Category Archives: Anime

The Brotherhood Treatment

The Fullmetal Alchemist anime debuted in 2001 and was based on the hit manga series of the same name. The anime was a chapter-to-chapter retelling of the story, staying true to the original source material. However, once the anime caught up to the source material the story soon divulged and took a direction all on its own like an alternate universe. Characters that were minor in the manga were important in the anime and vice versa; some were given completely different back-stories and others simply never existed before. Although the anime itself was good, it wasn’t faithful to the original source material. This wasn’t rectified until 2012 when a new Fullmetal Alchemist anime, this time called “FMA: Brotherhood,” came out that gave us an anime that was completely true to the source material.

“Brotherhood” was amazing and I can’t help but think how other stories should get the same treatment as Fullmetal Alchemist. These stories were blessed with a good adaptation but were not completely true to the source material. And I honestly think they should get a chance to achieve that adaptation.

Take, for instance, Elfen Lied. Like Fullmetal, it was a manga series that produced a decent anime adaptation that strayed from the original source. Again, this was the case where the anime was simply produced too quickly for the manga to stay ahead of. Unlike, Fullmetal, however, this anime adaptation abruptly ended leaving an unsatisfied taste in my mouth. And it’s a real shame too! The anime has a great soundtrack (the intro is especially poignant), the art direction is well executed, and the voice work is very convincing. Unfortunately, many characters’ arcs are either brusquely shut down or lack a real transition thanks to the anime’s sudden ending. We missed out on what could have been an engaging alternate universe that would have been as satisfying as the original manga’s source.

If there was a readaptation of Elfen Lied (we’ll call it “Elfen Lied: Evolution”), many of the characters will achieve a satisfying progression in their story development. And if we were to keep the original soundtrack (a tall order, I know) and combine it with modern animation, we can create a beautiful, and haunting, telling of this controversial manga. With the popularity of the gruesome “Attack on Titan,” upon us, now is a great time to reintroduce this story to a modern audience.

Shifting gears to a lighter story, the “Scott Pilgrim” comic series is an excellent candidate for a reimagining. The movie, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” is a great adaptation and I can’t praise enough how tight and well done the first half of the movie is. The second half, I feel, suffers from a condensed story line and character motivations that seem questionable. Like Fullmetal, the movie was being produced at a time when the comic series hadn’t even finished yet. As such, they made up their own ending, which worked for the most part.

I think the “Scott Pilgrim” series has a very high potential for a remake. For one thing, it can be adapted into a television miniseries instead of a movie. This miniseries can really bring into light so many things that the movie either skimmed over or dropped. In the miniseries, we can see the badass, three-way fight between Scott, Roxie, and Knives’ dad. We can learn more about the Katayanagi twins. We can dive into Scott’s past and his previous relationships. And we can bring Envy to the foreground and really develop her character.  Scott Pilgrim can also flourish as his own being rather than an another Michael Cera character.

I think though the thing that will really make this miniseries stand out is the use of animation as a storytelling device. The movie was live action, and thus, this can be animation. The artist and author Bryan Lee O’Malley original work can now move and jump around like a Justice League or Spiderman cartoon and this can be amazing. We have even been given a taste of what this miniseries could be like as seen here:

I think it would be awesome

Of course, there are many series out there that deserve a remake (Nasauca: Valley of the Wind anyone?) and I’m not surprised! Given the nature of a source’s adaptation to a movie or television series, there are bound to be changes, especially if the adaptation surpasses the original source material. Game of Thrones has done this already with the advent of Season 6 so we might get a retelling of that story 30 years from now!  And I’m totally fine with that.

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Digimon Tri: Reunion is an Amazing Start to the new Digimon Show

The biggest disappointment about Digimon Tri: Reunion is that the next installment won’t be until March, 2016.

Other than that though this was a fantastic sequel and it really hit all the right notes well and hard.  There are a few things I have some issue with but they’re kind of minor in all honesty.  There’s so much I want to talk about so let’s dive right in.

First, the bad.  I think the primary thing that annoyed me (and certainly Mary) was Tai’s constant flashbacks to the collateral damage in the Kuwagamon fight.  It’s fine to have some arc development for our lead character and it’s also fine for Tai to finally realize how destructive Digimon can be but this was a bit too much.    The flashbacks were overdone and Tai’s weariness seemed out of character.  Fortunately, many of the other digidestined were trying to snap him out of his funk especially Matt.  Reunion has taken a more mature look at Matt/Tai’s relationship and had them actually resolve their fights without throwing a single punch which was nice.  The two struggled to understand the other’s position and this culminated nicely into the triumphant return of Omegamon/Omnimon.

Although the animation is many times over superior to the original season of Digimon, I still have a couple of issues with it. The first one is that some of the Digimon, particularly Agumon, look kind of weird in this style but thankfully, I’ve gotten somewhat over that.  The second issue I had was the several longer-than-need-to-be shots of people that are just standing there doing nothing.  There’s a great shot of a girl looking at her bike for several seconds like, “Yep!  I have a nice bike!” and doing nothing else, haha.  Hopefully, this will be toned down in the following sequel.

