Music of the Month; Bolero

The music choice for this month was based first on the idea of “open world” game, and of course the first game I thought was The Legend of Zelda. Then I remembered that just using the opening theme with the text scroll is overused, so I took the song that served as the core inspiration, even though I associate Digimon with it a lot more.

Anyway, I’ve got nothing planned for the month.  February went by in mindless certification trainings and yours truly being sick, so you can imagine that I’ve amassed some unhealthy amount of unfinished business on my back. This month’s mecha post is completely open, it’s either going to be a TSF comparison or continuing with transformable mechas (to be honest, I sorta semi-decided that shape changing robots would be the prevailing theme) and at least I know what the hell I’m going to review rather than backing on something I found rather mindless, even when I had promised to review that particular item some time back. You can actually go back a post and read all about the whole review schtick I’ve laid down. I admit, that whole intro was to fill in the post if it ran short, but it went just slightly over the word limit. Oh the humanity and all that. Now that I mentioned reviews, I might make this month’s earlier than normal so I can carry the first impressions into the text.

With nothing planned, I’ll use this change to indulge myself a bit.

The Nintendo Switch hits store shelves today. The first 9th generation console, and the first pure hybrid console that has nothing to fear in the portable market side. Nintendo is in a position to rule the handheld market as they please with no competitors in sight, and that worries a bit. Considering how competition drives people, especially if you want to make money on your creations, the lack any rivalling handheld should be taken with serious concerns. The Vita’s dead in water and SONY’s more or less killed it. Smart phones and tablets compete in a different market altogether.

Of course, with something new coming over, stupid people will gawk and take shots at others for whatever unfathomable reasons. Vice’s Motherboard has a writing titles Nintendo Switch Is a Console for Human, Not Gamers is as stupid as it sounds. Putting aside the fact that these people don’t consider their fellow human to be in the same league as them, I’m astonished how stupid they are at the reaction of a person enjoying a video game. How is that a person, whom they call to be the most unqualified to review a console, nails the points that most so-called game journalists manage to miss? The worst (best?) thing in the whole article is them first saying specs don’t matter, and then the writers end up in the same gutter all others do; the specs aren’t high enough, it won’t have games.

Whether or not a console will have games is really two-fold; is the installation base large enough, and how will the first party company expand that audience? Nintendo has always been in the position to set the initial consumer base with Mario and Zelda. With the DS they had Brain Age and Wii had Wii Sports. All these titles drew in people outside the usual competition area AAA developers don’t step outside of, and when you have a console of around tent titles that sell well, third-party developers can develop and publish their games to a larger market. Or they would, of companies would compete with each other properly. Take it this way; the competition between the Xbone and PS4 is rather negligeable, as both consoles have largely the same library. The Wii U had a terrible library with low quality titles and didn’t manage to gain a large consumer base. The Wii was the opposite, the anti-Wii U with incredibly high installation base and high quality games from Nintendo (until they dropped the ball mid-way through.)

Anyway, it still rubs me the wrong way to think a gamer is not a human being. In reality, the person who said he can’t put Switch down is a gamer. There are not arbitrary rules to be one or not. You just gotta like ’em and play games, whatever it may be. Then again, this is probably the same people who took part in the Gamers are dead collusion. Switch carts tasting bad is also not proper journalism and anyone who took part in this should be treated like spoiled brats.

Do I want to rant about games and politics? Not really, but I’ll say this; games can be as political as the developer intends. They’ll just have to face low sales then, because most people want to experience the fantastic, not the banal. One Angry Gamer has an article up, comparing and contrasting how Nier: Automata and Horizon Zero Dawn handle very similar premises, but the other one just shoves a view down your throat. Hint; it’s not Nier: Automata.

And then there’s the new Ducktales. You may not know this, but I’ve always been huge as hell Donald Duck fan. Carl Barks’ and Don Rosa’s works are some of my favourite comics of all time, and the original Ducktales falls into this slot as well. Hell, I even liked Quack pack. But what’s to say about this particular show? I appreciate their aim to replicate Carl Barks’ style, but I must admit it feels too modern in the sense that the style and designs were chosen to fit the modern era of cartoons, which hasn’t really aged all that well. Something slightly more grounded and classic would’ve served the new Ducktales better. This is, of course, a personal preference. I still hope they’ll employ WayForward to develop a2D game based on the show and make their previous Ducktales remake obsolete.

