Otaku Corner: Tenchi Muyo Vol. 3

Dark Washu is draw in third volume of Tenchi Muyo

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to The Strip’s little section specifically made for great anime and manga, “Otaku Corner.” I know everyone’s getting back into the swing of things (school, work, college), but this is also a great time to enjoy a great manga series that has it all: comedy, action, adventure, cute female leads. One of my favorite series has all of those things including a main character that is a lucky man to have four beautiful women living in the same house. Tenchi Masaki and his gang of lovely women star in more great adventures in Volume 3 of the “All New Tenchi Muyo: Dark Washu.”

Written and drawn by Hitoshi Okuda and published by Viz Media, Dark Washu is the continuation of the last story in “Tenchi Muyo: Doom Time,” in which Washu Hakubi’s most powerful invention, the “black crystal,” designed as the perfect security system, was taken over by the evil Dr. Clay. Tenchi and company fought the black crystal who copied the real Washu. Despite winning the decisive battle, the dark crystal returns to exact vengeance: It becomes Washu vs. Washu, which takes up the entire third volume.

Fellow otaku, despite this smackdown of genius against genius, this is truly great work Tenchi Muyo Vol 3worthy of any Tenchi fan with no punches pulled on every page, complementing the well-thought out plotline and artwork. It was also great to see Tenchi’s father and grandfather make brief cameos, as it is rare to see them in manga form.

The battles also have their moments of heart tugging. When Tenchi and company rally to assist Washu in the final moments of the battle, Dr. Clay is vanquished for good and Dark Washu is rebuilt as a new character and Washu’s new lab assistant, Tama. The bonus story with Ryo-oh-ki facing the battle of the bulge, which has its own mix of cuteness and comedy, is also enjoyable. Viz Media also deserves credit for keeping Tenchi Muyo fun to read, thanks to the team of adaptation writer Freed Burke and translator Lillian Olsen, who remained on task. Tenchi is fun and action-packed minus the regular clichés.

The All-New Tenchi Muyo: Dark Washu is a great manga to read to celebrate the end of summer with a good mix of action, adventure and comedy. Now I have to take care of a craving for carrot cake, which makes me wonder am I becoming like Ryo-oh-ki?

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 6

Light learns a few lessons while wheeling and dealing in Death Note Vol. 6

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back for another edition of Otaku Corner! As all of you know, this is my little corner of GI where I bring you the best in manga and anime that will keep you entertained and free from having reader’s remorse in time and money spent.

I’m continuing the most epic battle of wits mixed with a splash of ethics and a good pinch of the supernatural. We’re following up with Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata.

Death Note volume six continues the story of Light Yagami, a high school genius who obtains a Death Note, a notebook belong to the death god Ryuk. With the Death Note and Ryuk, Light vows to rid the world of crime. However, when criminals worldwide began to die in record time, the ICPO calls in L, a legendary detective to bring in the serial killer. With L closing in each day, how long will Light be able to retain his noble goal and his life?

In volume six subtitled “Give and Take,” the task force was able to determine that Death Note Vol 6 coverthe new “Kira” has been working to commit murders among the Japanese business community that not only benefit himself, but also the Yosuba Group. However, there is debate among the task force members about the methods of capture, which causes a brief rift. Light and Ryuzaki decide to use Misa to further gain information on the current Kira and the seven Yosuba members’ plans. During an interview to become a Yosuba spokesperson, Misa was briefly reunited with her Death Note’s shinigami, Rem, who tells Misa not only about Light being the real Kira, but also reveals the current Kira: Higuchi.

