Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Studio Ghibli goes live-action with Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo

Hayao Miyazaki's famed animation house Studio Ghibli has been expanding into all manner of odd projects as of late. While their two most recent films (Ponyo and Arrietty) have seen impressive box office success, it seems that Miyazaki & co. are no longer content to stay in the animated film medium.

The upcoming PS3-exclusive localization of Wrath of the White Witch marks their first foray into the world of video games (Magic Pengel doesn't count!) and is one example of the move to new types of projects. The live-action Godzilla-meets-Cloverfield Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo (Kyoshinhei Tokyo ni Arawaru) is another.

You read that correctly: Studio Ghibli is releasing a live-action movie that involves a giant monster tromping around Tokyo. Also, it has a trailer...

To capture the universal, childlike sense of wonder inherent in such a scenario (what child hasn't fantasized about a giant god warrior appearing in Tokyo?), Studio Ghibli decided to eschew CGI and use costumes, models, and maquettes to bring the film to life.

There is no denying that Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo is a far cry from the cuteness of Totoro, but there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the film. For starters, it is being directed by Neon Genesis Evangelion director Hideaki Anno who has some experience filming giant humanoids stomping through cities. Secondly, and most importantly, Giant God Warrior is still a Ghibli film, and if you look at the trailer closely enough you can catch a few undeniably Ghibli moments in the cinematography. Whether or not this will translate to a film the audience will love or not remains to be seen.

As an added bonus, the sets and models used as the backdrop in the film were recently put on display in a museum and there is plenty of detail to be seen in them:

So even if Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo is a flop, it will be a very well made flop!

Read more ...

Monday, July 30, 2012

The gamer girl wedding cake topper is progressive and awesome

With the fall wedding season fast upon us, engaged geeks across the world are on the lookout for accouterments and accessories to add a bit of geek flair to their most special of days.

Many will consider using video game music as their processional songs, or bend their search engines to look for geeky cufflinks, wedding bands, and wedding cakes... but what about the wedding cake toppers?

Scoring a victory for gamer girls everywhere, Etsy seller Awesome Toppers created this amazing cake topper for a more modern gaming audience. The inversion of expected gender roles - with the wife being dragged away from her Xbox by the groom - is as delightful as it is progressive.

Nothing is more awkward than the joking manner in which the 'reluctant groom' style of cake toppers attack the issue of marriage ("Oh, tee hee! He wants to go around and sleep with other women but he can't because now his wife won't let him! How droll!"). While most of Awesome Topper's creations reinforce these more typical gender roles with the male being reluctantly dragged away from his hobby of choice (games, nascar, etc.), the "game junkie bride" is a shining example of how a little creativity invested in the planning of a wedding ceremony can help portray the couple in a light that shows them accurately for who they truly are - and not who the wedding industry expects them to be.

Some of the more fervent fanboys and fangirls will go "full geek" with their wedding ceremonies this fall, but that angle is not for everyone (guests and officiants can get a bit prickly when you tell them that they have to dress up like Katamari). For those wishing to add a bit of subtle geek chic to their wedding cakes, it's nice to know that Awesome Toppers has you covered.

Now, if only they did same sex geek cake toppers...
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Object of geek desire: replica N64 Goldeneye Watch

Anyone fortunate enough to have lived in the halcyon days of the N64 will remember the awesomeness that was Goldeneye. Hailed by many as the most the most seminal first-person shooter on a console, it came to define a generation of gamers and stands out as one of the best titles from the N64's library.

While the blocky polygon art style of Goldeneye has not aged particularly well, its legacy has become near mythical as the gamers who cut their teeth on its fabled 4-person local multiplayer age into their 20s and 30s.

Luckily, these fortunate sons of an earlier age now have a dash spiffy way to identify themselves when out in the real world. Enter, the Goldeneye Replica Watch...

Full health and body armor? Someone's angling for the AC -10 award...