Finally, I’m kind of disturbed why none of the main cast has talked about the season 2 characters yet; Davis, Yolei, Ken, and Cody.  In the beginning of Reunion we see them being…taken down I guess…by some unforeseen force.  I was even super ecstatic when I saw them because this confirmed season 2 being canon.  However, we don’t see them again (except for a brief screenshot with their names on a computer) for the rest of the episode and nobody mentions them at all which made me more and more uneasy.  Like, geez guys, aren’t you wondering where the hell they are?  Nobody even attempted to contact them when Digimon started to appear again.  Hm, it’s probably not a big deal but I wish at least somebody mentioned them…

That’s really it for my complaints, let’s take a look at what made me happy!

Digimon Tri, Backstage, Matt, TK

Some of the backgrounds in the anime were very nice and not lazy like in season 1. I especially loved the backstage here at the music venue Matt was playing at. The graffiti was a nice touch.

First off, I like how it’s implied how the group was slowly drifting apart, like they’re still good friends but they don’t hang out as much as they used to.  Podigious first pointed that out to me how season 2 made it seem like the original Digidestined weren’t as together as they were back in season 1.  But now with the culminated events in Reunion, the gang has an excuse to come back together again.  You also get the feeling that the Digigdestined, and in particular, Tai, seem somewhat lost without the influence of Digimon like they don’t really know what to do with their life after going on a great adventure seven years ago or so.  But now that the Digimon threat is back they find new meaning in their life and jump right into it.

I think Joe needs a special mention for this as it’s becoming obvious he really doesn’t like his life.  He’s struggling on his exams and he just seems depressed in general.  Mary pointed out to me that Joe, as well as Mimi, had the most natural reaction to seeing their partners again as they were so happy to be reunited with them.  I think Gomamon will have a very positive effect on Joe’s life and possibly force him to reevaluate his life’s decisions.

Character interactions are spot on and great.  The characters are more fleshed out and are given a variety of opportunities to bounce off each other.  A lot of them seem like a natural progression from what we saw back in season 1.  I should also talk about Mimi cause god damn was she the best character in Reunion.  I think one of the reasons why I like her so much is that she’s very different from her English-dub personality of a selfish ditz.  Her annoying attitude is gone and it’s replaced by a confident and very funny attitude.  I like how Mimi knows she loves girly things and is proud of it.  Her and Palmon were really the highlight of Reunion.

One of the most hilarious scenes in Reunion was when the gang gets back together and Izzy lectures about the recent, weird events.  After awhile, the kids get bored and start talking to each other while Izzy is still prattling on, oblivious that they are no longer listening to him.  That was great.  In fact, a lot of the humor on this show was well written and executed.  Gabumon lighten the tenser moments when he made fun of Matt’s brooding nature.

And in no particular order, here’s a general list of the things I liked

-A lot of the animation was gorgeous despite my previous complaints.  The fights were great, the facial expressions were lively and the digital distortion effects on Kuwagamon were well done.

-Mimi/Izzy supposed blossoming of a relationship?  I approve

-Izzy’s wardrobe program

-The secret government agency

-Matt’s new band name, Knife of Day and Tai making fun of it

-Gatomon kicking ass!  I love it!  She got so nerfed after she became good in season 1 but after that fight with Kuwagamon I was like DAMN!  Also, her voice actress is just perfect.

-KABUTERIMON’S SPIRIT BOMB/ELECTRO SHOCKER!!

-The characters had an actual wardrobe and changed their clothes every day.  Also, Mimi’s outfit in episode 4 was adorable.

Digimon, Digimon Tri, Mimi, Sora, Izzy, Digimon Clothes

Now, I am really looking forward to the future of Digimon Tri.  I have to wonder what will happen and if the show will actually address where the season 2 kids are at.  On a different note, one theory that I have seen going around is that the other Digidestined will get their Mega evolutions which would be AMAZING and I would love the crap out of that.  Some people have even gone as far as to suggest that Joe will come through in the end and realize that his friends really need him.  Thus, his Crest of Reliability will activate once again and Gomamon will be the first to digivolve into Mega.  If that was true then I would be all over that.  It also begs the question if the other kids would also DNA Digivolve as well.  Perhaps Kari and TK will DNA Digivolve as well as Izzy and Mimi.  Or maybe, there’s a brand new evolution sequence that the show will introduce which I can also believe.

Regardless, Digimon Tri is off to a great start and I can’t wait to see the next five parts!

Podigious! A satisfying, critically thoughtful podcast about Digimon

Disclaimer: Podigious! briefly referenced my blog on one of their episodes which was awesome.  In critically reviewing this podcast, I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible.

