I wanted to pay Tay Zonday back for all the entertainment he's given me, directly and indirectly, so after his show last Sunday, my buddies and I gave him a delicious chocolate bar. It's got hazelnuts and currants in it! He blinked, but these things happen.
Honestly I didn't think a game this good was ever going to be real, so I'm pleasantly surprised to see Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden is now finished. I haven't actually sat down to play this before posting about it, and do you know why? I already know this game is good. There's no question in my mind that this is, in fact, the best b-ball RPG on the market. Go and enjoy.
I was just reading ANN because I can't read Moon Phase, and it came to my attention that my favorite lesbians have, like Nascar vehicles, taken up heavy corporate sponsorship from Pizza Hut. This isn't the first time that the fast food chain has sponsored anime: many fans remember their kind-of-obtrusive presence in Code Geass, a show I never watched but got the gist of from screenshots on the internets. Plus the writing goes to shit at the end anyway so I didn't bother. Anyhow, there's this girl with a big ass, see, and she loooves Pizza Hut and she especially loves their mascot (she has been saving Pizza Hut Kool-Aid points to buy him), and hey, maybe if you eat some of that stuff you'll have a nice shapely ass like hers, eh? Eh? Ladies?
Anyway, Pizza Hut will send a Marimite pie to your door, the box has some goodies in it, et cetera, et cetera. While I would really appreciate it if Pizza Hut hooked me up with some Marimite pizza (in this case I won't call it Marmite), we have to take a look past the trinkets of the present, deep into the future of an otaku world run by Pizza Hut. In Japan, at least, Pizza Hut is apparently positioning itself as the fast food chain for dorks. Where can they go from here?
When Code Geass airs (is this going to do well? I know it has pretty boys but doesn't it also have eww robots?) on Adult Swim, will Pizza Hut buy out all the advertising? I would. Should Pizza Hut start, maybe, supplying some food at some anime cons and slowly destroy the Pocky racket? I would. Should Pizza Hut introduce its more bizarre pies into the US market as Wai Wai Sugoi Kawaii Nihon no Pie and you have to say it that way on the phone or they'll just send you a clearly inferior Italian-American standard? I would.
Should Pizza Hut make an exciting new shonen action show called Pizza Battle Sanada-kun where a sullen young lad, accompanied by a small army of pizza-baking maids, flings razor-sharp EX-ultra-thin-crust pies at his enemies in the name of love? Obviously. It's time to fuckin' take over, Pizza Hut. I know you have it in you.
Nice to hear from this guy! I guess the juiciest fan tidbit here is Shimoku's explanation of Ogiue's special sort of torment over her own self-expression. While the Genshiken is made up of characters that you and I either know or embody, Ogi has always been the character who rings most true to me, so it makes sense to hear that so much of her comes from the author.
I've always thought of otaku culture, here and over there, as kind of a culture of shame. Among the anime fans I've met, either they're entirely without shame (Sue and Angela, certainly they existed) or they're stealth weeaboos, as I like to call them, people who never, ever talk about it unless absolutely forced. In my experience, the further in you go, either the more shameless you become --"hey guys this is my favorite bizarre fetish here I brought the doujin let's all read it together!"-- or the quieter about it you become.
I mean, when you start out on it, that's one thing: Hellsing messenger bags at the comic shop and what have you. But it doesn't take long before you get to scratching the surface, and you hit the vaguely creepy, the obviously creepy, and beyond. I presume you don't want a link for "beyond" but let's say it's, oh, I dunno dicknipples shitting all over a woman's face. And what if you like one of these crazy things? Well then you're crazy. And if you really like it you're really crazy. Fuckin' nutjob. Ogi loves to draw gay porn, so she probably thinks she belongs in an asylum or something. As such, I can't help but empathize with her, and Shimoku, who "really envies" those of us with real, live otaku friends. Aww.
If they're not his friends, Shimoku's certainly encountered these people. Everything in Genshiken that comes to mind (save maybe Ohno, who is probably too good to be completely true, and Saki, who would never hang out with these people) is certainly drawn from the kind of people who appear in fandom over and over again. They're not webcomic caricatures, either: for better or worse, they are geniuinely honest portrayals. This is really what sets it apart from, say, Otaku no Video, which, though I love it, can get pretty cartoonish in its extremes. Genshiken went about as far as it could go, though, and I'm gonna miss it. I have to assume that Kujibiki Unbalance won't have the same subtle characterization.
In closing, isn't Sasahara and Ogi falling in love just Shimoku falling in love with Shimoku? Isn't that the quintessential otaku condition?
You know what I really like, though? Air Master. It's a wonderful fight manga/anime about a giant Amazon gymnast girl named Maki. Maki thirsts for battle and is loved by a rapist and a tit-monster. She kicks a lot of people in the face.
Most people got to know know Air Master through the anime, which has a couple of dubious distinctions-- botched DVD release by Toei Animation, Tomoko Kaneda's ear-splitting performance as Renge-- that led it to become widely either loved or hated (predominantly hated) among anime fans. I want you to know that the people who hated Air Master are, while reasonable, completely fucking wrong. The Air Master anime-- I promise we'll get to the manga-- is brilliant entertainment, and it's largely because of director and obvious cool guy Daisuke Nishio.
Nishio's primary credit is having directed the Dragon Ball Z anime, and for the most part I'm just going to have to ask you to forget about that. Instead, I'm going to tell you that the fight scenes in Pretty Cure (a fight show, like Air Master, about lesbians) were totally sick, and you should use those for an example instead. MEDIA CONVERGENCE: 13 minutes into this, you're going to see my favorite DBZ gag ever.
