Saturday 23 January 2016

Streaming: Winter 2016 anime first impressions

What a bizarre season this is shaping up to be! The UK streaming situation is always a mess, with a different jumble of underfunded, confused companies splitting all of the simulcasts haphazardly between themselves and leaving the average viewer struggling to watch the shows they want.

This time, Funimation have finally stepped up to the plate after years of grabbing UK rights for titles they had no intention of allowing UK viewers to watch and announced that they'll be giving us access to their relaunched 'Funimation Now' streaming service in February. To help us wait for the Funimation content to become available, Daisuki are streaming five of their shows on a one-week delay. Not ideal, but at least Daisuki always publish titles on a regular schedule.

Crunchyroll have an excellent lineup this time around too, with (mostly) worldwide rights for most titles. We also had some activity from The Anime Network (Sentai) who decided to announced that they would stream their titles to the UK themselves instead of adding them to Crunchyroll. In truth their own service is exceptionally expensive for what you get in the UK - three simulcasts and half a dozen catalogue titles - but it's nice to be remembered.

It's easily the best anime season we've ever had in terms of UK availability.

Viewster and Animax seem to be sitting the next few months out entirely - Viewster has one new delaycast but it's a continuation of a title licensed for a previous season, and Animax was completely quiet until a handful of Funimation shows were silently listed on its site. No episodes are available at the time of writing this three weeks into the season, however, so I'm unable to add any further commentary. Neither Viewster nor Animax can keep to a regular schedule and they're difficult to recommend.

Several series are continuing from autumn, namely Haikyuu!!, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans and Gintama.

Some shows are continuing from previous seasons, too

Thursday 21 January 2016

News roundup: Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi starts its theatre run today

It looks as though this is going to be another week with no magazine updates. I'm not expecting any news to break next week so I guess Capcom are busy promoting the new stage play at the moment.

The last batch of stage play updates before the show commences

The Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi stage play starts its run today, so we can expect a range of reports from the media very soon. In the meantime, there's an official video message from none other than Fuuma Kotarou:

There are also a few more videos (with actual speech) on the official YouTube channel here. The actors talk about their characters and it's a good opportunity to see their costumes up close. Fujita Ray's Katsuie looks better than ever.

I hope that I receive a response from the production company about a wider release for the DVD versions soon...

Previews of the official stage play merchandise

It wouldn't be a Sengoku Basara tie-in without a selection of new merchandise to buy, and Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi should satisfy fans of the performers with its offerings. First in the list is the official 34-page A4 programme for ¥2,000:

Thirteen different five-piece sets of photographs of the actors and actresses for ¥1,000 each:

A muffler towel covered in weapon designs for ¥2,000:

A set of two A4 clear files for ¥1,000:

And thirteen different randomly-packed 56mm tin badges for ¥300 each:

Stage play attendees can also enjoy a taste of Sengoku Basara near the venue

To celebrate the stage play's run, the Roppongi branch of the Pasela Resorts karaoke and entertainment chain - which happens to be very close to the theatre - is offering a special menu until 7th February 2016. Most of the dishes have appeared in the past at other Pasela venues such as the Three Monkeys Cafe tie-in and karaoke menu last year. Fans who order the Sengoku Basara food and drinks will receive one of forty different character coasters with each item.

Cover artwork for the next Sengoku Basara drama CD release

The Animate TV website has posted preview images showing the cover artwork for February's new drama CD. Drama Yose CD Sengoku Basara -Tokugawa Ieyasu & Ishida Mitsunari- has an eerie theme which should suit the storyline that was teased where Ieyasu, Mitsunari, Sakon and Katsuie all end up taking shelter together during a storm. It's not really the season for ghost stories but that's the atmosphere we seem to be getting!

The preview also includes a sample of the illustration used for the Animate-exclusive keychain for this volume.

Updates from the current Sengoku Basara radio show

Animate has published an interview with seiyuu Ishida Akira (Takenaka Hanbee) and Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura) to accompany the second episode of the Sengoku Basara -Nekketsu! Yose Raji!- ('Sengoku Basara: Hot-blooded! Variety Theatre Radio!') radio show. It's very short, but Hoshi mentions that he'd like to have Sen No Rikyuu's voice actor Sakurai Takahiro on the show and Ishida hints that they'll probably be able to share more information about the new Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den game as times goes on.


Well, that's all for now! I'll be travelling for the next few days - an attempt to recover from my recent period of overwork - so updates might be even slower than usual. I'm still looking forward to hearing more information about the new game as soon as it's available.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

News roundup: We're still waiting for game news, so here's more about vacuum cleaners and suitcases

It's magazine day in Japan but it doesn't look as though either Weekly Famitsu or Dengeki PlayStation have any new information for us this time. I'm going to make a wild guess and say that next week's Weekly Famitsu is the most likely time for Capcom's next batch of news, otherwise it might still be a little while away. We might get some hints on Monday/Tuesday when they post their magazine preview articles.

