy with ArksCash. I didn't buy any Arks cash though as I am a poor boy form a poor family. (And the fact that SquareEnix takes their share already..)
If only I could use her English anime voice.

The new lobbies are separated into two areas - one is a town like area with shops and event areas such as the upcoming Miku concert while the other is more of a preparation area where you can obtain quests, change classes, or lobbies. I never played PSPortible online so I am unsure if PSO2's lobby is anything like it but they are a vast improvement from what I have seen previously. Accepting a quest or opening a field will place you in a "ready room" type area where you can buy medicines, sell extra items, or even take on another quest with your current group. To an MMO Standard there are many NPCs to talk to and accept quests from. Some of these quests even yield EXP, Meseta (In-game currency), and items. Lobby emotes are standard and can be used both on the field and in the lobby. Symbol Chat returns with epic upgrades allowing people to create some very original pictures. New to the series are comic-book like pop ups of your character's face that you can place into a normal chat sentence to show more expression during the game. After figuring out what you're going to do down on the planet you make a party and take the exit to a small ship that will take to you the planet below.

Still better looking the the Chinese 1:1 Gundam
Once on the ground you'll find that the forest has changed quite a bit. You'll be admiring the beauty of the area until some monsters jump out of the brushes to eat your face off. All of the monsters I've seen so far are updated versions of monsters from PSO (Rappies & the gibbon enemies) and PSU (Birds from PSP2 and Roly-Poly bastards) Unlike PSO and PSU you are able to button mash (or hold down the button) your attacks for quick combos. Even though you may button mash at first, you will find out that pacing and timing your attacks with a circle that closes in on your character will allow you to pull off higher tier damage. This really helps separate the people who play smart and the people who button mash. PSU's Photon Arts & Dashing has returned and could not be better as you can create a 3-hit combo with them. This opens up the ability to toggle regular attacks and photon arts into an original combo. (Example: NQ Hit - NQ - Photon Art. This let's the final attack hit for more damage.) New to the game play is the ability to jump. Jumping allows you to change your routes, attack monsters from above, or even air combo. Even the camera has improved from previous series, now giving you the choice to lock on to enemies ala Zelda, play third person over the shoulder angles allowing you to strife and attack, and finally the normal behind the player camera. Unsure if the 1st Person ranged camera has returned. I think get to play long enough. ;.; Maybe Kuno could give me some of his input there?

Must.. focus.. on fighting mobs. Not.. staring at Force..

Another interesting change in PSO2 is the drop system is exclusive to the player. EXP is also accounted for as long as you are nearby allowing you to still get EXP if you are recovering or buffing. Of course as always, the final blow will yield more EXP. Other players can also enter the same area a your group allowing up to 12 players in one area at once. Don't worry, they are not here to take your monsters as monsters will spawn in the plenty for everyone to battle. Kuno and I met a great FOcast during our second quest together as well as a handful of Japanese players. At one point we where all back to back fighting off ranks of wolf-like creatures. A great experience.

Unfortunately, this preview is cut short due to Sega changing their TOS policy for foreign players. It's not that players from other countries can't play anymore, we are just being watched as there were some nasty players on the foreign accounts ruining the game for others. Hopefully Sega will be able keep the bad players at bay with I.P. bans. If the Japanese release had this sort of problem with those naughty players, I worry about the US/EU releases. 
Great improvements to a series that needs to reclaim it's thrones in the MMO world. Being free2play with items you can buy will have this game rivaling most F2P MMOs. Sega, please oh please don't let me down on the US release. If you treat the US players the same way you treated us back in the old PSO days, my ass will be returning to the Japanese server. Full game review after the US release if I can get one out in between battling Rappies and meeting new friends!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Movie 3minute TV Teaser

Check out this video with new footage of the upcoming RuroKen live action movie. Some great scenes such as a look as the fight between Kenshin and Saitou. Can't wait till this movie is out! (Even though I won't get to see it until the DVD/BD release. >.>)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1/12 Phantasy Star Online Kotobukiya Model Kits

As far as model kits go Bandai has had 100% of my purchases and even though I'm not a very big Gundam fan, I still really enjoy the model kits. Oh, but Kotobukiya has finally found a way to tap into some of Bandai's business. I posted previously about one of these figures but it's time I cover the whole series. I only currently own one who is unbuilt at the moment, but I would love to have the complete set of these PSO model kits. All models are molded by Masaki Aspy who does a fantastic job recreating the characters in model kit form.

