Friday, January 5

One Bad Mutha of an Anime

Samuel Jackson makes his animated debut in Afro Samurai.

Last night, I was able to acquire and watch the first episode of Afro Samurai. Originally a manga by Takashi Okazaki, the title has now been adapted into a 5-episode anime featuring the voice of Samuel "Bad Mutha" Jackson as the titular big-haired hero. Also lending their voices to the show are Kelly Hu (Deathstrike in X2) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy). Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender may also recognize the voice of Grey DeLisle(Princess Azula) in the cast. The musical score was produced by Wu-Tang Clan member RZA.

The story is simple, seemingly. A legend states that there are two headbands in contention by all the greatest warriors; one is marked with the symbol for 'Number One', and whomever wears this can rule as a god. The only one who can challenge the Number One is the wearer of the cloth headband with the symbol "Number Two"... the problem is, ANYONE can challenge Number Two. The titular character, Afro Samurai, is the current bearer of the Number Two headband, and he's on a mission to avenge his father's murder at the hands of the current Number One- a demonic gunslinger named Justice. Of course, he has to face hordes of rogue bandits, mercenaries and other unsavoury dudes along the way, many of which are packing some serious firepower. All Afro has on his side is a very talkative tag-along named Ninja-Ninja (also voiced by Jackson) and his trusty sword.

As to be expected, Afro Samurai is a pretty bad-ass piece of animated action, featuring some graphic violence in the form of lethal swordfights and skirmishes aplenty, with lots of the red stuff flying around (which gives a bit more color to the often black-and-white or dull general grey tones of the visuals), along with decapitated heads, severed limbs and what not. It's very much like the anime portion of Kill Bill, very stylized violence which is at least quick enough to be artistic and not totally gruesome. Aside from the blood, there's a wee bit of titillation, some colorful language and quite a bit of smoking done by several characters of what suspiciously looks like pot. Well, at least Afro only drinks lemonade, it seems.

The first episode of Afro Samurai ends with a cliffhanger, and generally this leaves me wanting to see more. I'm still hoping for the story to get deeper, more intriguing characters to be introduced (at least give us a hot babe fighter) and funnier (or more colorful) Sam Jackson lines in the next episodes. For now, you can try to find your Afro Samurai online or at your favorite anime dealers.

Wednesday, January 3

Tekken Defection?

Akira and the Virtua Fighter 5 crew have already defected to Microsoft's Xbox360, but now an even heavier hit to Sony's Playstation 3 is supposedly in the works. Rumor has it that the next King of Iron Fist Tournament game, Tekken 6, is yet another title to break out of the usual exclusivity contract with Sony to make it out onto Microsoft's uber-console.

Given that Namco has already announced that they need to sell like, a gazillion copies of their games if they expect to make a profit. With PS3's about as rare as honest politicians, it's only natural that they go for the console that already has a large installed user base... the Xbox360.
The same source has also stated that even before any announcement of Tekken 360 comes to light, we'll probably be hearing about Soul Calibur IV coming out on the Microsoft box. WHOA. Now THAT is good news. More Soul Calibur is happy-happy-joy-joy for me.

This is great news and a rousing start of the year for fighting game enthusiasts like me. And this is just the first round. WOOHOO!!!

Tuesday, January 2

Happy New Year!

HELLO 2007!!!

2006 wasn't the worst of years, but I am, for one, glad it's over and done with.

Now we can all look forward to better things. For me, I can look forward to another year of Salt Mining, a renewed spirit of Comic Book Making, a colorful new era of Anime Watching and Frustrated Movie Reviewing, a Hi-Def entrance into the World of Next-Gen Gaming and of course, even more MAD Blogging.

May you all be with your Loved Ones and Family as the first seconds of 2007 roar in a hail of fireworks and food. Just remember... the year you start off with all your fingers intact is a GOOD Year. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy, everyone!

Sunday, December 31

It's all about the Money... Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb...

That's apparently what's in with the Filipino audience these days as the masa fantasy comedy Enteng Kabisote 3 won Best Picture in this year's Metro Manila Film Festival. Quality isn't so important these days in Filipino films as box office receipts. On a related note, sadly the comic adaptation Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah didn't fare too well, coming in only at 7th place in terms of ticket sales. Director Quark Henares' superhero team flick Super Noypi did better at 5th place.

Yeah, the movie moguls are happy, but this basically sends a message to filmmakers and directors... stick to what sells. What a blow to creativity and innovation.

What can you expect? The masa are the audience for our local film industry. Those expecting or wanting high quality films and movies go for foreign movies or are limited to niche releases like plays or experimental film. Does this mean that anyone wanting to tell stories above the usual sordid dramas, cheap scare tactics or usual tired comedy veins is fighting a futile battle? That there's no room for anything new or different in Juan the Streetwalker's brain? Hopefully not. Perhaps it's just knowing your venue and your market better. Perhaps it's about marketing your stuff better. Or maybe, yeah, the Pinoy just doesn't want anything new or different. He just wants something dumb and easy.

Oh well.