Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy 13 is soon approaching. I am constantly amazed by the quality and effort put into these games - and this 13th edition looks like no exception. If Final Fantasy 12 taught us anything, the franchise can still succsseed and reach new heights, even without the departed talents like Nobuo Uematsu. This really does look like a really ambitious entry into the series - and I can only hope the story keeps up just as well with the revolutionary graphics.

Here's a big trailer of it. It's in Japanese, but the folks at www.gametrailers.com where nice enough to translate it for us. Click HERE for the American Dubbed Version as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nation X - Initial Impressions

I've rejoined the X-Men band wagon, even though I've been skeptical of Matt Fraction's work on the title. It's a fresh new introduction to the X-Men, now in a new and unique position of running their own independent island/state. Besides Genosha, which took a different and darker turn, Matt Fraction has said this is fresh territory. And he's right -- the X-Men are doing something more than just get a new home base, but are on the verge of making their own nation. Not a big nation, mind you. Remember, there are only suppose to be 199 mutants left on Earth, and half of them aren't living there or are dead. So it's more like a glorified hotel at this point.

I think Fraction is talking through Scott a lot - as Fraction has said that he doesn't know where this is exactly going to go. He can't go look for guidance in Essential X-Men TPBs. So when Scott says he's making this up as he goes - I think that's a perfect example of where this book is, floating mid-sea, without a concrete destination. That definitely will change, of course. Monthly comics force events to happen - and already I'm seeing some good possibilities. I like the idea of Danger being a Warden for the X-Men imprisoned enemies. And the upcoming Necrosia event looks good, and Magneto returning, which is good. In fact, Magneto returning seems long overdue. There have been a lot of time where Magnus has been rushed out to be the big epic-of-the-year too quickly and too soon, giving way to Magnetic-Fatigue. That's not happening here, as Magneto has been slowly built back up ever since loosing his powers, and his return is finally completing that journey.

Oh - one more thing. I read the semi-sequel to the Dark Avengers/X-Men crossover - Dark Reign: The List. Alan Davis does a great job on art. His characters are bright and crisp, which I always enjoy seeing. The story, sadly, was more about Namor than the X-Men. Norman Osborn, hurt by Namor and Emma's recent betrayal, released a sea monster to kill Namor's people. Turns out this monster is actually Namor's mutated X-Wife - which sort of came out of nowhere, but you find yourself shrugging and going along with it. Namor killed the monster and then gave this warning to Osborn "If I was willing to do this to her.. just imagine what I'm going to do to you." Osborn was grinning happily having prevoked this kind of response.

Anyway, a good one-shot story - though it had little to actually do with the X-Men.

So, I'll be sticking around to see what happens. Nation X has a lot of potential - but could also easily become a quagmire for writers and readers.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

X-Force and X-Men

I've decided to add two books to my comic pull-list. Uncanny X-Men, and X-Force. I have been, and am still, very skeptical of Matt Fraction's work on Uncanny X-Men - but I can't help but find myself caring for all these characters, no matter how badly they are written sometimes. Uncanny seems to be the lead X-Men book right now, and I am interested in this upcoming revival of Magneto. I guess in a way I got caught - I joined in for the Dark Avengers/X-Men Utopia story line, and now have been roped into caring for another book. I hope Fraction steps up his game and full fills on Magneto's return. At least that Female Hellfire club silliness is over and done with.

The other book I'm eyeing at is X-Force. See, I've been watching all the episodes I missed of X-Men Evolution on Disney XD. I really have found myself impressed with this series, despite being turned off during it's first season. The later seasons, 2 through 4, have simply rocked - with great episodes like when Mutants are revealed to the public, Magneto's curiously future X-Men filled team, and the epic rise of Apocalypse. If I had only known the series would be this good after that cringe inducing season finale of season 1, I might have stuck around to begin with.

