Tag Archive | Impressions

So, REDLINE then…

Yeah, took me a little while to sit down and watch it, considering I’ve been sitting on it a month or so.
I bought the thing based on a few screenshots and because it was generally very well received everywhere I went – So, to be brief, I liked it. The style, especially all the weird alien guys, did give me a hard time through the whole movie, though. What I’m trying to say is, characters looked good but there was just too much weird going on in there for me to swallow it all. But I’ve been known to be pretty critic when it comes to styles and such. :p

The action however, ooohooo yeah. That shit was off it’s tits. No, shit was tits and then there was some serious mind blowing going on.

My only complaint in that department is that I sort of whish JP’s car would’ve been more visually tricked out as well. I just didn’t find it that cool looking. Not compared to what the other racers brought to the table. But then again, I’m no big fan of muscle cars.

So in short, even though I’m unable to fully embrace all of it, I had a good time with REDLINE. It proves that the situation for modern anime isn’t so dire as it often seems. But then again I’m just such a critic! (:

A normal day in Velika

A group of Elins performing the /dance-move in the human capital Velika. Yup, I finally got to properly sit down with the TERA Online EU beta over the last weekend. I’m having a hard time deciding what I think about the game, but I’ve got a bit more time to decide before the beta’s over.
Actually, speaking of Elins:

There we go. /obligatory

I did try a few different classes: Lancer, Warrior & Slayer (spell casters are not for me) and while I love playing as a (gun)lancer in Monster Hunter, it wasn’t quite as fun here. Something with the warrior-class rubbed me the wrong way very early on but slayer felt pretty good. I guess my main gripe is that I feel a bit lost. Not so much where to go but how things work and such. But I’ve been told I said the same thing about WoW, so I dunno…but, another thing that bothers me is that the combat still isn’t really how I want it to be.
The main reason why TERA seemed interesting was the action-oriented combat system. I really wish for an online game in which the combat feels like a normal action game you would find, for example, on a console. I know the technical side of online gaming still make that wish seem pretty far fetched but TERA is really a step in the right direction, but maybe not the leap I was hoping for.

By which I mean that the combat is better than any other MMO I’ve tried (not that many) but not really matching the expectations I got in my head. :p

Lastly, one interesting thing when comparing TERA to WoW, is that regardless of what race you choose to play, you always start out on the Island of Dawn, which serves as TERA’s starting area. And since there are story-missions (some which feature cutscenes) it feels like a more linear experience (thought that isn’t reeaaally the case, as things start to branch out quite early on) compared to WoW where each race have a different starting area. Though it cuts down a bit on variation, I quite like how this works. As far as capitals go, I’ve only been to Velika yet and don’t know much about the othes :s

Anyways, I’m probably going to do another loot-post in the next couple of days (books, this time) but right now, I just wished I had taken more screenshots 😐

Poporis are badass.

Loot 2012-02-21

Alright, first loot post in 2012!
There’s games, books, music and anime both in LD & Blu-ray. Yup, think we have all bases covered this time…
The How to draw Manga-books came from the same Amazon purchase as the collectors edition of REDLINE, since I wanted to reach the amount needed for free shipping. As far as how-to-books goes, they’re neither bad nor great. They feature some interesting inteviews but they don’t teach you any techniques besides “draw more” :p
And as for REDLINE, haven’t watched it yet. I’m thinking of watching it the first time with some friends for maximum effect.

Moving on then, to music! Let’s just get those Sailor Moon CDs out of the way first. One turned out to be some sort of drama cd, but giving it a quick listen, Usagi’s voice is all I can hear. Upon closer inspection there are songs in there, they just start after 1 or 2 minutes of the characters talking. Weird that they didn’t separate the tracks. The full OP & ED is included though so it’s not that bad I suppose. As for the other one, it refuses to play. I’ve tried that disc in, basically, everything that I own that can play a CD and it just doesn’t work. Weirdest thing is, the CD looks pretty good too. No big fingerprints, hardly any scratches…but there seem to be some kind of…something just around the inner area. Maybe that’s it. I’ll need to see if I can clean it somehow.

Aside from Sailor Moon, there’s also two albums from Mariko Nagai, who I discovered late last year through youtube and the anime Yawara!. There’s mostly good early 90’s j-pop in there and some slower songs as well. Good stuff!
Lastly, there’s an album by the group Pink Sapphire. A “tv-sized” version of their song “P.S. I Love You” is played in the main menu of the first Galaxy Fraulein Yuna game, so that’s where I heard it. Sadly, it also has some kind of playback problem during the first track. Wonder what I can do about that…

1st OP for Yawara! The song is “Miracle Girl” by Mariko Nagai

“P.S. I Love You” by Pink Sapphire

On to the games, then. There’s Bomberman ’94 for the PCE (HuCards are totally rad), which needs no introduction since it’s well…Bomberman. Same goes for Daytona USA. Then there’s JetMoto, which I have fond memories of playing the PC-version I borrowed from a friend when I was younger. And finally there’s Racing Lagoon, which is this rather interesting tuning-racer mixed with a healthy dose of RPG-elements (complete with an over world mode and “enemies” that forces you into a quick battle should they hit you with their car), from Squaresoft, of all companies. Now, the character CG models haven’t aged well at all, the driving feels floaty and slightly off but the music is, for the most part so far, bloody fantastic. Oh, and then there’s Noël – Not Digital, because I could. I’m not very good at these kind of games (Noël 3 on the Saturn gave me a bad end, oops!) but I’m strangely attracted to them.

