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Arcade in the Sky Blog: August 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

New Ranma


New Ranma

I think I'm going to have a heart attack... 0_0
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Negima Note

While at Otakon, I picked up volume one of Negima in a bargain bin. I've been avoiding the series up until now, thinking it was too freaky. I mean 40 girls? That's pushing the harem thing a bit far...

I now see that this is based on a work by Ken Akamatsu, and that changes everything. I was NOT a fan of the animated Love Hina, but the comics were among my fav manga of all time. This animated adaption seems to be holding up a lot better, and I'll have a full review up when I collect the whole series.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Otoboku Review

I got this anime at Otakon, and have been enjoying it a lot, so it's only natural that I put up a review. I should preface this by saying that I have a weakness for gender-bending anime and manga. Ranma was my first anime, so anything with this subject matter has a shard of nostalgia in it for me. Nonetheless, I can still make a fair assessment after I've picked it up.

Otoboku or "Maidens are Falling for Me" is based off a manga from Arashikanao and Caramel Box (huh?). The cover art is BS, as no animated show could look like that. The comic art doesn't even look like that, it is much simpler and "Azumanga dao"-esqe. The show does, however, look good with a high amount of detail without sacrificing fluid and frequent movement. The plot-or lack thereof- concerns a boy, "Mizuho", who must attend a girls school as a condition in his grandfathers will.

Were they out of haunted houses?

From that point, the series takes on most if not all of the archetypes, scenarios, and cliches from other "yuri" shows like MariMite and Strawberry Panic. If you are a fan of those two shows, there's no reason why you wouldn't like this. The show, if fact, have little to do with Mizuho being in drag, and goes along it's merry way as if he were a she. Her character design is completely female and he is voiced by a female voice actor. There is even a point in the sixth episode where one of the main characters-much like the audience-completely forgets that Mizuho is smuggling a twig and two berries in that catholic schoolgirl uniform.

In a way, this show has a leg up on some of the "pure-yuri" fair in that it holds back on the melodrama. Conflicts are treated like the simple disagreements they are, and not like the fate of human civilization rests on the outcome.

This bring me to my verdict. I hate to say it, but this show won me over in the end. This is a guilty pleasure in every way a shojo title could be-- but the quality visuals, music and cute chibis spoke to me. They look like Raggity-Ann dolls! There are stories that actually have character interaction and growth, sans the blue humor, slapstick and melodrama that other shows have. The moment that really did it for me was in the fifth episode. Here, Mizuho discovers that her/his dorm room is in fact haunted (see my comment above). The ghost is named Ichiko, and is much more along the lines of "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" than "The Ring". There is a montage of Ichiko the friendly ghost participating in dorm life-- in which there is an image of her playing a board game. They aren't playing go or shogi, they are playing "The Game of Life". They are playing Milton Bradley's The Game of Life with a dead girl. I fell over I was laughing so hard. Now, I know that is a tragically horrible visual pun--but if the Haze-man has a weakness, it is tragically horrible visual puns. Curse you Anime Works, and curse your 13+ anime DVDs!

Speaking of which this is a "hardcore" DVD. That is to say if you pop it in, it will start playing the raw Japanese show with no subtitles-at least on my player. It has textless title animation as a bonus and there is even a behind the scenes feature on the second volume. I should note the image I'm using here is inaccurate. The first volume has teal lettering, but the actual second volume has orange letters.

There's also the issue of the "Yuri-fan" logo that appears on the back of the box. Many hardcore yuri fans will argue that this is not true yuri because the protagonist is not a girl, but a guy pretending to be one. Personally, I'd have to say the logo belongs there. This show religiously follows the checklist of every element a stereotypical "yuri" show should have. The protagonist is male only through dialog and is never characterized as anything but female (except the time she left the seat up). Most yuri-fans are male, just as most fans of hip-hop are white. It seems logical that a show would be developed with some sort of "in" for them. SO if Eminem can be a true rapper, I don't see why Otoboku can't be a true yuri series.

Now that I've made an analogy that will send me straight to hell, I think I should sign off for the night. I will recommend that if you are a fan of girl-on-girl anime, that you check http://okazu.blogspot.com

That blog has everything you could ever want to know about yuri, and it's a must read!
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Thursday, August 21, 2008


A few years ago, I was trolling the superhero movie news sites and came across a movie that was getting little attention, Man-Thing. Marvel's answer to Swamp Thing; The movie was produced by Stan Lee and Avi Arid, just like Spider-man and Iron-man. However, this movie was murdered by the test audience and never released in theaters. Finding a copy on DVD is even difficult, but last night there was one in the 3.99 bin at my local Blockbuster. I just had to see this train wreck for myself.

For starters, there is not plot. Rather, the plot is so scooby-doo it's not worth mentioning. An oil rig is built on an indian burial ground and the spirits have risen for some comeuppance. Trees are good, progress is evil, yadda yadda...

