Friday 30 November 2012

Nico Nico Douga: Kyouyuu Misui and some Love Plus

I've been trawling Nico Nico Douga again instead of translating the latest SenBasa Science Laboratory on time.

It seems that I will never tire of well-done Shoujo Misui MMD dance videos. Here's Sengoku Basara's Matsunaga Hisahide giving it a try.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Manga review: Lychee Light Club (Litchi Hikari Club)

For the sooty industrial town’s lads there's only one point of light: the Light Club, a secret brotherhood they’ve organized in an abandoned factory. They’re on the verge of booting up their crowning achievement, a  "thinking machine" fueled by lychee fruits. At the same time, the middle schoolers' cooties-fearing solidarity is devolving into a downright National Socialist muck of murderous paranoia, perverse aestheticism, and (not always) suppressed homosexuality. Cult favorite Usamaru Furuya’s most flawlessly realized work to date, here is Lord of the Flies for our new century—a text, however, that will never be assigned in schools.

Lychee Light Club is a 2005 manga by Furuya Usamaru, based on a Tokyo Grand Guignol stage play the manga creator saw in his youth. Following the success of this adaptation, the series has recently received a number of spin-offs including an anime, a new stage play and a music project.

Lychee Light Club is best described as dark and theatrical in tone, with particular emphasis on the 'dark'. Its atmosphere is unique; even though nothing particularly bad actually happens in the anime I felt pleasantly uncomfortable watching it. In contrast, quite a few bad things happen in the manga.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Today's acquisitions (28th Nov 2012)

It came! And best of all, miraculously it slipped through customs with no charge. Today's item is Aniplex of America's gorgeous Bakemonogatari Blu-ray set. It's housed in a chipboard box containing three double-disc Blu-ray cases. There's also a colour pamphlet with illustrations from the Japanese release and basic information about the show. I'm pretty satisfied so far; a re-watch will be happening soon.

Sunday 25 November 2012

DVD review: Basara Matsuri 2007 ~Fuyu No Jin~ Official DVD Book

Today's blog entry covers the 2008 release of the Sengoku Basara event report: Basara Matsuri 2007 ~Fuyu No Jin~ Official DVD Book. As the title implies, rather than being a simple video with highlights from the live event it was packaged in a special cardboard case and bundled with a full colour 24-page booklet of extra material. Objectively, the booklet presentation is not as impressive as it sounds; it includes summaries of the event and the DVD contents padded out with some short seiyuu interviews. It's a nice package however and it does make the single DVD feel a little meatier. The set is out of print now but it's easy enough to find used, often at prices significantly lower than the original ¥3,800.

2007 was a big year for Sengoku Basara with the spin-off to the second game, Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (Heroes) having been announced in March. Its release was scheduled for November 29th, and consequently this event, which was held on October 28th at Tokyo Big Sight, was putting the finishing touches on months of hype. The Sengoku Basara X (Cross) fighting game had also been announced in July. Although this particular Basara Matsuri was only a one-day event there had been another earlier the same year; the popularity of the Sengoku Basara series had been going from strength to strength.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Event report: Hyper Japan 2012

Unexpected Musubimaru sighting!
Today, we went to the Hyper Japan Christmas exhibition in London. Billing itself as "the UK's biggest J-culture event", the show has moved to the Brompton Hall at Earls Court this time around and runs from Friday 23rd until Sunday 25th November 2012. I must confess that I avoided the event in previous years as I felt it was marketed heavily towards a younger demographic; it came off as being even more focused on cosplay, fashion and exhibitionism than London Expo.

This time though, the organisers outdid themselves and put together a schedule which included plenty of content for the less trendy fans as well as the cosplay demographic. They also did the impossible and arranged some legitimately famous Japanese guests, including the famous musician Hotei Tomoyasu on one of the dates! My curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to pop in and see for myself whether Hyper Japan was worth visiting.

There was still plenty of fashion and glitz in evidence, padded out with things which were more interesting to me. I think anyone with even the slightest interest in Japanese culture would have found something they could enjoy at this year's Hyper Japan. It was like a geeky version of Japan Matsuri.

Part 9: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with my posts covering the earlier parts, this is an extremely rough English translation of part of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the link below to see the original article, which is accompanied by illustrations and promotional videos.

Part 9: The 'god of warfare' has an extremely unusual physique!! Honda Tadakatsu

Who's the one known as 'Sengoku Saikyou', the strongest in the Warring States? It's the name of an unparalleled warrior. With a giant, superhuman frame dressed in armour reminiscent of a tank, he wields a mechanical spear styled like a rotating drill. On top of this, he can even fly through the sky using a jet engine on his back - the existence of which alone is practically cheating. And best of all is that he's silent. Without uttering a single word, he responds to this words of his lord with his achievements in battle. Honda Tadakatsu's strength is off the scale.

Thursday 22 November 2012

I love targeted advertising!

Nothing makes looking up an unfamiliar word more satisfying than a dictionary website with Masamune's face staring back at me from the top of the page. 

Of course, it's only a simple advertisement for the ongoing Onimusha Soul tie-in campaign. Onimusha Soul is a browser game which I've never been tempted to play but nevertheless I fully approve of their marketing techniques. It's distressing when I visit British websites with their mundane banners promoting nappies and perfumes.

Edit: Another one, this time on a Japanese blog website. I'll avoid making separate posts for every single advert I discover.

Nico Nico Douga: Sanada Yukimura in Miku Miku Dance

A quick post to share this visually stunning version of the Sode Fureau Mo Tashou No En motion trace, with Sengoku Basara's Sanada Yukimura taking the spotlight on a brand new stage. I've been trying to avoid posting too many videos with this song as there are a lot, but I'll make an exception for this masterpiece.

Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ event details

Today, Capcom finally announced more details of the Sengoku Basara event next spring, a scant 24 hours before the ticket lottery for fan club members begins.

Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ is still scheduled for March next year at the Ryougoku Kokugikan sumo hall and they've added in some more details. There will be one event per day, commencing at 6pm on Saturday 30th March and 5pm on Sunday 31st March . Doors will open an hour before each event begins. Presales will take place from 7th December to 16th December, and general sales begin on 12th January 2013. Tickets cost ¥6,800 each.

Frustratingly, they're using e-plus (e+), a Japanese ticketing site which doesn't accept overseas payments.

With those details out of the way, the actual event news is really exciting. As well as the previously-announced guests, they've confirmed that Morikawa Toshiyuki (Katakura Kojuurou) will also be attending! Here's the full list of seiyuu guests so far:

Morikawa Toshiyuki (Katakura Kojuurou)
Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji)
Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura)
Okiayu Ryoutarou (Toyotomi Hideyoshi)
Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika)

And as though that wasn't exciting enough on its own, most of the cast of Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~ will be in attendance:

Kotani Yoshikazu (Mouri Motonari)
Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Kubota Yuuki (Date Masamune)
Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou)
Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Yashiro Minase (Saika Magoichi)
Kawamura Yukie (Tsuruhime)
Taniguchi Masashi (Tenkai)
Miyashita Yuuya (Kobayakawa Hideaki)
Nitta Kenta (Ootani Yoshitsugu)
Katou Yasuhisa (Tachibana Muneshige)
Asakura Yuuta (Ootomo Sourin)

There are some omissions, and all guest appearances are subject to change, but so far it's looking good. I'm hoping for a live performance on stage. This is going to be a great Basara Matsuri!

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Today's acquisitions (21st Nov 2012)

Today's prized delivery was the MegaHouse G.E.M. series Athrun Zala figure. Athrun is of course from Gundam Seed and he'll make a fine addition to my figure collection, which otherwise mostly consists of trading figures, bishoujo and Gintama G.E.M.s.

