Simplicity that Works: Multiversus Alpha Review

Thanks to an old friend, I managed to get into the Multiversus alpha. As a long-time fan of Smash Bros. and someone with a general interest in platform fighters, this new Warner Bros. crossover had me reasonably intrigued by its level of polish and its emphasis on 2v2 battle. While a lack of free time meant that I could only play briefly, I came away from the game with a positive impression, albeit somewhat tempered by its free-to-play (i.e. inevitably loot-based) model.

Gameplay-wise, two things stick out to me. First, is that it feels like the developers put a lot of thought as to how each character’s gameplay would reflect their identity. Second, the simplicity of the controls make Multiversus quite accessible and might even be a boon to its team focus.

The signature character flourishes are indeed all there, but it’s even baked into the mechanics. Of course Bugs Bunny would dig holes and generate objects out of thin air to complement his slapstick nature. Of course Velma from Scooby-Doo would act as range-focused support, and also gather clues like Phoenix Wright in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Arya Stark has her sword, but also a “pie-making” mechanic that occurs when she KOs someone—which implies that she turned them into pie. The game successfully celebrates its crossover nature visually and through its controls.

The only exceptions might be Shaggy and Reindog. The former leans completely into the Ultra Instinct Shaggy meme and winds up being like a mix between Goku, Captain Falcon. The latter is an original character (in the same crossover-universe vein as Ruby Heart and Cybaster), and thus has no basis.

In terms of the controls, Multiversus does not have shields or grabs. It also does not rely on analog movement. Unlike Smash Bros., there are no distinctions between walking vs. running, or tilts vs. smash attacks. Simple as controls are in Smash, I’ve seen this granularity be a sticking point for less experienced players, and I think this move helps accessibility. The leniency of aerial movement also makes me think of a more refined and varied Brawlhalla: another free-to-play platform fighter that, unlike Multviersus, suffers a bit from feeling samey across its cast.

While there’s an argument to be made that this might oversimplify things in the competitive realm, I think this won’t be the case. In fact, the pared-down controls actually feel more conducive towards the chaotic environment of a 2v2 match. They give both players and spectators potentially less to concentrate on so they can pay attention to the match as a whole.

I can easily see the competitive scenes for Smash Bros. and Multiversus coexisting, if only because they have different emphases. Smashers overwhelmingly prefer singles over doubles, while the developers of Multiversus specifically designed it for 2v2. To wit, some of the biggest proponents of the game are those who have great love for doubles Smash, and I hope they end up having a game that can reward that passion. 

[Apartment 507] 3 Guest Anime Appearances in Apartment 507


Granblue Fantasy is a Japanese mobile game that’s got tons of fans, and it’s so popular that it ends up crossing over with other franchises. Check out this small list of series that make guest appearances. As someone who got into anime in the 90s, I’m especially fond of the Slayers cameos.

Old Spice’s Isaiah Mustafa vs. Terry Crews is the Batman vs. Superman of This Generation

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.


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.

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I’ve Been Wanting to Draw this Comic for a While


Robotech, Voltron, Nostalgia

When the Robotech/Voltron crossover comic was announced a few months ago, my immediate response was, “Why?” Of course the answer is “nostalgia grab,” but there’s something strange about both of these works and their continued presence in the geek public eye (and perhaps even beyond that). Unlike Transformers which not only has a huge variety of toys both old and new, as well as a long history of cartoons both from America and Japan (not to mention the live action films), both Robotech and Voltron do not really renew themselves, aside from the occasional thing like the The Shadow Chronicles or The Third Dimension.

Though this speaks more about the people I associate with, I can’t say I’ve ever talked to anyone, online or offline, who is hardcore into either Robotech or Voltron. I know that there’s a Robotech community of course (they even have an official site for it), though I have little interest in it. With Voltron, I know people who have fond memories of it, myself included, but the foundation that Voltron has in geek culture seems not only deeper than Robotech‘s but to the extent that, when you say cool giant robot with a signature finisher, Lion Voltron is just the default, or it shares that spot with the Megazord from Power Rangers. It’s like Voltron as a source of nostalgia goes so far beyond itself that the vague perception of it exceeds the influence of the actual anime. 

