Monday 29 December 2014

Streaming: Autumn 2014 anime final impressions

I guess it's over! This season was much less intense than the last one; something I was extremely grateful for given how busy I've been with work lately.

After complaining that we had too many streaming services over here last time, this season was strangely uncomplicated. A couple of titles I wanted to see went to the region locking villains at FUNimation, but for the most part Crunchyroll had the UK covered. Wakanim, Daisuki and Animax had no new exclusive content worth talking about, and Nico Nico just stuck with Sailor Moon Crystal. Viewster had a few interesting pickups and continued to build on their back catalogue - it's amazing to see Golgo 13 available for streaming in the UK! I just wish they could be more transparent about which titles are available in which regions on their main site, as I often click on links and end up disappointed right at the last minute.

There were no big surprises in the ranking of my favourite autumn simulcasts:

1. Mushi-shi
2. Ookami Shoujo To Kuro Ouji
3. Akatsuki No Yona

It was almost exactly as I had anticipated at the start of the season! Mushi-shi was easily the highest quality show of the lot but the other two were highly addictive even though I'd be the first to admit they had a number of flaws.

Sunday 21 December 2014

News roundup: Sengoku Basara updates from the second day of Jump Festa 2015

The Jump Festa presentations finished several hours ago and, as feared, nothing much was announced after all despite KobaP's hint about 'the week after next' a fortnight ago. Mercifully Gamer sent a reporter along to provide a full breakdown of Saturday's panel so I don't have to scavenge the details from various Twitter accounts this time.

The reporter noted that the presentation managed to attract a large number of fans in spite of it being a year since Sengoku Basara 4 was released. After series producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki came on stage and introduced the game with one of its promotional videos, they held one of the usual challenges where players from the audience had to compete to try to defeat the most enemies within three minutes at Sekigahara. The reporter seemed thoroughly impressed with Katsuie, and remarked that the crowd cheered with amazement when someone picked Sourin.

Once all of the fighting was over, KobaP began his news updates by telling the crowd about the upcoming Tales of Zestiria collaboration. It apparently drew a positive reaction from the crowd which the reporter put down to the similarities between the audiences for both games; the Tales series, like Sengoku Basara, seems to attract a lot of female gamers.

There was also mention of a 'Sengoku Basara 4 x Capcom Challenge Park' event involving the Date Cavalry in Aichi's Aeon Mall Okazaki. This will be held between 7th January and 30th April 2015 but there wasn't much more information in the report.

Next came the first information about the activities that are planned for Basara Matsuri. There will be the usual Sengoku Drama Emaki (live dialogue performances by the seiyuu), a seiyuu talk corner, KobaP's latest announcements, a 'variety' corner (this is usually something comical featuring both the seiyuu and the stage play actors) and a mini live concert from T.M. Revolution. Previous news reports have suggested that T.M. Revolution will be performing the Sengoku Basara 4 opening theme Count ZERO for the first time at a Basara Matsuri event as part of the setlist.

In addition, visitors to February's Basara Matsuri event will have the opportunity to buy randomly-packed 'initial charms' for ¥500. These depict popular warriors in their alternate outfits from Sengoku Basara 4 along with a character from their name. Each charm is made from acrylic and approximately 5cm long. There are two different sets available:

Sengoku Basara 4 Trading Kanji Initial Charm ~Stylish~

Sengoku Basara 4 Trading Kanji Initial Charm ~Supreme~

The presentation closed with KobaP telling the crowd that he's been promoting Sengoku Basara 4 all year long now since its release back in January. He urged people to wait until next year for more about the series' tenth anniversary and the next title, and joked that he wasn't able to say anything at the moment. And that was all.


Well, it's nowhere near as exciting as a game (or guest) announcement would have been, but at least the new charms look cool. I can't believe that Basara Matsuri is taking place in less than six weeks!

Saturday 20 December 2014

News roundup: Sengoku Basara updates from the first day of Jump Festa 2015

Today is the first day of the major Jump Festa 2015 event in Japan and, as promised, Capcom have been in attendance with updates for their loyal Sengoku Basara fans. The silence on Twitter during KobaP's presentation was almost unbearable, however, and it seems that nothing noteworthy was announced this time.

Perhaps they're saving more announcements for tomorrow's presentation? They specifically said they were announcing new Basara Matsuri information and all that seems to have been revealed was that attendees will be able to get randomly-packed initial keychain charms for the characters as merchandise there.

