Mid-Week Mid-Boss News Report 02.25.04

Well, it’s another week here at the Mid-Week Mid-Boss. As always, I’m your host, Lee Baxley, who without a doubt is one of the most insane people here. You just don’t know it yet. I’m also the one who will often say something and retract it later. Why? Simply because I like to stick my foot in my mouth all the time. Maybe that’s why my foot is so messed up now.

Over the past week, there were two new additions to our household. First of all, I have to admit that my wife and I live with my parents. I just don’t make enough money to afford to move out, simply because I made the mistake of getting credit cards as soon as I could. I’m making my monthly payments and slowly paying stuff off, but I won’t be out of debt for at least a year or two. Anyway, we already have a total of 5 dogs and 3 cats. Well, since today is my wife’s birthday, my mom got her a cat last week. It ended up though that my mom wanted the cat more, so my wife said my mom could have it.

And I mentioned in December how my ferret had died two days after Christmas. Well, today my wife and I were in a pet store when we saw some oh so cute baby ferrets, and of course my wife wanted one. So we got one. And now we have a new cat and a new ferret. Our house is officially a zoo. But it’s a happy zoo.

Anyway, this week, we have some great news and stuff, as well as a review for an anime called MADOX 01 that was provided by the fine folks at Animeigo. This was actually their first release, and this is the 15th anniversary of that release. So it’s a special release for them. They’ve been really great about getting these discs out to me on or around their release, so hopefully I can post them earlier in the future from now on. So let’s get started!


Gaming News

La Pucelle: Tactics Release Imminent
Not too long ago, it was announced that La Pucelle: Tactics, a game by Nippon Ichi (makers of Disgaea and Rhapsody), would be localized for the North American audience. The odd part about it was that it would not be released by Atlus, who normally releases Nippon Ichi games. This would be released by a relatively young company called Mastiff LLC. Well, Mastiff has announced that the game will be released in May of this year, so we don’t have much longer to wait for the latest from the great Nippon Ichi. In related news, there hasn’t been any announcement made regarding Nippon Ichi’s latest game, Phantom Brave. It’s been released in Japan, but no announcements have been made for an American release. I suppose if La Pucelle does well, then Mastiff may take the task, if not, expect Atlus to.
Credit: Games are Fun

Star Ocean 3 Update
Though there are a lot of people who don’t like the series, you can count me in the group of people who loves Star Ocean. I enjoyed the game, the story, the creation system. In fact, if Tri-Ace makes a game, chances are I love it (see also: Valkyrie Profile). Well, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Star Ocean 3 for years now. Literally. It was announced in 99, I believe. I don’t remember when, exactly, but I do remember thumbing through some magazines that were very old and they had a preview of it. Anyway, it was released last year in Japan, and we’ve been waiting impatiently ever since for an American release. Here it is, almost a year later, and still no release. Well, Square Enix has finally given an explaination (excuse?) as to why it’s so late. Simply put, they’re not going to screw us.

See, in Japan, they came out with a Star Ocean 3 Director’s Cut last month. This kind of pissed me off, considering how often Square does this type of thing. They released FFX in Japan, FFX in America, then FFX International in Japan, where they ADD stuff that we didn’t get. The same with FFX-2. But it’s kind of stupid to release SO3:DC in Japan before SO3 comes out in America. So they decided to push back the US release so they could give us the Star Ocean 3 Director’s Cut. Since we’re getting that, you can expect them to make a new version, call it SO3: Definitive Director’s Cut, and proceed to screw us yet again. And laugh all the while.
Credit: Games are Fun

Phantom Company Threatens to Sue
This country is becoming more and more lawsuit happy. It’s getting pretty ridiculous. Case in point is this: Hard OCP, a site I visit almost daily, was threatened with a lawsuit by Infinum Labs, the makers of the so-called Phantom Console. The reason? Hard OCP did a little research, and posted the truth about Infinum Labs. You can read the article on their site, but what it boiled down to was that Hard OCP revealed that the CEO of Infinum, Timothy Roberts, had helmed several companies over the past 6 years that bombed big time. On top of that, we have yet to see a true, working version of the Phantom yet. I mean, bad ideas aside, it really makes you wonder when they don’t have a physical product to show yet. I guess we’ll see.
Credit: Hard OCP

