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CABAL Online: The Revolution of Action

25 March 2008

Time and time again people have drawn me back to trying out Cabal Online. I expected another generic level grinding MMO, but I was pleasantly surprised with the interface. After loading up the client and logging in, you’re greeted with a fairly simple yet fair quality character creation, something that I always look for in an RPG.

There are six available classes: Warriors who focus on power and use a single broadsword, Bladers who dual-wield swords for more rapid attacks, Wizards who focus on magic, they also have a fairly nice backstory, Force Archers, who power “Astral Bows” with magic, Force Shielders, who use magic to manifest a shield in their left hand and attack with a shortsword in their right hand, and finally, Force Bladers, who use both a shortsword and use offensive magic to attack as well.

After character creation you’re thrown into the game rather suddenly, though the starter quest does help. For a while you end up running around completing quests before being able to kill anything at all. The players around you aren’t very helpful, and there is always a bot spamming links to a scam to get free cash-shop currency.

The combat itself is rather interesting. It isn’t just click and you auto-attack until the creature dies, but rather you can mix different attacks to form unique combination attacks. Instead of gaining experience by killing a monster, every time you strike a monster you gain experience. It not only stops people who enjoy “ninja killing”, but also makes it more realistic when talking about combat experience. Each different type of combat your character can participate in has its own experience bar that builds up from using skills in that category. Such as for a Force Blader, using Impact Stab will build up your experience with swords, and using Magic Arrow will build up experience with magic.

The game also has a unique map and GPS system, where by doing various quests you gain maps to other areas. Also a dungeon system reminding me of the .hack series. Dungeons have unique area codes, like the beginner dungeon you get sent to for a practice skill test is Hopeless Green Despair, which really hinted at a .hack reference. The dungeons are accessed through the Warp Gate, which is pretty much an area that lets you access one of the many different regions in the game. You can go to any region at any time, though you won’t be able to use your map at all unless you have a Map Code for that area, which you can get through quests.

Overall the game is fairly original. The presentation isn’t as good as it could have been, but the gameplay itself is entertaining. The community also isn’t that bad, though they aren’t all that helpful on the more populated channels. If you enjoyed Perfect World, you’ll want to give Cabal a try.

Some screenshots demonstrating a few aspects of the game.


Character Creation Combat

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Anime Blu-Ray Disks: A Half-Year Later…

24 March 2008

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*illustration designed by me @ EtherFuture Designs*

fatestaysmart_avatarAt my main blog, I was posed with a simple question regarding my stance towards the “format battle” by an individual who had read my past editorial, Next-Gen Multimedia: Thoughts on Anime on Blu-ray:

“Well blu-ray is in the lead and alot has been done since this post. So whats your aspect now?”

I felt compelled to respond, using bits of knowledge and updates I had picked up over the course of a little over a half-year. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me much time to conjure a short, concise reply, referencing past instances of societal adaptations mingled with my own speculation.

Just as before, I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about this topic. So if you share an opposing opinion or have more to add, feel free to share without any childish bashing. That is the creed this blog, Atama Ga Warui, stands by anyway.

This is how my comment read:

Thank you for asking.

My stance now is that as with any advance in technology, the DVD format will gradually, but most certainly, be replaced by Blu-Ray in a similar fashion that VHS was replaced by DVD. Prices for Blu-Ray players probably are going to mellow out over the next one or two years or so, but this will mainly be in response towards how rapidly the normalization of HD technology in households spreads.

In relation to anime, big-name companies like Bandai Visual are already delaying releases to in response to the lead Blu-Ray is taking. DVD production of anime will be reduced significantly as production companies adjust their business model, but not completely fazed out until an estimated half-decade. I surmise that by that time, HDTV would have made a major footprint in how viewers access their media, while there will still be some reluctant to change until technology and media has been spurred on so far ahead that they MUST adapt (e.g. think about our transition from Dial-Up to Broadband).

I’ve already shared what I thought, and now think, about the format battle, but there are still a few possibilities in what sort of business model anime production companies will take with the power that Blu-ray offers. What do you think Blu-ray disks could and should offer you in your viewing experience in the years to come?

