.Hack//COMPLETE_FRANCHISE | .Hack//XXXX (Manga) Review

Plot: In a different re-telling of the events of the original Dot Hack games, Kite is a newbie player in the massive MMORPG, The World. He’s being shown the ropes by his friend, a highly skilled veteran player under the name Orca of the Azure Sea. While playing, Kite and Orca come across an insanely powerful monster that cannot be damaged by any attacks. In an effort to save his friend, Orca ends up getting killed by the beast and somehow his physical body falls comatose at the exact same moment.

Kite, determined to save his friend, is given a special bracelet with the power to defeat the monster that hurt Orca, known in the real world as Yasuhiko. With his online friends and an odd boy with similar powers named Cubia, Kite sets out on a mission to find out what The World really is and how to save Yasuhiko.

Breakdown: Anyone who has played the games will notice that, indeed, this seems like a faithful retelling of the games’ story. However, you’ll note one very important part near the end. Cubia is not a monster. He’s an NPC who befriends Kite and helps him defeat the eight phases with a power similar to that of Kite’s bracelet. He’s given characterization, a personality, a true backstory as both a shadow of the power of the bracelet and maybe some kind of failed being similar to Aura.

Other than this, though, the story is entirely the same as the games, which means that the quality of the manga in comparison to the game (which I find to be great) hinders on how well this change worked. Ultimately, I think it worked pretty well. Having Cubia be an actual character who both tricks Kite and yet seems to actually care for him is an interesting change to the story that helps shake things up a bit more than just essentially being a monster that is anti-Kite’s bracelet.

Cubia’s personality is similar to, yet not copying, Aura’s origins, personality and being. While Cubia is merely data, he’s somehow able to develop feelings and perhaps have some concept of a soul. Despite the fact that he ultimately does become the monster that needs defeating, his evolution as a character is nice to read, and his friendship with Kite was especially well-done.

Cubia has a power to help him defeat the phases, meaning Kite’s not as alone as he feels in this mission, even barring the help of Blackrose and the others. Cubia was a very nice person, seemingly, and they connected on several levels. It was a great decision to have Kite still defend him even while knowing what he truly was. Kite’s level of caring and respect for those he has befriended, no matter if they’re data or not, shone through here.

That coupled with the game’s story makes for a really good manga, but I do have to say that people who have played the games are still going to know every thing that happens through the whole manga, including pretty much everything about Cubia even if he is an NPC here. They make the big final battle really awesome in manga form and it’s just a great read the whole way through, even if it is fairly short.

I will say that they go through the Phases a bit too fast for my liking. Cubia himself defeats some without our knowing. It makes the journey seem very quick and rather simple, making Kite’s later push against his friends for fear of their lives seem a bit drastic and sudden.

Recommended Audience: There’s virtual violence and one shot of Balmung getting attacked that was pretty damn graphic for a MMORPG. Plus slight non-ish nudity by Aura. 10+


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Battle Arena Toshinden (OVA) Review

Plot: Uhhh, there’s some tournament called the Toshin tournament, but that doesn’t matter because we never see the tournament over the course of the show. This anime is also based off of a video game of the same name that I’ve never played, but I hope to God at least the fans of the game find some meaning behind this show.

A man named Eiji was apparently the last tournament’s winnerm and his brother, Sho, has turned bad, apparently, and has betrayed his family so Eiji’s on a mission to find him…..apparently.

But there’s also some lady named Uranus who dresses like Lady Gaga’s lobotomized twin. She’s evil and runs some evil organization called….The Organization. Eiji along with a bunch of other characters who are never adequately explored fight The Organization.

Breakdown: THEM anime reviews has, at least at one point, labeled this the worst anime they’ve ever seen. Ouch. Now, I’ve disagreed with THEM before and at this point I’ve seen my fair share of crap. Do I share the same sentiment?

……Uhh, I wouldn’t say ‘worst’ but it’s pretty damn low on the list. It’s bottom 10 at least. This anime is confusing as hell to me. I really, truly hate when shows, anime or otherwise, expect that you should know the full backstory behind something, especially when the backstory is explained in an entirely different medium. I’ve never played Battle Arena Toshinden, yet this anime not only acts like you should know full well the backstory to this whole mess of an OVA, but it also assumes you know every character and what their story is too.

When they actually do bless you with some information, it’s just thrown at you like a rock of exposition. Characters are constantly showing up, especially at the ending where the big clusterfuck of cameos happens. I had no idea who 98% of those people were when they showed up and the ones I did recognize I still knew nothing about. Oh yeah, the old man with Wolverine claws, dominatrix love-interest chick. ♪ And the rest….are here on Gilligan’s Isssllllleeee!

Not like they even did anything either. They were simply meant to fight the lacky no-name no-face enemy characters to give the main guys a chance to go after the characters who actually somewhat matter. Eiji, one of the main characters, actually said “We don’t have time to deal with those pawns!” Yeah, great, thanks for telling me there’s no reason give a crap about what they’re doing.

I didn’t even really get to know the main character that well. He’s a master martial artist and a nice guy…..that’s…about…it.

Another character who literally shows up just to create a plot point is Ellis. She’s a cutesy knife thrower in the circus who was also a participant in the tournament that I’m told happened. She appears in the final minutes of episode one and is in a coma dying from poison five minutes into episode two.

I don’t care about this person. If anything, she annoys me. I don’t care about her dad (It was also an exposition rock that a fighter named Gaia was her dad) And oh she’s voiced by Lisa Ortiz….

Let’s address Uranus, hm? Well, first of all we don’t see her do anything. She’s one of those behind-the-scenes villains who talks big then runs off when she’s confronted face to face. Oh and…she grew wings out of nowhere.

By the way, can someone please explain to me what the hell this is?

It looks she fell in the shower, got wrapped up in the shower curtain, curtain rod and all, walked to the mirror and said, “….Hm…that’s fine. Time to go to work.”

And look at the front!

Her dress has no top! What was that listed as in the item description? “Side-Boob-Displaying Uncomfortable Dress from Hell”? That has got to be one of the dumbest clothing designs I’ve ever seen in anything.

Oh well, she has to look better when she’s prepared for battle, right?

Wow….more practical but still ugly as all hell. That does not look liked she’d be able to move, though, considering the way the shoulder guards are designed. Also, all that armor, looking clunky as a robot made of washing machines, and the two areas they don’t cover are the head and the boobs. Oh well, at least she has boob socks – the strongest of all female armor.

I am thoroughly unimpressed with everything. Thank you.

Our only two actual villains in this movie who do things are Sho and a man-machine (because ‘android’ or ‘cyborg’ are just too complicated) named Chaos. Sho’s obviously the big brother who joined the bad ranks for whatever reason but still wants to fight his brother in an honorable match. Chaos is just a crazy guy wielding a sickle. He has a grudge against Gaia for beating him a while back and that’s about it.

From what story I could piece together, there is nothing here. It’s filled with so many cliches and suffers from such a lack of originality that it’s just sad. Being cliché doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. You just have to be creative with the cliches…and they’re not. I could not care about anything in this OVA. Not the story. Not the characters. Nothing.

This isn’t even really good for action. The action scenes, while not being particularly boring, weren’t particularly interesting either. Their moves are so uninspired that I honestly would never be able to tell them apart if they were done one after another.

They all have regular weapons from your traditional sword, to a buster-sword-thing, to whips (of course the dominatrix character gets a whip….a PINK whip.) to big billy clubs (wielded by a female character who seems to be roller-derby-ish…..and they’re, of course, pink….They also look like giant Nerf toys.) to the aforementioned Wolverine claws. They also have the never-explained ability to use energy-powers, but none of these moves are memorable either.

Oh and did I mention that the ending basically resolves nothing? They manage to get the antidote for Ellis by defeating Chaos. The reason they couldn’t defeat him before was because he was turned into a man-machine. Every time he fought one of the main guys, he’d get data on their fighting styles and predict their moves. How was he beaten? Eiji shrugged him off and said to just fight using each other’s moves so Chaos couldn’t predict it.

Eiji: “You’re a fool for thinking we’d just do the same moves over and over.” You know what? That is a great point and a gigantic flaw in this multi-billion dollar experiment to make man-machine fighters. Way to go, Uranus, you dumb stupidly dressed sack of idiot.

Uranus gets away, the real Sho shows up (don’t ask) yet disappears as soon as he came to just say “Yeah I blew up all the stuff you had. Just wanted to end this BS. Bye!” Uranus escapes due to her unexplained sudden growth of wings (even though I don’t see how she really did escape unless there was a series of holes leading straight up out of the building), the good guys survive the explosion complete with walking out of the flames without even attempting to walk at a brisk pace because bad-ass.

Oh and at the very end, some guy, I guess, according to the Youtube comments, his name is Vermillion, comes out, Eiji smiles, unsheathes his sword, slashes once and reveals the title screen before the end credits start.

Bite. Me.

Look, if you want to release an OVA that is purely meant as an advertisement for a game or a manga or whatever – be my guest. There are plenty of times when that can work, but you have to do it well. You can’t expect that your audience knows all of this crap that may or may not be explained in the video games, and it’s really bad practice to do that because chances are the video game will become dated and phased out due to people ditching their old consoles for new ones, but the OVA will stick around for future viewings and people will be like insanely confused.

I guess the Youtube commenters must’ve been fans of the game because I just kept seeing “this is a good anime” and the like. However, seeing as how many people were also bringing up how this OVA is such a blast from the past, I’m going to either believe they have nostalgia goggles glued on or this OVA really is a lot better when you know of the game. However, I believe even if I knew of all of that stuff that this would still be awful.

Art and Animation: The art is terrible. It’s exaggerated fighting anime style, but it’s still really bad. I don’t know if I’d say it’s some of the worst I’ve seen, but it’s still awful. I will commend them for actually animating the action instead of just resorting to still screens, but the animation as a whole is pretty damn bad.

Voice acting: English Dub. Ranges from ‘okay’ to ‘Wow, they really hired this guy?’ Most of the characters lean on the side of okay, but characters like the Duke were just laughably bad.

Music: The music wasn’t that bad but like everything else it wasn’t memorable.

Bottomline: Unless you’ve played the old Battle Arena Toshinden games and can find some value in this OVA, there’s no point whatsoever in watching this. It’s confusing, poorly paced, extremely poorly written in terms of both story and dialogue, gives you no reason to care about anything and there’s not even good mindless fight scenes to enjoy. And I do have to reiterate – there’s no ‘battle arena’ in Battle Arena Toshinden. There WAS one. You just missed it.

Additional Information and Notes: Battle Arena Toshinden is based on a series of video games for the Playstation (1-3 and Vita) Game Boy and Sega Saturn. There hasn’t been an incarnation of the series since 2009, and even then it was released under an entirely different name with no connection to the previous storyline.

The OVA was produced by Animate Film and JC Staff. It was directed by Masami Obari, who also directed pretty much every Fatal Fury anime, Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer and uh…*cough*….some hentai titles.

It was co-written by Masaharu Amiya (episode one) who also did minor work on Ai Yori Aoshi, Beyblade, Karin, Inuyasha and….Yosuga no Sora.

Episode two was written by Haruo Takayama, and either the dude is too ashamed of this work to display it anywhere he’s listed or the Wiki doesn’t have accurate information. The only Haruo Takayama I can find did the screenplay for both of the Turn A Gundam movies and wrote the script for Jungle do Ikou’s OAV. Nothing anywhere about Battle Arena Toshinden.

The OVA was originally licensed under the now defunct Central Park Media, then known as US Manga Corps. Their licenses were distributed to many other media companies, but it’s unclear who owns the license to Battle Arena Toshinden now, if anyone owns it at all.

Episodes: 2

Year: 1996

Recommended Audience: Plenty of violence, but nothing gets incredibly gory. One nude shot, of course of a woman, of course the dominatrix lady, some sexual-ish content, no swearing. 12+


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I Played Corpse Party: Book of Shadows and Had Opinions About it

Note: I am not a video game reviewer, so forgive my terrible format and analysis as a game. Thank you.

Recently, I reviewed the anime Corpse Party: Tortured Souls for Animating Halloween, and it got me wanting to play some of the other Corpse Party games since I really hadn’t played any of them besides the first game and basically a retooled version of the first game…again. A good place to start from there appeared to be Corpse Party: Book of Shadows since that was a direct sequel to the original (though, again, remade again) game.

So I played through the whole thing and I’m uhm…..Kinda…confused.

The game isn’t really a sequel so much as it is a pre-mid-sequel. And that’s strange because the cutscene that plays each time you load the game is directly following the events of the first game (in one of the Wrong Ends – 6*8, which leads the Kisaragi students through a time loop of the events of Heavenly Host.) Naomi is near catatonic and her mother is distraught because she keeps talking about her ‘imaginary’ friend, Seiko, when Seiko’s existence was wiped from the earth after dying in Heavenly Host. It’s basically a longer version of what we got at the end of Tortured Souls.

Each episode covers a different story. No episode intersects with another nor is there any cohesion in creating an overall plot. It’s just a lot of different stories bundled together.

Episode One: Seal

The first episode does pickup where the opening cutscene left off, kinda. Naomi did suffer from a breakdown due to the events of the first game and is desperately trying to cope with the fact that her best friend and love interest, Seiko, is not only dead, but her existence was wiped from the world. However, that’s just a blip at the beginning. The real story is about the time loop the characters are currently in.

The Wrong End that they’re basing this game off of involves several of the characters surviving the events of Heavenly Host and leaving, but, tragically, they find themselves caught in a time loop. They are damned to suffer the events of Heavenly Host over and over for all eternity.

How do you build a story out of this type of ending?

Well….You don’t, really.

Much of the story shows what happened with Naomi and Seiko before the events of the first game. They enjoyed their first ever sleepover together and bonded more. Naomi notices a strange bruise forming on Seiko’s neck, but they don’t think much of it.

Then, when they get to school the following day, the events of the first game start to transpire. The one difference is that Satoshi starts freaking out when Ayumi brings up the Sachiko Ever After ritual. He panics and says it’s a horrible idea because, somehow, Satoshi is the only one who has memories of Heavenly Host right now. He explains that they’re in a time loop, but doesn’t actually convey any important information or try to destroy the paper doll or anything. Instead, he just flips and resigns himself to doing the ritual so he can at least help try to do something in Heavenly Host.

Satoshi, by the way, never gets his own story in this game. He gets a minor role in episode three and that’s the end of his role in this game entirely.

Naomi has been experiencing some instances of deja vu, but she’s not bothered enough by it to listen to Satoshi’s words, thus they’re all set to Heavenly Host.

Once everything is set into motion, Naomi starts getting more of her memories back, and she remembers that Seiko died via hanging in the girls’ bathroom. She becomes determined to save Seiko from that fate.

