Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Digimon Xros Wars episode 2

Okay, I've been reaaaaally late with Souten Kouro. I have to get a grip and finish the damned chapter. I am a bit worried about the current status of scanlations, after OneManga was closed. As a consequence (?), no proper RAWs for Mahou Sensei Negima chapter 297 have shown up so far. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we'd be getting spoilers for ch. 298 before that happens. I'll have to wait for the volume to be released, apparently. On the other hand, I'll try to buy the Gokuatsu version of Souten Kouro, which seems to have 3 volumes per volume, I think. Anyway, back to Digimon.

So, I've watched episode 2 of the new season, and, to be honest, it's not bad.

The episode starts with Shoutmon carrying Taiki to a cliff, without actually explaining why he's doing this (either Taiki is light, or Shoutmon is strong. Judging by what happens in the ep, I'll go for the latter). Shoutmon shows him his village, the Smile Village, part of the Green Zone (according to the subs, it's Grin Zone. Yeah right). Taiki asks Shoutmon what the Green Zone is, and Shoutmon can't even explain what a "Zone" is. Enter Jijimon, an old-man-Digimon (go with it), who defines a "Zone" as a country. Shoutmon calls him a "jiji" (literally, an "old-man"), and Jijimon bonks him, demanding that he be called Jijimon-sama. Thank you for pointing out the transparent etymology of his name, Japan (mind you, this show is for kids. You know something's wrong with you when the first time you hear "jiji" is New Getter Robo). Anyway, seems there's a war in the Digital World and the Green Zone was annexed by the evil empire's Bagura Army [citation not needed, look at the screen]. And Taiki will fight as the Green Zone's General (I guess we'll find out later what it means). Aaaaand they're being attacked by Madleomon's army (or rather, just one Digimon. One that flies and bombs. Yikes). Shoutmon tries to use Ballistamon to jump and beat the baddie, but we get a good demonstration of why flight beats vertical movement. Taiki uses the XrosLoader to make the Pickmons combine into a slingshot. That's pretty creative (I love the brush effect they use for the X). Shoutmon is blown towards the baddie and beats him in one hit. He says that with Taiki's help, he can become the Digimon King. Cue ominous Digimon somehow swimming in the ground and stealthily going away. Akari wants to go home (mainly because the following day is Marine Day and seafood is at half-price. Best. Reason. Ever.) and starts crying. Enter the aptly-named Cutemon, who ends all phrases in "kyu", who doesn't want Akari to cry. SUDDENLY!, the ominous Digimon from earlier shows up, with a clear intention to massacre them. I don't know if I should laugh at the sudden change of mood from cuteness to friggin massacre. Anyway, he's easily beaten by a tiger-like Digimon with a Core Drill from Gurren Lagann for a tail (I'm dead serious. By the way, he's voiced by the same actor as Kamiyama from Cromartie High School, Izuru Kira from Bleach and Kururugi Suzaku from Code Geass), putting an end to the twist. Cue next twist: the kids wanna go home. Shoutmon can't accept that, since he needs Taiki to become the Digimon King (not that he tells him that's the reason), so he uses the pretext that his village has to give them a reception. During the reception, Taiki isn't particularly impressed by the food, until he sees the femininely cute Lillymon (which people will remember from seasons 1 and 2 as Mimi's partner's Perfect/Ultimate form). Xros Wars? smashes a rock. Akari points out that humans are weak and that they couldn't possibly help them. Shoutmon leaves, calling Taiki a baka, in the most classic tsundere style. Xros Wars! still leaving. After yelling on his microphone that they should leave, like a jealous girl, Shoutmon finds out that Madleomon's army is coming. He doesn't stop them (remembering Taiki's words earlier) and prepares the village for defence. Taiki and co. are attacked, and Madleomon wonders how these weak humans can be a threat to them. "Like this!", shouts Taiki, who throws sand in his eyes, and they run away. They are cornered (and almost manage to run on a steep cliff, upwards. Badass?). Orochimon is about to kill them, when, SUDDENLY, Shoutmon stops it! He just couldn't leave them like that. However, Madleomon absorbs Orochimon and turns into... well... see the screen, I'd be redundant if I said it. Ballistamon manages to hold the two Orochi heads that were attacking Shoutmon, while Shoutmon uses his agility to attack Madleomon head-on. The latter muses that one of them has great strength, but no speed, while the other has speed, but no sense of fighting, and then hits Shoutmon so hard, that his data becomes fuzzy again. Even as he is about to be killed, Shoutmon says that if he doesn't become the Digimon King, he won't be able to protect the village. Taiki realises that it wasn't Shoutmon's selfish dream, and finally decides to help him. Using his XrosLoader, Taiki makes Ballistamon and Shoutmon combine into Shoutmon X2 (a different form from the one last episode), who showcases the advantage of Xros Evolution: they cover each other's weaknesses. Using Pickmon-slingshot to pull himself back, he feints Madleomon, who, by trying to block the attack, leaves himself wide open and is defeated. Madleomon retreats, while The-Girl-With-The-Ridiculous-Hairdo says things have gotten interesting. Next episode seems to feature "Blue" and a DigiXros between Shoutmon, Ballistamon and Dorurumon.

