Monday, August 13, 2012

Humanity has Declined (Jinrui wa Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita) anime first impressions.


Humanity has Declined First Impressions
Anime

Note:  All images are from the anime "Humanity has Declined" except where otherwise noted.




Type: (series length is N/A), 30 min, on-going series.
Genre: ComedyProduced by AIC A.S.T.A.Based off the light novel "Humanity has Declined"

Note:  This is not a review.  This is a first impression on the first 2 episodes of an on-going series.



Question: If you bend something enough, does it become effectively "straight" again?  This is what the anime "Humanity has Declined," a satire of modern society (big companies, mass production, questionable actions by those in power, meetings, ect), seems to be exploring.




 Lets say connecting point A to point B means your story/plot makes sense or is "solid/simple," and the line connecting the two is how much in reality/common sense the series resides.  If you bend or twist the reality of the series, then the lines won't connect.  For example, most animes, like Fullmetal Alchemist, Darker than Black, ect, have these "straight lines."  But, on the other hand, series like FLCL aka "Fooly Cooly" and "Nisemonogatari" have "bent lines."

Lets say, however, you were to keep on twisting that line until it made a loop, so it could still connect point A and point B.  That is what I feel "Humanity has Declined" is trying to do.  In other words, the series has a "serious" tone to it, but in order to progress that serious tone it uses such elements as suicidal bread and talking processed chicken.




 Speaking of suicidal bread and talking processed chicken, this series has me utterly confounded.  I have watched somewhere around 1000 + hours of anime in the last past year and I still can't read this series.

The very first thing I noticed was how bright the color scheme of the anime was.  This, combined with the general setting of the anime (rural life), along with "for children" elements had me thinking that this was a children's anime.  The flashing of a knife (to kill chickens with, though they got away), however, as well as a generally mature way of writing gave me my suspicions. 

Any suspicion I had were quickly swept away when the anime showed its dark side.  This was shown in a twisted dark humor joke involving suicidal bread ("If you pity my existence, you will eat me.") and an amount of "blood" that would have done any of the bloodier anime series proud.




Any any remaining suspicions I could have had were gone with some very fouled mouthed chickens (I can't help but feel this pun was intentional on the part of the anime), showing that the anime had a crude side.

Talking of sides, this series also has a wacky one, as should be clearly evident by the existence of suicidal bread and talking processed chicken.  It also has a cute side (in the form of the doll-like, simple-minded fairies), a satirical side, and an imaginative side (the fairy factory has a "Willy Wonka's chocolate factory" feel to it).  And on top of all this, it has a serious undertone.  This series has so many sides and so much personality that it might as well be a character in itself.




The setting of the series and the relation between the humans and fairies also make little sense.  Humanity has declined, due to reasons not yet revealed, and is near extinction.  Yet this series shows no signs of being a "post apocalyptic" series (besides the occasional reminded that the town is low on supplies), and in fact the series takes place in a grassy, moderately wooded area.

As for the human/fairy relationship, it seems self-contradictory.  Fairies are the new humans with magical abilities (what abilities they have has not yet been clarified) and will replace humanity once it has become extinct.  It has also been heavily hinted that they are superior the humans.  Yet, despite this, the fairies are incredibly simple-minded and are used like tools by the main cast (tied one to a string and used him as a compass, which the fairy being paid a chocolate coin in exchange).  In addition, the main character, who is apparently an ambassador between the fairies and humans, has several of them at her house.  And at nights, she places them into a box with suppurate compartments, remarking that you have to keep them separate to prevent them from reproducing.




Overall impression/recommendation: This series is different.  Very different.  It it somehow both utterly absurd and serious at the same time.  And the large variety of different sides and elements, some of them even being opposites, just adds icing to the cake.

The result is a charming series, and one that has me hooked.  I highly recommend you check this one out.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Some games to keep your eye on

So everyone once in awhile a game comes across and promises to bring something revolutionary and different to gaming.  Following these lines, four MMO's have attracted my attention: Trion World's (the guys behind Rift) End of Nations and Defiance, Sony's Planetside 2, and CCP's (the guys behind Eve Online) Dust 514.

