Steins;Gate Review

Steins;Gate is the second  part of the Science Adventure Trilogy by 5pb and Nitro+.  While it is part of a trilogy, all three parts have very little relation other than the semicolon.  The first part being Chaos;Head, came out in 2008.  Robotics;Notes, the bookend of the trilogy will start airing in Japan in October.

The story of Steins;Gate revolves around a self-proclaimed mad scientist named Okabe.  Okabe figures out how to send text messages into the past that creates unintended side effects.  While some stories have issues with time travel, this series pulls it off nearly flawlessly.

Most of the time, Anime are usually based on Manga, but Steins;Gate was created as a Japanese visual novel.  For the uninitiated, a Japanese visual novel sounds like a graphic novel, or a comic, but it isn’t.  A visual novel is a work of interactive fiction.  A video game.  Steins;Gate was released in 2009 for the Xbox 360, and later ported to the PC, iOS,  PSP, and PS3 in Japan.  There is some discussion about it being released here in America by Nitro+ and JAST, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Steins;Gate is one of the best made anime that I’ve seen in years.   It has many similarities to Serial Experiments Lain.  Both anime were able to combine real history and science into a fascinating fictional story.  Part of the story revolves around John Titor, who claimed to be a time traveler from the year 2036.  He was sent back in time to retrieve an IBM 5100 computer to help stop CERN from screwing up the world.  5pb changed the name of the company they needed to stop from CERN to SERN in Steins;Gate (probably to avoid lawsuits), but it’s still pronounced the same way.

I was a massive fan of Serial Experiments Lain.  I’d go so far to say that Lain changed my life, and views on science and religion.  While I wouldn’t go that far in describing Steins;Gate, I would say it grabbed me like no other anime has in years.

You can watch the first 4 episodes dubbed, on Funimation’s website for free.  The first half of Steins;Gate is being released by Funimation on September 25 as a Blu-ray/DVD combo.  Unfortunately its going to be released at an MSRP of $69.98.  Thankfully you can purchase it from Amazon for $48.86, but for just half of the series it still seems a bit steep.  Despite my love for the series I might have to stay away for now.  Thankfully I caught it via Crunchyroll as it was airing in Japan. Unfortunately it’s no longer available to stream from them.

It’s hard to wait for October to come, but I can’t wait for Robotics;Notes to get released.  If 5pb stays true to form, it will be another great anime series.

WTF Did I Just Watch!? #2


I didn’t intend to post another one of these so soon, however a friend of mine just posted this treasure on Facebook and immediately I knew it needed to be here.

I first saw this treasure on a compilation VHS that a friend of mine had passed to me. It was a sort of “community project”. Essentially, it was a video mix tape of odd shorts from parts unknown and clips from movies that were just particularly weird when taken out of the context of the whole. The project part of it was that if the tape was passed to you, you would make a copy of it, add your own piece, and pass it on giving instructions to the next person. (This was the early 90’s, it’s how we rolled)

Possibly the 2nd or 3rd iteration of the tape had rolled my way with this clip on it. I have loved it and it’s absurd weirdness ever since and now, I share it with you.

Behold the spectacle that is “Pickle Surprise”.


WTF Did I Just Watch!? #1

Today starts a new series of posts titled, as the saying goes, “WTF Did I Just Watch!?”, where we will thrill, confuse, and/or disgust you with some of the more odd videos found around the inner-tronz, err…innerwebz…err…Information Über-Freeway…oh you know what I’m saying.

So, the first video in this series, well, I don’t even know what it is, what it’s from, what’s going on, ect. All I know is that sometimes, anime gets weird…really weird… 
Most odd is that I found this video via a link while researching clips for another article I’m writing.

