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I wrote a post looking at Voltron: Legendary Defender and its transformation sequence compared to that of King of Braves Gaogaigar. You can check it out at Apartment 507.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to be a patron of Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

garakowa

This might not be a universal feeling, but I think there’s nothing quite like your first emotional and heartrending anime. It could be something as simple as Pokemon, or something more known for its sense of tragedy, such as Kanon. Perhaps it comes from Japan’s literary tradition of valuing the ephemeral, or maybe it’s something more modern, but as you watch more anime, you start to notice trends in how sadness is portrayed, how characters are used to facilitate this sorrow. Though you don’t necessarily get tired of these trends, after a while recognizing the trend can cause the sheen to come off the anime model.

Garakowa -Restore the World- is a recent film from A-1 Pictures that I’m compelled to describe as “a standard interesting anime.” It doesn’t quite do the movie justice, as I think it’s actually a solid piece with a strong story, characters, and lots of interesting ideas to chew on, but there’s an odd sense of familiarity I get from the work.

At the center of the future setting of Garokawa are two antivirus programs, visualized as teenage girls named Dual and Dorothy. Their sole task is to protect their computer world containing vast archives of human history, known as the “box of knowledge,” by deleting any memories that have been infected, at least when they aren’t butting heads with each other (it’s why you don’t install two different antivirus software!). During one virus-purging, they encounter a mysterious other program named Remo, who seems to possess all of the human traits that are simply absent in Dual and Dorothy, and the three form a bond that leads them to the truth of the world.

Garakowa‘s atmosphere is like a cross between Madoka Magica, Corrector Yui, Reboot, and She, the Ultimate Weapon, in that there are elements of magical girl anime mixed with the idea of a world inside a computer, a looming sense of tragedy, and a grand scale whose exact dimensions are intentionally ambiguous. This might be more obvious when looking at the Japanese title, Garasu no Hana to Kowasu Sekai, or “the Glass Flower and the Crumbling World.” The official translation, by the way, is the odd-sounding Vitreous & Destroy the World. However, what makes Garokawa simultaneously not the most daring and original work while also filled with material worth contemplating is the way it creatively utilizes its science fiction setting alongside its emotionally resonant moments.

The first element that really stood out to me about the film was the idea of personifying the conflict that occurs when multiple antivirus programs are installed. The way it’s presented here, with the anime trappings of magical girl accoutrements and cute girls, is to be expected to a certain extent. However, even as it’s reminiscent of the OS-tan craze of personifying computer operating systems in the early to mid-2000s and even as it draws upon the power of moe, yuri, and a kind of sensuality, the story of Garakowa also somewat implicitly justifies their human appearances.

From there, the part of the movie that really stays with me (outside of some spoilers I’m choosing not to divulge) is the idea that Dual and Dorothy cannot taste food or understand human behavior even as they’re modeled after humanity. In particular, in a scene straight of Urasawa Naoki’s Pluto, Dual contemplates Remo’s advice that, if you think that something is delicious, it feels like it will become delicious (Atom in Pluto says something similar). While it might all be in my head, I feel like that interaction sets up this idea that the antivirus programs are part of the greater presentation of humanity that is the box of knowledge. Even if they aren’t able to directly feel human emotions or sensation, they can at least exhibit a record of the ideas. If the box of knowledge is a kind of catalog of human history, then perhaps Dual and Dorothy are just as much a part of that purpose.

Overall, Garakowa is a very “anime” film in terms of its combination of science fiction, attractive female leads, and heart string-tugging narrative that contextualizes an everyday environment as something larger than life. It’s the kind of work where I feel someone who has less exposure to Japanese animation, or at least anime of this variety, could be strongly affected by its ideas, characters, world, and presentation, but it’s also enjoyable for long-time fans. Garakowa -Restore the World- is actually available for free on Crunchyroll, so it might be worth your while.

 

8-man

Last year, I forgot about my anniversary for about a month. Always looking to improve Ogiue Maniax, I decided that it wasn’t enough, so this time I’ve over a month and a half late for the annual retrospective.

