Don’t Be Such a Prick: King of Thorns Impressions

July 13, 2012 § 3 Comments

I’ve seen Inception, Memento, and several mind fucking movies… One would think they would be used to it by now, right? Sadly, if that were true, I would not be able to enjoy a very deep movie I had just recently finished. Now, I usually don’t like writing about animated films, especially when they are based off an anime. Unlimited Bladeworks was one such movie that, I as a fan, was disappointed in. The plot was just crammed into an hour and a half film, and although the production value was quite well made, it failed to keep me attached to the characters; my friend, Santiago, loved the movie for the action, however, he did not play the games and I had to substitute for the information left out or whatever he skipped. Don’t get me wrong, I love animated films… however, I want it to be right and true. I want it to hold my attention with the characters struggles, love them for their flaws, and make my cry when a Bro dies. When I mean bro, I mean the manly man who helps the protagonists (and may actually be the protagonist). Take Kamina, Rider from Fate/Zero, and Marco-san from Ibara no Ou (King of Thorns, which I had just completed today.

The main background of the story (which you learn in the first 5 minutes), is that there is an airborn virus called MEDUSA, contaminating the humans and eventually turning them to stone. There is no cure, and the casualties are rising day by day, and politicians and governments are struggling to maintain a stable government. During this confusion, one company called Venus Gate, has announced a new project called Cold Sleep, with the purpose of freezing the patient in a stable sleep in which the virus is halted (though not gone). The claim is, for the 160 people selected, they will be selected with the hopes of one day getting treatment in the future. Not so bad when hell is breaking loose globally? Almost convenient, right? That is what the United States government thought as well.

The main protagonist is Kasumi Ishiki, a teenage girl who is selected for the Cold Sleep project, though she is far from pleased. Her twin, Shizuku, is also a carrier of MEDUSA, and despite Kasumi’s protest to convince her sister to go in her place, Shizuku stays firm and makes her sister go. Kasumi is shy and quiet where as her sister is bold and loud, and the two depict the perfect yin and yang. Taking her sisters advice, she enters Cold Sleep with the other patients, and hopes to meet her in the distant future.

She is so cute with/without her glasses!

Things, however, go wrong, as they always do. Kasumi and the other patients awaken from their state of hibernation, and exit out of their pods into a world of monstrous creatures and thick vines enveloping the pod chamber. Yes, shit has gone down, but no one knows what year it is, or what happened during their sleep. The chaos that ensues is simply… a marvelous display of human nature, so dead on that it makes me cringe and feel proud (animation, you know us so well <3). As for what happens… you’ll have to watch the movie. Yes, that is right, I will not spoil anything. This movie is that good! However, I warn you here and now, that things aren’t what they seem.

Now, lets get on with the characters. Along with Kasumi, there is a red headed little boy with an in depth knowledge of video games, a blonde with issues, a black police officer (he cool), an Italian politician (DIE!!!), a blonde skinny man, and the manliest man in the entire movie, Marco Owen (BRO). The movie revolves around Kasumi’s view, made apparent by the reoccurring flashbacks, however, the people around her truly make her shine. I found Owen’s role to be crazy and awesome, making me flail with worry when he is fighting the monsters and fending off angry tentacled creatures with his shirt, shotgun, and brawn… if that isn’t bro enough, his attitude is cocky and rude man with intimidating tattoos around his body, but deep down, he is an honorable guy who protects his group as fiercely as a lion.

So manly, he should be in an Old Spice commercial

The struggle throughout this movie is well directed. It’s characters are strong, the stories tension builds up, which drove me crazy during certain scenes, and the art is simply a plus. The music fits in with the “End of the World” perception. The story, and how well it is directed, shines the brightest in this movie. If I had a list of the top ten Japanese animated films to watch before you die, this would be in that list. I believe that this is a movie that everyone (of age) can enjoy.

Well, with that said, I hope that everyone enjoyed this short, non spoilerific, impression of the movie. Spoiling anything, aside from what I said, would do no justice to Ibara no Ou; though, in my opinion, even if you spoil the entire story, the events are so surreal and realistic that it would still be enjoyable. Until next time, stay healthy, safe, and be wary the thorny tentacled vines.

It’s All Fun and Games Until Shit Gets Serious: Sword Art Online First Impression

July 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

The concept of an online game is quite clean and simple thanks to the WoW express. For those who do not know what an MMORPG is, its an acronym for “Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game,” such examples are World of Warcraft, Terra, and Runescape (which popped my first MMO cherry). These games, although all similar in play style (with slight changes in mechanics), are all enjoyable because of the people you meet online.

The appeal for these games is that you, the player, are off on an ambiguous adventure to become the very best that no one ever… ahem. Well, along the way, you quest, get better gear, and quest some more and get even more better gear. If that is all what the game is about, then why play? The best thing about online games is that you meet new people along your journey as an adventurer, and through these online interactions, the game becomes much more enjoyable; the hard dungeon boss you had a hard time going solo, would become significantly easier if you fight in a group and form tactics. These people make the game much more enjoyable, interactive, and push you farther than you would on your own. People might disagree, but this is a truth for me: why play a game, if you can’t enjoy it, right?

