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The ANN Aftershow – Is Fruits Basket -prelude- Worth Watching?

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It’s been a dry shojo season for way too long, so let’s check out the new movie from the fan-favorite series Fruits Basket! Does this Kyoko and Katsuya origin story deliver the drama?

The ANN After Show streams live on Mondays at 6pm PDT/9pm EDT. You can find us live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter Spaces or listen to the podcast version on your favorite streaming platform!

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Meet the Hosts!

As executive editor of Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge has the unique position of knowing what’s tracking with the critics and with viewers in the anime fandom. She not only writes her own reviews every season but also reads everything from ANN’s editorial staff! Outside of work, she’s just a magical girl living in a Junji Ito world.

James Beckett is one of ANN’s resident series reviewers and he’s never shy to let the world know how he really feels. You can find his impressions of the latest shows in the Preview Guide and well as episode reviews for hit anime series.

Jacki Jing is ANN’s lead video producer and resident punch ’em up fangirl. You can find her binge-watching the latest shonen battle royale series, kicking ass on Twitch, and hosting events from esports to voice actor interviews.

Watch the full video here:




Or listen to the audio only podcast version here:


00:00 – Introductions
01:30 – Breaking News! Ranking of Kings was submitted for consideration for a Primetime Emmy!
05:20 – Side convo: Krillin is husband material
09:13 – News! Chainsaw Man manga updates!
12:18 – News! New My Hero Academia promo video
19:56 – News! There’s going to be a new Trigun anime!
24:30 – Side convo: Old anime music videos
34:05 – Fruits Basket -prelude- discussion!


If you like the show, be sure to write us up a review over on Apple Music!

Have questions for the ANN Aftershow hosts? Tweet ’em to @ANN_Lynzee! Or check out the community forums thread about the show, or send email questions to [email protected]!

This Week in Anime – All According to Kaguya-sama

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As we approach the hour-long finale of Kaguya-sama: Love is War Ultra Romantic, Nick and Steve look back on the wild ride that led us here. Who will confess first, or will their egos once again get in the way of romantic bliss?

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


Steve

Nick, I’ve an important question for you: do you think love can bloom on the battlefield? And a follow-up question: what if that battlefield has aliens?

Nick

Steve, you know my policy on monster girls. I don’t care how long Shirogane’s been waiting to see his crush, he needs to do his part and kill that bug.

I mean have you seen this past episode’s cliffhanger? I think he just did.

That’s right baby, we’re getting in juuuuuuust under the wire before the season finale of Kaguya-sama, and shit’s getting absolutely bug nuts. And like, more nuts than usual for this show.

So nuts we’re going to need a hour long finale just to wrap everything up and dispose of the bodies left behind. But I am certainly not one to complain about an impending double-dose of Kaguya-sama, because this season really cements it as one of my favorite anime comedies of all time.

It’s been a hell of a ride to get here, and while we’ll doubtlessly have a lot to say about the current arc, it’s best we not forget the journey that got us here, and the many ways Ishigami’s gotten owned this season.

He remains the most relatable character, that’s for sure. I actually caught up on the second half of the second season not too long ago, and I just want to say here how unfair it was for the show to make me feel feelings about Ishigami. And as such, I’m very glad for a return to the dunk-heavy status quo.


Oh, the fucking magic the show works to reform Ishigami as a character is nothing short of miraculous. By all accounts it should not work, yet here we are watching him not only be a decent person, but even sacrifice his dignity to protect his ingrate underclassmen.


Noble, perhaps, but it’s not like anybody in that student council room had any doubt that Ishigami listened to anime music for fun. The man is one of us, like it or not.

Personally, I’m more glad for further confirmation that Iino is the biggest freak out of all of them. And I mean that in a congratulatory sense.


Unbelievable to think that bit was foreshadowing, now that you mention it.

Kaguya-sama is nothing if not a complex web of broken social mores and rank perversion.

Really though, that is the secret sauce that makes this whole thing work. There are plenty of over-the-top comedies, but Kaguya-sama stands alone through the sheer effort and creativity that goes into the smallest, dumbest jokes. Not since Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has a show had this kind of energy.

