Final Fantasy 15 Brotherhood Episode 1 and Review


It has taken 10 years for Square Enix to give fans a release date for “Final Fantasy 15”(September 30th according to one source), but now just a few months before launch they give us a prequel anime AND Movie? I’d almost dare to say Square have some issues with priorities. It’s hard to be too up set though, because this was pretty good. While this doesn’t make up for the over long wait and whatever clusterfuck that forced them to changed the game from “Final Fantasy Verses 13” to “Final Fantasy 15”, but in all honesty I’m okay with anything that helps us move past and forget FF13.

As I am including the episode here and it’s only 11 minuets long, I’m going to skip over the plot synopsis and you can watch it for yourself. Instead, I’m just going to jump into the things I liked. First of which is the art. Not being the worlds biggest anime fan I’m not quite sure how to describe the art style, but I found it to be simple stunning to look at. Kind of like the game…..they one that was announced 10 years ago……yeah if you cant tell I’m still kind of sore about that. Anyways, good visuals.

I also liked how they incorporated game powers into the fight scene. With the exception of any magic, this fight included all of the combat abilities i’ve seen be used in game play used here: the teleporting attacks, the switching weapons, even helping out party members….i’ve seen all of that in game play. I’m sure it would have been easier for everyone involved if they just picked one main combat option and focused on that, but I’m glad they made such an obvious effort to go beyond the superficial in making this a “FF15 anime”.

That fight scene also might have answered a question i’ve had for a while: what’s the game’s rating going to be? With the demo being attached to “Final Fantasy Type 0”, the first M rated eatery to the franchise, I started looking at the combat and recently began wondering if Square were planing on this being the first Main-line entry to receive the “Mature” rating. But once I saw that most of the enemies you’ll be fighting are going to be robots, that may be a sign that they are still planing on going the T rout by showing us that we’re not going to be carving up real people. I’d be fine with this going either way, but it’s funny that this comes out right around the same time the question popped into my head.

All in all, I enjoyed this and am looking forward to the next episode. How a bout you? Leave a comment below and let me know what you thought.

Cool Stuff From Around the Web: DBZ shilling for Ford


I’m not sure what hurts the most right now: the fact that my childhood has become nostalgically marketable or the fact that people around my age are expected to be buying cars while I’m still scraping together money for the bus. Either way, it’s official my fellow ’90s kids: we’re old now.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Will Soon Alow You to Create Your Own Pikachu


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Starting some time next year you will be able to create your very own Pikachu at Build-A-Bear workshops in the US, Europe, Canada and Australia. Not only that, but you’ll also get a Trading Card, Poke Ball Hoodie and Pikachu voice clip. If you order online you’ll  be able to get a Charizard Costume too! (source)

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie Trailer and Impressions


I really like Ghost in the Shell. Not only is it one of my favorite anime’s, it’s one of my favorite shows of all time. And before Scarlett Johansson takes the role of The Major and we have to have yet another talk about cultural appropriation, white washing and when it is and isn’t okay to look to other cultures for IP’s to work with (my thoughts on the topic Here) i’m glad to see that we’re getting at lest one more animated film in the franchise. And it looks Good! Stylistically it looks to be continuing the “Arise” reimagining, which i am totally on bored with; as i’ve said before, this look for the Major is my favorite. Really, my only complaint is the unoriginal title. “The New Movie”…..come on guys, you’re paid to be creative, you can do better than that. All in all, i can;t wait too see this. How about you? leave a comment below and let me know.

Doing Sexy Right: A Look at Ghost in the Shell’s Major Motoko Kusanagi


5By William Shelton

Earlier this month Metal Gear Solid 5 was released and with it came controversy over the design of one of the female characters. I haven’t played the game yet so I’m not going to comment on Quiet’s clothing but I will say Laura Kate did a great video summing up her thoughts and you should all go check that out. What I want to talk about is the anime Ghost in the Shell which I started watching for the first time a few days ago. I’m only about eight or nine episodes in, but one of the things I’m loving about this show is how well the creators handled the sexulisation of the main character, Major Motoko Kusanagi.

1The first thing I noticed about both the show and Kusanagi’s character was her ridiculous outfit. The Major’s default costume is little more than a corset and thong. It was impossible to ignore the titillating nature of the outfit or how absurd it would be to ware into combat, but I rolled my eyes and went with it. Comic books and other anime have long since taught me to except this kind of ridiculousness so long as the character was well written. I mean, what could you reasonably ask for in an anime, a woman in sensible footwear and body armor that protects all a characters major organs, yeah rig…..

