Film Review: Stray Dog (1949)

Stray Dog is one of the earlier film noir styled films from Akira Kurosawa. It’s an interesting example of the genre, and it also makes for an interesting snapshot of post-war Japan. The premise has Toshiro Mifune playing a rookie homicide op whose weapon is stolen by a pickpocket while on the bus. The detective ends up being partnered with a veteran detective as they make their way through Tokyo’s underworld to find the gun. Continue reading “Film Review: Stray Dog (1949)”

Movie Review: Fate/Stay Night – Heaven’s Feel – Part I, Presage Flower

It is important to say this out of the gate, even more so than with Fate/Apocrypha – this is a film for people who have been watching Fate/Stay Night from the beginning. This, to a large degree, has to do with the structure of the original game. Heaven’s Feel is the third route of the game, played after (in order) the Fate and Unlimited Blade Works routes. Consequently, the story of the route has a lot less focus on explaining the Holy Grail War, Servants, or mages, because you’ve played through the game twice already. Continue reading “Movie Review: Fate/Stay Night – Heaven’s Feel – Part I, Presage Flower”

Comic Review: Generation X (2017-18)

While Marvel’s X-Line has generally revolved around some iteration of the Xavier Institute of Higher Learning and the various Mutant super-teams based out of it, what it normally hasn’t done is spent some time on the actual students attending the school, with some exceptions (like with part of Grant Morrison’s run back in the 2000s). Generation X by Christina Strain puts the focus back on the school side of things, instead of the adventuring super-team side of things – but without going into “Saved By The Bell” with superpowers. Continue reading “Comic Review: Generation X (2017-18)”

Film Review – His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday has aged poorly.

Let’s start off with the fundamental premise – Newspaperman Walter Burns (Cary Grant) has divorced from his reporter wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) at some point prior to the beginning of the film. She’s stopped by the newspaper to announce that she’s remarrying, to insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), and is going to leave reporting – having been burned out by the cynicism. However, this happens on the eve of the execution of a man named Earl Williams (John Qualen) for murder. Continue reading “Film Review – His Girl Friday”

Anime Review: Fate/Apocrypha

Let’s make this clear from the beginning – if you’re looking for a gateway to the Fate universe – this isn’t it. While Fate/Apocrypha is set in an alternate timeline which would, in theory, free it from some of the baggage from the original work, this is not even remotely the case. I’ve discussed the first half of the series a few months ago, but now it’s time to talk about the series as a whole. There will be spoilers – so if you haven’t decided to watch the show yet, read that review first. Continue reading “Anime Review: Fate/Apocrypha”

Cropped version of Gundam Unicorn Blu-Ray Art

Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn

For the past 30 years, the narrative and thematic conclusion of the One Year War arc of the Universal Century was Char’s Counterattack. The film is wonderfully animated, with intense action sequences, but in my view it felt less like a thematic conclusion of the themes of the first 3 Gundam series, and more of a return to the narrative of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime series. As I mentioned in my review of Gundam ZZ – that worked for me when what I knew of the Universal Century was just the original series, but it became less and less resonant as I made my way through the story. Gundam Unicorn, on the other hand, feels much more resonant, and fits as a conclusion to this part of the Universal Century. Continue reading “Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn”

Book Review: Record of Lodoss War – The Grey Witch

A few years ago I did a video review of the original OVA for Record of Lodoss War. At that time, the OVA was out of print, as was (and still is, sadly) the manga adaptation of the novels. Since then, Funimation (not the company I expected to do it) license rescued all of the anime, and now Seven Seas has done something I never expected to happen – they licensed the first novel, and gave it a fantastic edition in 2017. I got it for myself for Christmas, and finally was able to read it in February. Continue reading “Book Review: Record of Lodoss War – The Grey Witch”

Video Game Review: Binary Domain

Now that I’ve beaten Binary Domain, now is as good a time as any to give my thoughts on the game. Binary Domain, at the time of its release, felt like a game that was deliberately designed to be a Japanese response to cover-based shooters like Gears of War, to show that Japanese game developers could compete with Western Triple-A developers on their own turf. … Continue reading Video Game Review: Binary Domain

DVD Review: Power of the Daleks

Power of the Daleks is one of the Doctor Who stories that has been lost. The BBC had destroyed all copies of the episode due to royalty issues and in order to re-use the video tapes, and none of the copies that were shipped overseas were found. Thus, the story only lived on through bootleg recordings made by fans off of over-the-air broadcasts, which in turn were made available to the BBC, who had re-released the story with cleaned-up versions of the audio recordings paired with tele-snaps and continuity photos of the show, with bridging narration by Tom Baker.

