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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tetragrammaton Labyrinth - Review

I guess this will be one of those hidden posts that you all will have to track down in some obscure way later on. Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is a graphic novel by Ei Itou that I've been following for some time. The English translations are released by Seven Seas who have originally supported a lot of OEL graphic novels as well as niche (even by webcomic standards) webcomics.

It's about two Sisters in pre-industrial London, Angela and Meg who deal with the unholy. Meg is the typical incorrectly presented, japanese incarnation of a Catholic sister and Angela is a girl who supposedly can't die. Consequently, she also stopped aging. It starts off as a typical demon hunter's story and goes through the first novel like one.

What's notable about Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is that, first off, each volume is decently long. It's not fantasy novel long nor poem book short. It's a good sized read that should take around one and a half to two hours or so depending on your reading speed. It's also "normal" sized (as opposed to manga sized) so you get larger frames and more room for detail. Reading one novel tends to cover a lot of material. Whether it's because there's so much room or whether it's because the plot is rushed, I can't really tell for sure. The pacing does seem a little fast, but at the same time, I don't feel like I'm missing key plot points.

Placed in the category of "nuns with guns," a good reference to this would be Chrono Crusade in London. Even the gunsmith engineers look similar. Speaking of which, the art in Tetragrammaton (i'm shortening it to one word) ranges from exquisite to lazy. I'm not particularly sure if it's because action scenes weren't originally Ei Itou's main work but there are instances when fight scenes are well choreographed (as much as paper can choreograph such scenes) and others are in what a friend of mine likes to call "before and after shots" in which you have the "charging" frame prior to contact, followed by a blood splatter frame, followed by the result. Taking a look at it closely, there is quite a few of these scenes and it overall degrades the quality of the series. What's most frustrating is that this looks like the result of laziness rather than lack of artistic direction (maybe it's both) at the same time, the scenes which look like a lot of effort has been made shows.

The really detailed backgrounds stand out. The world in which the characters walk is really well done and I give props to the amount of cobblestones drawn. And characters themselves, although somewhat generic, work well with the story.

My friends say I have a "girls with guns" complex. Perhaps I do considering Black Lagoon, Chrono Crusade, Venus Versus Virus, this, and a few others that I've seen/read. It's probably some psychological issue I have, but regardless, I think that overall this can be/is a quality series. Yes, a good handful is actually riddled with cliches, but the point is to look for the unique elements. From the first four novels only, there's a lot of traveling involved and a good amount of research has been done. One thing that this series would need is that extra effort to keep the quality stable at a high. There's potential in this series, but it's really up to Itou to make that push. I can't really tag this as a "Zerreth's Pick" yet. I would still need to see more to make a fair judgment to truly recommend this.

Edit: I forgot to set the time again....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ar Tonelico II - Melody of Metafalica now in my repitoire

Here it is. Ar Tonelico II with the Exclusive Rosen Queen Soundtrack. Sorry for the poor photos. 4 Megepixels still can't do much on max resolution, super fine... The artbook is much smaller than the previous version (and not hardcover. Oh well). It looks pretty much the same as the first game. I'll get to it once Persona 4 is completed (Last day. Literally).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


It seems that my pre-order for Ar Tonelico 2 has arrived....

At my house....

Which isn't my dorm...

Which means I'm going to have to go home again...


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai - Review

Warning: Due to the show being a sequel and its premise of taking place of continuing right after the first, there's no way for me to avoid spoiling parts of both series.

Having first seen When the Cicadas Cry in Japan, I was almost instantly hooked onto the show. Seeing that they were going to make a sequel to wrap up the story and have anime exclusive content made me jump for joy. The "kai" in the title means solution and this sequel it will take all the knowledge you have learned from the first season and wrap up the series.

The Higurashi no Naku Koro ni series is a good example of how to do a visual novel to anime right. When considering how much of the actual game and it's characters are preserved, it truly makes you see how complex the story really is. Anime like Fate/Stay Night and Shunsetsugan Tsukihime are bad examples of visual novel to anime. Because they don't spend the time to try and develop the important secondary and tertiary characters, the result becomes a work that feels a bit rushed. But that's enough of the "genre." In addition, a lot of games to anime have been done pretty poorly (an exception is Gungrave), it feels like this kind of anime is similar to our movie games. They're all rushed and either the focus is so widespread that hardly any story is actually covered or they attempt to build only the development of the main hero and heroine and hope that things will work out (which they don't, by the way) but it only results in a half-assed supporting cast.

The first series could be considered the "de-sensitizer" showing the audience the complexity of the story as well as the consequences of one of the main characters distrusting the others. By the end Keiichi, the male protagonist, is somehow able to conjure memories of an alternate world of the same time allowing him to save Rena. After a quick recap episode, you're tossed right into where the story left off. The last episode of the previous series hinted that Rika was able to have knowledge of previous worlds. In addition, she seems to have an alternate personality, rather her "true" personality, that exists who is aware of the repeating story. We are immediately told by Rika exactly why the same story repeats as well her thoughts on the phenomenon involving Keiichi. We are then introduced to a new character, Hanyuu, the god who has been following Rika for about a thousand years. Whether that is to say they went through the scenario a thousand times or the amount of time that should have elapsed is a thousand years, I do not know. The point is that Hanyuu actually has been alongside Rika for some time now.

