Tuesday, October 15, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge Quick Fire Round 2

30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 19: Picture of a Game Setting You Wish You Lived In

Sei-an City (Okami) - one of my all-time favorite videogame settings. The city was alive and filled with great, colorful characters. Minus the demons, I'd love to live in Sei-an City, as it looks like it would be a pleasant place to live.


  30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 20: Favorite Genre Fighting Games - I love a lot of genres, but fighting games are my favorite. The reason being that fighting games are the one genre that provides immediate satisfaction of gameplay. With other genres, there is always work to be had in order to get satisfaction out of it, especially RPGs, but with fighting games I just jump right into the fight and given all of the mechanics I'll ever have; there is no work, just pure satisfaction.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 21: Game With the Best Story 

Odin Sphere - a beautiful, sophisticated, well-written, Shakespearean epic. Except for Vanillaware's other incredible story, Grimgrimoire, no other video game story has gripped me and captured my imagination like Odin Sphere. The cutscenes were beautiful, the characters are amazing and multi-faceted, the music is beautiful and epic, and the composition and execution of the story is incredible. There are many great video game stories, but none have impressed me as much as Odin Sphere.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 22: A Game Sequel Which Disappointed You 

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 - I love Naruto Storm 2. It provided a videogame experience that was built upon visuals, music, and simple gameplay; and it all worked out superbly. For some reason, CC2 decided to remove a lot of the best elements of Storm 2 in Storm 3, and the result was a game that felt lifeless due to a severe lack of QTEs and boss battles. The end result was an unsatisfying game tat may have been pretty, but was really lacking in soul.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 23: Game You Think Had the Best Graphics/Art Style

Okami HD - Okami wins this award for both graphics and art style, but Okami HD is definitely the bigger winner, because, well, it's HD! Okami ... in HD! No contest.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 24: Favorite Classic Game 

Chrono Trigger - There are many classic games in my back catalog, but very few hold up as well as Chrono Trigger. It's as if the game simple cannot age. The graphics still look great, the music is still phenomenal, the gameplay is still amazing, and the story is still exciting and heart-warming. I don't think I will ever not love Chrono Trigger.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 25: A Game You Plan on Playing 

 Kirby Squeak Squad - one of the few Kirby games I never completed is one that I'm anxious to go back to. I originally thought that Squeak Squad was just another simple Kirby game, but it actually makes a lot of cool advancements to the classic Kirby formula that I'm eager to try out.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 26: Best Voice Acting 

Michelle Ruff as Velvet (Odin Sphere) - While voice acting isn't always the best in videogames, but sometimes you come across performances that are just amazing. Performances where you get lost in the character's voice and the character feels real. All of the voice acting in Odin Sphere is amazing, but Michelle Ruff's performance as Velvet is one of the stand-outs because of the range of emotions she presents throughout the story including rage, fear, embarrassment, and kindness. Runner-ups: Yuri Lowenthal as Advocat (Grimgrimoire), Liam O'Brian as Ingway (Odin Sphere), Reno Wilson as Sazh Katzroy (Final Fantasy XIII)


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 27: Most Epic Scene Ever 

 Final Shot against Jerghinga (The Wonderful 101) - This scene has great build-up and is just a fantastic QTE. Play it and love it. Runner-ups: Bayonetta head-butts a freakin' skyscraper (Bayonetta), Naruto's final punch against Tobi (Naruto Storm 3), Final Boss of Metal Slug 3, Final Boss of Dragon's Crown, Final Boss of Odin Sphere. 


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 28: Favorite Game Developer

Nintendo - at the present time, I'd say the developer who gets me the most excited with their releases is Vanillaware, but because Vanillaware doesn't have the uge cgame catalog of Nintendo, I went with the Big N. Now, of course, Nintendo has made many of the most incredible games of all time, and hold the most spots in my big all-time favorites list. Though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed in Nintendo lately, as they appear to be playing it quite safe as of late, which is resulting in some boring titles.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 29: A Game You Thought You Wouldn't Like but Ended Up Loving. 

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm - I don't like the manga/anime of Naruto, nor did I like the PS2 Naruto Ultimate Ninja games much, but I was increidbly impressed by the amazing graphics and music of Naruto Storm, as well as the unique and solid gameplay. I didn't think a game could really grip me with just graphics and music, but the Naruto Storm games have proven me wrong.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 30: Your Favorite Game of All Time 

Okami - Okami is a game that encompasses everything I love of about videogames, as well as showing me just what videogames are capable of. Incredible art direction, graphics, music, game design, and story. Okami is one of the rare games that is actually incredible in every aspect of game design, all while being charming, inviting, and satisfying. Very few games reach the caliber of Okami; Chrono Trigger is the "Okami" of the past, and Kid Icarus: Uprising is the "Okami" of the present. I hope that there will be many more games of this caliber in the future; hopefully from PlatinumGames.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge Quick Fire Round

So, I've fallen behind in these due to life taking up time, so here's a quickfire round where I'll answer 7 of these at once ...


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 11: Gaming System of Choice

Whatever Nintendo system is out at the time. I don't get if the question is gaming system of choice at the current time or of all time, so I'll just say that I prefer whatever Nintendo system is out at the time, as I always enjoy Nintendo games the most, as well as the developers they partner with. However, if the question asks what my preferred system of all time is, at the moment, I'd say the Nintendo Wii thanks to its great games and the Virtual Console.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 12: A Game Everyone Should Play

Chrono Trigger. This is a really hard question, as the term "everyone" is so broad and it's hard to pick a game for everyone. But, I decided on Chrono Trigger because it's a very accessible, fun, and high quality game. RPGs are often a very niche taste, as they often take a long time to get into and/or require a lot of tedious grinding and cutscenes for things to get rolling, but CT starts off beautifully and doesn't take long at all to get really interesting. Furthermore, the game is a hallmark of the videogame medium as fun and beautiful experience.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 13: A Game You've Played More than Five Time

Metal Slug 1-5. I love the Metal Slug series, and I will occasionally just pop in my Metal Slug Collection and play several straight-through at once. It's an arcade shooter that never gets old. If you wanted an answer that wasn't an arcade-style game, than that would be Vanquish, which, imo, is the modern spiritual successor to the Metal Slug series, even if it wasn't really meant to be.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 14: Current (or Most Recent) Gaming Wallpaper

New Team Gravity Project.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 15: Post a screenshot from the game you're playing right now

The Wonderful 101 - The amazing Orowchee boss fight!


