Tag: fantasy

Branching Plot, Casual Game, Decisions Matter, Game Review, Games, Indie Game, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, PC, PC Gaming, Review, Videogame, Visual Novel

Arcadia Fallen – Visual Novel With Alchemy Review

Thanks to the folks at Galdra Studios for allowing me to review their debut visual novel, Arcadia Fallen. As a first release from an indie game publisher, Arcadia Fallen definitely exceeded my expectations in many ways. First of all, the game’s high production values from voice acting, to character portraits, and even a catchy anime opening song and animation, all pull you right into the game. From there, the characters and story and unraveling the mysteries of the game keep you glued to your gaming chair. For those that find routine visual novel gameplay a bit dull, you might like the puzzle aspects in Arcadia Fallen because it has a nice crafting and alchemy feature. read more

Fantasy, History, Opinion, Scifi, Self Improvement

More Past Life Readings Part 2

Yesterday, I shared with you some of my recent past life readings in an article titled “Are Past Lives Real?” That article was already quite long, but I received two more of my readings today and they are a bit more of a fun read. One of them is an audio file and the other one has images of who I was in a past life – and those images honestly look a lot like my current self in this life.

First let’s take a look at the reading with the images. In this life I was a virgin priestess in Ancient Rome. Here are the 3 photos the psychic sent me. I don’t know if they’re random photos from google, or if she drew these – there are some people who are psychic artists. Either way, random photo, photo generating app, or skilled artist, I was surprised by how similar this woman looks to me. The shape of the nose, the shape of the face, chin, cheeks, the eyes, the lips, and the black curly hair. read more

Fantasy, Opinion, Scifi, Self Improvement

Are Past Lives Real?

I have always had a mild interest and belief in past lives although I am Christian (and actually recently turned Catholic). There is some evidence of reincarnation even in the bible and until a few hundred years ago both Christianity and Judaism referenced reincarnation. I have heard it was removed to make people more mindful of their actions and consequences in this life.

Sprinkled in this blog post are screen shots of some of the actual past life readings I have received. They are not in order and just thrown in randomly to illustrate the story – although they don’t make great pictures since they’re text as well so I added a few random images to break up walls of text to make this easier to read. I imagine no one’s really interested in reading this, except for me, so what I say goes :). One of the readings I ordered is an audio recording, but I have not received it yet. I prefer the text so I can go back and reread it and reference it easily. Absorbing different things each time I read them. read more

Anime, Anime Review, Drama, Fantasy, Featured, Film and Television, Review, Slice of Life, TV and Film

Windaria Anime Movie Review

Title: Windaria

Alternative Title: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 1986 (Japan initial release), 1992 (US, (VHS) first US release), 2004 (US re-release (DVD) with title change)

Where to Watch: I don’t support piracy here, but as a heads up, ALL of the “US Releases” of this film are very severely edited. And YES, that includes even the subtitled versions! I highly recommend that you watch the original Japanese version at least once before passing judgement on this beautiful movie. Of course, I grew up with the VHS in the 90s, and I STILL loved even the heavily edited dubbed version of the film way back then. Last year, I finally got the chance to watch the original Japanese version. A lot of content was cut from the English version, including significant amounts of story content. They change the order of certain scenes, remove most of the violence (and drugs and sex) and have completely re-written the script of the original film to better suit an American audience (where cartoons were (and still are) primarily intended for children). Also all of the music is different in both versions, although it’s very good in both versions as well. Still the overall theme and plot and moral of this heart breaking anime remains the same in both versions. That’s why I really recommend you to try to watch the original film – and then still go ahead and buy the English DVD or VHS to support the creators :). I’m not going to tell you where to find the original online, but you can find it if you look. And then you can purchase the Windaria North American DVD here.

Geeky: 3/5 The music is beautiful, but the artwork is very outdated (losing 1 point). Interestingly enough, the Japanese DVD includes 2 versions of the film, 1 being a “pilot film” where the animation and coloring style is different. (I have never seen this version). Despite the outdated artwork, the character designs are cute and memorable, I often think someone working on Pokemon drew inspiration (perhaps even subconsciously) for fan-favorite Eevee from the little pet squirrel/cat like creature in this film. The story is dark and full of action (and sex and drugs and gore in the original Japanese version). Therefore I feel this film would appeal to all geeks regardless of their genders. I’m removing one more point for the heavy handed editing of all of the US versions of this film. It’s been almost 15 years since the film has been brought to American audiences (for a 2nd time) – so perhaps some day we will see a company pick up the license for this film and do it justice with a more faithful English adaptation.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The story is soul crushingly sad. If you like sad anime, this is for you. Both versions of the film, even the mangled US version(s), still show the tender love stories of the central characters, and demonstrate the costs of war and greed. I happen to be a fan of sad love stories, and this particular anime reminds me of almost a Romeo and Juliet type of fairy tale, 2 lovers who can never be together, and 2 other lovers who have everything but still manage to mess everything up in the end. It’s also a story of regret, love, and greed. It imparts morals to the viewer, to value the love you have or else it may slip away. And that even if you are poor, if you have love, you can be happy. Or you can overlook the happiness you have right in front of you and only realize what you have once it has slipped away. The emotionally engaging story is also heightened by a fantastic music score which further draws the audience into the film.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 9/10 – I removed a point again for the poor handling of every commercially available North American release of this film. Otherthan that small complaint, I give the story 10/10. Even the badly edited version. I loved the anime back in the 90s, and I still love it today. It’s a tale that withstands the tests of time. Universally relateable to anyone who has loved and lost.