And with that we move on to the last group, the LaserDiscs. Last time there were 5 of them, this time it’s only 4 but all very good. With this I can add Idol Defense Force Hummingbird to the list of completed series, and Bubblegum Crisis, Birdy the Mighty & All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku gets another one each.

Hummingbird is probably the only anime in my LD collection so far, with the possible exception of the Dirty Pair TV-series, that I haven’t watched in any shape, way or form before actually getting it. As a whole, it’s a pretty nice series, but the later two episodes, while trying to build up tension and be all serious-like (well, not really) wasn’t as enjoyable to me as the first two. Specifically, episode two is my favorite by a clear margin. It’s the most consistently animated, having lots of good key frames, introduces two new likeable characters and out of all four LDs is the only CAV one. Which is weird since both episode three & four clocks in about 30 minutes as well. Also, 3 & 4 has a different art direction where the girls doesn’t have the same colorful hair and the drawing style is slightly changed as well. Still, quite enjoyable for what’s it worth. : )

Also, yes, my bedsheets have an elephant-theme going on. You are now jealous.

Until next time.

Mini review: Scart to HDMI 1080p scaler.

I’ve got a pretty big loot post coming up, but before that I want to share my experiences with one of those scart to HDMI upscalers in a little mini review of sorts.
If you’re interested in reading more about scalers & gaming, here’s a great site to check out!

You see, the CRT TV I’ve been using for retro gaming & LD watching isn’t actually all that great. It’s a big, chunky 32” widescreen Sony WEGA CRT that 99% percent of the time only gets feed with 4:3 content. It’s got the wrong shape for the job, really. Also, when viewing a 4:3 image on it, it squishes the edges, ever so slightly. Once you notice it, you will see it every time though. It’s especially evident in horizontal scrolling games but also any time a movie or whatever pans horizontally.
One simple solution would be to get another CRT TV, and that is a solution I’ve been thinking of for a while but haven’t been able to go through with. There is two reasons for this:
1) People often don’t specificate what TV it is they’re selling. “Sony CRT” will be the most detailed description you will see. Also, almost never any pictures of the back or information about the inputs available. They will say if it has scart, because scart is important to people here, but s-video? Composite? Component? No. You simply won’t get that from 99,99% of all sellers looking to get rid of their old, fat TVs.

2) They’re big, heavy and generally cumbersome. I can’t lift one myself and in order to get to my room, you have to climb a set of stairs. Not fun with a TV.

So, I’m kind of looking to save space by getting rid of my current CRT and plug everything back into my LCD TV, the proper way this time. I used to just plug things in and it worked all right, didn’t notice much input lag, but with the PCE I got image problems with interlacing and artfacts in some games.
With a scaler, though, you let it take care of the image from your preferred video source and scaling it up to the native (or close to) resolution of your LCD TV.

Problem is a good scaler, like those home cinema ones, are disturbingly expensive. Though, brand name is part of what you pay for and there happen to be tons of Chinese no-name scalers listed on eBay. So, I tried my luck with one of these, a scart one because what isn’t directly connected to my TV goes into my scart boxes.

Behold, the scaler

This isn’t a proper review, to get that out of the way, I didn’t actually play much with it, as I was more focused on how things would look, would it work at all.
The unit itself feels very solid. It’s got a metal casing and certainly weighs a bit. Setting it up couldn’t be any more simple; Scart goes into the scart socket in the back, HDMI cable goes into the HDMI socket on the front. Add power and you’re done. But what’s the end result? Well, here are some pictures I took:

PS1 - RR 4 - PAL scart

PS1 - GitS - NTSC s-video

PCE - NTSC-J composite to scart

Let’s analyse these, shall we? First up was Ridge Racer 4 running on my PAL PS1 through scart. The result is a bit odd. The image has black borders and isn’t centered. Also slightly squished. Ghost in the Shell was running on my NTSC-J PS one through s-video through scart and as you can see, the scaler didn’t like s-video. No color, just black & white. Although in full screen. PCE then? No. Won’t work. Don’t know why. Technically, it’s a NTSC-J composite signal put through one of those Xbox 360 scart connectors, but running it directly into the composite inputs in my scart switches didn’t change the fact that I got no image.

The best result was achieved by my Laser Disc player, which outputs an NTSC composite signal that goes directly into one of the scart boxes. Still stretched to full screen, however.

