Why Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition For Switch Is A Bad Idea

I’ve spent the last couple weeks gushing about the Nintendo Switch I got. I love the Switch and it’s definitely become one of my favorite consoles, but I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. The Switch’s online game store is bloated with too many games, the “Joycons” that come packed with the console don’t last long, and the amount of really good first-party games is surprisingly low.

Worst of all, I’ve recently gotten word of a game coming to Switch, one that I feel wouldn’t fit on the console at all. I’m talking about Neverwinter Nights, a game that I’ve gushed about quite a bit. Neverwinter Nights was an old-school RPG made for the PC back in 2002. It was Bioware’s third attempt at a big RPG, and was definitely a daring one.

It was a game that focused less on its single-player content, and more on letting the fans create their own experiences. The game thrived on mods and player-run servers, which allowed it to foster a strong community. It also helped that it was based off a Dungeon & Dragons campaign setting, which already had a large built-in audience.

Of course, the game’s focus on multiplayer and modding weakened it a bit. The main-quest suffered greatly and ended up feeling stale, leaving the “Expansion Packs” and “Premium Modules” to pick up the pieces. While the add-ons had much better stories than the base game, it still wasn’t on the same level as Bioware’s previous entries.

So, what we have is a game that was built with multiplayer and modding in mind. This begs the question: How well would this translate to Nintendo Switch? My answer for this is a bit complicated, so let’s go over the basics. For one thing, Nintendo is adamantly against the modifying and altering of their products. They are against mods and fan-made projects of any caliber, so it’s doubtful that the game will have modding support on Switch. Unless Nintendo and Beamdog find a way to have the modded servers playable on the Switch, then they sadly won’t be able to bring the “pure” experience over from the PC.

Neverwinter Nights relies heavily on its fan-made content and support, and it would most likely flop without it. Gutting out the game’s mods and modded servers will just dissuade more players from wanting to give the game a shot on Switch. Worse still is the multiplayer, which will have to be heavily altered in its entirety. Without any sort of keyboard peripheral to use, there just won’t be any way to properly communicate with other players.

While there is an app for your phone that lets you communicate with other players in-game, I doubt this functionality would be available for the Switch port. After all, most people just tend to play their RPGs without voice-chat, so downloading the app may be seen as “unnecessary” to most. As such, it’s doubtful that there will be any meaningful way to talk with friends during gameplay.

So, is there any way they can craft a fun experience around the Switch port of Neverwinter Nights? Maybe, but it’ll require a lot of work. One thing I’d like to see included would be a bunch of fan-made modules packaged in with the game itself, which will allow non-PC players to experience what other fans have created. Also, it’d be great if they could find a way to somehow include the modded servers from the PC release. I know it would be impossible to include all of them, but it’d still be nice if we Switch owners could get a taste of Neverwinter Nights’ modding scene.

Furthermore, I’d like to see some good revisions to the multiplayer. Maybe find a way to include text-chat of some sort, or create a better voice-chat option. Lastly, I’d like to some new content exclusive to the Switch. How about giving us a new campaign based off the “Legend of Zelda” games? Or how about a module inspired by “Xenoblade Chronicles”? I’m not asking for anything too big, but I would like something that could help the Switch port of Neverwinter Night stand out.

Regardless, I probably won’t be getting Neverwinter Nights on Switch. I already own the PC version and don’t feel the need to take the plunge again. It would take a lot of additions to the pre-existing game to make me consider buying it twice. I hope that Beamdog can put something interesting together for the Switch release, but I doubt they’ll be able to make a port that perfectly captures what the PC version did. I’m holding out hope that they can do something good with it, but I’m going to remain skeptical up until its release.

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Why Having Asperger’s/Autism Is Never The End of Anything

Ever felt like an outcast? I think we’ve all been there and have struggled with something that made us feel like we didn’t fit in. There’s nothing worse than feeling like your the odd man out, or that nobody understands you. When I was younger, I felt like the biggest outcast around. I would always talk about the same few subjects on repeat and I had difficulties controlling what I say/thought.

I had problems understanding the world and people around me, while lacking a true understanding of myself. As I grew older, I was eventually diagnosed with “Asperger’s”. Asperger’s is a learning disability, while also being a much milder form of autism. Suddenly, my awkward interactions and lack of understanding on certain things made sense.

It didn’t make them go away, at least not until much later. I still struggled with finding my place in the world, or understanding the people around. My life all changed when I hit my late teens and I started to become more appreciative and understanding of the world around me.

Over time, I started to weed out some of the bad habits associated with my disability. I got better at talking to people, I started making better eye contact, and overall my interactions with other people improved. I got a job, had one of my articles published, and started up the blog you’re reading right now.

Thing is, I didn’t get that way over night. It took years of trying different things, meeting new people, and improving myself to get to where I am today. I still have a long ways to go in life, but I’ll eventually get there if I keep branching out and trying new things.

Something I’ve learned is that having Asperger’s/Autism does not automatically mean your life is over. As cheesy as it sounds, you just need to keep believing in yourself and keep improving. It took me years to break out of a lot of the bad habits associated with my disability, some of which I still have.

Regardless, I found that I was able to change my life for the better. I’ve learned that having Asperger’s can sometimes be a beneficial thing, as I often use my rich imagination to help with my writing. I feel everyone’s disability comes with an ability, and it’s important find out what that is. There’s one thing to always keep in mind: Having a learning disability isn’t a dead-end, but rather a looped path. Sure, finding your way through the path may be difficult, but you’ll eventually make it through!

