Friday, September 30, 2005

Smallville Makes Me Sad

Smallville...I'm not gonna bother giving background on this show because frankly if you don't know, then you shouldn't waste your time on this entry...or maybe this blog for that matter. The WB heralds this season as "Legend," and while the season premiere entitled "Arrival" does make some references to two "legendary" Superman movies, the episode itself is ultimately disappointing. The only saving grace is the hint of a better storyline than last year's series of unfortunate episodes (most of which had no plot at all).
Smallville Season Premiere: "Arrival" - 3/5
Oh, if you haven't seen the episode yet...I may or may not include spoilers, I haven't decided yet. Don't look at the pictures :P
Arrival continues from last season's finale, with Clark trapped in a frozen wasteland. The episode is filled with Superman references, including the Fortress of Solitude, two evil kryptonians who I'm told are also in the Superman movie, making it worth a look just for the hardcore superman fans.

I'm sure Lana would love it.
In terms of character development...
... that's what this show never had.
Oh wait, I suppose Clark and Lana finally getting together formally counts. And Clark finding out that Chloe knows. And Clark and Lois's relationship extending beyond annoying bickering.


Plotwise, the episode is pretty good. Clark faces two of the most powerful beings he's ever had to fight. Unfortunately, the climactic battle of the episode is dreadfully lame, and has to be the most disappointing fight scene in Superman history. You'd think a Superman show would have Superman fighting a bit more often, but the climactic battle of this season premiere is Clark pushing the two bad guys into a dimensional prison...that's right. They don't fight. At all. They take turns pushing each other. Clark pushes better apparently.

...or maybe not so much. You two need to learn how to push better.

All references aside, the episode was a big let-down. Despair not, however, for there is yet hope. Arrival ends with a haunting scene of a certain James Marsters materializing out of physics-defying elements...with an alien spacecraft in the background. I, having spoiled it for myself, already know who this person is going to be...and i'm sure a lot of you have guessed it already.

It's Spike! Superman is no match for William the Bloody!

Let's just hope this season has more good episodes than the last one.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Naruto Makes Me Sad

...i wonder who he will forgive.

...does that even make sense?! WHY NARUTO WHY DO YOU SUCK NOW :'(

Screenshots come from the latest naruto episode. When will the filler end?!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

For Love of Legal

I think the hardest part of blogging is making up interesting and relevant titles. I think I succeeded this time tho! Or maybe i just succeeded at being lame...probably the latter. well, fudge you too :P
Boston Legal - 4/5
Anyway, today's title references the critically acclaimed but relatively unknown show called "Boston Legal." A spinoff of "The Practice," Boston Legal continues the story of Alan Shore and his wildly unorthodox legal practice with the firm Crane, Poole and Schmidt. Featuring an...interesting...cast (including James Spader and William Shatner), this legal drama is highly entertaining and I highly recommend it.

Here's Alan Shore telling off the judge in front of a courtroom of people. Ballsy.
Like The Practice, Boston Legal deals with current events and issues, moral quandaries, and has a whole crapload of character development (always a plus). Alan Shore's character in particular is especially interesting, because he alternates between an amoral jackass to champion of justice. Unlike the Practice, however, Boston Legal is much more upbeat and has a very...light-hearted feel to it. There are serious and dramatic moments, of course, but Practice was much darker (especially towards the end of the series).

The Black Widow...Alan's latest client. Supposedly she killed her 70-year old rich husband. Will we ever know the truth?!

Personally I like the Practice's storylines better (much more twisty), but Boston Legal is a worthy spinoff that stands on its own. The show flip-flops between deep, thought-provoking discussion about issues such as evolution v. creationism, the death penalty, etc. to complete absurdity that I'm sure no one will ever see in an actual courtroom. Alan Shore talks back to the judges so much I'm surprised he hasn't been disbarred.

The staff of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt...looking at porn. No, seriously.

Unfortunately, ABC decided to shelve the last third of the first season in favor of Grey's Anatomy...which supposedly is also good and brought in better ratings. All I know is that Boston Legal is good...and you should watch it. ABC is airing the remaining episodes of the first season and then continuing on with the second season on tuesdays at 10:ooPM. Be there...or I'll sue you.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The numbers are bad...