The idea for the replica watch hit the internet via Reddit about a month ago, but interested parties were skeptical as to whether or not it would actually work. The Reddit version goes through the cafepress competitor site artscow.com and requires a few steps to complete. The upshot is that the finished product will cost you less than $6.00 (pictured above).

For those wishing for simplicity, goldeneyewatch.com has a finished product for $29.99 $19.99 that stems from a worrying low-res product shot, but requires only one click to order. It looks quite similar to the "Sports Metal Watch" created through Artscow, but is roughly five three times more expensive. Still, I guess it does save you a few clicks in the ordering process.

For those interested in the DIY version, here's the basic rundown of how to get the $6.00 Goldeneye Watch via Reddit:
  1. Go to artscow.com and create an account
  2. Verify the account, then click on "My Account" and then "Credit & Discount" (right side)
  3. Enter the code GIVEITEMS and click redeem. It may or may not say the code is expired, ignore this if it does
  4. Click on this page and ctrl+F to find "Sports Metal Watch". Hit "order now"
  5. Customize the watch by uploading the template available on the Reddit thread
  6. Change the clock face from Numerics to "No Text", and your watch should be looking pretty spiffy. Click on "Place Order" when you're happy with the finished product
  7. Finally, enter the code "clockwatches" at the checkout page to bring the shipping down to $5.99
  8. Et Viola! GIVEITEMS knocks the watch down to free, and clockwatches ensures that you only pay $5.99 for the shipping.
Does all of this work?

You bet your DK5 Deutsche it does.

Via: Reddit and a bunch of cool users there
(particularly Firespray, rware, and icanarejesus)
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Japanese commercials for fried chicken are intense

When it comes to fried chicken (specifically karaage), the Japanese do not mess around. The LAWSON convenience store chain proved this point recently when they began streaming the most surreal, kawaii, and quintessentially Japanese commercial for their Kara-age-kun Ondo 2012 line of fried chicken nuggets.

While I don't profess to understand a fraction of what is going on in the video below, I do profess to know that it's awesome because it features Hyadain capering around fields of 8-bit chickens ...presumably, waiting to be fried and eaten.

Some of the more astute readers of this site may remember Hyadain as the man responsible for some of the most amazingly hilarious video game parody videos of all time (this alone should win him a grammy) so his presence in orgy of seizure-inducing Japanese iconography should not be all that surprising.

Move over slightly racist KFC commercial that syncs up perfectly with the Guile Theme, I have a new favorite fried chicken commercial!

Hyadain and the obligatory "wtf?" response aside, I'm really not sure what to make of the fried chicken nuggets themselves. Fried chicken is an artform of simplistic comfort food expressionism, and does not need topping sauces like cheese, red hot, pizza, and garlic pepper to accompany it on its way to your stomach. Also, it should probably never be served on a stick (unless you're at a renaissance festival).

Sadly, much like takoyaki, proper karaage is difficult to find outside of Japan. So if you want to capture the LAWSON fried chicken experience, your best bet is to grab a bucket of KFC, full-screen the video, and let your eyes glaze over as your arteries harden.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

JK Rowling plans pair of 40' tree houses for her kids

JK Rowling has decided to follow the lead of countless other parents across the suburban world and build her children a treehouse in the backyard.

...and like those countless other parents, the treehouse she has planned will cost £150,000 (~$232,000) and require building permits from the Edinburgh City Council because of the sheer size of the structure. Once again, I find myself completely jealous of pre-teens.

Forget the kids, I would happily live here as an adult! (source)

The two 'Hogwarts-style' treehouse towers are being built for her youngest children David (9) and Mackenzie (7). Each child will have their own tower - although they are joined by a rope suspension bridge.

Each of the two towers will have a few special features to distinguish it from the other. David's, for example, has a secret tunnel entrance and a trap door that leads to a fireman's pole. Mackenzie's features a spiral staircase and a stainless steel playground slide which leads to a double swingset.