Whoops!

Eight years sounds kind of crazy for anime blog, doesn’t it? A lot of old friends and comrades have set aside their keyboards while others keep marching on, but of course that doesn’t mean anything about their passion for their hobbies. Blogs are just one way of doing things, and it’s the format I’ve come to prefer the most. It’s just informal enough to feel comfortable, while also providing plenty of space to get serious if need be.

Though I think it a bit obvious, by far the biggest change to Ogiue Maniax this past year was the launch of my Patreon. Thanks to my patrons, but also everyone who reads and shares and even just thinks about what I have to say, I’ve managed to make a decent chunk of change from blogging. It’s not a full-time career by any means, but I think it shows that good written content is appreciated for the ideas contained within, even if the tendency in “content creation” is often towards simpler things like lists. Just the fact that my longer posts garner greater attention gives me a little more faith in the world.

I’ve been looking at the idea of being a “content creator” recently, and one thing that’s crystal clear is that written content, especially given how much time and effort is required of it, is often viewed as a losing battle. Video and podcasts are where it’s at. Of course, it’s more than possible to create quality work on YouTube or wherever, and the convenience is something even I take advantage of as a viewer, so I’m not knocking people who focus their energies in that direction. Rather, in light of this, I actually feel pretty good that there are so many people who think my writing is worth something. While I don’t need a confidence boost to keep writing, it at least is comforting to know that the energy I’ve put into Ogiue Maniax can be felt by so many.

Thanks for 8 years, everybody.

I decided to make a couple of videos showing some Mewtwo things in Smash 4. Tell me what you think!

Commercials about deodorant are not a common topic on Ogiue Maniax, a blog dedicated to anime and manga discussion. However, one thing that anime, Old Spice in 2015, and superhero comics have in common is a love of crossovers in varying capacities. With Old Spice, this comes in the form of ads where its two biggest spokesmen, Isaiah “Hello Ladies” Mustafah and Terry “POWERRRRRRRRRRRR” Crews pit their respective deodorants against each other. It’s been a long time coming (and basically instant money for Old Spice), but what stands out to me about these commercials is just how much they actually pay attention to keeping their respective superhuman abilities consistent as they’re utilized to both entice the viewer and outdo each other.

738px-Lupin_vs_Conan_Movie

When placing characters into a crossover, especially one that involves a direct conflict, what’s important is maintaining the strengths and identities of the characters being brought together. Superman is immensely strong, unbelievably fast, and has a variety of astounding abilities, while Batman is extremely intelligent, excels at planning, and puts in more effort than anyone else. Detective Conan is a master of deduction and observation, while Lupin III is renowned for his deception and improvisation. When these characters meet, there is ideally a clever interaction that enhances their mutual reputations, and that’s what happens when Isaiah takes on Terry.

Both Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews exhibit reality-bending powers in Old Spice commercials, but they’re uniquely different when compared to each other. Isaiah’s “ability” is that he can quickly and seamlessly transition one environment or object to another without a moment’s notice, owing to his status as the ultimate ladies’ man. Terry essentially invades space through the sheer power of his intensely hyper-masculine personality for men, cloning himself, appearing where he shouldn’t, and even blowing himself up. What you see in these series of commercials is how the two try to one-up and counter each other with their specific skill sets, a battle of equals who realize that the other is just as potent and manly as the other, only in different ways.

Basically, while it’s always been clear that a lot of thought is put into Old Spice’s recent commercials, what we see here is an actual consideration for Isaiah and Terry as unique, superheroic characters. Isaiah can’t do what Terry can and vice-versa, and never is there a conflation of what the two are capable of. It’s the superhero duel the world has been waiting for, and in a way I hope it comes to define and influence all future crossovers in mainstream media and advertisement.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

sehagirls-radionights-small

A couple of cool podcasts, Anime World Order and GME Anime Fun Time, recently released their reviews of Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls, a bizarre, low-budget 3DCG anime about personified Sega game consoles from the creators of the incredible gdgd Fairies and Straight Title Robot Anime. As a huge fan of Sega growing up, the show hit all the right spots.

