Archive for the ‘ Anime ’ Category

Saturday Anime Review – Log Horizon & More

Alright, so it’s a day late, but I’m still keeping the title of Saturday Anime Review 😛

LOG HORIZON – THE OUTLAW AND MITHRIL EYES

The pain of waiting on Log Horizon to resume has subsided (now it’s just the week long wait between episodes) and so it’s a little easier to be objective instead of just plain giddy that the episode is simply on.  I’ve watched the first episode again to make sure I didn’t miss anything and I have to say there are a few weaknesses in there.  It feels like things move along a bit quickly, just throwing out mentions and expecting the audience to just go with it.  From my understanding the season isn’t quite following the light novels in terms of tone (the light novels having more mystery vibe that’s already somewhat given away in the first season).  That said, I suspect there may be some aspects that aren’t delved into to get things moving along.

What’s more jarring is the differences from season 1 and 2 with the change in the animation company.  Marielle and Demikas in particular look rather different from the previous season with the way their hair is drawn.  With lines missing to detail the strands of hair, it looks more like there’s a bit of a dread lock feel to them. Kanami’s new design is even more jarring.  I’m caught up on the background: how Kanami moved from Japan to Europe, contributing to the Tea Party’s dissolving, and created a new character on the European server (and her side story is apparently going to be presented this season as she’s making her way back to Japan from what I understand).  So it makes sense for her character to look different and I dig the Tifa vibe; heck, the comic I’m working on features a busty monk gal of my own, but the animators just went a bit overboard with her size to the point it looks awkwardly drawn.  And that’s saying something when anime fans disagree with an increase in bust size.  Hopefully the little we’ve seen of her isn’t just the first pass and she’ll be more reasonable as she’s featured.

There’s also a few scenes where the animation just seems less detailed somehow.  There are others where it looks fantastic and on par with season 1, but overall I’m not entirely sure I like the new studio.

We get introduced to a new character as well – Tetra, who doesn’t look like she belongs in Elder Tales with the outfit designs from season one.  The magical girl genre injected into the fantasy genre is rather out of place and her outfit doesn’t seem like what you’d see based on our experience so far.  But, if adventurers can wear pretty much a black tutu and a top hat in Eorzea, I can’t really complain about the diversity in outfits in Elder Tale!  At first I didn’t like her much, or at all, but the way she rode Naotsugu’s shoulder when she was tired and randomly popped up from inside his armor just to pop away again was pretty funny!  I’m hoping the two become something of a comic duo with Tetra being a pest that aggravates Naotsugu.

Speaking of Naotsugu, I really liked seeing the developments with Marielle.  I rather liked how Naotsugu had scenes showing small signs of affection towards her in the first season rather than being blatant. The “open pervert” being afraid of her forwardness when they first meet, then later bringing her food, and when she’s exhausted just sitting nearby and waving the fan for her was a nice development.  In the time since the first season, that’s apparently grown more as the two are talking via telepathy on a daily basis while Naotsugu is on his secret mission with Shiroe.

As for the main story, it’s still true Log Horizon style with slow development. We’re building towards a full scale raid, which we saw a glimpse of in the first episode.  We’ve also had a final scene suggesting Shiroe dies at some point, experiencing his first death (as does Akaktsuki apparently).  I’m expecting this is going to be a fairly big deal based on what William Massachusetts told Shiroe.  When you die, you experience the weight of your failure and after experiencing that repeatedly, a lot of players couldn’t face it anymore. Combine that with the loss of memories of the real world, and death may have more weight than they’ve believed.

Either way, since Shiroe and Akaktsuki apparently die and meet prior to their respawn at the Cathedral (some assumptions there) on Christmas Eve, I expect we’ll see this raid story arc resolved by end of this year, about 14 episodes into the season.  Kanami’s story will be mixed in there some, I think, so we’ll see what the second half of the season holds!

SWORD ART ONLINE – DEBRIEF

If you’ve been keeping up with Sword Art Online II but didn’t catch episode 14.5 yet…don’t bother. It’s completely a recap episode. I got irritated and fast forwarded towards the end to see if at least something was added on the end, but nnnnope.

That’s two disappointments with SAO this season.  The last episode was somewhat annoying pulling the threat of sexual assault at the end, which felt awkward and out of place.  I really felt like the episode should have culminated in a heavier focus on Kyoji wanting to kill Shino and respawn with her in “the next world” to be together.  It would have been a much better emphasis on his psychosis and break with reality.  It would have been moreso if they Kyoji had more clearly a member of Laughing Skull himself and, after the SAO incident, desired to live in a world like that again with the real world being boring after the excitement of a life of adventure and combat.