This highlights the biggest problem, aside from getting a proper image, everything is mercilessly stretched to 16:9. And for some reason, I can’t change the aspect ratio to 4:3 on my TV. Actually none of the two TV sets I’ve tried this on allowed me to change the aspect ratio to 4:3 once the scaler was powered on.
And therefore, it is to me quite useless. Sadly.

As I stated earlier, there are many many many no-name scalers available on eBay (but also Amazon). It might be worth a shot, but don’t be surprised if you get a similar result. : /

Some late winter anime 2012 impressions

This post was something I thought to myself I should do once I’d seen 2 episodes of each show I was interested in. That was what? 2 weeks ago? You’re probably already seen all of these now. Small wonder why my old animeblog didn’t go all that well…

Out of all shows that started this season, I only checked out three. I’ve also been following these three since. None is bad enough for me to stop watching but they aren’t exactly the most exciting things I’ve seen either. Though, some are still quite good. Enough of that, let’s give them a rough impression, one by one.

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

(Daily Lives of Highschool Boys)

I thought this was going to become my sleeper hit of the season. It wasn’t something I picked from those anime charts but rather something I seeked out after reading some other blog’s impressions, including ANN’s own winter 2012 coverage. It sounded like every other manga-based slice of life comedy and while I usually don’t mind that kind of thing, I was initially going to pass this one up.
Turns out people was surprised by it though, so I had to check it out and sure enough, episode 1 had me laughing as well. Even though I can’t say it was very original, it was the way it delivered that made it interesting and made it feel fresh. The second episode was just as fun, if not more. But sadly, the latest two episodes haven’t been reaching the same level as those before them, with jokes feeling strangely drawn out, forced or needlessly repeated. I really hope it picks up again though.

Visually, it’s nothing special at all. A quick google search suggests it being true to the source material but it really is a bland looking show. It’s pretty much the opposite of where KyoAni takes some cookie-cutter 4koma and totally maxes that shit out.
One last thing though, it feels good to hear Kyon…sorry, Sugita Tomozaki again, doing what he does best.

Mouretsu Pirates

(Bodacious Space Pirates)

Classical ingredients space, sci-fi & girls are the order of the day in this modern pirating tale. Except there really haven’t been a whole lot of pirating going on so far. And that’s actually a good thing. The main character, Marika, lives a quite ordinary life and it would really feel jarring if they forced her down into the pirate outfit right away. The show manages to be interesting while having quite the laid back pacing and this is probably necessary in order to properly build upon Marika’s character (and everyone else’s) so that the situation hinted in the opening actually makes sense and doesn’t feel forced.

That said, there have been enough happenings every episode to keep things interesting. All negative things I can come up with lies with somewhat lacking, and sometimes quite odd, visual design and presentation. But that’s just what I think. However, the weapons are downright weird. What looks like an oversized sub machine-gun, using a proper magazine for ammo and all, actually acts like a laser cannon – with a ridiculously long charge time before firing (possibly for effect).
Visually, there is too much bland 3D graphics used and while the style is kinda nice, the overall look is still very generic.

But the story is interesting and I want to find out what happens next.

Ano Natsu de Matteru

Waiting in the Summer

This one, I was actually really looking forward to. Not sure since when but probably when I saw the promo art the first time. Then I became even more excited when I read that both the screenplay writer and character designer were involved in 2002’s Onegai Teacher.

This connection is so strong that AnoNatsu proves a bit difficult to judge. On it’s own, it’s a well made albeit sort of slow paced romance comedy, plagued by some less good design decisions – like, for example, the look of the main character :p The graphical style they went for feels a bit more like Ano Hana than Onegai but that’s probably because JC Staff is responsible for the animation. It’s really a good looking show, stylistic preferences aside.
When viewed as a part of the Onegai-series, however, I feel that both the setting and the characters aren’t as interesting, even though they are very much the same, technically. I don’t have easy access to either Onegai Teacher or Twins right now, and this might just be my nostalgia acting up but that’s how I feel about AnoNatsu.

Actually, I think the most magical thing for me with Onegai wasn’t so much the characters (certainly wasn’t Kei) but the location and they way it was presented. Both Onegai & AnoNatsu takes place in rural areas, with both Teacher & Twins using Lake Kizaki in Nagano as their backdrop. I like to think the fact that we get to know this place and it’s surroundings through a total of 26 episodes really helps explain why I don’t harbour the same feelings for the setting in AnoNatsu, even though it seems similar. Still, only 4 episodes in, we haven’t seen that much of it yet. Also, it would certainly not be too surprising should it too be based on another real location somewhere…

But returning to topic, so far, Ano Natsu feels like someone played it safe. It does take certain liberties such as a new (but similar) setting, new (but similar) characters and features a new (but similar) spin on the story from Onegai Teacher. Ultimately, Remon might be the new Ichigo but Ichika is not the new Mizuho ; )

And there we have it. Vague and non-helpful ramblings as per usual : )