Tuesday 5 April 2016

Finally, A Great Trailer For A Virtual Reality Game

It is notoriously difficult to convey what a virtual reality video game looks and feels like to people who aren’t wearing virtual reality goggles. This trailer for Vive launch game Fantastic Contraption, however, nearly nails it.
The mixed-reality video from indie trailer maker Kert Gartner inserts live-action footage of a person playing the gizmo-building VR game with the graphics they see while playing the game. Because this is a Vive game, the player really does move around in a rectangular space and uses two wand controllers to build objects out of virtual wheels and bars. And, speaking from my own time with the game, it really is as incredible as it looks here.
This trailer is, of course, not exactly what the game looks like. The trailer is a little more Who Framed Roger Rabbit than what players or observers would see. You don’t see your body when you play, since you’re wearing a headset that blocks out your view of the real world. And anyone who is in the same room watching you doesn’t see the VR graphics, though they can follow along and see what you see on your computer’s monitor. Nevertheless, the gameplay looks exactly like what you see to the eyes of the person using the Vive.

Finally, A Great Trailer For A Virtual Reality Game

Fantastic Contraption was developed by Radial Games and Northway Games, the latter of whom I’ve previously written about in order to highlight other very unusual and cool things they’ve done in gaming.
Co-developer Colin Northway explained to me that they made the trailer by creating a version of their game that outputs two views, one that shows what is in front of the headset and one that shows what is behind it. “Then we film the player in front of a green screen so we can separate them from the real-world background (for the trailer we rented a big green screen studio in Winnipeg). Kert then composites the three images together so you can see the player in the world of the game they’re playing.” The filming is done using a camera connected to a third Vive controller.
You can find a more detailed description of shooting the game in this “mixed reality” style at the Northway website, where they explain how they do the shots that show people’s living rooms and how anyone playing the game can do a version of all of this, too.
You may notice there’s a Kotaku blurb in the trailer. That did not affect my assessment of this trailer, though if we were scoring the trailer we might have docked it a half point just to be sure.

Damage Caused by Japanese Film, Anime, Manga Piracy Amounts to $2.5 Billion in 2014

According to the latest report from CODA (The Content Overseas Distribution Association) posted on their official website on March 31, the damage caused by piracy of Japanese films, anime, broadcasting programs, music, and manga outside of Japan in 2014 was estimated at 288.8 billion yen (about 2.5 billion US dollars), which was more than double of the sales through legitimate distribution routes of the year, 123.4 billion yen (1.1 billion US dollars).

CODA is an association of major Japanese contents holders and copyright-related organizations established in 2002 to cooperate to reduce piracy of Japanese contents around the world. Based on the request from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry of Japan, CODA conducted the survey with its 33 member companies.

The estimated total damage amount was calculated from the companies' revenues of their Japanese contents 
that were officially licensed overseas. The potential damage on the titles that were not licensed is not included.
On the sales basis, the amount of the total sales in 2014 was 399.4 billion yen (3.5 billion US dollars) and the
total damage was 934.8 billion yen (8.25 billion US dollars).

CODA says in the report, "We are looking to expand our efforts to implement effective measures against copyright
infringement in foreign counties and to establish environment for the legitimate products' distribution routes."

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III

Sailor Moon and her crew of alien-fighting buddies are back! A looming sense of foreboding hangs in the air as Mamoru, Rei, and Usagi sense that this time of peace will be short-lived. An elite high school called Mugen Academy and two of its students, Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh, seem to be at the center of a recent rash of “reversions,” where victims' bodies are devolving into monsters. Usagi will have to once again resume her role as the Guardian of Love and Justice if she wants to get to the bottom of Juban district's latest threat. Sailor Moon CrystalSeason III is based on a manga and can be found streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu, Mondays at 10:35 AM EST.

How was the first episode?

