18 September 2017

Casually dropping a Yu-Gi-Oh banlist like Lolkonami does...

Today in Konami office:
- "Hey, err... when are we going to release that new Forbidden & Limited list again?"
* "Wait, we didn't release it last week? We were supposed to release that last week to..."
- "Didn't get that memo."
* "Oh holy F...."

New Forbidden & Limited list, effective from NOW!

The list

Source: http://yugioh-card.com/uk/gameplay/detail.php?id=1155

Listed are only the changes for TCG.

Forbidden

  • Dinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter (from unlimited)
  • Grandsoil the Elemental Lord (from unlimited)
  • True King Lithosagym, the Disaster (from unlimited)
  • Denglong, First of the Yang Zing (from unlimited)
  • Daigusto Emeral (from unlimited)
  • Zoodiac Broadbull (from unlimited)
  • Zoodiac Drident (from unlimited)

Limited

  • Ignis Heat, the True Dracowarrior (from unlimited)
  • Miscellaneousaurus (from unlimited)
  • Zoodiac Ratpier (from semi-limited)
  • Dark Hole (from semi-limited)
  • Gateway of the Six (from forbidden)
  • Interrupted Kaiju Slumber (from semi-limited)
  • True King’s Return (from unlimited)

Semi-Limited

  • Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning (from limited)
  • Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer (from limited)
  • Mathematician (from limited)
  • Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (from limited)
  • T.G. Hyper Librarian (from limited)
  • Brain Control (from limited)
  • Burial From a Different Dimension (from limited)
  • El Shaddoll Fusion (from limited)
  • Preparation of Rites (from limited)

Unlimited

  • Debris Dragon (from smi-limited)
  • Honest (from semi-limited)
  • Rescue Cat (from limited)
  • Rescue Rabbit (from limited)
  • Summoner Monk (from semi-limited)
  • Witch of the Black Forest (from forbidden)
  • Charge of the Light Brigade (from semi-limited)
  • Dragon Ravine (from semi-imited)
  • Wavering Eyes (from forbidden)

First thoughts

Oh, jeezes, Konami. Didn't the list get an approval last Friday? This is so friggin' random, casually dropping the list on a Monday and saying it's effective on the day the list drops? That's why we keep calling you Lolkonami.

So since the list just dropped like a few hours ago, so I'm still processing this. Because at first glance, the hits seem... kind of random.

Okay, hits like Broadbull and Drident were to be expected. But I did NOT expect Dino's to get slaughtered this way. And True kings? I think they're somewhat fine. Because even with all the True Draco cards being on this list, Master Peace, Diagram and Heritage did NOT get hit, nor did Terraforming.

Also, on the Zoodiac side, Zoodiac Barrage also did not get hit, making Zoodiac still alive... somewhat (as an engine, rather than a full deck). Most surprising to see not getting hit is ABC.

What I'm also surprised about is the massive push to get re-aligned with the OCG list. A lot of these hits are to make the lists (somewhat) hole again. But then on the other hand we get random hits again, like Grandsoil and Daigusto Emeral. Yes, they're great cards... but OP enough to be forbidden? No way.

What decks are going to be best?

SPYRAL, definitely. Especially after the release of Double Helix this October (*cough*definite secret rare*cough*). Then I assume Invoked to finally take flight (in combination with what's left of Zoodiac or True Draco) and ABC will probably see a return in popularity. And last but not least: Red-Eyes (with the release of Legendary Duelists) + Zombies (with possibly the new Vendread support in Circuit Break).

That's it for now. I'm now going to sit down, take my popcorn and see how the rest of the world is going to process this random list drop.
Until next time, V out.

14 September 2017

About the October Forbidden & Limited List for OCG and its impact on the TCG list

Hey, I'm here with another Yu-Gi-Oh update. No TCG Forbidden and Limited list yet, but a new one for the OCG has just been announced.

I'll give you a run-down of what has changed, why some cards have gotten hit or released, the difference between OCG and TCG, and thus also the possible impact on the soon-to-come TCG Forbidden and limited list.

V takes a look at the October 1st Yu-Gi-Oh OCG Forbidden & Limited List

The Changes in OCG

Source: https://ygorganization.com/ocg-october-1st-forbiddenlimited-list/
Date: From 01 October 2017 onward

Newly Forbidden in the OCG

  • Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King (from limited)
  • Dragonic Diagram (from Limited)

Newly Limited:

  • Tribe-Infecting Virus (from forbidden!)
  • Aleister the Invoker (from unlimited)
  • Dinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter (from unlimited)
  • Souleating Oviraptor (from unlimited)
  • Babycerasaurus (from unlimited)
  • ABC-Dragon Buster (from unlimited)
  • Denglong, First of the Yang Zing (from unlimited)
  • Terraforming (from semi-limited)
  • Spellbook of Secrets (from unlimited)
  • True Draco Heritage (from unlimited)
  • True King’s Return (from unlimited)
  • Trickstar Reincarnation (from unlimited)

Newly Semi-Limited

  • Summoner Monk (from limited)
  • Windwitch – Ice Bell(from unlimited)
  • Maxx “C” (from unlimited)
  • Pot of Avarice (from limited)
  • Future Fusion (from limited)
  • Fossil Dig (from unlimited)

Newly Unlimited

  • Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer (from semi-limited)
  • Witch of the Black Forest (from semi-limited)
  • Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss (from semi-limited)
  • Rescue Cat (from semi-limited)
  • Burial from a Different Dimension (from semi-limited)
  • Fire Formation – Tenki (from semi-limited)
  • Preparation of Rites (from semi-limited)
  • Saqlifice (from semi-limited)
  • Domain of the True Monarchs (from semi-limited)
  • Wavering Eyes (from semi-limited)
  • Dragon Ravine (from semi-limited)

Thoughts

This list truly feels like an "out with the old, in with the new" kind of list. Almost every Top tier deck gets hit!

True Draco doesn't just get hit, it gets BUTCHERED. Master Peace and Diagram were already limited, but now they're forbidden + an additional hit on Heritage, Return and Dinomight Knight. Ouch.

Also, Dino's get a massive hit with Babycerasaurus, Fossil Dig and Oviraptor (double ouch).