I became quite intrigued when this occurred because I thought the game would be about redoing the events but the survivors regain their memories and try to save the ones who canonically died in the first game.

That is not what happened.

Well, okay, that’s not true.

That’s kinda what happens, but in a horrible, horrible way.

Naomi DOES save Seiko from being hanged, but she forgot one key detail of Seiko’s death in the first game. Naomi was actually Seiko’s killer. Naomi had succumbed to something called the darkening, which is basically a dark influence the school has on its inhabitants over time that worsens with negative thoughts, feelings and witnessing stuff like dead bodies, gore and ghosts. While Naomi was in her darkened state, she hanged Seiko in the bathrooms, but she also completely forgot about it. She later has to face what she had done and make amends with Seiko’s spirit to free herself from the darkening and leave the school.

When Naomi saves Seiko from the noose, Seiko flips out at seeing the girl who tried to kill her and runs off.

Let me back up a tad and explain that, earlier, I had to disable a piano wire trap in order to pass through certain sections of the school. One wire could not be cut, and it was a neck-height wire on the stairs.

Guess what Seiko runs into.

Yup, she’s instantly beheaded by the piano wire, much to Naomi’s horror. Sachiko explains what this time loop actually is. While it is technically a time loop where everything happens exactly the same, there are some circumstances where the people will regain their memories and try to stop those who died from meeting their ultimate fates. She explains that this is not only pointless – it’s actually ill-advised and horrible for those who died. If these people are saved from what initially killed them, the school will actually devise a way for them to die anyway in a manner that is similar to their initial death but certainly worse.

IE, Seiko originally died via hanging and now she died via beheading, and both involved the mark on her neck.

I’m not sure I agree with that, though, because I think slowly suffocating while hanging and knowing your best friend – the girl you’re in love with – put you there is worse than being quickly beheaded on accident. I get that the latter is bloodier, but still.

The end of the episode is Naomi cradling Seiko’s disembodied head as she mourns the loss of her best friend once more.

What we have established here is, for any episode involving a character who canonically died in the first game, there is no saving them whatsoever. And if they do get ‘saved’ it’s only so they can suffer a worse fate, so why even try? I thought this would be a continuing problem throughout the game, but it really wasn’t – and not for the reasons you might think.

Episode Two: Demise

The aforementioned problem shines brilliantly in this episode as we follow Mayu who was the first to die in the original game. She became a wall sloppy joe via the three children ghosts. Now that the loop is occurring, she has spotty memories of that happening. She has a very foreboding bruise on her stomach that branches outward, and she spends a good chunk of the episode being concerned about it, but tries to ignore it.

This episode did give us a really nice moment between Ayumi and Yoshiki, ending up in the two of them embracing and even falling asleep on each other, so that was really nice, but the niceness ends there.

Also, this is the only episode in which Ayumi and Yoshiki show up (well, technically Ayumi shows up later, but I’ll get to that.) so we don’t learn much else about their stories, which kinda makes sense because they both canonically survived. Also, despite Ayumi’s heightened spiritual powers, neither she nor Yoshiki has any memories of Heavenly Host, so I guess they’d just do pretty much the same things they did before, barring this one part with Mayu since she died long before anyone else came into contact with her.

Mayu and Yoshiki also rescue a girl from another school named Nana, who has similarly foreboding bruises in the forms of straight crisscrossing lines on her thighs, even though, as far as I know, she never died from that. (In the first game, she dies from having her tongue ripped out.)

Nana is in some weird trap involving her being tied to a bust on a desk. The bust is tied to a bucket of sharp items over her head. If she flails too much or if someone tries to save her recklessly, the bucket will fall and she’ll surely die from the wounds. I have no clue why she’s in this trap or who put her in it. I’d assume it was Yoshikazu, but for what purpose? Why not just kill her where she stands like he killed everyone else? Also, her original death couldn’t have been retconned to the bucket thing because then she’d have bruises all over her face, right? I just don’t understand this trap.

Anyway, the bruises get worse the closer a character is to their time of dying. Nana’s get noticeably worse and, when she goes off by herself to try and find her friends – alone, because she’s a dumbass – she gets caught by Yoshikazu and we discover why she has bruises on her thighs – Yoshikazu smashed her legs off with his giant hammer. Not sure if this is canonical either because, despite the certainty that something must’ve happened to her legs in her first death, the bruises were clean lines, which wouldn’t happen if her legs were smashed off.

That’s not even her cause of death anyway. Yes, this really, really awful injury doesn’t kill her, which just makes this death sequence all the more horrific. Mayu is forced to just sit there and watch as Yoshikazu drags Nana away as she’s screaming for help because Mayu knows Nana’s probably as good as dead anyway, and Mayu would never survive trying to go against Yoshikazu. Nana’s actual death scene comes in a different episode.

Seeing Nana get her legs lopped off like that did make Mayu significantly more concerned about her own situation. She dared to check up on her own bruises, which had gotten drastically darker in color. She even started getting one on her face. Mayu starts panicking because she knows what’s coming and is quickly realizing she won’t be able to avoid it.

Now, at this point, I was wondering how the hell you could make Mayu’s death worse. The poor girl was flung into a wall at like 60 MPH and exploded into a mass of unrecognizable guts and gore. How could that be made worse?

Well, Sachiko found a way. Mayu is cornered in the infirmary, a place she should have been avoiding anyway because that’s where the ghosts of the children initially started influencing her before they killed her. Her bruises get so bad that they start bleeding. Sachiko brings in the ghosts of the children to give her a fate worse that her original one, which is being slowly ripped apart by the bare hands of the ghosts.

Yup….yup…that’s definitely worse. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we still play as Mayu as she dies. You know the instant she passes on. It’s pretty heartbreaking.

This episode did a good job in making me care more about Mayu, but she’s still a pretty bland character. She has a love of theater, loves Morishige and is good at covering a wide range of jobs. She’s also very kind and sweet. I appreciate them giving Mayu more of a role in this game since she was pretty much just there to be the first shock death in the original game. You’d think they would’ve done more for her character originally since she was the main reason they did the Sachiko Ever After ritual, but nah.

Episode Three: Encounter

Now we’re into full prequel territory. This episode focuses on Yui Shishido, the teacher of the class that gets sent to Heavenly Host. I believe it’s the day before the events of Corpse Party go down. She’s horrendously sick, and Satoshi, through a lot of convoluted writing, ends up taking care of her in her home since she’s completely out of it. As Yui slumbers, she thinks back to when she was a student in Kisaragi Academy. She had always aspired to be a teacher, and her dream was finally becoming a reality.

She had a crush on a guy named Tsukasa, who became a close friend to her as they neared graduation.

One day, she’s approached by an old woman in the pouring rain who tries to warn her of the dangers of Kisaragi Academy. She told her to not go to school that day and even tried to give her a paper charm to protect her. Yui, ultimately, cannot heed her warnings because she had an important interview at school that day. The woman, who turns out to be Makina Shinozaki, Sachiko’s great aunt, collapses in the rain and Yui is forced to leave her mother and the paramedics to care for Makina as she goes to school. Everything with the interview goes well, but Makina dies while Yui is at school.

Later that night, Yui rushes back to school to retrieve Tsukasa’s special lucky pencil. However, as midnight approaches, she’s reminded of an old ghost story her friends were telling her about, which is the story of Yoshie, Sachiko’s mother. She haunts the school at night, and her friends thought Yoshie might target Yui specifically since she wants to be a teacher and Yoshie was a school nurse.

Sure enough, weird things start happening in the school, and Yui gets targeted by Yoshie’s spirit. With the help of Tsukasa and the spirit of Makina, Yui is able to escape, though she does still experience great pain in her arm after Yoshie tried to crush it. This whole event is played off like it was a dream. They suggest that Yui fell unconscious after getting to the school and just imagined everything that happened, but she still had a severe pain in her arm that couldn’t be explained. In the end, it’s rather sweet because she holds hands with Tsukasa in the light of the sunrise. However, we never learn what became of Tsukasa after they graduated.

Sadly, when Yui wakes up and speaks with Satoshi, we see that she has a big bruise on her arm, which is poking at the fact that her arm was crushed under the cabinet before she died in Heavenly Host. This is the only episode where Yui has a role, so we’re basically left to assume that she’s barreling towards death in the time loop too. Luckily, we don’t have to watch that here.

This is definitely the best episode in the game. I love Yui, and it was nice to see her get a sweet and happy backstory, even if she is destined for a horrible, albeit still noble and the least gratuitous of the bunch, death. I wish she ended up with Tsukasa. He was a sweetheart, and I would’ve liked her to have all the happiness in the world if she was just going to be wiped from existence later.

Episode Four: Purgatory

Focusing on Naho’s friend, Sayaka, it’s basically just a retelling of Naho’s story with lots of filler put into it. Naho is a perfectly normal girl until Kou went to Heavenly Host without her – then she just goes off the deep end, sacrificing her best friend, Sayaka, so she could go after him, and putting up the wrong instructions for the Sachiko Ever After ritual on her blog so more people would wind up in Heavenly Host as ‘samples’ for Kou to study. It’s a complete 180 that comes out of nowhere. Maybe she just snapped because she thought she lost Kou already, but there is seriously nothing properly leading up to this sudden change in behavior. I’d say maybe it was Sachiko’s influence since her presence was following her before this happened, but I can’t be certain. I’ve never seen an instance of darkening outside of Heavenly Host.

After they enter Heavenly Host, it’s just a waiting game until Sayaka dies. I say this not only because Sayaka is canonically dead in the first game, long before the group ever shows up, but also because the very first scene is of her being attacked by Yoshikazu. The rest of the episode is a flashback showing how she reached this point.

The very last scene did make me a little sad for her because that was a terrible way to go out, and Sachiko was a total bitch. Like many others in Heavenly Host, she was starting to die anyway since she spent days wandering around the school with no food or water. In the original game, she dies from succumbing to the darkening. In this game, she nearly does so but is then caught by Yoshikazu and beaten to death with his sledgehammer.

Oh and as some added misery, we witness Nana dying via getting her tongue ripped out. That poor girl can’t catch a break. It was a horrible scene to sit through….

Episode Five: Shangri-La

This episode follows Morishige throughout his time in Heavenly Host. I found this episode to be the most pointless because not only does he pretty much not do anything we don’t already know he was doing, but it doesn’t even follow his story to the end. He never finds out that this ‘beautiful’ ripped apart corpse he finds is Mayu, and he doesn’t even have any bruises on his face to indicate he’s going to smash his face into a window and kill himself in grief over her death and the realization he’s been defiling her corpse this entire time. His last lines are talking about how he’s going to just hide his corpse pictures when he gets back to the regular world instead of deleting them like he was planning to do.

Out of all of the characters who died, he’s the one I most wouldn’t mind seeing die again, but nope.

He also runs into some characters from Byakudan Senior High School, but he doesn’t really affect their story that much, other than freaking them out because he’s so creepy around corpses.

There’s an alternate ending that you have to get by going back once the episode is cleared. This ending shows Yuuya killing Fukuroi and Mitsuki, but that’s pretty much it.

Episode Six: Mire

Okay, here’s where things get a little more confusing. I thought this entire game was following the events of the Wrong End 6*8 (The time loop ending) but apparently that’s wrong. This episode takes place during the events of Wrong End 2*4, wherebasically everyone barring Ayumi either dies or succumbs to the darkening, leaving Ayumi alone and stranded in Heavenly Host because she has no one to do the ritual with. In regards to this episode in particular, this is the ending where both Yuka and Yuuya die – so most of it is stuff you’d already know if you got that ending. I never got that ending, so it was new for me, but if you did get it you’d be simply going through the motions.

We see Yuka after she’s been separated from Satoshi (Which should have been an indicator right there that we weren’t in the time loop because if Satoshi was dumb enough to let Yuka go off on her own again when he clearly has a good chunk of his memories, he’s too dumb to live.) She’s about to be killed by Yuuya, but her kindness causes him to have a breakdown. She then narrowly escapes Sachiko and Yoshikazu, not seeing Sachiko before fleeing due to a blackout.

She then gets shifted to the abandoned bomb shelter area where she comes face to face with Sachiko and decides to be kind to her since she seems to be a nice spirit, not realizing who Sachiko really is. Sachiko asks if Yuka will do anything for her and Yuka, taking a big sisterly type of role, says she will. Then Sachiko starts requesting things from her. She wants her socks because her feet are cold. She wants her shoes because her feet hurt. And she wants her hairpin because her hair keeps getting in her eyes. You’re finally given a decision in whether or not to listen to Sachiko’s requests at this point. You can either tell her she can’t have the hairpin or give it to her. Either way, Yuka dies, but the proper ending is obtained by giving the hairpin to Sachiko, which causes Yuka to start falling under the forces of the darkening. She starts giving Sachiko literally whatever she wants without question, even if she really doesn’t want to.

For example, Sachiko wants Yuka’s hair, and she obtains this by ripping her scalp nearly clean off with her bare hands. Yuka still goes on acting like this is normal, though internally she’s panicking. Sachiko asks for one more thing – her life. Yuka agrees. Yoshikazu then drops by to bludgeon Yuka in the head with his sledgehammer, killing her.

…..So…yeah this episode was also pretty pointless. All it served to do was show us more proof that Yuka is this innocent little kind angel girl before viciously caving in her head with a hammer.

Granted, it did also shows us some of Yuuya’s backstory, which can be summed up in ‘He’s always been a psychopath.’ We get a flashback to Yuuya as a child. The first thing he does of note is viciously beat up another child and laugh about it. Then he’s basically disowned by his family, though his big brother and sister still seem to care about him. Even then, Yuuya’s still a psycho. He kills ‘an animal’ (they never specify what it was) and thinks it’s funny, he gets into a fist fight with his older brother and he just generally acts like an asshole. He eventually started pretending he was a decent guy in order to fit int while secretly not giving a crap about anyone but himself.

He did, however, say he wanted a little brother or sister to see how his older siblings viewed him, which is where Yuka came in.

In this version, Yuuya kinda-ish turns good before he’s murdered by Yoshikazu, but there’s really no redeeming this guy so I didn’t care. Probably a mistake putting this episode right after the one in which, in the secret ending, he viciously stabs two of his friends to death. One of which, he actually gets pissed because she wouldn’t scream for him like he wanted. I know the darkening has some weight here, but you just confirmed he was a psychopathic murderer even before he came to Heavenly Host, so I don’t know what you want from me.

Episode Seven: Tooth

The final episode is a midquel to the first game in which we follow Tohko. I think I saved Naomi in the first game so I never got Tohko’s part. Though, according to what I read, that path just leads to a bad end anyway.

Tohko is one of several people from Byakudan Senior High School who is lost in Heavenly Host at the same time as the Kisaragi group. Yuuya is one of these students, and Tohko has a bit of a crush on him.

