Rurouni Kenshin Revival Continues with Shin Kyoto Hen OAV!

Posted in Anime, Fan Service, Fantasy, Game-related Events, Gaming, Manga on January 18th, 2013 by thelonegamer

The Epic Battle between Battousais gets Retold!

It seems to be that there’s a bit of a re-emergence of Rurouni Kenshin fervor in media, and that’s pretty awesome. Of course, there was the recent live-action film (which we reviewed). I know there’s an ongoing new manga that reinterprets Kenshin Himura’s saga… and now, there’s a new OVA (Original Video Animation) that brings us another look at arguably the most awesome arc of the RK series- Kenshin’s battle against Makoto Shishio.

Rurouni Kenshin: Shin Kyoto Hen (translated as ‘New Kyoto Arc’) is a 2-episode OVA that tells the story of Kenshin VS Shishio from the perspective of Misao Makimachi, the feisty young kunoichi and Oniwabanshu member. The new features reunite the old voice cast, led of course by Mayo Suzukaze, who’s been the seiyuu for Kenshin from the original anime. Kinda sad that this isn’t longer than it is, but I guess this is a nice way to refresh this classic anime arc- makes me wanna dig up the original TV series episodes and have me an RK marathon.
I’ll check this out over the weekend and see if it even captures a bit of the drama and tension of the original. But any RK fan out there would do well to track this new OVA out immediately.

Awesome Megaman X Fan-made Movie!

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming on December 23rd, 2012 by thelonegamer

Fast Tube by Casper

Who knew Megaman knew kung-fu?

I’m a huge fan of CG fight flicks, in particular indie works like the Dead Fantasy series by Monty Oum. Well, while the sequel to that is still seemingly in the works, there’s this awesome new action short by Shane Newville starring Capcom’s Blue Bomber, Megaman, that everyone should check out. Made to celebrate Megaman’s 25th Anniversary, the fight choreography in this indie work is top-notch, and there’s a cool story being told as well. With this as well as the recently-released Streetfighter X Megaman, Mega-Fans should feel a lot of love. Great stuff!

The Lone Gamer’s Rurouni Kenshin the Movie (2012) Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Manga, Movies, My Stuff on December 10th, 2012 by thelonegamer

A beloved anime/manga hero makes a comeback via a long-awaited Live-action Adaptation.

A few years ago, a certain anime series hit the small screens and made a generation of youths believe in a red-haired swordsman with a cross-shaped scar and a sword with no edge. It was called Samurai X and from the moment Kenshin Himura AKA Hitokiri Battousai kicked butt the first time, we couldn’t get enough of it. Yeah, there were probably many similar titles in anime, but for some reason this title in particular excelled in bringing to life that ideal of the Quiet, Unassuming Invincible Badass Hero. Of course, anyone who had access to knowledge of manga would know that the series’ real (Japanese) name was Rurouni Kenshin (Kenshin the Wanderer), and his story was long, bloody, sad and powerful and controversial in the telling.

I can wax nostalgic forever about this series- about how it’s first OVA series (Tsuiokuhen AKA ‘Trust and Betrayal’) is simply one of the most powerful, gloriously tragic and sublime works of animation I’ve ever seen, how one should only watch the first 65 or so episodes of the anime and ignore all the rest including the crappy anime movie and that horrific, evil 2nd OVA (Seisohen AKA Reflection) at all costs. In lieu of that though, I’ll just say that bad decisions and bad anime-only fillers robbed Rurouni Kenshin of its longevity, and thankfully now a resurgence of this title may be rekindled- at least starting from this live-action adaptation.

Rurouni Kenshin tells the story of Kenshin Himura (Takeru Sato), a gifted young swordsman who became a peerless, feared assassin during Japan’s civil war in the late 1800s in order to usher in a new age of peace. When the war ended to begin the new, more modern Meiji Era, Kenshin disappeared into obscurity. Years later, Kenshin, now a wanderer who has sworn off killing, tries to protect the weak from oppression to atone for his past sins. He soon finds himself in a town where murders are being committed by ‘Battousai’, his old alias. He soon finds himself involved with Kaoru Kamiya (Emi Takei), a young woman and owner of a struggling kendo school, and Kanryu Takeda (Teruyuki Kagawa), a ruthless businessman/crimelord.

