Saturday, January 1


Deunan and Briareous return in CG form.

Here's a good way to start the year in anime.

Appleseed (2004) is an update based on the original manga and anime by Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell). The movie is set in a future where a world war almost sent man into extinction. Years after, mankind now lives alongside Bioroids- artificial humans who many see as a superior race. The world is now governed from Olympus, with Bioroids serving to protect and lead man to a brighter future.

Human female soldier Deunan Knute is saved/captured from a battle-ravaged wasteland by Olympus' ESWAT squad and recruited to become part of the new world government's special forces. She is assisted and protected by her former partner Briareous, who has now become a cyborg working for Olympus. Unknown to Deunan, she is about to become a tool to carry out the secret agendas of various groups seeking to eradicate either Bioroids or normal humans from the face of the earth. Which future life takes lies in Deunan's hands... and that of a mysterious object known as Appleseed.

Instead of regular cel animation, the new Appleseed movie is done completely in cel-shaded CG animation (which has been seen before in videogames such as XIII). This gives the feature a pretty slick and impressive visual style, and the motion-captured animations allow for some pretty cool action scenes, from the starting battle between Deunan and some enemy mecha troops, to the final battle against some mammoth walking war machines. Along with the action, the characters also convey emotions well, so this seems to be a pretty cool direction for anime to take.

Fans of the original will surely love seeing Deunan and Briareos in fine CG fighting form. The movie is a spectacular work and anyone who loves mecha and high octane sci-fi action adventure anime would do well to grab a dvd copy of this film from the better-stocked anime or movie sources.
Looking forward to...

Releasing K.I.A.

My very own PSP (Playstation Portable, for those not into gamingspeak)

Hot new games for PS2 and Xbox

More nights-out with the Usual Suspects

Seeing Siglo Passion released

Shanna the She-Devil by Frank Cho

Working on a new comic project

A DVD drive for The Sanctum's PC

New dibidis

New restos and food to discover

New anime and manga to tug at the heartstrings

Doing new ads and commercials

My next phone

More trips to the Blood Bank
Happy New Year

I didn't want to make any resolutions 'cause I'm sure I probably won't be able to carry them out. Just damn happy to be alive, healthy (more or less), hale and hearty, a family around me, a good roof over me and hopeful dreams inside me.

Let's all hope for a bigger, better, brighter and safer 2005, everyone.

Friday, December 31

Full Metal Marathon

Yersterday I spent almost the whole day watching episodes of Full Metal Alchemist. In fact, of the 51 episodes, I watched up to episode 49. By the stroke of worst luck, the dvd I had of the last several episodes was apparently defective, not allowing play of the last two eps, despite the availability of two different models of mutant dvd players.

With the New Year celebration tomorrow, perhaps the earliest I can get the finale is on Sunday. Well, I can always revisit the the couple of dozen episodes I watched before.

After watching, I can pretty much say that FMA did not disappoint; the series retained the flavor it had in the first season I watched, mixing in continued action, drama, conspiracy, mystery, guilt and a dash of tragedy every now and then for a pretty gripping watch. It was simply impossible to keep from watching the next episode. Unlike most series, FMA seems to have pretty much everything wrapped neatly, with plots and characters consistently having connections that eventually are revealed towards the end. Of course, I still have the actual last two parts to see how it all ends, but even up to this point I am pretty satisfied with how the series has come. Again, highly recommended for mature anime enthusiasts.

Addendum: Apparently, a FMA movie is coming, and it is supposedly set after the events in the series. This probably means that any loose ends will be answered in the theatrical feature. Now I really really really need to watch those last two episodes...

Lastikman gets a bashing.