What’s funny about a show like Voltron and its emblematic presence in US geek culture as de facto super robot is that the process of dubbing and adaptation that turned the anime King of Beasts Golion and Armored Fleet Dairugger into Voltron: Defender of the Universe happened with different anime in different countries to similar effect. In the Philippines, Voltes V exploded with popularity. In France and Italy, UFO Robo Grendizer captured attention as Goldorak and Goldrake respectively (with success in the Middle East to boot). In Brazil, Gloizer X became O Pirata do Espaço, the country’s first real exposure to giant robots. While it’s possible say that this was all a matter of timing and that they’re all interchangeable in that respect, I do think that the specific properties of each show had a major impact on how each country perceived giant robots from that point forward (I’m less sure about Gloizer X so if any Brazilians want to help, feel free to leave a comment).

One thing that I do believe plays a role in how these series become more specific in their nostalgic output is the level of support the original works have in Japan. I visited France recently, and when I went into the comic stores I would regularly see displays of Grendizer merchandise. Whether it was the Super Robot Chogokin or the Soul of Chogokin or a chibi version, it was all straight from Japan, sitting prominently in the store. Grendizer has enough cultural presence in Japan that it can continue to get these toys and even a fairly stable presence in Super Robot Wars, whereas Golion has had to content itself with just one Nintendo DS appearance. In lieu of support from Japan, Voltron‘s had to carve its own place, and often times it’s not even from the company World Events which holds the Voltron license but from fans conjuring it up in their own minds. And while Robotech is an utter legal mess due to the way it stifles the presence of Macross in the US, if you put that aside part of Robotech‘s prolonged presence comes from the fact that its fans want new Robotech to constantly feel like old Robotech, whereas Macross changes according to the whims of its dark lord Kawamori Shouji.

Actually I wouldn’t mind at all if Voltron got a revival with a solid piece of fiction to support it which doesn’t rely too much on nostalgia. I know we got Voltron Force, but the less said about that the better.

I Seriously Can’t Believe No One’s Made This: One Punch


Kitchen Sinking: Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3

Pretty Cure All Stars DX 3: To the Future! The Rainbow-Colored Flower that Connects Worlds celebrates the 10th anniversary film of the series, with eight TV series and a whopping 21 Magical Girls featured. Three franchise-wide crossover films. Three instances of combined attacks. Three opportunities to focus on everyone working together, because as the number of Precure shows increases it becomes increasingly difficult  to actually have any breathing room or down time in these things.

The plot is that of every big crossover movie ever, where the girls have to join forces to defeat a powerful opponent. This time it’s Black Hole-sama, an amalgam of all of the evil energy from all of the defeated final bosses so far. Its minions are villains from the various Precure movies. Aware that being a Precure means having strong teamwork, the villains split the Cures up from their respective partners to limit their effectiveness, while pursuing the “Prism Flower” which connects all of their worlds together, like a cosmic treadmill.

These types of movies simply have no time to develop any real plot, so the main appeal is generally to show all of the characters interacting with each other and appealing to fans of the franchise. I found the splitting up of the various Cures to be an interesting mechanic to accomplish this, and though it’s been done to an extent in the previous films, this time around it’s done thematically. The first group is comprised of the leaders, the second group is comprised of the smart and supportive ones, and the third group is best described as a mishmash of the rest. Very quickly, the leader group finds that while everyone is good at taking charge, they don’t exactly understand each others’ dynamics, while the secondary group thinks before they act but realize they’re accustomed to having someone else act first. The third group is the most balanced, and seem to have the least trouble overall.

That said, even within those similar groups, the character’s individual personalities highlight a number of differences among the similarities. Among the leads, Cure Black is the first to try and come up with a plan, while Cure Blossom is a little more thoughtful. Cure Marine is more headstrong than the other “cool blue” characters, which makes her the catalyst to inspire the others in the second group to not give up. Cure Berry is a little more devious than the other cool Cures. In the third group, Cure Lemonade is the most serendipitous, whereas Cure Moonlight is the most mature. It all works pretty well.

Speaking of Heartcatch, I’ve noticed that in these crossover movies, the heavily stylized character designs have to be toned down to fit in more with the rest of the series, which removes some of their charm but is also necessary in a way. The only time you get to see the “proper” style is when they’re fighting a Heartcatch villain.

A crossover also means big fights, and the movie both delivers and doesn’t. One notable scene involves the various teams doing what would normally be stock footage special attacks, but in fact are newly animated. Rather than doing what’s expected for example, Cure Black and Cure White deliver a Marble Screw while running in unison. On the other hand, with the final combined attack, it just uses the familiar poses and footage, and the attack itself just combines into a rainbow-colored beam. It’s a pretty good looking beam, but given the variety of attacks, it feels kind of lacking because it fails to live up to the potential for a truly epic combination attack. Part of the thrill of seeing a Final Dynamic Special is seeing how all of the finishing blows interact with each other.