Ah well, we’ll see how things go from here.

WELCOME TO THE NHK

This is one I’ve heard about repeatedly as being a top notch anime worth watching and I just have never gotten around to watching it.  It’s been in my queue for a long time, but I finally got to starting it.

Based on the description and the little I’d heard, the first eight episodes are not at all what I expected.  Conspiracies aren’t a factor (yet) at all.  I’ll do a full review of the series when I finish it, but I have to ask….how does one become a NEET?  Anytime they’re brought up in anime, the focus is that they don’t have a job, and aren’t in school or training, yet they seem to still be able to pay rent and splurge on manga, trips, video games, or whatever they want.  No work, but still able to spend at will?  Yes, please.

10/4/14 Saturday Anime – Log Horizon

The first episode of the new season of Log Horizon aired today. Huzzah!  I’ve probably watched the first season of this show half a dozen times now and have been greatly looking forward to the new season to start.  I have a rather fond affection for the fantasy genre in books, film, and anime, which sadly is somewhat lacking in the last category in my opinion.  I was introduced to anime by the Sci-Fi channel when it was still known as Japanimation by us silly Americans, one of those titles being Record of Lodoss War.

I spent all day today watching the first season for that sixth(ish) time and watched the new episode twice to make sure I caught everything.  I learned there’s a lot I’m still catching for the first time in the first season, though I will say here I haven’t read the light novels (yet!).  I had missed the comment that the song played at the ball with Eastal was the title screen theme of the Elder Tales game.  I realized one time through that the Man With a Mission band members appear in the crowd when Rayneshia (Lenessia) is giving her speech.  Speaking of that speech, I still get goosebumps after she speaks and that silence is broken by the adventurers pounding their weapons and a group blows their war horns.  The speech itself and that scene is masterfully crafted.

Log Horizon is a fantastic entry into the growing “trapped in an MMO” genre.  I’m not going to delve into the comparisons many make with another current anime, nor with older ones (admittedly, I’ve not watched those older ones), but at the moment, Log Horizon is my favorite of them, primarily because of the detail that’s been put into building the world of the MMO Elder Tale rather than just the world of the anime once the game becomes reality.  Tying in game mechanics into lore is a nice touch – one that most actual MMOs don’t do.  The explanations of how the monster tribes came to be, where adventurers came from, how resurrection works as a concept rather than game mechanic, and even where enemies get gold from are nice touches.  On top of that, there’s the well details interdependence of classes that’s rather well designed (if perhaps not perfectly balanced for actual gameplay…we’ll leave that to game designers).

The next aspect Log Horizon explored that really drew me into this world was then the exploration of it as a new reality.  Gender swapping and player bodies feeling odd due to differences from normal bodies were touched on in the first season, though I think enough men play females in MMOs that there’s a lot that could be explored there for a series at some point.  The fact that players resorted to PKing not out of sadistic tendencies or malice so much as just boredom was a nice touch as well, as “just something to do” is a real driving motivation for many players in MMOs. They just find things to do “for the lulz” after all.  The discovery of how to make food that tastes good (though I have a hard time believing nobody else would have figured that out in all of Akihabara’s territory, but I let it slide), the use of game mechanics in a new world to establish a method of enforcing law and order, and the use of telepathic conferencing were nice touches.  The big thing I liked about the development of the new world they’re living in was that they actually did approach economy as a driving factor to everything.  Shiro needed money to enact his plan to enforce law, supply and demand drove higher costs of the Crescent Moon Refreshment Stand, new discoveries that weren’t in the game led to new demand, which led to demand for supplies, which led to work for adventurers.  It was nicely put together, I thought.

Finally, what I particularly appreciate is that Shiro, nor the others, are truly perfect characters that can handle everything alone.  Each supporting cast member has their own strengths and while Shiro is the main character and sometimes given a lot of lip service from others, in action all of the players have been shown to be quite strong in their own right.  I give a lot of respect Mamare Touno for making a support class character the main protagonist and I have really enjoyed seeing the story from the perspective of the strategist.  I find it quite fitting that a strategist would be nicknamed “villain in glasses” considering the strategist’s job will often require some choices that seem cruel, but are done to move pieces into a better position for the endgame.  While Shiro excels in planning and putting together the grand schemes, and has some convenient items at his disposal such as the gryphon whistle and appearance changing potion (to be fair, I’d have one to offer if this happened to me with FFXIV…I haven’t used mine), it’s believable things that a multi-year veteran of the MMO would have.