I was once asked what’s up with my drive to make old things obsolete. I answered that I love old things, and thus I want new things to be even better.

A local question

Astro Boy, Gigantor and Eight Man are classic shows that have a place in American pop culture, even thou Eight Man is probably the most forgotten piece of the bunch. This was the 60’s, and a cartoon with robots flying in the sky, high-speed androids and robot boys fit the era fine. From what I’ve gathered from what people who grew up with these shows, nobody questioned their origin. They were entertaining shows on the telly and that’s all that mattered. I’d throw Speed Racer into the mix as well, thou it arrived just a tad later to the mix, but met with the same treatment.

Video and computer games have a similar history, all things considered. Nobody really cared where from arcade games came from, they just rocked the place. Not even the name Nintendo raised some eyebrows, it was just some exotic name cocked up in a meeting. Pretty much what Herb Powell did in The Simpsons.

Games had a shorter gestation period than robot cartoons when it comes to finding the source to some extent. US saw the mid-1970’s Shogun Warriors, a toyline that used wide variety of toys based on Toei’s show with some changed names to fit better the American market. The NES era is relatively infamous of its localised games, and much like how American reception of these Japanese cartoons ultimately was felt back in Japan, so was the localisations and changed made to games. Perhaps the best example of this would how Salamander became Life Force in its arcade re-release and effectively became its own spin-off from the base game.

This, of course, has been largely in America. Europe is a bit of a different thing, with France, Italy and Spain having their own imported animation culture to the point of Spain having a statue for Mazinger Z. I remember reading about a tennis comic that a French publisher continued after its end in Japan. This was done by hiring an illustrator who could replicate the original style and saw healthy sales for a time. Something that like probably could never happen in modern world, unless the original author has died and has made it clear that continuing his work is allowed. Somehow I can see titles like Mazinger  and Dragon Ball still gaining new entries to the franchise long after Go Nagai and Akira Toriyama have left for Mangahalla.

Sadly, I am not as well versed in pan-European phenomena when it comes to Japanese animation in the Old World, but there are numerous resources in both online and book format, often in native tongue. Perhaps worth investing time into for future entries.

While things like Robotech and Voltron made their names around the American landscape, the 1980’s saw a growing appreciation for the original, unaltered footage. This was the era of Laserdisc, and people were mail ordering cartoons solely based on the covers. Can’t blame them, LDs tend to have absolutely awesome covers. Whenever these shows were shown in a convention, a leaflet explaining the overall premise and the story would be spread among the visitors or a separate person would enter the stage and give a synopsis of the events on the screen. There were those who felt, and still feel, that localisation demeans the original work.

Similarly, game importing became a thing in the latter part of the 1980’s and in the early 1990’s with NES’ success, though it should be mentioned that Europe saw PC game importing across regions far more. The Nordic countries began importing NES games anywhere they could and specialised mail service stores popped up just to service this part of the population. It wasn’t uncommon to see Genesis and Mega Drive titles sold side by side in-game stores. Appreciation for the original game saw a rise, either because of it was simply cool to have shit in Japanese or from America, or because some level of censorship was present. However, more often it was because Europe was largely ignored when it came to releasing certain games. Importing unavailable games to a region is still relevant, perhaps even more so than previously now that companies are investing in English releases in Asian versions and region free consoles are becoming an industry standard.

The question I’ve been asking myself for a long time now, longer than I’ve been writing this blog, is that whether or not wholesome localisation like Space Battleship Yamato and Starblazers was a necessary evil of the time that we can be do without now, that we are grown culturally to accept the original work as a whole, or whether it’s just hubris of the people who are too close to their sub-culture and co-fans. A person who is tightly knit with music’s sub-culture doesn’t exactly understand the sub-culture of pinball or golf.

By that I mean that pop-culture in general doesn’t give jackshit whether or not panties are censored in a video game, it’s irrelevant in macro-scale. Even in a localised form a product can impact pop-culture in ways that the original couldn’t, the aforementioned Speed Racer and Robotech being highly impacting examples in American pop-culture. I guarantee that these shows would not have their impact without the localisation effort.

