A Brief Overlook | Xenogears Disc 2

A Rushed Apotheosis

If there’s one thing most JRPG fans remember Xenogears for, it’s the game’s infamous second disc. When a critical discussion of this game comes up, the second disc will usually be a talking point. Going into this thing, I knew that it was likely going to be a messy, somewhat rushed experience, and while my predictions were correct, I didn’t think it would be this bad.

The second disc of Xenogears knocked the wind out of me, and not in a good way. For every moment of beautiful storytelling on this thing, there’s a boring info dump, forced gameplay, or sometimes both back to back. Playing through it made me actively miss the first disc, which is amazing considering I wasn’t even really a fan of that one to begin with. And yet by the end of the game’s credits, I was exhausted and burnt out by the game’s squandered potential. Continue reading

A Brief Overlook | Xenogears Disc 1

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

Anime Lookout | Summer 2017 BONUS ROUND

– BONUS ROUND –

The Reflection:

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

Anime Lookout | Summer 2017

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

Anime Lookout | Spring 2017

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

Anime Lookout | Winter 2017

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

Anime Lookout | Fall 2016

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year since my first Anime Lookout post! Back then I wrote the Fall 2015 just to get something out on this site, and now it’s become the only consistent series I have (I have a Shelf Review in the works, I swear). A lot has changed since then, school’s gotten more intense, I had a summer vacation in Europe, and a bunch of photos got wiped from my media library (sorry about that). But that’s enough with the sentimentality, we’re here to talk about one thing and one thing only: season premieres!

The fall season has always been one of my favorites, both in real life and in the world of the anime industry. Fall is a time for big industry hits, but unlike the similarly populous spring season, the projects released during this time are a lot more willing to take risks. Shirobako, Kyousougiga, Concrete Revolutio, all of these amazing shows have premiered during the fall in my brief life as a seasonal chart watcher; and there have been quite a few changes in the North American licensing landscape to really help me dig into what this year’s final season has to offer.

Before the Crunchyroll and Funimation partnership that was announced last month, I had always been inclined to pass on Funimation shows that didn’t seem like must watches, but now that everything licensed by them is on Crunchyroll, I have no reason to be restrained. Combine this with Amazon Prime’s new streaming only subscription and Daisuki’s somewhat manageable player, and that means a lot more people have legal access to the show’s coming out this season. And as such, I took the plunge on everything I was remotely interested in! This is probably going to be a long post, so strap on your seatbelts on and get ready to not read this in one go, because you’re about to read a lot of rambling words. Let’s get this show on the road!

P.S. I would include impressions for Natsume Yujincho Go and Mobile Suit Gundam: IBO’s second season, but I’m still trying to catch up. If I do a follow up to this post at the end of the season, you can definitely expect them to be there. Continue reading