And that’s a very apt comparison, considering it’s directed by Shinichi Omata, a Shaft expatriate. I mean, who else is gonna throw in a single-frame reference to Kaiji for no reason other than it’s extremely funny to me, specifically?


The same team that sees a zombie joke and turns the show into a PS1 survival horror game for a few seconds.

This is a show that, like Shaft’s best, knows how to squeeze a lot of juice out of a little pulp. The secret is a lot of style and a lot of not giving a fuck.

Granted even this show’s deepest cuts are more accessible than some of the shit SZS got up to. Though they do get close with things like an interstitial gag about drawing porn of their own characters, and then using said drawing as a background for a shot.


It is an anime made by madmen. Like, I don’t doubt the quality of the manga. Even having not read it, there are a lot of excellently written jokes and sketches in here, and the character work borders on the sublime. But modeling the entire ED of a goofy romcom on a Starship Troopers shitpost? That’s the work of twisted, arcane magic I dare not try to comprehend.


What’s even better is that said ED is also a sequel to the first season’s ED, not only following up the “storyline” in that original AU fic, but even incorporating bits from the show.

You just cannot ignore how much effort has been poured into nearly every facet of every episode. It can only be a labor of love, and the artistic payoff is outstanding. Plus, it’s very funny.

Also maybe it’s the trauma talking but I can’t not see this as an EX-ARM parody.


It’s also the rare anime that goes all-in on musical references too, with a ton of pitch-perfect soundalike songs to pepper certain running gags. I’m still dying at the sad Charlie Brown music that plays during Maki’s introduction:

Me, I’ve been thinking about the fake “Take On Me” bit from the most recent episode all week. But the morose Snoopy music is precisely what Maki deserves, and overall she’s been a wonderful addition to our growing cast of hardheaded assholes.

Can’t lie. Watching her slowly die inside has definitely been one of the highlights of this season.

Or watching her learn in real time about sex.







That’s good cartoons.
Whom amongst us didn’t turn into borderless smears of color when we learned about the birds and the bees?
But really, I do like the energy Maki brings to the cast. She’s not totally embroiled in all the covert romance, but still works as a cautionary tale for our main couple: don’t wait too long to confess, or you’ll become a creature of misery.

Or worse: you’ll befriend the creature of misery.



But on that note, while love mind games remain the series’ backbone, I think one of the best things about Kaguya-sama is how it’s developed its non-romantic relationships. Like, so many of my favorite bits have nothing to do with Kaguya and Shirogane out-galaxy-braining each other. The genuine bits of connection between Kaguya and Ishigami, or the chaotic energy that erupts whenever Chika and Shirogane interact. That’s the good stuff.
You say chaotic energy, I say trauma.


Chika’s doing fine.

Having a very normal one this whole season.



Though I guess that means we have to talk about the episode of this season that went viral.
In a perfect world they’d all go viral, but if we have to restrict ourselves to just one, I suppose we could do worse than the one where Chika swears.

And also the one where we have to cancel her.


She just asking! She wants to know!

It’s Pride, Chika. You should know the answer.

In her defense, I think her grey matter is even more scrambled than usual in this episode, for perfectly understandable reasons.





Friends don’t let friends listen to Mori Calliope albums.
But seriously, what is up with rap-themed episodes of anime this season? It’s like the weird confluence of genderswap shows back in winter, but everyone’s wearing their hats at slightly different angles.

It’s great! And genuinely, I’m really glad that Kaguya-sama approaches it with respect for the artform, which follows through to the anime delivering a rap battle that is legit pretty fire. Or whatever the kids are calling it these days.



Their diss game is on point at the very least.

I’ll give it this: it’s not Hypnosis Mic. And in rap terms that can only be a good thing. More importantly it’s got to be the weirdest bit of character development for this show yet considering the entire episode is buildup to rapping Hayasaka into a personal epiphany.


I’d need an outlet to vent into too if I had upwards of a half dozen secret identities to keep straight.


Well, keep “straight” in Herthaka’s case.

Down, Chika.

Also going back to the insane amount of effort for one-off bits: how about that ED?