What got me into MMO’s was .hack//sign. I yearned for a game like .hack, and I wanted to be in that same world that Tsukasa struggled in, that Kite struggled in the actual PS2 game. I wanted to have an interactive game with real time combat like that… sadly, such a game does not exist. However, it was a start that inspired me to jump on Runescape in Junior High. For two years, I made good friends, had fun, and started a wealthy fishing company for non member players and made much gold… However, I grew out of the game since my friends all quit. Dark Souls, although it isn’t a fully multiplayer online game, it does have a similar concept to MMO’s such as incorporating cooperation, pvp, and boss battles. I love playing Dark Souls simply because its fun to PVP someone in this area, and help another person beat Smough and Ornstein in another. The game has many quirks, and these players either thank you for the help, or indict you for being a prick. Even when you PVP, the online community is mostly just and fair, and like a duel, you take a respective bow and face your opponent with skill and luck on your side. If it wasn’t for these things, I would have quit DS after I got the second ending in the game. Everyone loves to play online game (take the WoW community). There are millions of players just in World of Warcraft, all having fun or initiating in jolly cooperation. Terra, a recent game, has gotten a large spike in popularity with its innovative gameplay and setting. There is a demand for these games, and people want it.

Now… imagine World of Warcraft’s large community, all playing at the same time… Lot of people right? Now imagine that the players cannot log out of the game, and because you are logged into a neural interface, you yourself cannot manually remove the helmet. Scary right? Now, to continue this, the creator of the game has claimed that he made this game for this specific purpose: to force players to survive this twisted game at the cost of their own lives, and to escape, the final boss must be defeated. Should you die in the game, your real body shall also die. Should someone manually disconnect you from the game, you shall die. Terrifying! Since the concept of leveling is important in these games, lets have the entire games resources be limited… Yeah, I would shit myself too… This is the concept of the anime/manga, Sword Art Online.

What got me to watch the first episode of Sword Art was due to my friend Chaz. While hanging out with my friend, Adam, just hanging out in his place, his roomate, Chaz, walked into the room and asked if we watched the new animes. Replying that we haven’t, Chaz left the room and came back with a flash drive and demanded we watch Sword Art, claiming that, “If you like .Hack, you will get a boner over this.” Sure enough, he was right. Adam and I sat down to watch the first episode, and just jizzed when we saw the protagonist, Kirito, put on a helmet like device and log into the game. So much like .hack, however, we kept our eyes wary. Unlike .hack, Sword Art has no mage classes and such. The magic was the use of the weapon (confirmed are swords). The only thing that is truly similar is that it required a head mount display to play.

**Spoiler Alert: Minor** Continue at your own risk

As Kirito starts the game, he meets a new player who requests to help him get the hang of the game. Nothing serious, just getting the basics down. Despite also being a level 1, Kirito has been playing since the beta test and knows the enough of the game mechanics to survive the game. Using his knowledge, he teaches his new pupil the ropes, ain’t that nice of him 😀 After a bit of an ass whooping from boars, the duo come across the first issue: logging out. The Log out button is gone, and both Kirito and friend think it’s just a bug in the game that will be fixed immediately; soon after, they are warped into a main city, along with a large amount of players confused of the situation.

Gather Around Kiddies

The GM, in such a dark and sinister tone, pretty much says “Y’all gonna be stuck in here. Anyone who leaves will die. Anyone whose HP hits zero will die.” Thinking this is a joke, the players just try to brush things off and deny this. The GM identifies himself as the lead developer of Sword Art, creating the game and the head crab… Helmets that they are wearing (pardon the Half Life Reference). The helmet uses microwaves to read the players brain waves, and that same feature can cook the player should he die in game or be disconnected from the outside. To show he isn’t joking, he displays various news broadcasts around him, along with a list of those who have been cooked recently. Like the cattle they are, the players just look in awe

Kirito, who has read the user manual and experienced the game, knows that the GM is telling the truth. The GM reveals the entire twist to this game. The game must be completed in order to be freed from their confinement in Sword Art. The final boss, at top the 100th floor of this dungeon tower (or something), must be defeated. However, the games resources are limited, meaning the monsters will not respawn when killed, and even weapons and gear will be a fight for power, giving a whole new meaning to dog vs dog.

Knowing that the resources will be limited, Kirito decided to head to the next city, knowing that he would have a better chance to get more experience points if he farmed another place rather than stay. His smart decision leads him to leave his current city, and ending the first episode. Kirito will have many difficulties in the future, so I look forward to more.

RUN KIRITO, RUN!!!

If it isn’t obvious now, I have found a new passion. Sword Art Online is a promising anime for the summer season, with a great concept, amazing art style, and dark plot to keep me cringing in agony and excitement. The music score is done by none other than my favorite composer, Yuki Kajiura, and the opening is done by LiSA. Two of my favorite artists in one anime. It just gives me more reason to watch and love.

Now, for the discussion. I don’t mind if you comment on here, however, here is food for thought. I assume, that since the resources will be limited, that there will be an insane amount of PVP, despite that players are killing other people (in real life). So… what would you decide? Maintain your morals and risk hindering yourself, or would you try to survive by any means possible? It’s quite a hard concept to really imagine, I mean, you aren’t just killing an avatar, your killing the person as well. That would make me second guess myself, and I would try to play the game as just and fair as possible. Maybe I will kill only if I had no choice, for survivals sake.

Well, with that said, I hope you enjoyed my impression on this. I hope this got you thinking, and I also hope that this anime becomes really popular to continue on. So long, farewell, and make sure to gain as much Exp. as possible!

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