All in all, a solid episode. We get some info on Shoutmon (as well as a mysterious silhouette when Taiki talks about the Digimon King), as well as a minimal amount of exposition on this war. Also, we see that the other two kids with Digimon can use DigiXros (it's safe to assume that Ridiculous-Hairdo can). Madleomon seems to be turning into a villain of the week. I don't mind, Tobita Nobuo is always an enjoyable voice actor. I wonder how this will continue.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Digimon Xros Wars

Ah yes, Digimon. First adapted in an animated form during the Pokemon hype, it boasted a larger cast of characters, actually menacing villains (heck, first one was a devil) and actually talking partner creatures (I refuse to consider Pokemons who just say their names talkative). In its own way, it worked in a shonen style, with power-ups over power-ups, in contrast to Pokemon, who made the monsters evolve for good, in a perfectly natural way (kinda. Except for Dugtrio. How does a worm evolve into three worms?)
Unlike Pokemon, Digimon had a plot, with small story arcs. The monster-of-the-week element was pretty reduced and you'd usually get a satisfying conclusion (usually. I'm looking at you, Digimon Adventure 02). Another notable fact is that the third season - darker than the others and, in my opinion, better - was directed by Chiaki J. Konaka, who also directed series like Serial Experiments Lain and The Big O. As far as I'm concerned, this was my third anime, first being Grendizer when I was in kindergarten and second being, of course, Pokemon (back when it was, well, exciting. And in the superior German dub). Unlike the latter, the German version of Digimon kept the songs and soundtrack of the original, just translating the lyrics. And they. Were. Catchy. And good. Japanese nicovideo users really like the German dub too. Anyway, I used to watch it on RTL II, until it was taken off our cable. I got to see the first 3 seasons back then. Later, I downloaded low-quality but dial-up-friendly raw eps of Digimon Frontier, which introduced me to the hilarity of Japanese. Incidentally, it was after those few eps that the series went downhill. I was hyped back when they announced Digimon Savers, the fifth season, but I never got around to watching it. I'll definitely give it a try, since the main character is voiced by the same guy as Sanada Yukimura from Sengoku Basara. And is equally hot-blooded.
Anyway, due to this delay, I almost didn't notice they had announced another series, called Digimon Xros Wars (read: Digimon Cross Wars). I'll let Wikipedia explain about it.
Taiki Kudo is an upbeat boy with a desire to help those in need, although tends to overexert himself. One day, he hears the voice of a Digimon named Shoutmon who is on the verge of death. Wanting to help him, Taiki is given a Digivice known as a Xros Loader, and he and his friends Akari Hinomoto and Zenjiro Tsurugi are warped to the Digital World where they meet Shoutmon and his allies, Ballistamon, Starmon and the Pickmons. By using the power of the Xros Loader, Taiki can perform a Digi Xros, which can fuse any of his allies together into different forms. Taiki and his friends use this ability to fight the forces of the Bagura Empire while crossing paths with Teams Blue Flare and Twilight.

Yay, a comrade who fights against the evil that is Twilight! Okay, jokes aside, it seems pretty hit-or-miss. Digimon Frontier actually gave up on the partner element, creating something that... well... was pretty much Saint Seiya. I think. Anyway, the idea of having the digimon fuse into various forms is... similar to Jogress Evolution in season 2 (or, as the English dub calls it, DNA Digivolution), when two same-level digimon combine into another, stronger one (usually containing elements of both of them. Usually). As such, I can't say it's something new, but it means there's a risk of focusing less on the idea of "a boy and his partner" and more on the idea of "a boy and his many partners", like that other popular monster series. Anyway, I watched episode 1 today.