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 16: Game with the Best Cutscenes

Devil May Cry 3. Incredibly cinematic, filled with little details, and passionately directed; the cutscenes of DMC3 are a sight to behold and definitely one of the game's biggest highlights. DMC3's cutscenes set the bar for videogame cinematics for me, and still hold a special place in my memory.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 17: Favorite Antagonist

King Valentine (Odin Sphere). I find it impressive when the antagonist of a fictional story can give me the shivers just from their very presence. In videogames, that antagonist is King Valentine from Odin Sphere. He was but a simple rotting skeleton who still spoke as a king, and yet, thanks to a powerful story and superb voice acting, King Valentine felt like the game's greatest menace, even when up against the towering Odin and the Queen of the Netherworld. A masterful villain.


30 Day Video Game Challenge Day 18: Favorite Protagonist

Zack Fair (Final Fantasy VII Complilation). I mentioned Zack before so I won't go into too much detail, but I will explain why I favor him over other protagonists. The simply answer is because he's such a nice, happy guy. Despite living in a rough environment, Zack always keeps a sincere smile on his face, not out of stupidity, but because he believes life is beautiful despite the problems he may face. He wants to fight for others and keep his pride while doing it. Zack was a breath of fresh air after dealing with so many conflicted protagonists in other videogames, especially when dealing with urban or steampunk settings. It's nice to see that Zack's spirited smile has lived on in characters like Zidance Tribal (FFIX) and Sora (Kingdom Hearts).

Friday, September 20, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 10 - Best Gameplay

Day 10: Best Gameplay

The Wonderful 101. This question is far too hard to answer with just one game, though, if I had to make the choice, I'd go with The Wonderful 101. Maybe it's because I'm playing the game intently right now, but 101 is really, really impressive in the gameplay department. 101 basically feels like the culmination of all of Hideki Kamiya's previous games' gameplay systems, and as a result, the game feels absolutely filled to the brim with content, creativity, and gameplay diversity. It's that gameplay diversity that really makes me love gameplay systems in games. Donkey Kong Country Returns, Yoshi's Island, Gravity Rush, Okami, Metroid: Other M, Metroid Prime, Dragon's Crown, and many more are other games that have great gameplay diversity and original ideas. Gameplay is the most important aspect of a video game, and it's always been something I really pay attention to and critique, so when a game has gameplay that really impresses me, it often becomes a favorite.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 9 - Saddest Video Game Scene

Day 9: Saddest Video Game Scene

The Death of Zack Fair (Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII). We all saw it coming, we all started Crisis Core knowing exactly how it would end; and yet, Zack's death is the saddest freakin' thing in videogames. The way the player continues to fight throughout his death is very impactful, and the way the roulette gameplay system was implemented into the scene is amazing. There is a lot I forget about Crisis Core, but I will never forget how great the character of Zack Fair was, and how emotional and impactful his death scene was.

Monday, September 16, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 8 - Best Video Game Soundtrack

Day 8: Best Video Game Soundtrack

Chrono Cross. I listen to videogame soundtracks all the time, even to videogames I've never played, so this question comes up a lot, and I always have the same answer: Yasunori Mitsuda's masterpiece: the Chrono Cross soundtrack. To me, no other soundtrack hits the mood, atmosphere, and emotion of its accompanying game as good at Chrono Cross' OST. The focus on Mediterranean instruments and music styles is beautiful to listen to, and the really emotional tracks hit the soul just right. On its own, Chrono Cross' OST is incredible, but accompanying the game, it's an amazing experience.

Runners-up: Okami OST, The World Ends With You OST, Odin Sphere OST, Final Fantasy IX OST.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 7 - Favorite Game Couple

Day 7: Favorite Game Couple

Lillet and Amoretta (Grimgrimoire). This was a very unexpected surprise when playing Grimgrimoire, especially since promotional artwork for the game hinted at the possibility of Lillet/Bartido happening. But instead, we got a well-developed, cute, and obscure pairing in the form of Lillet/Amoretta. Their relationship grew well over the course of the game, and while it could feel a little cheesy at times, it was always sincere and often cute. The pairing also deserves credit for being one of the few lesbian pairings in videogames.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 6 - Most Annoying Character

Day 6: Most Annoying Character

Tidus (Final Fantasy X). This was a battle between Tidus or Yuna from FFX, but I went with Tidus. My main problem with Tidus is how he never feels like a hero. He was meant to feel down-to-earth and relatable, but came across more as an annoying kid who had no business being in the game. A character can be down-to-earth and a likable hero, as shown by Tidus' predecessor Zidane, but Tidus never pulls it off. At least Tidus is a pretty good character in Dissidia.

Friday, September 13, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 5 - Game Character You're Most Like

Day 5: Game Character You're Most Like

Issun (Okami). I feel like I'm most like Issun because we're both slackers who would rather laze around and casually enjoy life than do "what we're supposed to do." However, when the time comes, we'll always accept our responsibilities and help out those who need it. We also both have a soft spot for the ladies.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 4 - Your Guilty Pleasure Game

Day 4: Your Guilty Pleasure Game

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. Videogames aren't all about graphics, but in the case of CyberConnect2's fighting games, I make an exception to this rule; especially Naruto Storm 2. While the gameplay os Storm 2 may be lacking in depth, the graphics and music come together so well that it makes the game an interactive anime, and I find it very satisfying. Many may criticize Storm 2 for simple gameplay and heavy use of QTEs, but due to its superb execution of graphics, music, and QTE cinematics, I find the game to be one of the best of it's console generation.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 3 - A Game That is Underrated

Day 3: A Game that is Underrated

Grimgrimoire. I stated how underrated I find Grimgrimoire many time in the past, and that still holds true today. Satisfying and deep RTS gameplay, a unique and beautiful presentation, and a superbly written and interesting story. Grigmrimoire should have been praised immensely for being a superb console RTS experience for both newcomers and veterans to the genre. The story alone deserves immense praise as it superbly written and original, as well as being a very mature story.

Runners-up: Metroid: Other M, Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 2 - Favorite Character

Day 2: Your Favorite Character

Kirby. He's my favorite due to his simplicity and potential. Kirby can literally be anything thanks to his power, which results in a highly customizable and fun experience in-game, but his ability also has a meta ability where his games can be any type of genre because Kirby can be anything. He's the most diverse character in videogames, and yet he's a simple and innocent character who's very liable and very, very cute.

Monday, September 9, 2013

30 Day Video Game Challenge: Day 1 - Very First Video Game

So, in an attempt to possibly discover more about my favorite videogames, I'm gonna do this "30 Day Challenge" thing I see so many doing. Though, I'll admit now, that I may not make one of these every day in a row due to scheduling, heh.


Day 1: Very First Video Game

Sonic the Hedgehog. This is a hard question to answer, but my very first memory of playing a game is the original Sonic the Hedgehog, which came with the Sega Genesis system, which was my very first game system. I was only 3 years old at the time, so I rarely got past the second level, heh. I remember when I beat Marble Zone very well, because I might as well have beaten the game then, heh.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vanillaware: Top 5 Games

So, this'll be the last post for Vanillaware Month. Dragon's Crown comes out in a little over a week, and I can't wait for it to take up a all of my time. 'Till then .......