By all accounts, JK Rowling is a tremendously nice - and tremendously wealthy - person. She donated so much to charity last year that it cost her a spot on the Forbes' list of billionaires which automatically removes her from scrutiny over purchases such as this. Or, at least, it would if these treehouses weren't so damn cool...

Suddenly, the barrel-train playset my grandfather built for me in my toddler days seems tawdry by comparison.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Screw Roombas, the Japanese trashbot is where it's at!

Since the advent of electricity, man has dreamed of harnessing its raw and awesome power to create a better way to collect their garbage. Sure, there were other dreams that came along with the harnessing of electricity... but I'm almost positive that creating a sentient garbage can that could save its inventor a trip or two across the room was pretty high on Thomas Edison's to-do list.

Sadly, Edison never got around to making this dream a reality and for most of the 20th century man was forced to walk - or toss - his garbage to stationary wastebins as he had done for centuries beforehand. Short of the lack of flying cars in the 21st century, this was (rightly) viewed as one of mankind's greatest technological failures.

These dark ages seemingly ended in 2002 when iRobot introduced the Roomba to the world. The charmin device with its futuristic hockey puck aesthetic was not the mobile garbage can that man had dreamed of, but as a robotic vacuum cleaner it was close enough to lul most of mankind into a coma of complacency. Man loved the Roomba, and forgot about his dreams.

But some, like this brilliant Japanese hacker, didn't. One day, he realized the potential locked with a Kinect camera was the exact catalyst man needed to create a smarter, more mobile trashbin. With a good amount of moding, programming, and testing, we finally have a garbage can smart enough to follow the toss of an errant beer can:

Skip to 2:27 to see it in action

The best part about this project is that you can do it yourself!

...here assuming that you have hardwood floors, a working knowledge of Japanese, a background in DIY electronics projects, and a spare Kinect lying around.

We are now one step closer to becoming the society of hambeasts as foretold by Wall*E, and I'm rather ok with that.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Smell like a book with Paper Passion

Despite evidence to the contrary, I don't really care all that much for perfume (even if it has Mega Man on the bottle). This trend may soon change, thanks to a Paper Passion - a new scent by Karl Lagerfeld and Steidl that will apparently make you smell like a book.

Be a real page-turner on your next date! He won't be able to keep his nose out of you!
Wait a second....

While this may seem like an odd angle for a luxury perfume to take, there are few scents in the world that smell better than a good, old book. Even pure pop pablum like The DaVinci Code would smell entrancing after a few years on a dry shelf somewhere, and science has all but proven that there is nothing that can match the sweet smell of a 1970s paperback copy of Fellowship of the Ring.

Paper Passion is an interesting idea for a scent, but the major problem it faces is that - with few exceptions that are becoming fewer given the ubiquity of eReaders - the number of people who appreciate and obsess over the smell of books is dwindling with each passing year.
Additionally, the bibliophiles that remain steadfast Luddites in this rapidly digitizing world may balk at Paper Passion's $98.00/bottle price tag.

You can buy a lot of bargain books for that amount of money, after all, but $98.00 is a small price to pay in order to capture the "gloriosensuality" of books with Paper Passion.

It will make you smell hoary in all the right ways.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Hoist a stein Final Fantasy style with Beer SQ!

Square Enix Music has been up to all sorts of fun projects this summer. As most eyes were on the Final Fantasy XI Chiptune album released earlier this month, it was difficult to predict what their next project would be. Final Fantasy VII dupstep remixes? A Hatsune Miku cover album of FFXII's Kiss Me Goodbye?

Both of the predictions - while awesome in their own right - fall far short of reality. While fans were waiting on the FFXI Chiptune album, Square Enix quietly slid another project out the door... Beer SQ.

Beer SQ is a collection of classic Square Enix themes remixed in the style of old timey drinking songs that your grandfather would rock out to. Featuring mostly Final Fantasy themes with a bit of SaGa Frontier 2 and Chrono Trigger tossed in for good measure, Beer SQ is the perfect video game album to hoist a pint (or three) to.

