Tuesday, April 29

A look into Gunpla industry

Interesting look into plastic model kit manufacturing colossus, Bandai.

Gundam Crisis

Woo, me want to go there. And am I the only one noticed the life sized Ball in the back ?

Sword of Stranger/Mukoh Handan/ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- (2007)


Set in Period of Warring States of Japan, this is a tale of 3 foreigners in Land of Rising Sun. An entourage of Ming Dynasty vassals led by sinister Lord Byakoryu was in a maritime province of Japan seeking for a boy that touted to have blood that can prolong the Ming Emperor's life. They spare no expense for ritual and wrecking the province with their relentless search after suitable bribing of local daimyo to secure his cooperation. The child in question, Kotarou, was on the run and became very distrustful of people meet a vagabond ronin who called himself a "Man with No Name" or Nanashi, a salute to a certain famous Clint Eastwood movie, "A Fistful of Dollars". After a brief skirmish where the ronin skillfully dispatched few assailants without drawing his purposely tied down blade, the story is set. Throw in a little court intrigue, unrealized loves, tragic destinies and sheer bad-asses kicking each other's butt, the story uses these cliches to perfection.

A symbolic mantis, setting the mood of the movie

Story wise is pretty cliche but what makes up for it is fluid animation and good characterization, especially the dog, Tobimaru. This is the movie where cliche actually works when it is executed properly. From tortured cynical ronin, Nanashi to bloodthirsty lone wolf like persona of Lord Lan Rou, the storyteller succeeded in showing the story without resorting of explaining plot to the audience. Which is good, since movie suppose to show story, not narrate them endlessly. Directed by Mashiro Ando (End of Evangelion, Pani Poni Dash)and animated by Studio Bones ( Rahxephon, Darker than Black, Wolf's Rain) the movie has been in works since 2003.

A cold blue eyes of Lord Lan Rou

Steely glare of determined Nanashi

Story: 8


Oh yes, this is where the movie shines. Each of the fights were skillfully done and there is no repeat animations used in the movie. The surrounding was bleak, in tune with the movie overall theme on fraility of human life under stresses of destiny. The action was fluid and furious, the scenes where antagonist, Lord Lan Rou showing his Chinese sword fighting was awe-inspiring for quality of animation.

Studio Bones really showed why they are in the business with this movie.

Animation: 10


The main theme was grand and epic like feel but the rest of soundtrack do not stand out that much in my opinion. In fact the movie's animation and character seem to overwhelm the soundtrack and there is nothing much to shout about really.

In this department, nothing really stands out except the main leitmotif of the movie.

Sound: 5


This movie moves me to tears of joy for sheer beauty of animation and able to press emotional switches in me especially scenes of bonding between Kotarou and Nanashi while they fighting off skillful warriors of Ming Dynasty. The dog, Tobimaru is the bridge between a sullen boy and tortured sword fighter which is a brilliant idea in my opinion. On the other side, the bored expression Lord Lan Rou underscores his pain that he is unable to test his sword skill against a worthy opponent. Hence it is perfectly understandable that he is very excited and alive when he met Nanashi, a meeting between 2 alpha lone "wolves" in wilderness of Japan. Lord Lan Rou is destructive force of nature and he has his own twist if audience can figure it out.

Story wise is not very different from much chambara movies but what makes it up as I said earlier is the characterization. It is joy to see the characters realistic development and catharsis with their personal ambition or nightmare in the movie. The movie also tried to portrayed the Ming warriors as tight knit, elite force which succeeded in some ways. Another big plus point for me here is the relatively realistic duels, no fireballs/hadouken or some stupidly ridiculously inhuman ability in fighting. Fast, brutal and unapologetic, I like it that way very much. A judicious play on irony of fates is done well here and it gives the character more colour in the largely merciless narration of the movie especially the title itself which emphasizes on word "stranger" as 3 principal players in the movie are strangers in their own way. The xenophobic of Japanese towards these characters also shown here.

