Rebuild of Evangelion 3.0-- YOU CAN (NOT) REDO OST Review

Shiro Sagisu strikes again with the release of the next original soundtrack for the Rebuild of Evangelion movie series! The complex symphony of strings, percussion, horns and choir as heard on the first two soundtracks has been enhanced with very epic electric guitars to create a dynamic and, arguably, very heroic/anti-heroic musical experience. This two-disc set contains even more original music plus two tracks from the original anime that every Eva fan is going to want to hear. Once you are finished listening to this soundtrack, you'll either feel like a badass or an angel-- an angel like Kaworu!

Unlike the first two soundtracks, Evangelion 3.0 is quite a bit shorter. Don't let the reduction in track numbers fool you. Every track packs a powerful punch. The fun begins with the opening track, "God's Message" as heard in the trailer. How does he come up with such complex arrangements?! Stirring strings starts the piece which gradually builds in magnitude until the chorus and horns join in. You know something worthy of a 3rd Impact is going to occur. In fact, the first tracks on disc one are very intense and very loud.

The latter half of the disc settles down a bit but, not by much. The music becomes more somber. The tension grows. The chorus sounds as though it is warning the listener that something tragic and unexpected will occur. Things pick back up with tracks like,"It Will Mean Victory" (which sounds like it came from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children), the discordant "Scarred and Battled", the epic "The Wrath of God in All Its Fury," and a very familiar piece of classical music for Eva fans, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". The final track on the disc, "God's Gift" is very surprising. It starts as a mix of diluted guitar rifts and techno-style synth as though it was going to turn into a club tone. However, it doesn't. This track is slow and edgy. The guitar and strings solo is to die for. The trumpet and guitar work in this track is simply amazing. It is a very addictive piece of music.

Disc two carries more of the style of music that Shiro produced for the first two Rebuild soundtracks. There are two more different arrangements for "The Longest Day" from Evangelion 1.0. The first is the extended version "2EM13_EM20_Alterna" from the Evangelion 2.0 soundtrack. The second combines all of the different variations of "The Longest Day," adds in the chorus and titles itself, "Serenity Amongst the Turmoil." Disc two is composed of mostly piano tracks that range from haunting and foreboding to quiet and sad. The next piece of Evangelion music from the television series to be arranged for the Rebuild is "Borderline Case." Anyone with the S2 Works set knows how many different variations there are of this *cough cough* disc 5 *cough cough*. Evangelion 3.0 presents what I like to call a J.A. Seazer-style all piano version and a tense orchestral and choir version of it. "Borderline Case" has always been a favorite of mine so I was happy to hear it on this disc. The second to last track on the disc is the choral version of the preview music.

The very last track is somewhat of an enigma. It's 9:15 in length and called "Famously...". It consists of two piano solos, one long trumpet solo, and a guy reading what sounds like translated dialogue between Shinji and Kaworu. There are a few lengthy moments of silence between each portion of that track. It is the weirdest thing to come out of the Rebuild of Evangelion music series thus far. Even so, you certainly can (not) redo the epicness that is this soundtrack. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I grew up listening to the music Shiro Sagisu created for Neon Genesis Evangelion. I am very pleased with what he has done and continues to do for the Rebuild of Evangelion series and I will be on pins and needles until the soundtrack for Evangelion 4.0 comes out. He truly is a musical god. Purchase your copy of the Evangelion 3.0 soundtrack at your favorite online retailer today! Believe me, Kaworu would be happy if you did!


Time Magazine's 100 Best Video Games of All Time

I think it's safe to say that we can all agree a "Top Video Games of All Time" list is never an easy thing to do.  There will always be titles missing that for many are shoe-ins, or titles that make it but have no business being there.  Then there's the nuance of titles of importance and titles of popularity, as opposed to titles that score high in all categories of gameplay, visuals, audio, story, etc.  That is always true.  But that doesn't mean that lists don't exist.

Time Magazine has done just that with their "All-Time 100 Video Games" list, and what's cool about it is the poll results showing what the public thinks about the list -- definitely? or no way?

The top 10 comprise of Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Oregon Trail, Pong, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, Asteroids, and Mass Effect 3!

Other games listed with positive responses include Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, World of Warcraft, Castlevania,  Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Resident Evil, The Sims, Portal, and Half-Life.

Check out the entire list here and be sure to vote yourself on whether these titles should definitely be on the list or not.


The Walking Dead Episode 5 "No Time Left" Release Date Confirmed

Telltale has confirmed that the fifth and final episode of The Walking Dead video game series, "No Time Left" will be coming out on November 21st for most platforms, and a day earlier on the Playstation Network! What better time to celebrate Thanksgiving than with zombies and finding out what becomes of Lee and crew.  If you've been keeping up with the episodes, you know how high the stakes are now.

At the end of each episode, stats of what decisions you and other players made are displayed.  It's always interesting to see where you fare with the rest of the world.  And the video below does just that for episode 4.  Be warned though, if you have not played all 4 episodes yet, do NOT watch this video.  Major spoilers ahead.  But if you have though, the by all means, please partake.  It serves as a nice summary and segue to the final episode. 

For those holding off until the retail version comes out (and for those who want the physical game), the wait isn't much longer either.  Remember, the standard version with all five episodes will cost $29.99 and the GameStop-exclusive collector's edition is set at $69.99 and will get you the full game, as well as a huge Walking Dead Compendium collection, assembling the first 48 issues of the comic series.