As for the tracks on the album, they include a 1930's big band style remix of Final Fantasy VI's Spinach Rag (the Opera House lobby music) and other main themes, an Irish pub violin cover of Final Fantasy VII's Golden Saucer Theme, and an awesome beer hall polka version of the iconic Final Fantasy Main Theme.

Beer SQ is being sold for
¥1,890 ($24.00) at the Square Enix webstore, but for ¥2,100 ($27.00) you can pick up a limited edition copy with a bonus disc of some truly excellent chiptunes... assuming you can conduct e-commerce in Japan. If you cannot, it's off to CDJapan which will add ~$10.00 in shipping to the SE prices.
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Final Fantasy VI, the anime?

One of the most glaring omissions from the history of the Final Fantasy franchise is the lack of a commercially successful anime.

Squaresoft dipped its toe in the pool of animes inspired by Final Fantasy games in the past (Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals and Final Fantasy: Unlimited) but never fully committed to either project and they were both readily forgotten by all but the most devoted of fans.

This has lead many Final Fantasy aficionados to wonder what would happen if Square Enix released an anime based on a beloved game from its past. Specifically, Final Fantasy VI...

The above still came from a mysterious video that popped up four someodd years ago from a dedicated fan over on NicoNico douga. It's part of a larger spoof of the Full Metal Alchemist anime intro and replaces the characters from FMA with those from FFVI* and offers a tantalizing glimpse of what a Final Fantasy VI anime might look like.

Unlike the upcoming Legend of Zelda Anime series, there's next to zero chance of this project ever happening since the video was fan-made and Square Enix seems to have no desire to move into the realm of animes.

Still, the sheer size of the cast, world, and storyline of Final Fantasy VI would make for one undeniably impressive anime. Not convinced? Watch the less Full Metal Alchemist-y version of the opening and see for yourself:

If only, random FFVI/FMA obsessed fan who created this video and uploaded it to the internet four years ago before vanishing from my life. If only...

*= Fittingly, the manga of Full Metal Alchemist was published by Square Enix although they had no hand in the production of the anime.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Have you ever wanted to know what Mega Man smells like?

If the scientists behind Epic-Scents are to be believed, a car's air freshener. Perhaps an explanation is in odor order...

The above is an upcoming creation of Epic-Scents, a newly formed company that just announced a deal with Capcom to roll out two new fragrances: one based on Mega Man and one based on Proto Man.

Teams of scent chemists were put to work on these scents which aim not to smell "like Mega Man" but rather seek to capture the nostalgia of what it was like to play the games that these two iconic robots appeared in.

Mega Man's scent is named "Cool Rush" and attempts to capture the essence of a boy forced into a man's role by featuring notes of purity, bravery and masculinity. For bravery, the chemists chose a citrus scent assumedly because there is nothing on this earth more courageous than an orange.

Proto Man's scent is "Apple Cinnamon", and was so chosen because the scent chemists identified it as smelling "kind of like a rebel" due to its spiciness. Also, the fact that an apple and Proto Man are both red probably didn't hurt their decision any.

It's hard to say what the fan reaction to these two scents will be. Fragrances made to appeal to gamers are by no means new, and the tie-in between memory and scent is well established (who doesn't remember what their favorite childhood meal or first love smelled like?)... but trying to create a scent that will remind gamers of the time spent playing a given game is a bit ambitious.

Then again, Epic-Scents plans to sell these for $3.00 a piece at New York Comic-Con so it's safe to say that they will be flying out of their booth and onto the rearview mirrors of just about every con-goer over the age of 25 in attendance.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love it or hate it, The Legend of Korra is here to stay with Book 2 (and 3 and 4)

After the first twelve episodes of The Legend of Korra aired, one thing was certain to fans of the series no matter how they felt about the show's premise: it was inarguably different from The Last Airbender.