If this theme weren't evident enough, they take it to the next level with the ending. The Man-Thing actually takes the oil baron in hand, open a drum of oil, and proceeds to use his tentacles to pump crude into the baron's body until he explodes. Then they blow up an oil rig with dynamite. Seriously. They did that.

Now, I know I was supposed to be thinking "Yay! Stick it to the man! Save the whales! Go Captain Planet!", but y'know the only thing that came to mind was "dammit. Now my gas prices are going to go up..."

Despite the lack of plot, there was a lot for me here. This was essentially a remake of the original Swamp Thing movie from the late 70's. Instead of walking around in broad daylight in a bad rubber suit slapping bad guys, this Man-Thing actually does what a swamp creature SHOULD be doing; namely skulking around at night, blending into his surrounding and dispatching hapless victims with his branch-tentacles. I really like the design of Man-Thing, and I consider it a great realization of puppetry and CG combined.

The tentacles, sadly, are more often then not poorly rendered. The animators apparently did not have the talent or motivation to make the lighting, wetness and movement believable. This combined with banal plot and characters is probably what killed this movie for theaters. As a cheesy horror movie, however, it does work. While I can't recommend this to anyone, I will enjoy watching it a few more times.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Killer Clowns

I have much to write about, but I wanted to take a breather today and just talk about something I enjoy and few others do. The Killer Clowns from outer space. I was surfing Youtube over the weekend and I saw a post of the whole movie. The whole movie! Someone posted two hours of film on one page! They won't let me post more than 10 minutes at a time? How did they get permission for that?

Well, I decided to take the opportunity to kick back, microwave some White Castle and enjoy one of my fav bad movies. This movie is 'so-bad-its-good'. The death scenes are so silly, but the sheer quantity of people these clowns kill gives the situation just enough jeopardy.

In a way, this movie is like watching a train wreck. You know it's horrible, but you just can't look away.

Well, I like it. More to come. Come back tomorrow.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

Domain Hassle

My 9-year old domain registration apparently expired last week. That means they shut off haze-studios.com. What a bummer. It's been a huge hassle to get the sight back up, but never fear! We will be back soon!
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 2 and 3 of Otakon

The internet service at our hotel, the Radisson, gave out on Saturday, so I had to make these posts late...

Saturday I took my friend Dan to the Cafe 100 for a breakfast buffet. Best buffet ever! Then we hit the inner harbor to see the Barnes & Noble and Best Buy. Still no Mario Kart Wii available.

That afternoon, I did my Video Game design panel. It was a great success and I'm sure everyone had a great time. I have everyone at a computer station make a MS Paint monster and I'm assembling them int an RPG. I hope to have it on Newgrounds soon.

After that I was so tired I pretty much crashed.

The next morning I started by packing up a few bags in my car and attending the Last Unicorn Panel with author Peter S. Beagle. Last Unicorn is my favorite book and the movie is also one of my favorites. At the panel, Peter gave a live author's commentary to the movie, witch was awesome. I got his autograph at the dealers room later.

There was alot of traffic on the way back. The weather was so nice that day, that I bet a lot of people were coming home from the beach.

All it all, a great Otakon. I can't wait for next year!
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Friday, August 8, 2008

Day 1 of Otakon

This is shaping up to be a great year! I started with a Sonic the Hedgehog panel, which was amateurish, but fun. I saw tons of great costumes. There was a Dubs that time forgot panel, an Anime you Need to See panel, and finally a Yuri Panel. I got alot of great information from all of them. I also hung out with Erica Friedman from the Okazu blog at the yuricon. We worked on a Yuri flash game. That'll be fun. The artist alley and dealer's room are awesome.

I met up with Paul from the old Rutgers anime club in the Artist Alley. He seems to be doing well.

I can't wait to show off my games at the workshop tomorrow afternoon.
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Day 0 of Otakon

Otakon is such a big convention, I like to go down to Baltimore a day early to beat the traffic and find a good parking space.

I picked up my panelist badge last night and got checked into my hotel. My crew didn't come down with me, they should be here Friday night. So far things are looking up. A great schedule, nice weather and cool con-goers everywhere. I can't wait!
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Monday, August 4, 2008

Preparing for Otakon 08

If there's one time of the year I look forward to it's Otakon. When I was a kid, it used to be Christmas; now I have Otakon. This year will be special in that it's my tenth year as a workshop leader there. I plan to have an awesome time. ^_^

My only regret is that I can't make more fanart, games and videos.
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Friday, August 1, 2008

Fix the Game 1: ET 2600

Fix the Game 1

I'm running a new contest to create a fixed version of ET 2600. Attention all game designers and programmers! Make a better version of this game and submit it!

Stay tuned to see the submissions on Youtube!
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