Honestly, the running theme for this season is that at no point did Kaguya-sama have to go that hard. Yet it does, and I am beyond thankful to get smacked in the face by good anime each time.



Speaking of stuff that goes hard, here’s e-boy Shirogane.

Can’t wait for Chika to teach him how to play “Reinventing the Wheel to Run Myself Over” I bet it’ll be sick.



Because we know he can’t do it by himse-e-e-e-e-elf.
Simply gobsmacked by how mercilessly this bit dragged an entire generation. And deservedly so, for crimes on this scale.


Every person who owned Tony Hawk Pro Skater felt a knife go into their guts just now. And it somehow gets worse once Papa Shirogane shows up as the embodiment of cringe.

Shirogane’s dad is the single best addition to this show. A category 5 hurricane of a man. A complete goddamned nightmare in any and every situation. The epitome of fatherhood.


And as somebody who’s partially caught up on the manga, this isn’t even his final form.


I believe it! That’s the beauty of the man. He can always become Worse, and I will love him all the more for it. Like, this punchline was telegraphed so hard I could hear Morse Code, and I still laughed like a hyena. An immaculate presence.


He’s also a font of foreshadowing, somehow.

Ah, so season 4 takes place on the moon, gotcha.

I mean, also he’s saying this to his son, who’s in love with a beautiful and unattainable girl named Kaguya so.

He just wants them to be happy together. What a pure soul.

Also the moon may be lower in the sky than we thought considering the latest arc!


That’s right, after two and half season of pussyfooting around, Cupid now has an x-factor in play: the obligatory high school cultural festival!

That’s right motherfuckers. It’s happening. We’re beyond the point of no return now.




Even the narrator can’t believe it.
Yeah, Shirogane throws down the gauntlet first, with his intended impending matriculation to Stanford after graduation, but they’re both starting to feel the time crunch. Finally.





Though there’s still a lot of time, considering we spend like two episodes following everyone else’s culture fest adventures instead. Like Iino learning the dark side of ASMR.





One has to wonder how many DLsite purchases were written off as research material for this sketch. Power to those perverts. Plus, where else are you gonna see someone’s ear fetish intersect with a Max Headroom gag?

One of those moments where you know the perverts on staff jumped when they saw they were adapting that chapter.

Look, sometimes you gotta make something for the degenerates, and sometimes you gotta make something for the cinephiles. It’s all about balance.





Oh Ishigami. It’s you’re chance alright. And you have no god damn clue.





My precious disaster child. Even IF the festival legend didn’t exist, how do you think a classmate is going to take an offer of a throw pillow-sized cookie heart? My dude.

When that happened I screamed. I hollered. I smacked my desk. It’s perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This idiot spent two weeks mustering up the courage to talk to Tsubame for five minutes and then Mr. Bean’d his way into the first confession in this entire show. Ishigami is a legend.

I really love how Kaguya has been doing her best as his wingwoman too. They have a fun and sweet dynamic together, and lord knows Ishigami needs all the help he can get.




Even if the truth hurts.

Oh yeah, those two together make a remarkably fun pair of friends. Maybe even…more than friends…

I’m actually beyond relieved there’s zero chemistry between them. It makes their friendship that much odder, but more genuine too. However, I also got a kick out of that image, specifically, being Shirogane’s mental image of the two of them together. It says so much about every party involved.

This really is the season everyone finds out about NTR now that I think about it.





I am blessed every time the show remembers to let Kaguya be evil.

There are moments where she becomes a horror movie monster and it’s great every time.

And who’s to say her victims don’t deserve what’s coming?

That girl would be dead if Iino ever found out how horny she is.


There’s nary a pure soul in Shuchiin to be found. Actually, scratch that, there’s exactly one, and it’s that yakuza-affiliated astronomy club girl with the Among Us sleeping bag. It’s a damn shame she’s shown up like three times total.


Knowing this show she’ll somehow turn out to be both extremely plot relevant and also have secretly been in the background since episode two as some insane, long-game easter egg.

Now that’s the real Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei energy.