Now that Nickelodeon has ordered not one, but three new seasons (totaling 52 new episodes) of the show, fans are wondering what will be in store for Korra and company.

The first season's ending wrapped up every loose end possible (spoilers) in a rather rushed and hurried fashion... but that didn't stop Korra's creators from taking to Comic-Con this past weekend to discuss what lies ahead for Book 2.

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko began by explaining that Book 2 is called Spirits and will pick up six months after the events of Book 1 ended. Fittingly, it will focus on the spirit world (as aspect of the show sorely lacking from Book 1 of Korra) and will dive into how the Avatar lineage began.

Additionally, most of the action will take place in the Southern Water Tribe and will feature Korra's extended family, while back in Republic City Asami becomes the head of the Future Corporation, essentially making her the Misturu Kirijo of the Avatar world.

DiMartino and Konietzko also had some Book 2 footage to show off, and while most of it is concept art and rough storyboards there are some rather impressive gems hidden in the two videos below.

Despite some early reservations about the show, it looks like Legend of Korra has potential to turn into something decent. So long as they don't show another Pro-Bending match, the next few seasons should shape up into something that will at least be more enjoyable than M. Night Shyamalan's take on the franchise.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Web-based Legend of Zelda anime coming soon, featuring professional voice acting

Recently over drinks, a friend asked me why no one has made a proper Legend of Zelda movie or TV series. Setting aside my martini for an appropriately pensive pause, I expressed my own confusion on the matter before I remembered the mercifully short-lived Legend of Zelda cartoon from 1989 ("excuuuuse me, princess!")*

Thankfully for fans of all things Hyrule, The Legend of Zelda will soon be getting the cartoon series that they deserve, and it looks awesome.

Zelda Motion began work on the project - an anime adaptation of the SNES classic A Link to the Past- some years back, but recently received a fresh infusion of capital and determination to help make it a reality. The web-based anime will be free to watch, and will in no way, shape, or form feature the involvement of Nintendo.

Yet what makes (I doubt your commitment to) Zelda Motion sparkle and what sets it apart from the glut of Zelda fan films on YouTube are its planned production values and the high-profile voice talent already signed on to the project.

Featuring the voice work of Vic Mignogna (Edward Elric, Full Metal Alchemist), Todd Haberkorn (Italy, Hetalia), Kira Buckland (Princesses/Medusa, Castle Crashers), and Kent Williams (Dr. Gero, Dragon Ball Z Kai) Zelda Motion looks like it will offer fans nothing short of an excellent anime revision of a classic Zelda story.

Although all of the voice work has already been recorded (in July of 2010...), the much-anticipated teaser trailer is still a few weeks off. If you want a rough (rough) idea of what to expect from the Zelda Motion, take a look at the old trailer from a few years back.

Just remember that the A Link to the Past anime will feature full animation and professional voice acting...

*- An interesting aside to anyone masochistic enough to watch that YouTube video linked to in the first paragraph: The Legend of Zelda cartoon series only ran for 13, fifteen minute episodes before being canceled. Each episode had an opening and credits, meaning there was about 12.5 minutes of actual footage. Extrapolating, this video would suggest that roughly 40% of Link's dialog consisted of that interminable catchphrase.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

High fashion goes low res in Tokyo

With every passing day, technology continues to improve and push the limits of what can be rendered in crystal-clear high definition. As this relentless drive toward digital perfection marches on, many have embraced an ironic counter-aesthetic that recalls and glorifies the low resolution days of 8-bit gaming.

The rising popularity of chiptune music is one example of this reactionary countermovement, and the trend toward pixelated games on Retina Display-capable smartphones is another. Last season's offering from Tokyo fashion house Anrealage is perhaps the most expensive and highest profile.

This looks amusingly similar to some of the best ironic FFVII cosplay that I've ever seen

With an emphasis on low resolution images (the fashion line is called "low"), Anrealage pushes the limits of high fashion in the most geeky way possible. While most of the stuff would look horribly out of place anywhere other than on a runway - or perhaps at a convention - it's not as weird as some fashion collections out there and could actually work quite well for a party or charity art function.

