Hump Day Otaku News Report 04.30.03

Well, here we are, back again to the greatest spectacle on 411 that relates to anime and games! Ok, so I’m the only one, bite me. This will probably be my worst column ever (which is still good, mind you, but not that good from me). I spent the weekend at my dad’s lake house, and needless to say, driving for 6 hours on Saturday morning going down there, and 6 more on Sunday afternoon coming back means that I had no time this weekend to write anything, or think much for that matter. So there will only be the regular stuff, like game news and releases, and anime releases and a review.

Work wise, I’m still learning the ropes on my new desk and am probably expected to do some actual work this week or next. Yuck. It’s pretty sad when delivering pizzas instead of working in an office environment (at the bottom, mind you) becomes a definite possibility. Hopefully it’s not necessary though.

1 Week Left until Hell Week

Gaming News

PSO meets Yu-Gi-Oh!
In an odd twist, it was announced this week by Sega that Episode III of their popular Phantasy Star Online franchise will be subtitled “C.A.R.D. Revolution” and that it will essentially be a turn based collectible card strategy game.

In all honesty, I don’t know what to think of this. Last I checked, April Fools Day was at the beginning of the month. In all honesty, I was considering checking out PSO, but when this game along, I began to question whether or not Sega had any sense. If they did, they’d merge with Namco and turn this game into an online Xenocard game, and then you’re damn sure I’d play it. But I have a sinking feeling that this game will suck and if Sega doesn’t release more good games (Skies of Arcadia 2, Shen Mue 3), then they’re going down the shitter.

Bart Simpson meet Tommy Vercetti
As a preview from Sqoon here on 411 states, there is going to be a mission based driving game released for the all consoles called Simpsons Hit and Run. You can be several different characters and there are tons of different cars to drive. Read the preview to learn more.

In all honesty, this game sounds pretty cool. I’m a big fan of the GTA games and have been since the beginning. But since I’m being honest, I think that the game will either be really cool or really bad. Since many of the previous Simpsons games have been suckorama, I fear for this one, because it has a good concept, but all that really matters is the execution.

E3 Crystal Ball
E3 is a few weeks away, but there have been several different newsbits that have come about and it may show what we will see at the E3.

– It is expected that all three console makers will drop the price of their consoles either during or right after E3. The PS2 and Xbox will go down to $150, and the Gamecube will go down to $100. I think this is pretty likely because they do stuff like this often. The only one I WANT them to drop the price on is the Xbox, because I have the others.

– Sega has announced work on an Altered Beast game for the PS2. While Sony has not approved it yet, it certainly does appear to have an interesting concept. It seems to be in modern times and you play as a military guy who is supposed to stop some sort of genetic outbreak, and end up battling baddies, and I’m sure you change form to beasts and such. This is one remake I can’t wait to see. I didn’t have much fondness for Shinobi and some of the other remakes because the original games weren’t that interesting, but for some reason Altered Beast hooked me.

– Sega also unveiled Sonic Heroes, which is supposedly a strategy game where you have to control Sonic, Tails and Knuckles and utilize their strengths to get past obstacles. Three words for you: LOST VIKINGS RIPOFF. That’s all this will be in all likelihood. If it’s not, oh well, I won’t play it. I gained a lot of respect for Sega and Sonic on the Dreamcast, but have lost most of that since. Now, if there was a Sonic RPG:

New Game Releases
* Ship Date – 4/29-30/03
NBA Street Vol. 2 (PS2, Xbox, GC), MLB 2004 (PS1), Jampack Summer 2003 (PS2), Motor Trend’s Lotus Challenge (Xbox), Burnout 2: Point of Impact (Xbox)

I guess I’m not the only one who’s lazy. This is literally everything. If this weren’t all that was there, I wouldn’t have put any of these on the list because none of them (with the exception of the Jampack, sadly) interest me in the least. You got basketball, baseball and racing. The only sports I do are hockey and football because honestly, I can never get into any other sports related games. As for racing, it’s just SO overdone, and nobody can beat Gran Turismo and Ridge Racer as the kings.

Props to my Homies! (aka Plugs)
Since the game makers are lazy, I can be too.

Monday – Joseph Stanley’s The Wipe-up

Tuesday – Ron Yip’s SimColumn News Report

Thursday – Bryan Berg’s Thank God It’s Thursday News Report

Friday – Chris Pankonin’s The Big Friday News Report

Please read these guys, because dammit, they deserve it. They’re that damn good.

New Anime Releases
* Release Date – 4/29/03
Magic Knight Rayearth OVA Collection, Magic Users Club: The Magic Box, Saiyuki Vol. 1 with Box, Street Fighter II Box, Wild Arms Vol. 3

A pretty slow week for anime as well, ramping up to HELL WEEK. A couple of interesting box sets may be worth getting. I’ll probably get Saiyuki because it too has a box, and definitely get Rayearth since we already have the 2 seasons. I’ve heard that the Magic User’s Club is very good, so it may be worth a purchase.

Mini Anime Reviews
In celebration of Lazy Week here on the Hump Day Otaku News Report, I’m going to review a title that’s been around quite a while and almost everyone knows about, but if you don’t, you should.

