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Digimon Adventure, known around the world as simply Digimon, is an anime that helped to define a certain generation of fans. For many, it was either the anime, or the the other anime, relative to its thematic rival, Pokemon. Where Pokemon was about traveling in a world where monsters and humans co-exist, and the stakes were generally about winning tournaments, Digimon was about traveling to an alternate digital world of monsters and saving the world. Where Pokemon generally had a core cast of three, Digimon had over twice that amount. Perhaps most important for our purposes, where Pokemon‘s characters seem to remain eternally young, Digimon‘s characters would age.

This brings us to Digimon Adventure tri., a direct sequel to the original two Digimon anime. Taking place with its main cast now older and in high school, main character Yagami Taichi (Taichi Kamiya in English) and the others have long since lost contact with their old Digimon friends as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Suddenly, Digimon start appearing in the real world, prompting the old team to reunite with the Digital World.

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Digimon Adventure tri. is very intentionally a more mature series than its prequels, though not in the sense that it’s supposed to be “darker.” Rather, between the more subdued character designs, a general aesthetic that’s closer to the Hosoda Mamoru-directed Digimon movies than the TV series, a new version of its beloved theme song Butterfly featuring hints of melancholy, and just the portrayal of the subtle turbulence that comes with being of high school age, Digimon Adventure tri. is aimed towards the young fans who are now adults themselves (or close to it). The series says, “We’ve grown up with you, and we know what it’s like.”

For example, Kido Joe, the straight-laced and responsible one, is now being consumed by college entrance exams, and Taichi himself feels like he can no longer charge ahead like he used to when he was the de facto team leader of the Chosen Ones (“DigiDestined”). This is not to say that the new series is a total downer, stripped of any of the joy and wonder of the original anime. What I think they’re going for, instead, is a kind of rediscovery of those simpler and more magical times, while grounding that kind of experience in the process of becoming adults.

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Digimon Adventure tri. actively works to maintain a strong connection with the original series, and a lot of attention is paid to continuity as a result. Whereas Taichi and the older kids have their original DigiVices, the portable tools based on the original hand-held Digimon virtual pet, the younger Hikari and Takeru (“TK”) have different ones, a nod to their continued battles in Digimon Adventure 02. Somewhat similarly, the story is set very intentionally not in 2015 but somewhere in the mid-2000s, as reflected in the technology. Most cell phones are flip phones with number pads, and no smart phones are in sight. It’s not like failing to do these things would have made it a worse series, but it shows that, to a large extent, Digimon Adventure tri. aims to evoke strong feelings of nostalgia for both for the franchise itself and for those who know what it’s like to be a teenager.

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There are a couple of notes that I feel the need to point out for the die-hard fans (I know you’re still out there). First, if you watched this series dubbed in English (or perhaps other languages, I’m not sure), the lack of dialogue and constant banter might seem unusual or even off-putting. The original Japanese versions of Digimon had a lot more “dead air,” that is to say long moments of silence, and adding music or dialogue to fill space is an old American television tactic that you could also see in the dub for Pokemon. Digimon Adventure tri. uses even larger periods of silence and its unsteady atmosphere (perhaps all the better to convey that feeling of becoming adults), so it’s something to expect going in.

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Second, you should know that the plains of the shipping wars are revived and more serious than ever. While the previous series had some hints of romance (or maybe more if you count the controversial time-skip ending of Digimon Adventure 02), relationships are nearly front and center in Digimon Adventure tri. There’s a clear love triangle between Taichi, Sora, and Yamato (probably the site of the most fierce battles). Koushirou (“Izzy”) clearly has a powerful crush on Mimi. Takeru and Hikari tease each other about their mutual popularity among the opposite sex. If you had any stake in these old battles, the series might very well draw you in like honey.

As of this first movie (split into 4 episodes on Crunchyroll), it’s clear that Digimon Adventure tri. won’t give viewers the same experience as the original anime from over a decade ago. Unlike Pokemon, which tries its best to maintain the same constant feel (though to be fair there have been subtle changes in that series over the years), Digimon Adventure tri. wants you to know that the characters have grown, that their inner and outer (and perhaps even digital) worlds have changed as a result, and it’s inviting you back to take a look. The next film/batch of episodes won’t be out until March 2016, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.

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With the surprise announcement of Cloud Strife in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS & Wii U, as well as the upcoming mysterious December Smash Bros. special report, I felt inspired to start up a new line of Smash character what-ifs. You can see the previous ones I’ve made below.