It wasn't bad, really. Kudou Taiki, voiced by the same person as Conan Edogawa, main character of Detective Conan, seems to be a chronic needy-people-helper who can become an awesome basketball-player in four days and help win a match (while parodying the usual scene of scoring the final point spectacularly. He spins around in the air with the ball, only to pass it. Bros before balls!) For some reason, this basketball match made him get exhausted and collapse. Enter Hinomoto Akari, voiced by the same person as Nagase Kaede of Mahou Sensei Negima! and Anew Returner of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 S2, who seems to know about this overexertion problem and dives to prevent him from knocking his head on the ground and ending this series before the break. Akari had been looking for him quite desperately, at least until she saw a blimp and took an amazingly good photo of her and it, then going home. Until she remembered what she had come for. While hilarious, this scene makes me worry for the future of the good guys. Imagine the damage caused if someone throws a shiny coin at her during a fight. Ohohoho~! Anyway, after Taiki is saved, enter the third kid of the show, Tsurugi Zenjirou (voiced by the same person as Bleach's temporary Sexta Espada, Luppi), practitioner of kendo, who sees Taiki as a rival after having lost to him off-screen. Taiki tries to explain that he had won out of luck (as a practitioner of kendo, I can say that he must have a shitload of natural skill), and Zenjirou obviously doesn't believe him. SUDDENLY! Taiki hears a melody, then a voice telling him it's dying. Zenjirou and Akari are quite baffled at Taiki talking alone, but this overused cliche is quickly ended by the sight of a car halfway through a building, as if absorbed. Wait, what?, is their reaction, naturally. The voice tells Taiki to dodge to the right, just as the car was falling from the building. Taiki sees the disappearing data of a small dinosaur-like digimon (which means it's the main partner, of course) and goes to save it. Unfortunately, it's dying, as far as digimon go. Uuuuntil a different, plot-advancing voice asks him if he wants to save the melody of that life. And of course, he does. The device that appears in front of him, called Xros Loader, turns red (like said digimon) and transports them to an unknown world. For some reason, Zenjirou and Akari try to keep him away from it, but either way, it's too late. As a side-note, it doesn't seem like Taiki is just a happy-go-lucky hero, since he has some form of tragic past and wants to help everyone (reminds me of so many someones, particularly Emiya Shirou of Fate/Stay Night) and is overall pretty serious.
So anyway, they go to this world, and the small digimon is alive and healing inside that device. SUDDENLY, an army of much larger digimon attacks them, led by Madleomon, voiced by Tobita Nobuo, known for his performances as Camille Bidan of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and the Major from Hellsing Ultimate. The three kids are saved by a Ballistamon and a few other comic-relief digimon. The small one tells Taiki to summon him, which he promptly does. He tells him his name, Shoutmon. A good sign, really, maybe he'll really shout and be badass. Please be badass. Anyway, seems his attacks are... music based? Rock and roll based? Anyway, hotblooded enough. Madleomon absorbs some of his soldiers and turns into Armed Madleomon (there's your imaginative name of the day). Shoutmon is in danger, but Taiki runs to save him, despite his demand not to be saved. Taiki is told to use his Xros Loader by Plot-advancing Voice (tm), which he does. Shoutmon and Ballistamon fuse into... no name given yet-mon? Who looks okay-ish, although for some reason, he has Omegamon's head. I'm okay with that. Seems this kind of evolution is legendary and very rare. Nothing is too rare for Main Characters (tm)! He deals a heavy blow to Madleomon, but immediately devolves (that was short). Shoutmon tells Taiki to give him more power, and he fuses with ... the comic relief digimon. who turn into a sword. A small dinosaur is holding a cool sword and is beating on a giant vaguely lion-ish monster. Cool? Cool!
He devolves into his previous form, but is called back by a certain Lord Tactimon, who specialises in tactics (... really?). Oh, and he promises to massacre them next time. I love how cool Japanese are about violence. The episode ends with a girl with a ridiculous hairstyle looking upon them superiorly. And then, with a boy looking at the girl looking at them, from an even higher ground. Crossing the line twice, indeed.
So that was episode 1. Definitely a good start to the new series. I'm quite interested in Taiki's past and his tendency to save people at the cost of his own health. On the other hand, there is the matter of the dream sequence in the beginning, before the opening song. It's quite ominous, showing an obviously evil army of digimon, considerably larger than the one they face later in the episode, as well as the good guys, led by Taiki. When he was dying, Shoutmon claimed he wanted to become the King (and he still does after that). I'm not sure if this is meant literally (like in One Piece or in Bleach) or if it refers to some sort of status achieved by winning a tournament. Either way, it seems the shadowy villains are interested in Shoutmon. I have a small gripe with the tendency of showing things three or four times for drama (it happens twice in this episode). It can be done well, but the first time, it was preeeetty ridiculous. The animation quality is amazing. I'm really impressed. The colours are vivid, the characters look great, the fights are exciting and the voice acting is pretty good (as expected from what is basically an all-star team). I am a bit surprised that the eyecatch shows some main character digimon from previous seasons. Should we expect a xros-over?... Okay, bad joke, but the question is legit. Anyway, I'll probably be keeping an eye on this series as well.
I would like to apologise about Sengoku Basara. I had forgotten there was a 13th episode in season 1 (which was only shown DVD), and it covers Maeda Keiji's attempt to have Mouri Motonari and Motochika Chosokabe fight against Nobunaga, while Maeda Toshiie tries to convince Chosokabe to give some lands to Nobunaga (mostly because they were being menaced as well). These underused characters get some spotlight and we find out how they came to rescue the main characters in the final battle. Mouro Motonari is incredibly dark and cold, killing his hostage men and then killing those of Chosokabe, calling them pawns. Chosokabe, despite being a pirate, is more likable. In the end, Maeda Keiji finally does something and stops the two, showing that he is quite powerful indeed. It'll definitely be more interesting to see them in the second season, considering all the character development in episode 13. I'll try to watch episode 2 one of these days and review it as well. As for Souten Kouro, expect the following chapter soon. After that, I'll have to translate the Japanese script, so it will take a bit longer. Wish me luck~!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sengoku Basara season 2 has begun! Are you ready, guys?

Put ya guns on!
~ Date Masamune, Engrish-spewing hero of Sengoku Basara ~

So yeah, this blog has been pretty much dead for over a year. Again. Some people might know that I've started scanlating Souten Kouro (I'll be releasing more chapters this summer), which I was reviewing on this blog loooooooooong ago (until they stopped subbing it).

