Hump Day Otaku News Report 06.04.03

I’m back again with the best game news and anime discussion around. For those of you who maybe haven’t read my report before, I like video games (especially RPGs) and anime (especially robot maid type shows!) above all else. Well, except my wife. Anyway, every week here, I do some game news and releases, but I spice up what is supposed to be a gaming column with some anime releases, reviews and sometimes even news and discussions on the current state of anime. So before you gag about having to hear about cartoons, give me a read, and maybe I can change your mind.

I’m in a good mood at the moment because I got off my ass and did something. I’m sure all you regulars (both of you) are aware of how I haven’t been enjoying my job as of late. Well, it’s been good motivation, and now I’ve gotten up off my ass and I’m working towards a new job. The problem is that since the economy is so shitty at the moment, I had to go and make myself a job. So I’m happy because I’m officially starting my own business. I can’t really say what it is yet, because well, I haven’t even really done that much on it. But I just started, and I have actually accomplished stuff, so I expect that in the not to distant future, I can give you all the details. So keep an eye out for that. But enough about me, let’s get to what everybody reads this thing for.

Gaming News

Take Two Newsbits
Take Two Interactive, parent of Rockstar Games, has released a few tidbits of info on some titles to be released in the future:
-The next Grand Theft Auto game in the series will be PS2 only, and it will be released in the 2nd or 3rd Quarter of 2004.
-They will release a “significant” title for the XBox late this year or early next year, and may or may not be another GTA game, but it is not confirmed either way.
-In news to me, Take-Two has the publishing rights to Duke Nukem Never, I mean Forever, and SURPRISE, it ain’t coming out this year (or any other for that matter). Take Two’s CEO said, “We’re hopeful that the team in Dallas will finish the project.” The sad fact of the matter is, even if Duke Nukem Never is released, it will suck and nobody will play it. My evidence? Daikatana. I actually had the honor of playing a prerelease demo version of the game with John Romero’s brother along with some buddies of mine, and it was actually very sad because each and every one of us were too nice to tell the guy that his brother made a REALLY shitty game. True story.
-And the main reason I posted these bits was to take a stab at Duke Nukem Never, because by God, it’s a lot of fun.

Golden Sun 3?
Everyone’s heard this before, but it appears that Camelot, the makers of the Golden Sun series, may not make a third Golden Sun. They haven’t cancelled plans, but they’re “undecided” whether or not it will be made. Apparently they were going to make it before Nintendo called on them to make some other games. The other games? Mario Golf and Mario Tennis. Ok, I’ll probably piss some people off here, but WHAT THE FUCK is up with that? The Golden Sun games are quite possibly the best original RPGs on the GBA, and they are beautiful traditional RPGs at that, which is a very good thing, but noooooo, we want more f*cking MARIO games. And I’ll probably piss even more people off, but I think Mario is probably the lamest mascot out there. Yes, the main Mario games are fun, and some others are ok, but it reminds me back in the NES days where Mario was in every single game Nintendo made. Why can’t they make Link Golf or Samus Tennis? I’d much rather play one of those.

Pilotwings for GC
Nintendo has announced that Factor 5, makers of the Rogue Squadron games, has started to work on a new Pilotwings game. Personally, I think this is great news because I loved the original Pilotwings. Never played the N64 version because I sold mine off after owning it for 6 months. The only games I EVER liked for the N64 were Mario 64, Zelda: OOT, SW: Shadows of the Empire, and Pokemon Snap. Now THERE’S a game to bring back. I’m not a big fan of Pokemon Snap, but that game was so fun and innovative that it was hard to put it down. Yea, there’s like 8 million different Pokemon now, so let’s make a Pokemon Snap that lasts like 50 hours!

Square-Enix Mysteries
My personal favorite game company had a press conference to inform the public of what they’re doing in the near future. Among things mentioned is that they want Final Fantasy XI to succeed in America and want to localize Dragon Warrior VIII much quicker than VII was. They also said that Final Fantasy XII would be released early next year in Japan, and Kingdom Hearts 2 hasn’t even started production yet. The most interesting thing though is a slew of mystery titles. There are 3 mystery PS2 titles, 1 GBA and 2 PSOne titles. So let the speculation begin. Personally, I’m hoping for some Front Mission action (Front Mission Online perhaps?), maybe the original Star Ocean, and of course, Final Fantasy 3 for the PSOne, since it’s the only one left. Ooh, and how could I forget some of the SNES games I want to be remade: ActRaiser (though not ActRaiser 2), Soul Blazer, and Terranigma. I’m probably forgetting some, but Enix made a whole slew of kick ass SNES games that I’d love to see remade.