The story starts out with a little backstory on how they wound up doing the Sachiko Ever After ritual (though why they included Kai, a guy they all pretty much hate, I’ll never know.) We then skip forward a little bit to a point where Ryousuke has had his leg lopped off by a booby trap. They’re all frantically trying to find him some help before he bleeds out.

Long story short, Kai is an asshole who is the only person I’ve ever seen in Heavenly Host who tried to simply leave (Mayu mentioned trying to jump the fence behind the pool area to see if she could escape, but said she had a bad feeling it would either loop back around or she’d be lost in the darkness forever.) Spoiler Alert: We never really know what happened to him out there, but he comes back in a daze with his knife embedded in his chest. Tomohiro is loyal to Ryousuke to a fault and quickly goes crazy as he tries to deal with the situation. Yuuya is cool as a cucumber because he’s a psychopath, and Emi just kinda reacts to things and screams a lot. Mitsuki and Fukuroi are the only ones separated from them.

After Kai leaves them to go out the door without the others, Yuuya and Tohko return to where Ryousuke is being cared for only to find all of them with sullen faces. Ryousuke has taken a turn for the worse and they don’t believe he’ll make it even if, by some miracle, they do make it out and find help. They rush to get him out anyway, hanging on to a sliver of hope.

Tohko tries to find Mitsuki real quick before they leave since she thought she heard her calling out earlier. After she fails in her quest to find Mitsuki, she returns to the group to find that Ryousuke has passed away from his injuries.

Later, Yuuya is revealed to be full-on nutso as he kicks Ryousuke’s body down the stairs to prove that he’s actually dead to Tomohiro, who is so distraught that he refuses to believe Ryousuke is dead. Tomohiro accidentally breaks his arm by falling down the stairs in an attempt to get to Ryousuke and he flees from Yuuya, who is just standing by in eerie silence. Emi also runs from him, though she seemingly lies to Tohko about what Yuuya did – claiming Yuuya had kicked Tomohiro down the stairs and broke his arm.

Tohko then has to run from Yuuya, not believing that Yuuya did such a terrible thing, even though he also now has Kai’s bloody knife in his hands. She remains in disbelief until Yuuya starts beating her viciously with his fists. She manages to get away, but spits out one of her teeth as a result of the assault.

…..Ugh…..eh…Yuuya finds the tooth….and spends a ridiculous amount of time slowly licking it, chewing on it and finally swallowing it…….Euehgbhghdsfkjhdksajfhdslkfjhsdakfjh. It takes a lot to make me cringe and gag in horror – that did it for me. It was accompanied by gross sound effects and everything. Ugh. Why did he swallow it?! Even for a crazy person, that couldn’t have been pleasant.

Anyway, him eating the tooth is how the game ends.

No. I’m not kidding.

Well, technically, that’s how the game ends.

Before I get to that point, my thoughts on this episode are, it’s very much okay. It was nice to get a little more backstory on the other Byakudan students, but it wasn’t much and the episode just kinda stops. I’d say it’s probably the third best episode behind Encounter and Demise.

However, with this being the end, I do have to say that this game would be insanely confusing if you never played the first game. Hell, I played the first game more than once and I still ended up being confused at some points.

In regards to this being technically the final episode, there is one more episode but it’s not only locked it’s also hidden. The episodes are in a masterlist that you select one by one when you’re starting up the game (Unless you’re starting from a save file) You unlock a new episode with the completion of a previous chapter. When Tooth is done, the list is complete. There are no grayed out episodes to unlock.

However, there is one final episode, Prologue – Blood Drive, that can be revealed and unlocked under two circumstances – either 1) you have to transfer your data from a completed Corpse Party PC game (the re-re-remastered version), which I wasn’t going to do because that would mean completing the entire game again and I’ve done it more than enough on the older versions, or 2) you have to unlock every single ending in this game, which, well, fuck that.

Did I mention that this game is more of a visual novel than it is an actual game? There are hours of text scrolls that you have to go through to get to the options that present these various endings. This wouldn’t be so bad if you knew you had to do this to get the true ending and saved at each option, but I certainly didn’t know that. Hell, I didn’t even know you could save during an option until about two and half episodes in, and I never would have known there was a hidden final episode if I wasn’t reading a Wiki.

Not to mention that some endings are obtained not just through the options but also depend on whether you obtained certain items or did certain things. I know some people are completionists and would do this anyway, but a lot of people would miss out on the true ending either because they didn’t know that episode existed or didn’t want to spend hours upon hours trying to get the endings they missed.

Granted, considering this episode is called Prologue I can imagine Blood Drive would have this be their first episode, but I don’t know yet.

Prologue – Blood Drive

lol i cheetd

Okay I didn’t ‘cheat’ but I did just look up the final episode on Youtube to see what happens.

Even this episode doesn’t follow the storyline they were going for at the start of this game since it is building off the true ending where Naomi, Satoshi, Yuka, Yoshiki and Ayumi all survive, but they’re all still suffering because no one has any memories of those who were lost in Heavenly Host and any evidence they even existed is either gone or distorted (IE, any photos of them that the survivors had on their phones have the faces blacked out.)

Ayumi tells Naomi that she plans on going to the Shinozaki estate, Sachiko and Yoshie’s old house, to see if they can find anything that would help them bring their friends back. Naomi heads there with her, but when they get to the tiny quiet village they find that everyone starts acting very panicky when the Shinozaki estate is brought up. They hitch a ride with some truck driver to the estate, which is pretty far away from the main village, and the road leading there is so bad that it’s a stretch to even call it a road.

When they get as far as the truck driver can take them, they leave the truck, but the driver says he’ll wait for them since he doesn’t want to leave two teenage girls alone here, especially since it’s getting dark.

When they arrive at the estate, they’re shocked to see that the entire building was demolished. Nothing is left save for an old shed that, surprisingly, still has electricity. The shed contains some documents and such but nothing really that helpful to their cause.

It’s now dark out, so they head back to the truck, deciding to come back another time and investigate more then. However, another shock awaits them at the truck – the driver is gone, but the lights are on and the truck is running. They wait around for a bit, but it doesn’t seem like the driver is coming back. They can’t get into the vehicle to warm up and take shelter because it’s locked. They decide to head down the road on foot.

After a long while of walking, they’re devastated to find that they’ve somehow looped around back to the truck, which makes no sense to them because they were heading downhill the entire time. They try again a couple of times, but each time they loop back around to the truck.

At this point, two things are clear – the driver is seriously never coming back, and anyone would’ve just broken a window on the truck to warm up, get some shelter and maybe even just take the truck back down the hill. I mean, considering what’s happening, I can bet anything that even taking the truck would just loop them around, but it’d be smart to try.

Instead, they decide the best course of action is to go back uphill to the barn because there is electricity and some mats to sleep on until morning. Because taking shelter in the creepy abandoned shed previously owned by two murderous ghosts is very smart.

When they arrive, they get a third surprise – the Shinozaki estate is glowing and floating in front of them. Well, I guess if they can have a ghost school a ghost house isn’t to be questioned.

They decide to go in the house, which, despite being a ghost, is still corporeal. Like in Heavenly Host, everything is solid, but many of the items are secured to the floor or tables. We get some interesting background on the Shinozaki family tree. It’s filled with women who are ‘gifted’ as in they have strong spiritual powers that are linked to witchcraft. It seems Ayumi is part of Sachiko’s family afterall, which is why she has her own abilities to sense ghosts and whatnot. Ayumi also remembered her sistertelling her stories about witchcraft in the past which seemingly lines up with what they were reading. However, a weird fact about their family is that males are not born into it. Men typically marry into the family and then they all suddenly die after their child is born. Indeed, Sachiko’s father is not around and all pictures of him have his face blacked out.

They’re terrified to hear foreign footsteps around the house, so they hide in a mysterious small room which houses a creepy necromonicon-esque book – you guessed it, the titular Book of Shadows.

This is the first time the entire game that they’ve mentioned the Book of Shadows. The thing that this game is specifically named after isn’t even mentioned in the game, let alone shown, until the very end, and it’s in an episode that you might not even know exists and/or have to jump through hoops to unlock.

I am at a loss for words.

The Book of Shadows is some flesh-covered ancient tome that is filled with powerful spells. Ayumi is shocked the book is even in Japan let alone the Shinozaki’s ghost house.

Ayumi tries to read the book, but it’s mostly in French with some runes and whatnot peppered throughout. However, some notes on the side, supposedly written by Yoshie, are in Japanese. Ayumi reads for a bit and then, I’m not even kidding here, basically just says to herself “Eh…that’s good enough. Let’s raise the dead.”

And they do just that. They start a ritual to bring their friends back to life. All they need is a pentagram, some candles, three paper dolls to represent the two of them and their intended target and a photo of the deceased followed by a long, long, long spell. They decide to bring back Mayu first. Surprisingly, the spell works, but not really.

Like so many times with hinky witchcraft resurrections, the ‘Mayu’ they brought back isn’t really Mayu. Remember how I said any photos of the people who died in Heavenly Host had their faces blacked out? This Mayu has a blacked out face. She just kept calling for Morishige over and over until she suddenly fell to the ground. Bright red runes start appearing all over Mayu’s body and she pretty much exploded and died again.

Before they can even process what happened, those same runes appear on Ayumi’s body. Saw blades and screwdrivers from the shed start piercing those markings in an effort to kill her.

The paper doll that represented Ayumi is on fire. Believing this to be the cause of the problem, Naomi tries her best to extinguish the fire, but she’s unsuccessful. Naomi’s paper doll starts catching fire next, meaning they’re both sure to die in mere moments. Just then, Ayumi’s sister, Hinoe, bursts in and extinguishes the flames with a special powder, saving them both, even though Ayumi is still badly wounded. (How did she even know they were there?)

Ayumi cries in her sister’s arms, and all seems well and good…..

Until Hinoe’s head explodes.

I don’t know why.

And that’s the actual end of the game, which, like I said, is really a teaser for the following game, Blood Drive.

This was a pretty good episode. And it actually was a, get this, SEQUEL to the original game. Go figure. And no, I don’t count the time loop episodes as being sequels. They didn’t accomplish anything and they took place during the original game, technically.

Don’t get me wrong, the stories they had to tell here were okay for the most part, but besides Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode, I don’t feel like I really got much out of playing the game as a whole. There was no cohesion between the episodes, which can be fine but they went a bit too out of whack for my tastes, especially considering they’re building off a game with numerous endings and not sticking to one ending to act as its base. Plus, they ended on a completely random note.

It just baffles me that the one episode you’d think would be necessary to this game is actually hidden and requires a bunch of work to unlock. I’m not really angry at it, I’m just confused. This whole game confuses me.

Gameplay

It’s pretty standard point and click. Each room and hallway is a static screen. Your cursor turns into a reticle, and you enter into a scanning mode. In this mode, you can click on anything interactable and find key items, disable traps, read messages etc. Nearly all of the important items are marked with shining lights, making them even easier to suss out. There are some minor ‘puzzles’ you have to solve in order to move forward, but they’re very easy to figure out. I only got stuck twice, and even then it was just a matter of me not knowing I had to interact with something a second time to get what I needed.

You move through the rooms by bringing up your map via the center mouse button and selecting which room you want to travel to. Some areas are blocked off for whatever reason – locked doors, gaping holes in the floor, booby traps etc. And you either have to wait for a shift to occur to change the dimension in order to pass, or you have to find some way to unlock the door, get across the gap etc.

There were two timed events near the start of the game. I really thought they’d introduce more mechanics like that or increase the time crunch as the game went on, but sadly those were the only ones in the game and no other game mechanics were introduced. You also have an inventory, but it’s more or less pointless besides to show you that you still hold certain items in case you’re restarting after a Wrong End or something.

In addition to quick saves occurring after certain events, you can also save at any time by right-clicking – and I suggest you do this at pretty much any option screen in order to save yourself if you get a Wrong End or to help you along if you want to get every ending.

Final Thoughts

I did enjoy myself while playing this game, but it just seems like a jumbled mess of side stories instead of being a proper sequel to the original game. While some episodes did offer interesting perspectives and fleshed out some of the more minor characters further, I didn’t really care about what was presented to me outside of Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode. Most of the characters from Byakudan are pretty boring. Kai is interesting, but he’s also an asshole who really only gets one or two scenes of focus before he’s stabbed. I guess I also liked Fukuroi and Mitsuki, and they got a decent amount of focus, but it wasn’t worth the price of admission, ya know?

I’m also a bit disappointed that this is mostly a visual novel instead of being an RPG like the other games were. I can kinda forgive a lackluster story in a game if the gameplay is fun, but there really isn’t much to the point and click aspect. There are some interesting notes that you can read throughout, but that’s about it. Apparently Blood Drive is in more of an RPG format, so we’ll see how I do there.

Screencaps Courtesy of the Corpse Party Fandom Community.


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My Poke-Pinions #027-28 The Sand Line

Sandshrew

Name: Sandshrew is a combination of—I’m gonna just assume you know what it’s a combination of. It’s not really difficult. As for whether I like it or not – I do. It’s a bit overly simple, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s still memorable and cute.

And hey, at least they didn’t simplify it to a hilarious level like just calling it ‘Sand’ or something, hahah! Isn’t that right Japa–(image of name plate in Wiki)

………*lip smack*…….Moving on.

Design: I’ve always thought Sandshrew had such a simple yet incredibly cute design. It’s a shade of yellow that’s not too loud, it has an adorable face, cute little paws and I love that brick-like design on the yellow parts.

In regards to the sprites, I can say with certainty that practically every Gen is varying levels of adorable. Even right out the gate in Red/Blue, Sandshrew is sitting there look so adorable. I just wanna cuddle it.

The back sprite for Gen I is kinda weird, but that’s all I really have to say in that department.

Crystal is where it gets really cute. Look at that little itching animation and tail wag. N’aw!

Gen III is adorable, but Emerald is a little silly because I don’t know why it’s just flailing its arms like that. It’s still adorable even with the animation, but it’s a little goofy.

It’s in Gen IV where things get strange. The animations are just erratic. DPP makes it look like it’s trying to be a rabbit,

and HGSS makes it looks it had too much coffee.

Gen V is really adorable with its subtle little head shake.

As usual, Gen VI is just okay.

Alolan Sandshrew

I love that there’s an Ice (and Steel) version of Sandshrew, and I adore the igloo theme they got going on here, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s, ultimately, pretty much just a recolor of original Sandshrew. It has a band on its face and its ears are designed to look more like igloo entrances, but it’s still just a recolored Sandshrew. Nothing wrong with the recolor, I really love it, but I can’t ignore that.

Shiny:

I’ve mentioned before that a lot of people tend to hate green shinies, but I actually really love Shiny Sandshrew. I think it’s a very vibrant and cute shade of green – and for some reason it makes me think it’s a gummi bear, which just makes it even cuter.

