Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2016!! Part 2

The internet is an ever-changing environment, especially when stuff like copyright & what can be enforced in which circumstances is taken into consideration. YouTube, for example, is becoming a bit of a hotbed of copyright claims by companies who feel that they are not being given their proper credit (& profit) from the use of their content in things like video reviews & the like. That being said, though, using copyrighted content for criticism & commentary (a.k.a. a review of even simple discussion) is & should be protected under Fair Use; still doesn't stop companies from trying to monetize others' usage of their content, though.

Why do I bring this up here? Because, as of this post, one of my reviews on this blog has recently been forced into draft mode (i.e. you guys can't read it right now) because of a DMCA claim that Blogger (i.e. Google) is trying to enforce. What's shocking (aside from the fact that my review may not even apply to the complaint itself) is that said review only features still images of the anime I reviewed, not video, which I have not seen any complaints about before; in fact, I didn't even start using stills (outside of title splashes & cover art) until a few years in. Obviously, I have put in my counter-claims regarding this, because what I do here is obviously within the definition of "criticism & commentary", but I feel that people should understand that, now, it looks like not even still images are safe in the eyes of some people or companies. Will I continue to use images in my reviews? Yes, because I think I have every right to do so for a review.

With that out of the way, let's get to the rest of my favorite posts of 2016. Thank you for your patience.

"Honorable Mention"
Demo Disc Vol. 7: Badd Banned Broadcasts (October 6)
Nothing against the Spring volume of Demo Disc, where I looked at some more mech anime (there's still enough for that to return again, too!), but the Fall volume definitely deserves a mention, at the very least. Whether it was from Gundam, BerserkMr. Osomatsu, or even Pokémon, looking at the episodes/chapters that are "banned" to various extents was a lot of fun... Except for the Porygon episode, as doing that one did give me a slight headache.

Ai no Jidai/Indigo Period -Ichigo Ichie- (February 29)
As always, I try to include one or two reviews of a manga that was done by Masami Kurumada, and this year brought about two titles that had a shared relation. To celebrate his 40th Anniversary in the manga industry, Masami Kurumada did some cool things, most of which did not involve Saint Seiya. First, he brought Otoko Zaka back from its ~30 year hiatus, & so far has made another three volumes worth of content (maybe next year I'll review them to stay up-to-date [depends on how Volume 6 ends]). Second, he teased a return for Raimei no Zaji by making a short "special chapter" that followed off of where that manga stopped back in 1988, so I reviewed that manga in March. Finally, Kurumada ended the celebration with a brand new, one volume short manga, & as soon as I could I read & reviewed the compiled tankouban of Ai no Jidai -Ichigo Ichie-, or Indigo Period -Once in a Lifetime-.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2016!! Part 1

Happy Boxing Day & Happy Kwanzaa!!

Once again, it's the day after Christmas, and that means only one thing here at The Land of Obscusion: Waxing nostalgic on what I wrote during this past year! Granted, it seems like nostalgia-mining has truly become an industry all its own, with so many things having been or will soon receive a reboot/sequel/prequel/midquel/etc., but considering how crazy 2016 was I honestly can't fault people for wanting to look back & "member the good old days". What will 2017 bring all of us around the world? None of us have any idea, & that scares most people (I can't blame them, either), but until the time comes for us to sing "Auld Lang Syne" & reluctantly welcome in the new year, join me in trying to select just "twelve" of my favorite posts from 2016... Because it's honestly damn hard to do that.

Seriously, this whole "part-time" status I put myself into wound up with me writing so many pieces & posts that I enjoyed that, for the first time ever, I have to include some "honorable mentions", which I'll split up across both parts. So, without further ado, here we go...

"Honorable Mention"
Matchless Raijin-Oh OVAs (November 9)
Since the two reviews covering the TV series both made their respective years' lists, I can't ignore the OVAs. They may not be quite as good as what came before, minus the second OVA, but it felt great to close the book on Matchless Raijin-Oh, & I'm so glad to have finally seen it all.

