Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SUMMER WARS


From the visionary directory of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2007 Japanese Academy Award winner, Best Animated Feature) comes the story of an ordinary family going to extraordinary lengths to avert the impending cyber apocalypse!
Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He's good at math, bad with girls, and spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful, online community known as OZ. His second life is the only life he has until the girl of his dreams, Natsuki, hijacks him for a starring role as a fake fiance at her family reunion. Things only get stranger from there. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematic riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue AI intent on using the virtual word of OZ to destroy the real world, literarily. As Armageddon looms on the horizon, Kenji and his new family set aside their differences and band together to save the worlds they inhabit in this near-perfect blend of social satire and science fiction . (AnimeNewsNetwork.com) First Press includes collectible art cards.
[Description of Summer Wars]

Original Japanese Title:
Dubbed by: FUNImation
Animation: Madhouse
Manga adaption?: No, this is an original anime.
Rating: PG

{I, the reviewer, give Summer Wars, 8 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

Oz - a virtual world where people around the globe can come together. You can buy, sell, chat, play games, and even have important Internet meetings. Many Oz users use their accounts for business and to control things like water lines, alarms, even satellites and weapons. No matter what language you speak, it translates in real time, enabling anyone to communicate with anyone. All accounts have their own custom made avatar. Yes, Oz is a fascinating place. Everyone depends on it.

Kenji, someone who does maintenance checks on Oz, is hired to do an interesting job by a girl named Natsuki. To go meet her family and pretend to be her fiance! Why is she doing this? Her Great-Grandmother is turning 90 years old and she said she can't die until she meets her awesome boyfriend. All her family are coming together because it's her birthday. The Juunochi clan is a very interesting family. Like all families, you have a variety of people, a history, as well as drama. Kenji has to survive that for 4 whole days?! It's not gonna be easy, as he doesn't have much experience with girls, and to pretend to be her boyfriend? A lot of pressure.

One night he gets a strange text message he assume is a math problem. He writes it down to solve it and sends it back. Little does he know it's the Security Code for Oz and just by replying he has given over access of his account! Worst yet, it's hacked into by a very complex A.I. program known as Love Machine. This A.I. is very dangerous, as it's made to learn. It starts to hack and take over millions of other accounts and start messing with things across the globe. Even more disturbing, it resets the world's clocks, causing it to go backwards. What will happen when it finally reaches zero? It's up to the Juunochi family, Kenji, and Takashi to battle it out and stop this thing before the clock reaches zero!

The animation of this film is rather nice. Being the same director as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the art style is exactly like in the film, leaning toward a more "realistic" anime style. The animation of the virtual world known as Oz is bright and colorful and very fun to watch. Due to so many characters, being a large family and all, there isn't too much room for character developement and some characters get a longer spotlight than others, but each character is individual despite quite a few don't get much screen time. The pacing is done nicely, not rushing into things too fast, but not advancing too slowly either. It starts out as what would appear to be a simple slice-of-life, but then turns into a somewhat sci-fi adventure when Oz is being manipulated by an unknown A.I. program designed for hacking. I also liked the message about family, how you should stick together, spend time with each other, and eat together. Because, according to Granny, there's nothing worse than being hungry and lonely. I have to say, I agree with that. I really like how family is portrayed in this film as important. Sure, no family is perfect, and this film does not hide that fact, but despite it, you all still love each other. I also like how it shows a scenario of the dangers of too much technology dependence. While technology is good, trusting Cyberspace too much with your personal information and work is a bad idea.

While I did enjoy this movie much more than I did The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, I have to admit I am a little disappointed. I was really excited when I saw the movie trailer and the date it came out. Now after finally seeing it, I have to admit there are some things that bothered me. For one, the language. It's nothing really harsh, but this would of been a more family oriented film if that wasn't in there (though I heard that's only the dub, the sub has little to none). Plus, who released the A.I. Unit, though not heavily focused on, also turned me off. ~SPOILER ALERT BEGINS~ (Though Wabisuke is the creator of Love Machine, he sold this program meant for hacking to the U.S. Military and they decided to "test" it's abilities on Oz, the major virtual world that THE WHOLE WORLD relies on) ~SPOILER ALERT ENDS~
I'm sure I'm not the only one who is just a little bothered by this, but other than that, I loved the story and the message about family. Plus the showndown in Oz I have to admit is pretty epic, in my opinion.

This movie isn't perfect, it has it's flaws. But it's still worth watching at least once. It's a good family film, though considering the language in the dub, it's not something for your younger kids/siblings. But all in all, a very enjoyable and highly entertaining movie.

Recommend?
Sure. It's a highly entertaining film with a pretty interesting plot and a message about the importance of family. If you can looked passed a few things, I think you'll enjoy it. It's something you could at least see once.

