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Castle Town Dandelion

Dandelion

Just when you think you have seen everything, you find something new. Or at least, a combination of pre-existing genres in a way that feels novel. This is the case with the Japanese Manga (and Anime) Castle Town Dandelion.

The genres being combined here are: Family Sitcom; Superheroes; Soap Opera; and Reality Show. Yup, and somehow, it all works!

To be specific, the series is about the royal family of a (modern day) country. Except each of them has a different super-power for some reason (apparently it runs in the royal bloodline.) Then the King decides that they should live in the suburbs, because he wants his kids to grow up as normally as possible. And then he decides that the next king should be decided by public vote, resulting in his children -some of whom are preteens!– running for office against each other!

It sounds convoluted, but it’s not. Dandelion is mainly about its cast and their relationships with each other and their friends. Toss in some (rather inventive) superpowers and a *lot* of zany events and you have (multiple) fun stories each episode.

The name of the family is Sakurada, and its members are:

* King Soichiro: The father of nine (!) children. He was forced to become king at an early age due to his parents’ deaths; that might be why he has made such odd choices for his family. His power is the ability to see people’s “auras”, allowing him to know what they feel.

* Queen Satsuki: His wife and mother to the kids. She comes from a normal family.

* Aoi: The oldest child. Her power is supposed to be the ability to learn anything instantly. It’s not but I’m not giving away the truth- she has quite an interesting motive and reaction to it.

* Shu: Second oldest child. Can teleport at will. Wanted to be a soccer player, but a childhood accident affected his legs too much.

* Kanade: Shu’s twin sister, younger by a few minutes. She and Shu have a rivalry going on. Her power is the ability to create any object, but this costs her money (?) Presumably, she’s teleporting materials from somewhere and must pay for them.

* Akane: The focus of many of the stories, Akane is the fourth child with the power to control gravity. Unfortunately she also suffers from crippling shyness, which of course means she gets embarrassed the most.

* Haruka: Fifth child, a boy with the ability to calculate probabilities instantly. He’s also Misaki’s older twin.

* Misaki: Sixth child, with the power to create seven clones of herself- each with a different skill and personality based on one of the “seven sins”.

* Hikari: Seventh child, a girl with the power to make living things older or younger (for 24 hours.)

* Teru: Eight child, a boy who can gain temporary super-strength. Acts like a Shonen anime hero.

* Shiori: the youngest child, her power allows her to speak with animals- and even objects!

The stories are usually pretty simple; they either set up a joke or explore a certain character. The only thing that bothers me, and keeps me from otherwise recommending this for the whole family, is that some jokes are a little risque. Mostly these are the “Oh no we can see Akane’s panties!” jokes; but there’s also a joke where it sounds as if Misaki has a crush *on Haruka*. This is probably a parody of a certain type of Japanese adult fiction, but the joke might fly over Western audiences.

Unlike the Manga, the Anime has already produced a final episode so we see which sibling wins (not going to spoil it here.)

Overall Dandelion is just a slice-of-life comedy that focuses on a family; it just happens to have superpowers, royalty and politics messing things up. I recommend it for fans of comedy, anime, manga, and superheroes. Not recommended if panty or incest jokes bother you.

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Bikini Warriors

bikini warriors

This is my first ever review of a “for Mature Audiences” series, so be forewarned.

Actually, other than some (censored) nudity and a few gross molestation jokes (but not true rape) there isn’t much “mature” content here. In fact it’s mainly a comedy.

As you can guess from the title, Bikini Warriors is about a group of adventurers in a Fantasy World who all happen to be (extremely sexy) women and all wear bikini-like outfits. This is because these are actually highly effective armors. Yeah that doesn’t make much sense, but that’s the point- the series makes fun of certain traditions in old role-playing video games, such as the fact that the armor worn by female characters tended to be more revealing than those of male ones.