Now of course, many many games have promised this, only to fail and be quickly forgoten.  And it is vary hard to tell if a game is really any good until you actually play the released game, but I will attempt at guess which games will succeed at making the biggest splash.

In 4th, and last place, is Defiance.



Stage of Development: Early Devlopment

Platform: Cross-platform (both PC and consoles)

Type: Si-fi 3rd Person Shooter MMO

What it bring to the table:  Defiance is a collaboration between the SiFy (as in the channel) and Trion Worlds.  But here is the catch, not only is it a game, but it will also be a drama si-fi series to show of SiFi's tv channel.  Both the game and the TV series will take place in the same world, but in different locations (Game = San Francisco; Series = St. Louis).  The events/actions taken in the game will directly influence the series, and vice versus, in "both small and profound ways" as the developers boosted.

My take on it: Honestly, the game itself doesn't look vary good from what little I have seen of it.  And I honestly think the game/series integration will be more of a gimmick then anything really revolutionary.  Think about it, how much can a pre-written script be influenced by random events?  And how many MMO's are there that give you actually freedom in deciding the story, and aren't scripted?  Basically, I am going to predict that the game will play like any other game and the series will be like any other series.  And that is why this gets last place on my list.


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In 3rd place is End of Nation






Stage of Development: First closed beta even starting in just a few hours.


Platform: PC


Type: Baseless RTS (focus solely on managing/maneuvering troops instead of also working on creating a base) MMO


What it brings to the the table:  A collaboration between Trion Worlds (bringing in their proven MMO expertise) and Petroglyph (who have their roots at the vary start of RTS gaming).  It will revolutionize RTS gaming, the developers claim, by bringing it into the MMO market.  It will also provide a high quality RTS game in a F2P package.  In addition, the fighting will apparently influence control over a persistent map by the 2 playable factions, but they have been pretty vague about this.  Oh, and it will provide 28vs28 player matches.


My take on it:  While I expect this game to be at least decently successful, I don't think playing it will feel entirely all that different from any other Baseless RTS.  And even the idea of a global confict being decided by RTS battles has already been done (see Endwar).  But hay, with MMO style leving up and customization and personalization, this will diffidently be something different to play.  Ow, and did I mention the 28vs28 player matches.


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In 2nd place is Planetside 2






Stage of  Development:  Currently in the technical testing phase, after which the closed beta will start.


Platform: PC


Type: MMOFPS


What it brings to the map:  Massive open maps.  2000 player cap.  Combined arms.  Think of it as a fusion between BF3 and Eve Online.


My take on it:  I am going to put my money on PS2 being the most successful out of all these titles.  And with combat in a scale that rivals even Eve Online, it is nothing to scoff at.  The only thing, though, that is holding back PS2 from claiming the #1 spot on my list is the "2" in its title.  The fact is, this has already been done to a degree with the first Planetside.  And though this is clearly not going to be a "Planetside HD," and it will do much to expand upon the original, the fact remains that it is fundamentally the same as the original Planetside.


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In 1st place comes Dust 514






Stage of Development: Beta testing


Platform: PS3


Type: MMOFPS


What it bring to the table: For the first time, as far as I know, two MMO's will directly interact with each-other in real time.  Dust 514 will take place on the planets of the Eve Universe, where the players will play as mercenaries, hired by real player from Eve Online to conquer real planets from Eve Online.  In addition, players from Eve Online can give support to their Dust 514 mercenaries by sending in real time orbital strikes.


My take on it: While I question how successful an MMO (especially one that will need to stand up to Eve Online) will be on the PS3, I will point out that CCP has already made a splash.  The problem was that a developer would be limited in the amount of content he could fit in a single game.  CCP came up with the answer of making 2 games and having them interact with each other.  And they have made this idea a reality.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Casshern Sins anime review

Casshern Sins
Anime

Note: all images are from the anime "Casshern Sins," except where otherwise noted.




Type: 24, 30 min, episode series
Genre: AdventureScience FictionDrama
Produced by Madhouse

Casshern Sins is a reboot of the 1970's anime series "Casshan," but with an entirely different plot, and giving the characters different backstories and roles.  In Casshern Sins, the world has begun to die as a result of a phenomena know as the "Ruin," which has turned the earth into a barren wasteland, and which has started turning the mainly robot population into rust.  In addition, the human population is on the verge of extinction.  In comes Casshern, a robot (or is he a robot?) with amnesia who wakes up only to find two disturbing rumors floating around concerning him.  The first is that if one was to devour Casshern, he would gain immortal life.  The second is that the Ruin came about after Casshern killed "The sun called a moon" (or something along those lines), Luna.  The anime then follows Casshern as he explores the dying world.




