Lupin the 3rd Jigen’s Gravestone: A Short Perfect Blend (Spoiler Alert!!!)

So with the last review, The Castle of Cagliostro is mostly an animated marvel that amazed the world. As a Lupin movie though, I will say it mostly carries more of what Miyazaki carries with his films. So what would be more of a better Lupin story? Jigen’s Gravestone, a 2014 OVA special can easily be considered a perfect blend of what makes this franchise strong.

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First off, one of the biggest factors of the shows big success was the change of focus for the other characters. Part I is heavily focused on Lupin facing off with Zenigata while characters like Fujiko, Jigen, and Goemon were simply minor characters. Part II changed that and gave these three characters more focus even with their own episodes. Part II is heavily loved for this change since it started to turn these blank slates into detailed paintings. My personal favorite of the four members has to be Jigen, he was always my favorite even when I was a casual fan of the series. So seeing the title, Jigen’s Gravestone made me ponder if they were really going to kill off Lupin’s closest partner. I will discuss more of this later on so spoilers will be later. So with the recent Fujiko series being done, the team got to make movies or to be exact OVA’s. Their first one being Jigen’s Gravestone and then Goemon’s Spray of Blood that was released this year. One thing for sure about the people who are working on these Lupin adaptations they really brought back the focus of the mature tones the franchise had in the early days.

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There is no doubt that these recent showings of Lupin (except Part IV) has really brought back the sex, blood, and danger of the crime world. The Fujiko series had tons of nudity and got to show off the characters in their original personalities. Fujiko even almost had Lupin and Jigen kill themselves in their first encounter with each other. So with Jigen’s Gravestone it easily had the danger since Jigen was being hunted down by the most well-known assassin who makes gravestones for their targets, even before they are killed. The sex is shown through Fujiko yet again and even added a sense of danger. To be more honest that scene with her fighting for her life was incredibly creepy and it has been a while since an anime got me to feel so uncomfortable and shocked. Then the blood is easily through the bullets flying around, but I will say this film is a bit lower in the gore compared to the next film. The use of bullets are not always full on gore shows, they are quick killing tools and are not used for show. The film really captures that well since the assassin is a man who is so perfect that he makes a game out of his work.
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This would then be another factor that I enjoyed, the use of a new character to simply be a challenge is a fantastic idea. Jigen has his challenge and so will Goemon, then the Fujiko series did give her some hard hurdles to get around. This does make me wonder if Lupin will have to face another great thief. Jigen had his challenges in previous shows and movies while one in particular rings true to me, the assassin named Beauty (episode 66 of Part II). With characters well established as Lupin’s, it is fun to see a challenge for them. They have defeated many foes before and some with ease, so it is a nice change of pace to have them on the run. Trust me, it is expected to be shocked when the man with a 0.2 second quick draw loses in a quick draw.

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So why is Jigen my favorite Lupin character? Well to be honest it has to do with his design which I love how the OVA designed him here. To be honest his design just gets my attention off the bat regardless of which series or movie it is. Unable to see his eyes with that hat of his, the way he holds himself, where he keeps his gun at times, then just add one the suit and tie. It really creates this image of a professional, but with how he holds himself it looks like he barely even cares. I always wonder why he seems to appear to be lazy, is it confidence or is he truly just tired of everything? I do know that he got tired of being a hired gun so him still having to be on the run and holding his gun could still resonate negatively with him. Then I do love not seeing his eyes it works in two ways where he appears to be mad and serious or simply carefree because when he lies down, he appears to be sleeping most of the time. I do love how he has to keep that hat on at all times like in Castle of Cagliostro where he even swims with it on. Then to be honest I enjoy swordplay more than gun play, but with how Jigen faces people with his gun skills always gets my attention more than Goemon slicing through everything. On top of that he is usually always with Lupin so he is a constantly recurring character.

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So with all of that said, the idea of Jigen possibly dying is a shocking idea. He is one of the main staples and is even Lupin’s closest partner. Now here comes the spoilers so skip this paragraph please! Since this is a sequel to the Fujiko series, this mean this is actually before many of other Lupin events and if you do know this coming in, that does kind of ruin the surprise. Now many could think that Lupin just does stories and does not worry too much about a connecting storyline. This can be true, but these guys are focused on many some connections here and there where this film has a direct connection with Mystery of Mamo. Now watching this film for the first time, Jigen’s fake death did trick me because of how long they were playing it up. Even when it happened we did not have all the information of what actually happened. The assassin also had this incredible lead on Lupin and Jigen and it is because Lupin is amazingly great at tricking his foes and he is actually leading them on. So even if the possible death of a character is ruined, the suspense is still quite there because Yael Okuzaki is no push over. Then the amazing comeback comes and hits you like a truck since Lupin really makes the impossible possible. Finally to add in a little detail, Jigen’s death date was April 1st, so this was a clever way of showing that this was a joke all along.

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One thing that I extremely love about the Fujiko series and the movies after them is that their animation is so top-notch. The use of colors are so well done as it has a great balance and establishes moods so well. The use of shading is strong too since Jigen always has this heavy shading around his eyes. This Jigen looks serious a majority of the time and I enjoy it so dearly. The best part is that his smile comes off so distinct though since his grin is really big making it easy to tell. The backgrounds all blend in so well and then the characters simply look like characters in this said painting. I love it when animation looks more like moving art. It is always one of my favorite things to see in animation. Just add-on a great mixture of lighting as well and everything just looks so pretty. Which only makes it more creepy when the strange moment happens. I even adore their use of nudity, they use it correctly and to not just be for pornographic material. When someone is naked it could much more than sexy, it shows defenseless as well which that strange moment perfectly captured, hence the reason I felt so uncomfortable.

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The action sequences are well done too with a great car chase that does remind me of Cagliostro’s car chase. The use of the Lupin’s car getting extremely damaged and Jigen trying to take out the car is very similar. Now in this, the two fail to take out the other car, but again the elements were all there. I even love the use of the mini gun because mini guns are always impressive. The best parts would be the two quick draws between Jigen and Yael. There is actually a good analysis about Jigen’s flaw as a gunman and it is amazing he is as great as he is with how he cripples himself. First off, the gun Jigen uses is big and heavy, so if he had a lighter gun, he could be going even faster. Jigen does not even have a proper holster for his big revolver. Yael is dressed so clean and is prepared perfectly to do his job. Yael’s gun is small and he even shaved off weight from it to be even lighter. Jigen’s first loss just shown him what kind of person Yael is and their second match just proves that. Jigen knew Yael is fast, Jigen just had to try to match that time and not beat it. Jigen knows his bullets are bigger and heavier so if they collide, is bullet will stay on track still. This is probably another reason why I enjoy Jigen’s gun play, he is extremely good even with what he has, just showing the type of person Jigen is a freeman with the only restrictions being the ones he gives himself.

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Overall, Jigen’s Gravestone is a great way to watch Lupin the 3rd. Not only it is amazing on its own, it really brings back Part I’s aesthetic of crime and blends Part II’s character focus into it. Along with that character focus it rings true to what Lupin’s characters truly are. Lupin and Fujiko being thieves and Jigen being the gunman as all three enjoy life to its fullest. Also having Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko being the major players even references the older days of the franchise before Goemon was around. There are still some laughs to have with this too and again the ending gets me grinning and laughing along with the two men. Add on a great cast of antagonists and the amazing animation that is carried from the Fujiko series, we got ourselves what I feel to be one of the best Lupin adaptations.

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Revolver Fires is also a great song for this as it really describes Jigen.

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Lupin the 3rd Castle of Cagliostro: Direction Means Everything

Alright time for me to talk about what I feel to be one of the greatest animated films of all time. This is easily not just my opinion, many big names in the entertainment business talk about this film. Monkey Punch himself says it is one of his favorite Lupin films to date and people like Steven Spielberg call it one of the greatest adventure films of all time. There is even a rumor that some scenes in the film inspired Spielberg as scenes from Indiana Jones and Tintin have similar sequences to Castle of Cagliostro. This even goes to the Simpsons none the less, so there is no lie that this film has been seen and loved by many. So what does make this film stand out for Lupin the 3rd, is it the overall heist with a gripping mystery, or is it really the animation and directing?

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The answer to the question would simply have to be the directing the film had and knowing this is Miyazaki’s debut as a director this is an amazing first work. For me it is my favorite film of his, but I can easily say films like Spirited Away and Princess Monokoe have something better than this film. Now with those two films, they have their own distinct flavor and have still stick out as great original ideas and have created their own identity. Castle of Cagliostro is the second Lupin film right after Mystery of Mamo and is still part of a franchise. I will admit that thinking of back then to what this film presents in terms of Lupin the 3rd and to thinking to present day, this could have been changed to something else like it could have been an original idea by Miyazaki. The biggest problem the film ever faced was how it did not feel like Lupin the 3rd and I can see that argument for back then though.

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With only Part I, Part II, and Mystery of Mamo being out, Castle of Cagliostro does stand out in a wrong way. Lupin himself has changed into a more heroic character compared to his selfish and rather extremely flirtatious style. There is also really only one death scene in the entire movie and one scene of someone almost dying. Again there is a lack of the unique elements of Lupin, but at the same time it still does come across as a Lupin film when looking how the franchise kept moving. Now back then when Part I was airing, two men Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata did clean up work for this show. The studio wanted the characters in a better light for the viewers so they changed them up a bit. So knowing of this, Miyazaki changing Lupin into this noble knight does not feel completely out of nowhere. Lupin doing something good is also not that strange when looking further into the franchise like Part IV or even the 40th anniversary film, Green vs Red. Even later on in the Part II series, the main four characters have done good deeds too. The film even does a good job of highlighting Lupin’s past with lines from Fujiko and Zenigatta. There is no doubt that Lupin is no saint, but that does not mean he is not allowed to do one good deed. To me it makes the character more likable since people do change their habits at times if the situation is important.

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Now throwing that aside the only other flaw the movie truly has would be the story. The heist is strong with great scenes of Lupin and Jigen swimming through dangerous areas, Lupin finding out the secrets of the castle to find his way in, and then Lupin getting out of the castle. The surprise factor is still strong for this film which I feel is what this franchise is known for at this point. Still the plot points around the marriage of the Count and Clarisse does have some issues. The biggest thing would have to be why the marriage itself since the Count is a powerful man already and could have tried to get what he wanted without the marriage. There is a problem, but when thinking about how the Count is, he easily did this out of lust. A Lust for power to be more specific since I bet the people were eating this up and saying great things about the two, so this was just an added ego boost for the Count. Now I do know for sure if this film did not have the Miyazaki filter that lust would have been shown in a different way, but that is simply not his style and if that would happen it would simply feel out-of-place. So there is a way of seeing around the plot point of the marriage and in the end villains may seem perfect when fighting their foes, but they have weaknesses too.