Because the first series introduced and fleshed out every character so well, the Second series really had no problems just diving into the story. The intensity of the psychological thriller from the first series is gone and in its place is quality story telling. Perhaps of all the characters, Rika was the most important and yet, it was also Rika who got the least amount of development in the first series. Because this is the "solution" chapters, the audience now sees everything from Rika's perspective. Nearly the entire show is shown from Rika's perspective and it changes your view on the story. Using the discussions between Rika and Hanyuu, the viewers gain insight into additional information that help explain these repeating scenarios.

You could say that the show is very "Rika-oriented" but I really have no problem with that. And seeing the show through Rika's perspective doesn't change Higurashi at all. Rather, it's probably about time that they focused on her. It is only because you learn more about Rika and her dilemma that you also gain insight into the roles of the other characters in the story. Her struggle is probably the most important part to the story and yet, it's quite impressive that she and Hanyuu take the role of the tragic heroine. I hate extrapolating a point that would refer to the a more general example as a whole but this show is really about the issues of the lack of supportive characters. Each character plays a distinct role that allows the story to progress in a good way. If any of them back out, the result would be one of the many "bad" scenarios in the first season.

There are bad parts to this show, no doubt. Some of the episodes crawl and there isn't any change in the other characters. They also (probably purposefully) leave one major plothole to leave you confused. There's also the prerequisite of having watched all of the first season required. Without it, newcomers would be confused. So it's really like saying, if you want to get into Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, you need to start from the beginning. I'll admit, that's a bit hard, daunting and not to mention, ridiculous that the second season assumes so much. But I feel that it's better to simply link the two series together into one large 51 (if you include the "cat-killing chapter" special) episode series known as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Finally, I have to say that the drastic change from the killings of the first season to the more story refined second season would be a slight turn-off. The intensity is definitely concentrated on something else, but for those who see it as a mindless bloodfest or a horror series would definitely be disappointed.

On the plus side, it's said that Umineko no Naku Koro ni (When the Seagulls cry) is not only greenlit but refers to its predecessor, so hopefully we can see more of the same great quality.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Great job ripping me off guy(s)

I looked up zerreth on google to try and find a community that I wanted to post on again but forgot the name of. While searching, I came across this:

I get that there are 15 other reviews, but this, while boosts my ego a bit, it insults me more.

I write these reviews as thoroughly as I can and if I need to, I edit them accordingly. So when I see people copying and pasting my work, it's distasteful. Then again, it goes to show you how little respect there is another's work. It is the youtube generation after all...
Besides this being posted 7 months after mine, this person neglected to remove my name from it. Congrats. You get a "Wau..." from me.

On an unrelated note. I'm not reviewing Outlaw Star. I've sat down multiple times many days to try and write something for it, but something keeps nagging at me and I end up just staring at the computer screen for hours... kinda like my college essays. Regardless, I know it's just another excuse and I know my apologies are probably unforgivable by this point but still.... Sorry. I'm trying to work on something and yet I keep running into an invisible wall. By no means can you count me out saying that I've "lost my spark" or my enthusiasm. I still want to write and I still want to give a second opinion for those of you who need it. I may need some alternatives however. I'm thinking of releasing the link to the request forum but I'm still hesitant. I don't know why, maybe it's because I'm afraid. Regardless. There will be material up whether it's crap or not. If I wait too long, it's going to get worse.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Simul-cast in US, Korea AND Japan

Tonight, Kurokami will be simultaneously cast in all their respective dubs in the US, Korea and Japan.

Bandai Entertainment, in my opinion, has always been attempting to try and adapt to newer methods to distribute anime (yes, even better than Funimation). They had once been able to attempt a delayed release of weeks to months but this will probably be the first simultaneous broadcast. There will also be English dubs which is incredible. This means that Bandai was able to make a deal to receive episodes ahead of time.

Although Kurokami will be broadcast on ImaginAsian TV. This would be an effective way to bring anime to a more casual userbase and youtube-obsessed generation. My guess would be that this actually may not do much good considering ImaginAsian TV isn't too widespread but this is a pretty big step in Anime and hopefully this may inspire more companies to cooperate with the US branches.

It will air at 8:00 PM EST/PST

Los Angeles, CA
* Time Warner Cable - Ch. 157 (Free On Demand available on Ch. 1098)
* Cox Communications - Ch. 475 (Orange County / Palos Verdes)
* Charter Communications - Ch. 143
o Cerritos, CA - Ch. 219
o Ventura County, CA - Ch. 137
* Champion Broadband - Ch. 196 (Arcadia, Monrovia & Pasadena)

* Oceanic Time Warner Cable - Ch. 546

Edison, NJ
* WDVB-CA - Ch. 39 (Middlesex, Monmouth, Essex & Union Counties)

Princeton, NJ
* Patriot Media - Ch. 149 (Free On Demand is available)

New York, NY
* Time Warner Cable - Ch. 560

Dallas, TX
* Time Warner Cable - Ch. 342

Houston, TX
* Comcast Cable - Ch. 241
* TVMAX - Ch. 93

Northern Virginia
* Cox Communications - Ch. 465 (Free On Demand is available)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Clean up Day

No post today.
Now that I'm back at my dorm, I need to do all the cleaning up that I procrastinated since finals. Yes, it will take the entire day, and consists of at least 4-5 hours of laundry (Sheets, towels, blankets, clothes EVERYTHING). I'm going to set up a post for tomorrow though, so look forward to that.

On a side note: Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online went to Open Beta four days ago. Sorry for not mentioning it earlier. Have fun.