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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saint Beast: Kouin Jojishi Tenshi Tan: The Last Temptations of "Gay Angels"

As mentioned in the last Saint Beast anime review, the Ikusen no Hiru to Yoru Hen OVA came out in between the release of 2005's Yukyuu no Sho drama CD series & the incoming release of 2006's Onshu no Sho. After that latter drama CD series came to an end, Wonderfarm would put its attention back towards the animation side of things with a return to television. Not just that, but Tokyo Kids would also return, making it a true-blue "second season". Of course, this would be yet another prequel to the Seijuu Kourin Hen TV anime, so in Spring of 2007 various UHF stations in Japan debuted Saint Beast: Kouin Jojishi Tenshi Tan/Angel Tales from the Epic Times (some places also use the more loose "Angel Chronicles"), a 13-episode TV anime that seemingly decided to bring back the style of the first season. Alongside Tokyo Kids doing the animation, Hiroshi Kitadani also returned for the theme song, this time with JAM Project in tow. With this also being available for legal streaming via Viewster, is Kouin Jojishi Tenshi Tan just more of the same from the first season, or did Wonderfarm learn from Madhouse's OVA excursion for the better? Time to boot up my Xbox 360 once again & find out, I say.

Heaven, though still seeming more or less peaceful, has slowly started showing cracks in the visage. This is only worsened when Zeus, God of Heaven, institutes a ranking system amongst his angels, deeming them of lower, middle, or higher levels. Not just that, but he has chosen Gou, Gai, Shin, Rei, Judas, Luka, Shiva, Kira, & Maya as candidates for the six "Saint Beast" positions, which will be the highest of all angels. Judas, who believes in absolute equality, has many reservations about the ranking system, as it's bringing about feelings of jealousy, superiority, & even outright hatred between angels, & is starting to wonder if Zeus is truly meaning for the well being of Heaven. In the end, though, what is truly "Paradise"? Is it Heaven, where Zeus watches over all & rules supreme, with those who sin eventually being purged into the Forest of Darkness as goblins? Is it on Earth, where angels can live by their own rules, but have to worry about Zeus's wrath for defying his orders? Or is it with the fallen angels Lucifer & Gabriel in Hell, far from the watchful eyes of Zeus?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Obscusion B-Side: Spectral vs. Generation: Blades of Chaos Strike with Force to Claim the Kingdom

I know that Idea Factory doesn't exactly have the most positive reception in the gaming world as a whole, though it's not seemingly anywhere near as harsh as it was a decade ago, but I will always have a soft spot for the company. Sadly, the Idea Factory that exists now doesn't quite endear itself to me like it used to, and that's because it essentially killed off the thing that got me interested in the company in the first place: IF Neverland. This brand existed from 1996-2009 across 35 games, during which it was pretty much the main breadwinner for Idea Factory, and one of the major appeals it had was a heavily interlinked timeline filled with characters that would debut in one game & then return for other games, either going from main to secondary, secondary to main, or simply getting their own spin-off titles. While IF Neverland games tended to be tactical or strategy RPGs, the franchise did venture into other genres, like traditional RPG (Spectral Blade), dungeon crawler (Spectral Tower), monster raising (Monster Complete World), real-time strategy (Field of Chaos), MMO (Kingdom of Chaos), card battler (Cardinal Arc: Konton no Fuusatsu/Neverland Card Battles), & hack-&-slash (Bakuen Kakusei Neverland Senki Zero/Realm of the Dead)... So why not also a 2D fighting game?

Traditionally, Idea Factory developed its own games for IF Neverland, though it did team with Taiwan's XPEC Entertainment for three games (Black Stone: Magic & Steel/Ex-Chaser, Spectral Force Chronicle, & Spectral Force 3: Innocent Rage), but I guess making a fighting game was just beyond its staff's skills, so for this genre the company teamed with Taiwan's International Games System. By this time, IGS had found some slight notoriety with the PolyGame Master, a Neo Geo-esque arcade system that earned some fans via the beat-em-up series Knights of Valour & the (now) hyper-cult-classic fighting game Martial Masters. The result of this Idea Factory/IGS team-up is 2005's Spectral vs. Generation for the PGM, making it the only arcade game to come from Idea Factory; it saw distribution by AMI, which also distributed Cave's shooters during the 00s. Unlike most other PGM games, though, SvG did see home ports onto the PlayStation 2 & PSP in 2006, both of which actually saw English release in Europe by Midas Interactive Entertainment in 2007, even though Europe had yet to receive any IF Neverland games at all at that point; first God Bless Dancouga, now this. Considering how iconic the works of Capcom & SNK were by this point, let alone newer companies like Arc System Works making their marks, let's see what IGS was able to do with Idea Factory's cast of fantasy war generals.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saint Beast: Ikusen no Hiru to Yoru Hen: Can Anybody Find Me Someangel to Love?