Shiny Alolan Sandshrew is pretty cool (no pun intended) too.

The yellow underbelly is replaced with a dark glacier blue, and it fits extremely well with the ice motif.

Cry/Voice: Sandshrew’s anime voice is actually quite….horrible. It’s a very unfitting and screechy voice. The good thing is Sandshrew doesn’t tend to make noise very often.

Sandshrew’s game cry is equally screechy though not as horrifying. It’s not that memorable, but it’s a tiny bit fitting I guess.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Most of Sandshrew’s Dex entries say the same thing – they dislike water and mostly enjoy burrowing in dry sandy areas such as deserts. If they are threatened, they protect themselves by curling into a ball. The plates on their backs are extremely strong and act as armor.

Some other entries note that dew will form on it overnight if it gets particularly cold, and one entry mentions that, should it get too wrinkled from moisture, it will seek out the heat of a volcano and dry off there.

The Dex entry for Alolan Sandshrew is actually a little ironic because, completely contrary to regular Sandshrew, Alolan Sandshrew supposedly cannot curl up into a ball because of their armor-like back plates that are hard as steel. Alolan Sandshrew were said to come about after Sandshrew fled a volcanic eruption and decided to live in the nearby snowy mountains. Given the physiology of regular Sandshrew, I’m not sure how it lived for so long that it adapted into this polar opposite form, but I guess it’s not completely unbelievable.

It’s also a tradition to play a curling-like game with them by sliding them across the ice and seeing how far they can go. They use this super-sliding nature to assist themselves in the wild by sliding full-force into their enemies.

In terms of design, Sandshrew was based heavily on armadillos. The inspiration for its supposedly poisonous claws may be derived from shrews, of which they also share their name (at least in English) and it may also be inspired by pangolins.

Alolan Sandshrew was obviously based heavily on igloos, and the Wiki also mentions it was inspired by a curling stone because of the aforementioned game people play with them. Why they decided to do that with a Pokemon who, in no way, reminds anyone of a curling stone, I have no clue.

Sandslash

Name: I like Sandslash’s name, and, again, I’m going to assume I don’t have to explain this one. It’s different enough from Sandshrew, it has a more intimidating vibe to it, to reflect its increase in power, and it’s really cool.

In Japanese, it was originally…..Sandpan?…..That’s a little better than just Sand, but not by much because…what the hell does the ‘pan’ part mean?

According to the Wiki, they’re just guessing that the ‘pan’ part is for ‘pangolin’ which….I suppose maybe, but that’s kinda weird the way it’s arranged. Wouldn’t Sandgolin or something make more sense in regards to composition? No lie, when I first saw ‘Sandpan’ I thought they were referencing bread, because the Japanese word for bread is ‘pan.’

Honestly, I think Sandpan is a pretty goofy name, Sandslash is much better.

Fun fact: In the beta for R/B, Sandslash was originally named Sandstorm, which I think was an equally cool alternative name. Also, in China, its name is Chyūnsāanwòhng, which literally translates to ‘King of going through mountains.’ Okay. China wins here.

Design: Sandslash is just the right combination of intimidating and adorable. It’s just so cute with its big eyes and little nose, but also you know it could cause you some major pain with its quills and claws. I love the hedgehog/porcupine motif it has going for it, and it makes total sense as an upgrade from Sandshrew. The yellow and brown combo is nice, and the contrast makes the quills stand out a lot more. I also like that the quills/spikes themselves are thick and bulky to make it seem bigger and tougher.

As for sprites, R/B looks a little weird, but maybe it’s the perspective.

The back sprite is equally odd because it looks like Sandslash’s face is in the wrong spot.

Yellow looks quite normal, barring the same back sprite, and Green’s looks like someone tries to stuff it into a backpack and smushed it.

Gen II is pretty cute. I love the animation for Crystal. It can either be that it’s slashing its claws to intimidate you or it’s making a gangster-like gesture. Yes, the former makes more sense, but the latter is a lot funnier.

In Gen III, I feel like it’s about to present its butt to me. The weird animation for Emerald doesn’t help at all.

FR/LG is almost boringly normal, though.

Gen IV is pretty cute. Its animation makes it look like it’s cheering.

Meanwhile, HG/SS just looks like it’s spasming out of control.

Gen V is pretty darn cool. Not only is it slashing its claws, but it also has a neat animation for all of its back spikes and its tail.

Gen VI is very okay and boring.

Alolan Sandslash

I absolutely love the glacier/icicle motif they have going on with Alolan Sandslash. That was an awesome direction to go with this alt version. There’s not a lot in terms of color contrast in Alolan Sandslash, but that’s alright because the shades of blue that they chose for it are perfect.

It’s subtle, but I also like the way they changed the style of the claws. There’s a very sharp downward angle that makes the claws almost seem icicle-like too.

Shiny:

Sandslash has one of the best shinies, in my opinion. It has an awesome blood-red color on the spikes and the shade of yellow used on the body made for a more tan look that was great in contrast to the red and really gave off more of a sand vibe.

Shiny Alolan Sandslash, however, is just lazy.

It’s a darker Alolan Sandslash. That’s all. They took Alolan Sandslash’s sprite, turned down the brightness and called it a day. It’s not bad as in ugly or anything, but it’s boring.

Cry/Voice: This is probably going to sound weird, but, in the anime, it always sounds like Sandslash says ‘Slash’ while sneezing whenever it’s attacking. It’s cute, but it’s also a little funny hearing it that way.

Normally, Sandslash sounds…okay. It’s cute, but it kinda loses intimidation points on how high pitched it sounds. It’s even higher than Sandshrew, which is odd. I don’t know why the voice is so nasally, either. Like whoever voices it pinches their nose while recording.

Sandslash’s game cry is alright. It’s low and more intimidating, but not too low for it to sound off-putting or unfitting. It’s a bit too static-y, though – like it was meant for an Electric type or something.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Not too much that is all that interesting to note for several Gens worth of Dex Entries. It can blind enemies with sand, it protects itself by curling into a ball and using its incredibly hard quills as armor, it can climb trees and use its powerful claws for slashing. If or when its quills break off, they grow back in a day. They can use their quills to make enemies flinch then strike with their claws.

We do learn in Gen VII that people will use shed Sandslash claws and quills to make tools to till their farms and fields, so that’s pretty neat. However, the Dex entries for this Gen are also worded oddly. Ultra Sun claims Sandslash’s claws and horns break off….I have never heard anyone refer to Sandslash’s quills as horns. Spikes, yeah, but not horns. That’s just not accurate.

Also, in Ultra Moon, they say they ‘Park themselves in trees and go right to sleep.’ That is correct, but it’s weird that they said ‘park themselves’ like they’re a car. (I am aware that people sometimes say ‘park it’ when telling someone to sit, but in this situation it just sounds weird. I’m being very nitpicky here, admittedly, though.)

In Gen VIII, the Dex mentions that Sandslash’s spikes will feel smoother and harder if it’s in drier climates, which makes sense, and when they’re in trees they will drop berries for Sandshrew waiting down below, which I thought was sweet.

In regards to design, it has obviously drawn inspiration from hedgehogs, echidnas, and porcupines, and pangolins have been mentioned already, which I can definitely see in the face. Like Sandshrew, it is also based on shrews and supposedly have poisonous claws as a result. I keep saying ‘supposedly’ because I can’t find anything that says Sandshrew or Sandslash has poisonous claws. Only their Wiki and Bulbapedia pages say that, but I can’t find anything in canon.

The only poison ability it has naturally is Poison Sting, and I always thought that was utilizing their spikes, not their claws. In Gen IV and onward, it can use Poison Jab, but only through a TM so that can’t possibly count.

Alolan Sandslash’s Dex entries explain the same origin as Alolan Sandshrew, but also include that its icy spikes are actually steel spikes covered in ice. These spikes don’t only cause deep wounds, but they can also quickly cause frostbite, which is pretty scary. As opposed to trees, it has adapted its claws to climb icebergs. Utilizing its claws to plow through the snow, it has become the fastest Pokemon to travel within snowy mountain regions.

There’s nothing mentioning the design inspiration for Alolan Sandslash, but it’s safe to assume icicles and glaciers were a big part of it. Not sure where the steel came into play, though, because steel has nothing to do with ice, igloos, glaciers etc. Even taking its origins into play, Sandslash didn’t originally have steel spikes, so I’m kinda confused on that front.

Next up, the entire Nido-line: Both male and female!


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Animating Halloween: Dead Space – Aftermath Review

Rating: 5.5/10

Plot: Three years before the events of Dead Space 2, the USG O’Bannon went to Aegis VII to collect shards of the marker that Isaac Clarke crashed into the surface. However, shortly after they were dispatched, the CEC also loses contact with the O’Bannon. When the Marines go to investigate, they find that, out of the 137 crew members of the O’Bannon, there are only four signs of life detected. Everyone else was slaughtered.

Aftermath chronicles the stories of each of the four remaining crew members – Isabel Cho, Nickolas Kuttner, Alejandro Borges and Nolan Stross – as they piece together what happened on the O’Bannon.

Breakdown: I’m going to bite my tongue for something I’ll definitely be addressing later, but let me just say this movie had me internally screaming (in a bad way) within the first three minutes and consistently remains a prevalent problem throughout the bookends.

Dead Space: Aftermath was meant to serve as a bridge between the video games Dead Space and Dead Space 2, and….it’s kinda that a little I guess. But since homework is poo, as I mentioned in the last Dead Space movie, Downfall, we’re going to be trying to take this at face value without concerning ourselves too much with continuity issues between the games.

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The USG O’Bannon has suddenly ceased communication with the CEC, so they send out a ‘rescue’ team of marines to see what happened. When they arrive, they see that the ship is littered with torn apart bodies. Only four life signs are detected on board out of the 137 listed crew. When they find them, one of them, Kuttner, goes berserk and kills one of the soldiers, so they’re stunned with high powered tasers and detained.

They start interrogating all of them individually to get their stories on what happened when they were deployed to Aegis VII.

The movie is separated into four flashbacks that are bookended by the continuing plot going on in the rescue ship, the USM Abraxis. Each flashback is drawn and animated in a different fashion. This is a creative and interesting way to both convey the story of what happened on the O’Bannon while also getting specific perspectives of the information through the eyes of each of our main characters. However, I do also have to ding it because it ultimately serves no point.

People were noting some changes in certain details that show differences in perspective, like Cho seemingly being made sluttier in Stross’ flashback while she’s very tall and well-built but also mature and responsible, barring the affair she was having with Stross, in her own flashback. In Kuttner’s flashback, he easily overpowered Noah and Alejandro, but in Alejandro’s flashback he gives a much better fight, even hurling him about 300 feet as he took a swipe at him near the end.

In any other story, these might be amusing changes, but in this circumstance, who cares about such petty discrepancies in perspective when over 100 people were brutally murdered? It’s no time for dick measuring contests and slut shaming.

The first one to be interrogated is Kuttner, who was the first one to have exposure to a fragment of the marker on Aegis VII. He went insane almost immediately after that, having constant hallucinations of his recently deceased young daughter, Vivian, leading him to have violent outbursts that set most of the events of the downfall of the O’Bannon into motion and created a slue of problems on the Abraxis.

The art style used for his segment is pretty good. It’s a sort of melding of Western and anime-styled art that is craggy but overall good. I did have a good laugh at Vivian’s face in one shot only because they made her eyes into sharp diamond shapes for no reason when they never look that way again after that.

Next up is Borges’ flashback, and uh…the art, but moreso the animation, for his segment is uh….stiff. Like, for several instances at the beginning, it seems like people are pivoting and turning like actual robots stiff. Outside of that, the art is much more in the realm of anime and is overall more detailed than Kuttner’s, but everyone keeps their suits on so it’s hard to tell for most of it.

Also, in case you somehow manage to forget because god knows they remind us enough times, Noah, who is part of Borges’ engineer crew, is his cousin. And as if we couldn’t already figure it out by the fact that he’s not a fellow survivor, Noah dies. Also, in case you somehow forget because, again, god knows they remind us enough times, Alejandro has a robot arm. He got it from trying to save his crew in a mining accident.

The robot arm is pretty cool, admittedly. Especially with the art in this segment.

Borges’ flashback continues further than Kuttner’s as it includes Noah’s death, their escape off of the exploding rig and the gratuitous death of several characters. Dead Space is no stranger to gruesome deaths, but yeesh.

Soooo….Halfway through the flashback, the only real views of actual faces have been either behind helmets that block nearly everything or Noah’s smashed up face. Once we get back to the main ship, we see the facial art and it’s not nearly as good as Kuttner’s flashback to say the least. The mouths are particularly ugly, being overly large (most notably on Borges) with nearly always-showing teeth, the oddly proportioned eyes, the heads are thin, and the stiff animation continues to bleed into it, particularly in the area of the horrible lip syncing.

They manage to return to the ship, and seem to be one of the only ships that made it back since the rest got destroyed in the debris of the planet as it was exploding. But the deaths aren’t over. The O’Bannon gets heavily damaged while trying to escape, and apparently they put TNT in the control panels because several of them blow up and kill crew members as they take damage.

Once the marker fragment has been given to the Captain, Borges demands to know why a rock was worth his cousin’s life, but gets little answer besides that it’s worth a lot of money.

Next up is, surprisingly, Nolan Stross. I say ‘surprisingly’ because Stross is the only character from Dead Space 2 who appears in this movie. I thought for sure they’d save his segment for last, but whatever.

By the way, they get all of the survivors to talk by tormenting them with hallucinations of their worst fears…….but 1) I don’t understand how they’re even doing that and 2) there’s no indication they wouldn’t have talked beforehand. It’s literally that they put them in the chair and then torture them without asking any questions.

Stross’ flashback is definitely the most anime-ish one so far. Outside of some eye designs that remind me of Reign: The Conquerer, it’s pretty darn good. I don’t exactly know why the Captain now has a collar so popped it’s covering his ears, though. Apparently, the marker fragment is making him think he’s in the 1980s.

Stross, being the head scientist on board the O’Bannon, is tasked with studying the fragment. He’s having marital problems as he struggles to maintain both his job and his family, including his precious infant son. Doesn’t help that his wife thinks he’s cheating on her with with Cho.

As Stross studies the fragment, he finds that it’s a blueprint for DNA and could completely revolutionize life as we know it…..But enough of that, time to prove his wife right by boinking Cho right in the research lab.

Later, Stross explains that the marker fragment has an odd effect on dead tissue. On contact, it reanimates it. When living beings touch or are around the marker for long periods of time, they have visions and nightmares at the start and eventually psychotic breaks – some being more susceptible to this effect than others. Kuttner was the one to break because he both touched the fragment (though, he was wearing gloves…) and was already on edge because it had only been weeks after losing his daughter.