Is it a necessary evil then? Perhaps this is the subjective part with no answer. Those who value original, unaltered product without a doubt will always prefer the “purest” form of the product, whereas someone who doesn’t have the same priorities will most likely enjoy the localised version just as fine. It would be infantile to assume that people who don’t know better can’t appreciate the original piece or lack in intelligence somehow. It is merely a matter preference, and like assholes, everyone has one.

If it matters, I personally vouch for unaltered products whenever applicable for the sake of keeping the integrity of the product and the intentions of the creators intact. However, also see complete localisations having their valid place in e.g. children’s cartoons. While it would be nice to have two or more versions of everything for the sake of options, that’s not always an option for budgetary, marketing or some other reasons.

Perhaps that’s what could be argued; when it comes to Western culture, we are more acceptable to unlocalised products more than previously, but total localisations still have their place. Even without knowing much about the source, we can appreciate the intentions and look past the cultural difference.

Or at least we should be able to, and appreciate the differences and intentions without resorting to raising a hell for nothing.

Three approaches to transforming mecha designs

Unfolding, folding, opening, twisting, turning, exposing areas and revealing hidden parts is basically what mecha transformation is all about. There is no one way to do it, and the sheer amount of examples there exists eclipses the scope I’m willing to work for free. To tackle transformation schemes in general requires part problem solving and part puzzle making in a nice balance, where a irregular shapes can be turned into e.g. a humanoid and vice versa. By first introducing this sort of base idea of categorizing transforming mechas into will give some foresight how I’ll tackle the subject down the line.

Much like Three approaches in mecha design (which will be rewritten at some point this year,) I tend to employ a similar template for transforming mechas specifically. These three are not necessarily connected to the three initial approaches as some sort of rule, but they do work under them if you’d wish to make a transforming mecha. These might help you to lock down your approach better. This post can barely scratch the surface of it all with the given limit I’ve set to myself.

The three approaches in transforming mecha design are Fantastic, Toyetic and Realistic. As with previous, there are overlapping elements with each of the three and can be even split into sub-categories if necessary. Examples of Fantastic transforming robots are all the outright impossible ones in any form outside animation and movies. Getter Robo and Gurren Lagann are probably the best examples, where thing just fall into their place and morph into new shapes. Mass shifting is nothing short of expected and even mandatory.

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Review of the Month; Schwarzesmarken TV

To preface this review, I do have a bias for Schwarzesmarken as a fan of Muv-Luv overall. However, because of this bias I’ve decided to approach this series from the point of view that it is a singular entity without any ties to pre-existing franchises. This decision also stems from the fact Schwarzesmarken was marketed with that title alone without any naming connections to Muv-Luv. Within the fiction there is no pretence about the connection, and one can only guess why this decision was ultimately applied. Whatever the case may be, the show still needs to stand on its own and deliver a solid show for a positive review.

To expand upon the series needing to stand on its own, this review could compare Schwarzesmarken to the Light Novels and the Visual Novel, and to Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. This wouldn’t allow the work to present itself as it is. A comparison between different versions of Schwarzesmarken is worthy of its own post altogether.

A television series is a different beast to literal works. Total Eclipse is a lot of people’s first experience with the franchise and Schwarzesmarken served the same role to some extent. Because of this, in this review, I won’t hold against the staff for the changes that were made during the adaptation. Whatever is on the screen and how it is conveyed to the viewer are the only things that matters, supplemental and source materials be damned.

This’ll  be more or less in-line with the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Muv-Luv posts I’ve done. Expect a general outline of the whole series with commentary running along with it. Not the best way to make a review, but never thought I’d go over this episode-by-episode basis. Expect loads of terrible jokes to boot. If you want a short tl;dr version, you can slip straight to the end paragraphs.

Now that you know where this review will have its base stance on regarding the series, let’s start with the show.

Continue reading “Review of the Month; Schwarzesmarken TV”

Mecha design; made for production

Because I’m currently in a moment where I have no access to my books and most of my materials for a TSF comparison, I just have to pull this one out for now.

I have discussed mass production of mecha in some of the previous entries in the mecha tag posts, but never really touched upon the idea in itself and how it usually reflects back to designs. Usually in mecha stories, especially those from Japan, the prototype unit is usually stronger than its mass-produced counterpart for numerous reasons, be it higher output or better weapons. This, of course, makes little sense in real world to some extent. Often mass production models, or MPs from now on, are optimised versions of the prototypes. The cost of production has been taken down with material and design choices, unnecessary elements are removed due to them being too complex, or too complex elements have been streamlined for maintenance and production.