Mass Effect Mordin Solus Bust

Our favorite talks-a-mile-a-minute Salarian is coming to us in a beautifully hand-scultped polyresin bust.  Looks like Mordin may be the first of a series of Mass Effect busts...or at least this fan is hoping it is.  (I recall a prototype Garrus bust earlier).

Each piece is individually cast and handpainted and stands 8 inches tall.  Mordin comes with a detachable headset; a sculpted and embossed base with the text "Someone Else Might Have Gotten It Wrong."

Retailed at $50.00, you can preorder yours now at the BioWare store.  And if you put your order in before November 19th, you can get Mordin for a special discounted price of $40.00.  This is a spectacular piece to add to any Mass Effect fan.


Tiger & Bunny's Life-Size Wild Tiger Head

Premium Bandai, Bandai's online shopping site, will begin taking pre-orders for a 1/1-scale Wild Tiger head from Tiger & Bunny on Monday. Unlike the rubber mask that Animate offered last year, Bandai's painted, assembled display model is made of hard ABS plastic and opens in half.

If your eyes and heart have settled on owning this cool 1/1-scale Wild Tiger head, be sure your wallet is also settled, as this awesome collectible will set you back 37,380 yen (US$470). Not that this should affect you, but there is a limit of three per customer, and the head will arrive late next February. [Source: ANN]


Fifty Evangelion 3.0 Character Goods Revealed

What better way to commemorate the release of Evangelion 3.0 You Can [Not] Redo than with just about 50 awesome character goods to be sold by theaters starting this Saturday. Well, 46 awesome merchandise to be exact.  You can expect to find the usual (and beautiful) clear file folders, stickers, pens, straps, and different mobile goodies.  But within the 46 items are some special picks that have got this EVA afficianado giving her gotta-have-it face.

If I were lucky enough to make it to theaters in Japan, my shopping list would include:

  • Item 17 - Who doesn't need a letter opener?  So why not make it a spear letter opener?
  • Item 22 - Sure, there are plenty of keychains out there, but this one has got that special something.
  • Item 25 - Why not a monolithic way to tell time with this Seele-type clock...
  • Item 31 - To all the Ritsuko lovers, you gotta have an official Nerv ashtray.
  • Item 35 - And you'll definitely need a pass case when you catch the train.
  • Item 38 - My personal favorite is the perennial calendar that is made to last...genius-ly styled after the Nerv elevator floor number display.
  • Item 43 - Because we all get hungry eventually, why not have some cookies with Kaworu's silhouette?
Check out the entire list here and full catalog photo here.  And while you're at it, be sure to drop me a line if you find it in your heart to pick up some items for me from my wishlist :) From one Eva fan to another...


Mass Effect: Paragon Lost Limited Engagement Screening

On November 29th, there will be a one night only, exclusive screening event for Mass Effect: Paragon Lost. Show times will vary by theater.  This very limited engagement will hit the following cities: New York City, San Francisco, Edmonton (Canada), Dallas, Greensboro, and Los Angeles.  If you're in one of these cities, you won't want to miss this.

And as an extra special bonus, the first 20 people who attend the screenings will receive a FREE Mass Effect : Paragon Lost T-shirt.

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is the result of an epic collaboration between the legendary Bioware and visionary Production I.G (Innocence, Kill Bill: Vol.1 (Animation Part), BLOOD-C The Last Dark . [Source: Funimation]

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is the prequel to the highly-anticipated Mass Effect 3 and follows the early career of Alliance Marine, James Vega. Vega leads an elite Special Forces squad into battle against a mysterious alien threat known as The Collectors. Stationed at a colony in a remote star system, Vega and his soldiers must protect the civilians from a ruthless invasion determined to capture the population for unknown purposes. Learn more about the Mass Effect universe with an unprecedented glimpse into the haunted past of Mass Effect's newest hero! Featuring the voices of : Freddie Prinze Jr., Monica Rial (Deadman Wonderland), Vic Mignogna (Fullmetal Alchemist).

Pre-order your copy of the movie, available on Blu-ray and DVD on 12.28.12.  If you haven't done so yet, check out the trailer below!


Evangelion: 3.0 You Can [Not] Redo Trailer

The official website for the Evangelion franchise began streaming the theatrical trailer for Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (Evangelion Shin Gekijō-ban Q), the third film in Hideaki Anno and Khara's four-part remake of Gainax's Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. Check it out below (hey, new characters!!).  The film is set to open in Japan on November 17th.


HAL 9000 Replica by Artifactory

When it comes to murderous A.I. villains, you have to love 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL 9000. Sure, Apeture Science's GLaDOS from the Portal games may be more witty and evil-to-the-core than this post's red camera light friend, but you can't tell me that you didn't think at some point how she shared some resemblence to HAL. And if you didn't then you must be the only sci-fi lover who has never seen the movie, read Arthur C. Clarke's books or seen an AFI Movie Best countdown on television O_O (by the way, HAL was number 13 on the 100 greatest villains list). Plus, while I admit it took me into my adult years to finally appreciate and understand what exactly was going on in Stanley Kubrick's artsy film adaptation (and the added help of the movie & novel's sequel "2010"), I liked Mr. 9000 from day one with his eerily calm voice and seemingly sinister ways, and even more that he was actually a "good" character gone bad thanks to receiving conflicting orders from his superiors.