It's impossible to take good photographs indoors with my phone, in the evening, so please be assured he doesn't look as fuzzy in real life.

Athrun comes with two faces, one with a serious gaze and one with a serious half-smile. I went with the less friendly one of the two. His hand can be rotated to hold one of the two Haro which accompanied him, but I'd rather display him with his hand outstretched to match his pose in the first Gundam Seed opening. Because it's awesome.

The Haro are pictured below. The round one is certain to have rolled off the shelf and become lost behind some furniture by the end of the week.

Separately, I also received some reading material from a variety of sources over the last few days. Furuya Usamaru's Lychee Light Club manga from Vertical, and a humble trinity of doujinshi from Sengoku Basara and Kuroko No Basuke. I impatiently read one of the doujinshi in between taking the photograph and typing up this post. It was very funny.

Manga review: Mini Sengoku Basara Two (Japanese)

In this post, I'm commenting on both volumes of the Mini Sengoku Basara Two manga series. With a script from Katou Youichi and artwork by Sumeragi, the charming Mini Sengoku Basara series ran in Dengeki Maou between 2010 and 2011 to promote the second season of the anime adaptation (hence the titular "Two").

Fans of the anime will already know the storyline, covering Toyotomi Hideyoshi's rise to power following the defeat of Oda Nobunaga. These two books cover all of the major events from the second series but with a twist; rather than accurately relying on the anime's script, they instead show silly 'What If?' scenarios. What if Motochika and Motonari had visited Azuchi castle before Yukimura popped in halfway through the series? How did Keiji try to stop Toshiie from going on the attack before things escalated to the fight shown in the series? What exactly was Kojuurou doing all of the time he was in Osaka Castle?

There are a total of thirty-six chapters spread between these two volumes, however, each story is only a few pages long. As a result of this, even though the script is different, familiarity with the original scenes helps to get the most out of the handful of panels allocated to each joke.

One disadvantage of the overall story following the second anime series is that fans might be disappointed to see how infrequently some popular characters show up. Yukimura appears in just a handful of scenes in the entire first volume, though he does make up for it in the second when Takeda Shingen sends him on an important errand with far more violence and misadventure than the anime series showed. Hanbee and Kojuurou steal the show for many of the early chapters, exactly as they did in the Mini Sengoku Basara animated shorts included as extras on the anime discs. With his naturally mischievous face, Hanbee suits the material perfectly, readily acting as either an antagonist or a victim as the situation requires. Hideyoshi too works surprisingly well as a cute, miniature version of himself, his expressionless face somehow perfectly making the transition to the new medium.

Since the Sengoku Basara series has so many characters, all of whom have loyal fans and larger-than-life personalities, spin-off works will always face a delicate balancing act to avoid becoming nothing more than a succession of cameo appearances. I feel that Mini Sengoku Basara Two did a pretty good job in that respect; a few characters were cut from the anime but the majority made the cut - even Oyamada and the anime-original Date soldiers. I finished the final chapter wishing only that the manga had lasted longer.

Although Mini Sengoku Basara Two is not available in English at the moment, the Japanese is not complex and learners will find it easy to follow, with furigana accompanying all kanji compounds and the archaic speech patterns simplified even further than usual. Both volume one and volume two are available from all good Japanese booksellers. Like the anime series it was based upon, Mini Sengoku Basara has now finished, replaced by the even-cuter Mame Sengoku Basara. Mame Sengoku Basara is based on the game designs and adds the Sengoku Basara 3 characters to the roster, so I'll definitely be covering that once I'm all caught up.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Part 8: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with my posts covering the earlier parts, this is an extremely rough English translation of part of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the link below to see the original article, which is accompanied by illustrations and promotional videos.

Part 8: The secret of the jointed sword, which gouges flesh with a slicing sound!? Takenaka Hanbee

Amazing techniques

A jointed sword. From these words alone, it's not possible to visualise the katana's appearance. Although many blog visitors will already know, I'll describe it.

News roundup: November's Sengoku Basara merchandise

I'm not planning on buying any of this (at the moment) but I may as well record its existence! I've been a regular visitor to the Capcom news page since the Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ event was announced, and since then it feels as though they've been busily posting news and updates for every topic other than that.

The first news update for the day is that Capcom have updated their website for the release of the latest trading figures, Sengoku Basara Sanzun Bushou Collection #1 ('Elegant Warlord Collection 1'). As previous announced the set comes with seven normal trading figures: Date Masamune, Sanada Yukimura, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Ishida Mitsunari, Maeda Keiji, Chousokabe Motochika and Mouri Motonari. In addition, there are three special versions of Date Masamune. A repaint with white clothing is included if you purchase from a regular shop, while customers buying from Animate (either in-store or online) will receive a special Masamune dressed in hakama, posing like he does in the BSR48 image video. Alternatively, buying the figures from Dengekiya will get you a 'mame' version, as seen in the adorable Dengeki Maou manga series Mame Sengoku Basara.

It will be quite easy to get the regular version from overseas, with retailers such as Ami Ami and Yesasia carrying it. The others may require use of a proxy or forwarding service.

If you want a full set and don't have any friends who strongly dislike Masamune, you'll have to buy three boxes, each from a different shop. At ¥5,880 per box (or ¥735 for individual figures) before fees and shipping, this could be quite expensive. I anticipate an influx of unwanted duplicate figures from the extra sets finding their way onto the shelves at K-Books and Lashinbang in due course. The release date is still approaching but Capcom has now added an extra incentive in the form of a clear bookmark for customers who purchase the boxed versions from the two special dealers.

Personally, I think the original illustrations were much cuter than the figures themselves.

The other news post today was about more merchandise coming out towards the end of November. Matching the style of the mugs and towels which came out a few months ago emblazoned with famous lines from the characters, clear files are on the way for Masamune, Yukimura, Motochika, Motonari, Mitsunari and Ieyasu. They're certainly attractive, but one thing a Sengoku Basara fan will never want for is clear files. I'd never normally import something with such a high shipping cost proportional to its original price, but it's at times like this when I wonder just how much SenBasa stuff my house would be filled with if I lived within a reasonable distance of an Animate store. A chilling thought.

Speaking of the mugs, Motochika and Motonari finally join the other four leads and get their own mugs covered in their famous lines from the games his month. After the trauma of getting my Masamune versions safely back to the UK without damage, I'll pass on these, but it's good to see the Setouchi pair included. Perhaps if Mouri's was covered in more verbal abuse towards the drinker it would be more tempting.

Motochika and Motonari also feature as silhouettes on 'makie' stickers in the next few weeks. These soft stickers are usually used to decorate mobile phones and gadgets, allowing fans to display their love of the show in a tasteful, understated way. There will also be versions for Sasuke, Keiji, and my favourite, Kojuurou...

Well, hopefully tomorrow there will be some actual news about the Basara Matsuri event next year. If not, I might have to post something which doesn't revolve around Sengoku Basara for a change!

There's also only one week left until Dengeki Maou comes out with the promised update about next spring's releases.

Monday 19 November 2012

News roundup: A new Butai Sengoku Basara is announced

Following yesterday's 'live viewing' of the current stage play, Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~, the staff announced that there would be another stage play late next April, running through to late May 2013. The title of the new show will be Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage and tickets will be available in January. The venues for the live performances will be the Canal City Theatre in Fukuoka, the Chuunichi Theatre in Nagoya, Nippon Seinenkan Great Hall in Tokyo and Morinomiya Piloti Hall in Osaka.