Newsbits
-Namco has announced what Xenosaga Freaks is. It’s basically a disc with a bunch of bonus type features, in addition to having a new adventure game called Ze no Komi, which will tell a new story.
-My favorite composer in the world, Danny Elfman, best known for his work on every Tim Burton movie, will compose the main theme for Fable, the cool sounding RPG coming to the Xbox this Summer (unless they push it back AGAIN).
-Atlus Japan is canceling some of their Shin Megami Tensei projects. The biggest of these is the latest in the Devil Children (aka Demikids) franchise. In addition, they are canceling production on their newest Megaten game, which was only recently released, called Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Maniacs.
Credit: RPGFan


Christian’s Crazy Game Releases

Keep in mind, these are ship dates and are not set in stone. Game companies LOVE to push stuff back at the last minute, so don’t blame us if it’s not right. Also, since it is a ship date, it may take several days to arrive at your favorite store, depending on what it is, so please call before rushing over to pick up a game that may or may not have arrived.

Feb 24
Blowout (GC)

Feb 25
Carve (XB)

Feb 26
Steel Battalion w/Controller (XB)

Feb 27
Steel Battalion: Line of Contact (XB)

Release dates courtesy of Christian at Game Crazy. For the month of March, get your strategy on at Game Crazy! Purchase any new game and get 33% off the corresponding strategy guide. See your local Game Crazy for details!

Christian’s Comments: Not much again this week. I guess the biggest release, or re-release actually, is Steel Battalion with the Controller. This game is hardcore, and at a $200 price tag, you do have to want it badly. If you’ve got it pre-ordered, consider borrowing a truck to get it home.

Lee’s Comments: I have to agree with Christian here. Steel Battalion is one of those games where you don’t necessarily get it because it’s a cool game. You get it because it’s just cool to get a game that comes with a controller bigger than you are. I want that game. But I simply can’t afford to drop $200 on a game that I may or may not like, since you obviously can’t rent the sucker. It’s too much uncertainty for me to risk.


Anime/Manga News

New Geneon Releases Announced

Geneon has announced the release dates for some of their big name series. Over the course of three weeks, they will be starting out 4 big series, all coming with an optional artbox. First off, on June 22, is Gad Guard, which will also come with a limited edition knit cap. Next is the Read or Die TV Series, which will be released on June 29. All discs in this series will come with limited edition pencil boards. But the big day is July 6. One release is Fighting Spirit, which isn’t one of the big ones I was counting, but it’s starting out on that day, so it’s good enough for me. Next is Gungrave, which doesn’t have any announced extras in the box, but I’m sure SOMETHING will come with it. And lastly is Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi, the sequel to the series that came out last year. They did say that each disc would come with extras, but didn’t reveal WHAT the extras would be. Geneon is really loading these three weeks with some big releases, much like Bandai did with some of their platinum releases last year. I’m already planning on taking out a loan!
Credit: Anime on DVD

Chobits and Inu Yasha Toys to be Released

At this year’s Toyfair, a company called Toynami, who makes toys based on animation licenses, has announced that they will now be making toys based on the Inu Yasha and Chobits franchises. Shows they have previously created toys for include Robotech, Speed Racer, Voltron, and classic American shows like the Herculoids. In fact, I have a Tenchi Muyo toy of Ayeka. And it’s a really great figure. It’s a 12″ toy, which is the standard size for their toys, I believe, and it has some great articulation. I’m certainly excited about getting figures of Inu Yasha and Chii with this great quality.
Credit:

