Another Fantastic Friday

I don’t understand the appeal of these type of series…
Yet I enjoy them as well….

Heyos Everyones!

I should be doing work right now, but I’ll tell ya, Calculus is no cakewalk. It’s amazing how much work goes into these problems, and one small mistake can cause an hour or more of repair if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s not fun, and honestly, I really need a break. Today’s been pretty intense, with projects due all around. Regardless, it’s been a great week, and I’m not going to let a few bad moments get the best of me.

I had intended for another Lasting Impressions post to go here, but due to the complexities of this week, it had to be pushed back. Luckily, it’ll be complete this weekend, which should mean a Monday release. In addition, I’ve completed quite a few series at this point, and I have strong opinions toward some of them. I won’t say whether it’s good or bad at this point, but I am working to get those out next week.

I haven’t been playing many jRPG’s recently, mainly because I’m so far behind in terms of anime. One of the side-effects of going to an anime convention is the feeling of how far behind you are in terms of what to watch. There are so many series that people consider “good,” and it feels like there isn’t enough time to watch them all. I’ve been fighting through series everyday to catch up, and it feels like my backlog only grows, no matter how much I watch.

I’ll be attending Anime Kaigi (Anime Kaigi Home) this year, which resides in Flagstaff, AZ on November 10~12 If anyone plans on attending, feel free to drop by my panel (Name that Anime Tune!) and say Hi. It’ll be lots of fun, and I assure you there will be lots of goodies given out. If you follow my blog, I’m sure you’ll already know of some series that’ll be on the quiz, as there’s no way I won’t be playing some of my favorite openings and endings.

Anyways, look forward to some of that awesome content coming later. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the rest of the day!

-Ace

Lasting Impressions : Durarara!!

Durarara!! - Anime
Durarara!! – Anime

It’s not often I get the opportunity to watch a series with a complicated story and deep character relations. I’ve known about Durarara!! for quite some time, but only now have I taken the time to watch this fantastic series. I can only say the anime deserves every bit of praise it is given, and provides viewers who enjoy “plot” and “story-driven progression” a phenomenal time.

At first, I was under the impression that the story would be hard to follow. The first episode introduces the viewer to a plethora of characters, and it can seem like a lot of information to process and remember. However, the introduction also allows the viewer to experience the same feelings the main character, Mikado, experiences. In a way, it’s a clever method of introducing a wave of information without losing the viewer. In addition, while the viewer may not be able to follow everything at the very beginning, as details are leaked out and revealed the previous scenes may be better understood and make the viewer view past events in their entirety. For example, as I enjoyed the series I failed to understand the events in full light until a few episodes after, some not being completely understood until near the ending of the series. However, the show grasps the viewers attention and brings excitement and reason to continue the series.

He doesn’t get along with a certain information broker…and he can lift vending machines.

The show can be easily divided into two arcs, with each splitting the episode count near evenly. The first arc really focuses on Mikado’s transition into the big city life, while also introducing the viewer to the vast selection of characters focused on in this series. However, this arc really focuses on Mikado Ryugamine, the transfer student “main” character, “The Black Rider,” who is rumored to be headless, and Shinra Kishitani, a black market surgeon who lives with “The Black Rider.” The truth to unveil the “Black Rider’s” past is underway, and the road there proves to be a difficult one that involves nearly every character in the series. If there is one remark I can make about the characters in this series, there are no characters in this series that have little to no significance. I love the way the characters all interact and have some bond with another. Perhaps it’s my attraction to well tied plot, or even just the lack of nonsense, but the completion of it all really compliments the series as a whole.

The second arc revolves around the main character, Mikadono Ryugamine, and his two friends, Masaomi Kida and Anri Sonohara. This arc tests the limits of their friendship and reveals the twisted past they each hold. This chapter provides a large boost of character development for these characters, as well as some other minor characters, but those who held the spotlight in the previous arc will take the backseat and provide only supporting roles for this chapter. Of course, every character tends to get some screen time, and their appearances all flow together seamlessly.