The stage play website updates to show the last new actors in costume

It's not long until Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi debuts so preview pictures of Kojuurou, Sasuke and Sen No Rikyuu have been posted on the official website. I'm not too convinced by Rikyuu's facial expressions but the costumes are certainly looking good; it's going to be great to eventually see them all in action. I'm a little worried that so many of the show dates are still far from being sold out.

Edit: Famitsu has posted a compilation article with better pictures of Rikyuu.

In Japan right now? Experience the Date Masamune vacuum cleaner in person

The preorder period for the upcoming Sengoku Basara Premium Cocorobo vacuum cleaner ends on 18th January 2016, so SHARP have organised some special preview events to show off this very exclusive piece of merchandise.

The first event is scheduled for tomorrow (14th January 2016) between 19:00 and 21:00 at the Nico Nico Honsha event space in Ikebukuro. The venue's capacity is limited and if demand is high signups for the hands-on demonstration will be halted. Attendees will receive a special sticker illustrated by Mikami.

Mikami incidentally provided the illustrations used by the cleaner when it communicates with its owners via the Cocoroboard smartphone app.

After that, the next opportunity to talk to the cleaner will be on the 16th and 17th January 2016 when it will be present in the Karaoke Pasela reception area in front of the Capcom Bar in Shinjuku between 11:00 and 19:00 each day.

If you're not in Japan - like most people reading this - Capcom TV kindly posted their own news bulletin about the vacuum cleaner here. The news update recaps a few other announcements before getting to the segment with their reactions to experiencing the cleaner's voice controls, alarm clock and weather report features.

e-Capcom makes even more Sengoku Basara suitcases available

The extravagant 31L Sengoku Basara carry cases are back on e-Capcom, with a whole host of brand new designs for fans of Ieyasu, Motonari, Motochika, Sakon, Katsuie, Kojuurou and Sasuke. Each case costs ¥30,000 before tax and delivery is scheduled for 24th March 2016.

In addition, the previous carry cases will be made available again for those who missed out.

The specification of the Masamune, Yukimura and Mitsunari designs hasn't changed.

Sunday 10 January 2016

News roundup: Vocal songs, Monster Hunter Explore and a few updates about the new stage play

Sample the new Sengoku Basara vocal CD with a preview video

The release of the Sengoku Basara 10th Anniversary Warrior Themes Vocal Collection CD is just ten days away now, and Avex have obligingly uploaded a preview video with clips from some of the songs. I rather like it...

Edit: The official site is now live too with lyrics and samples of the full list of songs.

The latest Sengoku Basara gaming news from Japanese magazines

As I mentioned on Twitter last week, the 21st January 2016 issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine didn't include any new coverage about the upcoming Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den game. Instead, KobaP participated in a two-page interview about game tie-ins which looked back at some of the memorable collaborations over the history of the Sengoku Basara series.

KobaP mentioned that KobaP won't have all that many collaborations (in comparison, Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi had a lot) but they have some interesting things planned. He noted that he really wants to show off the fighting styles and voice actors for the new characters Sanada Masayuki and Nobuyuki.

Coupled with his comments in mid-December I strongly suspect that at least one of the two new Sanada clan members will be playable in the new game; possibly both of them.

The usual pattern for new information is that Weekly Famitsu breaks it first then Dengeki PlayStation covers it the week after; if that holds true then I would guess we'll hear more on 21st January. However, this is purely speculation and nothing is stopping Capcom from suddenly releasing new information at any time.

The latest Sengoku Basara crossover is with Monster Hunter Explore

Hot on the heels of KobaP's interview, news broke the next day about a new collaboration with iOS/Android title Monster Hunter Explore. Fans of the game will be able to obtain special in-game equipment based on Sengoku Basara between 14th January and 29th January 2016.

There will be four different three-piece armour sets available for player characters. The Azure Dragon's Armour (Blademaster) and Azure Dragon's Haori (Gunner) sets are lightning elemental while the Akazonae are fire. The armour sets resemble the costumes of Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura from Sengoku Basara, of course.

It will also be possible to obtain four weapons. There are one-sword and six-sword versions of Masamune's Kagehide blade, as well as dual and juumonji versions of Yukimura's Shura spears.

(Please forgive any translation issues as I'm not too familiar with Monster Hunter conventions. The juumonji versions of the spears look more like Yukimura's Shakubou to me, but I'm sticking to the naming on the official site for now.)

