As reported by Sankaku Complex [NSFW], pre-orders for the October 22 release of the complete Haruhi TV series on Blu-ray have recently gone up on Amazon Japan. With all twenty-eight episodes of Haruhi in high-definition, extra content and English subtitles, it may seem like this is the release fans are waiting for.
But then there’s the price: 30,000 yen (or $338 USD). For eight Blu-ray discs.
The Project Haruhi staff has talked about Japan’s absurd pricing structure multipletimes, but it bears repeating. What the heck are they thinking? Here’s a short list of other stuff you could buy from Amazon Japan for that amount of money:
What makes this frustrating is the actual release is great. It’s something I might like to own, and I’m not even that big of a Haruhi fan. The price, however, kills it for me. The even crazier thing is that, compared to the price of the DVD release of Endless Eight, this Blu-ray release is actually a bargain. Collecting the single-volume release of Endless Eight on DVD would cost the equivalent of $288 USD.
So, now the question is: how many people will actually buy the Blu-ray series? And if it sells poorly, will Kadokawa interpret this as disinterest in the Haruhi franchise instead of a rebellion against outlandish pricing?
Earlier yesterday, ANN reported that Crunchyroll—the formerly illicit streaming anime site that went legit in January of 2009—broke even in May. This is huge news for advocates of on-demand and simulcasted anime like myself. It proves that Crunchyroll’s strategy can work, which hopefully means Japanese companies will be less hesitant to put their stuff online.
To put this in perspective, the enormously popular YouTube has yet to turn a profit, though this is likely because the service was largely ad-free for quite a while. Crunchyroll, on the other hand, supports itself by charging subscription fees for instant access to their newest shows and—for non-subscribers—including commercial breaks in their videos. It would be interesting to see what percentage of their revenue comes from each source, though it’s highly unlikely Crunchyroll will ever release that kind of information.
Whatever the monetary breakdown, Funimation and the Anime Network are probably feeling much better about the chances of their own streaming services. And if they succeed, us fans may finally get decent, legal alternatives to DVDs.
Here is the basic premise of High School of the Dead. There are zombies. There are high schoolers. The high schoolers beat up zombies. Some of the high schoolers have big breasts.
On the surface, that should be a show I’d really like. As I said when I talked about Gunsmith Cats, I’m kind of a fan of well-developed women who kick lots of butt. Unfortunately, High School of the Dead (which I will now refer to as HSotD, because I’m lazy), is a mixed bag. While technically impressive and fast-paced, some of the content made me feel pretty uncomfortable.
And not in the way that horror shows are supposed to.
According to Anime Vice, Kenichi Sonoda is creating a new manga series called Bullet the Wizard, which makes me very excited.
Because he also created Gunsmith Cats—one of my favorite manga series of all time. It had fun, fast-paced plots that often felt like episodes from a crime drama, great art, an impressive showcase of firearms and a charming team dynamic between Rally Vincent and Minnie May. Of course, it certainly helped that Rally appeals to my particular taste in women: a smart, athletic adult who spent her time beating up bad guys and enjoyed the sound and recoil of a gunshot. Now that’s sexy.
Like Jason Bourne, but with breasts.
The “bullet” part of the title of his new series implies that he’ll be going back to the gunslinging storylines that Gunsmith Cats did so well. As for the “wizard” part, maybe he’ll be taking inspiration from Outlaw Star‘s caster shells. Or, at least, that’s what I hope he’ll do.
I mean, first you make Drakengard, a game so bizarre that even a detailed (and humorous) Let’s Play has difficulty deciphering what the heck is going on. Then you decide to make an even weirder game based on the most mind-bending ending of Drakengard? Do you just hate making sense?
Alright, I guess I’ll just take this from the top. It’ll be easier that way.
Nier, in a nutshell, is a third-person action RPG with bullet-hell elements. Yes, you read that right. Bullet-hell elements. Early on in the game, Nier (our hero) picks up a talking book named Grimoire Weiss, who gives him the ability to use magic. The two spells you start out with—Dark Lance and Dark Blast—let you summon lances to shoot at enemies and fire a steady stream of magic “bullets” that looks suspiciously like the ones used in Touhou games. Oh, and the bosses, mini-bosses and some normal enemies fire bullet patterns that you have to dodge, block or negate with magic attacks.
So yes, the combat is a strange mix, but it’s also the best part of the game.
For the reviews segment, we wonder what the hell is up with Project A-Ko; and if you’ve read Ritsu’s post on the subject, you’ll have a good idea of where that conversation goes (he totally stole my Commando comparison). Also, we weigh in on the merits of K-ON!
Confession time: I’m a big fan of American comics. Unfortunately, I don’t get many opportunities to talk about comics around these parts, since they’re—you know—not Japanese. But every so often, something wonderful comes along and merges things I love from the East and the West. In the case of “Galacta: Daughter of Galactus”, those two things are the Eater-of-Worlds and moe anthropomorphism.
Now, some of you who actually know who Galactus is might be saying, “But Stilts, how can he possibly have a daughter?”
To which I would respond, “There is a weird story reason for it that’s a spoiler, but it’s mainly just an excuse to turn Galactus into a cute girl with a miniskirt. Now can I continue with my review? Thanks.”
So, yeah. Galacta is the gentler, prettier half of Galactus. She’s not quite as powerful as her dad, but she’s very conscientious about only eating “exotic” biomass (translation: organisms not native to Earth). Which means the Fantastic Four don’t have to worry about threatening her with the Ultimate Nullifier. The downside of this strict diet is that she is always really really hungry.
Before you get your hopes up, no one’s made a Touhou-esque shooter featuring Ritsu and the gang. Yet. Instead, Beat Hazard gives you a ship, throws you into a twin-stick shooter arena filled with enemy spacecraft and asteroids, and determines your weapon strength, spread, and re-fire rate based on how frantic the background music you choose gets. In other words, it’s like Macross 7 was adapted into a curtain-fire shooter. As you can see from the video, “Go! Go! Maniac” works really well. In fact, J-pop in general works really well, as does metal.
It’s a cool idea, and I’m enjoying it so far despite a couple irritating problems. For example, Beat Hazard doesn’t work well for every song. Since your ship’s ability to kill things is heavily dependent on the intensity of the music, trying to play some genres will just be an exercise in frustration. Everyone hoping to cause massive destruction with Enya will be disappointed. I also found that the amount and density of particle effects on the screen can often become absurd; it’s a neat visual effect, but the gameplay isn’t fun when I can’t see where the enemy bullets are. Finally, there’s no AAC or M4A support (at the moment), so anything you buy off of iTunes won’t work unless you convert it.
Still, for $10 it’s a fun little diversion that I can see myself consistently going back to for half an hour every few days. After all, I still play Audiosurf (another game with music-generated levels that I highly recommend), and it’s been over two years since I bought that thing.
Have you ever wanted to be a badass with a heart of gold?
That’s a rhetorical question. Of course you have! It’s why Goku is one of the most popular characters in the history of anime. It’s also partly why Yakuza 3 is so much fun. Kazuma Kiryu (that stern-looking dude in the box art) is not your typical ex-yakuza. He’s not just one of the most respected and feared chairmen in the Tojo Clan’s history; he’s also a big softie. He’s such a nice guy, in fact, that he decided to run a small orphanage in Okinawa after leaving his life of crime. And this is where the gameplay portion of Yakuza 3 begins…after about an hour of cutscenes. Yes, like many of my favorite games (Psychonauts, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Final Fantasy X), this one has a few caveats to its otherwise solid design. I’ll explain why after the break.