Upon learning that Higuchi was the third Kira, Misa pretends to go on date with Higuchi while secretly recording him stating that he was behind the recent killings of Yosuba’s rivals and regular criminals. As a result, Ryuzaki plans to use Sakura TV to trap Higuchi using Matsuda as bait. When Higuchi discovers that Matsuda is still alive, he sets off a high-speed chase throughout Tokyo, while at the same time trying to kill Mastuda. In the end, Higuchi fails miserably as the task force and a small contingent of police officers led by Aizawa and Ide trap Higuchi, which leads to major changes for all of the main characters in the next volume.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large for Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email atbrandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Tenjho Tenge Vol. 1

Don’t miss a great fighter anime in Tenjho Tenge

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back, readers, to another edition of Otaku Corner. I know that most of you wanted to get back to the battle between Ryuzaki and Light in “Death Note,” but in this edition, I think we all need to take a mental nap from that EPIC battle. For now, let’s take a break from an EPIC game of cat and mouse and enjoy a nice high school anime filled with romance, comedy, and yes, my fellow fighting otaku, plenty of beat downs. Grab some popcorn, get your other favorite anime-viewing snacks and refreshments together and kick back for the first volume of Tenjho Tenge (Heaven and Earth).

Based on the worldwide smash manga series originally appearing in Shuiesha’s V Jump”comics by Oh! Great, and produced by Geneon Entertainment, Tenjho Tenge focuses on 15-year olds Souichiro Nagi and “Bob” Makihara (aka the Knuckle Bombs) who are newly enrolled students at Todou Academy with plans of conquest as they did with their previous schools. However they soon discover that Todou is not some ordinary Japanese high school, but is really a school that was founded to teach and preserve various martial arts. After DESTROYING the senior class, Souichiro and Bob are single-handedly defeated by Maya Natsume, captain of the Juken club and her second-in-command Masataka Takayanagi. Souichiro is then hunted down by Maya’s sister, Aya, Tenjho Tenge dvd coverwho instantly falls in love with Souichiro because of a Natsume woman’s tradition. This sets off events in which the Juken Club is involved in a decades-old feud.

The first four episodes have a strong background story, especially with Souichiro after he was defeated by Masataka Takayanagi that reminds him that losing is never an option. In between the romance and chase of Souichiro by Aya, we learn more about the sisters Natsume who are strong willed but have their own unique abilities. Here’s a heads up: Tenjho Tenge nearly goes beyond the standards of fan service with the panty shots, views of the Natsume sisters’ breasts and the usual tough guy talk and battles that will make its viewers think it’s a cross of Fist of the North Star and Battle Royale but in an acceptable viewing format.

Besides the four episodes, the DVD includes, in addition to upcoming Geneon titles, clean openings and closings with the two main songs. I especially enjoyed having Lyndsey listen to TT’s opening song EVERY episode (yes, my evil plan did work. Editor’s note: No, it didn’t. He thinks it did. That opening — Bomb-a-Head — is one of the worst songs I have ever heard). I want to commend Geneon Entertainment’s U.S. branch for producing and dubbing alongside BangZoom! Entertainment and for choosing the great cast that included Johnny Yong Bosch, Stephanie Sheh (Bleach) and Wendee Lee (Cowboy Bebop) playing their respective roles. In short, Tenjho Tenge Volume 1 gets a 4.

Tenjho Tenge is, without doubt, a mix of all anime high school dramas , but with more kick. I’m very excited that this series will re-release its awesomeness soon thanks to the good folks of Discotek Media since Geneon USA is no longer in business. But for good laughs, martial arts action, high school romance (minus the overused clichés) and fan service, TT is good for you. Now to give the HBJ group their new official theme song, Bomb-a-Head.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large for Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #12: Death Note Vol. 5

Death Note heats up in Vol. 5

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Hello readers, and welcome back to “Otaku Corner,” the section of GI that covers quality anime and manga series for those who deserve the best in Japanese animation. Thus, with this great expectation, our motto is “For the otaku, by the otaku!” (patent pending). I’m continuing our coverage of the worldwide smash manga series Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata and English adapted by Viz Media LLC.

Before I get into the review, I want to give those who have not yet read the manga a quick summary of the story plot: Death Note is the story of Light Yagami, a top student with immeasurable prospects who suffers from an extreme case of boredom. That changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook of death dropped by a shinigami (Japanese god of death) named Ryuk. Any human’s name written in said notebook dies, and after a few uses on known and would be criminals, Light vows to use the Death Note to rid humanity of evil. However, Light’s work does not go unnoticed by law enforcement authorities who, in turn, send world-renowned detective L to stop Light aka Kira.