What’s that? Is that two best characters being introduced?

Luckily, the series doesn’t consider itself serious at all times. The comedy in this series is used sparingly and wisely, which only adds to the series as a whole. Due to its nature as a story-driven series, the comedy proves to be a valuable asset and escape from the story as a whole. In addition, the amount of references to other anime this series makes is amazing and caught me off guard. When I first saw Horo from Spice and Wolf, I started cracking up. It only got better as these references grew and I found myself grinning whenever there was a reference that I caught on. However, when it’s time to get serious, the series knows when to kick it into gear and commence the story.

Now would you want to mess with someone with a bike and knows how to use it?

The opening and ending credits used in this series greatly compliment the stylistic choice of this series. The opening songs get the viewer “pumped up” for the current episode, while providing a quick recap of the previous episode that relates to the current episode. It’s an excellent technique that proves beneficial to those who are watching episodes separately and not in a quick succession. The endings don’t add to much to the series, but they don’t detract from the series, and I think that’s the most important aspect an ending credit sequence should have.

Unfortunately, this series isn’t flawless. This story, as far as the anime is concerned, isn’t complete. Various aspects which were uncovered during the progression of the anime were left open, and many had yet to be concluded. In short, one could say the ending left much to be desired, and while it wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, there are many missing pieces in this puzzle, and only wish to be filled in at a later time.

By these details alone, Durarara!! will give any fan of story-driven anime a great time, and should be viewed at least once. The animation is swell, the music only adds to the experience, and the characters, all unique and fascinating, create a sense of reality in this fantasy supernatural world. I won’t give a score, as this was merely my experience after watching the entirety of the series, but I can say that my impressions after the series was over was a positive one.

Durarara!! OP 01

Projects to be Done

Dat Hina

Heyos Everyones!

It’s been a hell of a week, and I feel like it has only just begun. Last weekend I spent my time at Saboten-Con, living in  Arizona and all. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to go to another fun convention with everyone again. I love going to conventions if only for the fact that they renew my energy to watch more and more anime and catch up with my backlog, even if only a little. More often than not I find myself adding more anime to the backlog, but there’s no possible way to avoid that nowadays it seems. Regardless, it’s time to begin moving again, and there’s no better time than the present.

As stated before, I have a huge backlog of anime that I need to catch up on. On that note, I hope to review a majority of these series as I complete them, to add more content to this site as time progresses. I know I stated the Dawn of the New World review would be up by now, but that game is terrible. I’ll find time to review it sometime, but now is not that time.

Saboten-Con was a pretty unique and desirable experience. I really enjoyed my time at this con, as it was my first time attending a local con. In the previous years, I had attended Anime Expo, but I had yet to attend any convention in the Arizona area. That has changed now, and I feel like I have a reason to attend future conventions. I have some projects and ideas for panels if I am graced with the ability to do so, and I have already begun production on how those would go if they were to happen. Only time can tell, and I look forward to seeing what lies ahead.

In other words, stay safe and enjoy this month. It’s hard believing the month is now September, but time waits for no one, so all you can do is grab on and hold on tight. Until next time,
-Ace

Slight disappearance, but back in full throttle!

I heard the final OVA has been released. I need to check it out!

Heyos Everyones!

Alrights. I know time hasn’t been on my side lately. I’ve kinda left things as they are, and it doesn’t necessarily help my case that I haven’t posted these past few weeks. However, I’m back and I plan to post some more reviews and impressions up this week. This week is also the begining of classes, so I’m sure I’ll have some more motivation to get up and get stuff done!

My last Tales review for some time will be the sequel toTales of Symphonia, and I still haven’t determined what my impressions post will be about. Perhaps I’ll actually make some videos to accommodate these posts, but again, these decisions haven’t been made yet, so I can’t say exactly what I’m going to do. I really don’t have much to say about life right now, as all I’ve been doing is going to work and watching random youtube videos. Some anime has been watched, such as Sword Art Online, Hyouka, Who is Imouto?, and Dog Days!’,but nothing exceptional has occurred these past few weeks.