This show is what I like to call a Gateway Anime. Much like marijuana is a gateway drug, Ranma is a good show to start any person on to the wonders of anime. With a story that is as messed up as it is hilarious, Ranma has worked its way into the hearts of many a fan, and I am no exception. This is the first show I can remember seeing, and still remains one of my favorites to this day.

The story is simple. A man named Genma Saotome is one of the few remaining people to use Anything Goes Martial Arts, and he wants his son Ranma to carry on the tradition, so he takes him on a training trip that lasts many years. Along the way, Genma and his best friend Soun Tendo make a pact that Ranma will marry one of Soun’s daughters when they are old enough. Here’s where it gets weird. Genma hears of a place in China called the Cursed Spring of Jusenkyo that is supposed to be an excellent training ground. They ignore their Chinese tour guide’s warnings and begin to train, when before they know it, they both fall into a different area of the springs. The curse is that whomever falls into one of the springs will turn into what animal last drowned in that particular spring when they are splashed with cold water. Genma falls into a spring where a panda drowned, and much to Ranma’s chagrin (for some reason), he fell into a spring where a young girl died. Needless to say, this leads to many hijinks in the series, with Ranma turning into a girl and Genma into a panda whenever it rains or whenever that annoying old lady down the street splashes them with water. Fortunately, they can turn back whenever they are splashed with hot water, which is why it’s not odd in the story for someone to whip a kettle out from nowhere.

After this particular event happens, the two go off, in their alternate forms, to pay a visit to Genma’s old friend Soun. He has three daughters: Kasumi (who is very much the oblivious housewife type), Nabiki (who is the sneaky, conniving, blackmailing type) and finally, Akane (who is a tomboy). Of course, it is quickly settled that it will be Akane who is engaged to Ranma, and needless to say, she isn’t the least bit happy about being engaged to a boy who turns into a girl, and Ranma likewise isn’t pleased with the whole matter.

The show, of course, is absurd, but it is so funny that it’s perfect. The story is written so well that it can flawlessly move from drama to comedy to back again, but it primarily is an action comedy. The cast of the show is huge, and several of the other characters also fell into the cursed springs along the way. You have Ryoga (who turns into a pig), Shampoo (cat) and Mousse (duck). This is also the type of show where virtually everybody is in love with one of the two mail characters. In love with Ranma is Shampoo, Ukyo (martial arts chef) and Kodachi Kuno (martial arts gymnast). In love with Akane is Ryoga and Tatewaki Kuno (Kodachi’s brother, school kendo champion). Of course, this leads to many rivalries within the many different people, and Ranma and Akane want nothing to do with it. But that’s what makes the show so special. The character interactions are phenomenal, because they all seem like real people, even if they are all nutty. The best parts of the show for me are the rare times when you can tell that Ranma and Akane are in love with each other, and they get so close to expressing their feelings, but it’s always just a tease because then they go and start insulting each other.

The voices of the show are fantastic, but there’s a catch. The voice for male Ranma changes in the 3rd season. The fantastic Sarah Strange left the business, and the unenviable task of replacing her went to Richard Cox, and while he doesn’t do a bad job, he doesn’t fit the part that well and makes Ranma sound effeminate. It’s just a very jarring change after 3 years of the same voice. Other than that, the voices for all the characters are nothing short of perfect.

There are a few problems with the show though. The first is that it is LONG. There are 7 seasons to the show, and as of next week, they will all have been released here. The first 4 seasons are out in box sets, with the fifth coming next week, and the sixth and seventh seasons have been released as single discs, but I suspect that they will be given the box treatment as well. So, if they put 5 discs in each season (except for season 1 which was 4 discs), that will equal 34 discs for the regular seasons. Plus, there are two movies and an OVA released. So if you’re hardcore on the show like I am, it’s quite an investment. The other problem I have is the studio that is producing the show for American release. With all the enhancements and extra stuff that other studios are putting into their releases, Viz is simply releasing it as is. Yes, there are some extras, but for a show that has so much tradition and culture in it, simply throwing the opening and closings on as extras doesn’t cut it. Plus the boxes that the seasons come in, while artistically good, are extremely poor in the construction department. They are flimsy and fall apart at the drop of a hat. With companies like Pioneer and Bandai releasing high quality boxes for all their releases, Viz should really put some more effort in this, which should be viewed as their flagship show. If it were almost any show other than Ranma, I’d find some way to boycott them, but I can’t.

Overall, I recommend this show to anyone, especially if you’ve never seen the show before. It’s got action, comedy, and drama, basically anything you could ask for. A word of warning though. Some people may not like everything in the show, because at times there is nudity, but it is not sexual in any way. In addition, there is a guy who likes to collect bras and panties, so it may offend some people, but overall, this show is very tame and it is a good way to start someone on anime just because there is so damn much to like about it.

Damn, that was a long review. I guess I wasn’t that lazy after all. It just goes to show how much I blabber. And that wraps up another week here. Come back next week and see me bitch about more stuff and talk about the best things in life. Ah, if only I could do this for a living, then life would be perfect. Enjoy the rest of the week.