Anyway - being impressed by the Evolution series, I began eyeing Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost's X-Force title. I had originally dismissed the series as another showcase for the already over-exposed Wolverine, but I'm now realizing the series is just an extension of his X-Men work. Plus I'm finding it nice to see older X-Men classics like Archangel, Bastion, Styfe, and Apocalypse in the series. I'm a continuity fan, so I love seeing these older plot threads being picked up again.

At the end of Dark Avengers/X-Men, the issue had a preview of an upcoming X-Force/New Mutants cross over called Necrosia. It featured Selene, the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. I hate that villain. I usually don't hate a lot of villains, but she's right up there along with Doctor Light and the Shadow King in my book of annoying villains. So, color me surprised that I found myself actually interested in this upcoming attack of her's against the X-Men. That's another reason I'm giving X-Force a chance. If they can write Selene in a way that actually doesn't annoy me, then this might be the perfect X-Book for me.

I'm going to put X-Force on my pull-list, but I'm going to see if the recent two issues "#17 and #18" are still available, as I'm walking into part 3 of a four part story arch. I've also been thinking about saving up for two X-Force TPBs, one with the first 6-issues of this Wolverine led team, and the other of the big Messiah War story arch.

I'm finally returning to the X-Men. I hope it's a fruitful reunion. So Matt Fraction - don't mess it up!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Colossus is a Father

I just recently got Essential X-Men Volume 8. I've been waiting a long time to read this volume, as I've never actually read any of the X-Men's adventures in the Australian Outback. So far I've finally read the first appearances of the Reavers, the Goblin Queen, and Genosha. All very cool adventures.

But I ran across something very interesting in X-Men Annual #12, where the X-Men and the High Evolutionary work to save the Savage Land. See, the Savage Land got decimated - and it seemed like no one survived. Turns out a group of the Fall People (Savage Land folk) survived in another Dimension. Time moved a bit more slowly there, so anyone in the other dimension was a bit older.

How does this connect to Colossus? See, on one of his early trips to the Savage Land he apparently had an encounter with one of the Young Ladies of the tribe. Now, out of this portal, that Young Lady has grown up a bit, and has a young child with her. The kid takes to pounding on Colossus, finding even his hair is metal. Colossus reconnects with her and talks. Colossus asks about the father of the kid. She says the father left a long time ago. It really seemed quite implicate - that this was Colossus' child, and she wasn't directly telling him. Colossus is either dense or very naive to not pick up on this and at least ask.

See, I had actually heard about this a long time ago - and didn't give it much credence. I figured it was just fan speculation, saying there was the possibility of the Colossus II. (They where especially saying this when he was dead) Anyway - I didn't pay much mind, because it seemed less than definitive. Until I read the actual issue, that is. Colossus very much does have a child! It's obvious! Why didn't something come of this plot thread? Well, Chris Claremont does weave a lot of plot threads - this one just didn't happen to go anywhere.

So, is Colossus a dead-beat father? Will he ever send child support payment to the Savage Land? Only time will tell.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bleach Memories of Nobody

I just saw Cartoon Network's premiere of the Bleach Movie: Memories of Nobody. It was a really sweet movie with a surprisingly epic scope. See, it must be hard constructing these types of movies - as they are essentially intruding a separate plot-line into an already on-going series. Being adapted by Manga, episodes of Bleach don't have many Ending Episodes, as one episode usually leads into the next. This causes some continuity errors - I for the life of me can't figure out where this story would fit. (The same can be said for all of the Dragon Ball Z movies, which simply gave up trying to squeeze in between seasons.)

Anyway, essentially these movies have to have a containable plot - with no long lasting repercussions on the regular series. So it becomes an easy plot device to introduce one-time characters and one-time villains, allowing the story to stand on it's own and not inferrer with the TV show. This movie introduces us to Senna - a mysterious young girl who Ichigo befriends and helps. It turns out she's a collection of memories of lost souls (called Blanks), and ultimately she has to disappear back into the void she came from - and fade from Ichigo's mind. I found it a very nice and sweet ending, and gave the movie a lot of depth. The movie makes you not want to forget Senna, even though the other characters do.