2Oh….this changes things. I don’t remember if the Major underwent this costume change in the first episode, she did in the second which was more of a combat operation than the first was anyways. This simple costume change helped to establish a lot about the Majors character and in my
opinion it also helps justify the “corset and thong” she wares throughout the show. By having the Major switch into combat armor for the more action heavy segments we learn that she’s well aware of the danger that comes with her job and that she’s not foolish enough to go into battle unprepared. She’s a Soldier and more importantly she’s a Professional and she acts like it. This is expanded in a later episode when she is undercover at a press conference wearing a Formal Uniform. Again the viewer is shown that the Major knows what’s appropriate for the situation at hand; she’s attending a professional event and she dresses accordingly.

3“Okay,” I hear you ask “but how does that justify the sexual nature of her normal outfit”? Personally I feel that this helps sell the idea that she just likes looking sexy. While there are plenty of valid arguments against the justification that a fictional character “chooses” to dress sexually, to me it works better here because, unlike so many other female characters, the Majors sexual dress never puts her in danger. You wouldn’t be able to disrobe her in a fight and her armor covers the parts of her that are actually important, not just the fun “important bits”.
I still prefer her more toned down look in the spin off…reboot…reimagining…thing that was Ghost in the Shell: Arise, but I’m still glad the original show brought us a character that was allowed to be sexy while also knowing when to drop the titillation. Kusanagi’s sexuality never infringes on her ability to be bad ass because the creators crafted a character who knew when not too be sexy. Nor is it possible to ignore her sexuality because she has so little issue flaunting it. She looks good, she knows it and she wants you to know it as well….just not in the middle of a firefight.

4I completely understand why some women may disagree with me on this issue, and I’m not going to attempt to say their wrong for feeling that way. If you’d like to discus this further please feel free to take to the comment section.