Perhaps I’ll have more to say tomorrow or Tuesday, after classes are over. I’m happy to say this is my last year at a Community College, now that I finally have more issues settle d and accounted for. Anyways, look forward to the upcoming content, and enjoy the week!

-Ace

Lifestyles in Change

Some may say best girl, but I must respectfully disagree.

Heyos Everyone!

Just a posting to make sure everything is still alive and kicking. This past week has been pretty dull, consisting of some anime and video games. I haven’t been doing as much this week as I would have liked, but this should change next week as I have a bit written down on what to do. As for anime, just have to keep watching Sword Art Online, Hyouka, Dog Days, and other series I can’t be bothered to think about right now. I’ve actually only begun to catch up with these series, let alone make sense of them. In addition, when it comes to video games I’ve been slacking as well; I’ve yet to play a game that would actually contribute to my backlog this past week, and it’s something that I would like to change, but with school beginning in a couple of week, I can’t say it will.

School starting will be a nice change from the normal lifestyle I’ve been living. Other than a few events, it’s been dull around here and change is always welcome. Perhaps that little boost will get me to finish some more projects, although I’m happy with the pace I had set before with around 3 posts a week.

On another note, it’s already August, which means this year is over halfway over. Amazingly, this year has gone by too fast, and it only continues to pass by. Hopefully I’ll be able to find big events to mark this year as a great year, and although I think I already found some fantastic events, I only hope to add to that list.

That’s all for today. Some reviews and impressions posts will be up in the coming days, hopefully for your enjoyment. Thanks,

-Ace

Review: Tales of Symphonia (GCN)

Tales of Symphonia

For those who are well acquainted with the Tales of series, it may be stated that their beginnings lied in this game, Tales of Symphonia, released in 2003 for the Gamecube. Tales of Symphonia introduced many to the series, and proved to be a defining moment in this game series. Unfortunately, this game shines much brighter than it should, mainly due to the nostalgia many hold for this game. This happened to be my case as well, which pushed me to replay the game to see if it really stood the test of time and a possible candidate for best game in the series.

-Story-

The story begins with Lloyd Irving, a young boy who holds a strong flame of justice in his heart. While he may not be the brightest star in the night sky, his courageousness and will to fight for his ideals really shines as a trait for the main character. Accompanying him are his best friend Genis, the Chosen Collete, great teacher Raine, and mysterious mercenary Kratos. These aren’t the only party members in the game, but to say the rest may spoil some surprises the story may hold for the player. While Lloyd and his classmates learn about the Quest of Regeneration from their teacher Raine, a light shines in the distance, signaling the start of the journey. As luck would have it, his friend Collete just happens to be this legendary Chosen, and must travel the world in order to save the world from the evil Desians that capture humans and create human ranches. While Kratos appears to guide Collete on this journey, Lloyd’s attempt to aid gets rejected, leaving him behind to wait until the journey is over. Of course, the game doesn’t end there. Due to unfortunate circumstances and dumb decisions, the two (Lloyd and Genis) are banished from the town they live in, and seek refuge with the party. This quest later turns into a twisted mess of a plot that will leave many players filled with questions; luckily, the questions are eventually answered, even if it’s near the end of the game.

As always, the battle system is amazing.

The story definitely holds many plot points, and they are rather intriguing in a way. In addition, I feel Tales of Symphonia contains one of the greatest stories and character development of the entire series. However, there are many points of the story which may seem lacking, and not fully fleshed out. Some of the special twists lack that shock element that would normally be apparent, and some of the characters actions can be annoying at times. However, one factor I love about this game would be the affection system, which allows various events to vary from playthrough to playthrough, and in addition to this, there are special branches (Mainly in the beginning of the game) that allow the player to take a different path and play just a little bit different than before. These choices in variety definitely make up for the minor nuances the story may otherwise hold, and should have been carried over for future titles.