King K. Rool (Donkey Kong Country)

Princess Daisy (Super Mario Land)

Geno (Super Mario RPG)

Great Puma (NES Pro Wrestling)

Thinking about how 3rd-party characters in Smash tend to be ones from influential or important games (Cloud), or representative of entire genres (Ryu), I decided to create a moveset and design for Pitfall Harry, the hero of the classic Atari 2600 game Pitfall. If you don’t know who Pitfall Harry is, that’s probably not surprising, as 1) the game is from 1982 and 2) even if you know the game Pitfall Harry doesn’t have much of a presence. After all, this is what he looked like:

Pitfall is significant in that, to my knowledge, it’s the first horizontal multi-screen platform game, and in terms of its implementation on the Atari it is a technical marvel, like creating boeuf bourguignon out of leather shoes and ketchup. Because of this, I think Pitfall Harry could reasonably have a place in a pantheon of gaming icons, however unlikely.

However, the first challenge that presented itself is the fact that Pitfall Harry has no consistent design. In addition to the fact that his original sprite (although amazing for its time) has no real identifiable features, Pitfall Harry across adaptations and sequels changes size, hair, clothes, musculature, personality, and more from one iteration to the next.


Possible Costumes?

As mentioned on the image itself, I decided to prioritize Pitfall Harry’s movements, because they’re what’s iconic about him, while trying to keep his silhouette closer to the original sprite wherever possible. If he can for the most part capture the animations of the Atari 2600 sprite in Smash, then his identity should come through. This should also be reflected in the audio. When he jumps, he should make that distinct Atari noise (or a higher-quality version of it), and when he does his Jungle Swing Pitfall Harry should yell out like Tarzan.

As for the attacks themselves, I feel that Pitfall and Pitfall II are where most of the game franchise’s influence comes from, and so they should be prioritized. His Final Smash is his “deadliest enemy, the crocodiles,” his Balloon recovery move comes straight out of Pitfall II (and is super vulnerable so only useful as a last resort), his Tar Pit trap references both the treasure and hazard aspects of Pitfall, and the Jungle Swing is iconic. The main exception is the Slingshot neutral special, taken from Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure and other sequels. If his son can use it, I’m sure Harry can as well.

Gameplay-wise, I picture Pitfall Harry as being average in weight, average in ground speed, a little above average in air speed, and below average in racking damage and KO power. He’s not that much of a fighter (unlike Mario, jumping on enemies just kills Harry), so he would function primarily as a zoning and trapping character who controls space with his specials, but doesn’t have as much sheer recovery power as Smash 4 Villager. If anything, he’d be closer to Duck Hunt. However, his trapping game is not to be underestimated. Tar Pit works like a souped-up version of a burying attack, both getting the opponent stuck and dealing damage over time. It would also be unblockable, which somewhat makes up for his tether grab. The caveat is that it is very obvious where it is located, with the big glowing gold bar to indicate the trap, but this also means that the opponent best steer clear of the location. Essentially, Harry could cut off a portion of the stage, such as Smashville’s platform or Battlefield’s top platform, and manipulate the opponent to get hit by a Jungle Swing or a smash attack (which would mostly involve fists).

Overall, Harry would emphasize cunning and ingenuity. To succeed as Pitfall Harry requires a clear understanding of space control, as well as adapting to a somewhat unorthodox neutral game.

So, who do you think I’ll be showing next time? I’ll leave you with a hint. “Japan shut down.”

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As a long overdue follow-up to our discussion on Brave Police J-Decker, I was invited along with the Reverse Thieves‘ Kate to talk about King of Braves Gaogaigar on Space Opera Satellite’s “Cockpit” series. Many have called it the best show in the Brave franchise, and it’s been 10 years since I first finished Gaogaigar, when that sentiment was at its strongest.

For your reference: Silverion Hammer

The real question is, why are there so few King J-Der toys?

What is good character design?

Different people will have their own ideas about what helps the design of a character (including myself), but over the past few years I’ve begun to consider more how the elements often described as contributing to character design are a kind of double-edged sword.

Take the idea that a character should have a unique look achieved through simple yet elegant means, and that they shouldn’t be mistaken for anyone else in the cast. This is ideally achieved through stylization, and to some extent exaggeration. For example, I find the character designs in Heartcatch Precure! to be fantastic, and part of this is achieved because the girls are varying heights, and that their distinct personalities come across very clearly in the way they look. However, that same dedication to simplicity and really conveying a character’s particular characteristics through their appearance are the same tools that can be used to, for example, create harmful stereotypes. How do you make a character look more Asian? Give them squinty eyes and buck teeth, because that will immediately communicate their Asian-ness.