Overall, this is a not to be missed movie for anime fans of chambara genre.

Verdict: 10

Pilot movie.

Friday, April 25

Sword of Stranger

Oh this chambara movie is absolutely gorgeous and beautiful.Action is brutal and fast with likable cast.

Will write more on this.

The TV interview of the cast.

Thursday, April 17

THIS IS SPARTA!!! Animation

This is beyond awesome and some really l33t skills (or high). Be patient and you will see it why I drool over this!

I have nothing to say but humbled by presence of such skillful people. Great to see!

And for fun hahahahha

Lego 300!

Spielberg and Ghost in the Shell. YES!

DreamWorks to make 'Ghost' in 3-D

DreamWorks has acquired rights to the Japanese manga "Ghost in the Shell" with plans to adapt the futuristic police thriller as a 3-D live-action feature.

Story follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.

Created by Masamune Shirow, "Ghost in the Shell" was first published in 1989. It went on to generate two additional manga editions, three anime film adaptations, an anime TV series and three videogames. The second anime film, "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence," was released in the U.S. by DreamWorks in 2004.

Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul of Seaside Entertainment are attached to produce and brought the project to the studio. Jamie Moss has been tapped to pen the adaptation.

Universal and Sony were also chasing "Ghost in the Shell," but Steven Spielberg took personal interest in the property and made it happen at DreamWorks.

" 'Ghost in the Shell' is one of my favorite stories," Spielberg said. "It's a genre that has arrived, and we enthusiastically welcome it to DreamWorks."

DreamWorks prexy of production Adam Goodman said "Ghost in the Shell" is a property "that epitomizes 3-D live-action motion picture possibilities."

Avi Arad is at the forefront of comicbook-based material, having produced the three "Spider-Man" films, the three "X-Men" movies, the two "Fantastic Four" picss and the upcoming "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk."

Moss' writing credits include "Street Kings," which bowed Friday, and "Last Man Home," in development at Universal.

Taken from Variety.

Another article from AICN.

Now this is what I have been waiting for! I was hoping for James Cameron or even Ridley Scott but Speilberg genius is good too.

I also see some big names here and studio which means they taking this work seriously.

Reaction from anime fans is either caustic dismissal or cautious optimism. I am more optimistic about it.

Ah well, nostalgic OP here! Wohooo!

Wednesday, April 9

High tech animation?

International anime fair has diverse themes: High technology and ancient history join familiar characters

Anime characters both new and familiar crowded the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2008 in the form of video clips, plastic models and costumed mascots, but the seventh annual event, which ran from March 27-30 at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center in Ariake, Tokyo, also showcased the newest in animation technology and the oldest in stories from ancient history.

The fair has grown considerably since the first time it was held in 2002, when 104 exhibitors set up display booths that drew 50,163 visitors. In 2007, there were 270 exhibitors and 107,713 visitors, while this year's numbers were 289 exhibitors and 126,622 visitors.

This year, in front of the Nikkatsu Corp. booth, a masked young woman in a slinky black costume posed as cartoon villainess Doronjo to promote the upcoming live-action movie version of the classic anime Yatterman. Elsewhere, people in robot and dinosaur costumes waved to passersby, as did numerous women in maid costumes throughout the hall.

However, no living human being could hope to replicate the icy stare of professional assassin Golgo 13 (a 40-year-old manga character soon to star in an anime series on the TV Tokyo network) or the bloated musculature of Kinnikuman (celebrating his 29th--or "ni-ku"--anniversary with the release of a collectors edition DVD boxed set), so those characters were instead represented by life-sized statues.

Even older characters were borrowed from ancient Chinese history. Shi Huangdi is remembered as the first emperor of a unified China, but after his death in 210 B.C., his heirs fell to fighting among themselves, bringing an end to his dynasty.