5) Oboro Muramasa

Despite the fact that I enjoy the game, I have no problem admitting that Muramasa is Vanillaware's weakest game. The main reason being that the game didn't deliver in gameplay depth nor story; two areas that Vanillaware games often excel at. The game is still beautiful and has an amazing soundtrack, but it was really hard to "get into" Muramasa when I didn't care for the characters and the repetitive style of the gameplay stuck out quite a bit after a while. Still, I can cut Vanillaware some slack here, as the game had several development issues and the final product is simply a small piece of the game's original vision.

4) Grand Knights History

After playing Muramasa, I was really hoping for Vanillaware to make a traditional turn-based RPG; the main reason being that Vanillaware had really impressed me with how they took established genres and expanded upon their gameplay in interesting ways, and with GKH, I was not disappointed. The battle system Vanillaware crafted with GKH is interesting and deep, and when you combine that with the huge amount of customizable classes and online multiplayer, you get a game that never gets old in both single-player and multiplayer forms. All that on top of beautiful visuals and an amazing soundtrack make for a superb gameplay experience. The only problems I have with the game come from the fact that I don't understand Japanese, so I couldn't get the most out of the story and systems.

3) Princess Crown

Like GKH, Princess Crown never got an english release, and thus I couldn't get the most out of the story and systems of the game; regardless, PC is an experience to remember. The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is tense and very satisfying, and the story is interesting and surprisingly large in scope (I was able to find a translated story script that I read as I played). While several of PC's game systems would be further sharpened and expanded upon in Odin Sphere, Princess Crown still stands strongly on its own with some great unique features, the most prominent of which being its unique and satisfying battle system.

2) Grimgrimoire

Grimgrimoire is perhaps Vanillaware's best game in that it has virtually no flaws. The bets aspect of GG is its RTS gameplay, which is incredibly deep and satisfying while being very accessible for newcomers. The rest of the game is equally as impressive. The story is amazing and complemented by some truly amazing writing, the graphics and character designs are striking, beautiful, and presented very stylishly, and soundtrack is simple yet beautiful. Truly one of the greatest games I've ever played, and a clear result of what happens when a talented game developer makes what they want.

1) Odin Sphere

Truly Vanillaware's magum opus. An incredible combination of beautiful visuals, emotional orchestral soundtrack, epic Shakespearean story-telling, and a deep and satisfying action-rpg gameplay system. All of this coming together with an absolutely incredible execution. I've already said so much about Odin Sphere, so I won't drag on here. I will simply say that Odin Sphere is quite simply one of the most impressive games I've ever played, from story to gameplay design to visuals and music; Odin Sphere is an absolutely unforgettable experience.

Vanillaware Month: Top 5 Soundtracks

I was originally going to make a post on the "Top 5 Music Tracks" from Vanillaware games, but that was just turning out to be too difficult, so I decided to rank the OSTs instead.

With the exception of Princess Crown, all of Vanillaware's games' soundtracks have been composed and produced by the talented people at Basiscape, Hitoshi Sakamoto's music company. The reason for this is due to George Kamitani and Hitoshi Sakamoto being friends, thus their companies have developed a close relationship.

And with the background information done, let's begin with #5 ......


5) Princess Crown

Despite being composed by the talented Toshikazu Tanaka of Metal Slug fame, PC's soundtrack isn't all that impressive. It does a great job of setting a tone in the more tense story scenes, but the ambient and battle music leaves a lot to be desired.

4) Grimgrimoire

Grimgrimoire has a small soundtrack, but is one where each track is one to remember. Since Grimgrimoire plays out like a play, it makes sense that the music evokes specific emotions such as shock, intrigue, happiness, and fear. It all comes together very well in a beautiful soundtrack held back only by its small size.

3) Grand Knights History

Here's a soundtrack that has everything. There are calm, emotional pieces alongside many superb battle themes. It all comes together to form a very strong soundtrack that paints the picture of an epic war very well. With each country having their own specific theme, story scenes having various themes to match the tone, and many battle themes to complement the major battles throughout the game the soundtrack is huge and varied. The only problem with GKH's soundtrack is how its executed in the game, for the player doesn't hear many of the varied battle themes throughout the game, rather, the player mainly hears the main battle theme most of the time, which is a shame considering it's the weakest of the battle themes.

2) Oboro Muramasa

Muramasa's soundtrack is perhaps the game's greatest strength. The soundtrack is huge and is composed mainly of atmospheric and battle themes; the end result being a soundtrack of nothing but beautiful and thrilling music. This is all made better by the fact that the atmospheric and battle themes are basically one-in-the-same, as they go between each other in-game when going in and out of battle. The end result is a soundtrack that works both in-game and out-of-game. The music itself is an interesting and eclectic mix of traditional Japanese instruments and modern drums and electric guitars, and it all comes together very well without the modern instruments ever sounding "too much". A truly superb soundtrack.

1) Odin Sphere

Beautiful, intense, dynamic, and emotional; the Odin Sphere soundtrack is simply incredible. What gives Odin Sphere this #1 spot can only truly be understood by listening to it. The music for cutscenes are emotional and intense, the stage and hub music is ambient and atmospheric, and the battle music is intense. Not just the best soundtrack to come from Basiscape, but one of the greatest videogame soundtracks of all time.

Vanillaware Month: Top 5 Moments

5) Princess Crown Prologue

The prologue of Princess Crown is very impactful, as it sets the groundwork for Gradriel's adventure as well as creating a great character in Gradriel's mother in just a few minutes. Witnessing Gradriel's mother take charge of her troops and lead them on the front lines was extremely effective in both giving Gradriel's mother a strong presence throughout the story as well as showing how strong a female videogame character could be, something that Vanillaware would continue to show throughout their games.

4) Lillet's Confession (Grimgrimoire)

Grimgrimoire gets a lot of attention for its yuri relationship between Lillet and Amoretta, and I've got no problem with that at all (obviously). It was great to see a lesbian relationship build between the two character over the course of the story. And that's what I liked the most about Lillet and Amoretta's relationship, they didn't just fall in love, their feelings developed over a long period of time and went through a lot of hardship; something rarely seen in the common heterosexual relationships in most stories, especially videogames. So why is Lillet's confession such a big moment? Because it is the culmination of all the struggles and feelings Lillet and Amoretta had been through throughout her adventure. It was such a heartfelt and beautiful moment complemented by beautiful music and expressive emotions from Lillet.

3) Oswald's Death (Odin Sphere)

Oswald is a character who, up to this point in the story, has gone from being an imposing villain to an empathetic dark knight. He had devoted himself to one he believed to understand him, but when he is betrayed by the one person he put his hopes and heart into, he finds no other alternative than to simply let the Halja cut his soul and carry him to the underworld. This scene is very impactful, as it shows just how much Gwendolyn meant to Oswald, as well as providing a strong dose of tragedy to the story of Odin Sphere. The execution of the scene is very well executed as well, making great use of the "stage" that Odin Sphere is played on.