Review Summary: Podigious! is a Digimon podcast which critically reviews the entire animated series, arc by arc, and analyzes various aspects of the show.  The hosts’ great chemistry and contrasting personalities liven a podcast that would otherwise be bogged down by its own geeky fandom.  Unfortunately, the fan feedback and Digimon news update that accompanies the beginning of each episode can drag on but luckily, you can easily skip that section and jump into the episode’s stronger portions of engaging debate.  If you cannot deal with people both positively and negatively critiquing Digimon then you should move on.  But if you can realize that not everything in our childhood was perfect then you’ll have a pleasant time listening to this “interesting” podcast.

Full Summary: I’ve listened to Podigious! for more than a year now but it wasn’t until the past few months that I have been able to (mostly) catch up to its latest episode.  I mainly listen to podcasts in the car and since I have done a lot of driving this summer and fall, I was able to burn through episodes rather quickly.  In doing so, I have become rather familiar to the show as if the hosts, Jeff, Ashley, Asher, and Andrew, were right there in the car with me, talking about Digimon while I silently listen to them.

Podigious! is everything I wanted in a nerdy podcast.  The hosts, particularly Jeff, the ringleader of the podcast, are very earnest in their love for Digimon and want to talk about Digimon simply because they can!  I like that.  What’s more, the episode-by-episode discussion of the Digimon anime series is great as you can jump into any podcast episode you want and listen to certain arcs without missing a beat.  I personally did this when I skipped the Devimon Arc and jumped right into the Etemon Arc and it worked just fine.

Of course, a good podcast needs good hosts and luckily, Podigious has them.

Three of the four hosts are very close to my age and in fact, they went to high school the same year I did as well (and the only reason why I know this is that they talked about when Harry Potter 7 came out in one of their episodes).  Because of their age, I highly, highly, identify them as they have the same Digimon nostalgia factor that affected me as well for these past 15 years.  And that actually plays into a big part of their show as they are critically evaluating the show and trying their best not to have nostalgia cloud their reviewing senses.  Sometimes, they’ll even mention how a particular scene has stuck with them for all these years and their reaction to that same scene may now be different due to a more adult perspective on it.

And it basically works.  The hosts point out certain inconsistencies or problems with the show and offer suggestions on how they could have improved the scene and the plot.  A few that stood out to me was the use of prophecies in season 1, how Yolei should have gotten the Digiegg of Knowledge and Cody should have gotten the Digiegg of Love (mind blown btw), and why in God’s name did Tai give Davis’ his goggles and not Kari or T.K.?  These inconsistencies are great as they point out what could have been on a show that surprisingly stuck to certain tropes passionately.

I don’t know what Jeff looks like so here’s Donald Duck from Kingdom Hearts. Image from http://kingdomhearts.wikia.com/wiki/Gallery:Donald_Duck

Of the four hosts, Jeff is probably the one I identify with most and represents the hardcore nerd in a fandom. Jeff is the like the heart of the show as he edits the episodes, he’s in charge of the discussion topics, and he talks, a lot.  Which is unfortunate as he dominates the conversations, especially in the podcast’s early episodes.  Sometimes, he would go on and on for a particular topic, such as, and especially, real life geography, and the other hosts would only respond minimally.  Luckily, the other hosts have found their voice and have been participating more and more in the episodes which is great.  Jeff has certainly relaxed as the series progressed as he used to be a little more uptight but now he’s kind of taking it more easy for the discussion topics and the “Follow Up” portions of the show.  Also, he should get a Word of the Day calendar.

Again, I don’t know what Ashley looks like so here’s Riley from Inside Out. Image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3suT-csNs9U

Ashley represents the casual fan of a franchise and let me say, it’s nice to hear her be so verbally confused about certain aspects of Digimon as it sometimes takes a sane person to point out the rather weird and contrived world of Digimon.  She’s definitely been more vocal as the series progressed and it’s nice as she points out the gender B.S. that Digimon portrays.  It’s also funny how she can be just so fed up with Digimon at times, especially towards Kari.  Her playful frustrations towards Jeff also add a light touch to a show that can be bogged down at times by its own geekery.

You get the drill, how about Joe and Gomamon? Image from http://hero.wikia.com/wiki/File:JOE_Kido_%26_Gomamon_(ADVENTURE_51).jpg

Asher represents the shipping fan of a franchise and he is just like Ashley in that he points out Digimon’s gender B.S.  Asher also found his voice fairly early on and, again, like Ashley, talked more as the podcast progressed.  It’s always nice to hear Asher tear down Jeff’s nostalgia-filled world and make Jeff verbally uncomfortable with the stark, and let’s face it, unfair, reality Digimon has towards boys vs. girls.  From what I heard, Asher is the favorite host of the four and I believe it (he’s my favorite too).  Asher’s grounded, and sometimes apathetic, nature, contrasts nicely with Jeff’s enthusiastic and almost intense personality.  Jeff would have notes upon notes detailing certain aspects of an episode and then he would ask Asher what he thought about the episode/topic and Asher would respond that he didn’t write anything down (lol).  His shipping knowledge is very humorous as he would gush over scenes involving Davis/Ken or Matt/Tai.  I know appreciate Davis/Ken pairing more thanks to him.