I guess that means I have to get up at 4am again tomorrow...

It's a shame there is no live stream available for the Capcom presentations.

More details of February's Ichiban Kuji lottery, with pictures of the new figures

The biggest merchandise reveal has been the formal announcement of the next Ichiban Kuji lottery event to be held in Japan next year. We've known it was coming since late October but Ichiban Kuji Sengoku Basara ~Sengoku Sousei~ is now definitely on the way starting from 21st February 2015. People on Twitter have been posting plenty of photographs of the sample prizes on display:

A rank prize: Date Masamune 'real' figure (alternate photo)
B rank prize: Date Masamune 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
C rank prize: Ishida Mitsunari 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
D rank prize: Shima Sakon 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
E rank prize: Shibata Katsuie 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
F rank prize: Hand towel (four different designs)
G rank prize: Notelets (four different designs)
H rank prize: 'Stylish' rubber strap (seven different designs)
I rank prize: 'Extreme' rubber strap (seven different designs)
Last One prize: Date Masamune 'real' figure (Last One version) (alternate photo)

There are also plenty of group shots and close-ups of the Matabee and Yoshiteru straps. I'm happy to see that the female Sengoku Basara 4 characters are getting some decent representation this time.

Vote on which Capcom designs will be turned into...aprons?!

A trio of Sengoku Basara designs is being included in a limited edition range of maekake aprons designs created in conjunction with the haraKIRI brand. To make things interesting, Capcom is asking MyCapcom users to vote between 18th December 2014 and 19th January 2015 to decide which of the designs will be used. To participate in the voting, just pick the big blue button at the bottom of the page and log in using your MyCapcom account.

That seems to be all we're getting today! There are also samples of some of the mini finger puppets which were announced last week.

Friday 19 December 2014

Today's acquisitions (19th December 2014)

It's been ages since I posted some pictures of things I've bought so perhaps it's a good way to kill some time before getting disappointed when I discover that there's no new game announced at Jump Festa in a few hours.

The first item is this magnificent specimen: Doki! A Microfiber Towel Loaded With Mikorin. I bought it from the Dogakobo online shop to cheer myself up after the Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun anime came to an end. It's completely impractical as a towel, but there's so much Mikorin all over it that I can't complain.

Of course, they've just announced a Hori-senpai version. I wish I was going to Comiket this winter...

Moving on, I also received the final Diabolik Lovers Dark Fate CD along with Stellaworth's bromide, pamphlet and short story booklet. The collectible magazine which was sent to people who purchased both Jooubachi No Oubou games and completed the surveys inside is titled Sequential and positioned at the back of the picture. Then there's the special edition of Butai Sengoku Basara 3: Togakuruwashi Kizuna, the last Sengoku Basara stage play I need to watch.

Unfortunately, there's been some kind of production problem with the credits on the stage play DVD and replacement discs have been shipped out to all buyers. My replacement won't arrive until January so I won't be able to watch the play for a few more weeks. I hope it's worth the wait!

Thursday 18 December 2014

News roundup: Okamoto Nobuhiko will join KobaP at Jump Festa this weekend

There will be a special guest at one of this weekend's Jump Festa presentations

It's almost time for the promised Sengoku Basara presentations at Jump Festa this weekend!

Capcom posted an update last night to advise that the start time will now be 13:30 - ten minutes earlier than previously stated. The presentations are still scheduled to last just half an hour each.

In addition, there's been a last minute announcement which confirms that seiyuu Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie) will be joining KobaP on stage for the Sunday show. This is also being reported all over the gaming press and on the Basara Matsuri website so I hope that KobaP has some interesting news to share with us all.

(If his hinted game announcement ends up being the upcoming Tales of Zestiria collaboration we already know about, I will cry.)

A preview image arrives for the final Judge End keychain

I'm not sure why it took VAP so long to add the sample picture to their site this time, but they've finally revealed how the bonus keychain from the first press version of the final DVD/Blu-ray volume of Sengoku Basara Judge End will look.

Gyoubu looks more intimidating (and cute) when he's small, doesn't he?


Edit (18:00): Speculation time!

I'm not feeling well at the moment so some delirium may be contributing to this post, but what if KobaP really is announcing the next game this weekend? And what if the reason Katsuie's seiyuu is accompanying him on Sunday is because there will be an Oda theme to the game?

