A Video Game About Video Games

I know, it’s super meta, but the fact is many fans of video games (including me) aren’t exactly certain about the process that goes into developing and creating one.

I know it can involve tireless ‘crunch time’, that there are coders and artists that don’t always see eye to eye. That these things can take years to make, ect. But I don’t know how it works in detail, the process, the time, the budget and where it goes, so on and so forth.

I think that this would make a great game that could not only be fun, but teach people how to games are actually made. How would it work? Is it even possible to have a ‘teach me game’ and make it fun. Sure, and it’s been done before, just not in this industry.

Shirobako is great example of this. It’s a show I’ve yet to watch, yet it’s influence on the anime community could be felt by fan’s everywhere (and on most forums). It’s a show about, you guessed it, creating anime. It had such an influence that people would reference it in discussions about how anime was made, and it was as much a work drama as a show about ‘how to make anime’.

And this is how this game would work! Make a work drama about making a video game. Hell anime already tried to make this show with New Game! (another one I might have to check out?).

It could start with a young person (man or woman, depending on your choice) who’s a college drop out that has no clue where to go from here. They thought they wanted to be a lawyer, but after two years of barely passing tests and a recent death in the family (their grandmother?), they don’t see much point to it any more. They’re lost in their life.

Well while walking to the store for some milk, they see a flyer on the ground in a puddle, ‘programmer wanted: no experience required’. They pick it up, and it starts raining. Running home, they realise, ‘I don’t want to keep cooped up in my room any more’, so they make a call.

Who answers but a twenty-something that never finished high school. A person with artistic talent, a dream, and a need to make a game. You meet with them at their house where you find four other people. Everyone who at some point lost their way, so you agree to help them make a game. You’re quick to learn and the drama is never ending.

Maybe someone ends up pregnant, someone else recently quit a dead end job; and the other girl of the group is a stay at home mother that just needs some time in the week away from her kids. And the choices you make either help this game to finish or never get completed. You don’t even need to ‘really code’ in the game.

It could even all be in the same graphic level of Pokemon Gold or Undertale. My point is, I think this is just one example of how a game like this could be made and I’d love to see it. I hope someone makes a really cool game about game development, because I think it’d be a great way to know this stuff. So that there isn’t this great divide between a developer and a fan. So there is just a bit of understanding to be had, and hell, it could just be a cool game too!

Gunsmith Cats Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This OVA left me wanting more, and that’s praise that isn’t just tossed around. I loved it. It isn’t my favourite anime, but I could easily see it being someone else’s. The action was great, the humour always got a chuckle out of me and I was transfixed to the screen.

This story follows the unlikely duo Rally and May. Rally is reasonable and knows her way around a gun, whereas saying May was a bomb enthusiast would be a drastic understatement. They work well together and have strong chemistry. You can really tell they’re old friends.

Bill Collins is a nuisance of sorts, but the kind that’ll get you both in and out of a jam. He plays great off Rally with his wit and easy humour. He’s the ultimate leading guy.

The action is where this mini-series really shines. They’re isn’t one ounce of fat in this series. It’s just paced really well, with moments to breathe. It does stuff that I love about anime. You see the main characters talk about take-out, arguing about it, the way friends do. Anime can have small moments like that, without it being a waste of time. It’s about adding to the characters. Getting to know them, so that you care about them.

This is something that I think is missing from a lot of Hollywood films, at least coming out now. They don’t ponder on the quiet moments and let the plot breathe. Deadpool did, and I think that’s a fantastic film.

Radinov, a former KGB agent is a great villain. She really is a terminator, something she’s even called during the dub.

I really enjoyed the English version of this OVA. I thought the script was funny, the characters played off each other well. I thought it was well done, definitely recommended.

This is an anime for people that like slick, stylish action with attitude. Hell it even has a Psycho reference, which is cool in my book. Check it out if you like fun!

Tokyo Godfathers Review:

 

[This review contains spoilers]

This is the most interesting Christmas film I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s about three homeless individuals: a drunk, a gay cross-dresser and a runaway girl. Each have very unique reasons for having ended up in such a horrible situation, literally living in a cardboard box.

It’s a film about family. How these three are one, and how they meet those from lives they’d lost.

The film starts with them finding an infant in the trash. It sounds horrible, and the movie suitably focuses on the horror of such an event. This leads them on a strange adventure as they search for the child’s mother; from them saving a Mafia boss stuck under his vehicle to a car chase at the end. There is a strong element of action in a film that seems to mainly focus on human connection. It’s an odd contrast, but this film is at least spiritually, a screwball comedy.

The strange turn of events shouldn’t make sense, but they do. There is a constant message of ‘Christmas miracles’, which is an interesting take from the Japanese perspective.

