Category Archives: fighting

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

Season review: Superheroes of Science and Catholicism

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A Certain Magical Index seems like a typical shonen anime at first. A simple-minded boy hero uses his powerful hand to protect innocent people. However, the whole story is far more complicated.

A Certain Magical Index somehow spins the strangest conspiracy theories of religion into a fascinating science fiction thriller.

This particular anime comes up with enough wild ideas to keep people guessing about what happens next. It has everything–psychics, a group of sorcerors in the Catholic Church and an story that has something to do with a collection of forbidden books. The first season of A Certain Magical Index simplifies these mysterious topics by using ordinary characters who we can relate to.

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The main character of this anime, Toma Kamijo, looks like a typical high school dude. He wakes up in his dorm room and discovers a girl dressed as a nun, lying on the railing of his balcony. The girl, named Index, asks Toma to help defend her against a group of magicians. She reveals to Toma that her mind contains photographic memory of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a collection of 103,000 magical books that were banned by the Church of England.

Although Toma doesn’t really believe Index, he offers her a quick meal before he leaves for school. When he returns, he discovers Index’s bloody body lying on the ground. A shrewd magician named Stiyl confronts Toma and explains that his partner unintentionally hurt Index. Stiyl claims that his group actually intends to protect her.

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Toma doesn’t buy this confusing explanation at all, especially the sorcerors injured the girl in such a brutal fashion. After defeating Stiyl, he decides to try everything he possibly can to save Index’s life. Thus, Toma gets wrapped up in an epic battle to protect the innocent girl, Index, from the evil sorcerors of the Church of England.

Although I summarized the basic plot of this series, the entire story of A Certain Magical Index is a little convoluted. I really couldn’t predict where the storyline was headed, because each new story arc makes everything even more complicated. Every episode was fascinating, though. Each character seems to have their own twisted backstory about how their powers evolved.

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People really have to watch A Certain Magical Index to see the characters. These heroes have some of the coolest-looking abilities I have ever seen. My personal favorite is Mikoto Misaka, a powerful psychic with the abilities to shoot electricity. In the first episode, she demonstrates that she can shoot coins at supersonic speeds. Although she is a close friend to Toma, her heated arguments with him often turn into spectacular battles that are fun to watch.

Of course, Toma is clearly the hero of the show. He can cancel out nearly every attack with the power of his hand, the Imagine Breaker. Somehow, his hand can absorb nearly every attack that hits him. His friend, Mikoto, often gets jealous of him, because he can block all of her attacks. However, their friendship reaches a surprisingly touching moment halfway into the first season.

Although some story arcs of A Certain Magical Index are downright confusing, science fiction fans will still love the characters in this intellectual series. The battles between the characters are incredible displays of superhuman power. The conspiracy theories conjured up in this anime epic are also undeniably intriguing. In fact, the ideas in this show will make people ponder whether there really is a dark magical secret hidden deep inside the Catholic church.

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Filed under A Certain Magical Index, action, fighting, future, mystery, romance

Video game anime – The Chronicles of Blazblue

The cast of characters from Blazblue

Blazblue melds action anime characters in a stunningly beautiful fighting game.

I don’t usually review video games as part of my anime blog. However, Blazblue fused a fighting game with a anime storyline in such a profound way to revolutionize Japanese animation in games.

Blazblue is more than just a fighting game–it’s also a massive narrative filled with drama, intense action and an impending apocalyptic disaster.

Even though the game has a hardcore edge to it and the difficulty curve is somewhat high, BlazBlue has an unusual story mode that people don’t usually expect. Most of the plot surrounds 12 characters involved in the destruction of the city of Kagutsuchi-13.

The entire story plays out in an endless time loop, where all the characters somehow end up in the same place they started. No matter which path they take, all the characters usually end up dying partly because of an evil cyborg.

Rachel Alucard from Blazblue

Rachel flies through the air on her inflating cat balloon.

Only a few of the main characters are aware that someone is keeping them stuck in the same tragic time loop. Rachel-Alucard is one of those characters who tries to warp certain characters in the past, in order to turn them into cyborgs to prevent the apocalypse.

To tell the truth, most of this silly  story involves trivial vendettas. For instance, Ragna had his arm cut off by his brother, Jin Kisaragi, when he was young. These two brothers now become enemies to the very end. However, the game doesn’t really explain the reasons why Jin cuts Ragna’s arm off, among other things.

Blazblue is still very noteworthy as one of the few games that melds complex anime storylines with an intense style of fighting gameplay. It’s one of the only games that manages to make people feel like they’re playing a part in a shonen action show. It somewhat resembles Soul Eater in its heavy metal music and the gothic clothing style of the characters.

I’m surprised at how closely these fighters resemble a variety of different anime characters. Carl Clover and Rachel-Alucard look like kids from a moe series. Litchi Faye-Ling clearly stands out as the fan service girl with her big breasts. Most of all, Jin and Ragna are the tough guys usually found in a shonen series. Ragna has the long spiky hairstyle of Dragon Ball Z’s Goku in his super seiyan mode and Jin has the blonde hair in the fashion of LeLouche from Code Geass.

In many ways, Blazblue is probably the closest that a video game has ever gotten to emulating the whole anime fighting experience. Much of the story is nonsensical, but no one can deny the charm of each fighter in this battle royale. It’s one of the more impressive fighting games of this current generation of game consoles.

This game is available for the XBOX 360 and the PS3. There’s also a PC version that I haven’t tried out yet.

Images courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under action, Alucard, apocalyptic, Blazblue, fighting, moe, shonen, video game

>Video game anime classics: "Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle"

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“Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” is one of the weirdest anime-to-video game releases, nearly forgotten because of its poor production.

