Hump Day Otaku News Report 10.22.03

My vacation went by too fast, and now I have to work again. But that’s where the green comes, and if I don’t have any green, then I can’t dig myself out of (or deeper into, which is more appropriate) debt. If anyone knows of a way for me to get money by doing nothing but playing games and watching anime, then hook me up.

This week is light on news, but I have a couple of anime reviews for you, as well as the usual fun stuff. So lets start it off with a BOMB!! Oh, I kill myself sometimes.

Gaming News

N-Gage is Officially a Failure! is reporting that the N-Gage is a bust. Well, they were a lot nicer about it than I am, but basically the system hasn’t sold shit in its first week of sales. Jorma Ollila, the Chairman and CEO of Nokia, has said that the outlook was “very positive”. He said that many stores sold out of the device. What, did they only have one N-Gage? The total sales were less than 5000 units, which is very poor, especially when considering the fact that Atari’s Jaguar sold more units in New York alone in its first week. Hell, they only sold 500 in the UK! Enjoy your money and N-Gage while it lasts, Lucard. I give them till the end of the year to throw in the towel.

What? That’s it? There isn’t any more good news to be posted? How can I possibly fill up this space? Mini news time.

Donkey Konga Trailer
Cube Europe has posted a link to download the Donkey Konga Japanese trailer. I’m really excited about this one, so hopefully it’ll be released stateside.

Long Address, Great Company
SNK Neo Geo (or is it Playmore???) has opened up a US site. They mainly talk about their games (obviously) such as King of Fighters 2000 and 2001, Metal Slug Advance, and the highly anticipated SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos. If it’s released on the Dreamcast, I will so buy it.

Takara Buys Atlus
In probably the biggest news since Enix bought Squaresoft, Takara (makers of none other than the Transformers) have bought out Atlus (makers of non other than Shin Megami Tensei). Here’s to hoping they’ll find some f*cked up way to combine the two.

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.

October 21
SSX 3: Out of Bounds (GC, P2, XB)
Star Wars Rebel Strike (GC)

October 22
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (P2)
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (XB)
ESPN NBA Basketball (P2, XB)
Freestyle Street Soccer (GC, XB)
Grabbed by Ghoulies (XB)
Hot Wheels World Race (GC)
Hunter the Reckoning: Redeemer (XB)
Morrowind: Game of the Year Edition (XB)
Super Mario Brothers Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (GBA)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (GC, GBA, P2, XB)
Time Crisis 3 with Guncon 2 (P2)

October 24
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (GBA)
Celebrity Deathmatch (P2)
Lizzie McGuire (GBA)
Spyro 3: Attack of the Rhinocs (GBA)
Virtual On Marz (P2)

Release dates courtesy of Christian at Game Crazy. See your local Game Crazy to enter the Tony Hawk Underground Tournament on October 25th. You can win a copy of THUG for the system of your choice!

Christian’s Comments: The Street Dates were broken by retailers for Super Mario Advance 4 and Celebrity Deathmatch, so you can find those now at a store near you. Hunter the Reckoning: Redeemer was due out on the 22nd, however it now
has been pushed back to the 29th. Both Grabbed by Ghoulies and Morrowind have been pushed up. And Finally, NBA Inside Drive 2004 for the XBox has been pushed back to Nov. 19.

This weeks, there is no contest as to the top games. SSX 3, Rebel Strike, Castlevania and ESPN NBA Basketball. Those four are going to do brisk business next week, and all through the Christmas season. TMNT will do good amongst younger gamers, which is a shame because it looks like an excellent 3D beat-em up and I’ll be selling it as such. Grabbed by Ghoulies could be a sleeper hit as well.

Lee’s Comments: I tend to agree with Christian, for the most part here. Rebel Strike should be an excellent game, since the previous Rogue Squadron games have been pretty good. Any of the Sega/ESPN games deserves a look, even though I’m not a basketball fan. And TMNT looks excellent visually, and if it plays anything like the arcade games, it will be great. But hands down, my favorite of the week is Castlevania. I have faith that Konami learned their mistakes with the N64 games, and this one looks to be a winner. We’ll know for sure this weekend, because I’m gonna rent and review it.