Currently Listening To: KOTOKO – Shakugan No Shana II OP2 Single – BLAZE – “BLAZE”

New Slayers Season: Should We Care?

10 March 2008

fatestaysmart_avatarANN reported on this a while back, but seeing as how I’m trying to get back into the groove of talking more intelligently about the anime I know and fawn over, I decided to bring it up here at Atama Ga Warui.

In case you didn’t know, J.C.Staff, the animation studio that handled the three original Slayers television series is back on board. Not to mention, they are also grabbing Takashi Watanabe, the director of those same three seasons, to make sure this title soars like it did in the past. However, one has to ask the question: after around 10 years without Slayers — a series that lived in an age where the process of fandubbing onto a video tape was a long and arduous task — will the new school anime fans care as much as old school fans might?

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A user from Toonzone.net graciously posted a valuable link to a translated snippet of Dragon Magazine’s April 2008 issue, the original source that generated all the commotion. As is typical with the Japanese way, there is a lot of forced hype in the loosely translated dialogue presented to help generate some support for this new “anime-exclusive” rendition that came out of nowhere. Regardless of how legitimate the hype may be, I want to particularly draw attention to the seiyuu choice, which, to my relief, was a key factor in all of this:

“(I think it’s okay to reveal this information) They are now working hard to make the five voice actors and actresses to do the voice of the same main five characters, namely, I as Lina Inverse, Yasunori Matsumoto as Gourry, Masami Suzuki as Amelia, Hikaru Midorikawa as Zelgadiss, and Akira Ishida as Xelloss.” — from Megumi Hayashibara

So let’s review. We have:

      1) The entire original staff and main seiyuu cast from the original series and the historical success of Slayers as a secure foundation for quality among “old school” fans.
      2) The “new school” anime fans who probably know very little about Slayers, but know all there is to know about characters like Shana, and write it off as “something they’ve seen done better.”
      3) The concern of Slayers not measuring up in this day and age of anime saturation and digital fansubs, though based solely on key archetypes that worked back in the day (e.g. hot-headed, yet self-conscious red-headed sorceress [Lina]; goofy, yet capable, good-looking swordsman [Gourry]; irritating, cute supporting character that gets in the way [Amelia]; antagonist who can’t quite measure up [Zelgadis]).

Well, who is to say that this new season of Slayers won’t be as fun as it was when anime was still young among Westerners? Only the fans can come to a conclusion, but I predict a clear-cut divide between of visual culture otaku who will care, and those who won’t. One fact is certain: the existence of this 4th season will not go under the radar, and will, without a doubt, be licensed before it concludes in Japan.

Do you care? Tell us why or why not!

Image taken from Slayers wiki

2nd Annual Seiyuu Awards Thoughts

09 March 2008

***Layout sucks for pics. Sorry.***

fatestaysmart_avatarWith so many seiyuu (voice actors/actresses) up and about for both anime and Japanese dubbing, it’s about time someone started recognizing the great talent that has emerged. Not everyone can make it as a seiyuu, and, obviously, not all seiyuu can go above and beyond simply being a “fitting character voice”. As an aspiring seiyuu myself, I could not let this news pass by without sharing my thoughts.

Here are some of the chosen winners that have personally struck me in my own anime viewing experience.

Best Lead Actor

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Seiyuu: Mamoru Miyano
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam 00
Character: Setsuna F. Seiei

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Miyano-san absolutely struck me as a passionate, memorable voice for Setsuna. His line delivery and ability to make such a tense character so prolific has caused me to pine after the English dubbing voice for Setsuna. Honestly, it has been a few years since I have wanted a role as much as I desire Setsuna’s and simply because I want to be the one to give Miyano-san’s performance proper justice. I know it won’t be me though.

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Best Lead Actress

Seiyuu: Aya Hirano
Series: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya / Death Note / Lucky Star
Characters: Haruhi Suzumiya / Misa Amane / Konata Izumi

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There is no longer a soul in the anime atmosphere who does not know the talent of Hirano-san that came onto the scene just a year or so ago. A voice that has the ability to be pensive, demanding, and quirky — all within a range that doesn’t overstep or undermine the character — is only a few things that make her a voice worthy of an award. Her unimaginable energy for those characters and her songs has etched in characters that should be remembered in Japanese visual culture history.