Chinese content promoter Koubun Shin of Koubun Co. had a booth at the fair, which she hoped would help her to sell the Japan TV rights to Fuun Tenka, a 100-episode drama about the aftermath of Shi Huangdi's death. She said that with the Beijing Olympics coming up later this year, "I think NHK and other [Japanese] media companies need Chinese content."

She added that the trade goes both ways. "China has a big market, and a lot of people...very much like Japanese anime," she said.

Fuun Tenka stretches the definition of animation in that it is performed by puppets, but at another booth nearby the Japanese firm Future Planet Co. was promoting its 52-episode Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a more traditional 2-D animated epic based on third-century Chinese history, which it coproduced with Beijing Glorious Animation, according to Shuichi Endo of Future Planet.

Despite these ancient influences, most of the fair was focused on the future, especially in terms of technological development and the cultivation of new talent.

Bunkyo Gakuin University in Tokyo was one of several schools that set up booths to promote themselves and their students. Bunkyo Gakuin student Megumi Inagaki, among those manning the booth, pointed to a video screen displaying student animation work and said she hoped that the brief clips might attract advertisers to hire students to do ad work.

Digital Works Entertainment aimed its career-development product at an even younger demographic. On May 22, it will begin to sell a Nintendo DS video game version of novelist Ryu Murakami's nonfiction book for children, Jusansai no Hello Work (Hello Work for 13-year-olds), which describes careers young readers might want to consider for their future.

Mayuko Matsumoto of Digital Works explained that the game, which includes extensive anime segments, creates a storyline by having a character named Miku (voiced by actress Kii Kitano) time-travel from the future to meet modern Japanese children who will have grown up into dull adults to "help them get back their feeling of how to enjoy working." The 29 featured jobs include teacher, mechanic, boxer, lawyer and--of course--game developer.

The overlap between games and animation seems to be growing. Anima, another exhibitor, specializes in making the computer-animated "movie" segments that link together the playable portions of many popular video games. Titles they have done include Sengoku Basara and Final Fantasy Tactics. Anima Producer Daisuke Chonan said his company would also like to branch out into standalone animated films. Snippets of footage for such possible projects were shown on screens at the booth.

Other exhibitors focused specifically on hardware or software. Gemini Technology set up a racecar driving video game at its booth, which demonstrated its ability to project images onto curved screens--in this case a screen that wraps around the driver's field of vision to immerse him or her in the animated world of the video game.

Two Canadian companies were offering animation software aimed at vastly different ends of the skills spectrum. Xtranormal pitches its product, soon to be available online, at people who aren't even beginners. "If you can type, you can animate," said the company's Richard Gratton.

He then demonstrated how a user might choose characters from an existing array, type in a bit of dialog and let the program's server-based voice synthesizer do the rest. Action can be added by clicking on a menu that includes waving, shrugging, basic dance moves, slipping on a banana peel, making rude gestures and so on. Camera angles and sound effects can be changed in the same way, or left to be done automatically.

Gratton compared the process to machinima--films "shot" in video game environments such as Halo or World of Warcraft. "If anything, it's machinima made super, super easy. You're not screen-capturing and then cutting and...overdubbing."

At the other end of the spectrum was Side Effects Software, whose Houdini software is aimed at professional animators.

"Our software has been focused on the feature film market in Hollywood for the past 20 years," account manager David Robert said, adding that various companies had used Houdini on the computer-animated portions of The Golden Compass, as well as recent Spider-Man and Superman movies, the upcoming Narnia sequel Prince Caspian and Pixar's next feature, Wall-E.

"But now we're moving into a phase of our development where we're trying to get more accessible for everyone," he said, explaining that anyone can learn to use the software by trying it for free via the Side Effects Web site, but that the resulting work would have a watermark on it. Anyone wanting watermark-free results would have to pay.

And anyone seriously interested in buying Hollywood-level animation software may also want to look into reserving a booth of their own at next year's anime fair.
(Apr. 4, 2008)

Just in case it got erased from the website, so I post it in verbatim. The original article is here.