I certify this *ANIME NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it's a simple plot about family getting together but also has the interesting scifi plot of an A.I. program taking over the Internet to add some excitement. Nothing too weird and out there to cause confusion.

[VIEWING PLEASURE]

[MUSIC]
Nothing I'd consider really memorable, but fitting for the film, nonetheless.

[SUB VS. DUB]
I've only seen the dub as of this moment, and Funimation as always does an excellent job.

[MOVIES/MANGA]
(none)

[RELATED TITLES]
This is by the same director who did "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time". Neither of these stories are related, however.

[DVD EXTRAS]

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
Minor swearing such as "d" maybe some "h" and one use of both the "a" and "bs word" in the dub. I heard that the subbed version has little to NO language at all.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
Some of the family members drink beer and there is mention of needing "plenty of sake".

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
A family member asks Kenji when the "baby is due" assuming he got Natsuki pregnant (which wasn't true). Natsuki is a bit "in love" with her Uncle, but nothing goes on between them and she eventually gets over that. There's a brief scene of a kid running naked (only the butt is shown) and Kenji about to take a bath (but he's covered below the belt). There's almost an undetailed magic girl-like transformation of Natsuki's avatar.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
There's some fight scenes in the virtual world of Oz, but as it being virtual, there is no real world injuries. There's a scene where Granny takes a weapon and threatens to "kill" Wabisuke. There's also a scene where Kazuma punches another family member.
(SPOILER! One morning when the family wakes up, Granny is dead. They try reviving her, but it's no use. Also, when the satellite is set to crash on the Juunochi household, there's a big explosion, but not injuries).

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
I don't remember any.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

HEAVEN BOUND (Prologue)



Developer(s): Christian Manga, Calbhach, Inkhana
Rating: (unknown)

{I, the reviewer, give Heaven Bound (prologue), 7 out of 10!)

COMMENTS

If you were a fan of Heaven Bound, many of you are probably aware of the fact that the mangaka, Calbhach, decided to cancel it not long after Volume 1 was released in print. However, she decided to bring it back, no longer in the form of manga, but in the form of a visual novel. As of this moment she releases whatever she has finished piece by piece at the now revamped HB site you can find at Christian Manga's main site. This is a review for the first released part, The Prologue.

Now I've never played a visual novel before, so it was exciting to see one of my favorite manga be converted into this new format. The Prologue gives us a more detailed look into what happened to cause our protagonist, Elijah Worthy, to become metal. We begin in the office where his parents are talking to the guy in charge, getting ready to have the implants put in. We see little Elijah on his mother's lap, which I felt looked very cute. We also see the part where the implant is put on Elijah. It's not as intense as it was in the manga, though. And of course, we witness him briefly "mutating" as you can see his skin starting to turn gray.

The coloring looks rather interesting and gives you a better feel of how the characters look (since there wasn't any color artwork for the original manga). Game play is fairly simple. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no interaction at all. You're just reading through the story. One thing I found odd was that the characters lips would move whenever there is speaking dialogue. It seems a bit unnescessary considering there is NO VOICES in this visual novel. Other than that, I really have no complaints with how the visual novel was constructed for The Prologue.

So even if you're a fan of Heaven Bound, downloading the visual novel of The Prologue will still offer you something new and fresh, storywise, as this is a longer flashback than the 3-page one we see in the manga. And I think it's a good start for new visual novel players, as it gives you an idea of how it looks and feels. So far, the HB visual novel seems very promising and I look forward to see it go further in developement.

Recommend?
If you've been looking for a Christian visual novel, or are new to playing, this is good to start with, as it's pretty short (being only a prologue). Plus, if you were a fan of the Heaven Bound manga, it gives you a somewhat fresh look at the story in it's new format.

I certify this *VISUAL NOVEL NEWCOMER WORTHY* as the gameplay is simple without interaction and gives you an idea of how a visual novel looks and feels.

PLAYER'S COMFORT

[MUSIC]:
The music is a bit on the cheesy side, sounding like the old school arcade music at times, but overall fits the visual novel nicely. In no way is it annoying.

[ARTWORK]:
It's a step up from the manga. The characters are drawn like how you remember them, but does not look like a rush job. The colors look very nice and interesting. The backgrounds are especially nice, since the manga often lacked such.

[INTERACTION]:
There is no form of interaction.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Everyone wakes up with mutations, screaming, but it's blacked out and only described, not shown. Death is also mentioned, but not shown.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Those of you familiar with the Heaven Bound story should remember it is about a guy who claimed he saw Heaven in a telescope, so many Christians built the HB station to be put in a long, ageless sleep to awake in Heaven. In The Prologue we witness when Elijah gets the implant and wakes up mutated, having a metal body. It is also mentioned many were either mutated.