The scope of the film was also good - as a huge disaster is going to destroy both the World of the Living and the Soul Society. New elements are added to the concept of the Soul Society, and the Cycle of Rebirth. The idea of Blanks, Souls without memories, bought up a lot of memories of Kingdom Hearts 2, which had the concept of the Heartless and Nobodies, somewhat similar to Hollows and Blanks. The story begins to slowly involve many of the head Captains of the 13 Court Guard Squad - and eventually culminates in a huge battle.

What also struck me about this movie is how much better the Animation was. Anime series, while always spectacular to Western Audiences with their level of detail and animation - are still non the less restricted by cost. The difference can be seen between this movie and the regular series, as Japan is more deeply detailed - with backgrounds showing the glow of the street lights, the setting sun, the people moving about, and the increased movement of all the characters. It really was beautiful animation.

All in all it was a great showcase of everything Bleach is about. I still don't know where it would fit between seasons, but I'll definitely remember this movie.

Here the Japanese Trailer for the Bleach Movie

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kamen Rider Double First Episode

Kamen Rider Double
This image is labeled as coming from www.modxtoy.com

The first episode of Kamen Rider Double has appeared, and boy does it look cool. It's very much a stylized detective show, with solving cases being the main mission of the show. The two young detectives merge together to become a single Kamen Rider. With the stylized look of the show, this series looks to be a good change of pace to the Kamen Rider formula.

Here are some images of Double I've gotten together, and some videos, one of the Opening and the other showing the Double Belt Toy.

This image is labeled as coming from www.modxtoy.com

This image is labeled as coming from www.modxtoy.com

This image is labeled as coming from www.modxtoy.com

This image is labeled as coming from www.modxtoy.com

Here is a video of the Double Belt Toy

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Taste of Tea - Weird Stuff

Japan is notable for being the land of weird. I don't know how they got this reputation, but along with everything cool about Japan - there is equal amounts of pure crazy to go with it.

This movie, A Taste of Tea, is a prime example of, just, pure weirdness. The movie looks at the lives of several members of a family. The little daughter is plagued by a giant doppelganger of her self. The son, who probably has the most normal of problems, has troubles with girls. To help weird up that normal scenario, he hears about extremely bad experiences with women, and has a train come out of his forehead, symbolizing the girl he liked leaving.

The movie is very beautiful, but things go on far too long. I kept thinking "This is where the movie ends", but then there was another 10 minutes more, mostly involving a flower growing larger, from the surface of the Earth and into space and the cosmos.

I know there is a good movie in here. The quite scenes are exquisite - and if they had perhaps had a bit more grasp on reality, it might have made more sense. I still have no idea why the manga artist of the family was trying to say the wife was having an affair - only to get the stuffing beat out of him upon her return to the office. That's only one of the many unexplainable things that happen during the course of the film.

I got the trailer here, which should give you a better picture of what I'm talking about. I also included the Mountain Song - which the Manga Artist made for himself as a birthday present. It is annoying, and will melt your brain.

Here is the trailer for the movie


The Mountain Song

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kamen Rider The First

This image is labeled as coming from www.thai-toku.com

I mentioned in an earlier post about "Kamen Rider The First" being one of the few Kamen Rider movies ever released for American audiences. It was a great way to introduce Americans to the famous Rider - and since the movie was retelling the original Kamen Rider saga, new viewers would be less confused. The sequel to the movie, "Kamen Rider The Second" was sadly not released - but that shouldn't stop Rider fans from missing one of the few chances to legally see Kamen Rider in action.

While the movie condenses much of the plot of the original first Kamen Rider series, it does it well by giving us two people to focus on, Takeshi Hongo, who is kidnapped and brainwashed by the nefarious organization Shocker. Enhanced with cyborg powers and the abilities of a Grass Hopper, Hongo unknowingly does Shocker's bidding. In the course of events Hongo frees himself of this mind control, but is soon followed up by Kamen Rider 2, Hayato Ichimonji - who is ordered to kill their rogue agent. Eventually, even though enemies, both Riders team up to take down Shocker.

