Top 5 on The Strip: Burning anime questions

Big O

1. Big O

What was the event that caused the amnesia 40 years before?

It’s hinted that an event caused everyone in Paradigm City to lose their memories. Every so often the city resets itself, but it’s also explained that a worldwide catastrophe is the cause of the amnesia, and that reality in the series is a virtual reality that resets because of Angel. Also, there is speculation that Roger Smith aka The Negotiator is a robot, but it is never confirmed.

Oreimo

2. OreImo

Which girl did the main character wind up with? And did his parents ever approve of his sister’s eroge collection?

The main character, Kyosuke, basically enters a harem situation with several girls in his life, including his sister, Kirino. All squickiness aside about the potential incest angle, the situation with the girls proves a point about siblings growing apart and then coming together again with maturity. As a side note, their parents find out that Kirino is an otaku and collects eroge but Kyosuke manages to defuse the situation and save Kirino’s eroge collection. The main question there, however, is did her parents ever realize that the eroge collection was, in fact, Kirino’s and that she still had it?

Cowboy Bebop

3. Cowboy Bebop

Did Spike actually die at the end?

Speculation has run rampant that Spike Spiegel, the main character of Cowboy Bebop, didn’t die in the final duel that he has with antagonist/main rival Vicious. According to some fans, Spike managed to survive his gunshot wounds after being shot down in the climactic clash at the Vicious’ headquarters and lived to see another bounty. Personally, we don’t believe so. He was very clearly shown to be dead as well as Vicious and the woman they were fighting for. Spike knew the battle was going to end one way and there was no coming back to Jet and the Bebop.

Legend of Korra

4. Avatar: The Legend of Korra/Avatar: The Last Airbender

Who is Suyin Beifong’s father? Who is the mother of Zuko’s daughter?

Popular characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender Toph Beifong and Fire Lord Zuko each present some interesting questions in relation to their future offspring. It’s stated that Toph has two children that you see in the series, Republic City Chief of Police Lin Beifong and Zaofu matriarch Suyin Beifong. The women mention separately that they have different fathers that neither knew. While Lin’s father is briefly talked about, Suyin’s is not. Zuko, on the other hand, is shown to be in a relationship with Mai at the end of The Last Airbender and to have a daughter who takes on the Fire Lord throne in Legend of Korra. This begs the question of who is the mother of his daughter, Mai or someone else? These questions are never answered.

Bleach

5. Bleach

Does Aizen actually carry out the full 20,000-year sentence?

While we do know that Sosuke Aizen is sentenced to his long stay in prison at the end of his arc in Bleach, we don’t know if he will ever carry out the full sentence. It’s probable that the villain will, given that souls do not die or age like normal in Soul Society and he was empowered by the Hōgyoku, which renders the person infused with it effectively immortal. Even though he was let out of prison in the final act of Bleach, it’s implied that he was effectively held to serve the entire sentence.

Marvel character highlight #21: Venom

Name: Edward Charles Allan Brockvenom

Aliases: Toxin, Venom, Lethal Protector, 998th, Anti-Venom, White Venom

Affiliation: Agent Venom, Savage Six, Sinister Six, The Revengers, former partner of Vengeance, Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, F.E.A.S.T.

Special abilities: Because of the bonding of an alien symbiote (that once partnered with Spider-Man/Peter Parker), as Toxin, Brock has the same basic abilities as Spider-Man. He can stick to walls, can change his identity and has unlimited webbing, environmental camouflaging, quick-healing abilities and superhuman tracking strength in which he can track anyone — not just other symbiotes — as long as he has something to begin from. As Venom, he has the same abilities such as superhuman strength, durability, stamina, speed, agility, reflexes, genetic memory, offspring detection, spider sense, webbing generation and immunity to Spider-Man’s spider sense.

Background: Eddie Brock grew up in an unloving home with his father, who blamed him for the death of Eddie’s mother during childbirth. Brock began to exhibit signs of his future sociopathic life during this time, making up stories to gain attention and move ahead in life. Brock began working at the Daily Globe newspaper as a reporter and got married to Ann Weying. During his career in journalism, Brock excelled but was eventually fired after he was made into a joke by unmasking the wrong man as the villain known as Sin Eater. Brock summarily lost his job and his wife divorced him. As he was humiliated by Spider-Man, Brock saw the superhero as the source of his problems in life and developed an intense hatred for Spider-Man.

As he was contemplating suicide in a cathedral one day, Spider-Man was battling his recently acquired alien symbiote. In an effort to defeat the alien life form, Spider-Man used sonic waves from the church’s bells to sever the bond between himself and the suit. As the suit separated, it was drawn to the nearest life force, which was Brock. Brock had become a vessel of pure hate and enmity toward Spider-Man, and the alien was drawn to and fueled by this hatred. Brock had also recently learned that he had adrenal cancer, which caused his emotions to destabilize.

With the bonding of Brock and the symbiote complete (Brock completely bonded mentally and physically with the symbiote; Spider-Man did not), he learned Spider-Man’s secret identity and went on to wage all-out war against Parker and his loved ones. Despite his penchant for seeking the destruction of Spider-Man, there have been periods of truce and calm between the natural foes. Others have taken up the mantel of Venom as well, and Brock has since changed his name to Anti-Venom and most recently Toxin.