The story of Windaria intertwines the fates of 2 very different couples. One couple is a princess and prince from neighboring kingdoms. As tensions mount between the kingdoms, and war seems inevitable… Can their love survive? The other couple lives in a small farming village caught between both warring nations. Their village has remained neutral for years, but as war descends around them, can that peace last? The people of the neutral village are poor, but live happy lives not knowing the tragedies of war, and protected by spirits who live in a giant tree. But can people be influenced to take a side when wealth and adventure knock on their door? How will the war change the lives of the people in this tiny village?

Everything is connected, and you cannot escape war. You can’t remain neutral. You must make a decision and take a risk. What will you risk? Will you risk your life? Your love? Your Home? And how will the war change you? Can you return to your old life after the war ends? Will there even be anything left to return to?

Windaria examines all of these heavy hearted deep thinking questions.

The setting of the story is also very intriguing. We have 2 nations at war. The haves and have nots. One kingdom has plenty of water and wealth and prosperity. They control the flow of water to the neighboring nations. The other nation does not feel they have enough water. They are not nearly as wealthy or powerful as their political neighbor. The lands between the two nations are full of magic and mystery. There is a river where people go crazy and see horrors which are merely reflections of their own fears and feelings, there is the giant magic tree which protects the neighboring farming village, and there’s the ghost ship which takes souls to the other side.

Interestingly enough, although the setting and time of this anime appear to be fantasy based, there is no magic or “fantasy”, instead we see a strange blend of technology in a fantasy world. Airplanes, motorbikes, guns, grenades, tanks, etc.

Characters: 7/10 – I’ll be honest here, it is REALLY hard to like the main character of this film. He is a giant D-bag. Not even gonna lie. You’re going to hate him. He rather have drunken sex and spend all day exploiting his power to get more drugs and wealth and concubines, than return to his girlfriend even after the war ends. It’s not until his own life is in danger that he flees and comes back to his village… or what’s left of it anyways. – Maybe at the end, he has a change of heart, but that doesn’t make up for what a huge D he is in the majority of the film.

The first 15-20 minutes of the film, they build this character and his love up to have this idealistic beautiful love. Everyone in the village recognizes the love between this pair. They are utterly adorable together. They have it all. But that’s not enough for our main character.

In stark contrast, his lady love waits patiently for his return, even when the rest of her village leaves and tries to get her to come to safety with them. This made me hate the main character even more. And when she forgives him for everything, that too amplifies my anger at this character.

But I suppose this is the point of the entire movie. It still isn’t easy to watch or to like, sympathize, or side with the supposed main character of the film.

Our other 2 main characters are considerably more likeable. They are victim of circumstance. They never get a choice in the events happening to them. They are bound by duty. They don’t get to choose a peaceful life of love – which puts into perspective even more, the stupidity of the main character for never realizing the happiness he had back in his own village.

The relationship of the prince and princess is doomed from the start, however, they often dare defy the duties and responsibilities forced upon them, and meet in secret anyways to profess their love and promise each other that one day they will be together. I have never really been 100% sure about the end of their relationship. I can’t tell if what she did was intentional or accidental like perhaps she was playfully chasing and playing with his gun / flirting around. Or if perhaps, she felt the weight of her duty, and decided to put her kingdom above her love and pull that trigger to once and for all, end the war. Either way, their relationship ends in spectacular Romeo and Juliet fashion.

 

There are a number of minor characters too with very intricate and detailed back stories, including a “crazy” woman who never talks to anyone as she waits for her love to return. Her love chose to become a captain of a ship taking souls to the other side. The captain cannot leave his ship for a specified number of years. (I believe it was 10 years? I can’t recall right now).

At the end of the film, we see that our main character wishes to become the captain of this ship to follow his lady love to the other side. (This is more clear in the Japanese version of the film). The crazy woman and main character both meet in the end (I think maybe the main character was contemplating jumping off the cliff) and he sees the crazy lady still there, waiting for her husband to return. So he resolves also to wait for his love as well. (although I’m pretty sure she can never come back – although a lot of Asian religions believe in reincarnation and so perhaps it is that which he is waiting for, or for his own life to end so then in the afterlife, they can be reunited.) This shows how much thought went into even the most minor of characters to make them have heavy plot focus.

Art: 2/5 – The artwork is dated, because this anime is from the 80s. On almost every website I’ve visited in the past, this anime has horrible reviews. I feel it’s not judged fairly and people are overlooking the beautiful love stories and tragedies and focusing solely on the artwork and animation quality. The character designs are still cute though, and some of the background environments are very pretty. But overall, I’d tend to agree the animation is not clean enough and the character styles are outdated by today’s standards. That still never detracts from my enjoyment of this film.

Music: 5/5 I love the music in Windaria. Both the Japanese and English tracks fit perfectly with the themes and scenes of the film. The music carries much emotion and helps tell the story, complementing the action scenes, and especially painfully highlighting the sad tragic scenes of the anime. I especially love the vocal tracks.

