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Anime Series Watch List: Natsume Yujin-cho – Boy Meets Spirits

Posted by on Jun 30, 2013 in S-girl | 0 comments

Natsume Yujin-Cho

Natsume and Nyanko-sensei

Natsume Takahashi has had the ability to see “ayakashi” (spirits, gods, and other supernatural entities) since he was a small child.

This premise is not at all unusual in anime or manga– in fact, quite a few are built around “seeing spirits, dead, demons, monsters” etc. including shonen properties such as “Bleach” or “Blue Exorcist.”

But the Natsume Yujin-cho anime wasn’t built from a shonen manga premise.  The manga written by Yuki Midorikawa appeared first in the shoujo (girl’s) serial “Lala DX” and then the main Lala serial as it gained popularity and acclaim. (The manga was nominated for the first ever Manga Taisho award in 2008.)

In fact, Natsume’s upbringing is not cause for cheer. We learn fairly quickly that he is an orphan who has been passed around frequently between relatives.  He also has not been able to make many friends.  Natsume’s responses to the spirits as a child has often resulted in driving away other people who believe him odd or a liar (when he speaks of something he sees).

If this were a shonen manga premise, Natsume would have turned out to be a rough and tumble orphan with a cheerful disposition who beats up ayakashi before making them his friends and battling new ones. (Ayakashi-mon!)  However, we have the opposite kind of character in Natsume  — a polite,  cautious young man who is desperately afraid of having his secrets uncovered and losing the life he is trying to build.

The anime premise begins with his move to a new town.  Two things happen to start the series — first we learn that he has come into possession of some of his deceased grandmother’s effects including a “Book of Friends.”  Second he accidentally frees “Madara”  who is a powerful spirit that resided for a while in a lucky cat vessel.  This  spirit demands Natsume give him  this “Book” as it holds names of various ayakashi that formed agreements to help serve Natsume’s grandmother. (Anyone who holds the book in possession could hold mastery over the other ayakashi.)  However, Natsume refuses Madara .  Madara or “Nyanko-sensei” agrees to stay and protect Natsume on the pretense that someday he gets the book.

Natsume knows little of his grandmother, but he pledges to return the names of the ayakashi.  The anime largely follows Natsume as ayakashi come to reclaim their names or attempt to take the “Book of Friends” from him.  Through the course of the series, Natsume comes to a better understanding about the ayakashi that otherwise he found troubling as a child.  The series also introduces Natsume to others who see these supernatural beings  (namely exorcists) — including those who would use and destroy them.  In this “coming of age” anime, these experiences help him learn more about his grandmother, about relationships with people, as well as  his own shortfalls as an individual.

“Natsume Yujin-cho” is very hard to peg down in terms of its genre. At times it seems like a “monster mystery” of the week serial mixed with “slice of life/high school” themes. It is quite adept at pulling the heartstrings as evidenced by the comments from male and female Crunchyroll viewers.  Although it seems very dramatic in nature, the show itself isn’t lacking in action or humor.  But while its trappings appear youth friendly, the  anime raise profound questions about how we choose to live life. These questions and the careful exploration of characters is what makes this show interesting for older viewers.  In addition, it is essentially a show that is very “Japanese” in some respects — for those who are curious about the modern Japanese view on gods and demons — this is a good one to watch.

One would think it would get very formulaic quickly in that every episode introduces a problem that is usually resolved at the end of the 25 minute arc. However, its rich storytelling made it hard to stop watching and not destroy a few tissues along the way.

As the manga from which this anime is based is still ongoing, watching the anime will not resolve in a complete story. However, the manga is being published in the U.S. (by Viz Media) and it’s the expectation of many fans that the anime will someday return with more material.

Conclusion: Natsume Yujin-cho  is a character-driven show that delivers “good feels.”  Excellent anime for household viewing and trying out with the non-anime crowd.

Currently four seasons of Natsume Yujin-Cho are available to watch for free at Crunchyroll.

 

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Kickstarter – The Ugly – Above the Game

Posted by on Jun 29, 2013 in Brru Crash, Kickstarter | 0 comments

theUgly

Art by http://atixvector.deviantart.com/

 

In a world emphasizing the dangers of rape culture, there is a beacon of light that blazes from the darkness to guide the douche bags home. In my opinion, the project “Above the Game” is that beacon of douche beggary. Here is why it got “The Ugly” award.

