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The Anime Beat


Ergo Proxy: Complete Box Set

Okay, all that verbiage should indicate one thing: this series is smart, or at least tries to be. Overall, I like it. I like it a lot. The darkness of Ergo Proxy’s canvass, the moodiness of its city, and the detached citizens invokes Blade Runner-esque trappings that are a true anime/sci-fi delight.


Big Windup!: Part 1

2009 TV Series (episodes 1-13). Director: Tsutomo Mizushima. 315 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $59.98. Distributor: Funimation.

In middle school Mihashi was the ace pitcher for the baseball team. So, why did the rest of the squad ostracize him and refuse to hone his skills? He supposedly got the job because his grandfather owned the school. Consequently, Mihashi is a paranoid, nervous wreck that thinks he sucks! The only thing left to do is enroll in a new high school, where the players don’t know how bad he really is.

But is Mihashi a bad pitcher? Or was he just lacking a team?

A former pitcher myself, I remember well long practices, curve balls, knuckle balls, and how to read a batter by where he stands in relation to home plate. And Big Windup is about thing and one thing only: baseball. From the very first episode, Mihashi and his new catcher Abe will walk you through the mechanics of America’s pastime. Everything from how to throw a forker, strike out the clean up hitter, and strategically beat a team with pitches instead of a pitcher is covered in great detail.


xxxHolic: Box Set

2009 TV Series (episodes 1-24). Director: Tsutomo Mizushima. 600 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $69.98. Distributor: Funimation.

Watanuki isn’t your average teenage boy. Spirits have been haunting him since birth; it’s been one disruption after another. But today these meddlesome visions might have actually done some good. They’ve dragged him to the doorstep of Yuko, a mystical witch whose decadence dangerously overshadows the depths of her insight. She’ll quell Watanuki’s visions, if he works in her shop of dreams and wishes.

Yuko offers a very distinct service. But there’s always a price to pay.

Admittedly, I’m not always eager to buy what Clamp is selling. But if you’re not already a diehard fan, xxxHolic will grow on you like a melodious, teenage-angst filled song canvassing an episode of Dawson’s Creek or One Tree Hill. You’ll be covertly humming the chorus for days to come.


Gunslinger Girl: Season 2 Box Set

2009 TV Series (episodes 1-13). Director: Akira Mano. 315 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $59.98. Distributor: Funimation.

A quiet war still rages on the streets of Italy between the government and a terrorist group known as the FRF. The front lines of this conflict, however, are not filled with the glaring stares of brutish soldiers, but the pig-tailed cuteness of little girls. The tender remnants of former lives, these cybernetic assassins are manipulated by the Social Welfare Agency, a covert anti-terrorist and intelligence outfit. And though killers they may be, they’re still little girls in those awkward stages of growing up.

Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino is the sequel to a highly successful first season. In fact, this series received so much acclaim that it originally aired in the US on the Independent Film Channel.


Kaze No Stigma: Volume 1

2009 TV Series (episodes 1-12). Director: Junichi Sakata. 288 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $59.98. Distributor: Funimation.

The prodigal son returns.

Kazuma was once the heir to the fire-wielding Kannagi clan. But his inability to manipulate his family’s magic was too much for an impatient father. Consequently, he was sent packing with nothing but the shirt on his back and the beginnings of a very large chip on his shoulder.

Now, with wind magic at his fingertips, Kazuma is back. And his kung fu is not only strong, but he’s intent on unleashing it. This may be a family affair, but the score will be settled, and Kazuma will take his rightful place.

Okay, I admit the trailers for Kaze No Stigma aroused my interest. I was rather looking forward to taking a look. Unfortunately, all I can come up with is predictable and mundane as my primary adjectives. There’s a lot of action, and Kazuma’s use of the wind to create force fields, electricity, and breezes shaper than a katana is visually impressive. But this series is running on too many stock anime characters.


Tune in Tokyo Club's Back to School Night

Going down every third thursday of the month, I just started attending Tune in Tokyo events in August. Located in Little Tokyo, this is the perfect place for anime fans, gamers, cosplayers, and J-fashionistas to mingle and have fun.

This Thursday, August 20th, is Back to School Night, where school uniforms are definitely encouraged. So ladies, let's pull out those little plaid skirts!

I'll be there. Come by and say hi


Naruto Box Set 14

Naruto Box Set 14
2009 TV Series (episodes 178-191). Director: Hayato Date. 350 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $49.98. Distributor: Viz Media.

Well, one might say that a shadow clone technique has been released. Naruto seems to be everywhere!

First it was my blurb from the Comic-Con. Over the next three months Naruto fans will be able to enter the world of the Shippuden chronicles through TOMY’s release of Ninja Destiny 2 (DS) and Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 (Wii). But why wait to get your Naruto fix? Viz has recently released Naruto Box Set 14. So, prior to gaming, get your anime on!

Consisting of 3 DVD’s with loads of special features, this box set veers away from the main story arc. Nope, there’s no Orochimaru here. Now don’t let the usual notion of filler episodes turn you off. Yes, they’re usually something to be avoided, like the quotidian solicitors outside my Vons. But this compilation of engaging episodes deserves the respect of all Naruto fans.


Naruto on the DS and Wii

Alright Naruto fans, get ready to put your jutsu to work. TOMY is due to release two titles that you cannot miss: Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 (Wii) and Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 2 (DS).

At this year’s Comic-Con I had a chance to preview these games at the TOMY booth. Let’s just say I’m elated that I scheduled a brief appointment.

Prior to Comic-Con TOMY hooked me up with a copy of Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Council 4 for the DS. Admittedly, I haven’t been much of a fan of the DS system. I never found the small screen and 2D visuals very attractive. As a Naruto fan, however, this title began to alter my opinion of DS gaming.

The Shippuden story arc is set two and half years after the classic Naruto series. Playing an older and stronger Naruto, as he sets out to rescue Gaara from the Akatsuki organization, is more fun than I anticipated. The game follows the Shippuden story arc precisely, thus allowing fans and gamers to live out their own Naruto fantasies. Better still, it’s not just Naruto and his special jutsu lying at your fingertips, but 17 playable characters complete with their own unique jutsu!


Pangya: Fantasy Golf

PSP, 1-8 players, Publisher: TOMY.

On Pangya Island you’re not just playing an ordinary round of 18 holes. This hidden treasure offers inter-dimensional golf. That’s right. Whether you want to play the back 9 on a wave-washed course, or test your skills on ice, Pangya has a course for you. Oh, and let’s not forget the 18 fully customizable, anime-esque characters. As you progress, and if you so choose, you might find yourself chipping balls in Bermuda shorts or even a bikini!

Fantasy is the key word.

Addicting! That’s the simplest way to describe Pangya: Fantasy Golf. And I’m not a golfer.

Here’s the deal. Take away the fantasy-driven course designs, the fluid graphics, and all the cute characters and you come face to face with the most important concept in sports gaming: control and accuracy. If swinging a golf club or bat is a complex process of stick and button manipulation, then the game is often a pain in the ass. Here, Pangya gets it right! With two simple pushes of a button you have control over the power and accuracy of each swing. Thus, for non-golfers especially, the game moves fast, holds your attention, and just taps the pleasure center of your brain. Within one hour you’ll be upset, if you still can’t get a birdie!