As usual, I'm going to miss it! I hope that this means the butai actors will be able to give a little preview at Basara Matsuri in March. Since it's based on Utage, Kojuurou and Sasuke should be getting more time in the spotlight than usual (yay, Yoshida Tomokazu!) and perhaps we will get to see Matsunaga Hisahide for the first time?

Speaking of Yoshida, I was amused to see him with Murata in the promotional photographs for the Ikkitousen stage play the other day. They both look quite different dressed as the boys from Ikkitousen!

Switching back to Sengoku Basara, the staff have also finally made goods from Setouchi Kyouran available in the Dais online store, including the DVD which comes out in March as a standard edition and a first press. Since the first pressings tend to sell out quickly I'm going to place my order online now rather than wait. The standard edition has one disc with the actual performance on it and sells for ¥6,000 while the first pressing is ¥6,500 and contains another disc with forty minutes of video extras.

In non-Sengoku Basara news, Evangelion 3.0 has finally made its cinema debut and Eva fever is as crazy as ever. On a personal note, I'm most pleased that Utada Hikaru has briefly popped up again to contribute a beautiful new ending song to the movie titled Sakura Nagashi. She's still officially on a break from the entertainment industry but a Rebuild of Evangelion movie without a Hikki song would have been sad. There's an official website for the song here with both Japanese lyrics and an official English translation, as well as a Twitter contest and (for a limited time) a music video for the song. The DVD single will be out on December 26th, a month after the movie's soundtrack hits stores. The song itself has already been firmly planted at the top of the Japanese iTunes chart since it went up for purchase on the day of the movie's debut, and the video has been racking up a large number of views on YouTube. According to Hikki, Sakura Nagashi will be available to buy through overseas iTunes stores soon.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Anime review: UN-GO

Two noitaminA anime reviews in a row! I just finished my UN-GO Blu-ray set and had to write a few words about it. I originally watched a few of the early episodes on Anime On Demand since they streamed the series last year, but subsequently ended up waiting for the home video release before finishing.

Highlighting the variety that the noitaminA block is capable of, UN-GO is a very different beast to Princess Jellyfish. Set in the near future, Japan has gone through some hard times thanks to war and terrorism. We're introduced to the 'Defeated Detective' Yuuki Shinjuurou and his odd partner, Inga. The duo are scorned by the world at large as they travel around trying to solve crimes, always being beaten to the solution by the celebrated genius Kaishou Rinroku who is reputed to be able to solve any crime without needing to visit the scene. There's something strange about his deductions, though, and the resultant suspicions provide an ongoing storyline to stitch the individual cases together.

With only eleven episodes to tell its story, UN-GO wastes no time and drops the viewer straight into a series of episodic mystery tales, gradually introducing the various quirks of the futuristic setting over the course of Shinjuurou's adventures. These episodes are standalone, but the world building is necessary as the scenarios become increasingly complex. The mysteries themselves are openly inspired by works by the postwar novelist Sakaguchi Ango, hence the title of the series (UN-GO is pronounced 'Ango' in Japanese). Inga reveals which story is going to be used as the base for the upcoming mystery during the next episode previews, so fans of the author might have some additional hints as to where the story will go. I'm not personally familiar with Sakaguchi's work, but using classic mysteries in a futuristic setting (with some details obviously updated to take technology into account) is a rather clever idea. On one hand, the themes of some episodes are a little different to what I've become used to from modern series, but on the other the way that those themes can be adapted to the new setting so well shows that the more things change in our society, the more they stay the same.

The mystery genre is interesting in its own right, but Bones evidently wasn't satisfied with the strength of the plot and characters alone and brought some major talent into this production to make it extra special. The visuals are perfect with popular artists Kouga Yun and pako contributing distinctly attractive character designs, and the real world settings are vividly colourful. The music is also very well suited to the material it accompanies. UN-GO's opening theme, School Food Punishment's How To Go, is standard pop running on top of a slightly eerie melody, while LAMA's chilled out Fantasy makes for an exhilarating ending song. Toyosaki Aki provides the most attention-grabbing voice performance, switching between Inga's varying styles of speech at the drop of a hat. The role is one of the most challenging I've noticed lately but she nails it effortlessly. Kaji Yuuki also stood out amongst the seiyuu. He seems to be in almost everything I'm watching at the moment, and as his voice sounds not dissimilar to that of my favourite seiyuu, Ishida Akira, I'm not complaining. On a slight tangent I was amused to see that I'm not the only one thinking along those lines: Kaji Yuuki even voices Ishida's character Judeau in the new Berserk movies.

I purchased the Blu-ray edition of UN-GO from Sentai Filmworks in the US, and I'm pleased with it. It included the bonus 'Episode 0' special as well as a plethora of extra content from the Japanese release. The bonus episode fills in the big gaps in the lead characters' backstory; without it, the series feels incomplete. A minor point, but the subtitles for this release also retain Japanese name order and respect (most of the) long vowels, which is rare enough to have taken me by surprise in a good way. Kaze have announced that they'll be bringing the series to the UK in 2013 through Manga Entertainment, but the risk that it will be DVD-only coupled with the delay in release dates convinced me to import. As soon as I saw the series' exceptionally beautiful ending sequence on its streaming run, I knew that it had to be added to my library as a Blu-ray, not a DVD.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Part 7: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with my posts covering the earlier parts, this is an extremely rough English translation of part of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the link below to see the original article, which is accompanied by illustrations and promotional videos.

I especially recommend consulting the illustration for the explanation this time.

Part 7: The terrifying ringblade user!! Mouri Motonari

The 'wily strategist' Mouri Motonari is a splendid warlord. Dressed in bright green hunting garb with sleeves longer than his arms, he wears a tall eboshi (hat) in the same colour and boots on his feet. Freely manipulating his circular katana 'Rintou' ('ringblade'), this bewitching figure fights as though dancing. However, this author must apologise. Written in the strategy guide are things like "Motonari's attack power is extremely low" etc. I completely disagree! I cannot help but feel that ferocious attack power is hidden within Motonari's ringblade.

He's actually really strong

Motonari's Rintou is composed of two semicircular katana. Although he can also hold one of them in each of his hands or combine them in the shape of the letter 'S', he usually forms them into a circle around himself and grips the handles from within it. This is Motonari's basic stance.

I want you to imagine confronting Motonari in this stance one-on-one. If you thrust towards the upper area, he should be able to cut your face or body just by jerking the ringblade forwards. Thrust towards the middle of the stance and Motonari can simply raise the front of the Rintou, deflecting the katana. The same motion would protect him from even a swing angled downwards. Immediately after any of these, closing the gap between you with dance-like footwork, he would be likely to tear into your flank with a slash. Enormous damage is dealt to the enemy with the bare minimum of movement. I think that's what makes the ringblade scary.

Yet, when Motonari comes out from the ringblade, it's even more fearsome. When he's inside his Rintou both of Motonari's arms are outstretched, his hands holding the handles. Since the width of a person with both arms outstretched is almost as great as their height, even considering that his fingers are bent it means that the ringblade is more than 150cm in diameter. So, since a normal Japanese katana is 1m in length, that's 1.5x longer. Perhaps it's tricky to visualise due to the circular shape, but Motonari's Rintou is an exceptionally long katana.

Naturally its weight will be considerable. This author has an imitation sword which is used for research. The blade is 75cm long and 3cm wide. The side opposite the blade is 7mm thick, and it weighs 980g. The weight of the blade portion on its own will be somewhere around 800g. Assuming that the ringblade's diameter is 160cm, the width of the Rintou's blade is 18cm by measuring on the game screen. If the thickness is the same as this author's imitation sword, its weight will be 32kg!