On Hollywood Remakes


In the last few days I’ve heard two bits of news that I had two drastically different reactions too. The first was that David Fincher (dir. Fight Club, Seven, Gone Girl) has plans to start production on “The Girl who Played With Fire”, the sequel to his 2011 film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, a remake of a 2009 Swedish film of the same name. This made me very, very happy. The second bit of news was that Patrick Hughes (dir. The Expendables 3) is heading up the American remake of 2011’s “The Raid: Redemption”. This angered me to no end. As I wondered to myself why I also noticed that the topic of American remakes has been on a lot of peoples minds lately, so I thought I’d throw my two cents in.
First off: I don’t really have an issue with remakes in general. I have an issue when we are remaking (or “rebooting”) movies that aren’t even 20 years old yet, but the idea in and of itself doesn’t bother me too much. More than that, I think cross cultural remakes is one of the better reasons to remake a movie. Sometimes. See, every culture is different, and sometimes those cultural differences can be a barrier. So when making one of these kinds of remakes, I think it’s important to know going in what exactly it is that needs to be changed to make another audiences click with the material.
For example, I saw the original Swedish version of “ Let The Right One In” before I ever knew there was an American remake. I loved it, but when I went to watch it with a friend who couldn’t get past the Swedish, we switched to the English dub and it was awful. If you cannot watch that movie in Swedish then you really shouldn’t watch it. But on that same note, it is great movie and that barrier could prevent a large number of people for enjoying it. Enter “Let Me In”, the American remake who’s most major change to the source material is the language.
I think that would explain a lot of why Fincher’s “The Girl Who…” remake doesn’t bother me so much. He’s making a good movie more accessible. Now lets look to “The Raid: Redemption”. First off, what was “The Raid”? It was a kung-fu movie about a group of police who are trapped in an apartment complex, but instead of using kung-fu, the movie styles it’s fights using Pencak Silat a form of martial arts native to Indonesia. So what would need to be changed? Well, we could do the same idea with a fighting style more common in America. And what would that be? Guns. Okay so the remake would be about some cops fighting their way up an apartment complex using guns. Wait, we already have that. It was called “Dredd”. And it was awesome. The fact is, the “American” version if “The Raid: Redemption” already exists, so there is really no need to bother remaking this movie. To doi so is pretty legitimately saying “the only reason i’m not going to watch this is because it’s foreign”. And if you cannot see the massive racist undertones there then there is something wrong with you.
Now, another reason why I don’t have an issue with Fincher’s “The Girl Who…” remake is the way he handles the character of Lisbeth Salander. Both movies are basses off books written by Stieg Larsson, and due to this both movies have vastly different takes on his main character. In the original Lisbeth is more of a Punk Rocker, who’s a bad ass you don’t want to mess with. In Fincher’s she is portrayed more like a high functioning autistic (for any autistic readers, I know that is not the preferred term, but I’m not sure what is or even how else to express the way the character is written, so please forgive my ignorance). These are two very different takes on the character, and neither is really definitively better than the other. So if Fincher hadn’t made his version of the movie we would have lost a really great character along the way.
For a more exaggerated example, lets look at one of my favorite games series: Persona. In persona 3 and 4 you play as a Japanese student and have to manage both school life and monster hunting. Part of the reason I like these two games so much is that they are developed by a Japanese company and made to appeal to Japanese sensibilities. While also just being really fun games, they are also a look at a culture I don’t know much about. Now, if there was going to be a Hollywood movie made out of this franchise, I would love to see it done the same way: an all Japanese cast, set in Japan an so on. However, i’ve known people that couldn’t get into the games because they did’t understand a lot of the Japaneses cultural-specific stuff. So if Hollywood made a movie, it would make since to set the movie in America, where the cultural reference points are more known to it’s audiences. However, the Japanese centric nature of Persona’s 3 and 4 aren’t the main focus of the games, and the first two games had their settings changed when originally released. The games themselves are more about the bonds of friendship, inner demons and the personification of the cast own inner turmoil and self-acceptance more than the fact that they are Japanese.
Now, Lets look at one remake that has a lot of people up in arms: A potential live action remake of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 anime classic Akira. Here I have to agree, Hollywood should not do a live action remake. Why? Well in part it’s due to the fact that this is a fundamentally Japanese film. Not only is it set in Japan, but it deals with a very real fear of the Japanese people (at least it was at the time, now i’m not so sure) the threat of another Nuclear attack on Japan. Ever since the cold war you could say this isn’t a strictly Japanese fear, but Akira was made to address this from the point of view of the Japanese people. Even if you wanted to argue that the language barrier was cause for a remake, i’d still have to argue against as the film has one of the best dubs i’ve ever heard (in fact, this is one of only a few anime i’d rather watch in english). Nor could you claim that modern technology would do anything to make the film more accessible, as the film still looks great and even looks better that most modern animation (eastern or western) in my opinion.
And as it was with “The Raid”, we already have a lot of books movies and video games that look at the same ideas as Akira but focused on the U.S.A. Off the top of my head, if you really need the name recognition to sell a film about post-nuclear attacked America, why not the Fallout games? Again, with how good and easily accessible Akira is the only reason to remake it now is because of those who simply won’t watch a movie not made in the US.
So, that’s where I stand on the issue. What about you? Leave a comment below and Let me Know.

Persona 5 Trailer and Impressions


My Thoughts:
Have you played Persona 3 or 4? If not, go. Now. Don’t even bother reading this, just go play the games. They are fantastic. They are so fantastic that i have a fan boy fit every time i watch this trailer even though nothing is really revealed. Normally that would piss me off to no end, but i just can’t help myself from getting excited over this. What about you? Are you a fan of the “Persona” series? If so, what game is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let me know.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya Trailer and Impressions


My Thoughts:
I love the art style here. It is simply a joy to look at. When rumors that Studio Ghibli might be closing started to circulate i said that that would have been a tragedy, and this is why. However, none of that changes the fact that i don’t know anything about the films plot. Wikipedia says the film is based off of the folktale “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter”, but that is meaningless to me as i have no idea what that is about either. But this is more of a teaser, so the flaw of no information can be forgiven somewhat. Hopefully we’ll be getting a better trailer soon. But when you get right down to it: it’s Studio Ghibli. I’m going to see this at some point.

Poor Mans Reviews: Valkyria Chronicles


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Release Date: November 4th, 2008
Systems: PS3
Developer: Sega
Rating: T
Metacrtic Score: 86

Getting my hands on this was almost as difficult has the game itself. I had wanted to get this game when it came out nearly six years ago, but I couldn’t find a hard copy until a few weeks ago. Normally, this could raise expectations to an unreasonable heights. Luckily, in the ways that truly matter “ Valkyria Chronicles” lives up to the expectations.