In volume five of Death Note, Light and L (aka Ryuzaki) are playing masterful-yet-blistering mind games via TV, hidden cameras, police officers and even on a college campus! These actions ultimately led Light and his cohort (yet disposable girlfriend) Misa Amane to be confined by Ryuzaki in separate locations. After weeks in confinement, Light was able to dispose of the Death Note and his memories of using it. As a result, Ryuzaki forces Light’s father, Soichiro who is head of the Kira Task Force to perform a final test of Light’s and Misa’s innocence, which resulted in Soichiro performing a mock execution that not only clear Light and Misa, but also continued the partnership of Light and Ryuzaki. Later on Ryuzaki and company established a new base of operations ( largely bankrolled by Ryuzaki), that with new resources leads the task force to find that Kira has returned; only, this time he’s using his powers to the benefit of the Yosuba Group, an multinational business group.

However, this victorious gain is not without setbacks as Aizawa leaves to return to the NPA because of a disagreement with Ryuzaki, and Matsuda’s near death forces the task force to form a new plan. Fortunately, clear heads prevail, and at the end, readers are introduced to the Kira Eight, a group of men who work for Yosuba who are  dedicated to destroying anyone (including their own members) who would stand in their way to obtain absolute power. This is seen at the very end when one of their members is “sacked,” meaning that poor individual is another victim of Kira.

Fans of Death Note will not be disappointed in the new arc as it forces the main characters to again join forces against Kira in a new persona: Greed. As I continued reading, I realized that these eight men are after power and are determined to use Kira to achieve these goals, instead of simply joining forces to use their combined talents to be a success. Obata-san has again performed the skillful combination of plot and philosophy, this time adding in a mix of corporate corruption. The usual supporting cast of Ryuk and Rem (Misa’s shinigami) make their appearances but do not endanger the new plot, coming in only when absolutely needed. Obata-san’s drawings continue to succeed in keeping the plot fresh, especially when presenting the Kira Eight where one of the men truly has the appearance of a demon. I have, so far, in reading this series, not been disappointed as every new volume has without fail brought the elements of ethics and mystery without being silly. I also would be wrong in not giving Viz Media their lion’s share of the credit, thanks in part to the great translation and adaptation of Alexis Kirsch and the Shonen Jump graphic novel team. This again proves that Viz was the right choice in unleashing Death Note upon the U.S.

Will the Kira Eight prevail? How long will Ryuzaki and Light continue their “alliance?” Will the Death Note claim more lives? And, will Misa succeed in wrapping Light around her little finger? The answers to these burning questions and more are coming in the future of Otaku Corner.

Brandon Beatty is editor at large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #10: Eagle Vol. 2

Political appeal comes through in second volume of Eagle

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Welcome back to “Otaku Corner,” where GI showcases the best in Japanese comic art and animation. I am happy to announce that GI editor-in-chief Lyndsey Hicks Mosley will debut the Anime Lounge where she will review various anime that new and veteran fans will enjoy.

In a previous issue, I reviewed a manga that foretold the election of the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama. Now, in the spirit of the 2012 presidential election, I’m reviewing the second volume of that manga that not only showcases the main character as a unique underdog, but also shows what can result when Japanese comic art collides with American politics. This is “Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President.”