Voice Acting: 2/5 I really dislike both the original Japanese, and the English voice acting of most of the characters. I guess it’s typical for how old this anime is, but almost all of the performances were cringe-worthy. That’s even more reason why someone should pick this license back up and bring in a fresh English cast. The story is so good, and the performances here just do not do it justice at all.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Action RPG, Adventure Game, Anime, anthromorphic, Disney, Fantasy, Featured, Game Review, Kawaii Cute, Mobile Game, Nintendo, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Playstation, Playstation 2, PSP, Retro Game, Review, RPG, Videogame

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix PS4 Videogame Review

14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1
14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1

Title: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix

Platform: PS4 (note this release combines various Kingdom Hearts games originally found on the PS2, GBA, Nintendo DS and 3DS)

Genre: Action Roleplaying Game ARPG

Publisher: Disney + Squarenix

Where to Buy: $49.99 on Amazon (at time of this writing)

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Geeky: 3/5 The games have fun gameplay, good graphics for the age of the games, and a great soundtrack. However, the Disney segments can be a bit too kiddie for some more serious gamers, and although the entire series is about the juxtaposition of light and dark, the light hearted disney characters can sometimes take away from immersing yourself in the deeper darker story of Sora and his friends.

Sweetie: 5/5 – This game is cuteness overload by combining well loved Square and Disney characters. It also has a surprisingly deep, relatively dark (for a Disney product at least), and mature storyline, which evolves and grows deeper and darker from game to game as characters grow and evolve.

Gameplay: 10/10 Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG. You play as Sora, a young boy who dreams of leaving his home town on a tiny island. When the game begins you are asked to choose a weapon. You may choose between shield, sword, and magic wand. You’re also asked which weapon you will give up. This allows you to customize your fighting style to match your preferences. You’ll also be asked a few questions. These questions do not have any significance on the story, but they do have a large impact on how quickly you will level up throughout the game.

A tutorial will give you a taste for how combat is in each of the games. You can run, jump, push and pull objects, climb, and use your chosen weapons as you chain attacks, dodge, defend, and parry to take down your foes. Enemies will drop small glowing orbs which can offer XP or sometimes restore health or other benefits. You will have to run around and touch the drops, because they do not get added automatically.

After settling into the game, you are allowed to freely explore the island, interact with NPCs, and engage in several minigames, such as fighting or racing with your friends on the island. You will see many familiar faces from both Squaresoft and Disney franchises.

Fairly early in the game, Sora gets his wish of leaving the island, and the rest of the game is played through traveling between different worlds, each representing a key franchise from Disney or Squaresoft. There are numerous battles to fight, areas to explore, sidequests, mini games, and hidden goodies. In fact, to find everything, across all games will take you almost 300 hours (and you’ll be awarded with an extra ending in each game). There’s plenty of content here to sink your teeth into, even for the most seasoned of gamers.

The action based combat is fun and snappy, while the mini games and interaction with a wide variety of characters gives you a break from the hack n slash combat, creating a well balanced game that equally values action as well as adventure.

Story: 8/10 I find it jarring at times how the story jumps between worlds, and I sometimes cringe at some of the Disney characters (and I consider myself a Disney fan! But it can really take away from the story, just when things are getting interesting to flash back to Goofy or Donald, especially with their well known silly voices and all). This can all make the story less immersive. However, at the heart of the story, you have a coming of age tale and a love triangle between 3 best friends. You watch throughout each game as Sora and his friends evolve and grow and change and how their friendships and relationships change as well. The story from each game is directly related from one game to the next. We’ve already watched Sora age by 2 years (and gotten a glimpse at a very young Sora as well). When Kingdom Hearts 1 starts, Sora is 14. By the end of Dream Drop Distance, he is 16. Many speculate he will be 16 or 17 in Kingdom Hearts 3. We witness Sora’s changing emotions as he transitions from adolescence to young adulthood. The main theme song in Kingdom Hearts 1 even hints at this with the lyrics of the chorus stating “Don’t get me wrong, I love you, but does that mean I really have to meet your father? One day when you’re older you’ll understand what I meant when I said No, I don’t think life is quite that simple.” Those lyrics perfectly describe the relationship between Sora and Kairi. An innocent love, a boy who still quite often views love/girls as “gross”, and a boy embarrassed by his emerging feelings of love for Kairi. And we witness not only how friendship can grow to love, but also how platonic friendships can change to rivalries when two boys love the same girl. The depths of both Riku and Sora’s love for Kairi is perhaps the best thing about the story.

I recently picked up Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix. I had played the original KH1 and KH2 on Playstation 2 but that was over 12 years ago now. And I had not played the other side games.

Every game in Kingdom Hearts is connected, and contains the same 3 characters, Riku, Kairi, and Sora, and the story gets deeper and more complex as the games go on as more is revealed building upon back stories and prequels and sequels and spin off games. It can be intimidating for someone new to the franchise to pick up the games now with almost 15 years of games to catch up on.

Many people recommend the following order to play the games in to get the most out of the story:

Kingdom Hearts 1 (1.5 remix)
Re: Chain of Memories (1.5 remix)
Kingdom Hearts 2 (2.5 remix)
358/2 Days (1.5 remix)
Birth By Sleep (2.5 remix)
Re:Coded (2.5 remix)
Dream Drop Distance (2.8 remix sold separately)
0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage (2.8 remix sold separately)
X Back Cover (2.8 remix sold separately.)
Unchained X (free mobile game, available separately)
Kingdom Hearts 3 (sold separately – coming soon)

So you will need bare minimum to purchase 3 games

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix
Kingdom Hearts 2.8
Kingdom Hearts 3

And optionally download and play Unchained X on your cell phone.