Relationships: Ann Weying (She-Venom), ex-wife; Jenna Cole (friend); Peter Parker (Spider-Man), alien symbiote father spawn; Cletus Kasady (Carnage), alien symbiote father spawn; Beck Underwood (ex-girlfriend)

First Versus game appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom

Appearances in other media: Spider-Man (animated series), Spider-Man Unlimited (animated series), Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (animated series), Ultimate Spider-Man (animated series), Spider-Man 3 (film), The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (video game), Maximum Carnage (video game), Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (video game), Spider-Man (1995 and 2000, video game), Ultimate Spider-Man (video game), Marvel vs. Capcom (video game), Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (video game), Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (video game), Spider-Man 3 (video game), Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (video game), Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (video game), Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (video game), Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (video game), Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (video game), Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth (video game), Marvel Heroes (video game), Lego Marvel Super Heroes (video game), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (video game), Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (video game)

Anime Lounge #12: Special A Ep. 1-12

Special-A-1-13

Anime-LoungeSeries: Special A

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: A group of extraordinarily talented students are isolated in their school. The group is comprised of the top seven students from each class at Hakusenkan: Kei Takishima, Hikari Hanazono, Jun and Megumi Yamamoto, Tadashi Karino, Akira Toudou and Ryuu Tsuji, and they’re the best of the best within each class. Kei and Hikari, ranked No. 1 and 2, have a longstanding rivalry dating back to childhood and constantly compete against one another in every thing they do. Whether it’s academics or sports, Hikari’s goal is to one day surpass Kei. What Hikari doesn’t realize is that Kei is completely in love with her.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. It’s a major accomplishment when you can tackle a subject such as class warfare and in the same scene have a hilarious gag that makes a viewer laugh out loud. It’s great at being the serious and lighthearted simultaneously, which makes it worthwhile to follow through with the antics of the smart kids.

Breakout character: Kei Takishima. Kei has it all, quite frankly. So why he continues to persist in chasing dense Hikari, we’ll never know. But Kei is the breakout character here because, try as he might, the one thing he is never successful on the first try is getting Hikari to understand his feelings for her. However, Kei is a smooth talker and one of the funniest characters in the series. He’s that likable, which is great considering he’s the lead character.

Funniest episode: Episode 7: “Sensitive ~ Thickheaded.” Hikari tells Kei that she will tell Kei just what she said about him in the previous episode. Since Kei is keen to hear this info — he’s in love with her — Kei engineers a contest that he knows he will probably win with Hikari’s talk being the prize. How he gets her to open up and the lengths he goes to, to get the information from Hikari are absolutely hilarious. Kei will stop at nothing to get her to tell him how she feels about him.

Where it’s going?: Half of the series is left and there are some obvious questions that need to be answered: How does Hikari really feel about Kei? How do the others in the group feel about their potential pairing? Will they actually get together? And how the others in the group faring in their own lives and with each other? The pace picks up in the latter half of the series and it becomes the focal point of the show how things will end between the main characters and their friends.

Otaku Corner: Tenjho Tenge Vol. 2

Tenjho Tenge heats up in second volume of action

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to another installment of Otaku Corner. This time, we’re going back to school, which means we’re enrolling again at the renowned Todo Academy where students learn the three basics: Reading, writing and ass-kicking (yes, I said ass-kicking.) So, grab your backpacks, bento lunches and your grappling gear because it’s time to check in with the Juken Club in the latest installment of Tenjho Tenge Volume 02: The Battle Bowl.

Based on the manga series by Oh! Great and released by Geneon Entertainment (USA), Tenjho Tenge follows the story of Soichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara (aka the Knuckle Bombs), who plan to add Todo Academy to their list of conquered territory. Their plan quickly falls apart when they meet Aya and Maya Natsume, members of the Juken Club, which stands against the student Executive Council. After altercations with the council, Soichiro and Bob join Aya and Maya along with Masataka Takayanagi to fight the council, unaware that they are now locked in a 400-year battle that has yet to be resolved.

Tenjou Tenge Vol. 2
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

During golden week (Japanese May holiday), the Juken Club begins their training to prepare for future attacks from the Executive Council. At this time, Maya has a great idea to go bowling to give the club a break from training. Unfortunately, the council makes immediate plans to send their forces led by its most terrifying members to crush the Juken Cub for good. In three episodes, the Juken Club are separated from each other facing off the council’s most feared “executioners,” who consist of vice chairman Emi “The Black Blade” Isuzu, who hates Maya with INTENSE passion; Shirō “The Last Samurai” Tagami, who gives Aya a major battle; and, Koji “Saga Mask” Sagara, who challenges Soichiro for free passage into the rest of the bowling alley.

Meanwhile, Bob and Masataka deal some serious damage to the Council’s army while protecting Bob’s girlfriend, Chiaki Kounoike. After their separate victories, the Juken Club looked as if they were going to escape a vicious gauntlet, until the Council’s president shows up ready to deal his own brand of justice.