When Mouri Motonari exits the Rintou, he flips the ringblade. I think it's to avoid bumping his tall eboshi hat, which wouldn't be impressive at all. To perform this action, he's only able to use the strength of one hand; nevertheless, he deftly flips it as though it were a hula hoop. Doesn't this mean that he has considerable power?

A rhythmic gymnastics hula hoop has a weight of 300g. The 32kg Rintou, which Motonari handles in the same way as a hula hoop, implies that he has 100x the strength of an ordinary person. A normal person can exercise holding a 3kg dumbbell in one hand; Motonari freely swings a 300kg compact vending machine. It looks magnificent, but the truth is that it uses tremendous superhuman strength.

The edge is very sharp

However, the true terror of the ringblade isn't in its size or the physical strength of the wielder. Thinking about it, this katana must be dreadfully sharp. As the sword's master uses it to slice things, the effect would be the same as honing the blade.

The cross-section of this author's imitation sword makes an isosceles triangle, extending 1.7cm from the blade towards the opposite side. If we take this to be true, the angle of the blade's tip ought to be 23 degrees. To cut something 5cm in front of it, the blade will move 5.3cm at an angle and form the base of a right-angled triangle at the point of incision. Since the thickness of the back of the sword remains the same, the katana now forms an isosceles triangle 5.3cm from the blade; which stays perpendicular to it in motion. Like that, the angle of the blade's tip would be 7.6 degrees. Even a handheld precision cutter has a 16 degree tip, so this is sharp!

Then, what about the ringblade? Because it's round, the blade will always hit the thing it's cutting at an angle. In other words, merely by turning the Rintou its master's cut should exhibit the same sharpness as slashing with a katana. For example, suppose that a cut is made 18cm from the side opposite the handle, matching the width of the blade. If, in that case, the cutting edge of the blade moves 54cm to form the base of an isosceles triangle, it would be the same as being cut by a katana with a 0.74 degree tip. It cuts so well it's scary!

The power of the ring of light

These aren't the only horrors of the ringblade. The circle of light emitted by the Rintou has a variety of uses. For example, the ability Hajikite 'Heki' creates a wall in the air. Alternatively, the special move Kinjite 'Baku' binds the enemy soldiers in a trap! ...I can not entirely explain what kind of principles these use using modern science. The only one I know is Tsuinote 'Shou', which blasts enemies or destroys walls using the circle of light. I'll save face by explaining this much.

Even in light, there's power. As a result, if a huge sail was erected in space, it could be propelled by rays from the sun. Couldn't Tsuinote 'Shou' too be using this principle to blast the enemy soldiers? If that's the case, intense energy is needed inside the ring of light. An enemy soldier weighs 100kg together with their armour,; to blast one for 5m, the energy must be hitting the enemy soldier with the same force as 86t of explosives!

As far as scientific thought goes, Mouri Motonari should have monumental attack power. Heaven has bestowed two things on the man 'Mouri Motonari': power and splendour. I want you to dance the Sengoku era with beauty and strength.

All content in this post is © CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012.

Friday 16 November 2012

News roundup: Sengoku Basara manga is delayed, Tiger & Bunny movie home video release is announced

The Japanese home video release of Tiger & Bunny -The Beginning- has now been listed for preorder, and the package looks extremely compelling. According to the listings, the release date is 22nd February 2013 and all versions will come with Japanese audio and a choice of English or Japanese subtitles. The website notes that the subtitles can be switched off.

There's a first press Blu-ray version, a standard Blu-ray, a first press DVD and a standard DVD. The standard editions come with a special booklet, audio commentary and video extras including commercials, the creditless opening and ending sequences and various promotional materials, while the first press special editions add a bonus disc with 180 minutes of extra material, including Gekijouban Tiger & Bunny -The Beginning- World Premiere (Night+Day Movie Special) and highlights from the Tiger & Bunny New Year Otoshidama Special, as well as a segment commemorating the tickets going on sale in Hong Kong and Road To Theater (title subject to change), which is a digest video including greetings from handshake events and from the stage play. The first pressing also includes an special box illustrated by Katsura Masakazu and an exclusive jacket illustration by Hayama Kenji. There will also be a smaller reproduction of the original movie program in a booklet and a bonus drama CD with the usual 'free talk' with candid words from the seiyuu cast.

Amazon Japan is also listing an exclusive steelbook version of the BD special edition, whereas Animate has a premium version with a "Nathan's Fire Room" (Nathan No Fire Heya) radio CD, and Bandai Visual Club is offering a mysterious set of Origami Cyclone's 'personal belongings' with theirs. Other stores in Japan will be including exclusive posters and clear files to attract buyers.

I think I'll go for the Animate special edition as things currently stand. The fact that I had to write three paragraphs to describe the extras for a single compilation movie really highlights the differences between Japanese anime releases and the cheap overseas versions!

The other news from the last couple of days, accordingly, was that solicitations for the February anime releases in the US have been announced and the pickings are extremely slim. So far, the only ones I'll be buying as they come out are both from Sentai Filmworks, namely Battle Girls: Time Paradox (Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~) on Blu-ray and Qwaser of Stigmata part 2 (Seikon No Qwaser), which is sadly DVD-only. I can't even remember the last time there was an entire month with so few interesting western anime releases - and why is the show which I want to buy more also the one which is DVD-only? Grr!

On the manga side of things, the main news for me this week was from Udon Entertainment. The second and final part of Haibara Yak's Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends (Sengoku Basara 2) manga has been delayed for a few weeks awaiting final approvals. It should be coming out in December now instead of November as planned. For some reason, it's still not being listed on Amazon, but it's readily available for order from most other stores like United Publications. I enjoyed volume one and the artwork is stunning, so the finale will be a guaranteed purchase when it finally reaches stores. Let's hope that Udon are able to bring some more of the Sengoku Basara manga titles over in English one day.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Part 6: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with my posts covering the earlier parts, this is an extremely rough English translation of part of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the link below to see the original article, which is accompanied by illustrations and promotional videos.

Part 6: Lifting a tanker with his fingers!? Date Masamune

There's nothing an enemy can do

You can't talk about Masamune without mentioning the Rokusouryuu (Six Claw Style). With three in the right hand and three in the left, he wields a total of six katana in battle. How effective is this as a method of fighting?

From the enemy's point of view, simultaneously blocking three katana is desperately difficult. Because the angle between the neighbouring swords may be as much as 30 degrees, the upper and lower blades can be 80cm apart. To defend against any one would mean being cut by the other two. Even supposing that you managed to block them all, the impact from the slash would be huge due to the weight of the three katana.

In addition, it's also problematic for the enemy that Masamune holds three in each hand. Between battles Masamune takes up a stance where he tilts forwards a little with both arms outstretched. Given 80cm between the point of the blade and where it meets the tsuba (hand guard), Masamune's 65cm arm length and his 50cm shoulder width, the Six Claws will take control of an area with a diameter of 2.6 metres and a vertical height of 80cm. It's as though you can hear Masamune's voice saying "I'll show the guy who comes in here hell, Baby!".

Of course Masamune would rather always greet an enemy with an attack than fight a passive battle. Lunging at the enemy forces with CRAZY STREAM or MAGNUM STEP, he scatters the foes, brandishing his Six Claws like a rasetsu demon. As for the enemy soldiers, at this point they would have no idea what to do. It's not depicted in the game, but would some of them not instinctively step back from such an onslaught, ending up stabbed by the swords and spears of their own allies?

My fingers hurt!

However, I don't think it's all that easy to wield six katana at the same time. I experimented to see just how tough it could be.

