Friday, September 10

Phone Movie

If you've been watching movies lately in theaters, you may have seen the trailer to Cellular, a suspense movie about a new Nokia 6600 owner (Chris Evans) who picks up a call from a kidnap victim played by Kim Basinger. Convinced of the victim's plight, the phone-wielding Samaritan must run a gauntlet of obstacles including low battery charges, dead zones, crossed-signals, disbelieving police and of course, a ruthless kidnapper.

Seeing the trailer the first time actually made me think it was all a cellphone commercial (which it IS, in any case) for the 6600, and surely after watching this 6600 owners will probably get extremely proud of their mobiles, and everyone else will probably make it a point to always keep their phones fully-charged. I'll probaby identify a bit if and when I ever watch this, being a former owner of the chubby model. I guess 7610s are too fashionable for gritty suspense action. Heh.
CSI: Anime-Style

I have to admit that my favorite Animax show these days is Detective School Q, the series about a group of exceptional students in the famous Dan Detective School in Japan. The group consists of main hero Kyu (who may in another life have been a young Super Chef, Super Angler or Super Sports protege), love interest/fan service provider/photographic memory-enabled Megumi, bishonen effete smartypants Ryu, underaged computer genius Kazuma and martial artist Kinta (who's really around just to protect the rest with his muscle). The cases they tackle often involve murder through mysterious means (often impractically so), and solving it usually takes a couple or more episodes.
The creepy circumstances of the cases, the odd clues and the often flabbergastingly intricate solutions are often over-the-top impractical, but quite interesting to see since they DO have logic to them. The most maddening thing is that the episodes often end at cliffhangers, leaving you hanging bur having to wait till next week to find out the answer to the case. Well, it's not really a question WHO rather than HOW the murders are usually committed. So I guess it's all like a puzzle that viewers are challenged to figure out before the onscreen sleuths do.

I think that detective novels and shows, including some sleuthing game shows, are very popular in Japan, hence this title (and similar titles like Files of Young Kindaichi and Detective Conan. Maybe I should look those other titles over and delve deeper into the anime mystery genre. We'll see what I can dig up. Heh.

Thursday, September 9

Retro Anime

Go on a voyage with Captain Tita and her crew in Plastic Little.

I was looking through the dvd stalls recently, and I am pleased to see that anime is finally trickling into the mainstream selections. A good double-feature DVD I got features two titles by Satoshi Urushihara, a manga-ka known for his incredibly cute yet sexy art style and work in various RPGs such as Langrisser on the older consoles and PCs. The two features are Plastic Little and Legend of Lemnear.

Plastic Little is set in a world dominated by a vast, cloud-filled sea; within this sea of clouds are various colonies that float in the very air. Plying the trade of pet-shop hunter is the good ship Cha Cha Maru, an exceptional vessel commanded and owned by the feisty and lovely 17-year old, Tita. Tita is accompanied by her small but selflessly loyal and loving crew, and together they go on various adventures in the sea of clouds, at least in the manga version.
The anime version of Tita's adventures is a 40 minute or so OAV feature which is beautifully animated, tightly written and brilliantly designed with great characters, mecha and action sequences. It's a compact movie that tells of how Tita and her crew gets involved with a beautiful young fugitive, an evil military plot to topple the government and a climactic battle with a hundred to one odds. All this AND lots of gratuitous, well-animated naked breasts. Hoho! Mr. Urushihara's work, I have to add, is often laced with ecchi and fanservice to the extreme.
The other feature in the Urushihara double-feature is Legend of Lemnear, a fantasy-action adventure set in a gritty, swords-and-sorcery world where an evil force is taking over the realm. The only ones who have a hope of defeating this great evil are the chosen Champions... one of which, Lemnear, the Champion of Silver, is a beautiful young woman who has grown up as a warrior seeking revenge for her slain people. Can she find her allies and save her world from ruin? Or will she just become an evil sorcerer's plaything in a steamy harem? Well, actually, BOTH of these things happen, though fortunately not in that order. Heh.

