Because I like beautiful girls.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reaching for Tomorrow's Future: Kud Wafter Arrives

As the title says, Kud Wafter arrived at my house today (about an hour ago?). Above is a simple shot showing everything in the package besides the DRM support serial card, technical manual and survey card. On the left we have all the discs in the package, the game disc, OST, and Rewrite trial edition. In the middle we have the box this all came inside of and a item serial card for AiSpace. Finally on the right side is my preorder bonus telephone card (50 call units), some promotional Weiβ Schwarz cards and the official guidebook. While not as thick as the book that came with the first-press of Little Busters! this is a perfectbound guidebook (50 pages) with dust jacket and includes sketches, an illustration gallery, and musical scores for vocal pieces.

So thats a short round up! I'll post more once I actually get into the game.

A rough translation of the Back Text:

A summer of living together with Kud.
Kudryavka Noumi and Riki Naoue are lovers,
In another world of Little Busters EX where that accident did not happen.
Summer break has begun and the Little Busters are returning home
Kud and Riki are left at the dormitory.
There has been an accident with the water supply at the boy's dormitory,
and the rooms cannot be used.
Kud suggested to destinationless Riki, "Right now I am recruiting a new roommate...". He replied "okay" with a nod.
From this began their secret cohabitation. A honeymoon while helping Kud with her summer vacation self-study and hiding from the other dorm inhabitants.

Where is the place those two are aiming for?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. (LA Screening)

This last Thursday my friend Aki and I went up to Los Angeles for a special showing of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの消失). Unfortunately for you all I am not the type to take a camera to a movie theater so I don't have any photos but read on for the even details!

The Event

Setting the actual movie aside for a bit, Bandai and the other sponsors set up quite a nice event at this unsuspecting mall theater. When we showed up at 6pm there was already a moderate queue. Though the event officially started at 7:30, the staff decided to begin the voice actor meet-and-greet/signing at 6:30 so we could wait inside the theater. All attendees recieved free movie posters signed in person by the dub voice actors Wendee Lee (Haruhi) and Crispin Freeman(Kyon), a raffle ticket, and a free copy of either the first english novel (the dreadfully ugly paperback) or the first manga volume courtesy of YenPress.

Rather than running ads or trailers for the pre-show entertainment Bandai showed the first two episodes of the recently completed season 2 dub, a pleasant surprise even if I despise dubs. At 7:30, (the actual starting time) the ASOS Brigade (Bandai's semi-viral marketing team) featuring Christina Vee (a popular fandubber/budding VA; again not my cup of tea) preformed a skit and a few of the songs (both in English and Japanese) with the accompanying videos on screen behind them. After this the movie finally ran (more on that below) and after the movie there was a raffle for Crunchyroll subscriptions (Aki won one :)) and the opportunity to get your poster signed by Christina Vee(from above) and Stephanie Sheh (The dub's Mikuru). Though not exciting, the final event feature was that attendees got atleast 5 hours of parking validation in the very expensive garage, longer than the usual validation given by the theater.

Just the guests, giveaways, prescreenings and parking credit alone were enough to warrant the 15$ admission fee (which sold out in 24 hours). This was a superbly handled event, especially for dub fans (and us sub fans got to see the movie subbed so no reason to feel shorted either). Especially since we combined this with a trip to Little Tokyo, the trip had all the makings of a convention (even overpriced concessions). Well done Bandai, well done.

The Movie

I don't want to say too much in fear of spoiling it, so I won't detail the plot beyond what the title gives away. It asks, what would happen if Haruhi completely disappeared one day and no-one besides Kyon remembers the world ever being otherwise? Obviously this movie is meant for fans of the TV series and even those who have seen season one (but not two) might be confused (luckily Bandai showed some of season two before the movie). As long as you fit this billing (and if you're reading this you probably do) Disappearance does not disappoint. Blessed with a longer than average running time (163 minutes) and a budget to match, it is a joy to watch. The story is compelling and hooks you in, I cannot remember the last time I have left a theater wanting to watch something again immediately. I rarely see the same movie at the cinema twice but if I could I would have bought a ticket for the next showing. I loved it.

The theatrical presentation was from an actual film print, with unfortunately white subtitles (a bit hard to see but unlikely to be the same as the future DVD). The translation was competent and the picture was clearly a step above the DVD video that was shown earlier. I have no technical complaints (even if I did they would be rather moot as this was a one-day event).

So that's that. Unfortunately for those who missed the showing, Bandai hasn't announced the movie's DVD release date yet ( I plan on preordering the DVD ASAP). However, season two went up for preorder recently (and i already reserved mine). Half of it is Endless Eight but the set price isn't bad considering the feature list:

Street Date: 2010/08/17

Price: $64.98 SRP (45$ @ amazon)

Language: Japanese Language Dialogue / English Language Dialogue / Optional English Subtitles

Bonus Features: Interactive Menus (Exciting!) Location Scouting Videos / Behind the Scenes of Aya Hirano’s Music Video (but not the music video?) / Endless Eight Prologue (because you really wanted more E8) /Special Event Video / Promo Videos / Commercials / Adventures of the ASOS Brigade Episodes / CD Tracks: Super Driver / Tomare!