Though Kenshin has sworn never to kill again, he finds himself encountering men who would see the old Battousai back to his bloody ways- including an old rival in the war, Saito Hajime (Yosuke Higuchi) and Udo Jinei (Koji Kikkawa), a murderous henchman to a criminal boss who ‘inherited’ Kenshin’s old sword (and lust for killing) after the war. To protect the ones he has now come to love, Kenshin must take up his sword once more…

You have to hand it to the Japanese when they adapt a manga- they really go to great lengths to make sure characters look and act like they do in the source material- in this case the anime and manga. Granted, it works great in some ways, iffy in some. Takeru Sato, for example, is almost a perfect Kenshin (which is basically what matters most), from the look (red hair and everythihg), the cat-like speed and poise and the awesome sword work. Some characters kinda look odd- Sanosuke Sagara (Munetaka Aoki) really kinda stands out as looking very odd with his wild hair and white Streetfighter outfit. Some characters, ironically minor ones, look like they stepped from a manga page.

For the most part, the note-perfect looks match the action and fight scenes, which include some wire work but nothing extremely over the top apart from Kenshin’s acrobatic skills. The film doesn’t lack in action, but works best when the fight is between two combatants- some fights between Kenshin and multiple enemies are a bit hard to follow, but are still badass because it just IS. RK fans are sure to squeal in pleasure whenever Kenshin strikes a pose or a stance- sadly he doesn’t go Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki on anyone’s ass but he does do something almost as good.

Running at slightly above two hours, the least I can say about Rurouni Kenshin’s pacing is ‘leisurely’. There are quite a few pauses of silence or just the camera taking in the scenery (which is admittedly quite lovely) which I myself don’t mind but some action addicts may find slow. Despite this, I think that the movie does a good job of squashing in the events of a couple of manga/anime arcs AND a couple of pivotal flashbacks (nods to the aforementioned awesome first OVA) to make a coherent watch. This isn’t a thrill-a-minute film by any means, and may require a bit of patience (good thing the audience during my watch had that and more).

I may nitpick as well a bit that they focused a bit too much on crime boss Kanryu Takeda, who’s really not a foe worth Battousai’s blade- yeah he gets to fire a gatling gun, but a bit unnecessarily he gets more than needed air time AND a bunch of lookalike toadies cluttering up the scenery. I think much more emphasis could have been put on the more formidable baddies, whom I believe don’t even get their names mentioned in the course of the movie- these include Gein (Gou Ayano), a gadget-using masked killer/puppetmaster and Banjin Inui (played by ex-MMA fighter Genki Sudo), a monk-like fighter. Both of these baddies appear only in the manga-exclusive Jinchu or Revenge Arc.

All in all though, slow pace and Otaku nitpicks aside, I really enjoyed my time watching Rurouni Kenshin… that I did so in a theater packed with a like-minded, totally-game audience made it even more fun. There were cheers and claps, laughter (though some in some kinda inappropriate moments) and quite a few whistles. The film does strike the nostalgia chords true.
If you’re familiar with the source material, I’d say this is a must-watch if only for the endless otaku discussions and talkbacks that will inevitably follow. If you’re coming into Rurouni Kenshin clueless, you may find it a cool samurai sword flick that seems to run like a comic- don’t worry, that’s intentional. If you like it, then I say find the anime and first OVA to make yourself a full RK fan in no time.

Is this the start of a new resurgence of Rurouni Kenshin? I sure hope so- I want my Revenge Arc anime adaptation and live-action Shishio Showdown now!

Get Your Demon-Killing Fix: Diablo III Animated Short Film

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Diablo III, Fan Service, Fantasy, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, PC Gaming, RPGs on May 9th, 2012 by thelonegamer

Fast Tube by Casper

This should whet your appetite a bit for May 15.

Diabolical hack-and-slash RPG sequel, Diablo III, is almost upon us. But as we count the days till we are clicking like crazy again, here’s a short animated film based on events prior to the game’s timeline, portraying a pivotal battle (and aftermath of said battle) between the forces of Light and Darkness. Brought to us by the animators of Metalocalypse and Aeon Flux, it’s quite full of eye candy, although I prefer seeing action with more human characters, but this is pretty much in the flavor of the franchise. So check it out for more than six minutes of demon-killing action that should get you psyched up for launch day.

Avatar: The Legend of Korra Trailer, Release Date!

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Fantasy on March 16th, 2012 by thelonegamer

Fast Tube by Casper

The REAL Avatar returns next month. FINALLY.

It seems like forever since the end of my absolute favorite animated series- Avatar: The Last Airbender- but now, finally the next saga in this franchise is on the horizon. Avatar: The Legend of Korra is set to arrive on April 14, 2012 from Nickelodeon.