As you might recall, the other series I was reviewing was Sengoku Basara, the overly energetic adaptation of the game series of the same name (and, in a way, of the historical Sengoku period, kinda. It's hard to say. It's... just insane. In a good way). After the last episode, a new season was announced, and there it is! Sengoku Basara Ni has become, taking Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood's slot on TV (said series is amazing, at least after 37 episodes. Everyone and their mother has reviewed it so far, but you're better off watching it yourself. It's that good).

Sengoku Basara was by no means a masterpiece, but it was incredibly fresh in its over-the-top-ness. The villain, as you recall, was played by Norio Wakamoto, who is... well... an amazing ham. You had the passionate Sanada Yukimura, loyal to his Oyakata-sama, Takeda Shingen (who rides while standing on horses. Which isn't riding, but it's awesome). You had the eyepatched Date Masamune (who rides horses with motorcycle-handles) and Katakura Kojuro, his right-hand man (okay, if you insist, he's called his Right Eye). You had Uesugi Kenshin, ambiguously-gendered rival to Takeda, and Kasuga, his loyal ninja girl (loyal? I'm sorry, I meant to say that his touch gives her an instant orgasm. Hell yeah!). You had the other ninja, Sarutobi Sasuke, voiced by Koyasu Takehito, who's played many roles, but is always recognisable. Sasuke works for Takeda and is the "straight man" during Yukimura and Takeda's shout outs. I'll ignore any homoerotic undertones in this series, since they hardly play a role.

Anyway, Sengoku Basara Ni, episode 1. Takeda has a final fight with Kenshin, while Yukimura fights to stop Masamune from intervening in this showdown. Amazing fighting from the very first moments, but Yukimura ends up falling against Masamune, when, unexpectedly, a fourth army shows up, willing to beat everyone unless they give up. Their leader is the humongous Toyotomi Hideyoshi, accompanied by masked man, Takenaka Hanbei. Takeda and Kenshin join forces and have their soldiers fire arrows at them, but Hideyoshi freaking waves them away, leading to a lot of casualties for the good guys (yeah, you're pretty much sure by then that Hideyoshi is the new big baddie). Masamune and Kojuro take on the two, but they have to retreat. After that, we are introduced to the new opening theme (half-way through the episode) and after we are shown the opening animation to season 1 (I'd watch it any day, really), we get the aftermath (including a scene featuring Maeda Keiji, voiced by the same actor as Bleach's protagonist, Kurosaki Ichigo. Seems Keiji knows Toyotomi, and I certainly hope he gets some focus, since last season, he didn't really do much. It wasn't a cameo, and it was certainly not worth being considered a protagonist back then, so it'll take some effort to impress me this time), as well as a friendly reminder of the running gags between Takeda and Yukimura. And again, as straight-faced as Sengoku Basara can, they punch each other with impossible power, discussing their tactics. Okay, I'm being inaccurate, it's more like Yukimura keeps lunging at Takeda, and Takeda smacks him further and further, while Yukimura argues that they should attack Osaka right now, since Toyotomi won't be expecting it. Takeda says that it's obviously a trap, and that they'll have to go to the west and ally themselves with a third party, since Toyotomi will probably ally himself with Mouri Motonari (who wants to get even with Chosokabe - don't worry, these two only showed up in the first episode of season 1 and in the last one. Maybe they'll get more screentime, as they seem to be pretty popular in Japan). After they agree, we get the ever-classic shout-out between the two. By that, I mean that they yell each other's name repeatedly. Here's the clip. Yeah. Sengoku Basara is full of these. And that is not bad. The last scene in the episode features Masamune's camp in Oushu. Incidentally, Masamune had the same intention to attack Osaka, but Kojuro says they should try to pacify their surrounding regions, else they lose all their territories. However, there seems to be a spy among them, since Toyotomi even knew of their surprise attack. In the very end, we see Kojuro run into Hanbei, who reveals he has the spy as a hostage. In exchange, he offers him to join them. Next episode seems to be about Kojuro joining them, or at least getting out of service for a while.

That's Sengoku Basara Ni, episode 1. It's really good to see the survivors from last season, and it's also good to see some new characters and some less-seen ones. It's by no means a series that will boast with a great plot, like FMA, but it looks like it will be very solid. You see? (to quote Masamune's English words - a bit better this time).

I'll be trying to watch some more of this season's anime, but I'm quite sure I'll review all of Sengoku Basara Ni.

That's right. This blog will live. It. Wil. Live!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

More Souten Kouro

Current status: In a good mood. Not dying at kendo does that to you.
Currently listening to: "Dragon", the
opening to New Getter Robo. See for yourselves.
Quote of the day: "Are you ready guys? PUT YA GUNS ON!" - Masamune Date, one of the main characters in Sengoku Basara. Yes. A Japanese guy from the Middle Ages. Don't look at me like that,
see for yourselves. If you're disgusted by this horrifying anachronism and start writing about the terrible state of contemporary culture, then get the hell out of here, I like it for its sincere insanity!