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Now to get to the overall point of this review though. Even if there are problems with Lupin’s characterization and some of the story, this film still stands out as one of the greatest because of the animation and directing. This film only had four months for the animation, four months! There is no doubt Miyazaki and his staff worked their hardest four hours of their lives because the film is flawless in these two areas. The opening sequence is one of my favorites with seeing Lupin and Jigen jump to the beat of the music and the people after them could not because their cars were tampered with. Line that up with the scene where the two throw the money out of their car and I already had some great laughs and smirks. I have said that Lupin simply gets me in a giddy mood before and this opening sequence does that the quickest out of anything Lupin. There is even the car chase which Spielberg has said this is the best car chase of movies in general. I cannot fault for saying that since again the surprise factor was great to see how far Lupin and Jigen would go and the animation is full of amazing colors that do not feel in your face, even though those trees were easily in their faces.

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Even the silent moments of this movie are glorious since you are appreciating the animation. I can see some being bored for a quick second or so because of this, but the film gives no excuse for anyone to be bored for any longer. The pacing of the film fits with Lupin as there are unexpected turns and for newcomers to Lupin can easily learn of how the main characters plans his schemes. I even feel that this is one of the best introductions for Zenigatta the officer who is always after Lupin. Miyazaki’s art style on Zenigatta gets the best mixture of the serious and goofy variations of this character. Zenigatta looks like that young stern man trying to do his best, but he cannot help to show off that youth at times (even if the character is always called Pops). I do think that this film really showcases the friendly little rivalry that Lupin and Zenigatta extremely well.

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I will admit I do feel Fujiko is a beat offbeat compared to her usual self. She still does get what she wanted, but the way she does it is a bit nicer. Again Fujiko has done some good on her own like in Part II, but Fujiko is the rarest character to find kindness. I will admit her with that camo outfit on and throwing grenades is an awesome sight on its own. As for Jigen and Goemon, they do get to sit around for a surprisingly long time. Jigen does get his awesome moments in the beginning of the film with him running with Lupin and shooting down the opposing car. Then Jigen simply waits with Goemon for Lupin to give the signal. When things get to the final act though, my goodness everyone is getting something. Jigen is wearing the princess’ crown on his hat and Goemon gets to slice off some armor, also him slicing Lupin’s clothes off was amusing too. Again the action sequences cannot be beat which I feel only recently Lupin films have been challenging that with the two films, Jigen’s Grave Stone and Spray of Blood. I am not saying that other action sequences are bad, it’s just that Castle of Cagliostro does such a good job with their sequences. Many people like to note the rooftop scene and even the clockwork scene where Lupin fights the Count with a bunch of spining cogs around. Looking at what comes after this film, you can easily find many people doing the same thing, the Batman animated series in the 90’s even pays homage to the clockwork fight.

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I would personally say that Lupin the 3rd Castle of Cagliostro has some of the best action sequences and animation around. Sure there are problems to tackle in terms of a Lupin adaptation, but I do feel that these can be quite moot now these days since Monkey Punch loves the film and I do feel the franchise moves more in that image too. Miyazaki easily started the change for the most popular versions of the characters. So I feel that this film can be a great starting point since the film is not that risky in terms of its material. Many can watch this film and later on those younger fans can continue with more of Lupin’s adventures when they get a bit older. If you are older already, I would say to not start with this film, but start out with something like First Contact.

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I will even admit that this is one of my personal favorite films, but I can say I do like other Lupin films more. I heavily enjoy this film as a way of studying film making and I would say this is the best study piece I have ever seen. While other Lupin films can have more laughs and insane schemes and surprises, Castle of Cagliostro has the better directing and animation. So for a film on its own it really does stand out for the marvels it did for animation in the 70’s and still out tops current animated products, but as a Lupin adventure it does lack some of those qualities. This is more about direction than anything else and there is no fault with that since the film still stands true as one of the best animated films of all time. We have to remember that even if one piece can lack somewhere, where it strides strongly can make people forget where it was lacking. Entertainment is about the experience and if story is what gets your focus, there is no problem with that, but we cannot just push aside something just because of a weaker story. Simplicity is what starts everything and I can say that Castle of Cagliostro is the best personification of this.

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Lupin the 3rd: A Truly Timeless Series

I have talked about my problems with current anime, but I will say there is absolutely one show I am so amazed of even with its current productions. Seeing the title you can clearly tell I am talking about Lupin the 3rd, the series about the grandson of Arsene Lupin. Lupin the 3rd is celebrating fifty years right now since in 1967 was when the original comic series started. From coming into a fifty year old product there is clearly one thing I am seeing so far and that Lupin has been molded by many different sets of hands and yet everything still stays strong. So many productions of Lupin the 3rd really stick out to me. It can be the original anime series with its dark humor and focus on crime (which inspired Cowboy Bebop). There is the famous Part II where many Americans are well associated with thanks to when Adult Swim aired the show. Either way Part II is famous for its use of characters as Jigen, Fujiko, and Goemon started to gain bigger roles. There is no solid evidence of this, but I feel this part in general inspired One Piece in many ways as the character roles are very similar and pirates and thieves do have their similarities. Overall, Lupin the 3rd has been a big impact in the entertainment business and for this post I simply want to talk about why I am hooked with the never-ending adventures of this gang of thieves.

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The first big attraction of Lupin the 3rd for me were always the characters. I started watching Part II when it aired on Adult Swim like many others, but I was such a young lad when first watching it so I stayed up way too long to watch this and so not much stayed in my head. Still the characters themselves I still remembered because they are simple, but how they are used are so pleasing. Lupin himself is a thief and there are many different portrayals of this man (four jackets to be accurate). For the most part, Lupin is a thief for the thrill of it, he loves to challenge himself and if he has to face someone, that just makes it more fun. Daisuke Jigen is my all time favorite character even from my early days of watching the show. Jigen just clicked to me since he is so my type of character, the hard-boiled man (even if he can be quite a goof like Lupin). This was probably my first time seeing the amazing appeal of the gunslinger along with Vash from Trigun. Goemon Ishikawa XIII is the best anime swordsman of all time! He is composed and is talented with his blade. Goemon can just slash anything into pieces and yet he can leave so many alive. Get on his bad side though and he is easily one of the deadliest swordsman ever (this guy can cut lightning). Fujiko is then the woman who uses her looks to get what she wants. Fujiko is usually using Lupin in some type of scheme or she would put him on a silver platter for a reward and yet Lupin is still in love with her.

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Even if these characters are known to be how they are, as I said before many people have dabbled with Lupin, even Miyazaki! So Lupin may be known as the thief for thrill, he has been shown to be quite a sinner who loves to kill and be aggressive on women. Then there is even Miyazaki’s portrayal of Lupin where he is a knight in shining armor for a young princess. Characters like Jigen and Goemon stay the same for the most part for they are warriors, but Jigen has been shown to love some bloodshed before in the early parts. Goemon’s biggest changes always come if he is out killing or not. Part II really focused on him being more a noble swordsman while the most recent film as the man cutting people into shreds (look up Goemon vs the Hawk). Fujiko has some interesting roles as she can be a damsel in distress for real and for pretend. There was even the short Fujiko focused series where we get to know a bit more of her.

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Then of course I cannot forget about the cop who is after Lupin, Inspector Zenigata who has been seen to be heavily comedic or serious. Zenigata has many surprises to him since even if will lose to Lupin, what he does to challenge Lupin is still always impressive. The game of cat and mouse between Lupin and Zennigata is probably my all time favorite rivalry. These two can even work side by side at times and even be the best of buds, yet it will always come to Zenigata chasing Lupin in the end. When this character is funny, he has the best material and when he is serious I completely feel for this man. Zenigata probably has the biggest surprises out of all the characters, he has actually defeated all four of the thieves at multiple points (yes he even hand cuffed the lightning slashing swordsman).

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This gets to the a major part that I really enjoy about Lupin the 3rd, it always keeps me guessing. There are times when you would think something is not what it seems and yet it can easily be that way. While some shows have a bad tendency to not be consistent, Lupin keeps it that way even with the twists and turns it has. Part II has messed with the supernatural a whole lot so when zombies in Part IV were shown, I simply thought it was zombies again, boy was I wrong. When you get to see enough you can get what is going to happen before it does, but it feels rewarding to know. The Castle of Cagliostro really did that well with hiding little details that tell you if someone is in disguise or simply around. Everything feels in place with Lupin the 3rd which is all thanks to how the characters react to it. No matter how crazy it can be, in the end Lupin and his gang take it down. You know it gets crazy when there are many different Lupins (Green vs Red, an amazing celebration for the franchise).

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In terms of animation the series really stays. The different design choices really showcase what the times were. The original series was aired in 1971 and even if it has a lot of use for slower frames, everything still flows well without being confusing to look at. I really enjoy Goemon in Part I as he really looks like how the real Goemon would have look liked. Part II was in the late 70’s and it was praised for pretty much everything. Part II is still to this day the most famous portrayal of the characters in term of their designs. Even when Miyazaki did animation for Lupin he easily put his own personal touch, but easily made a famous Lupin design and stayed true to everyone else. Fujiko really has been changed many times since she will be literally wearing new clothes and even changing her hair all the time. Part III really brought Lupin closer to the manga art style and even some Looney Toons like designs which some people like to ridicule, but I personally love this unique look. To me it still stands out from not only Lupin, but animation in general and I wish more people would try this out. The Fujiko series and Part IV really looks like moving art, while the Fujiko series uses many dark colors and heavy shading, Part IV is extremely bright. Overall, Lupin the 3rd has been praised for its animation that many animators all around the world were inspired by something in the Lupin franchise (even Disney animators would reference Lupin).

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Then we have all of those OVA’s which Monkey Punch himself has helped out with the film Dead or Alive so we get to see his designs of the characters animated. So with all this material for Lupin is this a hard show to get into to? No, this show is extremely easy to get into. Lupin the 3rd does not hold itself down with connected plot points between parts and different OVA’s all that much and even if they do it is only slightly. So you do not need to watch one thing before the other even if the Fujiko series is the earliest in the timeline. Then with Part IV being more plot focused, it is only specific to that series and not the others. Even the recent films like Jigen’s Gravestone and Spray of Blood being direct sequels to the Fujiko series, does not mean you have to watch the Fujiko series first. This is what makes Lupin the 3rd so timeless, the formula works so well and many people are doing new things with it to this day. The episodic nature makes it easy to watch and even if there are some plot focused series as of recently you can easily start with them with no fear of not knowing something. The characters’ are shown off well through their actions and not words.