Every episode focuses on one of these “tropes” either showing why it is ridiculous, or having it have the consequences you’d expect of it in real life. For example, in one story the Warriors had no money to buy supplies, so they just walked into peoples’ houses and took their stuff! This used to happen in old games all the time; the reason was that the systems were too primitive to cover the reactions of ALL the characters in the game, and besides it was sort of given that the community wanted to help the heroes. Here of course, the townspeople eventually revolt against them.

The main characters (who are known only by their Character Class names) are: Fighter, a hot-headed redhead; Mage, a shy blue-haired magician; Paladin, a holy warrior who ironically is a covert pervert; and Dark Elf, who acts all superior but is far from being as good as she says.

The episodes are very short; only about 4 minutes each. Just enough time to set up the punchline and deliver it. But they are funny (if you get the references) and pretty to look at (and not just for the cheesecake! Not that I mind that, either.)

Though to be honest, I only bothered to check out Bikini Warriors because most of the other Animes I watch were on hiatus, and most of the rest seemed like more of the same. Still, it’s a fun way to kill time, and you can probably watch all the episodes in under an hour.

Recommended for: fans of cheesecake, Fantasy, parodies, and old video games.

NOT recommended for children or the easily offended!


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Mission: Magic!

Mission_Magic_TV_Series-457871315-large

And now for something really obscure: an animated series from 1973, about a teacher who takes her students on adventures across space and time. (No, not the Magic School Bus, although there are similarities.) It was made by Filmation, the same company that later made He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The show is remembered today mostly for starring (sort of) real-life Australian singer Rick Springfield.

I saw this series as a child (dubbed into Spanish) and I had no idea about most of these facts back then, though I got the impression this Springfield fellow was supposed to be someone famous. In any case, I only saw a few episodes (or at least, I only remember a few- it’s been over 40 years!) so please excuse me if I get anything wrong. I had to do some fact-checking online first in fact.

Anyway, the show is about one Miss Tickle (Mys… tical.. I get it now!) a High School teacher who is also a witch (though all of her powers seemed to come from stuff she carried- for example, her magic portals were created with a piece of chalk, she brought her cat statuette Tut-Tut to life using a ring, etc.) and, for some reason that was never clear to me, every time she was contacted for help by Rick (who didn’t seem to be a witch himself, so I have no idea how he got involved in these things) she brought her class along. Kinda irresponsible, no? Especially as she rarely seemed to need their help. The whole thing was obviously an adventure/comedy in the style of Scooby-Doo! except with real magic. I did like the designs and ideas, though. Everything about this show was very “Seventish” especially the music- Rick would *always* sing a song in every episode. Even at that age I could tell the show was at least in part meant to “sell” him.

There was a DVD released in 2007 with all 16 episodes and lots of interviews and other information.

Recommended for fans of animation, fantasy, comedy, adventure and the 70’s.


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Heavenly Sword: The Movie

Heavenly_Sword_by_Sisley05

Based on the Playstation 3 video game from 2007, this computer-animated movie came out in 2014. The story is virtually the same as the game’s.

The setting is your typical Medieval Fantasy, though with both Asian and Western elements (more Asian then Western though.) According to an ancient prophecy, long ago an evil warlord battled a warrior from the heavens; after the battle only the latter’s mighty sword was left. A warrior clan claimed it, and then awaited the year that the prophecy said the Chosen One who could wield it would be born. However, when that year came, the Clan Leader was shocked to learn that his wife gave him not a son, but a daughter. Shunned as a failure just for being female, Nariko secretly trained anyway and became a great warrior.

Eventually, their home was stormed by the forces of Bohan, a king obsessed with getting the Sword. Noriko escapes with it, and is shocked to learn that her father had slept around in an attempt to get the son he needed. With the help of Kyo, a sister she never knew she had, Noriko sets out to find the Chosen One before Bohan’s forces do.

I will not narrate any further because there are a couple of twists in the story I don’t want to spoil. Some are easy to guess, others less so. I will instead comment on the movie overall. Note, I hadn’t even heard of the game when I saw the film.