Hah! I've managed to post again!

I've finally started playing Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, a turn-based strategy game based on the novel with same name (Well, except the number. Weird as it may seem, XI is not an all-caps Chinese name). I was a bit unsure about finishing the Tutorial, since it skips a lot of chapters and is filled with spoilers (I've only read 26 chapters out of the whopping 120), so I started a normal game. After blindly assigning officers (by the way, you can create your own independent force!), I picked 8 forces. Of course, I was a bit unconscious, so I didn't realise it meant I could control all of them. Long story made short, I had a lot of addictive fun (enough to play till 5 AM). It's complex, it has very nice character portraits and it has quite some replay value.

I went on with Souten Kouro and watched up to episode 7. Now I'm out of subbed episodes, so I'll try to write some short impressions based on what I've seen (without having read any of the manga).

Episode 3: The Demon of the North Gate

Cao Cao is obviously sued for attacking Zhang Rang. Zhang Rang tries to convince Cao's judge to convict him, but this judge seems to be incorrigible. So incorrigible that Cao Cao manages to impress out of him by telling him that Heaven is witness to the truth of his words and that he intends to take over China to bring justice. Cao Cao is given the title of North Buwei, some kind of officer who rules over one of the four gates of the capital Luoyang. Considering he's trying to destroy Britann-- eeeer, I mean the eunuchs, he's taking some very interesting measures. Whoever goes out or comes in without permission is to be punished be being hit on the back with a giant iron rod. Usually, a hundred or so. Of course, in the process, he has a nobleman beaten. He reduces his punishment to 20 hits, but the nobleman dies after only one. It kinda helps that he was a relative of one of the eunuchs. After that, he starts researching a revolt, that of the Partisans, hoping to find some proof that the eunuchs had done many terrible things. Oh, and he stops a survivor of the revolt from committing suicide (by ramming his head into an axe) by telling him his name and asking him to join him. Yeah, cause muscular guys who can kill themselves with axes are a must-have.

Episode 4: Banquet of Fire

Cao Cao intends to have the emperor read what he's discovered, whatever the means. The eunuchs plot against him and have an Imperial uncle go through his gate, to make him look bad in the Emperor's eyes. Cue Dan Hong wanting to see this demon of the gate in action and Cao Cao beating the hell out of his guards, then punishing him. Looks like Dan Hong died after one hit. Time for the eunuchs to come and punish Cao Cao, no? After some more talking, Cao Cao stabs Dan Hong's corpse, hidden under a cape. Subtle? Yeah, especially when he reveals that's no corpse, it's a bag of grains. The real Dan Hong is on the wall and has heard the eunuchs actually wanted him to die just to punish Cao Cao. Thanks to this ruse that basically saved his life, the Imperial uncle is willing to give his support to Cao Cao. Cue the Five-Five ceremony, where demons are chased away. The Emperor wonders where his uncle is, and we are introduced to the sword-dancer who is going to perform for them. Stupid sexy Cao Cao. Even the women faint at his sight. Oh, and he dances in front of the eunuchs, always coming close to slashing them. Some archers try to kill our hero, but last time's axe-wielding suicider is revealed to be the huge guy in the costume. He doesn't seem to be very disturbed by the arrows in his shoulder. Anyway, the emperor (who is like a child. A very retarded child) wants to reward him for amusing him so much, and Cao Cao wants to read him his research. Zhang Rang tries to stop him, by saying this is not a good occasion and that he should take it into custody. Later, Zhang Rang convinces the Emperor to appoint Cao Cao governor of a very far region. How does he convince him? By telling him he's sent some beautiful women in his room. The emperor, for all his fat, is delighted. Cao Cao is quite happy that his one paper was enough to ensure his governorship and intends to go on.

(Later edit) Originally, I had reviewed up to episode 6, but Firefox decided to die on me, taking most of the review for episode 5 with it. No worries, I'll review episodes 5, 6 and 7 some other time.

