Tag Archive | Nostalgia

Oh hey, kickstarted things…

Back in 2013, before I took a brief lengthy hiatus writing things here, I mentioned two very interesting Kickstarter campaigns. One was for the western release of the original Bubblegum Crisis OVA on Blu-ray and the other was for SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works, a fancy book dedicated to well, the Sega Mega Drive.

As you might know, not only did those successfully finish their fundraising, but also the actual products as well. Neato!
As I don’t have too much experience with crowd funding, and while I can see the same problem as everyone else, it does feel like a fresh way of doing things, and also a way to vote with your money to get what you want. When that works….that is.

If we tackle the book first, it’s a really cool book. It’s big, chunky and absolute eye candy if you have…feelings for Sega’s 16-bit system.
I regret to say I haven’t read the whole book yet, as in with the words, but I’ve looked through it multiple times and it’s just a matter of me finding time to properly wind down with this sleek read.

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With that, we’ll move on to the BGC Blu-ray which, unsurprisingly, is just delicious. I never owned the DVD release or had a high quality rip on my PC, so this was a real step up. No matter how much I love to have the show on LaserDisc, this is just better. Not the biggest fan of the multi colored subs, as they are rather too saturated, but there’s also non-colored subs available so it’s a non-problem really. Video and audio is, as expected, stellar. There are also some interesting extras, such as the Knight Sabers Holiday in Bali, which I can’t watch without cringing uncontrollably – but that might just be me.

Also getting access to a high quality scanned PDF version of BGC manga Grand Mal, among a few other things, is definitively a nice touch.

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Wrapping it up, I’m looking forward to whatever future projects might be next from the creators of both. Robert from AnimEigo seemed quite interested in maybe doing another kickstarter…
Here’s to hoping! /o/

Aozora Shoujotai: An otaku room study


While curiously absent from the cover illustrations, Isurugi Takuya, the male lead from from 青空少女隊 (Aozora Shōjotai), also known as 801 T.T.S. Airbats, is a gigantic nerd (in a good way). He doesn’t go around spouting anime references like other people sharing his passion would do if this was any other series, instead the shelves in his room is filled to the brim with figures and toys.

The original manga ran from July 1991 – October 1992 in Shounen Monthly Captain and for the reader with a keen eye, provides an interesting glimpse into what shows were popular back then. Or at least what the author, Toshimitsu Shimizu, preferred.

Lovers of Bubblegum Crisis will have a riot as hardsuit-clad Priss is featured in almost every photo. Speaking of which, I also suspect Toshimitsu may be a fan of BGC episode 8, since Vision’s spider-like tank makes two appearances. A man after my own heart, this guy 😛

A robot from Armored Trooper Votoms also appears twice, as does King, the lion cub from Nadia: Secret of Blue Water though not Nadia herself, strangely enough.
Other interesting appearances are Rabby and Patty from Gallforce: First Story and Magical Taruruuto-kun, from the series with the same name.
For the lover of older anime there’s Maetel from Galaxy Express 999 and Tetsujin 28.
There’s silhouettes resembling Onyomiko (Kaku Rei) from Genji Tsuushin Agedama and Tekkaman Blade. Something that looks like a Sailor Moon figure is also in there as well as the Thunderbird 2. Even Totoro and the Moomins show up once.


In 1994 the series got an anime adaption and the reference hijinks continues, this time in color!

Hooo boy, there’s a lot in there. Obvious ones that I can tell right away is the Millennium Falcon, Ultraman, Sailor Jupiter, B-ko from Project A-ko, donning her battle suit, Gunbuster, Kinu Himuro from Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Nuku Nuku from All Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku (say that one fast three times) and even a not yet painted figure of Kagurazaka Yuna from Galaxy Fraulein Yuna. Evangelion also makes an appearance in the shape of a poster and somewhat more obscure is a figure of Cyomi from the (in)famous Viper-games by Sogna.

There’s even a lovingly reproduced brief homage to Namco’s Air Combat, the predecessor to the excellent Ace Combat game series.

Phew!
I think that was all I could catch, but there’s probably more in there. I love it when manga authors and anime studios show their love for other works in this way. It’s like a pop-quiz extravaganza for the viewer “in the know”, so to speak.

In other news, I’m still waiting to stuff to arrive. Bleh.

Thoughts: How is anime doing?