If you would love to own Dr. Chandra's creation, Artifactory has created an 11 pound replica of the machine from the original 1967 studio blueprint to add to your collection. It has been stated that HAL 9000 will feature 15 lines of dialogue. Exactly what he'll say hasn't been released, but I would imagine it would feature such things as personal favorites "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that." and "I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over." Maybe he'll even serenade us with his slow shutdown rendition of the tune Daisy.The cost to own your own HAL 9000? $499.99 over at Big Bad Toy Store! I'm sorry Artifactory, but I'm afraid I can't do that. Awesome as this sounds to a nerd like me, I would wish a demo and more details about the ""several user-selectable modes" before shelling out the astronomical funds to bring this into my domain. Maybe if HAL's replica was more interactive than just pushing a button to hear famous lines I could justify the price. Come on, give SIRI on my iPhone a reason to be jealous!


Asuka November 2012 Now On Sale

Luka... This is for you. I made a lucky charm. Will you take it? ... It's the only thing I can give. Although it's not half as much compared to what you're doing for me.   

Get your money over to CD Japan today as the November issue of Asuka is for sale. The magazine is home to "Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru" as die hard fans know, so who better to grace the cover than Luka Crosszeria himself!

Actually it can get even better when the bonus item inside is Luka's protection charm, given to him by Yuki in Act 36 of the manga. The black cross features the rose emblem of the series and comes with a mini-chain. And when I say mini, I mean it. It's a shame that it isn't a necklace like in the manga and it's way too small to wear as a bracelet unless you are a chibi, but nevertheless it is a nice freebie to add to any "Uragiri" collection, especially if you are a Luka fan (*points to self*). [Partial scanlation image credit to Stargazing Scanlations]


Preview to Baltimore Comic-Con 2012: Issue 3

You know the drill...this weekend is Baltimore Comic-Con and Third Impact has been giving highlights of what to expect as our anticipation grows and grows.  The crew will be headed to Baltimore tomorrow, so this will be our final issue for now until we return with full coverage, new boxes to open, and rummaging through the spoils of the con.  But before I get ahead of myself, let's do this!

It seems like we're not the only ones growing with anticipation.  For the first time, Baltimore Comic-Con will be expanding their Saturday hours, allowing you more time to squeeze panels, comics and comics-related products shopping, the Costume Contest, the auction, and collecting autographs and commissioning sketches from your favorite comics pros and newfound rising talent. The new Saturday hours will be from 10am to 7pm on Saturday (and the same 10am to 5pm on Sunday that we've had in years past).

I attended the first Costume Contest held a few years ago, and I'm happy to see its return year after year.  Registration for the 2012 Costume Contest will be taking place in booth #2606, and will cost $5 for adults 18 and older (children 17 and younger are free!). There are 10 categories with prizes for each, and $1,000 up for grabs to the person with the best overall costume! The Costume Contest, presented by StylinOnline.com, will be held on Sunday, September 9th in Room 307-310 upstairs from the convention center floor. You won't want to miss this!  The prizes have gotten PRETTY nice over the years!

Ever wondered where the genius behind many of the favorite comic books in the 1980s came from? Captain America and many other of your favorite comic books were actually enhanced by 'The British Invasion' of the comic book world.

The British Embassy in Washington will be celebrating this theme at Baltimore Comic-Con, this weekend, showcasing what is great about the comic book, science-fiction, and creative industries in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The team from the British Embassy will be exhibiting in the lobby of the Baltimore Comic-Con, and its booth will feature images of characters portrayed during the long history of creativity in the UK - from the early days of Doctor Who to the present, to Game of Thrones and British contributions to American creative arts. Come experience why Creativity is GREAT in the UK and to take a fresh look at the longstanding British Invasion of American comics.


Preview to Baltimore Comic-Con 2012: Issue 2

The countdown continues with just 3 more days till Baltimore Comic-Con.  And what better time that the good folks reveal their 2012 Show Map, now available in the 2012 Program Guide. Be sure to check it out!! 

The first ever Baltimore Comic-Con Yearbook makes its debut this year.  This book of art features some of our guests interpreting the Liberty Meadows characters, sometimes in conjunction with their own creations, in a celebration of creator-owned properties.  As an added bonus, you can win the art created for the Yearbook at the auction. And the fun doesn't stop there -- a scavenger hunt will also be held.  Buy the book and get 15 of the 36 contributors to sign it, win an awesome print by either Joseph Michael Linsner or Barry Kitson. Determined to get both prints? Then grab 20 signatures and they are yours.

If you thought all the guest announcements have been made, well then I'm happy to say "you're wrong!"  Artists Jimmy Cheung and Paul Pope join the roster! Jimmy Cheung began his career in the mid-1990s at Marvel Comics working on such titles as X-Force, Force Works, and Spider-Man Unlimited. In 2000, he left Marvel to join the team at CrossGen Comics, helming the art duties on one of their flagship titles, Scion. In 2005, Cheung returned to Marvel and became one of their "Young Guns," a group of artists that, according to Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, had the qualities that make "a future superstar penciller." Most recently, Cheung finished illustrating Avengers: The Children's Crusade, a mini-series which ran from 2010 through 2012.

Paul Pope is an American comic artist whose work has ranged from manga to American-style comics. Throughout his career, Pope has worked for such companies as Dark Horse, DC, and Marvel Comics, Dargaud in France, and Kodansha in Japan. His book Batman:Year 100 won Eisners for Best Limited Series and Best Writer/Artist in 2007. Since 2011, he has been a sitting board member of the American Council of the Arts. He is currently finishing work on his latest graphic novel, Battling Boy, to be released soon through First Second.