The Surprising Popularity of Dragon Ball Heroes

 

 

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If you can name all of the characters on this cover, then you are officially the alpha-nerd.

Dragon Ball is one of those shows that will never go away, due to its massive worldwide popularity. This epic action series about a goofy alien dad and his constant need to get stronger and fight gods has captured the hearts of millions of people. The story of Goku, his sons, his friends, and the adventures he goes on have entertained the masses for over three decades at this point.

With a franchise that has had so many iterations, continuities, and characters, one may wonder: What if there was a single series that combined all these iterations? Well, that’s Dragon Ball Heroes! This Japanese exclusive game was Japan’s attempt at selling trading cards based off popular Dragon Ball characters. How the game would work is that you would buy booster packs of cards, take them to an Dragon Ball Heroes arcade machine, scan them, and then use them in the actual game.

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Three Goku’s?! That’s a lot!

What made Dragon Ball Heroes interesting was that everything was canon to it, and I mean EVERYTHING! The movies, games, spin-offs, and even that obscure arcade game from the 90s are all canon to this one sub-series of the franchise. Of course, Heroes isn’t canon to anything in particular. This hasn’t stopped characters and elements from the game making it into other series, such as Xenoverse and Dokkan Battle.

Heroes revolves around a young human boy named “Beat”, who is pulled into the Dragon Ball Heroes game in-universe. He ends up in an amalgamated version of the Dragon Ball universe, and has to ally himself with various characters from a multitude of different realities and continuities. All the while, he seeks to improve both himself and his newfound Saiyan abilities.

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A badass nerd in a trench-coat, that’s new!

Heroes isn’t solely focused on Beat, as the game boasts thousands of different playable characters. Unfortunately, having this many characters in one game comes with a catch: You have to buy them all separately. You see, the game works by scanning in Dragon Ball Heroes trading cards. You buy packs of them at the store, scan them, and are then allowed to use them in-game.

While Heroes is popular in Japan, the game never left its home country. A lot of this comes down to the fact that most people won’t buy dozens of individual trading cards just for one game. Another part of it could do with the machines themselves, which are pretty pricey to make and ship. Games with characters from Heroes in them have been removed from the US releases of recent Dragon Ball games, due to Bandai-Namco not wanting to advertise the game out of Japan.

Despite this, Heroes was still able to be enjoyed by people outside of Japan. Due to the widespread nature of the internet, hardcore Dragon Ball fans were able to get their hands on various pieces of Heroes material. This included the trading cards themselves, the 3DS ports of the arcade games, and the animated shorts made to advertise the game.

On top of this, fans were able to watch the Dragon Ball Heroes anime on Youtube, and enjoy a show that was only meant to be seen in Japan. Due to Dragon Ball’s overwhelming popularity, fans clamor for anything related to Dragon Ball. As a result, Heroes has caught the eyes of many American fans.

Despite Bandai-Namco’s decision to not bring the game over here, it still hasn’t stopped fans from trying to get their hands on it. Pretty much any YouTube video on the game usually has at least 50 messages that read like this: “PLEASE bring Dragon Ball Heroes over to America!”

It’s ironic that in Namco’s attempt to not sell/advertise the game over, they ended up making the game semi-popular in America in spite of it. I think a lot of that comes down to it being the “Forbidden Fruit”, a game that will never officially be released here. People want what they cannot obtain, and one such thing is Heroes.

Still, that doesn’t mean that a release will never happen. For example, most people weren’t expecting Metal Wolf Chaos to get a US release, but it’s finally getting one after all these years! So, maybe there is hope for Dragon Ball Heroes to be released in the West. After all, if a game about the president piloting a giant robot can get released here, pretty much anything can!

The Problem With Star Wars Movie Trailers

Something I haven’t talked about on this blog in quite some time is the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars is a sci-fi series that has been running for over 30 years now, and is one of the most well-known franchises in the world. Almost every film makes a killing at the box-office, even if the quality of some of its entries can be debatable. The age-old tales of space samurai and evil cyborg dads has captured the imagination of multiple generations.

So, it’s unsurprising that the series has gotten more of a resurgence in the past few years. We’ve had new movies, new comics, new cartoons, new games, on top of much needed updates to older Star Wars games. There’s never a lack of content for Star Wars fans, it seems. With all the new movies out, of course there’s going to be trailers and advertisements coming out by the dozens.

Unfortunately, Star Wars seems to have a hit a snag when it comes to trailers. A lot of Star Wars movie trailers seems to be over-obsessed with showing the same elements over and over again. Look at the trailers for the last 3 Star Wars films. We’ve got scenes in the trailers depicting one of the heroes turning to the dark side, a bunch of classic characters we haven’t seen in years, and a ton of scenes that are taken out of context just to put butts in seats.

Now, this isn’t anything new. Trailers are meant to entice viewers by showing them all these amazing things, which isn’t exclusive to movie trailers. The thing is that Star Wars doesn’t need to do this, because it will sell really well regardless. Lately, I feel the newer Star Wars trailers have been obsessed with showing you the best parts of the movie.

While I liked Star Wars: Rogue One, I felt that the trailer showed a bit too much of the epic action sequences. Likewise, the trailer for “The Last Jedi” felt as though it was trying too hard to emulate the feel of Rogue One’s trailer. Both trailers seem to feature a lot of the elements I mentioned earlier, such as heroes turning to the dark side and out of context scenes.