New Game Releases
* Ship Date – 6/3/03
Wakeboarding Unleashed featuring Shaun Murray (XBox, PS2), Midnight Club II (XBox), Ultimate Muscle (PS2, GBA), Wing Commander Prophesy (GBA)

There is nothing huge this week, with the possible exception of Wakeboarding. It’s another game by Activision O2 (the guys behind Tony Hawk), so it could be very cool. I used to be a fan of wakeboarding, so it’s cool to finally see a game about it, but I don’t know if they’ll be able to pull it off. We’ve got a racing game by Rockstar, a couple of fighting games based off plastic figurines from the 80’s, and a space shooter on the GBA that was originally on the PC to round out the new releases.

Props to my Homies! (aka Plugs)

I’m happy to say that Alex Lucard is finally back with us at 411. Unfortunately for him, he’s also back in the US away from his woman. Read all about it in his latest Retrograding column, where he answers an email explaining how to hook up a PAL SNES to a NTSC TV.

News reports have been sporadic over the past few weeks, so I don’t know what to expect here. Maybe we’ll have some new surprises? Who knows.

Bryan Berg’s Thank God It’s Friday News Report always kicks ass, and not only because he keeps giving me medals. Hey, it’s not my fault I deserve them. Anyway, I want to say thanks for the Gold. I appreciate it.

Taloony stole my thunder by reviewing .hack//MUTATION, and even though I’ve been the RPG reviewer around these parts lately, it’s good that he reviewed it since I couldn’t have filled up much of a review by saying “See my review for .hack//INFECTION.” Plus I don’t have the money at the moment to buy it, so props to him for beating me to the punch.

Speaking of reviews, yours truly did a review of Enter the Matrix for the PS2. Hey, my brother rented it, so I was able to play it. Anyway, in short, the game is a fun action game with great gameplay and an awesome story that ties into the movies really well.

Oh, and here’s something I missed last week, but I think it’s so f*cking cool that I had to put it in here. Joseph Stanley does a preview of the ArcadePC from E3, which is basically a PC in an arcade cabinet that is solely designed to play games on MAME, the Multi Arcade Machine Emulator. Lucard will probably grill me for this, but I’ve been a big fan of MAME for a long time just because I can play great old school games from my childhood, like Tapper for example. The nice thing about this is that, oddly enough, Capcom supports it and it even comes with several different Capcom games! Man, if I had $5000 (or just $2000 for the cabinet alone), I’d buy this just for the coolness factor.

New Anime Releases
* Release Date – 6/3/03
Animatrix, Argentosoma Vol. 3, Blue Submarine No. 6 Special Edition, Eden’s Bowy Vol. 1 (w/ optional artbox), Inu Yasha Vol. 6, Rune Soldier Vol. 2, Spectral Force

Animatrix is a must have for Matrix fans. I’ve seen all the ones that have been released on the Matrix site, and the Final Flight of the Osiris, and all were pretty good. Apparently there are some stinkers, but there are two by Shinichiro Watanabe (director of Cowboy Bebop) and one is by the now defunct Square Films, so you can’t go wrong. Argentosoma and Blue Submarine are ones I’ve wanted to get, but aren’t that high on the list. Eden’s Bowy and Rune Soldier are both interesting sounding fantasy shows, plus Eden’s Bowy has the damn box, which means I need it. I’m still gonna wait for an Inu Yasha box, or at least wait until they put at least 4 episodes on a disc, rather than 3. And I’ll probably avoid Spectral Force based on the poor review of Chris Beveridge at AnimeonDVD.

My Collection
As always check out my collection, and if there is anything you want me to review, just tell me.

My Collection

New Shows Added This Week: none

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
These are some shows I watched last week, but didn’t have time to review them, so here they are. Both are very good and highly recommended.