For all you Lost fans...look carefully at that bottle...and what the guy does with it.

Honey, I'll be right there. Just let me inject myself with cursed number medicine first.
And I thought this was somewhat amusing...

I wanna play Feet Fighter too! Smelly Foot attack yarrr!!!

Rediscovering the Classics: Dragon Force

Sega Saturn...sigh. That system had some truly great titles, but unfortunately they never gathered the following that some other games have had...(*cough* final fantasy *cough*). And since then most of these games and the saturn itself have faded from memory...which, I suppose nicely foreshadows Sega's decision to stop making consoles. Interestingly enough, I never personally owned a Saturn system, and only played it on my friend's very rarely.
I guess that wasn't that interesting. Poo.

Dragon Force (Sega Saturn) - 5/5

Wein and Mikhal duke it out.

Anyway, the one game that I always wanted to play but probably played only once or twice on an actual Saturn system was Dragon Force. Dragon Force was I'd say revolutionary at the time it came out, because it combined real-time strategy with role-playing elements, and a nice albeit somewhat generic storyline. You played as one of 8 chosen warriors (all who happen to lead countries, conveniently) destined to stop a great threat. Each leader then had his/her own officers and cities etc. As you made your bid for power across the land, you'd encounter other chosen warriors who would join you (after you beat them into submission that is).
In short, the gameplay was fantastic and I think Dragon Force is what inspired a lot of my own fantasy storylines. Unfortunately, when I really wanted to play, my friend had somehow lost or loaned his copy away...and then the Saturn was shelved for other projects.
The world map...spritey.
I tried desperately to find some way to play the game without having to buy an outdated system, but to no avail. At the time, emulation with the Saturn was extremely difficult and there was no working emulator that could emulate commercial games.

Yum...tastey soldier dinner tonight!

Until very recently that is. A decade after I was first introduced to Dragon Force, I finally managed to obtain a working emulator and a copy of Dragon Force. It's remarkable how satisfying such old gameplay mechanics and sprite-based graphics can still be. Dragon Force is a definite classic in my book, and you should definitely give it a try...if you're bored enough :P

...I'll be right back. Forgot my fork.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Moving in and Final Fantasy VII: Last Order

So I'm sort of moved in to my dorm at ucla now...sort of, because i'm not technically supposed to be here. eh, oh well. Most of the rest of my stuff is with somebody who I do not know. I'm supposed to call him, but I haven't yet. Oh well.

Hedrick 7 South is...the same. I already miss Sproul so much...the walk is seriously twice as excruciating, especially since it's up two more hills. They better have udon here or i will be pissed.

I got to see most of the Sproul 4 North gang yesterday, although I only saw may for 2 seconds cuz she was moving in and I was lugging my monitor up the hill. Still, it was good to see you guys. Come up tonight for Lost! The second season premieres at 8PM on ABC. Be here...or be...uh...fear.

Anyway, my anime wanderings has led me to this:

Apparently it's some sort of single episode of Final Fantasy VII describing what happened during those mysterious 5 years that are so vague in the game. I'm not sure if it's gonna become a series, but I doubt it.

Like Advent Children, you'll really need an understanding of what happened in the game to be able to understand what's going on here. A lot of the scenes are actually taken from the game, so veterans will be able to recognize things like this:

Burn, baby, burn!

The episode is passable, but nothing really special. There are a few action scenes, none of which are really that great, either compared to other anime or to Advent Children. The story is interesting, simply because it's ff7, although nothing new is revealed...The sound is alright...there were only a few music themes that I recognized...although I suppose they couldn't cram it all in a 20 minute episode.

Cloud pulls a Naruto. He forgot the 'Dattebayo!' at the end though.

Mildly entertaining, but not as good as Advent Children. It has the potential to get better though...if they make more episodes that is.

You want a number? Fine.