Well I will start out by commenting on the animation, for that will diffidently be the first thing you will notice.  It looks much older then it is.  In fact, it immediately reminded me of Dragon Ball Z.  The coloring scheme can also be described as being several shades of gray.  This can especially be said of the background, which felt even lower quality then the rest of the animation.  I will admit that this did capture the atmosphere of the anime, but I think they could/should have done it in much better quality.

As for the story, the quality varies to a considerably degree between the first part and second part.  As a result, I will review them separately.

The first part is pretty much entirely episodic.  We are introduced to a dying world, and to the different ways people deal with it.   While the individual stories are hit and miss, and I generally found them boring, I did think some of them were well done (especially the first three episodes).  The series also felt as though it was building up to a epic revelation and the ending of the first part was general well done and emotional.


Then comes the second part.  It is revealed that the ending of the first part was pretty much the entirety of the "epic revelation," and that it won't really be developed up anymore.  Instead, the plot will now have a more serial format with the main characters doing... well it is not actually explained what the characters are trying to do until several episodes later when they have actual done it.  Besides failing to tell the viewers what the hell the characters are doing, the sequence of events is disjointed, the plot has large gaps, and it contains random events that make no sense.  While the final two episodes were better, it was still a bit confusing and felt unpolished.  Overall, the whole second part just felt rushed and unfinished.

Now on to the characters, which is yet another element in which the series is lacking.  The characters vary from somewhat enjoyable, to bland, to just plain annoying.  The characters just lack that human touch.  The only non-major character in the entire series that I can remember, and the only character who I really liked in the series was the human (and, as it so happens to be, the only human to play a real role in the story) who appeared in the third episode.  In addition, in the second part, the writers seem to be trying their hardest to make you hate the characters.  It starts to seem like over half the dialogue becomes the characters repeating the exact same feelings over and over.  And the characters start acting on shallow or entirely uninspiring motives.

As for the themes, the series had a lot of potential and tried very hard to be philosophical and thought provoking.  The series explores how people deal with hopelessness and death, in addition to immortality and the idea that one cannot live without death.  Being hampered by uninspiring characters and a confusing, disjointed plot, however, prevents the themes from going anywhere or really making an impact.  Basically, a good idea carried out in the wrong way.




Closing Comments:  Though the animation is of pretty low quality, the first part of this series is ok.  Though a bit boring, it does provide a change of pace and the occasional good episode.  The second part, however, just felt rushed and unfinished with a disjointed and confusing plot.  The characters do not help at all, being generally bland and unmemorable.  Many of characters also worsen in the second part as they start fixating on a single feeling and acting on motives that are shallow or uninspiring.  And while the series tries to be philosophical and thought provoking, any hope of it accomplishing this is destroyed by its bland characters and disjointed plot.

While they first part might be something to interest you if you are looking for a change of pace, I doubt many people will watch this all the way through (I, personally, had to force myself to finish the series just so I could review it).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Accel World First Impressions

Accel World First Impressions
Anime

Note:  All images are from the anime "Accel World" except where otherwise noted.

Image taken from the light novel "Accel World"

Type: 24, 30 min, on-going series.
Genre: RomanceCyberpunkScience fiction
Produced by Sunrise
Based off the light novel "Accel World"

Note:  This is not a review.  This is a first impression on the first 3 episodes of an on-going series.

Never before has anything made me want to leave my time or world to enter the time/world presented in a piece of literature.  For one, I like my world.  And secondly, the special aspects about the time/world have never interested me before.  For example, lets take your average shojo (action manga/series aimed at 10-18 year-old boys).  You get these awesome abilities, but really, all you can use them for is fighting.  I would much rather meat the characters then enter their world.