Survey Time
Didn’t get many responses on last week’s question, about the anime/game named pets. But the other Matt (not Hardin) did give a suggestion:
However, your non-anime named dog, Snow… well, Snow is a minor character from Dragon Ball (not Z), who appears in a few episodes. So you could always be like “yeah, Snow’s named after that little girl in Dragon Ball, she’s so cute!”

Well, that would mean people would assume I watched Dragonball, which I don’t. Not like it matters. Of all our pets, she’s the GOOD one, so it’s nice to set her apart from the rest in other ways as well.

Christian wrote in as well, and he said that he doesn’t have any pets currently, but he wants to get a lab type dog and name it Brooklyn or Bronx, from Gargoyles. And yes, I think that counts, because it’s the closest American show to anime in recent years, in my opinion. No, I don’t think Powerpuff, Dexter, or Samurai Jack count. Sorry folks. Besides, the voice actors from Gargoyles were like all the crewmembers from Star Trek: TNG!

And that brings us to the question of the week, and it’s a two parter. What anime/cartoon would you most like to see as a video game? Personally, I’d love to see a huge fighting game with all the old school favorites like He-Man, Transformers, Thundercats, and Silverhawks together. That’d kick tons more ass than the Dream Mix fighter game. Imagine Lion-O vs. He-Man! That’d be cool.

The other part flips that question upside down. What game would you most like to see converted into an anime/cartoon? The answer WOULD be Xenosaga for me, but that’s supposed to be happening anyway, so I guess I’d have to pick Disgaea. The story’s there, the voice actors are there, and everything would be so hilarious! I’d love that! What do you guys think?

Obaka-san of the Week!!!
First, a little background on the title is in order. In the last preview on the fourth volume of Chobits, Hideki (played by the incomparable Crispin Freeman) explains “the big O”. Basically, from what is said there, you can add an O to basically anything and make it big. So adding an O to the beginning of Baka, makes it a Big baka. In fact, that’s one of their examples: Obaka-san, which means Mr. Stupid (or BIG Stupid). It sounded too good, so that’s the name now.

And what do you know? The first Baka of the Week has returned! What does the new Obaka-san have to say?

You still suck and you still like crappy anime. King of Bandit Jing and Heat Guy J rule. Oh, and Suncoast is weak when it comes to anime. Everything they have is at other stores weeks ahead of time with much better prices. You’re the equivalent of an anime mark. Fag.

I don’t understand why he insists on bashing my tastes, considering the fact that he doesn’t know my tastes. Take for example HIS examples of good anime. I’ve seen one episode of King of Bandit Jing (and even previewed it in this column) and said I found it quite enjoyable. I can’t wait to get more, but I’m staying away from new series’ until I’ve finished off my current ones. Which is also why I haven’t seen any of Heat Guy J, which I will admit looks very interesting. Then again, I’ve never said ANYTHING bad about either.

Regarding Suncoast being weak, it’s like I told him, maybe not all Suncoasts provide the best selection, but the Suncoast in the Promenade here in Tulsa is easily the best place to find anime. They always have the newest stuff at or before the scheduled release date, and though it’s more expensive, it’s the best chance to find what you’re looking for (excepting hentai, which they will special order for you). Keep in mind, it’s more cost effective to buy anime from a place like The Right Stuf, but if you want anime in Tulsa, and you want it asap, the best place I’ve found is Suncoast.

And exactly what is an anime mark? Someone who enjoys anime? If so, then I agree completely. Is that not what an otaku is? I’m assuming he’s meaning that I like anime that the masses like, which really isn’t the case. I don’t like Dragonball Z, I don’t like Pokemon (the anime), and I don’t like YuGiOh. And wasn’t this same guy the one that said Ninja Scroll was better than His and Her Circumstances? That’s amusing considering that many mainstream anime fans like Ninja Scroll, whereas true anime fans like His and Hers. It appears that Obaka-san likes action anime only, which is very limited. Personally, I like all sorts of anime, but I prefer shows that have a very deep story with well-developed characters. So I still can’t please Obaka-san, it seems.