The project posts “A guide to getting Awesome with Woman” which turns out is the most docile way of saying “A guide on the manipulation of women”. The project explains that they needed Kickstarter due to the fact that, “The current state of the seduction industry is broken.” In other words, nobody wanted to touch this thing with a ten foot pole. Even those in the “seduction” industry and, well, shall we define seduce? Okay!

Seduce: to persuade to engage in sexual intercourse.

There you have it. This author, a master of words, must know the proper use of the term seduce, right? This means, the persuasion of sexual intercourse industry is broken. Who would have thought? Well, in true crowd funding nature they stuck it to the “seduction” man and got funded. Now, the author only asked for two thousand dollars to write a book that he’s already written. I have my own personal issue with a lot of that, but that is not the point. The point is, he got $16K…yay Universe!

The first draft of the book can be found on reddit’s seduction section; seddit. Seriously, reddit has a seduction section entirely devoted to this. I wouldn’t go there as the Bro culture is unbearably thick. I attempted to open the door enough to peak in, but the pile of empty body oil bottles and N64’s was a major barricade to that endeavor. However, I did catch a glimpse of some of the chapter titles with my favorite being “Physical Escalation & Sex”. That title is disastrous, even if it is about creating a romantic atmosphere. In the least, this book needs a PR makeover.

What should be taken away from this?

I do not wish to promote this project, but bring awareness to the darker nature of Kickstarter as a whole. There will be no links, you have enough knowledge to research it yourself, and cannot be contributed to as the project ended June 19th. The fact remains that even the worst projects have a reward you can get from it. In this case, it is the idea that not everything should be available for crowd funding. I implore you to keep this in mind when deciding what to fund with your power (aka money). Do the research before you give them any money and make sure that you would be satisfied with the worst possible outcome from the project.

 

Of course, all of this is my opinion. What do I know, right? Some may say a lot and some may say very little. It is up to you to decide for yourself. If you feel this is an appropriate use of your money than by all means contribute to these types of projects. However, it turns out I am not alone in my editorial interpretation of this Project as kickstarter.com has removed it from their site. Turns out the project was funded anyways and they can do nothing about that. They have also posted an apology letter for acting so slowly along with a $25,000 contribution to charity.

 

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Kickstarter – The Bad – Anthymn An Online World Shaped by Music

Posted by on Jun 29, 2013 in Brru Crash, Kickstarter | 0 comments

thebad

Art by http://atixvector.deviantart.com/

 

Have you ever wanted to write music? Maybe you already do. Have you ever imagined those notes flying colorfully out of your instrument and slaying a dragon? Well, Anthymn by String Theory Entertainment is imagining exactly that and they want to bring it to you.

Now, the concept of replacing magical elements in video games with musical ones is not all that new. It is extremely difficult to pull off. This is why you do not see it a lot. Anthymn will be completely based around me a little excited. I do not see it as the next greatest game in the world, but it may push the boundaries and form an entirely new fantasy genre.

Of course, that is if it can get funded in the first place. The clock is ticking and they are nowhere near the $600,000 goal they have set for themselves. We are talking about a video game and I understand the ridiculous practices and costs associated with game development, but it seems they have stuck to both ends of the spectrum with little middle ground. The goal is high and the rewards are low. Crowd funding does not allow you to have it both ways. You need to set a goal, make sure your rewards reflect the achievement of that goal, and if it does not, break the project up into smaller goals that will be easier to fund individually. Do not misunderstand, the project could still work. They are just making it more difficult on themselves. However, it does make our jobs, as contributors, much easier as the rewards are very well priced. The best of these rewards being a digital copy of the game for $20. Most video games, even crowd funded, will cost upwards of at least $40 (still considered cheap) and you can  get up that high with the project’s deluxe box game edition of Anthymn costing $65; Other game’s box sets being $100 plus. Low prices are great for us, but not when we want to see the project succeed.

Whether this high goal is necessary or not does not really affect anything. They need to understand this just makes them work harder and I am not seeing that kind of devotion from the Project’s team. With a higher goal you need to spend much more energy pushing the project with all of the latest PR stunts. The team is working hard by always being available for the press, but is the press the most reliable source for contributors? I feel I am just not seeing the kind of public backing that some of the more successful crowd funding projects have received.

What do you think?