2) Lillet Defeats Grimlet (Grimgrimoire)

The impact of this moment is quite obvious: we have been following Lillet as she has fought demons, discovered secrets of the tower, made mistakes, and even found love; and all of it culminated in this moment, when she makes a contract with the menacing Grimlet and fools him to his death. It was a brilliantly cunning move from Lillet that I didn't see coming, and my reaction was the same as Advocat's: laughter at the simple sight of the menacing Grimlet being fooled by a young girl.

1) Final Chapter of Mercedes' Book (Odin Sphere)

The final chapter of Mercedes' story contains two pivotal moments: 1) Mercedes' speech to her troops and 2) Mercedes defeats Odin. Mercedes' speech is the perfect culmination of her coming-of-age story, as she is no longer timid or scared to fight; she has become the queen that her mother wanted her to be and the one both Ingway and Brom knew she could be. After leading her army to victory, Mercedes doesn't kill Odin; not out of mercy, but to make him live with the shame of losing everything and being confined to his kingdom. Mercedes' story was a great coming-of-age story, and it truly couldn't have ended better than her final chapter.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Favorite Character Designs Round 4

Juri (Street Fighter)

Juri is one of my favorite character designs of recent times, maybe because she's the first straight-forward evil female character in a long time, and Capcom nailed it with Juri. One of my favorite aspects of her design is how much movement there is to her design. Her hands are always open, her arms and legs are often in a pose, and her eyes are very, pardon the pun, eye-catching; all of this comes together to form a character whose entire body grabs attention.


Rouge the Bat (Sonic the Hedgehog)

Rouge the Bat is the Jessica Rabbit of the anthropomorphic character world. She is sexy, pure and simple. To the point where its awkward looking at her art; because, you know, she's a freakin' bat, heh. Still, I'm a fan of anthropomorphic characters, because I always like to see how artists combine animal traits with human traits in different ways to make a character, and the Sonic series has my favorite anthropomorphic designs, and Rouge is right at the top. A great combination of cute, sexy, and cool; Fujiko Mine had to be an inspiration here. Speaking of ....


Fujiko Mine (Lupin III)

THE quintessential sexy anime woman. Fujiko is perhaps the most influential woman in anime when it coems to being attractive and mysterious. And that's what was so much fun about her. I find Fujiko to be at her best in the classic anime series and the Castle of Cagliostro. Her sex appeal isn't obvious in her clothong but in her eyes and body language. She's just a perfect example of a femme-fattale. Something attempted in other designs, but can not be replicated. 


Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic the Hedgehog)

Sonic is cool. Really, really cool. How cool is he? Even through many sub-par entries in his game franchise, his games are still successful thanks to how cool he his. And I love this character design. Classic Sonic was great too, but I love Modern Sonic even more. His sleek design and long spikes are a natural evolution of his classic design, and the blue color scheme contrasted by his signature red shoes and white gloves are perfect. A near-perfect character design.


Onion Knight (Dissidia: Final Fantasy)

I love how beautiful and detailed this character design is. From the tuffs on his helmet and ornate sword to his cape and many accessories, OK's design is bursting with so much color and flash that his presence is immense despite his small size. Dissidia is a plethora of incredible character designs, but OK's really sytands out, which is really saying something. 


Exdeath (Dissidia: Final Fantasy)

Bascially exactly what I said for Onion Knight except even more so. Perhaps what is most impressive about Exdeath is his color scheme of light blue. Tetsuya Nomura manage to make the normally calming color of light blue into a regal menace. What I love the most about this character design is how it is a superb combination of beauty and power. A wonder of a design. 


Epyon (Gundam Wing)

Epyon was the first Gundam I saw where I thought right away: "Wow! That is cool!". I love everything about Epyon, from the beautiful color scheme to the menacing wings. I know that he is basically Wing Zero with a different color scheme, but Epyon's design just gives him such a stronger presence than Wing Zero, imo. 


Casshern (Casshern Sins)

I'm a huge fan of Yoshihiko Umakoshi's character design and animation style, and it is perhaps seen best here in this reboot of a classic series. Reimagining a classic character design is a big risk, but this design really puled it off. Casshern's design is so perfect for the type of action that takes place in Casshern Sins, and I love that about the design. This design is intense and powerful while still keeping the classic color scheme and symbol; its almost satisfyingly juxtaposing. A beautiful and intense character design. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vanillaware Month: Top 5 Antagonists

While the protagonists and their stories are the main focus of Vanillaware's stories, there are some great villains as well. Of course, as with the previous list, the majority of this list will contain characters from Vanillaware's most story heavy games.

And with that said, let's begin with #5 .....

5) King Onyx

In a different world, King Onyx could have been a playable protagonist in Odin Sphere. His story may be one of conquest, but more emotion begins to come out of his story as the tale of Odin Sphere goes on, and he is given two superb endings as a character. He falls to Mercedes in battle in the canon ending, and in one of Gwendolyn's bad endings, he is given one of the saddest ends to an antagonist I've ever seen. Onyx really stands out as a villain because while his stance as an antagonist is never put into question, the morality behind his actions are, as we wonder if a monster is truly capable of love.

4) Ingway

If there were one character in Odin Sphere who I wish was playable, it would be Ingway. Easily the most important side character in Odin Sphere, Ingway created a real presence for himself as an enigma. We see him act calm and cool throughout most of the game, but he still makes many risque and emotionally-driven decisions throughout the game, including becoming the Beast of Darkova himself. Ingway's character arc is one driven by love but ending in sadness. Odin Sphere is a tragic story, and Ingway may be the most tragic character in the story.

3) Grimlet (No art available)

Pure intimidation. Lillet meets Grimlet early on in Grimgrimoire, and his power is made completely obvious just by his appearance and powerful voice. Grimlet may not be the deepest character on this list, but he performs his role as a villain perfectly, as he is very intimidating and is easily set up as the "final boss" of the game. When Grimlet is vanquished, all will be good, but just how is Lillet going to defeat such a devil? Such is the driving question behind Grimgrimoire's story, and is lasts until the very end when Lillet actually manages to defeat a devil.

2) Advocat

Some of the best villains are those who you never truly know where they stand. Are they a friend or a foe? Can we ever truly know? Advocat is the quintessence of this type of villain. He freely admits to not truly caring what happens to others, and has no problem revealing himself as a devil. Advocat may be George Kamitani's best written character, as the questioning of Advocat's position in the battle against Grimlet and Calvaros is never truly clear. Simply put, he is an enigma to end, and we love him for it. Advocat's sheer likability is something to praise as well. There are many villains to be hated, but there are those rare ones to be loved as well.