I liked the combination of Eastern and Western elements. The story is surprisingly dark- make no mistake, this is no family movie. There’s lots of violence (though the animation makes it a bit unrealistic) and there are references to (implied) rape. For the most part though it is an Action Fantasy with plenty of cheesecake as you’d expect from a video game. That’s not necessarily bad, except for one aspect- most of the villains come out of nowhere, with powers that can be confusing. Again, this is a “video game thing”- it doesn’t ruin the movie but I wish they’d given them better context.

On the other hand, the movie does address one interesting topic: family love, in particular paternal love. Noriko was shunned by her father, yet Bohan, for all his evil, apparently cared for his son (the freakish brute called Roach.) And of course, there’s the sisterly bond between Noriko and Kyo, and Noriko’s loyalty to her clan, despite how they had treated her.

Overall, Heavenly Sword makes for a good movie to watch if you’re into Fantasy and Action (and fanservice) though it’s a little bit dark.


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Pokemon in Basic Action Super Heroes?!

BASH Pokemon

Sure, why not? Pokemon is still very popular, and BASH is both easy to learn yet complex enough to cover the details of the Pokemon games. A campaign set in the Pokemon World would be a nice change of pace, or a good introduction to BASH for fans of Pokemon.

Obviously, Pokemon should be bought using the Sidekick/Pet Advantage (unless you’re playing *as* Pokemon, as in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games.) Those owned by NPCs should be treated as minions. Wild Pokemon are also minions unless they are very high level or (most) Legendary Pokemon; treat them as Villains in that case.

Whether Pokemon have the Non-Sentient Disadvantage is a Narrator choice, but I would advice its use. First because this seems to be the case in most of the games (if not in the cartoons) and second because of the controversial implications that capturing sentient beings and forcing them to fight would bring. Legendary Pokemon might be the exception, but then each is unique already. In a Campaign where Pokemon are sentient, just assume they speak Pokemonese, a language humans haven’t deciphered yet.

To convert a Pokemon, start by finding the closest creature description in BASH. Make the following adjustments:

Powers: Build appropriate Powers based on the Pokemon’s Special Ability and Moves (the latter must *always* have the Energy Cost Limitation). In addition:

-Most Pokemon have Resistance to one or more of the following “types” of attack: Bug, Dark, Dragon, Grass, Electric, Fairy, Fighting, Fire, Flying, Ghost, Ground, Ice, Poison, Psychic, Rock, Normal, Steel, Water.

-A few also have Immunity to one or two of those types.

-All Pokemon also have the following Power:

Struggle- Special Attack 1 (+1 DM with Brawn, no Range or Area) <Only usable when Energy Points run out, -1, power must be Pushed> 1 pt. (Normal type)

Weaknesses: Most Pokemon also have a Damaging Weakness to one or more of the Attack Types listed above.

Pokeballs are represented by the following Power:

Immobilization (level varies by type of Pokeball, no Area) <Gadget (Ammunition- uses depend on number of balls carried)>. Other Enhancements and Limitations depend on the type of Pokeball eg. a Net Ball has Extra Effect on Bug and Water-type Pokemon. Note that capturing a Pokemon doesn’t automatically gain it as a Pet; the character must buy each as a separate Advantage first.

The rest is pretty much as in the games/anime.

As an example, here’s the most famous Pokemon of all:

PIKACHU
Brawn 0 Agility 3 Mind 1 (8 pts)
100 Hits

Powers:

Resistance 2 (Flying, Steel, Electric, paralysis) 2 pts

Static- Weaken Agility 4 (no Range or Area) (paralysis) 4 pts

Thunderbolt- Special Attack 4 (+4 to Mind DM, no Range, Burst Area, +1 pt) [Doubles (paralysis), +1)] <Energy Cost, -1> (Electric type) 5 pts

Quick Attack- Swift Strike <Energy Cost, -1> (Normal type) 1 pt

Iron Tail- Special Attack 5 (+5 to DM with Brawn, no Range, Burst Area +1 pt) [Doubles (lowers Soak by 10 points, +1 pt) ] <Energy Cost, -1> (Steel type) 6 pts

Electro Ball- Special Attack 5 (+5 DM with Mind, no Range, Burst Area +1) < -1 DM for every level that the target’s Agility is higher; Energy Cost, -1> 5 pts

Struggle- Special Attack 1 (+1 DM with Brawn, no Range or Area) <Only usable when Energy Points run out, -1, power must be Pushed> (Normal type) 1 pt.