I feel like the Star Wars trailers are being designed to be too enticing nowadays, which goes against how they were in the past. Sure, those trailers were still meant to entice people, but they were done differently. They were obsessed with showing you a ton of nostalgia, the best scenes in the movie, and characters joining the bad guys. These trailers were great because they were well-written, showed enough of the film to be interesting, and weren’t obsessed with shoving nostalgia in your face.

Say what you will about the prequels, but Episode III had a truly amazing trailer. The best part is that the trailer was entertaining in its own right, without showing too many of the biggest and best scenes in the film. I feel that trailer had a good mix of enticing, exciting, and exhilarating content. Heck, I remember the first time I saw this trailer in a theater full of people. Right when the clips started playing on the big screen, I heard a man in back shout “YEEEEEEEEEEEAH!” as loud as he possibly could.

This factors into another problem I have with Star Wars trailers, which has to do more with the movie side of things. Nowadays, Disney is focused on giving us a new Star Wars movie each year. That means we have a steady stream of new Star Wars movie trailers on a yearly basis, taking away a lot of the mysticism of a trailer releasing.

You’ll never hear a person shouting merrily when a Star Wars trailer starts playing on the big-screen nowadays. It’s just an awkward silence, with the occasional cough or kid screaming in the background. The thing is, a trailer doesn’t define how good the movie itself will be. A good trailer could be attached to a bad film, or vice versa. While I do like the newer Star Wars movies, I just can’t get behind the advertising.

The repetitive use of certain elements, characters, or story beats causes these trailers to lose some of the “magic” that Star Wars would normally evoke. I’ll still keep watching the Star Wars movies as long as they are entertaining, but I could care less for trailers that are shoveled out for them. While most people may enjoy said advertisements, I’m just sick of the rigmarole circling around them.

Fighting Foodons: The Show That Wasn’t a Fever Dream

Believe it or not, a part of most people’s childhood is their fertile imagination. We imagine crazy things or bizarre scenarios, things that could never exist in the real world. As kids, we are allowed to craft a world atop our already existing one. Another thing kids tend to do is watch really crazy cartoons. More often than not though, people tend to chalk certain shows up as being fever dreams that they had as kids.

These are shows with such insane premises that they couldn’t possibly real, but some of them actually are. I’m going to talk about one of the most insane anime made for kids ever made, a show most people thought they had just dreamed up in their early years. I’m talking about Fighting Foodons, an anime about food turning into monsters and fighting each other!

Fighting Foodons was a show that was originally released in Japan under the title “Martial Arts Cooking Legend Bistro Recipe”. This was a show that involved around kids using magical cards to bring food to life, which were then used by both the heroes and villains to fight each other. I’m not sure how well the show did in Japan, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume it wasn’t very well.

This probably comes down to the show never being acknowledged, never receiving that much merchandise in Japan, and the fact that it ran for only 26 episodes before immediately becoming forgotten. It also doesn’t help that show was based off an already fairly obscure Shonen manga that only got 2 volumes. So, Bistro Recipe ultimately ended up as this forgotten and rather obscure anime.

That’s in Japan though, not so much in America. You see, 4Kids was looking to expand their catalog of anime dubs in the early 2000s. So, naturally Bistro Recipe was just asking to be snatched up. 4Kids purchased the localization rights, dubbed it in English using their in-house voice cast, and aired it as a premiere show on the Fox-Box network block. Despite being a launch series for the new block, Fighting Foodons failed to garner interest at the time.

However, due to its ridiculous premise and characters, it eventually became a cult classic. Heck, it became such an underground hit that earlier this year it was given a proper DVD release by Discotek! Now, let’s go into a bit more detail on what this show is about. It revolves around a young boy named “Chase”, a kid who wishes to create the ultimate Foodons in order to defeat the “Glutton Empire”.

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“Power Rangers: Delicious Force!”

Helped by his sister, his Foodons, and a group of motley rebels, Chase must defeat the evil empire and free all of the captured innocents. It’s a pretty standard plot, but the show’s constant need to play into its more ridiculous aspects makes it truly entertaining to watch. This show never takes itself seriously, resulting in a comedic action series that revels in its own insanity.

4Kids did a surprisingly good job on the dub, despite their infamous reputation with butchering anime. Still, 4Kids did change a lot, including editing out several scenes. You may be asking yourself: Can’t I just watch it subbed and uncensored instead? Unfortunately, that’s kind of impossible at this point. The Japanese version of Fighting Foodons is near impossible to find. Some clips are floating around Youtube, but they aren’t subtitled.

Not even Discotek has released the Japanese version, at least not yet. It’s a shame too, considering how catchy Bistro Recipe’s theme song is. Still, I think Fighting Foodons is a decent enough adaptation to watch on its own. This isn’t a show with a whole lot of substance, but it’s got heart. You can tell that the people who made it enjoyed what they did.

Fighting Foodons is one of the few food-based anime that I can fully recommend. I never got much into other food anime, such as Toriko. FF is a rare kind of anime, one that revels in how bizarre its world is. This is what makes the show great! Sure, it’s no Escaflowne or GaoGaiGar, but it’s awesome nonetheless. Here’s hoping the Japanese version gets that release soon, so people can enjoy that version as well.