1) King Valentine

Vile, tragic, and intimidating; that is King Valentine. A ghost of the past come to end the world, he is arguably the true villain of Odin Sphere. What makes King Valentine so impressive as a villain, is how despite the fact that he is simply a rotting corpse, he is incredibly intimidating and carries a huge presence with him. His very words cause Velvet to shake in fear and Ingway to lost his cool, and it is scenes like these that really give King Valentine an immense presence as an antagonist; so much so that his intimidation rubs off on the player, and when he makes his appearance, I become instantly intimidated, for I never knew what was going to happen. Nobody could harm this man, that was the strength of his presence, his power. Truly, the most evil and intimidating antagonist in a Vanillaware game yet.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vanillaware Month: Top 5 Protagonists

Vanillaware games tend to have stories that range from decent to incredible, and at the center of these stories are some really amazing characters. At first I was going to have a simple "Top 5 Characters" list, but I had a really hard time, so I decided to split the list between protagonists and antagonists. Even so, this list was pretty hard to make. Also, I'll just say now that this list is very Odin Sphere heavy, heh.

And with that said, let's start with #5 ...

5) Oswald

There's a lot to love about Oswald, but perhaps what is best about him is how much he breaks convention and expectation. From first glance, Oswald looks like he's going to be the "cool, bad-ass" character of the game, and yet he turns out to be a tragic story figure who has both bloody hands and a tender heart. You'd expect him to be more of an evil character, but he may be the most pure-hearted character in the game, as he simply wants to make his loved ones happy. The end result is a complicated character who fits right into the epic story of love and war that is Odin Sphere. Oswald should also wright a book on how men should treat women, as he is easily the best husband I've seen in a story (well, he ties with Hughes from FMA, heh).

4) Gwendolyn

A lot of what makes Oswald great also carries over to Gwendolyn, as she is a central figure in the story of love and war that is Odin Sphere; she, like Oswald, also breaks many expectations. Where many female protagonists in stories are (for some reason) rewarded for their foolhardy mistakes, Gwendolyn is punished for them. Gwendolyn's story is one of learning and suffering from her past in order to become strong and face her present. Gwendolyn's story is a personal one about duty and love; the type of story that has greatly devolved into pure crap nowadays, therefore, I give Kamitani immense credit and praise in writing such a great story arc for Gwendolyn.

3) Lillet Blan

When talking about coming-of-age stories, Lillet's story arc in Grimgrimoire is always the first to come to my mind. The sheer amount of events Lillet goes through is immense, and its satisfying to know that she learns from all of them, all while interacting with many key individuals. Throughout Grimgrimoire, Lillet suffers through the deaths of her friends and loved-ones, fights for her life against demons, learns about the harshness of the world, and even falls in love. It's such a great story, and it all revolves around this one character. Grimgrimoire has an amazing story, and Lillet is that story.

2) Mercedes

One of the hardest decisions in making this list was omitting Gradriel from Princess Crown; however, when thinking it over, Mercedes Gradriel's story arcs are very similar, as they are both young princesses who must take the throne of their respective kingdoms and become powerful leaders. However, I feel Mercedes' story arc carried the most weight between the two, for Mercedes was thrown into a war immediately after her mother's death and looked upon for guidance. Mercedes' story could have gone wrong in many ways, such as her becoming strong far too quickly or having others do the work for her, but the end result was a superb story arc that showed the realistic growth of a young princess into a powerful queen worthy of being a leader, and, eventually, the savior of the world.

1) Velvet

Velvet Valentine. I love it when a character takes a long time to explain the details of, and Velvet is truly one of those characters. A dark past tied to not one, but two kingdoms, a tragic relationship with her mother, a brother who both loves and counteracts her, and a ghost from her past that shakes her to the bone. There's a reason Velvet's story is the final book in Odin Sphere, as it easily carries the most weight of the story. And yet, Velvet carries this weight perfectly. I was hesitant going into Velvet's story at first, as I thought her story would simply focus on her relationship with Cornelius, but that wasn't the case at all. Instead, players were treated to a dark and complex tale of tragedy, fate, and hope. Velvet is my #1 Vanillaware protagonist because, imo, carries the most weight to her tale and does it perfectly with a powerful tale; truly the most powerful woman in Vanillaware, and considering this "Top 5" consisted of 4 female protagonists, that's really saying something.


As an extra note, George Kamitani definitely deserves some extra points for being able to write such fantastic female characters. Nothing about his writing ever feels fake or stereotypical when writing his characters, especially his female characters. Strong, well-written female characters are really hard to come by in any media form, and I really love seeing such great female characters come from Vanillaware games. Keep it up George!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vanillaware Month: Top 5 Character Designs

In celebration of the upcoming release of Dragon's Crown, I'm going to write several Vanillaware-related posts; mainly "Top 5" lists of several topics involving the Vanillaware games.

First up is a big one: character designs. Now, after making my choices for this list, I've realized that I have only one main hero(ine) on the list. I believe this is because the main characters in Vanillaware games tend to have a more simply design (well, simple by Vanillaware standards), while antagonists or side characters tend to have more intricate designs. The reasons for this is because antagonists have to be imposing, and thus need more detailed or exaggerated character designs; furthermore, these detailed designs don't need to be animated as much as the main playable characters, thus they can have such detailed designs.

Also, it goes without saying that choosing a "Top 5" for anything involving Vanillaware is pretty hard, and most are almost certainly going to disagree with my lists, heh.

And with that said, let's begin with #5 ...

5) Chartreuse Grande

Chartreuse's design shows how George Kamitani can really think outside of the box both in terms of design and story. Chartreuse's design just oozes "magic and mystery" and really sets the tone and setting well within Grimgrimoire. In a game full of amazing character designs, Chartreuse really stands out.

4) Necro Samantha (no official art available)

Necro Samantha is a tough character design to describe if you haven't played Princess Crown, so I won't go into it too much. I will say that Kamitani added a surprising amount of detail to her character design and sprite despite the fact that she only makes three appearances in the game. She is basically a zombie ninja. She darts around the screen and throws knives, and breaks into pieces only to form back together after getting hit. All of these crazy actions combined with her black, white, and red color scheme works very well visually. Necro Samantha also has a very strong presence, mainly due to her tall height and large breasts. In fact, Necro Samantha is, as far as I know, George Kamitani's first busty female character; and, imo, she remains one of his best. 

3) Elpharia

Nature is a big theme in nearly every Vanillaware game, and that theme is reflected in many character designs, but I find the Fairy Queen Elpharia's design to be the quintessence of Kamitani's nature-themed character designs. The shrubs located on her head and shoulders, her long, golden hair, her long, flowing dress, and, of course, her large and beautiful butterfly wings. Despite only using a few distinct colors, Elpharia's design really stands out with a strong presence. And, like with Necro Samantha, Elpharia's tall height and large breasts help give her a very strong presence. 