Showcasing some pretty cool effects, we see that Stross is also slowly losing his sanity due to his exposure to the marker piece (And considering how he is in DS2, that’s no surprise.)

Well, it’s 45 minutes into this 80 minute long movie, so it has to be time for necromorphs to finally emerge, right? Right! And Stross actually manages to MAKE one.

He’s so interested in the powers of the marker, that he decides to grab a cadaver and test out its power of reanimation on it. Surprise, surprise, it turns into a necromorph and kills his colleague before going on a murder spree. It’s not long before the, this is probably the wrong term but let’s call it, infection starts spreading like wildfire and the entire ship is thrown into chaos.

Stross runs to save his family, only to be shocked to find that there are two creatures in the room that he swiftly kills. It doesn’t take much for the viewer to realize that the creatures he killed were actually his baby and wife, and that they most likely weren’t killed and reanimated as necromorphs – he just killed them in a psychotic fit, believing they were posing a threat to his family.

Our final flashback is Cho’s and….wow. Her segment has some crazy craggy art. It’s jagged af faces on top of weirdly proportioned bodies. It’s so weird. It’s like someone took the art from Akagi and made everyone super buff. Even Stross is completely cut, but he also a beak nose, so I’m really conflicted.

I’m also endlessly baffled at the fact that they will show some of the most graphic deaths they can but actually show a full-out sex scene? Oh dear god no! Children might see this! Now go twist another young girl’s neck ten times over until her head pops off. (See: Vivian)

Most of her flashback is stuff you can surmise from the others. She meets up with the other survivors as well as the Captain and some stragglers, all of which will obviously die because, again, this movie kinda has too much balls to believe it has the story strength to be able to work with showing us the only survivors at the BEGINNING of a horror movie. (And, dammit, that’s the same problem Downfall had!)

Some confusing deaths happen. One of the stragglers gets all of her head meat melted off by a necromorph throwing up in her face. I’m pretty sure that would be an insta-death, but they not only show her still standing several moments after her head has literally be reduced to a clean skull, but she can also hold her hands up to her head like she’s in pain. Can a doctor please tell me if any of that is plausible?

Other straggler dude dies because of a boring death, but then the Captain dies. There’s a hull breach and they try to shut the airlock doors, but the power is out so the captain sacrifices himself to shut them….since the manual lock…is outside of the door…..What purpose does it serve to have the only manual airlock mechanism…be outside of the airlock doors?

His death is actually pretty cool, though, because, realizing he won’t make it out, he grabs a grenade and launches himself into the group of necromorphs to take as many of them down as he can with him.

Now tasked with throwing the shard of the marker into the reactor core of the engine to stop the necromorphs, the survivors go and….well, do that.

Borges: “I am so fucking sick of these fucking things.” Did you try in terrible, terrible vain to make a Snakes on a Plane reference? Did copyright fright just completely wash the line of any actual reference?

Cho throws the shard into the reactor, the necromorphs all stop moving and we’re looped right back around to the start of the movie.

Catching up on what happened in the bookends, Kuttner accidentally gets himself killed by opening an airlock in an attempt to chase the hallucination of his daughter, Borges gets executed after they find out he didn’t touch the marker piece, thus he’s more of a liability than an asset now, Stross is put into a pod and kept in storage for experimentation on the effects of the marker, and Cho is lobotomized by the overseer after she refuses to help him create a coverup so they can blame her for the ‘terrorist’ attacks on the O’Bannon, the Ishimura and Aegis VII.

…..Which is…some sort of coverup story indeed. Who in their right mind would believe this spindly little doctor was the mastermind behind three of the worst ‘terrorist’ attacks in human history? By herself? She slaughtered everyone on the Ishimura and trashed the ship. She slaughtered everyone on the O’Bannon and destroyed the ship. She BLEW UP AEGIS VII. It’s ridiculous to think anyone’s accepting that.

The people who were interrogating the survivors are killed because I dunno. As we see Isaac’s pod right next to Stross’, our movie ends.

So, yeah, the events of this movie are largely inconsequential to the plots of either Dead Space 1 or 2. It mostly just explains how Stross came into contact with the marker and gives him a little more backstory.

The overall plot is at least a little more interesting than Downfall, even if they did go over the same information a couple times over. I like that they explored the concept of the much larger conspiracy regarding the unitologists here than they did with the few yahoos they had on Downfall. The characters were definitely given more exploration and personality than those in Downfall too. (Please note, however, that this is not a direct sequel to Downfall, as several reviewers were noting.)

The structure is interesting, and even though it doesn’t really serve much of a purpose here, I thought it was fun that they had different art and animation styles for each flashback, even if the art and animation quality of each varied a lot as well.

I also kinda liked the buildup to the necromorphs. Even though we waited quite a while for them to finally appear, there wasn’t a shortage of action in the meantime, and there was certainly a sense of foreboding as I realized Stross would try to use the marker piece on a dead body.

While the voices weren’t the best, I think most of the cast did a pretty good job, particularly Curt Cornelius as Stross (though, that might be cheating because that’s his game voice actor) and Graham McTavish as Captain Campbell.

Well, now. That sure is a lot of positive things I’m saying.

Allow me to ruin it all as I break out into raucous laughter in response to the art and animation of the bookends.

I have been holding that in for over an hour.

I wish I had taped myself reacting to the first few non-credit shots of this movie. I was in awe at the horrible. First, we see entrails flying by that look like the cheapest of cheap plastic toys.

This was when I started muttering “Oh! Oh…god, that’s…that’s not good.”

And then this motherfucker popped up on screen.

I had to pause the video just to process how terrible this looked. I was astounded. But then I took a step back and remembered that this is outside of the ship, so maybe the main scenes will look better.

Uhm.

Yeah.

I’m uhh…

I’m gonna go with a hard ‘no’ there.

How did they manage to make CGI that looks exponentially worse than the video games from which they were based? Isn’t that the bare minimum we’re meant to expect from modern day animated video game movies? This is from 2011!

This….is almost Food Fight levels of bad CGI and animation. Barring the lack of animation errors, it’s basically the same level. Complete lack of detailing, non-moving hair that looks like it was rendered on a Speak and Spell, really odd design choices, and everything simply looking like it wasn’t completed on time so they just said ‘fuck it’ and sent it out. I continued to be increasingly blown away by the lack of quality in the CGI spots. It was impressive it was so bad.

Some of my personal favorites were the doll-like representation of Kuttner’s bloodied daughter.

Looks more like raspberry jam.

Whatever default pose they left Kuttner’s character model in after his death.

These bowling ball spiders.

And even though I would never be able to get a good quality gif of it, the little animation of Cho they made to show her psychotically shooting up someplace that is literally her with her mouth agape and turning as if she were on a mechanical pivot joint swaying back and forth while laughing maniacally. That was the pinnacle of robot animation right there. I laughed out loud for a good minute. No regrets.

Something I should mention is that it wasn’t just different art styles being applied to these separate sections – it was also a slue of animation studios. The animation for the bookends was given to Digiart Productions. You may know them from such masterpieces as Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief, Garfield Gets Real, Bling and the Shark Tale ripoff, Shark Bait/The Reef.

Contrast that with Kuttner and Stross’ flashbacks who had a bit more quality and competence with DongWoo Animation, who produced Magi-Nation and did animation work on shows like Avengers Assemble, Justice League, Kodocha, Rurouni Kenshin and Steamboy.

Then we have Borges’ flashback, which was done by JM Animation. They did animation work on 32 episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender, Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.

Finally, Cho’s flashback was done with JM Animation, but specifically Team Seed, whoever they are because I cannot find a single drop of information on them.

Either way, any of these studios and teams could’ve done a much MUCH better job on the bookended segments than Digiart, but nope. Technically the main part of our movie is the part they gave the people behind Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts (Lucky Goes to Hollywood!)

And just to give everyone fair shame, I’ll also list the main production studios who more prominently put their names on this – Starz Media, Pumpkin Studios, Film Roman and the bastards themselves – EA.

Bottomline: The differing art styles will either leave you impressed and refreshed with the variety or will leave you confused and put off because most of the segments look passable at best. Some people were saying Cho’s part was the best animated, but I’d have to disagree as I found Stross’ flashback to be quite a bit better.

The CGI bookend segments are, by far, the worst offenders. Put the flashbacks side and side and the transitions aren’t too jarring, but throw in the CGI bits and it’s like falling off a cliff at the beginning and end of each flashback.

At the very least, the CGI is so bad I got a good laugh out of it. Being fair, too, the shots of the ship in most of the versions look pretty okay, outside of Cho’s flashback where it looked a bit too fake and like it was moving out of sync with what was hitting it.

The voice work is pretty good, the music has quite a bit of tension to it and most of the time the direction and cinematography are nice enough.

This is largely a pointless movie, though, that hardly acts as the bridge between Dead Space 1 and 2 that it seemingly wants to be. While I do believe the story is a bit better than Downfall, the structure will definitely put some people off. There’s also no getting around the fact that all of the tension gets drained out of a horror movie when you show the only survivors at the start and tell the story through their eyes. The only tension left is who will be left alive in the bookend segments, and considering Stross is the only person we see or hear about from this story in Dead Space 2, most people can instantly infer that most will either die or otherwise be silenced.

It’s a perfectly fine movie. It’s fine. It’s very okay.

If you can survive a few vicious assaults on your eyeballs, it’s perfectly watchable for both Dead Space fans and people who just want an animated horror movie.

As you can tell by the rating, it’s, sadly, not as good as Downfall, despite some of my earlier notes. I was definitely more immersed in a horror environment with Downfall. The art, while not being fantastic, was far more consistent. And the pacing was much better because we didn’t have to go over some spots twice or more and we didn’t have to come to a near halt four times due to transitions between storytellers.

In the end, I feel like Aftermath is a movie they both put more work into but also cared significantly less, if that makes any sense.

Recommended Audience: It’s Dead Space, so….duh. If you don’t know Dead Space level gore, it’s really, really high. People get brutally crushed, their heads smashed in, head meat melting off, heads sliced in half, burned to death in lava, and even though it was masked as a necromorph at the time, there’s also a very brutal baby murder. Etc.

There’s also a few brief spots of nudity, all of which is contained to Cho’s segment. It’s also the only segment that includes sexual content, but it’s nothing porny. It’s mostly just a brief shot of movement, her sitting on him naked and then a couple suggestive shots.

We also have a bunch of swearing, if that bothers you in comparison to everything else. 17+


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Corpse Party: Blood Covered (Manga) Review

Rating: 9.5/10

Plot: Satoshi Mochida, Yoshiki Kishinuma, Naomi Nakashima, Seiko Shinohara, Ayumi Shinozaki, Mayu Suzumoto and Sakutaro Morishige are all very close friends at Kisaragi Academy. Saddened that Mayu is going to be transferring next year, Ayumi propositions them to partake in a charm ritual that will supposedly bond them all forever – Sachiko Ever After. Joining them are their homeroom teacher, Yui Shishido and Satoshi’s little sister, Yuka.

However, upon completion of the ritual, they are thrust into a strange different school called Heavenly Host Elementary. The school is blackened, wrecked, with many holes in the floor and structural damage. The place is littered in corpses and there are revenants around every corner.

What’s worse is that the group has been separated into smaller groups and spread not only over the school but also over dimensions, meaning they have no way to regroup and return home. They’re soon tormented by the revenants – attacking them and seemingly wanting them dead.

What is the secret behind Heavenly Host Elementary? And can they all return home alive?

Breakdown: It has been several years since I played any of the Corpse Party games, including the game this is directly adapting, Corpse Party: Blood Covered, so even though I remember the main gist of the story, I wouldn’t be able to give this manga a play-by-play comparison to see how it matches up.

That being said, I did really enjoy the Corpse Party games I played. I got bad ends and that anatomical model can go to the deepest recesses of hell in a coffin made of napalm, but I still got really invested in the story and the characters. It had its hiccups, but they were really well-made.

Blood Covered is an absolutely amazing horror manga. It never made me scream or anything, but I jumped once or twice and it definitely kept up a great atmosphere.

The series pulls no punches with its violence or gore, and by the end I was nearly crying, which is strange because the ending is a lot happier than any of the ends I ever got.

The story was also well-written with several twists and turns that I never saw coming. I had some moments during the Corpse Party games where I felt like the story was contrived or didn’t make full sense, but the manga does a good job ironing those issues out. The only question I really have is SPOILERS Why does Heavenly Host still exist at the end? It shows the kids who were murdered as supposedly being the new spirits running the joint, but they got their body parts back and turned good. I know the spirits still ended up being a part of the school, but I thought their spirits would dissipate or move on once the school was destroyed. What re-tainted them? END SPOILERS

While the character designs are simplistic in style, the horror elements are beautifully stylized and detailed. There are so many panels in this manga that I stopped on just so I could appreciate the creepy vibe they were instilling in the scene.

The characters were also pretty memorable and likable, barring one recurring theme I’ll get to shortly. They were all realistic characters reacting and interacting like real people. I ranted on Twitter a bit about one pretty stupid decision Satoshi made, but it’s not like people don’t make stupid mistakes, especially in horror stories. I felt particularly impacted by Yui, who never once truly faltered in her resolve to stay true and not play this out selfishly or be affected by the darkness.

Mayu never really got a chance to be affected by the darkness, and Satoshi never got affected because that might make him interesting.

That being said, I had some minor issues with the characters. Morishige and Mayu were such non-characters that I pretty much forgot about them by the time the story put the focus back on them. I almost thought Morishige was a completely foreign character wandering around.

They also don’t do much with him when he is reintroduced. We find out he’s got an almost fetish level amount of admiration for corpses, leaving the audience forever wondering if this is a trait he’s always had or if he developed it because of the influence of Heavenly Host, he spends a while searching for Mayu, whom he views as a sister, and outside of spoilers, that’s about it.

His impact on the story is extremely minimal, and Mayu’s impact is even less than that, which is worse because their stories are intertwined so it kinda comes off like they’re just here to up the body count.

Another issue I had was that I was perpetually irritated by the fact that nearly all of the female characters had a romantic obsession with Satoshi – even his little sister! (I can’t escape the incest. Thanks, manga.)

So many times the flow of the story was interrupted by someone getting jealous of Satoshi interacting with a girl, someone getting flustered, sad or embarrassed at the thought of a romantic interaction with Satoshi, Yoshiki getting jealous that Ayumi’s in love with Satoshi instead of him, someone focusing entirely on Satoshi in their efforts to escape the school when they’re all in danger etc. etc.

The only female character here, besides their teacher, who isn’t in love with Satoshi is Seiko and that’s because she’s hopelessly in love with Naomi and spends a good deal of her time teasing Naomi to go after Satoshi. Oh wait, I should mention that Mayu is also not in love with Satoshi as she’s implied to be in love with Morishige, but she’s such a minor character here that it really doesn’t matter.