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If you want a quick introduction to Jigen and Goemon go watch Jigen’s Gravestone and Spray of Blood.

The musical scores for Lupin the 3rd are absolutely fantastic! The opening theme for Part II stays strong to this day with many rendition being done on it. The original opening for the second part is easily a big reason why I remembered Lupin the 3rd for many years without even watching it. Now looking into way more Lupin there is just so much great attention to the soundtracks. To bring up The Castle of Cagliostro  again, it has an amazing score and my all time favorite movie score in general. Part II also has some of my favorite tunes as they really get the mood perfectly and the same for Part IV with the touch of Italy in its music. Part III’s opening theme is grabbing and the vocals rival Part II’s vocal version of its theme.

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The sound of Lupin the 3rd is fantastic as for the voice cast. The Japanese cast would usually stay the same and those guys are extremely talented. As for the English side I adore the Part II and Part IV cast like Tony Oliver, Richard Epcar (the best Jigen in my opinion), Lex Lang’s Goemon, and Michelle Ruff’s Fujiko. What I adore about this English voice cast is that they get what the Japanese actors are doing that to me it just sounds like the characters speaking in a different language. Goemon’s slashing effects ring to me as Goemon only, and whenever Jigen is firing his magnum that hard impact makes me brace for it. Another part that just grabs me would be the laughter of Lupin and its many characters. I do not know what comes over me, but whenever anyone is laughing in these shows or movies, it gets me to laugh with them. They have big grins or wide mouths and the sound of their laughter just wants me to join along in the laughter. Which to me if any show can get me to laugh, it can probably also grab my emotions in other ways. There has been heart breaking moments to heart raising moments, the best of that would be Jigen’s Gravestone (I thought I was going to lose it while watching that film). The ease of comedy can actually be an easy way to let people in as you can be surprised how funny Lupin can get and heart-gripping it can be.

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So those are my thoughts on this juggernaut of a franchise and what is probably the greatest and most timeless anime around. Lupin the 3rd just hits me in all the right places similarly to No More Heroes. The violent yet zany nature is my perfect blend. While Lupin is not a parody like No More Heroes, the characters can be irredeemable at times and yet I adore that of them. The cast of Lupin feels so human to me and even if there are different times the characters may act different I am not bothered and just see it as them experiencing something new just like I am. I am only mad that I did not get into Lupin earlier and for those who never talked about Lupin with me before. This is truly what anything in the entertainment business should be about. Pure fun and varying around for all audiences. Next time I will easily talk about how that rings true with The Castle of Cagliostro since it is absolutely one of the greatest animated films of all time and just the best movie in terms of direction.

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Flower, Sun, and Rain: The Anti-Game?

I have been meaning to do this for sometime. Now with the actual reveal of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, it is time to really kick myself into gear. I am looking back into the legacy of Grasshopper Manufacture and of Suda 51. No More Heroes is my favorite piece of work from Suda 51 and the company and so I want to look back on the games both before and after. Flower, Sun, and Rain is the second game of Grasshopper and well it is an interesting one. I feel like Suda brought back some of his old ideas with the Syndrome series because we have an adventure game in a stranger format than usual. Now by adventure game I will say this reminds me of the adventure games of Sierra (Leisure Suit Larry, King’s Quest, and Space Quest) and reminds me of the original Alone in the Dark. Even if this game does share some qualities with other adventure titles, that is only in small comparisons, because this game is bizarre and I love it for that.

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To get to the point of the title this does have game play and yet at many points this game feels like an overall deconstruction of video games. There are many times where I feel that I am literally just walking about for long periods of time with no results. Then in the end I just get to the next puzzle after the other. I understand finding clues for some puzzles is one thing, but there is moment where you have to walk back and forth so many times to two areas completely far from each other. In the midst of this craziness though I found so much enjoyment. I have never experience a game that is punishing me for playing it. Sure there are some little games out there like Bastard Tetris or such, but this is an actual packaged game where I feel the point is the sadistic nature. I feel like another reason why I ended up loving this game was because of the bananas of a story being told.

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I will say this there are actually strong connections between this game and the previous Grasshopper title, The Silver Case. I will save that for another time, but knowing that this game got over to the States first really baffles me. There are so many moments that many Americans or even Europeans would never understand because The Silver Case only got released last year ago for the rest of the world. On top of that though there are many other confusing things going on. You play as Sumio Mondo and he is an expert on finding things. With his briefcase, Katherine (Catherine) Mondo can find everything by inputting numbers into the case whenever he finds anything he can jack into. The puzzles come here because you will soon get a guidebook that holds all the answers. The DS version even gives you bonus puzzles hidden in the areas. I can say I enjoyed the puzzles and I always feel proud of never using an online guide. The hard part is finding the bonus puzzles because they are scattered at random points during the chapters. They are usually at a place where you will be going to, but they can be back in areas you looked at before, luckily there is a tracking device to help you out. Still doing the puzzles feel great and fun to look for the answers. Looking through the guidebook and trying different scenarios to find the number combinations. I would so love to actually have the book itself in my hands to solve the puzzles.

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Can someone show me where to buy this?!

While solving these puzzles, this leads to Mondo helping people even though he should be completing his task of trying to stop a terrorist! You heard me right, while Mondo is helping a wrestler learn the way of  wrestling or even helping a girl get her correct drinks, there is a bomb about to go off at an airport! At the same time then, the same day is repeating again and again even though Mondo is solving new problems each time this day is repeating. At the end of the day, it always ends with the plane blowing up even if it was caused by a woman who can fly thanks to the power of milk! The story is literally something else and that is saying something when up next we got Killer7. Still you will be left confused on what exactly is going on while you repeat the same thing everyday. Only Suda 51 can bring a story this crazy.

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Back to the sadistic nature of this game is that there are moments where the game is even being hard to itself. This soon felt more relatable and more self-justified to why the game was making me do many tedious tasks. The self-realizing factors really work since this is on bizarre title to mess with. There are scenes where you get the characters knowing what they are and where they are. Many of these scenes seem to be making fun of how people look at video games. A kid complains about the graphics, the story, the actions of the characters, and the overall game itself. Having the kid being the one doing this just makes me think of how today is with gaming journalism. Mind you this game was released in Japan originally on the PS2 in 2001. Suda 51 has talked about how some video games really fit into a mold and not be something of its own. Now looking at the current times where we just get the same game per year just because the rosters for football teams change or we just get more shooters with no variety. Flower, Sun, and Rain feels like one of the few games that try to mock this in an extremely direct fashion.

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I have mentioned what this game reminds me of, but at the same time there is nothing really like this. Then on top of it all, this feels like art. I know saying that is a huge bear trap for anyone, but this game has an artistic view in a good way. It does not feel pretentious like David Cage’s games because this is actually getting me to experience things I have felt before with games in a different way. I am getting mad or annoyed because I am not losing, but I am mad about the amount of walking. I am laughing with confusion and yet here I go doing the task that I am given. The game even makes fun of the method of flagging that adventure games are known for. I cannot recall feeling this way with any other game.

I also really love the concept art. Both this and The Silver Case have well done art. Huge thanks to Takashi Miyamoto.

Overall though, Flower, Sun, and Rain really punishes you for playing it and yet I enjoyed that punishment. I can see many people not liking this game, but I feel like this game did all of this on purpose. It goes with an odd art style to convey what would be “bad graphics” and even does some odd programming features. This game is not afraid of what people are going to say since the game itself is already mocking itself. I also have to say that the soundtrack of this game is awesome! It has upbeat themes, relaxing songs, and tracks that make me feel uncomfortable. If you are a fan of Suda 51 and had a great experience with The Silver Case, I recommend picking this title up on the DS. This is one of the strangest and sadistic games I have ever played and I adore that. It reminds me that art can be appreciated no matter how many people could not enjoy it. A game like this is really inspirational and tells me to create no matter how many people tell me not to even if that person can be myself. Learn your craft and love it, never bide by any rules.

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Flower, Sun, and Rain even has my all time favorite opening for a video game, check it out!

The Possible Game Worlds for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Updated)

This game is going to be a huge topic on my site for a long time. There is a lot to speculate right now, but we have some confirmations of what we are getting so far. We are getting the classic No More Heroes style, but with the focus on independent gaming. We can already tell that Hotline Miami is going to be a world along with Shovel Knight being announced. So I have to wonder, since there are four other worlds waiting to be announced, what could they be? At first I was thinking it was going to be mostly indie games with a high rating in terms of violence and such, but surprisingly Shovel Knight being announced already changed this up. With how the Japanese trailer showcases the new game, I can easily say that the tone of No More Heroes will not go down too. So we could be seeing some Shovel Knight characters get really bloody. Either way with that in mind, I just want to speculate on what the possible new worlds could be for Travis Strikes Again, who knows there could be DLC worlds added on later in the game’s life.

Shantae

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With a game like Shovel Knight being announced, a series like Shantae really came to my mind quickly. Now Shantae does have some nice looking ladies and I know a man like Travis would love being in this game. I feel like Travis would so make fun of the designs of the characters in his very special way. Also just like Shovel Knight, I would love to see these type of character designs have the No More Heroes treatment. Characters like Shantae herself, Sky, Risky Boots, and Rottytops would easily look great with how Yusuke Kozaki makes his female characters. Also for No More Heroes, the ladies of this franchise really give the franchise its image as by looking at the PS3 and Xbox 360 ports’ box art really shows that. Now I do have to wonder how the fights will work out since if Travis enters a game world, will he replace the main character or simply be invading. I will guess he will be invading since why would they get rid of the awesome crossover potential. So I can see Travis fighting Shovel Knight and Shantae characters and since these are just game worlds and not actually their own specifically, he can kill them. Again this will all just be a game to Travis and knowing we are back to the original Travis, he is going to leave a ton of chaos in his way. Overall with Shantae, there will be tons of sexual jokes and again imagine Shantae’s dancing while Travis charges his beam katana, just a perfect match in my book.

Yandere Simulator

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Here is an interesting game that still gets some attention here and there. I forget if this game is actually finished or not, but either way I feel that this Yandere can fight Travis because No More Heroes has dealt with the school life before. The first fight with Shinobu was when she was in high school and in the second game, Travis fights a college girl, Kimmy. Now with Kimmy she was straight up a Yandere like the main character of this simulator. The main girl can also get extremely bloody which again just seems to fit No More Heroes blood and gore factor. I can see another school level as well since we had two in the franchise before. One being Santa Destroy High School and then a university. It would be cool to see both Travis and the girl slashing foes all around them as they fight. Both are getting covered in blood and just increasing their blood lust. Then reminding me of bloodlust.