First up is Eleanor, the RAcaseal NPC who you met during one of the early PSO Episode I quests. This RAcaseal also has a very strong bond with Mags and teaches you how to use them in the early hours of the game. This kit comes with her slandered mags, a photon saber, and a spread gun. Currently not part of my collection.

If you want to make her part of your collection, check out Amazon's listing here.

Next up is the RAcaseal NPC Shino. This katana wielding NPC appears later in the game's offline quests and is the only figure to have the human face-eye combo. This actual character model was extremely popular during the Dreamcast run of PSO. Also not currently part of my collection, but I am hoping she will be the next one!

If you want to make her part of your collection, check out Amazon's listing here.

The third entry of the series is the first kit not based on a character, but based on a pc model you can use. Named the "Whitil" version based on the section ID that the figure came with. For those of you that don't know, section IDs where created upon naming your character. These IDs usually where used as a hint of what types of items drop off monsters. The "Whitil" RAcaseal is very beutiful looking but also very threatening looking with her "Death Scythe" and spreadgun. She is the first of the series to come into my possession. It'll be my first Kotobukiya Model Kit so I am a little nervous but also very excited. Definitely keep you posted on her.

If you want to make her part of your collection, check out Amazon's listing here.

Finally and surprisingly a fourth kit has just been released - The "Yellowboze" RAcaseal named after her section ID comes with more then one head, a Sato Mag, and a double-saber. I wouldn't normally want her before the other kits but the fact that she comes with a Sato Mag really makes me want her before Eleanor..

If you want to make her part of your collection, check out Amazon's listing here.

I am looking forward to having these three ladies on my shelf as my first offical non-bandai model kits. Keep following if you want to check out my future reviews!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Model Kit Review: Gundam 00 - Virtue

Gundam Virtue comes from the Gundam 00 series of model kits and is one of the original Gundams introduced in the first season of Gundam 00. It's also my 10th 00 related model kit. It is also actually my least favorite of the original 4 but I still built it with alot of passion and patience. Think this thigh-heavy Gundam is for you? Read on and find out!

Out of the Box:
Like most of the series before it, Virtue was a pretty easy build. The head and body was almost exactly like building Exia's. The arms were a little shorter and stubbier compared to the rest of the suits and the legs.. well, the legs were very large but simple pieces. These larger parts actually made it slightly easier then any Gundam 00 suit I've done previously. There were even a few jokes at Virtue's cost in my household as I asked my daughter "Does this Gundam make my thighs look big?" Her wide smile turned into a grin as she replied, "It's not the Gundam that makes your thighs look big." Weapons on other hand were a little more complicated then Exia's or 00. The over-shoulder cannons were simple enough, but the GN Cannon gave me a little grief as the yellow inside doesn't always move correctly.

Colouring & Detail:
Besides the the inner working of the side packs and a some line detailing needed around the larger areas of the kit, there was minimal to detail on this kit. The entire 00 series of 1/144s don't leave to much room for detail, unless you're a hard-core model kit builder who doesn't mind breaking down a kit and re:molding some joints. For a HG I wasn't expecting that much and I was delivered just that.

Stability & Movement:
Virtue can't move as well as the agile Exia but it sacrifices movement for a steady grounding. It's large legs help balance the kit into almost any position, but the limited movement doesn't give you a whole lot of choices for poses. The basic "Fire Cannon" pose works well for it but alas.. it will never be able to do a proper Fusion Dance.

Overall: Short and simple with nothing difficult. Virtue is a great hit for anyone moving up to HG from FG or something around that. I strongly advise it for either newbie builders or a really good pro who wants to make it look like a MG like some of you pros do. 3.3/5

Friday, August 3, 2012

Anime Expo 2012 - Review Days 0 & 1

Dun dun da da da dan!
Day - 0
Woke up early and gathered the last few things we needed such as a hug and kiss from my daughter, we set off for Anime Expo 2012. A five-hour car trip from good ol' Vegas to L.A. and a extremely smooth check-in at our hotel helped keep us pumped. We decided to take the walk down to the convention hall for registration. (10-11am-ish) After seeing sights such as the increased amount of homeless in L.A. and the extremely large "Dark Knight Rises" add on the side of a hotel - We made it to the convention hall.. but alas, the con was over-ran... by the X-games. They took up an entire side of the convention center including the Nokia theater area. At first this seemed like a minor inconvenience will eventually become a little more annoying then I'd like them to be.