In addition to the great line-up of guests for this year's Baltimore Comic-Con, more than 100 retailers will also grace the floor bringing with them all the goodies our wallets can and, in more cases than not, can't afford.  The retailers cover a wide variety for every type of collector, specializing in Gold, Silver, and Bronze Age comics. Vintage comics, apparel, toys, trade paperbacks, and hardcover collections are just a few of the types of items that are available from a great selection of retailers and exhibitors.


Preview to Baltimore Comic-Con 2012: Issue 1

It's finally here...the week of Baltimore Comic-Con 2012 is here!  The crew here at Third Impact couldn't be more ecstatic and excited for the goodness to come this weekend.  So to celebrate, we'll be giving highlights of what to expect at this year's Comic-Con.  Let the countdown commence...

Stan, the Man, Lee returns to Baltimore and has even extended his stay to include Sunday until 4pm.  VIP packages are still available.

On Saturday night, September 8th, the comic book industry, including professionals, retailers, and fans, will gather at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore to honor the 2012 Harvey Award Nominees for 2011 comic work and present the Harveys to their recipients.  This is an exciting evening, highlighted by our host Phil LaMarr, keynote speaker Ross Richie, and a special appearance by Stan Lee! Harvey Awards tickets are on sale NOW at baltimorecomiccon.com/harvey-awards.
I'll be rooting for my fav Top Cow peeps for sure!

BCC always brings a slew of great panels, and I'm particularly impressed with the offering of the Marvel Boot Camp Seminar.  Marvel SVP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort will, for the first time ever, give a training lecture to the public, which he normally gives to the Marvel editorial staff explaining how Marvel editors think about the business of storytelling. There will also be inside secrets, tricks-of-the-trade, and - time permitting - a Q & A with Brevoort.  You'll need tickets to this special event ($10) as seating is limited.

Attention fellow Lady Death fans! Not only is Lady Death creator Brian Pulido making an appearance at the con, but he, along with his fellow attendees Greg Capullo and Joseph Michael Linsner will be bringing 2 special issues.  Lady Death: Judgement War #1 - Heavy Duty Edition features cover art by Greg Capullo and is enhanced with seven 1/4" heavy metal spikes and is limited to just 99 serially numbered copies. Lady Death: Judgment War #1 - Blood Red Skies Edition, art by Capullo and limited to 199 serially numbered copies, features a cardstock cover. Also premiering is Lady Death: Tribulation #1 - Blood Beach Edition, featuring a Joseph Michael Linsner cover and limited 199 serially numbered copies.  After hearing this news, it didn't take long to put the Heavy Duty edition on my list!

I love my comics in all forms, and I am digging 215 Ink's exclusive for the con.  215 Ink will be unveiling a deal previously unheard of in the comic community, small press or otherwise: a fully functional Android 4.0 tablet loaded with the full line-up of 215 titles for just $99. Consider this on my list too...

These were just some of the highlights and the reason why I always cannot wait till Baltimore Comic-Con.  It's the dedication to bringing the best, classic and modern, and above all, the obvious unrivaled focus of why we're here...and that's comic books.

So for now, check out the posted schedule and be sure to register for the con if you've been lazy and haven't done so already.  And while you're at it, check out the wicked guest list, check those collections, and make your plans.


Takumi-kun Series Memorial 2009-2012 DVD Collection

Fans of the "Takumi-kun Series" [like me] may have noticed recently that the official website has been updated, and if you have and you do not live in Japan [like me], you may have went from extremely excited to completely heartbroken [LIKE ME!!].

It’s only expected that at some point all entries in a series will be combined into one collection and on September 19th distributors Pony Cannon will be releasing the Takumi-kun Series Memorial 2009-2012 DVD box set! Director Takeshi Yokoi's collection includes the dramatic and romantic films "Niji Iro no Glass", "Bibo no Detail" and "Ano, Hareta Aozora" that starred Kyosuke Hamao and Daisuke Watanabe, the quintessential pairing of Takumi and Gii. Ryouma Baba and Taiki Naito’s beautiful "Pure" is also here. Not included is the first movie "Soshite Harukaze ni Sayayaite" that starred Tomo Yanagishita and Keisuke Kato, so sorry to those who may have liked the original with its cop out kisses that weren't kisses and insanely bright, washed out love scene.

Fabulous as the romance of these four movies are, the added gems make this collection extra special, including a CD soundtrack (a long desired item amongst fans), bonus DVD, photo book and postcards, all wrapped up in a Shido High School blazer box.

Now the bad news: It’s technically ONLY available as a reservation item for those in the Pony Cannon Club! At this time it doesn’t appear that the collection will be released for general sales from the typical online shopping websites you frequent. And to add salt to my wound: those in Japan who are able to get their hands on this limited edition item will also have the capability of entering a postcard submission contest to attend a meet-and-greet with Kyosuke Hamao and Daisuke Watanabe in Tokyo on December 1st. @$&#@!!!

CD Japan has it listed as a special request item for $245.05. If you are a huge fan like me (long time Daisuke Watanabe crush over here!), cross your finger and hope for the best.


Sengoku BASARA Moonlight Party [UPDATE]

What do you get when you cross Frank Miller's Sin City, The Matrix, cosplay, a Sailor Moon live action television series and Japanese history plus a dash of GACKT? Sengoku BASARA Moonlight Party of course! It has been over a month since the first episode aired on MBS in Japan. Only now can is it possible to give you update on what it was like. The first episode was titled: "RIVAL OF ETERNITY." Epic, ne?