Then also a hit on Aleister (Invoked is now dead, I assume?), ABC-Dragon (necessary), Yang Zing, Spellbooks (booh!) and even Trickstars (wow, that's fast!).

And err... the return of Tribe-Infecting Virus? Not sure what to think of it. No card text update has been announced (yet).

So what decks will survive? SPYRAL (no, really! Did you see the latest OCG weekly list?)! Plus the recently updated classic decks like HERO, Six Samurai and Red-Eyes. We may even see a return of previous hard-hitters like Blue-Eyes and Shiranui. And maybe we'll even see a rise of decks that have flown under the radar like Chaossworn and World Chalice!

It'll be interesting to see how the OCG evolves this coming October.

Possible influence on the TCG F&L list

We've been waiting on the new TCG banlist for a few weeks now. Each weekend us players are looking at each other and expect it to drop anytime. But until the moment of this post, we got nothing.

But looking at this list and the previous list for the OCG, it becomes a little easier to see what is going to get hit in the TCG

  • While I expect no butchering of True Draco like in the OCG, it WILL get hit. Master Peace & Diagram will become either limited or forbidden. And I don't know what other cards will take a hit.
  • RIP Zoodiacs. You cannot deny it. The OCG has Broadbull, Drident and Barrage FORBIDDEN and Ratpier limited. TCG will follow this example, no doubt about it.
  • ABC will see their Dragon (limited) and Union Hangar (semi-limited) take a hit.
  • Frogzoic? Yeah, say goodbye to Toadally Awesome (limited in OCG).
  • Yang Zing? Not sure it if Denglong wil take the same hit over here. Maybe in a future list.
  • Invoked? Doubt it. Kinda flew under the radar here, so I doubt Aleister will become limited like in the OCG. We'll see.
  • Dino's? Nah, too soon. Maybe the semi-limit on Fossil Dig will happen, like how Ratpier got semi'd last list.
  • Other one-of's? Gofu may become Limited, just like Kaiju Slumber. Terraforming WILL take a hit (became a little TOO good as of late). Card of Demise may become Semi or Fully limited. And probably we'll see a limit to Fairy Tail - Snow as well, just like Psy-Framelord Omega (cards are too good).

And next to those hits, we may also see the return of a few cards, like Chaos Emperor Dragon, Chicken Game (with Terraforming getting hit), Book of Moon, E-HERO Stratos (#FreeStratos), Brionac, Witch of the Black Forest, Rescue Cat, Rescue Rabbit (#FreeRabbit) and maybe even Cyber-Stein. But that's just wild speculations based on the current OCG list.

Will the TCG list hit more cards than its OCG counterpart? Yeah, probably. The TCG F&L list is famous for being more strict than its OCG counterpart. So who knows?

That's it from me now. I'm going to refresh the TCG Forbidden and Limited list page a few more times, just to be sure...

Until next [F5] time, V out [F5].

10 September 2017

V Reviews the Deah Note Netflix Movie - A rushed mess

Last week the Death Note Netflix movie was finally released to Netflix. And it was received with "mixed" responses. But most of the agreed it was not good or flawed. But as I promised earlier on, I sat down and took an attempt to watch it.

I nodded approvingly (a few times), I cringed (A LOT) and I rolled over the floor laughing at the horribly stupid finale. That's the movie in one sentence. Let's dig a little deeper in what worked and what did NOT work in the Death Note movie.

V reviews: The Netflix Death Note movie

Casting: A mixed bag

This movie caught a lot of flack for the whitewashing of Asian roles and portraying everything in an American setting instead of Japan. I could only sigh at the ignorance of such comments. Come on people, People if you want this in an Asian setting, go watch the Japanese Death note movies. There's like six of them now.

This is an American adaptation, get over it already. Could there have been made more roles available for Asian actors? Yeah, definitely! But we got what we've got.

And what we got is poor. Let's run over this quickly:

  • Horrible casting choices: Nat Wolff as Light, Margaret Qualley as Mia and Shea Whigham as James Turner.
    Wolff is a B-grade Tobey Maguire. He looks nor acts nothing like Light from the manga/anime (safe maybe the last five minutes). Margaret looks like she would fit right in a high-school movie like Mean Girls, rather than anything related to Death Note. The most out of place character is probably Shea, who looks and acts like he has no clue in what kind of movie he's in THE ENTIRE TIME and he has no chemistry with any other character in the movie.
  • Okay casting choices: Lakeith Stanfield as L and Paul Nakauchi as Watari.
    Both are clearly good actors who are giving it the best they can. But the script often forces these two to do or say stupid shit. Don't blame the actors, blame the script.
    Also, can anybody explain to me how the only Asian actor casted ended up playing the one character that ISN'T Asian in the original story? (*facepalming*)
  • Amazing casting choice: Willem Dafoe as Ryuk. I honestly can't imagine anybody else in Hollywood as the Death God and he NAILS it! I get that the number of appearances were limited due to budget constraints; but every scene with Dafoe in it was elevated to a new height.

Pacing: Rush rush rush

The biggest flaw this movie has is that the entire feature is rushed beyond belief. The original series and manga is slowly paced, which is very fitting for a suspenseful thriller. Every chapter, every episode is paced and filled in such a way to keep you on the edge of your seat.

But in this movie everything rushes by you so fast, it's very hard to catch the minor details (apples, marbles, pictures, etc) and it makes the plot details harder to follow to those unfamiliar with the source material. It also has a consequence that things that could've been missed suddenly need to be repeated.

Honestly, this should've been a Netflix (mini-)series. This so more time could be spent on character development and the plot twists.

Image and Sound: Good and bloody awful (respectively)

The overall imagery and cinematography is one of the few things I can applaud in this movie. The overall feeling I get from watching this movie, the angles, the set pieces, etc... it's all good looking and would've made for a good movie (if the rest would've been good). There's a lot of visual clues and hints of events to come for those that spot it.

But the music? Oh my god, it's frigging awful. The overall soundtrack is bad enough as it is (it's like fit for a B or C-level movie), but the songs that are inserted in the third act are not only distracting, they literally made me roll over the floor laughing because they're so horribly chosen and don't fit the mood of the scene AT ALL.

