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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2013!! Part 2

It's New Year's Eve's Eve, so let's look at the other "six" posts I found to be the best of this past year. Don't worry, there won't be any "steaming" like the end of Part 1, so let's start off with something excellent.

Asura (October 15)
With so much anime being made every year now, it's only natural that quality titles fall through the cracks, especially when the titles aren't exactly "mainstream-friendly". Toei, in particular, put two anime movies out into theaters last year that were completely ignored, and while Niji-Iro Hotaru ~Eien no Natsu Yasumi~ was a calming & relaxed production, Asura absolutely came out as the "Best Anime Movie of 2012 You Didn't See." Based on a 70s manga that got itself banned due to some of the content (namely, the cannibalism), this movie was simply amazing. The "hybrid animation" that mixed CG characters with 2D backgrounds gave it a one-of-a-kind look, the content was harsh but extremely engrossing, & the characters and story were truly memorable. On the one hand, I find it annoying that it hasn't been licensed yet, especially since it technically debuted at a North American film festival, so there should be English subs made for it already, but at the same time it isn't exactly a title that your traditional anime fan would likely check out. Hopefully one day this movie will get a real chance over here, but until that day comes you should really check it out if you get the chance... You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2013!! Part 1

It's Boxing Day once again, so I'm going to look back at what this past year has brought to this blog & list off the "twelve" posts that I am proudest of. Admittedly, the longer I've been doing this blog the more I see that talking about obscure & forgotten anime isn't quite as much of an unheard thing as I first thought. Ani-Gamers has The Trap Door by Phillip O'Connor, Otaku USA has Paul Chapman's Vault of Error, there are other people like Prede who talk about forgotten anime, and this year Justin Sevakis (one of the major influences for this very blog) returned to obscurity digging with The Pile of Shame. Still, I think I offer enough of a variety from the others by digging into places that few would really think about going towards. Anyway, out of everything I wrote about, which were my favorite posts from this year?

Spelunker is a Teacher (August 28)
Oddly enough, this title came to my attention indirectly from Justin Sevakis himself. In an episode of ANNCast with Mike Toole & Daryl Surat, right when he had started Pile of Shame, Justin brought this up as something he watched & enjoyed. He decided not to write about it, because of how recent it was, but when I decided to look at a couple of video game adaptations based on Western titles, this came up as a perfect choice for me to review. The end result was an absolutely hilarious Flash OVA that was long enough to play around with its (admittedly) one-note joke, yet short enough to not become tired & boring. While the joke itself requires some knowledge of the original Spelunker game, the OVA still manages to work on its own as piece of absurdist humor, and I love it. I highly doubt that we'll ever get this licensed for release in North America, though, since short one-shots like these aren't really appealing anymore. I could see the 4-koma manga it was based on maybe being brought over, but outside of a multimedia manga/DVD combo release (Enterbrain owns the rights to both productions, so it could be done) I just don't see the anime ever coming over. Thems the breaks, I guess.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Colorful vs. Colorful: Maybe Purapura Should Headbutt a Sexy Woman in the Breasts...

Merry Christmas to All... And to all a Good Fight!

Ehrgeiz vs. Ehrgeiz may be one of the most infamous examples of two completely different titles having similar names, but for our "Main Event" I have a doozy, made all the more important because they are both being offered by (sort of) the same exact company! Normally, if a TV series & a theatrically-released movie share the same name, it's because the movie is an extension/reboot/compilation/etc. of the TV series, but thinking this would be the situation for these two titles would result in your mind being blown. Finally, the greatest question of all shall be answered: Fanservice or Story!

Logo Battle: The movie is classier, but the TV series is more notable

In 1998, in an attempt to enter the burgeoning late-night anime market, TBS (that's Tokyo Broadcasting System, not Turner Broadcasting System) debuted Wonderful, an short-lived anime block which showcased comedy anime that utilized 9-10 minute episodes, rather than the usual 24-25 minute episodes. It was the home of titles such as Sexy Commando Gaiden: Sugoi yo!! Masaru-san (how this never got licensed astounds me), Di Gi Charat (which was recently re-released by Sentai Filmworks), Futari Kurashi, Iketeru Futari, Ippatsu Kiki Musume (another case of "Why wasn't this licensed?!"), Let's Dance with Papa (which ADV had licensed once, but never released), and Nippon-Ichi no Otoko no Tamashii, as well as some You're Under Arrest! TV specials & the non-comical Petshop of Horrors. One of the titles from this block that did get licensed was 1999's Colorful, the anime adaptation of Torajiro Kishi's 1998-2000 Young Jump manga. ADV wound up releasing it three times (in 2003, 2005, & 2009), & just a few days ago Sentai Filmworks started offering it on Hulu, confirming that they indeed have licensed it. One year after ADV's last release, though, things got complicated... Or, at least, a potential old complication came back.

On August 21, 2010, Toho, Ascension, & Sunrise debuted an animated movie titled Colorful, based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Eto Mori, which won the 46th Sankei Children's Publishing Culture Award in 1999. Needless to say, Eto Mori & Torajiro Kishi's creations has no relation to each other, so when they both debuted in 1998 I would guess that there was some slight confusion between the books, no doubt made worse by the fact that (unlike the two Ehrgeiz's) the two titles had the same exact katakana spelling of "カラフル". Anyway, Sentai Filmworks announced their license of the movie at the beginning of this year, & released it on DVD & Blu-Ray this May; yes, Sentai literally licensed two titles titled Colorful in the same exact year. What's even crazier is that the two productions have similar run times, with the TV series' 16 episodes totaling ~120 minutes, while the movie rounds out at 126 minutes. Why would you not want to get these two titles confused, you ask? Well, when recommending one to a friend, you want to make sure that you don't confuse the perverted look at the male libido with a drama about a man who gets a (literal) second chance at life. Still, when all is said & done, which would you want to recommend?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ehrgeiz vs. Ehrgeiz: Can Final Fantasy VII Help Defeat Giant Robots?!