I just got a copy of Mars Ravelo's Lastikman, read through it, looked at the pages. As I've heard from early reviews and comments, the art, by Arnold Arre (Mythology Class, After Eden) is excellent, and as always has that 'Arre' look which I particularly like. The colors, on the other hand, while quite good, give me an impression of being muddy and subdued- I don't know if it's because of the palette used or the printing, but overall it seems a bit off-tuned to the supposedly comedic and lively tone of the title. Perhaps brighter colors would have been better? As it is, the book evokes to me that it is the comic adaptation of the Film Festival movie, which it is NOT, fortunately.
The story, by Gerry Alanguilan, does a good job of introducing the character of a stretchy alien coming to Earth and becoming a crime fighter, though perhaps the word of it being a wacky tale of comedy made me expect too much. In truth, the comic overall isn't laugh out loud funny, despite Arnold's portrayals of Lastikman's wilder contortions. Secondly, I found several scenes depending too much on narration, taking away from the character story. I also found the use of english and tagalog a bit jarring- it worked as a comedic vehicle in Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, but seeing it used here just made the Filipino language look like inferior speech- something I am sure is not the intention, but in the end, whenever english is used it is spoken by a scientist or an alien. Maybe I am reading too much into it. Oh well.

Anyway, it really didn't help that I don't like the character at all. Never liked stretchy characters, don't like the shades for eyes (not even the art could make him likeable for me). No, Lastikman will always be that creepy character in the old tagalog movies that freaked me out when I was a kid- not scared, mind you- just freaked. He's just too weird. So I don't like the character. Don't like how he's an alien. Don't like his look. Don't like how he's such a WUSS in the comic and everyone else has to come to his aid- having the masa rise up towards the end and come to the aid of the hero is getting old. I hated that kind of scene in the first Spiderman movie, hate it here. Sigh.

The best thing in the comic for me is Atomika, an original character created for the comic by Gerry and Arnold. Unfortunately, she really shouldn't have had the clout she has in this book. That she has two pinups dedicated to her just shows where Gerry and Arnold's love in this work really went. Heh.

All things said and done, Lastikman is still a fine comic in terms of production. The art is great, the story good, the colors are nicely done and it's a one-shot and long enough to be worth 150 pesos. I just don't like it. Give me an Atomika comic and I'll take that over this anytime. So, Gerry and Arnold, hop to it!

Mars Ravelo's Lastikman from Mango Comics is available in bookstores and comic stores all over the Metro now. Go get it!

Thursday, December 30

Sweet Jam

The I-Mate Jam, the smallest Pocket PC Phone around.

It's my new object of lust; it's the I-Mate Jam AKA the O2 XDA II Mini, the world's smallest Pocket PC Phone to date. It basically gives you the capabilities of a Personal Computer, PDA, Video and Music Player, Handicam, 1.3 Megapixel Digital Camera, gaming console AND mobile phone. DAAAAAAMMMNNN!!!! Of course, I have all that already with my O2 XDA II, but the schtick with the Jam is that it's so incredibly SMALL. Smaller than an I-Pod. It's positively tiny and oh, so cute. I want it!!!

Of course, it's also a bit of a paradox. The smaller size also means, inevitably, smaller real estate for the Jam's screen- it's far smaller compared to the bigger PPC devices, which is a negative in a way. Paradox, I tell you- what makes it so desirable is also it's weakness. Oh well, you can't have everything. Aside from the much better camera, the only thing it one-ups my PPC is the size. Darn, it felt so nice and light in my hand (I was able to check out a unit in Mega).

If I could trade in my XDA II for the Jam (or the O2 XDA II Mini), I would probably do so. But then again, I'd probably have to decide what's more important- screen size, or portability.

Let's see what happens as the new year comes in. Heh.
Overstuffed Taco

I went out yesterday to keep from going MAD from staying in The Sanctum. The traffic is still pretty horrid, despite the fact that it's supposed to be holiday season (or perhaps that's the reason why?). I took the MRT to Cubao and decided to have merienda at Taco Bell. Bad idea, turns out. The place was PACKED, and throngs of people kept flooding in. I thought I'd be able to sit down and have a quick meal easily since I was alone, but DAMN. It turned out that every single seat in the place was either occupied or reserved by stinkin' family groups. GAH!!! So la-de-dah, I ended up eating my taco and quesadillas standing near the door, on the service counter (which is also the trash deposit area).