Oh, and isn’t it rather immature to stoop to calling someone you don’t know a fag? What’s the point? I just don’t get why someone would mention anything about my sexual preference, considering he doesn’t know me and also because it doesn’t really matter if I were or not. So Obaka-san is going into Oaho-san territory.

Anime News

MTV Gets Anime?
More anime on TV is a good thing, right? Especially when I can watch it! Because MTV has gotten on the game and has gotten the rights to air Heat Guy J. I think the series will go well with the station, and I will be watching the first few episodes whenever it premiers later this year or early next year. Horray for anime!

Gunslinger Girl Licensed?
Girls and guns are cool. Look at Noir and Najica Blitz Tactics. And this is another girls and guns show that is supposed to be pretty cool. Hey, Dom from Megatokyo likes it. Anyway, the producers of the show basically said that half of the show’s 13 million yen (roughly $118,000) was paid by American and European financeers. This leads the folks at Anime News Network to believe that the show had been licensed, which makes a lot of sense. Based on my other girls ‘n guns examples, I’d have to think that ADV is the winner on this one.

AODs Weekly Anime Release List
We’ve got a smaller week this week, but in my opinion, the releases are of much higher quality.

October 21
Arc the Lad Complete Collection (ADV)
Banner of the Stars II Vol. #2 (Bandai)
Infinite Ryvius Vol. #1 (Bandai)
Infinite Ryvius Vol. #1 Limited Edition (Bandai)
Power Dolls: Complete Collection (ADV)
Project ARMS Vol. #7 (Viz)
RahXephon Vol. #6 (ADV)
Saint Seiya Vol. #1 w/ box (ADV)
Southern Cross Box Set (ADV)
Steam Detectives Vol. #1 (ADV)
Those Who Hunt Elves 2 Vol. #2
Urusei Yatsura Movie 1: Only You

Thanks to Anime on DVD who posts these release dates and I rip off on a daily basis. This site is one of the best places for anime news and reviews, as well as having the best anime forum on the web.

Release of the Week: Infinite Ryvius Vol. #1 Limited Edition
The story is one of tragedy. The time is in the year 2225. The characters are all children who are training to become astronauts. The situation is grim. The space station they are in has been sabotaged and is slowly drifting towards the Sea of Geduld, a plasma field that will mean sure death if they cannot escape. The adult trainers of the children have all been killed, and it’s up to a group of a few kids to grow up very quickly and save their bretheren. I’ve seen only the first episode of this before it was licensed, and the premise and execution in that episode were great. I personally can’t wait to see more. And since it’s by Bandai, we can expect a bunch of extras in the LE set. It comes with an artbox to store the discs, of course. But it also comes with a ferret plushy toy and 4 pencilboards (an extra I’ve become quite fond of). Surprisingly, it doesn’t come with a soundtrack. But still, since it’s by Bandai, it will likely be an excellent release worthy of any collection.
Purchase at Anime Corner Store and The Right Stuf.

Anime Bargains
Take a look at TSRI’s Weekly Bargains!

I’m a big fan of bundles, and there are a couple of good ones this week. First up is the Zone of the Enders Bundle, which includes the 6 DVDs from ZOE: Delores and the OVA ZOE: Idolo. It retails at over $200, and you can get it for a mere $76.99! Damn, I’m good at this. Why aren’t they paying me??

Another bundle is for the Battle Athletes OVA series, and this one is going for the low, low price of $23.99, which is the price of ONE DVD, but you’re getting 3 with this. And if you act now, they’ll throw in a set of Ginsu knives! No, not really. But I am serious about getting all 3 DVDs for that price.

Lastly, we have a T-shirt that I’d like, but I doubt they have it in my size. It says Beware of Perverts in Japanese, and features a stick figure drawing of a man reaching to grab a woman’s booty. Oy, where do these people come up with these things!

Mini Anime Reviews
These are a couple of shows that I started and finished this past week. One is a future classic and one is something that probably never should have been.