I've finished Sengoku Basara (all 12 episodes of it). It was a series that didn't seem to take itself too seriously, but I would be underrating it if I'd say it was just nothing but brainless action. As soon as Nobunaga and his cronies show up, the series becomes much more dramatic. Oh, and people start dying, starting with Nagamasa Azai. The real shocker for me (historically speaking) was that Tokugawa Ieyasu, the one who was supposed to unify Japan, died off-screen. The final battle wasn't really all that good and Nobunaga was a terrible villain. I mean, they tried too hard to make him diabolical and Norio Wakamoto's voice acting was rather unimpressive, for once. Sometimes, even he was ridiculous, especially since he was drinking out of a skull. The problem? Skulls have eye sockets and once - I swear - his sake just poured out through the sockets. What an idiot! Nouhime was a pretty good villainess, since she manages to "kill" Honda Tadakatsu and Uesugi Kenshin. I know Oichi is supposed to be emo and all, but her unwillingness to do her brother any harm, even after Nagamasa's ghost talks to her brought her petty demise. She does manage to score a kill against Nouhime, but I'm afraid to ask just what the hell those hands were. Akechi Mitsuhide, voiced by Sho Hayami, was a real villain. He was sadistic, he was masochistic, he wanted to see Nobunaga humiliated and dead (in that order), without joining the good guys. He kills Ieyasu and almost kills Takeda. Which brings me to my next point: death is pretty cheap, even in this anime. I was actually touched, even outraged, when Kenshin and Takeda were killed, not to mention Tadakatsu. Their survival kind of cheapened the impact of the moment. It's true that all of them were too awesome to die. Well, except for Tadakatsu. He was basically a giant robot who was awesome enough to get killed off twice. I do have to admit that the duo of Yukimura and Masamune is what kept the show running. Yukimura's punch-outs with Takeda, Masamune's awesome Engrish, Kojuro (his "Right Eye") and Masamune's almost-named grunts made all this worthwhile. I couldn't help but cheer whenever they did something. To be very honest, Yukimura did have a tendency to mope around every now and then, but he was pretty decent. Masamune was just badass. The ninjas has some funny interaction. Sarutobi Sasuke is very well voiced and does his job justice by wearing camouflage colours. Kasuga, for most of the series, was there just for the gags. What gag, you might ask? She was supposed to assassinate Kenshin, but fell in love instead. How is her love? She goes orgasmic every single time Kenshin touches her. However, Kenshin's serious injuries did make her become a little more badass, as she escapes Nobunaga and takes Oichi with her, telling her (she, of all people) not to rush towards death. Good thing Oichi isn't depress-- nevermind. The final battle had some last-minute cameos, but the fight itself between Yukimura & Masamune and Nobunaga was pretty anticlimactic. Nobunaga is simply too overpowered up to a point, but thank God for everyone's random energy bursts randomly doing something and Masamune and Yukimura doing a team attack on Nobunaga. Oh, and the explosions are insane. The fact that season 2 has been announced makes me pity poor medieval Japan. If these people get serious, things are going to blow up like crazy. Anyway, the epilogue was pretty neat, though. Gotta love how everybody is back to wanting to kick everybody else's ass, now that the big bad guy is dead.

I'll be leaving for Greece this Friday. As such, I doubt I'll post anything else while there. Unless they have more Internets there.

Signing off for today, yours truly.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Three exams and three kingdoms

Current status: Relieved... Wait, I said that last time. Okay then: "Excited as hell!"
Currently listening to: "909" by Tribal Chair, the opening to currently airing anime Souten Kouro (which apparently means Beyond the Heavens). Despite the very out-of-place yelling at the end of the TV opening, it's quite good. I absolutely love they animation they use for it.
Random quote of the day: "Lord Oyakata!" - Sanada Yukimura from the Sengoku Basara anime series, as per Tadashi's subs. Oyakata (
親方) actually means "master" and is not a name. But yeah, who gives a damn about the names when you have samurais clashing swords so hard that they cause nuclear-sized explosions? Fuck yeah!

I lied. Damned exams made me postpone my scanlations update. I hope I can manage to make the damned update now. I mean, only one page left to translate and two or three to edit (this included). I am announcing that I'll probably work a bit on the Mazinger Bible as well. The only disadvantage is that I can't seem to find any copy of it online, so here's to the scans being any good.

That aside, today's post is about two anime I've recently started watching. One of them is Sengoku Basara, an anime based on a video game series (brought to the US and called Devil Kings, while replacing the Japanese references. I'm not sure whether I should be grateful. At leas they don't screw the names by pronouncing them weirdly. I mean, "Iron Ox" is better than Tadakatsu Honda, no? No.)

You can tell from the opening sequence that it's not meant to be accurate. If you can't, you desperately need to read a history book. That, and you should share the drugs you're on. Anyway, I liked the first episode because it simply tries to feed the series on the Rule of Cool, by having respectable samurais spout random English phrases, ride exhaust pipe and handle-equipped horses with their arms crossed, and duel like crazy, causing explosions. Sure, when you basically turn into coloured energy blasts, you can't expect much else. Also, I loved the dialogue between main character Sanada Yukimura and his lord Oyakata-- errr, I mean Shingen Takeda. Minor plot advancing aside, they simply punch each other through walls. Not because they hate each other. I mean, at some point, Takeda tells Yukimura that he will one day age. Yukimura rushes at him saying that "if there's someone who won't age, it's you, my lord!" and punches him. I like the director's way of thinking? Why sit like any real Japanese samurai and discuss this over tea when you can punch the everliving crap out of your counterpart? Obvious commercial purpose aside, this anime is obviously made to be fun and it certainly delivers. And yes, that lady in the skimpy costume seems to be a ninja. Gotta appreciate her effort to prevent getting her clothes getting sliced in the middle, like any perverted warrior would when faced with losing his life. Anyway, yays for the samurai who holds his SIX swords Wolverine-style.