Looking at the game screen, Masamune holds one sword each between his index and middle fingers, his middle and ring fingers, and his ring and pinky fingers. When yours truly tried to hold the handles of an imitation sword, a wooden sword and a hammer from my research collection in the same way... gwaahhh, my fingers hurt tremendously! Dislocation of the pinky finger is likely, and sandwiched between both the imitation sword and something else, the middle and ring fingers were on the verge of incurring compression fractures. I cannot even lift the the weapons up; to swing them would be nothing more than a dream. If this author were to wield them on the battlefield, he'd take damage simply by holding the Six Claws!

However, Masamune swings the Six Claws around freely. This means that his fingers are not just sturdy, they're powerful. Let me calculate how much power they have, using a scene where he launches enemy soldiers into the air.

Masamune flings a great many enemy soldiers into the air with a single swing of the Six Claws. Although the katana strike the enemies, there's absolutely no sign of a fall in their speed; however, for there to be no drop in speed at all the katana would have to be infinitely heavy. Let's assume for now that the speed of the katana drops to 90% when the enemy soldiers are flung aloft.

On this assumption, by calculating the sword speed that would be needed to launch enemy soldiers 5m with three katana, we get Mach 21! At the moment of impact, the force dealt to the enemy's body is 7200t!

Yet the force Masamune's fingers are exerting is not on that level. To swing a long katana around with narrow fingers requires that those fingers apply enormous force, working on the principle of leverage. The distance from the fingers to the point of impact is 60cm, so if a finger has a diameter of 2cm, the former is 30x more than the latter. The force exerted by Masamune's fingers, then, is 30x the force dealt to the enemy: 216,000t!

As long as there's a foothold, this young Oushuu Hittou can lift up a tanker with his fingers. You cannot master the Six Claws without being superhuman.

[Extra note: According to the illustration, the speed at which the enemy is launched by the swing is 36km/h.]

What's flying?

Masamune has several projectile weapons. Of these, PHANTOM DIVE stands out most. Swinging the katana downwards, three pale lights run across the ground and defeat an enemy far in the distance. I wonder, exactly what is flying?

Something which flies when a katana is waved... As you delve into the possibilities, there's only one explanation scientifically speaking: it's a splinter from a katana. Since Masamune defeats hundreds of enemy soldiers in every fight, it wouldn't be surprising for there to be a few nicks in the blades of his katana when the battle is over. Perhaps parts of that saw-like remainder could break off and fly away due to centrifugal force, owing to the excessive sword speed?

If the splinter was 5mm in size, with that amazing sword speed it could hit Mach 28! In this case, with all three katana working perfectly in unison they'd apply a centrifugal force of 13,500t. Perhaps this technique too is only possible because Masamune's fingers alone hold 216,000t of power.

With marvellous power and speed, Date Masamune presses on through the soldiers which cluster in the enemy camp as though it's nothing more than an empty field. The people and soldiers of Oushuu can really count on their young Hittou.

All content in this post is © CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012.

Nico Nico Douga: Hetalia and Tiger & Bunny, for a change

For once, these aren't Sengoku Basara videos! The MMD pickup ranking posted yesterday had two fantastically dynamic videos from other fandoms squeezed in between the Touhou and Hatsune Miku skits. Since I haven't prepared a proper post for today, I'll draw attention to these new finds.

In the first of the two MMD videos, Japan and the UK (both  from Hetalia) dance to Sode Fureau Mo Tashou No En.

Next, the Tiger and Bunny characters participate in an exhilarating take on the song Hikari, by Utada Hikaru.

Monday 12 November 2012

Today's acquisitions (12th Nov 2012)

It was another exciting day for deliveries!

First of all, Mame Sengoku Basara volume 2 and Gakuen Basara volume 4 arrived. They came swiftly (Gakuen Basara 4 was only released four days ago!) because I'd ordered something else with express shipping and added them to make it worthwhile. Then the item I originally wanted was cancelled but I didn't have the heart to inconvenience the seller by cancelling the books, even though I won't get around to reading them for a while yet. Whoops!

In a separate package, the second Sengoku Basara Official Fan Club ~Eiyuu No Kai~ newsletter finally made it to my letterbox. The cover suits the season very well, even matching the Mame Sengoku Basara book (Sumeragi provided the artwork for both). And best of all, it came with a surprise bonus clear file featuring the ladies of Sengoku Basara in Sumeragi's adorable 'mame' super deformed style. 

I'm not going to reproduce or translate any of the articles inside, as they're for paying fan club members, but within the newsletter was the preorder information for a very special bonus DVD. The ten day preorder window is extremely tight when the newsletter had to travel halfway around the world before reaching me, so I rushed to participate. The disc is called Fan Kanshasai ~BSR48 Kaihyou No Utage~ and it includes a recording of the fan event way back in January held to announce to results of the BSR48 election, which in turn was held to commemorate the release of Sengoku Basara 3 Utage. A formidable number of seiyuu and butai performers were present at the event, and special behind-the-scenes footage is promised as well. I never thought I'd get to see a DVD of this event!

Sunday 11 November 2012

Part 5: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with my posts covering the earlier parts, this is an extremely rough English translation of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). It's not a word-for-word official translation. The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the links below to see the original articles, which are accompanied by illustrations and promotional videos.

Part 5: Aniki swings a piano around!? Chousokabe Motochika

The guy who can swing around a piano? Aniki~!

Aniki's weapon is an 'anchor-spear'. Although there are many different types, they're all long with thick, spear-like handles. From outward appearances they're probably made of iron, and the tip of the weapon is shaped like an anchor. Consequently, they should be quite heavy, so I wonder how much one weighs?

Let's consider the popular Chousou Yanagare (Aniki's basic weapon). Its full length is around 1.4x Motochika's height when measured on the game screen. Specifically, I think we can narrow it down to a length of 8 shaku (2.4m) using the units of the Sengoku period. The handle has a diameter of 11cm so from this the handle's weight can be calculated: 176kg!

Since this is only the weight of the handle, what about the rest? The length of the anchor-shaped blade is 82cm, traced along its curve. The average width is 16cm. It's difficult to discern the thickness from the screen, but given that it tapers smoothly from the handle's diameter of 11cm, an average of 5cm should be about right. That being the case, one side alone weighs 53kg and both halves are 106kg. The total weight when combined with the handle is 282kg! An upright piano is said to weigh 200-250kg. Our Aniki has been twirling a weapon which weighs more than a piano.

How much force is needed to do this? Motochika swings the anchor-spear horizontally twice within a second. If both hands are holding onto the anchor-spear 1 shaku (30cm) away from its base, the brute force required for this to be possible would be 25t. Aniki is someone you can really count on!

The guy who can launch enemies 160 metres? Aniki~!

When Motochika swings the anchor-spear with these powerful arms, the speed of its tip should reach 250km/h. I wonder what it would be like from the perspective of the enemy soldiers who take the hit? Rather than dying from a cut or stab, in Sengoku Basara the people hit by a katana or spear are often flung in the air. However, when it comes to launching people into the air, the anchor-spear is something else. After all, it's 282kg, which is 280x heavier than an ordinary sword.

The person on the receiving end of Motochika's anchor-spear will take the same damage as they would being hit by a car travelling at 170km/h. And immediately afterwards, they'll be flung into the air at 130km/h, before dropping down 16m away even if they were flying horizontally. After that, they'll bounce a few times then gently slide 140m to a stop if the ground is soil.

Since he does this twice each second, he can scatter the enemy soldiers as much as he wants. Thrusting into a crowd of foes, this man will empty the area on either side of him for 160m. That's our Aniki!

The guy who can fly in the sky on his spear? Aniki~!