Lynzee Loveridge

Rating: 4
Sailor Moon Crystal had quite a few hurdles to clear for its premiere this season. The first two seasons were part of a delayed, yet highly anticipated revisiting of a show that is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon among anime fans. Those seasons were plagued by slapdash animation shortcuts, uninspired adaptive writing, and a Guardian team that was neutered of personality. There wasn't much goodwill left for Toei Animation's treatment of the show by the end. Many wrote it off as nothing more than a cheap cash grab.
With that in mind, season three is adapting the manga's beloved Infinity (Mugen/Sailor Moon S) arc. It introduces multiple fan-favorite landmark characters, injects the show with a much darker atmosphere, and features Megumi Ogata's Sailor Uranus in a heart-wrenching, dramatic scene at its climax. These are huge shoes to fill.
It's too early to say whether Toei listened to fans' complaints. The premiere episode ofSailor Moon Crystal's first season showed promise when it aired two years ago too. The third season has an all new staff, and there are noticeable changes that hint they want to do right by viewers this time. The character designs are more streamlined, finding a nice balance between the lanky designs from the last two seasons and more rounded forms. Gone are the jarring, plastic CG transformation sequences, replaced by 2D animated sequences that hearken back to the original show. Characters also have actual attack sequences this time, and we're treated to Jupiter and Venus taking out a monster by themselves. At least initially, it looks like the staff are giving the supporting Guardians some of their oomph back.
They also aren't pulling any punches with Uranus and Neptune's relationship either. Admittedly, Junko Minagawa's voice for Haruka is more masculine than Ogawa's, instead of straddling that line that made her seem androgynous. I'm curious to see if the voice will change slightly with Haruka's character design after her actual gender is revealed. In the manga, she looked like a light-haired Mamoru clone for the first few chapters before Takeuchi feminized her design more.
The writing still isn't as tight as I'd like. Even with the first chapter split between two episodes, there's a lot of information covered in this opener, but they make time to let Makoto and Minako be goofy and let Rei tease Usagi. These kinds of interactions are what made the characters endearing, and the last two seasons were practically devoid of anything that wasn't bad-guy plot development.
Director Chiaki Kon has a lot of ground to make up with fans burned out by the first two seasons. She seems to want to do right by the fans this time, and hopefully the TV broadcast versus that weird bi-weekly net streaming means we won't get a double-jointed Sailor Neptune or Sailor Saturn with costume malfunctions.

Ace Attorney anime now airing exclusively on Crunchyroll

The Ace Attorney anime debuted in Japan over the weekend, but if you want to watch it shortly after it airs in the region, Crunchyroll has announced it will be airing it exclusively.
The first episode of Ace Attorney is now available to watch on Crunchyroll for premium members, while free users can start enjoying the show starting on April 9th. New episodes will air every Saturday at 4am PT.
The anime adaptation of Ace Attorney tells the beginning and early stories of the series. Fans of the games will be reintroduced to a number of fan-favorite characters, like Phoenix Wright, Miles Edgeworth, Maya Fey, and more.
If you’re a fan of Ace Attorney, or enjoy the later games but never was able to check out the earlier titles, this would be a great opportunity to relive what made the first set of games such an enjoyable experience.

"Scared Rider Xechs" Romance Game Gets TV Anime Adaptation This Summer

It was announced at the special event held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena on April 3 that a TV anime adaptation of Reject's romance game for female, Scared Rider Xechs, is in the works for a summer 2016 premiere in Japan. Its official website and Twitter have also opened, announcing its main staff.

The game was initially released in Play Station 2 format from Red Entertainment in July 2010, then also released in Play Station Portable in April 2012 and in Play Station Vita in November 2015. The story centers on the 17-year-old female protagonist Akira Asagi, who is assigned as the commander at the Ryukyu LAG base to counter invasion of mysterious invaders called "Nightfly O'Note." She has to train the six male members of the Scared Rider Xechs unit, and gradually builds relationship with them.