Party Hard

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Party Hard is similar to the previous game in its aspect of murder which is why it could easily fit in No More Heroes. Now with other aspect of Party Hard that makes me think it will fit well is because of Hotline Miami. These two games are mostly designed with bits, but man they are graphic! With Party Hard, you play as a serial killer that attacks parties. The killer hides himself in public and starts poisoning the drinks, setting up traps, or straights up stabs people while no one is looking. The world of Party Hard can be quite chaotic as cars just make people into mush. Animals can even be used to kill some drunks. I would love to see the killer use all types of silly weapons and traps in his fight with Travis and again I would love to see a nightclub or bar be a level where Travis fights some drunks.

Bendy and the Ink Machine

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I will admit, I barely know nothing about this title. I do see it mentioned quite a lot around the web and I have seen many cosplays of these characters. What I do get from seeing this game though is that it has some cool horror aspects from it. I would simply love to see this art style of classic cartoons being shown with Travis around. Now I want Travis still looking the same and have him stand out. The horror aspect has been used before with a boss like Matt Helms. Since Bendy has this ink thing going on, I would love to see him vanish and appear throughout the level and even the boss fight. There are two things that I like, horror and classic cartoons, so let us see that be used with No More Heroes. Also I would love to see the ink splash around like blood, I love when blood can be replaced by something and still feel graphic.

Cuphead

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Reminding me of the old school cartoon art style. Cuphead is straight up a video game with that style of animation the entire time. It is an action platformer with some strange bosses. I do not know much about this title too, but again I have been watching clips of it as more kept coming out for it. Imagine if Travis fought the main two characters as they jump around trying to shoot Travis down. Each section of that fight can be Travis trying to reach the two and do attacks on them. Then things start to change-up with different movement styles and if the two split up from each other. Travis would have some fun fighting some classic cartoons since old school cartoons are still the kings of violence in my eyes.

The Binding of Issac

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Binding of Isaac is an extremely terrifying game! The ideas and themes it presents itself with this cute art style can be tormenting. Now I do not feel Travis would fight Isaac himself because of the size of the little guy. Travis can easily fight the crazy bosses in this game. Travis has fought something like Dr. Letz Shake which was just a giant robot and then Travis even had a giant robot fight! So Travis fighting non-human characters is quite possible. The blood factor that Isaac has to would fit right in place with No More Heroes. Literally the foes can throw up or cry blood, they also take dumps all around the place. I would even love to see the level with certain foes hunting Travis down. Maybe Travis can replace Issac and simply recreate the foes that resemble Isaac and have them resemble Travis, would be really scary to see demented Travis’ after you. Now would Travis give a hell about the sad story of Isaac, no, he would just love the blood.

Furi

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This game is AMAZING! I have not fully beaten this game yet as I am on the third boss. Furi is a straight boss rush of a game which I would love to see Travis have some fights in this world. He can fight the swordsman himself which could be similar to Ryuji from No More Heroes 2. The Stranger would be fast and dodging would be extremely important. Then combine the bullet hell that can happen with other bosses as Travis must run around these attacks or simply block them. One of the bosses even made me think of Cloe Walsh and that woman was the second boss of Furi. I would just love to see the fast action game be presented since Travis could easily clash swords with these characters. Hell Travis with the third boss would be very interesting since it could work like Captain Vladimir from the second game.

Skullgirls/Indivisible

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Lab Zero Games has been having a nice relationship with Arc System Works. So seeing Lab Zero work with another Japanese company would not be surprising. Now Skullgirls would seem to be the easy one to choose, but they are working on a new game still. Skullgirls easily has a great cast of characters that would be amazing for boss fights. Indivisible has more foes to fight for generic grunts before getting to the bosses though. What would also be awesome for the Indivisible boss fights, if they actually have the party fight Travis. More than one boss at the same time has been done before with New Destroyman, so I would love to see the team fight Travis like they do in general. Taking their turns, but still having crazy attacks going on. Some attacks can come at the same time like the archer firing arrows meanwhile the main character could be trying to beat Travis’ head in. Either way I feel like Lab Zero would have a great time working with Grasshopper.

Nidhogg

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Nidhogg is an awesome yet simple fighting game. It is a simple fencing like sword game where it is a race to the finish. Each foe need to kill other to get the right to move to the next screen. If you die on your way to your end of the stage, your foe gets the right to advance screens and you need to stop them! I can easily see Travis fighting many of these sword wielding warriors as he reaches to get to the end of the stage. For bosses they can be amazing variations of the warriors. Also imagine one boss fight while Travis is on top of the Nidhogg itself! They did make a sequel for this game with a new look for the characters, so they can easily be remade again for No More Heroes.

Enter the Gungeon

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Enter the Gungeon is a dungeon crawler with a huge aspects of gun play. No More Heroes has dealt with bosses with guns or crazy lasers so this game would have a nice fit with No More Heroes. There are more than just guns of course, but guns is the major focus. I feel like this game can make a great gun boss fight for the franchise since fights like Dr.Peace, Speed Buster, and Million Gunman have left more to be desired. Dr. Peace is not bad, it’s just an easy fight, Speed Buster was just an extension of the level, and Million Gunman’s fight is slightly ruined when playing as Shinobu. I would love to see the intense action of the Gungeon with Travis Touchdown. Again he can be blocking bullets or running away from them. Depending on who you fight in this world, the bosses can even dodge Travis’ attacks as many of the playable characters can do dodge rolls.

Castle Crashers/Alien Hominid

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I still remember the days when I was on Newgrounds. Playing many random flash games and watching things that I shouldn’t have (thanks Zone Archives!). Either way the flash days of some games were really fun. It was amazing what these guys could do without the big teams and technology of the big companies. Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid was fluid beat’em up games that can easily translate well into 3D. Travis could easily fight all of these main characters and even slash through the grunts as well. The little alien can easily run around with incredible speed and try to slice Travis’ throat if he climbs on him. The Castle Crashers can be all together or individual bosses since they have many ways of fighting with different skills and magic. Maybe make them go one at a time against Travis. It would be awesome to showcase the early days of flash by giving these guys the honor of being killed by the No More Hero.

The Silver Case

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Suda 51 himself is back in the director’s chair so I feel like he would easily use his one of his own games for a world. Now why would I say The Silver Case over something like Killer7? Well not only is this new No More Heroes game an anniversary for the franchise, it is also a celebration for Grasshopper in general. While I see that Killer7 would be an easy fit and make an amazing boss fight with the Smiths, I feel like Suda would try to take another option. Suda is never a man who goes for the easy options. Suda likes to try the harder stuff even if it does not end up perfect. With Silver Case this is Grasshopper’s beginning and a major milestone for the company. There are still psychopaths presented in The Silver Case so making foes out of them would not be hard. Hell Suda 51 could amaze many hardcore fans with new secrets he has been hiding in this title and knowing that The Silver Case and its sequel will be played by more people means that he could try advertising his first title with the company.

Now I do know that these game worlds will not be the only way of having levels in this new game. I bet the real world will still be having things to do as Travis so needs to have his shops to buy silly clothes and weapons. I guess the next time I will be talking No More Heroes would be thinking of that aspect. Also when more worlds are revealed, I would so discuss the possible boss fights.

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I am so in love with this image!

Well I just learned that some of these indie collaborations could just be for Travis’ shirts and other wears. I will say I am a little disappointed, but I guess that would be hard to try to balance all of these awesome indie games into one package. It seems that the six video games that Travis is entering are going to be original to No More Heroes’ world. At the very least we can get classic No More Heroes with some awesome flair to it. Also who knows what other bosses could be in store now for No More Heroes! I still believe there will be one Grasshopper game mixed in with this title though.

TRAVIS STRIKES AGAIN: NO MORE HEROES!!! (Updated) (Another Update)

It has been a while since we had any news about the new No More Heroes title. The Switch presentation was in January where we had Suda 51 himself tell the world about the new game. Well at the end of August here we are with a new No More Heroes trailer, I cannot believe I am still typing this up right now. No More Heroes started in 2007 on the Wii and Suda and Grasshopper themselves are giving No More Heroes its anniversary title on the Nintendo Switch with, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. Now what is quite interesting is that this game is not called No More Heroes 3: Travis Strikes Again. I think it is actually a smart move because No More Heroes and well Grasshopper games in general have been more of a cult following. To better advertise this new title, they want to make the fact clear that Travis is back! It does not matter how many games it has been, Travis’s last game was 2010, so he needs a strong comeback.

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This image alone was keeping me happy for these many months

Now let us take a deeper look into this trailer and pick piece by piece, because I need to see what is exactly going on here. In terms of story, No More Heroes has been rather interesting. The first game is confusing, but is done on purpose since we deal with violent stereotypes being shown in a realistic angle and how they cannot live with those mindsets. No More Heroes 2 is a revenge story through and through while still showing how silly violent media can be. This game seems to be really going back to the first one in terms of tone. There are already strong connections to the first game, but one to me was how Travis was acting. Sure in the second game Travis was still very much waving around his Beam Katana and killing foes left to right, but he started to understand things about fighting. Travis is acting more like how he started in No More Heroes since he is already breaking the fourth wall and taunting his foe with his silly little monologues. How Travis did his fourth wall breaking in the second game he was still rather serious about it with the death of Alice, who in his eyes was a true warrior. Maybe with all the gaming Travis has been doing lately has brought him back to his little fantasy world?

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It is also interesting to note that Travis is on his own with a trailer this time, not an apartment.

The biggest connection we got to the first game is this new character called, The Bat, which could also be a reference to the second game as well. In the first game, Travis fought Bad Girl for the second rank and killed her like the rest. Bad Girl was always this character that was rather straight forward in her approach. We never learned her real name and she never talked about her past. Bad Girl was always this cool mystery of a person and now we get to learn a little more about her. The Bat is clearly Bad Girl’s father as we see him have a picture of Bad Girl and he calls her Charlotte. The Bat even mentions his daughter to Travis which he could have probably forgotten knowing how he forgotten Helter Skelter which was a character that was killed in the first trailer for No More Heroes in general. This man even resembles Bad Girl in many ways. First off, is the weapon of choice he uses is a baseball bat. He even drinks heavily just like his daughter and uses baseball mannerisms. The Bat could also be a reference to Jasper Batt Jr, a young boy who wanted revenge for what Travis did to his family.