His and Her Circumstances (Kare Kano)
Not only is TSRI the best online store for anime and related products, but they also are a top notch production company. And while they did wonderfully on Boogiepop Phantom, this would be their crowning achievement.
Story: Yukino Miyazawa is the best at her school. The model student, she is always ranked number 1 in her class and is flocked to by her pupils for help. She basks in the glory of the attention she receives from her peers. That is, until Arima Souichirou shows up. He quickly overtakes her in the ranking, as well as in attention from the other students. Yukino is furious because her entire world is based on the attention she receives. Why? Because she’s a fake. She is only a model student for the attention, and not because she wants to be. Her revenge is thwarted when Arima finds out her secret and they eventually become friends, and then more than friends. What will happen to their lives when they realize they are in love with one another.
Animation: While all the characters are designed very well, and all the colors are very appropriate, the animation has a very grainy quality to it. Though it first aired in 1998, it feels like it is much older than that. Despite that, the quality of the animation as a whole is very excellent. Hideaki Anno’s hand was at work here, because there is a lot of very artistic shots in the show, including the endings, which are almost all live action. This is probably the most artistic show I’ve ever seen.
Voices: Though many of the voices may not be extremely well known, they all do a wonderful job in their roles. It’s no wonder that the guys over on AOD’s Forum voted for the main characters as the best dub of one month over there. It doesn’t hurt of course that Crispin Freeman did the script adaptation. Arima is probably the biggest surprise. Played by Christopher Nicholas who only has a few other titles under his belt, the character of Arima is that of a cool and calm person, but one with quite a bit emotion still, and Nicholas played that emotion perfectly. Veronica Taylor as Yukino was also an excellent fit, especially in her psycho mode moments. Veronica is probably best known for her role as Ash in the Pokemon series and movies. The other great roles are probably Yukino’s sisters, played by Jessica Calvello (the person who played Excel and had to leave due to losing her voice) and Megan Hollingshead (played various minor roles, including that of Lenneth in Valkyrie Profile). The two of them also were responsible for the (mostly) live action episode previews. They have to be seen to be believed.
Packaging/Extras: Since it’s the entire series, I’ll be brief. There are 5 discs total, with 26 episodes in all. The first disc (or box set) came with an excellent, sturdy artbox. The cases themselves are all pretty standard, and none come with an insert, unfortunately. The discs themselves have only minor extras, including interviewers notes and interviews with Japanese voice actors.
The Verdict:: A+
I thought it would be hard to give a show a perfect score, but it wasn’t. The show is probably one of the, if not THE best show I’ve ever seen. They reveal their love to one another pretty early on, so you get to see the transformation of both characters into something more special, and you also get to see their love grow and bloom into magic. The characterization in the show is impeccable and never before have I seen a more accurate and touching portrayal of young love. A word of warning though: I’m basing this score on the series as a whole, while the ending left a lot to be desired. It’s not as bad as the Evangelion ending (the series I mean, not the movie), but it’s still a non-ending with no closure. I guess I find it easy to ignore the ending as such, but it left me wanting something else still. Despite that, the road to the ending was not destroyed for me, as it was with Eva, and the series is a perfect addition to any collection.

