The Sims 2: Castaway

What do you get when you cross the famous PC game turned console game, "The Sims" with the Nintendo DS game, "Lost in Blue?" You end up with "The Sims 2: Castaway" coming this October in multiple platform (DS, Wii, PSP, and PS2). In "Castaway," you must help your Sims survive and thrive on an uncharted island. As you traverse and learn to adapt on the island, your Sims will discover clues and unlock treasures to finally lead them back to civilization. "The Sims" line has a great reputation and I doubt that "Castaway" won't be another success.


The Simpsons Movie

Marketing for "The Simpsons Movie" has exploded, overflowed the silo, and continues to spread as I type this review. Passing the borderline, "The Simpsons" is probably the only instance where this kind of craziness is left tolerable. A number of 7-Eleven convenience stores have been revamped to our favorite Kwik-E-Mart all over the U.S. - Krusty O's Cereal, Buzz Cola, Donuts (with pink icing and sprinkles, of course), and Slushies hit the shelves.

It has been 18 years since America's first family made their debut and entering its 19th season, "The Simpsons" have never looked better. I remember the first time talk surfaced on bringing "The Simpsons" to the big screen in 1992. And after at least 15 years, depending on when you start counting, wishes are finally granted. The penultimate date of this long awaited movie would be July 27, 2007.

Friday night...as I inched closer to the movie theater, anticipation grew and my patience continued to evaporate. If only I had a bull dozer to graze through the traffic. I had spent the entire day at work with one thing in my mind -- years of waiting and today is the day.


The infamous dysfunctional family is at it again, or rather, Homer does not waiver from his true self. It can always prove quite difficult to describe the plot of any "Simpsons" episode and to do any justice. The movie, as expected, does not stray from that trait. The plot centers on protecting the environment. One thing leads to another and before you know it, the people of Springfield are faced with total annihilation, all thanks to Homer and his pig.

This movie felt a bit short-lived and this is no doubt due, in part, to the continuous humor provided throughout the movie. No single second was spared. Every waking moment was filled with nonstop action and humor, and a whopping cast. It's hard to choose specific moments that are worth calling out...that was the entire movie. Itchy and Scratchy never change, Ralph is too cute with his 20th century Fox chant, Nelson's "Ha-Ha!" still has the same effect, Ned Flanders is still goo-diddly-od, and Homer is still, well, Homer.

Flanders takes a surprsingly major role in the movie, while characters like Apu and Mr. Burns made minor appearances. The frequency of "D'ohs" were extremely miniscule as well. Though I would have liked more movie time than 1 hour and 27 minutes, I cannot wait till another movie comes out.

The writers and produces did a simply wonderful job capturing everything we love about "The Simpsons." The script was flawless and was definitely worth the effort put in by everybody involved. My props go out to Matt and crew...I have no doubt in my mind that every long time "Simpsons" fan came out of the movie theater with gleeful satisfaction. Two big yellow thumbs up!!!


Broly comes to Blu-Ray

FUNimation has finally joined the hi-def wagon by means of Blu-ray. According to IGN, the lucky title to grace its presence is none other than the old school DBZ. More specifically, two Broly titles, representing the largest selling DBZ movies, will be released simultaneously: "Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan" and "Broly: Second Coming."

The two movies have been remastered in high-definition, digitally restored, and enhanced with a sound quality to compliment. The Broly movies will be released November 13, 2007, followed by future releases of FUNimation's other top titles.


Spear of Longinus

A human scale of the Spear of Longinus as seen in "Evangelion" takes part in "Imagination of Evangelion," an art exhibit hosted by Tokyo's J-Art Project from July 21 to August 3. This double-helixed spear extends more than seven feet and weighs in at a whopping 62 pounds! According to ANN, all the Eva-inspired displays are divided into four zones: "Eva at Work" display by Gallery Point, the Evangelion Store, the "Evangelion inspired - new generation" display by students who entered Bandai Visual's design competition, and the "Evangelion inspired - professional designers" display of items from the development of merchandise.


Harry Potter - Book 7

The long awaited date of July 21, 2007 has finally come and gone bringing forth the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series dubbed as "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." I picked up my reserved copy of the book that Saturday morning and was surprised and satisfied with the way things were organized. "Borders" had a very efficient system making the line of happy and anxious faces move with ease and constant speed. Hopefully this was true for most other places.

While I couldn't get much reading done that day, I was able to finish the book last night. I will not provide any spoilers, so as far as my full review goes, that may have to wait. I realize that the risk of accidentally finding out what happened before finishing the book is way too high for comfort...I would hate it if that happened to me. Nevertheless, the threat is there, so I'm sure most people will be finishing, if not already, ASAP. And believe me, it won't be a hard feat to accomplish. The hardest thing I found was putting down the book before actually finishing.