While both features are pretty old, they stand up quite well even to more recent anime, particularly Plastic Little, which still looks gorgeous. I highly recommend these titles for mature anime enthusiasts; the amount of bobbly flesh and bouncy breasts ensure that these are not for young kids, but there's a good story and great action behind all the skin. Check 'em out.

One last note. I have NO IDEA what the title 'Plastic Little' means.

Wednesday, September 8

Inu Yasha the Movie 3

The third Inu Yasha theatrical feature is finally here.

I came over to Megamall expecting little more than dinner, but I left with nothing less than VCD copies of the 3rd Inu Yasha theatrical feature, Inu Yasha the Movie 3: The Sword of World Conquest!
Like the first movie, the 3rd Inu Yasha movie delves once more into the past of Inu Yasha, particularly with his father, the Great Inu No Taicho, his forbidden love with the human princess Izayoi, the birth of his hanyou (half-human, half youkai) son Inu Yasha, and the path of his full-blooded youkai son, Sesshomarou. As the title mentions, the movie is also about the Inu family's swords- Tessaiga, the blade given to Inu Yasha; Tenseiga, the life-giving sword given to Sesshomarou; and finally Souunga, Inu No Taichi's blade, an evil sword whose power could conquer the world.
When Souunga's seal wears out (having a 700 year life span), it promptly starts to wreak havoc. With their father's bitter enemy resurrected and wielding Souunga's might, the two dog-demon brothers and fierce rivals must somehow find it in themselves to fight together against an enemy of unequalled power and hatred.

While it was a bummer that once again this movie takes another side story instead of continuing the heroes' quest for the Shikon and the Hunt for Naraku, it's a pretty cool story. The Inu Yasha-Sesshomarou rivalry has always been one of the series' stronger plot points, and the film makes full use of it to tell a pretty good adventure. And it WOULD have to be a movie with high quality animation to fully show off the high-level magical attacks and mammoth firepower thrown off in the many battles. This is easily the best of the IY movies so far, in terms of story and animation. Inu Yasha fans should make for their anime shops and scoop this one up fast, along with the final leg of episodes for the TV series.

Tuesday, September 7

In Vogue

The Sony Ericsson K700i. Multimedia Powerhouse.

The Sony Ericsson k700i seems to be getting popular these days. At least three people I know have gotten this slick new mobile- an officemate, a friend's girlfriend and my brother.
Which is not puzzling at all since the K700 is a pretty good model. Apparently being the real successor to the classic T610 model, the K700 is much more of a leap than the slight upgrade the T630 was (which was really just a monochromatic repackaging of the T610, with a better screen). The K700 is a multimedia powerhouse, with a big, beautiful and bright screen, an excellent (albeit still VGA) camera and video capability, enhanced user interface (UI), an FM radio and MP3 playing capability, and 41 MB of memory to stuff photos, video and data with.
The phone is small, smaller than all the recent Nokia best-sellers (6600 and 7610), and even slightly smaller than its predecessors from SE. It's compact and looks so hi-tech with its silver-metal finish. The back (or the OTHER front, according to Sony marketing) has a large receptacle, making the phone look more like a digicam from that direction (which is the thrust of SE's phones). So, really, the K700 looks and plays great.

In fact, it's so good that if I wasn't such a fanatic for Symbian OS-powered smartphones and the fact that the K700 has pretty limited memory for me, this would probably be my phone right now. But no, I'm still with my megapixel mobile. The only thing that can possibly move me at present is the prospect of the Sony Ericsson P910, with its potential Gigabyte of memory space... Mmmm... Aaaahhh... Someday... SOMEDAY... Hahahaha... Sigh.
Speaking of Cash Drains...