Gundam! Okay, I’m done. Image from https://sddude.wordpress.com/tag/sd-gundam/page/3/

Unfortunately, Andrew, Asher’s brother, is the weakest of the four hosts.  Briefly mentioned in the podcast’s season 1, he became a part-time host in season 2 and unfortunately, he does not add a lot to the other hosts’ great chemistry.  It seems to me that Andrew barely mentions anything, even when compared to Ashley and Asher’s initially reserved nature, and does not fully pay attention to the conversation at hand.  I wouldn’t mind it as much if he had anything worthwhile to say but a lot of times he would just react awkwardly to the other hosts’ sometimes personal interactions or he would mildly insult Jeff and his nerdy nature.  He is kind of…stiff I want to say?  It doesn’t bode well with the more playful side of this show.  I shouldn’t be too hard on him though as a lot of times, he can contribute to the conversation by incorporating his Japanese and anime knowledge.  His status as a hardcore nerd can match Jeff’s knowledge which is nice that it’s not just Jeff talking in-depth about some esoteric thing about Digimon.

The weakest portion of the show is by far the aforementioned “Follow Up” which is Jeff and Ashely responding to reviewer feedback and questions, talking about Digimon news, and revealing who won the Ridiculous Dialogue Draft (RDD).  This section is at the beginning of almost every episode and man does it drag ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon.  This is the part of the episode that I usually let my mind wander.  And, truth be told, the Digimon news update kind of hurts the “timelessness” of the show as the main portion of the podcast episodes focuses on things that happened 15 years ago while the news update tells us things that we already know by now.  Sometimes, this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would play in my head during the Follow Up:

I shouldn’t be too hard on the Follow Up though as you can skip it easily.  It kind of begs the question why I even listen to it in the first place.  Good Question.

I have no reasonable answer.  Maybe I just like hearing Ashley and Jeff talk (it does get lonely in the car at times when you’ve been driving 4+ hours by yourself).  Although, I have to say that it’s nice to hear Jeff and Ashley go out of their way to respond to reviewer feedback and respond to questions viewers may have about the previous episode’s content.

If the Follow Up is the weakest portion then by far the strongest is the RDD that is at the end of every episode and I love it.  God, listening to how…ridiculous…the DUB could be is amazing although I wish they threw in the occasional “touching” line since there can be a few in the show.  Maybe they’ll throw some in when they get into the heart of season 3 cause man, that season is an emotional roller coaster.  Anyway, I appreciate Jeff editing in the original lines of the show and give us the full (no) context it deserves.

The gender studies portion of the show is perhaps the most (in)famous section of the podcast.  Here, emotions can run a little high as the hosts break down Digimon’s less appealing gender aspects.  Ashley, and in particular Asher, go at the show strongly and tear it apart while at the same time offering constructive criticism on how the show could have made it better.  Although the hosts dominantly talk about the role women have on the show, they do occasionally focus on the guys and the show’s conservative take on what it means to be a man.  I admit, I was at first frustrated at listening to Asher and Ashley criticize one of my favorite childhood animated shows but I soon could not help admit that a lot of Digimon’s take on gender is indeed, Bullshit.  It definitely makes the podcast not just a simple fan gushing and instead, treats it like an actual show that has its flaws.  In general, I just love how Asher is so unapologetic about her opinions and it sharply contrasts Jeff’s desire to try and offend the least amount of people as possible.

Also, and on a side note, the hosts sometimes talk about the Legend of Korra and other cartoon shows during the gender segment which is nice as Korra is particularly strong when it comes to gender representation.  One show that they have surprisingly left out of the conversation is Steven Universe and it got to the point that I finally tweeted them and asked if they had seen the show.  I am relieved that they have (that show is great in all aspects of animation, plot, and, of course, gender representation).

This is actually a nice segue to my last point about the podcast in that the hosts are very responsive (well, Jeff is at least, Asher just doesn’t give a shit) to fan feedback.  It actually makes up a large portion of the Follow Up.  Jeff and Ashley respond to feedback whether it’s on twitter, reddit, or itunes.  I like how they bring up critical feedback and admit when they are wrong.  It’s nice for creators, of any kind, to respond to both negative and positive feedback and it shows they are not afraid to change things up and try to constantly improve the show.

As for the future of the show, I’ll definitely continue listen to them for their Tri and Tamers segments but after that, it’s hard to say as I really don’t like Digimon Season 4.  Regardless, Tamers is, and will be, fun to listen to as it’s Jeff’s favorite season and it has a super crazy plot that is neatly combined with its more mature vibe.  I’m hoping for more endless driving so I can become reacquainted with them once again.

