Cyberphile

the love of all things electronic.

What’cha Watchin’? – Samurai Champloo — February 21, 2017

What’cha Watchin’? – Samurai Champloo

Thanks to For Honor, I’ve been in a samurai mood, so I figured it was time to catch up on some samurai anime that I’ve never finished. First on the list is Samurai Champloo. If you’ve never seen it, Samurai Champloo is like, hip hop samurai, the animation. There’s lots of hip hop music and a lot of transitions from scene to scene are done with record scratches. It creates this neat balance between modern and historical.

Samurai Champloo follows three characters and fate’s constant need to throw them together. I’m only three episodes in so far, but bear with me here. Firstly, you’ve got the samurai Mugen, the trash talking, bad mouthing, unconventional badass, who fights in this wacky sort of almost breakdance, and even though he’s sloppy, he still fights like the best of them. In stark contrast, there’s the samurai Jin, who’s quiet and proper, and fights like the stereotypical anime samurai: faster than light and finishes battles before they start. Finally, there’s Fuu, the only women in the motley crew, the orphan waitress who is looking for a very peculiar person: a samurai who smells of sunflowers.

On the first episode, Mugen, Jin, and Fuu all get caught up in a battle with a local lord. In a misunderstanding, Mugen and Jin end up  doing battle in Fuu’s workplace, a  now burning to the ground teahouse. They are inevitably captured and sentenced to public execution, when Fuu sneaks in and offers to break them out under one condition: they help her find this sunflower-smelling samurai. Fuu ends up using her feminine charm to purchase some fireworks that she uses like bombs to create enough of a distraction for Jin and Mugen to escape. Though Mugen and Jin desperately want to finish their fight in the teahouse, Fuu makes them promise not to kill each other until they keep her promise. Begrudgingly, the team starts their journey.

Samurai Champloo is entertaining, crude, and an awesome watch, so far. Episodes often revolve around some sort of misunderstanding between the three of them and their attempts to secure either food, or money for food, as they’re all quite poor. It’s a fun watch for sure, and I’ll talk about it again once I’m a bit farther into it.

At any rate, what other samurai anime should I be watching? I’d love to you hear what your favorite samurai anime are in the comments.

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What’cha Watchin’? – 1/17/17 – Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence — January 17, 2017

What’cha Watchin’? – 1/17/17 – Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

I had a little bit of time yesterday (as you may be able to tell from my lengthy review of Majora’s Mask… I still feel like there’s more to say about it though… Maybe in a video, hmm?) so I watched the next thing on my list of things to watch that are Ghost in the Shell: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is kind of unique in that it takes place after the events of the first Ghost in the Shell movie, but revolves loosely around chapter 6 in the original manga: Robot Rondo. This is kind of weird, because the last part of the first movie is actually what happens at he end of the first manga, so… They had to move some characters and events around. Batou takes the spotlight this time around, and most members of Section 9 don’t even get any screentime. Batou plays the brooding hero this time around instead of the overtly goofy Batou that is in the manga (and sometimes we see in Stand Alone Complex). Togusa and Ishikawa play a decent role too, but the movie is mainly revolving around Batou. The story revolves around gynoids, sex doll robots, suddenly malfunctioning and killing their owners and even attempting self termination. It could be a act of terrorism, so Section 9 is called in to investigate. It’s a pretty solid story (I mean, what else do you expect from Ghost in the Shell?), but what I really want to talk about is the presentation.

MAN this movie looks great. It’s clear that the same artist didn’t draw the characters, as the characters are pretty realistic, especially the gynoids, which gives them this creepy feel, like they’re constantly watching. I almost didn’t even recognize Ishikawa at first. But what they really wanted to show off is the 3D effects. Almost every background is done in CG, as well as many effects, and the animation, especially for the action scenes, are amazing. Ghost in the Shell, at least in anime and movies tends to be a bit whimsical, very black, blue, and neon, but GitS 2: Innocence decides to go with that gritty theme with a lot of browns and rust colors. Innocence depicts a dark and dingy world, that almost seems out of character if you’ve watched other GitS content, but it actually fits and works really well. I would love to see more of this kind of GitS.