What if that means they're going back to their roots as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations, and bringing back Nouhime and Ranmaru (and dare I hope, giving the classic characters who were only partially finished in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage proper upgrades and stories of their own)?

Well, it could easily just be that Okamoto was the only one of the more popular seiyuu who happened to be free that weekend - they used Kojuurou's seiyuu to announce a few things at Kyomaf last year even though he's not all that significant in Sengoku Basara 4. The staff have said before that Sakon is popular all by himself whereas Katsuie needs more support.

Still, I want to believe in my wild theory!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

News roundup: A couple of new Sengoku Basara 4 collaborations are planned for early next year

Visit Japanese arcades next year for a chance to win Sengoku Basara finger puppets

I guess the recent prize campaigns have been successful as Capcom have announced that there will be yet another range of adorable Sengoku Basara goodies next year!

The prizes this time will be two sets of seven 'kyun-gurumi' mini puppets, which will appear in Banpresto amusement arcades across Japan from late April 2015. The first set includes Kojuurou, Yukimura, Sasuke, Katsuie, Matabee and two versions of Masamune, while the second set, which arrives one week later, includes Sakon, Ieyasu, Keiji, Motochika, Motonari and two versions of Mitsunari.

I think Yukimura's facial expression is my favourite, though some of the others come close. It's a shame that game centre prizes can be rather difficult for foreign fans to obtain.

Rumour: Sengoku Basara 4 content will appear in Tales of Zestiria

According to some detailed leaks from the next issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine, upcoming PS3 title Tales of Zestiria will offer DLC swimsuits, character costumes from earlier Tales games, costumes from the Ao No Exorcist (Blue Exorcist) series and 'attachments' from Sengoku Basara 4. The leaks seem reliable and one specifically mentions Masamune, Katsuie, Yukimura, Mitsunari, Sakon and Ieyasu as the Sengoku Basara 4 characters who will feature in the campaign.

For the benefit of those who don't play the Tales games, 'attachments' are in-game decorations which can be equipped by the characters. I'm looking forward to seeing how they'll look!

Update (16:25): Well, I didn't have to wait long to find out. Nanahashi kindly directed me to Twitter user @yinyi982 who has posted a picture showing the attachments. They're even cuter than expected!

Saturday 13 December 2014

News roundup: A few light updates ahead of next weekend's stage presentations

The cover artwork is revealed for the next volume of the Sengoku Basara 4 manga

We already knew that the second collected volume of Yoshihara Motoki's Sengoku Basara 4 manga adaptation was scheduled for release in late December 2014 for ¥616 but now we have the cover artwork to enjoy.

It's a great picture of Mitsunari and matches Masamune on the first book. I wonder how long the manga will run, and how many different characters they'll showcase on the different covers.

Catching up with the latest Sengoku Basara merchandise

There's a large amount of new Capcom merchandise coming out early next year and of course, this includes a few Sengoku Basara items.

The first new item is a pair of embroidery bracelets (friendship bracelets) with a choice of Masamune or Mitsunari designs. They're priced at ¥1,100 each and they'll be released in late February 2015.

The bracelets can be preordered worldwide at Ami Ami (Masamune, Mitsunari), CD Japan (Masamune, Mitsunari), Otaku Republic (Masamune, Mitsunari) as well as other import stores.

Those who prefer their merchandise to be practical may find this special Sengoku Basara masking tape more appealing. The packs will each contain two rolls of tape for ¥600 when they go on sale in late February 2015.

You can preorder the tape at at Ami Ami (Masamune/Yukimura, Ieyasu/Mitsunari), CD Japan (Masamune/Yukimura, Ieyasu/Mitsunari), Otaku Republic (Masamune/Yukimura, Ieyasu/Mitsunari) and other import stores.

Dengeki Online posts a preview of the new Sengoku Basara Judge End illustration book

If you wanted to know what to expect from the Television Anime Sengoku Basara Judge End: Official Illustration & Genga Collection art book which was released last week, the folks at Dengeki have put together an article (and a series of Twitter posts) with sample pictures showing its contents. It's probably not an essential purchase for the majority of fans but if you liked the art style of Judge End and want a definitive collection of its production materials, it looks like a decent compilation.

