Hidamari Sketch

"Hidamari Sketch" is a fairly new 13-episode anime series first aired in Japan January this year. Its likeness lies in the realms of other comedy and slice-of-life anime titles such as "Doki Doki School Hours," "Azumanga Daioh," and "Ichigo Mashimaro." The story follows four art school students that all live in the same apartment complex, Hidamari Apartments.

The animation and graphics are done well with the inclusion of photograph stills, but the storyline seems to lack the organized disorganization reminiscent of "AzuDai" and "Ichigo Mashimaro", for example. Each episode presents another day, in no particular order, but things do connect and piece together as you move along the series. I can't help but compare their cosplay-loving homeroom teacher's personality to the rambunctious Yukari from "AzuDai." To the nitpicker, there are even some instances of character involvement that mimic scenes from "Ichigo" as well.

Despite some overlap, "Hidamari Sketch" is totemo kawaii and you're bound to get some laughs in there. I would recommend you rent or watch a friend's copy before deciding to purchase the DVD.


Rogue Galaxy

We've been waiting for "Dark Cloud (Chronicle) 3" to come out for quite some time now. To say the least, it's been fairly quiet and as far as I know, no official word has been made since 2004. Nevertheless, Level 5 games (who also brought us "Dragon Quest VIII") has come up with a space-pirate themed RPG for the PS2 that may temporarily settle some anxiousness for another great RPG from the Dark Cloud series.

"Rogue Galaxy" has the design and real-time gameplay down to an art. However, "Rogue Galaxy" most definitely does not bring us a cutting edge story or even deep character development, both crucial elements, especially in RPGs. It's amazing though, if you think about the seemingly limitless number of CG sequences that have been put in the game providing ample opportunities for a great story.

But when all is said and done, "Rogue Galaxy" is sure to please longtime RPG fans, especially while we wait for FF, KH, and the like. PS3's only RPG game, "Enchanted Arms" could learn a couple of things from the PS2 game.


Video Games Live

Video Games Live, the immersive concert event featuring music from the most popular video games of all time, comes to DC for 2 nights on June 29th and June 30th at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Foggybottom). The National Symphony Orchestra is set to play songs from Zelda to Warcraft and much more in between.

Past events have included music from:

Mario™, Zelda®, Halo®, Metal Gear Solid®, Warcraft®, Myst®, Final Fantasy®, God of War™, Kingdom Hearts, Castlevania®, Medal of Honor™, Sonic™, Tron, Tomb Raider®, Advent Rising, Headhunter, Beyond Good & Evil™, Splinter Cell®, Ghost Recon™, Rainbow Six®, EverQuest® II and a special retro Classic Arcade Medley featuring over 20+ games from Pong® to Donkey Kong® including such classics as Dragon's Lair, Tetris, Frogger, Gauntlet, Space Invaders & Outrun!
Tickets are on sale now at Kennedy Center and run from $25-45. What sets this apart from one of its counterparts, Play! A Video Game Symphony, is its special events that run alongside the main performances. DC will host Video Games Live's Costume Contest and invites attendees to come dressed as your favorite character. Jaw-breaking music, great performances, and cosplay make Video Games Live an event you won't want to miss.
Check out the Video Games Live website for more information and past and future concerts.


Still Nothing...

Square Enix's 2007 Party has come and gone this past weekend in Japan. And my frustration grows deeper. Absolutely no new information was presented since "FFVII Advent Children: Complete" on BD was first announced in Tokyo Game Show 2006. So to update my August 2006 entry, let me clearly set your curiosities at ease. "Complete" is being developed...no date, no price...nadda, the end.


Denno Coil Preview

"Denno Coil" or "Coil - A Circle of Children" premiered just yesterday in Japan, has been on my to-watch list since I first heard of the new series.

Ghibli-esque in animation, the story takes place in a world where half of the environment is real and the other half is virtual. It follows a group of children that use special visors to dive in this digital world and unravel its mysteries.

Check out the official site at http://www.tokuma.co.jp/coil/ (in Japanese) for more information. Their promo video can be found below:


The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadows, Volume 1

Tokyopop continues its trend of light novel releases and "Twelve Kingdoms" is undeniably an investment worth making. "Sea of Shadows," volume one of seven epic chapters within the series, gives us a whopping 450-page saga sure to please any reader. If you even remotely enjoyed "Vision of Escaflowne" and "Fushigi Yugi: Mysterious Play," or have already seen the "Twelve Kingdoms" anime, you'll fall head over heels for this one.

So let's get this little tidbit out of the way: Tokyopop does another horrendous job by way of front covers for its light novels. "Twelve Kingdoms" is no exception. So with that said, let's get to it.