Oh yeah, and I’m looking forward to this scene.

This could work: Star Wars KotoR and One Piece mash up

Surprisingly, I played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for the first time this year after some pressure from my friends and Mary. Despite a few buggy issues, the game was marvelous (even if I was spoiled). The characters are funny, complex, and memorable, and the combat system is neat with a diverse range of upgrade options. This game has convinced me to try out the Mass Effect games sometime in the future as not only does the same company make them but they also have been highly praised as well.

Now with that said, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a KotoR-style game in the One Piece universe? Imagine it, you are a captain of a pirate crew and you travel the world of One Piece while recruiting members, fighting the marines, and establishing yourself as King of the Pirates! Now, you could do a game following the Straw Hat Pirate crew but that can be limiting in terms of story and character development (plus the story is not even done yet). Instead, this game should follow KotoR’s path and establish itself far in the past, free from all the restrictions of Luffy and his crew’s main storyline.

Of course, the immediately clear benefit of this is that all the Devil Fruits are ripe for the eating! All the Paramecian, Zoan, and Logian fruits would be available for yourself, your crew, and the variety of enemies you can fight! Maybe at the beginning of the game, while you are designing your character, gender, and so forth, you can choose (or Hell just forego completely!) a certain selection of Devil Fruits for your captain-to-be. Afterwards, you can name your ship, your crew name, and the design of your flag.

After you pick your character and his fighting style, you can then recruit characters as you sail the four seas and the Grand Line. Maybe certain characters would want to be a great brawler, swordsman, or sniper. As they level up, put skill points on the variety of fighting styles to improve their profession.

Leveling up would also give you noncombat skill points for carpeting, navigation, cooking, music playing, and first-aid. Navigation I think would be especially important as every crew needs a good navigator to get through the seas with their wild and crazy storms. Certain islands would need a navigation skill level, and of course the required log post, in order to reach them. Especially high would be islands in the New World. Likewise, carpeting can improve your ship’s sailing and battling capabilities as well as needed repairs. Carpeting could also improve your ship’s accessibility to treacherous waters that would otherwise capsize or demolish it. Cooking would give you handy healing and morale-boosting items that would otherwise be unavailable during the game while first-aid training would serve as your standard “Healer” role in RPGs. As for musician training, you can do your standard morale-boosting spells but also incorporate music into your attacks, that would be great!

YOHOHOHOHOHOHO

Now your crew members, I think, should already be their own characters in the same vein as Mass Effect and KotoR. They were what made KotoR so great, all the great characters like HK-47 and Jolee really made the game fun to play. Likewise, having kooky characters with a variety of personalities or traits would bestow a real charm to your crew (plus the bickering would be quite amusing).

One important aspect of KotoR that would also be incorporated into this One Piece game would be the moral decision making. Do you choose to be honorable pirates or pirates that do whatever the hell they want or pirates who burn, pillage, and kill anyone and anything in its path? One Piece has certainly given us a variety of pirate crews that vary considerably on this sliding scale of morality. Key scenes such as whether or not to kill some captive marines, stealing a poor town’s treasure, or a simple good deed can reflect your popularity (and notoriety) with citizens, the marines, and other pirate crews. The same could be said with your actions whether it’s finding a little girl’s mom or toppling an island’s ruthless dictatorship. This would be very similar to Red Dead Redemption’s morality and popularity scales.

Speaking of which, bounties in the game can be interesting as depending on your actions, yours and your crew’s bounties could increase over time. The marines are very bias (and corrupt) though so certain actions, like sinking a marine ship, could raise your bounty faster than stealing a town’s gold. I can only imagine how that will affect your performance during the game as what would happen if you got caught or lost a battle? Maybe it will reset to your last save point but I haven’t come up a good way in handling bounties yet in this One Piece RPG.

Something that also could be incorporated into the game is having your own fleet. Once you achieve a certain amount of popularity, you could recruit other pirate crews to be your division commanders and that would be AWESOME. Having a fleet means you can storm guarded bases like Impel Down or Enies Lobby or even topple an entire country! You could have an army of ships, ready at your beck and call and take down any pirate crews who stand in your way!

There are still other potential ideas that I have untouched like bounty hunting, ship customization, and haki training. Aaaaaah. Just writing this article makes me so excited even though this game doesn’t exist. This game should be made, I would play the hell out of it!

The Childhood Sweetheart Trope as Interpreted by 999 and Danganronpa

One of the most predictable and used tropes for anime, and in general other media, is the Childhood Sweetheart Trope (CST). A pre-ten year old boy and girl meet each other for the first time, acquire puppy love, and then are tragically separated due to extraneous circumstances before they meet up again as young adults. They fall in love again through a series of mishaps or adventures and then get married. There can be some fidgeting with this but for the most part this is basically the sub or main plot for a lot of romantic/semi-romantic anime ranging from the humorous Love Hina to the very gruesome Elfen Lied.