Some of the “games” above are actually “cutscenes” because they could not emulate the nintendo DS “touch screen” on the PS4. So each of these nintendo remakes are movies which reuse old, and add new cutscenes to tell the story.

You can alternatively purchase and play these Nintendo games separately. But you should be fine with just the cutscenes from an understanding the story standpoint.

Characters: 10/10 I really enjoy watching Sora and friends evolve, age, mature, and change over the course of multiple interconnected games. I also really do enjoy seeing favorite characters thrown in from Final Fantasy and Disney. It’s a strange mashup but it works surprisingly well. If you are either a Disney or Squaresoft fan you will love the cast of characters in these games.

Graphics: 7/10 – Taking into consideration the age of the games, I think the graphics are beautiful and memorable. They are vibrant, full of color, detail, and fun. The character designs blend Disney’s whimsy and charm with Squaresofts more stylistic approach. Sora also reminded me of a brunette Cloud wearing Mickey’s big “clown” shoes. The bobble headed appearance of the characters, makes them cute, but it’s almost a bit too juvenile, given that even when we first meet Sora and friends in KH1, they’re already teenagers. I feel like they look like Precious Moments dolls, and about 7-10 years old because of the proportions of their heads to bodies. — Luckily, the artwork does improve in later games.

Take a look below:

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 1 (Does he look 14 to you? Not even close in my opinion).

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2 (He is supposed to be 15 here, looks about right.)

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 3 (Speculated to be 16 or 17 here) (meh this design is alright, I expected to see something like Final Fantasy XV quality here. There are very few details in the hair/face and almost no shading on the clothing, it just looks kinda flat/plastic-y… not what I’d expect from a PS4 title. He does look a tiny bit more mature, slimmer face, etc.)

Music: 10/10 I’m a big Utada Hikaru fan, and I love the opening theme “Simple and Clean” – as I mentioned, I feel the lyrics foreshadow the coming of age story and changes that our little island buddies are about to experience. She also sings “Sanctuary” the opening theme of Kingdom Hearts 2. And it has been confirmed that she will also be involved with the opening for Kingdom Hearts 3. My favorite Utada Hikaru song though will always be “First Love”. The Japanese versions of the tracks are also quite catchy even without knowing the lyrics or understanding Japanese. The background music is also fitting and full of adventure and wonder.

Voice Acting: 6/10 – The voice acting is definitely hit or miss for me. Some characters I think are perfectly cast, and others way off mark. Some give pretty convincing performances, while others are too overdramatic and/or the opposite, lack any feeling or emotion in the deliverance of their lines. The iconic Disney characters also can tend to annoy and detract from the story with their overly cartoonish voices for which they are so well known.

Replay Value: 9/10 Although the games are linear, there are multiple games in this “bundle”, and each game has a secret ending, usually only uncovered for completing all side quests, or playing on the hardest difficulty settings, which will take you around 270 hours total according to How long to Beat. Even if you don’t want to go for the secret endings, you’re still looking at over 130 hours of gameplay just for the main stories of each game. For just $40something, that works out to around 30 cents per hour of entertainment. Therefore your return on investment is quite high in this title, even if you might only play each of the games once.

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

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The Best Upcoming & New Release 2018 PC Games for Girls

Back in the 90s I barely played PC Games, because so few existed that appealed to my tastes. There were exceptions of course, Torment, Fallout 1 and 2, Baulder’s Gate, Icewind Dale, King’s Quest (and other Sierra titles), Ever 17 (and anything else by Hirameki International), Petz, Black and White, Creatures, Graduation 95, and a handful of other gems that weren’t available on my consoles.

But largely, console gaming was the highlight of my childhood. That’s where all the anime games or JRPGs or story rich games were, especially in the 16 and 32 bit eras, which still remain my favorite gaming period of all time. Genesis, Sega CD, SNES, Saturn, PS1, PS2, and Dreamcast, the majority of my favorite games, still to this day, lived on one of those great consoles.

But nowadays, I barely play console games anymore. Occasionally there may be an exclusive that catches my eye, such as Persona 5 on PS4, or Tokyo Mirage Sessions on the Wii U. I even bought a Wii U just for that game in fact.

But now, so many games are cross platform, and so many people like me, who grew up in the 16 and 32 bit eras are making their own indie games now such as To the Moon, Always Sometimes Monsters, Rakuten, Undertale, etc. This completely changes the gaming landscape. Now PC is by and far my preferred gaming “platform” of choice.

And where once, JRPGs reigned on Consoles, they now thrive on the PC or even on mobile devices, and in the past 5 years we’ve seen a huge explosion of visual novels and Otome games as well on both PC and mobile – and barely any of those have been released (at least in English) on consoles.

Where once the PC had almost no games that appealed to my tastes, now suddenly, more and more each year, I find the PC to offer so many games I want to play that I don’t have the time, nor money, to possibly play them all! I have over 700 steam games already (and a handful on Origin, and about 50 more on GOG, and then of course my old CDs from the 90s which have yet to get released digitally.) And that’s not taking into account the PC’s ability to emulate the console games I own (probably around 300+ games there too). And emulation is perfectly legal as long as you own the original games, which I still do.

