Hump Day Otaku News Report 05.28.03

It’s been a long and involved week here, so I’m kind of tired, but despite that, I think I’m going to put even MORE stuff in this week’s report. But before we get to that, I just wanted to tell you guys what I’ve been up to. Yea, I know everyone loves to hear about my life, so if you don’t, just skip this part!

First of all, last week I stopped smoking. It only lasted for a few days, but I lost it on Wednesday and almost started freaking out, so I had to leave work early. Surprisingly, I made it until Friday before caving. The reason being is that a couple that my wife and me are best friends with had a baby. Well, they didn’t have it on Friday, but she went into labor on Friday morning, and didn’t have the kid until Saturday afternoon. My wife stayed there the whole time. The mommy and daddy have gotten about 6 hours of sleep each in the past 4 days, so they’re quite the troopers. My wife and I have been back and forth to that hospital so many times that we can find our way anywhere in there. Anyway, I just wanted to welcome Connor Graham into the world. He’s got some great parents, and fortunately, I won’t be the only one teaching him about the good things in life (games, anime, and comics).

This week, I’m going to do a few things differently. I’m going to leave the games area basically the same, because there’s very little to change there. As for the anime, I’m going to change a few things. First, I’m going to start putting a link up to my collection, so that if anybody wants to request a review, they can look and see what I have. In this area, I am also going to say what shows I have purchased that week. Also, in the mini-reviews, I am not only going to expand the reviews to encompass more facets of the release, but I will also primarily do discs that I have most recently watched, rather than entire series. I will, however, review an entire series if someone requests it or if I buy and watch an entire series at once.


Gaming News

Sequel to Wind Waker
Rumor has it that a sequel to the incredibly cool Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is in the works. The director of the original, Eiji Aonuma, has stated that he would like to make a sequel, and hopefully have a playable demo ready as early as the next E3. Little is known about the sequel, except that it will likely be a direct sequel and will use the same graphics engine. I honestly don’t know what to think of this news/rumor. I mean, I loved Wind Waker, but they’d have to change it up A LOT to make it good. And we all know what happened with they did that with Ocarina of Time. What, you don’t know? They made Majora’s Mask, one of the worst Zelda games EVER. So if they can make it different, but not make it SUCK, then a sequel will be just fine with me.

Xenosaga Episode 2
On July 21st, we’ll finally get some word on the next part of what may very well be the greatest RPG saga of all time. Xenosaga: Episode 2 currently has no release date, but it is said to be 40% complete. What little information we have on the game is this: Shion Uzuki will be the main character, and I imagine that the other people in the group will return as well. In addition, based on hints included in Episode 1, Shion’s brother Jin will also play a part in the second game. The story will apparently focus more heavily on the relationship between Jr. and MOMO. Anything else, at this point is a mystery. All I can say is, hurry the hell up. I loved the first and I’m sure I’ll love the second. It is worth noting that some have said that the event in July will not be about Xenosaga, but about another RPG, but nothing is for sure.

Newsbits
-Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg will be GameCube exclusive. And Nintendo wonders why it can’t lose the stigma of having shitty children’s games on the Cube.
-Silent Hill 4 is already in development using an entirely new game engine.
-Starcraft: Ghost has been pushed back to 2004, which sucks because of all the stealth games coming out, this was the only one that truly interested me.
-Console development for the MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies has been cancelled. It is unknown whether or not it will continue after the PC version has been released.


New Game Releases
* Ship Date – 5/27/03
Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Operation Resurrection (PS2), Brute Force (XBox), The Hulk (GC, PS2, XBox), Bloody Roar Extreme (XBox)

Nothing earth shattering here. The first 2 are shooters, then an adventure game and finally a fighter. The Hulk could be cool if done well. The graphics look like an odd style, almost cel shaded but not really. It may be worth a rent. The others don’t look that great.


Props to my Homies! (aka Plugs)

Ok, there’s nothing to really put here this week. Joseph Stanley is supposed to do The Wipe Up, and Ron Yip is supposed to do the SimColumn, but I guess everybody is starting to slack a little now that summer is here. I can’t blame them, really.

I want to thank Bryan Berg for not only posting a report, but for always giving me medals that I only get for being here. If everybody else wrote (including Bebito and Alex Lucard) then I wouldn’t get any, but that would be fine and dandy with me.

There are a couple of previews trickling in after E3 so check those out. No reviews for a while, but when I have some more extra cash, I’ll get .hack and Final Fantasy Origins and review those.