Final Fantasy VII: Last Order - 3/5

Monday, September 19, 2005

Advent Children Review / I don't want to finish packing

Why is it that I don't want to finish packing even though I'm 95% done? In any case, if you don't want to be spoiled at all for Advent Children, don't look at the pictures, don't read the review, and don't...well...don't come to this site, cuz this is probably gonna be here for awhile. Oh, just as a warning, i'm going to be using the word "pretty" a lot in this review.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children - 8/10
Advent Children came out in Japan on the 13th of September 2005, and I've had the great fortune of watching it twice already, once on a laptop, and once with a projector (I recommend the projector :D). For those of you awaiting an American release - i fear the dub - as of this date there has yet to be word on that. But I think I read somewhere that the american release would follow the Japanese one by a month at latest.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was admittedly a big flop, and like a multi-billion dollar net loss (or something like that) for Sony. I wouldn't say Advent Children affords a complete redemption for Final Fantasy cinema, but it's definitely a big step in the right direction. I have to say I was very satisfied with the movie (even though some parts of it were admittedly disappointing), and would recommend it to anybody. Do note that a good background with the game will make the movie a lot easier to understand however...
To get right to the point, the best part of this movie are the graphics/animation/cg...whatever. You know what I mean. This movie is PRETTY. So pretty that I'm not ashamed to use the word pretty. Multiple times. Pretty. Pretttyyyyyy. PRETTY. The things they do...let's just say it's like a feast for your eyes. I mean, I got the feeling that some scenes were just put in to show off what technology can do now. Admittedly, some of the animation is still a little clunky, but overall its fantastic. And not just the battles too, although they were definitely the highlight. Just look:

Look at that detail! You can practically see the dandruff in her hair, and that pimple on her nose.

Of course, there are other things that movies generally tend to have in this day and age besides graphics. Like story, and characters, and sound and all that crap. WHO CARES. BEHOLD THE PRETTY.
Fine, I do care. And unfortunately, it's the story that ultimately prevents Advent Children from being perfect. While the premise is interesting enough, the execution and delivery of the meat of the story leaves me somewhat confused, skeptical, and otherwise unimpressed. Certain plot points just seem too convenient. Admittedly, the version I watched was fan-subbed, so some things may have been lost in translation. Still, I felt that the whole experience could have been dramatically better if the story were up to par with that of the original game.
...but hey, it's so pretty.
The sound and music are excellent as well. Fans of the original FF7 will definitely notice how the developers include very...memorable pieces of music from the game into the movie (all changed slightly of course...there are a lot of piano solos...I want that sheet music).
And hey, in the end, it's a movie about the cast of FF7. Just watching them kick ass guarantees an enjoyable time. Any self-respecting Final Fantasy fan should definitely watch this...and uh the dvd when it comes out.

(left): the annoyingest one of them all...her and her materia stealing.

(center): the fairest one of them all...i heart you...

(right): ...or maybe he's the fairest one of them all!

...what, his hair is the most blonde.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Farewell Norcal

Mmm...goodbye to you msj people. It's been fun...(when we were actually doing things that is...not the boring parts). I will see you guys in december!

don't kill me, ucla freshmen...or I'll steal all the condoms.

Seriously, I wonder what this year is going to be like...Me, matt and the RAs are probably going to be the only non-freshmen on the floor...if they're social maniacs then I fear i will be returning to my hermit crab shell.

Then again, for me it's easier meeting people younger than myself...I don't know why. Ah well, we'll see. I miss sproul 426. May and Mela you better take good care of it. And remember, matt has uh...done it...on both the beds! and the room is also infested with his self-made chemical weapons. Matt, you sly devil you.

*upcoming posts in no particular order*

- Summer Movie Reviews

  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
  • ...and other ones that I feel like reviewing.

- UCLA Move-in 2005

- whatever the heck else i want to bore you with

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Basilisk Review

Basilisk - 3.5/5

You can never get enough action in an anime...or at least, that's my opinion. Basilisk is essentially Naruto, except it's much darker, doesn't involve annoying kid ninjas who spout the same 4 lines over and over, and is set in Japanese history. Oh, and did I mention there's lots of action?