This puts the number of games I can play on my PC right now today, without buying a single thing, at well over 1,000 games! — How many of those games I’ve actually played, is probably around 25%, and how many I’ve beaten to completion / all endings etc, is probably like 5%. lol. But the point is, there has never been a better time to play girl games on your PC. If you’re a girl, there’s plenty of games that you should check out on PC. This wasn’t the case 20 years ago; my how the landscape has changed!

Here is a list of games due out in 2018 that are on my radar! I’ve selected these games for one of the following reasons: Decisions Matter, Branching Plot, Multiple Endings, Cute/Kawaii Graphics, Excellent Story, Innovating (or at least really fun) Gameplay, and Customization. If you look for the same qualities in your games, check out the list below. Warning, it’s long.

This list is not in any order – largely it’s sorted by release date, because that’s how I was browsing the games while researching this post.

Sea Dogs

Our first recommendation reminds me of Horizons New Dawn, one of my all time favorite super nintendo games.

Sorcery Jokers

This visual Novel Has Some Beautiful Graphics

Til the Dawn, Waiting

This looks sad, and also features animals, a powerful combination to tug at any heart strings

Franky the Bumwalker

Super cute and colorful adventure game that probably doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Dragon Cliff

This indie RPG features an extesnive crafting system and city building aspects as well as cute retro graphics.

Stunt Corgi VR

If you’re lucky enough to have a VR headset you might like this title that lets you create obstacle courses and watch a cute corgi try to navigate the courses you create.

Project Bits

If you like rhythm games, you might like this one with cute anime artwork. Plus it’s free to play.

The Mind Hero

An anime visual novel where you help 8 different characters overcome their trauma. It aims to teach psychology inside a video game. It’s also free and features a comic book style.

Katyusha

This looks to be a very emotionally engaging and beautiful pixel retro style RPG. The developers have said that the game uses real-life world war 2 letters that were written by soldiers to their families.

Battletech

The ability to customize everything about your mechs and the appeal of mecha genres from decades of anime such as macross, robotech, go lion, voltron, evangelion, gundamn, etc, make this appeal to me, despite the more dark realistic graphics. The gameplay looks fantastic. And who doesn’t love giant robots?

In The Valley of Gods

Explore pyramids in this narrative adventure.

Villages

This game aims to balance the skills and economy of its players so that they are forced to work together. Sounds promising. Let’s see how that works once the game releases.

Grow Bot

This just looks so utterly adorable!

Boyfriend Dungeon

With a name like Boyfriend Dungeon, how could this not make our list? It’s an otome dating sim and hack n slash RPG adventure, where the boys are weapons.

The Iron Oath

I am beyond excited for this game! True, it doesn’t have the visual aesthetic that I like, but nearly everything about the gameplay appeals to me greatly! Decisions matter, the guild management sounds fun, every character has a back story. Characters die / perma death, you recruit new characters, I’m ready to play this awesome looking tactical RPG.

Living the Deal

Business Management and Life Simulation Game. This one is high on my wishlist (despite how hideously ugly the characters look lol).

Wolf Gang

Play as cute wolves chasing cute sheep in a game which promises unlockable content and character customization.

Freedom Planet 2

Furrie fans and fans of old school Sonic games still love the original Freedom Planet, and soon the wait is over for the much anticipated sequel.

The Forgettable Dungeon

Co-op Action RPG that you can play with up to 15 friends.

Next Up Hero read more

Anime, Anime Review, Fantasy, Featured, Film and Television, Manga, Review, Slice of Life

Ancient Magus Bride Anime Review

Title: Ancient Magus Bride
Based On the Manga by Kore Yamazaki
Episodes: 24 Episodes
Genre: Fantasy, Super Natural, Mystery, Romance, Slice of Life
Studio: Wit Studio
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Geeky: 3/5 – A great story with high production values, a good blend of action, comedy, mystery and romance make this show a hit with geeks of either gender. I took away 1 point for the somewhat slow pacing of the early episodes, and 1 point away for the character designs – they don’t feel as clean or modern as most other contemporary anime characters, even though I understand that’s the style also of the original manga.

Sweetie: 4/5 – Chise is a unique female lead. In the begining she is broken inside, however we watch her become stronger and transform due to her magic training and new found feelings and emotions.

Story: 10/10 – (Note there may be spoilers in this paragraph up to episode 12). The story is quite interesting, Chise has seen strange monsters and creatures since she was very young. Paralyzed by fear, Chise withdraws from the world around her. Her parents are unsure how to handle her, so her dad runs off and her mother kills herself. Chise is passed off to other family members but they also don’t know how to handle Chise’s unique condition. At one point, Chise discovers someone very similar to herself, able to see the same creatures as well. He grants Chise a special book. In the end, he entrusts Chise with a special request which leads her on her path. Chise wants to escape her world, to the point she tries to kill herself, and doesn’t care what happens to her or anyone else. Sensing Chise’s magical abilities, men approach her and get her to sign a contract, placing her in a strange auction for magical goods. Elias meets Chise at this auction and purchases her to be his apprentice, and future bride. Thus Chise’s magical training begins. Chise is later discovered to be a Sleigh Beggy. A person who can see spirits and fairies. These people usually live short lives because their magic powers are so strong and so draining. Elias is working on a spell that can break the “curse” upon Chise, while also showing her love and affection and giving her a home for the first time. Chise’s heart begins to open and she too begins to show Elias what it is like to be loved for the first time. As part of their “honey moon” they travel around the world helping people with magic quests, which further help Chise develop her skills and talents.

