Archive | March, 2012

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

30 Mar

I have been watching the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime for a long time now with my family. We all enjoy it, but we keep letting it fall to the wayside. This weekend we are determined to try and finish it, we only have 10 episodes left.

Brotherhood, as I’m told, is a reanimation of the anime following the exact story of the manga. I’m always for preserving the original story, so I’m glad this came around. I have never watched the first animation.

This anime/manga has been around for a while, so I’m sure most people have heard of it. The story is set in a magical land where alchemy is used to manipulate the elements. To do so you must draw the proper diagrams. However there is one boy who can do alchemy without circles, he is known as the Fullmetal Alchemist.

He gained this ability when attempting to bring his mother back to life, a forbidden alchemy, and messed up big time. He lost his arm and leg. However his brother lost his whole body and now his soul is bound only to a piece of armor.

The story follows their adventures, but soon you see there are much bigger things at work. A great nemesis appears, and a world ending threat is identified. The two boys must work with their friends and allies to save everyone.

This are really coming to a head and there are still 10 episodes left, I can’t wait to finish them this weekend.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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Avatar: The Last Airbender

29 Mar

Sorry everyone! Since I had this Blog I haven’t missed today, but I was so busy yesterday watching Avatar it totally slipped my mind. And even today’s is late.

Well I categorize this under anime, but it is actually an anime inspired Nickelodeon series.  Avatar has been out for a while, it was a show with three seasons that aired from 2005 to 2008. I just finished it yesterday on Netflix watch instant after 3 days of watching.

The premise of the show is about a mythical land split into four nations. These nations all have some citizens who are called “benders” and they can “bend” the 4 elements. Air Benders control air, Earth Benders control rock, Water Benders control water, and Fire Benders with fire. Then in each generation there is a special person born who is able to bend all four elements, this person is called the Avatar, and it is their job to keep balance in the world.

Currently the Fire Nation has launched an attack on the rest of the world to claim it as their own, the war was raged for 100 years, but the Avatar has not been seen. Two teens of the Water Tribe living in the South Pole find a young air bender, and his flying bison, encased in ice, he is the Avatar, who has been dormant for 100 years.

These three then set off on a journey to teach the Avatar the other elements and to defeat the Fire Lord. They meet many other friends and enemies along the way.

I wasn’t sure about the show at first, I thought it might be too kiddy, but halfway through the first season it really picks up and gets into a great flow and good story. I only had a few complaints with the show, first of all it had no killing. Now I’m not a violence person, or like gore, or blood, or anything like that; but this is a war setting. They talk often of people have been killed in the past, or people who might not make it in a mission and shows plenty of large scale battles where people had to have died. Yet it is never really shown or talked about, it takes away a lot of realism and seriousness in my opinion.

The second complaint I resolved with myself. I was confused because Earth Benders need to have rock to control, Air Benders need Air, Water Benders need water, but Fire Benders can just create bursts of flame from nothing. I think now though that Fire Benders just draw heat from the air or something and make it into fire. It works for me.

My biggest complaint however is the romantic conclusion. The main pair that ended up together I totally disagree with, and is the one thing that keeps me from calling it one of my favorite shows. It really really bothered me.

One thing I did really like though were the fighting scenes. They weren’t just well animated or just looked cool, they were actually very intelligent and detailed in choreography. The uses of the bending was diverse and well used. Fighters always used their environments and small details to their advantage. To me this is the best kind of fighting, it is intelligent and shows care. It is different than just some regular shonen thing where they keep revealing special moves.

I suppose I would recommend it to any anime fans, but the romance is still really bothering me.

The Avatar in front and the two who found him

Skip Beat

27 Mar

Much to my girlfriends happiness I started reading Skip Beat. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but it’s really getting going. Skip Beat is a manga about a girl who runs away to Tokyo to help her selfish angsty guy friend to become a big star.

She gets multiple jobs for rent money for them both, and supports him 100%. The guy eventually does make it pretty big, and he’s a pretty famous star. However, as the girl decides to bring him some surprise snacks one day she over hears that he was only using her. He used her and her hard work to support him while he worked on being famous.