It’s just incredibly irritating, especially when it comes to Ayumi and Yuka. I won’t lie that part of my irritation with Ayumi is the fact that Yoshiki is in love with her, even confesses it so, but at the very end she’s still dedicated to Satoshi and barely pays Yoshiki any attention even though he’s damn near died several times trying to protect her.

When Yoshiki starts feeling the effects of the school and it’s geared towards jealousy of Satoshi, even though it’s only a few scenes, you do sympathize with the guy because, as far as I’m concerned, Satoshi is a pretty bland Gary Stu.

Seriously, I would never be able to describe Satoshi any further than ‘He’s a nice guy and a good big brother’ Even the people who are in love with him don’t describe him any further than that. Like in the games, the manga makes off like Satoshi is the main character, but he really isn’t. Numerous other characters are more vital to the plot than Satoshi is. I just kept wondering what it is about this guy that makes him so appealing to so many girls.

As far as Yuka is concerned, she could’ve been a lot more annoying, and they didn’t focus a lot on her romantic feelings for Satoshi, but it’s still irritating, especially in regards to the fact that she acts and looks more like a damn toddler when she’s, according to the Wiki, 14 years old.

Also, they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get this girl to the bathroom….

These aren’t really major issues, but they did keep cropping up and it did get annoying.

All in all, this is a fantastic read. I found myself staying up late reading and being disappointed that I really needed to stop reading and go to bed. Corpse Party tends to do a really good job at making characters that you truly care about while also making a terrifying atmosphere and not balking on deaths. It’s a great mixture of creepiness, gore and horror, and while it does have a few issues in the character department, it’s nothing damaging enough to make me lower my score by much.

Corpse Party has several other mangas out, and I hope to review them in the near future. Maybe I’ll even get my hands on another one of the games or watch the live-action movie.

Additional Information and Notes: Corpse Party: Blood Covered was written by Makoto Kedouin. It was illustrated by Toshimi Shinomiya. It was published by Gangan Joker.

Volumes: 10

Year: 2008 – 2012

Recommended Audience: There is a TON of gore and frightening situations here. People get pulverized by getting thrown into walls, there’s a bunch of chopped up corpses, there are scenes where characters get their eyes stabbed and popped out, their tongues cut out, their heads lopped in half etc. and it is pretty detailed in its gore too. There’s a smidge of fanservice, but not a lot. No nudity either. 16+

Kouryu Densetsu Villgust Review

Rating: 4/10

Plot: Villgust is as a peaceful land in a world parallel to ours. However, many years of peace were suddenly interrupted when an evil deity appeared and cast a dark shadow over the land. Many monsters laid waste to the countrysides, and the people prayed to their god, Windina, for help. She answered their prayers and created eight warriors to rid Villgust of the evil deity and return peace to the world.

Breakdown: I tend to get excited when I start watching old mostly unknown OVAs. Even if they’re a product of a much different and, arguably, crazier time in anime, their style, stories and characters usually draw me in.

This is, sadly, not one of those times.

Kouryu Densetsu Villgust is a two episode OVA made in 1992 to 93. It’s based off of a Famicom game of the same name that was never released outside of Japan and I’ve never played, obviously. Not that…it matters? Because it sounds like the plot isn’t the same as the OVA’s.

Wiki: “The object of the game is to rescue your girlfriend and to return to modern Japan from a parallel medieval world. The player controls five people as they fight apes and skeletons for experience points.”

As you can tell from the plot synopsis, none of this seems to mesh. There’s no girlfriend in another world. In fact, as far as I can tell, all of the characters are from Villgust, and the main characters are eight people, not five.

However, I can’t vouch for this as an adaptation, so let’s go over this anime on its merits as a standalone.

First, the plot. That is some grade-A cliché plot right there. For the love of Windina, this is basically the plot to Captain Planet. This has to be one of the oldest plots to ever see written word. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing if the story and execution are good enough, though….And they’re really not.

This show is aiming to be equal parts action fantasy and comedy. This is obvious from the fact that all of the human characters are done in mid-chibi style. Ya know, where the characters are adults but clearly smaller and made cuter, but not so extreme as to be real chibi.

Put it this way – if normal characters are drawn eight heads high and chibi characters are about three, this style is about five.

Problem is, the action’s not that good and neither is the comedy. The action is hard to take seriously since there’s the lingering contrast of the comedy and the complete lack of a villain you can take seriously.

In addition to the main baddie being the oh-so-creatively named ‘evil entity’, he’s not even who they’re fighting. The baddie for this series is Gavady – a follower of the evil entity who is impossible to take seriously because, in order to add comedy to him, they have him baby a pet frog named Antoinette. He pets him like a cat, talks to him and makes kissy faces – the fear is not happening.

The evil entity….is confusing. In the opening narration, the evil entity is created, unleashes swarms of monsters to cause destruction and terror, Windina makes the warriors, but the warriors never defeat the entity.

In fact, at the start of the series, for the most part, they don’t even know each other. They’re separated into two groups of four and only meet at the ending of episode one. They’ve never met before this and obviously never defeated the evil entity, but dialogue indicates that the evil entity was defeated somehow and his henchmen are trying their damnedest to bring him back to life.

I don’t get it. At all. I watched the opening narration four times just to see if I missed somewhere where they might have said he was sealed away by Windina or something, but no. She just creates the warriors and never says a word or even appears over the course of the entire series.

However, the evil entity is never revived. The final battle is of Gavady’s ‘true form’, which is a weird…worm….turtle….goblin…thing? The series ends on the ‘we can’t let the evil entity be revived’ note.

For a good chunk of the OVA, the enemy isn’t even Gavady – it’s his henchmen. Yup, even the henchman to the guy who is supposed to be the main baddie isn’t our main baddie.

He hatches a plan to have the warriors meet and trick them into fighting each other until they’re so tired that they can’t fight back….Let me point out that this henchmen states later that one of the reasons the followers of the evil entity had enjoyed their time of terror so far has been mostly due to the fact that the warriors had yet to all meet up… He’s even so nice as to reveal to them that they’re all the warriors of Windina….Good job.

That plot, by the way, takes up half of episode one and half of episode two. We don’t get to the point of fighting Gavady until the very end of episode two.

This includes having those frustrating super villain moments where you’re sitting there gnashing your teeth asking why, when given a perfect opportunity, do the bad guys not kill the warriors?

One of the characters triggers a huge expulsion of energy, which knocks out the warriors after having exhausted themselves from fighting each other. The bad guys have nearly all of the warriors unconscious right in front of them, exhausted beyond belief, and what do they do? They jail them, let them wake up, explain their plans, and set up an elaborate execution later on, not even questioning where the other two warriors are.

Again, good job.

I will give the ending battle this – it’s a pretty decent battle, even if he is one of those irritating grab bag of powers villains. He can make super powerful gusts of wind, has a Venus fly trap turtle shell thing, can shoot a multitude of tentacles from his mouth, turn people to stone, shoot huge bursts of fire and has three….giant facehugger worms (?) on his body. But, of course, it’s pretty predictable. They all combine their efforts together….except Bostov….to defeat him.

It’s an alright, albeit bland, story, but the plot about meticulously tricking them into fighting each other takes up way too much time. No one’s going to believe that they’re going to destroy each other or won’t figure out the trap. It’s pointless. They would’ve been better off having the entire group together at the start and building off of that.

Second, the characters. They’re a mixed bag to say the least.

Group A: First up we have Kui, who is a knight from a distant land, I think. He is sworn to protect the princess, Chris, and is her love interest. Outside of that, he’s your very typical knight character. He’s brave, noble and honorable.

Next we have Chris, the aforementioned princess, who flip flops between also being a brave warrior and being a stereotypical girl character, fawning over Kui. One minute she’s all “I’m fighting because I’m a warrior too!” and the next she’s “Ohhh, news of a bad guy nearby! Oooh I’m so scared. Hold me, Kui!”

Then we have Youta, who is a little pervy and goofy.

Finally, there’s Fanna, the only archer of the group (everyone else uses swords.) Fanna seemed alright for a while, helping out in battle and taking no shit from Youta, but she quickly becomes very irritating and another stereotypical girl character.

In her shining moment of idiocy, she’s taking a bath while the others chase some cat girl I’ll definitely get to in a minute. Because she’s alone and vulnerable, the enemy tries to sneak attack, but they’re pushed through the wall of the bath. Fanna freaks out, we cut away, and when the others arrive at the bath they see that Fanna knocked the two intruders out with rocks. That would be fine and dandy if she stayed where she was, but no.

She’s so freaked out over these two monsters seeing her naked that she does the only logical thing….she runs off alone into the forest, still naked, freaking out over them seeing her naked.

None of this particular action makes any sense. ‘Bad guys attacked me because I was alone and vulnerable. Better run off into the woods alone and naked without my bow so I’ll be as vulnerable as humanly possible. Monsters saw me naked! Better run off naked into a forest where tons of living beings, people and monsters alike, can see me naked.’

Then she collapses in the forest crying out that she’s lost….Dumb…ass.

Fanna later becomes entirely useless and is relegated to being Ryuquir’s bitch girl. Fun.

Group B: First up for Group B is Murobo, who is essentially Kui if he was much more gullible, wielded an axe, and was an anthropomorphic Red XIII from Final Fantasy.

Murobo was my favorite character, but that’s not saying much.

Second, we have Bostov, who is a slimy, perverted sack of crap. He wields a boomerang.

Next, we have Remi, the lone mage of the warriors, but don’t expect her to do much. Her one moment of usefulness is healing Kui and Murobo so they can do some actual damage to Gavady. She has no personality outside of being kind and insecure about her age and lack of physical development, which is only brought up once in a petty argument with Chris.

Finally, we have Chinese water torture incarnate, also known as Ryuquir. She is the aforementioned catgirl and one of the most annoying anime characters I’ve ever seen.

She’s a catgirl who actually acts, in all ways, like a cat. She even chases a mouse once. She’s incredibly hyper, inconsiderate, has an ungodly grating voice, and has the personality of a three year old if you gave her cat-like abilities, 30 pounds of sugar and a few hits of crack. Even her theme music is way too fast and makes me want to put a blow torch to my ear.

Not only is she annoying in every way, shape and form, but the very first time we meet her, she’s gorging herself on the village elder’s food supply without his consent – In a village where everyone is starving because they keep getting attacked by monsters.

The one positive thing I can say about Ryuquir is that she’s a good friend and brave, but friendship doesn’t not trump annoyingness.

One of the main worst aspects of Ryuquir is that she’s treated like she’s the main character on several occasions. She saves the others from peril in a big display twice, and she easily knocks away huge groups of enemies without batting an eyelash. You almost wonder if Windina really needed to create eight warriors when the seven seem like they can’t do much and Ryuquir seems like she can win this whole war on her own.

She even sings the ED of the first episode….

None of these characters get any backstory whatsoever, outside of the brief flash we get in dialogue of Chris and Kui’s story, which might be relevant to the games? None of them have any moment of character development nor do we get much bonding between them.

The two groups separately are meant to be close by default, I suppose, but outside of Murobo and Kui, who obviously bond through their fight together, the others seem kinda shoved together – literally with Fanna and Ryuquir. Youta and Bostov bond over being pervs, and – are we meant to believe Remi and Chris bonded over insulting each others ages and boob sizes?

Bottomline: Villgust does a lot of things wrong, but I’d be hardpressed to say this was a chore to sit through. It just wasn’t very entertaining. Almost all of the comedy relies on slapstick, which is seriously getting old, even back then. You really need to do something creative with slapstick if you want to get any laughs.

The action wasn’t great, with the biggest highlight being the final battle with Gavady, and even that’s not fantastic. It’s also very hard to get invested in the action when the stakes never feel real due to the comedy.

The characters are not fleshed out enough to feel much concern about them, but there is a little something there. Ryuquir is way too annoying to ignore, though.

The art and animation is decent at best and cheap at worst. The music pretty alright, but forgettable.

I’d like to see a longer series of this with a better arrangement in regards to story, and I’d like to see them actually combat the evil entity, but that’ll probably never happen.

Additional Information and Notes: Kouryu Densetsu Villgust was directed by Katsuhiko Nishijima, who also directed Project A-Ko, and was produced by animate Film. It is not currently licensed in English.

Episodes: 2

Year: 1993

Recommended Audience: Outside of some typical anime pervness and fantasy violence, there’s a tiny splat of blood. 6+

My Poke-Pinion: 004-006 – The Charmander Line

Charmander

Name: Charmander’s name is a combination of ‘char’ as in something burned and ‘salamander.’ Charmander’s name, in my opinion, is really nice. It rolls of the tongue quite well while also being kinda cute.

Originally, in Japan, it was known as Hitokage, which is ‘hi’ for fire and ‘tokage’ for lizard. Hitokage’s name is cool on paper, but saying it out loud is just the slightest bit awkward to me for some reason.

Fun fact: It’s French name is Salameche….I don’t have anything to note about that besides the fact that it’s an oddly sexy word.

Design: Arguably even more simplistic than Bulbasaur’s, just being a lizard with fire on its tail, Charmander’s design is adorable. Like Bulbasaur, it has big expressive eyes and a cute smile. The orange color is great on it, and the fire on its tail is so simple yet such a solid trademark of the Charmander line.

Sprite-wise, Red and Blue are classic and Yellow is adorable.

Green looks weird because it makes it look like its nose is bigger than it is.

Silver is derpy, but cute.

Crystal’s is adorable the way it claps its paws together and calls out to you.

Other than the animations for everything beyond Gen IV looking like Charmander’s trying out for Dancing with the Stars, they’re all good.

Shiny:

Charmander’s shiny version never appealed to me. The gold-ish yellow color could be worse, and it does fit somewhat into a fire theme, but it just doesn’t look good to me.

Cry/Voice: Charmander’s cry brings up all sorts of nostalgic feelings for me because Charmander was the first Pokemon I ever used in the games. I remember hearing that cry all the time when I first started playing the games, and it’s dear to my heart.

On a more objective level, it’s a great cry. It sounds slightly cute, but also definitely sounds like a growl.

(Ash’s) Charmander’s anime voice has grown sour to me ever since I read on Dogasu’s comparison that Pokemon’s voice director, Michael Haigney, didn’t put any thought or effort into the voice. He just jumped into the recording booth, thinking Charmander was a one-off character, and tacked on a high-pitched voice to make him make a sound.

It’s hard to love a voice rooted in laziness, even if I still find it a little cute.

The fact that they were too lazy to look ahead is one thing, but they were also dumb. Ash caught Charmander in that episode – of course he was going to stick around. (I know there are some exceptions to that rule, but this is a starter we’re talking about.)