In addition, by making flames gush out of the anchor-spear Motochika can cleverly ride it like a surfboard, dashing through the air. The name of this technique is 'Dokyuu'. The fact that flames are expelled - exactly like a rocket - means it's highly likely that the flight comes from burning fuel, releasing high temperature, high pressure exhaust gas from the reaction at high speed. If that's so, I wonder how quickly it's coming out.

Observing Motochika's posture when he's flying, he places his feet at a 45 degree angle in front of the handle and behind the anchor. I wonder if this is to split the reaction of the gushing flames between the force needed to counter gravity and that required to move forwards.

I'll assume that Motochika's body weight is 70kg, and with the anchor-spear the total weight is 352kg. With the anchor-spear tilted at a 45 degree angle, supporting this weight, the force needed to move forwards ought to be 352kg. When a 352kg object moves forwards with 352kg of force, the motion is the same as an object falling from the sky; in other words, its speed immediately after it starts will be 36km/h, then 72km/h, 108km/h... the speed will increase by an additional 36km/h each second. Since air resistance rises over time the increase in speed will slow down, ultimately reaching the same falling speed as with skydiving: 200km/h. So considering it scientifically, Dokyuu is a technique to cleave with a bang ('dokyuun') at 200km/h.

In that case, what is the fuel? At a 45 degree angle, producing a force of 352kg forwards and upwards, as the flames are expelled they need to put out a force of 500kg. Even nowadays, the most fuel-efficient rockets wouldn't be able to release this much power without burning 1.1kg of fuel every second. To move using Dokyuu for 30 seconds would require 33kg of fuel; I don't think there's anywhere in the anchor-spear with enough space to store that much. Perhaps Motochika had to develop it to be more fuel-efficient than is currently possible. But as shown through construction of the gigantic battleship 'Fugaku', Motochika's technical capabilities are more advanced, so I'd think his rocket technology would also be the best in the world.

However, when you hit an enemy while wielding a spear containing such excellent fuel, the impact has a danger of causing a huge explosion. Do your best and be careful that you don't blow yourself up, Aniki~!

All content in this post is © CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Today's acquisitions (10th Nov 2012)

Aside from Christmas shopping I'd been taking it easy, so there haven't been many new arrivals.

The main new item this week is the Durarara!! Blu-ray box set which came in a BD-sized chipboard art box packed inside a silly but attractive lunchbox. I cannot see myself ever using the lunchbox and it doesn't quite fit on my shelf, so it will probably end up on display elsewhere eventually. Aniplex of America once again pulled out all of the stops to tempt US fans to double dip for this definitive DRRR!! collection. An interview with AoA's president Henry Goto was recently posted on ANN which goes into more detail about their strategy to cater for their niche audience, rather than dropping quality in order to chase a type of casual buyer which no longer exists. May the high quality releases long continue!

On the other end of the scale, the final part of the Death Note anime which cost around $9 finally limped across the Atlantic from Deep Discount. It's silly how much less this NTSC copy cost than the PAL set I purchased locally a few years ago. Come to think of it, both of today's anime acquisitions are double dips.

I also received the Shonen Jump Alpha Yearbook 2013, released by Viz in the US as a special accompaniment to their Shonen Jump Alpha digital magazine. It was pretty cruel of them, because they made it impossible for anyone to buy it without either visiting NYCC 2012 or having a subscription to the digital publication. Dirty foreigners aren't allowed to subscribe.

Fortunately, eBay exists. The seller even threw in a Naruto fan and some kind of unofficial-looking card/sticker. The Yearbook is pretty cool, including Sachie-chan Good!!, a one-shot collaboration by Katsura Masakazu and Toriyama Akira, and the Bakuman。 spin-off comic Otter No. 11 by fictional mangaka Hiramaru Kazuya. There are also some bonus materials and posters. Otter No. 11 was the main reason I purchased the book since I've been on a huge Bakuman。 kick recently. Perhaps one day Viz will round up all of the various one-shots which sneak over to the English-speaking world and publish them in a proper book for the people who didn't go down the eBay route.

I also received another package.


The Soul Revolution BSR48 drama CD is intact, but the survey entry form is no use since it expired two weeks ago. I was a little disappointed that the first press serial codes for Browser Sengoku Basara (Maeda Keiji) and Sengoku Basara Card Heroes (Toyotomi Hideyoshi) were only printed on a slip of paper. I'd been expecting actual cards again.

Anyway, I was so happy that I had to draw my reaction to opening this parcel (using Itsuki, as she's more photogenic than this blogger).

Words alone cannot convey the sense of joy in finally receiving the HD Collection after it had been held up for so long. The box it arrived in had been forwarded from a completely different person before being addressed to me as well; I'm not terrifically impressed if the deputy service screwed up by sending it to the wrong customer and then wasn't transparent with me while I was waiting and nagging all that time.

Anyway, my weekend is going to be fun... if I can bring myself to get past the disc's XMB startup screen which is blasting my favourite theme from the game on a loop.

Friday 9 November 2012

Part 4: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with my posts covering the earlier parts, this is an extremely rough English translation of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). It's not a word-for-word official translation. The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the links below to see the original articles, which are accompanied by illustrations and promotional videos.

Note: I felt the need to expand on the explanation of Setsuna slightly in my own words, as Yanagita-sensei's were rather vague from a western perspective.

Part 4: Moving instantaneously, faster than a hurricane!? Ishida Mitsunari

Quickest in the Warring States

Mitsunari's speed is symbolised by 'Setsuna'. On-screen, it appears as though you teleport directly in front of a distant enemy.

To be true teleportation, however, you'd have to be moving at an infinite speed. In our universe, nothing can move faster than the speed of light: 300,000km/s. With this fact in mind, it must take even Mitsunari a little time to use Setsuna. I wonder how much?

Setsuna (ksana in Sanskrit) is actually an ancient word. The concept came from India, and in Buddhist teaching it's said to be the smallest unit for measuring time. Consulting an encyclopedia, I found that a day is equivalent to 6,480,000 Setsuna. Therefore, 1 Setsuna is equivalent to 1/75 of a second. Within this space of time, Mitsunari can move in front of an enemy that was 5m away, giving a speed of 1,350km/h. That's Mach 1.1!

A Mach number represents a multiple of the speed of sound; if its value is greater than 1 then it means the speed of sound has been exceeded. Why, Mitsunari would be able to overtake his own spoken voice. If Mitsunari was to use Setsuna upon shouting "Hideyoshi-sama~!", he'd hear his own voice after he'd arrived at his destination. For a human being that's an unprecedented speed.

His sword moves fast too

The speed at which Mitsunari swings his sword is extraordinary. It's so quick that the human eye can't keep up; the retina only glimpses a residual image of the path it traced as purple light. Exactly how fast can it be?

The time that an afterimage is stored in a human retina is 0.1 seconds, and at times Mitsunari's sword can leave as many as 10 residual images. This means that he is swinging the sword at least 10 times in the space of 0.1 seconds. The length of a single afterimage is around 2m. A simple calculation tells us that the speed must be 720km/h, but that's not the full extent of Mitsunari's capabilities. We mustn't overlook the fact that Mitsunari also moves the sword back and forth, from side to side. That calculation gave us the average speed, but the maximum speed reached during reciprocal motion is double that. In other words, Mitsunari's sword speed is 1,440km/h, or Mach 1.2!

Lacking any data on the sword speed of an ordinary swordsman, Ou Sadaharu in his prime swung his baseball bat at 154km/h. A bat is a little lighter than a katana because its centre of gravity is near to its tip, so perhaps it's fair to compare this to the sword speed of a real swordsman. That being so, Mitsunari's sword speed is 9.4x that of a normal swordsman. This represents 87x more muscle power; if he was to hit a baseball, it would fly 87x farther. If Mitsunari appeared in the modern world and played baseball, his home run would fly a distance of 9km.