How this is reflected in design? Let’s take a look at RX-78-2 Gundam and its MP counterpart, RGM-79 GM.

The similarities between the two are instantly visible, outside the stance. The legs largely the same, with GM losing openings under its knees. The skirt armour is largely simplified due to the removal of front compartment and whatever those yellow squares were. The torso is largely the same, carrying that iconic shape with yellow vents on both sides of the cockpit. Shoulders are the same as are the arms. However, only one Beam Sabre is visible and the head has seen the largest overhaul in terms of the silhouette. GM lacks the V-fin and eyes have been replaced with a singular visor. There is no mouth guard or vents on the sides of the head either, so I’d assume it shows that GM has lower temperature inside its head than the Gundam. A lot of those little assumptions could be made on the GM based on the idea of streamlining a prototype.

Outside those, the dull gray and use of red is another cost saving measure, as there’s no need for white and blue, two colours that are iconic in Gundam design. White isn’t technically a colour, so take that as you will. For another example, that has more detail, let’s take a look at MSZ-010 ZZ Gundam and its MP variant, MSZ-013 Mass Production Type ZZ Gundam.

In terms of Gundam design, the ZZ follows basic Gundam design; vents on both sides of the cockpit, a V-Fin and the three-colour scheme with the eponymous Gundam face. The MP variant here is a bit more clear how ZZ’s complexities were trimmed down. It lacks the Core Block System and all the transformation functions, so it drops all those extra wings from those. While technically being a Gundam, it lacks the V-Fin and now resembles head of a Nemo to an extent. The cockpit seems to be better armoured and has an extra cannon installed above it. The side skirt has something that looks like a  missile pack and the shoulders’ Beam Cannons are straight from the base ZZ itself. You can see your run of the mill sabres on the right side of the skirt armour. The thrusters’ sizes in the legs have been adjusted and the knee things have been adjusted in size.

These two examples show two ways that mecha seems to deal with its MP units. GM is very stripped down Gundam with worse weapons. MP ZZ, while still stripped down, is a formidable unit with comparatively as heavy weaponry as the base ZZ, just with more finesse in the design and weaker generator output. While Core Fighter gimmick is something that still persist in Gundam, and for a good reason, its removal does make sense in-universe when wanting to make cost cutting procedures.

Most MP units share the base core with each other. If you start looking for GM variants, you’ll find out that all of them use the same base GM and bolt shit on top of it or change some of the geometry to fit a new element to fit a niche need. There is about eleven or twelve base variants, that all have further variants and redesigns. Zaku II has three times that amount.

As it has become apparent, the MP models are more or less stripped down versions of the originals, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. ZZ is a nightmare to maintain due to its Core Top and Core Base forms, not to mention its G-Fortress formation, not to mention the wear and tear its far larger surfaces would cause to the unit. The MP variant probably costs significantly less than the base ZZ, especially considering Anaheim had to roll out Full Armour parts to maintain structural integrity, but the question is whether or not there is a need for this sort of Heavy Assault Mobile Suit in-universe.

Both are still thick in build and design, making them a bit of a large target. Then there’s the FA-010A FAZZ, but that’s another story altogether whenever I get to discuss mechanics of Gundam Sentinel.

This really plays back to the idea game in designing a mecha; the purpose and role. If you follow this overused trope and intend to use MP units as your main designs, thinking back at the background and the world overall would serve you well.

Mobile Police Patlabor is an interesting piece, where we never see the prototypes, just the mass-produced labors, mainly the Ingrams. However, the idea of further developed piece being more streamlined is turned upside down in the first Patlabor movie, where the AV-X0 Type X-0 prototype model is more streamlined than its predecessors with sleeker silhouette and smoother surfaces with less angles.

While we could say that the AV-98 on the left might be cheaper to produce, we can also assume that by the time Zero was rolling out, the technological evolution both in labor tech and its production is at the point that their benefits outweight the rising costs.

A wholesome mecha design takes into account the world setting as well. A reason why giant robots prevail over other options needs to be sensible. Another show where you can see technological advancements between prototypes and MP units, and gives rather interesting explanation why there are invisible mechas jumping around, is Full Metal Panic, but that’s another can-o-worms I’d like to open later down the line.