Also I’d call the Among Us part a stretch but the manga has an entire arc centered around Apex Legends so it’s almost certainly intentional.

Plus, I mean, there’s Player Chika’s Battlegrounds.


Somebody really needs to take away Aka Akasaka‘s internet privileges.
Or they need to be made more robust, to avoid further potential misunderstandings in the future.

This show is very much anti-inflation, if Shirogane is anything to go by.

You say that, but


Obviously that’s just a visual metaphor about Shirogane’s anxiety that he’s about to blow it. Which he very much is as we go into this season finale.


Pain.

And like, you could see it coming from a mile away. His little impromptu date with Kaguya was going so well—all speedbumps so meticulously flattened—just so he could start to enjoy what little time they have left together in school. But I didn’t want to believe it.

Or, and hear me out here. This is all an elaborate ruse. Shirogane lied about his plans to move abroad and go to Stanford to the school officials, applied for the sole purpose of getting an acceptance letter, and this entire season has been his long game plan to push Kaguya to confess to him because she’ll think they only have a few months left to be together. ALSO he purposefully assigned Iino and Ishigami to the culture festival board, knowing they would both get too distracted to interfere with his plan. THEN he secretly stole all the heart balloons at the festival and concocted the Phantom Thief in order to keep Detective Chika and the police occupied. BUT ALSO this whole plan was actually thought up by Hayasaka, who secretly instructed him when they were in the karaoke booth, and has been pulling the strings behind both of these fools for not just this season, but the ENTIRE SHOW. AND IT’S ALL BEEN ACCORDING TO KEIKAKU, SO NOW THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN STOP KAGUYA FROM FALLING FOR IT IS SHIROGANE’S FATHER WHO HID A SMALL PIECE OF THE DEATH NOTE IN THE WATCH HE GAVE TO SHIROGANE AND—



Or, y’know, it’s a tragic casualty of being a young person in love, and a reminder that you only have so much time to be with the people you love. Either one works.
Maybe I just need to hope for the best and not think about it too har—




Dammit, why does my anxiety demon always show up at the worst times and also perfectly resemble Chika Fujiwara?

Look that’s just what this show does to your brain, alright? Any other show I’d take this drama at face value. But it would be the ultimate power move for this show to have spent three seasons setting up for a Death Note meme.

Whatever the resolution, and however on brand it ends up being, I know I’m not alone chomping at the bit over here, waiting for that season finale to drop Friday. This is one of the greatest anime comedies to ever do it, fighting valiantly against entropy to become even funnier and even more eye-popping with each installment. I can’t wait to see what surprises and shitposts it has in store for us.

No matter the outcome, it’s guaranteed to be explosive.


This Week in Games – Final Fantasy XVI's Goodest Boy

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Hey everybody! After last week’s influx of big, BIG news, things are (thankfully) a bit quieter this week. I did a review of Sonic Origins over at GameSpot, where I was extremely nitpicky Nintendo launched a new Direct broadcast, but not the big, multi-game showcase we were all hoping for, instead focusing on showing off the much-anticipated Xenoblade Chronicles 3.




I haven’t actually watched the whole thing myself – If I’m really looking forward to a game, I actually try to limit my preview media consumption so I can go in with fewer expectations and more surprises. It’s a bit harder to do when you’re writing a weekly column like this and are expected to have A Take on everything, but I’m going to allow myself to stay in the dark about this one.

But that also ties in with an important announcement: My time here at This Week in Games is coming to a close.

No, I’m not ending my involvement with ANN entirely — I’ll still be writing articles here and there, as well as freelancing at a bunch of other places. But I’ve taken on a new gig that’s going to be taking up a lot more of my time, however, so I can’t really commit to a weekly column on here anymore. I’ll be writing for a couple more weeks, and then I’ll be passing the column along to the next writer. We’ve already got the next TWIGmaster lined up, and they’re a person ANN readers likely know well already, so things will be in good hands.

…Wow, I wrote this column for almost five years. That’s a pretty great run! I’ll have more details on the changeover in the coming weeks, but I wanted to give you all this information now, so my departure won’t be a massive shock.