It’s hard not to think about the state of the anime industry after just having watched the first episode of Eureka Seven: AO and reading a bit of ANN’s spring anime guide, as well as remembering some of the discussion on their forums when the Otomo Katsuhiro, creator of Akira said that that the anime industry wasn’t doing well and that there wasn’t enough money for the kind of big movie productions he would like to see.

Whenever the state of the anime industry is the subject of discussion, there’s always two opposite opinions that quickly shows up and starts clashing with each other.
The first one is that the industry is dying, having lost a lot of it’s past creativity and constantly pamper to otaku by serving one fan service-filled moe*-checklist anime after the other, in the hopes of earning money on merchandise and sales of DVDs & Blu-Rays which, in addition to slightly improved artwork, often contain less censoring.

The other one is that the industry actually doing pretty good (some parts of it, anyway) and that the ones who constantly complain about moe-anime need to accept that anime isn’t going to be the “their anime” forever and it now has new fans to cater to. It’s easier then ever to create anime, thanks to the digitalisation of the tools involved and we can now legally enjoy a new show in high definition through streams, pretty much the same time it airs in Japan. Complaints about an high amount of fanservice is often countered with that many old shows the old timers like, just like new anime, contains fan service, so it’s a weird point to get all worked up about.

I would say both of these opinions are, to a certain extent, correct. I don’t think the anime industry is thriving and I too have a harder time with each passing anime season to find shows I really like & care about. But at the same time, I know that franchises such as K-ON!, Madoka & Strike Witches are wildly popular and does great damage to the idea that there’s just too little money to be had in the industry. In some cases, a show like K-ON! might actually help another seemingly unrelated market, like, for example the market for musical instruments – since Yui & the others uses real brand instruments. Heck, it’s not only instruments, I want to remember there being a bit of a hunt for the particular pair of headphones Mio used. Clearly, there’s still money to be had here, maybe especially now when it seems companies and studios are quite sure what the fans like. So they make more of it, as is a usual and well proven business practice I’m having a hard time faulting them for, in a business sort of view anyway.

No, the industry is still alive. It has certainly changed, but I don’t see it go away any time soon.
What is at stake on the other hand, is it’s skill. The old guard of well known animators and directors have aged, some have even passed away and others are just not very active. Also, quite a bit of animation work is being outsourced to studios in other countries and the use of computer generated graphics seems to have become standard practice. It’s true that it saves time when creating complex scenes & special effects, but it also removes precious practice opportunities for the animators themselves.

I remember reading that they used CG for soldiers and horses in one of the upcoming Berserk movies because they didn’t have anyone that could animate that sort of thing well enough.
The fact that the tools of the trade has almost gone completely digital is probably the saddest part of all for me. Even though it makes the work easier and probably less expensive. I know we commonly get some pretty sweet animation in TV-anime now that a couple of years back would’ve showed up in an OVA instead. I remember when I watched You’re Under Arrest and how bad the TV-series looked compared to the OVA, even though it was a newer production. There is no lack of evidence that the quality of TV animation has improved. But here’s the sad part. Digital anime have a tendency to look too clean, sterile even, and sometimes the colors feel washed out as well. It feels like the human touch has disappeared in the end result. As for the colors, I think the problem lies with that you’re able to pick any color you want. That might sound a bit odd but let me explain: cells in older anime was painted by hand with special cell colors. These were strictly defined and even colors close to each other had a certain “gap” in tone. When picking a color digitally, and this is something I’ve experienced myself all to often, it can be hard to choose fitting colors that are not too bright or too dark, especially when it comes to add shading to another already colored area. Also, the way anime is colored have changed during the years, currently, it seems to be popular to use a quite minimalistic kind of coloring. At least when compared to the colorful explosion that was the 80s.


Maybe not a completely fair comparison but you get the idea.

The digital workspace has another, very special drawback as well. The amount of leftover material from the production has diminished greatly. This might sound as a weird thing to nag about but, remember all those people that collected anime cells? Well, there is no such thing to collect any more.
To be honest, not every cell is something you’d want in your collection and the ones I see for sale online from time to time are mostly stuff that no one wanted to buy, for a good reason. But overall, it is my personal understanding that those whose appreciate the art of creating an anime, those interested in the actual production and the people behind it, are not a group you see too many of in anime fandom today. People gush over voice actors, idols & illustrators, sure, to a certain extent also character creators & directors, but not that many talk about their favorite animators and the like.