Best Supporting Actor #1

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Seiyuu: Daisuke Ono
Series: Minami-Ke (Okawari)
Character: Hosaka

va_award7.jpgOno-sama…! I love this guy almost as much as I loved Seki Tomokazu as Fushigi Yuugi‘s Chichiri, and about as much as I loved Hikaru Midorikawa, also in Fushigi Yuugi, as Tamahome. The latter is probably because Midorikawa-sama somehow took Ono-sama’s role as Yukito Kunisaki in AIR the Movie. But yeah…the voice on this guy just screams “I’m 100% bishie lovin’! Take me home!” His performance as the overtly passionate and sweaty Hosaka was amazing and hilarious! Minami-Ke would not have been the same without him supporting Hosaka’s character.

Best Supporting Actor #2

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Seiyuu: Hiroshi Kamiya
Series: Mobile Suit Gundam 00
Characters: Tieria Erde

va_award9.jpgThough I’m not familiar with this seiyuu as much as I am with others, Kamiya-san has been doing an awesome job carrying the turbulent emotions that Tieria carries and portrays among the entire crew of Celestial Being. Tieria’s character is very fragile, and so the need to properly give emotion or cut off emotion is crucial to making Tieria the kind of pilot he is. Kamiya-san deserves this award for being able to juggle all those emotions together to make Tieria a character worth watching…(and putting in as many yaoi doujins as possible, given how he could be uke or seme no problem XD — yes, I’m horrible.)

Best Supporting Actress

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Seiyuu: Rie Kugimiya
Series: Shakugan No Shana (Second)
Characters: Shana

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There is much love for Shana, the chibi swordie of Crimson Flame, but probably not enough love for Kugimiya-san who has given Shana life for nearly 50 episodes. Though Shana is not a very complex character, she does struggle with learning about emotions, and accepting Yuji Sakai over a period of time. Kugimiya-san’s ability to convey those aspects of Shana while still retaining such a high-alto tonality is what makes Shana so lovable. Truly is deserving of that award, even though Shana is more of a lead character in my opinion in the first season and a supporting character in Second.

Best New Actress

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Seiyuu: Emiri Katou
Series: Lucky*Star
Characters: Kagami Hiiragi

Personally, I’m a Kagami fan. She deserves someone who will really treat her right and bring out more of that softer side of her, while still getting a kick out of her being an off-the-wall tsundere. Call me biased, but I’m happy Katou-san could be recognized for this role and may this be a boost to her confidence to give life to other characters as memorable as Kagami, while setting them apart from her role as Kagami. For any new seiyuu, I think that is half the battle.

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Best Singing Award

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Seiyuu: Aya Hirano / Emiri Katou / Kaori Fukuhara / Aya Endo
Series: Lucky*Star
Song: “Motteke! Sailor Fuku” (Lucky Star opening theme)

Quite possibly one of the most pleasantly energetic and (overly?)remixed opening themes ever to burst onto the anime scene, “Motteke! Sailor Fuku” takes this award with much dignity supporting it. Putting these four seiyuu together was possibly very scary for the producers at first, but a winning idea in the end. Though it could be argued that this song wasn’t much about singing, a majority of fans responded positively to the soprano harmonies of these four seiyuu. Even after nearly half a year since Lucky*Star’s final episode, I still hear that opening in my head from time to time, and enjoy the #002 Remixed CD of this song the most. Motteke Sailor Fuku FTW!

For more award winners, visit ANN’s article.

Are there any seiyuu that you think should have won? Leave a comment and let us know!

Brawl on the horizon

09 March 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl!!!

I think most of you American videogamers out there already know that SSBB comes out in approximately ,well, now ((atleast from when I’m writing this)). I’d love to give all the people who were unfortunate enough not to get a copy a review or something for it but unfortunately I don’t own a Wii. ((or any next gen console for that matter. T_T)). So if any of you want to send me your thoughts on it after you get it I’d be happy to put together a post for you people. ^^. ((so E-mail me at kiba_pup@gmail.com ))

The main reason why I made this post ((other than to bribe you to give me your notes on the game later on….j/k)) was to discuss it or , I guess, tell you what I think of the characters and the game overall. So , yeah, enjoy.