The song used at the Ferris wheel climax is (no joke) Chicago with I don't want to live without your love. The choice is so baffling, it made me laugh non-stop for at least five minutes. The song used when Light explains his plan (The power of love from Jennifer Rush) is equally weird and distracting. And both should be moments that require your full attention. But it does the exact opposite. After the movie ended, I could only think about the stupid music and not about how the movie actually ended. That's the effect the music has on you.

The Screenplay: In need of at least two more rewrites

I need to give the movie some praise: There are hints of a good story in this script. There's a few changes to the source material that either make more sense in the modern US setting or help with Light's motivation to kill criminals.

Let me give you an example. In the manga the sole reason Light starts killing criminals in his Death Note is boredom. No, he literally says so in the first chapter and the chapter is equally named Boredom. But the change that Light is taking revenge for a failing justice system in this movie is kind of a better motivation, don't you think so?

However, for every change to the source material that is good, there's two other changes that are awful or horribly dated in 80s/90s movie cliches.

A few examples: Making Mia a cheerleader (dated cliche), removing Matsuda from the story (he's essential to the story, so why?), forcing Watari to do Light's bidding (HOW? WHY? That's impossible!), skipping out on the Lind L Tailor scene and ruining the follow-up with Light's father (WHY? The Lind L Tailor scene twist is amazing).


Killing L live on a worldwide broadcast, only to reveal it's a dupe? Brilliant!

Turning Light from a tactical mastermind into a sad duped kid

While I applaud the fact that the creators have tried to make Mia more manipulative herself (rather than be manipulated in the source material), the fact that Light is left as a sad little shell of his manga counterpart is what makes fans of the original rage on the internet. There's a reason why I keep comparing him to Tobey Maguire. He's really similar to Tobey's performance as Spider-Man in the Raimi trilogy (up to and including sad and angry faces).


Clearly the face of self-confidence and wit that Light is supposed to be...

I could only cringe at the scene where Light rushes up to Mia and says: "I have a Death Note." No really, that literally happens in the movie. He was almost begging her: "Give me attention, I have an object that may interest you!". That is 100% the complete opposite of anything Light Yagami would ever do.

What is missing from the movie

First and furmost, both famous memes are not present. The iconic scene of "I'll take a potato chip and eat it!" is nowhere to be seen, nor is the "All according to Keikaku/plan" line. But I can understand that some higher ups would be opposed to silly lines like that if they don't get the context of the source material and fandom.

But several characters have been scratched from this movie to my surprise. Yes, the absence of Light's mother is explained in the movie. But Light also has no sister in the movie (as if to emphasize that Light is a loner?).

The most surprising absence however is the character of Matsuda (or whatever they would've renamed him). Of all supporting characters, Matsuda is on one end the most sympathetic character (as the bumbling rookie cop that believes in justice), but is an essential audience point of view character. He could be the one that asks the difficult moral questions or helps avoid plot holes by asking typical "how does this work" or "how do you know that" questions.
And he would've fit right in the movie as partner to Light's father, maybe as "the only cop that sides with him", or "too young and inexperienced to judge him".

And trust me, adding a character like Matsuda would've livened up this otherwise dreary and rushed plot. Heck, due to what happens in the final episode of the anime/manga, he's technically a major character. So scratching him from the story is a missed opportunity.


Matsuda, the heart and soul of the series

Afterthought

This movie is just another wasted opportunity. And honestly, it could've been a lot better with only a handful of script rewrites. It's like they had to push this through a budgeted schedule and a lot of things ended up suffering because of it.

In the end, it's just another anime adaptation that we can put on the pile of "failed attempts". I wonder what the next one is going to be.

Rating: 5/10. It has traces of a good movie, but doesn't go further than "traces". Skip it, unless you're really interested in how they f**ked this one up.

Until next time, V out.

6 August 2017

A talk about anime, Netflix, Funimation, Sony, Aniplex and Daisuki

Wow, it's been quite a news heavy week on anime side. Usually I don't bother doing "anime news" posts, since most people know to check the ANN and CR news page from time to time. But this time around, I wanted to give a few remarks. Since there's a LOT going on which has a BIG impact on the future of how we watch anime in the future.

As usual, I first looked at this with a negative approach ("All signs of a new anime bubble!"). But after a few days of thinking this through, I realized it may not be as negative as I first thought. It's just... change. And we'll have to adapt to change, whether we like that or not.

Let's go over these news stories one by one.