Music of the month; Lilia ~Winter Version~

Let’s dedicate this post to the changes that I need to make things viable again and what that means for my own time use and this blog. First, I won’t be dropping the two posts per week pace, that’s something I won’t back out on, unless something significant keeps me from doing it. The reason for this is that realistically I can’t make a living in my current profession. Craftsmen are not valued to any significant extent and their craft or skills are face the same end. The same tends to go towards designers across the board, and if you can’t make the right connections, there’s not much you can do. As such, I’ve taken a drastic decision to re-educate myself for a profession where I can utilise my previous experiences. To what exactly is something I will leave for the time being.

This means I don’t have much time in my hands. The aim is to go through three to four years of studies in one. That is stupidly fast pace, which requests me to concentrate my efforts and resources elsewhere. However, the nature of this blog won’t change too much if any because of this. Rather, I expect it to add further depth as I get more familiar with certain aspects of… well, that’s the open bit for you.

This is also the reason why there has been no new podcast for some time now. Not only the translator staff is busy at their own with both Muv-Luv related matters but also with their personal stuff. Juggling the schedules together has become exponentially more difficult, and sudden changes in what happens and when will become a daily thing to yours truly, at least. ARG is not killed, it’s just biding its time. The same thing really applies to the idea of my voice blogs, as I noticed that producing those in the way I’d like them to takes about four times longer than just writing. Maybe I should just do a stream of thought without a script, but how that would come together nobody knows.

Winter’s arrived here, meaning that while snow is still a scarce, cold weather has arrived and things slow down to take things with certain sure and safe pace. It also means Schwarzesmarken‘s second VN has been released, which means I can read both VNs in one go and watch the animated series. I’ve pushed the whole review thing back for almost a year now because I want to have a proper perspective on both of them without being influenced by hype or other views. Needless to say, both the VN and animation needs to stand on their own two feet, and comparisons between the two can be made. However, it should be noted that the two were made based on the Light Novels, which essentially served as a base script more than anything else. The animation changes things around to fit in the allotted time, while the VN has a lot more time and space just to dwell into things. That’s just the nature of the mediums.

There was no Monthly Three last month  as those take a lot of reading and planning. It may not seem like that, but they really take their sweet time to come together, and I usually plan all three parts in one go. Exceptions happen, of course. The same applies to the whole mecha design things. I do intend to write a TSF comparison this month, which will also serve as the month’s mecha design post. I haven’t decided which one, I need to check what images I have in stash and what I can get. However, for the time being, I do not intend to force myself to do a Monthly Three, unless a subject pops up towards me. Of course, I could use that for the mecha design stuff. Speaking of mecha posts, the post Three Different Approaches in mecha design will get a complete rewrite at some point in the future, and the old one will be replaced with that. However, I will archive that older version for future.

I will most likely insert few personal posts about games on smart phones. This is because my old Nokia finally went bust and I had to purchase a new one. This post, or posts if I end up making multiple, will be observations about mobile gaming in contrast to e.g. handheld console gaming.

I admit that lately this blog has not been up to the standard I’d like to think it has stayed at for a long time now. A lot of news and events that I wanted to write about have come and gone, but my time and simple stamina have been used to a more pressing matters. As said, if I were paid to write, I’d take this more seriously. This is more or less a hobby. Sometimes it stresses, sometimes it feel almost cathartic.

For now, I’ll have to leave you with this, despite it leaving me with a lacklustre feeling. I need to fix my tyres, somebody had slashed them the other night along with seven other’s.

Mecha design; Artisanal mecha

Visual representation of giant robots widely vary, and they can’t be put into two or three distinct categories due to the amount of that very variety itself. Industrial design is very simple to grasp, just look at war industry. However, organic design is not as simple as I’ve previously showcased with Dunbine, because Dunbine, while more organic than a Scopedog, is not exactly organic per se. Sure, it smooth lines, but that doesn’t exactly make itself organic. It’s more like a handcrafted work, a unique piece that a master craftsman designed. Dunbine’s not the most stellar example of this, as it really mixes this artisanal and industrial in a nice combination, so let’s look at a design that’s more to the point.

escaflowne

Escaflowne is a mecha that is without a doubt one of the better examples of handcrafted, artisanal mecha design. It’s ornate, smooth and royal in its design. Certain level of excessiveness is in there, and it being artisanal does not exclude means of war in there. Unlike some Five Star Stories mechas, which in reality have no sense of function, Escaflowne works in a nice balance.

