To get this out of the way first – the twist for this film has been spoiled to death. I’d say it probably was spoiled in its entirety well before I was born. On the one hand, this means that the film’s ending has lost some of its punch, as we all know it’s coming. On the other hand, this means that when you come into the film, since you know the twist is coming, you also know to look for the clues for the twist in the story, and generally pay more attention to the film itself. (more…)

Captain America Civil War Movie Poster

Civil War, as a Comic Event, was something of a spectacular failure. I haven’t been good at doing video posts on my blog the past few weeks (something I’ll try to fix shortly), but this past week I did a video post on YouTube about Civil War, the comics, event, and how that could have been fixed.

The film version of Civil War has none of those problems. Instead, it’s one of the top films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. There will be some minor spoilers in this review (below the cut if you’re reading this on my blog). (more…)

After the original The Yakuza Papers came out and did incredibly well at the box office, a sequel came out with a relatively fast turnaround. Unlike the first film, the sequel, Deadly Fight in Hiroshima, bypasses Bunta Sugawara’s character, Shozo Hirono (who does appear in this film as a cameo appearance), for a new character, and new story of induction into the world of the Yakuza.

This is a thing that’s been bugging me for quite some time. There’s this mindset that’s been bugging me for quite some time among people who, well, make their living criticizing anime – people like Justin and Zac of Anime News Network for instance. The idea is, that because the anime industry has demonstrated the market cannot support the levels of cost for mass production of Anime DVDs, and manga as books through regular channels, to levels that will cover the costs that the Japanese rights-holders want for licenses, prices will have to go up, and we, as fans, will have to live with paying $80 for four episodes of a TV show again (the amount Aniplex is charging for the first four episodes of Madoka Magica), just like in the old days, and prices for Manga will similarly go up.

The problem I have is this. Currently, while the US economy is supposedly in a recovery, it’s still somewhat in the crapper. The recovery has only really benefited a small number of people, with millions still unemployed, some who have been unemployed for several years. For example, I’ve been unemployed for about 3 years, and recently I’ve started going back to school. If I spend over $30 on anything, I basically have to justify it. Most of the time, I can’t. I can justify spending money on textbooks, I can justify spending some money on food, I can justify spending money on my web series (which I need to get back to, once my course-load permits), and so on. I cannot justify spending $80 on anime. I can fit Netflix into my budget, so if a show is on Netflix Streaming or available as a disk, I can watch that (I watched Redline that way). I can fit Crunchyroll into my budget. That pretty much covers it.

Thus, when Zac Bertchy and Justin Sevakis say that anime fans are just going to need to stop being “entitled” and accept higher prices, the same way that Video Game developers crow over systems that will be completely unable to play used games, I can’t help but wonder if the people saying these things realize just how privileged they are.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of privilege, here’s the general idea – you have privilege if you have a social or economic benefit that puts you above someone else. White people are privileged over Black people, due to the history of socioeconomic discrimination that African-Americans have been subjected to through systematized racism. Heterosexual people have privilege over homosexual people, and so on. That’s the privilege I have. However, as a person with a mental disability, the majority of people reading this (those who do not have a disability, or who are “neurotypical”) are privileged over me. If you are employed, odds are high that you have more financial privilege than I do. Currently, I’ve been unemployed for so long that I currently have no choice to live with my parents. This puts a crimp in my social flexibility. While this would theoretically provide me with a source of disposable income, I still have to pay for school, I have to pay for fuel for my car (which I need to get to and from school), I have to pay for tuition and books. Thus, I have relatively little disposable income.

Even before that, when I was in middle school and high school, I had even less. If I wanted to watch anime, if I wanted to read manga, I had to go to the local library. That was it. I discovered Ranma 1/2, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Ghost in the Shell, and Akira that way. Frankly, it’s a great way for someone to get into the genre. The only better way to get into the genre is to have someone loan you DVDs of shows they recommend, or to someone to put something on for you. However, by putting everything online, or putting it on mobile apps, and behind paywalls, makes things far less accessible. You make it harder to share with your friends. Who is going to take their Roku box to a friends house, just to show them a few episodes of a show that’s paywalled.