As you can see from the trailer, the series has come a long way (in various aspects) from the previous series; in terms of art style, tone and mood. Yeah, it’s still about young people trying to find their place in a dangerous world with amazing elemental powers and cool martial arts… but there’s a more teen vibe in this one rather than the happy-go-lucky goofiness of the previous Avatar. I am really digging the visuals- they’re almost Production I.G.-esque, and I am loving Korra’s spunky good looks and aggressiveness. This is set to have a LOT of action from the get go.
This new series arrives about 70 years after the events of the previous storyline, with a New Avatar rising to find her destiny. Though most of the previous heroes have since passed on, there should be many links in Korra to tie in with The Legend of Aang, to the delight of fans. I’ve got high hopes for this one- man, I’ve gotta have an ATLA marathon before 4-14th!

Avatar: Legend of Korra Clips!

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fantasy, TV on January 16th, 2012 by thelonegamer

Korra’s ready for some action.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the finest shows ever- animated or not. This of course relates only to the original animated show on Nickelodeon… the live-action movie isn’t fit for human viewing save for purposes of inflicting mental torture. I say that in all seriousness.

It’s a good thing that the producers of Avatar have gone forward and are fashioning their sequel series as we speak. Avatar: Legend of Korra takes us seventy years after the events of ATLA, with a new, spunky and kick-ass Avatar in the form of the fetching but fight-hungry Korra.
The show is so far veiled mostly in secrecy but several clips have surfaced online today showing off some of the impressive martial arts action and fight choreography the series has been known for. As expected, they’ve ratcheted up the quality of the fighting, a bit more violent but still for the most part wholesome- no blood, just pseudo-Jackie Chan-style ‘No One Dies Even If They Probably Should’.
There are SPOILERS in the clips, including one BIG spoiler that reveals at least one character from the previous show is still alive in the Korra timeline, and a couple who aren’t. Shhh… in case you haven’t figured out how the Avatar Cycle works, Aang has kicked the bucket long ago.
Anyways, the show looks freakin’ cool, and Korra is likable off the bat. I can’t wait to see all the nods to the original as well as how this show is going to break new ground. It already looks so much more advanced- hoping the characters, the story and the humor are just as strong as the action. Look for this later in the year.

BLOODY! The Lone Gamer’s Tekken: Blood Vengeance Movie Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, My Stuff, PS3, Tekken, Tekken 6, Tekken Blood Vengeance, Tekken Hybrid on December 2nd, 2011 by thelonegamer

About a year or so ago, I reviewed the live-action Tekken movie, and it was, pretty much, what it was… a pretty straightforward martial arts revenge-action flick with elements of Tekken. As expected, it took many liberties with the beloved franchise, and things didn’t quite appear or turn out as fans wanted, thus provoking the usual storm of reactions, from outright hatred to measured satisfaction.
In the end though, the Hollywood Tekken was given the ultimate facepalm- rejection and disownment by the actual makers of the Tekken games themselves.

As if to make up for that debacle, Namco-Bandai announced a new and more authentic Tekken movie in production: an all-CG full-length feature, directed by the same director of Tekken’s lush cinematic cutscenes. There was no question that Tekken: Blood Vengeance was the REAL deal- this was truly a film adaptation true to the source material, done for the fans at the behest of the Tekken Project. But in this day and age when videogame movies have a questionable level of quality, how does this ‘true’ Tekken movie fare as a narrative experience?

Gorgeous visuals are on offer in Tekken: Blood Vengeance.

It’s already been demonstrated that even CG movies pretty much lifted directly from the actual game source don’t always guarantee an awesome flick- take Resident Evil Degeneration, which starred fan favorites Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. RED garnered lackluster reviews, and I myself found it dragging and less than spectacular. So how does this CG Tekken flick stand (given that it was also produced by the same production house as Degeneration..?). Let’s see.

Warning: Mild Spoilers may lie ahead.

Basically, TBV retains the general storyline of the series, and is set between Tekken 5 and 6. Resident emo-boy and anti-hero Jin Kazama is now head of the Mishima Zaibatsu with Nina Williams as his right hand woman. His old man, Kazuya Mishima is his mirror over at G-Corporation, being serviced by Anna Williams. Meanwhile, former Zaibatsu boss Heihachi Mishima is as yet MIA and presumed dead.

Both of these sides are now deep into the search for something or someone, which eventually has them each recruiting an unlikely catspaw to act as their investigator. Thus kung-fu kitten Ling Xiaoyu and adorable android Alisa Bosconovitch (talk about Random Select!) are thrown into each other’s path at some Japanese high school, each looking for a student named Shin Kamiya. As the two reluctant heroines meet and sometimes clash, they find friendship along the way- perhaps the only thing that can save them in the inevitable crossfire between the Mishima Bloodline that inevitably explodes by the end.