If we want to get into the whole mecha thing, the best way to think of them really is as knights. In the end, a super robot story is about a person in armour, just in a more technical one. Especially when it comes to Japanese media. Fantasy mechas tend to emphasize this, as with Escaflowne above, and this really applies to all guymelefs in the series. None of them are organic, but neither are they industrial. You could say that artisanal is in-between the two extremes.

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Nabbed this Scheherazade off from Pixiv. While not as ornate as Escaflowne, it is nonetheless an example of artisan craftsmanship in mecha, especially with its head. After all, knight armours, especially those of in high position, were designed to be visually striking, a tradition pretty much all mecha follow. An armoured knight has stuck to our global consciousness and many of these artisanal mechas derive their core designs from that idea

What then is the main difference between organic and artisanal in mecha? The main difference of course really is all about the nature of the beast. Iczer Robo and Iczer Sigma are grown in an artificial womb with mechanical built into them. They are, in essence, biomechanical from the get go and largely wear an armour, that may or may not be their outer skin. The jury’s out on the still. Artisanal on the other hand would be fully or at least mostly mechanical in its nature from the grounds up.

For Western mecha the artisanal approach rarely applies. They are made to be machines of war, and even when they are crafted carefully as unique pieces of craftsmanship, they tend to look militaristic and industrial as all hell. I remember someone telling me how Battletech’s mechs were unique pieces for each of the faction or family, which they keep in priced condition and such, much like Mortar Headds in Five Star Stories.

It is not the shape curve that determines what the style is. Industrial mechas can have bulbous, very round parts to the  and still be completely inudstrial. An organic on the other hand can have cutting straight lines to them just as well. It is the nature of the line and overall shape that ultimately determines the look. Think the difference between a bone claw and a metal claw. Artisanal claw would be somewhere between the two, and be more ornate.

Ornate is the keyword in all this. Mamoru Nagano’s design are perhaps most known for their elaborate designs and details.

led81

While LED Mirage could be thrown into industrial design if we were to use just two categories. However, it doesn’t fit there completely because of its multitude of angles and complex natural shapes thrown into the mix. LED Mirage has a lot of numerous smooth curves to it, accented with harsh and sharp angles in combination to flat and curved surfaces. All this combines a very unique look and style that can’t be copied very easily at all, unlike say a Gundam design that’s somewhat genius in its simplicity. LED Mirage’s artisanal side is especially evident on the close-ups, which reveal further detail that’s painted on the Mortar Headd.

led-face1

You can see above that the detail here is not present is not included in the above. Nagano went through many revisions, some of which surely are lost to time by now. You can read all that at Gears Online.

As mentioned, these three classifications I’ve proposed don’t exclude each other. Often you can find elements of at least two different styles in a design, like in how Metal Gear Ray combines organic and industrial design together very well, but is not artisanal. To contrast to that, all the rest of main canon Metal Gears are outright industrial in their looks. Evangelion units and Iczer Robos share the same base idea of organic beings wearing an armour, which doesn’t exactly strike industrial in looks at first, but they are supposed to be form-fitting after all. Industrial mechas sometimes include artisanal effects to them, but generally machines of war don’t tend to do that. The most ornate spot a Gundam has, for example, is its V-fin, and the most crafted V-fin out of them sits on none other than RX-121-3C Gundam TR-1 Hyzenthlay.

It's less elaborate in-magazine
It’s less elaborate in-magazine

In the end, I would recommend reading further on all three aforementioned styles outside the mecha genre and from actual design literature for a better view of this. There is a fourth wild-card classification that I would like to coin out there, but that’ll be another entry.

Monthly three; Fight!! Iczer-1 DVD-BD image quality comparison

Looking at how well recent OVA BD remasters have gone through, Megazone 23 being absolutely beautiful, it was more or less just the question of time when Fight!! Iczer-1 would see its conversion. There were some fears about upscales, but gladly what we got is the definitive version of the series.