-Gameplay-

If one wanted to see where the game falls short, it would definitely be the gameplay portion of the game. While the game plays great, and adds that great battle system the series is known for, it severely lacks to newer titles. If one has played the more recent titles before playing this game, their experience will be dulled due to the lack of enhances that flourish the newer games and provide that user friendly experience. For example, the game lacks a newer ability by the title of Free Run, which allows the player to run in any direction, avoiding enemies and prioritizing strategies. I can’t tell how many times the L-Button was pressed to no avail, just because it wasn’t available in this game. Another problem would the uselessness of Magic Lens in this game. While in other games, when one uses the item to find out an enemies HP, it stays in memory for every encounter with that enemy that occurs. Such is not the case in this game, and hinders it slightly in that manor.

However, while the game doesn’t hold the enhancements given to the newer games, the battle system still gives the player a fun-filled experience full of action gameplay expected from the series. The battles are fun, traveling the world proves to be exhilarating, and the minigames give a nice breath of fresh air to the game. Just don’t expect to play the game with successful multiplayer, as the game focuses the screen on Player 1.

These dinosaurs are intense!

Outside of battle, world travel proves to be about the same as other games. There are plenty of paths to take to the next town, and battle are aplenty. Dungeons aren’t very long in this game, and to compensate for lack of space, there are many puzzles that need to be solved. Most dungeons have at least one main puzzle that results in the player running back and forth attempting to solve said puzzle, which takes up a good chuck of time.

-Sound-

The soundtrack for Tales of Symphonia is pronominal. All of the music seems to flow and fit the story in a unique and interesting way. However, most of the themes don’t appear to be as memorable as other games. While the music is good, it does tend to be a bit repetitive and doesn’t always stay at the same level of consistency. For example, I love the character themes in this game, as they fit their character design and tell the story behind said character. However, some of the more stock music doesn’t prove to be as memorable, and is easily forgettable. The battle music in this game, while good, falls to the curse of repetitive battle themes. However, this actually works in the game’s favor, as the theme gives the game more character. As for the actual theme music, which would take place in the opening cutscene before the game begins, was replaced with stock music in the American release. The original song, Starry Heavens, by the band Day after Tomorrow, fit the opening video well, and it’s a shame that it was removed in the international release.

More battle, showcasing some party members.

As for character voices, I think it’s a safe bet to say that all the characters pretty much hit the mark pretty well. However, the popularity of some of the voices picked shows during the game. For example, Lloyd is played by Scott Menville; every time I hear his voice I play back Robin from the animated cartoon, Teen Titans. It is believed that this has to do with Nintendo helping with the localization project, as “union” voice actors don’t appear in future Tales series games. Either way, they do the job well, and for a long game, it’s definitely positive to have good voice actors to play the part. Unfortunately, the amount of voiced dialogue is small, as only major plot markers are voiced. Skits and small events only have text dialogue, and voices are missing from the scene. A damn shame too, as it’s hard getting used to hearing a voice then going to dead silence.

-Graphics-

One would believe that a game released in 2003 would have severely aged graphics. However, that can not be said of Tales of Symphonia. The cel-shaded look helps the games age and prevents the game from looking too blocky and outdated. Around this time, many games went for the cel-shaded look, and although it was present for many of the games at the time, it’s easy to see why that route was chosen. Most cel-shaded games don’t look that old, even by today’s standards. Of course, it doesn’t look realistic, but that’s not what the studio was aiming for, and only helps the game’s case. Unfortunately, detail is lost when this route is chosen, and some environments may look washed out or similar to another, but this situation doesn’t occur too often. Even with all the areas that this game has to offer, only some appear to be bland and boring, while others appear bright, vibrant, and beautiful.

Look at those cel-shaded graphics.

The anime cutscenes are few and far between. While the PS2 re-release (Japanese Only) saw an addition of two cutscenes, the international version only saw four cutscenes. However, the game was released in 2003, which did hold limits on data. In addition, the cutscenes themselves were appropriately placed, with two taking place in the beginning, and two taking place at the very end. The cutscenes were beautifully animated by Production I.G, and only add to the story told by the game.

