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Geno is quite a popular choice when it comes to character requests for the Super Smash Bros. series, and so there is plenty of fanart out there in support of his inclusion. While this makes my drawing a bit redundant (and the special moves are all pretty much what everyone else has for Geno’s attacks), I felt that the concept of Geno as a playable character could be taken an extra step beyond simply having his moves map 1:1 with his Super Mario RPG techniques.

In particular, I had this idea that Geno could utilize the “timing” system from Super Mario RPG where pressing or releasing a button at the right time makes the characters’ attacks stronger in some way. This is demonstrated not only in the depiction of Geno Beam and Geno Blast, but also in Geno’s smash attacks. As shown with Geno’s up-smash, the idea is that Geno’s smash attacks have an additional secondary component that Geno can chain into, similar to Kyo Kusanagai in the King of Fighters series or Fei Long in the Street Fighter series. Because it wouldn’t be terribly strategic to have the follow-up be automatically better every single time, the secondary part of every Smash Attack would have its own strengths and weaknesses (like leaving Geno vulnerable if the first part doesn’t connect properly, or not hitting at the desired angle at high percentages), so it would be an active choice at all times whether or not to use the timed attack system.

Other than that, Geno would have two other main features. The first would be his space control due to the fact that many of his attacks are ranged and come in at odd angles instead of straight-on (Geno Beam shoots diagonally upwards on the ground but diagonally downwards in the air, for example). The second would be that Geno’s normal moves emphasize the fact that his body is that of a doll, so it is extremely flexible, as demonstrated in that up-smash. This would give Geno a lot of unusual hitboxes on his attacks an, or allow him to slip past attacks by suddenly collapsing low to the ground, for example.

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Unlike the previous characters I drew movesets for (King K. Rool, Princess Daisy), Great Puma is much more obscure. He’s the final boss from Pro Wrestling for the NES, and notoriously difficult, if only because all the button mashing you had to do to defeat him would hurt your thumbs (unless you used a turbo controller).

The reason I decided to draw Great Puma over the other wrestlers is because he 1) is a villain/antagonist 2) represents a popular retro series 3) has that final boss characteristic of knowing all of other wrestlers’ moves, which allows him to represent the full repertoire of Pro Wrestling. Kirby is depicted as the victim because I wanted to get across how the moves would look on someone distinctly non-humanoid.

As a Smash character, Great Puma specializes in holds and throws. He not only has more throws than any other character in the game, but he has two special moves that also facilitate grabbing the opponent. His Rope Bounce is sort of like a pseudo-wavedash in that it allows him to quickly retreat and then spring forward into a grab animation. His Reversal works like Marth’s Counter but it activates only when the oppoonent tries to grab him, which causes Great Puma to grab the opponent instead. Even his Running Neckbreaker is considered a throw, which overall makes him a difficult opponent to shield against. His Flying Cross Chop is surprisingly powerful but is only mediocre in terms of stage recovery.

His Final Smash, Wild Roar, allows Great Puma to link up to three throws together. This isn’t quite the same thing as a chain grab, as that involves grabbing the opponent immediately after a throw and then repeating. Rather, this allows him to do things like Grab -> Pummel -> Backbreaker -> Piranha Bite -> Piledriver before the opponent goes flying. Also not pictured are most of his moves, such as his back-air being Fighter Hayabusa’s Back Brain Kick (Enzui Giri) and his forward smash being Giant Panther’s Iron Claw.

I changed his tights because I think they just look better this way.

 

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Following up the concept drawing I made for King K. Rool in Smash Bros., here’s Princess Daisy from the Mario series.

While Daisy’s most prominent appearance over the years has been in the multiplayer games, for the most part I thought it’d be cooler if her attacks referenced her debut game, Super Mario Land. Each special attack is based on one of the four worlds from Super Mario Land. One notable thing is that most of her attacks have a small added effect that gives them different properties if they hit close or mid-range. Birabuto Sand does solid damage if the actual kick connects, whereas the sand portion stuns the opponent. Muda Torrent works similarly, where the uppercut hits hard but the water has something of a FLUDD effect. Easton Ganchan can transition from recovery move to bouncing projectile. Her Chai Hop, based on the Pionpi enemies from World 4, is a fairly basic move but varies her recovery options alongside her Side-B.