Well, that was before I watched "Accel World."  This series takes place in the "real world," but with one twist, in the year 2046.  So what magnificent technologies has man uncovered?  Well, visually, not all that much.  It looks exactly like a 2012 earth.  No hovercars and such.  You will, however, notice something different...

Augmented Reality!  Hell yah!
AND

Virtual Reality!!  Frack yah!!!

This is done by the use of Neuro-synchronization, which is accomplished by a device implemented into the back of the neck, and which affects all five senses of the user (so FULL virtual reality).  Why couldn't I have been born a few decades later!

Anyways, more onto the rest of the show.  The characters are very enjoyable and the show has a good, unique plot going.  Overall, this show has an excellent start.

It should be noted, however, that the light novel this series is based off of is still on-going, so the ending might be lacking.

I DARE you to pay attention to the dialogue during this scene.


Closing comments:  So far, the series is off to a great start and is well wroth the watch.  It should be noted, however, that the material on which the series is based off is on-going, so the ending of the series might end up lacking.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Toonami schedule released

Toonami: Schedule Released

I did not make this image nor do I own it in any way.


The schedule for Toonami.  And here is how it is looking:

Bleach: episode 255

Deadman Wonderland (episode not listed)

Casshern Sins (episode not listed)

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: episode "Fuhrer's Son"

Ghost in the Shell: episode "Red Data"

Cowboy Bebop: episode "My Funny Valentine"

And then that is all repeated again.


Now here is the bad news.  Toonami will start at midnight Eastern time.  So prepare to stay up late if you want to watch it.


Sources: Adult Swim schedule: http://www.adultswim.com/schedule/index.html

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another Review


Another
Anime

Note: all images are from the anime "Another," except where otherwise noted.


Yep, another anime.
Type: 12, 30 min, episode series
Genre: Mystery, Horror, "Death anime"
Produced by PA Works
Based off of the novel, "Another"

PA Works has, in my opinion, the best animation skills in the anime industry.  You know you are watching a PA Works anime when you are begging to see a character die in a gruesome way.  You know you are watching a PA Works anime when you shout "I regret it! I regret it!!!" as you watch with horror the visual death scene.  To be more exact, I am referring to PA Works' "death anime," Another.

Unfortunately, the gruesome death scenes and the amazing animation are the only things Another has going for it.  The series does nothing bad, but it also does nothing good.

The mystery of the series won't disappoint, but it also won't entertain.  It is enough to keep you interested, and all the mystery is appropriately answered.  But there are no shocking revelations or inventive plot twists.


Trust me.  You do NOT want to see what happens next.


The death scenes do catch the eye, but also fall short.  The first death scene took full advantage of PA Work's mastery of animation, and really did create that feeling of shock.  But after that, the death scenes became less and less interesting.  By the end of the anime, it just became pointless.  And the fourth death scene, though being by far the most violent and disturbing, has shockingly low quality of animation (probably to counter the particularly disturbing nature of the scene).

The plot runs smoothly, but is yet another thing that fails to entertain.  The events run smoothly into each other, but all that really happens is that people die.

The anime also has some nice characters, but the only real character development is that they change from living to dead.  And the only character exploration is to explore the various ways they can die.  The anime has quite the pleasant cast of characters, and each one seems like a great side-story waiting to happen.  But, alas, this never happens, and the story doesn't so much as to scratch at what would have been great character exploration/development.  This is even done with the main male and female characters.  It was like being shown the covers of extremely interesting looking books, only to see them burned or put back on the shelf.


...but despite seeming like an amazing character, you won't get to learn anything about me.


The only good thing this anime has is the above and beyond animation done by PA Works.  Beside the wonderful quality, there are also those extra touches that really catch they eye.  Like a character stepping over a sign, hitting it with their foot and causing it to rattle around.  Or the rebel in a burning house being displaced, causing an already dead character to be flung around.  At times you are wondering if this was drawn, or recorded from a physics engine.

Closing comments: In short, Another does nothing to make it worth the time to watch.  The only reason I would see to watch this series would be to check out PA Works' skill, but nothing else.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anime news brief: Toonami Returns!

Toonami Returns!




That's right!  After being canceled in 2008, the reprogramming block, that as be refereed to as the biggest producer of anime fans in the US, will be returning May 26 as part of Adult Swim.

Outside of that, I have not been able to find much else.