Wakfu: Terrible Name, Fantastic Show

There was once a time in my life where I was really into French shows. YTV and Teletoon were flooded with French, and French-Canadian cartoons. As a result, I would these shows religiously. I’m talking shows like Martin Mystery, Team Galaxy, Donkey Kong Country, and Monster Buster Club. I found shows like these to be fairly entertaining, though after a while I fell out of love with French cartoons.

Don’t get me wrong, I really dig French TV shows. The problem is that most French cartoons nowadays just fail to hold my interest. In fact, for a while the only French show I was really into was Miraculous Ladybug. Since ML has been on hiatus for a while, I thought it was time I find a new show to fill the void while I wait. That shows happens to be a little known series called “Wakfu”.

When I say that it’s little known, I mean that the series really hasn’t taken off outside of France. In France, Wakfu is a highly successful animated spinoff of the MMORPG game “Dofus”. Some may argue that Wakfu is more well-known than Dofus, due to its immense popularity. Wakfu even got a ton of spinoff games, including its own MMORPG adaptation.

Despite the show’s weird-sounding name, it’s actually quite entertaining. The series itself takes a ton of elements from anime, mostly from the ever popular Shonen genre. The series uses flash animation, but manages to make it look really good. While characters look semi-static while talking, the animation usually amps up during action scenes.

Fights that would often look very cheap in lesser show are given full reign to look impressive here. On top of this, Wakfu has a stellar and entertaining soundtrack. Each episode is beautifully scored and sounds really good! Now, most of you are probably wondering what Wakfu is about.

This show focuses on a kid named Yugo, who is trying to find his real parents. After being attacked by a villainous robot-man named Nox, our young hero says his goodbyes to his father and decides to travel the world. Yugo forms bounds with new friends allies, and sets off with his party to discover his real family.

Wakfu is a show that starts off kind of bland. The first thirteen or so episodes barely feature the main villain at all, relegating his appearances to the two-part pilot. Even there, the villain only appears in a few scenes and comes off as being rather basic and underdeveloped. However, that’s only if you haven’t seen the later episodes or the special “Noximilien The Watchmaker”.

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It’s a hard Nox life!

This special depicts the events that lead Noximilien to becoming the vicious robotic villain of season 1. Noximilien goes from a humble clock-maker to a vicious cyborg named “Nox”, one who’s only goal is to literally turn back the clock and rewind time. In the second half of the first season, Nox becomes a more present threat for our heroes and their allies.

Nox isn’t the only character that I ended up liking a lot, I also adored two of the show’s protagonists: Ruel Stroud and Sadlygrove. Ruel Stroud is an old miser, a shovel-wielding adventurer, and a mysterious man with a ton of power. The reason I enjoyed Ruel is that he reminds me a lot of myself. Much like him, I hate spending cash even when I have more than enough of it.

Despite his penny-pinching ways, Ruel proves to be a loyal ally and a powerful warrior. Likewise, the hot-blooded hero known as Sadlygrove is another strong fighter. Sadlygrove’s idiotic tendencies often get him into trouble, though he usually gets out of it by knocking out anything that stands in his way. To me, these two characters are really what made the show for me.

The constant struggles these characters go through, combined with how they interact with each other make for some solid entertainment. The show itself starts off with portraying both its characters and its world in a humorous light, while slowing peeling back the layers to show the darker tragedies at work.

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Unfortunately, Yugo’s portals don’t get that awesome until later in the series.

While the plot and its lore can come off formulaic, the way it is handled at times is executed well. I loved the various touches the animators and writing team put into the show, such as having Nox’s movements mirror that of a clock at times, or starting off an episode in unexpected way. I still can’t get over how much I enjoyed watching the start of a particular episode, one featuring two of its primary characters engaged in some fancy ballroom dancing. Something like that is very uncommon in this show, or shows in this genre for that matter.

Wakfu isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a perfect show, it actually has a fair bit of flaws. Like I mentioned, the main villain barely appears in season 1. Season 1 is mostly dominated by inconsequential filler, which I often find to be less enticing than the story-lines dealing with the main antagonist. Don’t misunderstand, there are several goofy filler episodes that I enjoy, but the amount of filler can be a bit overwhelming.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for one thing: The show’s heavy continuity. Despite the first half of season 1 coming off as episodic, almost everything that happens gets referenced in some way. There isn’t an episode that I could fully consider skippable, even if what happens in the episode doesn’t amount to much. For example, there’s an episode where they go to an island and we’re introduced to the plant people known as “Sadidas”.

Up until this point, the only Sadida that was seen was Princess Amalia.  If you skip out on this episode, you miss seeing these creatures before they are properly introduced several episodes later. In a way, we get a small taste of the culture and general personalities of this fictional race. The problem is that the episode feels very inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. We are introduced to this tiny little monkey god named “Moon”, who never shows up again despite his grand power.

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Adorable, yet pointless

Another problem with the show is its cheap English dub. Despite Ankama (the production company behind Wakfu) starting a Kickstarter for an English dub of this series, it ended up being pretty awful regardless. Characters lack the raw emotion they had in the French version, and most of them sound like they would fit right in with a badly dubbed 90s anime. I usually prefer my dubs to my subs, but this one is just downright bad to listen to. It’s why I always stick to the French version while watching Wakfu.

Still, things like this never stopped me from enjoying the show. It was flawed and had a bit of a generic plot, but it handled itself very well. I’ve just completed season 1 and I’m only a few episodes into season 2 at this point, but I like what I see. Wakfu is one of those few cartoons that I enjoy enough to binge and I plan to spend the next few weeks doing so. It’s one of those rare cartoons that manages to not only entertain me, but also bring a tear to my eye.