While Shiro is the protagonist and strategist, though, I think it’s safe to say he wouldn’t succeed without Naotsugu and Akatasuki.  For that matter, they may not have saved Serara without Nyanta’s presence, and they certainly wouldn’t have succeeded in saving the low level players, including Tohya and Minori, without the Crescent Moon guild’s work allying with Radio Market, Marine Agency, and Shopping Street 8.  And even still, Crusty is named as one of a handful of players who has commanded 100 players simultaneously, a feat that Shiro likely couldn’t do even if he could plan a strategy for the battle.  Plus, for all the praise Shiro is given, a level 20-ish Minori is already following in his footsteps as a strategist.

The first episode of the new season starts off with a quick glimpse at some characters in new armor, probably a look at fights we’ll catch up to later similar to how season 1 started.  We first see the leader of Silver Sword who we haven’t seen since he pulled out of the Round Table council.  We also see a few characters we don’t know, one of which is Kanami, former leader of the Debauchery Tea Party, who I’ve read was a swashbuckler in the flash backs we saw in season 1 though she dressed as a monk. With a new character on the new server after moving in real life, she’s not actually playing a monk. Despite me being a total boob guy (Naotsugu would be proud of me being an open pervert, right?), her appearance here was really over the top.  She’s bigger than her flash back appearances from season 1 and I’m hoping they tone her down a bit.  I’m also a bit grumpy she seems a lot like my own character for the comic/book I’ve been working on.  Dang world stealing my ideas…I really do need a tinfoil hat!

After that prologue scene, we get the new opening animation.  I’ve seen comments on Crunchy Roll and have to agree with them; it was the right call to keep Database as the opening theme.  The new animation, though?  Wow, that’s a lot of new characters.  I counted over 25 new faces I didn’t recognize (though I’ve read enough to recognize Kanami, as mentioned, and her TMNT-inspired companion Leonardo).

The first episode, and thus the new season, starts off fairly appropriately with a conflict to overcome that revolves solely around money and economy.  The Round Table has purchased not only the Guild Building in season one, but since added the Cathedral and the Trade Building as well as “several other facilities.”  Well, it actually starts off with a post-Halloween festival (good timing there on the release) and appropriately enough for this time of year…PUMPKINS PUMPKINS PUMPKINS! Gourds aside, though, we catch up with our established characters, many of whom are wearing different clothes.  Normally I don’t care for changes in character design, but I like that the changes and additions appear to be warmer clothing, fitting with the fact that it’s Autumn and October in the world.

But back to the main conflict.  Some spoilers ahead from this point onward.  You have been warned.

Seriously, heed the warning if you don’t like spoilers.  😛

The Round Table needs 10 million gold per month to keep up with everything they own now.  They’ve tried reaching out to the clan that runs the world’s banking system, but it’s revealed there’s no loan system in the world and no subclass for it either.  Shiroe has a plan, though, and leaves Akihabara with Naotsugu to meet with a representative of the Kunie Clan, the one that runs the banking system, in a cabin in the snowy mountains near their village, which he determined with the help of Regan, the Sage of Mirror Lake.  Shiro’s plan is to access a fountain of gold that lore claims is how gold is distributed to souls upon their reincarnation (in other words, the lore-explanation for why respawned monsters drop gold for players).  They’re told they’ll need a large group of companions to meet and the Kunie Clan’s decision to help will depend on how they meet the challenge ahead.  Rather cryptic just what exactly said Clan will offer and what exactly the representatives words mean.

All in all, the episode wasn’t action packed, but definitely set the stage to get things moving.  Log Horizon’s strengths is its ebb and tide with the story.  It builds up to a crescendo, then comes back down to prepare for another build up, so I’m not worried about a boring season by any means. The intro and what we’ve gleaned of Shiro’s plan, though, does raise questions for me.  If they were to succeed and get the 80 trillion gold they need (I’m guessing Shiro is calculating to have enough to cover the Round Table expenses for a length of time), what impact would that have on the world?  If they plunder the device that puts gold on monsters, will the device still function, and if it doesn’t, won’t that mean greater economic strife for all adventurers, and even all regions of the Japan, if not the world?  Could the master strategist’s plan actually do more harm than good this time?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and watch the next 23 (probably less for this first conflict to be resolved) episodes to find out. Or we could start reading the light novels.  I should get on that, but I still need about 6 million gil for our FC House in Final Fantasy XIV.

So until next week, I guess I’m living in the database….

Just say “whoa whoa whoa whoa.”

Project A-Kon 25…. COMPLETE.