This is a bit of a thinking man’s film, but with all it’s comedy and action, it’s really for everyone. It tackles hard topics with a grin, with comedy always waiting in the wings to remind you of the levity in life. This is a happy story. But it does show that people can ruin their lives. That even a baby can be thrown away. That the world can be sick. But in that, you’re rarely alone.

That you have family to combat the winter.

Satoshi Kon made a great film, he’s known to do that. I hope that you look into him and his other works, because it’s criminal that he isn’t better known. It sucks that he passed before his time. This is a great film, it’s animation is wonderful. I loved the art. The script is both well written and funny. The translation, from what little I can tell, did a great job.

Check out this film, and merry Christmas.

Macross: Do You Remember Love? Review

[This review contains spoilers]

It has been awhile since I last saw this film, and it’s honestly better than I remember. I once heard, that the more you watch this film, the better it gets. I can’t really disagree with that statement.

This film has a love triangle, it might be the best one I’ve ever seen. This is a war film, but it’s one with ‘love’ in the title, so don’t be too surprised with the adorableness of it all. Hikaru is interested in the star of the galaxy, Lynn Minmay and officer Misa Hayase. When he’s with Minmay, it’s a sweet puppy love, but he remains boy; with Misa, it’s different. She’s a woman that shows him how to be a man.

This film is an improvement on the TV show in every way. I haven’t seen it in awhile, but the show felt dragged out, the animation inconsistent to downright poor in places. Hikaru comes off as a confused teenager, and the best romance wasn’t even the main couple. Though I will say, the songs are catchy, and the animation does have some bright spots, despite that, I can’t recommend the show.

None of this is present in the film. The animation is stunning, the songs are fun and poppy. It’s got a tight plot that’s always moving, and even when it takes a breather, there are revelations to be had.

Earth isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Everyone died, it’s desolate, and that’s not even the major twist. Humans fight against giants. We defend ourselves, when we aren’t even the real enemy. The giants have no culture, only war. The Zentradi fight against the Meltrandi, and have been doing so for thousands of years. They’re manufactured, so when they come across culture. Our culture. It shocks their system, as if it awakens something long forgotten.

This is an anime about love, mechs, and pop music. 1980’s pop music! It shouldn’t fit, but it does. Believe it or not, it’s an ancient love song that saves everything. It sounds stupid, and cheesy, but it’s weirdly charming.

The action is great. There isn’t one wasted frame. This whole film has fluid animation, and fantastic art. It incorporates parts of the TV show, in brief, but great ways; like Max and Milia relationship.

If you saw the show do you get more out of it? Yes, it has subtle call backs, but it really isn’t necessary. With the show being so flawed, and this being such a step up. I’d say, just watch the film. It’s the best version of this story.

So forget Star Wars, Macross: Do You Remember Love? That’s where it’s at!

When An Ending Ruins Everything!

[This is a dumb article filled to the brim with fan word-vomit…you’ve been warned!]

[All the spoilers! Everywhere! Run!]

Final Fantasy X’s ending made me angry, why? Well before the credits, I was satisfied. Tidus is a dream, he basically dies and returns to his father. Ambiguous, makes no sense, but it’s a Japanese game, I expect weird (if you don’t believe me, watch the Space Adventure Cobra movie opening, it’s worth it, promise). Then he just swims to the surface of the water for no reason. So what? Is he dead? Alive? Does him high-fiving his dad mean nothing?

Then there is Nier: Automata, it’s a cool game. I didn’t play it myself, but I watched a friend through most of their playthrough. The story had me enthralled…until the epilogue. It made no sense! Also why did A2 climb the stairs near (ha ha) the end…just like Video Girls Ai’s ending? At least in the one I saw. Then A2 dies, everything falls apart, and we had everything ‘explained’ away. In a monologue, which is weirdly weak given the games top form beforehand.

I mean, when we got the reason for why that Boss wanted to be ‘more beautiful’. It was tragic, unexpected, and moving. It made sense, given everyone’s affection for that man, it drove her mad. That had set up, this speech came out of the blue.

Then I watched a variation of that ending where they live…is this supposed to be Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow…Madoka Magica? It makes no sense! Video Girl Ai makes way more sense…and is more enjoyable, and has closure…for the most part.

Also did Spike Spiegel die or not? The director likes to tease that fact…ambiguity!!!

Here’s the thing, I don’t even mind if an ending is unclear, but it has to earned. Final Fantasy X seems to be baiting the audience, undoing a perfectly good conclusion. Nier: Automata pulled the dumb philosophy card that Pycho-Pass wears proudly. Quoting random philosophy to an audience doesn’t make you smart, it just makes you look like a bit of a try hard. Kind of like Evangelion, a series that’s been milked for decades because of it’s ‘deep’ ending (people to this day seek depth from it’s puddle).

