Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tokyo Majin dvd review

In most ways the first five episodes of Tokyo Majin resemble other dark, graphic supernatural action series involving a team of individuals brought together by their powers and circumstance to combat paranormal threats. Like X, Ten Tokyo Warriors, and several others, the heroes come from diverse backgrounds, have diverse powers generally in tune with their natures, do not necessarily get along with each other, and fit comfortably within well-established archetypes. While it may emphasize its horror aspect a bit more than most, such a slant is too common in the genre to give this series any separation.

The one place where Majin does distinguish itself from other titles of its ilk – in its propensity to insert goofy moments – cannot be considered a plus. The creators go through all of this effort to establish an effectively dark and edgy environment only to disrupt it with random silliness like the nature of Anko's first appearance, her being bottled up in a large vase later in the volume, or the ridiculously caricatured appearance of Daigo's wrestling team. Sure, Hellsing Ultimate gets away with a similar approach, but in that case it fits better because of the high-spirited nature of the series; for all its graphic content, it isn't meant to be taken entirely seriously. This one, contrarily, relies too heavily on its serious content for its credibility and plot progression to tolerate the inanity it has. This becomes increasingly apparent later in the volume when Anko, whose overzealous “get the scoop” efforts make her one of the primary sources of comic relief, gets into a situation which radically changes her demeanor, thus pulling her out of that role. (Whether this will be a temporary change or not remains unclear at the end of the volume.) The only place where the humor does work is in the behavior of the teacher Maria, but that may be because her behavior is more a reflection of her attitude than an outright attempt to be funny.

Occasionally disjointed storytelling and storyboarding also presents a problem. Dropping viewers into the middle of the story and using the second or third episode to fill in the backstory is a common structure in anime series that often works well, but the first episode throws out so many things without explanation or adequate context that it becomes a confused jumble. At other times the story jumps around too much without adequately connecting scenes, and in some places shots are outright missing; for instance, late in episode 4 Komaki is shown standing upright on her own in one shot, then is inexplicably being cradled in a teammate's arms on the ground when the perspective on the same scene changes.

The writing does have some upside, however. While the principle characters may not appear at first to be anything more than the one-dimensional role-players required for the parts, as the volume progresses the female side of the roster gradually starts to demonstrate more depth than that. This becomes most evident in what happens to Anko, but the tomboyish Komaki also shows some insecurities (and possibly suppressed feelings) beginning with episode 5 and Aoi eventually reveals that there may be more to her than her idealistic, irritatingly spineless persona; how someone as unassertive as her became student council president remains to be explained, but flashbacks suggest that she has some lingering Serious Issues shaping her character. Maria offers a lively but not over-the-top addition as the homeroom teacher, and fellow teacher IMAGI has yet to reveal where his eccentricities may be leading. By contrast, the annoyingly rude Kyouichi is still locked firmly into his brash delinquent role, Tatsuma never seems to do much except play along as needed, Daigo shows little character beyond being sweet on Komaki, and Kisaragi behaves like an arrogant jerk towards everyone except Aoi. It could, of course, just be that their turns haven't come up yet.

Beyond the aforementioned caricatures, character designs favor stylized faces, slightly angular looks, and hairdos with sharp edges. So many different characters have stray strands of hair sticking out that it must be some kind of weird fashion statement. None of the designs beyond possibly Aoi and Daigo impress much, nor does the background art, and all of the visuals have a dull haziness to their coloring which makes it seem like one is viewing the series through some kind of filter. The animation, which often looks stiff and only barely supports the action scenes, also fails to impress. No fan service will be found here, but the graphic violence and occasional English obscenities in graffiti warrant a TV-MA rating.

“Eclectic” may not be a strong enough word to describe a musical score that wanders all over the map. The hard rock songs by ACID that serve as the opener and closer may seem to set the tone, but only in the episodes about the demonic guitarist do heavy rock themes prevail. In other places classical music pieces and violin solos predominate, while still others rely on electronica numbers and standard spooky themes. It could be praised for being flexible or criticized for being unable to settle on a unifying theme, depending on the viewer's point of view.