Dex Entries and Backstory: Most of Charmander’s Dex entries speak of its tail flame – and the specifics of the tail flame stay true throughout its evolutions. When it’s in good health and happy, the flame burns brightly. When it is in poor health, the flame weakens. When it’s angry, the flame grows and burns intensely. It is said that, when healthy, the flame can withstand getting a bit wet. Most notably, Charmander will die if its flame is snuffed out.

While many people associate Charmander, name wise, with a regular salamander, its origins may be based on mythical salamanders, which is a lizard-like being closely associated with fire.

I like Charmander’s story. It’s not very intricate, but it’s fairly unique. The fact that the flame dying means Charmander dies is interesting and kinda dark. It also makes you think the Charmander line has a really difficult life. Yeah, the flame can survive getting a ‘bit’ wet, like in rain, but how do you go your whole life avoiding getting it submerged or even just moderately wet?

Charmeleon

Name: The same char logic applies, but the ‘Meleon’ part is derivative from chameleons. I love Charmeleon’s name. It’s fitting and a lot of fun to say.

In Japanese, it has the much more boring name of Lizardo, which is literally just the Japanese way of saying the English word, lizard. I don’t much care for Lizardo as a name. It sounds like an annoying neighbor in a sitcom from the 80s.

Fun Fact: In French, its called Reptincel – A combination of ‘reptile’ and ‘etincelle,’ which is French for ‘spark.’ That sounds like a fairy tale character. Not really sure how much I like this one.

In other news, it’s called Glutexo in Germany, which is something.

Design: I’ve always felt that Charmeleon’s design suffers from ‘Middleman-ism’ Basically, mid-evos sometimes have the problem of looking like they’re merely filling the role of a middleman instead of establishing their own identity. There’s plenty done to Ivysaur to make it stand out on its own, and the same goes for Wartortle, but Charmeleon just seems like a middleman.

When you actually take inventory of all the differences between Charmeleon and Charmander, this seems like an unfair assessment. It’s bigger, the lines are a lot sharper, its face got fiercer, it gained bigger claws and got a horn-ish protrusion on its head.

Oh and its red.

For whatever reason, Charmeleon gained a stark red color, which is very odd. The coloring between most evos usually stays unchanged, or, if it does change, it’s usually a transition color on its way to the final evo’s color.

With the Char line, we get bright orange, bright red then back to the same bright orange.

It’s almost like they knew Charmeleon’s design was so middleman-ish that they made it red in order to allow it to stand out more.

That’s not to say I hate Charmeleon’s design, nor can I really suggest any ways they could’ve improved upon it outside of, maybe, giving him a singular dragon wing, which I can’t decide whether it would be awesome or dumb.

Sprite-wise, he looks fairly bad, especially from the back, in Gen I.

He gets good sprites in Gen II, but looks like a complete idiot in Crystal.

(“What do you mean my Thumper impression is bad!?”)

He looks like a caricature of a playground bully.

Lookin’ good through Gen III, looking even better in Gen IV. I particularly Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, because that pose is badass.

Gen V onward look great.

Shiny:

Charmeleon has the same shiny problem that Shiny Charmander has. I am just not a fan of the yellow, and somehow it seems even worse on Charmeleon. In recent generations, it looks toned down, but I’m still not a fan.

Cry/Voice: I love Charmeleon’s cry. It’s a deeper tone, but keeps the same growl effect as Charmander, which I think is more fitting for Charmeleon given its fiercer design and attitude.

Charmeleon’s anime voice is a little awkward, but I blame most of that on the name. Due to the long name, whenever Charmeleon states its full name out, it sounds really forced. Luckily, they usually keep to just having it say ‘Char’ over and over.

Charmeleon’s actual voice is fine. Its voice actor (Ash’s Charmeleon) has changed from Michael Haigney to Eric Stuart – a change I believe was definitely for the better. He adds a gruffness to the voice that is very fitting while also keeping a high enough pitch to suit its attitude. Sadly, we don’t hear much of it because Charmeleon is in all of three episodes before getting kicked to the curb for Charizard.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Charmeleon’s dex entries have more information than we’ve been given so far down the line. They focus on its fierceness and desire to battle as well as its sharp claws and powerful tail. Swings of its tail increase the surrounding area’s temperature sharply, and it will constantly shoot out flames when it is agitated or hyped up. It is always looking for new opponents and, when it finds one, it will not stop brutally attacking them with its razor sharp claws until it is defeated.

It only finds serenity after it has won a battle, and, when excited, particularly for a battle, its tail flame will turn bluish-white, something we never see in the anime, but would’ve been awesome.

Charmeleon usually reside in mountain regions where they are said to resemble stars at night due to their tail flames.

Charmeleon’s design origins are based loosely on a combination of a dinosaur and its namesake, a chameleon. However, it doesn’t share much with chameleons outside of its snout and head crest. The fact that it uses its tail as a powerful weapon may be poking at the fact that chameleons also use their tails for a variety of purposes.

I really like Charmeleon’s backstory, and it may give a bit more support as to why Ash, in the anime, can’t control Charmeleon after it evolves from Charmander. It seems some Pokemon just might gain a personality or behavior change upon evolving. How fitting that this happens in the mid-evo stage, like a petulant teenager. However, this does not dismiss the fact that Ash’s Charmeleon seems to get amnesia upon evolving, and the fact that the dumbass never trains it. And lest we forget that Better-Ash….Err, I mean Richie also has a Charmeleon that has absolutely no behavioral issues.

Charizard

Name: Again, keeping in with the theme, the ‘char’ part is retained and the ‘izard’ part is derivative of ‘lizard.’ Charizard’s name gives off a very powerful and dragon-esque vibe while also fitting into the Char line’s theme perfectly. It rolls off the tongue and is very memorable.

In Japan, it is known as Lizardon, which sounds about as lazy as ‘Lizardo,’ but it works a little better because it’s a combination of ‘lizard’ and ‘dragon’ or ‘don,’ which is Greek for ‘tooth,’ commonly used in conjunction with dinosaurs. Personally, I believe the dragon explanation more, but the latter is possible. Lizardon is also more imposing and is catchier than Lizardo.

Fun Fact: In France, it’s known as Dracaufeu. Not sure how I feel about that. I can barely pronounce it.

Design: As much as I, like many people, find Charizard to be an overrated orange dragon, I can’t deny that it has one of the most memorable and cool dragon designs in recent years. In essence, it’s just a very simplistic western-style dragon with fire on its tail, but it has it’s own personality, style and sleekness to it that can’t be compared to most fancy dragon designs of today.

The orange and blue color scheme really works for it, and it has a fantastic head and facial structure.

In the realm of sprites, Red and Blue seem really awkward. Why the hell is Charizard scrunched up like that? Can he not fit into frame?

His posture is eons better in Yellow, but it retains a major flaw.

The back for Red, Blue, Green and Yellow are the same, and dear god almighty, why the hell does Charizard look like Zombizard? He looks like someone threw skin onto a poorly made Charizard skeleton replica. Who greenlit that monstrosity!?

Green seems like it’s more serpentine. I can’t tell if I like it all that much. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s kinda cute, but it doesn’t give off a very strong feeling of Charizard.

Gold and Silver are much better designs, and thank the designers for fixing his back sprite.

His Crystal animation is also kinda cute. He just twitches his wings at you.

Ruby and Sapphire go for an even more intimidating pose, and the Emerald sprite goes further by having him roar at you, which is cool.

FireRed and LeafGreen are good.

There’s no way around this, but Diamond, Pearl and Platinum make it seem like Charizard is trying to go to the bathroom.

HeartGold and SoulSilver look like they’re trying to emulate Ash’s Charizard quite a bit with that pose, and I can appreciate that.

Looks like Black/2 and White/2 tried their hand at remaking the DPP sprites so it doesn’t look quite so much like you have to break out a shovel soon, but it’s still weird because now the animation makes it look like it’s out of breath.

Gens VI and VII now have Charizard flying, which I find really cool. Wish it was a bit more dynamic, though.

Shiny: Gen II’s shiny is a bit odd. It’s less ‘shiny’ and more ‘stained by rolling around in mud for 12 hours.’

We get better in Gen III when the colors get changed to a darker color palette that is closer to its beloved black and red, but it’s more of a very deep olive green than a true black.

Gen IV is where we finally get its kickass true black and red pattern. It is not one of the absolute best shinies, in my opinion, but it’s still awesome.

Mega: Charizard is speshul and gets TWO mega forms. Oohlala.

First is Mega Charizard X, which is the best thing to ever exist. Fight me.

I may be over-exaggerating, but I fell in love with this design. It’s like everything I ever wanted out of a Shiny Charizard design only not as much of a pain in the ass to obtain. Look at that thing! The black color with the beautiful shade of blue flames, the added blue spikes and the flames billowing from its mouth. It’s amazing.

Mega Charizard Y is what I was expecting of a Mega Charizard.

It’s basically Charizard with more points. I don’t know why so many people find Y to be so great, even favoring it over X (though I agree that X might seem more busy.) I don’t find it bad, in fact it’s pretty sleek and cool looking, but I greatly prefer X.

Well, there is one area where Y shines more – the shiny versions. Considering Y keeps the color palette of regular Charizard, it also has the same shiny colors as shiny Charizard.

Since shiny X has an entirely new color palette, they have to give X a new shiny version….and it’s poo.

It’s a widely held opinion that the worst shinies are the green shinies. Personally, the yellow ones are my least favorite and green is one of my favorite colors. That being said, shiny Mega Charizard X is a hot green mess.

Why green? Why? What part of Charizard screams ‘yeah, I’m thinking green.’? I know Charizard is named for a lizard, but come on.

They maintain the blue color for the fire and change the spike and wing colors to red. Green and blue go together, but mixing red and green will always give whatever you’re coloring a ‘Christmas’ vibe about it. Not to mention that the three colors mixed together just look like garbage.

Unlike a lot of green shinies, at least this one’s not a highlighter lime green, it’s more of a forest green, but it’s still ugly.

Voice/Cry: Charizard’s cry is a beloved classic in the games (Mostly because it’s the cry you hear in the title screen of Pokemon Red) as is Charizard’s roaring in the anime. I love Charizard’s cry, not just for nostalgia, but because it’s an intimidating growl-like tone that works well with its previous evolutions.

Likewise, Charizard’s roar is an imposing ‘I’m a dragon and I’m gonna kick your ass’ roar that really highlights how awesome the Char line’s final form is. Compare Charizard’s roar to Venusaur’s or Blastoise’s yell and it’s no contest which would make you soil yourself if you ever heard them out in the wild.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Most of Charizard’s Dex entries talk about its intense flames. They can melt almost anything and can blast through a 10,000 ton glacier quickly. Like Charmeleon, they claim that the flame turns bluish-white when its extremely angry or amped up, but no one ever sees it.

There are some odd things about its Dex entries too.

“Breathing intense, hot flames, it can melt almost anything. Its breath inflicts terrible pain on enemies.” The intense, hot flames inflict terrible pain? You don’t say.

“Charizard flies around the sky in search of powerful opponents. It breathes fire of such great heat that it melts anything. However, it never turns its fiery breath on any opponent weaker than itself.

UHM.

By the way, apparently Charizard Flamethrowering Ash in the face is now written as a form of affection?…..Right. That’s like saying your dog mauling you is their way of licking your face.

If that’s true, it sounds like damage control for making Charizard a dick for so long.

Next up, the Squirtle line.

Previous – The Bulbasaur Line

 

My Poke-Pinions: 001-003 – The Bulbasaur Line

Bulbasaur

Name: According to Bulbapedia, Bulbasaur’s name is pretty self-explanatory. The ‘bulb’ part is indicative of plant bulbs, and the ‘saur’ part is Latin for ‘lizard.’ I’ve always loved the name Bulbasaur. It rolls off the tongue nicely, is very fun to say and suits it very well.

In the original Japanese, its name is Fushigidane, which can either be translated as ‘Isn’t it strange?’ or ‘Mysterious bulb’, the latter of which is what I believe the writers were going for. I’ve always liked Fushigidane too, even if it is more of a mouthful than Bulbasaur.

Fun fact: In the French version, its name is Bulbizarre, which I thought was really cool.

In the Mandarin version, its name is Miàowāzhǒngzǐ, which translates to ‘Wonderful frog seed’, which is just amazing. Here’s to you, Bulbasaur! You’re a wonderful frog seed!

Design: Bulbasaur’s design is very simple, but incredibly cute. I love its large and expressive eyes and the overall shape of its body. It looks perfect for a pet. I also really like its color scheme. Oddly, I believe the spots were just the right add-on for Bulbasaur because I think it would look really weird and too simplistic without them.

Going over the sprites real quick, the one for Red and Blue is cute.

It’s in a dynamic pose, and I like that. The back view makes it look derpy, though.

Yellow’s version makes it look possessed.

Green’s version makes him look derpy from the front.

Pretty normal and nice until we get to Crystal, which is also fine, but I could do without that animation. That makes me uncomfortable for some reason.

All of the other sprites look fine except for the backs of the Black and White versions. They’re fine, but the animation makes it look like it’s humping something….

Shiny:

The shiny version kinda ruins the color scheme, if you ask me. Yeah, it’s a Grass type, so green should suit it just fine, but it’s a little…too green.

Cry/Voice: Bulbasaur’s cry is cute, but sounds too much like an old Atari crash sound near the end. Bulbasaur’s anime voice has always been a favorite of mine. Whenever I feel like imitating a Pokemon, my first choice is usually Bulbasaur.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Bulbasaur’s story is pretty straightforward in all of its Dex entries. It’s a creature that had a seed planted in its back from birth. The seed slowly sprouts and grows with the Bulbasaur over time. Bulbasaur absorbs and stores nutrients from photosynthesis in the bulb, and can go days without a proper food source thanks to this storage system. The bulb itself is full of seeds.

Anime-exclusive, the bulb will glow blue when it’s close to evolving, which I believe is a fine add-on.

Another thing they only mention in the anime is that researchers aren’t sure whether to classify Bulbasaur as a plant or animal, but that’s always seemed silly to me. The entries clearly state it’s an animal that had a seed planted in its back upon birth. In fact, no matter the physiology of the Pokemon, don’t all Pokemon have to be technically classified as animals or animal-like since they’re living, breathing creatures?

Ivysaur

Name: Ivysaur’s name is on par with Bulbasaur’s, even if it has slightly less bounce to it. Like before, the ‘saur’ part is Latin for lizard while the ‘ivy’ part is alluding to the plant, ivy.

In Japanese, its name is Fushigisou, which is also not quite was bouncy as Fushigidane, but still nice. It translates to ‘It seems strange’ or ‘strange grass,’ again, the latter of which is what I believe they were going for.

Fun Fact: In French, Ivysaur’s name is Herbizarre, poking at herbs. I think Herbizarre sounds cooler than Bulbizarre and Fushigisou.

