The manga section, whether it’s at the book store, comic shop, library, or from a convention vendor, it could be described as big and confusing. You’ve got the big name manga series that all have equally huge anime behind them proudly displayed for the mass consumers (despite that I love the otaku community for its uniqueness I can’t deny its classification as a consumer base, and a very profitable one at that). From that point on you see an avalanche of less popular manga featuring moe girls, generic romance mangas, and typical action infused junk that seem to be just flashing sword trails clashing against one another. Looking upon this black and white confusion that screams for attention with every cover I’ve wondered what happened to drawing comics just for the sake of drawing comics. My love for the standard manga is often at odds with my desire for comics with their own distinct style. It seems that Japan’s comic scene as a whole is artistically becoming stale to the point you can’t tell the difference between one mangaka and the next.
With that in mind I’ll talk today about a manga that just doesn’t give a damn about looking pretty or cool and tosses aside the “manga” mold to stay true as a great manga. I’m talking about none other than the extremely underrated and painfully obscure Cromartie High School series. Full name Forging Valiently Ahead!! Cromartie High School.
I need to start with, holly damn, I LOVE this manga.
The story is about an intelligent and capable student (Takashi Kamiyama) who enrolled at Cromartie High School to stay with his only friend back in middle school, only to find himself alone because his friend was too stupid to pass the entrance exam an ape did. Hence he finds himself in this school full of “badasses” and accidentally becomes their leader. As the manga ensues, the story seems to become less and less about Takashi and more about the other members of the strange student body which include a robot called Mechazawa, some old guy that looks like Freddy Mercury, a gorilla, a badass who suffers from car sickness, and a rich guy with a purpose.
When you’re reading a manga from someone who doesn’t even know why he became a mangaka in the first place you never know what to expect. Cromartie High School is 100% comedy, and a perfect fit for anyone beginning to read manga without knowing about some in-jokes only experienced readers can get. Cromartie High School had an anime and live action movie made about it, but I absolutely urge everyone to read the manga first. The anime stopped at a certain point while the manga kept going, and I believe reading it first enriches the viewing experience. Below is a clip I believe perfectly captures the atmosphere of the series and definitely makes people want to see more.
Internet Explorer has experienced a decline in use and appreciation as more and more people started to use faster and more powerful browsers like Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Internet Explorer, with its 10th version up and running, is confident in its ability to provide a “fluid” way to surf the Internet and recover some of its former users and perhaps some more. To capture anime fans who tend to use the web a lot Windows has adopted an antropomorphic moe character created by independent art and doujin creator Collateral Damage Studios called Inori Aizawa. CDS not only created a design for her, but a backstory. Inori used to be an awkward nerdy gal who messed up a lot and despite keeping some of that former awkwardness (so moe) is now a pretty and confident girl. She made a grand opening at this year’s Anime Festival Asia with this video.
To complete the package Internet Explorer has created an Inori Aizawa version of its browser. Will this marketing strategy work in their favor? Only time will tell, but so far it seems she’s doing well with over 30K likes on her official Facebook page. I like her design a lot, and find her to be a huge improvement over IE’s old mascot for Internet Explorer 8.
With a design this cool let’s hope she gets a proper figure.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I’ve had a strange crush on Akuma from the moment I laid eyes on him, at the tender age of sixteen. So I will do my best to give you a reasonable review instead of fan-girling all over the place.
Street Fighter Origins: Akuma is Udon’s first ever book-length graphic novel, which tells the origin story of the Street Fighter character Akuma. At 128 pages, the hardcover retails for $34.95, while the digital copy is $19.99.
I loved the story, and I have to say I was presently surprised with the writing. It’s almost prose at times, and, although most people know the basic outline of Akuma’s story, the graphic novel brings its own flavor to what we know and fills out the lore. The foreshadowing is excellent, and I loved the cyclical nature of the story.
Street Fighter Origins: Akuma is a gorgeous book. The art is lush, and I think they picked the perfect medium to tell Akuma’s story. The color palette is in harmony with the Street Fighter series, and I enjoyed watching Akuma’s gradual change into the badass monster.
Along with the story itself, there is a bit of art and explanation in the back, though not as much special content as I’ve normally seen in compilations.