Hellboy Anime

Guillermo del Toro, director of the forthcoming Hellboy movie, has stated that he is in talks with a Japanese animation company to create a Hellboy anime. Personally, I’ve never read the Hellboy comics, and I’m NOT a Mike Mignola fan (read: I think he can’t draw well at all), but the movie looks pretty cool, and how often do you hear of an American work going to actual Japanese medium? Sure, American movies spawn American shows, but I still haven’t encountered any American shows in the past 10 years that has had quality anywhere close to Japanese animation. So that makes this pretty big news.
Credit: Anime News Network

Maburaho Licensed

According to the March issue of Newtype USA, ADV has licensed the anime Maburaho. I personally haven’t seen any of this show, but it sounds interesting. It’s about a guy who is trying to be a magician, but isn’t very good at it, yet he finds out that he holds the genes of one of the most powerful magicians ever, and a bunch of women are after it! I’ve always been a sucker for harem shows, and I’ve heard both good and bad things about this one. Chances are the news is legit though, simply because Newtype USA is OWNED by ADV, so I doubt they would print something that is false like that.
Credit: Anime Nation


Anime/Manga Press Releases

Viz Announces Four Manga Titles

Viz has announced four new manga titles to debut in the second quarter of 2004. First off is Saikano, the story of a boy whose girlfriend is turned into a weapon of mass destruction. Next is Cheeky Angel, which is about a boy who is turned into a girl and deals with having all the boys lusting after her. Then is Imadoki, a shoujo tale of a girl struggling to gain popularity in an elite middle school. And finally, there is Red River, which is another shoujo, and tells the story of a girl who kisses her boyfriend one night, and ends up falling through a puddle and appears in a city in ancient Middle East. Again, all four titles will be released in the second quarter of this year.

Bandai Celebrates Gundam’s 25th Anniversary With Gundam Seed Toys

I was extremely surprised to receive this press release from Bandai, considering that I had received no replies when requesting such releases. Oh well, I’m on their list now, apparently.

Anyway, this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Gundam franchise, and Bandai is kicking it off with the announcement of Gundam Seed toys. The Gundam Seed series hasn’t received an official release date on DVD yet, but it will start airing on Cartoon Network in April. Here are the details on the series from the press release:

Based on the brand new Japanese series of the same name, Gundam Seed is different from many past Gundam incarnations due to its stand-alone storyline, making it ideal for new fans to discover the franchise. Currently the number one brand for Bandai Japan, Gundam Seed continues the property’s strong legacy and comes to the U.S. in 2004, much to the delight of fans and collectors.

The Gundam Seed series begins a year after the outbreak of war between the Earth Alliance and the rebel space colonists known as Zaft. Radical new technologies, including advanced weapons called mobile suits, gave Zaft the edge over the Earth Alliance. With much of Earth now under the space colonist’s control, the Alliance begins a desperate secret program to develop its own state-of-the-art mobile suits. Thus, Gundam Seed is born.

Having not previously been all that interested in Gundam (primarily due to my problem with starting series that are HUGE, like this and Macross), I actually think I may give Seed a shot when it comes out on DVD. At the very least, the toys will kick ass, because nobody can fault Gundam toys.

Tokyopop and Valusoft Team Up For Initial D PC Game

Tokyopop has announced that Valusoft, a subsidiary of THQ, has aquired the rights to produce a PC game based on the popular racing anime, Initial D. Subtitled Mountain Vengeance, the game will allow you to race as Tak or any one of 7 other characters against the rest of the racers from the series. By progressing in the game, you unlock new tracks and music from the anime. It will be priced at $19.99, but no release date was mentioned.

Rurouni Kenshin Top Manga in Sales

Viz has announced that the third volume of their Rurouni Kenshin manga has made it to the number one spot in graphic novel and comic sales for two weeks running, according to Neilsen Bookscan, the sales monitoring service for the English book industry. Having sold 8500 copies in that time frame, that also puts it in the top 100 list of adult fiction, along with bestsellers Cold Mountain and the Da Vinci Code. This is big news for the manga industry, and it hopefully means that it is slowly starting to permeate more into American society.


