September 30, 2007

Check Out Musashi's Opponent!

vagabond baiken figureSeries: Vagabond
Character: Baiken Shishido
Size: 8" tall
Sculptor: Oniki Yuki
Publisher: Fewture Models
Remarks: It can be displayed in a diorama with Musashi

Meet Baiken, one of Miyamoto Musashi's rivals in Inoue Takehiko's Vagabond. I'll be frank: I WANT THIS FIGURE. Like my Musashi figure, whose review I will do later (when I'm not lazy), Baiken is sculpted nicely. He closely resembles his manga counterpart.

The Baiken figure comes with his choice weapon: the sickle and chain. The stand for both the Musashi and Baiken figures are just plain black and are just slightly bigger than each foot. As can be seen in the picture, Baiken is highly detailed...from the creases of his clothes to the hairs on his face and head.

Just looking at the figure frustrates me. Both Vagabond figures can be displayed together, add a backdrop, some fake grass, and voila! You have your Vagabond diorama!

September 29, 2007

Get Your Guitars Ready, Everyone!!

guitar hero 3: legends of rockOMG. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is coming out real soon (around November, I think)! And they're releasing it on PS2 too, which means that I can play the game as soon as it comes out -- since it's still quite too early, and too expensive, for me to get a PS3 this time. I loved playing Guitar Hero 2, so I'm sure to love Guitar Hero 3 too. (Too bad I can't find any copy of the first Guitar Hero...that would've been smashing.)

Look at the new characters! Plus based on the songlist that has been updated recently, it won't be an easy feat playing GH3. I found an updated songlist from the Unofficial Guitar Hero 3 Fansite and the game features these songs so far:

3’s and 7’s – Queens of the Stone Age
Avalancha - Héroes del Silencio
Barracuda – Heart
Becoming the Bull – Atreyu
Black Magic Woman – Santana
Bulls on Parade – Rage Against the Machine
Cherub Rock – The Smashing Pumpkins
Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll – Blue Öyster Cult
Closer - Lacuna Coil
Cult of Personality – Living Colour
Castle Bound – Monty Are I
Even Flow – Pearl Jam
Generation Rock – revolverheld
Go That Far – Bret Michaels Band
Helicopter – Bloc Party
Hier Kommt Alex - Die Toten Hosen
Hit Me with Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar
I’m in the Band - The Hellacopters
In the Belly of a Shark - Gallows
Knights of Cydonia – Muse
La Grange – ZZ Top
Lay Down – Priestess
Mauvais Garçon - NAAST
The Metal – Tenacious D
Minus Celsius - Backyard Babies
Miss Murder – AFI
Mississippi Queen – Mountain
My Name Is Jonas – Weezer
The Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden
One – Metallica
Paint It, Black – The Rolling Stones
Paranoid – Black Sabbath
Radio Song - Superbus
Raining Blood – Slayer
Reptilia – The Strokes
Rock and Roll All Nite – Kiss
Rock You Like a Hurricane – Scorpions
Ruby - Kaiser Chiefs
Sabotage – Beastie Boys
School’s Out – Alice Cooper
She Bangs the Drums – The Stone Roses
She Builds Quick Machines – Velvet Revolver
Slow Ride – Foghat
Suck My Kiss – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Take This Life - In Flames
Talk Dirty to Me - Poison
Through the Fire and Flames – DragonForce
Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
When You Were Young – The Killers

More Slash-fest! There's Guns 'N Roses and Velvet Revolver. Jeff also said that Slash will be in GH3 as a character, but you can't use him since he's a boss. Sucks. Argggggh I'm so excited!!

September 27, 2007

Genshiken OVA

genshiken ovaSeries: Genshiken OVA
Episodes: 3
Studio: Ajia-do Animation Works, Genco
Genre: Seinen

I was finally able to finish watching Genshiken episodes 13, 14 and 15 -- or collectively known as Genshiken OVA. Yep, there are three episodes that still continue from the first season of Genshiken. I'll give a brief summary (without any spoilers!) of the OVA:

First episode: I Am Ogiue and I Hate Otakus
The episode opens up showing the changes that happened within Genshiken after the storyline of the first season: Sasahara is the new club president, Kaguyama is applying for a job, Madarame is looking for one, Ohno and Tanaka are busy with cosplay materials-hunting, Kosaka still is an otaku and his girlfriend, Kasukabe becomes coy with Genshiken. Oh and Kuchiki (Kucchi) becomes a regular member too.
During one of their lazy days in the club room, Ohno sees trouble in the Manga Club room as a girl opens the window and jumps down (two-stories high). The president of the Manga Club explains everything to Genshiken and makes a request from Genshiken: the president wants to dispose of the girl who jumped from their club room (introduced to them as Ogiue) and dump her into Genshiken.