Steel Angel Kurumi 2
Being a big fan of the first season, I was eager to see how they’d pull off a second one. I liked all the characters and was hoping it’d be a direct continuation of the first series. I was wrong.
Story: Nako is an awkward and clumsy girl who has been playing cello for quite a long time and is hoping to travel the world and play in many different countries. Her world is about to be turned upside down when she is chased out of her family’s storeroom by a statue and then kissed by a Steel Angel, becoming her master! Things get even weirder when her neighbor, Uruka, kisses another Angel, and then a third wants to beat them all up!
Animation: The animation is about on par with the original Kurumi. The colors are wonderful and the character designs are excellent. Still, it’s missing a little something. Maybe because it’s set in modern times and doesn’t quite have the allure that the original Kurumi, set in the early 1900s, had.
Voices: The voices for the angels are the same, with Kelli Cousins, Monica Rial and Hillary Haag playing Kurumi, Saki and Kirinka respectively. I’m not sure who the voices for the other characters are, because of course, it’s not posted anywhere, but all played their parts well and I really have no complaints. One thing to note is that the opening theme song is a remix of the original, and much better than the previous one, which was dubbed by the cast as “Shut Your Fucking Mouth”. (See the commentary from Steel Angel Kurumi 5: Encore for more details).
Packaging/Extras: There are 2 discs with 13 mini-episodes total, which is kind of disappointing because they could have put them all on one disc. The discs have a really cool extra though. Instead of an insert, both disc cases are somewhat like a paperdoll type of thing, where you can change the characters outfits on the front. Kurumi and Nako are on disc 1 and Saki and Kirinka are on disc 2. The extras on the discs themselves weren’t that special though, including textless openings and closings and character galleries.
The Verdict:: C-
The whole series lasts only 3 hours, and it makes it really hard to get to know the characters. Plus the whole f*cked up love polygons that are going on here. Kurumi loves Nako, since she’s her master, and Uruka is also in love with Nako, but Saki is in love with Kurumi and Uruka, and Kirinka may fall in love with Nako too. Basically, it’s a hentai waiting to happen. Lesbian love is all that happens here. The show is a lot lighter than the previous one, but still, it’s just not as good in any aspect. The thing that pisses me off the most is that they never explain what happened after the first series. It’s just like they decided to do more of the same, but worse. I’d only recommend it to complete your collection if you have the first series, or if you’re into minor lesbian fanservice, which is much less than the previous series.

Links to the Past

Retrograding – Alex Lucard
Where does he come up with these? An Archie dating sim? A Captain N genre-bender? A Silverhawks shooter? A Jem rhythm title? Scary, scary stuff, though I’d be totally down with the Silverhawks, and my wife would be all about the Jem game.

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report – Bryan Berg
Mr. Berg discusses the PS2 price drops, GTA custom soundtracks, Mature games and Pac-Man vs. He also liked my column last week! Woo hoo!

The Angry Gamer – Liquidcross
Though I don’t agree with him on a lot of his arguments here, Liquid shows several games that completely changed formats, and he thinks they were ruined in the process. Personally, I think an excellent job was done with Metroid Prime, and I don’t really like FPS games at all.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Cory Laflin
Cory talks about EA’s free golf game, video games relieving anxiety (which I can fully attest to), kids and their money, an FPS controller, and EA becoming another Microsoft in the game world. But the best part is his goof on ESPN Gamer again. Those Golden Tee people scare me, just like the one in the MTV Gamer show with the morons in the house who did NOTHING but play games, and the guy who was happy to be the best at Pac-Man.

The Gamer’s Conscience – Frederick Badlissi
Ah, the games of our past. Very few writers put out more thought provoking and intelligent articles, but Fred definitely kicks total ass in that regard.

411MAX: News News Revolution – Alex Williams
Our dancing king is back with probably his best column ever. Why? Easy. Not only does he make reference to R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy, the robot that came with the top of the line NES package that I got. Yes, my parents were unaware that ROB was shit, and so I had to get SMB as a separate game.), but he also talks about motherf*cking Eggplant f*cking Wizard! He was the coolest! Except when he actually turned you into an eggplant, but that’s beside the point. We all need an Eggplant Wizard in our lives, and 411Games is no different!

A Thumb to the Eye – Chuck Platt
Chuck wants Intelligent Qube. BAD. Seriously though, it’s a great game, and it suffers from the fate that many other great games do: low print run. And Chuck makes some great arguments on ways to get old games back on the market. Sadly, games like Intelligent Qube will probably always be forgotten by the companies that produce them.

Well, it’s been another fun week of games and anime. Come back next week when I’ll hopefully have more news and less blah. Email me if you want, and if not, then email me anyway. I’m always on the hunt for a new Obaka-san of the Week!

Lee Baxley is THE Bad Guy. When not downing a bottle of some alcoholic beverage, he can be found taunting people by either throwing his toothpick in their face or feigning fright, or sometimes even both. Despite these pastimes, he still enjoys playing RPGs and watching anime. You can read about his further exploits on his blog.