One problem in the previous crossover film, Precure All Stars DX 2, was that it didn’t give enough respect to the rookies at the time, which was Heartcatch Precure! Blossom and Marine often looked weak and ineffectual, and it diminished their appearance. This time around the newbies are the girls from Suite Precure, and they feel nice and strong, still the most inexperienced by far but also clearly able to hold their own. They might take it too far though, as some of the more emotional scenes seem odd when they’ve only just begun doing this.

This film also has millions of mascot characters, and that can be a difficult thing to watch for people. The audience-interaction magic wands (the kids in the theater are supposed to wave them to power up the girls) are also back.

Since the first crossover, these films have felt like they’ve been phoning it in a good deal, but it’s overall acceptable. Obvious this movie is for existing fans, and is not really recommended for people unfamiliar with Precure, as it again doesn’t really bother to have a cohesive story and is only really decent for fans who understand the existing character dynamics. A fun watch, but try the first crossover first.

The Destiny of Kicking Ass

In very exciting news, Super Robot Wars Z 2 (Part 1) has been announced. Subtitled Break the World, the game has some surprising new entries into the world of SRW, from both recent and not-so-recent anime. Before I start elaborating on my thoughts concerning the lineup, I’m showing the complete series list uses for the game.

Italics means this anime has been in SRW before but was not in SRWZ.
Bold means this anime is brand new to the SRW franchise.

Muteki Choujin Zambot 3
Muteki Koujin Daitarn 3
Muteki Robo Trider G7
Space Emperor God Sigma
Space Warrior Baldios
Rokushin Gattai Godmars
Sentou Mecha Xabungle
Armored Trooper VOTOMS
Armored Trooper VOTOMS: The Last Red Shoulder
Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Red Shoulder Document – Roots of Treachery
Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Pailsen Files
Super Dimension Century Orguss
Mobile Suit Z Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack
New Mobile Report Gundam W
After War Gundam X
Turn A Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 1st Season
Choujuu Kishin Dancougar
Juusou Kikou Dancougar Nova
Shin (Change!!) Getter Robo: Armageddon
Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Saga
Earth Defense Corp. Dai-Guard
The Big O
Overman King Gainer
Choujuushin Gravion Zwei
Genesis of Aquarion
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann the Movie: Gurren Saga
Macross F
Macross F the Movie: The False Songstress
Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven: good night, sleep tight, young lovers

There’s a lot to talk about here, especially with shows like Code Geass, Gundam 00, and a major curveball in the form of Dai-Guard, but probably the two newest entrants which are the biggest deals are VOTOMS and Gurren-Lagann, though for somewhat different reasons.

VOTOMS hails from early 1980s and is considered among the “realest” of real robot anime. It has a grittiness to its robots and overall setting that is rarely seen in mecha, let alone anime in general, as can be seen from my reviews of the series (though I must apologize for never actually writing my final review). For years people thought it was a shoe-in for the SRW series, but when years and years went by and VOTOMS still wasn’t included, fans started coming up with excuses. Oh, maybe the robots would be too weak and bland, or Chirico would be too strong of a pilot, or it somehow wouldn’t fit in among the earth-shattering forces that populate the roster. But as if to lay those possibilities to rest, SRWZ2 puts it into the same game as Gurren-Lagann, one the biggest example of escalating power levels and over-the-top, universe-rending attacks in a robot anime ever (which is the “problem” with Gurren-Lagann), as if to say that while all of those possible reasons may have once been valid, they’re history. Sure this first part of SRWZ2 is going to avoid having to deal with the really crazy stuff, but it’s inevitably going to have to confront the big guns of Gurren-Lagann by the next game. And it’s the movie version on top of that!

I understand that the reason this lineup works is that the plot of the game is based heavily on Orguss, which involves going to different dimensions and universes, so they can even do things like have Shin Mazinger where they once had Mazinger, and the Eureka Seven movie to replace the TV series, but that’s all right. Plot was never exactly the strong suit of the SRW games, after all, as the latest anime proves.