Outraged the girl declares she will have her revenge, she will ruin all he has built. From now on she will try to make it into the entertainment world, and take him down! I’m very excited to see this happen, it’s quite a different set-up from normal romance mangas.

The romance part of it seems to be coming from another big star, the number one actually. The agency the girl decides to join represents him. This relationship is much for the usual shoujo type, a sort of love hate thing going on.

I look forward to reading more, and finding out what she does for her revenge. I’m only 23 chapters in. I recommend it to any shoujo fans. Though I understand it’s well liked already.

the blond is the one she's getting revenge on

Sidereel

26 Mar

Sidereel.com is a great website for all those people who follow TV shows. It’s a way to keep track of, and keep updated on your favorite shows. I visit it every day and would not watch half the TV I do now without it.

You can create a free account on the website, after you do you can pick from all the shows they have listed and mark the ones you follow. The best feature about sidereel is the calendar. After picking your shows to track a weekly calendar will be available, if your show is airing a new episode, it will show up on the calendar. Here is an example,

haha, I sure watch a lot of shows on Thursday

This is the biggest advantage of the site, but it also has episode guides for every TV show, even ones from a long time ago. Also, though I don’t usually utilize this, the site has a lot of news and updates about TV shows. If there is a cancellation buzz, when it’s going on break, or maybe stories involving the actors in a show.

It also has resources for movies as well, with news and reviews like for TV shows. It does the same for web bases TV as well. Sidereel can be a good place to just browse if you’re looking for a new shows or movie to watch, everything is rated and divided into their genres.

The only flaw of the site, which you can hardly blame them for, is poor coverage over foreign TV or anime. I follow a lot of British shows, but of course the airing times are always off, and the news or updates are not paid attention to as much. The same goes for anime, it’s not a very good resource for either of those.

You can also connect social sites like facebook or twitter with your account, but I don’t really go for that anyway. The site is just an amazing resource that all TV watchers should utilize.

The Swedish Armed Forces – The Team Test

25 Mar

This is a fun and cool game to play with three friends!Get your headphones out and be prepared to try a few times. It’s good fun.

http://team.forsvarsmakten.se/english/

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess

24 Mar

For anyone who is not aware, Nintendo is putting on a world wide concert tour in celebration of Zelda’s 25th anniversary. I was afraid I would not be able to go, and it would be nowhere near me. But after hearing more release dates my family decided to go see it in Montreal! I will be attending the May 31st concert there. I can’t wait! And my family is excited too.

For more information go to http://zelda-symphony.com/

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi

23 Mar

Sorry, such a late post today. I’ve been very busy for a couple of days, looking forward to some rest over the weekend. Today I’ll talk about another favorite manga, this one is History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi. The manga has been going since 2002 and is in it’s 468th chapter.

The manga is about a weak little bullied boy. When starting high school he meets a beautiful girl and gets a bit of a crush. He finds out her home is a Dojo, he enters as a student to get closer to her, and to get stronger. But he does not know what he’s in for.

There are six martial arts masters of different schools residing at the dojo, they decide Kenichi, the boy, will be their new disciple. From here on out Kenichi goes through hellish training to power up and be stronger.

The manga later brings in an overarching theme of an evil martial arts organization that must be fought, Kenichi keeps fighting and getting stronger. This manga has great characters, and can be serious and also hilarious. It is a typical shonen formula of the hero getting stronger and stronger, but it’s very gradual and preserves Kenichi’s character.

It has good fighting scenes, and is well drawn. Though the fighting gets nowhere near realistic, but that’s fine with me. The manga is also quite ecchi though, so if anyone doesn’t go for that sort of thing, this is not for you. Otherwise any fighting/ecchi/basic shonen fans go for it!

Kenichi in front of the masters

Play and Comment 4

22 Mar

For this week I played two games I quite liked. The first was Redder (http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/529992) it’s a fun exploring platformer. Just my kind of game. Then is Super Crate Box (http://www.supercratebox.com/?p=downloads) This one I’m terrible at, but it’s good fun.

Redder-

Redder has a classic feel and play of an older game, arcade or early console. Design restraint means no extra bells or whistles, and basic mechanics, implementation is the key. The controls are pointed out below the game, and the goal of the game is clear with little investigation. So it is easy to pick up and get into.