For those keeping score from the video game and anime side of Sengoku BASARA, the first episode covers the fated meeting of Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura and their encounter with Oda Nobunaga. The TV series skimps on a lot of detail concerning this meeting so brush up on your Japanese history or watch the anime before viewing. The very first scene is involved Yukimura and Takeda Shingen in their signature 'Oyakata-sama!' 'Yukimura!' shouting match. The first 11 minutes of the episode were completely scenery-less. Everything had a hazy white or pitch black background. The battle sequences were a mix of CG work (ala Sin City) to cover the battle between the armies and actual choreographed sword play between the actors. The producers were kind enough to add in little special effects to make it seem like Date and Yukimura were using their special powers. This was also abundant in the opening sequence too.

Just when Date and Yukimura were really about to have fun, the Oda trio consisting of Nohime, Akechi Mitsuhide and Mori Ranmaru show up to crash the party. And standing behind them was Oda Nobunaga himself... but I'll get back to him. Of course, Katakura Kojuurou, Date's right-eye, cautioned him not to challenge Oda. But, Date can't resist a challenge so Oda gets to show off some of his awesome moves. A stylish battle then ensued between Oda and Takeda Shingen, who stepped in to save Date from a fatal blow. However, Takeda wasn't able to escape the battle unscathed.

The episode finally received some tangible scenery after the fight with Oda. The cast was outside the Takeda residence waiting to see if he'd be okay after taking a direct hit from Oda. While there, Date tried to toughen up Yukimura and a comical fist fight results. As the boys beat the crap out of each other, they were completely unaware of Takeda's forces limping back to the residence. Only when Kasuga and her lord Uesugi Kenshin showed up did they stop fighting and look up. The episode ends.

In my opinion, Moonlight Party is entertaining. I'm so used to playing the games or watching the anime that some things were a little difficult to adjust to. However, the producers did well to combine fantasy with real life. The abundance of CG work I can understand since the Sengoku BASARA world is hard to replicate in reality. However, 11 minutes of hazy white and pitch black backgrounds without a prop anywhere (minus everyone's weapons) was a bit much. Even the scene where everyone was riding their horses was not that believable. As for the actors themselves, they seem to understand the essence of their characters. Sometimes, the acting did seem a bit forced. The costumes and weapons were slightly above the quality of the Sengoku BASARA stage play costumes. Yukimura's costume looks great in the TV series with the exception of his hair. I'm a big Katakura fan so I was slightly disappointed that his actor has such a high voice. Years of listening to Morikawa Toshiyuki in the role I guess is hard to erase. However, as the episode continued, his voice gradually began to deepen into that fatherly, advisory tone. Date's actor doesn't have Nakai Kazuya's voice nor the presence of the stage play actor, but he is a lot of fun to watch. His English is okay too. Uesugi Kenshin, as always, is played by a woman. Although he only had a few lines to say, I wish his actress would have tried to deepen her voice as she spoke to bring out what little masculinity Kenshin has. Sarutobi Sasuke and Takeda Shingen are the highlights of the good-guys. Their actors are spot on with mannerisms and manner of speech. Both of their costumes look absolutely amazing.

But the real highlight of the first episode must go to the Oda forces. Nohime looks and sounds like she walked right out of the video game. Mitsuhide was just as sadistic and crazed as he should of been. His actor has a good build for him. I'm going to miss Hayami Shou's voice though. Ranmaru's actor has a surprisingly 'grown up voice' since he's supposed to be a kid. The most surprising performance of all was delivered by the man himself, GACKT as Oda Nobunaga.

I've seen GACKT's acting skills a few time before but I do believe this is going to take the cake. He is spot on with his mannerisms and producing that terrifying aura with his presence. The most shocking aspect is his voice! If you weren't paying attention, you'd swear you were listening to Wakamoto Norio.On top of that, Oda's costume is the most elaborate and I can  tell the production crew spared no expense to get that costume right. GACKT looks good in it too. You can't really tell its him unless you really stare at his face. GACKT really is Oda Nobunaga.... mustache and all. Finally, Oda had the coolest fight scene in the episode and the coolest bullets too, his awesome customized Oda Clan bullets! Did I mention GACKT also provides the closing theme? It's a standard tune from GACKT called 'Hakuro' but, it fits the series well.

The preview showed that Date and Yukimura will be in a forest in the second episode-- yes, an actual forest with actual trees (yay, less green screen!). And Mitsuhide is going to get an earful from his boss.

With GACKT anchoring this series, I think Sengoku BASARA: Moonlight Party will be quite entertaining to watch. I look forward to seeing more Sin City-esque visual effects; it really gives the show that video game feel. It's really hard to judge and entire show by only one episode but I think this series is moving in the right direction. Anyone looking for something serious should stay away from this. Fans of the series and of GACKT should definitely check it out.


Versailles Fifth Anniversary Single "ROSE"

I have been a Versailles fan since the beginning and I was very happy they were able to accomplish five years of producing very awesome music. Thus, I was all over their fifth anniversary release of the single, "ROSE". I went ahead and put down the money for the limited edition collectors box-- a set that was only going to have 6,666 pieces. The box is about the size of the Holy Grail collectors box. It is covered in a red velvety material with the Versailles seal and title of the single embossed on it. In the lower left corner on the back of the box is your serial number. I am 4,838 out of the 6,666. Inside, you are greeted with the special case housing the CD and DVD and the photobook. The front of the inner case is the same as the regular edition release of the single.