The best thing about Basilisk, has to be its ample use of cool ninja fighting. The story behind all this fighting is somewhat generic, but its passable I suppose...anyway, it's all about the fight sequences.

Basically, two ninja clans with a deeply-embedded hatred for one another are trying to kill each other off. Why? Basically because they can. There's very little nonsense, and each episode is filled guessed it. lots of action.

Where Basilisk falls short is with its characters... Unlike Trinity Blood, where the characters are just annoying, Basilisk has several very interesting characters, all of them ninja, each with their own special ability. Unfortunately, you're never given a chance to really connect with these characters, because I can guarantee that at least one major character dies every one or two episodes or so. And since there's only around 20 of them or so, and there's already been 14-15 can imagine that there's not many of the original cast that's made it this far.

So basically it comes down to the fighting. And it is cool. And that's good enough for me.

Where are his arms and legs?! Oh wait, that's his special ability. To be able to move without his arms or legs.

Trinity Blood Review

Trinity Blood - 3.5/5
I had just finished Full Metal Alchemist and was looking for something slightly more action packed...and this is what I found. Another vampire anime, there are some new concepts in this one (I think, I haven't seen any other vampire anime...though I hear Hellsing is highly recommended), and overall I'd say it's worth a look. Don't expect to be blown away though. Trinity Blood has a lot of things going for it...but it balances that out with a lot of things that (to me) just aren't that great.
Take for example the main character, Abel Nightroad (above). He may look cool now, but let me assure you - 90% of the time he is a complete idiot. And this is coming from me... Basically this guy has to be the most incompetent main character of any series I've ever seen. It's not even funny how clumsy, awkward, and generally ridiculous this guy acts. You'd think a special agent would be able to...uh, let's see, WALK without falling down once in awhile. Not to mention his's reached new levels of annoying.
Ok, so my main beef with this show is probably the main character. Everything else is pretty well done, the cg in particular is done very nicely along with the animation. Trinity Blood also features some very nice music that sets the atmosphere well. In terms of story, there are some slow points in the beginning, but right now it's definitely picking up (it's still ongoing, so I have yet to see the ending).
Combat is very nice to look at...the action scenes are very well done - and another bonus -when the main character is in combat, he's not as annoying. Now, if only he were forced to be in combat at all times...

Imagine looking at this for 20 out of 22 minutes, and there you have Trinity Blood.

This is a lot cooler, but remember, you have to sit through 20 minutes of omgiwanttokillthatannoyingbastard before you get to the 2 minutes of this.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Mai Hime Review

Mai Hime - 4/5
Laugh at me and die, but Mai Hime is shamefully similar to Sailor Moon in many respects...and Power Rangers in others. It's basically about this academy whose female students have special powers and can call out special robot summon monster thingamablobs to fight for them as well.
Now, before you've lost all respect for me, let me just say that this series is deceptively good. After you get past the fact that the basic premise is so sad, the series is actually quite deep. The characters are likable, the plot is thick and interesting, and the series gets very dark and tragic towards the end.
It's not perfect though...I was disappointed with the battles mostly because I thought they relied on their summons too much (but then, I think that about all shows/games/etc with summons.) Also, the first half of the show is somewhat slow in terms of plot. It tries to spice it up with some humor, some pervertedness, and some perverted humor, but it doesn't always work.
I didn't like the ending either...a little too much "deus ex machina" for me. Although, that might just be me.

Stop staring you pervs.

Speed Grapher Review

Speed Grapher - 4/5

I was somewhat skeptical about this anime when I first read about it. I had just finished Full Metal Alchemist, and all the episodes of Trinity Blood I could find, and was looking for another series with more action in it to sate my bloodlust, and I stumbled across this series on . At the time it was rated #1 anime series there, so I decided to give it a shot.

Overall, this series is pretty good. The basic premise is about a photographer and him suddenly stumbling upon the ability to blow things up by taking a picture of it. This is actually what gave me pause the first time I was looking at it on narutofan...I mean, I'm all for innovative combat, but killing people by taking their picture?...that's just...weird.