Netflix announces huge anime lineup for the following year

Sources: Various, from Netflix' YT channel to various press releases on ANN, Comicbooknews and others. This week was a huge week for Netflix announcements concerning anime. Netflix had a huge press conference in Japan and announced several new series coming to Netflix in the following year and gave a few dates for expected updates. Here's the updates to already known titles:
  • Little Witch Academia (second half): August 15
  • Fate Apocrypha (season 1): November 2 (US/CAN), December 2 (rest of world)
  • Kakegurui: 2018 (no exact date)
  • Children of the Whale: Already announced earlier this month, but re-confirmed this Wednesday. The anime starts airing on Netflix Japan this coming Fall season. Rest of the world will be later.
  • Godzilla: Monster Planet: Also a re-confirmation. The animated Godzilla movie will first run in Japanese theaters in November of this year. After the theater run, it will become available on Netflix Worldwide.
  • A.I.C.O. Incarnation: A Studio Bones anime original for Netflix. It's 12 episodes and will air in Spring 2018 (worldwide?).
  • Devilman Crybaby: It's confirmed to be 10 episodes that will air in Spring 2018. If you're unfamiliar with Devilman, Netflix currently streams the series Cyborg 009 Vs Devilman. You may want to watch that if you want to have an idea of what Devilman is about.
  • Baki: I'm excited for this. I like the Baki series manga (127 volumes at this moment and still running) and has already resulted in an OVA and 2 seasons of 24 episodes back in 2001. This new anime is based on the "Baki" sub-series which ran between 1999 and 2005, and will focus on the "Most Evil Death Row Convicts" story arc, which is set after the series that have already been animated (hint). The anime will be animated by TMS Entertainment (I like their more seinen-focused direction in the last few years) and will consist of 26 episodes. The anime will air (in Japan) somewhere in 2017 (I presume in December?). No news on when it will air in the West. Somehow I hope that the other Baki series will get a Netflix release as well. May help re-vive interest in the Baki franchise.
  • Cannon Busters: LeSean Thomas' comic book already had a Shortfilm anime adaptation funded via Kickstarter (cool). An now Studio Satelight is doing a 12-episode series of it. I can only say: Awesome. No specific date yet, but let's assume somewhere in 2018.
  • Lost Song: An anime original series co-created by Liden Films (infamous for Berserk '16) & DWANGO (known for Mirai Nikki among others). The anime will air in Japan starting January '18 and will probably see a release in the West on a later date.
  • Sword Gai: The manga created by the same guy who brought the world Kamen Rider is finally getting an anime adaptation. The production had some delay (it was originally announced back in 2014), but will finally see the light of day this coming Spring 2018... Globally! Animation will be done by Studio DLE inc. (known for Akiba's Trip amonst others).
  • B: the Beginning: First announced as "Perfect Bones", but now renamed to B the Beginning (with B standing for Bones, I guess?). The story is an anime original and created by Studio I.G. And the anime will be released worldwide on Netflix in Spring 2018.
  • Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya: A CG remake of the original Saint Seiya fits in with the dozens of remakes of classic anime series. It was only a matter of time Saint Seiya would be handled. However: The first season of this new series will be 12 episodes and will contain the start up to the Silver Saints Story arc... which was 35 episodes in the original. I have mixed feelings about this. I realize there's a HUGE amount of filler in the original series (not to mention slow pacing), but this reduction is just ridiculous. On animation side, this is a Toei franchise, so it's animated by Toei... in full CG. Also mixed feelings on that.
  • Rilakkuma: Kids anime about bears in Miffy / Hello Kitty style. No surprise, it's from the company behind Hello Kitty. Much ignored by news outlets due to it being a kiddy anime. But presumed release somewhere in 2018.
  • And last but not least... Violet Evergarden: Just announced yesterday in Germany's AnimagiC 2017. Kyoto Animation's new Project already had its first episode premiered at Anime Expo a few weeks ago and did the same now at AnimagiC, with a full panel explaining further details. The show will air on Netflix Japan this upcoming January, with the rest of the world following in Spring 2018.

Lots of good news. But also lots of frustrated people due to the continuous delay of releases between East and West. Kakegurui will be released only "somewhere" in 2018? It's already the most pirated anime this season, and this announced delay is NOT going to help that (*sigh*). The few "worldwide" releases in this press conference may be a sign of changes to come in the future. Let's hope for that.

Oh, and on a side-note: The Live-action Death Note Netflix movie/flop(?) will be available from August 29. That'll be fun times for movie reviewers. I'm going to tune in as well then. Wish me luck.

Financial report states Netflix is in billion-dollar deep debt

Source: L.A. Times

Next to the big fun announcements, Netflix tried to make people forget about this earlier news report. Netflix apparently has a billion dollar debt... but it's normal, according to their investors? That's about the only positive thing I can say about this, but let's just say I'm a bit worried about the continued existence of Netflix.

The L.A. Times has created a report stating that Netflix has a debt of several BILLIONS of dollars (not millions but billions). And while the initial report was wrong, it's still a big red number. The correction?: L.A. Times originally stated the debt was 15.7 billion, while Netflix corrected that to 4.8. Okay, that's less than 10% of initially stated, so a correction was necessary. But 4.8 billion dollar is still a huge debt!

And yes, everybody invested in Netflix finds this apparently pretty normal since Netflix has always worked with debts in order to finance their business. And the financial "game plan" that Netflix has layed-out to its investors has them content with their plans for the future.

I'm no financial expert, so I personally can't say if this is a normal way of working for a streaming service or TV-station. And their financial plan may indeed succeed and bring them many years of success (god, I hope so). But I'm worried, because constant debts aren't healthy for any company. And I'm honestly not alone in this way of thinking. Industry experts are already warning for a "Netflix Bubble". Let's cross fingers and hope this isn't going to be a repeat of the anime bubble from a decade ago...

Funimation is bought by Sony Pictures

Source: Variety

The big surprise early this week was the bomb that Funimation has been bought by Sony Pictures Television Networks (that IS the full name of the TV-series sub branch of Sony) for the sum of $143 million. And yes, while it had been reported earlier this year that "multiple partners" were looking to purchase Funimation, it still feels like a surprise to anime fans in general.

And this should be good news, right? While Funimation is thé standard for licensing and dubbing anime in the US for the past two decades, it's still a relatively small player in the TV and movie business overall (don't forget, anime IS still considered a niche product in the entirety of entertainment). So having a big company like Sony behind its shoulders, should put them in a real solid foundation, and may push anime towards mainstream acceptation, right?

Yes, in theory. But it's having many people worry about the future of anime in America, not to mention the deal with Crunchyroll to share their streaming libraries. Sony Pictures isn't exactly been known for their "great business decisions" in the past few years (putting it nicely here).

There's also the fear that Funimation may close its streaming service all together to have everything move to Sony's online service "Crackle". And if you've never heard of that, neither did I until this week. That's how well known this service is in the world of streaming.

And while I think the dubbing division of Funi is in no risk of any change (in fact, Sony may take use of it), the current distribution partnerships (both of movie releases as physical releases) may have to merge with whatever Sony currently has.

Another good thing is that Funimation will have a hold of all Sony anime movies (like the Cowboy Bebop movie, Satoshi Kon's movies and others). Bad thing is that Funi may have to focus their dubbing efforts in Sony/Aniplex projects (read as: anything A1 Pictures spits out, whether it's "good" or horribly bad) and less on other projects.

But a lot of these questions are still up in the air. ANN's Answerman has tried to answer some questions. But for other effects, we'll have to see what announcements are going to be made in the coming weeks/months.

Although, while talking about Aniplex projects...

Daisuki officially ends on October 31

Source: Daisuki itself

One of the bigger Streaming Services of legal anime is Daisuki. I have been praising the service as one of the alternative streaming services. This service was part of Bandai-Namco and held most of its titles (availability depended on licenses).

And yes, It has quite a few anime series on its site, like Eromanga Sensei, a LOT of Gundam series including Iron-Blooded Orphans, Tales of Zesteria the X, One Punch Man and several others. Yes, even here in Belgium.