There are only so many words in any language, so therefore it's only natural that, when it comes to naming things, there will be repeat uses. One thing to remember, though, is that just because multiple titles have the same name, that doesn't mean that they are similar in idea or execution. Just recently, Disney released a CG-animated movie titled Frozen, based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, but as time goes on one could easily mistake this movie with Frozen (the 2010 thriller about a group of friends who get stuck on a snow lift during a blizzard), or Frozen (a 2005 British film), or Frozen (a 2007 Indian film), or Frozen (a 2010 Hong Kong film), or Frozen (a 1997 Chinese film), all of which are completely different from each other. In manga, this kind of thing can happen at times, just look at how many manga are called Toriko, but in anime it's a pretty rare instance. Still, going with the Highlander reference in my anniversary post, I've decided to pit two sets of titles with the same name against each other & see which one is "better", simply because, "There can only be one." So let's get started with our opening bout!

Logo Battle: No contest...  Game Wins.

When it comes to similarly-named titles being released at nearly the same exact time, there are probably none more fitting than these two. Next Senki/Record of Next War Ehrgeiz was a mech anime that ran on a late-night slot on TV Tokyo, from October 2 to December 25, 1997, making it the first mech anime to ever air that late. Two months after the anime finished airing, February 26, 1998 to be exact, Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) & Namco (now Namco Bandai Games) teamed up to release Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, a 3D fighting game developed by DreamFactory. Three months after the game debuted in Japanese arcades, on May 25, the anime received its first home video release, a VHS & LD that both containing the first two episodes. The last anime VHS & LD came out October 25 & two months after that, December 17, the game was released on the Playstation. Essentially, throughout 1998, Japan had two titles named Ehrgeiz in the (relative) public conscience, but they were not related to each other in any way! Even their katakana spellings were only barely different, with the anime being エーアガイツ, while the game is エアガイツ... Yes, that one "ー", which stresses the initial character, is the sole difference!

This similarity & confusion also stretched into North America, when AnimeVillage (which would become Bandai Entertainment) announced on February 8, 1999 that they licensed the anime for North American release. Two months later, on April 30, Square Electronic Arts released the game's PS1 version in North America, followed by the anime's first subtitled VHS tape being released that November. After 2000, though, both the anime & the game were mostly forgotten, & the confusion died down. On July 9, 2008, Square-Enix released the PS1 version of the game for the Japanese Playstation Network, as a part of the PSOne Archives. Almost as if the bring back the confusion, though, Bandai Visual has since made the anime available on Japan's PSN via the Bandai Channel, as well as making it available digitally via computer; there still isn't a DVD release of the anime in Japan, though. So let's finally put an end to the confusion, & have these two titles duke it out. Which one is superior?!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Land of Obscusion 3(rd Anniversary): The Quickening!

Some may say that "The Third Time's the Charm". I don't know if that applies to me but today marks the third anniversary of The Land of Obscusion! Did I ever expect for this blog to last three years? Probably not when I started it up back on December 1, 2010, but I don't have a problem with it lasting this long. Also, I'm probably just stubborn enough to want to keep doing this & not stop. Post-wise, this year has already resulted in more posts than last year & there was a good bit more reviews this year than last; Year 1 had 50 reviews, Year 2 ended with 32, & Year 3 featured 41. In fact, some months this past year I came out like an outright reviewing machine. Also this year I had a larger con presence, by doing panels at Anime Boston, AnimeNEXT, & Otakon 20, all of which I had fun doing in some way or another, & I'll likely be doing the same this next year.

Number-wise, I broke 2,000 pageviews/month last December, & this entire year I never went below that number; in fact, this recently-ended November was just shy of hitting 4,000 in one month! I'm almost positive that, when compared to other anime sites & blogs, my numbers are probably just a drop in the bucket, but I'm just happy that the trend has been nothing but positive. Considering the stuff I review & talk about here, it's encouraging to see more & more people (potentially) interested in reading about such obscure & forgotten anime and manga. In terms of the site itself, I'm sure some of you readers may have noticed some changes. In an attempt to make my posts look more professional & easier to read, I started putting titles in italics, song names in quotations, & I've tried fixing as many little typographical errors in my old reviews as possible, while keeping them to a minimum in new reviews. Finally, I've started to add in screenshots for my reviews! I've been doing it on a regular basis since October, but look into my catalog of reviews & you'll find some of them have been updated with screenshots as well. Eventually, all of my reviews (old & new) will have screenshots, but adding them to past posts will be slow & happen when I have the time to do so. But, hey, think of it like I'm giving you guys a new reason to re-read old reviews.

At the end of the month I'll do a "Favorite Posts of 2013" list, but like always this post will end with an extra "gift". For Anniversary #1, I did random stats & thanks, and Anniversary #2 had the most-read posts as of that post, so for this Anniversary here's another different thing: A mini-review for something extremely short!