10 years ago I went to a little anime convention in Dallas, TX called A-Kon along with my boss, his wife, and a coworker cosplaying as the crew of Cowboy Bebop.  In 2003 and 2004, anime was known in the US, but really getting into the fandom with anime and manga had previously required one to find sites online with fan subs and translations.  I’m proud to say that I worked at Waldenbooks in the Parks Mall in Arlington, TX that contributed to part of the shift in the industry.

My boss, Stephen, was interested in the published manga and would special order a few issues for himself on a fairly regular basis. Some series he would special order just to read them on lunch break and then put them on the shelf to sell.  He actually did this enough that he started getting a few random titles in our regular shipments.  He decided to focus this effort and started ordering a handful of issues at a time from different titles for the store.  With that, he pushed the snowball down the mountain.  Within a few months we had a complete section for manga of about five or six shelves.  Over the course of the next year it grew to two small bays, then four.  In a couple more years, it consisted of half the wall from the cash register to the back of the store and manga was always neck and neck with Romance for the #1 selling category in the store month after month.  We were the top selling manga store in the company and the entire company was getting pushed to sell manga.  Not that this was isolated to our store.  Other book stores were starting to carry manga, but we were ahead of the pack and reaping the benefits of what I now like to consider the US Manga-boom of the early 2000s.

Jump ahead to 10 years later and the manga boom has subsided, manga publishers have gone out of business, the market has shied away from the over-saturation in the US and we’re getting ready to repeat the cycle where online fan subs and translations may be the best way to get certain titles.  Sword Art Online for $120 for half the show?  Log Horizon light novels may never be translated to English?  With essentially Funimation being the only real powerhouse bringing anime to America, we could go towards a dry spell of getting quality over here.  There’s benefits to this as the American market won’t accept a flood of just anything while manga is more widespread in Japan, so theoretically we would get more of the proven, quality, titles here over time.  On the other hand…we’re still waiting for the final volume of Hellsing Ultimate.

While the market has pulled back from the abundance of anime and manga, the fandom certainly hasn’t gone away.  A-Kon 25 was big as ever, packing into the Hilton Anatole.  I haven’t seen an official attendance for this year yet, but last year was over 22,000 people – more than double the attendance when I first went.

So how did the folks at Project A-Kon do for their big 25th Anniversary?  Quite well, I think.  Registration was moved to a different room and the hallway outside the Artist Alley/Dealer room area was kept open and clear, which alleviated a huge bottle neck and a huge frustration for convention goers from last year.  The dealers room and artist alley felt more open, which was nice.  My only complaint about the set up was a purchased pass to the convention was required for Artist’s Alley, which has never been required in the past 10 years I’ve been going.  Since starving artists are, well, starving artists, I always liked the fact that people could show up to the convention and see all the cosplayers and support web comics and artists without paying to attend convention events.

The swag bag you get with your registration, provided by Glitch Gaming Apparel, includes advertising inserts, your badge, the program, and a printed schedule.  I got ad inserts for Date Alive, Plano Martial Arts Academy (free trial lesson, any style), and the now-often-seen insert from The Devil’s Panties as well as one for Online Community Colleges.org.  I also got issue #3 of Bendis and Maleev’s Scarlet, which is also standard for the convention to get a random comic book in the bag.

As always, I attended some panels on web comics and writing hosted with creators from webcomics such as Star Crossed Destiny and Star Power.  I picked up Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt from the Funimation booth for a great price, which is admittedly fairly rare at any convention.  I also bought a couple of bokken and two wakizashi for display, an art commission, and an item for a friend’s Christmas gift.  Added a few anime to my list of things to watch, of course, as well.

But of course the highlight of A-Kon, and many conventions these days, is the cosplay.

Attack on Titan was one of the most popular cosplay

Attack on Titan was one of the most popular cosplay.

IMG_5676

To be fair, they do make pretty awesome costumes.

Of course, everyone spots the pretty ladies in cosplay. Here's Yoko from Gurren Lagann

Of course, everyone spots the pretty ladies in cosplay. Here’s Yoko from Gurren Lagann.

Video Game cosplays are often seen, with Mega Man here.

Video Game cosplays are often seen, with Mega Man here.

 

However, this Rocket Raccoon from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie (and comics) standing about 5 feet tall was my favorite.

However, this Rocket Raccoon from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie (and comics) standing about 5 feet tall was my favorite.

Godzilla Stomps Box Office, X-Men Save the Future, Comics, and More!