Another interesting design choice that I think is fantastic is that a number of events in the movie seem like they could be out of a horror movie, with strange phenomenon, scenes that happen more than once in a strange way, and the way the shots are set up and played out. Even the way the characters sometimes react make them seem like they belong in a horror movie. There’s even a minor jump scare, but not enough to make you shoot out of your seat. I really loved these creepy elements, and again, they really seemed to fit with the story and setting.

Unfortunately, if you’re not familiar with the GitS universe, this movie is probably not the best starting point. You kind of need to know the cast and setting already, and without that, you might feel a little lost. That said, if you’re a GitS fan, or at least know a bit about it, I’d highly recommend this movie. Even if you’re not a GitS fan and just want a flashy, thought-provoking flick, check it out anyway, just don’t expect to catch everything. At any rate, I highly recommend it. Really good movie. Check it out!

What’cha Watchin’? 12/13/16 — December 13, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? 12/13/16

There was a lot to talk about yesterday, so I skipped over the fact that I finished my rewatch of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex this weekend. I’ve been on a bit of a Ghost in the Shell kick, readying myself for the hopefully not bad Hollywood movie coming out. At any rate, I also started watching 2nd Gig, because I’ve never seen it before.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is one of my favorite anime of all time. The year is 2030, and nearly everyone is cyberized in some way, whether it be prosthetics, or cyberbrains. The world of Ghost in the Shell is dark and dirty cyberpunk at its finest. You follow Public Security Section 9, a sort of task squad specializing in covert, stealthy, and hacking operations. They’ll also do jobs that the police force can’t handle. Each character in GITS:SAC is unique, not only among each other, but when compared to other anime as well. Very few tropes exist in GITS:SAC, and those that do are often thrown on their heads, like the cutesy Tachikoma Think Tanks. The world and characters come together to build a memorable setting for a very interesting story.

Episodes are broken up into two types: Stand Alone episodes and Complex episodes. Stand Alone episodes are one-off, self contained stories, while the Complex episodes cover the large overarching story of the mysterious Laughing Man case that occurred 6 years ago involving kidnapping and cyber terrorism. The Complex episodes are the meat of the story, but the Stand Alone episodes are also stellar. This set-up ensures that there’s a little something for everyone. The conflicts throughout the episodes vary pretty dramatically, but the main overarching theme is human’s advancement in technology and the existence of a soul, or as they say in GITS: a Ghost. It’s all very interesting and through provoking, and when it’s not, it’s action-packed and exciting to watch. The last few episodes are absolutely heart-wrenching and hard to put down (one more episode, just one more!), but it wraps up very nicely. If you’ve never touched the Ghost in the Shell series, Stand Alone Complex is a great place to start.

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These “What’cha Doin’?” posts are designed to spark discussion, so feel free to post in the comments what you’ve been playin’, watchin’, or listenin’ to lately.

What’cha Watchin’? – Ghost in the Shell — October 19, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? – Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is one of my favorite series. So yesterday, I decided to watch the original movie from 1995 for the first time.

The ideas presented in the original movie definitely wanted to make you see more, and the Major has a much more Serial Experiments Lain (one of my favorites, by the way) vibe than her trademark cool and sarcastic air she gives off in Stand Alone Complex. It raises some really cool questions like what makes someone human and what if AI could create or otherwise develop their own soul/consciousness? Aside from the question raised, those Ghost in the Shell trademark ideas like thermoptic camouflage, spider tanks, cybernetically enhanced brains and bodies, and cyberbrain hacking remain fully intact. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the character designs as Stand Alone Complex (but remember, SAC came 7 years after the movie), but the animation is spot on. There are a couple of gory yet awesome head explosions, and an amazing scene of the Major tearing her own arms off, synthetic skin and ligaments popping everywhere; really cool, and one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie. If you’re a fan of anything future or cyberpunk and you haven’t watched the original Ghost in the Shell, give it a shot. Just one note: There is quite a bit of nudity, mainly upper body nakedness, so just be aware of that going into it. At any rate, it makes me excited to rewatch Stand Alone Complex.