“He is the world’s most feared martial artist, mentioned only in whispers. Few have dared to challenge him, and even fewer have survived to speak of the nightmare. He is Akuma – Master of the Fist, wielder of the Dark Hado. But he was not always trapped on the path of chaos. Street Fighter Origins: Akuma reveals the secrets of this dark figure’s past for the first time, and shows how a frustrated young man grew into a mad demon.”
Front Cover Art:
Joe Ng (pencils) and Gonzalo Ordonez Arias (colors)
Back Cover Art:
Joe Ng (pencils) and Espen Grundetjern (colors)
Going out on a limb here, but if you had mentioned to that small collective of dedicated fans in State College, PA, who gathered on a nondescript weekend in 1994, that their meet-up of anime fans would one day go on to be the second largest anime convention event in the United States, they probably would have looked at you funny, laughed and added “maybe in our dreams,” before running off to watch some tapes or “talk shop.”
And yet, 20 conventions later, that is the truth of Otakon- the largest anime convention on the East coast, and gathering ground for all sorts of otaku, geeks, nerds, Japanophiles, hangers-on, confused parents, and anyone who appreciates either anime, fandom, or both.
Now I’ve been knew to this “game.” My first Otakon was in 2009, and it held a sort of mystery to me. I had heard of it time and again from friends online, but had no idea where it was, and little interest to attend. When I finally did cross through those doors and into the massive space that is the Baltimore Convention Center, I was immediately overwhelmed by what I had stepped into. It took me three years to finally “get it right.” And then two more thrown in “for good measure,” because as much as crowds might unnerve me at times, the prospect of friends and fellowship entices me more.
Blame it on my “history” of attending smaller conventions, but that was really where my fandom gestated. Cons like Otakon differ from smaller fare, and the dynamics of the smaller cons are less about big-name guests and announcements, and more about getting to know your fellow fans. I spent the majority of my congoing life at those events (and I frequently cite Hampton, VA’s Nekocon as the standard by which I formed my congoer identity), and was generally accustomed to the “simpler things”- meet friends, hang in hallway, grab some food, repeat until Monday. Otakon is not that convention, and hasn’t been for over 15 years. While those types of interactions are definitely a part of the Otakon experience, more of it can best be summed up as “brave crowd-stand in line-see event- repeat until Monday.”
Read reviews for Otakon 20, and you will read a lot about lines. Lines were the order of this convention (so much that one writer quipped that “lines are part of the real Otakon experience.” True, if that’s the experience you seek). A stark departure from the smaller events where lines seem to only exist outside 18+ content, or in front of autograph tables as anxious attendees wait for a chance to meet their idols. Lines for autographs are definitely long at Otakon. Lines for concert tickets equally so. Lines for the Dealer’s Room, lines for the panel rooms…I know plenty of bloggers and attendees who spent upwards of 7 hours standing in line.
But not me. Like Eric Cartman, I hate lines. And I usually find that what waits at the end isn’t worth the loss of time “better” spent wandering, chatting, or resting my aching body. My Otakon 20 wasn’t about getting to meet Shinichiro Watanabe (though I did, briefly). It wasn’t about snagging that coveted Sunday Concert Pass for Yoko Kanno (though I did, indirectly). It wasn’t even about attending the premieres for Oriemo 2 and Wolf Children (the former I had no interest in, the latter I had seen already).
For me, Otakon 20 was much like Otakons 18 and 19- I was there to experience the weekend as a whole, not the individual parts. I wanted to see the crowds, talk to the fans, tag up my StreetPass, and maybe decompress in the Harbor when the stimulus became too much. I wanted my “stage” to present content, then vanish for hours with friends while we people-watched and drank copious amounts of coffee. That has been my Otakon experience ever since 2011, and for me, it works.
On that level, Otakon 20 was a rousing success. Maybe not as over-the-top awesome as last year’s event, but still a successful weekend all around. They’ve been getter better, as well, since my first “road show” in 2009- part of that revolves around better programming and guest options, part around me knowing what the hell I’m doing- but as each convention passes by, I “get” it more and more.
Since I elected to eschew the lines and made it to exactly one panel that wasn’t one of mine, I can’t rightly call this exposition a review. One of the downsides to the way I experience Otakon is that I see very little of the “con,” but a whole lot of the convention space and community. On that front, I have little comments that I haven’t said before- Otakon is a frenetic mass of controlled chaos, kept in check my beleaguered volunteers who sometimes find themselves in over their heads, not unlike the attendees themselves.