Wow, it’s been busy this month.  With the TMNT anniversary month wrapped up, there was a lot of other things going on and it’s delayed me from writing another blog entry.  Godzilla stomped destroyed the box office with his release, X-Men: Days of Future Past hurtled through time to win over audiences and critics, a new chapter began in the Amazing Spider-Man comics, the TMNT anniversary issue and new issue of the ongoing IDW comic came out, and Project A-Kon starts tomorrow!  This blog will be a bit more brief and run through all these items…or will be terribly rambly going through all this items!  Let’s see which!

Godzilla

Despite the poorly accepted Godzilla 2000, it seems most people were still remembering the abomination of a movie simply titled “Godzilla” starring Matthew Broderick.  As the latest American production of Godzilla slowly built up its promotional material, fans were growing more and more excited.  The Internet seemed hopeful and as more teasers came out, excitement actually started building and anticipation grew for Godzilla.  A few weeks before release, I read an article in Forbes predicting the movie was going to be a box office flop.  The King of Monsters proved that prediction false with over $93 million on opening weekend and a worldwide gross that’s reached over $521.5 million in box office revenue.  A sequel is already in the works for the new series of the franchise and I hope they continue to do well.

To me, the movie was great.  Perfect, I’m sure there’s a lot of problems, so no, but absolutely fun.  Some complained about the lack of Godzilla, but the series of films have always been about the human element and the problem they face with another giant monster threatening Earth until Godzilla comes along and fights it.  Bryan Cranston was great as expected, but I felt like Ken Watanabe was underutilized.  I’m hoping he returns with a larger part as a more knowledgeable expert on Godzilla in the sequel.  The plot was particularly enjoyable in that it took the standard set up from past films with Godzilla vs a Monster, or MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) where past Godzilla flops have focused on man vs Godzilla.  We don’t want Godzilla as a bad guy, it’s his film and despite the destruction he causes fighting the enemy, he’s our hero!

I thought Godzilla looked great, though he didn’t have the personality of the old films.  He was more animal-like, described as an Alpha Predator of prehistoric origins as hypothesized by Ken Watanabe’s character.  They hint at the original Godzilla film with nuclear testing having awoken Godzilla in the past and granted the first glimpse of him, which was neat as well.  The size of Godzilla is massive. He seemed bigger than I recall, but then the old ones were a man in a suit on a set of miniatures, so it’s more perception than fair comparison.  I’d like to see a little more of his personality in future films, showing he has a little higher intelligence than simply a predatory animal.  After all, the original Godzilla could not only be communicated with by other monsters, but as relayed by Mothra through the twins, he didn’t care for mankind.  In a fight, Godzilla would gloat and laugh at his enemies in his own way and would somewhat throw a tantrum when getting frustrated.  While I don’t think that level of silliness would work for this new Godzilla, showing some level of emotion would be interesting.

I won’t spoil anything, but I will say I was expecting Godzilla to end the fight at the climax by breaking the female MUTO’s jaw.  The way he actually ended the fight shocked me and left me with a big grin on my face.  It was an awesome finisher to the fight.  I’m hoping the next film involves aliens as the source of the monster.
X-Men: Days of Future Past

The film impressed critics, which is saying something.  It’s currently 92% positive with critics and 94% with audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, which is the highest the franchise has ever reached. Even higher than First Class or X2: X-Men United.  It’s also been out for only a few weeks and is already the highest grossing X-Men film, amassing $500 million in just 10 days.  I not only enjoyed the film, but moreso appreciated the direction it has established for films going forward, the next of which is X-Men: Apocalypse.

As Bryan Singer suggested, the film was used to tie up some loose ends and fix some problems almost everyone had with the original trilogy’s plot missteps.  Days of Future Past avoids the temptation of mutant cameos for the sake of saying a mutant had a cameo (seriously, that was NOT Psylocke in Last Stand) and the mutants it does give an appearance to are actually used.  Fan favorites Blink, Bishop and not-as-favorite Warpath join Storm, Colossus, Iceman, and Magneto among the chief combatants in the dark future against the evolved Sentinels.  The story of the Sentinels themselves is different than the comics, but works well and is a nice spin on the storyline itself.