A sword which becomes a star

The speed of Mitsunari's sword might not be limited to this, however. The possibility is suggested by 'Zanmetsu'. After thrusting the katana into the ground, he swings it up and a purple light darts towards distant enemies, flinging them into the air. The guidebook states that a shockwave is released.

This phenomenon has serious ramifications. In swinging the sword, a shockwave sufficient to launch people into the air is released; due to the excessive speed, I'd imagine it would be generating an enormous amount of heat the moment it makes contact with the air. If the shock wave is launching enemies 5m into the air at a distance of 10m, Mitsunari must be swinging his sword at a speed of 900,000km/h, or Mach 740!

If Mitsunari lets go of his katana halfway through the move, it will not only break free from the gravity of the planet Earth but also that of the sun, flying to the distant reaches of space. Mitsunari's sword will become a star. His sorrow will be even greater than it was before.

All content in this post is © CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012.

Nico Nico Douga: Ikemen Edition

The unlikely combo of Takenaka Hanbee and Katakura Kojuurou dance to Cantarella with precision and some very nice camera work. A lot of people have been uploading videos based on this choreography recently and this one by Nowa is my favourite. Whether the pair are representing the tangled story of the Sengoku Basara 2 anime in the medium of dance or simply being pretty is up to the viewer. Thumbs up to the person who cheekily commented "Harenchi de gozaru~!" around 2:20 into the video...

Next, user Kanou Sana puts TETA's gorgeous Date Masamune model into a PV-style take on Rerulili's Roshin Yuukai -melt down- JunK Arrange feat. MARiA.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Manga review: The Art Of Loving (Renai Koufukuron)

Today I'm going to share a few words on another BL manga from my collection.

The Art Of Loving (Renai Koufukuron) is a 2001 spin-off based on the 1999 manga Color. While Color was a collaboration between Eiki Eiki and her friend Zaou Taishi, The Art Of Loving was created entirely by Eiki Eiki herself. It focuses on two of the minor characters from the previous story, delving into their pasts to unravel the secret history leading up to certain events in Color.

The sulky Yutaka is a good-looking and popular company heir, while Toono is an artist, friendly and sociable at heart yet often misjudged thanks to his rebellious demeanour and bleached hair.

'Dark' is definitely the key word here. At the start of the story, both men are adults. The narrative sets the tone immediately by cynically questioning the role of sex in romantic relationships and whether you can have one without the other. After a brief introduction to the two male leads,we're taken back in time to show how they met back in high school, gradually leading up to a big revelation which explains how these two young men ended up together. BL manga frequently explores darker themes but The Art Of Loving takes things a step further, slowly relishing the build-up chapter by chapter rather than letting it all out in emotionally-charged dialogues between the leads. Eiki Eiki explores Yutaka's complicated adolescent feelings through internal monologues describing the self-hatred and pressure he harboured inside; feelings which only intensify once he meets Toono.

In the extra material which follows the main story, we see Zaou Taishi (Tsuda Mikiyo) complaining about Yutaka's horrible personality as part of her explanation for not participating in this spin-off. It's true that he's difficult to sympathise with, but I think he's a believable character in spite of this. As an aside, in this translation Zaou is incorrectly referred to as male (she only appears in her teddy bear form, but it's unfortunate that the mistake was made).

Eiki Eiki's art improved a lot prior to her work on this book, and the visuals are great with attractive character designs, unless you dislike her distinctive art style. The dialogue is also great; there are only only one or two moments where the plot isn't quite as tight as it should be. Despite this being in the June 'Yaoi Manga' line and thoroughly earning its Mature Content label, there's very little actual BL on show; nobody does anything inappropriate during the high school flashback which makes up the bulk of these pages.

Sadly, although all of the notes in the book frequently refer to a second volume, no such follow-up ever materialised. The story is unfinished, gradually building up into a climax we'll never see.

I have to make a special note in praise of one of the silly 4koma comics Eiki includes at the end of this volume. She mentions asking her now-famous brother, DAIGO, about a very personal matter in the course of her research. Having now read the story which his answer led to, I'm not sure I can look at poor DAIGO in the same way any more.

The Art Of Loving was published in English by Digital Manga in 2006 and it can still be purchased from Amazon, where it's listed under the wrong creator (it looks as though the writer and artist information was copied from a different book, Sweet Revolution). The book is still readily available at a reasonable price and  I think it's fair to say that even though the story was never finished, it's a worthwhile purchase if you're a fan of Eiki Eiki.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Streaming: Ixion Saga DT first impressions

This series is weird.

When Ixion Saga DT was first announced, it didn't look as though there'd be much reason to take an interest. It's a generic-looking anime based on an online game I've never played. The rather unoriginal premise is that a spunky young lad ends up trapped in a virtual MMORPG world and has to fight his way through it, making friends and standing around looking hotblooded with a sword.

I hadn't realised at that point that Ixion Saga DT doesn't take itself very seriously.

The DT in the title stands for Dimensional Transfer and it's also the hero's nickname, or at least that's the official story; watching the show it became quickly apparent that the staff are having a lot of fun slipping in cheeky references. I have no idea whether the original game is as silly (it's Capcom, so anything is possible) but DT just happens to also be slang for doutei - in English, that's a male virgin. On its own this might be a coincidence, but the lead character draws attention to his lack of sexual experience on more than one occasion to make it clear that the gag is intentional. Furthermore, the opening theme by the bonkers Golden Bomber is called 'DT Suteru', complete with innuendo-riddled lyrics about discarding your DT (or losing it, if you will). The karaoke subtitles emphasise this by presenting a mundane, made-up set of lyrics with the correct, more suggestive ones written in furigana. The real lyrics in turn somehow make the fake ones sound kinkier than they actually are.

The ending sequence is nothing more than a parade of men in alluring poses, accompanied by another silly Golden Bomber song appropriately called 'Let's Go ED'. ED happens to be the nickname of Erecpyle Dukakis, one of the main villains. Erecpyle is a good-looking man who harbours a seething hatred for the protagonist following a certain testicle-related accident. It's appropriate then that both his name and his abbreviated nickname refer to 'erectile dysfunction'. The episode titles keep things classy with adventures called NK (No Kintama), PK (Pantsu Kuikomu), BL (Boys Love) and HG (Hard Gay?). Of course, all of these abbreviations have official, family-friendly titles, but the double entendre is no accident. The script itself never hesitates to go for the low hanging fruit; jokes about male anatomy are made at every opportunity.

The end result is that the series plays out more like the screwdriver arc in Gintama than a generic fantasy parody should, due as much to the puerile humour as the Monster Hunter references. It also feels a lot like classic Akahori Satoru, even though he doesn't seem to be secretly involved. The characters roster runs the gamut from a traditional burly swordsman (voiced by Nakai Kazuya) to a transsexual maid armed with dual pistols (voiced by Fukuyama Jun). One of the antagonists is played by Sugita Tomokazu to contribute to the Gintama atmosphere, and Kaji Yuuki is also present, of course. Perhaps I should start remarking when I follow a show he isn't involved with.

I'm going to keep watching.

Ixion Saga DT is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, so if you want to lose your DT I recommend taking a look.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Part 3: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with the other posts in the series, this is an extremely rough English translation of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). It's not a word-for-word official translation. The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the link below to see the original article, which is accompanied by illustrations and a promotional video.

Part 3: Godlike speed and a 2.5 million volt electrical discharge!! Katakura Kojuurou

A sword with godlike speed

Kojuurou is a very orthodox warrior who uses a single katana as his weapon. Each swing is very powerful, able to send five enemies flying 10m into the air with one blow. Although the other warlords can do the the same, the key point is that Kojuurou is armed with just one katana. Exactly how powerful is this sword attack?