Also, I’m really hoping Nintendo gives me at least one traditional Direct to report on before I go. As grueling as those writeups can be, they’re also pretty special. I’m going to miss ‘em.

MORE FINAL FANTASY XVI DETAILS EMERGE IN NAOKI YOSHIDA INTERVIEWS

After the new State of Play trailer from earlier this month, folks are chattering about Final Fantasy XVI once again. While Square-Enix has only shown gameplay in very small snippets, numerous major websites were able to talk to producer Naoki Yoshida: PlayStation Blog, GameSpot, IGN, even the Washington Post, among many others. (Gematsu has a full list of links across multiple languages collected in one handy place.)

Obviously, there’s a lot of information to be learned from these varied interviews, but a few key points stand out: combat will be real-time, the environment will not be an open world, the story will take place over decades in the life of protagonist Clive, and the spectacular Eikon-versus-Eikon battles we caught a glimpse of in the last trailer are going to offer unique and varied gameplay for each fight.

Let’s talk about that first point a bit. We’ve all known that numbered Final Fantasy has been gradually moving away from turn-based combat, but it looks like FFXVI is going to be the biggest break from tradition yet. You’ll be in control of one character – likely Clive – while other party members will be AI-controlled. (How much control you’ll have over their AI patterns is still unknown.) Clive is a Dominant, a person who can host and control Eikons – the monstrous beings seen as summoned monsters in other FF titles – and his battle abilities will be derived from the Eikons whose power he’s currently borrowing. Eikon skills (both active and passive, I assume) will be unlocked through a skill tree using points in battle. This kind of sounds like a job system, but instead of putting points into classes you’re putting them into monsters. Hey, I’m down with it.

Also, this lil’ dude is named Torgal and I love him and want to give him pets and treats. Who’s a good boooooy

Yoshida says to expect the next big trailer drop this fall, so until then, these interviews will have to be your summertime fix for further FFXVI details. Between FFXVII and FFVII Rebirth, Square-Enix is going to be keeping the Final Fantasy hype train rolling for a while yet.

FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: QUICK, WE NEED A DISTRACTION

Y’all want to see a Twitter ratio? Get a load of this:

Yes, that’s an announcement for… King of Fighters-related NFTs, officially licensed by SNK. Supposedly. Crypto bros spouting bullshit to lure in marks isn’t new… but SNK doesn’t always make great licensing choices, and I’m sure their current ownership isn’t helping that any.

Licensed or no, launching anything crypto-related will always draw ire, especially right now with markets crashing hard. After being overwhelmed by Twitter dunks, the account went private for a bit, only to re-emerge a couple of days later with generic crypto jargon and no further mention of KoF.

Maybe SNK saw the backlash and are getting cold feet? Well, the timing of the new King of Fighters XV DLC trailer release seems to indicate some attempt at damage control. Time for the Orochi boys (and gal) to make a comeback just in the nick of time! (and also Kof98 Ultimate Match Final Edition for good measure)




Also, DNF Duel is out this week… if you live somewhere that broke street date. Otherwise, you’re going to have to wait until next week to give the game a spin. From day-one footage, it definitely looks like it’s got that DNA that makes Eighting-developed fighting games noteworthy. Which is to say, “people are already finding entertainingly broken and grimy tech and this game’s going to be totally busted in a couple weeks.”  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either – it just depends on if it’s boring-busted or highly-entertaining-busted. Guess we’ll see how things fall during events over the next couple months.

And speaking of events, CEO is this weekend! As one of the biggest non-EVO majors in the US, there’s going to be plenty of hype and possibly further announcements to go around. I predict at least one official Street Fighter VI character reveal, but the whole thing should be fun to watch regardless.

ASSORTED NEWSBITS

This week, there’s a lot of news that’s worth reporting but for which I don’t have much commentary to offer. Let’s run them down:

  • Famed developer Treasure is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The usually-quiet Twitter account tweeted something about an announcement regarding “that game” people have been requesting. Intriguing!
  • Ys X has been announced with some teaser images. It looks… neat! Not much to go on, but it’s something, at least.
  • The full English cast of Soul Hackers 2 has been revealed via a new trailer! Lots of great names in here:



  • Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival will be coming to Switch in September. The Taiko series in known for including a lot of fun anime and game music in its song selection list, with picks from Attack on Titan, Evangelion, Sailor Moon, and Dragon Ball in the base track list – plus more in the “Taiko Music Pass” subscription service. A physical edition with a mini taiko drum controller is also available for pre-order.