People did complain about Wolverine being the one sent back in time rather than Kitty Pryde a la the comics, but it makes sense to me.  The Mary Sue claimed it was lazy writing that neared sexism, but I disagree.  Lazy writing would be to further strain logic to send Ellen Paige back for the sake of it, having to make a convoluted excuse of her returning to a time where’s she’s not even been born.  Compound that with the fact that Wolverine is the frontrunner for the series and it’s logical to have Jackman’s character as the focal point since his character is logically in the past already.  The series already has enough continuity problems, particularly with ages, to need yet another one with Kitty alive when Kitty wasn’t alive for the sake of using Kitty who has been a minor role in the films as a whole so far.  Honestly, if we were arguing for not using Wolverine in Pryde’s place, I’d prefer to go totally unknown and have Bishop as our main focus.  The nice thing about sending Wolverine back, however, is that he doesn’t actually take the spotlight.  Logan is actually better used as a character amongst an ensemble in this film rather than the focal point of the spotlight.

As stated, though, I’m more interested in seeing how things develop from here.  Days of Future Past is the first Fox X-Film under the world building coordination of Mark Millar as consultant for Fox, Jackman said there was more presence from Marvel on set than previous films, and it’s the first real X-Film that’s been produced as an established comic team in the post-Marvel Studios Hollywood.  The film maintained the thematic continuity of the original films with the future X-Men wearing black armored suits akin to the leather of the original trilogy, but there’s some color coming into them as well.  Blue and yellow (in a black/yellow pattern that gives it a tan look) for Wolverine, for example.

I was stoked by the yellow at the ribs and on the arms, actually.

And with the 70s really being pre-X-Men there were not costumes for the majority of it other than Magneto donning his armor which had far more color than the original dark tones.

Very much like his comic colors

Which leads me to wonder if X-Men: Apocalypse, which has already been confirmed to be bringing in young Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm, will be going more traditional in their costumes as well.  Cyclops in a Captain America-like blue, hopefully.  I’m also personally hoping that Storm will have her mohawk for the 80s set film.  My only concern right now is Wolverine.  The timeline was altered in Days of Future Past and rather than undergoing the Weapon X project with Stryker in the 80s, we see Wolverine being taken by Mystique-as-Stryker instead.

With Lawrence’s Mystique becoming the face of the films alongside Jackman, and Mystique’s history of being used as a tie to Apocalypse, I’m wondering if they’re planning on having the Weapon X project headed by Stryker at the behest of Apocalypse and Wolverine becoming the Horseman of Death.  It would be a comic influence to do so, but not one I’d like to see as it causes continuity questions for the films all over again with the X-Men knowing Wolverine before he joins.  There was some cool speculation that the mutants we glimpsed in Days of Future Past, rescued by Mystique, could become the Four Horseman (or three, because…well, Toad).  Havok as War, the one with the radiation symbol on his face for Pestilence, and the one that made the soldiers simply pass out as Famine.  This would indeed leave death open.  Instead of Wolverine, though, I’d much rather see Angel brought back and made into Archangel.

 

Amazing Spider-Man

I have to admit I really enjoyed the Superior Spider-Man arc and as it moved along, you could literally start seeing the problems that were being put together for Peter upon his return.  As predicted at the start of the run, Peter’s return coincided with the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theaters, and here he is.  The first story they’re telling is going to introduce a new character, Silk, who was also bitten by the same spider that gave Peter his powers in high school.  Now, the character might be interesting, but I hate when writers go back and add to the long held origin story.  The “oh, but here’s what really happened” or “here’s the rest of the story” doesn’t work for me and it rarely adds anything of value to the overall story.  I may also still be annoyed at “Xavier is an asshole” from the Second Genesis addition with Deadly Genesis.

The only thing I was particularly nervous about that won me over in a single issue was Anna Maria Marconi.  It was obvious that Otto had fallen in love with her and was in a serious relationship with her.  I liked that she found he was thinking of proposing to her, but I didn’t like the fact that they revealed that things had gotten to the point of sleeping together.  I’m old fashioned and I do like the notion of monogamy after marriage rather than sleep-around-single then settle-down-married.  Yes, I know it’s old fashioned, but it’s also the type of character I’ve always seen Peter to be yet Brand New Day has had him engage in one night stands and friends with benefits.  I think it would have been more contrasting for Otto, who is an older man and might see things more like his generation did, to have followed that notion.  However, I will say the “I’m pregnant” scene was absolutely fantastic and it nailed Maria as a favorite for me.  It’s been a long time coming, but I’m really interested to see how Spider-Man will work having a bit of a Batman quality to him.  With Parker Industries serving as Wayne Enterprises and Anna as his Alfred/Lucius-in-one.

Now when will Mary Jane appear in the movies again so she and Peter can start dating in the comics.  I will always hate the One More Day plot and dissolving the marriage rather than, I dunno, writing it properly and having MJ as a strong character.  Oddly enough, it seems that the whole Brand New Day has done more to better MJ as a character than done anything to really make Spider-Man/Peter better.  Mephisto was certainly right about one thing, though…just under the surface, Peter and MJ still seem to know they’re meant for one another, but just can’t get there….and the other relationships they enter into just don’t feel quite right.  Damn you, Mephisto.  I hope Dr. Strange gives you a whomping in an arc around the time of his movie release too.