At one point, the AWO crew and guest Heidi Kemps talk about the SeHa Girls ending theme, which they explain is actually the company song for Sega in the 90s, but is sadly left untranslated in the official Crunchyroll release. I decided to take it upon myself to translate the song, only to realize that there is not only a full version of the original song, but that there’s also a full version of the variation used in SeHa Girls as well.

Thus, I present to you a translation of “Wakai Chikara -SEGA HARD GIRLS MIX-.”

A couple of notes: Wakai Chikara, or “Youthful Power,” was the Japanese Sega slogan in the 90s. Similarly, a lot of the quotes spoken in reference to Sega hardware are also advertising slogans.

Title: Wakai Chikara -SEGA HARD GIRLS MIX-
Composed by Wakakusa Kei
(Japanese lyrics taken from here)

Verse 1

知的創造 あふれる 英知
Chiteki souzou afureru eichi
Intelligent creations, overflowing wisdom

共に築こう 豊かな文化
Tomo ni kizukou  yutaka na bunka
Together let’s build a flourishing culture

夢と希望は 宇宙(あおぞら)高く
Yume to kibou wa aozora takaku
Dreams and hopes are as high as space (the blue sky)

社会に貢献 我らが使命
Shakai ni kouken warera ga shimei
It’s our mission to contribute to society

明日の創造 生命(いのち)にかえる
Ashita no souzou inochi ni kaeru
Creating tomorrow, changing lives

セガ(SEGA!) セガ(SEGA!) セガ(Fu-!!)若い力
SEGA! (SEGA!) SEGA (SEGA!) SEGA (Fu-!!) Wakai chikara
Sega (Sega!) Sega (Sega!) Sega (Foo!!): Youthful Power

Verse 2

先進技術 絶ゆまぬ 努力
Senshin gijutsu tayumanu doryoku
Leading technology, trustworthy effort

共に目指そう 新たな流れ
Tomo ni mezasou arata na nagare
Together, let us aim for a new current

夢と希望は 海原広く
Yume to kibou wa umibara hiroku
Dreams and hopes are as wide as the ocean

時代の先取り 我らが挑戦
Jidai no sakidori warera ga chousen
Anticipating the times is our challenge

未来の創造 生命(いのち)にかえる
Mirai no souzou inochi ni kaeru
Creating futures, changing lives

セガ(SEGA!) セガ(SEGA!) セガ(Fu-!!)若い力
SEGA! (SEGA!) SEGA (SEGA!) SEGA (Fu-!!) Wakai chikara
Sega (Sega!) Sega (Sega!) Sega (Foo!!): Youthful Power

Spoken Section

「すべての始まり」 SC-3000
“Subete no hajimari” SC-3000
“The beginning of everything” SC-3000

「楽しさいっぱい」 SG-1000
“Tanoshii ippai” SG-1000
“So much fun” SG-1000

「ソフトの数だけ 興奮してね」 SG-1000Ⅱ
“Sofuto no suu dake koufun shite ne” SG-1000II
“Just the amount of software alone is exciting! SG-1000II

「野球もテニスも」 ロボピッチャ
“Yakyuu mo tenisu mo” Robopiccha
“Baseball, and tennis too” Robo Pitcher

「1メガビットの大容量」 マークⅢ
“1 megabitto no daiyouryou” Maaku III
“1 megabit capacity” Mark III

「スーパーゲームメカ」 マスターシステム
“Suupaa geemu meka” Masutaa Shisutemu
“Super game machine” Master System

「時代が求めた16BIT」 メガドライブ
“Jidai ga motometa 16BIT” Megadoraibu
“16BIT: what the times were looking for” Mega Drive

「ワールドワイドでナンバーワン!」 ジェネシス
“Waarudowaido de nanbaa wan!” Jeneshisu
“Number one worldwide!” Genesis