2) Odin

Here's a big one. Odin's character design is all about presence. His stature is extremely large, with his torso being much large than this legs, thus shifting focus to his upper body where the eyes are drown to his enormous arms and flowing cape. The wings on his shoulders and helmet, as well as his crown give off the presence of a king. And when Odin brandishes his psypher, the Balor, his presence and intimidation factor is doubled. Overall, a superbly executed character design that cannot be denied attention. 

1) Odette

Creative and striking, that is Odette. What I love the most about her design is how she visualizes her role in the story perfectly; she is the queen of the underworld in both title and in design. Her headdress is large and beautifully detailed, which accents her beautiful face. Going further, she has a very large bust and an extravagant, flowing dress. All of this being a ruse to take focus away from her arms, back, and neck, which are nothing but skeleton. This all makes for a creative mix of beauty and monstrous. And it is executed beautifully. Her lamp and moon just complete her picturesque design. 

When I think of Vanillaware, Odette is always one of the first things that pop into my head, for she is, imo, the most striking design from George Kamitani and the quintessence of his style. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Problems with Sex in Shonen and Seinen Manga/Anime

NOTE: Don't take this post too seriously. Though it isn't a joke.

I really don't like sex to be in shonen and seinin manga. Heck, I don't like it in pretty much all media that has a story to it, but for this post I'm going to focus on shonen and seinen manga. Also, since this is a pretty touchy subject, I'm going to try to keep this pretty concise.

So, here's my problem: I hate the way sex in used in shonen and seinen manga. And here are the reasons why:

My main problem comes from the fact that sex is always used to simply make a male character look more manly. Now, often this doesn't involve the main protagonist, but that doesn't change the fact that I hate when its done, as it is still a weak and stupid way to portray a man's "manliness". Sex determining "maniliess" is for the animal kingdom, not humans who have the ability to see the "cheapness" of the way sex is portrayed. One of the first examples of this I came across was in Eyeshield 21 with the character of Agon being introduced before the game between the Devil Bats and the Nagas; he's introduced on a bed getting dressed while a girl in a towel is cleaning up int he bathroom. Agon is also constantly portrayed flirting with many, many women throughout the series; all of them falling for him without a second thought. This leads to my second problem ....

Sex in shonen and seinen manga demeans women a great deal. Almost 100% of the time, we don't know who the woman/women are, and they are present simply for the male character to have sex with and nothing else; usually just getting tossed away right afterwards. It shows that the male character(s), as well as the mangaka, simple see the women as sex objects and nothing more. It comes across as childish and just a really weak way of telling a story; even if the tone of the story is dark. Even when a manga/anime's tone isn't dark, this type of action where women are basically seen as objects so a man can look more manly can be found in acts that aren't sex; most often, it's seen through the sexual harassment of female characters, often main female characters; this can be seen a lot in the manga/anime Fairy Tail and Rave Master.

On the subject of the women, this leads to the next point: sex in shonen and seinen manga/anime is never consensual. The woman is either being used by the man for sex, being raped, being forced into the act due to being a servant, or simply being a slut. All of these situations don't create any type of situation I would find necessary for a story or being good for character development. It's just smut, and smut's only place is in porn.

Now let's flip the coin, where we have extremely promiscuous women. The most recent that come to mind are Panty from "Panty & Stocking" and Zero from the soon-to-be-released "Drakenguard 3". These types of characters do nothing for story or character development; they are simply sluts. Why have such a character? To prove a point? With Zero, I can see the developers try to create a dark and depressing story for the character of Zero, but it will still feel unnecessary to me. And the reason for that is ...

Sex in shonen and seinen is unnecessary. Sex never brings about character development, even when dealing with adult characters or dark tones; it's always done simply to portray a male character as "manly" or a female character as "slutty", or create a dark tone or atmosphere. Such things can be done in much better ways through actual story telling and use of dialogue and actions, as shown by the many great manga which have no such elements of sex. As a result, I can only see the existence of sex in shonen and seinen manga to be for the factor of fanservice and smut; that's what it ultimately be viewed as, either that or simply to create a terrible feeling of dread in the reader/watcher, and if that was the case, there are far better ways of doing that.

And, I suppose that's where I end this. I realize this may sound hypocritical since I enjoy several fanservice series. But fanservice does not equal sex. To me, sex is a level that is reserved only for porn; it has no place in good story telling. Though, I will say that several series come close to crossing the line between fanservice and sex, such as the aforementioned Fairy Tail. Now, I realize this is a rather fickle subject to talk about, as I avoid series that have such sexual content, and there are far more series that don't have sexual content than one's that do. Perhaps that's why I get so worked up when I see such series, especially when they gain such popularity. Though I can see where the smut factor comes into place there.

::sigh::, I know, I know; this was a stupid post, but I've just been seeing too much smut lately. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm rewatching Nichijou.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Should "fun" be a requirement for videogames?

As I watch playthroughs of The Walking Dead and The Last of Us, the same thought keeps popping up in my head: why would I ever want to play this?

I thought about why I think this, and I believe it's because I don't see a shred of fun in either game. And this got me to thinking: should "fun" be a requirement for videogames?

Now, of course, there are videogames that have less-than-stellar game design that result in them no being very fun, but at least the developers intention was to have the game be fun. But, with the games: The Walking Dead and The Last of Us, they look, imo, to be made intentionally not to be fun. Now, this lack of fun is to drive home the horror experience and help deliver the heavy themes of the story home better; I understand this execution, and I also respect it, as both games deliver very impactful experiences. However, was it "wrong" for the developers to do so with a videogame? Well, according to every professional videogame critic on the internet: no, but here's my interpretation ...

Videogames are an artform, but they are a specific type of artform, just as movies, paintings, music, etc. are a specific type of artform. Each of them has specific factors that they must contain to be part of their artform; for example, paintings need a canvas, music needs sound, and movies need film (I know there are exceptions to this rule, like that silent orchestra thing, but bear with me). And videogames, at their core, are games that need to be played. Perhaps I am too narrow minded, but I feel that the concept of "play" directly coincides with "fun"; and thus, videogames should require some sort of fun factor. A factor I just don't see in The Walking Dead and The Last of Us. The reason being that both games directly go out of their way to make sure you understand how heavy the themes of the story are and that your actions should be taken seriously; whether it be seeing the consequences of your actions play out in often gruesome fashion in The Walking Dead, or Ellie's consistent disgusted reactions to Joel's killing of people; there is no "fun" element to be found.