A Newcomer's Guide to Saint Seiya (November 30)
Being a fan of Masami Kurumada, it's no surprise that I am also a fan of his worldwide sensation, Saint Seiya. That's why I wanted to do something special for the 30th Anniversary this year, but I couldn't quite decide on what to do. I had considered reviewing the manga, but I'm still hesitant to do so because I regard Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga article from 2010 as the best write-up for that manga; sure, I could just make a review, but I still feel that I need something more to it. I had also considered watching DiC's Knights of the Zodiac adaptation of the TV anime, but getting all seven of the DVDs that ADV released back in the day is no easy task, as some have become quite expensive, & there has yet to be any sort of complete rip of those DVDs online to rely on instead (not that I'd expect anyone to ever want to do that, either). Therefore, when I was coming up at the end of November I knew that it was now or never to celebrate the 30th Anniversary on the actual year it's meant to happen on (take that, Toei's planned triple-feature of productions for 2017!). Therefore, I took the path that was easy in concept but I felt was important in execution: A guide for newcomers to rely on.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Demo Disc Vol. 8: Crash's Colossal Calamity & Catastrophe

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Life Day? Anyway, Happy Holidays, everyone!

In the last single series volume of Demo Disc we looked at Get Ride! AMDriver, the one anime that Illumitoon Entertainment licensed but never released on home video. This time, though, let's do the inverse by looking at the only thing that another company ever managed to get out, but unlike when I reviewed Joe vs. Joe years ago (which was the only thing AnimeWho ever put out), this anime never managed to see a complete release. Seriously, the only thing worse than only putting out a single anime before dying out is not even being able to fully release a single anime before going into the aether.

A composite image, as the eyecatch alternate images for each side.

I won't really bother going into the history of Anime Crash, as it's actually very long & intensive. Plus, Justin Sevakis (with help from former Crash employee James Veronico) wrote a complete history on the company via ANN's Answerman column over two years ago, so just read that for more info. While I had no familiarity with Anime Crash's 90s exploits, as I wasn't in the fandom back then, I do remember when the company announced its intention to enter the anime licensing game back in 2004. Being a small outlet, the company wasn't able to grab any notable potential hits, but it definitely tried its hardest with what it had. Crash wound up licensing two Korean TV anime from 2002, Ki Fighter Taerang & Olympus Guardian, as well as being involved in the production of a car racing anime called Shiden (of which only a pilot ever got made), but in the end the only thing Anime Crash ever put out was a title that I've actually brought up on the blog before.

A Korean/Japanese co-production from 2001-2002 (which Sevakis admitted in his article had already been previously licensed & dropped by CPM before Crash got a hold of it), Geisters - Fractions of the Earth (or "Guystars", as the official romanization says) was a 26-episode TV anime that mixed together traditional 2D animation (done in Japan) with lots of CG (done in Korea), and more or less came & went when it first aired in Japan. I brought it up before on the blog due to the fact that it was co-produced by Groove Corporation, which wound up going out of business due to the supposed sudden disappearance of its CEO, who also apparently took the masters for the company's latest productions (& all of the money) with him. This wound up in the second episode of the Nakoruru OVA never being made, & the home video releases of the Xevious CG movie & both Geisters compilation movies never coming to fruition. Naturally, the collapse of Groove Corporation resulted in Anime Crash being literally incapable of bringing over the second half of the Geisters TV series, which Veronico swore was a "massive shame", & after a horribly conceived boxset release of Toshiro Mifune's Samurai Trilogy (which they assumed was in the public domain when it had been properly licensed by Criterion), plus some attempts at staying alive, Anime Crash did what it's named after by crashing & burning into nothingness in 2007.

Therefore, let's see if Geisters - Fractions of the Earth even had any potential to its first half, or if it was nothing more than a desperate grasp for anything by people who were in over their heads.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Twinkle Nora Rock Me!: Dies irae, dies illa, Solvet saeclum in favilla, Teste Ipse cum Honora

[To celebrate the 200th review here at The Land of Obscusion I offer you two ways of experiencing this piece: A text version which you can read below & a video version which you can watch via this link!]