Anyway, what's important about the Air Master TV series is that nearly every episode, however lousy, has a great god damn fight scene somewhere in it, going from alright at the beginning to peaking at holy-shit-amazing in the middle and all over the map thereafter. Even an average Air Master fight scene beats the hell out of the vast majority of the stuff in this genre, though. There's real motion here, and genuine "owwww" impact. It is worlds away from the genre standard, "Man glides, immobile, alongside speed lines."
Honestly, you don't even really have to watch the parts where Maki and her friends talk to one another. In fact, you probably shouldn't, so as to avoid Renge, Maki's little buddy who speaks in what can only be described as the shrieks of the damned. Imagine if, I dunno, a couple years from now Shin-chan knocked up Chiyo-chan and left town. She sounds like the kid. If somebody had stabbed the kid. And the kid was a dying cat.
While Maki's friends are all lame, her enemies are all totally awesome. Ranging from the dude who was a construction worker for so long he learned how to jackhammer punch people, to the obligatory Luchamaster, to Billy Kane, to the guy who fights with lights or some silly shit, the kick-in-face targets are all pretty cool, particularly the show-stealing Sakiyama Kaori.
This show's a pain in the ass to find though (this is why you have no screenshots today). Toei's DVD release was aborted at about the third disc, and it was a botched release all around anyway. Don't pay more than two bucks. Here's the first episode online, but the only full torrent you can get nowadays is the French-subbed version. Somebody needs to do something about this situation. Next post is the manga! Expect lousy digital camera pictures of its pages! I ain't got no scanner!
One favorite activity of mine has been digging around MAME, aided by that handy filter-by-manufacturer feature in MAME32: I can download myself little publisher retrospectives in the space of a couple hours. One of the companies I took a look at was Banpresto, because I knew that, save the Super Robot Wars franchise, most of their work was halfass at best. Hopefully I'd be in for a bunch of awful licensed games where Kamen Rider doesn't do anything you tell him to. Even the first SRW game was total shovelware. What actually happened, though, is I found a bunch of pretty damn good Banpresto games, and the one I'm going to get into detail on is my favorite of the bunch, Guardians.
Guardians is a 1995 release by Winky Soft, developers of early SRW games up until F Final on the Saturn and PS, and a sequel to their earlier and currently unemulated Denjin Makai. This is a side-scrolling beat-em-up, though, and it's got an extremely developed system: way ahead of its time. First off, though, it has a large (for the genre) and odd character selection: you can be an alien out of The Guyver, or an angel, or a half-naked giant, or a big ol' robot, or a prototype of Excellen Browning! Second, these characters are all pretty distinct from one another, and they all have large, developed move lists, which leads us into the simple but powerful combo system which forms the heart of the game.
It works like this: you hit a guy a couple of times, and you hold down the attack button on the last hit. Special moves in this game are done by holding down an attack and hitting, usually, either down then up or left, then right. They're cancelable just like in Street Fighter, and you can get a damaging string out of them. However, many special moves in this game can start long juggles, and better yet, there are a lot of spots where you can wall bounce a guy, as we see here. In situations like this, you can really go crazy and get in ten or eleven hits at a time.
As you might expect from what I just told you, this game has wonderful attention to detail: levels are satisfying but don't go on too long before breaking it up, and the characters have different moves for nearly every situation, including character-specific weapon attacks with completely different animations: when the alien picks up a bomb, for example, his arm turns into a flamethrower. And to seal the deal, the game has the move I loved to do on the old Batman Returns SNES game: the one where you grab one guy in each hand and bang their heads together. Smashing!
Though I loved Spikeout, I'd really like to see this whole genre make a big comeback: so long as you don't repeat yourself and bore the audience into submission-- Streets of Rage 2 is a favorite of mine but I rarely play past the second stage for this reason-- it's just a hell of a lot of fun walking down the street and punching people. It would be a shame for the current gaming generation to miss out on that simple pleasure.
You might want to know where I've been, and I'll very simply tell you that I've just been playing video games all this time. This is the first of many posts detailing my recent endeavors.
So the thankfully not-for-rent Chinatown Fair got Initial D 4 a little while ago. I blew a couple hundred bucks on Version 3 back in its heyday, so I'd really wanted to try this out. I might have even gotten back into the game, but the price was high enough to keep me away: $2 to play and $5 for a new card. It's easier to just pop a quarter into Third Strike and lose and move along.
But this week I've been a little spendy, and so I boldly made myself a stupid little card. They've moved on up to the credit-card format: Initial D used to print out flimsy little bits of paper, but now you get something legitimately satisfying along the lines of the cards that Virtua Fighter and Tekken have been using for the past couple games. It's got your handle in big old letters, and your progress in 1P mode over there on the left side, and to the right.... oh god, to the right. Initial D has stumbled onto the most brilliant motivational trick I've seen a videogame pull in years: it makes you ugly.
See, the new game has a custom avatar system: when you start a new card, you can pick a male or a female face that will display onscreen whenever you play. Both faces resemble, more than anything, a chubby Japanese Butthead with a blank, open-mouthed idiot stare. A total fucking tool. And this is you. I assume you've got to work to look good, and at two dollars a play I'm pretty sure my dude is gonna look that bad forever. But I've got to say, the card's sitting there in my wallet, and it's a constant reminder. My Initial D guy is a douchebag and if I juuuust make the trip out to CF, if I just get some (a lot of) money out, I can potentially fix him. Potentially. A reminder is strong enough.