Friday, September 30

On the Way to a Smile

Attention FFVII fans! If you haven't already, I really recommend reading On the Way to A Smile, a series of FFVII novellas. While stuff like this is usually never seen outside Japan, english speakers like us are fortunate that some talented dudes and dudettes took the time to translate the multi-chapter stories for all to enjoy.

On the Way to A Smile comes in several chapters, all of which bridge the gap between Final Fantasy VII and its movie sequel, Advent Children. So far, four chapters have been released and translated.

The first three chapters center on Denzel, the orphaned boy who lives with Cloud, Tifa and Marlene Wallace in Advent Children. While not starring any of the popular FFVII heroes (though Reeve appears in the story with a surprising revelation), it's an interesting read and shows the world of Midgar through the eyes of 'normal' people.

The most interesting chapter of course for fans will be Chapter Four, or Tifa's Chapter, which basically fills in the gap between the end of the FFVII game right up to the start of Advent Children. It explains just what happened after Meteor got swallowed up by the Lifestream, how the heroes separate, how they cope with their losses from the war and how they all try to get their 'normal' lives back together again. It's a great read and shows in great detail the relationship between mopey Cloud and his long-standing martyr childhood friend/maybe-maybe not girlfriend Tifa. I highly recommend it. And best of all- it's canon, not some fanfic. This is the real deal, people.

You can check out the chapters of On the Way to A Smile at Advent You can check out the Tifa Chapter here. Enjoy!
Immortal MTV Version 2

Here's a new edit of my Final Fantasy VII My Immortal MTV. This new and final version uses better-quality video sans subtitles. While the scenes used are mostly the same, there are a few changes particularly towards the end and in the ending itself (which I think is a lot better than the original edit). This edit gives the ending a bit more of a happy, hopeful bent than before... at least as happy as you can get with FFVII. Heh.

You can download either this WMV Version, or this AVI Version specially made for Pocket PCs (Betaplayer) but also playable on updated Quicktime players. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29

Komik Biz


I've been so busy lately that I've been neglecting my comics. No, not the stuff I filch from The Blood Bank each week... I'm talking about the stuff I actually write and draw myself. Darn it. Anyway, I've got pressing deadlines like the Cover and pages for Project: Hero, which is due very soon. Just how soon remains to be seen though.

Also pressing is the upcoming Komikon, which I really really really want to attend. I plan to have at least an ashcan ready for giving away (which will hopefully contain at least a K.I.A. story and snippets of the under-development Last Angel Ace Story inside it). I'm also planning on selling K.I.A., at a discounted Komikon-only price.

We'll see how much I can pull off before the deadlines hit. Stay tuned to this panel.
Inu Yasha Movie 4

More dog-boy action.

Yeah, I'm still an Inu Yasha fan. Even though they killed off my favorite character in the manga, even though the anime series is on indefinite hiatus, even though the ever-there cast is still nowhere near getting close to defeating their ultimate enemy, the seemingly unkillable Naraku. Well, it seems that offing the big Heavy isn't really a priority, and there are endless sources of evil and mischief in Feudal Japan.
Inu Yasha the Movie 4: Fire on Mystic Island is yet another filler Inu Yasha adventure that happens in a limbo-esque time after the last few episodes of the anime, since Dogboy already has his Diamond Spears attack. Anyway, the movie starts off with a mysterious island that appears once from the fog into the real world every fifty years. On this island are a bunch of hanyou children- half-youkai/half human kids who are now orphaned and apparently under some dire circumstances. The youngest of the brood, since she is unmarked by the mystical claw-marks that imprison the rest- is told to escape the imprisonment of the island.
Of course, it doesn't take long for the kid to get pursued by the bad guys- or in this case, bad fireball-hurling Giant Dragon Turtle thing. In the nick of time, the Inuyashagumi arrive to save the kid from being fried or flattened. After the initial battle, it soon is revealed that the kid knows Inu Yasha, and soon the whole gang is more or less drafted into helping free the hanyou kids and defeat the evil Four War Gods of Mystic Island.