(Lacrimosa dies illa) Haja Taisei Dangaioh, Next Senki Ehrgeiz, Ring ni Kakero 1, (Qua resurget ex favilla) Government Crime Investigation Agent Zaizen Jotaro, Rokudenashi BLUES, Crystal Triangle, (Judicandus homo reus.) Hareluya II BØY, Kingdom of Chaos - Born to Kill, Fantastic Children, (Huic ergo parce, Deus:) Asura, Matchless Raijin-Oh, Champion Joe, (Pie Jesu Domine,) Eat-Man, Para - The Parabiotic Guy, Pachislo Kizoku Gin, (Dona eis requiem. Amen.) Otoko Zaka, Dororo, B.B Burning Blood, Nora

After six years, it's time for Review #200. Come & rock me, Amadeus!

The first Nora OVA, based on Satomi Mikuriya's line of short manga, came out in Japan on January 21, 1985, but it would be another ten months before another OVA would see release. Released November 21 that same year, Twinkle Nora Rock Me! saw Mikuriya himself return to the director's, writer's, designer's, & storyboarder's chair once again, but with a completely different staff assisting him in the process. Was the near-entire year wait worth it all in the end, especially since the first OVA was rather fun & worth the watch? Please, this is 200th review on The Land of Obscusion, so it's obviously terrible but worth spreading the word about. Still, I've reviewed some real stinkers for my previous milestones, whether it was the constant downward spiral of non-quality that was Gundoh Musashi, the Frankenstein's Monster of an English adapted anime film that was Robotech the Movie, or the complete waste of time that was the son of a pitch, AWOL -Absent WithOut Leave-. After all of those, I think I can handle an OVA that's barely 30 minutes long... I hope.

After helping put an end to a hostage situation at an airport, galactic bounty hunter Nora Scholar is hired by the Galaxy Police to head to Planet Dazzle to capture Fuchero, a notorious bounty who runs the planet filled with crooks & the like alongside his brother Touchino. Nora is chosen for the job because of her ESP abilities, as Fuchero is a notorious ESPer himself. After landing on the planet, Nora befriends Max, a dancer at the local bar.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Obscusion B-Side: Majesco's Mortem & It's Forgotten Treasures

A bit of a sudden & unplanned piece here, but it's like Frank Sinatra said, "That's life." Being a Jersey-born & raised young man (wait, I'm 30 now... Oh, god, I'm old!), I have always had a bit of a soft spot for any notable (to my interests) company that operated out of New Jersey, and today came news that the Garden State has lost another one. Well, okay, the company I'm talking about didn't die, but it is leaving the game industry, and for me that's just as sad.

The many logos of Majesco, including the short lived indie label Midnight City.

Established the same year I was born (1986), Majesco Sales (later Majesco Entertainment) was an Edison-based video game company that initially started out acting only as a distributor, helping re-release games like Aladdin & The Jungle Book on the Game Gear, before inking a deal with Sega in 1998. Said deal made Majesco the company in charge of the last life of the Genesis, which brought about the third & final model of the system known as the Genesis (Model) 3; the final officially licensed game for the Genesis, Frogger, was in fact published by Majesco. The company also re-released the Game Gear, plus a few games (like the two I mentioned earlier), around the same time before going into traditional game publishing with the advent of the new millennium. The company also tried its hand at development & porting through its Pipe Dream Interactive studio (named because of what everyone thought its chances would be), but after a short attempt in the mid-00s at being a major publisher, the company remained relatively low key & often on the verge of being taken off of the New York Stock Exchange.

Today, though, that all comes to an end, though not how most would assume a company leaves the gaming industry. Instead of going out of business, Majesco has instead merged with (i.e. fully purchased) PolarityTE, a company developing tissue regeneration technology. Along with taking the Polarity name, Majesco has announced a complete exit from the gaming industry, though what that means for the company's existing catalog of games & licenses remains unknown. While Majesco never became a major name in video games, though, there were a lot of really cool games that came from the company, & with it's "death" now announced & official I want to shortly celebrate what we as gamers got from this company.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Nora: Bubbly, Charming, Reckless, That Girl!