But people were aware that things had "slowed down" on the site recently. Several of its licenses were either ending or became available on other streaming sites (like the Gundam series becoming available on Crunchyroll) and no real new titles were added this summer season (that I'm aware of). They were also absent from recent anime conventions where they usually took part in.

So Tuesday came the announcement that the streaming service is officially ending at the end of October and in December everything that was connected to Daisuki will be removed from the internet.

Has this something to do with the Funimation deal? Yes, definitely! Aniplex (subsidiary of Sony) is one of the five studios who was partnered with Daisuki and had 13.4% of its shares. So yes, there IS a connection between the two cases.

Is this bad or good? THAT all depends on what the four other anime studios backing Daisuki are going to do. Aniplex obviously is going to use Funimation and/or Sony's streaming services for their anime. But are they going to "involve" the other animation studios behind Daisuki as well into their new plans (like Toei and TMS), or did Aniplex bail this "team-up" all together? The coming months will probably provide us with more answers.

Afterthoughts

There have been some questions about the financial gains of streaming sites in general, not to mention anime streaming sites (which, once again, is a niche). But all these news messages in this post are a sign that the anime industry is changing in general. If anything, I think this may push anime into actual mainstream and out of its niche.

I'll be following the anime industry related news more closely now. And it's bound to follow.

Until next time, V out.

1 August 2017

Is Code of the Duelist is a total miss? - A Yu-Gi-Oh set review

Back from holiday! I took a break, started a subscription with Netflix that got me hooked... and I really need to finish a bunch of half-written blog posts now, do I? (*scratches head and swears*). Oh well, Shoganai. Let's start with this one, while it's fresh.

Now that Link Summoning has become a thing and with new rules, I decided to give Yu-Gi-Oh another shot. I participated in the sneak peek last weekend, but noticed a lack of interest in the set.

I hadn't really payed any attention to what was in the set, other than the Spellbook "Destiny Draw" card, so I was kind of surprised at the lackluster turnout at the events. Due to this, I wanted to dig a little deeper (that's what I do) and see what went wrong. And yes, the set is a total stinker. But it does have a handful of cards worth noting. Let's review:

Is Code of the Duelist a total miss?

A: No real money cards

Biggest problem from the get-go is that there are no cards in here that are worth a lot. There is no Ash Blossom or Pot of Desires or Solemn Strike or anything in here. The priciest card right now (before the set is even out) is Firewall Dragon, which you can get below €40. And that is the hero's key card at sneak peek price (you know that decreases real fast real soon). And "key card" means: This card will be reprinted over and over again, just like every other Key card (Utopia/Pendulum Dragon/Dark Magician/Neos/Stardust).

So underline is: You can buy it if you really need it for your deck. But you will regret spending money on it.

B: Trickstars is not the archetype you are looking for

Fact: Of the new archetypes in this and the next set, only Trickstar is doing anything in the OCG meta on a really small scale. And there's a big asterisk that needs to be added to it due to the OCG meta being different to ours. Over here, I doubt it will do anything at this moment and with the current cardpool. Yes, I know YOU can make a good deck that will do well at locals. But outside of that, nothing.

However, Trickstar Reincarnation itself can be used outside of the archetype and will become a key card in discard decks if that would ever become meta again (you never know with Yu-Gi-Oh). Banishing the opponent's current hand and forcing him to redraw IS an amazing effect.

So underline: Buy 3 Trickstar Reincarnations when they get cheaper, ignore the other Trickstars.

C: Forget about World Chalice

Thé new non-anime archetype that starts in this set is World Chalice (Star Chalice in OCG). You can instantly forget about it. It's not good and it receives very little support in the next set.

D: Chaossworn is not that good

Hate to be the one to tell you, but while the "Twilightsworn" cards may be a good addition to the Chaos Lightsworn decks... they're not good enough to make it tournament-worthy. The new Ryko is amazing, the new Lumina is Great! The new Lyla is good, Jain is "okay" and Punishment Dragon is very iffy and more of a brick draw than JD ever was. Not to mention that constantly banishing your Lightsworns and Twilightsworns is turning JD himself into a brick. You want to keep a certain amount of Lightsworns in the grave.

Maybe this could improve if more Twilightsworn cards would appear. But guess what: Next set has ZERO Twilightsworns. It's really a one-set addition (lol, wut?). So no Wulf, no Ehren, no Raiden or whatever. And that is bad, because I can imagine a bunch of card effects for them that could improve the deck (and I doubt I'm alone).

Underline: Ignore, unless you play Chaossworn. If so: Wait until the prices drop even further and then pick up 3 Lumina's, 2 Ryko's, 1 Punishment and 1-2 Lyla's just in case.

E: TCG Exclusives: F.A. is not good, too soon to judge Vendread

Of the TCG Exclusive card pool, the only cards that seem interesting are the TCG exclusive Vendread archetype, which focuses on ritual summoning Zombies, with huge boost effects. However, with only a handful of cards it's really too early to fully judge it.

Yes, in the future this archetype has the chance to be the next B.A. or Kozmo, But right now it's not good enough yet. But take note in case if it does get better, the most expensive card from the archetype is 5€ at sneak peek value (Vendread reorigin). Reason being that the Spyral dud is still fresh in people's mind.

Underline: Invest in single cards while everything is cheap. This could get good in the future, but beware that this might as well be another TCG hype dud.

F: OCG imports are underwhelming

I've complained about underwhelming OCG promo imports in the past. And this time is no different. The 10 cards that have been added are underwhelming to say it in a nice way. Yes, they all support some fan-favorite archetype (if you stretch the meaning of the words). But none of the archetypes have been relevant in a long while and with the Link format change I doubt that'll change. So no surprise that every card is a friggin' common in here.

G: Other cards worth noting?

The Supreme King Servant Dragons are in here, if you play the new Pendulum Magician Deck that focuses on summoning Z-ARC. That is a legit deck in the OCG, and luckily they're all just plain rares (*sigh of relief*).

Missus Radiant and Gaia Saber are somewhat splashable Link cards, considering there's nothing better in the market. Useful now, but you'll forget about them in a year or so. So pick them up, but don't spend TOO much on them.