The TV anime is animated by Satelight (AqualionMacross Delta), and 36-year-old Hideto Komori is
attached to direct. He recently worked on Eureka Seven AoNoragami and Soul Eater Not! as an episode
animation director. His only chief directorial credit was the Hayate the Combat Butler! Heaven Is a Place
on Earth film released in 2011. 

"Scared Rider Xechs" TV anime main staff:

 Director: Hideto Komori (Hayate the Combat Butler! Heaven Is a Place on Earth)
 Series Compsosition: StoryRidersNaruki Nakagawa (Ergo ProxyChosoku Henkei Gyrozetter)
 Original Character Design: pako (Rental Magica light novel series)
 Anime Character Design: Kouji Haneda (New Initial D the Movie)
 Anime Production: Satelight (AqualionMacross Delta)

Teaser Visual

PS2 and PS VITA game jackets

Should You Watch 'Kumamiko: Girl Meets Bear'? Episode 1 Spring Anime 2016 Review

kumamiko girl meets bear anime

In the beginning, I really responded to episode 1 ofKumamiko: Girl Meets Bear. The watercolor backgrounds are sweet and the premise sounded great: a shrine maiden, her talking bear, the countryside. I don’t read up on the backgrounds of anime before I watch them because I like to go into them blind and be surprised by what I find, so I expected an idyllic, calm slice-of-life anime along the lines of a Studio Ghibli production – something with whimsy and gentle fantasy.  Perhaps with episode 1 of Kumamiko: Girl Meets Bear , this was my first mistake.
My expectation was fully borne out with the addition of some welcome humor… at first. I cackled when Machi went on and on listing the many, many reasons why her town sucks (“no asphalt” and “no one wants to develop the economy” among them). The bear, Natsu, has a great voice, equal parts paternally warm and whiny as a cranky salaryman.
But my first inkling that this would get pedotastic real fast was the announcement of Machi’s age: she’s 14, but looks younger. It’s always trouble in anime land when a young girl is given a stated age older than she appears. Then there’s a long flashback from Natsu, where he thinks of her sleeping (slow pan down the body), in her bathing suit, fallen on her scraped knee in a provocative vulnerable pose, giggling as she’s licked by his long bear tongue. At first I didn’t put all this together, not until Machi herself nailed him with a steely glare and informed him his flashback was getting a little long.
And then I thought, ew, no, that’s gross, that’s pedophilia and beastiality in the same joke. C’mon. There’s watercolors in the background. But the show’s tone just gets stranger after that as Machi’s cousin, a village officer, tells a small group of schoolchildren the real story behind the town’s founding. How does an adult casually inform a group of nine-year-olds “yeah, a bear totally ate the virgin sacrifice out, and they had kids and now there’s bears that speak human in our town”? The voice actor does a stand-up job with the material, but dude, gross.
Having a nine year old girl jump up on her feet and shout “sexual harassment! No!” is not, despite the excellence of the voice actress’s delivery, that funny. Not in the kind of way that doesn’t leave you feeling disgusting for having laughed. Kiddie toucher jokes are a plague in anime. One of the nine-year-old kids literally asks Machi if she got banged by the bear. How am I supposed to watch this and not feel like turning myself in?
Even if you have a super high tolerance for pedo jokes and bearfucker jokes and all that mess, the tonal shifts between “innocent cute funny” and “go to jail, kiddie toucher” jokes aren’t done that smoothly. I’m left annoyed by the whiplash and not entertained. I understand that the contrast between the two moods is what’s supposed to provide the humor, but it just winds up being jarring. The voice actors are so talented, and the art style is cute and appealing (the ending theme animation is so cute!) and there are moments of actual humor not reliant on sexualizing children, so it’s a damned shame.

Should you watch ‘Kumamiko: Girl Meets Bear’?

Kumamiko: Girl Meets Bear counts on the contrast between its cute, watercolor country aesthetic and its offputting turn into sexual humor to provide interest. Depending on your tolerance for jokes that involve the sexualization of children, you might enjoyKumamiko: Girl Meets Bear . For my part, hard pass.
Kumamiko: Girl Meets Bear streams on Funimation Sundays at 1 PM EST.