Ideally, this means using her would involve deciding whether or not in any given situation to fight up close or at a slight distance, and what is the best way to transition back and forth between the two ranges.

Daisy’s Final Smash comes from the Super Mario Strikers series and grants her boosts to speed and offensive power. Additionally, many of her attacks will launch flurries of mechanized soccer balls.

While “clone” characters tend to look different but share similar moves with their base counterparts, Daisy is sort of the opposite, bearing obvious resemblance to Princess Peach but having significantly different attacks from top to bottom. Daisy is often described as being more of a tomboy than Peach, and so I thought it would be cool to have this come out in her attacks. Hence, she does things like throw hooks for Forward Smashes and kicks sand in opponents’ faces. Though not pictured, I see her small animations and jumps being more athletic as well. Of course, her taunt would be “Hi I’m Daisy!”

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This is how I imagine King K. Rool (from the Donkey Kong Country series) would be if he were in Super Smash Bros. I’ve got at least a couple more of these on the way, so if readers are interested then they’ll have more to look forward to.

For King K. Rool, I made it so that each of his special moves references a different game in the Donkey Kong games produced by Rare, so Krown Toss = DKC, Blunderbuss = DKC2, Helicopter Pack = DKC3, and Punch Flurry = DK64. I’ve seen lots of other people come up with similar ideas, but what can I say? It makes complete sense.

While King K. Rool much larger than Donkey Kong in a lot of the games, I wanted to make them roughly equal in size so that it comes across as more of a rivalry between two powerhouses, as opposed to the David vs. Goliath feeling of Mario vs. DK or Mario vs. Bowser. K. Rool is not quite as strong or as quick as DK, and his movements are a bit awkward, but makes up for it with some nice ranged attacks.

Krown Toss is for space control and bits of damage, while the Blunderbuss is for KO power. The longer you charge the Blunderbuss, the more (randomized) projectiles it shoots out. Helicopter Pack is highly controllable but very slow and thus an easy target for edgeguarding, while Punch Flurry is good for clearing crowds but exhausts K. Rool afterwards. He doesn’t actually punch all that much in DK64 but I figured having yet another ground pound character would be overdoing it.

His Final Smash is based on the giant leaps he takes in DKC; I imagine it being fairly similar to PK Starstorm only that K. Rool himself is also a “projectile” in this case. Of course, he would have his running attack from the first DKC.

 

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In the world of Pokemon, Diantha (Carnet in Japanese) is not only the Pokemon Champion of the Kalos region and the final boss of Pokemon Xbut also a movie star with renowned beauty. It shows in her character design, but there’s something I find interesting about Diantha’s attractiveness. As far as I can tell, rather than being the perfect woman for guys, Diantha appears to be closer to women’s general perception of the ideal feminine beauty.

I’m not especially well-read on the differences between how men and women view beauty except to know that there is at least some appreciable difference between the sexes. From my own experience talking to others about this, if you were to look at the female chefs on the Food Network and ask who is the most attractive, men often prefer Giada De Laurentiis while Claire Robinson appeals more to women. A lot of it seems to do with the men and women focusing on different features, though I can’t say for certain which is which. When I look at Diantha’s design she leans closer to Claire than she does Giada in terms of facial structure, and her pose and overall stature exude less of an alluring, sensual quality, and more a powerful, statuesque grace. It also might be the eyebrows.

Of course, tastes between individuals can vary even within the same gender, and there are also cultural differences to account for. In this sense I’d say that Diantha is more of a European ideal than an Asian one, but as with all of this it’s more my own impression than anything else. Obviously I can’t speak about how women perceive beauty firsthand, and if there’s something you think I’m overlooking or just plain wrong about, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Though, if we’re talking about ideal Pokemon girl for guys, I imagine it’d be either Cynthia (Shirona) or Flannery (Asuna).

