Top 5 on The Strip: Anime pop off edition

1. Avatar Aang vs. Fire Lord Ozai
Listen, we’d been anticipating the final fight between the Avatar and the Fire Lord just because it was built up and hyped for the entire run of the show. It didn’t disappoint, either. Aang finally mastering the Avatar state and absolutely obliterating Ozai’s bending abilities was epic. Specifically, seeing the Avatar state in a state of mastery for the first time is what did it for us.

 


2. Goku going super Saiyan for the first time
Goku reaching super Saiyan for the first time against Freiza was boss for so many reasons, chiefly because it was the end of a long-drawn out arc. But this was also ham because we’d been teased with it so many times in the first arc of Dragon Ball Z that you knew it was going to be beyond great when it finally did happen. Seeing Goku’s hair turn golden with rage for the first time and then demolishing Freiza was simply awesome.

 


3. Ichigo vs. Ulqiorra
Even though Bleach peaked with the Soul Society arc, seeing Ichigo achieve his Hollowfied form against Ulqiorra was one of the highlights of the entire Hueco Mundo arc. This signified that Ichigo wasn’t even in his final form, and he was suddenly more powerful than most of the boss characters that Aizen could throw his way. And the crazy part was, he STILL wasn’t done yet.

 


4. Midoriya reaches faux 100% One for All
My Hero Academia is great at pacing Midoriya’s steady increase in power and him reaching the faux 100 percent of One for All is a crucial development. Not only did he reach the max limit of his power with the quirk, but also he stayed in the state without adverse effects. That was only because of Eri’s quirk rewinding the damage, but it was fascinating to see what One for All could be capable of in the future.

 

5. Naruto turns into Nine Tails versus Pain
Naruto enthusiasts will point to this fight as the beginning of Naruto’s ridiculousness and a glimpse into his true potential as a Jinchuriki within the series. Pain was no joke and the fact that Naruto embraced the Nine-Tailed Fox’s ideology if only briefly meant that he was ready at all costs. He manifested all nine tails but was stopped by his late father. Imagine if had he manifested all nine and been allowed to keep manifesting them.

Anime Lounge #23: Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 1

Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Episodes: 1 to 20

Premise: The Avatar, a being who can channel the four elements – air, water, earth and fire – is missing, and the Fire Nation is dominating the world in their absence. Teenagers Katara and Sokka stumble upon the mythological teenage boy Aang, who had been thought lost 100 years earlier, and free him. He joins with the brother-and-sister duo to master the four elements and save their world from the Fire Nation’s tyrannical leader, Fire Lord Ozai. Along the way, they must dodge the Fire Nation’s crown prince Zuko, who struggles to regain his honor under pressure from his father.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. Avatar is stunning in its world building and investment in character depth. You’ll get hooked quickly on the mythology of the Avatar and how Aang will save the world.

Breakout character: Zuko. Though he struggles in a fruitless quest dealing with honor that he didn’t lose, you come to realize that the fire-bending master is not the true villain here.

Where it’s going?: Aang will learn to master all four elements and will struggle to save the world while dealing with the grief of losing his people. It’s a fascinating journey to see just how much all the characters will grow in bending and otherwise.

Property Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

First Avenger Assembled

Around these parts, we are known Marvel enthusiasts. So, it was a big surprise that while we’d seen all the majority of the MCU offerings, we hadn’t seen Cap’s origin.

We love Cap from the end of his time in the MCU, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan’s introduction.
Captain America’s story in the MCU starts out much like the comics: Steve Rogers, a frail sickly man who is super patriotic, wants to fight for his country in the already-in-progress World War II. Even though he has an admirable fighting spirit, he’s rejected at every turn. That is until Dr. Abraham Erskine comes along with his Super Soldier Serum. The good doctor looks at Rogers as a suitable candidate for the serum, not because he’s the perfect soldier, but because he’s a good man. The project – attended and funded by Howard Stark and observed by Peggy Carter – is a rousing success, transforming the poor orphan into the strong, able-bodied Steve Rogers that we know and love. But here’s where things go wrong for our young super soldier: Erskine is murdered by the Nazis, and with him goes the future of the project.

Steve is now a one-of-a-kind freak asset, and the U.S. government doesn’t exactly need him to go do the things the main army is already accomplishing. However, when news of his childhood bestie James “Bucky” Barnes’ capture reaches his camp, Steve steals off to the front lines to rescue him and Bucky’s unit almost singlehandedly and proves his worth. Steve then manages to change the outcome of the war effort through bravery but there’s a cost: The Nazis manage to get their hands on the Tesseract/Cosmic Cube. Steve tracks it down and engages in battle only to win but lose Bucky and be lost to history for 70 years after crashing his plane to prevent the Cube from being recovered.
Given our previous reviews of MCU films and our glowing praise for the development of Steve Rogers, it’s not a secret that we love the characterization of Captain America. You learn here that Steve has always been worthy (for the purposes of wielding Mjolnir) and why. This isn’t a platitude that bares out in Avengers: Endgame just because he did a few good things. It’s built into Steven Grant Rogers’ DNA, from the moment that you see him fight a bully with the makeshift shield to the minute that he jumps on a fake hand grenade without thinking of the danger to himself. The Man out of Time is, in fact, the best man for the job because he is that job.