Second episode: I Am from Planet Otaku
The second episode is all about Saki doing what she does best: doing make-overs and giving fashion advices (to those who need it). She criticized Ogiue and Madarame's choice of clothes, calling their style very otaku. So Madarame goes out to shop for clothes but he was having second thoughts and is losing hope about getting a new set of clothes. He uses his special otaku ability to overcome this and manages to go inside the clothing store again.

Third episode: Then I'll Undress You!
It's once again time for the annual school festival. Genshiken decides that they will use Ohno's cosplaying as their main participation in the festival. Tanaka goes around to making the costumes and Ohno discovers that he made a lot of clothes that are not for her. Tanaka is hoping that Ogiue would want to try cosplaying too and during the event, the boys of Genshiken bet on each other if Ogiue will try cosplay or not.

If you liked Genshiken, I'm sure you will watch this, or have already finished it a long time ago. Oh don't forget that Genshiken 2 is coming out on October 9, 2007...well, the first episode, at least.

September 25, 2007

Highway Jenny

highway jennyHighway Jenny, directed by Fukushi Masaaki, is probably one of the deepest animated movie I've ever seen. Why? Because it talks about life and death, living and dying. It has all these scenes of enjoying each day with a person you love, coupled with scenes of destruction and loneliness.

The first time I watched it, I admit, that I didn't really understand it much. I had to watch it the second time to actually get some message to sink inside me. It did...deeply.

The animation is not your typical anime and whatnot, but it's more of artsy, in the sense like you're watching an animated chalk drawing in black background. What's more, there aren't much of a dialogue, just some words and sentences scribbled on the screen for you to read. The words and sentences describe the current scene and what the character is feeling. Not only that, Highway Jenny is like one whole soundtrack. Music plays throughout the film, reflecting the changes in emotions and thoughts as well as the scenes.

I'd recommend Highway Jenny to anyone and everyone who likes animation, art films and films with a serious and thought-provoking theme to it.

September 22, 2007

Koyuki and Lucille PVC Figure

beck koyuki and lucille
Series: Beck
Character: Koyuki and Lucille
Size: 120mm

Sad to say, this figure is limited. Probably rare too. The Koyuki with Lucille figure is only available when you purchase Beck Volume 26. The manga comes with this figure box that contains a fully painted Koyuki and Lucille figure.

Lucky are those who have this... T_T

September 21, 2007

A New Look At The Legendary Swordsman

vagabond inoue takehikoTitle: Vagabond
Story & Art: Inoue Takehiko
Status: On-going
Genre: Seinen

Vagabond is a manga adaptation of Yoshikawa Eiji's Miyamoto Musashi. If you like Japanese history, or samurai for that matter, you should try to read Vagabond. The story is told in a flowing manner, even the flashbacks are incorporated well into the story, so it doesn't become confusing for the reader. The artwork is great -- it's still similar to Inoue's other works like Slam Dunk, only, Vagabond's art is more mature and detailed, with lesser super-deformed (SD) scenes.

Inoue's Vagabond details the life of Miyamoto Musashi based on the mangaka's perception of him. It's a grand tale of finding and accepting oneself while living free despite the limitations a person's environment sets down upon him. You'll also get to meet characters that Musashi met during his lifetime including Sasaki Koujiro and Takuan Souhou, both celebrated personalities in Japanese history.

The battle scenes are well-drawn. Sure, it gets gory from time to time, but all the blood just adds up to the beauty of the battle, victory and defeat. Besides, they're samurai. It's impossible to cut down a person without blood, right?

Anyway, the manga is still on-going, currently at volume 27. Don't let the double-digit number of volumes dishearten you and scare you from reading Vagabond. I didn't notice that it was already that long when I started reading Vagabond. I couldn't stop reading and I get agitated when the volume's done and I don't have the next one yet.

Read Vagabond now and I'm sure you'll get hooked in no time ^_^

September 18, 2007

Himekuri Black Version

himekuripicture from HLJ
Series: Himekuri Girl
Character: Himekuri
Scale: 1/7
Sculptor: Enoki Tomohide
Publisher: Kaiyodo
Remarks: Three versions: black, white and red

I finally got the Himekuri figure! It's a birthday gift from my parents. I'm very pleased with my new figure. Himekuri is sculpted really well, plus the colors blend together perfectly. Nevermind that she's doing a bit of an...ecchi pose, because it just makes her cuter than she already is, with those big eyes and colorful ribbon.

