Shelf Review | Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

I have a long and complicated history with Final Fantasy XII. Despite owning the 2006 PS2 release for a good five years, I could never get into the game. I sat down and restarted it multiple times, leveling grinding harder, attempting to be more strategic, but each run ended with me reaching a certain plateau where I would just sigh and give up.

Part of this was admittedly due to my lack of skill. When I first tried to play the game back in 2012 I had only just become accustomed to JRPGs. But even without considering my ineptitude, I had a lot of problems with the game’s core design. The license board was an unwieldy upgrade system that left each of my character’s without any real focus in battle, the battle system could be slow and confusing, and in general I found it hard to get a grasp on the game’s mechanics. It was a game I wanted to appreciate as a fan of the franchise, but couldn’t.

So with that in mind, it may come as a surprise that I was immediately excited upon hearing the announcement of the Zodiac Age PS4 remaster. After all, with so many failed attempts to enjoy the game beforehand, you’d think I would have given up on it a long time ago. But really, the main selling point for me wasn’t the improved graphics or the fact that I had another chance to try out the game again, it was the Zodiac Job System. Continue reading

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Shelf Review | Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 1

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If any of you have looked at my MAL page, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not the biggest fan of shonen manga/anime. One Punch Man wasn’t one of my favorite shows that aired last year, and while I do have favorites in the genre, I can’t say my affection for them is all that strong. However, that isn’t to say I dislike shonen either! My Hero Academia won me over instantly with its lovable protagonist, I think Hunter x Hunter is genuinely complex and multilayered, and I’m a moderate fan of Haikyuu!! It isn’t that I don’t like shonen material, it’s just that in order for it to really grab me it’s got to stand out in terms of character or tone.

Which brings us to the topic of today’s Shelf Review, aka Welcome to the Ballroom Volume 1, which I bought in order to expand on my small manga library. The story starts off with all the typical plot points you’d expect from this kind of venture: a young protagonist who doesn’t know what he wants to do, a cute girl with a secret passion, and a lot of intense practicing. However what makes Welcome to the Ballroom work is its unique subject matter. Dancing is an often disregarded sport, and to see it portrayed in a competitive environment is refreshing. Continue reading

Shelf Reviews | Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale

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Introduction:

Originally I wasn’t going to even write an introduction for this new post series, but I figured I should explain what’s going on here. You see, I’ve been pretty annoyed in the past months because the other two review series I had going were incredibly difficult to maintain. Gonzo Hell would have involved me buying a majority of the shows I listed for coverage, and Journey through Gundam was much the same. So instead of continuing those, I decided that it would be better to review the anime and manga that I actually own.

And so here we are! In each of these Shelf Review posts, I’ll be covering a light novel, book, or anime series that I have personally bought. This will not only force me to use the things that I buy, but it also will hopefully make my review output on this site more consistent. Anyways, that’s been enough stalling; on with the review! Continue reading

Critical Reviews 2015

Hey guys! I’ve recently finished up another semester of school, and with that all over and done with, I figured I might share a little something extra on this site. During the last semester I took a Poetry class, but we didn’t just write iambic pentameter! In fact throughout the semester I got to take pleasure in writing some 100 word reviews. Yes, 100 words exactly.

These reviews have been some of the most editing intensive pieces I’ve worked on– And this is coming from someone who actually tries to finish his short stories! I spent hours cutting words out of these things, and while I can’t say I always enjoyed the process (Or got good results for that matter), it was a great critical exercise. My posts tend to run at about 1,200 words long at their shortest, so condensing what could have easily been long essays into a few sentences was quite the challenge.

Overall, I’m proud of the work I did, and I think it’s really helped me better understand myself as a critic. I wrote four reviews, each of focused in a different medium, and while one of them is not very good, the other three are pretty great in my opinion! Of course it also helps that I had some good material to review (Except the crappy review. That one is, ironically, is the most negative out of the bunch). Anyways, I hope you enjoy the post! Continue reading

Gonzo Hell | Romeo x Juliet

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If there were ever an anime that I didn’t think I would like from my selection of Gonzo shows, it probably would have been Romeo x Juliet. I mean just look at it. Anime adaptations of classic literature have always weirded me out, especially ones that incorporate fantasy or sci-fi elements (Which Romeo x Juliet has in spades). It just seems kind of like a fanfiction. The title certainly doesn’t help either. The “x” between the Romeo and Juliet reminds me of the days when my friends would ship school teachers and their classmates, and I shipped Johnlock while watching Sherlock on PBS Masterpiece… Those were dark times.

Strangely enough though, I enjoyed Romeo x Juliet. In spite of some glaring flaws, it consistently kept me watching with its strong heart. Romeo x Juliet feels like it was made by people who cared, or at least were interested in the source material. And considering what most other Gonzo shows are like (I’m looking at you Witchblade), I’m very pleased that this show feels like it had some thought and effort put into it. Continue reading

Gonzo Hell | Introduction

Once upon a time in the early and mid 2000’s, there existed an anime studio called Gonzo. It was a rather successful studio, releasing multiple shows per season, all usually getting licensed by Funimation or ADV Films. They were critically acclaimed for their animation (Most of the time), and a lot of fans anticipated their newest releases (For some reason). Still their reign did not last for long, for when the economy crashed in 2008 Gonzo was put into dire straits, gaining a reported deficit of 30 million dollars. Gonzo could not longer produce four shows in one season, they could longer produce manga adaptations at nauseum hoping for a big hit, and they could longer be a hot topic in anime. Eventually they merged with their parent company GDH in 2009, causing them to become completely inactive in 2010. They still exist, but they only release one show per year at most; with their newest release being a moe show about voice actors called Sore ga Seiyuu. Continue reading

Journey through Gundam | Turn A Gundam

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Gundam. If you know anything about anime then you’ve probably heard about it at least once. Starting in 1979 with the influential Mobile Suit Gundam 0079, the Gundam Franchise has grown over the years into a massive omnipresent aspect of anime and mecha culture. Sure it’s had its ups and downs (I mean one of the only Gundam series to have gained any real traction recently is Gundam Build Fighters), but it helped spawn the Real Robot genre and has produced some really interesting shows throughout its long lifespan.

So I decided to check some of them out! That’s right, from today onward I’m going to be randomly posting reviews about random Gundam series and OVAs from the past and present. As such, I decided to start with one of today’s most acclaimed entries in the franchise, and one of the most recent ones to have made it over here to the states on DVD through Right Stuf’s collaboration with Sunrise. That’s right, I’m going to be talk about the crazy Tomino spectacle that is Turn A Gundam.

Turn A, Turn, Turn A, Turn, TURN AAAAAAAAA! Continue reading