... I'm looking forward to quite a few comics this coming Stock Day at Comic Quest. The latest issues of Blade of the Immortal, Fallen Angel and Bite Club are coming, and they're some of the few titles I'm really into these days. I haven't been able to check out a lot of my recent purchases, but I've looked through Suikoden III part 3, and it still maintains the manga version's pretty straight translation of the RPG story. The art's still great, the action a bit more easygoing this time around as the focus is on the mercenary Geddoe and his band of card-named cohorts, and on the life at Budehuc castle, a quiet little stronghold destined for greatness in the volumes ahead.

Yeah, I have to cut down on spending... but how hot can an engine burn without fuel? Hehehe... Screw you, Vinnie!!! (In my best Arnold Schwarzennegger impression).
Boots are made for Walking

Last night I scoured Megamall for a nice, good pair of everyday walking shoes. At first, I looked in Shoemart, and ALMOST got tempted into buying a pair of Hush Puppies. However, I really had only one brand in mind- Doc Marten's. The last time I had DM's was waaaaaaaay back in college, when my mom gave me a pair she bought from the States. I was immediately impressed by the soft, supple yet strong leather and soles, and the solid and cool look they had. I wore that pair for years and years. This is the first time since finally retiring my old pair that I've gotten Docs again, and it feels good. I'm going to be doing a lot of walking in them from now on.
And it's just as well- I've decided to cut down on expenses, and one of the bigger drains on my cash is my taking a cab to work everyday in the morning. It started about a month or two ago, and it's really a habit that's hard to break. It's so easy to just throw money at a problem- this particular being my dislike at walking too much and crowding into MRTs with other people. But if I'm going to have the money for K.I.A later this year, I'm going to have to tighten the ol' belt. Anyway, I really need the exercise, and riding in cabs all the time in the morning makes me prone to dozing off in the taxis, and that just makes me all sluggish and sleepy the whole day.
And so, it's back to walking the beat. Get up early in the morning, take my vitamins, walk the walk, then talk the talk and earn the pay so that we get to enjoy at the end of the day. That's the ticket. Heh.

Monday, September 6

Good Old-fashioned Mystery

Whenever I see a re-run of Believe it or Not on AXN these days, it just makes me remember the good old days of the show, back when it was GOOD. More a show about wonders and mystery rather than a freak show laced with cheap T&A.

Years ago, I remember as a kid seeing the first Ripley’s Believe it or Not show, which started off with a really beautiful title sequence, with animated versions of the Ripley’s cartoons whizzing by to a great musical score that started off creepy and teasing, then becoming more wondrous as the title of the show came on. The show then was hosted by Jack Palance, who was OLD even then. He of the hissing, wheezing voice was actually cool, despite a pretty painful prologue sequence where he acted out the entire assassination of the Russian monk Rasputin all by his lonesome.
Back then, the shows were more about mystery, natural and historical weirdness, ghost stories and monsters, or science oddities. Any human wonders were far more interesting than what we see in contemporary shows. Well, I guess the shows had to update to the times… and the present times just aren’t as magical as the older days.

It’s the same with other shows of the same vein. When That’s Incredible started off, I LOVED it best for the really creepy ghost stories they would feature, such as the story of Resurrection Mary, the Amytiville Horror and other American spooks. Eventually though, like Believe it or Not, the show began to focus more on stunts and more mundane feats.

Another favorite of mine was the often creepy In Search Of shows, an old, hard-to-find series hosted by Leonard Nimoy. The show dealt primarily with myths and monsters, legends and mysteries that included Bigfoot, Nazi Gold, The Bermuda Triangle and more. That was a good, spine-tingling series that you just don’t see these days.
Today, we see guys with bee beards, lingerie made of Heaven-knows-what, the biggest house of cards, and guys who suck things up with their eyes. For creepy mystery, all we have is… Nginiig: The Hidden Files.

Sigh. Oh well. All things come around and go around. Maybe someday we’ll have a return to really good mystery shows. I just hope that I’m not as old as Jack Palance when it happens. Heh.

Mystery Pic

Tekken 5’s new Boss may be this sinister figure.