Ignoring the weapon isn't hard to do, right?

Then moments later, we where there. In the long line for registration. This is the first year we came as early as we did (Almost 3 hours before it opened) and the line was already long enough. Fortunately, we got a nice spot in the shade. After a 3 hour camp-out where we met (Props out to you Shonen Vegas peeps), hi-fived, fist-bumped, and street passed (Thank you everyone for the billions of puzzle pieces.) and joked about the wait period - it's finally happened. Registration was open! This was definitely the smoothest registration process I've ever had at Anime Expo. We got the usual stuff - 4-day pass, lanyard, badge holder, bag, a guide, and a couple of random things that didn't mean to much. After about an hour of walking around the convention center checking out the area we headed back to the hotel. On the way back to the hotel, we also found out the Bus system for AX was running. Oh well, I could use all the walking I can get. ^^; Back to the hotel to rest, bathe, and swim before...

Maximum Photo Op!
Day 1

Well rested and no longer smelling of travel and sweat we headed down to the convention center via bus. As usual, the bus to the convention center is filled with fellow cosplayers and anime lovers. The problem is now a days it feels more like getting on a bus for school then on a bus with potential friends. You have the big guys who take up two seats, the good looking girl who over-all is a bitch and won't let you sit next to her, the loud-obnoxious guy who is bragging about something or other, and then everyone else. Con-goers have definitely changed in the last few years. Makes me feel old.
Once at the convention hall we decided to tour around a little before heading to our first event that I was eagerly anticipating.

After waiting in line with some very friendly con-goers who were the around the same age as my Fiance and myself (Yay, friends!) we finally were lead into a room with two large projection TVs and a stage with a few chairs and tables. On the left set a young women who was the MC of the event, and to the right sat an older man who was there for translations. After a few minutes of chit-chat they finally introduced Mr. Ryo Horikawa. He was as skinny as I remembered from the pictures I've seen of him. He had a very active personality and a charming smile - Hard to tell this guy's the voice of Goku's eternal rival.

Left: Host, Middle: Horikawa, Right: Awkward Translator.

With a line of people forming to ask him question, Horikawa went from sitting behind the table to dancing down to the flood so he could shake the hands of each of the questioners. His English was good enough to where he didn't need his translator to speak for him, just translate the questions. There where alot of requests to repeat lines, some of which took him a little while to remember as he originally recorded some of them a while ago. One cosplayer requested a picture with the seiyuu and after a long chat with AX officials he replied with a happy and quick "It's Okay!" One of my favorite moments was when he started talking about how him and the voice actor for Yamucha, Tohru Furuya, used to go out to eat after recordings and how they where close friends. Tohru Furuya appeared a couple years back at Anime Expo for those who want to play connect-the-voice-actors. After the panel was completed he introduced an Emanga presentation and then the raffle for autographs were posted - unfortunately, I was not a winner.

Despite the fact that I didn't get a chance for an autograph, it was an absolute pleasure being at the Ryo Horikawa panel. He was smart, kind, and very amusing. I hope to meet him again one day but for now, I can check him off my Seiyuu Bingo Book.

After the panel we decided to meet back up with Joe and take a quick peek at the Exhibit Hall to plan our upcoming purchases. My first great find of the con was a "Partially Assembled" Gundam 00 Riser 1/100 that asked to for an offer. After checking for each framewire and confirming that the only thing assembled was the base, I offered $20 in cash for it and got it. Fantastic! From there we headed back to the hotel room for a relaxing end to our day and to meet up with the rest of our group.
.. can't seem to find the rest of my pictures, so enjoy a dancing NightOwl II.
Later on this week please look forward to my review of Anime Expo Days 2, 3, and 4. This will include our complete adventures in the Exhibit Hall, adventures with some late night dating games, some of the interesting cosplayer changes in the last few years, and of course - the top 5 I loved and 5 I hated AX2012 list.