Anime Releases

Release Dates provided by Anime on DVD. See past releases at my website.

February 24, 2004

TITLE
STUDIO
MSRP
BUY TSRI
BUY ACS
10 Tokyo Warriors
Media Blasters
$39.95
$35.96
$31.98
Beyblade Vol. #7
Geneon
$19.98
$17.98
$16.98
Corrector Yui Vol. #4
Viz
$24.98
$22.48
$19.98
Darkness Collection (H)
Kitty Media
$89.95
$80.96
N/A
Haibane Renmei #4
Geneon
$29.99
$26.98
$23.98
Inu Yasha #15
Viz
$24.98
$22.48
$19.98
Kino’s Journey Vol. #1
ADV
$29.98
$26.98
$21.98
Kino’s Journey Vol. #1 (w/ artbox)
ADV
$39.98
$35.98
$29.98
Mao-Chan Vol. #3
Geneon
$29.98
$26.98
$23.98
Memories
Columbia Tri-Star
$26.96
$24.26
N/A
Princess 69 Lesson #1 (H)
Kitty Media
$29.95
$26.96
N/A
Project Arms Vol. #8
Viz
$24.98
$22.48
$19.98
Sadamitsu Vol. #2
Media Blasters
$24.95
$22.46
$23.98
Saint Seiya Vol. #4
ADV
$29.98
$26.98
$21.98
Samurai Deeper Kyo Vol. #5
Media Blasters
$29.95
$26.96
$23.98
Steam Detectives Vol. #4
ADV
$29.98
$26.98
$21.98
Zoids Chaotic Century Vol. #1
Viz
$14.98
$13.48
N/A
Zoids Chaotic Century Vol. #2
Viz
$14.98
$13.48
N/A

Note: In the above table, TSRI stands for The Right Stuf International and ACS stands for Robert’s Anime Corner Store. (H) means Hentai, so Adults Only on those!

Comments: There was a lot of stuff released this week, but not a whole heckuva lot worth mentioning. Kino’s Journey looks somewhat interesting though. For the hentai fans, there’s the Darkness Collection, as well as Princess 69 Lesson 1. In addition, the popular Haibane Renmei series concludes this week as well. Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot worth noting.


Matt Weinberg’s Anime You Should Know

Back in the 90’s, an anime series was brought to the US and pretty much put VIZ Video on the map. This series was one of the best, if not the best anime series to come out of Japan at that time. If it weren’t for a bit of nudity, we’d all be singing the praise of Ranma 1/2 instead of Dragonball Z.


Once again we’ve got a series that started as manga. The creator, Rumiko Takahashi is extremely famous in Japan in that she’s been putting out incredible anime/manga for years. Most recently Americans have seen her series, Inu Yasha, on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim…. anyway, Ranma! Airing from 1988 to 1992, the TV series has 161 total episodes with several OAV’s as well as 3 movies.

Like most 80’s anime, Ranma has a fairly crazy plot. Our hero/heroine Ranma Saotome and his father Genma have been training in the martial arts. On a training trip to China, they accidentally fell into some cursed springs. Now, whenever Ranma gets touched by cold water he turns into a girl, only changing back when he’s touched by hot water. You could see where this would start to be a problem? Genma doesn’t change genders, but instead becomes a panda bear.


Okay, cursed martial artists, no problems… It gets worse. During his travels, Genma betrothed Ranma to many a maiden, although Genma only really meant for Ranma to marry one girl, one of the three daughters of Soun Tendo, Genma’s old friend. Due to a misunderstanding in the first episode, Akane, Soun’s youngest daughter, and a strong martial artist, hates Ranma. Hilarity ensues. Ranma and Akane deal with weird characters, martial artists, suitors, school, ghosts, and many many more messes as the series becomes a spoof on everything martial arts.