New Anime Releases
* Release Date – 5/27/03
Berserk Vol. #6, Fruits Basket Vol. #4, Mahoromatic Vol. #3, Neo Ranga Vol. #3, Read or Die, Sakura Wars Vol. #1 (w/ optional artbox), X Vol. #5

This is a relatively big week. The only two that I actively collect are Mahoromatic and X, but I haven’t seen any of X yet. Neo Ranga looks good so someday I’ll have to get that. Sakura Wars is known in Japan as Sakura Taisen, and it’s supposed to be excellent. Plus it has a box. Read or Die is supposed to be good as well. I guess I need to get a 2nd and a 3rd job.


My Collection
This is the new section I was talking about before. Check out my collection here, and tell me if there’s any series or discs that you’d like to see me review.

My Collection

New Shows Added This Week: Chobits Vol. #2, Excel Saga Vol. #6, Mahoromatic Vol. #3, Please Teacher Vol. #1 (Limited Edition with Artbox)

Main Shows I Need: .hack//SIGN Vol. #2, Ai Yori Aoshi Vol. #2, Noir Vol. #3, RahXephon Vol. #2, Ranma ½ Season 5 Box Set, X Vol. #5


Mini Anime Reviews
As I said before, this week I’m going to review shows a little differently. I’m going to review the individual discs I watched, rather than older series’. I’m also going to be a little bit more in depth on the shows. They’ll still be MINI Reviews, but there will be more to them. Oh, and don’t expect some grand technical review. I’m mainly going for enjoyment factor here, so if you want more technical, check out AnimeonDVD.com.

EXCEL SAGA VOL. #6: GOING WAY TOO FAR
Finally, I get to finish out this series (except for the spinoff, Puni Puni Poemy), and boy am I glad.
Story: Finally, there is a plot to be found! Some evil puuchuus come to try to destroy the Earth, but they are not successful. They do screw up our beloved F City, and Excel becomes a defender of good? Daitenzen returns to help save the city as well, and The Afro Team finally confronts That Man! The first 4 episodes of the disc are a continuous story that culminates to the end of the show. But then they went and made the most f*cked up and wrong episode ever.
Animation: The quality is excellent, as always. There is a lot of CGI used in conjunction with the traditional cel animation, but it’s not too obtrusive and ugly. The last episodes have even better animation than normal, which is a surprise.
Voices: The voices are as excellent as ever. The main characters all stay their lovable selves, and there’s even an episode where everyone is serious, and it’s VERY odd to hear Excel sound serious, but Larissa Wolcott does a great job. Likewise, Monica Rial does an excellent job of making Hyatt sound energetic in the last episode.
Packaging/Extras: The case itself is a standard black DVD case. The cover is of Excel with the 6 guys from the Department of City Security. The insert has a picture of Excel naked with bubbles over the naughty bits on the front, and two pictures inside: one of Excel and Hyatt and one of Excel and Ilpallazo saying, collectively, “See you again.” Also included in the case is a nice Warhol-ish postcard of Pedro crying. The DVD itself has the awesome ADVidnotes, a clean Episode 25 close, clean Episode 26 open/close, and Puni Puni Poemy trailer.
The Verdict: A
This disc was everything I had expected, and more. The first 4 episodes tie up just about every plot line in the show, are a continuous story, and actually have some very serious, touching moments. They also have some of the best parodies so far in the series. Oh yea, and they’re really funny too, but you’d expect that. The final episode, which was made for the direct to video market, is really over the top. It’s got a lot of fan service, blood, violence, and a little hanky panky. Like I’ve always heard, it is just flat out WRONG. For anyone who has liked any part of this series, you MUST buy this disc because it makes it all worth it. If anyone has hated the show as a whole, avoid this disc like the plague because it’s more of the same, except amplified 1000-fold.