Spellbook of Knowledge is the Destiny Draw card that Prophecy/Spellbook decks needed, but next to that it turns Spellbooks into a real engine that can be splashed everywhere. I've seen the combo of Spellbook Secrets/Knowledge/Magician pop up EVERYWHERE in the OCG. If you need to buy anything from this set, it's THIS card. Pick it up while it's still below €10. Because after people start noticing that this engine works, it's going to become expensive.

Overall: Is this set worth investing in?

No. But it's not a total disaster either. Buy those single cards where necessary. But keep in mind that buying a full box is going to guarantee you a net loss of value.

But buy those single cards while they're cheap. This set has a good chance to become another "Starstrike Blast". Horrible when released, but the splashable cards will see a price spike since nobody wants to buy boxes.

Until next time, V out.

17 July 2017

V reviews: Spider-Man Homecoming

First off: beware, there are some minor spoilers in this review. I'll keep it to a minimum, but you've been warned ahead of time.

If you want to remain spoiler-free (as you should), go watch the movie. It's good! Best Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2.

V Reviews: Spider-Man Homecoming

Some thoughts prior to watching the movie

When Amazing Spider-Man 2 came around, the premiere in Belgium (and Europe in general) was more than a week ahead of the US. We warned everybody to stay the hell away from it. In response we now got the release a week AFTER the US. Eh, it could be worse. DC has punished us for the same thing (badmouthing BvS) by pushing Wonder Woman almost a month after the US release, way after the hype had passed. Still kind of annoyed by that (hence why I didn't bother writing a review for that).

If you want to know my sentiments about Spider-Man? I friggin' love the franchise. I grew up with Spider-Man TAS from the 90s (one of my favorite shows) and I've read many of the comics ever since. And any kind of interpretation of the character at least gets a chance from me. So if you want to know my favorite Spider-Men?

  1. Spider-Man TAS: Still the best to this day, even though it hasn't aged that well. The reason why this is nr 1 is because this series had multiple seasons to explore the most of the Spider-Man lore compared to any other series and did those things justice. Heck, even the animated Clone sage was better than its comic counterpart (though for obvious reasons).
  2. Spectacular Spider-Man: Great show. Cancelled WAY too soon to be replaced with one of the worst. If it had at least one more season and a proper ending, it certainly would've topped Spider-Man TAS.
  3. Reimy's Spider-Man Trilogy: 2 great movies, one bad one
  4. Spider-Man The New Animated Series: Better known as Spider-Man MTV. Kind of liked the re-invention in CG. Had good moments while it lasted. Silver Sable and Electro were the most memorable things here.
  5. Spider-Man Unlimited: A sequel of sorts to Spider-Man TAS that took place in a totally different planet. Kind of worked, but was way too weird for it to really catch on. Cancelled after one season.
  6. Spider-Man and his amazing friends: Boy this hasn't aged well. I kind of want to like this. This was supposed to be Human Torch, Iceman and Spider-Man. But since Iceman and Torch were too much alike, they changed her for the original female Firestar. Nice twist that gave this series something noteworthy compared to the next two entries.
  7. 80s Spider-Man: In the middle on this. Can't remember much of this, so I'll put it in the middle.
  8. 60s Spider-Man: Hard to criticize this, since the show is so old and I can't bear to ever watch this again. But it's been the source of tons of golden memes, so I can't really be mad at it.
  9. Ultimate Spider-Man: Boy, did I give this series a chance. And another one. And another one. After a certain certain episode where Spider-Man proved himself to be better than both Wolverine and Captain America I was so disgusted by it that I stopped watching it all together. This series is bad, should get cancelled and go burn itself in a junkyard. The one good thing this series has done is Deadpool. Deadpool is the best character of Ultimate Spider-Man. That's how bad this series is.
  10. Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man 1+2: The first was "bleh". It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't good either. I hated Garfield's impression of Peter Parker, but his Spider-Man character was decent and the chemistry with Gwen Stacy worked! But then came ASM2 and with it came the first movie i saw in theater and walked away from totally pissed. This movie sucked so bad.

What this movie gets right: Not re-hashing the origin story AGAIN!

You know what everybody complained about in Batman Vs Superman? Everybody hated on the YET-AGAIN origin story for Batman. We've seen it several times at this point. Most people know by now how Batman "began". So seeing it being done again just was another drip of oil being poured onto the lit fire

In Spider-Man Homecoming the writers stayed away from it. No spider-bite, no uncle Ben, no weirdly annoying subplot of Peter's parents that goes nowhere (looking at you, ASM2). Peter was introduced in Civil War and now his story starts from that point onward. No looking back at "how it all began". And that's good, because the movie already takes up more than 2 hours without that.

A few more things get omitted from this film, like the over-reliance on the spider-Sense and "swinging through the city to show off how good (or dated) our CG is". Yeah, the Reimy films didn't age well on that part.

What this movie gets right: Villains

Marvel villains suck in general. But there's two groups of villains in the Marvel universe that are as good as Batman's rogue gallery: The rogue gallery of the X-Men and especially Spider-Man. And while a lot of people were skeptical of seeing the Vulture (of all things) being adapted to the movie screen, I must say the adaption was AMAZING! Michael Keaton smashes EVERY OTHER incarnation of the Vulture out of the park and re-introduces him as a working man. A common man who went the villain route due to being forced there by "the big guys". And there's a plot twist in the story (I'm not going to spoil) that even cements him harder into the spider-lore and genuinely turned him into one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe villains to date (which is not THAT hard, all things considered).

And next to the Vulture, we get a few more Spider-Man Villains in here, working as henchmen for the Vulture. And honestly, this is how that works best. I know people have complained about it, but let's be real. Shocker has always been a kind of a "lackey" for a greater villain, so seeing him work under Vulture makes sense. And Tinkerer was never that well known, so him being part of Vulture's crew made sense.

And then there's the setup for another villain that will (most likely) appear in the sequel. Most people caught the tattoo on the bad guy both times he appears and branded him as said villain. But I guess most of them never heard it when the Vulture's crew was talking about said villain's actual name (not going to spoil it) earlier in the movie. I guess I'm a little bit too much of a Spider-Nerd, so I caught it immediately and got my "oooooooh" moment there.