I especially love the ribbon on her hair. It covers the seam lines where parts of her hair are glued to the main hair body. Himekuri's hair is lovely too...with just enough "movement". The creases on her skirt are quite realistic to look at, plus the paint job's matte, with a bit of glittery paint, just enough to make her look as if she's wearing leather. Well, at least, that's how it looks to me.

Even if you guys aren't loli fans like me, it still is worth getting a Himekuri because its a fine work of art. Pretty cheap too for this kind of figure, to tell you the truth. I'd get all versions but then, what will I do with three Himekuris? ^_^

September 15, 2007

The Girl Friend Artbook

Girl Friend Betten Court Illustrations 1996-2006Title: Girl Friend Betten Court Illustrations 1996-2006
Art: Betten Court
Pages: 112
Publisher: Shueisha

Jeff gave me this Girl Friend Artbook by Betten Court on my birthday last Wednesday. It was really, really pretty. The Girl Friend artbook features the mangaka's Girlfriend illustrations plus illustrations from his other works. There are 121 pictures all-in-all including some of his unpublished drawings.

The artwork are mostly full-color. "Mostly" because there are some character sketches of Betten Court's other works. I really fell in love with the Girlfriend artwork though. They show the different characters in the manga, boys included.

The artbook is A4 in size, meaning it's 29x22.5 centimeters and is hardbound too. If you like pretty girls doing pretty poses, the Girl Friend artbook is for you. Note that there are no ecchi and hentai pictures though.

September 11, 2007

NANA 2... I Think There Will Be A 3

NANA 2I watched NANA 2 yesterday. The quality of the movie is still the same as the first, as it closely follows the manga's story. I have one problem though: the new Hachi.

In the first NANA movie, Hachiko was played by Miyazaki Aoi but due to some problems with the story of NANA 2, she was replaced by Ichikawa Yui. (That's the rumor.) I don't like how Ichikawa did Hachi. There was something missing... Or maybe I was used to seeing Miyazaki playing Hachi since I watched NANA a lot of times.

Other character changes included:
Ren - from Matsuda Ryuhei to Nobuo Kyou
Shin - from Matsuyama Keniichi to Hongo Kanata

WARNING: If you haven't read or watched NANA (anime and/or movie), some SPOILERS are in the next paragraph.

NANA 2's story starts at the part where Hachi and Takumi meet again and one thing led to another. Yep, it's the part where everyone learns that Hachi is pregnant and Nana is devastated that Nobu isn't the father. I like the drama this time, especially when Nana and Nobu ended up crying together. Yasu played just a small part, while Ren, Reira and Naoki's lines were non-existent. If it weren't for Reira singing and the launching of Trapnest's video, I wouldn't have remembered them at all. Oh and Blast already signed up with Gaia Records and the movie ended with a concert... Making the story open up for a NANA 3, perhaps.

Oh the songs are nice. I liked Glamorous Sky and Journey better, but Blast's Hitoiro and Trapnest's Truth sounded just fine, though Blast's song is catchier this time.

If you liked NANA, I do recommend you watch NANA 2. Personally, it's still worth it despite the major character changes because the story is more important, right?

September 7, 2007

Afro Samurai PVC Figure

afro samuraiSeries: Afro Samurai
Character: Afro
Scale: 1/8 (around 7 inches)
Publisher: GDH
Release date: November 2007

Wouldn't it be great to have an Afro figure to add to my collection? I can display it beside my Musashi (I'll give a review of that soon) and both of them can just fight each other off there or something.

Also available: Kuma (erm...he's the one with the bear's head that's laden with computers inside...Afro's childhood friend)

September 6, 2007

Okami: The Great God...A Wolf?!

okamiTitle: Okami
Developer: Clover Studio
Platform: PlayStation 2
Release: 2006

I bought my Okami game mainly because I found the cover amusing - a wolf with a flaming stone-like thing (which I later found out was a weapon) on its back. Oh I also bought it because it was set during ancient Japan, though I'm not sure which part exactly.

Anyway, Okami is a single-player action-adventure game where the player takes on the role of Amaterasu (a white wolf) who has come back to earth because of the demon, named Orochi, whom Amaterasu defeated before has escaped from its tomb. Amaterasu must find a way to defeat Orochi once again before the demon's curse spreads throughout the land and corrupt everything on its path.