TMNT Anniversary Wrap Up

I watched Secret of the Ooze again.  While the original movie still holds up, the Secret of the Ooze doesn’t.  It’s a perfect example of Hollywood getting involved with too much control. The film is clearly made to be silly and more funny for kids where the original film, an independent film, had a more mature tone.  I couldn’t bring myself to take time for TMNT III or to rewatch TMNT from 2007 (which I actually really liked).

The 30th Anniversary issue came out and while nothing particularly special to delve into on a continuing basis, it was a neat comic.  Multiple short stories, each one in the style of the various incarnations of TMNT: Mirage, Archie Comics, Image, IDW.  Very cool stuff.

The latest issue of the ongoing IDW was great. I really like Don’s friend Harold and the introduction of Metalhead was really cool. Santolucco is a great artist for the series and the writers are still doing some neat stuff there.  With Leo still being my favorite turtle, I’m interested to see how things continue to develop for him.  Everyone writes him off as the boring character since he’s the boy scout, but I think IDW has done well fleshing him out more. He’s sometimes a jerk (he’s the big brother, after all) to the others when they disagree, but he also cares about his family.  Despite being the most dedicated student, you can see a bit of difference of opinion between him and Splinter growing in his concern over agreeing with Don that dealing with the Technodrome and Krang may be most important while Splinter is focused on their direct problem with Shredder.  I’m definitely interested to see where that leads as all children have difference of opinion with their parents as they grow.  We know the Rat King is going to be appearing soon and that will be a good story for Leo as he’ll have to handle things alone if Splinter is under the Rat King’s sway.  Next issue, however, is looking to be great as we get a pairing that isn’t explored enough: Raph and Mike.  I’m really looking forward to that!

And Old Hobb and Slash are still working their own plan, as we saw in the end of this latest issue.  I’m expecting Alopex to wind up back in New York and possibly joining him for a while.  I’ll admit, I really like Alopex.  Granted, she a fox, literally, so that’s a plus for her in my book, but I like the character.  I just hope they don’t further the Raph/Alopex friendship as it makes her too much like Ninjara for me.  I’d much rather see Alopex and Leo form a friendship since they have history of going through similar challenges with the Foot and, honestly, Leo needs a friend.  Raph has Casey, Don has Harold and April, Mike has the pizza shop guy and possibly a police detective.  Leo has his family.  That dude needs a friend.

Project A-Kon 25

The big 25th Anniversary of the longest running Anime Convention in North America is THIS WEEKEND!  This will mark my 10th year straight going to this convention and I’m really looking forward to it.  I don’t cosplay anymore and sadly I won’t be taking Crow T. Robot (or will I?) since I don’t have a friend to carry Tom Servo.  I loved taking Crow and Servo and there’s no end to stopping to take photos, but my time at A-Kon is now usually spent at panel after panel with little time to waste in between.  Then again, there’s always down time in the evenings it seems. Maybe Crow will go, though he won’t be cosplaying this year either (seriously, cosplaying Crow is a heavy Crow).

I’m expecting a larger turn out of Attack on Titan cosplay as well as Sword Art Online. Expect to see a few Log Horizon as well.  I’ll be working on a preview of my schedule and which panels to attend today, packing up and getting ready. I’ll also be driving over today to go ahead and pick up my badge and bag o’ goodies.

A-Kon, here I come! 🙂

Introduction to Ninja Fox Games & More

I thought about jumping right into this blog with a first article, but decided introductions were in order first, for both the blog and the author.

I was born in January 1981 and when I was little, a good friend of mine had an Atari 2600.  The first games I remember playing are Pac Man, Chopper Command, and Joust.  From that point on, I’ve been a gamer my entire life.  In elementary school, I worked with my parents’ help to sell raffle tickets for a fund raiser and won the first place prize for selling the most tickets. I won $100 and used that money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System.  My dad and I would play Super Mario Bros. together to see who could beat it first.  My dad rescued Princess Toadstool before I did, but I beat the game with the fire flower’s power first.

That first taste of video game victory was so sweet.

A few years later during a trip to visit a relative in Houston, TX, I bought the Super Nintendo Entertainment system which still has some of my favorite games of all time.