I remember back in the day when the GameCube first came out. The first game I ever played on that thing was Super Smash Bros. Melee, I guess you could say we’ve all come a long way since 2000 (something like that) when the first SSBM tournaments and such started popping up and people were introduced to the series ((along with vet’s from the original on the N64)). When your friends came over and you set up tournaments and got pissed off when you threw a mine on the ground and ended up landing on it (…not sure if thats ever happened to you guys…). My point is , is that most of us have fond memories of playing Super Smash Bros. in the past and I really hope it’ll be the same in this game ((probably will but meh)).

Anyway, fun. If I ever get a Wii I’ll give you all my friend code and you can beat the crap outta me (or vice versa). So enjoy your Gamestop midnight tournaments etc.

((now , sleepy tim3…..*zzz*))

((remember my E-mail is kiba_pup@gmail.com so send me your thoughts and pictures/videos and if I can get enough I’ll post them. ^^))

The characters that I’m most interested in playing are Pitt, Sonic, Windwaker Link, Zero Suit Samus, and maybe Snake. I’ll eventually narrow down 1 or 2 favorite characters. ^^. Another thing I’m very excited about is online battling (that’ll be t3h l33t..!) so whenever I get a Wii and SSBB I’ll train for several months then kick j00 guyz a$$3$ (^^) or the other way around… Alot of people are also talking about whether there’ll be downloadable content, kinda confusing since some people say there won’t be any while others say otherwise.

Super Smash Bros Brawl

English version of AkibaBlog

21 February 2008

Thats right everyone that can’t read Japanese on a whim!~ The infamous AkibaBlog that otaku should know about has now gotten an English translated website. (so now you don’t have to use babelfish , or worse, just look at all the pictures. :3).

It’s not any of that crappy, makes no sense, translating it’s put into full length english just for us. ^^.

  • http://en.akibablog.net/
  • ((By the way, the Paprika review will be done soon since I’ll be getting internet again. Also, I’ve started on re-building my Main PC , Shuzune-chan, into t3h l33t b0x. So if you have any tips that I don’t already know much thanks if you could E-mail them to me at kiba_pup@gmail.com . Sankyuu!~))

    Hatsune Miku Nendoroid + Caramell Dansen

    17 February 2008

    fatestaysmart_avatarI really have to apologize for my last entry about the “singing seiyuu.” I really don’t know what planet I was on at the time I decided to write that, but it seems I had a massive disconnect between my otaku nature and the stresses of living life, as it were. I also have to admit that I have been slacking tremendously on my seiyuu following recently, which also hindered my ability to distinguish the many seiyuu who do sing many songs, while not singing many OP or ED themes. That is where the source of my disconnect lies. I appreciate the comments I received though. They really woke me up and brought some clarity back to my foggy, work-induced mind. Thanks guys.

    Well enough about that!

    Danny Choo blogged a few days back about a Hatsune Miku Nendoroid Dance that is probably the cutest otaku-related thing I have seen in a while. Thought I would share it with anyone who may have missed it.

    As many commentators agreed, the last bit of this video is OMGMOEGUSH! or something to that effect, but the whole thing is really wonderfully animated in CG and paints Hatsune Miku, as well as the other Vocaloid singers, in an even more adorable light. I don’t have much a thing for nendoroid models myself, but I really enjoyed this.

    For those, like me, who really liked the song at the end of the video (Caramell – “Caramelldansen [Speedycake remix]”) and want the full version, I did some further YouTube searches and found a nicely put together AMV-like production using the acclaimed anime dance routine “Hare Hare Yukai”. I have been looping this song every so often on YouTube because it’s THAT addicting. Ironically, an online friend of mine recently recommended me to listen to Swedish techno while designing.

    Enjoy!

    Atama Ga Warui Question: Do you like nendoroid models?