I am critical of this trope though for several reasons besides its foreseeable conclusions. One is that the characters, especially the female ones, are quite dull or one sided and have no overall personal goals or conflicting feelings that paint them as actual people. Two is that we as the audience already expect them to get together and thus when we see the boy or the girl dating someone else we know it will end badly. Three is that the trope has a very predestined feel behind it, especially if the boy and girl make a marriage promise, as the girl and boy are fated towards this end result no matter what they do. Finally, the girl characters are treated like rewards or trophies for the boy, especially if we primarily follow the boy’s POV, and not as actual humans.

Now I know this is not always the case (e.g., Elfen Lied) but CST is certainly prevalent in the story telling community. As such, I want to discuss two stories, the DS game 999 and the visual novel game/anime Danganronpa, and their unique interpretation of this dry trope. These two stories have an interesting approach to this tired theme and I wanted to gush why I think these two nailed it (and of course, spoilers).

Lower row, directly in the middle is Makoto and to his right is the blue-haired Sayaka. Image from http://www.egmnow.com/articles/reviews/egm-review-danganronpa-trigger-happy-havoc/#

Let’s start with Danganronpa, our main character, Makoto Naegi, likes Sayaka Maizono, a pop idol girl, whom he became acquainted with in middle school. The two hadn’t seen each other until the events depicted in Danganronpa and they hit it off well as they’re the only people they’re familiar with in the whole cast of characters. There is an implied mutual attraction and support between the pair.

Though they didn’t know each other before middle school, this is still the CST at heart as they were separated at a young age before being reacquainted several years later. When the terrible events of Danganronpa unfold, the story seems to set up the notion that their relationship will only get stronger before they become an actual couple.

However, this does not happen as a fellow student murders Sayaka and as such, we see the first twist Danganronpa offers for the CST. Makoto and Sayaka’s relationship will not blossom but Sayaka now becomes a martyr for Makoto, a beacon to for Makoto to triumph in the end.

Although Sayaka’s death may be inspirational, she is still a rather flat character. That was the case until an episode after her death revealed her hidden intentions. Sayaka, in all her innocent goodiness, was planning on murdering a fellow student and then frame Makoto for it. Of course, the murder doesn’t go as plan and she got murdered instead. This shocks both Makoto and us the viewer. We are set up at the beginning that Sayaka would be an innocent, loving girl and yet her actions had proved otherwise. Why did she do it? Well, we’re shown in the previous episode that her band members were severely hurt/already dead and probably would not be saved unless she murdered someone and successfully got away with it.

This…is awesome.

Her reasons for murdering actually seem sensible (besides, you know, the whole murder thing). Her band members are in grave danger and she has known them for years, they’re probably like family to her! Seeing them in peril prompted her to act the way she did so she could try and save them. She tricked Makoto into switching rooms with her, lured a student to the said room for the promise of teaching him music, and then attempted to murder that student and blame it on Makoto. Since she barely knows Makoto, she didn’t have any strong emotional attachment to him and thus didn’t have a problem in framing him for murder. I actually want to see an alternate universe where she did murder the student and and how Makoto would react to that.

Though I kind of thought she would be the first one to get murdered, I definitely did not see her ulterior motives coming and was nicely surprised by it. These first few episodes definitely set the tone for the rest of the series. Well played, Danganronpa.

Guy in the middle frame with the blue vest is Junpei and to his right is Akane.  Image from http://zeroescape.wikia.com/

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors just takes this trope though and blows it out of the water. Now, this game has so many ideas, themes, and morals behind it that I try to find any excuse to talk even just one of them. In this case, I want to talk 999’s interpretation of the CST as it’s just amazing.

Our main character is Junpei, a 21-year-old college student who is found on a rigged-to-blow cruise liner and must play the “Nonary Game” in order to escape from it. He meets eight other characters after escaping from his cabin room, one of which is Akane Kurashiki (alias “June”), whom he knew when they were kids. IMMEDIATELY, when Junpei explained who she was I was like “Ah, crap, here we go, another Childhood Sweetheart story.” I was not looking forward to Akane and I actively avoided her early on in the game. She seemed like such a flat character, another one of those innocent, sweethearts or whatever.

Well, as you may know, there are multiple endings to the game. After the first time through (I died of course), I went a different route but this time I actively engaged with Akane more often.

Holy crap, she’s funny, and a bit crazy too. Her sexually suggestive quips embarrassed Junpei (lol) and her crazy metaphysical concepts made him question her sanity. I was happily surprised how untypical she was while I was playing the game.

In fact, the more I played the game the more I realized that there was something really special about Akane but I couldn’t figure out why.

And then, wham, I came across the true ending to the game and my mind was blown. It was revealed that all along she was the one behind the “Nonary Game” and it was all an elaborate setup to not only get back at the people who hurt her ten years ago but also to save her from her own death.