「色いっぱいだよ」 ゲームギア
“Iro ippai da yo” Geemu Gia
“So many colors” Game Gear

「2つの頭脳がドッキング」 テラドライブ
“Futatsu no zunou ga dokkingu” Teradoraibu
“The docking of two brains” Tera Drive

「ゲーム革命!」 メガCD
“Geemu kakumei!” Mega CD
“A gaming revolution!” Mega CD

「高性能ボディコン・ペア」 メガドラ2 メガCD2
Kouseinou bodikon pea” Megadora 2 Mega CD 2
“High-performance body-conforming pair” Mega Drive 2 Mega CD 2

「メガドライブ新次元」 スーパー32X
“Megadoraibu shinjingen”  Suupaa 32X
“A new dimension for the Mega Drive” Super 32X

「脳天直撃!」 セガ・サターン
“Nouten chokugeki!” Sega Sataan
“Right in the head!” Sega Saturn

「セーブはお任せ」 ビジュアルメモリ
“Seebu wa omakase” Bijuaru memori
“Leave the saving to me” Visual Memory

「夢を繋いで!」 ドリームキャスト
“Yume o tsunaide!” Doriimukyasuto
“Connect our dreams!” Dreamcast

Verse 3

人社一体 みなぎる闘志
Jinsha ittai minagiru toushi
The people and the company are as one, with overflowing fighting spirit

共に進もう 絆も固く
Tomo ni susumou kizuna mo kataku
Let’s move forward together and solidify our bonds

夢と希望は 永遠(とわ)に尽きない
Yume to kibou wa towa ni tsukinai
Hopes and dreams are never-ending

目標追求 我らが誓い
Mokuhyou tsuukyuu warera ga chikai
Pursuing our goals, that’s our vow

世界の創造 生命(いのち)にかえる
Sekai no souzou inochi ni kaeru
Creating worlds, changing lives

セガ(SEGA!) セガ(SEGA!) セガ(Fu-!!)若い力
SEGA! (SEGA!) SEGA (SEGA!) SEGA (Fu-!!) Wakai chikara
Sega (Sega!) Sega (Sega!) Sega (Foo!!): Youthful Power

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

Though I don’t mention it often, over the past year or so I’ve become a fan and regular viewer of Video Game Championship Wrestling, a weekly show streamed on Twitch that uses characters from video games and has them play out both matches and stories similar to an actual WWE show, with free pay-per-views (an oxymoron yes) that cap off each arc. During this time, I’ve come to realize how interesting the concept of pro wrestling video games are.

Whenever a video game is based on a “real world” activity, be it shooting people, playing basketball, or building TCG decks, the games are designed to simulate some activity where the intention is to win or lose. With pro wrestling, however, the point isn’t to overpower the opponent but to put on a show, and to merely mimic the idea that these two wrestlers are really going at it. This is what’s known to wrestling fans as “kayfabe,” or supporting the illusion that everything happening in wrestling is 100% real, and to go off-script or to break that illusion is a “shoot.” In that sense, a wrestling video game is akin to a video game about Shakespeare, where you would have to perform plays in front of an audience and receive their applause.

The gameplay mechanics that go into these wrestling games are a reflection of this performative quality, especially as time has passed and things have gotten more sophisticated. In the “drama” of wrestling, matches go back and forth, wrestlers have “signature moves” that tell you when they have the momentum, and they have “finishers” that generally net them the win should they land. If you look at a bad old wrestling video game, like Wrestlemania for the NES, it fails to follow “wrestling logic.” You punch and kick and never use holds, while occasionally a power-up symbol floats by and makes you stronger. Very few of the wrestlers can even perform their unique finishers, and overall there was clearly little effort expended to make it “feel” like wrestling beyond slapping some popular faces on and making the background a wrestling ring. In contrast, more successful games of the era such as Tecmo World Wrestling do a much better job of replicating the idea of a wrestling match, by doing something as simple as giving the characters unique finishers and having dramatic cut-ins when used on worn-down opponents.