 

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I made this just for this post

Twitch Plays Pokemon is a fascinating social experiment. Through the magic of streaming video and live chat, tens of thousands of users try to collectively play a single game of the original Pokemon Red by inputting simple commands such as up, down, and a. The result is inevitably chaos as our hero Red looks to be religiously checking his items, pacing back and forth, throwing away valuable items, and never ever being able to walk in a straight line. Fans have lovingly crafted a lore around the whole endeavor, taking the idea of active participation to arguably another level.

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need me to tell you about it, because Twitch Plays Pokemon has absolutely exploded in popularity, getting coverage on a number of major sites. Given this, I do have to wonder to what extent the popularity has to do with Pokemon itself? Pokemon is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all times, and inevitably many people have experienced Pokemon in one form or another, even if they haven’t played the original game. This is why you can get anywhere between 40,000 to 100,000 people on the stream simultaneously 24 hours a day, because much like the British Empire the sun never sets on Pokemon fandom.

I’m no exception as I’ve inputted a few commands myself. I’ve watched in horror as the convulsing young Pokemon Trainer threw away two of his most valuable Pokemon, and witnessed the serendipity of Digrat, the Rattata who keeps resetting the progress of the game by digging back to the beginning of caves and secret hideouts. What I’ve also learned is that Pokemon Red is still really fun in and of itself. While the latest games in the series, Pokemon X/Y, are by far the best Pokemon games ever in terms of level of refinement, things to do, and even ease of finally creating that competitive team to beat down your friends/people on the internet, the enjoyment that the first-generation games brought was not simply a matter of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a huge factor for me personally, as the familiar tunes are ingrained deep into my psyche and I realized I could recognize that a Drowzee was sent out just from hearing it cry, but the elaborate yet ultimately forgiving sense of exploration you get in Pokemon Red/Blue just feels right.

This isn’t to say that the collaborative aspect of Twitch Plays Pokemon is subordinate to the game itself, as it’s being part of a greater crowd that is (for the most part) trying to aim towards success but often unintentionally stifling it that gives the whole experience much of its charm. With the Pokemon games, you’ve always had an environment where success feel great, but with Twitch Plays Pokemon failure often feels just as satisfying. Either way, it makes for great stories to share.

Kill la Kill, the new anime from the creators of Gurren-Lagann and Inferno Cop, is pretty much living up to the huge amount of hype surrounding it. For me, there are a few areas pertaining to the visual element of the show which really stand out.

1) Kill la Kill excels at creative sight gags.

When it comes to works that are humorously absurd, often times we say they succeed despite themselves because the humor is because it takes itself seriously and doesn’t realize its own power. In contrast, we then say other works fail to capture this glory because they tried too hard. I find Kill la Kill generally hits that sweet spot where the humor is clearly intentional, but doesn’t go overboard in extending its jokes, so it’s even more possible to appreciate its cleverness.

Two scenes from episode 3 stick out in this respect. The first happens at the beginning of the fight between Ryuko and Satsuki, when their combined willpower literally blows away the surrounding bystanders. It’s a pretty typical sight in anime which wants to establish the sheer power of its primary characters. Then, in the next shot, Kill la Kill extends that sequence to the point of absurdity by having the bystanders’ bodies continuously flying through the air. The shot lasts for about 5 seconds, and during that time it’s easy to wonder if there are more bodies being blasted away than were actually standing there moments before.

The second is after the battle, when Satsuki says to Ryuko that in order to fight her she’ll have to go through her goons, her goons’ goons, and her goons’ goons’ goons. Kill la Kill sets the image up in a somewhat abstract fashion, much like one of those old dramatic Dezaki Osamu painted stills (which I just found out recently is called a “harmony” shot thanks to Anipages). Then, as the show switches to a bird’s eye point of view, you realize that Satsuki and all of her minions are actually standing there like they’re posing for a group photo.

