Ambition & Perdition
As someone who plays a lot of JRPGs, it’s hard to ignore Xenogears. When fans talk about classics of the original Playstation era, it’s always bound to come up due to its massive critical acclaim and dedicated cult following. In many ways, the title defines Squaresoft’s ambition at the time, with Xenogears being the peak of their willingness to take risks. Initially pitched as a concept for Final Fantasy VII, the idea was rejected due to its dark and intense subject matter. And yet they still greenlit it as a separate project, sending director Tetsuya Takahashi down his long path of increasingly ambitious projects that has lasted up until this current console generation with Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
It’s hard to deny that the game has left a mark on genre fans. And yet, I somehow feel like it’s impact has only lessened over time. Like Chrono Cross, Xenogears no longer seems to be a title people instantly think of when they think about good JRPGs. The game is still the subject of a lot of speculation and debate, but I don’t think anyone would put it on the level of the Final Fantasy games of the same era in terms of popularity. Then again, comparing a niche game to one of the most mainstream RPG franchises of all time may be flawed argument to begin with.
But it still begs the question of how this game has held up over the past 19 years. Is it still the daring title it was all those many years ago? And better yet, was it ever any good to begin with? Continue reading
– BONUS ROUND –
Even before it was released, The Reflection was a pretty controversial title. Despite the staff including some incredibly talented names, this show received instant ire from some hardcore fans due to the involvement of Stan Lee. To many his creative direction was enough to sour them on the series. After all, a lot of people watch anime to escape traditional American comic book and animation storytelling. However other fans remained hopeful, since both its director Hiroshi Nagahama and character designer Yoshihiko Umikoshi cited this series as a passion project of theirs. With both being such big names in the industry, working on shows like Mushishi and My Hero Academia, it seemed a little ridiculous to brush off the entire project due to just one producer.
Personally, I was somewhere in the middle. On one hand I thought the Stan Lee hate was a bit over the top, but on the other I couldn’t help but be somewhat cautious. I mean, as much as I wanted to trust the staff, superheroes have just never been my thing. So in the end, I decided to reserve my judgement, and after waiting a few extra weeks for this first episode to premiere, I can finally cement my opinion on it. Continue reading
Ah, summer time! The time of year when the sun shines down and students are free to relax on vacation. I know I’m enjoying my free time! That being said, even though early July would seem like the perfect time to release a whole bunch of new and cool anime, the summer anime season is rarely ever impressive. They’re never quite as dry as the winter season, but for the most part they tend to lack a lot of pazazz, featuring a few noteworthy titles here and there alongside some relatively forgettable genre shows.
Still, it’s always nice to dig through it all to find the gems, which is what I aim to do with these posts. So with that preamble out of the way, let’s get on with the show! Continue reading
Crossing the Ocean
Out of all the JRPG’s I’ve played on the PS1, Chrono Cross may be the most brilliant and strange. In a console library dominated by classics from the genre, the game stands out among the rest by just being so, well, bizarre. As a sequel to Chrono Trigger you’d expect something more traditional, a title hoping to live up to the soaring heights of its genre defining predecessor. But the game itself is anything but typical, featuring a battle system unlike any others before or since, and a story that seemingly tries to make things confusing. When you look up anything about the game’s endings, you’ll find that most search bars will bring up Chrono Cross ending explanation as a secondary option. The game is a puzzle to say the least.
And yet, in spite of how obtuse it can be, whether it be because of the massive exposition dumps that dominate the game’s latter half, or the strange logic of its multi-dimensional mechanics, I can’t help but love it. Because at the end of it all, when you look past the Dragon Gods and supercomputers called FATE, Chrono Cross has a very well thought out message. Continue reading
Yikes, it’s been a while! Hey everyone. I know that I usually release at least one post in between these big seasonal preview guides, but, as you can probably tell, that plan hasn’t been working out recently. I’m currently in the middle of a big semester at school, and I’ve been swamped with a large project that’s still hanging over my shoulder. That being said, I’m nothing if not consistent (at least with this series), so even though I’m way behind on all my winter shows, I’m going to watch a bunch of spring premieres anyways!
As I’ve said in previous Anime Lookout rambles, spring seasons tend to be my least favorite anime wise. Even though a lot of anime is released during this time of the year, I’ve never found it to be particularly interesting. Occasionally there will be something really outstanding in the mix, but for the most part, I find that I tend to lay low during this time of the year. However, there are a lot of high profile shows this season, from long awaited sequels to shows like Attack on Titan, to more prestige titles like the Eccentric Family. If nothing else this season is packed, so if it seems like I’m covering more shows than usual, that’s probably why.
Anyways, let’s not waste any more time with this preamble and get on with the show! Continue reading
Once again, we’ve dawned upon the winter season, which also means there’s not a lot of anime to watch right now! Yep, though there have been exceptions in the past, much like the winter season of 2016, 2017’s first batch of anime outings is rather lackluster. I’m not sure why this is the case (I’m no expert on why anime air when they do), but it leaves me with few interesting shows to cover, and little to really care about. That being said, there are still plenty of solid offerings this season… In the form of sequels.
That’s right, even though I usually gloss over them, this season I’m covering some sequel premieres! Desperate times call for desperate measures, and boy oh boy am I going to try to deliver a full slate of write ups, no matter the cost. I hope you enjoy the post, and let’s get this show on the road! Continue reading
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