It's taken six years, but we're almost there: 200 reviews on The Land of Obscusion. Sure, it isn't technically 200 individual anime, manga, or anime/manga-based productions, but it's still 200 reviews. As always with my milestone reviews, I have something that's (to my knowledge) absolutely terrible yet fairly damn obscure in mind for Review #200, and it may very well be the worst of them all; that's really something considering what I've reviewed for my previous three milestones. Anyway, we still have one more review to go, #199, before we hit that milestone, so it's only appropriate that, before I torture myself as a form of celebration for the fourth time, we take a look at what came directly before it.

Satomi Mikuriya is a mangaka who made his debut back in 1970 with the manga Black Sword. He would go on to be involved in both manga & anime, first being the man behind the original concepts for the two Arthurian legend-based Blazing Arthur anime TV series from 1979-1980, the first of which saw American release under the name King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table. Later, he would provide designs on the Crusher Joe movie, Odin - Starlight Mutiny, & Phoenix 2772: Space Firebird, direct the (instantly outdated) CG in the intro to Golgo 13: The Professional, and have his unfinished SF manga Garaga be adapted into a 1989 anime movie. Amazingly enough, nearly every anime he worked on saw release in North America at one point or another. What I'll be focusing on, however, is his Nora series, which has never seen official release over in this side of the world.

Originally debuting in 1977, Mikuriya would make a few short manga revolving around the eponymous Nora Scholar, with the original Nora's Ark being followed by 1978's Nora's Shooting Star, 1981's Nora -The Vulcanized Ocean Current-, & 1984's The Twinkle Nora. This is all fine & dandy, and in 1985 Mikuriya decided to adapt this series into anime via the OVA market; two hour-long episodes were made throughout the year. Unlike most mangaka, however, this creator wanted to be a big part of the anime production, even having himself be director, with each episode having its own "episode director" to help out. Not just that, but Mikuriya also wrote the scripts, did all of the storyboarding, & drew all of the designs (both characters & mechanical), among other jobs. So let's see how Satomi Mikuriya fared on his first outing as anime director by looking at the first episode, simply titled Nora.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Obscusion Fighter: The Legend of the 6th Anniversary

"Hey, member December 1, 2010?"
"Ooh, I member!"

Yes, it's been a sexennium (look it up, learn new words) since I made the jump from a rather less-than-amateur one year attempt at doing YouTube videos & decided to start up a written blog, one that is named after a rather "silly alteration" of "Land of Confusion" by Genesis; the cover by Disturbed is rather good, too. When I started up The Land of Obscusion, back at the tail end of 2010, I was 24 & a year out of my student life, B.A. in Journalism & Media Studies framed on my wall, working a part-time job at my local Target. Now, six years later, I'm 30 with a full-time job with the benefits that work for me, but not much else has changed. I'm still the same shy, rather introverted, self-deprecating guy that I was six years ago, somewhat hesitant to try new things & push myself further. To this day, I still think of that day in 2010 as somewhat unlike me, yet here I am, celebrating the 6th Anniversary of The Land of Obscusion.

Maybe I have changed, hopefully for the better, but I just don't trust my own judgment in that regard. I have enough self-esteem to keep me healthy & away from any strong feelings of sadness on a regular basis, but maybe that's just what being a 30-year old single white guy from Central Jersey is like... Hell if I know. Did I go a little off-topic just now (damn my love of self-deprecation!)? Oops, back on track...

This time last year I was declaring that I was putting an end to my "full-time" status on this blog, feeling as if I had hit a ceiling that I just couldn't surpass. In that regard, I'm not sure if I really kept that promise, as I'll only be a few posts behind in terms of sheer number for this year when all will be said & done compared to last year. For the first half of 2016, I did keep that promise, averaging only 3 posts every month (minus that crazy Jump January & February I did), but then something happened: I surpassed that ceiling. By the end of July this year, I hit 13,675 pageviews for the blog, though it seems like that was mainly due to a Russian spam bot of some sort. Still, I had broken the 10,000 views ceiling that I felt I just couldn't get past, which admittedly kind of gave me a resurgence. This October & November proved that July wasn't a fluke, either, as I surpassed 10,000 on those months, as well. From the bottom of my heart, thank you; I no longer care about pageviews anymore, & I feel reinvigorated to continue doing this blog.