Saturday, August 28

Witchblade Anime

Yep, the Top Cow comic about a mystical gauntlet/weapon that bonds itself to various women of strength and iron will is turning anime. I normally wouldn't be too excited about this, as I'm not really that big a Witchblade fan... but hearing that the animation studio that's going to be doing the deed is my favorite GONZO Animation (those masters responsible for Last Exile, Blue Submarine No. 6, Gatekeepers and Hellsing). According to Ain't It Cool News, the anime version will be dumping the comic's main character Sara Pezzini in favor of an original new lead, a policewoman in Japan.

The Witchblade anime should be seeing the light of day sometime next year. This should be something to see.
Dead Ringer

Japanese teen idol Aya Ueto has a killer stare.

Last night, Jason texted me, raving about how Aya Ueto, the Japanese teen idol who plays the titular female assassin in Ryuhei Kitamura's Samurai era slasher Azumi, would be perfect to play as my own Agent K in K.I.A.. Well, looking at the pic above, I'd be inclined to agree- she even has the hair down, and the killer stare that could give Go Go Yubari a run for her money. Heh.

Anyway, Azumi is now available in local DVD stalls; I watched a version sans subtitles, and I found the action a bit on the messy, undisciplined side... I guess they didn't have Yuen Wo-Ping to choreograph their fights. Like Versus, this film has more attitude than real substance, but it's still a cool watch. And it's always hilarious to see Jo Odagiri (who played the growling, snarling Yakuza hitman from Versus) once again go CRAZY in this one as an effeminate master swordsman.
Azumi is a fictional tale of a small group of youths trained to become assassins to stop a growing war in Feudal Japan. Aya Ueto plays Azumi, the lone female and the fastest swordarm in the group. A sequel, Azumi 2, is already filming and will co-star the lovely Chiaki Kuriyama (Go Go in Kill Bill).
Pixel Playboy

According to a recent article on CNN, the upcoming October issue of Playboy will be featuring sexy (some even topless) pinups of some very unusual ladies... femme fatale assassins, martial artists and a half-vampire freedom fighter. They're videogame females, once again demonstrating the power and influence of interactive entertainment in our present day society.
Scheduled to appear are the following: Bloodrayne (Bloodrayne), Mileena (Mortal Kombat), Nina Williams (Tekken), Luba Licious (Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude), Kurenai (Red Ninja), Tala (Darkwatch: Curse of the West). In general, the characters from 'mainstream' games (Nina, Mileena, Bloodrayne, Kurenai) are there to promote upcoming games, and will appear in sexy outfits and poses but will not be nude. The rest of the featured females come from the upcoming crop of Mature-rated games and will appear in topless or nude poses. The absence of any of the ladies from Dead or Alive is kinda significant, but I guess this kind of promotion really isn't something needed by DOA.
Okay, I won't be making a point to get the issue, but if I see it it won't hurt to take a peek... right? Heh...

Friday, August 27

Gaming Bits

Battling bathing beauty Hitomi graces the cover of the upcoming issue of GMR.

GMR Magazine has just scored the first review for the upcoming Dead or Alive Ultimate from Tecmo of Japan. The much-anticipated online-capable 3-D fighter was given an almost-perfect score of 9/10. The writer who apparently wrote the review defends the mag's propensity for early reviews (such as they did with their review for Ninja Gaiden, which got flack from gamers who contend that the review was written based on an unfinished game). Anyway, it's still about a month to go before DOAU hits store, if the October 4-ish release date holds true. I expect to see reviews and more news online and in print soon enough.

Dead or Alive Ultimate is a two-game compilation which includes an arcade-perfect translation of the Sega Saturn version of Dead or Alive, and a remade, better-than-DOA3 version of Dead or Alive 2. The 'Ultimate' version of DOA2 will include redone graphics, new stages, new moves and animations, as many as 20 costumes for some of the characters and a new CG movie that explains the origins of the game's main ninja girl characters, Kasumi and Ayane. Aside from the 12 original DOA2 characters, the game will also have hidden and unlockable the end boss Tengu, the Russian assassin Bayman and the German-Japanese karate princess Hitomi from DOA3.
I've already reserved my copy... October can't come soon enough. Heh.

In other gaming news...

Siren 2 is coming. This sequel to the creepy PS2 survival horror game will be set on an island possessed by the bloody-eyed evil of the first game. Expect this scary sequel in early to mid-2005.

One of the most hotly-anticipated games on Xbox, Peter Molyneux's Fable, is now more than just a... well, a fable. The game has just gone GOLD, which means that the final build has been completed and the game is ready for mass production. The game puts players into the shoes of a young man whose choices and actions will turn him either into a great hero of justice, or a fearsome lord of evil. This game has been in development ever since Xbox first came out, so it's about time. Despite not having the option to have a female hero, the premise is interesting enough for me to pick it up.

It's the weekend, and hopefully I can get in some hours of Sudeki and Street Fighter 3: Third Strike in between pages for K.I.A. and Kunoichi Boy. It's been a wet, wild week and I really need to relax.