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The clothing Charlotte wears does resemble what she wore for her Very Sweet outfit from No More Heroes: Paradise

Let us also dabble into some character designing because The Bat is already proving to be an awesome character! I so hope he is going to be an actual in-game boss and not have the curse that Helter Skelter had. With The Bat as I said before he carries many similarities to Bad Girl, but this man clearly has aged which is fun to note. From No More Heroes to Desperate Struggle that was already three years and now it is the third title that The Bat is out to kill Travis for revenge. When looking at his tattoos you can understand why this he took his time. On his left arm there is a knife tattoo with the word “Forget” next to it. The knife is even pointing to his wrist as this could be a reference to suicide as I bet this father took it hard that his daughter died. Then his attitude with the situation now is shown off with the anchor where it says “Sink or Swim.” The Bat is out for revenge and he does not care how much this ruins his life, he wants revenge. At his waist line there is the line, “Love without cause” I hope this means he tried to be a good father to Bad Girl. There are also pictures of a boxer, flowers, more knives (one being stabbed into his skin near the neck none the less), birds, a naked lady, and even Micky Mouse. Next to Micky Mouse there is “Death” being said right there. Combine all of this with his dirty shirt and baseball jacket, the torn pants (which is an obvious reference to the Red Sox), the beer belt, the mask, and his dirty appearance we got a perfect representation of depression and revenge with The Bat. Again the game is not out yet and I am already getting a feel for this character. I already feel this guy could be one of my favorites because his introduction was already so strong, he even tries bringing Travis back into reality when he tells Travis, “Your fight is in the real world!” (Just learned that his name is actually Bad Man, just like father and daughter.)

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On the back of his jacket it says “Batter Up” which is what Bad Girl said during her fight against Travis.

Now let me just go crazy and just get a list of all the things I thought of when seeing this trailer. The first frame of seeing The Bat driving down the road in his car made me think of Killer7 oddly enough. The art style of the trailer really brings back the insane look that game had which is what No More Heroes had this look for the first trailer for No More Heroes. The big reason I thought of Killer7 was because of the red sky with a car driving dead on straight. It reminded me of the Cloudman section of Killer7 where a boy is driving endlessly until the blood of his mentor paints the sky and his car red. The dark woods enviroment makes me think of Killer is Dead since it has that blue shading to show off darkness. When The Bat drives passed the trailer, we can see a cat on top of it which is clearly Jeane, Travis’ cat. There is a funny t-shirt saying “The flick of the Switch,” it is a sexual reference that happens to say the console’s name. Along with that we see Travis playing Hotline Miami which is an indie game Suda 51 himself has loved and supported. Funny enough when The Bat approaches the dummy Travis, the game stops on the Grasshopper mask.

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When The Bat knocks the dummy’s head off, this reminded me of Lollipop Chainsaw when Juliet would decapitate her foes and all the confetti would just jump out. On the head of the dummy we can see it was wearing a luchador mask which is a reference to how much Travis loves wrestling. In the first game Travis collected cards of these masks and in No More Heroes and then in Desperate Struggle you could decorate the apartment with these masks if you had a No More Heroes save file present while playing the second game. Travis is back with the Blood Berry which is his default Beam Katana from the previous two games. An interesting change to Travis is that he wears a purple jacket now and not his usual red jackets. There was a purple jacket in the second game and I feel that this is reference to Garcia Fucking Hotspur from Shadows of the Damned. As I said before, Travis breaks the fourth wall in the new trailer which reminds me of the introductions in the first two games. We get a freeze frame on Travis with the announcement that the Unreal Engine 4 is being used and Travis’ shirt even says “Unreal Engine is killing wasted resources.” This is not the first time a Grasshopper game is using the Unreal Engine since Killer has used a previous version of it.

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Now the most interesting aspect has to be the reveal of the Death Drive console being mentioned. This is a direct reference to Let it Die where a game console is used in the world to experience the adventure. The version Travis has seems to be an upgraded version though. Where did Travis get this console? Maybe it is canon that Travis participated in Let it Die and won and probably stole something for a reward. Now the two gloves come out and seem to attack both men. Now the gloves are an obvious reference to the Nintendo Power Glove. This phantom game console seems to have some VR stuff to it as well as Travis and The Bat are going to experience more video game worlds. Travis Touchdown is going to be going through other video games as this was stated. It will be classic No More Heroes styles of game play and level design, but the ascetic will be other video games, more importantly indie games like Hotline Miami. I do wonder if Travis will be invading other types of games, like other Grasshopper games. Also how much is this just being a tease to Smash Bros at this point. Travis is literally forcing his way to make a crossover with other games.

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Travis even has a scar on his left eye, how did he get that?

Now there are somethings in this trailer that does concern me. One being Travis’ voice. For the first two games, Travis was voiced by Robin Atkin Downes and I loved his performances so much. In this trailer it does not sound like Robin, but the person doing Travis right now is still pretty damn good and does his best to recreate the voice. The new voice actor does put a little more insane touch too. Another thing I noticed is that the voice director is not Kris Zimmerman who was present for the first two games as well. No More Heroes 1 and 2 had some of the best voice acting I ever heard in video games so I do hope that can continue. Now the first ever voice for Travis was not Robin as the first trailer had some random person do it and then it got switched to Robin later on. The same could happen and Kris could still be apart of the project too, it’s just Suda and Nintendo wanted to get that trailer out. There are familiar names in the credits though like Yusuke Kozaki who did the character designs for all of No More Heroes. I even see Jun Fukuda who not only worked on No More Heroes Soundtracks, but also Killer7. The concept art was done by Tadayuki Nomaru who did the art for Shadows of the Damned and Killer is Dead. Now the voice director present for this trailer was James D. Mortellaro who directed games like, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Professor Layton, Breath of the Wild, and Let it Die. So there are easily talented people working on this project none the less. Just for me personally, I want to hear one of my favorite voice actors do my all time favorite character.

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Overall, I am extremely excited to see what this new title has to offer. No More Heroes has always been crazy with everything regarding video games. Suda 51 is back as a director for this game and I cannot wait to see what mayhem awaits me. Now if you excuse me I am going to watch this trailer again and again until the next one comes out.

WATCH THE TRAILER NOW!!!

I have just gotten more information about this game. First off, the time setting is one year after the first game. Things make more sense now with the fact that Bad Man is after Travis. This then explains, Travis’ personality in the latest trailer. Now this does seem to mean that previous characters will not be reappearing. Slyvia vanished after the first game and Travis met her again for the first time in the second game. Maybe others like Henry and Shinobu can still show up. Actually knowing how the original game ended, Travis could have received that scar from the battle fighting Henry at the end of No More Heroes. Now what is going to happen with this game console is that if Travis defeats all six games, he can get a wish. I do not know what might happen if Travis gets this wish, but since we know this is before the second game, Travis is going to be just fine. Still I wonder why Travis ventured out on his own. Either way things are just going to get more interesting from here on as we really get to have another adventure with classic Travis Touchdown! (This was the first update)

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Okay I am getting confused here because now there is a confirmation that this game is seven years after No More Heroes 2. “Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes takes place seven years after the events of No More Heroes 2.” (Suda 51) So my original thoughts were correct. This is after No More Heroes 2. So in terms of No More Heroes story, this game is taking place ten years after the first game. Since the second game was three years after the first and just add-on the seven we got ten years. This is just a nice reference and joke for the anniversary of No More Heroes since the first game was released in December of 2007 in Japan. There is also a tease about multiplayer being a thing as the second playable character could be Bad Man. This is quite surprising if this is the case and I do wonder how this will be working since Badman is clearly out to kill Travis. I guess the two help each other to get out of the video games or there could just be another character to show off… like HENRY!!!

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Please come back with Quinton Flynn as your voice actor!

Suda 51 has also went into more detail to why this is not being called the third game. For the first two games, Travis fights other assassins to climb up the ranks for a purpose. This game is taking after both games, but Travis is not climbing the ranks this time and no other assassins are in the mix (Henry was never part of the ranks). Bad Man is a man out for revenge for the murder of his daughter and then the two are taken into video game worlds [correction he is an assassin, he became one after his failed baseball career because of his drinking problems, (Suda 51)]. Suda has said that this is the stepping stone for the actual No More Heroes 3 though. So this is pretty much No More Heroes 2.5 which there was No More Heroes 1.5 (it was not a game, but an animated short that came with the Hopper Edition of Desperate Struggle). To be honest, while I am looking into the details, my inner-self is just happy to see a new No More Heroes!

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Lets Talk Character Designs: Kamen Rider Double Part 1

Kamen Rider Double is still a show I think deserves a whole lot of praise. Not only did it start a new era for Kamen Rider, the show also still shines in what soon became a dark age for Toku later on for me. Double carries many great themes of the past and many new elements that should have been followed up on. This time I am here to talk about designs and I will be selecting the riders themselves except for Skull since I already did that in the Skull post. I will also talk about a few Dopants as well since their designs are some of the best monster designs around.

Kamen Rider Double

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For Toku heroes I love the half and half look! The two Kikaiders and Metalder really do the look justice and Double is another one of those guys. What is so tricky to work with Double though is to learn what colors work with each other. Double has six base Gaia Memories and with how the combinations work there are nine possible ways to work with them. I bet the Green and Black looks for the base form was tricky to work with which is probably why they gave Joker the purple tints as well. Double’s design without color is pretty simple which is why the colors work so well. The colors really speak true to the design because they establish what the form can possibly be even before doing anything. Heat Metal is probably the best with that idea since the silver is usually used for steel and red is established with fire. Luna is my favorite of the six memories because of how much it stood out in terms of powers for Double. The power of illusions is incredible and the idea of using Yellow was an interesting idea. The moon can have a yellow shade to it when you look at in the night sky and the joke about the moon being cheese has been done to death. The reason why the moon is so important though is because of the moon illusion. This is still debated to this day even about the optical illusion the moon makes. So with many new aspects established, what does Double keep for rider designs? Well even if he does have “W’s” all around just like how Kamen Rider X had “X’s” in his look. Then with X in mind, Double’s “W’s” can also look like “V’s” which can be said for X as well. How sleek Double look is important too since it looks so easy to move around in and then when forms changes it looks like the color simply lays itself all over the chosen side. Also fun fact for Phillip’s side of the memories, they keep a yellow tint somewhere, even Heat with the use of Orange which is a combination of yellow and red while Shotaro’s side is always a new color. Overall Double really stands out with his sleek look and amazing use of color combinations.

