Sunday, November 24, 2013

Persona News. Something Everyone Can Be Thankful For.

In the spirit of misdirection, I thought we could diverge from our regularly scheduled program and talk about big Persona news.

Let me preface by saying that the Persona series is very dear to my heart.  I won't be a hipster and say I've been playing it from the start, before it was cool, because that would be a lie.  Instead, I will admit to the truth that I have only been playing since Persona 3.  I have played about 30 minutes of Persona 2, and everyone says it's awesome, so I'll probably get around to playing that one, but Persona 4 is one of my absolute favorite games of all time.

Anyhow, Persona is one of the various splinters of the Shin Megami Tensei (SMT)...multiverse thing.  SMT spans a series of games with the same title, the Devil Survivor games (there's two at this point) and the aforementioned Persona series.  These games generally focus on humans taming demons spanning various mythologies.  Kind of like a demonic Pokemon, I guess.

So anyways, Persona focuses more on people (so far almost exclusively high school students) who use the power of "Persona", their "other self" to fight Shadows.  In Persona 3, the shadows were turning people into apathetic, soulless husks, and in Persona 4 someone was using them to commit murders.

The last proper installment to the Persona franchise was winter of 2008 when Persona 4 came out, one of the last games for the Playstation 2, and was wildly successful.  Since then, Atlus, the company that put out the games, has been beating around the bush, being a general tease to all the Persona fans craving a sequel.  In fact, a sequel was announced way back in March of 2010 (Happy Birthday to me), but nothing was ever done with it.

They released a PSP port of Persona 3 (Persona 3: Portable, or P3P), an Xbox 360/Playstation 3 fighting game that tied the timelines from 3 and 4 together (Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena, or simply Persona 4 Arena in the states), and a Playstation Vita port of 4 (Persona 4: The Golden).  They were all great games, each one adding it's own particular spice to the whole Persona stew, but no P5.

However, roughly a month ago, Atlus released a website...countdown clock...thing (Persona Channel), counting down to November 24th, 8:00 p.m.

Fortunately for us in the U.S., 8:00 p.m. has already come and gone in Japan.

Atlus released news and trailers for several Persona projects, and I am...3/4 excited, for the upcoming titles.

First is a...not very informative trailer for the much anticipated Persona 5

Not much to say about this one, other than that it verifies that Persona 5 is coming out next winter for the PS3.  I'm gettin' it.

Next is a trailer about a 3DS RPG featuring both casts from 3 and 4.  So without further ado: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.

I'm actually really interested in Shadow of the Labyrinth for several reasons.  Primarily, I want to see if and how this effects the story continuity.  There are several big flashing indicators that lead me to believe that it won't, which makes me pretty sad, but I think this could be a lot of fun.  Consider me sold.

I can see some people complaining over the art style, which to me is reminiscent of another Atlus 3DS RPG series: Etrian Odyssey or something like that (I played the demo of the first one and thought it was okay), but I think it could be fun.  So I'm down.

The last video Atlus posted was for a rhythm game for the Playstation Vita called Persona 4: Dancing All Night.

I'm really not thrilled :/

The last project wasn't announced last night, it's actually oldish news, but still exciting.  They're putting out a sequel to Persona 4: Arena

So basically last night was like...hitting a triple with the bases loaded.  Not QUITE a Grand Slam, but pretty sweet nonetheless.  I'm so thrilled for Persona 5, Q, and Arena 2 to join the ever-expanding family that is my Persona collection (Dancing All Night can burn in the hell it crawled out of).  To all of you out there who love Persona like I do, I hope I've brought some joy to you.  And to all of you who have never played Persona, consider this post my enthusiastic endorsement (of all that I've played, I would say 3 would be the best place to start!)

Thanks for reading, Happy Thanksgiving, and happy gaming, friends! :D

Friday, November 15, 2013


So, a couple weeks ago I went to Nekocon, an amazing little convention in Hampton Roads.  I was perusing the program when I saw that they were running .hack//Quantum, the three episode OVA brought to us by Kinema Citrus and Bandai visual.  And this particular OVA I have wanted to see ever since its debut in 2011.

I suppose I should take a moment real fast to say once, for the record, that I am a dedicated .hack fan.  That is not to say that I am a die-hard, ignore-its-faults, say-its's-the-best-show-ever fan; but if you put .hack// in front of something, I will more than likely be interested.

WARNING: incoming digression

I have loved .hack ever since I caught SIGN on cartoon network in 2001.  In fact, I want to say that it was the second box-set of anime I ever owned (Outlaw Star being the first).  Anyways, I watched SIGN, played the original set of games for PS2 (Infection, Mutation, Outbreak, and I am working through Quarantine), and I OWN the first of the G.U. games.  The series will always have a special place in my heart, so this will be a very rose-colored-glasses review.  Something about the Celtic aesthetic, maybe?  Maybe I'm just drawn to the GAMECEPTION!!!
Digression over.