Other videogames that go for the "visual experience" execution of gaming have similar ideas; such as how Yorda shrieks in fear when Ico gets hurt, or how Snake will throw up if he's killed a lot of soldiers in MGS4. But the difference between these games and The Walking Dead/The Last of Us, is that games like Ico, the MGS series, Odin Sphere, Journey, Shadow of the Colossus, and Killer7, is that, despite having an execution that drives home various heavy themes, they are still all very much videogames; as they have elements such as puzzles, combat mechanics, collecting, etc. Things that make them feel very much like videogames; things that give them a "fun factor". And while The Last of Us does have elements such as combat and collecting, they aren't present to neccessarily reward skill, but rather push the player to kill in a different manner; simply a means to an end to drive home the tone of the story.

So what does this all mean? Well, both The Walking Dead and The Last of Us have been not only universally praised, but hailed as new steps in gaming. And if I were to ask myself why these games were being praised as such, I'd think it was because of they'er lack in fun. Because, without that "fun factor" both games have achieved something else, something beyond simple gaming. I suppose I'd say they may have transcended the videogame artform and become something else. A fusion of videogame and film perhaps? A videogame that can actually criticize and judge on its own merits perhaps?

Whatever these two games accomplished, its impressive. However, was it worth it? Is it worth losing the factor of fun, the core essence of videogames, to become something greater?

This laid-back guy says "No!". I know I'm just a simple guy, so my opinion means close to nothing, but I'd just thought I'd put it out there. Videogames can be amazing experiences, but, at their core, there should always be some fun to be had. If not, then I feel that the videogame loses what makes videogames so unique.  An experience that brings us joy and entertainment through means that no other artform can provide: fun and immediate interaction.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Favorite Character Designs - Round 3

Oki (Okami)

Okami is full of amazing character designs accented by the superb art style. Oki is one of the more striking character designs in the game thanks to his color scheme, tall stature, and silver sword. His appearance just gives off the aura of a strong warrior, and that's why I love it.


Makoto (Street Fighter III: Third Strike)

Makoto is one of my favorite character designs from the Street Fighter series for two reasons: first, she is a perfect example of a striking yet simple design, as she wears a simple karate gi accented by her trademark yellow choker, and two, she actually looks like a real fighter. That's not to say other characters in the SF roster don't look like real fighters, by Makoto stands out as one of the few female characters in the series who isn't wearing bright colors or use sex appeal; she's just hear to fight, and her character design really speaks that.


Scratchmen Apoo (One Piece)

Man, I fell in love with this character design the second I saw this guy. He's got a chinese martial artist look to his clothing combined with a musical theme to his face, all on top of being a member of the long-armed tribe. All-in-all, Apoo is one of the most prominent examples of Eiichiro Oda's great skill at making unique characters. Just so much creativity in one character; I love it.


Baiken (Guilty Gear)

Baiken's character design has always stood out to me, even among the creatively designed cast of Guilty Gear. Like Sol Badguy, she just gives off an aura of "cool". Her pink color scheme also works to her advantage, as it contrasts with her violent attacks. However, in Japan, the color pink can be seen as the color of death, so that works out too.


Fran/Vieras (Final Fantasy XII/Ivalice Alliance)

I really like the Viera race in the Ivalice Alliance games of the Final Fantasy series, but for the sake of focus, I'll choose Fran. The rabbit ears, long hair, and tall, slender bodies give the Viera race an aura of beauty and grace. They are the resident amazon tribe of the Ivalice world, and that gives them a sense of mystery and the exotic. Speaking specifically of Fran, I love the design of her armor, as it looks like lingerie turned to armor, which has a cool sexy style to it.


Valentine (Skullgirls)

By all accounts, Valentine's character design shouldn't work. After all, she's just a busty ninja nurse with spiky anime hair. And yet, she's one of the coolest characters in the SG cast. Surprisingly, the fusion of ninja and nurse works very well together. Her surgical mask works like a ninja mask, the bone saw is her ninja sword, and her surgical outfit exposes the same amount of arm and leg that a kunoichi's outfit would (well, at least in other material with the same tone as SG). Also, both ninja and nurses are around blood and death in their professions, which leads to Valentine's blood theme. It all comes together superbly; I love it.


Hero/Heroine (Dragon Quest IV)

I love a lot of Toriyama's designs from the Dragon Quest series, and one of the ones that stands out the most to me is the Hero/Heroine design from DQIV. First off, green is my favorite color, so with green being the main color scheme of these characters really helps. I also love how big and detailed their hair is. And, finally, I love how battle-clad they are while still not looking like the typical knights seen throughout the DQ series.


Xianfei (The King of Fighters series)

An uncommon choice, especially from a series with such amazing character designs, but I've always liked something about Xianfei's character design. She has the chinese female fighter look to her, but she's also just so ... bright. Xianfei is always smiling, eating, or just showing enthusiasm, and that what I love about her. In fact, most of the female characters in the KOF series are always smiling, and that's what really gives them an approachable look and personality, and Xianfei's smile is the biggest in the series.


Aino Heart (Arcana Heart series)

It's the love theme. That's why I love Heart's character design. Her pink hair with one piece that forms into a heart has become a symbol of the series, and her coolest design piece: the red ribbon wrapped around her hand, which accents the fact that she mainly punches and puts a lot of passion into her punches. Her design is simple, but it works superbly because she is a rather simple character: a fighter for love.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The After-Effects of Watching the Gurren Laggan Movie

So, I watched the first Gurren Laggan movie, and I didn't like it, at all. Previous to me wathcing this movie, I had a generally positive opinion of Gurren Laggan. I had watched around 10 episodes of the anime, and seen some of the latter action in spurts, and my opinion then was: I may not like the characters, but the action is amazing, and this may be the best looking anime out there. However, after watching the first GL movie, I've come to realize some things about the series and the animation studio, as well as come to experience and appreciate other series.

First, I'll say what I think of GL and Gainax (specifically, director Hiroyuki Imaishi) after watching the movie. Basically, I have come to have almost zero interest in this series, and where I used to really appreciate and anticipate works from Gainax, and now Trigger, I know have much less appreciation, and, dare I say, respect for the studio. While a lot of this harsh criticism comes from how intense the fanboyism of this series is (including my own brother), most comes from the series content. First of all, and most importantly, the characters of GL are terrible, just terrible. Simon is boring and his story couldn't feel more by-the-books, Kamina is an unlikable idiot who may talk big, but rarely ever backs up his grand words with actions. Yoko might as well be named "Girl", as she does nothing but what a child would expect a girl to do in a manly story like GL, stand around, be sexy, and become the hero's girlfriend. Nia is only present to be a plot device as well as be a girlfriend for Simon. And the supporting cast is forgettable, however, I'd say a few of them are more likable than the main cast.