  • Sega and Creative Assembly’s “Super Game,” HYENAS, was unveiled via a trailer drop. I’m surprised and pleased with how colorful and cheeky it looks – definitely not what I was expecting, in a good way. It looks like it may have some not-so-thinly-veiled social commentary, as well, so I predict another round of “politics in games” whining in the future.



  • Mega-popular mobile game Ensemble Stars! has launched in English, and despite heaps of advertising and promotion, the publisher apparently decided to run the Japanese text through Google Translate and call it a day. I mean, just look at this. What am I even reading?

    Hopefully the vocal EnStars fandom can yell loud enough to make a difference. It worked for Fate Grand Order, whose early English localization was atrociously bad (and still lingers in the early parts of the game – please fix that, Aniplex). Y’all have been waiting for this for a long time and you don’t deserve a sub-par product.

And we’re done for this week! You know… I think I’m going to miss trying to think up ways to get you all to post in the forums every week. Not to mention I’m going to miss reading all of the replies and comments… agh, I’m already feeling sad, and I haven’t even departed yet! But yes, if you’ve got thoughts about this week’s gaming news, you know what to do – click that link below and get postin’. Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll see you for a couple more weeks… sniff…

This Week in Anime – Is Spriggan Worth Watching?

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Netflix revamps the classic action-adventure anime in a six-episode format. It’s got a fresh coat of paint, but can Spriggan finally step out of Akira’s shadow?

This series is streaming on Netflix

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


Steve

Jean-Karlo, the way I see it, it’s only a matter of time until Netflix stops bankrolling anything that isn’t Squid Game: No Murder Edition or a reality show about hot 20-somethings baking novelty erotic cakes, so we might as well enjoy the “Netflix Originals” we have left. And, all other things being equal, why not go with the one about a kid in a varsity jacket hijacking Noah’s Ark?

Jean-Karlo

If the Ark has dinosaurs for once, hey, I’m in. Wouldn’t be the worst thing I’ve seen. Still a better time than Jurassic World!

That’s a low bar to clear to say the least. Not that I’ve seen any of the Jurassic World films, because lmao, but if we’re comparing the two, I think I can safely say that the new adaptation of Spriggan is a spiky head and shoulders above in terms of success as loud dumb entertainment.

Now, Spriggan is another old manga that I should love, but I don’t actually know anything about. All I know is that Seven Seas will re-release the manga in the U.S. to tie in with this new anime streaming on Netflix. And it hits that lovely 80s-90s anime design of feral-looking people in complicated military hardsuits with realistic firearms shooting at each other (see: the original Ghost in the Shell (manga). It’s intriguing stuff. And the anime carries the look equally well, even giving the protagonist a sweet bomber jacket. So on that alone: hey, this seems pretty nice.

I only knew the franchise by reputation too, and I’ve heard the ’90s movie is pretty great if you’re into that era’s flavor of anime action. But going into Spriggan blind, I don’t know what I expected, but what I got is the most ridiculous confluence of military futurism and ancient occultism since my last experience with a Metal Gear game. Like, the very first scene features a guy who stepped out of a gimmick boss fight. Even the name is perfectly absurd.


Oh, that guy crawled out of Outer Heaven for sure. But let’s pull back from tactical espionage action for a minute so we can set the stage.

So, apparently ancient civilizations existed and they’ve left all kinds of artifacts that are beyond even modern technology in terms of power, craftsmanship, and danger. These artifacts are called OOPArts—”Out-Of-Place Artifacts”. The organization ARCAM scours the globe searching for OOPArts, in order to safeguard them and ensure they’re not used by evil people to take over the world or whatever. To best ensure this goal, they employ an elite group of mercenaries code-named “Spriggans”, who use technology inspired by OOPArts in order to retrieve and protect these findings. In Cornish lore, Spriggans were fae that guarded the treasures in barrows (and the show points this out).