The major answers we seek to find are in this final book -- will the downfall of Voldemort ever arrive, will Harry Potter die, is Dumbledore really dead, is Snake a friend or foe, and what does fate have in store for everyone? I am itching to discuss the book, but I'm sure I won't have to wait too long. I will say this though: the book kept me off the edge of my seat from page 1 until the very end -- I loved the book and wouldn't have changed a thing. Although, I probably would've done without the epilogue. I feel that it brought down the whole mood of the book, though not in an advantageous way. Nevertheless, readers will be succumbed by various emotions, so be prepared for a rollercoaster ride of your life.



Among Medicom Toys newest releases lies the awesomely no-words-can-describe Jin-Roh RAH KERBEROS figure. Jin-Roh struts high and mighty with its elusive red goggles. Pictures does not do any justice to this bad-ass figure. The figure stands at about 12 inches tall and comes with interchangable parts and is fully poseable.

Prices range from about $150-250 and is available as I type this and as it is standing in my room. I haven't brought myself to open the box yet, let's face it, there's a good chance I won't. The box is just too killer to even touch.


Solid State Society

I was finally able to watch "Ghost in the Shell: SAC Solid State Society" and boy, was it worth the wait. The year is 2030, two years has passed since the Individual Eleven incident and Major Motoko Kusanagi's resignation from the elite group known as Public Security No. 9. Togusa is now taking the effective leadership position and the group is investigating a series of odd suicides by bureaucratic individuals.

Talk about a topsy-turvy plot...the story is so immersed and never turns the dial down until the credits eventually roll. Even at that moment, you are still left with reminiscent thoughts of the surprising and wild conclusion. The execution of this movie was incredible and the artistry of it all is highly commendable. Our favorite characters are back and with the changing times, character design is done so as to connect with the audience that time has not stood still.

No one element was disregarded or imperfect -- in short, the crew really had all the bases covered. I didn't think GITS' CG animation could get any better, but I'm sure glad I was proven wrong. You can tell how much consideration and thought was given to every little piece of detail. I don't want to give out much more detail of the story, it is truly a masterpiece you have to enjoy firsthand. So it comes to no surprise that I state, this movie is a MUST-SEE and I bet noone will be able to watch SSS once.

It is another success for Yoko Kanno, the continuing music composer for the "Ghost in the Shell" franchise. You can always expect great things from Kanno, and SSS was no exception. Among many other extras, the limited edition release includes the SSS original soundtrack and is well worth every single penny, yen, euro, or whatever. Amidst my many Kanno favorites, the tracks titled "player," "zero signal," and "undivided" join the list. The 3-disc set is no mere edition. Especially note-worthy is the "Work World File" recounting every crucial moment in the entire GITS world. It really takes you back in time to the very first episode of the first season and opens it up to the future.

Compelling, riveting, addicting, SSS does a wonderful job of keeping the integrity and interconnections of GITS intact, while simultaneously building anew.


AnimeOnline.com Shutdown

AnimeOnline.com, an ever-growing anime community website is shutting down today at 6pm eastern time. FUNimation and company have decided to pull the plug on the anime news site and "re-evaluate their internet strategy." Only five months old, it's hard to believe this is happening, especially with no warning. Their full report can be found on their site (for now).


BACK-ON at Anime USA 2007

The J-rock band "BACK-ON," best known for the opening theme songs of "Air Gear," "Eyeshield 21," and "Murder Princess," will be performing at this year's Anime USA in Arlington, VA (Crystal City). Anime USA will be held on November 16-18. Now in its ninth year, this con has gotten better and better over time.

BACK ON's style is quite unique with a blend of hip hop, metal and electronic sounds. Check out their official site for more info.


More Metal Gear!

Hideo Kojima and Konami are not quite done yet. After the satisfying treat of MGS4 for the PS3, Kojima, at the Playstation Premiere press conference of PSP's "Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops +," announced that Kojima Productions is currently developing a PS3 version of "Metal Gear Online." You may remember the MGO version that appeared in "MGS3 Subsistence."

Based on Famitsu and IGN, Kojima will play the game live at next week's Metal Gear 20th Anniversary Party event in Tokyo and will share specifics on what players can expect. It is not clear if MGO will be a standalone release, or part of MGS4. We'll probably learn more after next week, but how exciting!!!! "Metal Gear Online" seems like it would find a great home with the PS3 and its online gaming capability (e.g. "Resistance: Fall of Man").


Inoue Kabuki: Go Izo

If you've been a big fan of anime, j-pop music, and/or j-doramas, chances are you already know about the infamous music group, V6. And as you know, the six guys are not strangers to the big and small screen, having quite a few live action movies and dramas on their belt. V6's own Go Morita will star in a theater production early next year as Okada Izo, a famous assassin in Hidenori Inoue's "Inoue Kabuki: Go Izo."