For anyone who doesn’t know “Ranma 1/2,” this series was pretty much about a boy who turns into a girl when he gets hit by cold water. She can only turn into a guy if he comes in contact with hot water. The rest of the story focused mostly on his love triangles with the other girls, and even guys, of his high school.

Technically, the plot of this fighting game doesn’t make too much sense, but it works to bring all these characters together to fight. The principal of Ranma’s high school is setting up a tournament. He’s promised each participant the prize that that person wants the most.

Each person has a reason to fight. Ranma wants to be excused from attending high school classes. Akane wants boys to stop following her. Shampoo wants to prove to Ranma that she’s strong enough for him. There’s even a few minor characters in the video game as well, such as the Gambling King, who uses a cane and stacks of cards to fight. His dream is to start up a casino in Nerima with the principal’s help. You’ll pretty much figure out the story in a short time.

On paper, it seems like a fun and goofy concept for a fighting game. However, “Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” plays as slowly as the old “Clay Fighter” games. The characters move as slow as slugs and the special moves are almost too easy to use. The game quickly becomes a boring rock, paper, scissors game, where each player takes the time to see what the other player does, so that she/he can counter it.

So why should anyone buy this game? Well, this game is actually more memorable for its stupefyingly voice actors. The United States publisher, DTMC, decided to use American voice actors. The voices sound funny and horribly overdone at the same time. It’s pretty much worth playing just to hear a girl mumbling loudly, “HYUUYOUSOUKENHA!” Half the time, you couldn’t even hear what the other character was saying. It was like an unintentional parody of “Street Fighter II,” where the voice actors were making fun of every bad special move cliche.

Better yet, these fighters were duking it out in some of the most bizarre backdrops that you will probably never see in any other fighting game. There’s nothing more fun than fighting on Ukyo Kuonji’s stage, which is literally a wrestling ring smothered with a Japanese okonomiyaki pancake.

The funniest gameplay visuals involved the characters’ actual moves. You’d have typical “Street Fighter” style characters, such as Ranma, Akane and Shampoo. Then you’d have the bizarre characters, such as Genma in his panda form. You could play as Mousse, who uses swords, a ball-and-chain, a swan and a yo-yo. The weirdest one, though, was Hikaru Gosunkugi. He wears a headband with candles on his ears. He can hit people with a big hammer and he can twirl around a straw man for his special move.

You’ll probably never laugh at a fighting game as much as you will laugh at “Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” for the Super Nintendo. This game is a little hard to come by nowadays, but there are still plenty of copies available on eBay for as low as $6. So if you still have your Super Nintendo, you could at least enjoy this game for some quick laughs.

Images courtesy of expixeblogdepedja.com and vgmuseum.com

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Filed under action, fighting, Ranma 1/2, Uncategorized, video game

>DVD Review – License to kill

>It’s not really cool to kill people. However, if someone is a contractor, then they were made to kill.

“Darker Than Black” is a cool thriller about an independent band of psychic superheroes who are trying to save the world from corporate assassins.

At least that’s what I’ve concluded. However, these superheroes are known as contractors. They obtained special psychic abilities from witnessing the mysterious appearance of Hell’s Gate.

Some corporations hire these contractors to perform their own black market smuggling deals. However, another independent group of contractors is saving contractors. They take in contractors to prevent crime.

Their leader is the Black Reaper, also known as Liu Xiansheng. Although he acts like a college student, he’s really a trained killer with electric wires as weapons. He’s one of the fastest and toughest superheroes I’ve ever seen. He has three comrades. One is a human named Huang. Another is Yin, a girl with silver hair, who can track the movements of other contractors whenever her skin touches water.

And the leader of the band is Mao, who is, ahem, a black cat. He’s a master strategist. However, don’t ask me how a cat became the mastermind.

Liu probably works for a syndicate, but he’s more interested in saving contractors from being taken in by the police. The first story arc, “The Star of Contract Flowed,” involves Liu finding a mysterious girl named Chiaki Shinoda. For a while, Liu spends time as Shinoda’s bodyguard, until Shinoda learns that Liu is actually a contractor who killed her boyfriend contractor.

In the second story arc, “A New Star Shines in the City of Dawn,” Liu helps the daughter of a Tahara, a sole surviver of the Hell’s Gate incident. The daughter, Chiaki, has the ability to shoot out fire. Her father tried to suppress her abilities by injecting the seeds of a plant from the Hell’s Gate area into her wrist. However, he couldn’t suppress her emotional angst and violent abilities too long, and now she’s a crazy firebrand.

In the last story arc, “The Red Dreams of a Calamity Disappears to Eastern Europe,” Liu captures a woman from MI6 and the Japanese police. The woman, named Havoc, has the ability to create interdimensional vacuums. However, Liu hinted at the end that Havoc knows the whereabouts of his sister.

This is sure a mysterious anime, where most of the details of the story don’t rise up until the characters start fighting. However, Liu’s has surprisingly conversations with women who were involved in the Hell’s Gate incident. This anime is incredible for its deep dialogue involving scientific experiments gone wrong.

And the fighting is just so incredible. The characters wield unusual weapons. Liu is equipped with electric wires, which he shoots out at enemy contractors. His enemies also bear weapons, such as razor sharp whips. One of them has the ability to freeze anything he touches, and another has the ability to cause storms.

It looks like there is a much deeper plot behind this anime too. “Darker Than Black” is fast and mysterious, with all the energy of a spy thriller. Hopefully the plot will add up as well.

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