Weaknesses:

Damaging Weakness to Ground Attacks (-2 pts)
Skills:

Athlete x4/Running

Stealth/Prowling

Outdoor/Tracking

Total: Stats 8 pts + Powers 24 -Weakness 2 = 30 points


I hope you find these suggestions useful or interesting.


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Oh yeah, I write Fanfiction, too! ;)

Psion.pdf_page_1

In fact, I have in effect been doing it all my life (more on that in a future blogpost) though it wasn’t until last year that I started posting it on the Internet. And to my surprise, people seem to have liked it! Well at least the ones featuring currently-popular characters, such as Steven Universe. Still, it feels good.

So I though today I would talk about my fics- specifically, about the one that is 100% original (though it does pay homage to certain character stereotypes): An American Superhero in Japan!

As you can tell from the title, this is the story of an American hero and his adventures in Japan- specifically, a Japan that resembles the one from Manga and Anime more than the real one does. It’s my way of repaying both American Comics and Japanese Animation for all the entertainment they have brought to my life over the years.

The basic premise deals with Psion, a teenage hero with telekinetik powers from New York city. Despite being active for two years, the local populace barely knows of or appreciates him, and he finds it frustrating. He decides to go on vacation to Japan to get away from things, only to find there’s someone gathering the local supervillains into a dangerous organization. The Japanese military then asks *him* to help them organize the local heroes as well, as they believe American heroes are more given to team up than the more independent-minded Japanese ones. Seeing a chance to finally gain some recognition, he accepts.

So far, only the first story is complete, but I’m working on the next one. If you’re a fan of fanfiction, superheroes, or Anime/Manga, give it a try! You can find it here: http://www.quotev.com/ElSijo

And check out my other stories, while you’re at it. 😉

 


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Concrete Revolutio: bizarre, but interesting

Concrete Revolutio

In an earlier blog post I talked about how sometimes you have to stop watching a show you like. With the 2015 Anime Concrete Revolutio: Superhuman Phantasmagoria, I had the opposite problem- I disliked the overall tone but could not bring myself to stop watching, because I was invested in (some) of the characters and really wanted to find out what the heck was going on (which is probably what the producers intended.)

The basic concept of the series is: what if all Japanese superheroes co-existed? As a fan of those I was very much excited at first. But it turns out this is a deconstruction of the genre- more “Watchmen” than “Justice League”. Everybody either has a hidden agenda, or is hopelessly naive. Or dead, because somebody dies in nearly every episode. Further making things frustrating is their choice of showing flash-forwards, sometimes years into the future- so we know things will get worse, just not why.

This is definitely not what I enjoy in most superhero series (with some exceptions.) Around episode 4 I was ready to quit. Still: I cannot accuse this show of being poorly written. It knows how to tease you into wanting to find out what is going on and why. Every episode you learn a bit more and meet characters who will be important later. It can be hard to follow, but it might be worth it for those with the patience.

And then there’s the characters. For the most part, as mentioned, they are based on existing heroes or at least, character types (Jiro is likely Cyborg 009, Kikko is a Magical Girl ala Sailor Moon, etc.) Their designs are cool and they are likable; you can’t help but worry about what will happen to them when they find out the truths of the cruel world they live in.

As I write this the first season of the show (out of a planned two) has finished airing and part of the secrets have been revealed, and they are indeed terrible. Will I stick around for part two? I don’t know yet. I think I’ll at least give it a chance. Certainly, you can’t fault it for its quality.

Recommended for: fans of superheroes, 70s Japan, and conspiracies.