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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Far East of Eden: Ziria Oboro Hen: No Orange-Suited Ninjas to be Found Here, No Siree

There are so many RPG video game franchises that have never made it outside of Japan, and there are so many within that category that have yet managed to retain a respectable cult following outside of Japan. Possibly one of the most notable examples of that is Hudson Soft & Red Entertainment's Tengai Makyou. While it is more accurately translated as The Devil's Cave Outside Heaven, the franchise has the official English name of Far East of Eden, a portmanteau of the terms "Far East" & "East of Eden". The creation of Ouji Hiroi, best known as the creator of the Sakura Wars franchise, the concept behind Far East of Eden is an admittedly amusing one. Essentially, each main game is meant to be treated as an adaptation of a book that is a part of a series written by 19th century sociologist/historian Paul Hieronymus "P.H." Chada, which all took place in a land called Jipang, which is essentially a fictional version of Japan that is based on all of the misconceptions & tall stories that Western society has about Japan throughout history. When the first game, Tengai Makyou Ziria (pronounced "Jiraiya"), came out in 1989 it became an instant hit, partially due to it being the first JRPG ever released on CD for a console (the PC-Engine CD-ROM²). It was so successful that in mid-1990 Takara, Kadokawa, & TMS teamed up to make a two-episode OVA adaptation of said game. Itwas given the subtitle of Oboro Hen (which translates directly as "Strange Haze", & likely uses alternate kanji to be purposefully odd), but like every other entry in this franchise (minus a single fighting game for the Neo Geo), it remains a Japan-exclusive; it was re-released on DVD in 2005, first alongside the third game on PS2, followed by a general release. Therefore, let's see if this OVA could possibly work as an introduction for newcomers, such as myself.

After being told not to go after it by his friend Kumokiri, young thief Ziria decides to go after the treasure belonging to Hiruko, a beast that was sealed away long ago by the legendary Izanami & Izanagi. It's supposedly housed within Shirotaka Castle & guarded by Princess Yuki, but Ziria isn't the only one who's interested in Hiruko. A demonic wizard named Jashinsai wants to use Hiruko's power to bring back to life a giant clockwork soldier that's housed within the neighboring Kurotaka Castle, hoping to use it to rule over all of Jipang. It's up to Ziria, Kumokiri, a kabuki/mystic named Orochimaru, & a young, axe-wielding girl named Tsunade (who's a mega fan of Orochimaru's kabuki act) to stop Jashinsai & save the day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Demo Disc Vol. 5: Rowdy Robos

The Spring 2016 season has started, and there are shows that I am looking forward to, eventually, watching; maybe I'll even watch them as they come out. But before I go full bore into the likes of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Ushio & Tora Season 2, & My Hero Academia, I have something else to do first. Yes, it's time for another Volume of Demo Disc, and this time we'll be returning to the subject of Volume 1 & checking out another selection of anime featuring robots of the giant kind from the 70s to the 90s, plus a robot of the smaller kind from the 00s.

King of the Vast Sky, Groizer X
Knack (now known as Ichi Productions) will forever go down in anime history for being two things: Cheap & Derivative. Now, to be fair, the studio's later OVA productions of the 90s, like Crows or Grappler Baki, were respectable & overall enjoyable anime, but there's no way that short productions like those will ever remove the mark (or maybe it's just a pit stain) of Knack's TV output of the 70s & 80s. Titles like Gekko Kamen, Astroganger, Chargeman Ken!, & Attacker You! were either very cheaply produced or were very blatant copies of more popular anime (or even both). Oddly enough, however, one prolific creator was more than happy to work with Knack on two occasions, and that was Go Nagai. The first time it happened was in mid-1976, shortly after Toei tried to cheap out on having to pay Nagai for helping create the concept for Daiku Maryu Gaiking; while fighting Toei in court, Nagai worked with Knack to produce another mech anime. Said anime would be Groizer X, which ran until early 1977 for 36 episodes, though nowadays the mech is more known for a different reason, but we'll get to that. Anyway, did Knack manage to make Groizer X different from Nagai's other giants with the first episode?

Joe Kaisaka is a stunt pilot who returns home with his friends after winning another gold trophy in a flying competition. Shortly after arriving to his hanger home, though, a mysterious object crash lands in the woods nearby. What Joe & his friends find is a giant robot piloted by an injured woman. After she comes to at the local hospital, the woman, named Rita, asks for Joe's help in combating the incoming invasion by the alien Gaira Empire, who have decided to start with Japan. Rita comes from Gaira, but decided to defect in order to save Japan, taking the giant robo Groizer X with her. With some teaching from Rita, Joe manages to pilot Groizer, both in its flying form & robot form, & stop an initial skirmish by Gaira on a nearby airbase.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Put It All in a Piece of the Sun: A Double Kurumada Anniversary

On October 6, 2014, I celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the first season of Ring ni Kakero 1's TV anime via Twitter; simple, but just fine. I had planned on doing the same on this day, too, but then I found out something kind of cool: April 6, 2016 marks not just one notable Kurumada-related anniversary, but two.

In what is obviously a case of sheer coincidence, two TV anime based on Masami Kurumada manga debuted on this day. First up was April 6, 1996, which saw the debut of the B't X anime, which ran for 25 episodes until September 21 that same year. It was produced by TMS Entertainment & aired on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) at 17:30 (5:30 p.m.), taking the place of the Japanese dub of The Oz Kids before being replaced with the first season of You're Under Arrest. Second was April 6, 2006, which saw the debut of the Ring ni Kakero 1: Nichibei Kessen-hen/Put It All in the Ring 1: Japan vs. USA Chapter anime, which ran for 12 episodes until June 22 that same year. It was produced by Toei Animation & aired on TV Asashi during the late-night 26:40-27:10 (2:40-3:10 a.m.) time slot, taking the place of SoltyRei & being replaced later by Binbou Shimai Monogatari/Flat Broke Sisters. Both of these Kurumada anime actually mean a lot to me in terms of establishing just what kind of fan I am when it comes to watching anime & how I view myself as a fan of Kurumada's works in general. Therefore, to celebrate both B't X's 20th Anniversary & Ring ni Kakero 1: Nichibei Kessen-hen's 10th Anniversary, allow me to do something I rarely do here & talk about myself, in particular what these two shows mean to me specifically.

But, first, here's some random trivia about both shows! Why? Because I'm a glutton for pointless trivia, so let me share it & make my thirst for useless info feel like it has a point.