The Mandarin version of Ivysaur’s name is Mìaowācăo, which means ‘wonderful frog grass’ Somehow, not as funny as ‘Wonderful frog seed.’

Design: I adore Ivysaur’s design. They add enough to it to make it very distinct among its line without seeming like it’s purely a middleman. The flower bud is pretty, the leaves make it look much grassier, the sharpness to its face is just enough to keep it adorable while also giving it a clear tough look. The slight change to its color scheme is nice. I like the darker blue-ish green hue and the black pupils they added, plus it’s cute little ears.

Sprite-wise, what the hell is up with Red and Blue?

Green’s look like it got run over.

And all of the early back sprites look very odd, like they pushed the flower up way too high.

Silver makes him look like a super villain, which is awesome.

And Crystal makes it seem like he just ate a part of my face, which is…awesome?

Every other sprite looks pretty okay, except what is up with Black and White? Why does it look like its waving its leaves at me?

Shiny:

I like Shiny Ivysaur much better than Shiny Bulbasaur. It’s not my favorite shiny by a long shot, but the yellow flower looks nice, and that melded with the lighter green skin gives off a calm spring meadow vibe.

Cry/Voice: Ivysaur’s cry is rid of the Atari crash sound from Bulbasaur’s cry, which is nice. It also sounds a little higher pitched while ending on a deeper note, which makes it sound pretty cool, in my opinion.

Ivysaur isn’t in the anime enough for me to even remember what it sounded like (Mid-evo starters get no love in the anime. They even had the perfect opportunity to give a main character an Ivysaur, twice (Ash’s Bulbasaur refused to evolve – May’s evolved into Venusaur from Bulbasaur OFF-SCREEN, but nope. Pbt.), so I had to go check. Ivysaur’s voice is mostly just a slightly deeper and more gravelly sounding voice, which is fine, but not as nice to listen to as Bulbasaur.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Personally, Ivysaur is my favorite Pokemon – really only sharing that spot back and forth with Raichu. I can’t really explain when or how Ivysaur became my favorite, but I’ve always been a huge fan of it.

Ivysaur’s Dex entries are usually off-shoots of Bulbasaur’s, explaining that the bulb on its back has now turned into a flower bud. The bud absorbs nutrients from sunlight much in the same way the bulb on Bulbasaur’s back did, and it will start to bloom when it’s fully grown, IE ready to evolve. It’s also said to be close to blooming/evolving if Ivysaur starts spending much of its time laying in the sun.

Due to the large flower bud on its back, it can no longer stand on its hind legs (so it can’t look weird in Red and Blue….well, weirder.) and now its legs and trunk have started to become much stronger in response.

Finally, Ivysaur’s flower bud emits a very pleasant and sweet aroma, which is more just a note than anything else as it doesn’t appear to have a function.

Venusaur

Name: Venusaur’s name keeps the saur=lizard theme, and the ‘venus’ part is referencing the Venus Fly Trap, which I find odd because Venusaur’s flower in no way looks like a Venus Fly Trap. If anything, it always reminded me, oddly, of the Corpse Flower.

At least with Ivysaur, its leaves looks somewhat reminiscent of ivy leaves.

Venusaur’s name is alright, but it never hooked in with me that much.

In the original Japanese, it’s called Fushigibana, but which is a pun on the phrase Fushigi no hana – or Strange flower. I like Fushigibana. It brings back the bounce that Fushigidane had – in fact, I’d say it’s even bouncier.

Fun Fact: In French, it’s called Florizarre, which I find difficult to pronounce for some reason, and in Mandarin, it’s Miàowāhuā or Wonderful frog flower.

Design: I’ve never been a huge fan of Venusaur’s design. The flower doesn’t look all that great, the angles of the face, particularly the eyes, don’t sit well with me, and the wart-like bumps put me off, but if there are few Grass Pokemon that give off a feeling of the pure power of nature, it’s Venusaur.

In Bulbasaur’s Mysterious Garden, a Venusaur is basically portrayed as the king of this forest. Its voice even causes a tree to immediately blossom. This thing is huge, looks like a reptilian or amphibian powerhouse and, as we see in the manga, it looks like a sneaky Bulbasaur when it has its flower closed.

It’s still my least favorite of the three final evo Gen 1 starters, but I’ve gained a better appreciation for it over time.

Sprite-wise, we’re going pretty good in Red, Blue and Yellow, but Green looks like it was, again, run over by a truck.

The back sprites of the early games were just sloppy. You can barely tell what that is.

Other than Crystal’s animation looking like it’s winking at me,

and Black and White’s randomly getting its groove on,

the rest of the sprites are very good.

However, the back sprites of the most recent games….let’s just say, I don’t think Venusaur is meant to show so much ass.

Shiny:

I feel about the same way towards Shiny Venusaur as I do Shiny Ivysaur mostly because the changes are identical. It gains a light/lime green skin color with a yellow flower. Though, the flower for Venusaur is slightly more golden looking, making it seem slightly a little better than Ivysaur’s to me.

Mega:

Mega Venusaur was one of the first Megas I ever saw and….I was never a fan. They added more plumage, put a flower on its head, marked its face up a bit and put some vines in there. Sadly, I have not gained a better appreciation for Mega Venusaur over time. There are much better looking Megas out there, and, frankly, Venusaur’s somehow looks both cluttered and lazy at the same time. I prefer the regular version of Venusaur.

Cry/Voice: I’m okay with Venusaur’s cry, but it doesn’t have a deep enough tone or enough oomph for me to be impressed with it. Its anime voice is a huge step in the right direction. It’s deep toned, powerful and fitting. The only gripe I have is that it sounds a little goofy while saying ‘Venusaur’, particularly when yelling it.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Venusaur’s Dex entries are kinda boring because they say almost nothing different from Ivysaur’s except that the little flower bud is now a huge flower. Venusaur is also noted as being more powerful in summertime due to the energy it absorbs from the sun, but why can’t that be said of Ivysaur and Bulbasaur?

Other than that, the sweet scent emitted from the flower, stated in Ivysaur’s Dex entry, is said to soothe people and Pokemon. I prefer that the anime adds that it has somewhat of a power of nature, because that makes it seem a lot cooler.

Next entry: the Charmander line.

Animating Halloween: Dead Space – Downfall Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A prequel to the popular horror game, Dead Space, Downfall centers around the story of the first and second attacks on Aegis VII, as well as what really happened on the planet cracker ship, the USG Ishimura. Security Chief Alissa Vincent and her crew are dispatched to rescue any and all survivors when the colony on Aegis VII suffers from a rash of suicides and sudden murders after uncovering a strange alien artifact. When the Ishimura tries to recover the artifact, whatever spread over Aegis VII starts to infect those within the Ishimura.

Breakdown: I absolutely love Dead Space (Well, the first two anyway. Three was a disappointment to me) It’s one of my favorite game franchises. However, since homework is poo, we’ll be mostly focusing on how this movie fares as a standalone.

Dead Space is a very, very, very bloody and gorey series. The death scenes are usually incredibly graphic and even the way you defeat the alien creatures, known as necromorphs, is pretty damn brutal.

Necromorphs are more or less immune to bullets. The only way they can really be destroyed is through lopping off their limbs and finishing them off by stomping on their bodies. You can also defeat them by setting them on fire and blowing them to bits, but the aforementioned method is the most common.

This movie does not fail in matching the bloodbath of the video game by a long shot. Many characters die in ridiculously gorey ways. One of which being so bad I actually cringed and looked away for a second, which is rare for me to do in a horror movie.

But we’re not here for the gore, we’re here for the scares. This movie is a bit more faltering in that area. There’s not a whole lot of ambiance to absorb and it’s mostly just hopping from one action scene to another. Downfall is really at its best from a horror standpoint when it’s focusing on the insanity to which the crew is falling victim.

One of the most harrowing things about this story is that it doesn’t really matter if you survive because the marker is slowly making everyone go insane anyway. Even if you manage to get through the necromorphs and hide away somewhere, you’ll probably die on accident or be driven to suicide. Being in a group isn’t any better either since the insane ones in the group will most likely just start killing the others.

Sadly, the psychological torment that befalls much of the crew only delivers a few creepy and unnerving moments.

The necromorphs are scary in themselves. Necromorphs are both alien creatures by themselves and reanimated corpses mutated with alien features. Most necromorphs, particularly the ones featured in this movie, are slashers, which are mostly humanoid creatures with giant blades protruding from the arms.

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However, we also have the annoying infectors, which are flying necromorphs,

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the depressing lurkers, which are tentacle’d necromorphs made from babies

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and swarmers that can kiss my ass.

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Each have their own special abilities for killing and infecting other people, and all of which are varying degrees of frightening.

Story-wise, this one is rather simple, most of the better stuff reserved for the actual video game. It’s a pretty cut and dry ‘we tread where we don’t belong and now we’re fucked’ stories.

A mysterious alien artifact, known as the marker, is found by miners on Aegis VII. The church of unitology, essentially a cult in the Dead Space universe (and, yes, likely based on scientology in some respects, though the creators deny this) dispatch a crew on the planet cracker, the USG Ishimura, to retrieve the artifact and bring it back to earth.

Unitologists believe the markers are sacred religious artifacts that are key in bringing eternal life and paradise to the human race. I won’t go into the true meaning and purpose behind the markers because they don’t explore it in the movie and it’s ultimately unimportant to this review. The point is, because of the marker, people on Aegis VII and eventually the Ishimura start going crazy and falling victim to the necromorphs, killing each other and killing themselves.

Alissa Vincent, Chief of Security on the Ishimura, is set out, albeit against the wishes of the captain, Mathius, who is secretly a unitologist, to rescue any survivors on board the Ishimura once the infection reaches the ship.

After that, it’s mostly a lot of action, necro killing, death scenes and ultimately pointless rescues because everyone dies.

I’m not going to apologize for no ‘spoiler alert’, and I’m not saying this because I’ve played the games – the movie itself tells you at the very start that everyone’s dead, including Alissa.

In regards to characters, that’s a major weak point of the story. There’s a rather sizable cast here, but mostly everyone is left with the same angry personality, spouting out the same lines you’d hear in any horror movie, such as those akin to ‘we don’t have time for this’ ‘hurry up’ ‘stop foolin’ around.’ etc. etc. It’s understandable that everyone’s on edge, but it’s not like they act any differently before everything starts going to hell.

Alissa’s crew have a few lines of banter that make you think they might be close, but that’s about it. I barely remember anything about Hanson. I don’t even remember the big guy’s name. Shen’s only memorable because of her weird-ass haircut and the fact that she is frustratingly inept in most of her scenes only to become a badass in her final scene.

The only characters who have any sort of real personality or backstory are Ramirez and Samuel Irons, an engineer and unitologist that they meet along the way. Ramirez seems like a slighlt lovable goofball and he gives us a drive-by of his backstory in one of those ‘I die in the next five minutes, so might as well tell my story’ scenes. Samuel Irons is interesting in how he seems to be very wise and skilled, but we don’t know anything else about him.

Even Alissa is, sadly, entirely uninteresting. She’s the most angry of the group and really does nothing but boss people around and swear. She gets no backstory and no layers to her personality. She’s fairly honorable and wants to do anything to save people, but that’s about it.

She also makes some stupid decisions – the biggest one being stopping Kyne from crashing the ship into the planet. He wanted to destroy the marker and stop the infection from reaching earth. Alissa wanted to save whatever survivors were on the Ishimura, even though such a feat would be incredibly unlikely at this point, so she beat the hell out of him and stopped the ship from crashing down….

…..Only to realize literally minutes later that everyone else was likely dead. She was screwed either way, and she had to sacrifice herself to get a warning message out about it. And what does the message say? She tells them to destroy the marker at all costs….Good job.

I guess it could be argued that she was acting irrationally due to the marker’s influence, but I doubt it. She only starts acting weird after she does this.

The most interesting story is happening on the bridge with Captain Mathius and Dr. Kyne, both of which being closet unitologists who are the only ones who know that the main point of this mission is to bring back the marker to earth, not to help those on Aegis VII.

For those Dead Space fans, there are some continuity errors created by this movie, but nothing that breaks the story or universe. One of the main things I believe most Dead Space fans would want to see in a Dead Space prequel is Nicole and, sadly, she just barely gets a cameo if the person in this movie is even her.

Alissa and Ramirez infiltrate a room where a bunch of medical personnel are holding themselves up because a group of slashers are banging on the door. One of the personnel is seen crying under a table and Alissa tries to get her to leave. She asks her if she has a boyfriend, she says yes. She asks if she wants to see him again, she says yes and they leave.

This interaction seemed very weird and out of place when I first saw it, mostly because it’s odd to suddenly establish a connection with a flash in the pan nameless character, and because it seemed like such an odd question to ask. Most people would ask ‘do you have any family?’ or maybe a husband or kids or something. I was sitting there wondering why she immediately jumped to ‘boyfriend’.

It wasn’t until I was doing some post-watch research on the Dead Space Wiki that I became aware that this was supposed to be Nicole, Isaac’s (the game’s main character) girlfriend…supposedly.

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It’s not confirmed that this is her. They just surmise this based on how she looks and the fact that Alissa specifically asked about her having a boyfriend.

The art and animation are done by Film Roman, who have done work on The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Family Guy, but, trust me, this style is much more reminiscent of their other work, X-men Evolution. I was constantly thinking about that show when looking at this art before I even knew who produced it.

The animation definitely has its hiccups and it’s not as fluid as X-Men Evolution, but it’s not too bad.

The CGI shots, which are pretty well-done and integrated, are done by EA, the producers of the game. The only shots I question are the first shot of the Infector and the shot of Alissa against a huge herd of necros.

The music is very fitting, but not very memorable. I did squee a little when Twinkle Twinkle Little Star played, though.

The voice acting is pretty good with some of the more notable actors being Jim Cummings as Mathius and Kevin Michael Richardson as Samuel Irons. Alissa’s voice kinda got on my nerves, but she was acting pretty well.

Bottomline: Whether you’re a Dead Space fan or if you’ve never played the games at all, this is a pretty good horror movie that also acts as a nice setup for the first game. It’s not super scary, but it’s certainly never boring and there are some really awesome scenes of both action and horror here. The biggest weaknesses are the lack of characterization in Alissa and her crew and some craggy animation.

Recommended Audience: Like the games, this movie is incredibly gorey. People get slowly sliced in half vertically, there’s organs and bones everywhere, even if it’s not incredibly detailed, there’s a lot of slicing people and nercos to bits, people get their heads blown off and there’s one scene where a character dies due to having a hypodermic needle getting crammed into their eye. There’s also a lot of swearing, particularly by Alissa, and while there’s no sex, there is one scene of lower-bit male nudity in the bathroom. 17+