At time of this blog post, the series is halfway complete, with many more mysteries and questions to be answered:

What/Who is Elias? (I haven’t read the manga, and I’m probably way off base, but I wonder if he’s at all related to the person who gave her the book at the beginning of the anime)

WTF happened to Chise’s little sister/brother? Maybe it’s as simple as a miscarriage? Maybe it’s related to why Chise’s mom killed herself?

Why did Chise’s mom kill herself? (It’s later revealed that she at one point really loved Chise, and that both of her parents saw the same spirits and creatures that Chise sees)

What happened to Chise’s father? Will he ever be back in the picture?

Will Chise die from her magical abilities, or will Elias find a way to save her?

Will Elias ever become human?

Can Chise and Elias’ love survive all of the odds against them?

All of these questions keep you intrigued and watching each week.

Characters: 8/10 – The characters are interesting and unique. Chise starts out very weak and hard to like, but as the series progresses she matures and finds her own confidence and independence. We also witness the relationship and Elias’ changes as well. All of the minor characters are also awesome. Silky is so funny even though she is silent. And the back story of how Chise gets her familiar, Ruth, is very touching. Ruth is one of my favorite characters in the anime.

Artwork: 3/5 – I’m not a fan of the character designs as mentioned above; they just don’t seem very clean and kinda have a retro vibe. The backgrounds and effects on the other hand are lovely.

Music: 5/5 – This anime has some of the best music I have ever heard. I love both the opening and ending, but my favorite song is Iruna Etelero, the flower song that Lindel sings in episodes 11 and 12. It’s maybe my favorite song, ever, of all time, from anything, tv, anime, video game, radio, etc. It’s so beautiful and soothing.

Voice Acting: 5/5 – The voice acting is also another highlight of this anime. They really make the characters more unique and bring their emotions to life. From the deep booming voice of Elias, to the sweet soft voice of Lindel, or the sarcastic and sadistic voice of one of the series’ first villains, each character is well cast.

Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Anime, Anime Review, Fantasy, Manga, Manga Review, Review, Scifi, Shoujo

Please Save My Earth Anime and Manga Review

Today I’m reviewing a very old manga / anime which is often credited as being (one of) the first (widely successful) Shoujo manga. Its art and story influenced other mangaka like Naoko Takeuchi – In fact there are many similarities between Please Save My Earth and Sailor Moon.

For example, both Please Save My Earth and Sailor Moon deal with lovers who were reincarnated on another planet having lost memories of their past lives and fated to meet again and remember sometimes happy, sometimes painful and sad memories. Both manga also focus heavily especially on the Earth and the Moon. There’s super powers in each one, and tales of friendship, betrayal, trust, love, jealousy, greed, and bullying.

Please Save My Earth is quite a bit darker than Sailor Moon. It’s more violent, it deals with more adult themes, and pushes some boundaries in what is common for a young girl to be reading.

Both manga also have same sex relationships and other issues that most other comics – or any form of entertainment media – typically shy away from.

Please Save My Earth features a love triangle and a lot more drama and suspense around this relationship dynamic, in fact, the relationship becomes catalyst for some of the series’ action and fighting scenes later.

But at the heart of both manga, you find a love story that has survived even after the main characters’ deaths. The timeless love story with its themes of reincarnation and the endearing characters as well as action and drama make it easy to see why Please Save My Earth is one of the best selling and most influential comics for girls of all time. It sold over 15 million units in Japan alone. Not counting reprints and other editions in other languages.

The English manga is hard to find now as it is out of print. Copies pop up from time to time, but typically sell for over $50 per issue. With 21 issues, things can get expensive quickly. Luckily, thanks to the wonders of technology, there is a cheaper solution. You can get the kindle editions of each volume for around $6 a piece. Click here to see all of the kindle editions of Please Save My Earth Manga.

If you do want the physical editions of the paper back manga, Barnes and Nobles as of this writing currently has most of the volumes in stock for $9.99 each. Much cheaper than amazon. There are a few volumes which are out of stock; and there’s the fact that this manga has been out of print for 10+ years now. So if you’re interested in those out of stock issues you will have to turn to sites like Amazon or Ebay. Here is a link to purchase the paperback Please Save My Earth manga on Barnes and Nobles Website.

The only version of the anime I have ever seen has been horribly butchered and edited – at least I’m assuming it has been significantly altered – I haven’t seen the original source material. If you look closely at the credits of both the dub and the sub English anime versions, you will see it says “Based on the screenplay by so-and-so” Based on? That’s odd. Why wouldn’t it just say “Screenplay written by so and so” – This tells me a lot of liberties were taken with this release.

Even though I’m sure the original screenplay far exceeds any of the English versions, I have never seen it available anywhere online (such as fansubbed, or etc with a more faithful translation.) So all I can do is merely speculate at the existence of some far superior anime than that which I grew up watching as a kid. Despite all of that — It’s still one of my favorite anime of all time.

Sadly, the anime is only about half of the story. It covers the first few volumes of the manga, but there’s still much much more left to be discovered. The anime is good, but really, if you want to understand the whole story, and see it as it was meant to be told without all the editing, then just go read the manga.