-Final Curtain-

While the game was released in 2003 and thus lacks a few prominent features, this game doesn’t fall below par and shows that it’s a game to be reckoned with. The game may be over-glorified and worshiped, there is no reason to skip out on this game. Just don’t expect a perfect game, as it’s far from it, but the game does provide a good lengthy RPG that will leave the player feeling satisfied. For that reason, I can honestly say that this game should be played by any RPG lover, regardless of the age of the game.

The sequel to this game will be reviewed next.

-Ace

Time to End This Week with a Bang!

Kirito from Sword Art Online. Watch out, we got a badass over here.

Heyos Everyones!

The end of the week is upon us, and what a week it’s been! While I stated earlier the Tales of Symphonia review would be up this week, it appears that it took a little longer than usual, and is scheduled to come up tomorrow. Sorry for the wait, but my thoughts were a bit conflicted on the game and amendments had to be made. However, with this turn of events, I do believe the review for the sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, will be up sometime next week. I don’t have any lasting impressions at the moment, but once a good series gets me thinking again, I’ll probably write one up and share my thoughts.

Speaking of anime, I’ve just recently caught up on The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, which revolves around Oda Nobunaga’s conquest of Japan, albeit in a different light. The humor of that show really captures my attention, and it’s rather interesting to see how things will play out in the series. I’m also following So, I Can’t Play H!, which really shows my dark anime side. While I won’t watch Slice of Life shows, with the exception of K-On!, I find many Harem shows hilarious, as the main characters and their interactions tend to be funny and full of humor. Maybe it’s just the type on anime I enjoy, but many of the shows tend to be worth the watch, and a nice break from the serious story-orientated anime that I watch.

I haven’t been playing too many games, mainly because it’s been a nice lazy week for me. I tend to do one thing of the other, and I’ve been watching some hilarious youtube videos along with the anime I’ve been watching. Hopefully I’ll get back on track once this week passes, but I’ve actually gotten some more inspiration in my website and ideas to follow up on once I start getting less lazy. Once my time becomes precious again I’m sure I’ll find a way to start these amazing projects brewing in my head.

Anyways, I think that about wraps it up for today. Look out for those game reviews, and don’t worry too much about what happens later. The weekend up upon us, and regardless of how busy you may be this weekend, it’s still time to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of tea.

-Ace

Lasting Impressions : Doujin Work (Anime)

Doujin Work

Back in 2007, an anime by the name of Doujin Work began to air. As this was near my first years of watching anime, I was quickly introduced to the show and began to watch it. Unfortunately, due to restrictions and other difficulties, I was forced to stop watching the series. Under normal circumstances, the story would have ended there. However, there was something intriguing about this anime; something that left me regretting my actions of not watching this anime. I don’t know why or how this occurred, but it followed me for a good five years of watching anime.

Skip to July 2012. As I surveyed the Exhibit Hall of Anime Expo, I came across a booth selling anime DVD sets. Sitting in the corner was an anime that caught my eye, as if it had been waiting there for me to find it. Doujin Work was sitting there, staring back at me, just reminding me of my past and my inability to finish the show. Just as quickly as I saw it, it was gone; I had purchased the copy to end this curse, finally able to end this chapter once and for all.

Work is hard for a newcomer to creating Doujinshi, even with a full cast supporting your efforts.

As I began watching this 12 episode series, I quickly became immersed in the humor and dialogue that I had enjoyed in the past. The story centers around Najimi Osana, a young girl who discovers there is profit to be made writing and illustrating doujinshi, a Japanese comic that potentially contains adult material. This realization leads her to begin creating doujinshi, and allows the viewer to follow her in the process of making a good work of art, regardless of how successful the process proves to be. In all honesty, I found the writing to be hilarious, and the scenes great and comical. While the show revolves around doujinshi, there is no adult material in the show, and fan service doesn’t play a large part in the humor. The jokes and humor are spot-on, and had me laughing moment after moment.