These sight gags stretch their conventions just far enough to pull you out a bit, but neither of them overstay their welcome. Both of them use the screen to create strong images, which brings me to my next point.

2) Kill la Kill has strong image composition.

The series uses a lot of the extreme poses key to a Kanada Yoshinori-style animation, but even in still shots and pans Kill la Kill exhibits a lot of intelligence and creativity which both enhances the mood of the show while also encouraging an appreciation in the animation (or lack thereof).

This shot of Ryuko and the tennis club captain from episode 2 literally consists off two figures sliding and changing size against a background. There’s little to no animation, and yet the moment helps to create tension because the initial image of the two standing away from each other on the tennis court gradually turns into a face-to-face confrontation with the net acting as a visual separator between the two. I find it really impressive because it was able to do so much with so little, and it’s a trend you’ll see throughout each episode.

In the same episode, Ryuko confronts Satsuki. Satsuki begins to swing her sword and she grows to massive proportions on-screen to convey the idea that she’s a massive threat and that she’s much more powerful than she looks. Obviously from the context of the show she’s not actually getting bigger, and this sort of visual representation reminds me of two things.

First, is an American football manga mentioned in Fred Schodt’s Manga! Manga!, where a tiny Japanese player blasts through a massive American roughly five times his size. Second, is Fist of the North Star, and I don’t just mean the giant mohawk thugs. That series often exaggerates the size of Kenshiro’s foes yet shows them to be relatively even in size moments later, just to transmit danger.

3) Kill la Kill makes a lot of anime references but doesn’t overdo it.

This point relates heavily to the first.

Kill la Kill makes numerous references to old anime each episode, but doesn’t depend on them for success. In episode 1 Mako can be seen performing a Kinniku Buster from Kinnikuman on her little brother, but it’s never referred to by name, and there isn’t any sort of big fancy scene where she jumps from the air and lands with an impact. They save those moments for the actual fights.

A lot of the anime and manga references involve Mako, which makes me think that this is part of her purpose as a character. In episode 3, she goes to “shield” Ryuko but more to give a strange speech about how Ryuko should get naked. During that lively sequence this shows up:

That’s right, Kill la Killi threw in a Space Runaway Ideon reference (see 14 seconds into the video). Evangelion is known to be inspired in part by Ideon, and to have ex-Gainax employees bringing it out doesn’t surprise me too much. Again, the reference doesn’t linger too long, is more about the ridiculousness of Mako as a character, and is actually a little easy to miss.

There’s also the recurring use of stars blinking in and out in Kill la Kill. It reminds me of the opening to Evangelion, right before the title logo appears, and I really suspect that it’s intentional.

Actually, I think Mako herself is an anime reference, as her hairstyle and position as the main character’s best friend immediately reminded me of the character Maki from Aim for the Ace! Ryuko’s messier hair even somewhat resembles Aim for the Ace! heroine Hiromi’s style relative to Maki’s. That Mako’s first name is written in Katakana like Maki in the Aim for the Ace! anime, that she is a tennis club member, and that her membership sets up the conflict in episode 2 all point towards this being likely.

In each case the references aid the show but do not dominate it. If someone fails to get certain references (and given the amount it’s going to happen to pretty much everyone, including me) then it doesn’t unravel the humor or make the series any less visually strong. If a reference does get through, it is capable of becoming not only a matter of spotting the homage but also considering how Kill la Kill relates to that older work. For instance, there’s this interesting relationship between Kill la KillGurren-LagannAim for the Top! Gunbuster, and Aim for the Ace! that I’d like to unravel in terms of how these shows approach similar ideas.

I also have other thoughts about the narrative and thematic elements of the show, but I’ll save those for another time. If you want to check out Kill la Kill though, it’s being simulcast from a variety of sites: Crunchyroll, Hulu, and for international audiences, Daisuki.

Official sources for Genshiken Second Season

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