The animation style of Ranma 1/2 isn’t anything too special. It was the late 80’s and computer graphics weren’t integrated into anime just yet. It’s not bad, but nothing that will make you stand up and take notice. The music isn’t bad either. The opening and closing themes are fun, but the background music is only so-so.


So there we have it… wait… the nudity. As I mentioned above, Ranma changes from male to female, and s/he’s not too modest about it. It’s not senseless nudity or breast shots, but it wouldn’t make it past American censors, especially in the time of the Janet Jackson breast exposure. This sole reason is why you’ll never see Ranma 1/2 on American TV.

Ranma 1/2 is a comedy. It’s action packed, yet fun at the same time. When anime first came to America directly to video, Ranma 1/2 was the future. This great series is something that any anime fan should see. Seriously, go see it… now. Ranma 1/2, trust me on this, is an anime you should know.


Anime Review

Every week, I try to review at least one series or multiple discs using a 10 point scale that is loosely based on the one we use for game reviews. Check out the grading scale and format at my website. If you missed any reviews I did using this format, you can also view them on my site.

MADOX 01

Studio: Animeigo
Discs: 1
Running Time: 50 minutes
MSRP: $19.98
Release Date: March 9, 2004

Story (Premise)
The Japanese SDF and the American Army got together and developed a new weapon: the MADOX, a specialized power armor designed to beat tanks. While it’s being transported, a car accident causes the MADOX armor to fall into the hands of an unsuspecting engineering student. Only reading a little of the manual, the student hops in the MADOX and goes to meet up with his girlfriend, causing havoc along the way. It’s up to Elle Kusumoto to stop the MADOX, as well as stop the crazed Lt. Kilgore from destroying the MADOX and its unwitting pilot.
Score: 6.0

Story (Execution)
The story itself isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. That can normally be made up for in a full length anime series, but since this is just a short movie, there is no character development. You have several characters that have very little back story. The most fleshed out character is Kouji Sujimoto, who gets the MADOX after the accident, but there is very little fleshing done. There is no backstory at all on Elle and Lt. Kilgore, who are the other main characters. Perhaps they were planning on making this a full series, but perhaps not. This is why I prefer series over movies, because with a movie, it all goes by too quickly.
Score: 6.0

Ending
Sadly, this could have been executed a lot better. The story ends exactly like you’d expect it to, but with no information. You don’t see what happens to the supporting characters, just with Kouji. If this had been fleshed out just a little, it would have been much more fulfilling.
Score: 4.0

Animation
I’ve admitted in the past that I’m not a big fan of older style animation, but this show surprised me a lot. First of all, the DVD transfer was spectacular. If it weren’t from the art style, you’d never be able to tell that this show was over 15 years old. Secondly, the art itself was very good. Though some of the character designs (Elle’s in particular) weren’t very appealing to me, the art was still well executed. The details, especially when it came to the machinery, were extremely well done. They put in more detail then I see in a lot of the more recent shows I’ve seen. The only flaw I could see is what I mentioned earlier, in the character designs. The hairstyles on the primary females just didn’t work for me. Elle’s hair in particular was completely disproportionate to her head. But other than that, they did great.
Score: 8.0

Voice Acting
I don’t really have any complaints about the voice acting, except for maybe that the actors didn’t have enough time to truly get into their roles. The best voice has to be Kouji, who is played by Scott Simpson, who was Keiichi in Oh My Goddess! He played his role perfectly and it seemed to fit him better. But it’s understandable since he had the most dialogue. The other two primaries did a good job as well. Elle is played by Ellen Lee, and Lt. Kilgore is played by Zach Hanner. Both have done very little voice work, both only coming in on Vampire Princess Miyu. But despite the relatively unexperienced crew, they did a good job.
Score: 7.0

Music
There was music in the show, but either there wasn’t much, or it was utterly forgettable. I honestly can’t remember much about it, other than that there WAS music. I don’t seem to remember it detracting from the show any, but then again, I don’t even remember what it sounds like.
Score: 3.0