Yoko, a seemingly ordinary high school girl and class president, has always been a good daughter and student who has never caused anyone any trouble. Yes, we've all heard this story before, but this is where the familiarity ends. One day at school, Yoko is confronted by a strange man named Keiki, and is suddenly whisked off to a new world full of demons and the like with a thirst for her blood. All alone, brandishing only a sword given to her by Keiki, she treks this new world in search for answers and is thrown into a plethora of battles. What she learns through her journey will shock her.

Fuyumi Ono gives us a lengthy geography lesson that easily paints a picture in the readers mind amidst all the excitment, and sets up the 7-part saga nicely. Her details depict an environment right out of chinese mythology. This story has something for everyone. No word yet on the Volume 2 release date.


Hotel Tomo

A new hotel is set to open in the Japantown neighborhood of San Francisco on June 1. Hotel Tomo, formerly known as the Best Western Miyako Inn, is said to derive its architecture and environment from anime, manga, and Japanese street fashion. Some of the features within the guest rooms will include 26-inch LCD flat panel TVs and iPod docking stations, as well as "gaming suites" equipped with beanbag chairs, 6-foot TV screens, and Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles.

The hotel opening is part of a larger neighborhood revival that also includes Shogakukan's J-Pop Center which will house an art-house theatre, a "J-Pop bookstore," a cafe, and girls' fashion stores a block away from the hotel.

For more information, check out their official site at: www.Bestwestern.com/miyakoinn.



The Sci Fi Channel has announced their new weekly anime programming block called "Ani-Monday," joining to ranks of the Action Channel's "AniMidnight," for example. "Ani-Monday" will start on June 11 and will air on Mondays from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am. The features include exclusive premieres of "Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society," "Tokko," "Noein," and "Street Fighter II V." According to their website, other titles on the horizon include "Ninja Scroll," "Blood: The Last Vampire," "Read or Die," "Blackjack," and "Macross Plus." It is not stated if these will be the original japanese version with english subtitles, but I'm betting it will be english dubbed. However, "GitS:SSS" premiering on June 11 will only be released on DVD in the U.S. July 3rd. Perhaps "Ani-Monday" may show subtitled anime after all.


Kurau: Phantom Memory - Episode 1

From the studio that brought us “Wolf’s Rain,” “Full Metal Alchemist,” “Rahxephon,” and “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, BONES unveils a new futuristic anime series known as “Kurau: Phanton Memory.”

The year is 2100 and little Kurau, daughter of the scientist Dr. Amami, is turning 12. Kurau sits in the sidelines at her father’s research laboratory eagerly waiting for what the day will bring. And in the midst of Dr. Amami’s latest experiment, something goes horribly wrong and Kurau is left victim to a thunderbolt of pure energy. It is later learned that Kurau’s body is now inhabited by a life energy force known as Rynax, which are apparently binary beings that always exist as pairs -- one of which is too weak to awaken. Ten years pass and the now older Kurau works as some type of agent or bounty hunter. She is sent on a “mission” and we are able to catch of glimpse of the superhuman powers she possesses after the accident years ago. The other half of the pair finally awakens by the end of episode one setting off the motion of the series.

The story itself is a great concept. It has a “Figure 17-Armitage-Ghost in the Shell” sort of feel to it. If there’s one thing for certain, “Kurau” holds a great deal of promise, but could go either way depending on the execution of its subsequent episodes. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of this mystery.


Haruhi Launch Event

Bandai Entertainment announces a Haruhi Launch Event to take place in Los Angeles, California. Members of the ASOS Brigade will be present in this special event celebrating the U.S. release of "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya." This series has been deemed a phenomenon in Japan, however personally, it takes a while to get into it. But once you've passed that hurdle, Haruhi has some quirks as a viable and addicting comedy series that could very well suck you in.

The event will take place on May 29th at 7:00 pm at Anime Jungle, an anime retail store in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. There's been a lot of hype in Japan and the U.S., and everywhere you look Haruism is spreading. Copies of the regular and special limited edition art box DVDs and first CD will be available. The ASOS Brigade will be signing autographs on theatrical-sized posters, so if you're in the area you may want to drop in.

I will actually be staying in L.A. Memorial Day weekend for the Jrock Revolution festival (which is already sold out), not far from Anime Jungle. In fact, Anime Jungle is on my agenda. But I just can't win, can I? We're flying back to DC on the 27th, just 2 days short of the launch event. Oh well...


PuchiEva@School Figures

Another EVA-related post...The first line of figures from the new "Evangelion" spin-off, "PuchiEva@School," are just too cute...totemo kawaii!! I'm still looking for more information on these small capsule-like figures, but it looks like a set (perhaps 2 figures per set according to AnimeOnline) will be priced at 450 yen and are due to be released this June.