I will be backing this project. I like to put my money into experiments and the $20 price may potentially get me a new form of enjoyable game play. Is this for everyone though? Not in the slightest. Our time lacks in true musicians and this project, at least appears, to cater specifically to those few with musical talent. I may be interpreting the project wrong and perhaps it is just bad PR on String Theory Entertainment’s part. Ultimately, you can decide if $20 is too much risk for the ideas presented in this game, but keep in mind, at $20 a contributor, $600,000 is a high goal to hit. I hope that in the next few days, since the project ends July 5th 2013, a lot of people will swoop in to contribute.

 

 

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Kickstarter – The Good – Omni Virtual Reality Movement Platform

Posted by on Jun 29, 2013 in Brru Crash, Kickstarter | 0 comments

thegood

Art by http://atixvector.deviantart.com/

 

Mallrats, that is what they called us. Time and money spent trolling the crowded halls of the “retail experience”. Our cave, that dark muggy room known as the arcade. If you’ve ever spent any time in a mall you should remember the Virtual Reality game stores. These retail outlets charged a massively absorbent amount of money to lock you in a platform, strap some goggles to your head, some wires around your body, and let you have at 3D virtual reality experience; for about 30 seconds. If you enjoyed virtual reality as a kid and long for its return to the mainstream, the Omni by Virtuix is for you.

The project is toting the next stage in virtual reality gaming as a platform with movement in mind. The platform adheres to those old designs with a waste belt sensor, is about the same size, but requires the goggles to be purchases separately. The difference is a low friction surface which allows you to walk, strafe, run, or jump in the game. The project video even shows the designer going for a jog through Skyrim as his exercise routine. The platform really shines by having it designed as just another peripheral on your computer. In other words, it hooks up to any computer and plays any existing game on that system. This will make it possible to run in the zombie apocalypse, strafe away from a dragon’s fire breath, and bunny hop like a newb in first person shooters.

The issue with the project is in the reward tiers being too expensive and mostly sold out. However, if you have a substantial amount of cash looking for a home, around $900, will get you two platforms linked together for multiplayer action. That’s right! These play off existing PC games with existing multiplayer support and existing servers. In the near future, you may get the full experience of sneaking up on someone in your very own Omni platform.

Where do we go from here?

If I had the money to contribute to this project, I probably still wouldn’t. I think it is amazing and a great leap forward for virtual reality gaming, but that is a lot of money for what comes down to a game controller. The project is completely funded and still has a lot of time left before the deadline of July 22, 2013, so expect these things in the future. I just hope the price is brought down to the level where us average Gamers can afford it. If you can afford it, by all means do it. Just make sure to invite us at GeekHeadRadio over for the Omni party.

 

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Geekhead Radio’s Next Guest ‘Joe Corroney’ Illustrator extraordinaire for Lucasfilm, Marvel and DC just to name a few.

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Capture

Joe Corroney has been providing Lucasfilm with official Star Wars artwork for books, games, trading cards, comic books, posters and magazines since 1997. Other comic books he’s illustrated include True BloodGI JoeFallen Angel24: NightfallDoctor WHOAngel and Spike Vs. Dracula for IDW Publishing, Farscape for BOOM! Studios, Buckaroo BanzaiKolchak The Night Stalker and The Phantom for Moonstone Books and Crimson Dynamo for Marvel Comics. Currently, he’s illustrating for IDW’s new Star Trek and X-Files comic books. He’s also developing his creator owned comic book series, Death Avenger and continuing to create new Star Wars artwork for Lucasfilm.

Some of the other licenses and professional publishers he has illustrated for are Disney, DC Comics, Hasbro, Becker & Mayer! Books, The Lord of the RingsHeroes, Wizards of the Coast, XBox, Dragon Magazine, Sony Picture’s Men In BlackXena: Warrior PrincessThunderBirds: The Movie, IDG Entertainment, Upper Deck, Rittenhouse Archives, Paizo Publishing, White Wolf Publishing, Cinemagraphix, Last Unicorn Games, West End Games, Image Comics, Blue Line Pro, and Microsoft’s Age of Empires collectible card game.

He was also the instructor for the Comic Book Illustration Course at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio for ten years and has taught the Ohio State University’s Summer Comic Book Workshop as well.

Joe runs a full-time illustration studio and can be commissioned or contracted for work. You can contact him at joe@joecorroney.com .

You should also follow him on twitter: @joe_corroney or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Corroney/114200338595714?ref=ts

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