In “Eagle Volume 2: Scandal,” by Kaiji Kawaguchi and published by Viz Media, the road to the White House continues as Kenneth Yamaoka, a third-generation Japanese-American senator from New York, vies for the Democratic nomination in the 2000 U.S. presidential race before the New Hampshire primary. Joining Kenneth for the whirlwind ride is the Photo courtesy of Amazon.comsecond main character, Takashi Jo, a Japanese reporter assigned to cover Yamaoka’s campaign. Jo early on learns that Yamaoka is his long-lost father as a result of an affair that Yamaoka had in Okinawa before heading into the Vietnam War. Upon arriving in Boston, Takashi is introduced to Yamaoka’s family where Takashi learns that his long-lost dad not only has strong financial backing, but also he has a kindred spirit in his adopted sister, Rachel, who is the press secretary for the campaign, and a younger brother, Alex, who is testing Takashi’s patience and skills as a journalist while trying to prove to his father that he can take the pressure of the political campaign. Meanwhile, as the campaign moves into Manchester, N.H., Yamaoka plots and succeeds in not only luring the Republican Party’s top strategist, but also derails a top Democratic rival’s campaign with proof of an affair.

“Eagle” has not missed a step ever since I started reading, thanks to a strong and fresh plot and characters. Kawaguchi retains his golden touch of combing fictional writing with real-world politics while presenting the possible future of a American minority who could hold the position of “leader of the free world.”

As a political wonk, “Eagle” appealed to me, showing that comics in general can have sway in readers’ opinions on certain world events. Credit goes to Carl Gustav Horn and Yuji Oniki for an excellent mix of adaption and translation of this political manga that has a deserving spot in my manga collection, but guarantees that otaku will want to grab this series and never let go.

Brandon Beatty can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #09: Death Note Vol. 4

Death Note Vol. 4 slows action

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Readers, welcome back to Otaku Corner. In this issue we continue to look at the worldwide smash manga series “Death Note.” For those that have just started to read Otaku Corner and Death Note, I would like to get you up to speed.

Death Note is the perfect blend of gothic horror fused with an intriguing storyline in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, only this time it is in manga form. So far, I have reviewed three volumes of Death Note and took some time off to only review other animated series to keep from exhausting Death Note. So, hold one and get ready: Your friendly neighborhood otaku will once again present to you a battle of wits between high school achiever Light Yagami and ace detective L, two chosen men brought together by the Death Note, a notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written in it. Light aka Kira, who has one copy of the death note, vows to rid the world of violent criminals, while L vows to stop Kira’s numerous killing sprees and restore justice.

In the fourth volume of Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata and published by Viz Media, we last left L (aka Ryuzaki) and Light (Kira) recovering from an attack on TV news personalities. Light’s father, a top officer in Japan’s National Police Agency, was instrumental in uncovering evidence at a local TV station of a second Kira. As a result, the two dueling geniuses called a truce to track down the second Kira, who is later revealed as Misa Amane, a up-and-coming model/actress who not only has her own death note, but the shinigami with her, Rem, has given her the ability to see people’s true identities. The drawback is that it would cost half of her lifespan.

Light, as a member of Ryuzaki’s team and Kira, is found quickly by Misa who offers to help him kill L in exchange for Light becoming her boyfriend. Light, at first, tries to threaten Misa with death, but Rem threatens to kill if any harm falls upon Misa. At the same time, Light tries to balance life as Kira, an investigator and college student while plotting to kill L. When Misa arrives at Light’s college and tells him L’s real name, Light seems ready to declare victory. However, L’s wits strike again as Misa is taken into custody by the NPA and is held by L in an undisclosed location.

Light, noting that the odds are against him, acts on his plan to keep suspicion from himself and Misa by begging Ryuzaki to confine him for a period of time. Light’s father, Socihiro, protests Light’s decision, which results in him requesting confinement as well. L agrees to Soichiro’s request except that his confinement would be different in that Sochiro would still have access to information, while Light is separated and cut off.

DN Vol. 4 keeps all of the thrills and mystery intact, complete with the psychological tactics that L and Light use, which are associated with high risk and high rewards. L decides to go underground to protect himself, while Light, who has a an ally in Misa, ponders if she is either a liability or an asset to his plans as Kira.

Obata’s illustrations are still top notch, capturing every character’s emotion, while at the same time Obha’s story line remains flawless by keeping the fusion of supernatural and mystery elements intact. I also like the backstory to Misa in how she received her death note and Rem via another shinigami’s death in which Rem killed her stalker. In short, the fourth volume of Death Note, while short on high-octane action, continues its lure of preparing readers for the next action-filled volume.