Of course, there’s a significant difference between making a character that expresses their uniqueness through their design, and drawing to conform a character to a general stereotype in that one is about individualizing and the other is about generalizing, but I think that the two ideas exist on the same spectrum. Take for example a political cartoon mocking a particular politician through the use of symbols and signs meant to represent that individual. A large hooked nose in this case might become the symbol of a racism against Jewish people in another context. The very tools artists use to express ideas of love, equality, and growth can also be used to spread hatred, discrimination, and regression.

I am pro-freedom of expression, so I do not believe in restricting even the more negative and harmful uses of art, but I do understand that a price is paid as a result. Images persist that can strip young people of confidence, make them feel as if they never have a chance in the world. While one way to combat it is to provide even more positive images, the inevitable difficulty is helping them to navigate all of the disparate messages without necessarily forcing them to be blind to everything that’s out there. When the strategy to helping others out is to block their access to material that might change them, then that itself can become a problem.

I myself don’t entirely know the point I’m trying to get at, but I believe it’s something along the lines of “artists have a lot of responsibility.” Whether you use your art to fight for a cause, against one, or just want to draw things that are cute, cool, gruesome, even actively traumatizing, that is a decision to be made, and to be felt, and you it is good to be prepared for the consequences that arise.

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Daidouji Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my favorite characters ever, from one of my favorite anime ever, and if you’re not a fan of Tomoyo… what’s wrong with you? Whereas normally I would hesitate to buy even some of my most beloved heroines, Nendoroid Tomoyo was a no-brainer. Upon seeing it go up for pre-order, I hit purchase and looked back with zero regrets. Sakura merchandise is common, but Tomoyo much less so, and I couldn’t let this sort of thing pass me by.


I don’t own a lot of Nendoroids. In fact, my first one was a Kinomoto Sakura (seen above) that I received as a birthday present. Quite smartly, my friend purchased it because he (correctly) expected that I would not hesitate to pick up Tomoyo. Thus, I don’t have a lot to compare to, and I’m extremely biased, so I’ll call this less a review and more of a celebration.


Nendoroid Tomoyo is mostly based on her anime design, as opposed to the softer shoujo look of the Cardcaptor Sakura manga. However, one thing that they did bring from the manga was a hint of Tomoyo’s lavender hair; in the anime it’s more of a gray. When I think about it, rarely do figures try to replicate the look of shoujo manga, likely due to how complicated and not designed for 3-D they are. At least with anime, you can rely on more solid colors.

Tomoyo comes in a standard Tomoeda Elementary school uniform, and has a choice between a hat or a hairband, as well as smiling and ecstatic faces. I’ve gone with the hat + sparkly eyes combo for these photos in order to achieve maximum radness, but what really takes this figure over the top is the inclusion of her signature camcorder.

Remember kids, this anime was made in the early 2000s, before mobile phones could take HD-quality video. Back in her day, Tomoyo would have to walk 20 miles uphill both ways in the snow in order to film her lovely Sakura-chan and add to her massive archive of Cardcaptor Sakura footage in her private viewing room inside of her mansion, under watch by her squad of lady bodyguards.


It’s supposed to have a swing-out screen, but a small missing part makes it impossible to attach. I’m not sure if it was defective or if I had simply lost it while taking it out, that’s how tiny the connecting piece. The other flaw is that the giant head is rather unwieldy, especially with the hat, and sometimes moving it around can cause Tomoyo’s noggin to fall off.

Overall, it’s a fine addition to the collection, and when I think about it, I am fortunate that the characters I like tend not to get a ton of merchandise. That’s what I would say…if I didn’t get into Love Live. That’s for next time.


Wordplay has always been important in the Aquarion franchise. Generally set in a world where love reincarnates thousands of years in the future, many solutions across both the original Genesis of Aquarion and Aquarion EVOL literally come out of transforming words in order to access a plethora of elaborate giant robot attacks. Even as far as those series go, the latest incarnation, Aquarion Logos, takes this love of language manipulation to a whole new level, positioning it as the most prominent factor. For a lover of puns such as myself it makes for a fascinating series, not only because it’s often quite clever, but because Aquarion Logos looks at the very way in which people perceive words.

In the original Aquarion, the Japanese title was Sousei no Aquarion, where sousei (創聖) means “construct” and “holy.” Hence, its English translation is “Genesis.” When characters combine their robots, they say, “Sousei Gattai,” or Genesis Combination. Already this is where Aquarion Logos takes a different angle. In that series, sousei is written with the Japanese kanji for “construct” and “voice” (創声). Translated into English as “verbalism,” it represents the fact that the main pilots in the series all have a talent for bringing words into reality. Whether they’re aiming to be a politician, a comedian, or indeed a “savior” as the main character Kaibuki Akira does, they believe in the power of language, and can almost literally walk the walk by talking the talk. When characters shout “Sousei Gattai” in Aquarion Logos, it thus takes on a completely different meaning.