But Rent, surely you jest? Name something with ‘true depth’? What’s something you don’t consider pretentious? (Yes, I used that word!)

Angel’s Egg. It’s thought provoking, deliberate, absorbing. It possibly has no meaning, yet it’s Christian imagery can’t be denied. It’s an experience of a film, and is just beautiful. If you like Final Fantasy’s art, research it, you’ll find a very interesting connection to the two. In some ways it’s the best representative of that art style you’ll ever find in motion. It’s a work of art.

Now everything mentioned here is art (expect Phyco-Pass…); but Nier: Automata, Final Fantasy X, they seem to falter at the finishing line.

Nier: Automata has some of the most beautiful writing I’ve seen in a video game. It’s translation and voice acting is wonderful. It’s not afraid to diverge from a more literal translation, an issue that plagues some anime, and I think it’s better for it. Lupin’s The Mystery of Mamo, the Frontier Enterprises’ dub, is another good example of how to make something feel natural in English.

The Apartment is another film that’s just filled with meaning.

The mirror…it’s broken.”

Yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel”

That scene just captures every poignant thing in that film. It says so much, without slamming it in your face, and I love it for that.

Nier: Automata kind of just goes off the deep end, like Evangelion. It makes no sense, it doesn’t feel earned. It just felt like it fell apart, adding ‘revelations’ out of nowhere.

Then again, maybe that’s the point? Or, there may have not been no point.

Kind of like this article. At the end of the day, this is all subjective, but to me, this ending wasn’t worth three playthroughs. My friend was left unsatisfied, so was I. It was Final Fantasy X all over again for me, a good game just fumbling at the last moment.

It almost did it…almost.

Cyber City Oedo 808 Review

[This review contains spoilers]

If you love cyberpunk then this OVA is a must watch. I should preface by stating, this is an adult experience. It isn’t for young people, especially with it’s horror-like elements. But, it really isn’t that gory, and has fantastic action. It’s also better than Blade Runner Blackout 2022 in almost every way.

It’s format is close to a TV mini series, with each of it’s episodes following a different character: Sengoku, Gogul and Benten. Sengoku is brash and very gung-ho. Gogul is a hacker that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Benten is incredibly feminine, graceful and badass as hell. These three men are very different in their style, and story, but are all incredibly entertaining.

The main characters of this OVA are criminals forced into doing suicide missions for the police. Juzu, their boss, threatens to blow their heads sky high with the collars around their neck. To say they have an incentive to do what he says is an understatement.

Sengoku’s narrative feels the most standard, with a hostage situation and killing what at first seems to be an ingenious hacker. Gogul’s has more of a noir feel, when an old friend comes by on the run. He ends up becoming an experiment for a military operation against some sort of horrific science made monster. Benten’s has vampires and romance. That sounds out of place, but it isn’t, it was also the strongest and saddest out of the three.

Now for clarities sake, yes, I watched the English dub. It’s a very loose translation, with every second word being one of profanity. ‘Cocksucker’ being a personal favourite of mine. If that’s a bit far for you, maybe stick to the sub version (though from what I saw, it seemed a little awkward in places).

Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the director, is known for doing hardcore anime. Stuff like Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. This is the first film I’ve seen from him, and if it’s any indication of his other work, he’s a great director. I need to check out his other stuff!

The animation was butter smooth, with no complaints from me. The art was even more beautiful, with a strong dystopian and cyberpunk aesthetic. There were towers that just dwarfed everything in sight, so tall, they needed an engine to keep them stable.

The action was fluid, kinetic, with not one shot wasted.

If you’ve thought about checking this out, it’s worth it. Do it. If you’re on the fence, I hope I convinced you. It really is a fun OVA.

Blade Runner Blackout 2022 Review

[This review contains spoilers]

I honestly expected more from director Shinichiro Watanabe. He is a great director, and he’ll always be known as the guy that made Cowboy Bebop, but the issue is, he’s not as good as a writer. Well, at least he’s an inconsistent writer. Baby Blue (another short) was good, but this one was messy to me.

It also had weird similarities to another show he worked on, Terror in Resonance, with mentions of EMP and a nuke blowing up in the sky.

This short was a retread. Now, with it taking less than fifteen minutes of your time, is it worth it? Yes.

It has great background art, though the animation can be a little hit and miss (but when it’s good, it’s really damn good) and the CGI is just an eyesore (though sparingly used).

I also loved how the replicants moved, they were too precise, too perfect in their motions. It was as if they didn’t have to see with their eyes, which made them intimidating, and alien in the best way possible.

If you love the cyberpunk aesthetic, check it out. It’s got some nice art that really calls back to the original Blade Runner film, it just doesn’t look as good. The plot is a little all over the place, but for a short, it works. The action is good, so no complaints there.

As a proof of concept, I think that this could be a great anime, but I think it’d need a better writer.