So to conclude, various fanboyish notes:

-Can’t wait to see Zeus in action.
-Mazinger Z is going to get not one but two crazy powerful finishers. No need for the Kaiser here!
-I wonder if Zambot, Daitarn, and Trider are going to have a Final Muteki Special. Sun, Moon, and Phoenix?
-Re: Godmars – ポゥーン
-I wonder how much Dai-Guard will cost to replace if it blows up in battle?
-I’m looking forward to the VOTOMS BGM.
-I know I’m jumping the gun and putting expectations on the next game, but Amuro vs Ribbons? Hell yes.
-Setsuna F. Seiei gives the best (worst) pep talks.
-I think movie Eureka and Fyana from VOTOMS will get along swimmingly.
-I wonder if the geass will factor into gameplay in any way, shape, or form?
-Aquarion and Shin Getter better not accidentally deface the moon too much or they’re going to make Loran Cehack sad. They’ll also make Garrod upset but for a different reason.

La Sommelière and Naruto Crossover?!

Scott Green of AICN Anime posted on his twitter account an image of Uzumaki Naruto with apprentice wine specialist Itsuki Kana from my favorite wine manga La Sommelière (not that I’ve really read any others). The image is done by the artist Matsui Katsunori, and is in celebration of Naruto‘s 10th Anniversary.

Now this is a crossover I can get behind. I bet much like Wolverine, Naruto can take a lot of alcohol due to having an unusually powerful self-healing ability.

If you want more information on the series, I’ve previously reviewed the first three volumes of La Sommelière.

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3

I’ve most recently picked up Volume 11, though truth be told I haven’t really been reviewing later volumes as once you get the sense of the first two or three you’ll definitely be able to tell if you’ll like it. Later volumes introduce some new characters and still have the same fantastic wine stories, but somewhat like Golgo 13 once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.

And if you don’t know Naruto, well, I’m sure someone on the internet will tell you very quickly.

La Sommelière

Non-Psychic Psychic Sword vs Hindu Magic Lasers

A few months back I was fortunate enough, blessed, I might say, to have the opportunity watch two incredible animated classics: Psychic Wars and Crystal Triangle.

Seeing those two OVAs on the same day made me aware of just how similar these two fine works are. Both concern heroes in noble professions who must confront an ancient inhuman race of evil beings who wish to once again replace humans as the dominant species of the planet using the most nonsense logic and power set possible. I know that describes a lot of bad 80s OVAs but these two in particular are so alike that if the world were a little different, I think that we’d be seeing not a crossover between all of the Pretty Cure girls or Naruto, Luffy, and Goku, but one between Psychic War’s Retsu Ukyou and Crystal Triangle’s Kamishiro Kouichirou. Or at the very least arguing about who would win in a fight.

Actually, we could do that right now. Let’s compare our two heroes.

Retsu Ukyou: Surgeon, visited by ancient spirits who give him “Psychic Powers,” which apparently means being able to summon swords and spears out of thin air. Shirt has a tendency to rip open to reveal his mighty pecs. Travels back in time to fight evil beasts whose goal is to travel into the future so that they can wipe out humanity. Does the nasty with a girl who turns out to be their last surviving member.

Kamishiro Kouichirou: World-famous archaeologist, gained his “Upanishad” powers and his ability to read “Jindai Moji” by studying with monks. Upanishad in this case manifests itself as the ability to shoot lasers out of magical batons. Shirt also has a tendency to burst open to further emphasize masculinity. Fights an evil over ten million years old that consists of alien buddhist monk dinosaurs who have been waiting for an evil star to empower them so that they can take over the world once more. Does not do the nasty with the girl who is the catalyst for the evil monsters’ return, but would have.

You’d think Kamishiro would definitely have the advantage with his Upanishad giving him a range advantage, but I’m pretty sure Retsu would be able to think of a way to get in close, where his superior close combat weapons would give him the edge. Ultimately though, the fight would come down to a matter of wits and cunning, as both men are incredibly resourceful and would be trying out-think the other. Is Retsu standing near any crates of dynamite, for instance? Well maybe he is, but it’s actually a trap to lure Kamishiro to attack, during which Retsu would use his knowledge of human anatomy to deliver a knock-out spear. But of course Kamishiro is too smart for that.

It’s a complex scenario which far transcends any intellectual battles by Lelouch and Schneizel, Kira and L, and Encyclopedia Brown and Wilford Wiggins.

Now, if the two of them could team up to fight the Most Dangerous Soldier known as Geist, then we’d have a real Japanimation on our hands.