Should You Watch 'My Hero Academia'? Episode 1 Spring Anime 2016 Review

my hero academia anime funimation

The My Hero Academia anime is instantly likable from the very start of episode 1. I watched episode 1 of My Hero Academia having never read the manga preceding it, but the anime doesn’t assume you have any knowledge of the wildly popular manga behind it.My Hero Academia anime is from the folks at Studio Bones, who are responsible for Fullmetal Alchemist,Cowboy Bebopand Space Dandy, so I had high expectations going in.
The premise of My Hero Academia is that almost everyone has superpowers. Note that keyword: almost . This means bratty little kindergarteners with superpowers can gang up on one brave, shy boy who shows no powers, aka Quirks.
When this boy’s mother is told that her son has no Quirks, she sobs for his loss, but the kid - our protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, aka Deku - doesn’t give up on his dream of becoming a superhero. He fills notebooks with his studies of heroes and idolizes the Texas-sized All Might, the world’s top-ranking hero. We see Deku in Junior High, still tiny with huge eyes, but clearly the outcast in a classroom filled with superpowered youngsters.
My Hero Academia has a profusion of color and style in the character designs. Even more notably, the characters are really distinctive from one another and wildly expressive in a way that almost seems Western at times. More than one moment of wild emoting from Deku reminded me of Invader Zim, while the poppy backgrounds sometimes swapped in for extra emphasis gave even more of that comic book feel My Hero Academiaborrows from.
my hero academia all might hero
All Might! (c) Studio Bones
The expressiveness makes for a lot of funny moments, like Deku trying frantically to speak as he flies through clouds and wind causes tears to stream from his eyes and his mouth to flap around his teeth, or Deku bowing urgently about a thousand times a minute. It also makes Deku feel super relatable - he’s so little, his eyes are so huge, his hair is such a mop - and super rootable for. How could you not root for someone who’s picked on so badly, whose position seems so hopeless, who takes such copious notes?
Also in service of sheer expressiveness are the many dynamic camera angles. I don’t know if they’re taken from the manga, but the camera angles are really dramatic and varied. The music is also great, with crescendos that sweep and soar to near-cinematic heights just when they need to.
The My Hero Academia manga is apparently notable for its fair heaping of fanservice, which we get a sample of at the very start. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of pervy humor, but when the enormous Mt. Lady wagged her butt and said “Pleased to make your ass-quaintance,” I had the first real laugh I’ve enjoyed this entire spring anime season so far. I hope they keep the fanservice that light, as excessive striped panty shots or pointless boob activity has been the wrinkle in my enjoyment of many an anime.
One Punch Man is the logical comparison for My Hero Academia, and in some ways it does feel like One Punch Man’s eager little brother, but while both series are really funny and about superheroes, My Hero Academia is less of a genre satire than a straightforward tribute. With its bite-sized hero as the eyes through which you see the world, it’s also more aimed at children.
In episode 1, My Hero Academia sets up a whole lot: an interesting world, a lovable character who starts at the bottom, that character’s huge dreams, a glimpse at the heroes (and villains!) who populate his world, a rival and bully, backstory here and there, and most importantly, a fast and punchy pace that sweeps you from scene to scene.

Should you watch ‘My Hero Academia’?

Definitely yes. My Hero Academia is a delight. There’s not a part of it that I don’t respond to, from premise to execution, animation to music. This anime is well-poised to be, if not the new Naruto, close to it. Don’t miss out.
My Hero Academia airs on Funimation every Sunday at 5 AM EST here .Need more guidance this spring anime season? Check out our episode 1 impressions of Ace AttorneyThe Lost Village and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventureand keep checking back atiDigitalTimes as we continue to add more titles from this spring anime season to our preview review list 