In the case of WWE 2K14 (which VGCW utilizes for its show), there are actual built-in “drama” mechanics such as the fact that a wrestler can make a “comeback” that replicates digging deep when the chips are down.  You have signature moves that can build up into finishers. All of the attacks are things that have happened in the history of the WWE (or at least in some sort of televised wrestling). While there is obviously a wide chasm of difference in terms of technological and graphical power between an old NES game and a PS3 game, what’s more important is that the latter is practically a game whose display is fundamentally based on “storytelling” rather than “competition.”

While this could be extended to, say, fighting games (which take a lot of cues from martial arts films and anime), with the wrestling game there’s a greater sense of mixing up what is real and what is fake because of the origin of the wrestling itself. As with so many things that dramatize combat, certain techniques would never work or would be too impractical in a realistic setting In the game world, but the wrestling video games take it a step further because supporting and maintaining kayfabe is in a way the key to victory. To win is to play along with the rules of wrestling as performance, and to do otherwise is perhaps in its own way a form of shoot.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

Fighting games at this point are decades-old. While it’s debatable what can be considered the very first fighting game, what is indisputable is which game is responsible for popularizing the genre: Street Fighter II. That game, as well as all of its upgrades, are the standard by which all other fighters are judged, and it’s had a profound effect on how people discuss fighting games in terms of gameplay and strategy. However, if Street Fighter II is the archetype, there are a number of deviations from it, and one that’s become increasingly popular in recent years has been the Super Smash Bros. series.

Whereas in the past these two communities, traditional fighters and Smash, remained fairly separate (and one even unfairly mocked the other for not being a “real” fighting game), over the past year with the release of the latest Smash Bros. games, this has begun to change. One curious outcome of this has been that, when it comes to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, a number of notable traditional fighting game community (FGC) members have taken to it, such as EVO Champion Infiltration and commentators Ultra David and James Chen, but it has also received negative attention from many players of Super Smash Bros. Melee, what is widely considered the most technical and mechanically difficult game in the franchise. The reason I believe this disparity exists is not only because of a difference in terms of the games themselves, but also a difference in how these respective communities have argued for what makes their games great.

The arguments made by many Melee supporters as to why it’s the superior game tend to revolve around the slew of difficult techniques that expand the range of possible moves available, as well as a heavier emphasis on free-form combos. The idea is that, while Melee is simple on the surface, being a game that was intentionally designed to be more accessible than the traditional fighting game, it in fact hides layers and layers of complexity. What might appear to be a game that is competitively limited due to its simplicity is in fact only the first step into a demanding realm of technical depth and discovery. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U lacks many “advanced techniques” and is slower-paced, and is therefore seen as an inferior game.

Perhaps this reasoning is a product of the way in which the FGC would dismiss Smash Bros. as a whole as “kiddie games,” but, whatever the case, this is the rhetoric that has been built up from Melee, that simplicity makes way for complexity, and that complexity equals depth. In the documentary The Smash BrothersMelee commentator Prog likens the difficulty of Melee to Starcraft, a game that is also known for its mechanical difficulty that leads to a wider range of options for a player, with the idea that this leads to a kind of expressive freedom (though it should also be noted that the documentary’s director, Samox, chose to include that in the first place).

EG|PPMD—recent champion of Apex 2015, the largest Melee tournament ever—shares this sentiment:

EG|PPMD: Melee allows me to express myself on a very profound level. I am not just playing the character, I am my character. I am not just playing against my opponent, I am communicating with that person deeply and getting to know them on a very personal level and conversing on that level with the game as a medium.

Said differently, the depth and speed of the game allow me to really bring myself out. Competition is also incredibly fun! I would be really surprised if another game gave me this feeling, but that would be awesome if it did happen.

In contrast, the most prominent arguments as to why traditional fighting games are great take the opposite angle. Traditional fighting games are known for being difficult to learn on the surface, due to specialized inputs (quarter-circle forward + punch makes Ryu throw a hadouken, while just hitting the “special move” button for Mario makes him throw a fireball) and complex combos, but the prevailing philosophies are of the mind that the ideal core of fighting games, what makes them really worthwhile and competitive, is a foundation of simplicity and elegance, and that this is what leads to depth.