Oh Squaresoft, I miss you…

I later purchased a Sega Genesis and Sega Game Gear, a Game Boy Pocket, and a GameBoy Color.  I never bought a Sega Saturn, but I rented it from the local Blockbuster and remember playing Panzer Dragoon.  I was primarily a Nintendo guy with my Sega experience mostly contained to Sonic the Hedgehog and a few other titles, but like so many other RPG fans, I jumped ship when Final Fantasy VII came out on the Playstation.

Because this was mind blowing cutting edge polygons right here.  And because we fell in love (lust?) with Tifa Lockheart.
Coincidentally, this was my standard team!

I didn’t completely abandon Nintendo considering I came back to the N64 two years later.  I continued with the GameCube as well as the PS2 and later the PS3 and I’ve recently gotten a Nintendo Wii and got a release Playstation 4.

By 2013, I had sold a lot of my games, but had kept all my consoles and I discovered there are a lot of people out there who, like me, still love the old games as much as new ones and there are groups out there focused on collecting retro games.  I decided that I wanted to gather up some of the old games and start to dig more into the history of video games over the years and decided I’d go back and get every system I’ve ever played in addition to the ones I’ve owned through the years and plan to build a “Top 100” library for each console.

My library now includes:
Atari 2600
Nintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Sega Genesis with Sega CD & Sega 32X
Game Gear
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega Saturn
Sega Dreamcast
N64
GameCube
Playstation
Playstation 2
Playstation 3
Playstation Vita
Nintendo Wii
Playstation 4

Fair warning now, I’ve never been an X-Box fan and have never played X-Box, X-Box 360, nor do I have any interest in the X-Box One.

I’ve also got a fairly well rooted history with MMORPGs as well!  I played EverQuest for about 4 years, Final Fantasy XI for 1 year, World of Warcraft for 9 continuous, uninterrupted years, dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Final Fantasy XIV before finally moving currently into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

So there you have my background in Video Games, but what’s up with the title of this blog saying “& More” huh?  Well, I’m not just a gaming geek, I’m a well rounded geek/nerd!

At age 10, I picked up X-Men #1
https://i2.wp.com/static1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20091219024361/marveldatabase/images/c/c3/X-Men_Vol_2_1_Variant_C.jpg
So now I’ve been collecting comic books for 23 years.  I’ve focused on X-Men, but I’ve collected quite a few Uncanny X-Men, a full run of Wolverine, and full run of Amazing Spider-Man from its first relaunch/renumbering (later dropped for the standard numbering) along with a decent mix of other titles from Marvel, an occasional run in Batman, and some other publishers as well.  Currently, Superior Spider-Man (soon to again be Amazing Spider-Man) and IDW’s TMNT are my favorite monthly books and I’ve lost so much interest since Marvel Now!, my ongoing subscription to Wolverine and any X-Titles is really in question.

I also am a bit of an otaku, having started with Sci-Fi Channel airing what was then Saturday Anime, but often called Japanimation at the time with Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Project A-Ko, and one of my favorites to this day, Record of Lodoss War.

1673159-lodoss
Kind of surprising how well D&D works as an anime.

Over the years, I’ve continued to watch anime and have attended A-Kon in Dallas, TX for the last nine years with 2014 being my 10 year anniversary in attendance.  If I get any readers to this blog who love anime, don’t hesitate to e-mail suggestions to watch!  This anime interest has extended into a few series of manga, though I don’t tend to pick those up anymore simply due to the sheer volume of a series and the cost in keeping up with it.

My interest in anime has also led me to a financially semi-unhealthy interest in statues and figures, which weren’t so bad contained to anime, but got a bit insane expanding to the statue maquettes from Sideshow Collectibles of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Fellowship of the Ring (where’s Merry and Pippin, Sideshow?!)

I also enjoy a lot of different movies, TV series, animated series, and web series such as the Jace Hall Show and Felicia Day’s The Guild!

So that explains the “Games & More” so we’re all done!

Wait, what’s up with the whole “Ninja Fox” thing?  Well, to put it simply, I like foxes and I like ninja.  A friend of mine and I were developing a web comic that I’m now planning to move to a novel format and one of the main characters is based off Japanese kitsune myths and is admittedly one of my favorite characters in the series.  The character’s name is “Swift” (yes, that just might be a slight homage to this guy) and he’s a ninja and has fox ears and a tail.  On various forums and online games I’ll use NinjaFox, or SwiftNinjaFox as a handle.

So there you have it. A potentially unnecessarily long introduction to this blog.  I look forward to writing and sharing more thoughts, opinions, and perhaps a small helping of nonsense.

-Jeff “SwiftNinjaFox”