Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Anime Review: Eureka Seven

Music, Mecha and Love, no I'm not talking about Macross,  but this series absolutely captured the aspects that made me love anime in the first place!
I never thought I'd see another anime series that made me remember love, like Hikaru and Minmay from the original SDF Macross.

 After watching the final episode of Eureka Seven I am over joyed to say I got to witness such an amazing anime! I can honestly say Eureka Seven is absolute magic to behold! Visually Eureka Seven is spectacular from the character designs; every member of the Gekko State is unique and memorable from Renton, the boy who idolizes the Gekko State and dreams of one day being a member because of what he's read about them through the magazine Ray=Out and Eureka, the mysterious girl Renton falls in love with who is called mamma to three children Maurice Maeter and Linck. Despite the reality of the situations around them Renton and Eureka grow closer and closer throughout the series and as Renton searches for a purpose for being aboard the Gekko he resolves to protect Eureka no matter what (sounds awfully familiar to Hikaru's decision for joining the UN Spacey Forces!)

Holland is the leader of the Gekko State, prior to that he was a member of the UN Forces, SoF division with Talho and Eureka under his brother Dewey. During an attack on the Voderac, Holland comes face to face with the high preist Norb who shows Holland the truth about the Scub Coral and Eureka. After that Holland defects and steals the Gekko Go and takes Eureka and Talho with him. Talho is the Gekko's pilot and Hollands girlfriend. There are other relationships throughout the series such as  Moondoggie and Gidget, Matthieu and Hilda, Dominic and Anemone, Will B. and Martha,  Charles and Ray....who I felt were designed to pay homage to old school anime designs such as characters from the series Galaxy Express 999.

These relationships represented different stages and obstacles people face while dating from the casual "friends with benefits" to the complex, (she liked my brother first but is with me now but I still think about an ex from way back when...)
  Throughout the series as Renton and Eureka continue to get closer all these stages and obstacles of relationships don't seem to affect them, they seem impervious to all the drama that complicates love. First love is truly magical and Renton & Eureka represent that.

Eureka Seven also boasts some unique and beautiful environments the colors of the clouds, the names of locales, everything seems familiar but just foreign enough to be another world.
The originality of the culture of the Gekko State was fantastic! Think of a group of surfers that have acquired a state of the art military grade aircraft that fight against a world stuck in a military state.

The mecha design was also refreshing, The Nirvash type ZERO was an interesting spin on the typical Mecha...a variable that can transform into a car. I like the idea that the Mecha also require a ref board to stay airborne. Unlike many anime that I've seen that feature large Mecha the Nirvash and the END were an interesting cross between a biological entity and a machine. Clearly there was a symbiotic relationship between the pilot and the mecha. And as Eureka evolved so did the Nirvash type ZERO.
As previously mentioned there are aspects of Eureka Seven that remind me of my favorite anime series Macross, and then there's this scene from episode 26 Morning Glory which is the greatest homage to one of the greatest Anime series ever.

 Eureka Seven is an absolute must see for any fan of anime! For many younger viewers Eureka Seven might be their introduction to the world of anime and will have a lasting place in their heart.
Eureka Seven is without a doubt in my top 5 favorite anime of all time!


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Game Review: Naruto: Ultimate Ninja

Being a fan of the show I couldn't pass this up for only $19.99, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja has all the qualities that make the show so enjoyable, the characters are faithful to the show and thankfully use the same voice actors. Naruto Ultimate Ninja uses cell shading for the visual style which works but I personally would've prefered sprites instead. Naruto Ultimate Ninja takes the 2D fighting game engine and adds elements from the show, for instance Street Fighter has a "super meter" NuN has a Chakra Guage that when full allows the player to perform "secret Jutsu's" straight from the show, like Naruto's Shadow Clone or Neji Hyuga's 8 trigrams 64 palms jutsu's.
When the secret technique sceen is activated to two time limit guages apear for the attacker and defender and a combination of different buttons appear that need to be input correctly in time to execute/defend the secret jutsu technique. By giving the dender the opportunity to defend massive damage can be reduced by half, this is an interesting spin on the old super move where the defender will have two options block or take massive damage.
Other aspects that differentiate Naruto Ultimate Ninja from other 2D fighters is the 2 plane battlefield, in NUN the there's a foreground and background which fighters can instantly switch to if fighters are on different planes they can still attack their opponent with weapons like suriken and kunai.
The battle ground is interactive also, by breaking lanterns or crates status altering items can be acquired and each character has a support character that can apear with support items and be called in for a special attack.
NuN has 12 playable characters, Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, Kakashi Hatake, Neji Hyuga, Hinata Hyuga, Rock Lee and Shikamaru Nara from the village hidden in the leaves. Gaara from the village hidden in the sand, Zabuza Momochi and Haku from the village hidden in the mist, and Orochimaru one of the seven Sannin and founder of the village hidden in the sound.
Not every character is available from the start, by playing thru characters senario (story mode) you unlock the hidden characters.
There's also missions to do at the ninja academy that earn you money, which you can use to buy stuff to clutter up naruto's house. Not only do the missions earn you money but they net you points towards becoming a genin, jonine, kunoichi (Sakura or Hinata) or maybe even hokage!
So what to do with the money (Ryo) you earned from those missions? Go spend it on Konohamaru's gum drop machine of course! There is a ton of things to get from the machine, screen shots from the show music tracks to listen too, sound bites from the game, ninja info cards, and video clips of characters secret techinques.
Overall there's plenty to keep a young ninja busy, the fighting game is unique and offers alot of variables to the typical 2D fighter, but I think most people will pass this game by unless they're a fan of the anime already. This game has all the charm of the anime, but if you're looking for a more traditional fighting game this may not be for you.