You had me at OOPArts. More creators need to be brave enough to use names that silly to describe objects that dangerous. And in practice, all these acronyms and proper nouns are just there to open the door for any piece of myth or legend to become the McGuffin of the Day for a given arc. Bad guys want them, and it’s up to the good guys to protect them. And our goodest guy is Yu Ominae here, part-time muscle suit enthusiast, part-time high school student.


For the record, “OOPArt” is a real-world term used to describe bizarre artifacts like the Nazca Lines, the Piri Reis map, or the Quimbaya artifacts—which Yu namedrops in the first episode. There is a prevailing line of thought that basically boils down to “No culture that existed south of Italy prior to the 1900s could have built its pyramids without alien intervention because their hammers and ropes were too primitive” (a conspiracy theory I hold in deep contempt). History Channel fishwrap notwithstanding, people do find weird stuff that makes no historical sense all the time. It’s just a field of archeology that gets hijacked by a lot of kooks, sadly.

Also, it features a tragic lack of orichalcum-based power armor and high-tech karate.

Normally, we’d go into complicated things like the other core characters or the running arcs, but Spriggan… doesn’t really have any. This is a six-episode show, with each episode covering about 45 minutes’ worth of a self-contained arc where Yu Ominae gets roped into searching for some OOPArt or other while a new character they’ve apparently known for years pops in. And I actually appreciate this! It’s very Columbo-esque in letting our protagonist waltz into a plot, have his fun, then go back to his ordinary life. It also helps illustrate how big this world is that so many other figures exist, constantly popping in and out of Yu’s life as he goes on missions for ARCAM—which is no mean feat. Apparently, ARCAM’s missions are so frequent that Yu has the reputation of being the “Eternal Truant” at his school. Poor guy’s on the verge of being held back a year.

Yeah, structurally, it really feels like an ’80s or ’90s OVA series where you could just pop one in your VCR and enjoy about an hour of over-the-top violence and wild conspiracy theories. It’s not trying to be any deeper or more serious than that, and that’s definitely to its benefit.

It’s a curious format to see return but I’m glad they did it and I definitely wish it was one they took advantage of more often… but on the other hand, the Spriggan manga also hails from an older time where that kind of storytelling was much more commonplace. A lot of manga these days probably wouldn’t work as weird hour-long specials because they’re just not paced for that kind of storytelling. Everything is far too serialized for that.

It’s a remnant of a bygone era—not unlike an OOPArt, now that I think about it. But unlike the OOPArts in the show, I can think we can enjoy this one without having to worry about a guy with a weird flame scepter trying to murder us or anything.



Honestly the first episode is probably the least strange one, and it’s still about resurrecting a big snake that lives under Mt. Fuji.
It’s also a good introduction to the characters; Yu is tasked with helping an archeology wunderkind (she’s only 16 but already a college-level archeologist). It helps that Professor Rie Yamabishi was an old childhood friend of Yu’s; they’d both grown up at the same orphanage and Yu was a good friend to her.



Yu being Rie’s old friend is a plot twist in the first episode, by the way, but he’s nice enough to want to help her finish the mission as soon as he can so she has more time to have fun in Japan and maybe find the childhood friend (who isn’t telling her he’s right next to her, the stinker). That’s a kind of playful mischief I like about old protagonists. He’s like a less-aggressive Yusuke Urameshi.

The first episode also does a good job priming you for how the other episodes are written. There’s always a dangerous artifact that was just discovered. Yu gets a sidekick who he has some history with. There are bad guys and henchmen that instigate two or more flashy fight scenes. And so on. Spriggan has a pretty set formula, built out of the action film clichés of the time, but they’re clichés for a reason! They work, and they leave plenty of room for Spriggan to flaunt its paramilitary prowess (the “para” stands for “paranormal”).