ADV's English dub features a handful of seasoned veterans sprinkled amongst a principle cast light on experience but not lacking for talent. Casting and performances fit fine with the originals, with the voice of the doctor at the end of episode five actually sounding better in English due to having the deeper, throatier (and possibly electronically lowered) sound one would expect of someone so big. English scripting stays reasonably close.

Nothing beyond previews clean opener and closer can be found amongst the Extras, so purchasers must content themselves with five full episodes.

Based on its first volume, Tokyo Majin shows at least some potential as a decent supernatural action series which may be headed towards some real character developments. It must prove that it can sort out the problems it shows in its first five episodes, and decide whether it wants to be a lighter or more dedicatedly horrific tale, before meriting a recommendation, however

Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : C+
Art : B-
Music : B+
+ Varied but effective musical score, presents horror overtones well.
Not consistent on tone, lackluster animation, writing flaws.

review by : Theron Martin, Nov 27 2007


Eidos Montreal boss divulges first real info on the just-announced sequel

Deus Ex 3 is using the new engine powering the Tomb Raider revival, the boss at Eidos Montreal has revealed.

"We chose the Crystal [Dynamics] engine because we plan to help develop this engine more and then share it back with the rest of the company, the other Eidos studios. Having that technology from the start gives us a great advantage and foundation for our coders - there are no doubts about the approach, and we have few uncertainties", Stephane D'Astous has told Develop in an interview.

"We just want to all work together on improving the same technology as we develop our game".

Speaking generally about Deus Ex 3, D'Astous admitted that it's "an incredible title to be working on" and a major challenge as a first project for the newly established Eidos Montreal studio. But he was keen to try and reassure us it's in good hands.

"All the developers working on Deus Ex 3 pretty much know the series inside and out - coming here, they were pretty aware of the opportunity and what they could do", D'Astous explained.

"We did our research to find out what worked well, what people enjoyed about it - especially the first game. The second was a success in the eyes of some, but had some ups and downs, so we've tried to identify what worked well in that game.

"Most importantly, we're extracting what worked well and can be applied now. In the five, six years since that series arrived technology has changed significantly and we have to be careful - we don't want to create more of the same. Instead we've identified the features that can be transposed well onto new technology that arrived several years later.

"It's a big mandate we have received - and we take it very seriously", D'Astous added.

The critically acclaimed Deus Ex is regarded by many as the finest PC game ever made, although sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War failed to live up to expectations.

Deus Ex 3 was confirmed earlier this week, the confirmation accompanied by a teaser trailer.

[Source: Develop]

Courtesy of CVG

Metal Gear Solid 4 needs to be a million-seller on day one in order to recoup its heavy development costs

Most game companies would be happy if a game reached 1 million in sales during its lifetime. But MGS4 assistant producer Ryan Payton told Reuters that Konami's highly-anticipated sneak-and-destroy title will need to hit that milestone on day one due to high development costs.

Payton and Konami are confident in reaching that goal.

"We're telling our fans that if you want to play Metal Gear Solid 4, you have to buy a PS3," Payton said. "...The PlayStation brand has always been good to us, and we're pretty bullish on the PS3."

Despite Konami's confidence, Sony Computer Entertainment America's Peter Dille said that Sony has been anticipating the end of the third-party exclusive.

"We understand publishers are needing to recoup their investment," he said. "From our perspective, as long as the games aren't going exclusive to other platforms, PS3 gamers are not actually losing anything."

To date, just two PS3 games have broke the million mark.

Currently, MGS4 is a third-party exclusive title for PS3, which limits its sales considerably. Worldwide, the console has sold over six million units, around half of the total amount of Xbox 360, a console that could potentially host MGS4 on a technical level.

However, one shouldn't underestimate the Metal Gear fan base. There's an enormous amount of interest surrounding the title, particularly in the US, and with the recent PS3 price cut, the console's installed base is experiencing an uptake in sales.

Source: Next Generation