By Jason S. Yadao
After about a year or so of making do with an iPod Touch — a unit that I referred to as my “iPad Mini” — I recently finally broke down and treated myself to an iPad proper. Not an iPad 2, mind you … a regular ol’ iPad, hold the 3G please, Wi-Fi’s wi-fine with me. (Yes, I am cheap.)
Why splurge? It’s getting increasingly obvious that having some sort of tablet device is essential to covering the anime and manga industries properly as they slowly evolve to embrace digital media. There are quite a few anime/manga-related apps out there, and I’ve gathered a whole bunch of them over the past few weeks that I hope to discuss in this space in the future — iSeeToon’s ill-Fated Relationship, apps from Crunchyroll, Viz, Yen Press and ZQ Books and the digital version of Range Murata’s Like a Balance Life come to mind.
I would’ve even talked about at least one of those in depth today, too … if not for this Anime News Network story published today. For those of you who don’t feel like clicking through, the story talks about a trio of “AniPoke” apps released by Kadokawa Shoten, based on each of the central girls in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya — Haruhi, Mikuru and Yuki. The apps feature what’s been dubbed “Motion Portrait” technology, which give the characters a slightly 3-D look while still retaining their 2-D charm. Haruhi’s free, while Mikuru and Yuki have been discounted to 99 cents each (normally $3.99) through Aug. 31. They’re universal apps, meaning they’ll work on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad just iFine.
Those of you who have been reading this blog since the beginning know that I’m a hyuuuuuuge Haruhi fanboy. If you’re like me and love that series and its character designs like I do, you’ll probably go right ahead, drop $1.98 and pick up the entire set, no questions asked. The price is certainly conducive toward doing that, and there’s a certain charm with having the characters reading the current time, spouting random lines as you tap around on the screen (each one has 90 total), and even looking toward the point where you’re tapping.
For more casual fans who might be on the fence about such things — especially those who don’t understand a bit of Japanese — there may be one small barrier toward your full enjoyment of this app.
Indeed, all the instructions are in Japanese. So I’ll be darned if I can understand a single thing any of them are saying (aside from the time, of course). Also, I figured out through trial and error how to activate all those features that I noted above. You’ll also note that the App Store isn’t very helpful in recapping the feature set for people just browsing:
And while the ANN article mentions that it’s possible to carry on a limited “conversation” with the characters, I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that. Not that I really wanted to in the first place — that part just seemed a bit … creepy … to me, the type of thing reserved for crazed hard-core fans who “share meals” with their favorite anime characters by sitting at tables with a still image of a character’s face on a monitor sitting next to them.
Still, though, it’s an amusing little diversion. Get it now while it’s still cheap and you can justify the purchase to yourself.
From nemu*nemu to *nomnomnom*
Also popping up on the App Store recently was Sushi Star, a game where you’re given a moving conveyor belt and a bunch of ingredients that you’re tasked with flinging onto a line of moving rice balls. It’s incredibly addictive, worth every penny of its $1.99 price, and definitely a fun break in between sessions of Angry Birds (which may as well be installed on every electronic device manufactured going forward, considering everyone pretty much has it by now).
Ryan Ozawa over at Hawaii Blog did a great job talking about the making of Sushi Star, so I won’t go into that here. I will, however, highlight the reason I picked up the app. Yes, the gameplay ended up being great. Yes, I love the music, and the fact that the first level is a “Waikiki”-themed level. But the reason I plopped down my money soon after the app went live was … the pretty, pretty art by Audra Furuichi, she of nemu*nemu fame.
Because you have to love a sushi chef who has two pieces of maki sushi as hair ornaments.
Not since Angel Starr in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has rice product doubled as fashion statement so effectively. Go get it, folks.
Anime around town
>> MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.