Okay, this has action and more action and some more action thrown in for good measure... but seriously... I was bored. This pretty much follows the apparent template the Inu Yasha movies tend to follow- new threat appears, beats up Inu and company, the gang fights back to save whomever being oppressed, then eternal hangers-on Kikyo and Sesshomarou do their share helping the heroes 'unintentionally' and then moving off again. The only thing that changes are the excuses for lots of KAZE NO KIZU action, using the BAKURYUHAAA and whatever new super attack of the moment.
The villains in this case however are pretty boring in design and motivation- and even when they get their FULL POWERS back, they're still pretty lame. Sango and Miroku are once again trapped in the expected butt fondle-slap combo joke, Kagome does her 'Osuwari!' several times, so on and so forth.

In short... yeah, too late... it's a run-of-the-mill Inu Yasha movie... trapped in the 'Monster of the Year' monotony. In this case, I'd say that newcomers will probably enjoy this a lot more than longtime Inu Yasha fans like me, who will probably be seeing Menoumaru or Kaguya or the Evil Sounga in the bland Four Gods of Hourajima. Meh.

Well, that's probably the bitter Kagura fan in me talking. Anyway, it's not glaringly bad... just un-exceptional. There wasn't even enough fan service- not even the appearance of a Kikyo clone spiced things up. Bah. I can see it now. Inu Yasha the Movie 7: Attack of the Generic Demon Lord. Guh. Progress, Takahashi-san! Progress! Feh.

Wednesday, September 28

Fresh from Japan

Just got my original copy of the Japanese DVD release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. As expected, the movie is crystal clear and awesome in terms of picture quality, though there are no subtitles except for default Japanese (which will only be of use to deaf Japanese people, I guess). The extras are pretty sparse- there's a section called Reminiscence of FFVII which is basically a half-hour's worth of scenes from the FFVII game, both CG FMV and In-game scenes that take you through the story of FFVII. Of course, the words are all in Japanese. Then there's the Compilation of FFVII which are a collection of trailers from the FFVII games/features due out or already out- this includes the Japan-only cellphone game Before Crisis, the upcoming FFVII FPS Shooter Dirge of Cerberus (which is pretty cool since it shows off a lot of stuff I haven't seen before), the enigmatic Crisis Core (which has anime segments from the FFVII Last Order anime) and of course, Advent Children itself. That's about it for extras.

Aside from that, the original DVD is just basically my support to Squaresoft for giving me AC. And a nice souvenir piece, albeit a bit pricey. Still, I think it's worth every centavo. Yay!

Sunday, September 25


I went off this afternoon to Greenhills with the pretense of getting the latest anime and some new games, but what I was really hankering for was a box of Gonuts Donuts. Unfortunately, I got to the Promenade's branch and there was no stock of my favorite kind of holed treat- Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Frosted. Apparently they don't prepare certain variants every day. Darn it.
So what could I do but go off and drown my loss with some new playthings.

Got several PS2 games: Urban Reign, yet another street-based multi-fighter out this time from Namco (Tekken, Soul Calibur), Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, the fighting game based on the new Marvel Comics title about some new, hardcore superhumans busting into the Marvel Universe and finally, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. The final game is a fighting-adventure hybrid set in the MK Universe, bridging the gap between the first two games.

Nice stuff. But I wanted donuts. Bah.
Surprise Birthday Bash

Last night we had a surprise birthday party celebration- only it was the celebrant, Charles, who surprised us. Now that's a turn. Anyway, we had a nice meal at Chili's before we saw the birthday boy home and Vin and Andrew went off to go Karaoke Krazy with the Alfars. Thanks for the libre, Charles.
Game Bits