Should You Watch 'Endride'? Episode 1: Spring Anime 2016 Review

endride anime key visual

Endride is one of those endless smartphone commercials masquerading as an anime that seem to be so common these days. This makes Endride a little hard to judge, even if this review is only a preview based off of episode 1.
Should I be judging it using the same standard as original anime like Erased? Should I judge it as a video game adaptation like Ace Attorney , where it’s important to note how the source material relates to the text Because Endride is a smartphone tie-in, does that make the anime itself cheaper and more disposable? Where is the creative heart, if any: with the smartphone game or with the anime? Is it all just a cheap cash grab?
But there’s plenty of original anime that I don’t actually like as much as I enjoyed Endrideepisode 1, so I’ll judge Endride without deriding its smartphone game tie-in. After all, I recommended a look at the underwhelming Ace Attorney anime based purely on my love of the video games that form its source material. Glass houses, stones, etc.
First of all, if you’re a fan of cheesy music, Endride has your back. The brassy music flares to corny crescendos that go full nineties. Whether or not this is by design doesn’t even matter: the corn is real and it is there. The corniness extends to stuff like the prince’s outfit, which has to be seen to be believed. A trenchcoat lapel with a fur half-collar and low-ride jeans so low the pelvic bones are exposed:
endride anime 2 prince emilio

For an heir apparent to a royal throne. Everyone else is dressed non-awfully, even the peppy girl we meet at the very end of the episode. Endride definitely doesn’t have the budget for more outfits, but I’m hoping to see another stinker before the show’s over.
As for the animation quality, Endride’s animation is solid enough until it is tasked with real action, at which point the frames per second drop almost comically and we entirely lose whatever background we might have had. I’m not kidding:
endride anime 1
In terms of characters, I actually find them likable, if shallow and tropey. (Then again, this is only episode 1, and the show’s opening and ending themes promise us that the two male main characters will ultimately attain a deep and definitely not homoerotic friendship.) The main character is a lively young man and devoted son whose mother doesn’t actually die seconds after her introduction, putting Endride way ahead of a lot of anime in the Dead Mom Count. The other character, Fur Collar Crop Top Prince, seems like a Dollar Store version of Final Fantasy VIII ’s Squall, but I love Squall, so I’m down.
The plot is nothing to write home about: a high schooler goes to force his awful dad to come home for his birthday party, but gets sucked into an alternate world via an intriguing crystal he can’t help but investigate because he loves crystals. I know the crystals are an obvious gimmick tied into the smartphone game, but a male main character who likes pretty rocks is endearing, and the alternate world crystal gimmick reminds me of Vision of Escaflowne .
On the Alternate World side of the story, Fur Collar Crop Top Prince has a vendetta against a long-haired older man who was enemies with his dad for… some reason. Does he even know what it is? We meet him charging into a castle by night to kill his father’s enemy as he sleeps. His dad’s enemy, a tall crag of a man with long dark hair (for a certain type of fujoshi, that’s just the right bait), sends him packing to the dungeons with his tail between his legs.
That’s just when Pretty Rocks Guy gets pulled through, and after shenanigans ensue, Fur Collar Crop Top Prince is freed from his dungeon and pulls his new idiot companion through to freedom. Of course, Pretty Rocks Guy can summon a weapon of his own, which in this world is an Utena - tastic affair that involves drawing the swords, shimmering, from your own chest, and sheathing them with calming thoughts of things you love. Upon their escape, they meet Fantasy Girl and her pet sidekick, Fake Carbuncle:
endride dragon pet anime spring 2016 season
I love fake Carbuncle... (c) Brain's Base
End of episode.

Should you watch ‘Endride’?

