May 30, 2012 0
from Zuba-ban (1971) by Go Nagai
May 30, 2012 0
In case you wondered where the limit of bad taste was in the Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san anime adaptation, this is a panel from a strip it didn’t adapt involving a nuanced portrayal of an American sumo wrestler.
May 29, 2012 0
May 28, 2012 0
Upcoming Releases (titles that got a news feature in bold)
Manga Video – New Dominion Tank Police 1, Orguss 02 1, 3 x 3 Eyes Part 3, Legend of the Four Kings 3, Godzilla vs King Ghidorah
Western Connection – Slow Step 1 & 2, Lupin III Gold of Babylon, Ushio & Tora 3 & 4, Salamander 3
Pioneer – Armitage III, Kishin Heiden 1 & 2, Green Legend Ran 3
Anime Projects – Oh My Goddess 2, Bubblegum Crisis 2 (dub), Urusei Yatsura TV 5
Kiseki Films – Starblazers 5, Adventure Duo 3
Ghost In The Shell in production
Iczer Girl Iczelion released.
Again, pretty much worthless, duplicating the contents page really.
Akira – Part 21
Silent Mobius – Part 2
Dominion – Part 10
Dirty Pair – “I Honestly Hate You”
MACHINE GOD CORPS – Julie Davis on Pioneer’s Kishin Heiden. Framed as part of the “retro anime” fad here, I wonder if looking back now it fits better in the alternate history fad that would hit its peak with Sakura Wars.
Dreamweaver – Jim Swallow and Cefn Ridout with a profile on character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto and his work on Macross in particular. Also puff pieces on Macross Plus, Orguss 02 and Megazone 23 are littered through the feature in sidebars.
Pet Shop Girls – Peter J Evans draws the short straw and gets to write about Plastic Little.
Mega Byte – Some blather about videogame and manga links with Buichi Terasawa (including his early adoption of using computers in his art) and Akira Toriyama. Every time Terasawa got mentioned in the mid to late 90s by law you had to mention him using computers, or later, his website. Secret of Mana got 90% in the review
Animatedly Yours – Trish Ledoux discusses the sub vs dub debate. Thankfully in 2012 that has all be laid to rest and definitely hasn’t flipped itself over entirely into a bizarro version of the 90s arguments.
Cyberdrome – Kids were hacking US government networks to listen in on the North Korea nuclear crisis. Kids were hacking and vandalising UK government sites. Like the subs vs dubs debate, we’ve thankfully moved on from such concerns. A guy was spending $23 million of government money on inventing owner locked smart guns ala Judge Dredd’s Lawgiver. Compuserve anime forums were 89% men. And apparently there were dirty pictures of anime girls on the internet.
Sumo Family - Dad ate all the noodles.
In a sign of things to come for both the magazine and the anime industry in the UK in the 90s, the best reviewed titles are John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow and Wong Kar Wai’s As Tears Go By.
Wait a minute, there was a 5 star anime too, the first volume of Oh My Goddess, beating Ninja Scroll and Macross Plus.
Worst reviewed was another Hong Kong movie, Lethal Panther.
May 26, 2012 Comments Off
We travel back to 2002 once again, this time to visit Poke-Venice and the fifth Pokemon movie, Pokemon Heroes. Joining us is Ebbie from the BizarreJelly5 video blog and The Aniverse Podcast. Pokemon blood types, creepy human/pokemon relationships, breakthroughs in Pokemon taxonomy and more are discussed in the latest episode of Dynamite In The Brain!
May 25, 2012 2
“Here they are for one and all / Moomins are about to call / C’mon and sit down here with me / They are here for you on your TV”
With that appalling clang of lyrics, in 1995 UK viewers were greeted with the 1990 Moomin adaptation, a co-production by TV Tokyo, Telescreen Japan Inc., Finlands Broadcasting YLE and Telecable Benelux B.V.
We’d had a dub of the Polish stop motion adaptation in the 80s, narrated by Richard Murdoch, and that one tends to be remembered the fondest of the two. There had also been Japanese adaptations in the late sixties / early seventies, but they are a tale for another day.
This particular series is a very competent adaptation of the Tove Jansson novels, directed by veteran, Hiroshi Saito. Growing up in the UK in the 80s you’d have seen his work in Real Ghostbusters, Dennis (Dennis the Menace renamed for the UK as we already have our own, better, Dennis the Menace) and Alfred J Kwak. Even earlier, if you lived in the right region, you could have seen his work on Vicky the Viking.
For those not familiar with Jansson’s novels, they are about a family of trolls who live in Moominvalley in Finland. They are also about family, friendship, the seasons, nature, and the general Finnish-ness of existence. They were pretty much the only non-Doctor Who, non-Roald Dahl or non-Dick King Smith books that I was interested in reading when I was in primary school. That was in part due to the stop motion adaptation.