A full and truly excellent account of their runway show can be found elsewhere online, but for those who still need convincing to shell out $500+ for a piece of this collection, I present the most awesome of high heels ever conceived by a mortal mind:

I would almost consider having gender reassignment surgery and getting married again, just so I could have a chance to wear these.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bravely Default Flying Fairy sounds suspiciously like Mega Man 2

It's been some time since Square Enix unveiled Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, and it still has not been announced when - or if - the truly excellent looking RPG will make it over to Europe or North America.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. To begin with, it is a Square Enix RPG that will offer a job system similar to that of Final Fantasy III, V, and XI. More importantly, BD:FF is not an official Final Fantasy title and so just like Chaos Rings (which was Final Fantasy in all but name) it has free reign to be awesome without being tied up in fan expectations and chocobos. Also, it is being released for the Nintendo 3DS - which has been hurting for some decent RPG titles since its launch last March.

Another reason to be excited about Bravely Default: Flying Fairy is because it sounds simply incredible. Helmed by Sound Horizon's frontman Revo, the soundtrack for the RPG will certainly rank as one of the best - and most innovative - game soundtracks of the year.

Yet when the Battle Theme was leaked onto the official website, I couldn't help but think it sounded vaguely familiar...

Its fast tempo, tight musical phrases, and undeniable sense of urgency all seem to be drawn from Mega Man 2's iconic Dr. Wily's Castle:

Of course, since I can relate most things in life to Mega Man II... I may well be the only one who hears this similarity. Such is the curse of a devastatingly handsome genius of a video game music critic.

Either way, I'm almost as excited for the soundtrack as I am for the game itself. With any luck, both will make their way over to the west this fall.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pre Comic-Con poster reveals more details about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

With Comic-Con International taking place this weekend in San Diego, any geek shop worth its dicebag is expected to put on an major exhibition for its fans. Peter Jackson's upcoming version of The Hobbit is no exception, and Elijah Wood has already intimated that the film will have a big showing at this weekend's event.

Digital Spy did Elijah Wood one better and posted an epic scroll poster for The Hobbit that was released ahead of the scheduled panel on July 14th. The scroll teases some of the scenes from the film including the meeting of Beorn and Gandalf above, along with the odd quasi-romance between Galadriel and Gandalf.

Fans of The Hobbit are also expecting a Comic-Con trailer with new footage to supplement the existing trailer shown earlier this year:

...which, while nice, has absolutely nothing on this 1960s version of Tolkien's famous tale created by Tom & Jerry's Gene Deitch:

Once the Comic-Con trailer hits the interwebs, I'll be sure to post it here with along with some first impressions of the footage.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Go on a date with Hatsune Miku, then wear her skin as a hat

Falling in love with a virtual pop star like Hatsune Miku is a dangerous business. No matter what your parents might say, the logistics of bringing her into the real world (or digitizing yourself into hers) are mind-bogglingly difficult.

Despite these concerns, an intrepid Japanese man made it happen by cannibalizing his Kinect and a pair of HUD goggles. After sprinkling in a bit of an augmented reality program, he filmed the fruits of his labor which follow below.

... but before we get to that, there's an important question to be asked. If you should you have the opportunity to actually go on a date with Hatsune Miku, what would you do to impress her?

The answer is simple: show up to her door wearing a creepy plastic mask of her face!

I somehow doubt that Anonymous will be in a rush to replace their Guy Fawkes masks with these any time soon

These masks are being sold throughout Japan at summer Tanabata festivals and can be yours (assuming you have a friend in Japan) for $10. An extra special creepy unpainted Miku Mask is also available for the more economical price of $6.00, plus a few nights of sleep.