What’cha Watchin’? 9/29/16 – Cowboy Bebop — September 29, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? 9/29/16 – Cowboy Bebop

Please don’t take my otaku card away, but I’ve never seen Cowboy Bebop all the way through; I’ve only seen the first few episodes. In an effort to remedy this situation, I put an episode on yesterday, and I’m finally going to watch the series all of the way through. Other than that though, no news; yesterday was a busy day.

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These “What’cha Doin’?” posts are designed to spark discussion, so feel free to post in the comments what you’ve been playin’, watchin’, or listenin’ to lately.

What’cha Watchin’? – 9/28/16 – Kokoro Connect — September 28, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? – 9/28/16 – Kokoro Connect

I finally finished watching Kokoro Connect! I had to hunt down the last 4 episode arc, but I finished it. What a touching and heartwarming series, though that last arc didn’t pull it’s punches at all. As expected, I really enjoyed this series, and regardless of what was happening, I always wanted to watch just “one more” episode. I think the anime captured the manga really well, and even covered more story arcs than the manga (despite one of my favorite arcs being left out… Oh well). I’d love to read the light novels the series started as, but getting a hold of those translated can sometimes be a nightmare.

Always a series that kept you feeling for better of for worse, (and I’m not an anime reviewer, mind you), I give Kokoro Connect a 9/10.

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These “What’cha Doin’?” posts are designed to spark discussion, so feel free to post in the comments what you’ve been playin’, watchin’, or listenin’ to lately.

What’cha Watchin’? – 8/29/16 – Stranger Things — August 29, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? – 8/29/16 – Stranger Things

This weekend between working up at school at my job, I managed to watch all 8 episodes of Stranger Things. It’s pretty great. It’s all about a roughly 12 year old boy who mysteriously disappears one night and the people who attempt to find him, including his three 12 year old friends, his mother and teenage brother, the chief of police, one of his friend’s sister and her boyfriend, and a strange little girl that turns up one day.

Each character is very well fleshed out and believable, and each story arc ends pretty satisfyingly, even though there are a number of loose ends that need to be tied up, setting everything up really well for a second season. Stranger Things reminded me a LOT of Silent Hill, especially the first one, which is a very good thing. You have this mysterious town with weird and disturbing things going on with a number of great characters, just like Silent Hill. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, so I’ll just leave it at this. Just watch it for yourself. It’s great.

 

What’cha Watchin’? 7/19/16 – Finished Kill la Kill — July 19, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? 7/19/16 – Finished Kill la Kill

I wasn’t feeling too hot yesterday, so I lied around in bed for most of the day. That said, I was still able to watch some anime, so that’s what I did. I finally finished Kill la Kill, and man, those last few episodes are a huge, fun filled adrenaline rush, just like the rest of the series. I also started watching Kokoro Connect, since I’ve finished the manga. So far it is identical to the the manga (which is good, since the manga is very good) and I’m liking the way the characters are being portrayed, well, with the exception of Yui. I’m only 4 episodes in, so maybe I’m complaining too much, but I feel like (and I know this is kind of silly) Yui isn’t cute enough. I don’t know. I just get a different vibe from her than I did in the manga, almost like she’s two different characters. The rest are spot on, however.

Kokoro Connect, involves 5 high-school freshman who are required to join a club, as per the rules of their school. Having strange interests, requesting clubs that don’t even exist, or getting into “spats” with the president of another club, these 5 are placed in the Student Cultural Society, or StuCS for short. At some point before the start of the series the 5 of them become friends. You have Taichi, the kindhearted and selfless protagonist material, who is also very into pro wrestling, Iori, the sweet and bubbly girl who cheers everyone up, Inaba, the cold, demanding girl with tricks always up her sleeve, Aoki, the club’s resident pervert who is always asking for dates with the club’s final member, Yui, the sweet, shy and innocent one who loves cute things. The 5 personalities come together and interact really nicely, but the main issue in the story is that one day, they all start swapping personalities, sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes mid-class. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it either, and as I’ve read the manga, I don’t want to spoil anything, but they simply have to figure out how to get though it without their friendship falling apart.

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These “What’cha Doin’?” posts are designed to spark discussion, so feel free to post in the comments what you’ve been playin’, watchin’, or listenin’ to lately.