Story:
The year is 1935 C.E., and war has erupted in Europa. The two major superpowers, the “East Europan Imperial Alliance” and the “Atlantic Federation” are fighting over the all purpose mineral “Ragnite”. Until resonantly Gallia had managed to stay out of the conflict, but the the Imperial Alliance invaded to claim Gallia’s rich Ragnite deposit. You, as Lieutenant Welkin Gunther, are tasked with leading Squad 7 and keeping the Imperials out of Gallia.
The issue here is pacing and structure. The story is structured in as a book detailing the Gallian front of the war, with progress being measured in chapters, and having one battle per chapter. This wouldn’t be an issue, but the game doesn’t just play out the chapters. You have to pick out the part of the chapter you want to go through, the the game asks you if you’re sure you want to go on, the you watch the cut scenes, the do it all over again once that’s done. With how linear the story is, this approach doesn’t make much since. There is only one path to progression, so why can’t the game just play through each chapter, giving you the ability to save before and after each battle? Why do I constantly have to confirm that I want to go on? I bought the game and the single play campaign is the only play mode. I want to play through the story. The story itself isn’t good enough to over look these issues. It’s slow to take off, and until it does the story is only so much set dressing to give context as to why you’re in each battle. The voice acting and script isn’t bad, in fact it’s much better that it is in most other JRP’s. Sadly, that alone doesn’t rise above the the other annoyances.

Story: 2.5/5

Game Play:
“Valkyria Chronicles” is the best kind of difficult. It’s the kind of game that will kick your ass, then make you ask, “what did I do wrong?”. Every time one of my people died it was because I didn’t put them in a good position. Sure, with how dumb the AI can be deaths can sometimes feel cheep, but looking back I can’t think of a single time where better planing wouldn’t have helped.
As Lieutenant, it’s your job to pick a squad of 20 people, and deploy a team of 9 per mission. During missions you have a number of “command points”. These command points are used to move each unit around the map. You can move each unit for as long as they have AP. During these fazes each unit can attack once by aiming a circular reticule at an enemy, then hit the x button. You’re attack will land somewhere within that area. The game tell you how many shots you will take and how many have to hit a wherever you’re aiming. This forces you to think strategically, as aiming at the head lowers the number of times you have to hit the enemy, but you have to get closer in order to raise your chances of actually hitting the opponent. Once you’ve used up all the command points you turn in over and the enemy begins. Unfortunately, you can’t skip any part of this, and there turns can take a while.
There are five types of units that you pick from, as well as a tank. Each of the unit types are varied well, creating a “rock paper scissor” that will come naturally to anyone who’s big into strategy games; however, as it is with most console strategy games, it’s more streamlined that games like “Starcraft” or….”Starcraft 2” (i’m not a big fan of the genre, so please forgive me for my ignorance). One of the ways the game streamlines it’s ideas is by making you level up classes instead of the individual and up grades to equipment apply to everyone with the appropriate equipment. While this might not be as in depth as it is in other strategy games, but I found the system to work well, as it allowed me to focus more on troop placement and movement. Even in defeat, all I could do was think about was how to rearrange my troops or how to change up my strategy to make my team more efficient.
I do wish was anything to do outside of combat, however. As the game is set during a war, having some towns to explore would help to establish the weight of the conflict, giving more emotional dept to your actions. But can I fault a game for what it doesn’t do? Can I take away a point for wanting more even though what I got was pretty great? No. I’ll take off half a point.

Game Play: 4.5/5

Music and Sound:
While the game may look like a standard JRPG, it sounds almost nothing like one. As i’ve said, the story takes a long time to get going, so nothing anyone says really means anything, but at lest the voice acting isn’t as melodramatic as it could have been. All the attacks sound just as cartoonish as the visuals look. While nothing anyone says really maters, I can’t recall anyone talking about the importance of friendship, so even if you hate JRPG’s, take solace that you wont have to deal with that.
The Opening theme is rather pleasant, even if it does sound like every WW 2 theme every written. The battle themes kick major ass though. In fact, the music that plays during the defensive faze of battle makes having to sit through your opponents turn worth it.

Music and Sound: 4/5

Overall score: 3.6/5

Who is this game for:
Unless you just cannot stand JRPG’s and strategy games I can recommend this to just about anyone.