Back to the augmented reality Miku date! Skip to the 1:00 minute mark of the video below to see the man take a life size AR Miku through the park and hide her behind a tree. Skip to the 2:07 mark to see him pat, and then bop, her on the head.

...and skip to 2:58 to see Japanese male stereotypes on display.

Attempts to bring Miku into the real world via gaming consoles are by no means new, but the AR reactions that this man put into the program are pretty impressive. I'd like to think that I'd be above fondling an AR Miku, but it might be worth the pervert points to see that pissed off face in person.
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Monday, July 9, 2012

Lightsabers make Game of Thrones (and everything else) better

Star Wars fans have long known that adding lightsabers to just about anything will make it more awesome by association. The iconic glow and hum of a lightsaber can easily be added to a video using simple After Effects available in various editing programs, thus adding an instant amount of geek gravitas to anything from wedding dances to mundane office disputes.

YouTuber Joel935M knows this technique quite well, and used it to apply some rudimentary rotoscoping to the best (and only...) sword fight from the first season of HBO's
Game of Thrones. As Jamie Lannister confronts Eddard Stark on the streets of King's Landing, shit gets even more epic.

Of course, Jamie Lannister should realize that a lightsaber is an exceptionally poor (if fitting) choice of weapon given what happens at the hands of the Bloody Mummers later on... but hey - lightsabers!

Now if only someone could use After Effects to add in the missing battle scenes that should have been in the first season...
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Friday, July 6, 2012

It's time to give buns some love, too

After yesterday's post about misbehaving mammaries, I decided to focus on the other half of the T&A equation today. Namely, buns.

These hot little buns are actually as sweet as they are cute. Newly available at Tokyo Disney and patterned off of the aliens from Pixar's Toy Story, these green-colored sweet buns are filled with a delicious mixture of custard, strawberry, and chocolate cream. The little green manju were rolled out at the Tokyo Disney Sea to celebrate the launch of a new Toy Story Mania! ride and could well be the best (or at least the most edible...) thing to come out of the Toy Story Franchise. (source)

Next up are a set of Hatsune Miku's hot, savory buns. Or rather: a set of hot, savory Hatsune Miku buns. The steamed 'Mikuman' buns are being rolled out at the Japanese convenience store FamilyMart as part of no specific marketing tie-in and are filled with tasty pork and other traditional bun-ly goodness. Added bonus: they will add +15 points to your kawaii factor for 90 minutes after they are eaten. (source)

FamilyMart is the same convenience store responsible for the Dragon Quest-themed slime buns that rolled out earlier this year.

Finally, a set of cute little buns that you'd don't have to travel to Japan for!* These traditional Chinese pau were created by The HomeMaker who was also kind enough to provide a recipe along with the adorable pictures. If you're feeling adventurous - and have access to a rice steamer - put your imagination to work and play with some buns of your own this weekend!

*- fun fact: that was my former Match.com profile headline
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Phantasy Star Online 2 has the very breast of problems

Few franchises in the history of video games have endured as well as Phantasy Star. While by no means as prolific as some other Fantasy franchises to come out of Japan, Sega's interplanetary RPG has developed a strong and healthy fan base since its first installment was released in 1987.

The latest entrant into the franchise - Phantasy Star Online 2 - is a revolutionary cross-platform (PC, Android, iOS, PS Vita) multiplayer action RPG that just crawled out of the beta testing stage in Japan earlier this month. Unfortunately, there are still a few bugs lingering around the game that weren't noticed by the beta testers... particularly in the department of boob physics.

Finally, a game has arrived that has made Dissidia's breast physics look classy!

I long ago confessed that I'm mystified by the female body in general and breasts in particular, but they don't actually do this... right? I can imagine that female character in the above video is a little upset about being crammed into that BDSM Space Elf costume, so maybe the animators thought it would be best to take her angry eye twitch up to the next level.

Curiously, the spastic boob bug in Phantasy Star Online 2 does not seem to be relegated to a specific area or cutscene- it pops up (and out of) the game from the character creation screen onward.

