Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anime Geek: Sumer Wars

Summer Wars is a science fiction story, but at its core it is also a slice of life story. The two stories coincide beautifully and come together for an uplifting ending. 

The story starts out with the main character Kenji being asked by Natsuki to attend her family’s big birthday celebration for her 90 year old grandmother. Kenji agrees. When he arrives Kenji is surprised when Natsuki introduces him as her fiancĂ© with an impressive college resume. Kenji is still a high school student.

We are then introduced to the science fiction part of the story when Kenji receives an encryption in an e-mail late at night. Kenji uses his strong math prowess to crack the code. Not knowing he was cracking the encryption for the on line virtual world of OZ. This virtual world is used by everyone from children who play games to government officials that run Japan’s infrastructure. 

The true hacker of OZ is an AI program called Love Machine, which was created for the soul purpose of infiltrating networks. We discover later on Love Machine was written by Wabisuke, the family’s black sheep. He sold Love Machine to the U.S. who turned it loose on OZ for a trial run.
With control of OZ Love Machine is able to create chaos across Japan. Emergency Service Teams chase around on bogus calls. Traffic is brought to a standstill across the country. The biggest danger comes when Love Machine takes over the nuclear weapons and a satellite. The nukes are set to launch, while the satellite is set to drop on Natsuki and her family. 

While all of this goes on Natsuki’s grandma, Sakae, has a blow out with Wabisuke. Then during a friendly game of Hanafuda Sakae asks Kenji to take care of Natsuki. The rest of the large family goes about making plans for Sakae’s birthday celebration, watching one of the sons play in a high school baseball national championship, talk about their ancestors’ conquests, and eat together. 

In the finale Natsuki’s young cousin, Kazuma, wages a fight with Love Machine in an all out battle for control of OZ and ultimately to regain control of the nuclear weapons and the satellite. The entire family rallies around Kazuma with any help they can provide including a supercomputer, ice to cool it, and a fishing boat for energy. Sounds a little crazy, right? Well, that’s the sign of a good anime. Don’t worry it’ll all make sense when you watch it.
It is a fun show to watch and it has plenty of feels in it as well. I highly recommend Summer Wars. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Anime Geek: K

What The Freak?! That was my reaction to watching K. This is not a straight forward show. Most of the answers are given in the last two or three episodes. For most of the show questions are built. Along with the questions the relationships between the different characters are discovered.
The first episode starts off with the gang of the Red King invading the home of a mafia don and beating them. Before they can make their escape the Red King is taken into custody by Sector 4 and their Blue King. The rest of the episode sets up how the main character, Shiro, is to blame for the murder of a young man who was a servant to the Red King.
Video of Shiro killing the Red King’s servant is blasted across every screen and phone in Tokyo. The footage is very damning.
You come to find out there are seven kings. Each king has their followers. The Kings and the followers have special powers that are unique to that king’s color. What those powers are isn’t always clear. 

The second episode starts out with The Black Dog chasing Shiro down. The story is thrown for a loop when Shiro’s cat turns into a naked human and she protects Shiro from The Black Dog. Just when I thought the episode couldn’t get any weirder all of a sudden Shiro, his cat, and The Black Dog are sitting down to eat.

The name of Shiro’s cat is Neko, which is Japanese for cat. She spends a good portion of the series running around naked, while Shiro and The Black Dog try to get her to put clothes on. Honestly, I thought the main reason for Neko was fan service, but by the end Neko proves to be useful to the storyline.
The Black Dog, whose name is Kurho, decides to stay Shiro’s execution long enough to find out the truth of who was behind the murder.
I almost stopped watching K after the second episode, it had quickly become something comical with a lot of fan service. I’m glad I kept watching. The story pulls itself together and becomes something serious. It then moves forward showing who the true killer is.
Is Shiro the killer? How do the kings come to be? What is Neko? And several other questions are finally answered by the end of the series. You have to be patient and wait until the end.

At the end of the series I was still left with a few questions, but I can’t post those questions without giving away the ending. Fortunately, rumor has it there is a second series in the mix and should be airing in Japan in 2015. If things keep working as they do we should see it everywhere else by the end of 2016.
This is definitely a story that requires a lot of patience, but it is worth the work. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why So Much Hatred?