Kamen Rider Accel

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Even if Skull has become my new favorite, Accel is still in that second spot for me. When I first saw Accel in scans I was so in love with his design. Accel does keep the sleek look just like Double, but he does add some bulk as well. Bulkiness is quite hard to do in Toku sometimes since some suits look hard to move in because of it. Accel is one of those rare ones where the bulk does not have that effect. The bulk here is used nicely to establish a bit of raw power. Even his bottom half holds more bulk than Double lower torso area. The use of Red and Silver is similar to Double with Heat Metal, but this time it is more forged around then being half and half. The red heat is the body itself and to me the silver metal parts form around that, it is extremely fun to look at the silver parts travel around the body. With that in mind I just love Accel’s visor, it is still the best visor. It works with the silver wrapping around the body and it tops itself off with a tip to make the “A.” Then I love the use of the blue LCD lights in his visor. The bike motif is strong with him as the belt itself can be used for steering himself in the bike mode. With the use of silver and red I instantly think of this amazing motorcycle. Even Accel’s tires are nicely put to his back and legs where do they not get in the way, unlike Drive! Accel’s design is still one of my absolute favorites and I still remember that first time I saw him with so much joy.

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Kamen Rider Eternal

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Kamen Rider Eternal along with many other riders fit a special category for me. Skull is my all time favorite for in the franchise in general, but before that he was my favorite movie rider. Eternal is a close second for my favorite movie rider. A big thing would be his design. In terms of slick, the white really works with that. Then I do not care how troublesome they can be, capes are awesome! Now Eternal can fight without it which he has done that before, but I find it adds this nice element to his design. The cape is black which pops right out on the white body. Another nice touch has to be the blue flames, there is also an Eternal with red flames, but with blue flames work way better in my opinion. A blue flame is harder to put out than a normal flame so it easily establishes his near immortal status. Also I remember in many representation of ghosts they have that blue flame. Mix that with white, Eternal has this ghostly aspect to him and we all know how hard it is to get rid of a ghost. Then the most daunting aspect of his design would be all the ports along his body. I remember when Isaka (Weather Dopant) had all those physical ports on his body which shows how many powers he has. This pretty much has the same effect because Eternal can use all twenty-six T2 Memories for a finisher attack. The scare factor works in two ways, this guy can do a lot and man he has a lot too. I just get this image that he is that shady dealer that is hiding things under a trench coat which the cape can give that effect. Overall, Eternal’s scare factor to me really speaks true about what he was and what he became, a wandering spirit.

Nasca Dopant

 

 

 

Now we get to the Dopants which are my favorite monsters in Kamen Rider. Not only for the great mixture of themes, but so many amazing designs. Nasca was easily the first one that really impressed me. Even if this was a monster design, I could so see Nasca has a superhero at the same time. The Nasca Dopant is more armored compared to other Dopants and the helmet like visor really makes it feel a bit more human. In my opinion I like the blue version better because it is more calming, but the red is not horrible by any means. Both colors are great with establishing a tone though. With the blue Nasca, the user was far more calm with their fighting style. When it got to red, it is chaotic in many ways. The user was not of a calm mind and red usually shows anger. Also for a small touch on the blue side that makes it feel more heroic would be the belt. Even with the pictures I am using really establishes the feelings of both designs. Blue looks gentlemanly with one hand behind his back and the other is a calming gesture. With the red one it is directly pointing at something, pretty much taunting whatever it might be. Now Nasca is based on the city and systems in Peru. The most famous part of Nasca would be the Desert Lines. They makes this naturally drawings of animals for the most part, probably the most common being birds of some kind which oddly enough, Nasca Dopant can fly. Also another sign to the bird would be the lower torso area which is covered by the belt on the blue variation. Overall though, you can see many lines on this design which I love to look at because it attracts the eye to see the formations and at that point you are pointed to other great aspects of this design.

Weather Dopant

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Weather Dopant was such a high point for the show. Even if he was a major villain for Accel, he also fitted in with the cast so well. Tomoyuki Dan not only has the voice, but great physical appeal as well. Weather’s design also really carries how Isaka carried himself too. He stands straight with both overconfidence and threatening aspects. Now for some people, the weather theme can seem a bit confusing, but looking at Chinese culture of weather gods, his design really speaks true to the weather theme. The easiest aspect to see that points to Chinese weather gods, you be the two golden dragons on his waist. This is no doubt a huge reference to the Dragon King not only a Dragon God, but also a weather god. In the upper area you see this awesome sash he wears near his neck. It easily establishes the blowing wind and along with his white body makes me think of clouds and clouds can easily make many things happen. One of my favorite aspects he has would be his whip that is a thunder whip! Now while the dragons are a reference to the Chinese Dragon God, on that whip is a reference to the Raijin, the Japanese god of thunder. The Raijin also have the similar sash/scarf fashion too. Weather really has this cool combination of gods to not only establish a strong tone, but the weather themes as well.

Arms Dopant

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Arms Dopant is a surprising huge reference to Kamen Rider. First off the huge skull motif he has is just another pointer to the Skullman which I talked about before. Now he is has a mad biker look which could be a reference towards the Skull Rider in Kamen Rider Spirits. Surprisingly this is another Dopant that has a belt even if they do not have a driver being used. My favorite aspect of his design has to be the broken sword. It is a huge sword with a skull on the bottom the bat wings as well and combine that with the fact it is broken gives the weapon an eerie vibe. It also reminds me of Dante’s Rebellion from the DMC series, one of the best swords ever. The Gatling Gun he has for a left arm is amazing since it looks deformed and looks dangerous to even use. I do enjoy the use of red along his design too, the red legs makes it look like red leather and the red face makes it look like he sort of has face paint on. Now mentioning leather which is pretty famous biker attire, his Mad Max jacket with spikes everywhere is that perfect cherry on top. So we got a mad red biker monster with the best weapons of all the Dopants, simply delightful.

Money Dopant

 

 

Money is so better than any Yummy or Greeed from OOO. Money actually works so well the concept of greed. The obvious thing to mention is how gold he is. He has many circles all around his body which represents coins. The center of his belly reminds me of a roulette wheel. Okay I think every Dopant just has a belt at this point because I keep seeing a belt, god damn I was just done talking about Guilty Gear! His head-piece always interested me because of the nice mold around the bottom of the head that makes a mouth. The top three coins easily makes some interesting use of eyes. Then his claws really reminds me of Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. It is also a nice note that those claws makes me think of that shady hand that is going to get you if you have a large debt. Now I know one favorite aspect of a friend’s of mine has to be his large belly when he collects the debts. I enjoy how his big stomach holds him back too. At that same time though it is the ultimate shield of human souls. He literally skips around with his belly full of spirits. Money is an extremely creative thought on how to do creatures with greed concepts.

Spider Dopant

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Changing things up let us look at one of the movie Dopants. Spider is first off a pretty obvious reference to the first monster that the original Kamen Rider fought. Hell even Kuuga fought a spider for his first fight. Spiders appear quite often and yet this Dopant still did a clever idea with the concept. Now the biggest thing that stems him off would be his human-like face still being shown. This is a big reference to how the user was still himself. Then we got a big spider body for his head that is also covering part of his face, gives off the image of the spider devouring him. His overall body is extremely interesting with the mixture of colors. We got red, black, yellowish-green, and white. The veins all around his body and you can even the molds through these bandages which are most likely webs. An awesome detail that this was one of the first Dopants is the waist area where we see a core, not really like a belt though. I bet not every Dopant has this design scheme, but it is interesting to notice that detail in regards to Double’s story.

Violence Dopant

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Okay this Dopant changes the aspect of the core aspect! His core is clearly on the chest which makes a good focus point actually. You can see the muscles bulging around this. It looks like the core was placed into his skin since it looks pressed in. I love how improvised he looks. By that I mean on how his armor pieces are broken, his skin looks torn, and the random debris that is in his body. There are even nails in his left arm which really gives off this Frankenstein’s Monster look. The helmet only having one eye hole along with the destroyed teeth give off that stereotype with the tough looking guys also looking quite dumb and uncaring of their personal health. The big thing here though is that this guy is literally violence. Again his body is torn up and even has debris in it, not only he is violent, it looks like violence was done to make him. Overall, Violence would really go along with Arms in terms of the Mad Max sense of feeling. Both of these guys look violent and would easily crack some skulls at a bar together.

Metal Dopant

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I really loved the T2 Gaia Memories since it gave us a look at Dopants based on Double’s memories. I think this an amazing idea for movie monsters and all of them have stellar designs. I will first talk about Metal Dopant since I have been talking about punk/biker like looks in this post quite often. What is great about Metal is that he actually has many aspects of Double. First off his core is in the waist and you can sort of see what resembles a Lost Driver formed into the skin. It even has a side of red which is on the opposite side of a usual Lost Driver, but it is incredibly close to the driver still. Then speaking of red there are some interesting tints of red too, high chance this is a reference to rust, but could it be a reference to the Heat memory since the big combo for Double was Heat Metal. Another thing you can clearly see is that Metal has a half and half design going on here. Now Metal switches it up compared to Double, but it is still a clear 50/50 where his skin is metal and the black skin since the veins clearly point to that is his skin. Even his left eye gets covered with the metal coating (also to note it is cracked around that area, so I can imagine he can see through that crack.) and we get that one single red-eye. A small detail would be his hands since one is black and the other is red. Even if this guy is supposed to be a material like metal, he still gives off this organic look to me. High chance it is the rust ascetic and how you can still see veins around his body that make me think that.

Alright that will end part one of looking at the designs of Kamen Rider Double. Next time I will look into other forms of our two riders, the ladies that attacked our heroes, and finish up the T2 Dopants. Part three will then probably finish things up as I will easily do my all time favorite Dopant along with final forms. If you want me to change this plan up, tell me in the comment and suggest which Dopants I should discuss next. I really have no problem changing things up since all the designs of Double are great and I really love to poke at those designs.

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Let’s Talk Character Designs: Guilty Gear Part 1

Back to talking about character designs for the third time. I really just enjoy talking about how amazing characters can look. This time I will be talking about my favorite fighting game franchise, Guilty Gear. A series that started in 1998 and it is still a rather niche series. I do feel the time is coming for Guilty Gear to get a bit more fame, hopefully this new Dragon Ball fighter will get people to notice Arc System Works more. Either way I love the designs of Guilty Gear, they stand out in many ways and for the first part I will look at the original roster and even talk about some redesigns too for these characters.

Sol Badguy

 

Sol Badguy is easily my favorite protagonist of any fighting game. Again just like the roster in general, Sol really stands out in terms of the main character. First off that name is fantastic, but we are looking at designs here. I will say I like how they design him in Xrd more even if they did just buff him up. Now one thing that is rather silly in his designs would be all those belts, man Sol out does Final Fantasy characters. The belts never do distract me though as they blend well with the clothing. I enjoy the one on his arm the most. All the belts just get me to look around his body and knowing how belts work makes me think he is holding something back. That is what Sol literally is since his human form is something he made as he hides his Gear form. I also think his bigger body works better with the belts since they look like they are being used to hold something in. Then with the Xrd design I love seeing how he encase his sword, the Fire Seal into a case and it is called the Junkyard Dog. The whole thing looks like a big lighter which fits with the overall fire theme Sol has. Then top of that with the overall color scheme of red and black. I am interested to why they added the white cross on his stomach area. Then a small note will be the hair and I prefer the first design’s hair because it shows off the headband more, but the hair for the Xrd design works well with Sol’s bigger body. The last touch is his belt with the word “Free” on it. Funny enough Sol may seem to be free, but he sees himself trapped in his own life. Again Sol even holds himself back so the belt is pretty much representing what he wants to be, free. Overall both of these designs have many similarities, but the Xrd design to me shows off the restrained aspect more.