As you can see in the picture above, Okami's graphics look like an animated old Japanese painting. All throughout the game, the player can hit a button and the scene freezes into a canvas where he can paint to bring out Amaterasu's powers. The powers of Amaterasu are brush strokes that represent different elements like water, air, fire, etc. that you can get by discovering where different constellations are. The constellations are represented by different animals, some from the zodiac too, I think.

Okami is an easy game but at the same time, it's quite challenging too. I also love the characters' voices. They're uhm...unique. You have to play it to see what I mean. Oh and there are cute moments too, when you feed different animals specific kinds of food to gain praises. Oh yes, you need "praises". Try playing Okami, not because I said so, well, yeah because I did, but also because it gained quite a few good reviews from other players. I think it's also the last game Clover made, I'm not sure about this though, so correct me if I'm mistaken.

September 4, 2007

Afro Samurai

afro samuraiSeries: Afro Samurai
Episodes: 5
Studio: GONZO
Genre: Seinen

Jeff introduced me to Afro Samurai. When he first told me about it, I was like, "Afro? Like the 70's hairdo?" I was reluctant at first since 1) Samurai for me are Japanese alone and 2) Afro Samurai is based on a doujin. Then Jeff told me that Afro Samurai uses Samuel L. Jackson's voice. Next thing I knew, I was in front of my laptop, clicking 'play'.

Afro Samurai is about a colored samurai named Afro because of his hair (and that sentence just sounded so redundant). He is on a quest to find a gunman named Justice. Justice killed Afro's father, Rokutaro, in order to become "Number 1". It just so happens that Afro is "Number 2" and the rule is that nobody can ever challenge "Number 1" unless it's "Number 2". Okay, for those of you who are not aware of Afro Samurai yet, you're probably confused with all these numbers. I'll break it down because I'm nice.

The setting for Afro Samurai is a futuristic feudal Japan wherein warriors are ranked in numbers. They only get to advance if they beat the one ahead of them regardless of rank. The only rule is that no one can touch "Number 1" unless it's the "Number 2" warrior. The problem is, anyone can give a go at "Number 2". It sucks, but that's their rule. Oh and the way to denote their rank is through a sacred headband (the one on Afro's head on the picture) that shows their number.

Anyway, Afro tries to find Justice to take his revenge but a lot of people won't leave him alone because they want to become "Number 1" themselves. He takes on different enemies like the Empty 7, his old childhood friends and various warriors ranked lower than he is (some with no rank at all yet). Afro also has this companion named Ninja Ninja. He comes out at times when Afro is alone, saying things that Afro can't, so that's already an implication that Ninja could be Afro's conscience or something.

What I like about Afro Samurai is that the fight scenes are animated well and you get enough violence to satisfy you by the time you reach the 5th episode. The story isn't too hard to follow plus, it's a unique storyline too. Definitely worth mentioning as a "favorite" ^^

jeffnote: One of the cool things that invited me to watch Afro Samurai is the soundtrack. Produced by the RZA, the raw, very street, completely hiphop flavor of the OST accompanies the entire presentation quite nicely. The choice of artist isn't anything short of perfect either: RZA does not sound the least bit awkward rapping about number one headbands and swords and shit, thanks to his group's unusual fondness for Shaolin and martial arts. RZA's productions are never cheesy or commercial despite his success in the industry, and it can be clearly heard not only in the soundtrack of Afro Samurai but in other projects as well.

September 1, 2007

Girlfriend: Which Type Would You Want?

girlfriendTitle: Girlfriend
Story & Art: Masaya Hokazono & Bettencourt
Status: On-going
Genre: Shoujo

Girlfriend is one of my favorite manga. It's a series of short stories about love and sex relationships between high schoolers. The stories usually continue with every volume, so you really have to read Girlfriend religiously. Don't worry though, the stories are pretty light so it's not hard reading them, plus, they can be funny too.

As I mentioned, the stories are about love and sex relationship, so everything revolves around the two themes. The characters are well-drawn too, as you can see on the picture above. They're well proportioned and the artwork actually reminds me of Ogawa Yayoi's. The lips, especially.

The stories are usually told by the women, but on later chapters, the men vent out their sexual frustrations too. Very amusing! Oh and at the end of most of the chapters, the girlfriends are given a profile so the readers will know their vital stats and interests and stuff. Girlfriend is definitely something I'd recommend for any type of manga reader there is ^___^