This is pretty much just a gallery post. The versions used here are Media Blasters’ Anime Works release from 2005 and the recent BD release. It would seem that whatever source Media Blasters’ is pretty bad, ranking below any of the Japanese Laserdisc releases. If we’re completely honest, the DVD is probably the worst release, on par with the VHS release. This remaster really something the series required, looking and sounding absolutely bomb. Whether or not it will see a Western release is an open question, but I would hope so. The Japanese release came with a memorial booklet and two CDs containing the series’ soundtrack.

Continue reading “Monthly three; Fight!! Iczer-1 DVD-BD image quality comparison”

Monthly Three; WAR-ER ONE

If one doesn’t find much sources about Hariken Ryu in English (his career with Godzilla gives him a lot of leverage over other of his contemporaries, Arain Rei is barely recognized in any degree. While Aran is known as one of many people who made up the best era of Comic Lemon People, and thus one of those who influenced then-current Japanese popular culture, and to that extension modern Japanese pop-culture, his name is all but lost in the Western front. He was at his most active in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, having an influence over stylistic sensibilities as well as contributing to the OVA scene.

I have discussed his original Iczer-1 to some degree previously, so in this entry I’ll be concentrating on Aran himself rather than retreading old ground.

Born in 1960, Aran’s first published work was Fairies of the Star in Comic Lemon People #6, 1982. Whether or not he had released doujinshis before this is unknown. The one work he seemed to like the most and kept working on  between 1983 and 1993 is Galaxy Police Patrizer-3. If any of his works, it is this one that shows how Aran refined his self-taught skills within one decade to a whole new level.

Continue reading “Monthly Three; WAR-ER ONE”

Was Mega Man not optimistic?

A new interview on the 2017 Mega Man show came out this week, and I decided to mull over it a little bit before making this entry because it really is an odd little thing. The title really says it; The New MEGA MAN Animated Series Will Have a More Optimistic Blue Bomber. The reason why I had to sit down and let it be was my very first reaction; But Mega Man had always been optimistic.

The article/interview doesn’t reveal anything what we already didn’t know, it’s more a slight insight into the mindset and workings of the people involved. A lot of the answers are non-replies, like how the first one about why would it be the right time for a new Mega Man, the answer is never given. Only that Mega Man is a timeless character. All Dentsu America seems to be excited about is that they have this iconic game character in their hands to play with. This is telling, as the studio Man of Action’s Generator Rex was not the big hit it was expected to be, and Ben 10 has largely run its course. Ultimate Spider-Man has not been as popular either, so it seems they are intending to tap yet another existing franchise in hopes for some name recognition. This seems to  be the reason why it would be the perfect time for a new Mega Man; it is a recognized name and has not seen any new entry in some time. Mega Man‘s solid concept is easy to adapt and mould for new purposes.

Joe Kelly’s suggestion that this is the first time an American team is handling Mega Man is also incorrect. I’m sure Archie’s take on Mega Man is in hold because of 2017 Mega Man. Archie’s Mega Man is a more direct adaptation of whatever plot the games had, but it’s a damn good one and a very American one in many ways. It’s excellent read. Before that, Dreamwave had the Mega Man license and had a very, very similar plotline about Rock(y) being sent to school to learn to be more like a human. Of course, you had the Captain N Mega Man too, and we never should forget Ruby-Spears’ Mega Man.

Honestly, this show is pretty damn good

It’s clear that Kelly’s not up to his history with his assertion, and it is doubtful he has checked the previous Western works either. Saying that Man of Action and Dentsu America are the first ones to give Mega Man an American take is simply false and made under intention of good press.

Then again, Nerdist themselves makes a really, really weird comment. Yeah, it would just be a huge bummer if Mega Man was this cynical jerk. It’s like, “Why was I created?” No Mega Man has ever questioned their birth. The closest we come across is Grey from Mega Man ZX Advent, and even then he’s amnesic. When you get down to it, it would be really damn hard to pin down any character in Mega Man that would lament their birth like that. Even Mega Man X at his introspective moment hesitated to fight or wondered what he would like to make of his life, what his dreams and goals were.

But looks like Man of Action intends to give Mega Man the same treatment as they did to Spider-Man, which doesn’t exactly fill people with confidence. Mega Man, the original character, is as stripped down as it gets already, a very simple concept. What Man of Action has done is they’ve simply added elements that never existed in the original mythos of the work (did in Dreamwork’s take tho), but the telling remark from them is when they mention how a lot of things have added to the character of the years.