The country's leading anime and manga magazine is back in magazine shops after a long absence. And they may be here to stay, seeing as they're now packing ABS-CBN Publishing behind them.

I expect that Questor's sister mag, the manga anthology mag Questor Extreme Mangamania will be returning in the next few months as well. If all goes well, we'll be seeing my Kunoichi Boy in the pages of QEM in the 2nd or 3rd issue after the first return issue, as the mag will be finishing the run of Cante Ista.

And here I am, feverishly trying to finish the next couple of KB episodes... Yaaah....
Free as the Wind

In Memoriam to Kagura from Inu Yasha.

As if to be an even sadder follow-up to my previous Inu Yasha post, I just read the latest issue of the IY manga and found out that the chapter was the last for my favorite character in the series. Kagura the wind-user was a beautiful and bitchy demon created by the series main villain Naraku to serve his evil cause. But unlike many of the other 'detachments', Kagura had her own mind and yearned nothing more than to be free of her master's control. She's not a clean character- from the first moment she appeared, the fickle wind-demoness has shed blood, sometimes with pleasure, and has given Inu Yasha and friends quite a bit of trouble throughout the many, many chapters of the manga that she was present in.
But somewhere along the way, she showed her depth of character and you just had to sympathize with her plight, to somehow gain her freedom from a master who can kill her in an instant. In the end, she became a sympathetic character, giving what little help she can to the heroes, by saving the life of Kohaku and revealing the nature of Naraku's weakness. And for that, Naraku gave her the freedom she longed for... along with poison to make sure she does not live long enough to enjoy it.
In the end though, she passed in probably the best way a villain in manga or anime could ask for- a bittersweet and memorable death, fading away to find her true liberty in the wind.

"I am the wind. The Free Wind." - Kagura, Inu Yasha 374

Wednesday, August 25

The End is Near

It's with a bit of melancholy that I got the confirmation that one of my favorite anime series, Inu Yasha, is about to end this September.
The news, which started first as a rumor and then only recently confirmed by producer Mitsuhiko Suwa, came as a surprise to the many fans of the latest (and in my view, greatest) Rumiko Takahashi series. Suwa announced that "the first series of Inuyasha anime will end on September 13". The finale will be a one-hour special entitled The Bond Between the Two- The Shard of Shikon.

This came as a surprise since it has been generally supposed that the series is still incredibly popular both in the US and in Japan. The reason for this is apparently since the anime has almost caught up to the Inu Yasha manga, which is already in the closing chapters of the saga. The whole production crew and the voice cast are very devoted to the series, and will reportedly include many extras for the finale, which will come out in the DVD release of the final episodes.

It is believed (and hoped) by fans of Inu Yasha that the anime will somehow continue, either in OAVs or movies or a second series, and finish the story that is currently still unfolding in the weekly manga. Yes, I believe that someday we'll see Naraku get what's coming to him in animation. Somehow, someday, some way.

Personally I'm pretty much saddened AND irritated, but I'm also excited to see how they're going to end the run. I don't think they will be diverging from the manga, but it will be interesting to see how it goes.

In whatever case, it's been a great 160+ episodes. It'll be great to revisit the whole thing again, via DVDs and VCDs.

Inu Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale tells of the adventures of a Japanese girl named Kagome Higurashi who is the reincarnation of a miko (priestess) charged with protecting the Shikon No Tama, an orb of great power. Through a mystical Time-travelling Well located in the back of her house, Kagome is transported to Japan's Sengoku or Warring States period, which is populated by demons (youkai) and other dangers. She soon encounters Inu Yasha, a half-human, half-dog demon youth who also seeks the Shikon No Tama. At first at odds, the two eventually learn to work together and even develop feelings for one another in the best Takahashi tradition. Together with several loyal friends and allies, Kagome and Inu Yasha fight to retrieve the Shikon No Tama and defeat the evil Naraku. Mixing Takahashi humor and romance, loveable characters, compelling storylines and some of the best demon-fighting action seen in animation, Inu Yasha is easily one of the best titles anime has to offer. To date, there are 160+ episodes in the TV series, and at least 3 cinematic releases (a fourth movie has already been announced).

Last night, I made a decision to break from the routine, and headed off from my familiar borders into the darkness... of a movie theater. On offer this time around- M. Night Shyamalan's The Village.

Somewhere surrounded by thick, impenetrable woods, is an idyllic paradise of a settlement- a village living in the old ways. These people, led by a charismatic elder named Walker (WIlliam Hurt), raise their own crops and tend their own herds, eating together under the open sky and talking in old, stilted english... It all kinda reminded me of Hogwarts. Oh well, all is not well in this little world of mild-mannered citizens and little hidden secrets. The woods that surround the village are, according to the elders, ruled by The Ones We Do Not Speak Of (Hmmm... kinda like You Know Who in Harry Potter...). These unnameables are creatures who seem to delight in howling from afar, leaving skinless carcasses on the ground, and on occasion stalking about in the night sowing fear wherever they go.
To protect themselves from the creatures, the village has several rules. RED, or 'the bad color', is not allowed since it is said to attract the creatures. YELLOW is a safe color, and if you wear it, you will not be harmed. No one is allowed to enter the woods, for to do so may break the truce that has kept man and beast apart for so long.