Ky Kiske

 

Ky only has small changes compared, but I will say I like Ky with shorter hair more. Then with the swords, I like the Xrd sword better than, even if it is a weaker sword. The belts come out again with this design and knowing Ky Kiske as of now, there has been a restraining aspect with him too. Now for an unusual design choice for Ky would be the blue and white color scheme. Ky is famous for his lightning magic and I am so used to yellow characters representing lightning. I will say the only other character I can think that is a lightning user and has more of a blue look would be Raiden from Mortal Kombat. Personally I prefer seeing the blue lightning it is more like how we actually see lightning and for a kid who grew up with Pokemon, I saw tons of yellow lightning. Still the blue and white color scheme works with how Ky acts, he is a perfect warrior who is reliable and knowing how he interacts with Sol and Dizzy, that is understandable. The best touch is his belt saying “Hope” on it. Ky is a man all about freedom, he fought in the war facing the Gears and as of now he wants Gears and mankind to be together. So Ky keeps representing hope both on and off the battlefield.

May

 

May barely has any changes, but one small difference I have noticed and that could just be how the Xrd art shows the character. In the Xrd art though I can see more of May’s skin and it is a small amount, but it is noticeable regardless. Looking closer in and do not find me creepy for this, but the Xrd version of this design has her being more of a flat chest. Actually the more I am looking there are many small detail differences that go back and forth. The original design had more belts than the Xrd May and again it could just be the difference of art, but Xrd May is brighter. Orange is used to be the color of adventure and May is a pirate girl, so she is always on an adventure. This color is even used to show optimism, so I feel they made the orange brighter in the Xrd design is to better showcase this since May is a bright person in terms of uplifting others. Reminding me of the pirate aspect, she has a total of three skulls in the Xrd design as the cuffs she has got changed to look more like skulls. Belts are around again and while in the original design it is quite toned down compared to Sol and Ky and just look quite normal. In Xrd she has lost more belts, but she has one big one! It even looks loose and May is someone who does not restrain herself which speaks clear because of that anchor she uses! Then on the Xrd design there is a little more text on her clothing. I cannot read the one near the anchor symbol, but I can clearly see the heart next to the “J” which clearly shows her love for Johnny. What an interesting look at first I thought there were barely any changes, but there are actually quite a lot of small changes. I personally like the original design better, but the Xrd design really has some new details that I really enjoy.

Millia Rage

 

Now I get to the character with the biggest change of her design. I am so glad they changed Millia’s design, I do not hate the original one, it is just the Xrd design has so many awesome details. To be honest when I first played Guilty Gear, I thought she was Ky’s sister because of the blonde hair and blue and white color scheme. Of course there are belts still around, but the Xrd design has one! In terms of headwear, I love the hat more than the headband. I still have no idea what those letters and numbers mean though. Now the difference with the colors do have meaning as well. In the past, Millia say herself to be a perfect assassin originally, but things got pretty bumpy for her regarding Zato and Venom. Now her Xrd color scheme is mostly yellow which does have a sign of hope and since Zato came back in Xrd, but not as who he was, Millia is hoping that he returns to normal. Also yellow does show happiness and since Venom and Millia worked out their differences, Millia probably feels better about herself. I also enjoy the change of her tights since it was an under shirt for the original design and now she wears leggings, it is a complete switch around. Also with the art, Millia does not have her hair in roses compared to the Xrd art. Again that has meaning since it shows a new beginning! It even works with the idea of hoping to be remembered and Zato did not have his memories when he came back from the dead. The newer design to me just screams more character for Millia and her new look alone easily jumped her up in my list of favorite Guilty Gear characters.

Zato-1/Eddie

 

Zato and Eddie pretty much kept the same design over the years of the franchise. Zato was the original, during sometime Eddie took over, and then they both died because their body could not hold up anymore. Zato comes back from the grave though in Xrd and I am happy they did not give him a new design too. Zato’s look is pretty basic with a great use of black and changing even the tiniest aspect would probably be too much then. Even adding something new would be drastic. Now the shadow beings both them use may look different, but that is because it can freely change. It may seem harder to see the red for Eddie on the left, but the eyes are still red meanwhile the Xrd design for Zato has the shadow glow red. I do enjoy what both of them wear over their eyes, there is always something daunting about a man who can fight without vision. I then noticed something on Zato’s Xrd design where you can red “Walking Shadow” on his arm. Overall, the color black is a mystery and will remain as a mystery and Zato and Eddie do show that well since they have a simple design, but always leaves me asking what is up with them.

Potemkin

 

I am so happy that Potemkin got a new look in Xrd. For the longest time I never truly liked this character’s design in the original games. Sure the armlets he wears are cool, but I never liked the brace around his neck. To me his old design never spoke true to the character, but the Xrd design shows the soldier aspect so well! Literally his helmet is the same as the Prussian soldiers. The spike on the helmet and the little flowing cloth is an exactly the same look. Then the armlets got even better since they are attached to the overall armor makes it look more complete. I do love seeing the words “Burly Heart” which was his character theme song from the previous games before Xrd. Along the armor and helmet are more symbols representing his nation which again fits so well with the soldier theme. What is also interesting is that his armor has a bar code on it, high chance it is a way to number off the soldiers. Now the overall uniform with the green look with the display of buttons not only reminds me of his other wear which was seen in some art from the game, but it is a complete reference to the Nazi’s uniform. Anyone who knows of Prussia easily knows of their history with Germany. The man even has a band on his left arm which again is just like the uniform. This is so the best new design only because it completely saves the character in my opinion.

Chipp Zanuff

 

By the way Chipp is before Black Star, I feel like saying that since friends of mine always keep telling me this! Either way this American ninja wants to become president! Yes I am not lying, this is a man who says he is Japanese, but he is actually American. Now ninjas have always been shown differently in the media and while some are extremely inaccurate, I feel Chipp is on purpose. Chipp does work with the common martial arts of the ninja, but other than that he does not look like one at all. He does not hide himself in any way and does not even have the color blue which was the true color of ninjas or at least the original color. Chipp wears fish nets under his shirt which I guess is supposed to be close to chain mail? Back to topic of belts now, he has four, two on his leg, one on his neck, and one around his waist. The one around his neck works more like a choker though. My favorite aspect of his design will have to be the awesome sickle he has on his arm! Now for differences there is one small difference which would be the chest area. In the first design he had simple silver buttons, but for Xrd he has a ninja star front and center. Chipp is trying to hard to be a ninja that he does not fit the bill which is why I like his design none the less, it fits his character and still looks better than any ninja from Naruto.

Dr. Baldhead/Faust

 

Now we get to possibly the craziest character of all Guilty Gear. Originally he was called Dr. Baldhead and was out for revenge, but later on he turns a new leaf and becomes the travelling doctor, Faust. Still carrying the giant scalpel as his weapon of choice which obviously points to his doctor origins with the original design. Now Faust starts to look more like a doctor with the white coat he wears and he still does sport green with his pants. Dr. Baldhead looks like a psychopath and he was so the first look gets that down well thanks to how he crouches. With Faust he really comes off more comical and the biggest indentation of that would be the paper bag covering his face. With his Xrd look they added those two big red crosses which easily references the Red Cross. So the overall design aspect really comes to the transformation Faust had from his murderer look to the doctor. One is crazy and the other is silly, quite a transformation.

Axl Low

 

The obvious elephant in this room is that Axl Low looks very much like Axl Rose from the popular band, Guns N’ Roses. Even the name is a bit too on point. Both real life figure and fictional character have the bandanna, long flowing hair, and both love to show off their nationality. Axl is British though which is a big key difference and that could because of the band being popular in that area? The band has done some performances in London before, so maybe? Axl then changes where the flag is shown for his clothes and I am for a fan of having it around his legs, it flows like a flag. Now Axl keeps the jean jacket and jeans, but he goes for jean shorts in the Xrd design. I also think this is a reason why they moved the flag in the lower area, is that there is more of a balance in the Xrd design. Most of the color for the original look is in the upper area. Funny enough there seems to be no belts in the original design, but in Xrd he wears a belt for his pants and another one like a tie? It looks like a tie, but it is also a zipper of some kind. Then there is a white “X” on his headband for the current design, Axl Rose always had different headbands so the change of design is probably a reference to that.

Kliff Underson

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Kliff is from the original game, but later on in the series he would not be part of the roster until Guilty Gear XX. The reason is well because death is a bitch (not sorry for the spoiler). For the newer game they did make new art for him and it really captures his image better. You just got to love how the sword is pretty much the same size as this old man. With belts, it looks like he has one normal looking belt, well except for the size. On the piece in front of his face, you can clearly see scratches on it, along with the sword, and even see scars on his face. This is a man who fought many battles and it shows. He has a simple use of the color brown which is the color of the Earth as he was one of the strongest humans around (old age catches up though). Along with the color meaning, Kliff is one of the most reliable characters in the series. He trained Ky Kiske into the man he is now and even trusted Sol Badguy with the Fire Seal. Overall, he may seem menacing in the newer art, in the older arts they easily make him look a bit relaxed.

Justice

Justice

Now I get to the original boss character and man knowing that this is Aria, is still shocking. Aria was a woman and for the earliest time we barely knew any of this. All we knew that when Sol killed Justice, we hear her say his real name. Anyways onto the design, man Justice is creepy looking. I really enjoy how sleek she can look with the white armor, but when you see what is not covered in the white armor gives off this horror-like vibe. The claws really show that off, imagine those sinking into your skin. Now I will get the elephant out of the room and that would be what Death Battle called the “Blue robo penis!” Yea it does rather stick out (I should have used a better word) compared to the overall design. I have to wonder if that part is actually on her or the armor. With Justice I feel she has this interesting combination of what makes Guyver great and what even makes a Gundam look nice.

Man this post took some time to make, there will still be more characters to get done. I cannot wait to do the part two post since I will be starting off with my all time favorite fighting game character. Either way I feel for the next design post, I want to dabble into some Toku and high chance it will be Double and not only the riders, but some Dopants as well.