These people think there’s one Mega Man.

Certainly they recognize that we have numerous unique Mega Man characters each in their own series; Classic, X, Legends, Battle Network, Star Force, ZX, and if you want to count Zero, ZXA and Xover, be my guest. Classic is the blueprint where the rest of the franchise has grown out, and so it’s really incredibly stupid to say that the character Mega Man has seen stuff bolted on top of him, but that’s the mindset here. They don’t think Mega Man as in the Classic series, they think the whole damn franchise as one. That explains a lot about the Aki Light Mega Man’s design a lot, as it’s the collection of bits and pieces from all the iteration in a very messy and outdated way. I’m not going to let go of that,t he design looks terrible.

Further evidence on them not really knowing about Mega Man as a franchise is Joe Casey’s mention how Mega Man has a lot villains, which is not true. Mega Man has only one villain who orchestrates everything else; Dr. Wily. Sigma and the rest belong to the other sub-series, but that doesn’t matter to them. Robot Masters are lackies, not the main villains, not even King.

At this point Man of Action really should’ve just made their own robot-kid-fights-for-good show instead of relying on Mega Man‘s recognition. Nerdist can go fuck themselves for saying some of the old names are wonky, they follow a true and tested way pioneered by American comics no less. Casey retorting that they’re intending to bring in more women characters in shouldn’t be taken as anything but few more girl characters, and that’s fine as long as they do it the right way. Like Archie and Dreamwave did.

Nerdist is being diplomatic and very, very sensationalistic when calling the art style striking. Their intention is to lift the issue up that fans laughed at the design quite a lot and only handful of people honestly seemed to like it. Kelly’s mention how CAPCOM wanted to keep certain things in sounds about right. After all, this should be a recognizable character and so certain elements have to stay in. Without a doubt Man of Action would have wanted to revamp the whole thing to look completely different. The best joke about the whole think is when Duncan Rouleau says his design for Mega Man stems from old cartoons like Mach GoGoGo /Speed Racer and Gigantor, but it really does look more like a Chinese knock-off than anything else. Going back to the inspirational roots of Mega Man would’ve done him some good. Tetsuwan Atom, Casshern, Kikaider, Tekkaman (not Blade) to mention some.

Whether or not a design has a lot of thought behind doesn’t really matter, not to the end-user. All that matters if it pleases him.

What throws me off at Casey’s comment about Mega Man having many different iterations is that it sounds like CAPCOM was the one dictating them elements they should use. I can see them wanting to reuse some of the elements, but dictating not so much, especially after these guys asserted that this Mega Man is an American take. Whether or not we should even call post-Classic series main characters as iterations of Mega Man is under heavy question. The fact is, they are not the same character and stand on their own legs who they are as characters.

Casey saying that the show will have dark elements, but Mega Man himself won’t be it is stupid. Mega Man himself has never been the dark element in the franchise. In Classic series he is a helper robot that is compelled to help those in need. In X series Mega Man X is the brightest thing in the series, fighting for peaceful coexistence of humans and Reploids. Legends has Mega Man Volnutt living a normal life as an adventurer. In Battle Network MegaMan.EXE may be the digitalisation of Lan’s brother, but that’s far from dark. It’s hopeful and their interaction really is very brotherly. In Star Force Geo may be a traumatised character at first, but he gets better and becomes a normal kid again. In ZX, the idea of Mega Man has changed and has classic hero type who gains his powers from a “mystical” source. Xover doesn’t really have any personality so don’t know where the hell Man of Action of Dentsu America got their idea of Mega Man, as a character being dark. Maybe they just played Mega Man Zero, which would explain it. The irony in that would be that you don’t play as Mega Man, and X is literally a digital angel in that series.

After this interview I’m expecting to see a show that isn’t Mega Man outside brand recognition. It’ll be just like any other Disney X D action show that will run for a season and then killed. CAPCOM seems to be producing game based on the show, but whether or not that will be good or not is another thing.

Honestly, this sub-series needed its own subtitle, like all the previous. Call it American Mega Man or something like that, seeing they’re so proud to think they’re the first American take on the franchise. Fingers crossed that this series will at least show CAPCOM that the franchise as a whole still has worth and greenlight more games to the other sub-series rather than just putting re-releases out.