Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

Metroid: Other M – Fission Mailed

October 2, 2010

Metroid: Other M‘s plot is, as suspected from my early moments with the game, a poorly presented mess that takes the forefront to everything else, such as the actual game, which isn’t terrible or spectacular. It’s passable, something a legacy series from Nintendo shouldn’t be satisfied with being. It has elements of a Metroid game — item collecting, hallway running, speed boosting, and the controls for the most part are sound — but it is a very poor Metroid game, and if you want to get really dramatic Metroid: Other M is a confounding, depressing situation that’s frankly, kind of a dead horse at this point.

But here goes.

Metroid: Wrestling Anime Edition


Mecha Scramble! – Macross Zero: Return to Zero

September 9, 2010

Welcome to the first in a new series we’re going to try out here on Grump Factory: Mecha Scramble! We’re fans of anime on this blog, and one of the enduring genres of the medium is mecha. What is mecha? Mecha is a Japanese term describing animation that focuses on robots (giant or otherwise) or complex machinery in general. Mecha is the place where mechanical designers are king! A good example of a mecha show is the original Mobile Suit Gundam; so iconic that it’s become as inextricable with Japanese pop culture as Star Wars or Star Trek is here in America!

But Gundam and all its myriad offspring shall be dealt with in due time. Today the focus is on the origins of another revered series: Macross. But not the original Super Dimensional Fortress Macross series, but the chronological origin story, Macross Zero! Macross has been mentioned before on this blog, but now it’s time to go back in time and uncover the shocking beginning of the Macross timeline!


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – A Baller Brawler

August 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is about a Canadian 23-year-old named Scott Pilgrim who, along with his pals Kim Pine, Stephen Stills, and new girlfriend Ramona Flowers, must defeat Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends before Scott can finally date her. A simple premise explained to us, if not by the absolute media overload of the past few weeks, then by the Marvel vs. Capcom 2-style attract demo that plays when the game boots up. Scott: The Game is a classic-style arcade game, calling back to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in TimeThe Simpsons Arcade Game and other classic brawlers, particularly River City Ransom.

Both Scott and River City Ransom have enemies that drop coins when defeated, shops both apparent and hidden where you can buy food and items that increase stats, punching, kicking, and  jumping. There’s also an indelible charm you can’t resist — unless you don’t like fun, nostalgia and gorgeous, gorgeous sprite work.

Hipsters unite! (more…)

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom – Crossover Crazy

February 9, 2010

fred flintstone and george jetson would be FLIPPIN' OOOOUUUT

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, the latest in Capcom’s wacky-yet-honored Vs. series, arrives as the perfect palette cleanser between installments of the chess-like, rage-inducing Street Fighter IV. Like Nintendo’s fanservice-friendly Smash Bros. Brawl, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom relies on easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master gameplay and a heaping helping of nostalgia. Already familiar with Capcom’s stable of characters — Ryu, Chun-Li, Morrigan, Soki from Onimusha, Mega Man (in helmet-less Legends attire) and Viewtiful Joe (most likely in his last game appearance), etc. — it’s tough to get wistful over the Tatsunoko side, represented by a bizarre cast from the anime production company most famous over here for Macross, Speed Racer, and Samurai Pizza Cats. Sadly, characters from those properties aren’t in the game. Hopefully they’ll appear in a sequel?

Regardless, the anime characters — Ken the Eagle and Jun the Swan from Gatchaman, Doronjo and Yatterman-1 from Yatterman, Karas, a giant robot named Gold Lightan (?!) to name a few — blend in with the Capcom crew seamlessly. Heck, they’re all cut from the same melodramatic manga cloth anyway! And they all manage to endear themselves rather quickly despite knowing nothing about them beyond a few Wikipedia skims, and any cultural disconnect doesn’t matter once you see the crazy, funny, cool shit these characters can do. And hey … some of them are so … attractive …




Ponyo: The Extra-Terrestrial

August 19, 2009

Do you know who Hayao Miyazaki is? If you’re reading this blog, you should. But just in case you wandered in here accidentally while trying to google lolcats, Here’s the skinny: Hayao Miyazaki is basically the Steven Spielberg of animation in Japan. He makes animated feature films with his production company, Studio Ghibli, and is considered a master at what he does. He’s responsible for such anime classics as Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke and the Oscar-winner Spirited Away, and Japan basically considers him a national treasure.

And I sometimes find it difficult to stand the guy.

Don’t get your feathers ruffled just yet. I adore most of his movies, such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso, The Castle of Cagliostro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s the other half I have trouble stomaching. I think Nausicaa is a pretty standard fantasy adventure starring one of the most insufferably optimistic heroines I’ve ever seen.  The character Nausicaa pisses sunshine and farts rainbows. I cant stand it! Castle in the Sky is basically the blueprint for every Japanese RPG ever made, so by the time I saw it, there wasn’t much new for me to glean from its picked-over bones. I don’t really enjoy Princess Mononoke‘s setting or the fact that the ending doesn’t do any of the preceding 119 minutes any justice. In fact, it’s a huge problem with Miyazaki’s movies in general. They don’t end; they just stop. You’re lucky if you have even a few minutes of falling action after the climax. And then there’s probably my least favorite: My Neighbor Totoro. It’s a movie aimed at very young children, so I probably wasn’t the target audience when I saw it, but it’s still an aimless creature that tries to get by on cuteness and whimsy in lieu of having story or even the barest shred of conflict. I’m sure if I was a toddler I’d love it. I can’t ever say that Miyazaki’s movies are outright crap. They’re always beautifully, painstakingly animated. But I do occasionally have problems with what Miyazaki chooses to do with all his abundance of talent and resources.