What’cha Watchin’? – 5/27/17 – Yamishibai – Japanese Ghost Stories (Season 3) — May 27, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? – 5/27/17 – Yamishibai – Japanese Ghost Stories (Season 3)

Yesterday while browsing through Crunchyroll, I noticed that the third season of Yamishibai – Japanese Ghost Stories was up. Having been a pretty big fan of the first two seasons, I sat down and watched the third season as well.

Yamishibai are Japanese ghost stories and folk tales, animated into a sort of storybook style with mostly stills and very little animation. The art is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and it definitely does not make you think “anime” when you see it. Each episode is only around 4 and half minutes long, intro and outro included, so you can watch 12 episodes in under an hour. Each episode is its own self-contained horror story with it’s own characters, setting, and plot which gets into the action very quickly, which is nice.

I’ll admit that as the series goes on, it has been decreasing in the quality of the tales. The first and most of the second season had very good stories with a real feeling of dread as it continued on, but the third season mostly just wanted to show off artwork for weird and disturbing monsters, revealing them at the end of nearly every episode. I still enjoyed the third season and the series as a whole, but the first season is definitely the crown jewel of the series.

These “What’cha Doin’?” posts are designed to spark discussion, so feel free to post in the comments what you’ve been playin’, watchin’, or listenin’ to lately.

What’cha Watchin’? – 5/26/16 – Kiznaiver — May 26, 2016

What’cha Watchin’? – 5/26/16 – Kiznaiver

A few days ago, I was feeling the anime bug, so I opened up Crunchyroll for a marathon of an anime that I’ve seen around a lot lately: Kiznaiver. I watched all 7 episodes (that are currently released anyway) in a single sitting.

The first thing that really attracts me to Kiznaiver is the art style. Each character looks great and has their own personality really tied into their character design. If the art doesn’t grab you immediately, the theme song might, with Boom Boom Satellite’s “Lay Your Hands On Me”. Despite it sounding  eerily similar to Take on Me by A-ha, it really kind of amps you up. It really feels more like an actual music video until the characters appear.

Please be aware that there will be early series spoilers for here on out. (Mainly the first few episodes)

Kiznaiver opens up with a strange daydream/flashback of Katsuhira Agata’s childhood, involving a friend of his about to jump off of what appears to be playground equipment. Katsuhira has a strange issue: He is very resistant to physical pain and can’t feel it. As a result, he’s been unable to fit in with most people, and gets beat up on a fairly regular basis. One day after meeting a strange and demanding girl, Noriko Sonozaki, him and 5 of his classmates wake up in a strange building informing them that they have been kidnapped and experimented on. They are what is now known as Kiznaivers: a government experiment that supposedly is an attempt to bring about world peace. Kiznaivers are forced to feel each other’s pain. For example, if one gets hit in the face, they all feel it. The idea is that the reason war is so prevalent is because humans are incapable of feeling other’s pain. At least, that’s what the show tells you. It definitely seems like there is something far more sinister at work here.

The characters range from typical anime trope to completely unusual. You have the goodhearted thug, Hajime Tenma and the childhood friend of Katsuhira, Chidori Takashiro. Then you have a few more interesting characters who aren’t as trope-y like the girl who really just doesn’t like most people, Honoka Maki, the womanizer and seemingly shallow Tsuguhita Yuta, and the incredibly strange (and kind of looks like a Japanese Idol) Niko Niiyama. Finally, the Kizniavers learn that there is a seventh Kiznaiver who is quite a bit different from the rest of them… He’s a masochist, so this whole sharing pain thing is very attractive to him: Yoshiharu Hisomu.

After you get the gist of the story and the characters, the show starts to ramp up by each episode or two having it’s own self-contained story about one of the main characters who really don’t know much about each other, as they are forced to become friends or at least comrades in the screwed up situation they’ve been forced into. The show is very much character driven, as you’ll care much more about the characters than the strange antics they get put into.

I’m interested to see where they go with Kiznaiver. It’s awfully similar to Kokoro Connect, a manga I’ve read relatively recently, though Kokoro Connect seems quite a bit more lighthearted than Kiznaiver.

These “What’cha Doin’?” posts are designed to spark discussion, so feel free to post in the comments what you’ve been playin’, watchin’, or listenin’ to lately.