I don’t know if this series had the same effect on kids’ reading habits when it came along in the UK in ’95, I was 19 years old at this point after all, but according to wikipedia this adaptation did trigger a “Moomin Boom”. Judging from the Moomin merchandise in Waterstones and the Moomin shop in Covent Garden we can safely assume the wave of that boom can still be felt.
OK enough blathering about a subject too huge for the intentions of this post, lets talk about what we are here for, the first episode of this series.
It’s the first part of an adaptation of Finn Family Moomintroll, that runs through the first eight episodes of the series. We get an introduction to main characters, Moomin, Moominmamma, Moominpappa, Little My (introduced here from the start, rather than later as in the books) and establishing shots of the valley. The adaptations of Jansson’s illustrations into the background paintings of the show is one of the strengths of the show. While it can’t use the white of the page in the way Jansson could, it does a great job of conveying place and season.
Waking from hibernation Moomin meets his friend Snufkin who has returned to the valley and the pair wake the ever complaining Snuff to go climb to the top of the valley. There they find a top hat that they take home. Too big to be worn they use it as a waste basket, but it proves to have magical properties. First it produces magic clouds that you can float on, leading to some entertaining action scenes with various characters flying on the clouds. Things take a more sinister turn when Moomin hides in the hat during a game of hide and seek, and turns into an creature that the other characters don’t recognise as Moomin. There’s some nice work in the change of expressions in Moomin as he realises his situation, particularly the scene in front of the mirror. Eventually Moominmamma acknowledges him as Moomin and he returns to his normal shape. The episode ends with the characters pondering the magic nature of the top hat.
Even ignoring the affection I have for the characters, it definitely feels a few notches above most of the early 1990s TV anime I’ve looked at so far. The UK dub is curious in its choice of “American” accents (coming from British, American and Canadian actors), and while the credits are great for giving credit to the Japanese animation staff, it doesn’t match voices to roles. A wasted childhood of watching cartoons and listening to Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy meant I instantly recognised Susan Sheridan as Moomin, but I was stumped on the others back in 1995 and still am now.
The series is available on DVD in the UK, but a word of warning, it is a pretty grotty transfer. Grainy picture and even sound problems abound. You can get it for £4 per volume on eBay if lucky, but I’d be tempted to see if you can get it even cheaper as these are a pretty rotten release.
AMAZE YOUR FRIENDS WITH THIS EXCITING FACT: Moomin took over the slot on TV Tokyo previously filled by Cat Ninja Legend Teyandee AKA Samurai Pizza Cats
May 24, 2012 0
Don’t tell anyone, but over the past year or so I’ve been reading RPG blogs. Probably since I put CUT IT OPEN… on hiatus. While those posts have been personal up to a point, in terms of the systems I’ve played, I’ve rarely talked about campaigns, characters, adventures etc. This is because I’ve tended to view such conversations as the worst. Some roleplayer finds out you play D&D and all of a sudden you’re in a two hour conversation about their Werewolf and how cool he is.
Well, I have bad news for you reader, this series of posts is going to be that conversation.
So why change my stance on such conversations? Well, in reading about other people’s campaign settings on RPG blogs, it’s made me realise they can throw out ideas you can steal, change your approaches & thinking with regards to role playing and they make me realise the breadth of different experiences people have with these games.
So let us get this started with talking about five things I like in my RPGs and five things I don’t.
In writing (and writing is a pretty loose term) an adventure, it tends to come from what NPCs I want the PCs to meet and interact with, rather than an epic quest or awesome dungeon design. And from a player’s POV, I get the most fun when I’m engaging in dialogue with a fun NPC. Additionally I like to have recurring NPCs so there’s a sense of a supporting cast.
There’s some games that stress that the world of the RPG should not revolve around the player characters’ actions. I tend to feel that by default they are the main characters, as unlike everyone else in the gameworld they are being played by a single person. Plus one of the earliest AD&D adventures I played were those Ed Greenwood Forgotten Realms adventures where the PCs frequently have to stand on the sidelines while the NPCs move the plot along. Boo to that. That experience really made me want to do the opposite wherever I could.
My favourite RPGs have simple rule mechanics and ideally you can fit the rules on one page. Over The Edge, Call of Cthulhu, Feng Shui, Teenagers from Outer Space, Paranoia 2nd Edition, they are all simple and elegant rules systems.
Not in the traditional sense it’s used to describe outside knowledge to gain an advantage, but I’ll put information and events in adventures to deliberately get a reaction out of the players rather than the characters. My most ambitious attempt at this was a superhero campaign I ran over a year involving 9 different hero & villain teams and 9 different time periods. I also am a big fan of game worlds that extrapolate a strange logic from the curiosities in rule books (for example: Spelljammer).