Were their line management problems? Definitely. I witnessed line cuts a few times, and lines set up in the wrong places, but mostly as I passed them by on one of my “walks.” Were their rude staffers? I’d find it hard to believe there weren’t any, given the size and stress of the weekend, though I never bumped into any. Were there memes? Yes, moreso than the last two years, but nowhere near as annoying as 2009. (And one of them- a crowd of people constantly singing “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from the Mulan soundtrack- were less annoying than quirky. At least they were being “productive” with their hall karaoke.)
Again, nothing I haven’t seen before, and nothing unexpected given the size and scope of Otakon itself. (Although the incident with the bubble bath in the fountain was something entirely new.)
The community this year was surprising- more and more anime-centric cosplay (especially from breakout hits Free! and Attack on Titan), less visible non-anime stalwarts (like Homestuck, MLP and Doctor Who), and a healthy amount of discussion centered around the 2013 anime crop, and how “awesome it is.” One of my early Friday panels- We Con, Therefore We Are, a critical look at convention culture and otakudom, co-hosted by the indomitable Daryl Surat of Anime World Order, and Doug Wilder of AnimeconsTV- exceeded my meager expectations by leaps and bounds: I hoped for 40-50 people, I got almost 1000, and none of them were there to “troll”, only discuss and debate. Which they did, all weekend, as people kept stopping me to comment on how thought-provoking and insightful the panel was. I had intended to present my observations and research from the past five years of activity in the community, and was surprised at how many other long-term members of the same community were coming to the same conclusions, and how their general opinion of the situation wasn’t too different from my own.
Community. Yes, it always comes back to community. Because, when it comes down to it, community is why Otakon has grown by such leaps and bounds, and community is why the convention culture is so strong, fragmented as it might appear. Time and again, I will insist that community is what is driving the attendees to devote such time to their “hobby,” and through the community are their devotions validated. You see it in the smaller, more intimate cons, that thrive off their core of attendees who pop up every year to support their local fandom. You see it in the massive throngs at Anime Boston and Katsucon, who pack the halls of large convention spaces with cosplay and conversation. You see it at Otakon, where these other groups converge for a single showing of support and “insanity,” for who else would choose to brave those crowded halls, if not the “crazy ones?”
On Saturday night, I (alongside friends Kit and Haru) was sitting in Harbor East, having dinner with voice actor and theologian Crispin Freeman. At this “oasis” maybe a mile from the BCC, there were no cosplayers, or congoers of any type, and the lightly packed dining room of the pub we had selected was soon the site of a conversation between the four of us about how the community had changed. Crispin had been part of the convention community since almost the beginning. He remembered how those early cons had been very anime-centric, and the fans hungry for more information. As a media/industry guest, he also had been somewhat insulated to the shift from anime-culture to community-culture that had been so dramatic in the past 4 years. He had not seen the subtle (and not-so-subtle) shifts that altered the dynamic and motivations of the attendees as a whole. As we sat there, talking about Convergence theory and the changing times, it made me ask myself a question- one that really has no solid answer, only observations.
Has Otakon exceeded its intended scope? What is the point of the con now, as the motivations and practices of a new generation of fans have overtaken older concepts? Has Otakon, still a bastion of Japanese media and culture appreciation, evolved?
I would think so. It’s become something more than just a fan convention- its become a destination all its own. It’s been that way for years now- all roads (at least on the East Coast) do lead to Otakon, that special pilgrimage that needs to be experienced at least once. Overwhelming or not, it’s a rite of passage all its own, but one of those rites that has the potential to pull in as many people as possible, and keep them there. New fans or old-timers, it’s still living up to its mission statement, and managing to accommodate all the needs of every fan who walks through the doors- from the staunch Japanophile to the artist and creative, to the confused teenager who’s wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into. Otakon is, and always will be, a place for every fan, everywhere.
There are not a lot of special product for straight otaku girls out there. And just what do I mean by that? I’m mostly talking about the shortage of body pillows, wall scrolls, sexy figures, and many other similar products featuring attractive male characters. Do a search for “pillow” on a reputable website and the amazing majority in that department is female characters. So once I saw this nice reasonably priced official body pillow I had to get my mitts on it immediately instead of risking the possibility of having it sold it. For $24.99 I can’t complain about what I got.