As I ate, the guard (who probably was in as much frustration as me since he was consigned to wear a Santa's hat along with his serious security guard uniform) gave me some apologetic words. The symphathetic fellow took off a bit of my miffedness, and I commented that they should either extend their area or get more seats since the demand is so high. Darn! It's only TACOS, people! What's the reason for the crowds? The food really isn't that great, there aren't any cool mascots nor is the place cheap. Is it all because the place is just new? Or is it the name 'Taco Bell' that strikes a chord? Well, for some reason or other, the place is doing outrageously good business, which should make the Pizza Hut people (they own the franchise) happy... and should herald more Taco Bells to come eventually.

So I finished my so-so food and was off for the rest of my day.

Tuesday, December 28

Cabin Fever

I've spent three days in The Sanctum since Christmas. Gotta get out tomorrow and do something. Thinking of going on down to Greenhills to pick up new anime, particularly the rest of the episodes of Full Metal Alchemist and some other stuff. Should also check out the new comics at the ol' Blood Bank, in case they do arrive in time. New Year's coming up, and then back to work. Gotta make good use of the last half of the vacation.

Monday, December 27

Full Metal Alchemist

The Elric Brothers, Al and Ed.

It's been quite a while since I first watched the first several episodes of Full Metal Alchemist. I've put the series aside since then since I got put off a bit by the flashback episodes, but this holiday break has finally allowed me to revisit the series in earnest. It helps that the series is now a big hit in the US, where it has been recently released. Aside from the anime (and the manga, still a Japan-only release), there are a couple of PS2 games out, so it's testament to this title's appeal.

Full Metal Alchemist concerns the adventures of Edward and Alphonse Elric, the young sons of a famous alchemist. After their mother dies, the two exceptionally gifted children use their powers of alchemy to try and bring her back. The attempt, a forbidden act as dictated by the Law of Conservation ('In order to gain something, you must give something of equal value'), fails, costing Edward his arm and leg and Al his entire body. In order to save his brother's soul, Ed binds it to a suit of armor. Years later, the two- a diminuative cyborg alchemist and a walking, talking suit of armor, search the world for the legendary Philosopher's Stone, in the hope of gaining back what they had lost. Despite what may be first assumed, the title of 'Full Metal Alchemist' refers not to Alphonse (the suit of armor), but to little (and elder) Ed, an alchemist genius who can use his powers even without drawing an array, or special alchemist's circle.

This unusual, and somewhat dark premise forms the backbone of a complex saga that involves powerful magic, action adventure and themes of sacrifice, loss, guilt, brotherly and familial love and always going forward no matter what. For an anime that has an exceptionally clean and 'cute' look to it, FMA is a predominantly melancholy, even sad, series. There are points in the title that are heartbreaking and emotionally powerful, offset slightly by a few moments of comedy and the brothers' inherent cheerfulness (and Edward's exceptional sensitivity to any remarks about his height). However, the story proves to be quite engaging and gripping once you get into it.
Aside from the brothers' quest, there are subplots that involve the agenda of Roy Mustang and his cohorts, a group of military alchemists who may or may not be allies to Ed and Al. Then there are enemies, such as the mysterious Scar, a man with a magical arm who seems to have made it his crusade to kill every alchemist in the world. And then, there are the Homunculi, a group of inhuman, behind-the-scenes villains who are named after the Seven Deadly Sins.

Mixing a coming-of-age saga with complex conspiracy and pretty cool magical powers, Full Metal Alchemist is an exceptional series that mature fans of anime should definitely check out. I've already cleared 18 episodes and I'm ready for more. Find it on VCD or DVD at your favorite anime and toy shops in the Metro.