Posts Tagged ‘ Anime ’

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.”

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”