After watching this volume of Tenjho Tenge, I felt that although the battles were drawn out, they still kept the action intact. I personally like the way episodes were written to give the Juken members a chance to test their new skills while allowing the backstory of the executioners to come full circle, showing the reasons why they fight for the council so much. You’ll still get the usual fan service moments, but the stage is set for future episodes that will deepen the story line. Also, adding more punch for the dollar, three new series coming from Geneon and the non-title ending made me feel that I was not getting a case of buyer’s remorse. Geneon USA and Bang Zoom! Entertainment deserve credit as well with a smooth English adaptation and translation as well as having excellent voice acting from Steve Staley (Soichro), Wendee Lee (Maya) Stephanie Sheh (Aya), Johnny Yong Bosch (Masataka) and Jamison Price (Bob). Credit also goes to Kate Higgins, Paul St. Peter and Dave Mallow for their respective roles of Emi, Tagami and Sagara.

Tenjho Tenge continues to keep its successful blend of school drama with intense martial arts action that puts the series in a class by itself. Will the Juken Club survive the wrath of the Council’s president? Keep it here in Otaku Corner to find out.

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

Property review: Batman Forever

Batman-Forever-01Batman Forever

Warner Bros., 1995

The point in which the Bat falters

There comes a time in every Batman fan’s life where they must do the expected: rank the original quadrilogy of films. And, sure, everyone knows that any Batman fan worth their salt is going to put the first film in the No. 1 slot, Batman Returns second and Batman and Robin dead last. But where does that leave the third film if you’re not going by that requirement? In our estimation, squarely in the middle. A middling film deserves nothing more than that.

Batman Forever doesn’t have as many problems as its successor does, but it doesn’t exactly inspire the warmest feelings toward the franchise. Its main problem is the fact that Val Kilmer — as good as an actor as he might be — isn’t exactly our idea of Batman/Bruce Wayne. We were in no way convinced that he should have taken up the cowl and tights, well after he did. It was a colossal miscast that rather plunged the franchise into the downward spiral that it remained in until Batman Begins.

The second problem is the casting of Jim Carrey as the Riddler. He wasn’t terrible, but if he can steal every scene in a movie, he will, and it will not always be pleasant. We get the appeal of Carrey because he was the only person at the time that could have possibly carried off the campiness of the Riddler, but his presence actually hurt the film more than it helped.

While we’re on the subject of the villains present in the film, we have to give something to Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two Face. Jones managed to make Two Face interesting and bring some much-needed levity to the proceedings, but we’re still upset at the way Two Face went out. Why mess up the established train of common sense that Two Face provided with a weak conclusion? It was unnecessary, and it made the conclusion a little underwhelming.

We appreciated the inclusion of Robin/Dick Grayson, which was needed after two previous films with the Boy Wonder missing. Grayson, as played by Chris O’Donnell, provided some of the films brightest spots, which is much better than the contributions of Nicole Kidman. Kidman, a fine actress in her own right, was a throwaway character and dragged the film down quite a bit. There is no chemistry between her character, Chase Meridian, and Val Kilmer’s Wayne, and it’s obvious pretty early on.

So, with uninteresting leads with no chemistry, a scene-hogging main villain and a decent plot, there’s nothing that really draws the Batman fan into watching it multiple times. A middling experience within a middle movie.

Story: 6

Like the comics: 3

Casting: 3

Total: 12 out of 30 or 4

How we grade

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

Strip Talk #22: No fat-shaming allowed of any kind

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineLet’s be real for a moment: I am what you would call a fat girl. I’ve been fairly overweight for a large portion of my adult life. It’s nothing I don’t already know and it’s nothing that I haven’t tried to fix. That doesn’t seem to stop my surviving parent from attempting to fat shame me every time I call him out for being a jerkhole. That glimpse inside my hectic and drama-filled home life should let you know how I feel about others fat-shaming others. And, let’s get down to the nitty gritty about things: I can’t stand women downgrading and fat-shaming each other.

Universally, I can’t stand women going against each other. Real talk: We don’t exactly have the best standing in the species, whether it’s from the original sin still being used against us (really, though? It’s been eons upon eons. Some folks really need to let things go), or that it’s still assumed that we’re dumb and can’t fend for ourselves when we clearly have intelligence, there’s still a stigma attached to being a woman. So, really, we need all the help we can get starting with our own side of the species stepping up to support each other. But what do we get? “She looks like a beached whale.” “She shouldn’t be into that weird stuff like cosplaying.” “She’s way too weird for any man to really get involved with her.”

Having heard the majority of that foolishness from my own side of things, and specifically from black women, you’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. It never ceases to amaze me how many people — especially black people — will throw stones and not get the full extent of being different. I was born different. The moment I came into the world, I was expected to utilize my intelligence, and leverage the fact that I could do whatever I wanted and be whatever I wanted. I was encouraged to have different interests and to not be so isolated and into my own self. So, when I developed an interest in other cultures besides my own (I do still have nationalistic black pride, by the way), it came as no shock to anyone who knew me well. I know better than to ever fat shame anyone, let alone other cosplayers and let alone women. It doesn’t matter if you’re a big girl like me or rail thin; do you and keep it moving.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com