The first half of the photobook contains beautiful full page shots and other photos of the members in their current outfits, along with the lyrics for the songs on the single. The second half of the book is a trip down memory lane as it contains photos from the last five years. You'll get to visually relive everything from "Lyrical Symphony" to "Noble" to "Ascendead Master" up to "Holy Grail".

The single itself is very nice. The title track, "ROSE," sort of reminded me of "God Palace". While not exactly like that, it is a standard Versailles-sounding track with music by Hizaki and lyrics by Kamijo. The second track is "Ayakashi" with music by Masashi and lyrics by Kamijo. Ayakashi is the most traditional Japanese sounding song Versailles has ever produced. Instead of invoking the image of vampires... I imagined oni and vengeful ghosts in a haunted bamboo forest. It is a very heavy sounding song with deep guitar rifts and Masashi's amazing bass work. The last two songs are re-releases from previous albums. The third song is "Love will be born again". This time, the lyrics are in Japanese. At first, it sounded strange because I am so used to hearing the song in English. It was already very touching and sad the first time it was released. However, the Japanese lyrics just make it even more poignant.

The final track of the single is the 2012 version "THE RED CARPET DAY". As one of my favorite songs ever, I was wondering what Versailles was going to do on the re-release. As soon as it starts playing, you will notice the melody is set a few notes lower. The mad organ playing has been toned down and overall, the song feels much heavier and darker. Yuki's drumming is absolutely amazing and so crisp on this release. Masashi's bass work is as intricate and breath-taking as ever. The interlude of the song has also been changed. It starts with a lonesome organ. Then, there is the new guitar rift accompanied by Yuki's mad drum beat which gives that portion a sense of urgency. Finally, it all melts back into the usual instrumental portion. Because the song is set a few notes lower, the signature "The Red Carpet Day" portion is definitely darker and more powerful thanks to deeper and more enhanced background vocals. It a beautiful rearrangement of an already energetic song.

The DVD included with the limited edition includes the history of the band from conception up until now. People who went to A-KON in 2008 will be thrilled to know they made the cut on the DVD. There was also a poignant tribute to Jasmine You. Most notably absent from the history books is Versailles's work on their mini-tv series. The second part of the DVD includes seven songs selected from the Holy Grail Grand Final in February 2012. I have had the pleasure of seeing Versailles perform live twice in my lifetime and I have seen their other live DVDs. However, none of that prepared me from the energetic and powerful performance presented on this DVD. I've never seen Kamijo put so much into a performance. His singing was spot on, the interactions between the band mates, and even the crowd just made it a very enjoyable experience. Hell, I even ended up like two songs I previously didn't care for much thanks to this DVD.

Overall, it was definitely worth it to buy the limited edition. According to CDJapan, the limited edition is now gone and there are very few copies of the regular edition left. I'd snag it while you still can. On the heels of this release, there is both good and bad news to report. In September, Versailles will release their next album. However, that album will be the band's last. By the end of 2012, Versailles will cease all activity to pursue personal activities. While I am disheartened about this, it has been a wonderful and epic five years and I am very happy I was able to participate and experience that which is Versailles -Philharmonic Quintet-. I hope in the near future they'll get back together to provide the world with more of their unique music and visual style.


Image Comics Exclusives at Comic-Con International

Berkeley, CA - July 5, 2012 — In addition to a full schedule of panels, Image Comics is also celebrating creativity at Comic-Con International in San Diego with exclusive covers and editions of popular and debut titles. Creators will be signing exclusives, which are available in limited quantities, so be sure to stop by the Image Comics, Skybound and Top Cow booths to make sure you get your copies!

Comic-Con International takes place on July 12-15 in the San Diego Convention Center. The Image Comics booth (#2729) will be the destination for Skybound, Shadowline, and Image central titles, while the Top Cow booth (#2629) will have all the latest in the WITCHBLADE- and THE DARKNESS-helmed universe.

Some highlights include:

THE WALKING DEAD #100 Vannen Watch
In honor of The Walking Dead’s 100th issue, Skybound and Vannen watches bring you a limited edition timepiece. The watch features art from Charlie Adlard’s issue #100 cover.  Each watch is signed by Robert Kirkman. ($85.00; Limited to 500 units, One per person)

THE WALKING DEAD Hardcover Compendium
Limited edition, foil stamped hardcover version of THE WALKING DEAD Compendium Vol. 1.  Collects issues 1-48 of THE WALKING DEAD ($100.00; > Limited to 900 copies, One per person)

THE WALKING DEAD Michonne Bloody Poncho Variant Action Figure
Limited edition bloody Michonne action figure featuring an exclusive poncho based on her first appearance. ($25.00; Limited to 3000 units, Two per person)

Artifacts #19 Broussard Comic-Con Exclusive Variant Cover
Kicking off a brand new story in the Top Cow's ongoing REBIRTH initiative, RON MARZ and STJEPAN SEJIC introduce a brand new Artifact bearer -- Dr. Rachel Harrison, bearer of the Heartstone -- in this special three part story. Available only at Comic-Con, this exclusive cover by MICHAEL BROUSSARD features Witchblade, Angelus and Aphrodite! ($10; Limited to 500 copies)

The Darkness #105 Portacio Comic-Con Exclusive Variant Cover
Concluding DAVID HINE and JEREMY HAUN's explosive opening story arc, this issue sees Jackie Estacado, bearer of the Darkness, confronted with disintegration of his perfect world. Available only at Comic-Con, this exclusive cover by WHILCE PORTACIO features The Darkness and his Darklings! ($10; Limited to 500 copies)

Think Tank #1 Bagus Variant Cover
A Comic-Con Debut Issue! The action-packed science series from MATT HAWKINS and RAHSAN EKEDAL tells the tale of a brilliant scientist trapped in a military think tank and his attempt to escape. Available only at Comic-Con, this exclusive cover by BAGUS HUTOMO introduces the world to slacker genius scientist -- Dr. David Loren! ($10; Limited to 500 copies).