This past year, the BBC released an animated reconstruction of the story, giving viewers their first opportunity to see this in motion, and I’ve seen it. Continue reading “DVD Review: Power of the Daleks”

Anime Review: Tsukihime (2003)

Thus far, the three shows in the Type-Moon universe that I’ve covered: Fate/Stay Night (F/SN), Fate/Zero, and Unlimited Blade Works (UBW) have been two-cour shows – spending 24 episodes to tell their story. In the case of F/SN and UBW, they have each adapted one route from the first Fate game – with the former title dropping a few elements of UBW in to give Rider a little screen time. However, Fate was not Type-Moon’s first game. Before this came Tsukihime, which set up elements that came up later in F/SN and Fate/Zero, and it too received an anime adaptation, one that came out prior to the release of F/SN – and with only a single cour (12 episodes). The question then becomes, how well can it tell its story in half the length? Continue reading “Anime Review: Tsukihime (2003)”

Anime Review: Nanoha StrikerS

The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha franchise has been interesting when it comes the Magical Girl genre of anime. The original series was something of a conventional Magical Girl vs. Dark Magical Girl show, like the Pretty Cure franchise, with the difference being that the battles between Nanoha and her opposite number, Fate, played out a lot like a superhero fight. The later series played up this … Continue reading Anime Review: Nanoha StrikerS

Anime Review: Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works (2014-15)

Fate/Stay Night, as a visual novel, had a several routes the player could take through the game. The original F/SN anime adapted the Fate route, with the inclusion of some elements of the Unlimited Blade Works route, with varying degrees of success. After Ufotable’s successful adaptation of Gen Urobuchi’s novel, Fate/Zero, there was question of what it would look like if they were to adapt one of the routes of the game, and in particular the Unlimited Blade Works route in its entirety. Two years ago, we got that adaptation. Continue reading “Anime Review: Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works (2014-15)”

Book Review:The Cloud Roads

Most fantasy novels that I’ve read work, generally, in the context of an existing society of our world. Tolkien took his cues from Nordic mythology and the Eddas. C.S. Lewis took a mixture of elements from various Mediterranean cultures and his own Christian views. Japanese period fantasy (as seen in anime, manga, live-action cinema, and books like the Kouga Ninja Scrolls) take cues from stories about youkai and oni, along with legends about the history of the Japanese Imperial family and the deities from which they draw lineage.

So, when reading The Cloud Roads, I was rather surprised to see very few connections to any real existing human cultures. However, the book also managed to execute on this without leaving me completely lost. Continue reading “Book Review:The Cloud Roads”

Anime Review: Fate/Zero (Seasons 1 & 2)

Gen Urobuchi has gotten a tremendous reputation as a writer of animation, particularly through his deconstruction of the magical girl genre with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. In 2011, he did something slightly different, by doing a novel prequel to the hit visual novel Fate/Stay Night, covering the events of the previous Holy Grail War, which set the events of the original game and anime in motion. The show shifted animation studios from Deen, to Ufotable, who had only a handful of shows under their name at that time – though the animators had years of experience from TMS. Continue reading “Anime Review: Fate/Zero (Seasons 1 & 2)”

Video Game Review – Hatsune Miku Project Diva X

I’ve previously played two Hatsune Miku rhythm games, one on the PS3, and one on the Nintendo 3DS. I generally enjoyed them, though I found the gameplay controls a little rough. In particular, in the 3DS version, bouncing between the two screens was difficult at higher difficulties, and on the PS3 version, the size of the screen ended up working against the game. For my next outing against a Miku game on a Sony platform, with the latest title – Hatsune Miku Project Diva X – I decided to take on the Vita version of the game. Continue reading “Video Game Review – Hatsune Miku Project Diva X”

Anime Review: Slayers Season 4 (Revolution/Evolution-R)

2015’s revival of Ushio and Tora by Studio MAPPA is not the first revival of an older anime and manga series in the 21st century. In 2008, JC Staff revived the classic fantasy anime series Slayers, with a fourth season after an almost decade gap. The series was was released as a split-cour show, with the first 12-episode cour being subtitled “Revolution”, and the second “Evolution-R”. When the show originally was announced, the big question that fans had was would this show come back with a Dragon Slave sized blast, or would it fizzle like a wet firework? Continue reading “Anime Review: Slayers Season 4 (Revolution/Evolution-R)”

Video Game Review: Aquapazza Dream Match

Among the fighting games released last year, one that crept under the radar, but drew the attention of some of those in the fighting game scene was Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel. This was the latest of a number of various fighting games based on dating sims and visual novels, starting from Melty Blood in 2002 (based on Tsukihime), and moving on through Fate/Unlimited Codes in 2008 (based on Fate/Stay Night – the anime series of which I’ve previously reviewed). In 2013, we got Aquapazza Dream Match, a fighting game based on the various visual novels created by development studio Aquaplus. Now, while Melty Blood and Fate were based on visual novels with their share of action, Aquaplus’ bibliography (for lack of a better term), was built around less action focused work, such as Comic Party (which I’ve discussed in issue #10 of my Fanzine). So, the question becomes, how well do dating sims adapt to fighting games? Continue reading “Video Game Review: Aquapazza Dream Match”

Video Game Review: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team was, before the release of Paper Jam, the most recent game in the Mario & Luigi series of handheld Mario JRPGs. Unlike the Paper Mario series and the original Super Mario RPG for the SNES, the game focuses entirely on Mario & Luigi as, in this case, they travel to Pi’illo Island along with Princess Peach, on vacation. However, as per usual, Bowser has his own malign plans for Peach, which Mario & Luigi must foil. Much of the game plays fairly well, but there are a few gameplay concepts that don’t quite work that ultimately ruin the whole experience.

Continue reading “Video Game Review: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team”

Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, suffers the same array of problems that the Michael Bay directed Transformers films have suffered. The film takes emphasis away from the title characters of the film to put an increased focus on the human characters. To the film’s credit, it doesn’t clutter up the film with the samedegree of human characters as the Transformers film did, but those elements of the film distract from the main thrust of the narrative. Further, the rest of the film’s action is so cluttered and chaotic that it can’t compensate for the rest of the film’s weak points. Continue reading “Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)”