Archive for July, 2009

Vacation, all I ever wanted

July 31st, 2009
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Those of you who read Tuesday’s Cel Shaded know that I’m going on vacation and taking a week off from writing the column.  Well, that vacation starts today, and I’ll be diving into my stacks of unread manga, unwatched anime and unplayed games. You’ll be seeing the fruits of much of that labor here in the form of reviews in coming weeks — it’s nice to have work and leisure naturally blend like this, really –but here’s a look at some of my top priorities over the next nine days or so.

The manga roll

Black Jack (Vertical), 20th Century Boys, Hayate the Combat Butler, Love*Com, Nana, Oishinbo, Ouran High School Host Club, Pluto, Real, Slam Dunk, Yakitate!! Japan (Viz), School Rumble (Del Rey), Sgt. Frog (Tokyopop), Higurashi: When They Cry (Yen Press). The manga equivalent of old friends that you haven’t seen in a while but welcome back with open arms. In this case, these are the manga that I usually tear into immediately after I get the latest volumes … except I haven’t had time lately to do that. I’ll definitely be starting with everything I haven’t read yet in these series.

Faust (Del Rey). Ever heard of the Otaku Ohana feature “From the Pile,” in which we profile something at random from our large pile of yet-to-be-reviewed anime and manga? Of course you haven’t, because the first two features, on Faust and Amefurashi, are still sitting here in the “Recent Drafts” basket waiting to be finished. But to finish Faust, I have to finish reading Faust, and that’s going to take a bit of time. Particularly when you’re reading stories like Otaro Maijo’s “Drill Hole in My Brain,” the tale of a teen boy with a giant hole in his head, a girl with a horn, and their torrid affair, the end of which calls down Armageddon on the world. Literally.

Magic Touch vol. 1 (Viz). Discussed as one of the worst manga today at the Comic-Con International “best and worst manga” panel, I’ve been curious about whether it really lives down to the nega-hype that’s been building across the blogosphere. Having read parts of the book in what little spare time I’ve had so far, that answer would be “yes.”

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Yen Press). Because hey, at least it’s not another “Endless Eight” episode.

The anime roll

All of some of a small portion of FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS PURE AND HOLY ANY PORTION OF my Funimation review-copy backlog. One of the perks of being an anime reviewer is that I occasionally get “care packages” from Funimation with their newest releases. Since they’re the leading U.S. anime publisher by a comfortable margin at the moment, that means they’ve been faithfully churning out a healthy volume of content. The problem is when, like me, you get caught up in a pile of non-anime-related work and end up with this collection o’ schwag, which may or may not be everything I’ve received over the past few months:

I think I'm going to need several months' vacation to get through all these.

Where to begin, where to begin … well, there’s a good chance the Fullmetal Alchemist Premium OVA Collection will go first. Thirty-five minutes, yay! But it’s evident I’m going to have to clear out at least some of this backlog soon. Gunslinger Girl ~Il Teatrino~, Big Windup and Sgt. Frog are coming soon, after all.

The video game roll

Afro Samurai (Namco Bandai). Purchased for $15 on clearance at Target, yay! (Don’t bother looking; they were wiped out a long time ago.) Sure, it’s the same run-around-and-beat-up-enemies-causing-fountains-of-blood-to-spew mission-based gameplay we’ve played for years, but hey, Samuel L. Jackson voice! And given that there probably will never be a Snakes on a Plane: The Video Game, this is probably the best Jackson-voiced video game you’ll get. Dug the demo, looking forward to playing the full game.

Final Fantasy IX (Squaresoft). Sad but true story: The only games in the Final Fantasy series that I’ve ever finished are 7 and 8. The rest have been backlogged for several zillion years (except for 11 — I never was interested in the whole MMORPG thing). Not sure why I locked in on FF9 one night, but I feel compelled to play it now. And yes, I know, I probably ought to play FF6 eventually as well.  I figure I have a few more years and a few more vacations until FF13 comes out, right? (And perhaps in the interim, I can finally figure out just how in the world FF12′s battle system works, too.)

Dynasty Samurai Warriors Orochi Gundam Pizza Cats 5718971 (Koei). Because all the games blend together after awhile, but sometimes you just want to settle in for some pseudo-mindless hack-and-slashery with Chinese warriors or samurai or big horkin’ robots. Plus tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. keeps tweeting occasional quotes from Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2, and it’s made me quite curious about seeing them for myself.