Animate Cafe's Junjo Romantica Inspired Menu

Oh, how my heart aches and my tummy grumbles!

If you are fortunate to be in Japan this month and a member of CLUB animate, you have the fantastic opportunity to enter the drawing to attend Animate Café’s “Junjo Romantica” event. Commemorating the series’ 10th anniversary, the limited edition menu will allow lottery winners to partake in delicious dishes inspired by Shungiku Nakamura's [and my favorite] BL that would make Misaki Takahashi proud.
I’ve never wanted to eat an Octopus-shaped hotdog more than I do right now! And there is yummy omelet with hilarious “I like dogs” ketchup-written topping! And there is even Suzuki-san shaped ice cream for dessert! That’s not even the beginning of the menu’s hearty plates and drinks (ichigo daisuki!), with each section of the menu dedicated to the couples of Romantica, Egoist, Terroist and Mistake! The chefs may have even finely minced green pepper into all the dishes, and while I share Usagi’s strong dislike of the green vegetable, I would be willing to lose 1,000 yen to each cook to have the bountiful meals on my table!

While your belly would surely be satisfied by all the tasty food, your heart will be warmed by the plethora of fabulous swag and shopping, including Suzuki-san coasters, Suzuki-san plates, Suzuki-san mugs, Suzuki-san chocolate cookies, “JR” clear files, secret prizes and much, much more!!

Sadly the much-filled-with-love “Usami-sensei no Fuwa Fuwa Omlette Special Deluxe” is not on the menu. I’d be willing to risk Usagi’s food poisoning if it meant I could attend and grab some of these goodies.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sob into my peanut butter sandwich… T_T


Viewfinder Ryuichi Asami Doll Photos Released

Is it possible to put a price on your love for BL? How much are you willing to pay to support your favorite character or your favorite series? Well, all of you fans of Ayano Yamane’s "Viewfinder" better sit down, balance your check books, plan a summer lemonade stand franchise and consider whether or not you really need to have two arms, because you are about to pay, and pay big.

Hop over to the b-boy website and feast your eyes on crime lord and uber gorgeous seme Ryuichi Asami in doll form. Brought to you by Aozone International, Asami stands at an amazing 25 inches and features a real fabric three-piece black suit, black overcoat, white dress shirt and burgundy tie. And to top it off he can be posed and his silky black hair can be styled.

The cost of Asami is 99,750 yen. To save you from having to pull up whatever website you use to convert your yen to dollars I’ll tell you that’s over $1,200! Don’t grab your inhaler just yet. It doesn’t seem that you’ll be to get your hands on him from any online store unless you took part in the pre-orders quite a long time ago; however, if another set for ordering is not released, surely someone on Yahoo Auctions Japan will tempt you to bust your checking account should this be a must have for your collection.

Would I be willing to spend over a $1,000 on a single BL item? Handsome as he is, I am willing to pass. Those who know me best are aware of particular items I desire, but unfortunately (or perhaps thankfully) they only exist in my mind. However, the fact that Asami is now indeed in doll form makes me wonder if my mind better start imagining a second job…


Evangelion Rei Ayanami Slide

As part of the Shiohaku Expo 2012 summer amusement event, an 18.5 meter (60 foot) long figure of Rei Ayanami (Neon Genesis Evangelion) will be built outside of the NTV Tower in the Shiodome area of Tokyo.

The "Gundam-sized" figure will feature a slide that attendees can slide down during the event, which will take place from July 25th through August 26th, 10 am to 6pm daily.

And if that wasn't enough, a third branch of the beautiful wallet-breaking Evangelion store will open in the nearby NTV building and will feature limited edition merchandise.  Check out the official NTV site as more details (and hopefully pics) emerge. [Source: Evangelion via ANN]


Guild Wars 2 Release Date Announced

Fans of the MMO have been aching and anxious for the long awaited sequel to Arena Net's Guild Wars.  Hanging off of every word uttered at a convention or event, and hailing Tyria when pre-orders were finally announced and opened!  We've been in beta test mode for the past few months now, and today marks the day when the release date for Guild Wars 2 is finally announced.  August 28th....the 28th day of the 8th month of this year is that day (not to mention that 3-day headstart for folks who pre-purchase the game).

As Mike O'Brien, head of ArenaNet and executive producer of Guild Wars 2, states: "...in a matter of months, after years of development, they will have that opportunity to do what they have been waiting for.”

Work at the studio doesn't stop, however.  “We always want to pioneer, we’re not going to stop,” said O’Brien. “We’re building the genesis of a world that has a foundation resting on the importance of community and innovation. We’re going to continue to try to break through boundaries and exceed expectations.” [Sources: Forbes]

Versailles on NHK's J-MELO in July

For those of you with access to NHK World television, good news! In May, visual-kei band Versailles recorded an episode for the popular music magazine J-MELO hosted by May J. and Dave Spector. The band's episode will air on NHK World on Monday, July 16. It will also air again late night on NHK BS Premium on Saturday, July 21st. Please visit NHK World's website for official program times in your area!
  • Eastern Time: July 15th at 7:30pm
  • Central Time: July 15th at 6:30pm
  • Mountain Time: July 15th at 5:30pm
  • Pacific Time: July 15th at 4:30pm
You can also catch a stream of the broadcast. [Source: Kamijo World]


Gaming Heads Portal 2 Turret Statue

Combine Valve and Gaming Heads and you get a new line of Portal 2 statues beginning with the standard model Aperture Sentry Turret.  The Turret statue stands at 16 inches tall, including the base and antenna, and is case in high quality polystone.  And it wouldn't be a "functioning" turret without a motion sensor in front.  While it won't instantly kill you, it will light up and plays in-game Turret activation, search, auto search, disabled and tipped over sound and voice samples.