Okay, where to begin.

When Akane was a kid, she was trapped in a room that was going to burn her alive. Her only way out was to solve a puzzle that she didn’t know how to answer. Her only way out was to telepathically communicate Junpei and have him solve the puzzle instead. How? Well, this is the part where things get crazy. One of the themes of the game is that the past is set but the future has multiple paths laid out. Akane tapped into that idea by communicating to Junpei ten years in the future and have him solve the puzzle instead. Her future self created an environment that was exactly similar to her past’s environment. This allowed Past Akane to look into the different future paths and try to steer Junpei to the puzzle that she could not solve. This is why the game has multiple endings (which blew my mind, this game did that a lot for me), Akane is trying to find that perfect ending. Once Junpei figured out the puzzle in the exact same environment, he telepathically communicated the answer back to past Akane and then she was able to figure it out.

This is actually why present Akane would inexplicably collapse when she and Junpei were exploring their environments. If the player chooses a wrong path (i.e., the path that takes them to the life-or-death puzzle) then present Akane would become sick because Junpei is not exposed to the puzzle, which means he can’t solve it, which means he can’t communicate the answer back to past Akane, which means she will die in the burning room, which means present Akane will die as well. Wrap your head around that one.

There are internet articles out there that like to deconstruct this concept into pieces and explain why this is so amazing so I won’t go into that. But what I do want to say is that all of this…the telepathy, the puzzles, the multiple endings, and the character herself just utterly destroy the CST. Whether done intentionally or not, 999 builds up CST and then just tears it down piece by piece and I really liked that. It’s not often that a storyteller has effortlessly guided my initial opinion of a character into making me think one way of them and then pull the rug from me and reveal what truly lies there. So good.

Image from Amazon.com

Okay, so what do these two stories have in common?  Why do I like them both?

Both of them set up the boy and girl’s relationship very casually, almost as if they were simply cookie-cutting the trope into their twisted plots but still keeping true to CST.  In Danganronpa, Makoto and Sayaka would get out of the murder game alive and become a couple; in 999, Junpei and Akane defeat Zero through the power of a emerging love.  However, this does not happen.  We are given a scenario where both Sayaka and Akane have ulterior motives and are trying desperately to win no matter what the costs.  We see what makes them tick and why they acted the way they did.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that these two females felt like actual people to me.  They feared, they planned, they made hard decisions, and they are not defined by simply trying to find that special someone or being in love.  That may be a part of them yes but it’s not the full picture.  I really liked that but it’s unfortunate that these characters stood out to me because they directly oppose a rather flat trope.  Regardless, because of their actions, they are what help make 999 and Danganronpa great as they took this trope and punched it right in the face.  Now that is awesome.

Unapologetic Nerd will be on hiatus next week in preparation for an extensive Star Wars article for Star Wars Day.  It will focus on one of my favorite novels in the series.  Don’t forget to check it out!

Luffy’s True Power

Luffy.  He has taken down opponents that are the size of buildings, stopped a coup (or two) completely in its tracks, and has declared war on the World Government.  This guy is insane.  His unusual feats are credited from his indomitable will and his strong, durable body.  Many foes have fallen to him based on these two strengths alone.  But would it surprise you if I said that wasn’t his greatest power?  That there’s an even bigger power that lies within Luffy that he himself does not fully realize?

This was first brought to my attention when the events of the Summit War were brought to their peak when Luffy was rescuing Ace.  As Luffy was running to save Ace, Mihawk was about to kill Luffy when he was stopped by 5th Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates Vista.  Upon which, Mihawk remarked this little gem.

Luffy has an extraordinary gift to recruit allies and make friends despite his rudeness and inability to listen to people’s backstories.  This gift has manifested in various forms throughout One Piece such as

-Recruiting crewmembers who originally find him annoying but are won over by his charm in less than a day

-Making friends with sailors and high ranking officers of the navy

-Stopping a large, stubborn whale from killing itself

-Temporarily recruiting Princess Vivi despite her initial goal to kill Luffy and his crew

-Swaying towns and islands from hating the Straw Hats to adoring them

-Melting Boa Hancock’s cold heart and becoming the first guy she fell in love with

-Allowing the Franky Family and the Galley-La Company to join the Straw Hats in rescuing Robin and Franky despite the three groups mistrust towards each other

These are all small to moderate examples but the last one needs further mentioning as it was a mere taste of the events to come for the Summit War.  The fact that Luffy didn’t have any issue fighting alongside the Franky Family, despite them beating the crap out of Ussop, speaks volumes of his character.

Of course, the best example comes directly from the Summit War itself.  Luffy was able to bust out of the super prison Impel Down along with a whole bunch of powerful enemies-turned-allies pirates.  Buggy, Mr. 3, Mr. 2 Bon Clay, Mr. 1, and Crocodile; ALL of these guys helped Luffy break free of the jail and try to save Ace from the World Government.  The thought at the time that Luffy would even think of allying with Crocodile is amazing.