Does an improbable situation for a boy in school spell success?
Story: This is the story of a boy named Kei Kusanagi who has a disorder that causes him to go into what he calls a “standstill”. Every so often, he will just black out for no apparent reason, and one time he blacked out for 3 years, which stunted his growth, and even though he looks 15 and is in junior high, he is really 18. One day, while in the park, he sees an alien ship land and a beautiful young woman teleport out. Fearing for his life, he runs. The next day, he discovers he has a new teacher, whose name is Mizuho Kazami, and she’s the same alien he saw the night before. She realizes that he saw her and knows her true identity, and one thing leads to another, and to keep her identity secret, they must get married. The catch is, they can’t reveal their marriage to any of Kei’s friends, so they both have to live normal lives outside of their apartment, and Kei has to cope with the new responsibility of being a husband to an alien.
Animation: As the years progress, animation keeps getting better and better, and this show is no exception. It has top of the line animation and wonderful use of color. The color of Mizuho’s hair is exquisite, and the eyes and outfits of all the characters is just as good.
Voices: The dub studio for this show is our good friends at Bang Zoom Entertainment. Our main character Kei is played by a relative unknown named Dave Wittenberg, who has primarily done several seasons of Digimon. Our heroine Mizuho is played by the woman of many names, Ruby Marlowe, who has done such favorites as Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess and KOS-MOS from Xenosaga. I want to go on the record by saying that before watching the show, I would have thought that someone else would have played the part better, but Ruby again shows her range with this one, since the character is often shy, but occasionally assertive. The main characters also include Kaede Misumi who is played by Melissa Fahn (Ed from Cowboy Bebop) and Koishi Herikawa who is played by Michelle Ruff (Chii from Chobits). Another character is the resident comic relief, Marie. She is played by Sandy Fox, who also played the comic character Sumomo in Chobits.
Packaging/Extras: While not as hefty as the Limited Edition box and extras that came with .hack, Bandai remains king of the hill when it comes to extras. The case is a standard black keepcase. The cover is reversible, with the standard cover having a picture of Mizuho in her teacher garb leaning against a pillow and the reverse is a close up picture of her eating “Pochy” (what the call Pocky in the show). The cool thing about the reverse is that the text of the words “Please Teacher” is actually written in Japanese. Both sides of the cover have a standard back. Included in the keepcase is the insert, which has the same picture of Mizuho as the front and folds out with a picture of Mizuho holding a school pointer/baton. Also in the insert is a full credits listing, including the English voice actors, which is a very nice touch. There is also 3 postcards of the various cast members and a mini-manga which samples the manga that the series is based on, which is actually called Onegai Teacher. Included in the limited edition set is an artbox to store all the Please Teacher discs in. It’s primarily red, looks like a box of Pochy and has the picture of Mizuho with a baton on one side, and the one of her eating Pochy on another. The final extra is the OST of the show. Whew.
The Verdict:: A
I didn’t know what to expect going into this show. To me, it sounded like another one of those “guy (usually with glasses) gets put into an improbable position of having to be with a woman and ends up falling in love with her” (see Love Hina, Mahoromatic, Steel Angel Kurumi, Hand Maid May, Ranma, Strawberry Eggs, etc) shows. And it is, but I like all those shows a lot, so they aren’t in bad company. The show is very heart warming at times and very silly at others. Of course, it couldn’t be pulled off as well if the actors who played the voices weren’t good, but this show is very good and recommended for all.