Once upon a time, Science Fiction Fandom was the most socially relevant and visible aspect of geek culture. When it waned, it’s because it was eclipsed by Anime Fandom. If we continue to paywall in our hobby, and make it inaccessible for new fans and lower income fans (new and old), it will die a slow death like in the Cask of Amontillado. We will then wonder why everyone at anime conventions are a bunch of old fogies, bemoaning the fall of our hobby, and wondering whatever happened to us.

Who knows – maybe the new fans will instead go to Science Fiction conventions.

Chronicle of the Chinese EmperorsMovies set in historical periods or otherwise based around historical events will never go away. We will always have Victorian tales of class-based angst. Same with tales of valorious (or conniving) knights in medieval Europe. For Eastern cinema, we’ll probably always have samurai films of various stripes, and the same with various Wuxia films, discussing various martial artists and their exploits in Imperial China.

To get try and some background on wuxia films and their I recently read The Chronicles of the Chinese Emperors by Ann Paludan. The book gives an overview of the reign of approximately every emperor in Chinese history that is considered to be “officially” an emperor. Officially is in air-quotes because the book appears to defer heavily to the official Imperial histories. (more…)

The title screen for Thunder Spirits for the SNES
Get Thunder Spirits at eBay

For this week’s Quality Control, I’m going with my second “also ran” from the the pages of Nintendo Power – the Technosoft shump Thunder Spirits. The game is the third game in the Thunder Force franchise, and the only game in the series to get released on the SNES.

The Premise

The forces of the Galactic Federation are not faring well in their century long war with the ORN empire. The Empire has installed cloaking devices on 5 their planets that harbor major bases to shield them from Federation forces, and they’ve designed a special defensive system called Cerebus to keep major fleets from searching for them. The Federation’s only hope is the new LEO-03 “Styx” starfighter, which is small enough to slip through Cerebus’s defenses, but has enough firepower to destroy the Cerebus system and the cloaking devices. (more…)

Sorry about the rapidly changing themes recently. Essentially, I’ve been going through the themes to find one that I really like. This is the closest I’ve found to one that I do like – one that works with the screen width in a way that I like, and with a header I like. Now, if only I could find a way to change the graphic to a fountain pen instead of a ballpoint pin.

GamePro #49 Cover artWe continue with the GamePro recaps with issue #49. The cover story for this issue is, not unsurprisingly, considering the era – Street Fighter II Turbo.

Editorial: It’s actually about something this issue! To be specific, Sega’s debuted their rating system for games, which will end up (with a few revisions) becoming the industry standard. Nintendo, seeking to get the upper hand in the Console War, actually attacked Sega for this, saying that it was an illegitimate justification for selling violent games.

Letters: We get questions about whether they ever had to give out a 1.5. They did, once, to Andre Agassi Tennis, which goet a 1.5 for Control, but they otherwise try to avoid putting games that rate that low in the magazine. I suspect they put that one in there because they interviewed Agassi when he was promoting the game. We also have props coming in for their poster artist, Francis Mao. There are also questions about why there is so much empty space in game cartridges (the explanation GamePro gives is for cooling, though I’m a little iffy on that), and a question which gamers will spend much contemplation on in the console generations to come – how do I easily switch between two consoles that use the same connector? They also messed up the code to enable Champion Edition on Street Fighter II Turbo. (more…)

Ninja Gaiden II - The Dark Sword of Chaos Box ArtWell, now it’s time for my first review of a Ninja Gaiden Game – Ninja Gaiden 2 for the NES to be specific. As always, the video itself is below the cut (for those with low bandwidth), and I’ve uploaded the video to MegaUpload as well for those who would prefer to download it and watch it offline.

As far as getting the game, in addition to getting it on eBay, you can also get it on the Wii Virtual Console. (more…)