More cast photographs unveiled for Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi

The Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi stage play is starting its run in less than two weeks too, and they've been regularly updating their website with pictures of the cast members in costume. Larger versions can be found on Twitter and Facebook. There are also a few brief video clips with interviews with the actors for Masamune, Yukimura and Motochika.

Speaking of the stage play series, the DVD release of Butai Sengoku Basara 4 has had a few problems as they have been unable to keep up with demand; even people who ordered as soon as the listing went live are still waiting for their copies. The Ace Shop staff have been very apologetic. I suppose that this means the release has been a success, even if fans are still waiting to actually see the show.

Friday 1 January 2016

News roundup: Happy New Year, Sengoku Basara fans!

The Sengoku Basara news kept on rolling out over Christmas before taking a break for the New Year. I'm going to have to do some catching up today!

Catch up on the classic Sengoku Basara games with the Winter Stylish Action SALE

Capcom is celebrating the holiday period with a sale on the Japanese PlayStation Store. Fans who purchase classic Sengoku Basara games between Christmas Eve and 4th January 2016 will be able to enjoy big discounts!

The original Sengoku Basara, Sengoku Basara 2 and Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (HEROES) are selling for ¥329 apiece as 'PS2 Archive' titles on PS3 instead of the usual ¥823. The handheld titles are also discounted; Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes is currently just ¥280 (usually ¥700) and Sengoku Basara Chronicle Heroes is down to ¥800 (usually ¥2,000).

In addition, Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi is on sale at a 30% discount, costing ¥4,193 for PS3 (usually ¥5,990) and ¥4,893 for PS4 (usually ¥6,990).

An official event report from Jump Festa

Capcom has published an event report from Jump Festa covering KobaP's stage presentation. There are a few new pictures (and comical moments, such as the description of Ashigaru-kun participating in the Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi gameplay challenge and not doing so well). The only potentially new item about Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den in the article is a mention that an Osaka Siege azure-crimson clash between Yukimura and Masamune is set to be the climax of the game's story.

Incidentally, I didn't have time to mention it previously but fan Mewshuji spotted the Houjou crest in the Masamune scenes from the Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den trailer almost as soon as it was published.

This bodes well for the return of Ujimasa, who has been absent from the main series for a little while now. Great! I think some of the less popular characters will really benefit by appearing in a game with a smaller roster so they don't end up forgotten.

The first episode of the new Sengoku Basara radio show is now available

The first episode of the Sengoku Basara -Nekketsu! Yose Raji!- ('Sengoku Basara: Hot-blooded! Variety Theatre Radio!') radio show launched on Christmas Day as planned, and it's possible to tune in and listen by clicking on the 'FLASH' or 'WMP' buttons on this page. Obnoxiously, it's region locked, so fans outside Japan will need to use a region unblocking tool of some kind in order to listen. I don't really understand the purpose in region locking audio shows in languages which aren't widely spoken across the world, but what do I know?

Anyway, the guest for the first 41-minute episode is Ishida Akira (Takenaka Hanbee), and Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura) is hosting. The second episode will go live on 8th January 2016.

Missed out on the Eagle Talon tie-in merchandise? Check out the DLE store

The collaboration between Sengoku Basara and Frogman's Himitsu Kessha Taka No Tsume (Secret Society Eagle Talon) series back in summer led to a little merchandise. Well, fans who missed the exhibition can now purchase the goods from the official DLE store. There's a lot of variety, so if you've ever had a yearning for your favourite characters in bear form it might be worth checking out.

e-Capcom plans a range of Sengoku Basara mobile phone stands

A special page has appeared on the e-Capcom website offering the chance for fans to 'vote' on 51 different designs for mobile stands based on the Sengoku Basara characters in one of the most unnecessarily complicated merchandise strategies for which I've had the pleasure of translating the instructions. All 51 main characters from the series are available as potential designs.

The acrylic stands can be used to hold your smartphone, or simply as decorations. They're approximately 200-250mm tall, depending on the character.

Called the Sengoku Basara 10th Bushou Ransen Mobile Stands, each costs ¥2,500 (¥2,700 with tax) and they'll only be available through e-Capcom. Delivery is expected to take place in March 2016.

There's a catch, however. Even though 51 designs are available and this is a rare chance for fans to take home merchandise for some of the series' least popular characters, only the designs which receive a minimum number of orders will actually be produced.

There's no detailed information about the minimum order quantity; it could be 2 preorders or 200. Fans who want to apply simply make reservations on the e-Capcom website as usual. If the minimum order quantity is met, they'll be charged for all of the stands they reserved and receive them in March as normal. If it's not, the stands which didn't pass the order threshold will be cancelled automatically. Fans outside Japan will have to use a deputy service as e-Capcom don't support non-Japanese orders.

I sort of hope that e-Capcom reveals which stands made the cut once the preorder period is closed. It will be interesting to see.