As I indicated, I don’t write adventures in detail, and so if the players while discussing the events and possibilities of the adventure think of something that sounds better, I’ll change it match their expectations. It’s that ability to improvise that makes me love pencil and paper RPGs so much.
I loathe traps. I loathe putting them in dungeons. I loathe players slowing things down searching for them. I loathe searching for them when I am a player. I loathe dying because I didn’t search for them. But there are a lot of weird sadist GMs out there, so much so Flying Buffalo put out GRIMTOOTHS TRAPS books that are nothing but traps. Boo to you Flying Buffalo for enabling these sickos. It’s worse than being indirectly responsible for Queen’s Blade.
Nothing grinds a fast moving adventure to a halt better than having to answer some dumb riddle. Tolkien did it and now all the nerds want to have a go. Unless my character is getting a wish or a sweet magic sword out of this, I am not interested. And even then I will answer your crappy riddle under protest. The answer is always MAN.
I am not interested in reading a location or object description out to my players that is any longer than 140 characters. It’s bad enough having to plough through that crap when reading a HP Lovecraft story, I don’t want to read it out loud OR listen to someone reading it out loud. And then have to ask questions because it was so long I forgot the beginning or couldn’t hear over James crunching his crisps too loud. Feng Shui has it right with the idea of simple location desciptions and then letting the players flesh it out in play.
Having to keep track of how long a spell lasts, managing carrying capacity, mapping, basically anything that makes playing a videogame RPG seem like a better prospect than using pencil and paper. I’ve tried a lets keep count of rations, what we’re carrying etc survival campaign, and less than month in, I’d throw it out the window.
I’ve probably gotten off lightly, but there was the real ale flecked bearded racists who met in the Grimsby Conservative Club who I never saw again after one session, coming back from industrial placement to find our gaming group had disintergrated from one member cheating on their spouse with another member of the group, and finally the creepy weirdo with zero imagination, who had to be asked to stop attending. I’m sure you’ve had worse.
NEXT: I’ll tell you about my elf.
May 23, 2012 0
May 22, 2012 Comments Off
And we’re back! Brian’s been gallivanting across the UK in search of his missing voice and Anthony’s found gainful employment, so DITB had left you in the lurch. Fear not listener, for we are back and in a big way!
Philip from Eeepers Choice Podcast joins us to give Hiroyuki Yamaga & Satoru Akahori’s 2002 TV series, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi a thorough going over. With it’s shifting styles and genres it’s hard to talk about this series without going over every episode, so that’s just what we did. For almost two hours. It’s another bumper Dynamite In the Brain, so enjoy!
Follow Philip on twitter @EeepersChoice
May 22, 2012 1
Again, it’s been a while so let’s bring you up to date with what this is. I’m listing as best I can from memory, in the general sort of order that I played them, all the RPGs, wargames, CCGs, fantasy boardgames and associated nonsense that I have ever played. All to come to the conclusion that Call of Cthulhu is the best RPG ever printed.
Last time I talked about the second worst CCG I played, so lets skip ahead a few games and get into what is the worst CCG I played, possibly the worst game outright.
Summer 1996, and I am getting into my first flush of anime fandom. I’m at the second convention I’ve ever attended, Minami Con 2 in Portsmouth, and there’s an official anime CCG on sale. What’s more it has characters from three shows I was into in a big way at this point – Tenchi Muyo, El Hazard and Ranma 1/2. Plus, the other show it drew from was Bubblegum Crisis, and everybody seemed to have good things to say about that, so this could be a way to get into that fandom too. Two of my interests had collided, it was a dream come true.
I was super excited so grabbed a deck (possibly two?) and couldn’t wait to get back home to force someone to play it. I cracked open the deck and the production value was quite high, nice looking cards with colourful art from the shows. What’s more, you could play this as a solitaire game, so I didn’t even have to wait to get home to play it. This was going to be great!
Except… the rules made no goddamn sense.
A few months later, I was back at university, where we finally had access to the World Wide Web. Excellent, I thought, I can get some errata for that dumb anime CCG I bought in the summer and finally play it properly.
The errata did not help matters all that much. They may have been longer than the original rules. Never a good sign.
Eventually they put out a second set with new rules and characters from Armitage III, Dominion Tank Police, Phantom Quest Corp., Project A-Ko, and Oh My Goddess. I’d been here before though with Spellfire, and so I abandoned Ani-Mayhem as a bad idea. I don’t think I even noticed when they released a Dragonball Z set as the games death rattle.
I’m sure there were even worse, even less popular CCGs, in fact the next few I’ll be talking about never set the world on fire either, but Ani-Mayhem was the dirt worst for me. On the plus side though, at least it was so bad I never bought any booster packs and so saved my money.