Finally, this is an Authentic Tekken Movie. Like it or not, kids, THIS is it. You can’t get any more real, official or Tekken-ish than this. The characters look, act and feel for the most part like they do in the games. In fact, they look better, as if the movie took and animated the models used in the game’s gorgeous portrait artworks.
That said, this is a movie made for Tekken fans, and Tekken fans ONLY… just the same caveat as it was with Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Only those well-versed in Tekken lore, and updated Tekken lore at that, will fully understand what’s going on. Everyone not knowing who these characters are will probably be watching only for the pretty, shiny CG, and just letting things run along whatever happens.

That said, there are still odd inconsistencies that will leave even Tekken fans (like me) bewildered- like WHY Lee Chaolan, a dubious, double-playing combatant in the series’ central conspiracies and secret wars, is being portrayed as a seemingly benign Daddy Warbucks-esque professor? Why isn’t he recognized by Anna? Why do Kazuya and Jin suddenly have Stage 2 Devil Transformations? Whe did that happen? The series’ weirdness apparently wasn’t enough for scriptwriter Dai Sato, so he had to make up his own oddness to add to the kit and caboodle.

Kinky or cute? You decide.

And what an IFFY script it is. No, that would be kinda kind. I have to say Tekken: Blood Vengeance has a pretty bad script running through it, surprising from a writer with such credentials like Sato.

For starters, the storyline- that of the Tekken Powers-That-Be (Jin and Kazuya) searching for a student named Shin Kamiya- is ridiculously over-complicated. Why was there ever any need to recruit Ling and Alisa to infiltrate a school, when the resident hatchet women, Nina and Anna are ready, willing and able to storm in and just grab the pipsqueak? There’s no law enforcement to speak of, there’s no question where Shin is- it’s as if the reluctant heroines were thrown in just for the hell of it- just because the writer said so. If you think about it, the majority of the film is just about Xiao and Alisa running around in circles, ecchi fan service-esque views and some quasi-funny or kinda-touching moments. In most anime, seeing two cute babes’ antics would be entertaining but here, it seems off. The humor just isn’t as funny, the dialogue not that snappy, the heartwarming moments not that touching. There’s a lot of lines about being human and being a robot and being a robot yet being more than human thrown around, but it just comes off as random. Furthermore, the pivotal moment where Xiaoyu sides with Alisa is jarring and awkwardly done- I don’t know if it’s a bad translation or just something the script just glosses over intentionally.

All this combines with the sad fact that the film often drags. After the promising start with a Nina/Anna fight scene, the movie loses momentum and stays there until the next fight scene, between Xiaoyu and Alisa. THEN there’s that long nothing stretch before the finale, with the final extended fight scene/battles. So many seconds wasted with little action or pay-off. A rematch between the Williams could have been squeezed in, but the script deemed it better to be left offscreen. Like, WHAT? Also, while Ling and Alisa are the main characters for the better part of the movie, once the finale kicks in they’re demoted to the scenery for the most part as the Big Mishima Boys duke it out.
Oh, and Shin Kamiya? Was he ever necessary? Not really. Did he matter? Nope. Will we miss him? Not at all.

That all said, Tekken: Blood Vengeance does have good points. It looks gorgeous, as I’ve probably mentioned earlier. The music is pretty good, particularly the first song, ‘Highway Battle’. The fight scenes and action are pretty amazing- I really wish there was more action with the ladies though- the girlfights are beautiful and graceful to watch, while the Mishima 3-way bout, while epic, is just a bit too over-the-top for me.

And, eh, what the hell, it’s a TEKKEN movie. It’s great to just see the characters we know and love, outside the arena and just doing stuff. It’s all still quite entertaining, despite the silliness and the iffy script. It still charms the the hell out of me and is a grand, if a bit messy, spectacle to watch, particularly in 3D on my big screen Plasma. Blissful, that’s what it is.

So even if I have many gripes, I can’t dislike Blood Vengeance. It’s a gift for the fans, and certainly that’s never a bad thing. Who knows- maybe they’ll learn from this and make another one, hopefully starring more characters, having a much better script and more of the awesome action and visuals we know and love. No, this isn’t a great movie- but it IS a Tekken movie, and heck, I guess that’s enough for now. Now, how ’bout a sequel starring Asuka and Lili, Harada-san?