The cast also includes "Death Note's" Misa, Erika Toda.


"Glimpse" of Silent Hill 5

An extremely brief "glimpse," if it can even be called that, of "Silent Hill 5" was shown at E3 this year. The trailer consisted of a somewhat familiar red symbol and a mediocre voice over for 55 seconds. That's it. The trailer as it stands seems to only serve as an announcement that, yes, SH5 is in development.
"Silent Hill 5" marks the debut of the psychlogical horror series that needs no introduction on the next-gen consoles. You play as Alex Shepherd, a war veteran returning home from overseas. While investigating the disappearance of his brother, Joshua, Alex finally finds himself in the fog shrouded empty streets of Silent Hill.
I am looking forward to everything I love about SH...orginal plot, storyline and characters and a haunting score provided by the one and only Akira Yamaoka. Surprisingly enough, the voice acting for Alex is awful in my opinion. I've never had any issues with the voice acting before. I just hope it gets resolved or another option is made (i.e. Japanese track). A 2008 date has been announced, but I highly doubt it'll happen by then. So much as I want this game to come out ASAP, I wouldn't want a rush job, especially for a game like "Silent Hill."


FFXII Judge Gabranth

Stunning and meticulously detailed, this 1/4 scale figure of FFXII's Judge Gabranth is definitely a force with the power of 10 tsunamis. This isn't some puny figure, so the $400 price tag comes as no surprise. The 20-inch Judge Gabranth is set to be released January 2008, preorders are now being taken at several locations.


Rebuild of Evangelion Official Trailer

Hot off the press, the official Evangelion movie site has finally posted up the clean and official version of the newest Eva trailer. A low quality trailer done with a home camcorder has been roaming the web for some time now. Be wary now...you'll need a Japan I.P. address to view it from the official site, but there are, thankfully, some alternative sources. The trailer is also available for viewing at Japanator and YouTube, and now you have it here. So enjoy. As I mentioned in a previous post, Utada Hikaru has done a new version of "Fly Me to the Moon," and what better time to present it than in this trailer.

My love for Eva has never subsided after all these years and you won't need 3 guesses to figure out where I'd love to be when September 1st rolls around.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The Rebellion began on Wednesday, July 11th marking the opening day of the fifth movie installment of J.K. Rowling's famous wizard with "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." With the rising return of the evil Lord Voldemort, dark times most definitely lie ahead for all. And behind the curtains, the Order of the Phoenix, a coalition built 14 years ago during the height of Lord Voldemort's rampage, reforms once again to defend against his wrath. As the prophecy foretells, neither Lord Voldemort nor Harry Potter can survive so long as the other lives.

The fifth "Harry Potter" book was by far my favorite book out of the six books released thus far --the seventh and final installment is due next week, July 21st! And comparing the book with the movie, the movie may be seen as a tiny let-down for HP fans. All four of its predecessors delivered almost flawless and on cue adaptations of the novels -- exactly or even better than how I imagined it while I read the novels. However, the fifth movie was a bit patchy and with a little over two hours, fans will notice quite a bit of crucial elements missing. Now with the bad out of the way, let's get on to the good stuff.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" brings forth a new director and score composer. You could definitely feel the difference in direction, creating a hybrid between the old and new style. The score was also done appropriately, combining the original and recognizable soundtrack with certain additions, to paint the darker settings of the plot. Casting is as good as ever, most note-worthy is the sadistic Professor Umbridge, and of course the odd Luna Lovegood. Casting aside the movie based on the book, the movie itself is extremely entertaining and the darkest of them yet. The experience felt short-lived, but let's face it: in the end, the legacy of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" prevails. The movie, no doubt, sets us up nicely and in perfect timing for the release of the long awaited seventh book.


VGL DC Concert Report

A corrupt OS left me with a computer in slumber while I waited for my new hard drive to be delivered. After some delivery delays, confusion, and frustration, I am finally up and running again, almost to full capacity. Because of that, my reports have been put on hold, that is, until today. Luckily and perhaps accommodatingly, the anime, gaming, manga, and music world has been low key since my last entry, giving me ample time to catch up. So without further ado, here is my long overdue VGL report.

On the nights of June 29th and June 30th, the metro and DC streets were flooded with gamers from far and wide for the exciting sold-out Video Games Live (VGL) concert. The gaming atmosphere only intensified as opening time drew closer. And before you knew it, the concert hall was filled with individuals dressed as their favorite classic and modern characters, from "Zelda's" very own Link to "Mario Kart" and to "Kingdom Hearts." Most were sporting awesomely wicked T-shirts -- I went for a KH theme myself.
As the lights grew darker, we were taken back in time through the evolution of the gaming industry. I couldn't have asked for better seats -- second row baby! Feelings of nostalgia, awe, surges of adrenaline rush, intrigue, and unshed tears of joy were definitely shared by everyone in the audience. The concert really represents a show tailored specifically for the long-time avid gamer.

