I’ve been playing through Bandai’s over-hyped, but still woefully addictive .hack games. This isn’t really intended to be a review, so I’ll point you out to Toastyfrog’s insights on the first game instead. What I did want to say was that the description of the series as a “Virtual Massively Multiplayer Online RPG” was only sort-of apt. The discrepancy, I think, comes from the fact that it simulates a console-based MMORPG (like Phantasy Star Online) rather than a computer-based one (like Everquest, or Star Wars Galaxies).
Separated at birth: PSO and .hack//INFECTION
This shouldn’t be too surprising; the game runs on console hardware, and making a PS2 emulate a full computer would be technically and economically unfeasable, and would possibly just get in the way of a streamlined hack-and-slash-and-trade game. But the capper to this is that Bandai (or Cyber Connect) came up with an elaborate timeline for their world, which has all kinds of interesting backstory as to why all computers act like consoles.
Still, every time I play through .hack, I kind of feel like Gabe and Tycho in this strip, though I know that there’s a little more plot than what PSO provided. How much more plot will be a matter of rumour and debate, up until the final disc in the four-part series ships. It may end up being a ridiculous waste of 80+ hours of my time (about 20 hours per disc). Or, like Zach Stroum says, the Japanese have this weird habit of things not making sense until the very last act, where everything previously put forth falls into place. We’ll see.
A post on An Unnamed Anime Blog reminded me to download Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu, and I’m glad I did. It’s ostensibly the sequel to the first Full Metal Panic! series (which I raved about previously). I say “ostensibly”, because FMP! Fumoffu works well enough to stand on its own, and because there are elements of characterization that seem slightly odd when taken in context to the first season’s ending (am I being deliberately vague? well, yes — I don’t want to spoil it for you. go and watch it; ADV’s got it on DVD now).
The girls and Bonta-Kun
I imagine that this is likely due to the fact that the series has just gotten started; as it progresses, I’m sure that the overall continuity will be smoothed over.
On its own, FMP! Fumoffu is a lot funnier than the original Full Metal Panic!; there’s far more physical comedy, and Kaname’s and Sagara’s confused passive / agressive relationship is played for much more laughs. Even the end credits are funny, as they have chibi versions of most of the main players.
Full Metal Chibi
The show has a lot going for it. Sagara and Kaname’s chemistry really brings life to what could have been a tired “fish out of water story”. But Fumoffu also seems to hew closer to the original FMP! manga, which means that we’ll be seeing the zany antics of the school’s extremely bishonen president. And then, there’s Bonta-kun, the stuffed animal that may yet play a large role in the series (if Newtype is to be believed). And our favorite klutzy genius, Teletha Testarosa will be coming back on the series. On the downside, there haven’t been any appearances of the Arm Slaves yet, and FMP! wouldn’t just feel right without Sagara’s cohorts, Melissa Mao and Kurtz Weber, who have yet to make their appearance.
AnimeNFO indicates that the show runs fifteen episodes long. It was originally slated to have one more episode, and it appears that its late start in the “new shows for the end-of-summer” lineup may be due to the removal of that episode due to “sensitive content”, which, for FMP!, is par for the course (the first season had Sagara’s origins relocated from Afghanistan to some other Middle Eastern country). The show’s format seems to be two 11-minute long, self-contained stories per episode. It’s currently being distributed by Anime Junkies, Anime Keep, Anime Fansubs and AnimeFactory, and others (quite a popular title). Full bittorrent lists, as per usual, can be found on Animesuki.
Just in time to ease the back-to-the-academic-grind blahs are the announcements of Final Fantasy X-2 Figures (courtesy of Games Are Fun) and the Halo Figures (courtesy of Penny Arcade). Check ‘em out!
Paine, from FF X-2
Master Chief, from Halo
Dammit, and I’m all out of shelf space too. Well, time to buy new shelves. Or find a new place to live with more shelves built in, really.
I’ve been reading my way through the Love Hina manga (as released by Tokyopop) and penned / illustrated by Ken Akamatsu, and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. Sure, it’s got a slightly different timeline than the anime, and certainly it’s got a whole crapload of fanservice (including Far Too Much Shinobu), but on the whole, it feels like a more meditative work than the anime. I mean, if you can call any manga in which the protagonist’s main love interest is in the habit of punching him into the stratosphere “medititative”. Suffice it to say, I was impressed.
So, looking around to see what else Ken Akamatsu has done, I inevitably found my way to his website, where (after much blind clicking, as I don’t read Japanese), I found this lovely image:
Street Sailor II
It appears that Mr. Akamatsu’s had his hand in a number of doujinshi’s, and this would be one of them.
Personally, I can’t wait until it gets picked up by a good old-fashioned Japanese anime production house and turned into a full-blown series. Whoo-ee! I can almost feel Sailor Mars’ Upside-down Helicopter Kick!
Courtesy of 0xDECAFBAD: this guy has the coolest video game room ever. It’s the kind of room I envision that I would have, save for the fact that the games would share shelf space with anime videos, figures, and capsule toys — thus diluting the overall effect.
You have to really admire someone with the single-minded focus to put together a room for nothing but the biggest collection of video games known to man.