Another story about child who were promised to each other but separated and find each other again.
Story: Kaoru Hanabishi was on the way home from school when he met a lost young woman who needed help finding the way to her long lost love’s house. It’s not until they get to the house that Kaoru finds out that the long lost love was him! Aoi Sakuraba was trained her whole life to love and be the bride of Kaoru, and even after Kaoru left the Hanbishi house, she couldn’t stop thinking about him. Years later, she leaves home and goes to be with Kaoru, against her parents wishes. After spending a few days together, Aoi’s teacher/bodyguard Miyabi shows up to take her home, but Aoi manages to convince her mother to let her stay, and even lets them live in the Sakuraba family mansion there. Unfortunately for Kaoru, he has to sleep in the servant’s quarters outside of the mansion, and he’s so close yet so far from the woman he is falling in love with.
Animation: Like all shows lately, the animation is superb. And likewise, the use of color is excellent, with blue being the primary color for this show. The colors are softer than some shows, more like RahXephon than Please Teacher, and it suits the show well since Aoi is a very traditional Japanese woman, with her kimono being her primary dress.
Voices: Bang Zoom is at it again. Most of their shows feature one of three woman playing the main heroine: Wendee Lee, Michelle Ruff, or Ruby Marlowe. This time it’s Michelle Ruff in the role of Aoi. Kaoru is played by relative unknown Dave Lelyveld, who played various bit parts in Mahoromatic and X. Lia Sargent (May from Hand Maid May) shows her range here as the butch Miyabi and Wendee Lee plays the breast fetishist Tina Foster.
Packaging/Extras: While Bandai is the king of extras in general, Pioneer is the king of packaging. The case is a clear plastic keepcase with a reversible cover. The back of the cover for both sides is the same, which is a standard back. The original front cover is a picture of Aoi smiling, and the reverse side shows Aoi taking off her kimono, while Kaoru’s back is turned partially, and he’s blushing. The insert has the episode chapter listing on the front, an informational guide on the back (explaining suffixes like -chan and -sama), and the middle has a picture of Aoi and Kaoru sitting outside while cherry blossoms fall. Also included in the keepcase is a postcard with a picture of Aoi on it. The first volume also came with an optional artbox, which shows Pioneer’s excellence, as always. One side of the box has the cherry blossom picture, the other side has the postcard picture, and the spine has the original DVD cover picture. The final extra is a birthday card with all the women from the show on it.
The Verdict:: A-
This show is very good and I can’t wait to see more of it, but there were a few things that bugged me. The first few episodes were excellent, but the last couple were taken in a completely different direction. With the introduction of the funny yet annoying Tina Foster, the show degrades into a slapstick comedy, and it just really seems out of place. Hopefully that improves, or I may not like the next discs as much. Despite that though, the relationship between Aoi and Kaoru is very well done, and it’s easy to see the intense love Aoi has, and the growing love from Kaoru.

The Anime Enquirer: Perversion
One of my regular readers (and also GI Joe writer over on 411 Figures) Matt half jokingly mentioned that he thought I was a pervert, since I like the robot maid type shows, and in a way, he’s right. But it gave me an idea to write this up for anyone who likes anime, but isn’t really hardcore yet, because some of the these are terms I use commonly, and I just wanted to explain them a little be better for the uninitiated.

Fan Service: Anyone who has seen Evangelion and saw the Next Episode Previews has heard this a few times. Misato always promised fan service for the next episode, and it took me the longest time to figure it out. Basically, fan service is giving the fans what they want: perversion. Typically this is one of two things: cleavage or panties. Maid shows almost always feature the latter. The perfect example of fan service would be Hand Maid May, which features no nudity, but A LOT of gratuitous panty shows. I mean, seriously, no woman falls down near as much as the ones in that show.

Ecchi: The next level of perversion is ecchi, which is how the Japanese pronounce the letter H. Essentially, ecchi can be considered as non-sexual nudity. Shows like Ai Yori Aoshi could be considered ecchi because they do have nudity, but some could also consider Love Hina ecchi just because of the more extreme perversion that occasionally shows up there.

Hentai: This is the most extreme level of perversion, and has come to be known as primarily one thing: porn. There is a decent market for adult anime, even so that some companies use American porn actresses to dub the voices for the characters. In Japan, Hentai actually means pervert. For example, there is a song for Ranma ½ where Nabiki calls Kuno a hentai. In Japan, it is more equivalent to what I termed ecchi than porn. But I will stick to the American definition when I refer to hentai. Incidentally, the word ecchi was born from the word hentai when people decided to shorten hentai to just H, which explains what I said before about the Japanese pronunciation of H.

Keep in mind that these terms are not really set in stone (other than ecchi being H and hentai being pervert or perverted). This is just what many consider them to be, and how I refer to them. I just thought I’d pass along the information in case someone was unsure what the terms meant when referred to by me or someone else who may be discussing anime.

Another week is done, and I can go back to learning PHP/MYSQL. Next week, we’ll be doing more of the same, except it will be next week, rather than this week. Write me if you want. I read all email I get, and if you don’t flame me and write halfway intelligently, I’ll even reply. So thanks for reading, have a nice week and weekend, and I’ll see you next week.