Tiger & Bunny: An Anime Deserving of Its Number 1 Spot

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What isn’t pictured in this image is the insane amount of product placement this series likes to use.

I’ve made it no secret that I love Tiger & Bunny. I don’t watch many anime, but this is a show I dig. It’s about a duo of superheroes named Kotetsu and Barnaby, who go by the alternate identities of “Wild Tiger” and… Well, Barnaby doesn’t really have a superhero name until halfway through the series. Eventually though, they do call him “Bunny” and he gets used to it after a while. So yeah, the show is about these two heroes who start off hating each other and are forced to work together. After a while, the series evolves into a rather weird and unique action show. The show is weird, awesome, epic, goofy, silly, sad, and dark all at the same time. The show really managed to handle most of its elements in an interesting and constructive way.

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So, it’s no wonder it is why Tiger & Bunny has recently been the number 1 anime in Japan. That’s right, the NHK recently released a list of the top 100 anime voted by the Japanese. Of course, this lead to some rather odd choices and placements on the list. For example, Akira is near the bottom of the list. Dragon Ball didn’t make it into the top 100 at all, in any of its iterations. Weirder still, Cowboy Bebop is ranked at 34. This is especially odd since Cowboy Bebop did terrible in Japan upon release and isn’t as well remembered as a lot of other titles. Still, it’s popularity in the west and other parts of the world probably spilled back into Japan and made it popular there too, at least that’s what I’m guessing.

It’s hard to believe that such a short series has resonated with Japanese audiences so much. The weirdest thing about this is that Tiger & Bunny has been off the air for 5 years, with the last iteration of the series coming out in 2014. Of course, there are talks to adapt it into a live-action film. Anime-to-film adaptations are usually terrible, but Tiger & Bunny is already pretty American in its style, so it would probably make for a perfect live-action adaptation. If done properly, that is. Back to the subject at hand, why did T&B score so well?

According to a friend, it’s because the Japanese tend to hold older shows in higher regard than other shows like One Piece and Naruto. Japan doesn’t cling to “fad” styled shows, and tends to enjoy series that have more staying power and click with audiences more. For example, people still hold cartoons like Spectacular Spider-Man and Batman Beyond as cult classics and examples of high quality animation in America. Japan just loves Tiger & Bunny, which is surprising considering Japan usually doesn’t take to anime with American influences. Like I said, Cowboy Bebop flopped, and Trigun didn’t do so well either.

Tiger & Bunny is one of those rare exceptions where I feel it really appeals to all audiences, regardless of where they are from or who they are. It’s not just a superhero show, a buddy comedy, a weird bromance sitcom, a character study, it’s all of these things and more. Am I saying Tiger & Bunny is better than all these other shows that ended up on the list? Of course not! That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your attention. With all the attention T&B is getting with this list, I think it’s a good time to get into show and watch it if you haven’t.

My Thoughts On Dragon Ball Super Episodes 109-110

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The ultimate head-butt!

Sometimes, hype can be a good thing. At least, that’s what the recent Dragon Ball Super 2-parter has shown me. If you’re any sort of Dragon Ball fan, or just an anime fan in general, then it’s more than likely you’ve heard of this recent event. Toei animation put forth two Dragon Ball episodes on the same day, in order to build some hype for upcoming fights. Not only did they do this, but they also introduced Goku’s brand new form!

Yes, the alien hillbilly martial artist received yet another overpowered transformation. I mean, it’s to be expected at this point! At this point, Goku’s power-ups are essentially his wardrobe: He has one for every day of the week, as well as one for every season. So, Goku receiving a new form was inevitable. Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty of this episode, please keep in mind that there will be SPOILERS. It’s hard to talk about this episode without getting into the specifics, so please keep that in mind.

First off, let me give a brief summary of this arc, for those aren’t following the subtitled version of Dragon Ball Super. Goku and friends are engaged in a “Tournament of Power”, where the only prize is survival. 8 of the 12 universes are fighting against each other, with only the winning universe surviving.

The two parter begins by having Goku fight Ribrianne, who is this walking parody of magical girls. Goku fights her for a bit, she transforms, Goku knocks her away, then she becomes irrelevant for the rest of the two-parter. She barely does anything and is just kinda there, just like 90% of the cast in this art thus far. So, after Ribrianne becomes irrelevant, Jiren shows up.

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Well, he certainly did not skip leg day.

Jiren is a character that hasn’t done that much at all yet, aside from look intimidating and punch a few guys. Here, Jiren manages to push Goku to his absolute limit. Goku uses all of his forms (except for Super Saiyan 3) against the interdimensional alien, but is unable to do much to him. Not even the “Super Saiyan God Blue Kaioken X 20” wasn’t able to do any damage.

With his options exhausted, Goku has to rely on the “Spirit Bomb”. The Spirit Bomb is Goku’s ultimate technique, despite it barely working half the time. Much like the fights against Vegeta and Frieza, Goku is unable to kill Jiren with the attack. Jiren pushes the spirit bomb back, and not even Goku’s power can stop it. After a fruitless struggle, Goku is overwhelmed by his attack. This causes a massive explosion with trippy effects that presumably kills Goku.