The only description of the body pillow was just 70 cm so I knew it wouldn’t be the type of body pillow you could give a full body embrace to but at least provides someone to hug on lonely nights. Any other detail about the pillow was left out, which is where I come in. The listing looked like this, and I was super excited because the unbearably attractive bodyguard, Soshi Metsukami, from one of my new favorite shows Inu X Boku Secret Service had his very own pillow, despite the fact THERE ISN’T AN ACCURATE FIGURE OF HIM YET (as a figure collector I hate that the show has no figure replicas of their male leads whom are all attractive) at least I can now have a body pillow of him.
I suffered over ten days of agony waiting for him to arrive and was quite excited when I got him. The pillow has no packaging and was put in a clear bag for convenience so the first thing I saw was the side the listing didn’t show, I was hoping maybe a full body shot of him like with Ririchiyo would be there but it was just a plain purple side. I like to call those sides “3D sensors.”
But now to the interesting side, it does look much better in real life. The quality of the printing is of high caliber and, dare I say, the colors are vivid and makes Soshi look like he came straight out of the anime (or manga, whatever). I love the checkered background which makes it stand out from other pillows and Soshi’s nine-tailed fox manifestation in the background is a nice touch.
The most neat thing about this body pillow is that it comes as a pillow and it is not just a cover. This makes it a great deal because typically pillow covers are sold separately from the pillow itself. These are quite costly, and having to buy the pillow gives another hit in the wallet. I’d say typically $100 at least for both of them.
The pillow is 100% polyester which brings me to my only complain, it isn’t what I would call soft. However it’s still feels good enough to sleep with.
An authentic pillow has this label and tag with a sticker from Aniplex.
I hope this doesn’t become pirated as it is a reasonably priced official good. Usually my product reviews stop at this point, but this product can only be found in one place from my research, so here is the link.
As more products fangirls can enjoy are released, I’ll try to cover the most I can. Just remember this, support the industry and show them you want this merchandise by buying it and they will deliver.
*Volunteer Positions* While evaluating the state of the Gaming Journalism scene, I noticed that we at Real Otaku Gamer has a unique approach when covering geek/otaku culture. As the site gets restructured and we go into our 3rd year, we are looking to create opportunities that will help the site become more robust and varied with coverage. Real Otaku Gamer has a global vision, we accept writers from all over the world.
These new job positions are going to help Real Otaku Gamer become more organized and develop a bigger community so we can grow as a brand. These positions are volunteer only as we are a small site. As we grow so will the sponsors and hopefully revenue.
IF HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE POSITIONS, Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
These New Positions are as follows:
1. Community Manager: You will be taking care of the daily running of the site. You will work along side the Editor in Chief and other Admins on the site with promoting the site and helping build a brand. You must have good communication skills.
2.Marketing and PR: You will be responsible for all Public Relations with companies and the community. You must have good communication skills and be able to relate to people of a number of levels. You will also run contests and giveaways.
3.Managing Editor: You will work closely with all staff to make sure the posts we produce, are up to our standards.
4.Social Media Manager: You will be in charge of growing our social networking presence. You will be working close to the senior staff.
5. Assistant to Editor in Chief: You will assist the E.I.C. in the daily running of the site.
6.Advertising and Promotion: contact us for more details.
7.Art Director: contact us for more details.
8.Podcast Producer/Editor: contact us for more details.
9.Video Producer/Editor :contact us for more details.
Now, the next few positions are for the Real Otaku Gamer Specialists. These positions are dedicated for people who want to cover a specific genre/category. This is where your inner Otaku can really shine.
11. Asian Cinema
13.Toys/models and Merchandise
15.Cosplay and Cosplay Culture
To apply for these positions, you must first submit a writing sample and once the sample is approved, submit an small essay telling us why we should pick you for the job you are interested in. An essay is not necessary for all positions. Deadline to have the samples submitted is May 20th, 2013. We must have all essays in my May 17th. Send the Essays and Samples to email@example.com.
If you have any questions about any of the positions and their responsibilities, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Twitter and Facebook pages. Thanks you for your time.
Capcom wanted to reboot the Devil May Cry games to bring in new life and a new crowd into Dante’s universe. Sarah, who hasn’t played all the way through any of the previous DMC games, enjoyed this game as a newcomer. I, on the other hand, played all of the other games and really enjoyed the series. I must admit, I was one of those people who threw a temper tantrum when I heard about the reboot and saw the new Dante. But I wanted to give this game a fair shake, so how does DMC hold up to a fan of the original? It has its ups and downs, but overall it’s a solid game that original fans should play.