How high is your tolerance for mediocre corniness? Exactly how good does the animation need to be before you can’t stand watching? If you don’t need your anime to be anything world-shaking in the plot or characters department, and you don’t mind lame battle sequences here and there, I think you could do worse with your time than episode 1 of Endride.
While Endride’s sins of being shallow, corny and kind of laughable might grow more egregious with time, it calls to so many tropes I’m fond of that I enjoyed episode 1. I wouldn’t exactly stick it on my Must Watch list and I don’t harbor hopes of it being this anime season’s hidden gem. I would recommend watching it if you have nothing else to do, you love fantasy and pretty rocks past all reason, you’re really into those deep male friendships and you desperately need a transfusion of anime stat.
But you won’t be missing out if you can’t make time for Endride , which airs on Funimation every Sunday here .  

Crunchyroll Adds "Cerberus" to Spring Anime Season!

Strap yourself in for a fresh volley of new streaming announcements at Crunchyroll News! The first off the line is Cerberus, based on the popular card battle social game Seisen Cerberus, which begins streaming today, April 4th at 11:15AM PST! Cerberus will be available to Crunchyroll members worldwide excluding Asia.

Cerberus is the anime adaption of the popular card battle social game, Seisen Cerberus! The anime is directed by Nobuhiro Kondo and features animation production by Bridge. The story involves a sword & sorcery world where the delicate balance between three rival kingdoms is upset by the arrival of the evil dragon, Daganzord. Heero and a group of like-minded companions band together and embark on a quest to defeat the monster.

About Cerberus

Sword and magic rule in the continent of Kuna'ahn. In this continent are three powerful nations: the Holy Kingdom of Amoria, the Kingdom of Ishilfen, and the Kingdom of Vanrodis, which share a delicate balance of power. Should disaster befall any one of the three nations, war would spread throughout the continent. Also residing there is the feared "Evil Dragon" Daganzord, an unstoppable force that leaves nothing but scorched land and destruction wherever he goes. Hiiro's parents, Bairo and Kismitete, joined other sorcerers in a magic ritual ten years ago in an attempt to seal Daganzord, but failed when someone interfered. The ritual would later become known as the "Balbagoa Tragedy." After being rescued by Giruu, young Hiiro set out to learn swordsmanship so that he could avenge his parents. Now, ten years later, sixteen-year-old Hiiro leaves home on a journey to slay the Evil Dragon, and Giruu feels he has no choice but to accompany him. In the search for the Evil Dragon, Hiiro encounters people of various races who join in his quest to eliminate Daganzord... but will Hiiro really succeed in overcoming the destiny he took upon himself and defeating Daganzord?!

Main Staff:

Director: Nobuhiro Kondo (Sergeant Frog, Jewelpet MagicalChange)
Assistant Director: Mana Uchiyama (Detective Conan: Quarter of Silence)
Series Composition: Hiroshi Oonogi (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Character/Prop Designer: Tsuyoshi Tougetsu (Superior Defender Gundam Force)
Chief Animation Director: Isamu Fikushima (Persona 3 The Movie), Yoshinori Ideno (Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya)
Creature Action Director: Kenichi Takase (Gundam Reconguista in G)
Art Director: Kouki Nagayoshi (Sengoku Musou)
Music: Hideakira Kimura (Lance N' Masques), Nobuaki Nobusawa (Dagashi Kashi)
Music Production: Pony Canyon
Sound Production Tohoku Shinsha
Anime Production Bridge
Produce: Children's Playground Entertainment/Genco

Main Voice Cast:

Heero: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito in Sword Art Online)
Salahto: M.A.O (Yuuri Wakasa in School-Live!)
Erin: Maaya Uchida (Syaro Kirima in Is the Order a Rabbit?)
Guillou: Taiten Kusunoki (Optimus Prime in Transformers: Robots in Disguise)
Tommitte: Arisa Ogasawara (Panty in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt)
Palpa: Yoji Ueda (Dekapan in Osomatsu-san)
Nambuco: Shunsuke Sakuya (Ishikawa in Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture)
Sharisharu: Mairiya Ise (Urara Kasugano/Cure Lemonade in Yes! PreCure5)
Mumu: Manami Numakura (Saya Endoh in Dagashi Kashi)
Bachroppa: Masayuki Omoro (Sanae Kikukawa in Ace of Diamond