I hope to make this short...

I stopped by Media Play after dinner and picked out a couple more DVDs, as if I have time to watch more than what's on my plate right now.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket was a steal at $13.99, and I had been looking to get back and actually finish Fullmetal Alchemist/Hagane no Renkinjutsushi.

I had at first only written it [HagaRen] off to be a flavor of the month series as people could tell me they liked it, but they really couldn't explain well what it was about and why they liked it; I saw one episode and liked that one episode, but I sat on it and until nearly before it was licenced, I watched a couple more. The story seemed to be really more engrossing than I had originally anticipated (due to fans' comments of the above), so I knew I would be coming back to this when it came out on DVD here.

I was a little anxious about its licensure because it was done by FUNimation. I had my first experience with them, as many people did, when they did a very, very poor job with Dragonball Z (which they are thankfully making up for). I wasn't as vocal as many others because I had heard and seen that some of thier more direct to DVD releases were done a lot better than the Dragonball franchise had been done.

I checked the back of the box in the store to see what all it entailed, especially as far as extras. What surprised me were Japanese Promos/commmercials. I got home and decided to check it out; I was surprised and very pleased. Not only were there more than two short commercials (4 CMs in all - 2 short and 2 long) but all of the internal text was left virtually alone! I was worried about the opening and ending sequences having the American title pasted over them and the Japanese text removed; likewise, I was surprised to see it all in tact.

I'll be back later with a more full review of the DVD for HagaRen, but right now I need some sleep.

FUNimation, thank you for producing a wonderful first volume of HagaRen. The translations are very well done, all of the internal writings and text are left completely alone - it really is how anime DVDs should be made.



ZOMG! Forgotten

I also forgot that Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY was licensed yesterday, or at least, an announcement by Jerry Chu of Bandai of America was announced in an interview with MAHQ.net.

I'm not surprised, but I am a little disappointed that they are not going to try and license and release another Universal Century Gundam series simultaneously (or at least, they have not announced such yet). In a way, I guess it's kinda good; I've not got the funds to go searching for another UC boxset (especially with the size and cost similar to Zeta Gundam). I've also not got the time to hurry and finish Zeta right away so I can start another UC series as the boxes for UC seem to be in limited supply. Not to mention I also need to find a way to replace my 0080 and 0083 VHS cassettes with DVDs.

I'm also in no hurry to get back into Gundam SEED DESTINY; I gave up on the series after three weeks for a reason. I felt the characters were being poorly portrayed (even though Ikeda Shuuichi plays in it, I feel even he is sub-par) and the character designer is a complete hack. Some friends of mine have kept kinda up to date with the series, and I pop a question or two off to to them on occasion, but on the whole, it seems that the series is moving for a more tramatic direction, a la Zeta or Victory, but the fact that there still isn't too much of a developing body count for the main characters (and I liked only a small handful of characters from the original SEED series), I've got little reason to watch it. More than likely, when the DVDs come out, I'll get ahold of them to watch through them and watch the series, but I'm not in any rush.

I know since I heard about the SEED sequel, I would be hoping that Bandai of Japan would give it the Zeta Treatment - by killing of 95-99% of the cast. Now that Bandai of America has seemingly gotten distrobution rights to the series, I hope they give it thier own version of the Zeta Treatment - by sitting and doing nothing with the project for years.

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Earth! Magnificent World of our Future!

So, going on some of my family's advice and using a bit of birthday money for my own pleasure, I stopped and picked up the first two volumes of Giant Robo The Animation: The Night the Earth Stood Still 『ジャイアントロボ THE ANIMATION 地球が静止する日』 OAV. This digital remaster of the mid-1990s OAV was done by Anime Works/Media Blasters; the original licensed production was done by Manga Entertainment.

One thing I was not aware of at purchase was the addition of a new dub track. Well, the box hinted at it when it said "New Remastered English Track" but also the fact I did not know that AW/MB had put this new version out left me slightly more puzzled. When I got home and put the DVD in to view, I decided to check out the special features. I usually go here first with all of my DVDs; odds are by the time I actually get a chance to put the disc in, there is very little time I have to actually watch it.

When looking over the special features, it's nothing I was really excited about. I generally am not one to care about production sketches or image galleries most of the time. However, exciting for me, was the addition of Manga's original dub track in the special features of the disc. Finally, I was struck by a wave of relief.

I really don't consider myself a dub fan. In fact, 99.9% of the time, I prefer the Japanese dialogue and with my busy schedule, I generally don't have/take the time to view all of the dub tracks. But I was introduced to GR through Manga's dub track. In fact, I didn't even hear the Japanese voices until I happened a fansub of the GR Ginrei Special months after I saw the OAV. But Manga's dub, while still kinda hokey, had a good feel behind it and the acting, as in skill of being able to act, was well done. Because of its own unique personality, that dub holds a special place in my heart and I was happy to see (and more happy to hear) that it was present. Which made me wonder, what does the new dub sound like?