DVD Menus
The menus are all put together very well. They are extremely easy to navigate, and feature various pictures of the MADOX. There is no difficulty finding what you’re looking for, and your current selection is easy to pick out as well.
Score: 8.0

Case Extras
Animeigo is a fan of the “less is more” approach, and I can’t fault them for that, but sometimes it’s nice to have SOMETHING extra. The cover itself is a decent picture of Kouji in the MADOX with his girl, but the insert is a standard piece of paper with information on it. Don’t get me wrong; I like having information. Still, it’d be nice for it to have a picture on it or something, even if it were black and white.
Score: 5.0

Disc Extras
Now this is what I’m talking about! There are some good extras on here. They include an audio commentary track, which is something I’d like to see more of. In addition, they have a documentary on the show, and an interview with the CEO of Animeigo and the Voice Acting Director as well. Personally, as more and more non-anime DVDs are released with this type of stuff, I grow more and more fond of it. So please, start putting more interviews and audio commentaries (oh, and outtakes) on your discs!
Score: 8.5

Miscellaneous
I’ll be perfectly blunt here. From an analytical standpoint, this show stinks. It’s just another mecha show, except compressed into 50 minutes. But from an entertainment standpoint, it’s fun. It’s not a whole helluva lot of fun, but it’s fun nonetheless. I like the show, and it’s hard for me to give it low scores. But when broken down point by point, there are several things that it did really well in, some that were ok, and some that stunk. But it was a fun ride.
Score: 8.0

Final Comments
Really, it boils down to this: if you’re looking for something deep or something thought provoking, skip this show. If you want a quick watch that’s fun and where stuff blows up, then this is the show for you. It doesn’t cost much, it really IS a quick watch, and it’s old school. You can’t go wrong with that.
Final Score: 6.0


Links to the Past

Before I get to the Kliq, two out of zone links.

First is Grut’s column on Black. Not so much for Grut, but for Gloomchen. I’m not as bad off debtwise as she is, but I do have a mountain of it and at times I despair over the fact that I’m 26 and have a wife and am still living with my parents. So buck up! You’re not alone.

And of course, the autolink goes to Mr. Eric S.. He is, of course, the man. And it’s true that console RPGs aren’t truly RPGs (well, there are some, but most are PC ports), but what else are we gonna call them? I have no originality, so I can’t even begin to think of something new.

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report – Bryan Berg
Bryan gives a break down on what Iwata REALLY means in his recent interview, as well as talking about how the ESRB doesn’t give good ratings to games.

411MAX: News News Revolution – Alex Williams
Alex talks about none other than DDR!! OH MY GOD!! Oh, he also talks about Xbox Live 3.0, Music Generator, and MTX Mototrax. Plus, he thinks I’m ballsy for talking about hentai. Trust me, Alex, I could get much worse. I could go all out and review one of the hentai games I’ve played. Now THEN I’d be ballsy.

Retrograding – Alex Lucard
24-22 of the RPG countdown. This week, he has 3 games I actually own! I haven’t actually played PS2 yet (got it on the PS Collection for the GBA), but the other two games are excellent. And for the record, I’m not THAT familiar with J-pop. Unless it’s someone who did an anime theme. Like See-Saw. They rule. And of course, Megumi, the Japanese Diva.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Cory Laflin
Cory gets a nasty letter from someone complaining about us talking about our lives. Here’s my response to that person: If you want news, you can go to any other site out there, and they probably have the same news. Hell, those are the sites we get most of our news from (and unlike them, we give credit where it’s due). The point of the news reports is to give a little life to the story. We each talk about whatever the hell we want to. That’s my favorite part about reading the other guys’ news reports. I know the news, but I want to know what THEY think about it.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Video Games – Misha
Misha doles out his usual news, as well as giving us a taste of his fun little gathering playing retro video games. And yes, I am sneaky. Don’t you forget it.


Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? I certainly think so. Anyway, check out everyone else because they deserve it. Tell all your friends how much ass we kick. And come back next week for more of the same great stuff. Enjoy!