And while others are excellent in their roles here, let us take a minute to appreciate the outstanding job Chris Evans does with the role. Evans is so perfect a choice for Captain Rogers that 11 years later, we cannot picture anyone else playing the role. Evans’ earnest portrayal of the character shines through and propels the movie beyond the standard origin story. And his chemistry with the also-excellent Sebastian Stan and Hayley Atwell is a notable highlight. Hugo Weaving also deserves mention as a good villain in the story. He isn’t over the top, but a subtle smoldering foil to the good captain’s plans to end World War II.

We are massive fans of Captain America from the angle of Winter Soldier but with the seeds planted here, we now have the lead up to why we claim Winter Soldier as our favorite MCU film. First Avenger isn’t the first film in the MCU, but it certainly ranks high in the pantheon of character establishment in the world of Marvel superheroes.

Like the comics: 8
Acting: 9.5
Story: 9.5
Total: 27/30 or 9

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Marvel character highlight #31: X-23

Name: Laura Kinney

Alias: X-23, Captain Universe, Talon, Wolverine

Affiliation: Weapon X, X-Men, New X-Men, Avengers Academy, X-Force

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, durability, senses, reflexes, agility and animal-like attributes, regeneration, Adamantium-covered retractable claws in hands and feet, expert armed and unarmed combatant

Background: Laura Kinney was born to Dr. Sarah Kinney, who was part of a top-secret program designed to recreate Weapon X. The child, the 23rd and only viable embryo in the project, was experimented upon and had her natural-born claws coated in Adamantium much like her father’s. After her handler trained her with a trigger scent, she was set loose upon her mother and killed her in a murderous frenzy. She was found and arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D. but managed to track down Wolverine and explain her past and their connection. They form a relationship and after demonstrating her innocence, she returns to Wolverine and later joins the X-Men for training and work with her father.

Relationships: Wolverine, biological father; Dr. Sarah Kinney, biological mother; Daken, brother; Gabby Kinney, clone/sister; Megan Kinney, maternal cousin; Angel, lover; Gambit, close friend; Psylocke, close friend

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

Appearances in other media:
Television: Wolverine and the X-Men (animated), The Super Hero Squad Show (animated), Hulk vs. Wolverine (animated)

Film: Logan

Video games: X-Men the Official Game, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel: War of Heroes, Marvel Pinball, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Strike Force

Otaku Corner: Women’s health and video games

Insensitivity knows no boundaries when it comes to women’s reproductive health

Editor’s note: Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court on June 22, 2022.

On May 2, political news website Politico obtained and released a 98-page draft document indicating that the U.S Supreme Court was considering reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizes abortion for women. During that time, major game studios Microsoft, Bungie and Double Fine took strong stances supporting abortion via pro-choice statements, providing financial support to affected employees and abortion rights groups and allowing employees to join protests opposing reversal of Roe v. Wade. There was a gaming company that attempted to take a neutral position on the issue; however, their strategy ended in EPIC FAILURE. Sony Interactive Entertainment, I’m looking at you.

On May 12, SIE President Jim Ryan sent out a company-wide e-mail, which was obtained by business news website Bloomberg, regarding the leaked decision. Taking a neutral stance, Ryan stated that employees should “respect differences of opinion” and “Sony is multifaceted and diverse holding many points of view” and concluded by stating “we owe it to ourselves and PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences.” Ryan then continued to talk about his two cats’ birthdays and plans to obtain a dog as a neutral method to reduce employee anger and sadness. This resulted in employees demanding clarity from Ryan and forced Sony and its subsidiary Insomniac Games to donate $100,000 to a pro-reproductive rights organization and develop an assistance program for employee who would need stated care, according to an internal e-mail obtained by the Washington Post.

When the Post asked for comments, neither company made any statements and forbade employees from speaking or sharing announcements from the benefited organization. As a gamer and consumer, I believe that Sony has chosen the wrong side in this debate. I respect that Sony and its affiliated companies have acted to assist in times of turmoil, but this issue of Roe v. Wade was an opportunity for Sony to fight for human rights and tell gamers that if women’s health care rights diminish in the U.S., there will be NOTHING to stop concerned citizens TM from telling others in a democratic society how to live. That would result in taking away content in video games, what we could see and read in anime and manga and other media, and how to think on various issues.

I appreciate Insomniac CEO Ted Price’s opinion that SIE must be firm on employees expressing concerns on abortion to do more virtuous deeds in the corporate world; however, my wife and millions of American women deserve the right to a say in their reproductive health choices, period. I applaud Microsoft, Bungie, Double Fine and other companies that are taking barrages of shade and hate by their “fan/consumer base” on this issue. Their responses are making me think more of becoming a regular customer of companies that care about honesty and doing what is right instead of the usual “virtue-signaling” for cash.

Readers, Gaming Insurrection will always cover the greatest in geek culture, tech, and retro gaming. However, when issues such as abortion hit our corner of the world, we will cover them to inform and empower you. If you want to know more about how to protect Roe v Wade from disappearing check out this link: https://www.bungie.net/en/Explore/Detail/News/51315 to find about the list of organizations spotlighted. Also, get out and vote for candidates who will fight to protect Roe v. Wade. I will close out this column with advice for Mr. Ryan and Mr. Price: 1. Women gamers are on the rise and make up 41 percent of gamers in the U.S. 2. They are watching what you say and do on abortion and other issues that affect them. 3. Act and choose wisely; it will determine how your companies will prosper in the future. 4. Do better.

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com