So, without further ado, allow me to present….this…whatever it is:

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men

Wolverine and the X-Men brought back a memory of an even lesser known animation, War Planets.  No, not Battle of the Planets; that one brings back memories of an evil villain transvestite.  You see, the first time I discovered War Planets was between 5:30 and 6:00am as I stumbled out of bed before my alarm clock even went off; I began my fuzzy prep for the work day.  Usually, I’ll flick on the TV and watch Continue reading

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King

Berserk is ongoing manga series that has run since 1990.   The story appears to be set in an alternate world going through its dark age.  Kingdoms are warring for land using knights, giant armies, and hired mercenaries.   The series feels comparable to Game of Thrones as far as tone and violence.

The first story arc, Black Swordsman, sets you in  a  world of fantasy with demons, and monsters.  Back in 1997 they created an amazing 25 episode anime series based on the second arc of the manga called Golden Age Arc. The Golden Age Arc is a long flashback to what caused the world to become so dark.  It feels much more grounded in what could have been our past.   The Golden Age Arc focused on the early years of three major characters, GutsGriffith, and Casca while they lead the mercenary group, The Band of Hawks.   While we would have called this period the dark ages, The Golden Age Arc basically refers to the good old days before magic and monsters ruled the land.  What happens at the end of the golden age is nothing short of horrific.

The basic story of Berserk starts off following Guts, who seems to be a loner, that seems to think only of survival and swinging his giant sword.  In his travels he gains notoriety, and the attention of the Band of Hawks lead by Griffith who decides to recruit him.  Through their adventures together in the Band of Hawks, Guts learns to stop being a loner, and craves the companionship of Griffith as his friend.  Meanwhile Griffith is leading his mercenary army towards his dreams of having his own country.

Fans have waited for a followup series for years to continue the other arcs. It seemed it would never happen.  Finally, for the 20th anniversary of the manga, a new trilogy of movies was announced covering the Golden Age Arc.   If this trilogy does well STUDIO4°C will give the rest of the series the same treatment.

As you can see in the above trailer the new movie is gorgeous.   I’ve discussed this movie with several friends over the last few days and every single time I do, I have to get into how fluid the animation is.  The original berserk anime was gory, but this movie felt much more so due to the quality of the animation.  Every sword swing looked elegant and real.  In the original anime Guts cuts through body parts very quickly.  You would get a sense of where he hit them (the torso, an arm, or a leg), but generally without a lot of detail.  Later in the new movie there is a scene where Guts is fighting his way out of a castle.  As he’s doing so you can see exactly where he cuts into his opponents.  Everything just feels more real.

Because of this feeling of “reality”, some scenes have more gravity then the original anime did.  There is a scene where Guts kills someone he didn’t mean to.  Watching him deal with it had a lot more impact then it had previously in the anime.

The new movie totals in at 77 minutes, which is its biggest downfall.  It encompasses the first 10 episodes of anime which would be around 220 minutes.  In order to squeeze that much in, they had to remove and condense a few plot points.  Some of the plot points were minor and easy to miss.  Unfortunately, they chose to condense Guts’ younger years into a 30 second fever dream.  This movie would have done itself a favor to have been at least 100 minutes long and take a bit more time fleshing out characters.
Having read the source material (and watched the original anime), I’m well versed in the story, but I’m not sure how someone new to the story would feel because of how much it gets rushed and pushed together.

This film covers Guts first meeting with The Band of Hawks and his realization that he isn’t really friends with Griffith.  Unfortunately I don’t think this movie goes far enough to show why Guts would have ever thought he and Griffith were friends to begin with. There are also a cast of side characters in The Band of Hawks that haven’t had a chance to get fleshed out yet.  Hopefully in the second movie they’ll get more screen time.

Thankfully the second movie Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey has a runtime of 100 minutes.  Hopefully it won’t suffer the same issues as the first film.  That being said the first film is still a great watch for anyone that enjoyed the original anime or manga.  Even if you haven’t seen the original series, and you love action, check this out.  Hopefully the it won’t turn you off from what is a great series with a great story.

Viz is releasing the first film in America on Blu-ray and DVD on November 27, 2012, and the rest will follow over time, but there isn’t a current release date.  Viz also plans on streaming the film through their new service called Neon Alley, on the Playstation 3.

Follow Nerd-Base! Looking for contributors!