The special effects are well done, and performed in such a way that doesn't employ CGI. This sort of harkens back to the days of older style Tokusatsu effects, which had to be done with camera tricks.

The second movie furthers the adventure with Kamen Rider V3 introduced. I really hope some company takes the initiative and tries to release the Second film in the US as well.

Anyway, here are some images from Kamen Rider The First and Kamen Rider The Second.

This image is labeled as coming from www.thai-toku.com

This image is labeled as coming from www.thai-toku.com


Spider-Woman Motion Comic for Free

I found at www.bleedingcool.com that the first Motion Comic episode of Spider-Woman is being made available for free, but only for a limited time.

The episode is short, and I'm very much hoping for more when I buy the regular issue, but it's actually not bad. The voice acting works, and you do get absorbed into the plot even with still images. If only the Astonishing X-Men Motion Comic could be as good.

Anyway - check it out. It's supposedly only going to be available for a limited time. So watch it while you can. Here it is:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ratchet and Clank Suck

I really liked Ratchet and Clank. Their third game, on PS2, was great fun. Being a PS3 owner, I was excited to see the next installment of Ratchet and Clank in High Definition. The game was mediocre, really. The worst problem I had with the game was how dark thing where - the lighting simply was horrible. I know Insomniac Games is able to do Darkness well - because there are plenty of darkened corridors and levels in the Resistance Fall of Man. So I know they know how to make a game visibly viewable. But not with Ratchet and Clank.

Oh, but they do have an option to raise the lighting level - that helps, right? Nope - not all. See, while there is pitch black darkness in the shade, for example under some bushes, everything else is crisp and bright as can be. So raising the lighting level doesn't help - because it just makes the brighter parts of the game blindingly bright.

Another horrible problem the game suffered from was the voice volume level. I must not have the right sound set up or something - but it became increasingly hard to hear, let alone know, what characters where saying. And really, half the fun of the series is it's humor. Again - I know Insomniac games knows how to do sound volume right as well - because their much better series "Resistance" does it just fine.

Anyway - I wanted to enjoy this series so much, that I even gave the series a second try with "Quest for Booty" - the downloadable game off the PS3 network. My word - I cannot see ANYTHING! They literally have you stumbling around these piss poor pitch black caves where you are guaranteed to die - multiple times - just trying to figure out where to go. They have these annoying glowing creatures you can pick up - but they stop being helpful once you go in a direction where you have to drop them to proceed. I had to raise the lighting level on my actual TV set to even see anything. Wow - HD Graphic really SUCK when it looks like it's being projected through a grain filter.

I was just flabbergasted at how horrible the game is. It's not even that the game play elements aren't fun - they are - but they are just not fun when you don't know what the hell you're even doing! I just now tried to play it again, after a long time. It took awhile to remember how to use all the confusing new gadgets. Didn't help that the cave was so horribly dark. Then - THEN - to add insult to injury -- I come to a part where you have to walk a very narrow path over a large pit. One false step sends you plummeting down below. Simple enough to navigate, if you have patience, right? Well, you don't get the chance to take you time - because this pit has a swarm of bats flying all over just waiting to swarm and knock you off the path. But Ratchet has all sorts of wonderful weapons to take care of those bats, doesn't he? Not enough good ones - two weapons, the predator missiles and the Wasp Nest don't even detect these flying bats - making them useless. I tried the electric whip - no dice, all the bats get electrified, but not before shoving me down into the pit. Lava gun is too scattershot to hit the little buggers, and the only weapon that does work, your grenade bombs, aren't much help when you only have two available.

So, Ratchet and Clank 5 - I'm not falling for it again. The series has some superb gameplay - but I simply feel like a blind man playing these games. No more!

Japanese Spider-Man


Marvel.com has putting up their Animated TV series on-line to view for free. That's great and all - but what really caught my eye was the Japanese Live Action Spider-man. It's subbed and everything - You can see the episodes here: Japanese Spider-Man

A lot was changed to make Spider-man conform to other Japanese heroes like Ultraman and Kamen Rider. He doesn't face his regular cast of villains, but fights against the Iron Cross Empire lead by Doctor Monster. Spider-Man also gained his powers from a UFO, which gave him irradiated Spider-Blood. Oh, and he also had a giant robot. The robot was called Leopardon - and it just strikes me as so funny that the perpetually broke Spider-Man can afford a giant robot!