A cell from someone’s collection, complete with background. Was no doubt expensive.

Therefore it is very refreshing to find a blog like Anipages and it’s forum community. I’m not well educated enough to be able to participate in such discussions, but I enjoy their existence. Probably even more now that my Laser Disc collection is growing and I find myself watching those older shows again. I love it because I appreciate the handiwork.

Does anyone remember those DAICON openings GAINAX did, by the way? Those are still pretty famous and gets thrown around a bit, but there are also other similar pieces of animation done by other grups, such as the opening for URACON III and maybe even more curiously, an opening animation for Anime Expo 1993. You read that right, even an American con had it’s own hand-animated opening sequence. That pretty much blew my mind when I found out.


DAICON IV opening animation. You can skip to 2:00 if you are impatient.


URACON III opening animation.


Anime Expo 1993 opening animation.

When trying to dig out gems like these, I’ve found a whole slew of newer, modern independent anime and they pretty much follow the same trends as their commercial counterparts. Many are experimental, but instead of experimenting with animation, they experiment with themes & storytelling.

This is turning out to be a little long winded and it feels I’m starting to go off-track, so I should probably stop spewing words now but, to sum it up, I think that the animation industry is doing okay. I’m not a fan of everything it produces and in the digital transition it lost some part of it’s soul, but we gained HD-resolution anime and streaming (which I’m not really interested in, weirdly enough). For those that prefer productions that still have a bit of the old feel left, movie-anime seems like a better bet, rather than TV-anime. Still, I guess things could be worse. As far as I understand, the manga industry probably have more of a problem.

But that’s for another day.
Geesh, this post makes me seem much older than I am. I didn’t even get into anime until the 2000s.

* It is a japanese slang word, that has become quite common nowadays.
It’s originally intended meaning is referring to a love for a certain character or a fetish however it can also now describe a non-sexual love for something, like a hobby.

Mega Man Legends…

…or Rockman Dash, if you want.

I’m in the middle of re-playing the first Mega Man Legends-game, again. I already completed it once since it was featured in one of my loot-posts. And before that I’ve completed the PC-version a few times. I have yet to finish MML 2 on PC but that mostly boils down to awkward controls.

My import PC copy of MML 2

PC doesn’t seem to be the most obvious platform of choice in this case but the reason is simple, I got into MML before I got a PS1 of my own, which was just some year ago. A few years back, my old PC-gaming self found a torrent of the first game, packed to just over 100 megs, floating around a well known tracker. Way to small, I thought, but it worked flawlessly. Prior to that, I had tried the demo, but it was limited to 15 minutes or something and that time was spent in the menus, trying to make the controls acceptable.
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To me, this game was uncharted territory. Most of the other MM-games, save for some of the later X-installments, I could easily enjoy through an emulator of some kind. But I hadn’t had any real successes with PSX emulation.
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I booted up the game and made my way through the first dungeon. The demo had ended somewhere around the end of it, so I didn’t know what to expect after that. Controls felt clunky and weird, the fact that it was a very direct conversion was obvious. No upgrades to the control scheme or added things like mouse support.
After having fought more with said controls than the first boss, I started to glimpse what the game had to offer. 15 minutes later and after my first run-in with Tron and the Bonne-family, I was in love. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I just couldn’t leave the game alone.

Now, a few years later, I can finally enjoy the game on the PS1. Despite the lower resolution and warp-happy textures, it looks great. Actually, some parts look better. The PC-versions of both MML 1 & 2 are plagued by blue, sharp borders around all clouds, for example. Mega Man Legends just manages to strike something inside of me just the right way. The blocky but charming & colorful aesthetics are enjoyable, the music is simple but strikes the right mood and the english voices aren’t actually that horrible at all. Though, being the weeaboo I am I prefer the Japanese voice over, of course. Anyhow, the only negative thing I immediately can point out would be the length, it’s a bit on the short side.

After I finish the game, again, I will have to look for MML 2 and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne for PS1 as well. But before that…maybe a new memory card is in order.
My thoughts about the now cancelled Mega Legends 3 for the 3DS is probably best suited for another time.

Further reading about Mega Man Legends:
Retronauts wrote a piece about the first game.
Mega Man Legends Station is a recommended visit for anything MML.