So 14 (or 9 depending on your view of Endless Eight) episodes of anime and some sweet J-Pop for 45$? Seems like a good way to spend time while waiting for the Disappearance DVD :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Special Post: Little Busters! Setting and Character Summary

Since I have been fangirling over LB so intensely, one of my fine readers and twitter followers suggested I make a spoiler-free post explaining the characters etc.While I am absolutely in love with LB and have read over both the game and this post for accuracy, please keep in mind I am not fluent in Japanese.

This is also a complimentary piece to my Little Busters review on Sleepless Nights.

For those unaware, Little Busters! (official website is Japanese-only) is an all-ages (realistically 16+) pure-love adventure game (visual novel) by the famous studio Key (makers of Kanon, Air, & Clannad). There is a translation project in process but I know little about it (and am not really interested in it). I admit this post is somewhat paradoxical as those who it is meant for cannot play the game. So rather than as a promotional tool, this is provided more as a spoiler-free alternative to Wikipedia for those who want to know more about it for any reason.

Plot and Setting

"Little Busters!" takes place at a co-ed boarding school (a "gakuen") in some small city in Japan and revolves around a group of childhood friends at the cusp of graduation. Wanting to have exciting memories of their school time, they decide to start playing grasslot baseball and search for classmates to join their team, the "Little Busters".

Characters: Location in picture is noted by area and hair color

Riki Naoe (center, black hair) : Riki is our protagonist He is a slender quiet boy with narcolepsy who is hesitant to assert himself. His parents died when he was young and he seems to have grown up without a family (he refers to a legal guardian at one point, suggesting he may be a ward of the state). After Riki's parents died he was invited to join Kyousuke's group, the "Little Busters!" which came to serve as a surrogate family for him. He is a second year student at the boarding school and likely 19 years old.

Kyousuke Natsume (top, brown hair) : Kyousuke is in some ways Riki's opposite. He is the optimistic and confident leader of the group, always coming up with outlandish activities that were likely inspired by manga (which he loves and collects). Probably 20 years old (the age of majority in Japan), Kyousuke is older than the other members and as a 3rd year student, in the midst of job hunting. It was his idea to start the baseball team. He is Rin's older brother and feels responsible for her.

Masato Inohara (top, black hair) : Masato is a cheerful bodybuilding fanatic and Riki's roommate. He joined the Little Busters before Riki and has been with him since childhood. Masato is not particularly smart and can be quite simple minded but he has a protective spirit and cares deeply about his friends. He has a rivalry with Kengo over who is stronger. He is a 2nd year student.

Kengo Miyazawa (top, gray hair) : Kengo is a serious minded member of the kendo club and also a 2nd year student. Though he is a close friend to the other original Busters members he is resistant to the idea of a baseball team, preferring to focus on his club activities. His looks make him quite popular with female students.

Komari Kamikita (middle, blonde hair) : Komari is a cheerful second year student and one of the first to join the new Busters. She is a typical girly girl who enjoys sweets, picture books, and frilly clothing. Komari isn't very good at baseball but she works hard and enjoys the team. She is the best english speaker of the group. Komari is featured prominently in the promotional materials of the game.

Rin Natsume (center, brown hair) : Rin is Kyousuke's younger sister (by one year) and a member of the original Busters. Rin loves and talks to cats but is extremely socially awkward, she doesn't have any friend outside the original Busters when the game begins. It is this which lead Kyousuke to ask Riki to find female members for the baseball team. She can get quite loud and violent especially with Masato; Riki thought she was a boy at first because of her rough manner. Rin has many of the typical symptoms of Asperger's syndrome but any diagnosis is unmentioned. She is the main heroine.

Haruka Saigusa (middle, purple hair) : Haruka is a second year student from a different class. She is a prank-loving trouble maker and often running away from the Public Morals Committee (lead by Kanata). Haruka joins the team easily and always jokes around with the other members.

Kudryavka Noumi (bottom, white hair) : Kudryavka (Kud or Kudo for short) is a 1/4 Japanese (3/4th intentionally unspecified country with a space program and civil unrest) new student who has returned from living abroad. She is a year younger than the others (likely 18) but has joined the second year class due to transfer credits. She is close to the guard dogs on campus and is quite goofy (often exclaiming "wa-fu!". Kudo loves Japanese culture and is quite knowledgeable about it, she also loves English but she is terrible at it. Kudo is the fan favorite character (because she is the loli >.>) and is getting her own spin-off "Kud Wafter".

Mio Nishizono(bottom, blue hair) : Mio is a quiet, serious girl who prefers to sit in the courtyard and read books. She always carries a parasol and joins the team only as the manager. Despite her reserved manner, Mio has a sharp tongue and can be quite clever. She is a second year student.

Yuiko Kurugaya (middle, black hair) : Yuiko is a mature but eccentric second year student. She is smart and outgoing, happily sharing in Kyousuke's visions of grand adventure. Yuiko often makes sexually suggestive comments towards Riki or the other girls but she also has a gentle side.

Side Characters (promoted to heroines in EX)

Kanata Futaki : Kanata is the leader of the public morals committee and has a difficult relationship with Haruka. She thinks the Little Busters are trouble makers.

Sasami Sasasegawa : Sasami is the captain of the girl's softball team and is worshiped by her team members. She is Rin's rival and they fight almost daily. She objects to the Little Busters using the school's field. She acts and speaks like a rich ojousama-type but has a crush on Kengo.