A warning to the female readers of this humble site: after watching the video below, you will probably be filled with an overwhelming desire to go home, bury your face in your lingerie drawer, and thank every one of your bras individually.

In Phantasy Star Online 2's defense, these could be the most acrobatic breasts that I've ever seen.

I'm just happy that Sega decided to skip the Nintendo 3DS this time around. Those hyperactively jiggling jugs would be terrifying in 3D!
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Fourth of July roundup

It's the Fourth of July here in the US of A, a day when we celebrate our nation's independence by having kick ass barbeques, firing off an indulgent amount of fireworks into the night sky, and - if time allows - pausing to reflect on the myriad of blessing we enjoy as we sit in the driver's seat of the free world (for the time being).

Due to the nature of the holiday, I'm punting in today's entry as a link dump to help provide you with some entertainment and/or distraction on this most fourth of Julys. If you're looking for something to do (in front of your computer) this July 4th, why not...
  • Familiarize yourself with some of the most offensively misguided patriotic Facebook wall posts. Most of these are probably fake and anti-American in nature, but I take a perverse amount of pride in the myth of how the American Flag was created by Betty/Betsy Ross to placate the Incredible Hulk...
  • Read through the obscure fireworks-related facts that the accredited Fireworks University has one again rolled out for the holiday. If nothing else, it's sure to come in handy during your next pub trivia night.
  • Watch a few episodes of the history-centric anime masterpiece Hetalia to learn exactly why America kicks so much ass (and eats so many burgers).
And finally, to prove that we Americans are 100% all about fireworks (and fireworks safety, apparently) here's a look back at a Clinton-era public service announcement reminding everyone as to the hazards of illegal bottle rockets...

Ah, the 1990s... an simpler time when teal and purple went well with everything.

Happy birthday, America!
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No comic book is too pornographic for the people of Japan

It's been a year to the day since Japan implemented legislation aimed at censoring manga to protect children from pornographic and harmful content. The law - Bill 156 -prohibited anime or manga artists from depicting sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, but still gave the good 'ol fashioned tentacle rape rags a pass since, hey, they're recognized as being fantasy.

What made this bill particularly worrisome to the people of Japan is the fact that it seemed to target the LGBT community with its language. Specifically, the Bill partially defined 'harmful material' in manga to be:

"...any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life ... sexual or pseudo sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity"

Seeing as how gay marriage is still not legal in Japan, and yaoi / yuri manga are still wildly popular amongst Japanese otaku, it's rather easy to see the agenda behind this bill. Supporters of the bill claim that it was introduced to reduce the glorification of incest (or twincest), but many critics still harbored their doubts over what the Bill was trying to ban.

Today, however, Japanese otaku scored a public - if symbolic - victory against manga censorship, as it has recently been noticed that not a single publication has been declared harmful or unfit for consumption under Bill 156's censorship. Unfortunately, there are two ways to look at this information.

The first - which many manga authors and illustrators would prefer - is that the toothless legislation is too broad in scope and is difficult for authorities to enforce. While not a complete 'win' for the manga community, it would indicate that the censorship and penalties introduced by Bill 156 can be mostly ignored since they would only be enforced rarely, if ever.

The second - and perhaps more realistic - way of looking at the recent findings suggests that manga distributors are kowtowing to the Bill and are self-censoring so as not to release manga that would be viewed as a potential violation in terms of content, or that they are now only selling such manga at stores which minors are forbidden to enter and are thus circumventing the exposure of minors to such publications.

It's difficult to know for sure which reason of the two is responsible for the lack of harmful or illegal manga being reported, and in the end both critics and supporters of Bill 156 will claim this news as a victory.

Of course the real winners in this legal battle are the fans of demonic tentacle harem comedies since Japan has yet to pass any legislation that specifically prohibits witches and warlocks from using magical spells to transform college freshmen into oversexed lesbian love slaves.

Time to brush up on my dark arts!
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