Anime Break! Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing (Episodes 1 and 2)

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, My Stuff, TV on October 24th, 2011 by thelonegamer

Giant airship battles, feisty flying cuties… Yep, Last Exile’s back.

A long time ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away… I was a younger Otaku who guzzled anime like soda. During that time, Gonzo was the studio often in the spotlight, and Last Exile was one of their classics. This series, full of cloudy worlds and warring airship fleets surely captured the minds of countless anime fans, mixing steampunk with mystical powers, light-hearted adventure (initially) with more dark, serious drama. Truth be told, I need to re-watch the series again to remember all the details, but it’s still the first title I quote when I want to bring to mind awesome anime. So now, the sequel, Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, is here, airing on Animax here in Manila every weekend, same time as Japan.

Set in another part of Prester, far from the warring states of Anatoray and Disith in the first LE, this time we take on the conflict between the Kingdom of Turan and the Ades Federation. I guess parallelisms to Phantom Menace are inescapable with Turan being smaller and seemingly less aggressive with their cute princesses and graceful, T-shaped airships, while we can see the more foreboding and militaristic Ades fleet as the ‘bad guys’- well, since they broke a supposed peace accord and started attacking with no provocation, that’s pretty unmistakable. Into this conflict barge in the titular Fam Fam Fan, a young Sky Pirate with amazing Vanship skills (and a nasty habit of sleepwalking… dangerous when you’re on a freakin’ AIRSHIP).

Though they’d probably be better off just staying out of the action and just hijacking the occasional lone airship, for some reason Fam and her Sky Pirate gang come to the aid of Turan- showing that good guys stick together, or perhaps the Sky Pirates just don’t like seeing bullies- at first saving the embattled princesses escape then later personally flying one royal highness back to Turan. Obviously though, as the war continues with no end in sight, Fam, her people and the princess she’s taken under her wing are in for the journey of their lives.

At just by the second episode there have been a couple of big battles, tons of Vanship daring-do, the return of old favorite Dio Eraclea from the first series, the revelation that there’s another Exile, or giant super-powered starship, in existence and a whole city pulverized (which shows that this new series isn’t all cute and fluffy). What the bad guys are planning, what other familiar faces like Tatiana Wisla will play in this conflict and what one spunky little Sky Pirate can do in all this will be revealed I guess, as Silver Wing flies off in earnest.

Veteran Otaku who’ve seen the first Last Exile series will no doubt have more of a leg up going into this series, but also perhaps have the baggage of comparing it with the original- I say take Fam for what it is- a new tale in the same world, familiar but a whole different story. For the rest, don’t dwell too much in things that don’t make sense- just hang onto Fam, bask in the gorgeous visuals and music, and enjoy the ride.

For now, I guess, I gotta dust off those anime VCDs and have an original Last Exile marathon very soon.

Tekken Hybrid Japanese Promo Vid!

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies, PS2, PS3, Tekken, Tekken Blood Vengeance, Tekken Hybrid, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue on October 6th, 2011 by thelonegamer

Fast Tube by Casper

A package chock-ful of Tekken fun!

Here’s the trailer vid for the Japanese Tekken Hybrid package, which is set for release on December 1. There’s quite a lot of new footage, particularly of the Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie, including a kinda spoilery quick glimpse of a character not for the most part known to be in the film. Of course you also have looks at Tekken Tag Tournament HD (the remastered PS2 game) and the TTT2 Demo, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue. Of course, as cool as this vid is, I’ll most surely be getting either the US version (out November 22) or the Asian/EU version (release TBA). Darn, I really want to see Blood Vengeance already. Still several weeks away, but it’s coming. Slowly but surely.

A Peek at the Japanese Tekken Hybrid Package

Posted in Anime, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Gadgets, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies, PS3, Tekken, Tekken 6, Tekken Blood Vengeance on October 4th, 2011 by thelonegamer

Japan gamers get a more anime flavored Hybrid in December.

Tekken boss Katsuhiro Harada just posted the pic above, showing off a look at the upcoming Tekken Hybrid package for Japan, which features a case with nice artwork by artist Shunya Yamashita. I guess given how a lot of the comments about Tekken: Blood Vengeance were about it being more like an anime girl buddy movie than a straightforward Tekken movie, this look is probably a lot more fitting. Regardless, I really can’t wait to see the film for myself for all the action and CG eye candy, at the very least. The US gets its hybrid fix a bit earlier in late November. Still no word on the dates for EU or Asian releases (announcements will be made by Sony Entertainment), so maybe we’ll just have to spring for a US copy. We’ll see- stay tuned, then!