CHOBITS VOL. #2: THE EMPTY CITY
The second disc of the show about the Persocoms (cross between a computer and an android) is out, and it’s definitely as good as the first.
Story: There are 4 episodes on this disc. The first is about Hideki’s first practice exam, and Chi decides to read a book. In the second, Hideki finds out that Chi needs to be charged every now and then, but will it be too late? The third and fourth are connected, as Chi decides to help out Hideki by getting a job, but it turns out to be a peepshow. She gets herself out of the situation and Hideki gets her a respectable job, but not before Dark Chi is awakened.
Animation: As with the previous disc, this one has wonderful and vibrant color and artwork. I honestly think this show (a long with RahXephon) has the best animation out there, simply because the computer coloring is done so well and is so crisp that the people almost look real.
Voices: Like the last one, Bang Zoom! Entertainment rocks the house with their portrayal of the characters in Chobits. The incomparable Crispin Freeman plays Hideki flawlessly, and we get to hear Michelle Ruff more since Chi can speak more and more words. Everyone else does as well as always. This show is a perfect example why the people at Bang Zoom and Animaze (which use a lot of the same talent) are the best in the industry.
Packaging/Extras: The case is a clear plastic case. The outside cover is of Chi, and she’s wearing a pearl necklace, and it looks like it’s raining. The inside cover is of Chi in her nightshirt with her dress in a heap, and Sumomo peeking out from under it. The front of the insert is the same picture of Chi in the nightshirt, and the inside of the insert is Chi in the same nightshirt, but stretched out on the floor. Included in the case is a pencil board with 2 different pictures of Chi in a school uniform on both sites. The DVD extras are an art gallery and a non-credit closing.
Verdict: B+
This disc wasn’t quite as good as the first, but that’s only because there wasn’t as much humor as drama. All 4 episodes were much deeper and dramatic than the ones on the last disc. There was plenty of comedy as well, but not so much. The relationships are starting to grow and you can really get a feel of the characters now. Hideki and Chi are getting closer, but on the outside, it appears more like a father-daughter type relationship, but it is intensifying. In addition, Yumi is apparently falling for Hideki and getting envious (though not jealous) of Chi. It’s very good stuff, and I can’t wait for the next one.

MAHOROMATIC: AUTOMATIC MAIDEN VOL. 3: A WARRIOR’S FATE
Another show I get to finish off, except that the second season of Mahoromatic comes out later this year.
Story: There are 4 episodes on this disc. In the first episode, Mahoro and Suguru go on a date, and of course get hounded by Ms. Shikijo. And the final 3 episodes are all about the culmination of the series and the final fight between Mahoro and Ryuga. One episode gives more background on Mahoro and another more info on Saint.
Animation: The animation on this show is solid, but not really up to par with some other shows out there today, Chobits for example. There are many times where there are jitters on the screen, and while not often, they are rather jarring.
Voices: Bang Zoom comes through again. Ellen Wilkinson plays Mahoro beautifully, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing her voice. Likewise with David Umansky, who plays Suguru, but then again, he often plays the somewhat shy and slightly perverted nerdy type character. Wendee Lee is fantastic in her role of Ms. Shikijo, and after seeing this show I have to wonder if she has done porn before her job as a voice actress.
Packaging/Extras: This disc comes in a standard black plastic keepcase. The cover is a picture of Mahoro in battle gear, and shows Ryuga’s face and helmet. The cover is reversible, and the flip side shows a picture from behind of Mahoro wearing only an apron, making it look like a hentai show if you were to use that cover. The front of the insert is a picture of Mahoro and Suguru together, and the inside is of the whole gang in swimsuits, with both Mahoro and Ms. Shikijo sticking Suguru’s head between their breasts. The last and coolest extra in the case is extra outfits to go on the limited edition paper dolls that were in the last 2 discs. Gainax definitely has sense of humor, because one outfit for Mahoro is Rei Ayanami’s plug suit from Evangelion, and there’s also one for Ms. Shikijo with Asuka Langley Souryu’s plug suit. The DVD extras are a promo trailer, art gallery, and actor commentary.
The Verdict:: B
It was hard to grade this one because it was a very good show and had a lot of great things going for it, but the finish was pretty weak. I won’t ruin it and describe it in detail, but suffice it to say, nothing really happened. To assuage any fears, it wasn’t a bad ending, but it just wasn’t that great. Then again, I have a feeling that in EVERY show, the main characters should hook up romantically. That very rarely happens, but on shows like this where you expect it to, it kind of leads to some disappointment. Still, the show has a lot of fan service, so the guys will probably like it, and there is a lot of heart wrenching drama, so the girls will like it too.


Well, this edition was shorter than I thought it’d be. I expected to review Please Teacher, and have an Anime Enquirer about perverted stuff (hentai, fan service, etc), but due to slacking on my end, I’ll hold off on those until next time. I’ll also review Ai Yori Aoshi Vol. 1 and whatever else I see. So until then, have a good week and have fun!