Extrapolating from the flight distance of 10m, the enemy must have been launched at a speed of at least 25km/h. At first glance it doesn't seem like a big deal; it wouldn't be strange for a person weighing a few dozen kilos to fly like this. Since it is said that a Sengoku era warrior's armour could weigh up to 25kg, I think that it's safe to say that each individual enemy soldier weighs 100kg with their armour and weapons. Five would be 500kg. A katana weighs approximately 1kg. Consequently, the sword is hitting things which are 500 times heavier than it is, and knocking them into the air.

For this to be possible, the sword must be moving 500 times more quickly than the speed it sends the enemies flying. If they're thrown into the air at 25km/h, Kojuurou's sword speed is therefore 12,500km/h, or Mach 10.2. More than 3 times the speed of a rifle bullet! A sword weighs 200 times more than a rifle bullet, so if the speed is 3 times greater, Kojuurou's single blow is 2000 times more powerful than a bullet fired from a rifle. Great!

Special move: Mugetsu Gokusatsu

Even though Kojuurou is stronger than usual under normal circumstances, he can take things further than that. This is his 'Mugetsu Gokusatsu'. When his fury reaches its peak, his fighting becomes ferocious and his sword speed increases. By how much does this increase his attack power?

During play, the sword's speed on-screen is too fast to measure. Looking at the Sengoku Basara 3 Utage Official Complete Guide, a standard attack value of 8 becomes an attack of 12 in the Gokusatsu state. From this, perhaps it can be concluded that his sword speed is 1.5 greater? If that's the case, the number of enemies defeated in the same space of time would be 1.5 times greater. The enemies would also fly 2.25 times farther (1.5 x 1.5).

This means that the five enemies on the receiving end of the Gokusatsu strike would collectively fly at least 22.5m. If they were alone, it would be 112.5m. If this could be seen in the real world, it would be thrilling.

However, the amount of energy Kojuurou will expend per second is 3.4 times greater (1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5). Naturally, his fatigue will also increase at 3.4 times the rate. This Gokusatsu state is a battle mode which should be triggered when the moment is right, after all.

A flying lightning bolt

Kojuurou's unique ability 'Narukami' sends a bolt of electricity from his katana. I wonder how this can be possible?

Kojuurou's body is clad in blue sparks. We often suffer from static electricity during winter, when clothes made from different fabrics rub against one another. Similarly, I wonder if Kojuurou could be discharging the static electricity generated when his katana rubs against his clothes as he vigorously moves around?

In Kojuurou's case though, the amount of static electricity which builds up is overwhelming. To bring about a discharge in the air requires 500,000 volts per metre. The voltage generated between fingers and a doorknob in winter is approximately 10,000 volts, and there's a crackle as you approach a distance of around 2cm. Yet Narukami can leap as far as 5m. In that case, the voltage must be 2.5 million volts!

Materials such as cotton and hemp, which have been used to make clothing since ancient times, are less susceptible to static electricity. Furthermore, where there is moisture such as sweat it's not easy to build up a charge. Nevertheless, Kojuurou can accumulate 2.5 million volts of static electricity, which tells us that he's able to intensely dart around, violently, without breaking a sweat. His physical fitness is incredible.

Oushuu should be safe as long as Katakura Kojuurou serves as the Dragon's Right Eye with his godlike sword speed, Gokusatsu and electrical discharge capacity of 2.5 million volts.

All content in this post is © CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012.

Part 2: Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory

As with the other posts in the series, this is an extremely rough English translation of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). It's not a word-for-word official translation. The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the link below to see the original article, which is accompanied by illustrations and a promotional video.

Part 2: Even a gymnastics gold medalist would pale!? Sarutobi Sasuke

His shuriken are colossal

The shuriken Sasuke wields in each hand are enormous. There are different kinds, but the basic ones he uses in Sengoku Basara 2 Heroes have three knifelike blades approximately 50cm long and 12cm wide. Combined with the blades' 1cm thickness and the metal connecting parts, it looks as though Sasuke's shuriken each weigh 8kg. Two at once would be 16kg. To be able to jump or backflip with them would be surprising even for Uchimura Kohei, who won the all around gymnastics gold medal at the London Olympics.

These fantastic shuriken can also be thrown and returned like yo-yos. Perhaps there's a chain attached to the axis of the weapon. In manga, ninja usually carry a large number of shuriken and discard them once they've been thrown; Sasuke could have devised the two reusable shuriken to avoid having to carry a lot of the normal kind.

When pulling the shuriken back using Hikiyose No Jutsu, it's also possible to draw in enemy soldiers. To be able to pull objects of around 100kg in with a single swing takes significant physical strength; the force needed to pull soldiers from a distance of 10m would be 3.1t. Sasuke attracts attention for his speed and techniques, but his brute strength mustn't be overlooked.

Making copies of himself?

In addition, Sasuke can use Bunshin No Jutsu to summon two shadowy doppelgängers. Even though they look like shadows, because they have offensive power it's more likely that these copies are Sasuke himself rather than a trick of the light. In which case, they must be residual images; it is said that this kind of afterimage remains in the retina of the human eye for 0.1 seconds. If he can move three times within that interval it could appear as though there were three copies, however, to leave a clear afterimage it would be necessary to stop long enough at each location.

Supposing that he stops for 0.05 seconds in the position of his clearly visible physical form, then stops for 0.01 seconds in the position of each of the shadowy clones, that leaves 0.03 seconds for movement.

Since the three copies are 1m apart in a triangle formation, it means they are covering that 1m distance within those 0.01 seconds. That's 100m per second, or 360km/h! Faster than the Shinkansen, taking just 1 second to travel 100m. What amazing speed.

It's tough on the crow

From time to time, Sasuke soars through the air holding onto a crow which appears out of nowhere. It's a massive crow with a wingspan of around 2m. Even the largest crows in Japan usually have a wingspan of 1m at the most, so Sasuke's crow is twice as big as normal.

Even for this gigantic crow, it's not easy to fly with Sasuke hanging on. A large crow weighs approximately 800g and takes off from the ground by flapping its wings around once per second - that's how much they need to flap to support their own weight. If Sasuke weighs 70kg, this huge crow would have to beat its wings six times per second to fly. This poor crow is making a huge effort in order to give Sasuke an advantage in combat.

The science of diving into the shadows

Among Sasuke's skills, this writer finds Kagemoguri No Jutsu the most amazing. He travels deep underground and then bounces up from right beneath the enemy. Rather than diving down and digging a hole with a shuriken, his feet sink down right where he's standing. How on earth is this possible?

It's possible that it could be achieved through liquefaction. If you apply vibration to moist soil, the earth will become creamy and objects standing on it will sink. By vigorously shaking his legs, Sasuke may be able to liquify the ground under his feet. Once he's underground, he could push forward by shaking his whole body.

This may be possible, but the difficult part is how he moves beneath his opponent and leaps out of the ground. With liquefaction he'd sink back in rather than jumping towards the enemy, while to leap out using his own strength probably wouldn't allow him to bounce the enemy upwards. Through experimenting by burying a puppet in sand, it seems likely that a person would need leg strength equivalent to 2.9t in order to jump out of the ground. To simultaneously toss a 100kg opponent 3m into the air, an additional force of 3t is needed; that's 5.9t in total.

Strength like that is beyond superhuman. Sarutobi Sasuke defeats the enemies with this tricky technique. Behind the scenes there's a well-rounded grasp of science, incredible strength and the suffering of a gigantic crow.

All content in this post is © CAPCOM CO., LTD. 2012.