Category Archives: 3D anime

Sega Girls Too Hard to Pass Up

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Japan makes anime comedies about all sort of strange topics. Now we have an anime show where three cute girls represent video game consoles.

Sega Hard Girls is a strange collection of hit-and-miss video game jokes. The average anime fan might pass this up, but the beautiful 3D animation makes the show much more enjoyable.

I thought I’d seen every type of anime by this point, but Sega Hard Girls is definitely one of the most unusual shows to date. The show’s full name is actually “Hi-sCoool! Seha Girls,” but most fans just call it by its nickname, Sega Hard Girls. The show has three main characters who each represent Sega video game consoles. Their names are Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast. The game systems in this show are represented in the form of cute anime girls.

These Sega girls are all attending Sehagaga Academy in Tokyo. Their goal is to graduate and become full-fledged video game consoles. Well, at least I think that’s their main goal. For the entire season, I kept wondering what would actually happen to the girls when they graduate. The whole concept is already too strange to comprehend.

segaHard3Thankfully, this show isn’t focused around a serious plot—it’s a comedy based around video games. The main goal of the academy is to earn 100 medals. To earn these medals, the girls have to enter the worlds of old Sega games to perform a specific task. Each episode focuses on funny slapstick jokes that use retro game characters.

The show is a unique mish-mash of 3D anime and video game animation. I’ve seen all sorts of lame 3D anime films where the animation looks incredibly stiff and fake. Sega Hard Girls is the first 3D show where I had an emotional connection with the characters. The brilliant animators of this show took the time to slow the action down and focus on the facial details and expressions of the character models. Because of this detail, the girls look a lot more like humans with feelings and emotional expressions.

The result is a light-hearted cartoon that looks back at the joy and fun of video game characters in the past. Some episodes showed off some really obscure games that were only released in Japan, such as Border Break. Based on the episode I had seen, Border Break looks like a versatile, online 3D shooter with mecha robots. Even if the game’s environment looked a little bland, I really enjoyed watching these girls explore the unique landscape of Border Break.

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The show has plenty of cameos from video game icons, but the funniest parts actually take place when goofy-looking characters wander in from other random Sega games. In fact, Sega Hard Girls is chock-full of visual gags. My favorite jokes took place in episode two, when the girls used martial arts moves against little birds from Flicky, pig men from Golden Axe and a giant beetle from some weird bug game (Mushiking).

Sega Hard Girls is a retrospective of all the funniest moments of early video games. The show is geared for all the anime fans who yearn for the old days of video games, when all the graphics looked a lot more innocent and timeless. Sega Hard Girls also shows off some of the best 3D animation I’ve ever seen.

Sega Hard Girls is available to stream at crunchyroll.com.

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Filed under 3D anime, action, anime streaming, comedy, crunchy roll, fighting

>DVD Review – Vexille brings technological apocalypse to Japan

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Although one computer-generated robot film was already released this year, “Vexille” is more thoughtful and exciting than “Appleseed: Ex Machina.” Despite the slow pace of the film, I loved watching this new prediction of an apocalyptic future of Japan.

At first, the film seems to go in the same direction as “Appleseed: Ex Machina,” with intense robot battles and fast action. However, this movie decides to take a much different approach–this time, the robot force is investigating the use of cyborg technology in Japan.

According to the film, Japan isolated itself from the world in the year 2067. The entire island was secluded, and no foreigners could come in or out of the area. In fact, the movie shows that there is a flashing electronic security network called R.A.C.E. between Japan and the rest of the world.

The film centers around Vexille, a member of S.W.O.R.D., which is a military group that specializes in fighting in robot suits. Ten years later, her husband, Leon, found a messenger in San Pedro, California, who said that Maria needed him, and that Daiwa Industries is meeting at Mt. Fila on Christmas Day to discuss admission of their cyborg technology. Saito of Daiwa Industries escaped on an airplane. Although Vexille hung on to his leg, Saito chopped the leg off!

Later, some scientists explained that this was actually a cyborg leg, which is illegal under the United Nations restrictions. Eventually, the head of S.W.O.R.D. operations decides to act without United States authorization to investigate the nation of Japan.

Unfortunately, the mission doesn’t go well. Leon’s robot suit gets hit by a rocket, and Vexille’s other members are killed. Vexille wakes up in a shocking new world of Japan. Tokyo has turned into a shantytown.

Vexille also meets Maria, who was Leon’s ex-girlfriend in Japan. Maria was a U.N. investigator in Japan, but after regulations by Daiwa, Maria could not move out of Japan. Leon left for the United States, but Maria explains that Daiwa also did something else to Japan–they turned all the people into cyborgs.