Speaking of mystery, who is THIS in this screenshot from a new cinematic from Tekken 5? From the clothing and the twin spikes atop the figure’s head, it appears to be Heihachi Mishima, who has been reported DEAD in the Tekken 5 story. Upon close inspection, the figure seems to be actually aflame, and has shiny, metallic skin. It does not even look totally human. Recent literature released by Namco also mention that this creature seems to have been chained and imprisoned in Heihachi’s Honmaru shrine long before the explosion after the Jack Robot attack, so it is likely not the senior Mishima. After the destruction of the shrine, something (this thing) apparently escaped from the debris, unseen into the night.
News of Heihachi’s death have had many speculating that this was the end of Mishima Karetsu, but someone else has apparently taken over immediately after, so it was all business as usual. Taken over by whom?

Is this figure, called by some speculators as “Ogre Hei” Tekken 5’s new boss?

We’ll see as Tekken 5 is released in arcades this October.

Sunday, September 5

Advent Rising

Recently, footage from the much-anticipated CG movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was screened in a special showing in Venice, Italy. The movie, based on a Playstation game that is at least 7 years old, received glowing reviews from the press and gaming crowd present.
From the many reports online, this CG movie is going to give fans of the classic RPG what they've been waiting years for- a chance to see the beloved characters of FFVII as never before and most importantly, see closure in the story's most emotional issues. The pay-offs for die-hard FF fans seems as fruitful and efficient as a checklist- Return of Cloud and the other heroes? Check. Return of Shinra baddies as well as new villains? Check. Return of a certain Flower Girl? CHECK. Return of a certain silver-haired one-winged angel? DOUBLE CHECK. Heheh.

Some good news and bad news. The Good News is that producer/character designer Tetsuya Nomura has revealed that the final movie will be four times the length of the 24-minute preview shown in Venice... placing Advent Children in the length of a full feature film. So, no short OAV feature will AC be... this is a true film that will tell a whole story and hopefully give closure to the saga. The Bad News? The film, which is still in production even at this time, has been given a release date tentatively for Spring 2005. Oh well, it should be worth the wait.

Final Fantasy VII, the first Final Fantasy game on the PSOne, tells of the story of Cloud Stryfe, a mysterious young mercenary who joins a rebel group known as Avalanche in order to fight the monopolistic, world-dominating and corrupt might of the Shinra Electric Power Company. This multi-layered and complex story eventually sends Cloud and his allies into direct conflict with Sephiroth, Shinra's Ultimate Warrior who himself is on a quest to discover his identity and destiny. When Sephiroth's goals lead him to revenge against all life and causing the destruction of the world, Cloud moves to stop him. The conflict is made personal by Sephiroth's murder of Aerith, one of Cloud's close friends and the last of an elder race that protected the planet. Eventually, Cloud gains the strength to battle his seemingly omnipotent foe, and with a summoned Meteor heading for the world, he destroys Sephiroth in a climactic battle. To save the world itself from the impending comet, the very planet's life force surges up and ends the crisis in a final, miraculous event.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is set two years after the end of the game. With a seemingly incurable disease striking the populace and a sinister group of silver-haired youths on the offensive, Cloud must once again take up his sword (with a little help from his friends) and save the planet again.

K.I.A. Update

Will delays never cease with the K.I.A. book?

Well, this time around however, it's all for the best. I've decided to push back the release by a month or so in order to add in some more content. Is ANY story worth such a big delay, you would ask? Well, yes... as long as the artist who's doing it is worth the wait. In particular, our cover artist Jennyson Rosero! Jennyson has given the Kai anthology a sleek and sexy look with his incredible cover artworks, so it would be totally bogus to have just a scant 8 pages from him inside the book. Well, we're working on fixing that. Crossing fingers, we're still hoping for a release within 2004, but I won't compromise quality just to catch a deadline... especially when I'm the boss. Heh. Let's all just hope for sooner rather than later, but K.I.A. IS coming. Count on it.