The other anime is Souten Kouro (the official translation seems to be Beyond the Heaven). It's based on a manga partially based on 14th century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi), itself based on a period of internal crisis from the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. This period is called "of the Three Kingdoms" because of the three warlords who fought for supremacy over the huge chunk of land that is China. The most known ones are Liu Bei, Cao Cao (pronounced Ts'ao Ts'ao, not Cow Cow) and Sun Quan. The novel (which I am currently reading) isn't bad at all, although it's quite long (120 chapters and about 2000 pages, in a total of four volumes. I'm 23 chapters in). While the novel is heavily biased towards Liu Bei and his blood brothers Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, the manga focuses on Cao Cao, who was a bit demonised in the novel (not so much up to now, I like his characterisation in the manga: he's a great and intelligent general, who knows how to use the ever-useful "Cao Cao? He went that way!"). I've only watched two episodes, but it's left a pretty good impression.

The opening theme (to which I have linked already) is quite badass if you ask me. Well, until the shrieking kicks in. After that, it loses a bit of its coherence, but it's still good. I am quite interested in seeing how they will portray Guan Yu (the long-bearded one around 0:33) and Zhang Fei (the hairy-chested guy at 0:32). I mean, they're going to be villains (just like Liu Bei), so we'll be seeing some new views. I see that, up to episode 2 at least, we're still around the very beginning of the novel, since the Ten Eunuchs are still alive (they die quite quickly in the book, not before screwing many people over). Cao Cao (0:53) is played by the same voice actor as Kira from Death Note and Setsuna F. Seiei from Gundam 00. Did I mention he falls in love with a dark-skinned girl called Shui Jing (Suishou in Japanese)? Did I also mention that she's most likely Italian? I mean, she tells him a word from her native tongue that expresses her feelings - "Amore". In second century China. Italian. 2nd century. Oh, and she dies by the end of the epside, but now Cao has a reason to hate the main eunuch, Zhang Rang.

Only three exams left and I'll be a free 20-year old man. Yay for freedom!

Signing off, yours truly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Tuesday closer to Doomsday

Current status: Relieved.
Currently listening to: The intro theme to Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI. Here's a Youtube link to the movie itself.
Quote of the day: Not much use for this. I'll probably give up on it.

Well, it's been almost ten months since I last posted here. Not that anyone would care, last time, as you may recall, I was scolded for writing in English. I'd pay to see said person's face when she'd find out that the Blogger.com menus are all in Romanian now. I am such a delightful hypocrite. And so are many people. But I'm delightful.

Now that that friendly poke is out of the way, let's bring some updates:

  • I've just noticed that due to Proficiency results and Deviantart gentlemen, I forgot to bitch about the Baccalaureate. Now, I may not have pointed this out, but I felt pretty humiliated by the whole business. Hell, who wouldn't? All your best friends end up way above you and you start feeling like everybody is pitying you for being such a loser. I admit, some of them might not have been pitying me, but who was I to tell? I felt so bad about this, that I had some awkward discussions with some of them. No less awkward was an interview I gave to this high-school girl I had met at the beloved Latin contest. Let's just say I wasn't very keen on praising Sava and my classmates. Why? Because I'm a proficient part-time asshole. I feel ashamed that people will see it when they search for me on the net. Not that the girl has any fault, God forbid, it's that I was pretty rude about some things. Someone pointed that out to me, and some other person called me... I forgot what she (I think it was a girl) said, but it was pretty insulting. Something among the lines of "How can such weirdos end up on the site?". Surely, I ought to feel like that person taught me a lesson and feel ashamed, maybe leave for the mountains and live a simple life. Here's a more accurate description of how I feel about that person: I'm being capitalistic. Anyway, that aside, it felt pretty awkward to be recognized by one or two people for that interview. Lesson? Don't spout shit. And if you do, do it properly, with names, addresses and hitmen. Lots of hitmen.
  • I'm a college student now, so I'm studying Latin and Greek. Old Greek. The one that isn't phonetically selfish (good God, how many "i"'s can a language use?). Anyway, I like it here: it's calm, it's quaint, everybody knows everybody. Did I mention that we're 13? Yeah, we'll be seeing some kissing around here, I'm sure (it doesn't help that one of the texts we were translating counts as a foreshadowing to the fate of kissers. Yipee). Anyway, I've heard that we're actually a crowd, third year has (had?) some five students and second year... errr... nobody knows for sure. 9? Nobody ever sees them at the same place at the same time. I think I've found our Apocalypse detector.
  • Oh yeah, Apocalypse. As of late, our doomsday is next year or so. Or maybe 2012. To quote Wiki: "On the sun, the solar maximum of Solar Cycle 24 in the 11-year sunspot cycle is forecast to occur. Solar Cycle 24 is regarded to have commenced January 2008, and on average will reach its peak of maximal sunspot activity around 2012. The period between successive solar maxima averages 11 years (the Schwabe cycle), and the previous solar maximum of Solar Cycle 23 occurred 2000 - 2002. During the solar maximum the sun's magnetic poles will reverse." Did I mention the Maya foresaw this? Nostradamus will be biting his fingers off for this, I bet. But thank God for researchers: "For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle," says Sandra Noble,[12] executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. in Crystal River, Florida. "To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting", she says, is "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in." And the scientist quoth: "Nevermore!"
  • Also, the Romanian government intends to give us biometric IDs. They'll chip us and dale us and turn us into detectable chipmunks. Oooooh, the Church is gonna be angry, you'll see. Did I mention they're 666-related? Unknown are the devil's ways. You'd think he'd go for slaughtering us. But yeah, communism is a very fun apéritif. This is going to be a very fun End of the World, isn't it? I mean, the ones who are nostalgic about 1000 and 2000 A.D. have got absolutely nothing on this, this is the best Apocalypse ever. It's mixing our biggest fears: bureaucracy and civilisations we've slaughtered. Let's hope they manage to clone the dodo birds: people will go completely nuts.
  • Clones. People die when they are made. Why? Because scientists are still trying to figure out how clones work. And they kill embryos in the process. Are they living beings yet or not? Are we trying to become gods? What if we bring Hitler back to life? That's too many bugging questions for them scientists. "Bah, we'll think of that later. Let's go clone another lamb. We could use some dinner. Do you think they'll grow mature by dinner? They should, they grow so fast." Scientists must be having so much fun.
  • El Labirinto del Fauno is a great film, about a girl who embarks on a journey to a magical world, where fairies live alongside gentle fauns and mandragores feast on milk. She has a pure heart and desires to save her mother who is in the pains of childbirth. In the end, she learns an important lesson about self-sacrifice. Okay, that's enough hypocrisy of you, I know you're watching it for her stepfather who is fighting the rebels in the mountains. I know you loved how he smashed a boy's face with a bottle. That's right, it didn't break, it just smashed every single face-bone the boy had. And his father was witness to all this. Poor daddy, he was crying about it, so this military shoots him.And then he shoots the kid again, because disfiguring somebody doesn't just cut it. Lovely. Also, the faun made me shiver. I was expecting him to go all pedo on the girl any moment. In the end, the girl dies and ends up in a wonder-world: she was being tested and is now worthy of being the fairy queen. Awwww... Because all tests involve sick faceless monsters with eyes on their hands. But who cares, I genuinely cheered when the stepfather got Joker'd. Why so serious?
Well, that was a fun rant. Hope next time won't be in another year. Also, to those who bother with my scanlations, the next update will be out very soon.