So anyways, I managed to convince my lovely lady to come with me to watch it, even though I wasn't sure she would like it, and we were both very pleasantly surprised with Quantum (SO many nerd-out moments on my part).  It far surpassed my expectations in terms of visuals and animation quality.  I can't say the same for music and voice talent because those have always been great ;)

Did I mention that it was gorgeous?  Yeah, it's real pretty.

So anyways, .hack//Quantum follows a high school girl named Asumi, a...vibrant girl, to say the least, who plays The World -a fantasy MMORPG (the setting for everything in the .hack universe)- with two of her friends Iori and Eri (with their alter egos Sakuya, Tobias, and Mary respectively).  I won't spoil too much about the plot, but true to form, there's a cat player (because there's ALWAYS a cat player...for some reason) and a coma.  The three episode OVA shows Asumi/Sakuya as she tries to solve these mysteries surrounding The World.

The thing I liked the most about .hack//Quantum was its strong character development.  Three episodes really isn't a lot of time to fully explore a character, but somehow these OVAs managed to get me attached to a whole cast of characters.  I thought all of the characters were very defined and well-rounded, and each one had an incredible amount of personal growth in the story, especially Asumi.  Her development was the strongest (not surprising since she was the main character), and it was done so in a way that really resonated with me.  I really enjoyed watching her grow up through her adventures, and there were even some real tears towards the end (don't you judge me!).  I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was genuinely sad to see the end of Quantum because I wanted there to be so much more.

Q_Q yon feels!!!!

Which I guess is part of what I love about the whole .hack universe, that there always is a little bit more to it.  Even if you've already seen/played everything, you can go back and find some connection that you missed the last time.

Anyhow, .hack//Quantum is available on Blue-ray and DVD in English (I haven't heard the original Japanese dub, though I have no doubts about its quality, but I highly advocate the English dub on this one), and I would definitely recommend it.  Hell, I'm trying to get a hold of it myself to add to my collection.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

YZQ - Why Aren't You Watching This?

Ye gods, I can never find the right way to start's just dive right into it.

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta is an anime adaptation of the currently ongoing, 13 volume manga created by Suzuhito Yasuda about a town that lies on the border between the world of humans and the world of yokai (Japanese mythological monsters).

On the astronomically slim chance that you, dear reader, are saying to yourself "That person sure does sound familiar, I feel like he's been referenced before on this blog," rest assured, you're not losing your mind.  I talked briefly about Suzuhito Yasuda in my June post about Devil Survivor.  He did the character designs for the Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor games as well as the illustrations for the Durarara! light novels, among other things (good lord, I promise this is the last time I'll talk about that).

Aaaaaanyways, Yozakura Quartet (I'm going to save us all some headache by just abbreviating it as YZQ), follows four main characters through their adventures in Sakurashin town (the aforementioned town on the border between worlds).

First is Hime, the superpowered mayor of the town, whose most distinguishable feature is her orange and black scarf.  Next is Ao, a blue-haired, cat-eared mind reader.  There is also Kotoha, who has the power to conjure items just by speaking; and Akina, who runs outreach center type thing?

Sounds kind of boring, but it's lots of fun, I promise.

Like I mentioned in my last post, Hana no Uta is a rehash of a 12 episode series from 2008 that I was very...content...with.  It was overwhelmingly okay, but it made me aware of the series, which got me reading the manga, so I guess there's always that.  Anyhow, the original series was animated by Nomad Studios, but this newest adaptation, as well as the 2010 & 2011 OVAs-- Hoshi no Umi-- are being handled by Tatsunoko Productions.

I was apprehensive at first when I looked into other Tatsunoko projects (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman and Casshern Sins, to name a few).  I found the art style reminiscent of things like Lupin III, Cyborg 009, and other shows that I just couldn't get into visually.  However, I quickly adapted to the art style and found that pretty awesome and not nearly as bad as I originally feared.  Granted, it's a far cry from Suzuhito Yasuda's work (of which I am personally a big fan), but hey, they made it work.  And...oh my god the way everything moves!

The comparison I like to draw is thus: "Hey, do you remember the fights from the first episode of Soul Eater?"
Just...just skip to 1:47

"You know how they looked really nice and intense?  Well, Yozakura Quartet moves like that all the time!"

This is all in the first 3 episodes, mind.  Consider me a convert.

So anyways, YZQ: HU is good looking, fun, and follows really closely to the manga, so I've got high hopes for a longer run than its previous incarnation.  I'm keeping up with it weekly and we're just getting into episode 6 and this show has yet to disappoint.

Simply put: I think it may be getting time for me to reevaluate my top 10 favorite anime XD