And recently, Miyazaki’s latest yarn, the child-oriented Ponyo, washed up on our shores. Was this a hit or a miss?

y helo thar


Grump Alert – Bootlegs, Ethics and Navigating the Gray Zone

June 27, 2009

Real life friend, fellow blogger and erstwhile Grump Factory contributor, Film Walrus, has posted a lengthy article on his own thoughts concerning the potential ethics of downloading or obtaining movies through other potentially illegal means.

Oh god, if bootlegging/piracy is a tumor on the back of live-action film, it’s full-blown terminal cancer for anime. Nowhere have I seen such widespread senses of entitlement and just-plain apathy for copyright than I have in the so-called “anime fan” community.

Anime has problems getting to America in a timely fashion. Not only do we usually have to wait for the Japanese DVD release to come out, but there’s often a lengthy delay due to an extensive dubbing process, licensing issues or even just a perceived lack of interest making a particular property not a high priority to be licensed. There’s PILES of classic Japanese animation out there that is unlicensed, and likely won’t EVER be licensed because anime more than a few years old just doesn’t sell, because the American market is very, very fad-centric. The same could be said of the Japanese market, but at least titles like Galaxy Express 999 and Astro Boy carry some cultural weight that they lack in the States.

Anime has had a long bootlegging history in America. In fact, it’s largely responsible for it becoming as popular (relatively speaking) as it is today. Back in the 80s and 90s, practically the ONLY way to have access to Japanese animation, outside of bowdlerized home video adaptations of Macross or Nausicaa, was to have it fan-subtitled and distributed from fan to fan on crappy 4th generation VHS copies. Some major anime licensing companies today actually formed out of fansubbing circles that decided they wanted to go legit. Fansubs can be credited for starting a grassroots movement for anime interest in America and serving as an indicator of fan interest for shows for companies to license, but I would argue that nowadays, they have no reason to exist. While there are some fansubbing circles out there that do indeed withdraw their fansubs once a property is released, there’s plenty of groups out there that don’t give a damn. Likewise, anime “fans” that continue to watch fansubs to the point of ignoring legitimate releases likely outnumber those who support them.

American anime licensing companies do themselves no favors, either, although one can hardly blame them for not having the resources to pursue and prosecute fansubbers and their audience. In a particularly blatant example, Bandai Entertainment explicitly released a statement warning people NOT to fansub the movie Solid State Society with the threat of facing legal action, but when fansubs started popping up, I alerted the company and they didn’t do anything but twiddle their thumbs.

With the advent of streaming anime on sites like FUNimation, Crunchyroll and Hulu, fansubs have really sort of lost their excuse. Yet they continue to thrive, especially to the detriment of the legal alternatives. Fans have been complaining for YEARS about wanting new anime simultaneously broadcast in America the same time it premiered in Japan. FUNimation finally got permission to try to do so with a wildly popular series, only to have the episode copied from their (admittedly insecure) servers before the Japanese air date! This caused the entire enterprise to come to a screeching halt and even the entirety of FUNimation’s streaming site was yanked for weeks while they beefed up security. It’s absolutely insane the amount of selfishness that goes on in the anime community.

That being said, I do find myself downloading fansubs of anime series and movies that are unlicensed and likely to stay that way. The vast majority of Japanese anime releases contain no English subtitles, so a region-free player still wouldn’t solve that problem. Plus there’s the problem of the American anime market nearing the bottom of a crash for the past several years and not having the money to license many new series from Japan’s licensors who by and large still believe that they can charge the same inflated prices they were from years ago.

A particularly bad release was last year’s Moribito, which started an Adult Swim run for 10 episodes, then repeated and eventually got pulled from the schedule. Apparently the original American licensee went belly-up and the dub production was interrupted and carried over to another company. It’s FINALLY going to start back up this summer… a year after its initial debut. And several years since the Japanese release. How many fans gave up and just watched fansubs inbetween that time?

If I DO download something that’s unlicensed (but very likely to GET licensed) I try not to watch the whole series so that I have incentive to buy the episodes as they get a legitimate release.

I did download one emulated ROM of a game because it was one that was extremely rare and likely to never be chanced upon in real life: Snatcher. And to be fair, I hardly played it.

I don’t really resort to downloading mainstream Hollywood movies or TV shows except in the event that I missed the broadcast of one and for some reason my DVR didn’t pick it up (happened a few times with Battlestar Galactica).

If we’re talking about downloading MUSIC… man… I don’t even really have a legitimate rationale for doing that, but I’m trying to become better and either buy legit physical copies or download MP3s from an online store. Some stuff is just out of print and nowhere to be found, though.

So, where do you stand on these sorts of issues? Be sure to let us know either in the comments below or in Film Walrus’ original article!

The Sky Crawlers: Flying Bassett Hound Brigade

June 10, 2009

Even though I was excited to see that another one of Mamoru Oshii’s movies got released in the U.S., The Sky Crawlers sat around for a few days at home, mostly out of a vague sort of dread. What if it was the one that ruined Oshii for me? What if it was a turgid, boring mess that took itself way too seriously? But it garnered a buttload of awards in Japan and seemed to be fairly well received by fans of his work, so I popped it in late one night and hoped for the best!

crawlin to your heart~