This retelling of DMC brings back first big baddy of the series, Mundus, as the Demon overlord who killed Dante’s mother and imprisoned his Father for all eternity. No longer half demon, but half demon and half angel, Dante is recruited by his long lost brother Vergil to take down Mundus and free humanity while hacking and slashing every demon in Limbo along the way. One of the best things of this story is the relationship between Dante, Vergil, and Kat. Dante comes off as punkish and uncaring at first and through Kat finds something worth fighting for. Vergil and Dante really feel like brothers here, I really loved the little banter they had closer to the end of the game one upping each other by saying how they are stronger or smarter than the other. Mundus, however, felt really bland as a villain. He has more personality than in the original game, but it’s still very cookie cutter villain. The story is pretty predictable and not great but was able to create some pretty tense cut scenes which I never saw in any of the original DMCs. But the biggest issue I had, and maybe it’s because I’m a fan of the original, was Dante. Dante was a punk and a smart ass, not emo, and that’s perfectly fine. Yet a lot of his quips fell flat. It felt like Ninja Theory couldn’t decide if they wanted their Dante to be his own man or harp back to the original. His dialogue lacked the charm it felt like it was going for. Overall, the story wasn’t great but still good.
DMC takes place in Limbo, a parallel world where the demons reside. Levels are impressive, with ever changing landscapes and the world literally trying to kill you. It makes for some fun platforming action. My favorite had to have been the club level, which looks like every raver’s dream. Yet it seems that near the end, the developers ran out of ideas and fall back on some contrive and all too familiar level design. The graphics are good and flow smoothly. I didn’t run into any lag, which is important for a combat game that moves this quickly. There were a few times when textures took a while to pop up during cut scenes but that rarely happened. Overall a great looking game
The most important aspect of any Devil May Cry game is the combat, and it shines here. You will get access to five weapons and 3 guns over the course of the game, all of which you can switch to on the fly. This can make for some crazy combos. While the initial combat is easy enough for newcomers to grasp, veterans can appreciate the depth of the hack-n-slash of DMC. And with the new emphasis on air combo and juggling, you can literally fly upward and off the screen if you time all your moves right. Fans of the hack-n-slash genre will enjoy this game. A problem I ran into is that when you finally unlock your devil trigger, the ability to slow down time and fling all your enemies in the air to do extra damage, it takes so long to build up the meter that it becomes almost unusable. Not a huge issue but still an annoyance. After each play through you unlock more difficult settings that remix the enemies you run into and with some settings making you die in one hit. This provides moderate replayability reserved only for the most serious of DMC fans.
Overall this game hits many of the marks it sets out to hit, while not a perfect game, its still solid and a “Hell” of a lot of fun. See what I did there? Yes, this is a different Dante and a different DMC but long time fans should give this game a try before making their decision, you may be surprised in how much you like it. I give this DMC: Devil May Cry 8 out of 10
Ahh Ohayocon…a yearly convention held in Columbus, OH that lasts for three days that is the culmination of several people who enjoy anime, gaming and anything nerdy. I am an Ohayocon faithful who will attend the event every year. Memories are made for myself and others in an overall fun weekend.
I do enjoying anime but I enjoying gaming a hell of a lot more. Getting to spend time with several people in the gaming department is always a treat. I do enjoy playing in fun little tournaments along with just playing games for fun. There’s nothing like playing Dance Central with a complete stranger and being able to laugh afterwards.
Then there is the Mystery Tournament. It is practically an Ohayocon ritual that is held by the Gaming Department’s head operator “Gex”. It’s a blast to play old good/bad games once a year in a competition format…it’s indescribable. The hype environment
and electrifying atmosphere can leave one winded.
Kratos & Scorpion
Other than the gaming department there is the awesome dance/rave that occurs every Friday and Saturday evening. It consumes people and makes everyone feel so energized. Its awesome to say the least.
And of course there are the panels which can be hit and miss. Fortunately they are more often on than off. They range from simple “how to” panels to strictly 18+ filth.
There seems to be a little something for everyone.