The only other AW/MB work I am familiar with is that of probably hands down my favorite single anime series of all time, Rurouni Kenshin - Meiji Kenkaku Romantan - 『るろうに剣心 -明治剣客浪漫譚-』 and I have checked out the dub of it once or twice via the DVDs as well as the Cartoon Network broadcasts. I wasn't pleased with it at all. It seemed to me that there was a real lack of emotion from all of the characters and a feeling that really set it apart from the dramatics of the story. I think it might also be said that I didn't like a lot of the scriptwriting behind it because I was never a fan of the translations that they did with the series. AW/MB's work on GR's translation has improved drastically. The subtitles are really closer to the actual script of the dialogue than compared to RurouKen. However, the dub acting has not improved at all. What's worse than that is instead of going out and trying to get thier own feel for how the voices should be rendered, or comparing their own performance against the Japanese actors/resses, but rather they decided to play off on the original Manga Entertainment dub of the series. Thier souless act drove me harder to watch more of the original dubbing or the Japanese dialogue, despite that both of those are still in the 2.0 surround rather than the new English work in the 5.1.

!Post Thought Commentary! There are parts of the original script they didn't even bother to dub over, most notable is the radio while Ivan is driving at the beginning of episode one. Just another moment when the new dub, while remastered, seems half-assed on the production side of things.

Which brings me to another point - the sound issue. There is a remastered 5.1 track in English and Japanese; however, the English is the new dub track which I think should have been left out entirely. The Japanese track, is the audio commentary track. Audio commentary is one of those extras I've never been a fan of - too distracting from the actual film for me - (though I like seperate staff interviews a lot); but for the "uninterrupted" version (no commentary) of the Japanese dialogue, it was left as the old 2.0 surround, just as the old English dub was. I really think someone either dropped the ball in planning or didn't write a clear enough note to the production staff because I think that the two Japanese tracks should have been switched.

Also, it might have been because I was switching the audio so much or that my remote has been taking a lot of wear and tear, but I found that the subtitles were hard to bring up at certain moments. I think this is a very minor note, though, because at portions I was comparing English dialogues against the subs. Just seems that after I took them off, it was hard for them to come back.

All in all, I am glad that AW/MB took up the effort to bring GR to us on DVD. I think though that I am upset with the finished product because of proper management of the property and definately a case of too-much-information (TMI). I must commend them on the addition/requisition of the Japanese audio. They did a fine job translating it, even better than their work on RurouKen. At least they even went after the Japanese audio; I don't think Manga Entertainment even went that far (though, I don't think Manga went after the subtitle markets before they began producing DVDs).

Also going through my DVDs the other day I got through the tenth episode of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. No notable people to add to the body count after this, but we've seen the introduction of Sirocco "The Man from Jupiter" Paptymus. He is probably the most bad-ass villain right behind Char Aznable. We also saw the meeting between Bright and Char (though Char did not reveal himself as such, so I don't think Bright knows yet) but in the next episode the AEUG forces are supposed to land on Earth following Reccoa Londe and I think soon after Amuro reluctantly joins the fighting forces of AEUG. The reunion with Char Aznable is coming soon and I am excited.

That's it for now; I'm gonna try to watch through and episode or two of Zeta Gundam and try to get a little more studying done before I head to bed tonight.



Back from vacation

I just got back from my working vacation in Las Vegas, Nevada yesterday, so while my body is trying to catch up to East Coast US time (a 3 hour jump) I spent a little time checking out my two newest DVD boxsets.

I watched through only one episode of Zeta Gundam tonight. I had originally planned on watching 9 through 15, but I only got through 9 as my tummy began grumbling and I figured it had been six or seven hours since I last ate. Though, since I am on Spring Break this week getting through a disc or two shouldn't be too much of a problem with the lighter work schedule I am looking at.

I also got a chance Sunday night to actually dig in and watch a little bit of the Bubblegum Crisis boxset. Unlike the Zeta box, this set is full of interesting extras, such as text interviews with the production staff and a lot of the promotional music videos and live stage music videos of the songs from the OAV. I also started one of the episodes to check the actual episode quality and it was very nice looking. Definately an upgrade from my now ratty looking VHS versions of the OAV, which is exactly what I was expecting. Ninety dollars well spent I must say.

I'm also working on getting back into the PuraMo (Plasti Modeling) of Bandai's multiple Mobile Suit Gundam lines. My Red MS-06 Zaku (Master Grade) took a dive off of my desk, but I managed to retrieve everything except for the Heat Hawk, so hopefully a little more thourough searching will lead me back to that. I've also got the red MS-14 Gelgoog (Master Grade) from a friend for Christmas and I want to build that, too. My parents insist on getting me something for my birthday, which is tomorrow, so I'm thinking an airbrush kit is in order. I have a Master Grade God Gundam that I want to use a lighter blue with and I think the airbrush will be able to do the trick just fine. Once some of these are done, I'll be posting pictures of them up here, as they do fall into my anime and manga hobby habits.

Finally, one last note here is that I'm struggling to read through the first volume of Katsu! by Adachi Mitsuru. I don't know if it's just that I have other books (real, not manga) that I'd rather read, or even another manga or two that I know I should read, but it seems I am forcing myself to try to finish it. There are other Adachi works that I really would rather read than this, too; I desperately want a full collection of Touch to call my own, rather than a measily five books. His manga H2 is supposed to be superior to that, and I want to get that, too. I need the first four books of Nine, simply to finish my collection. I also want to find Japanese copies of Short Program.

What I am getting at is that even though Adachi's sense of Youth Drama is in Katsu!, I just don't think its exactly the subject matter I am used to from him. After all, Touch, H2, and Nine are all baseball manga. While I've only recently become more interested and involved in baseball, I've never been a huge boxing fan (in the Western form; eastern forms tend to intrigue me) and I doubt that I will start to become one, even if it is Katsu!'s subect matter.

I guess its true what they say; only the mediocre are at thier best all of the time.