Apparently, this series had a big impact on Tokusatsu shows - as it popularized the idea of a giant robot battle in addition to the regular hero fighting. Battle Fever J, the first Super Sentai series to feature a giant robot, apparently resulted from the deal between Marvel and Toei. Just think about that for a second - as Spider-man, an American icon, helped revolutionize one of the cornerstones of Japanese Pop Culture. The Sentai series, using giant robots still to this day, over 30 years later - is perhaps thanks to Spider-Man in some small way.

While this isn't the Spider-man we're familiar with - the movement and action of Spider-man fits in the Tokusatsu genre perfectly. It simply looked incredible to see the character, in a realistic looking fabric suit, clinging to walls and crouching down in Spider-man's distinctive way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Astonishing X-Men Motion Comic


Marvel released a trailer for another Motion Comic - from Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run. I actually just read this run just awhile ago - and, jeez, the movement in this trailer looks silly compared to the actual comic. Granted, the story was never originally intended to be a Motion Comic - but it still looks horribly less impressive.

But what really annoys me about it is the weak voice acting! It would be awesome to hear the lines from Joss Whedon's run said aloud - just like on TV - but they got really crummy voice actors to do it. And what stopped them, really, from just getting the actors who play the voices from "Wolverine and the X-Men". Every single character-voice from Wolverine and X-Men would have been better than this - from Wolverine, Cyclops, Emma, Beast, Kitty. So, really, why the dumbed down voice cast for this Motion Comic? It doesn't make sense. At least print comics won't be going away anytime soon.

Here's a video of the trailer

Original Ultraman

I've decided to buy the upcoming release of Ultraman on DVD. To familiarize myself with what I'm getting into, I looked up on YouTube for some clips. For the 1960s - these are darn good effects. I now see what Ultraman is such a big hit in Japan.

Original Ultraman 初代ウルトラマン Shodai Urutoraman

Here are videos of Ultraman in action

Here is the next video

Scariest Videos I've Ever Seen!

About a week ago I was looking on Wikipedia, and was browsing through all the info they had on the various Disney movies. It was very interesting to see what type of movies succeeded or failed, and how World War 2 interupted the process a lot, as most of the artists where drafted into the army.

Anyway, I got to Aladdin, I saw about the Controversy Section. They mentioned this one where, because of a sound problem, some people thought Aladdin was saying some dirty. You really have to strain to hear it, but it's there. It was removed from later releases.

OK, see, I told my sister about this. She didn't believe me - and said she wanted to hear it. We actually had Aladdin recorded on TV, but I told her that version wouldn't have it. So I suggested we go to Youtube. We type in "Aladdin Message" to hear this mistake.

We got this following video, which illustrates the alleged comment. It's really nothing - it just sounds phonetically like what people claim they heard.

What my sister and I did not expect was at the very end of the video - SCARING THE HOLY HECK OUT OF US! It's one of those pop-up monster scare-jokes. My sister almost started crying and ran out of the room. (Mind you, she's 25 years old. She's not a little kid) It scared me too - I was just surprised I didn't drop the drink I was holding at the time.

I don't know what kind of sick twisted mind thought it would be funny to put that, secretly, at the end of a video - but it made laugh for a good long time after the initial scare. I was actually so pumped up by it, I went and found another video - that warned you you'll be scared - and indeed, no amount of preparation stopped me from leaning forward and getting another great fright.

Here are the videos I'm talking about.
WARNING: These videos WILL scare you! Do not watch them unless you're ready to be frightened. No young children or elderly should view these videos.

Aladdin Controvery Video (With Surprise Ending Fright) Warning: Do not turn up your volume, like they suggest.


Here's the other video of a Ghost Caught on Camera.