I have been a frequent Ohayocon attendee for the past 3-4 years and each time I’ve gone its been rather enjoyable. I would like to thank everyone who makes this event as awesome as it is and to all the awesome people I’ve encountered.
If you haven’t experienced Ohayocon and you live in the midwest, I would highly recommend going to it in 2014.
*The Featured picture is from voodooodollycosplay.tumblr.com Please check out the pics.
Summer Wars is a mere three years old, but its sheer anime geek value warrants a fond look back. For those who never got around to seeking it out on Bluray, DVD, or a special screening at the local arthouse theater, now is as good a time as any to get the crystal clear Bluray (take note of the string of accolades across the top of the disc case, including the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year). Have faith in such a purchase—it has substantial reviewability.
Mamoru Hosoda, who is responsible for Summer Wars’ storyline and directing, is probably (hopefully) more well-known to ROG readers for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), than for his early work on the Digimon Adventure series and the sixth One Piece movie. He brings to this film a kinetic stylishness that excels in the action sequences, propels the abundant scenes depicting large Japanese family dynamics, and knows just how much to quail itself for some truly dramatic flourishes.
King Kazuma and Love Machine do epic battle. (It’s cooler than it sounds.)
The film’s protagonist is Kenji Koiso—a likeable, but ultimately generic anime high schooler (scrawny, insecure, prone to arousal-induced nose bleeds, but a whiz when it comes to generating computer code). Plucked from his comfort zone in the school’s computer lab, Kenji is recruited by area hottie, Natsuki Shinohara, to accompany her on a trip to Ueda to celebrate her grandma’s 90th birthday with her whole litany of family members. Kenji, of course, abides, but is horrified to soon discover that he’s being used. Natsuki pretends he’s her fiancé when introducing him to her grandmother, Sakae.
Kenji can’t help but forgive such a ruse, given that Sakae proves to be what is likely the most easily loveable old lady ever dropped into an anime, and Natsuki only wanted to make her proud by bringing home a would-be husband. Equal parts cantankerous senior citizen and wistful sage with a fun-loving, youthful spirit, it soon becomes clear that Sakae is practically the family’s demigod. She’s universally revered for her wisdom, compassion, know-how, and flexible ability to fill-in for all the missing supportive figures in each family member’s life. All but one, that is. Adopted son, Wabisuke, had a falling out with the beloved old lady, and he still holds a grudge. We’ll get to him later.
You’ll wish Sakae was your grandmother as soon as you hear her talk.
With all this calibrated sentimentality in place, Summer Wars is just as much an action movie. Seemingly the entire population is caught up in the happenings of a virtual world called OZ. Kenji happens to be a moderator and major player in the inner workings of OZ. These virtual reality scenes are where the film really hits its aesthetic stride. OZ is a sort of netherworld consisting of a white expanse of empty space in which a complex network construct floats. Each OZ member has a cartoonish avatar that resides in the construct and interacts with other members, sort of like The Sims meets Facebook. Multiple battles take place in this space, borrowing the spirit of Pokémon or World of Warcraft as concentrated nerds pound out commands on their keyboards to animate their avatar warriors.
When an anonymous person texts Kenji a long string of code, he intuitively cracks it and sends a response. In doing so, he unknowingly unleashes mass chaos within OZ, threatening the accounts of millions. In this middle act, the film’s stakes start to mount in both the virtual and material realms. The malicious hacker, Love Machine, has an evil avatar, reminiscent of Deadmau5 in appearance. As he starts to wreak havoc in OZ, killing off avatars and deconstructing code, tension builds amongst the family gathering when Wabisuke shows up for a late birthday wish. An argument breaks out and we start to see what it is like when someone challenges Sakae.
The climax won’t be spoiled here, but it manages be mostly suspenseful, unexpected, visually engaging, and an inventive merging of the real and virtual plot threads. Most importantly of all, it is inclusive of the entire cast and each of its members’ personal strengths. It thrives on the film’s persistent appreciation of familial importance, but never really dips into sappy territory. Due to a heartbreaking event midway through the film, the ending also has an emotional resonance that couples nicely with its final showdown in OZ.
Kenji, caught in the grasp of his usual facial expression.