The concert event was truly Immersive and Interactive with a couple of capital "I's." Tommy Tallarico ("Advent Rising," "Metroid Prime"), co-founder of VGL was a great host and kept the energy going throughout the night. Jack Wall ("Myst III," "Splinter Cell), co-founder of VGL, served as the VGL composer, leading the electrifying performance.

An onset of mini-games, enactments, contests, exclusives, and a slew of guests and performers were the equal highlights to the actual song performances. "Metal Gear Solid's" very own Snake made some audio announcements providing one of the first interaction with the audience. And as the composer striked up the band with the MGS theme song, a familar cardboard box showed up on the left side of the stage followed by the infamous guard dressed in black and armed with a gun. Snake inched his way across the stage as he tried to avoid being noticed by the guard. And at the penultimate part of the theme, an familar exclamation point is raised over the guard and a chase ensued. Snake successfully makes it across. Whew!

It will probably take me several pages to recount every electrifying moment of the concert, or to even give you the major highlights, but I'll give it a shot. Individuals were picked out from the audience to play "Frogger" and "Space Invaders" as the live orchestra provided the background music. Special video introductions were shown before several songs -- two of which need no introduction: Hideo Kojima and Koji Kondo!!!! Sid Meier ("Civilization IV") took the stage to announce the release of "Civilization" on the next-gen console. Laurie Robinson, the original soprano singer for "Advent Rising" gave a spectacular performance as well. The infamous video game pianist, Martin Leung, also made an appearance and performed a 10-song piano melody a la Nobuo Uematsu. Gerald Marino ("God of War") was just one of the many other composers at the concert's "Meet and Greet." And what would a concert be without an encore ending featuring "Final Fantasy VII's" "One-Winged Angel."

Some other games featured, in addition to those already mentioned, include: "Dragon's Lair," "Gauntlet," "Tetris," "Pong," "Donkey Kong," "Zelda," "Medal of Honor," "Kingdom Hearts," "God of War II," "Castlevania," "World of Warcraft," "Tron," "Halo," Myst," "and "Final Fantasy."

The VGL tour is not stopping just yet. Be sure to check out the website for tour dates and other information. Future performances worldwide are being announced: Brazil, California, Canada, Germany, Italy, Paris, New York, and Philadelphia, and lots more.


E3 2007 MGS4 HD Trailer

Simply awesome. Each "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" trailer that has come out gets even better and better and the newest HD trailer from E3 is absolutely no exception. 2008 seems too far away to satiate this growing hunger. My sane days are numbered.

[Note: If you can't view the trailer, click here.]


Trinity Blood: From the Empire Vol. 1

The 24-episode anime series and seven-volume manga, "Trinity Blood" makes its way in the collection of novels translated in English, brought to us by Tokyo Pop. Volume 1, "Trinity Blood: Rage Against the Moons - From the Empire" is made up of sequences of novelettes, under a main umbrella, that are lightly connected with one another. The english translation is done well and the plot is coherent throughout the entire novel. In fact, I much preferred the novel over the manga. The splashes of black and white illustrations are a nice complement to the story. There is quite a collection of characters and a good variety of different elements blended together. If you enjoyed "Trigun," you will more likely enjoy "Trinity Blood" as well.

Two nations exist on Earth and remain split 500 years after the apocalyptic war between them. On one side stands the Roman Catholic Church powered by the Vatican, and on the other stands the vampire (aka "Methuselah") kingdom known as the New Human Empire. As each nation tries to best the other, a clear chain is formed. Humans eat animals and vampires eat humans, but what eats a vampire? How about a vampire that eats other vampires? A "Crusnik." And that is exactly what Abel Nightroad is.


Stranger - Mukoh Hadan

"Stranger - Mukoh Hadan," the new samurai action anime film due out this September, looks wickedly stunning. The "Stranger" official site (http://www.stranja.jp/) boasts three new clips giving viewers a short glimpse of some extremely violent sequences. The story is set in feudal Japan (like "Inu-Yasha") with an unlikely pairing of a ronin, who has abandoned his sword and name, and a boy, with his dog, on the run for his life. Mysteries and lost memories are revealed as their expedition continues.

As a studio BONES production, you can bet the animation will be something to revere at and by the looks of it, I have pretty high hopes for this movie. It'll be interesting to see how it will actually turn out. As far as some samurai titles go: "Samurai 7" and "Samurai Deeper Kyo" were mediocre and a bit of a let down; "Ruroni Kenshin" and 'Ninja Scroll" -- untouchable classics; and "Samurai Champloo," well let's face it, is in a league of its own -- an utterly beautiful and innovative piece of work. The fluidity and animation seem to be the strong point of "Stranger." Hopefully the plot and characters won't disappoint.