Until then, signing off, yours truly.

Friday, August 01, 2008

My Certificate of Proficiency in English result!

Current status: F-in ecstatic! I have f-in struck f-in gold!
Currently listening to: "Friends" by Stephanie, the second ending theme to Gundam 00. Great 90s-like song.
Quote of the day: "There is only one Goddess, though she has many aspects. And there is none greater than she who bore the aegis long before Zeus claimed it for himself" - Hanno, a Lybian from Lindsay Clarke's The Return from Troy, about Athena and Neith.

Hell yeah! After waiting about one f-in month and a half, I finally have my CPE result! To my amazement, I, a Romanian from Romania, have managed to get an A! Anyway, here's a screenshot of my Candidate Profile:

From what I can see, I fared very well at Reading and Use of English, rather well at Listening (must've been the shaorma), well at Speaking (I guess I must've annoyed the Romanian lady I talked to) and almost Borderline at Writing. Guess reviewing The Last Samurai was a bad idea... At any rate, a great result, WOO-HOO!

... I can go on translating the Super Robot Encyclopedia to English, now that I am proficient. Damn, it sounds well! Also, I needn't worry anymore about the ambitious persons who aim to get 10's and A's wherever they bloody want, just because they have nothing better to do and than screw their life for a career that will end early, due to old age. Now, at least, I have proven that I am just as good as the desperate creatures who despise anything that stand in the way of their learning. Did I say learning? Sorry, I was wrong. They learn nothing. They want no knowledge. They want glory They care nothing for culture or feelings. They care only for their career. One damn good reason not to want to be anything else than a Latin teacher! I want to know, not to get more money. I don't go around screwing with people, telling them that I don't know anything and that I am a failure, only to end up being vastly better in results. Yes, I am arrogant, but I'd rather be arrogant than mental. If, by chance, someone recognizes him- or herself in this portrait, then he/she is not the target of this criticism, but rather a certain category of persons I despise. No worries, if you've made it so far, you're probably not among them. ^_^

*Phew* Definitely felt like letting that out. At any rate, I'm faring quite well. I have a Sehr Gut (Very Good - A) in ZMP (Zentral Mittelstuffe Prüfung - German's C1 exam) and an A in CPE, I have a second prize in this year's national Latin contest (not too far from the winners) and another second prize in this year's Greek contest (actually, I was first, but you need at least 9,50 to get first prize. 9,10 doesn't cut it). I've also participated in the international Latin contest dedicated to Cicero in Arpino (no good results, I kinda screwed my translation. I was third in the nationa; qualifiers, though. Yes, I know there were only 20 or so). At any rate, the above national contests have earned me a nice warm place in our proud Bucharest University, among other Latin students. Also, I had 9,21 in this year's Baccalaureate, but hey, it's not like I was fighting for a 10, like others-- whoops, sorry 'bout that. Not too shabby.

Sorry for the above, I am feeling a tad arrogant. Oh well, can't have'em all. It's either that or telling people I suck at everything. No thank ye, very happy with meself, I am. Signing off, yours truly.