Following the (not really a) finale of the Seijuu Kourin Hen anime in June of 2003, the Saint Beast series went into overdrive with the debut of the drama CDs... And there were a ton of them. Up first was (the simply titled) Saint Beast that July, which I would guess told the story that the anime was setting up, and told four overall stories across nine volumes. After that would come 2005's Saint Beast: Yukyuu no Sho -Rakuen Soshitsu-/Eternal Chapter -Lost Paradise-, which told another four stories across three more volumes, & 2006's Saint Beast: Onshu no Sho -Seijuu Fuuin-/Chaplain Chapter -The Holy Beast Sealing-, which was yet another four stories across three volumes. This isn't even counting the Comedy Drama & Another Drama "extra story" drama CD series that debuted in 2004, which added another 12 stories across four more volumes; that's already 19 individual drama CDs! I'm only going to hope that the various seiyuu involved got paid very well for their hard work.

Anyway, in between the 2005 & 2006 drama CD series, Wonderfarm also managed to squeeze in a second anime production. This time around would be Saint Beast: Ikusen no Hiru to Yoru Hen/Thousands of Days & Nights Chapter, a two-episode OVA that saw release in December of 2005 & March of 2006. Unlike the prior TV series, though, this short OVA wouldn't be animated by Tokyo Kids, which was likely busy making the Magikano TV anime at the time. Instead, Wonderfarm would bring in the venerable Madhouse for animation production, which is much more renowned for delivering great visuals than Tokyo Kids. So let's see if Viewster made a mistake by not getting the streaming rights to this short prequel.

One stormy night at the mansion, Gou has a nightmare where he recalls the attempted coup Judas & Luka tried pulling on Zeus, God of Heaven. He wakes up & decides to look out the window, recalling the old days in Heaven, back when Zeus transformed him & his fellow generation of angels into adulthood, when he & Gai met Shin & Rei, & when Heaven was in a seeming age of happiness. Still, even then there were angels who still sinned, & unbeknownst to him & his friends, there were various dirty deeds either about to be done or have already been done, like Judas asking Zeus to punish sinful angels or even the potential that Zeus & his confidant Lucifer may have conspired to kill Cronus, Zeus' father & the prior God, so that Zeus could claim the throne for himself.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Saint Beast: Seijuu Kourin Hen: You Hooked? Now Buy Our Drama CDs, You Fanatics!

Even though he's been with JAM Project longer than Masami Okui & Yoshiki Fukuyama, Hiroshi Kitadani has often felt like a "secondary" member of the supergroup. This is not me ragging on "Dani", though, because his skills as a singer are right up there with his fellow JAM members. His trio of One Piece theme songs are all excellent & have more than given him a legacy on their own. Not just that, but his legacy of anime & game work as lead singer of the rock band Lapis Lauzli may be small, but their themes for Babel II: Beyond Infinity & the Tough OVA are both great songs, & their vocal covers of Guilty Gear X's soundtrack are absolutely amazing. That being said, Kitdani's only had a single "featuring" song with JAM Project (i.e. JAM backs him up while he sings lead) during his entire tenure so far, & his solo theme song catalog post-One Piece is mostly children's anime (Gaist Crusher, Daigunder, Transformers: SuperLink/Energon) or the occasional tokusatsu series (Kamen Rider Ryuki, Madan Senki Ryukendo), a.k.a. not much most anime fans would readily identify. In fact, one could argue that Kitdani's only other "iconic" solo anisong is for a series that's so obscure that more people would know of its source material than the anime itself!

In the Fall of 2001, a 13-episode series aired in Japan titled Fairy Tale Angel's Tail, better known internationally as simply Angel Tales. In that series, there was a quartet of characters named the Saint Beasts, men who were the reincarnations of the Four Symbols. These four men apparently became rather popular with fans, so when sequel series Angel Tales Chu! (which never saw international release) ran for six weeks throughout March & April of 2003, the Saint Beasts were nowhere to be seen, though they were at least referenced. Instead, following the end of that second season, production company Wonderfarm & anime studio Tokyo Kids (which made the prior two shows) debuted a six-episode spin-off anime series, Saint Beast: Seijuu Kourin Hen/The Descending Holy Beasts Chapter, that ran for the remaining six weeks in the time slot that Chu! was running in. While a spin-off, though, the Saint Beast anime took place in an alternate continuity from that of Angel Tales, so it's (theoretically) friendly for newcomers.

In what was truly an unpredictable move, however, streaming website Viewster announced at New York Comic Con 2015 that it would be offering both Saint Beast & its 2007 follow-up anime with English subtitles for streaming; Viewster also announced both seasons of Meine Liebe at the con. Therefore, to close out the Summer of JAM (later than I had planned, naturally), let's see if the first season of Saint Beast, which from here on I'll refer to under its subtitle, has anything to it... At least, it should have enough to it to warrant making me use my old Xbox 360 in order to watch this show legally, because the only console app Viewster ever put out was for that system.