All in all, Summer Wars achieves a multi-layered showmanship that encompasses the drama, action, artistry, and humor of a well-rounded anime. In making its virtual/material split both dichotomous and codependent, it explores the nature of modern human interaction in a world where people can create artificial identities and relationships with international strangers just as easily as they can have lasting bonds with the friends and family around them. It also questions the wisdom of investing so much faith and reliance in the effectiveness of technology and social networking. The real world hangs in the balance just as much as the world of OZ, and it becomes apparent how far removed the characters are from their reality. At the same time, the film counters the cold sheen of OZ with the comforting traditional Japanese estate the family lives in. Can the two realms coexist? We can only hope.
Ubisoft has recently come out with the next installment in the blockbuster series Assassin’s Creed, with Assassin’s Creed III. This time, they are moving towards the modern era of Gunpowder and ditching the era of Knights on Horseback and Cavalry charges. The time of Altair and Ezio has closed, and the next chapter opens with Connor or by his Mohawk name, Ratonhnhaké:ton, the next Assassin to make the rank of Master Assassin. Side note: If someone can say that name correctly, without cheating, I’ll give you a whole dollar… I’m kidding. The story of Connor, doesn’t start with him per say, but gives you his back-story and his reasons for becoming an Assassin.
The story is amazing, weaved together with the events focusing on and around, the American Revolution. You will meet famous heroes from the time, like George Washington, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and many more; the men who, stood up and fought against the tyranny of the English Crown. The story will have you engrossed and wanting to see the war from Connor’s eyes. But with a story being weaved, there’s always a loose stitch or two. The first stitch that comes loose from the story, is the beginning of the game, which many have deemed slow. But once you’re through that rough patch, it picks up. Desmond, the other “main” character of the story is intact and the real world is once again, delegated to a small confines of a cave this time in Upstate New York, working with his father, Shaun, and Rebecca. You do venture out of the cave for various reasons, and see Desmond Parkour, just like his ancestors before him, but these are to get the story in the real World, continuing on towards the Doomsday Apocalypse, of a massive solar flare that will destroy Earth on December 21st, 2012 mentioned by the First Civilization. Also, in Assassin’s Creed storytelling style, you’ll be cursing the screen at moments that happen or being confused as hell from something that just transpired. I won’t spoil anything story related, but I personally believe from the arc of the story, the historical background its set in, the cast of characters that play a role, and Connor’s beliefs and philosophies clashing, makes it the better of the 5 games, thus far.
The gameplay is right up the alley of any returning vet of the Assassin’s series. Quick kills, visceral combos and the always fun assassination moves from the tops of building, and for the first time, trees. I’m being serious, you can kill from the tree tops, and use the amazingly fun, Rope Dart; nothing like getting the drop in on some Redcoats. And another great action added to AC3, was the human shield ability. You’ll be in mid-combat and the yellow warning arrows will appear and you quickly grab a Redcoat and go right back on the offensive once the salvo is done. Even if this is your first time playing an AC game, the controls won’t be foreign to you, easy to pick up and play. But I highly recommend playing the previous titles with Altair and Ezio, just for the wonderful stories. Your playground ranges from Boston, New York, the Frontier between the two, and the Homestead. In sheer size of the first three maps, mainly the Frontier, you’ll notice they are bigger than the previous games cities, and also, you’ll wander and get lost for hours, because I did.
They additionally added the Hunting to the mix, allowing you to hunt woodland creatures to your delight or dismay, PETA I’m looking at you. At this point of the game, I’m at sequence 7, with 43% of a complete game, and my play time is around 17 hrs., 43 mins, and some odd seconds. You’ll get your play time and monies worth, if you’re a completionist. But most of that time, may be attributed to getting lost in the Frontier and stalking wildlife from tree tops. AC3 also added a new naval aspect, and it doesn’t disappoint. You will man the ship Aquila, and she is stubborn giant of a ship, and she will damage any and everything. The controls are easy to pick up, with a very simplified control scheme for speed, firing cannons, both port and starboard, by looking in that direction. And my personal favorite… Ramming! No better joy than, ramming directly into the bow and coming alongside and fire your port side cannons. That sounds rather… I’ll leave it at that.