Due out in the final quarter of 2012, you can expect this Turret statue to be very limited -- to 350 pieces worldwide, to be exact, and will cost you $324.99.   The site notes that their validation systems allows customers to collect the same number (low numbers given on a first come first serve basis) throughout their entire Portal 2 line. It's also important to note that as I type this, the Turret statue is not sold out and all new orders will be placed on a wait list.  


Resident Evil Cafe and Grill S.T.A.R.S.

Back in January 2012, Capcom opened up a Capcom Bar in Shinjuki that sells drinks and food inspired by titles such as Monster Hunter, Ace Attorney and Resident Evil (braiiiins).  Well if that wasn't enough, The Resident Evil franchise will now be opening a Resident Evil Cafe and Grill S.T.A.R.S. in Shibuya.

While the restaurant's actual menu has not been released, Capcom has promised limited items and dance performances from Dance Team S.T.A.R.S. Angelique.

The Cafe and Grill will open, fittingly, on Friday the 13th next month, for just one year. [Source: Andriasang via G4TV]


Ghost in the Shell "Tachikoma" Sneakers

Shoe maker Reebox teams up with Japanese figure maker Megahouse for a super duper limited edition run of "Ghost in the Shell" sneakers.  The design for these GiTS sneakers were inspired by the cute walker bots Tachikomas.  The "Tachikoma-blue" coloring is perfect and I love the little details such as the "Section 9" logo found on the heel side.

If these "feets of fury" tickle your fancy, get your battle face ready and shopping strategy set as you attempt to get your hands on one of the 500 pairs that will be available in the world.  Yes, just 500 pairs will be made and will be available in Japan starting next month for 21,000 yen. [Source: Megahobby via Kotaku]


Shinsei Rock Musical Bleach REprise Cast

The rock musical remake of Kubo Tite's Bleach manga is returning to Tokyo this summer in Shinsei Rock Musical Bleach REprise. This is a revival of the musical that was performed in six locations nationwide last year.

The musical will run from August 30th through September 9th at the Shinagawa Stellar Ball. The cast includes several new cast members, including a new Ichigo actor from last year's Shinsei run.
  • Masashi Ōyama as Kisuke Urahara
  • Eisuke Tsuda as Jūshirō Ukitake
  • Kōhei Norizuki as Ichigo Kurosaki
  • Miki Satou as Rukia Kuchiki  
  • Kōsuke Kujirai as Renji Abarai  
  • Yūya Kido as Tōshirō Hitsugaya
  • Motohiro Ōta as Byakuya Kuchiki
  • Isamu Ishizaka as Shunsui Kyrōraku
  • Kanami Ayano as Haruka (original stage play character)
  • Shinya Niiro as Niiro Shinya (original stage play character)

Check out the official website here.  [Source: Natalie via ANN]


Marvel vs. Capcom: Official Complete Works

UDON Entertainment announces the release of Marvel vs. Capcom: Official Complete Works artbook which collects all of the official artwork, sketches, and bonus material from all of Marvel and Capcom's video game collaborations! Coming in at just under 200 pages, this compilation is the first ever of its kind, collecting all this material in one place.  We're talking about The Punisher, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men vs Street Fighter, Marval Super Heroes vs Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom 1, 2, and 3, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 of course, as well as 17 brand new illustrations exclusive to this artbook.

MvC: Official Complete Works will make its international debut at San Diego Comic-Con on Wednesday, July 11th, in an exclusive hardcover edition that will not be sold in stores ($100).  The hardcover will feature an exclusive wrap-around cover by UDON and Marvel vs. Capcom artist Alvin Lee and digitally painted by UDON`s Genzoman, and only 200 will be available over the course of the show. A standard-format soft cover release will follow in late November 2012, distributed by Diamond to comics and bookstores everywhere ($44.99).

Click here to pre-order the softcover edition through Amazon.

Cowboy Bebop Play Arts Kai Figures

Check out these beauties!  Yes, that's right. You are looking at not one but two Cowboy Bebop Play Arts Kai from Square Enix's figure line, featuring none other than quirky Spike Spiegel and the hotness that is Vicious.

Listed at 6,800 yen each to be released this October, Spike and Vicious make a surprisingly beautiful appearance via Play Arts Kai.  Spike will come with a pair of alternate hands and his pistol, while Vicious will have his sword and that gorgeous black bird of his.

I am particularly in love with Vicious, and after seeing pics of these figures, I would LOVE to see a Vincent Volaju figure please...and throw in some butterflies while you're at it...

Check out the links above for more pics and preorder yours at Hobby Search.


Portal 2-inspired Hoodies at J!NX

J!NX brings us two absolutely fabulous Portal 2-inspired hoodies.  They are perfect! You can choose between Turret hoodie detailed even right to the logo-etched zipper (for $69.99) or the perfectly orange Aperture Test Subject track jacket ($54.99).  Or, heck, why choose when you can get both? Now if only the weather was cooler.