My sanity. It has all vanished.

An unfortunate circumstance with this anime would be the length of each episode; each episode follows the time span of fifteen minutes or so, and this include the opening and ending of the show. While I would have enjoyed longer episodes, the series didn’t need more time to cover story or anything, as there was little story to begin with, but could have added more laughs and humor to the show. I’m pretty content with what the show brought to the table, but it could have been more. In the place of those extra ten minutes or so was a segment of live action video, revolving around the two main seiyuu in their attempt to create doujinshi. I didn’t particularly enjoy this part, mainly because I feel the anime would have been more enjoyable to watch; the live action scenes felt more like DVD and BD extras than extras to the episode.

This dude is big ‘n reliable. While he may be emotional, he truly is a childhood friend at heart.

In terms of the opening and ending themes for the show, I loved the opening song from the first moment I heard in back in 2007. It’s always been a song that puts me in a good mood when I’m feeling a little down, and it’s a good way to start watching a lighthearted series such as this. The ending song also seeks enjoyment, although doesn’t stand to be as memorable as the opening. Either way, I enjoyed both the music and the animation to both, and definitely set the mood for the show.

I didn’t have as much to say about Doujin Work as my other impressions page, mainly because that was a collection of thoughts for over sixty episodes of a single series. While Doujin Work doesn’t last as long as other series, I think that may be one of its strong points. Packing a lot of humor and hilarity into each episode, I can gladly say I recommend this series to anyone who wants a good laugh. I will end this on a good note, and hope this video will cheer you up, as it did me for the past five years.

 

Just Another Day in Paradise

Noel is not pleased.

As another Friday begins, I wonder how life has changed from the point I first began this project. Although some might say I have started multiple projects, many that have yet to be completed. Regardless, it’s been a long journey, and I’m shocked that I’ve kept this blog up for so long. I believe I started in right before I began Glendale Community College, and as it does now, consisted of minor rants, details from my day(s), and other miscellaneous information. As I may have mentioned before, time feels as though it has only recently started turning again, and I can definitely feel the repercussions of my time away from reality.

Having recently finished Tales of Symphonia, my review will be up in the coming days. I’m aiming for a Monday release, but it may be delayed to Tuesday depending on circumstances. In addition, I plan on writing my impressions on Doujin Work, a humorous anime that I enjoyed quite well. I can’t say when that will be complete, but I anticipate a release around the end of the week, preferably Friday. Regardless, that’s really all I have planned for the blog for this week, but I’ve yet more to talk about.

I haven’t caught up on the anime series that I’ve been watching. While I’ve been anticipating series like Sword Art Online and Koichoco, I haven’t been up to date on other series airing this season. However, I did catch the K-On! Movie the other day, and damn, that was a really enjoyable movie. As some may know, I really don’t enjoy Slice of Life anime as much as other genres. Of course, this really only applies to those like Lucky Star, Nichijou, and A-Channel. I like plot progression, and usually those I watch involve some sort of story within. However, K-On! proves to be the exception, as I enjoyed every minute of this show. I don’t know why it holds the charm it does, but I really enjoyed it.

I’ve still been spending my time playing Ys Origin, which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Action games. I love the battle mechanics, and although I feel some parts are ridiculous, the game provides an enjoyable experience. The boss battles are big and fun, and they definitely test your skills when playing in higher difficulties. I’m rather curious to other games in the series, as this one caught my interest in a very good way. As for the Tales of games, I’ve been taking a little break after beating Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. A terrible game to stop at, but I really needed a break from those games for a bit.

Well, I think everything on my mind has been said. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-Ace

Lasting Impressions : Shakugan no Shana (Anime)

Shakugan no Shana

(This post contains spoilers for the anime Shakugan no Shana, Shakugan no Shana II (Second), and Shakugan no Shana III (Final). If you have not seen these series and do not wish to spoil the ending(s), then please do not click the link.)

This post may be viewed by clicking here.