Goku disappears, leaving a crater behind. Just when everyone thinks he’s dead, Goku returns once more… In a new form. We don’t much about this form other than the fact it’s called “Ultra Instinct”, but what we do know is that it is powerful. It allows Goku to fight on the same level as Jiren, and even overpower him!

Eventually, Goku’s new form wears off and he is knocked out. After escaping, Goku comes across Frieza, who prepares to attack the injured Saiyan. The episode ends with the alien assassin Hit about to face off with overwhelming and overpowering obstacle of an obliteration oracle. In other words, next episode will be “Hit Vs. Jiren”.

Now, that was just a small summary of this episode. If I were to go over all 40 minutes of this special, we’d probably be here for a decade. Regardless, it’s about time I go over my thoughts on this special. It was decent, though nothing truly amazing. The fight against Ribrianne felt really pointless, like it didn’t need to happen at all.

Ribrianne has no emotional weight in the narrative, Goku could’ve easily fought anyone else and it would have the same amount of impact. To be fair, no one came here for the fight with Ribrianne. The audience just wanted to see Goku fight Jiren, which was the big draw of this event. So, was it worth it? It was, but only somewhat.

Now, the reason I say “somewhat” is because we did get that fight, but Jiren didn’t have anything to spectacular going on. He was just overwhelmingly powerful, which is disappointing. He has no special techniques, weird powers, or unique gimmicks. He is just stronger, faster, and more powerful than everyone else.

This makes for a great obstacle for our heroes, but a disappointing combatant for Goku. Why? The reason is because Goku is just climbing yet another mountain, while slowly reaching the same power level as the foe who stands in his way. The build up to Goku’s transformation was tremendous, while the animation, music, and visuals complimented the ascension very well.

The way Goku didn’t talk at all while attacking Jiren like a machine was truly amazing; one of the few times Super has managed to give me chills while watching. The problem is that Goku just gets this new form at random. Goku summons a Spirit Bomb, gets a ton of power when he accidentally absorbs it, and is suddenly uber-powerful. The buildup is there, it’s just the execution that felt rushed.

So, would I say this 2-parter was good? Yes, it was exceptional. Despite the recycled animation, somewhat rushed delivery, and pointless opener fight, the special managed to keep me fully entertained. Could it have been better? I think so, but anything could be better if given enough time and effort.

As much as I enjoyed this special, I’d say to wait until the arc finishes and watching the two-parter along with the rest of the episodes. As good as it was, it feels like most of the episodes that came before it. Due to the humongous length of this arc thus far, I’d say waiting until the arc is finished and watching it over the course of a few weeks.

If you do what I do and watch it on a weekly basis, you’re mostly likely going to burn yourself out on it. Unlike other Dragon Ball specials, this one does not function as a standalone prequel story. You’re only really going to get a kick out of it if you’ve enjoyed the arc thus far. Like I said, it’s best to wait until the arc has finished before going on a binge.

How To Properly Adapt Anime Into American Movies

In recent years, there’s been a rise of anime-to-film adaptations. A lot of these are done in Japan, however America has a bunch of these as well. Unfortunately, the ones made by America tend to not be very good. That’s the general consensus, as well as being an opinion that I share. It’s honestly difficult to make anime appeal to modern movie-going audiences.

Most film studios struggle with finding that right balance between being faithful to the source material, and also being entertaining to casual audiences. So, I thought up some ways that film studios could better adapt anime to film. Please keep in mind that I have no experience in film-making. I feel I’ve seen enough films, both American and Japanese, to have a working knowledge of how both countries produce their films. So, allow me to list ways on how I think anime should properly be adapted to American film.

1. Skip Live-Action and Just Make It CGI Instead

For some reason, film studios over here in the west think it’s a good day to adapt anime to live-action. Why? What made anime (and cartoons, for that matter) so good was the fact that they were animated. Since they were animated, this allowed for the audience to get more engrossed in the story. In animation, you can do all these amazing things that aren’t possible in live-action.

When you take something animated and put it into a form it’s not suited for, you will have an inferior product. Reboots and adaptations can work, but it’s very difficult to adapt it into a different medium. Take Death Note for example. Both the anime and manga were unique, in that it painted the rivalry between the supernatural murderer Kira (who’s real name is Light) and the one man who is destined to expose him: The enigmatic L.

Seeing the two constantly attempt to outwit each other and play mind-games was eerily similar to the rivalry between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarti. The American movie changed this greatly, sadly. In the American Death Note, L has supernatural level intellect and knows everything about everyone, with little to no explanation. Light have become a generic supervillain halfway through the film, and generally lacks the nuance his original character had.

It’s hard to translate the original struggle of these characters to film. The various quirks, personality traits, and line of thinking for these characters  can be a bit too much for Western audiences. Especially when some of these traits and personalities are ingrained in a culture that may feel alien to other audiences. The result of this is that characters have to be radically changed, in order to not alienate audiences.

However, what if American anime films were done in CGI? If this were done, a lot of problems with translation become less of an issue. When something is animated, your level of disbelief goes considerably. That’s because in animation, your allowed to really get away with more. In animation, you’re allowed to bend reality more and make something crazy.

Anime films would work well in CGI, because you’d be able to marry elements of American cartoons with anime to create something unique. You can have characters that still strongly resemble their Japanese counterparts, but at the same time alter their designs just enough to appeal to American audiences.

On top of this, keeping these films animated allows for better action scenes. One of the leading problems with films like Dragon Ball Evolution, as that they were never able to capture the ferocity and intense moments that the series was capable of. However, having CGI animation would allow for fight scenes to flow much better.