The ways in which words are used becomes the central conflict of at least the first half of the series. The villain, a man named Kenzaki Sougon, is able to travel into the very world where words exist and transform them into creatures called “M.J.B.K.” Pronounced mojibake (literally “word monsters”), these enemies of the week (again, giant robot show) devour the words on which they are based, manipulating their presence in reality. Because of the way kanji works, many other ideas are eradicated as well. For example, in Episode 1 the M.J.B.K. is created from the word maki (巻), which means “roll,” causing things to get twisted into knots, but it’s also the word used to mean “volume” as in “volume 1 of a manga,” which causes that concept to disappear as well.

Sougon believes that people have sadly lost their connection to the origins of words, that the power of words comes from the desire to communicate what exists. Words are in service to reality, and forgetting that means words become useless. In contrast, Kaibuki Akira goes the opposite direction. He draws on the creative potential of words as a way to construct reality. The key example of this is the fact that Akira frequently refers to himself as a “savior,” and tries his best to just constantly save people. When asked why he’s a savior or why he’s so hung up on the idea, it turns out that there’s no particular reason. He takes the meaning of the word itself and makes it into reality through his actions, fulfilling its potential. The Japanese word for savior, kyuuseishu literally means “one who saves the world,” and that’s what Akira aims for.

In Episode 13 the team fights a particularly dangerous M.J.B.K. that represents Mu, or nothingness. Written as 無, perhaps people might recognize it as the symbol used by Gouken in Street Fighter IV. Sougon uses it because the power of nothingness is able to consume other words and concepts, but Akira responds by saying that nothingness also means endless possibilities. At this point, he and his co-pilot Maia utilize the signature attack of the Aquarion franchise, the Mugenken, or “Infinite Punch.” Mu is one half of the word for infinity. At another point, as the world risks being reduced to that nothingness, the word “savior” carries the potential for recovery, as it consists of the characters for “help,” “world,” and “person.” What else is needed to start over other than these concepts?

Aquarion Logos is both a powerful and silly anime, and intentionally so. It’s potentially a difficult series to watch because of how prominent kanji is, making it a bit obtuse for those unfamiliar with Japanese, particularly because English and other languages don’t necessarily utilize symbols in the same way. So far, many of the references are to the original Aquarion, but Episode 13 drops a possible callback to Aquarion Evol, so it’ll be interesting to see how things develop now that the second half has been under way.

By this point, you’ve probably heard: against all odds, and against all predictions, Cloud Strife is in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U. The very symbol of Square Enix (back then Squaresoft)’s departure from Nintendo consoles, and the most popular Final Fantasy ever, now challenges Nintendo’s greatest icons. I’m not going to show you a hype reaction video (all of my hype tends to be inward), but if you want to see one, this is my favorite.

Instead, I want to talk about this:

smash-cloud-ffvii smash-cloud-adventchildren

(No, I did not purposely use the Japanese trailer, it was just up on the Japanese Smash Bros. page first.)

As you’ve probably noticed, you have the choice between Final Fantasy VII Cloud and Advent Children Cloud. However, what impresses me is that Cloud’s hair is more realistic-looking in his Advent Children model.

That was totally unnecessary to do, but it’s this kind of attention that I love about Super Smash Bros. One aspect of Advent Children is that it updated the designs of the FFVII characters, showing off in the process the advances in 3D graphics that had developed since 1997. What I find especially impressive about this is the fact that the game ends up embracing both versions. While Cloud isn’t blocky like the Akira from Virtua Fighter Mii Costume, there’s still that sense of not just a different hair style but a more polygonal one.

Then again, given Little Mac’s wireframe model, this is exactly the sort of thing I should have expected…if I had expected Cloud at all.

Who’s even left at this point? Who could even top the surprise factor of this? At this point I’m calling Pitfall Harry, the first side-scrolling platform hero.

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I believe that the best children’s anime, and perhaps the best children’s entertainment in general, carries a sense of weight that does not try to go far above their heads. More than a matter of simply “maturity,” it’s about giving children respect and understanding that they are thinking, feeling beings who experience the world, and this also results in works that can be enjoyed by adult as well. The best moments of series such as Pokemon and Digimon follow this vein, and this is also the impression I get from the latest Kickstarter anime project, CHUYA-DEN: The Night and Day Chronicles.