What this movie gets right: Re-introducing classic characters in a modern setting

Guess what. Queens of the 60s isn't the same Queens as it is today. Today's Queens is a melting pot of cultures and minorities. Asians, African-Americans, Northern Africans, Latino's, Italians and many other people make up the people of current-day New York. So it wouldn't make sense if every Spider-Character is Caucasian. And I kind of like it that both Peter and the Vulture are some of the few white people in a totally culturally mixed environment.

Is it pandering? Maybe. But New York is culturally very diverse. If this was the US outback, where >90% of the population is white, then an approach closer to the comics would've worked better. But again, this is New York. This multicultural approach works the best in this specific environment.

Also, Flash no longer being an archetype cliche bully works wonders. He's still an asshole, but he's no longer a 70s or 80s high school movie archetype of a bully. He's now being an obnoxious rich kid that goes to every club activity and after-school activity that Peter has as well, so he can't ignore this asshole.

Zendaya as the new MJ (not that much of a spoiler, it's everywhere on the internet) kinda works. It's still kind of iffy, mostly because she and Holland at this moment still have 0 chemistry. We'll see what a sequel brings.

What this movie gets right: A dorky Peter and a funny Spider-man

Tobey Maguire did a perfect job portraying Peter Parker as a dork, but felt kind of awkward when he donned the Spider-Man mantle. Andrew Garfield was way too cool to portray Peter. That never really worked. And his Spider-man was often more of a jerk than genuinely a funny guy. Tom Holland is both a dork as Peter, as well as an inexperienced, yet funny Spider-Man. And I love it. Depending on how Sony (mis)uses Tom Holland, this may end up being the best incarnation of the Spider-Man character to this date.

Time for some nit-picking!

Note: the following may sound a bit negative, but at best I'm just nitpicking at a good movie. Please take that into account.

What this movie doesn't get that right: MCU Connections

Before I start my complaint, first some kudo's. Marvel's writing team did their best to work in Spider-Man into the MCU and retconning "the kid" from Iron Man 2 as Spider-Man. But there's a few moments where I really frown my brows. How many years have passed since the Avengers movie? EIGHT? Really? That was never established before.

And while the cameo's from Iron Man, Happy Hogan and Pepper are limited to the bare minimum, some things still feel forced in. It's like Spider-Man's tech suit itself. This movie often feels like it is in "baby mode", with training wheels attached to it. And while this franchise needs it (considering the last three movies), it feels like pandering.

Though as a side-note: the tech suit with its many easter eggs was fun to watch as a total Spider-Nerd. I giggled at all the little details I recognized. But I doubt many people recognized the many easter eggs as well.

What this movie doesn't get right: Avoiding movie tropes, only to fall right back into it

Oh, this movie tries so hard at avoiding any movie trope. It's like they did research on Honest Trailers and CinemaSins and made a checklist of things to avoid or to better explain. And while they did their best, they can't avoid falling right into it. Perfect example? Minor "bad guy" Aaron Davis gets caught by Spider-Man and tells him who his real target is. And when Peter is running away, he yells "Wait, I haven't even told you where he is!", which is a great answer to the movie trope of heroes popping up out of nowhere where the villain is.

And that WOULD have been a really good sneer at countless movies that use this common trope... if they didn't fell into that same trope about an hour later into the movie (*facepalms*). Yeah, in the finale Peter suddenly pops up out of nowhere without the use of trackers. And that's sad, considering the movie takes so many attempts to specifically avoid this movie trope, having an explanation ready for every other random appearance.

What this movie doesn't get right: Visual effects

Thank god, this doesn't happen all the time. But there really are a few moments where the visuals just fail. Most notably is the first encounter between Vulture and Spider-Man. It's unwatchable, plain and simple. The shaky cam and the horrible angles ensure you can't make anything of the scene except: "Peter got picked up and dropped". All the rest from that scene? Unwatchable. Luckily the encounters after that have a better choreography.

Another weak point is the sometimes bad CG-ing of Spider-Man swinging around. Once again, doesn't happen in the entire movie. But the moments where the CG team drops the ball, it really shows. But then again, it's an issue that has occurred in EVERY Spider-Man movie, so I assume it's just very difficult to do.

Lastly, the homage to the debris lifting scene from the Ditko days was kind of undercut by the poor filming choices. It's not bad per sé... It just could've been done better.

So how does it compare to the other Spider-Man movies?

Hold on before you fire shots. I liked the movie. My "what this movie doesn't get right" parts are only to highlight a few of the weaker points in an otherwise GOOD movie. Think of it as constructive feedback for a sequel.

And it is constructive feedback, bacause this IS the Best Spider-Man movie ever since Spider-Man 2. I'd honestly give this an 8,5/10. And I need to rewatch that one in order to give a proper judgment. But at the moment, this may be the second best of all Spider-Man movies. And a noteworthy 4th place in my earlier top list of all Spider-Man related shows/movies. Let's hope Sony keeps it up in the future...

A sad future

Sadly enough, this isn't only a Marvel property. It's also a Sony property. And Sony has a horrible sleight of hand when handling their franchises. As long as people like Amy Pascel, Avi Arad and Tom Rothman are attached to the Spider-Man brand, it will continue to fail if not properly managed by Marvel. And all of them have already shown signs of future failure. The "Glass Ceiling" movie that was canned suddenly got back on track. So did the Venom movie and the Sinister Six movie. And let me tell you right now: Unless a miracle occurs all three of those movies are going to suck big time or disappoint fans in a big way. I honestly thought the Spider-franchise was saved when Sony and Marvel joined hands. But I couldn't have been more wrong. Sony just cannot learn from their mistakes... (*sigh*). I can only hope I'm wrong here.

Ending on a positive note

But let's end on a positive note here. Let's just ignore all corporate shenanigans and focus solely on this movie. Spider-Man Homecoming IS a good movie and IS worth your time.

Until next time, V out.

PS: I'll edit this a few times for pictures. It's kind of a long block of text right now.

10 July 2017

Why nobody talks about Atom the Beginning

Spring season of anime is over. I should be writing more about it. But I've been trying to find a way to write about anime, rather than just giving the synopsis and characters; especially in the case where there's not much to talk about the backstory (*scratches head* - Let's call that a work in progress).