Two new Capcom shops will open in Japan - for a limited time

The old 'e-Capcom: Capcom Official Shop' in Odaiba may have closed down earlier this year, but those who want to buy Sengoku Basara and Monster Hunter merchandise straight from the source will be happy to learn that a pair of temporary Capcom stores will be open for business in Tokyo and Fukushima this winter.

The Tokyo store is called 'Capcom Shop: e-Capcom Tokyo Dome City Branch' and it will be trading between 12th December 2014 and 15th March 2015 in the Tokyo Dome City Plaza #1 area. Its opening hours are 10:30-19:00 on weekdays and 10:00-19:00 at weekends and bank holidays and it boasts some unique Monster Hunter attractions.

The Fukushima branch is a little more exclusive. The 'Capcom Shop in Kooriyama MOLTI' will only be open between 20th December 2014 and 4th January 2015 (excluding New Year's Day). Its opening hours are 10:00-20:00 with early closure on New Year's Eve and 4th January. To make up for its short lifespan, the pop-up shop will be offering plenty of goodies and giveaways along with unique Monster Hunter and Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) displays.

Both stores promise to stock various rare merchandise from a wide range of Capcom titles, and shoppers who spend more than ¥1,000 will receive a special coaster sticker while stocks last.

Thursday 4 December 2014

News roundup: Cover artwork for Sengoku Basara Judge End volume 4 on DVD/Bluray

The cover art is revealed for the final volume of Sengoku Basara Judge End

I have very mixed feelings about the illustration.

On one hand, I like Masamune and Yukimura and it's a cool picture. On the other, what a missed opportunity to showcase more characters from Sengoku Basara Judge End! Masamune and Yukimura already had their chance to be on the covers of earlier volumes so I was hoping to see Magoichi and Keiji, or something like that...

More Judge End merchandise appears on the horizon

The official merchandise page also added a handful of new items recently.

A mini Sengoku Basara Judge End 'artket' (decorative blanket) with its own case. It will be priced at ¥3,500 and released on 19th February 2015. AmiAmi is already listing it so it should appear on other import sites soon.

Next, there's a set of 66 different trading cards including 'SP' (special) rare cards, 'SP' (special) cards, story cards, character cards, mini character cards and more. Each pack of 9 cards will cost ¥500, or you can buy a box containing 8 packs for ¥4,000. They'll go on sale in late February 2015.

There will also be a Sengoku Basara Judge End A4 storage folder priced at ¥1,200, due for release on 31st January 2015. AmiAmi, Otaku Republic and CD Japan already have their preorder listings ready.

I know this looks very similar to the Sengoku Basara Judge End photo folder from the other day, but it's a different item, I promise!

Wednesday 3 December 2014

News: KobaP teases everyone with vague comments at a PlayStation event

Sengoku Basara producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki got people excited earlier today when he appeared as one of a number of industry guests on a joint broadcast by Dengeki and Famitsu to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original PlayStation. If you have a Nico Nico account you can watch the time-shifted version for a limited time here, or alternatively it's on YouTube here. KobaP's segment can be found at the 33:10 mark on the Nico Nico version and at 1:03:30 on YouTube.

Most of the discussion was centred around KobaP reminiscing about creating various games for the PlayStation, but at one point the hosts tried to coax some new information out of him. In response, he talked about how the current Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play was in Nagoya approaching the end of its run, then brought up next year's Basara Matsuri, inviting the hosts along and promising that it was going to be really fun. He went on to suggest that since they were holding that big event in February 2015, wouldn't you expect something there?

Before anyone could press him further, he went back to describing the cool things that happen at Basara Matsuri events and moved the conversation along.

A little later on, host Dogma Kazami was asking some general questions about KobaP's planned lineup and received the answer that something would be announced the week after next. He refused to say more on the subject other than that things will start moving along soon, and that there are a few things for next year (this line trailed off).

It's worth mentioning that the upcoming announcement could easily relate to Biohazard, Dragon's Dogma or one of the other series he works on (heck, it could even be more Gaist Crusher given how much time KobaP seems to spend promoting that series). We can probably safely assume that it's for a PlayStation platform, at least, otherwise it would be rather cruel to mention it at a PlayStation-themed event!

However, KobaP's brief Sengoku Basara stage presentation at Jump Festa is on 20th December. That qualifies as 'the week after next', right? He could have meant that he'll be announcing something there then we'll get more details at Basara Matsuri, or just that he'll be announcing more Basara Matsuri details there as they've already confirmed...