In my blog I like to talk about Anime, Manga, Movies, Books, Video Games, and Geek life in general. Today I’d like to take a left turn and talk about something that has been bothering me for some time. Why is there so much hatred?
I’m not talking about all the wars and the killing that happens on a global level. I’m talking about our country, The U.S.A. We tote so much pride in our freedoms and justice and equal rights, yet we continue to act out with our prejudices.
Our government is tearing itself apart because Democrats and Republicans can’t work together long enough to pass any laws. To be honest there is so much corruption and self interest in our government, the lack of bi-partisanship is the least of the worries.
Ferguson, Missouri is about to explode with race riots. I’m not supporting the officer who shot Michael Brown. But, you have to ask yourself is destroying property going to help anything? The only thing that is going to happen is people on both sides are going to be hurt, maybe even killed. None of the violence is going to fix the problem.
States are still passing laws to make it constitutional to refuse service to LGBT people. What does it matter if there is an LGBT person in your store? The store is not going to go out of business. Why does it matter if there is an LGBT couple living in your neighborhood? Your home values aren’t going to go down. If you are worried that your family values are going to be corrupted, then I suggest your family values were weak to be attacked so easily.
What are we teaching our children? When we were children did we not learn from the previous generations about their hatred and bigotry? Did we not see the destruction and pain that was caused during the race riots of the 50s and 60s? Did we not learn in school how our country tore itself apart in a civil war because of hatred and bigotry?
As a lone individual I vote in the hopes our government will work itself out. I treat other people as I hope they will treat me. I watch and I see that we have the opportunities to make great things happen, if we were just to work together. Then again I also see that we are destroying everything that has made this country great.
It doesn’t matter what your background or belief system is, at some point in each of our lives we were taught to be good to each other. We have forgotten that.
Just a simple suggestion, treat everyone you meet the way you would like to be treated. I’m sure you like respect and kindness given to you. If we all gave each other respect and kindness maybe this wouldn’t be such a big scary world.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Anime Geek: The Slayers Next

My review of the first season of The Slayers wasn’t exactly great, but I still continued on watching the second season, because I had hope that it would improve as it went on. I think it was slightly improved.

The animation was about the same. The artwork had not changed. It seemed that they did not use as many still shots or repetitive scenes that was a plus. It is still a far cry from today’s computer generated artwork.
The story bounces back and forth between serious and comedic. I’m alright with the occasional gag to break the tension, but I know a lot of people that would rather their anime to be serious.
The end of the story does become very serious. I was impressed with the amount of damage that was shown to happen to each of the characters. However, when someone has their arm blown off or a whole punched through their side there should have been a lot more blood. They probably went easy on the blood for the rating.
Not trying to give anything away about the ending, I was disappointed. There were opportunities for the characters to die, which I feel would have given greatly to the drama of the show. Instead the writers went for the happy ending for everyone.
Even though at the end of the first season the characters went their separate ways, they are all reunited in the first episode in the city of Xoana. A couple of new characters are also introduced, Martina who is primarily in the show for comic relief and Xellos who has his own agenda that pushes the story to its conclusion.

The story does tend to wind around a bit and go off track a few times. There are entire episodes dedicated to fishing for a rare dragon for a special meal, joining an entertainment troupe, killing off a sea monster that is blocking passage on the sea, and an homage to Sailor Moon. 
Once back on track the group is pitted against the  powerful demon Gaav that used to be controlled by Shabinigdo from the first season. Gaav wants to take control of the demons, but this is all a minor plot to the actual bad guy Hellmaster who wants total chaos and destruction for the world.
All in all it is good fun. Even though it really didn’t meet my expectations or standards, I still enjoyed it. I am looking forward to watching the third season which is titled The Slayers Try.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Video Game Geek: Star Wars X-Wing

In 1998 Lucas Arts released, I feel one of the best video games ever, Star Wars: X-Wing. It was originally created for DOS operating systems. Yes, some of you don’t know what DOS is. Go ask your parents. It was eventually released for play on Macs and Windows 95. Following its release was the B-Wing Expansion Pack. The game is obviously so old it would not work on current operating systems, Until now. just recently updated Star Wars: X-Wing to work on current systems. It is a $10.00 download. 

This was a trip down nostalgia lane. Even though the graphics are dated, it is still very well designed game. The music is not 8-bit synthesized. The music is from the movie soundtrack. This is one of the first simulator games that used a 3-D perspective. It is amazing how the tie fighters fly past and then bank to the side all the while shooting their lasers at you.

To start off the game there are training grounds for you to fly each of the four fighters. This is a good place to learn all the controls and hot-keys. The training grounds are exciting all on their own, but you eventually have to graduate to the missions. Each mission has specific goals that must be accomplished. You don’t get to choose which ship to take with you, but you do change fighters with each mission so you won’t get bored with one thing. I have to tell you that I am such a dork that I have contemplated wearing my motorcycle helmet while playing the simulator, just to add to the realism. 

If you have the ten dollars, I highly recommend getting this game. You won’t be disappointed. If you are worried about being legit, I believe they are. I had no problems with the charge or the download. I did not pick up any viruses. It is a good website. While you are there, check out all their other games. They have a wide collection of old school games that might strike you nostalgic funny bone.