Honestly, making American CGI anime seems like a no-brainer at this point, especially due to how bad CGI anime can be in Japan. CGI animation for anime is pretty weak, with most anime studios not able to match the quality of even low-budget American productions. Making CGI anime for American audiences would allow for more quality CGI animation to make it to Japan. Imagine getting CGI movies of Dragon Ball and One Piece, made using stunning animation from studios like Dreamworks.

Now, one may be wondering: “Wait, aren’t there already a ton of successful live-action anime adaptations?” Yes, there is! However, these were already made in Japan. These shows were made in their home country, and by people who know enough of the source-material to do it right. On top of this, Japanese audiences are able to connect with the sillier and campier elements of said films much better than we can. Regardless, I feel CGI would be the way to go for further American adaptations.

2. A Solid Soundtrack

For some reason, the music in most of these anime adaptations are… Bad. There’s no dancing around it, they are terrible! Very rarely do they ever use the show’s original theme song, and tend to use licensed tracks that don’t fit well with the work they are trying to adapt. Ghost In The Shell’s reboot as an exception, as this film had a surprisingly good soundtrack.

The problem is, most films don’t follow suit. A soundtrack is a minor thing in a film, but it really enhances the mood. When you put in a ton of licensed tracks into a production willy-nilly, then you’re not producing a solid soundtrack. You’re just manufacturing a soundtrack based on popular norms at the time.

I’m not saying they should include the theme song and original tracks from said show in each film adaptation, but they should at least attempt to find a middle-ground. Why not put some original tracks in the film, along with licensed tracks, as well as songs from the original anime? Get a good mixture going, make something that sounds unique and captures the feeling of both the new and old versions.

3. A Good Mix Of Both Voice Actors and Film Actors

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This is how you do a live-action version of an anime!

This one correlates more to the first one I listed. I feel that if a CGI anime film is made, then it’s best to go with a mix of both film actors and voice actors. Filling a cast with big-name celebrities will garner interest, but if the passion isn’t there then the characters will fall flat. That’s why, I feel tossing in some voice actors in the production would help mix things up.

Voice actors are better at getting into the role of anime characters than celebrities are, since a fair amount of them specialize in anime voice-acting. Mixing in people like Yuri Lowenthal and Troy Baker would definitely help spice up the cast. Heck, maybe even bring in some people that did voices on the dub of the anime! Kind of like when the English dub voice actors dubbed over the Japanese live-action Death Note movie.

4. Make It True To The Source Material, While At The Same Time Being It’s Own Thing

A lot of complaints levied towards films based off anime, is that most of them have little to do with the source material. These changes are often made to not alienate the audiences watching it. However, I feel some elements can be be mixed with new ones to help balance things out.

If you change too many things, you get a clumsy carbon copy like “Dragon Ball: Evolution”. If you don’t change enough things, you a get a rehash like “Ghost In The Shell 2017”. This is why a balance needs to be found. Making it too different or too similar won’t work, it needs to be equal parts a reboot and a standalone story.

The Speed Racer movie was the one film that came the closest to this ideal. It was a live-action film that felt like the zany fast-paced anime, but also had its own unique story-arc. Of course, Speed Racer was far from a perfect adaptation, but it did enough things well to warrant interest.

In Summation

In my opinion, I think a truly good anime-to-film adaptation would require these things:

  1. The film should use CGI animation in place of live-action.
  2. The film needs a soundtrack that combines licensed tracks, original music, and music from the anime it is based one.
  3. The film should use a mix of both voice actors and film actors, if it goes the CG route.
  4. The film needs to find the right balance between being an adaptation and being a reboot. It can’t be just a rehash, and it can’t be something completely different either. It needs to be its own thing, while being true to the original.

Again, this is just opinion-based. I’ve never seen an anime film that uses these elements, so this is just speculation on if these elements would work in an adaptation. I think this could work, but it would greatly depend on the production team behind it. What are you guys’ thoughts on this? America is going to keep attempting to adapt anime into film, so we aren’t going to see it stop any time soon. What do you guys think should be done with future adaptations of anime?

Robotech: The Wasted Potential

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Gotta love ‘dem classics!

When it comes to 80s television, there wasn’t a whole lot of stand-out shows. The TV programs that did stand out in this era often found a niche audience, and some are often lauded as classics. I talked about particular 80s show, a cartoon called “Galaxy Rangers”. What made Galaxy Rangers unique for its time, was that the animation was done by a Japanese anime studio. The wonderful animators over at TMS put hard work into presenting well-animated action sequences and characters for this series.

Shows that used Japanese animation often saw success, as this animation style often allowed for more expressive characters and more fluid movements. Not only was there a demand for shows with Japanese animation in them, but also for shows that originated from Japan. Voltron was one such show, using animation from a failed Japanese television anime called “GoLion”.

Unlike its Japanese counterpart, Voltron sold well and became staple of American pop-culture. This is a show that got a ton of sequels and reboot, with some studios even talking about doing a live-action version of the series. Voltron was definitely a pioneer of this early era of anime translation, but it was not without its faults.

Voltron completely rewrote the entirety of the original series, reworking it into a vastly different show overall. New characters, elements, and even concepts were introduced. Heck, they even merged the show with a completely different series to create a brand new show! Hardcore anime fans were generally un-pleased, though Voltron definitely found an audience with the many people who tuned in during that era.