Volume 4 has take a break from the fast-paced action and focuses mainly on emotions, yet continues the strong pace of supernatural horror and mystery. You should be warned that the action and mind games will pick up again in its high-paced style with even more twists and turns that will keep you guessing who has who. My fellow otaku, come back to “Otaku Corner” for more Death Note reviews. A piece of advice: be wary of the gothic blondes. They are VERY possessive.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #08: All-New Tenchi Muyo Vol. 2

Face alien doom with the second volume of Tenchi

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

Welcome back to another segment of “Otaku Corner” where my job is to review anime and manga for your leisure. In a previous OC review, I covered the first issue of Viz Medias’ adaptation of the “All New Tenchi Muyo!” graphic novel series in which good times of watching Tenchi and Co. on Cartoon Network’s “Toonami” block were revived. “Long live the Absolution Revolution,” I say. Now, with my shoutout to a legendary show complete, let us board Ryo-oh-ki Airlines, Flight 803 to check out the second installment of the “All-New Tenchi Muyo: Doom Time.”

In this second volume, Tenchi and Co. are at it again doing what they do best: Flirting, bickering to no end, and keeping Earth and the rest of the universe safe from the most outlandish and roguish villains ever known though seven chapters. In “Doom Time,” hence the subtitle, Washu invents a very cool device to alter time; trouble is, everyone except Ryo-oh-ki and a cute little visitor named Taro are trapped in time where Team Masaki is literally fighting against the clock to stay alive and keeping young Taro safe. Next, our favorite goofball in uniform, Mihoshi, finds herself in the middle of a bank robbery that quickly goes beyond awry when the proposed robber grabs Mihoshi ‘s gun resulting in teaching would-be criminals why crime does not pay at all.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Poor Sasami has three chapters in which she is the star; only she is helping the others to fight against cute-yet-murderous building restoration robots and to somehow keep her father from annihilating her fellow classmates. Finally, Washu and the gang face off against an old enemy, Dr. Clay, and his newest weapon: an evil clone of Washu. Programmed at first to strike at Washu, it has the entire household facing off against not one but five clones known as “Dark Washu,” setting off a “to be continued” storyline for Vol. 3.

While reading this second installment of “Tenchi Muyo,” I found that everything that pulled me to this series is still here, keeping the sprit of the Tenchi anime and manga series intact and introducing a new generation of anime fans to harem manga that isn’t just girls domain. The action elements are superb in feeding adrenaline junkies their lust for action without overuse of “Gundam” or “Dragon Ball Z” elements. I must inform you that there is fan service abound in this issue. Ryoko’s cover shot, while alluring, passes the standards and practices rules.

Viz Media has earned the respect of Tenchi fans by having the English adaptation team of writer Fred Burke, translator Lillian Olsen and editor Eric Searleman dive into the Tenchi Muyo phenomenon, understanding that Tenchi Muyo is a cornerstone of Japanese animation and not the latest moneymaking franchise. Hitoshi Okuda’s talent in the storyline and art areas will make you feel as if you’re watching your own personal episode of TM without any commercial breaks.

My favorite scenes of the manga were in chapter five when King Jurai tries to teach one of Sasami’s classmates about manners in his own way, and in chapter seven when Washu and Dark Washu engage in intellectual and physical combat. I felt the action and the intense rivalry seeming from the pages. Anyone who is fortunate to pick a copy of a Tenchi Muyo manga will definitely get their money’s worth as great care in the English adaptation and the combination of excellent art and storyline ensures a great time for all without compromise.

As I close out this edition of Otaku Corner, I would like to take this time to say thanks to you, the readers, for reading this column; it was something that Lyndsey, Jamie and myself thought about for a while within GI and finally added to the video game realm in which anime and manga have a strong connection with Japan. Again, I say thank you, and now must fasten my seat belt per stewardesses Mihoshi, Ayaka and Ryoko as Ryo-oh-ki Airways Flight 803 has safely landed and awaits its treat of all things carrots. I wonder where was she when I needed a veggie wingman?