The game does well to feel progressive, like levels, without actually having any clear definition of more or less difficult areas. The further you get from your ship, the harder it is to get the crystals needed. This is not pointed out anywhere, but you feel it all the same. Theoretically a player could get the crystals in any order, but a new player will be cautious and explore to easier areas. After getting a handle on the controls and how the game works they will grow more confident and travel deeper and deeper into the game. This forms a natural progression in a simple way.

Something else I found interesting about the game were the markers, or save points. A lot of games have auto saves or checkpoints, but they do not reactivate in backtracking or exploring as nimbly as in Redder. It’s easy to find and activate the markers, it allows you to explore away from your ship without fear of having to back track so far. A reason older games are called harder is because there was limited or no save capabilities. If you died, you had to start the whole game over. The markers are an easy and well implemented mechanic.

 

Super Crate Box-

I seem to be having a lot of trouble with this game, I think it is because I am not used to action PC games. I usually play point and click Myst type games or RTS on the computer, not action games. So imagining I’m actually good at this game it was interesting and had good implementation.

The game is incredibly simple, this is partly why it was so addicting. Though I failed over and over I did try over and over and over. Since all it takes is a press of the button to try again at times I was hitting enter to start over as often as jump. This is similar in Redder for the fact you can fail over and over and have it not be a set back.

The game is extremely faced paced, but with many different kinds of weapons a lot of strategy comes into play. I liked this quick thinking aspect, if you had the mini-gun for example, what was the best way to use it? I would always camp out on one side of the screen and take out as many enemies as I could, then in a relatively enemy free screen go and get the next crate. The player must process which weapon he has in an instant to know how to use it. The disc gun is another good example. It ricochets off the wall, and kills you as well. You must be prepared to be evasive.

Half-Life 2

21 Mar

So I finally started Half-Life 2 on The Orange Box. I kind of wanted to do Half-Life 1 to get the story and everything, but I found out it’s not on mac, or any console I own. I do have access to windows, but it’s a pain to only play a game on it.

I’m liking Half-Life 2 so far, I have not played very much. I only just got all my weapon options filled up. I like shooters that are more than just shooting in a war-zone, like Halo or CoD. I’m not sure if they are called anything different, action shooters? But the player must solve puzzles and navigate terrain and interact with people instead of just looking down the barrel of a gun.You can also use a crowbar, that’s good fun.

I’m familiar with the controls and how the physics work, since they are identical to Portal, so it wasn’t hard to get used to. But I had no idea what was going on for story, made me wish I had done Half-Life 1. I read a synopsis on Wikipedia though, I hope it’s enough. I always enjoy a good Dystopian regime setting. Though I’m not sure how it fits in with Portal either, I know they are supposed to be the same world.

A small complaint I have with this and similar games are the blandness of the setting. Everything is just stained concrete etc etc. It never feels like you are going anywhere new or progressive. I like more of a change. Overall I am still liking Portal more, I drift toward puzzle games more anyway.

Half-Life 2

Starcraft II

20 Mar

I’m a huge fan of Warcraft and played Reign of Chaos for years. When Starcraft II came out I was interested, but did not rush out to buy it. I put it on the list of games I wanted. Later, lo and behold! My sister got it for me for my birthday.

I installed it and got all the updates sorted and started. I’m really liking it, though my computer was having some trouble running it smoothly, so that I often would take long breaks of play. I haven’t played for a long time, but recently I adjusted all the settings and got the graphics lowered so it’s running fine.

I’m all fired up to get back to the campaign. I have just scratched the surface of the humans, and only played a few Protoss levels. I’ve still got the Zerg to do. I’m liking the story, it seems more intricate that Warcrafts so far. I’m wondering how all the races will interact. I quite liked the way Warcraft brought them together.

I also played a few online games with a friend, and I actually had fun. Usually I haven’t done too well on online games. I work more methodically than quickly which is what is needed online. But in 2v2 battle we won a few times.

Starcraft is a great RTS I recommend to any fan of that genre, but they probably only know about it.

Starcraft II