Today I'm talking about Atom the Beginning, and why it doesn't work as intended. The short answer: Filler. Yeah, filler! And if that seem strange for a 1-season anime, that's because IT IS!

But let's start from the beginning about...

Why nobody talks about Atom the Beginning

What IS Atom the Beginning?

Atom the Beginning is a monthly manga created by Tetsuro Kasahara that works both as a re-imagining of, as well as a prequel to the legendary Tetsuwan Atom, better known in the west as Astro Boy. And if you don't know who Astro Boy or Atom is, then shame on you as an anime fan! It is thé creation from the godfather of manga and anime: Osamu Tezuka. Astro Boy is to Japan what characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny are to America.

And while Astro Boy has been remade several times ever since its first appearance in the early 60s, this is the first of a set of "re-imaginings" that actually reaches the screen (with Urasawa's Pluto following somewhere in the following year).

Atom the Beginning tells the story of the two scientists (Umatarō Tenma and Hiroshi Ochanomizu) that were behind the creation of Atom (or its code name A1011 if you catch the inside reference) and tells us how these two originally met in university and how their first creations went. And more specifically, it tells the story of the prototype that predates Atom, codenamed A106 (A-Ten-Six). And yes, that is as intriguing as it sounds. Both Tenma and Ochanomizu (neither of them is "doctor" yet, but still a univ student) are shown to care about each other and their creations, even if their personalities often clash with each other. The over-caring Ochanomizu can't always agree with the often erratic Tenma.

And if you know anything about Atom-lore, you know that this is an interesting premise for an Atom-prequel and "what-if" story. And similar to other "Atom" spin-offs, this as well got input from Makoto Tezuka, the daughter of Osamu Tezuka (and also from Masami Yuki for some reason). And from what I've read from the 10 chapters that have been fan-translated, it IS a good manga.

But if that is true, what went wrong with the anime?

Amazon Anime Strike, late air date and lack of promotion

First, let's talk about a few factors that may have been an influence on why not that many people talk about the series in general.

The anime series is exclusive to Amazon's Anime Strike, where anime goes to die. It's a bad joke that bears repeating. anime exclusive to Amazon will reach a smaller audience because of exclusivity to America and a high combined monthly subscription fee (though that may change in the future).

Then there's the air date for the first episode, which was the fourth week of April (if you include the first weekend). That may seem trivial to you, but when the seasonal anime watchers (the trend setters of the community) are trying to pick their series for the new season, it's the series that start airing in the first week of the new season that will receive a larger coverage. It's a marketing strategy, really. The later on in the season you start your series, the less coverage and buzz you will receive. And in a season where you're competing with Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia and Eromanga sensei you will need all the buzz that is thrown in your direction.


Thank Gigguk for hyping the TOURNAMENT ARC!

And then there is the minimal amount of promotion. Heck, I wouldn't have noticed the series if people from the anime community weren't pointing to this series as the one where the internet sensation Bahi JD is working on the opening and end credits. And since Westerners (Bahi is Austrian) working in the anime scene is REALLY RARE, that generated a lot of buzz. But that was buzz from the community... not from the marketing department of the series. From that side we got two promo video's, but that was about it.

So it's safe to say that this series was flying under the radar for a lot of people. But it still could've been a "hidden gem" to promote... but then something else happened that prevented even that from happening.

Codeword: Filler

The comments on the first episodes haven't been nice. I could spill all the bile I can gather from MAL forums and Reddit. But in short: the story takes way too long to set up its premise. It's too slow and thus too boring.

And yes, I can agree with that sentiment. By the time the interesting part of the story starts (the robo-wrestling tournament), we're already at episode 8/12 while this is chapter 4 of the manga. Yes, it takes that long. Episodes 3, 4, 6 and 7 are filler... and so is episode 9. Yes, that is FIVE episodes of pure filled-up content in a 12-episode run. I don't think I've EVER heard of an anime that started to use filler THIS EARLY in its production cycle.

Do you know what most people hated about series like Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail? What brought a lot of their ratings and fan appreciations down? The massive amounts of filler episodes. Fillers are non-canon and often serve just to fill out a time-slot until enough manga chapters are ready to be animated. They're needed in long-running series, but nobody likes them.


And do I even need to mention the nonsense fillers add to the story?

And in such long-running series I can (somewhat) understand the use of filler. But here? Can somebody tell me why 5 of the 12 episodes of Atom the Beginning are Filler? Don't come and tell me there isn't enough material available, because there is. The monthly manga has been running for nearly three years and has sufficient material to fill up a 12-episode time-slot and even more.

And if the creators were testing the waters to see if they would care for a more long-running series of this kind, they most certainly failed. Because once again, nobody likes fillers.


Oh yes, we certainly needed a culture festival episode
Because we all wanted to see A106 make udon noodles, right?

So for crying out loud... WHY? It will probably take months (or even years) before we get honest interview of staff, director or producer on what went wrong here; but we're going to need some explanation. Because the end result is just not worth the investment of a casual anime viewer.

And that is sad because I wanted to praise this series. I want to let the anime community know that there is a huge interest in the Atom franchise in Japan and the rest of the world. I wanted to warm the people up for the upcoming Pluto series and who knows - maybe even the fifth-or-so reboot of the Atom television series as a whole.

And this anime has gorgeous visuals, the OP and ED are really good (Thanks to Bahi JD), the CG blends in really well with the 2D animation and the voice cast is really good. Everything but the story is really GOOD.

But as with most anime, the story is what makes or breaks the series.

And here, it's broken into pieces and patched together with a poor adhesive.

Can I still watch and enjoy it?

Yes, you can, but with a big asterisk next to it. The second half of the series is really good and really enjoyable to watch. The robo-wrestling tournament was always intended to be the highlight of the season and it shows. For those episodes alone this anime is worth watching (Episodes 8-12).

So err, just skip episodes 3 - 4 - 6 - 7 and maybe even 9 (though that one kind of works), and you'll have the story that was originally intended. The 4 mentioned episodes? Skip those and pretend they never existed. This way, you may still be able to enjoy Atom the Beginning.

It's a sad truth, but that's what it is.

Until next time, V out.