Anime and Japan symbiotic relationship of technology

Like Tezuka’s original Astro Boy , a lot of Japanese anim´e portrays robotics in an incredibly strong light, acting as a medium between technology and man. Conversely, like much Western popular culture, many treatments look at the destructive potential technology holds. The distinguishing point though lies in that no matter the perspective within a particular anim´e , its treatment is always mature and multi-faceted.

For example, Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin Seiki Ibangerion, see Figure 3) centres around a young boy, Shinji, in a time where the world has witnessed an apocalyptic event, the Second Impact. The Second Impact occurs within the Arctic Circle and the force of the explosion causes a massive rise in sea levels. Twenty years on, and Earth is invaded by massive aliens called ’Angels’: giant, seemingly indestructible beasts with highly destructive weaponry. The only way Earth can fight back is by using experimental robots called the ’Evangelion’. These robots are powered in part by thought-control and as such require young, teenage minds. Shinji is the second child to be brought into the project to pilot EVA Unit 01, the first operational Evangelion.

As the series progresses, the viewer learns of Shinji’s dislike for the technology he pilots counterbalanced by the strong link he feels toward Unit 01 through the mind control. Toward the end of the series, the viewer starts to learn that the Evangelion units are very similar to the aliens they are fighting; organic beings that are harnessed by robotic technology and piloted by humans.

The Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes (and concluding films) make an interesting casestudy, since technology is explored through the mind of a young teenage boy—torn apart by an unloving father, and a reluctant hero in an inexplicable war against an unknown enemy. While the Evangelion units are Earth’s only hope, the dark and sinister projects behind the technology are portrayed as immoral. Technology as a necessary evil.

(Matthews, 2003)

This dissertation talks about relationship of Japan and technology thru cultural expression.

The PDF is here

Very intersting read.

Nice Mospeada

Damn, this toy looks good.

Impressive cosplay. I mean wow.

Omega Boost

Nice look at this old game. Awesome intro.

One of the best mecha/song scene to me

Until today, I am touched by this song. It is very meaningful and melancholic but beautiful to be heard. Do you remember love indeed.

And the battle scene complimented it well. Long live Lynn Minmay.

And the all Macross theme band. Hehe.

Ugh. Distasteful

Hot Anime Nazi Chicks Coming To PS2/PSP

We honestly don't know what kind of drugs are required to come up with certain Japanese video games, but they must be smokin' some weird stuff over there in the land of the Rising Sun. Here's a good example- ever want to play a game featuring Nazi bikini chicks? No, we're not kidding.

Full article

I honestly disgusted with this rape of history. People fought and die in this war and these game designers making mockery out of it in interest of earning money by appealing to military otakus.

I mean they have this pic, for fuck sake.

What is this suppose to mean? How World War 2 is moe? WHAT THE HELL?!

I have to give this game a massive thumbs down for disrespecting history and sacrifices people have to give so the world have 60 years of global peace now.

Sigh, there is limit of what things can be moe.

Penang cosplay

YOUNGSTERS in Penang took to the streets recently dressed up as their favourite anime characters for a competition.

The Little Penang Street Market in Upper Penang Road looked like a scene out of an anime with the contestants attired in peculiar outfits.

It was the first time that the market traders organised such an event which, although was held on a small scale, was a pretty interesting sight for the patrons. The costumes were elaborate and some came complete with intricate detail.

Full article

I have to say though, the Penang anime fandom seems to be more advanced that Klang Valley scene. They even have a maid cafe in Georgetown, of all things.

Thursday, April 3

Bootfighter Windom XP SP-2

This is beta freeware game, featuring 3rd person perspective high speed mecha combat ala Virtual On and Armoured Core series.

Fast paced and quite exciting, it does have potential if more polish was added on it. Now the mecha selection is pretty limited and most of the them are inspired by SEED universe Gundam homage.

The English patch were released by Mirror Moon bunch. You can get it here.


Tuesday, April 1