Now, the reason I bring up the characters is because they are the main reason for me not liking what everyone loves about GL: the over-the-top action. I've realized something after watching the GL movie, and that is that action, no matter how intense or "big", completely lacks impact if the characters behind those actions are terrible. And, I've come to realize that this is a big reason why I don't like any of Gainax's works, because I simply don't like the characters. And, well, that's that. There are other reasons I really didn't like GL, such as the poorly executed setting, poorly developed villains, and the over-excessiveness of "manly" visuals (I hate that Dai-Gurren's bow is basically a giant penis). But, honestly, its the poor characters that always stick out the most to me.

And, after I realized that, I'd come to another realization: the only reason I wanted to like GL so much, even after disliking it before, was because of all the hype around the anime, and the fact that it was in a genre I really liked and the animation style was unique. It was this pressure that made me feel like I had to like anime. And that's why I watched the GL movie. However, after watching the movie I came to many realizations:

1) Gurren Laggan is basically trying to be Getter Robo (the 90s OVAs to be specific), and failing hard at it. Getter Robo has much better characters, a much better realized setting, and the visual style has much more "oomph" thanks to the strong manga-like animation. The action in Getter Robo is also much better thanks to the great characters backing up that action. Still, I think it's a shame things turned out the way they did in GL, as Imaishi is a fan of Getter Robo, and GL was to be his homage to the series.

2) Gainax's animation isn't nearly as impressive as it once was; mainly due to the Getter Robo OVAs looking much better, and they were made long before GL. I will admit that the first 5-minute sequence of the GL movie was beautiful, and I wish the whole movie looked like that, but alas it didn't. And, that's another thing, I've noticed that GL really only looks good at certain parts, specifically, the action scenes, but other anime like Shin Getter Robo Armageddon, Nichijou, Madoka Magica, and Katanagatari look great throughout their entire lengths rather than at certain scenes. The bottom-line is that I gave Gainax far too much credit before. Their work can still be impressive at times, but its really not that impressive.

3) Gurren Laggan is a poor coming-of-age story. It even pales in comparison to FLCL, which was a decent coming-of-age story, even if it has far too much innuendo. However, I've experienced far, far superior coming-of-age stories before, specifically the manga Eyeshield 21, which I've been re-reading lately. After reading Eyehshield 21 again, I've come to realize how poor GL's writing is, and that if Gainax would stop trying to be so over-the-top and immature about their stories, they could actually tell some good ones.

All-in-all, watching the GL movie has come to make me appreciate what I had before, and that I really don't need to like Gurren Laggan despite what my friends, family, and the internet have to say. Because, I simply don't like it, for many reasons, and I have much, much better alternatives to GL, such as Getter Robo, Astro Boy, Eyeshield 21, and One Piece. Gainax used to hold a special place in my heart when it came to anime, despite me not really liking any of their series; it stood upon a pedestal that it could not be moved from, but no longer. And I'm happy about that, as it's allowed me to place other manga and anime upon that pedestal position it once held, and thus allowed me appreciate the strengths of other anime and manga, specifically, Shin Getter Robo Armageddon, which is a series that I really didn't appreciate enough.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Favorite Character Designs - Special Round: Men, Just Men.

So, after my previous post, this blog could use a little testosterone. So, here are some of my favorite male character designs:

Oswald (Odin Sphere)

"The Black Knight" is very romantic symbol in many stories. As far as I know, the concept of a "dark version" of a hero originated with the "Black Knight". However, sometimes the "Black Knight" is misunderstood, as most simply look at him at face value and fear him sue to his appearance, but rarely get to know about who the "Black Knight" actually is. Oswald is that "Black Knight", one who is both a monster and human, and his character design actually speaks that point very well.

Also, if there were ever a character I had a man-crush on, it's Oswald. Just listen to this line he spoke to Gwendolyn:

"I want… to see my reflection in your eyes. I want to hear… those soft lips speak my name. And if, for a moment… a smile lights your face, I will truly live. No one controls me now. From now on, I act on my own… for you."



Franky (One Piece)

In a series full of awesome character designs, its hard to pick just one, but when it came to raw impact, no other character design in One Piece made me smile like Franky's. He's just such an original character with a lot of crazy stuff going on, and yet, he can be pretty freakin' cool when he wants to. I just love every little detail about Franky's design.


Nofix (B. Ichi)

OK, it's actually hard to find a good pic of this guy without going into scans, and its also hard to describe how awesome this guy's design is for anyone who hasn't read B. Ichi, but, take my word for it, this guy's design is awesome and unique. His entire theme is spinning. This eyes are swirls, his necklace has a swirl, he's constantly moving his head in a twisting motion, and his special power revolves around spinning things really fast. In the end, Nofix's character design is so focused on one thing yet shown in so many ways that I just fell in love with his design.


Cars (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure)

Cars is perhaps the ultimate example of the male form in an artistic sense. His muscles, his poses, his posture, his hair; all of it just comes together so well, and it makes me feel like Joseph is fighting a Greek god whenever I see him.


Josuke Higashikata and Crazy Diamond (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure)

(image sourcehttp://josuke-higashikata.tumblr.com/)

Like with One Piece, it's hard to pick a favorite design out of so many great ones, but, in the case of Jojo, it isn't that hard for me, as Josuke and Crazy Diamond always stand out to me. I love the peace and love motif, as well as the elements of "power" seen in both of them, such as Josuke's trademark pompadour and Crazy Diamond's helmet and tubes. I can't wait to main these two in the upcoming Jojo's All-Star Battle game.


Date Masamune (Sengoku Basara)

There are a ton of great character designs in the Sengoku Basara series thanks to the great Makoto Tsuchibayashi. And Date Masamune is definitely one of my favorites. Why? Well, simple, he's really cool. The crescent moon helmet, the eye-patch, the six swords, and the blue color scheme. He's just ... cool.


K' (King of Fighters)

Same as Date Masamune.


Advocat (Grimgrimoire)

Demonic and yet composed. I'm a fan of villains who have a sense of style, composure, and are gentlemen. Advocat is such a villain, and yet he isn't a villain. He is simply evil by nature, and goes about life as he wishes. Advocat's design speaks volume about him, like many of George Kamitani's designs, and I love that about his design.


Emperor Palamecia (Dissidia: Final Fantasy)

Same as Advocat.


Thanatos (Persona 3 and P4A)

I'm actually not a big fan of the persona designs from throughout the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series, but Thanatos is a huge exception. I love this design. His jacket, his belt, the tombs which are used instead of a cape, and his awesome mask. I especially feel his design works to great effect in P4A where he is paired with Elizabeth; seeing him animated is a thing of beauty.


Nightmare (Soulcalibur II)

Honestly, I love all of Nightmare's designs from throughout the Soulcalibur serires, but SCII's stands out the most to me. Why? Well, going back to the "Black Knight" motif from before, Nightmare is basically the "Black Knight" who is every bit as evil as his appearance makes him look. The Soul Edge also just gives him an even more nightmarish (heh) appearance. It all comes together quite nicely in a truly imposing and legendary character design.