According to Maria, after Daiwa Industries took governmental control over Japan, they gave all the people vaccinations. Unfortunately, these vaccinations were special chemicals that turned all their genes into robotic parts. While they are all human, when their eyes turn black, they will all turn into empty cyborgs who are forced to work for Daiwa.

And Japan is a wasteland. That’s right, after Daiwa took over, they used up its natural resources. Now it has no mountains or rivers or greenery–it is all flat. This is sure one heck of a message to convert to environment-friendly energy sources, but it works very well. The depiction is incredible–I really loved the desolate world of Japan, with desert expanses and huge robotic worms made of scrap metal.

Vexille is a brilliant film from start to finish. The Japanese voices are incredibly compelling, and the computer-generated graphics are just as awesome. I saw many complaints that the graphics are not as good as, say, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.” However, the director chose a style that used more cell-shaded graphics, to make it somewhat more cartoony. The images were probably rendered in this way to offer a sense of comic relief from the dark apocalyptic story.

But it’s clear that “Vexille” offers excellent images and a brilliant story that paints a desolate future for Japan. Let’s just hope that Japan doesn’t get this messed up 60 or 70 years from now.

Images courtesy of seaslugteam.com

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Filed under 3D anime, action, apocalyptic, future, mecha, sci-fi, Vexille

>DVD Review – Ex-Machina Excitement

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Unless they’ve been living under a rock, nearly every anime fan has heard of the “Appleseed” movies. Based on the “Appleseed” manga by Masamune Shirow, the movies are pretty exciting shows of gunfights and cyberpunk mythology, even if they aren’t that original.

“Appleseed: Ex-Machina”, the third movie in the franchise, is probably the best of the Appleseed films so far. Produced by gunfight movie specialist John Woo, “Appleseed: Ex-Machina” features even flashier gunfights and a complex plot involving brainwashing.

For people unaquainted with the Appleseed franchise, the series focuses on a pair of tough E.S.W.A.T. soldiers, Deunan and Briareos (buraireiosu). While they are the best soldiers in the team, they are also a romantic wife/husband team until Briareos loses his body in an explosion. Fortunately, Briareos’ body is restored in robot form. Together, they are the unstoppable duo, protecting the city-nation of Olympus from terrorists.

In “Appleseed: Ex-Machina”, however, Briareos almost dies trying to save Deunan from a bomb inside one of the terrorist cyborgs. Although Deunan is grateful that Briareos only took minor damage, she isn’t pleased when E.S.W.A.T. assigns her with a genetic human clone of Briareos, named Tereus. Of course, romantic tension ensues when Briareos returns to the E.S.W.A.T. team to meet his human clone. Deunan likes both of them of course, but Briareos came to her first.

With that aside, there is actually a big action plot involving a scientist named Dr. Kestner. Kestner took over a Project HALCON, a scientific project to help brain-damaged veterans with an advanced artificial intelligence system. But then the project turned the veterans insane and the project leader, Dr. Zander, was killed by veterans. Kestner vowed to get his revenge through implants into popular devices called connexus. Now the devices are transmitters which turn humans and robots insane.

Okay, the storyline is a little simplistic. Ultimately, Briareos, Deunan and Tereus decide to take on HALCON, because if they destroy the HALCON base containing the virus, they can save Olympus from being destroyed. HALCON is actually huge floating cube over the ocean. Inside the cube are tons of virus robots. Of course, the three spend their time killing robots with long machine-gun fights, acrobatics and rocket flying. And admittedly, the last fight with the core of the HALCON really isn’t that spectacular.

However, the gunfights are incredible. I’ve honestly never seen so much flipping and jumping in a gunfight movie. In the second fight alone, Deunan spends her time flipping on steel girders and jumping all over the place just to shut off the robot with the switch on its neck. And in the HALCON gunfight, Deunan kamikazes her flying robot into another robot, ejecting before the explosion.

Okay, maybe the gunfights are ridiculously unrealistic. However, they are impressive to watch. And I also liked the twist in John Woo’s use of the doves. As every John Woo fan knows, every Woo film has to have flying doves. The “Appleseed” movie puts a twist in the dove formula, though–the doves have cyborg exoskeletons containing the viruses to make robots go insane.

Okay, maybe the doves were silly. However, the movie was flashy and exciting enough to receive my approval. Despite a simplistic plot and typical John Woo silliness, this is a great-looking film with amazing computer-generated animation. “Appleseed: Ex-Machina” isn’t a film to write home about, but it is fun to watch, nonetheless.

Oh, and the interview with John Woo is a good special feature as well.

Image courtesy of clockworkmachina.com

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Filed under 3D anime, Appleseed, cyber-punk, John Woo, movie, sci-fi, shonen