CHUYA-DEN follows three children who get embroiled in the conflict between day and night youkai, and must fight to save the world from darkness. After watching the Kickstarter video, I decided to back the project almost immediately. This might seem a bit odd given that details of the story are sparse and the staff for this project aren’t industry superstars, but just from that small introduction a number of things stuck out and impressed me.

First, is the overall atmosphere of the world being portrayed. With its Arietty-esque portrayal of common, everyday objects such as cooking stoves as giant artifacts, combined with the brightness of its characters and the darkness of night, I could feel a sense of importance in what the characters are trying to accomplish.

Second, is the fact that the creators of the studio responsible for this project, WAO World, are valuing CHUYA-DEN as a wholly original project not shackled by the demands of a toy industry or other such sponsor that demands sales of merchandise above all else. As much as series such as PokemonDigimon, and Precure have their heartfelt moments, their ties to toy and game companies always require a bit of sales-pitching, and I see CHUYA-DEN as something that exists along a similar wavelength without always having to defer to that sort of merchandise-oriented marketing.

Third, and for me the most important point, is that CHUYA-DEN appears to greatly value a sense of introspection in its characters and world while still maintaining itself as a children’s show. There’s a line in the trailer that says, “All you feelings inside are battles you must fight,” and that sense of conflict being as much internal as external is the same feeling get from my favorite children’s anime, titles such as Heartcatch Precure! and Battle Spirits: Shounen Toppa Bashin.

The project has 4 days to go, and is currently at over $50,000 of its stated $100,000 goal. If you’re interested in it for the same reasons as me, or perhaps even different reasons all your own, why not take a look?

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Name: Ominaeshi (女郎花)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Moehime

One of the four Heian-period youkai who comprise the “Kachou Fugetsu,” Ominaeshi is, much like the rest of her group and her human friend Tomoe, a bibliophile. Possessing a more masculine personality compared to the others, Ominaeshi also has the ability to manipulate plants.

Fujoshi Level:
Willing to read anything and everything, while Ominaeshi is not much of a yaoi fan compared to her friends, she is slowly becoming more of a fujoshi due to constant exposure.

I don’t believe all that strongly in “show, don’t tell.” It’s effective as a basic guide to help people understand the power of visual media, or as a helpful rule to teach people that subtlety is a thing, but it runs the risk of being wielded like a sledgehammer, similar to the concept of “character development.” Telling instead of showing has a purpose and can be used well, though effectively doing so is arguably even more difficult.


I recently finished Hanamonogatari, which for those who’ve lost track of all of the different titles is the end (or perhaps extended epilogue/adventure unto itself?) of the second series. Given the characteristically heavy amount of dialogue that this series is known for, and both the criticism and praise it receives for doing so, I had to return to what is perhaps the biggest question to deal with when reviewing or analyzing Monogatari. Is it actually possible for a series that obsessed with words to be follow the idea of “show, don’t tell?”

The Monogatari series, and Nisio Isin in general, revels in long dialogue that tells the viewer or reader what’s going on. There are seemingly endless descriptions by characters about how they’re feeling and fewer expressions and actions that reflect those emotions. It can come across as very long-winded, and I think that finding the series to be unenjoyable as a result is not surprising or exactly a problem. However, Monogatari is frequently about words themselves, and how they can be transformed or carry different meanings, especially through the use of Japanese as an ideogram-based language. Puns and wordplay and general use of homonyms is core to the series, and if a work is that obsessed and built around looking at and examining the occult power of words, how much is lost in a less dialogue-heavy work?


A counterpoint to this is the more recent Aquarion Logos, where the heroes battle monsters that are actually the essences of kanji ripped out and mutated. I think the similarities to Monogatari are quite upfront, and I even jokingly call it Aquarimonogatari myself. Here, rather than engaging in extensive dialogues and conversations, a lot of the action comes from mecha battles and more typical anime character interaction hijinks. Words hold a similar power in Aquarion Logos that they do in Monogatari, but this is usually expressed in scenes where the loss of corruption of a word causes accidents and other horrible changes in the world.

So in terms of the question of “is it actually possible” to make a series that is so focused on the nature of words to be less expository, the answer is “yes,” but then one must ask to what extent it transforms the function and feel of the work itself. Can Aquarion Logos go as deep into exploring the interplay between words in terms of their appearance, sound, and cultural weight as Monogatari when it has all of these surrounding qualities that are more in line with a typical series? Or is perhaps Monogatari just as “guilty” of doing the same because it has this very otaku-focused set of characters that play just as much with the idea of “harems” in anime as they do the power of writing and speech?

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