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku #07: Devil May Cry 3 Vol. 1

Devil May Cry 3 manga a great start for Dante

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

In this issue’s Otaku Corner, I’m taking a look at manga based on popular video games. One of these manga is based on the third installment of Capcom’s best-selling game “Devil May Cry,” which allows DMC fans, for the first time, to experience the fast-paced action of the game series in graphic novel format in English thanks to the good people of Tokyo Pop Inc.

In the first volume of DMC3, everybody’s favorite demon slayer/bounty hunter Dante is unemployed and bored until his trusty manager Enzo sets him up with a missing person case with a reward of $4 million. All is not as it seems as Dante not only takes the job, but also faces a surprise attack by unknown demons that leads our hero on an adventure beyond his wildest imagination.

When I read the first edition of “DMC 3” from start to finish, I felt that I was on a nonstop thrill ride from the opening page to the last. Author Suguro Chayamachi did not take the

Devil May Cry 3 Vol. 1 / photo courtesy of Amazon

DMC3 saga lightly and perfectly mixed great art and story plot with the elements of a high-octane game. All of Dante’s swagger and cool gun/swordsmanship came intact as he flows through each page proving that he is worthy to be among the greatest video game characters of all time.

Tokyo Pop deserves a ton of the credit as translator Ray Yoshimoto and English adaptation writer Aaron Sparrow fluently brought DMC 3 to life without a hitch. Truly, Capcom did try a new method of bringing a popular franchise to fans without the usual hitches that most companies experience. Overall, I find DMC3 Volume 1 worth re-reading, guaranteeing absolute satisfaction.

Devil May Cry 3 Volume 1 is a perfect addition to any DMC’s fan collection. Dante retains the skills that make him the living nightmare for all demons and succeeds in his first travel though manga format thanks to creative collaboration between Capcom and Tokyo Pop.

This is a bold and trailblazing move for video game developers to make on their franchise knowing the risks. Keep reading Otaku Corner for more reviews of this series as we give gaming’s elite demon slayer five-star treatment in the world of Japanese comic art.

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku #06: Robotech

Mech drama in space brings back memories

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

I decided to follow in my GI comrades’ footsteps and begin a new segment where I review animated properties, but with a little anime flavor. While I will continue to review great manga that reaches our shores, I hope that all of you will like this new addition to Otaku. For now, I give a big hearty welcome to Otaku Corner Theater where the motto is “reviewing great anime for, by, and worthy of the otaku.” (patent pending).

To celebrate OCT’s grand opening, I’m starting off with a legendary anime series that is undisputedly considered not only as essential to an otaku’s collection, but also a required piece to introduce those who are new to the wonderful world of anime. This series has not only launched the careers of well-known voice acting veterans in the anime industry, but also is well known among sci-fi anime series such as “Starblazers” and “Mobile Suit Gundam.” It’s none other than “Robotech” from ADV films.

For those who are unfamiliar with this series, a bit of background information is in order. “Robotech” is an 85-episode series produced in the 1980s by Harmony Gold USA and Tasunoko Productions, also known for Karas, G-Force, Tasunoko All-Stars vs. Capcom.

Consisting of a rich story that spans three generations, “Robotech” has mankind engaged in battle with alien space forces for control of the “Protoculture,” a mysterious and powerful energy source. The first chapter of the series focuses on the “Macross Saga,” in which Earth, recovering from a brutal global civil war finds in its possession a highly advanced warship called the SDF-I, sent from space. Upon finding the SDF-I, humanity must defend its self from the Zentradi, a warlike race whose main goal to reclaim said ship by using SDF-I’s advanced technology. In addition to this great space opera, you are introduced to the exploits of amateur pilot Rick Hunter and his mentor Roy Fokker as they and the rest of the SDF-I’s human crew battle the Zentradi through space to protect the restored battleship, but also its innocent inhabitants and Earth itself.