When a young man named Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Pheonix) asks to go through the woods to the outside world for a mission of mercy, things begin to unravel and the village may never be the same again...

This film has been marketed mostly as a scary monster in the woods movie, and I have to say that it is not that. At it's core, it's really a film about secrets, about lies and about fearing what's out there. It's about finding the courage to break rules and orders in favor of what's really important. Which finally explains my weird intro spiel to this article. Heh.

Unfortunately, the film can get pretty dragging and a guy behind me kept muttering 'I want my money back' after the big reveal... Really, when the curtains are raised on the 'twist', you'll either love it or hate it. Me? Actually, I like The Village. Perhaps it was helped by the fact that I came in knowing the Big Secret. I loved the film's beauty... Mr. Shaymalan's movies are always lookers- them with their long, long, lingering looks- and the story is actually pretty cool. Performances were subdued throughout, which gave lovely newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard (the daughter of director Ron Howard) the chance to shine as the head elder's blind daughter with a heart made of both steel and gold. Sigourney Weaver and Brendan Gleeson are also in town, so look them up.

All in all though, I enjoyed my visit to The Village. And with stuff like Catwoman and Aliens VS Predator lurking around, it may be the safest place to go these days.

Tuesday, August 24

More than the Usual

Just recently, Gig's brother and local actor Ricardo Cepeda had an accident recently along Katipunan when a couple of cars zoomed past him and hit his motorcycle. The hit-and-run bastards didn't even turn back to help as Mr. Cepeda went flying off to break an arm on the hard concrete. Several passersby and onlookers just gaped at him as he tried to crawl to the side of the road, but luckily a passing Pizza Hut delivery man saw him and helped him to safety. Later, Ricardo's friend and colleague Ronnie Ricketts arrived to bring him to a nearby hospital.

Well, you can read the whole strangely entertaining story at Gig's Blog. I for one am glad that her brother's in good condition (despite now being a CYBORG thanks to his new titanium arm implants) and that it was a Pizza Hut guy who helped him. How's that for 'more than the usual' service? Heh.

Now I can feel even better everytime I order my usual Meatlover's Pizza for delivery on Sundays. Heh.
Elektra's Back

Jennifer Garner takes up her sais once more in the Elektra movie.

The last we saw Elektra Natchios in the Daredevil movie, she was lying dead on the roof of a building, impaled with her own sai. Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) saw her heart stop, and she was dead.

Well, not even death can keep a killer babe down. Elektra's coming back in a big way, via her own movie. Elektra stars Jennifer Garner, who this time dons a red leather outfit. OKAY, it's RED but it's STILL NOT the real Elektra outfit. BAH! Anyway, Miss Garner's hot as hell, but it would be hotter to have the real Elektra outfit, and not just a stupid palette swap of the crappy leather outfit she wore in Daredevil- SHE'S STILL WEARING HIGH HEELS, DAMN IT.

The 'first look' trailer is now online (check out Ain't It Cool for links to sites with the trailer), and shows various scenes from the film, and includes an interview with Jennifer Garner as she talks about the training she went through and how she doesn't want to 'screw it up' for fans. Well, unfortunately the costume design is probably not part of her responsibilities.
Hopefully this film will get better as it develops.

Elektra will borrow heavily from the comics in terms of storyline, with the resurrected femme fatale taking on the evil Hand organization. We should be seeing the movie sometime next year.

Monday, August 23

Booked for the Weekend

Last Saturday, the gang braved the rainy darkness to trek over to Power Plant in Rockwell. Our destination was Fully Booked, and we wanted books. LOTS of them. Well, I in particular wanted the next two books in The Song of Ice and Fire saga by George R.R. Martin. Of course, the rest of the gang had their own books to buy- Dean, Gig and Vin got tons of their own reading material, from anthologies to mysteries and kiddie books for little Sage. And Charles... well, he just seemed to feed off our buying our books with his discount card.
Afterwards, we headed off to Dencio's. The others had a steaming Sisig dinner (that's seared and diced pig ears and cheeks) while I hunkered down with Coke and a leche flan on account of my upset stomach. Luckily, I was able to take the rumbling for the night. Later, at Country Waffles I was even able to finally eat a late, late dinner (or an early breakfast) with a toasted clubhouse sandwich.
As the light rain fell, we talked about comics, books, writing and friends. It was cool and windy and it felt great to relax and recharge.

Sunday had me at home, reading away Clash of Kings (the sequel to A Game of Thrones), watching some new anime (Cosmopolitan Prayers), playing some Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike on the PS2, and inking a couple more pages for Part 2 of Kunoichi Boy.

Looking forward to next weekend.