While Voltron was definitely the longer lasting series, no one could deny that GoLion’s source material had found its way into the hearts of old-school anime enthusiasts. Despite Voltron eclipsing GoLion as the head of the franchise, there’s still a small contingent keeping this dead show alive. Now, why am I bringing this all up? Well, Voltron wasn’t the only show of this era to combine footage from separate unrelated anime.

A lot of people often forget about Robotech, a series that also combined different shows into a singular continuity. However, Robotech has an advantage over Voltron: It used three different shows to help craft its own lore and timeline. These shows happened to be Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada.

These three shows are completely unrelated, despite the identical names of a couple of them. Macross and Southern Cross are considered to be part of the same series, though follow separate continuities. In Robotech though, they are all part of the same continuity. The same goes for Mospeada, which was an entirely different show altogether.

Unlike a lot of shows that attempted to merge multiple anime together, I’d say Robotech was mostly successful. While the series were watered down when compared to the originals, they still kept a fair bit of grit and dark subject manner. It was still fairly violent, and death was a constant. Not only that, but almost all of the main story was kept intact.

The show had its faults, such as sub-par voice acting and the obligatory name-changing. Still, it was a pretty solid localization for the time. Honestly, I prefer Robotech seasons 2 and 3 to both Southern Cross and Mospeada. Despite this, the original Japanese version of Macross trumps season of Robotech, in my opinion.

Robotech definitely had its share of flack. The creator of the series, Carl Macek, was often criticized for how he handled the show. A lot of people didn’t like that he was mashing up three unrelated series, especially the people who often prefer their anime to be close to the source material.

I’m certainly not against an adaptation being like this, the problem is that Robotech was not handled well after the original show. You see, the franchise was and still is owned by the company known as “Harmony Gold”. To this day, Robotech is still seen as their most popular and well-known franchise. Most of Harmony’s other dubbed anime fell by the waist-side, but Robotech remained somewhat relevant in the public’s eye.

I say somewhat, because Robotech isn’t as big of a series as Harmony Gold would have you believe. At least, not in the West. You see, after the show aired back in the 80s, every project in the series ended up either cancelled or delayed. Robotech II was cancelled and made into a TV movie, Robotech: The Movie bombed in the initial box office airings, Robotech 3000 never made it past the pilot, and the ambitious N64 game Robotech: Crystal Dreams was also cancelled.

Not only that, but Robotech Shadow Chronicles received a ton of delays. When it finally came out, it had mediocre CGI and a somewhat bland story. I still enjoyed the film, though mostly in a “guilty pleasure” kind of way. The thing that really irks both me and a ton of Macross/Robotech fans, is how the franchise is treated over here.

The problem is that Harmony Gold owns all the rights to the US distribution of Macross, due to a copyright loophole. One may think that Harmony Gold would want to bring as much Macross material over as they can, right? The thing is, Harmony Gold is very protective of their copyright.

They won’t allow DVD releases of Macross, Southern Cross, or related shows in any way. DVD releases of these shows did crop up, but Harmony Gold shut them down as quickly as the could. The problem here is that HG would only allow the American versions of Macross to be released, while refusing to release the original Japanese versions.

This meant that they only allowed their audience to watch the show in the ways they deemed fit, instead of allowing people to see the alternatives. The problem is that in the early years of DVD releases, this was the only way to watch the show. Anime streaming wasn’t really a thing yet, so it was pretty difficult to watch the Japanese version.

You either had to have the original DVD release before HG shut it down, or bootleg subtitled episodes from Japan. Even the Japanese version of Voltron got a proper western DVD release, yet HG felt it necessary to throttle all attempts to bring the show in its original format here.

This wouldn’t be a huge problem if HG had a lot of Macross and Robotech releases, however the franchise has become stagnant. The last time we got anything Robotech related was in 2013, with the release of the abysmal “Robotech: Love Live Alive”. This film was just a 90 minute summary of the third season of Robotech, with some new footage made just for the movie.

The new footage is sparse, and clashes horribly with the old animation. Love Live Alive was meant to act as a bridge between Shadow Chronicles and Shadow Rising, which is the planned sequel to the previous film. 4 years later and Shadow Rising still hasn’t been released, which is par for the course with this franchise.

To summarize, I feel Robotech is wasted potential. I’m not saying that because I hate the original show or the novels, I actually enjoy those quite a bit. I say this because of how poorly Harmony Gold handled its releases. They acted like Robotech was a household name, when it was really a cult-classic anime that should’ve stayed in the 80s.

Over 30 years have passed since this show came out, many voice actors and even the creator have passed away, yet HG is still obsessed with trying to bank on nostalgia. It’s impossible to watch the newer Robotech projects and be completely lost, especially due to all the elements and characters that lack explanation.

As mentioned earlier, HG also hoards Macross and Southern Cross like its going out of style. While they are legally viable to hold the rights to these shows, it’s still a shame that most audiences will never get to experience them legally in their original format. I’m not saying that HG is awful, nor is the franchise they helped build. Still, they handled the franchise so poorly, that I feel there is no coming back.

I’ve heard there are talks for a live-action Robotech film, which I feel is a bad idea. Why adapt a franchise that hasn’t been relevant in almost a decade? I’m not saying that it can’t be done, I just don’t think it’s the best idea. I think HG needs to get its act together before it commits to such a large project. Whether you love or hate Robotech, you have to admit that it deserves better than the treatment it got.