Just like in previous Assassin’s Creed, you have a ton of side quests and mission. As previously mentioned the naval missions, and starting and building of your Homestead off of the Frontier. This entails person finding and gathering a group, by doing various find this person or help this person with a task. They also have just a few clubs instead of every single guild has 20 challenges, that you know, most won’t do or say this, “I can’t do that.”, or best yet, “Seriously, this is impossible.” Also, the recruiting Assassin’s to the Brotherhood is simpler than previous incarnations. For instance, you’ll do a mission while in either Boston or New York, and it doesn’t lock you into it, it’s normally roaming Redcoats forcibly recruiting the young or beat these thugs shaking down harbor vendors. And your Assassins are no longer leveled up, and sent off to lands to hold and have to do a process of swapping them, in and out, and they die from something stupid, like falling from a building, when they’re with you. But this time, you send them off, they complete the mission, and they come back victorious or defeated, and no one dies.
The multiplayer follows the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and that’s not a bad thing in the case of AC3. All the modes return for the kill one, get killed two seconds later. Fast-paced mode of Simple Deathmatch, no perks or abilities, you see everybody no matter what, and just kill each other. The normal Deathmatch with perks and abilities and multiple copies of the player avatar is still there for your stalking and blending pleasures. Team Objectives gets a new mode in domination, think 3 zones, fighting and defending, highest score wins. It’s quite fun when you have a team communicating, and not senselessly running around as if it’s just another game of team Deathmatch. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine. And even the newer game mode, which is Wolf Pack. How can I explain it, think of it as a team game, but wanting to be top Templar in the mode, but the more reckless you are, the lower the kill score, but the more kills done at the same time, more points. Also, the more points you get, the more time you earn and you have to achieve sequences by earning points, and big points later in the sequences.
its going to be a cold and Bloody day
Assassin’s Creed graphically, wasn’t always O MY GOD! But they do it right for what they have in the Anvil Next Engine. From the in-game cutscenes to the water in the naval missions, and they look great. But the bushes… well they look like they are from previous Gens for the wilderness. But the city landscape are detailed and rendered amazing. We all know, that AC was never really known for their graphics, it’s been the gameplay. That’s my personal opinion, take it or leave it. At one point, and I’ll specifically mention this, draw distance, is amazing. There’s a Lighthouse in the Frontier, and to climb to the top of it and just look around, it simply amazing. With the new addition of Captaining a warship, from the most awkward angle, behind the wheel, the sea when it’s calm or when it’s rough and you can be destroyed by a rogue wave. It’s simply amazing and awesome. When you see it, you’ll say they put their time into making this part of the game, and hopefully something to stay. But not all games can have amazing graphics or even remotely good graphics without hiccups. The AI will one more than one occasion will wig out and do the most bizarre things with their bodies, like become a contortionist, just from the waist down. Or while you’re riding your horse, at full gallop or spurring it on, you’ll hit invisible walls. They’ll randomly pop up at the most inopportune moment, like having a minute thirty to get to Concord from Lexington.
Everything isn’t golden in Assassin’s Creed III as you would think it is. Don’t ever walk through the Frontier, at night, while not on horse, or you’ll get attacked by every wolf, bobcat, bear, or elk, in the World. As people nowadays, want to do everything and complete everything, so they can either platinum or 1000 point a game, this one has that, but the biggest aggressor, is the optional task attached to the story missions. For example, Air Assassinate a Grenadier… What in the World does a Grenadier look like? Oh and to add to it, don’t get caught on a ship in the middle of the bay. I’ll leave you with that lovely picture of constant restarts and rising blood pressure. The AI isn’t completely dumb, allowing you to wade into every group of Redcoats and leave unscathed, like you were never there, but it’s not above the point of chasing you, with a large group, and falling into the Boston Harbor to die, and meet Davey Jones. A personal gripe, when you’re doing homestead missions that have you talking to some of your townsfolk, nobody moves their arms or does anything human like. They stand there bobbing back and forth and talk, but like I said, personal gripe.
To me personally, Assassin’s Creed III, delivers on everything an Assassin’s game is supposed to be. Fixes on the short fall of predecessors, and even continues some of them as well. I’m looking at you horse, and riding to every incident due to the fact that, the fast travel is just as far. But I digress, the game flows after stumbling slightly over the beginning story, it captivates you into the story of Connor and the Order and shaping the future during the American Revolution, and all the while, looking cool. A solid entry into the Assassin’s Creed series, and I believe, the new hero Connor, can stand with Altair and Ezio in the annals of the Order. Even the story outside the Animus, with Desmond and company is still adds to the overall pieces of the story, as the clock for them, keeps ticking closer to December 21st, 2012.