Baiken Green

Godzilla VS Hedorah: A Childhood Classic

There have been two deaths regarding the Godzilla franchise this year. One being Yoshimitsu Banno the director of this movie and the other being famous suit actor, Haruo Nakajima, a man who played Godzilla for the first twelve movies in the franchise. As for my history with these men’s work, Godzilla vs Hedorah was always the film I would rent the most at my video store. I remembering watching it at home and even on a portable DVD player when I was my grandmother’s house. I took many opportunities to watch this film. Then still to this day, I watch the film and is one of my personal favorites of the franchise. Godzilla VS Hedorah (or Smog Monster) has a bad reputation with fans because of what transpired. What happened was that Banno got full control through a series of misfortunes. Now Banno would have been director regardless, but Ishiro Honda would have been looking over like he has done before if it was not for some hospital visits. When the film was released, it got some interesting reviews… Either way it led to Honda telling Banno that he would never direct a Godzilla movie, ever again, ouch.

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With that said to this day people like to call this one of the worst Godzilla movies because of Honda’s opinion. Now I will admit there are flaws in this movie and people not liking it, is quite understandable. Personally, I think the Godzilla franchise has done worst before and after this movie. I will admit the biggest flaw right here and right now though. There is an odd clash of what is happening in this movie. We got a monster made out of pollution so an obvious go green message is attached to this film. At the same time this is a giant monster flick and even psychedelic movie. Nature, monsters, and rebellious youth drinking and partying like no tomorrow. I can easily admit that this clash easily brings a bizarre series of things, but I love the chaos that is presented. I just love to pick at this film since there are so many scenes to work on here. Not only that, but there is some great things presented in the film as well.

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By the way this poster is amazing!

For how much people like to off this movie there is one notable aspect of this movie that people love to talk about. It is the final scene where Godzilla makes himself fly by pointing his atomic breath downwards. To me there are many chaotic moments that just work because of what has been established already in this film. We had a scene at a bar where a man is just seeing fish heads on everyone and even Hedorah himself is a far stranger creature than your usual monster fare in Godzilla. Other things that accompany this strange movie is a great soundtrack that people love to mention surprisingly, mostly the song where Godzilla is flying. The track I loved the most is the opening track, Return! The Sun. It a surprising song that sounds great upbeat, but when hearing “God is dead” that really takes an interesting turn for this film. It really works well with the youths of the film.

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Reminding me of what else is dead, tons of characters get killed in this film. This is not the first time death was in Godzilla for the citizens, but around this time Godzilla kept this child friendly attitude. With that there was no death on-screen for some films or they did a more simplifed matter of it. In this film, people are turning into skeletons, falling off of buildings, and even drowining in Hedorah’s pollution. Even many of the rebellious youth get killed off and originally they were expecting their deaths too. This film has a surprisingly dark attitude and yet again as I established can have its loopy moments. To me though it did not feel out-of-place. This is a film that got me to understand that death is scary, but people got to cope in any way they can. This leads to some humor and this stayed true to me since many things I love today has death presented in different fashions. The most notable one has to be No More Heroes (yes I mentioned No More Heroes again).

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So with what I have said, I easily love Banno’s uncontrolled style with this film. It had a strange premise and so I feel like the overall strange factor just fits. Now on top of all this, Godzilla himself was a blast. Now again this was still that kid favorite Godzilla, so he got his poses and is treated more like a hero. Now while this is completely different from the original Godzilla, I still love the 70’s era Godzilla. Most of it has to because of the suit acting which I know Nakajima did not do all of that, but he did set a standard of what others had to follow-up on in that era. Godzilla really sways his body around and seems to act over-confident. Then later on I can easily tell that Godzilla is getting a hang of things and even learning. I love the use of body language since I can tell all of this without any dialogue being presented. That is probably what Nakajima did the best that other suit actors followed, he knew how to use that body language to move scenes.

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On top of all of this, Hedorah is still my overall favorite monster in the series. How Hedorah was presented was amazing to me. The scary thing is that Hedorah is still considered to be one of the strongest foes to Godzilla, regardless of what Final Wars did. Hedorah even has a strong presence in some comics from what I hear. Well his first introduction is a strong one. You got a monster that is growing bigger and bigger, he even gets bigger than Godzilla. With that then he is causing some massive damage to the city and even killing citizens left and right. All Hedorah had to do was fly above people and they would die from his fumes. He was quite a terror and that design of his still impresses me. I love seeing the blood ooze from his eye, it is an interesting detail on this pollution creature where his pollutants even hurts him. The only reason Hedorah lost was because Godzilla found out how to use the human’s machine to his advantage, imagine if that was not there! Even when it seems he is losing there is still something going on, the ooze can easily fly off of him, but that ends up hitting people and still moving on its own. For Godzilla, that does not matter, but for passing by people or even ones inside their homes can get killed still. Hedorah really left a big impression on me when I was seven, eight, or nine… I rarely remember my age in general.

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This film may have not been my first Godzilla, but this is the one that stuck with me the most during my childhood. This is simply a film I love to pick at and see what is going on. Strange visuals, still having some great monster action, and still to this day Hedorah is my favorite monster in the franchise. To those who worked on this film, I thank you. Here’s to Yoshimitsu Banno and Haruo Nakajima.

Why Kamen Rider Skull Is The Best Modern Rider

I have tons of posts in the works right now as many of them are going to be long like another character design post and more about Baby Driver. To get something off my mind though I simply wanted to talk about Kamen Rider Double. This show is still my favorite Kamen Rider series to this day and I still debate if my overall favorite Toku show is Double or Metalder. Either way, even if modern rider has not gotten my eyes, I can still watch Double again and again. Double was the beginning of a new era for Kamen Rider and it started off great. For me Double is not only important in some good story telling for the franchise, but also for great world building and amazing ascetics. I have a personal taste for the noir style and the whole cyber punk look is something I wish can be done again (Build is getting really close to this style). I got some hopes for Kamen Rider Build, but still after Double the franchise seem to hit an interesting time. Sure I still liked Fourze, Wizard, and Gaim, but OOO is rather disastrous and shows like Drive, Ghost, and Ex-Aid failed to catch my attention when they first came out. I tried to give Drive and shot and I still want to as well, but still that initial feel was not good. A show like Kamen Rider Double had the best of both old and new, remembering what made the franchise great while taking a nice step forward. One of those aspects had to be Kamen Rider Skull.

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I been having some thoughts on who my overall favorite Kamen Rider is. When Double first aired, it was Accel, but the more I really look back, Skull is really important and awesome! Kamen Rider Skull is first an homage to the Skullman which again connects well to the past of what Kamen Rider could have been. Also being a lone rider harbors back to many original rider series even if they had team-ups a couple of times. The look of Skull is simple and yet a strong image. The first thing about is image is how the suit actor portrays the body language. The man has a relaxed look even while fighting, his arms usually stay down when he is standing still or even during some attacks. Also how he carries his hat around even when transformed gives off that cool and relaxed vibe as well. The skull motif is a bit scary and then add the whole relaxed feel to how the man carries himself, to me adds more horror to the look. Again Skull has a simple design, but what adds more to the look is how it is carried which I think speaks nicely for the suit acting.

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Narumi Sokichi’s actor, Kōji Kikkawa did an amazing job portraying the hard-boiled man. We all know the joke that modern rider has and even before the Neo era. There are many pretty boys playing Kamen Riders. A slight problem I have with that is that I miss more of the manly men from the Showa era. Now there are some actors in the newer series that can actually carry themselves and some shows actually knew how to work around with these younger men. Even some actors did great like Renn Kiriyama for example. Even if I do not like Tendou Souji, I cannot lie and say that Hiro Mizushima did well presenting this man who thought he was the image of perfection. Koji though to me felt like he brought back more of that Showa manliness. Not only in term of age, but along with his emotional conflicts and how he shows his emotions. Hard boiled is the best way to describe it. He is strict and still caring, really reminds me of Ichigo and Nigo, straight to the point and yet hard as nails.

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Next would have to be Skull’s story. Narumi Sokichi is the hard-boiled man who Shotaro wanted to be and worked with for years. Shotaro was impressed by the man when he first fought a Dopant even without the Skull memory. The Dopant he faced was the Spider Dopant and for who it was really tested Narumi. He had to fight his own partner who wanted to use the Gaia Memories for simply protecting someone and lost control of himself. There is even a battle scar left on Narumi since Spider had a special ability to harm not only his targets, but the ones close to him. A little spider stays dormant inside Narumi’s body even if he did defeat and kill his partner because the Gaia Memories being handed out like drugs were far more out of control than the ones in the series. Narumi had to stay to defend the windy city not only because he has a job to do to try to stop Gaia Memories from appearing in his city. He also had to stay away from his family since the bomb spider would harm them if he ever returned.

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This is a story I want to see more of in Kamen Rider. A hero has to face a challenge of some kind and at times there can be no end to this challenge. Narumi can never reunite with his family and still fights despite of that. Even with scenes prior he had to kill his partner and work with Shroud behind the scenes, so he was pretty much alone until Shotaro came to join. The hardest part about it is the fact that death is right around the corner for Narumi. He killed his partner and who knows if his family will try to see him again. Then we all know his fate in Begins Night and the first episode of Double where he is gunned down. A hero is someone who can die as well, this threat needs to be established because it keeps showing the hero’s determination. Even if he died in the first episode of Double, the impact he left on the entire show is large and the show itself explored that in many episodes. I still would love to see another film around Skull showing the first time Shotaro came to work for Narumi, but at this point I guess this will never happen. Narumi Sokichi, Kamen Rider Skull is clearly the best take on modern Kamen Rider, he is given what seems like a gift and in reality it ruins his life. Narumi never shows that despair though and keeping protecting the city and the people he cares for, truly a hero, a Kamen Rider.

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So those are my thoughts about Kamen Rider Skull, a rider that does have limited appearances and carries the image of what Kamen Rider means in the best way. A lone hero that despite everything still fights the good fight. Kamen Riders in the Showa era lost tons of people close to them and even if they feel despair, they try their best to not show it. It is not only for themselves, but for the others that are still alive. I do feel that many modern riders are lacking this element from the franchise though. Things are a little too fluffy and some just make fun of death. To me it really ruins what is clearly the most horrifying aspect of being a hero. The end result is me not caring for the heroes since I know their struggle is not that hard. Even if a show is more comedic, this risk can still be shown and Double can be extremely funny, personally some of the best comedy from the franchise. Even a show like Carranger has me caring for the heroes. Maybe next time I will take a deeper look into where modern rider lost this effect and how did it end up hurting the franchise. For right now though just remember to be a hard-boiled man.

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