This anime is SCREAMING to be remade – from the facts that:

  • It was horribly edited for an English Release (not that anime studios in Japan probably care about this)
  • It is old and no longer licensed nor easily available
  • It never told the whole story of the manga
  • It is one of the best selling shoujo manga of all time and a critical influence to many other famous shoujo series including Sailor Moon
  • It’s a tale as old as time – Star Crossed Reincarnated Lovers and the tragedy and highs and lows that this all entails
  • It has mass market appeal – there’s a ton of fighting and action – there’s also a ton of romance and drama
  • The original one had ugly artwork and I would like to see it with a cleaner animation style and more attractive character designs.
  • But those screams seem to fall onto deaf ears! Will we ever see a proper 26 episode full season anime adaption of one of the best shoujo manga of all time? (based on sales figures) – It seems that since it SOLD VERY WELL – there would be an AUDIENCE (of at LEAST 15 million fans) wanting to see a GOOD FAITHFUL anime adaptation – and something longer than 6 episodes and a pasted together OVA or 2.
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    Animals, Anime, Anime Review, Drama, Fantasy, Featured, Film and Television, Kawaii Cute, Mystery, Review, Slice of Life, TV and Film

    The Red Turtle Anime Review

    I just purchased and watched “The Red Turtle” last night. The silent animated feature length film was done, in part, by Studio Ghibli, famous animators of feature length family favorite anime films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and The Cat’s Return, just to name a few.

    I have to admit, I didn’t really do my research on this title (and didn’t realize it was a silent film until I began watching it), but every time I saw a preview, I just wanted to see it oh so badly. When I realized I could buy it for only $10 more than the “rental” price ($15 vs $5) I immediately purchased it.

    For about the first 20 – 40 minutes of the film, I felt disappointed and disinterested; that quickly changed as the plot began to advance, and by the end I was so emotionally invested that I was crying.

    Read on for the full review below.

    Title: The Red Turtle

    Studio: Studio Ghibli

    Release Date (theatrical limited release) : January 20, 2017 (dvd / bluray) : May 2nd, 2017

    Length: 1 hour and 20 minutes

    Geeky: 3/5 – The beautiful artwork has a story book like quality while the musical score helps covey the feelings of the wordless cast of characters.

    Sweetie: 5/5 – Without any voice, this movie still manages to tell an uplifting, wholesome, sad, touching, and romantic tale. This film reminded me of the Song of the Sea (which I also HIGHLY recommend and will eventually get around to reviewing). It also reminded me of a silent “Little Mermaid”. Or a little of the Tom Hanks “Castaway” film or Swiss Family Robinson.

    Overall:  42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

    Story: 8/10 If you’ve watched any of those films, you can guess some of the themes present in the Red Turtle, a story about a man shipwrecked on an island trying first to leave the island, then coming to accept his new life and live off the land.

    There’s really several stories within the story here if you’re paying attention. At first, it is just the man and the sea and land and creatures there of. But a miracle occurs one day, turning a lonely devastated man, into a protector, caregiver, lover, and eventually father.

    It’s a very circle of life tale. You watch all of the characters as they age, grow up, grow old, while witnessing their triumphs and struggles as they evolve and grow.

    Although there are no words, and it takes some getting used to (at least for me; the only other silent film I’ve ever liked is Wall-e.), if you keep watching, you will eventually fall in love with the characters, and by the end it will leave you in tears, as it did for me.

    It does start slow. I think the first 30ish minutes of the man being alone on the island could have been cut down to about 10-15 minutes and still conveyed the same point, that he is unable to leave the island, that he is angry, cold, bitter, and vengeful, etc. — Still after the appearance of other humans, we witness how their love for him changes the man into a much different and better person.

    Characters: 8/10 : The characters have no names, and no real back stories. It’s never explained exactly how or why things happened the way they did; whether that was intentional to allow you to insert yourself into their shoes, or just the nature of the silent story telling format, it doesn’t matter because the characters are still incredibly real, raw, and full of emotion and personality even without back stories and without voices. I felt an immediate connection to the characters and felt myself emotionally invested and caring about what fates and circumstances fell upon them.

    Animation: 8/10 – Although it’s not done in any kind of “traditional” anime style (big eyes, fantasy hair colors, etc), it still has charm. The sea, the starlit sky, the forests, the land, and even the characters. This film had to rely 50 / 50 on music as well as animation to tell the story. The characters’ movements had to convey their emotion. This is no easy task, yet it is one that this film excels at. Whether it’s capturing the curiosity of a small child, the desperation and isolation of a lonely man, the love and tenderness of a woman, or the animals who share the island with the small family, there is no shortage to emotion and charm in the animation.

    Music: 10/10 – Think of this as basically Fantasia meets the Little Mermaid. The music score, when music is present, is vital in telling the story. Many times throughout the film there will be little to no music and only ambient noises and sound effects. This makes the power of the instrumental musical pieces even more powerful when it is used to convey the emotions of the cast or even the power of nature itself.

    Overall:  42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

    Anime, Anime Review, Drama, Fantasy, Featured, Film and Television, Mystery, Review, Slice of Life, TV and Film

    Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review

    Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
    Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

    Overview:

    Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.

    The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.

    Review:

    Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)

    Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)

     

    Production: Bejing Enlight Media

    Geeky:  5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.

    Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!

    Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

    Concept:

    Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.

    I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.

    Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:

    +*0+*

    Anime, Anime News, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Film and Television, Funny, Kawaii Cute, Magical Girl, Manga, News, Preview, Shoujo, Shoujo, Slice of Life, TV and Film

    New Cardcaptor Sakura Anime is “In the Works”

    Crunchyroll shared news lastnight that a new Cardcaptor Sakura anime has been announced to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Cardcaptor Sakura manga. Earlier this year it was reported that a new Cardcaptor Sakura manga would be released that would continue the adventures of Sakura and her friends as they enter into Junior High.

    No information is available at this time as to if the new Cardcaptor Sakura anime will follow the newly announced manga, or whether it will be a series or stand-alone movie, or perhaps a reboot or remake of the original series (for example, taking the route of fellow magical girl Sailor Moon and what she did for her anniversary with the new Sailor Moon Crystal anime), or perhaps this new Cardcaptor Sakura anime will be something new entirely. Also no release date or voice actor cast or further info has been released just yet, which indicates it may be well into 2017 or even 2018 before we actually get to see this new anime.

    Crunchyroll currently has all of the original anime to view on their site. I personally need to sit down and marathon them all at some point. Over the years, I’ve seen a dozen or so episodes and at least 2 of the movies, and from what I’ve seen it’s a very cute show! Just so much to watch and so little time that I never “got into it” as much as I would expect to be into a magical girl romantic comedy / fantasy adventure such as this.

    Now that the new show has been announced that motivates me to want to hurry up and watch the original episodes 🙂 I know what my plans will be this weekend lol. Anyone else?

    City Building, Fantasy, Featured, Free Game, Funny, Game Review, Review, Strategy

    Stormfall Age of War Strategy Game Review

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    Title: Stormfall Age of War

    Genre: Strategy Game

    Developer: Plarium

    Platform: You can play it directly in your computer browser. Or they also have a mobile app for both android and IOS when you are on the go.

    Where to Get the Game: It’s free to play and you can find the apps or browser version at the official website. Link at top of this post.

    Overall: 84/100 84% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

    Geeky: 5/5 The ability to lead huge troops and the skill tree and city building aspects make this game high on the geek list.

    Sweetie: 3/5 It’s a “pretty” game, but there’s not much “cute” – there’s also not much customization as far as appearances go. The story although funny, is mostly just there to move you through the quests and progress through the game, and not there to give you a sense of who’s who, why your kingdoms are at war, or about the lore or setting in the game world.

    Concept: 9/10 Stormfall is a smart, sarcastic, witty, funny browser game which offers a large variety of quests, areas to explore, massive scale combat, ability to customize which research you take on, an awesome musical score and beautiful lush graphics with voice acting by a smart-alec narrator. While it does little to innovate the strategy genre, it is still a fun game for anyone who loves these city building types of games, and the high production values will keep you entertained, while daily quests and lots of things to see, do, build, and explore will have you replaying this game often.

    Gameplay: 10/10 Like most strategy games, there is a city building aspect which the game introduces early on. You build farms to feed your troops, iron mines to get materials to arm your troops, and earn taxes to help fund your troops. You build libraries to research magic, and other structures to help build new types of weapons, armor, and unlock new units to add to your armies.

    There’s also a skill tree element called the “Art of War” where you can customize which talents you learn, learning them in different order will branch off to letting you learn different skills, such as fortification, bows, thieves, trading, smuggling, etc. This is where a lot of the initial strategy comes into play.

    The tutorial really helps new players jump right into the game and learn the mechanics. The narrator keeps the game entertaining and gives it a fresh perspective. From research, to city building, to intrigue, alliances, and battles, this game offers many options to let you take charge of your kingdoms.

    The user interface is clean and intuitive, and combat feels dynamic but yet not overly complex or frustrating. The game has a good sense of balance between building and researching and battling to progress your kingdom.

    Story: 7/10 – This game cracks me up – it is so funny LOL. You’ll see the humor right away within the first few seconds of the tutorial. The humor is accented by great voice acting! I’ve never seen a strategy game take such a sarcastic approach. It’s very refreshing! It makes it stand out in a sea of similar mobile games. It makes it unique and memorable and keeps me playing for longer. Beyond the humor though it seems like not much is revealed about the world, characters, lore, history, or setting of the game.

    Characters: 3/10 The only character that’s given much personality is the narrator. I kinda feel this is a missed opportunity, as your advisers could have been given much more personality, and dialog even if it was only written and not voiced. I also think the game is missing a gameplay element by not letting you “recruit” advisers or having some bonuses/enhancements for different advisers, or aging/dying/marrying/mentoring etc of advisers, like many other games in this genre offer.

    Graphics: 10/10 – The game is brought to live with beautiful detailed 3D environments and rich fantasy artwork and animation.

    Music: 10/10 – For a little mobile/browser game, this game has some seriously wonderful music. It reminds me a lot of the music from Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. Very pretty and the same “fantasy” vibe. It’s very dramatic music. There’s a good variety too, from very intense drum solos, to calming harp-like music.

    Voice Acting: 7/10 – I’m surprised there’s voice acting throughout much of the game, and it’s actually pretty good. I like the tone, humor (at times), and deliverance throughout. However, very few of the key characters in the game are voiced and voice is given primarily through a narrator.

    Community: 10/10 – Whether it’s chatting in game, forming alliances, recruiting your friends, joining a league, trading at the market, or using the official forums this game has a great sense of community that offers a break from the routine tasks of managing your kingdom.

    Replay Value: 10/10 The daily quests, and sheer amount of things to build, do, and learn about this game make it worth logging in daily to work on your kingdom.

    Overall: 84/100 84% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

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