Anyone have any other suggestions on what I should check out?

Still alive!

July 23rd, 2009
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Sorry for the nearly week-long silence here on the blog, folks … Wilma and I have been pretty busy these past few days. Despite appearances to the contrary, we also aren’t lost amid the sea of fanboys and fangirls making the pilgrimage to the holy city of San Diego for the madness that is Comic-Con. (Besides, the thought of large crowds, long lines and hotels sold out months in advance makes me think the best way to experience Comic-Con is while kicking back and relaxing while souls far more braver than we  Tweet, Twitpic and otherwise blog every last tidbit of juicy information into the ground.)

I just finished up a review of the Basilisk anime and manga — watch for that in the paper and online on Sunday (and by “Sunday,” I really do mean Sunday Sunday, not the ambiguous “Sunday” described in the ShonenSunday.com tagline “Manga starts on Sunday” that had some people thinking they were actually going to introduce new manga on Sundays) — and we certainly have a few upcoming blog entry ideas floating around in the hopper that we’ll start writing up and posting in the next few days. Here are a few things to keep you busy until then, which, coincidentally enough, could also serve as a preview of those future posts:

Free manga online. Speaking of Shonen Sunday, Viz formally launched its Web site earlier this week with a virtual pile of new manga to read. Rin-ne we already knew about, and Kekkaishi was a given considering the series’ merger into the new lineup. But Arata: The Legend, Hyde & Closer and Maoh: Juvenile Remix? Totally new. I’m looking forward to reading and learning more about those new series.

More free manga online. Busy week for Viz as they also kick their Signature Ikki portal into high gear; joining Children of the Sea this week is Bokurano: Ours, Dorohedoro, I’ll Give It My All … Tomorrow and Saturn Apartments, and next week Afterschool Charisma, House of Five Leaves, Kingyo Used Books and Tokyo Flow Chart join the manga party. If this keeps up, my virtual pile of manga to read will soon rival my actual pile of manga to read … which is really tall in its own right.

Even more free manga anime online. Honey & Clover, InuYasha and Nana, to be exact, now available on a Viz Hulu page near you. And if old Nickelodeon cartoons are more your style, here, have some Mysterious Cities of Gold.

This sneak peek at a post (hopefully) coming soon:

THE POWER OF THE SAILOR RING COMPELS THEE, GIRL! ... or something like that.

Thanks for your patience, everyone … regular programming will resume momentarily.

Workin’ for the weekend

July 17th, 2009
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Bunch of assorted notes and updates as we head into another weekend:

  • Thanks to what must have been encouraging box office numbers to Sony, Blood: The Last Vampire is living to see another weekend. Showtimes are available through Thursday locally … although you may want to read my review first. The thought came to me while talking to Wilma J. a few nights ago that you could get much of the same effect of watching the Blood live-action movie by watching the Blood anime on DVD, pausing every once in a while to pop in either Hero, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, or other assorted wire-fu movies and fast-forwarding to the action sequences.
  • OMG … so what came? While guesses ranged anywhere from the formal introduction of Funimation’s ShoDojo to something related to Strawberry 100% main character Tojo Aya the answer turned out to be a bunch of crazy shrine maidens. Kannagi, to be exact, is heading over to the Bandai camp … and cloggin’ yer Intertubez, to boot. Visit Anime News Network for your online fix, or, if you’re more a physical-media traditionalist, buy volume 1 (of two) from Right Stuf or Amazon Marketplace.
  • The great debate over the Twilight manga/manhwa continues unabated, with factions splitting rather predictably. In case you haven’t weighed in on my poll yet (the bunnies are still beating out the hard-core fans!), it’s still available right here. But now About.com manga guide/Bento Box artist/kamaaina/all-around cool person Deb Aoki has her own Twilight poll cooking … and the way it’s trending is how I’d expect it to go, really. Go vote and make your voice heard over there, too.
  • Finally, as a reminder, looks like this weekend’s going to be another busy one for fans locally, what with Oahu Anime Explorer’s cosplay contest as part of the All-Collectors Show and Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga of nemu*nemu signing copies of their latest book at Borders Ward Centre. This is a bit last-minute, but I’ll be visiting OAX at the collectors show tonight and possibly hanging out there for a little while, so stop by and say hi if you go.

Have a good weekend, everyone. And in case you’re wondering: Yes, I was thinking of this song when I wrote this post’s title.