As an anime fan growing up in the ’80s, “Robotech” met my needs for any great space-based anime. It had heroic characters and cunning villains, and it was the first, in my opinion, to boldly fuse concept designs of vehicles and mecha. For instance, the SDF-I and Veritech fighter jets took on actual designs of a naval carrier and its fighter jets and combined them with the designs of a fighting mecha, resulting in futuristic war machines of which my favorite hero Juggie would give his “custom made” seal of approval. The Zentradi’s ship design, also impressive despite their cucumber-shaped look, displays incredible speed and firepower that is also reflected through their “battle pods” design, which consists of a cross between a metal ostrich and a gattling gun.

While ADV and Harmony Gold did do a outstanding job in remastering this series, they do deserve credit for retaining renowned voice actors. Tony Oliver and Dan Woren to reprise their original roles as Rick and Roy, respectively. I also give ADV and Harmony Gold credit for not only keeping the storyline intact, but also keeping the original music and sound effects refreshed using Dolby Digital. There’s also unseen bonus footage, ensuring that “Robotech” stands the test of time as an anime series. This means a lot to me because during my first time viewing Robotech when it was released on VHS, the tape cut off mid-play, leaving me with unanswered questions about the SDF-I and how Earth played a critical part in regard to Protoculture. However, watching Robotech Vol. 1 got me caught up, and I give ADV and Harmony Gold my highest praise for doing so. Although the “Shadow Chronicles” saga has revived “Robotech” for a new generation of otaku, the original will show its viewers how the saga started and, without fail, show the brilliance of a world-renowned animation studio.

If you would like more info on Robotech, visit the official website at www.robotech.com.

Brandon Beatty is the contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku #05: Death Note Vol. 3

‘Death Note Volume 3’ adds faces, intrigue to Light’s saga

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

This quarter in the Otaku corner, I’m continuing the review of the biggest battle of good versus evil ever seen in Japanese animation in Volume 3 of “Death Note.”

A word of advice: Buckle your seat belts because new players arrive on the scene to shake things up and  set the foundation for more intense battles in the manga’s future.

A small recap: “Death Note” is the tale of Light Yagami, an ace high school student with great prospects who is completely bored with his life. That changes when he finds the “death note,” a notebook with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it. Light, using the name Kira, vows to use the death note to rid the world of crime, resulting in criminals dropping dead. This leaves authorities no choice but to send in world-renowned detective L to solve the case.

photo courtesy of Amazon.com

In volume 3, Light has discovered that L has placed 64 surveillance cameras and microphones in his home. Once again, however,  Light/Kira manages to evade capture: He uses a bag of barbecue potato chips with a miniature TV inside and acts as though he is preparing for college entry exams as Ryuk, original owner of the death note and companion to Light, searches for the cameras and microphones. L, not completely fooled by Light’s tactics, decides to up the ante by enrolling at the same university that Light is attending using the name of Hideki Ryuga.

The mind games are temporarily stopped when Light’s father is sent to the hospital with the speculation that Kira caused his heart attack. At this point in the story, I consider both the mind games and Soichiro Yagami’s heart attack to be a filler break , leading readers to an action-packed stand off that results in the arrival of a “new” Kira as the femme fatale who, unknowingly to  Light and L, will have a major impact in upcoming chapters.

Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata continue to keep the perfect fusion of paranormal action and mystery through precise writing and energetic art in “Death Note,” refraining from the use of fan service elements usually found in anime and manga. While reading Death Note, you will be challenged to think more about their personal morals while at the same time evolving their appreciation for innovative storylines.

We’ll get further along with more Death Note action in future editions of Otaku, so keep an eye out for more commentary and analysis on the tale of Light, L and Ryuk. By the way if you rooting for “Team Light,” be like Kira and support your local shinigami by buying them apples. They’ll thank you for it.

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor for Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by e-mail at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com