While the above video is super corny, it reflects the lessons taught by great players such as Tomo Ohira, who is featured in that video and is often argued to be the first king of Street Fighter II in its earliest days. For another example, take the fighting game player turned game designer David Sirlin, who argues that what makes fighting games games truly interesting is the level of mental interactions that come from “yomi,” or reading the mind of the opponent. Others such as Ultra David have argued that yomi isn’t as important as developing and executing a strategy, but the emphasis is still on the idea that technical complexity should ideally make way for something more basic and fundamental. This is what drives Divekick, a stripped-down fighting game that attempts to get to the core of fighters by limiting players to two buttons and emphasizing spacing and reads.

Although what I’ve shown above are not universally held beliefs by either community, I wanted more to show that they exist and are prominent parts of each community’s identity when it comes to their games. I also don’t want to give the impression that the communities believe that complexity vs. simplicity and their relationship with depth is black and white in either direction, nor that the games necessarily reflect the philosophies described above 100%. Rather, it’s more about how people visualize depth, and why the idea of depth becomes so subjective.

As for why all of this matters, there are two points to consider as to why traditional FGC members might praise Super Smash Bros. for Wii U whereas Melee enthusiasts might look down upon it. First, much like Divekick, the Super Smash Bros. games with their simplified commands have already removed a surface layer of complexity, and to many experienced fighting game players this is seen as a positive. Complexity hides an elegance of simplicity and what makes fighting games truly beautiful. These players want to introduce this beauty to as many people as possible, and Smash Bros. allows this.

Second, while previous games in the Super Smash Bros. franchise were developed by its director Sakurai Masahiro with a team that was more experienced in other genres, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was developed with the help of Namco, which is known for fighting games such as Tekken and Soul Calibur. Although there haven’t been any specific statements made on this matter, I believe that the development team, rather than viewing Melee as their template, looked more to conventional fighting games for ways to add competitive depth to Super Smash Bros. and that the mechanics of the new game reflect this. In discussions with Dave Cabrera, a friend and someone much more knowledgeable about fighting games than I am, he had a similar impression. Ultra David and James Chen also state how they find Melee to be a more momentum-based game similar to the also-unconventional Marvel vs. Capcom series while Smash Wii U is more positional, similar to Street Fighter games.

The result is a clash of perspectives. On the one hand, the Melee community, which has developed its conception for what makes a good competitive game based on Melee and the idea of hidden complexity, sees Super Smash Bros. for Wii U as lacking many of the elements that made Melee great, and that it is therefore a lesser experience. On the other hand, the fighting game community, which bases its standards for fighting games on Street Fighter II and the idea of hidden simplicity, has in this new Super Smash Bros. something that exemplifies that concept while also catering more to their tastes. Whatever the reasoning, it’s clear that there are two different philosophies at work driving discussion.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

5) The

4) of the Enders

3) Death Egg

2) Fujiwara

1) Tezuka

Lately, I’ve been a fan of Video Game Championship Wrestling. It’s where you watch AI-controlled video game characters duke it out in a WWE game.

Tonight s “End Game 7,” the finale to the latest season of VGCW. I recommend that people turn in, as End Games tend to be the hypest of hype, rarely if ever disappointing. Whether it’s Phoenix Wright fighting his alternate-universe evil doppelganger, Little Mac coming back from the lowest of lows to bury Dracula in a casket match, or Kefka using the power of the Dragon Balls to become a god, there’s always something crrrrazy to look forward to.

Me personally, I’m looking forward to Kefka vs. Illidan, if only because there’s the possibility that Kefka will re-obtain his divine powers to fight Mr. Stormrage Winged Purple Beast to Winged Purple Beast.

You can check it out at the official VGCW channel at 6PM Eastern, 11PM UK, 12PM Central European.

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