Then, Luffy and co. arrived at Marineford which had the largest gathering of sailors, captains, vice-admirals, and admirals yet.  Not only did he have them at his back but Whitebeard was also charmed by Luffy’s ferocity to the point that he commanded his entire crew to help and protect Luffy to ensure that Ace’s lineage will live on.

At this point, I want to stop and stress the fact that Luffy would not be able to achieve all the feats he had done if it weren’t for his friends.  Despite his will and strength, he would not have been able to escape Impel Down or get anywhere near Ace in Marineford if it wasn’t for his ability to form allies.

Even now, with the manga currently on the Dressrosa Arc, this ability is once again shown in full strength as Luffy helped the coliseum-gladiators-turned-toys into allies.  They have been tremendous help to Luffy and his crew in fighting Doflamingo’s powerful family.  Again, it’s thanks to them that Luffy was able to get as far as he is now.

But what does all this mean in the long run?

It’s hard to say at this point as Oda, author of One Piece, is very unpredictable when it comes to One Piece’s plot.  However, if I were to (punk) hazard a guess I would say that somehow, this is going to play into Luffy’s continual rise towards Pirate King.  We first saw inklings of this back at Fishmen Island where Luffy swore to protect the island and we will probably see it again here.  Luffy needs an army is order to protect his islands and his friends.  The Dressrosa Arc has given him the ability to do so as he has made friends and allies with not only powerful fighters, but captains, admirals, and even kings and princes of other kingdoms.  They’ll provide Luffy the army needed to take on the Navy, the World Government, and the Four Pirate Warlords.

Now whether or not Luffy will act on those resources is hard to say.  He might do it if one of his crew members or someone wiser than him, like Jinbei, suggests it to him but I think he would want to keep his life simple and just keep on adventuring with his nakama.  Still though, wherever he goes, Luffy will continue to make friends and allies in the most unlikely places and they will help him through times of trouble when he is not able to do it by himself.

DBZ Battle of Gods is Definitely a Fan’s Film

We’ve all been there before.

You and your friends are major fans of a certain franchise. A certain topic of interest that comes up now and then is the perfect movie that would justify that franchise. The movie has to be done in a certain way, with a certain director and with certain actors playing certain characters. In your mind, it’s the perfect movie and that is why it’s just too good to be true.

Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods, however, comes the closest to achieving that fan’s perfect movie.

I wouldn’t believe it myself had I not seen it. When I heard about Battle of Gods I was interested to watch it but certainly not any time soon. However, when I finally watched it I was floored by how hilarious and amazing it was. Granted, it’s not a good movie but it is certainly an exceptional Dragonball Z film.

I want to hone in to two main points why I thought it was good, one is that they brought back the original English voice actors from the tv series and two the humor and art quality is great.

Bringing back the original voice actors made the film more enjoyable than it could have been. It would have been distracting to hear other actors voice Goku, Vegeta and the others. As such, I was able to be instantly familiar with the characters again like they were long lost friends. Props to Funimation for making sure that happened.

The second main point is the humor and animation. It looked so good to see Dragonball Z in stunning HD animation. That was fantastic and I look forward to more movies using that same style. The humor in the film was also top notch, I especially liked the scene where Vegeta is doing his best to entertain Beerus by making himself look like a fool.

These two main points are what make Battle of Gods a fan’s film. This is further enhanced by the inclusion of the original show’s theme, some good fighting sequences, some ridiculous power levels, and some great character interaction.

Ironically, the main downfall of Battle of Gods is its filler. The whole sequence with Lord Pilaf could have been entirely cut and no one would have bat an eye. It gave the film some unnecessary padding and honestly, who cares? But truth be told, it wouldn’t be Dragonball Z without some filler!

I was surprised to hear before watching the Battle of Gods film that there would be a sequel. This amazed me because I remember the trailer specifically states that Beerus is the strongest being in the universe. How were they going to top that?

I thought I had found the answer when Battle of Gods revealed that there were actually multiple universes with other Gods of Destructors and Creators. Cool, I thought, that’s what the sequel is going to be about.

Nope, it’s Frieza! Frieza! How can he be a credible threat? Many of the characters can take him on, hell, even Krillen can take on Frieza! My roommates and I were discussing how Frieza could be a threat to the Z fighters and we came to the conclusion that it would be something like this…

Frieza henchmen come to Earth and get the Dragonballs, they use the first wish to bring Frieza back and the second wish to make him the most powerful being in the universe. Boom, that’s all you need.

Regardless how they make him strong, I’m looking forward to Frieza’s Resurrection! If they do everything in the new film that they done in Battle of Gods then it will be wonderful. I’m especially hoping they bring back Frieza’s original voice actor, Linda Young, as that would be amazing. And finally, I’m looking forward to Frieza dying all over again.