Fortunately, Speed Grapher has a lot going for it besides the action (which admittedly isn't bad at's actually pretty interesting how the guy manages to do it...and there are a lot of other characters who have cooler abilities too. Noteworthy is the main bad guy, who has the ability to use his blood as a weapon. That was really cool, if a bit gross). The plot is suitably interesting...a lot of political intrigue, if you're into that stuff...and then there's the whole thing with how the heck did these guys get these powers.

There are some flaws...some episodes just aren't that interesting, and the female lead can get kind of annoying. Also, personally I just don't like the main character's power. There, I said it. Camera-exploding powers just aren't that cool to me.

...that doesn't look fun...or does it?

The series is still ongoing, so I have yet to see the ending...I'm sincerely hoping that somewhere along the way the main character will have his power...improved. We'll see, I guess.

Oh, and just to warn you if you want to check this series out, there's a lot of, everything. Nudity, sex, violence, there's even a scene where the guy's girlfriend has sex with him while's he's comatose...i'm not sure if that counts as rape or not...but anyway, be warned.

Full Metal Alchemist Review

Full Metal Alchemist - 5/5

Although FMA was recommended to me over a year ago, I only started watching it this summer due to my complete boredom. The only thing that I regret about watching it now is that I already know the story, and I wish I could erase this part of my memory just so that I could watch it again.

Full Metal Alchemist features an excellent cast of characters and a storyline that is...compelling, to say the least. To give a brief synopsis, it's about two brothers with the ability to transform and manipulate almost any objects (alchemy).

...ok maybe 'brief' isn't the best word to describe synopsis, but I hesitate to say anymore, simply cuz this series is just so good, I don't wanna ruin anything. In terms of atmosphere, FMA alternates between dark and depressing to light and comedic. It also features some of the most interesting action sequences I've ever seen in an anime...I only wish there were more, but the story more than makes up for it.

Oh, another cool thing about Full Metal Alchemist? There's a character called "Roy Mustang." That's him in the picture above, snapping his fingers. I cool is that?

Bleach Summer Episodes Review

Bleach - 4/5

Bleach's summer episodes have been a mix of spectacular battles, plot and character development, flashbacks, and general suspense-building. Bleach still has that new anime feel to it, whereas Naruto seems to have exhausted its creative resources. The only thing I fault Bleach for is some plot events that are a bit hard to swallow.

*spoilers ahead*

I mean, how many times can Ichigo seriously increase dramatically in power. First, he goes through the training to enter Soul Society...then he gets a power boost, while in battle with Zaraki Kenpachi...and now he's training to be able to release ban-kai? I dunno, I just think this part could have been handled a lot better.

On the other hand, the whole story behind Rukia's execution, Aizen's murder, and all the inter-divisional politics makes for good plot-twisting and cliffhangers.

*end spoilers*

...poor Rukia...she's all depressed.

Naruto Summer Episodes Review

Here goes...blame boredom for this.

Here's a list of all the anime that I've watched over this painstakingly long and dull summer. Most of it I've been mildly amused with, so if you're ever that bored...

Naruto - 2.5/5

Summer Naruto has been disappointing, probably because it's all filler. There have been several small story arcs, most of which involve naruto and company trying to find sasuke, and failing...basically, these plots have no point.

*spoilers ahead*

Except for the recent Hinata/Bikouchu storyline, all the plots have been devoid of any real character development. In fact, the first storyline centered mostly around Sakura, and much to my chagrin, not only did her character not develop, she actually TOOK A STEP BACKWARD and reversed to her old cowardly useless self. The storyline involving Iruka and Mizuki was also depressing...I seriously don't understand how Iruka came to be a chuunin...any of the genin could kick his ass. The Bikouchu storyline was a small saving grace...Hinata's character really shines in this one.

*end spoilers*

Basically, if you're bored then these are some mildly entertaining episodes set in the narutoverse, but don't expect anything good. Naruto's dialogue especially is getting very's basically been reduced to these four lines.

-That is my way of the ninja!
-I'll never forgive you!

The fact that each of these is no longer than 10 words, and that all of them end in an exclamation point should be a fair enough warning. in point ;P