Metal Gear Solid 4 has been shown in trailer form at the recent TGS2005 Gaming Expo in Japan. The footage shows a grizzled, aged and one-eyed Solid Snake still fighting even though he seems pretty sick (he needs drugs to keep him going), and STILL smoking his health-reducing cigs. The old soldier is shown in some kind of deserted village, hiding from a large number of troops accompanied by what seems to be bipedal battle armor. Snake is also accompanied by a tiny Metal Gear- a wheeled droid which serves as a monitor for Snake's brainy comrade, Otacon (who doesn't seem as old as Snake himself). The graphics look on par with CG cinematics, though there's no word about story yet. Will we indeed be playing as a Dark Knight Returns-old Snake? Will other characters like Revolver Ocelot and Meryl Silverburgh be showing up? We'll just have to wait. Metal Gear Solid 4 is headed for the PS3. Still a ways to go...

Dead or Alive 4 for the Xbox 360 will appparently have quite a few changes, including the addition of new animations for knockdowns which basically make the fighting more fast-paced. All the characters will have new counters and moves over their last incarnations in DOA Ultimate for the Xbox. Aside from the so far revealed new characters- Kokoro the long-haired kimono girl, Eliot the blonde kung fu boy and veteran fighter Gen Fu's apprentice, and the masked female luchadore wrestler/kickfighter La Mariposa (we suspect she's Lisa from DOAX)- there appears to be room for up to SIX more competitors. New characters? Team Ninja has hinted that there may even be a guest fighter from a non-Tecmo title appearing in the roster.
On the Story Mode, much emphasis seems to be placed on the events within DOATEC, the evil corporation that's been holding the DOA Tournament. Opera singer Helena Douglas has apparently become the head of the company, and is now in the thick of the conspiracies that are running inside it. Ninja brethren Hayate and Kasumi have FINALLY linked up and are set to take out DOATEC directly for the corporation's experiments on both of them, with the help of ally Ryu Hayabusa. As for the game's final Boss, a mysterious female figure known only as Alpha 152 is said to be the new heavy awaiting competitors at the end of the game.

Darn. I can't wait. DOA4 has been given a release date along with the launch of the Xbox 360 in November or December of this year.

While Soul Calibur 2 was pretty forgettable, the third game in the series looks pretty awesome. Soul Calibur 3 will feature oodles of goodies when it comes this October/November. In fact, SC3 looks to show every other fighting game how things are done- from an interactive and cinema-laden Story Mode, to an ultra-awesome Character Creation Mode, to lots of minigames and even an RTS-style Conquest game.

Great games for the existing consoles and the debut of the first next-gen platform should make Holiday 2005 something for gamers to look forward to. HAZZAH! Better start saving...
Retro Batman

They’re showing Batman Forever on HBO. This was infamous director Joel Schumacher’s first Batman tryout, and while it isn’t as horrible as Batman and Robin (which should have been entitled Batman and Robin and Batgirl and Alfred), it approaches the gaudiness of his sophomore caped crusader flick. I remember when I first watched it, I kinda liked it, kinda didn’t. Val Kilmer was a solid Bruce Wayne, though his delivery of some dialogue seemed too stiff. His Batman DID have some nice catch phrases (“Chicks dig the car.”). Chris O’Donnell’s Robin wasn’t as irritatingly stupid as he was in the next movie, while Nicole Kidman as the token love interest was pretty hot.

There were quite a bit of crappy things in this as well- such as Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face- what could have been a pretty intense and cool villain (as portrayed in the Batman Animated Series) turned into your generic babbling, giggling, cackling, raving madman villain that tries too hard to emulate Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Then there’s Jim Carrey’s Riddler- on one hand, it’s great to see the rubbery one do a villain (other than his Cable Guy character), and he basically is given a lot of room to steal the show with his antics. However… he just turns out too GAY in some of the scenes… well, it’s a Schumacher film…

Well, all in all, Batman Forever ranks as the fourth best Batman for me… well, for me, the Burton Batman is still top, then Batman Returns (thanks to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman), then the recent Batman Begins, then Batman Forever. It’s still pretty cool to watch these older Batman flicks every now and then. But I’ve had more than enough Schwarzenegger Mr. Freeze to last me a lifetime.