We see a lot of that in the first episode, which walks us through the basics of Yu’s power suit. It’s made out of orichalcum and it magnifies his physical strength several times over, so he’s effectively bulletproof (so long as he covers his face). It also apparently channels some latent telekinetic power Yu can wield into powerful psychic blasts because screw it, everyone was an ESPer in the 80s.

I don’t think they mention it by name until the third episode either. But by that point I was like “yeah, of course he has psychic powers too. Why wouldn’t he? How else is he gonna bust ghosts?”



Yu’s also just a very charismatic protagonist. Archetypal, to be sure, but he’s got laidback swagger off the job and steely determination on the job in spades. It’s a nice balance of the writing not taking itself too seriously without slathering on the self-awareness either.

I at least appreciate that they don’t spend too long dwelling on the weird oogey-boogey aspects of OOPArts, ancient civilizations and psychic powers. Personally, the prevalence of those kinds of conspiracy theories in real-life (and the horrendous consequences from people who believe in them) don’t really amuse me anymore. Here, it’s all thankfully just window dressing for daring-do. Not my problem if you watch a cartoon and think, “See, this is proof this stuff is real!”

Lol yeah, I also had to remind myself that this was the late ’80s and people weren’t building media empires out of flat earth YouTube videos back then. Those were simpler times, when you could look at a crystal skull and not have to be reminded of an extremely bad Indiana Jones movie.



Instead, the best moments in Spriggan tend to evoke the good Indiana Jones movies. And it’s not coy about that.


See, I was just reminded of Dan Aykroyd’s attempt at making vodka.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya0DQwWCO3o

I’ve never seen that before and that’s all I’m going to be thinking about for the rest of the column, sorry.

But yeah, Spriggan can be really on-the-nose about its tropes. Like this poor sod here who’s just two weeks from his honeymoon. Sure hope his wife widow could get a refund…

Death flag so large it could be seen from orbit. I was dying. Not as much as he was though.



I also love how the villains are usually from or working for America. I mean, the Noah’s Ark episode has two cyborg henchmen partners named after nukes, Fatman and Little Boy, and they taunt with allusions to football and ham. God bless the USA.


Little Boy and Fatman apparently hail from Trident, a mercenary group funded by a trio of inter-national companies that are also seeking OOPArts–only their desire is to weaponize them. They’re not doing a good job of it, though, because so many of the people they hire tend to go rogue and try to use the OOPArt for their own goals… or just get dunked on by Yu. And if Yu isn’t ripping them a new one, his new friend-of-the-week is. Like this guy here, the Frenchman Jean Jacquemonde! I like Jean, he’s just a fast guy with a shotgun. It’s refreshingly old-fashioned, coming from the same school of anime character design as Leorio where he’s just a guy with a pocket knife.

Back in the good old days when all you needed was like two character traits total, and one of them could just be “is French.” Though I shouldn’t sell Jean short, because he’s also a furry. I mean werewolf. I mean lycanthrope.



Meanwhile, the guy the Pentagon left in charge of commandeering Noah’s Ark is a kid they gave the Akira treatment. This episode rules.


This kid has all these action figures on his desk and is playing on a Nintendo Switch when he’s introduced. I wanna check out the manga now to see if the Switch was originally a Game Boy and if the toys were cheeky unauthorized depictions of little He-Man toys or whatever.

I’m just so tickled that everyone calls him Colonel MacDougall, he possesses these incredible psychic powers, and meanwhile he looks like he’s about to say a racial slur over voice chat.

This is also the episode with Noah’s Ark being locked away in the ice of Mt. Ararat (where it allegedly landed after the biblical Great Flood). As it turns out, the Ark isn’t just a big boat that held two of every animal; it’s both a weather control device (which could create a global flood) and a bio-lab that can create life-forms. There are even creatures that don’t exist in the fossil record stowed away in the Ark.


That’s the beauty of Spriggan too. Even when it deals with familiar objects of lore, it reinterprets them as these hi-tech wonders from incomprehensibly advanced civilizations, so you never know what you’re gonna get until, for instance, Noah’s Ark starts melting the ice caps. That’s fun stuff.

Also, re-creating the final boss to Metal Gear Rising. 🎵 Standing here, I realize… 🎵

The elevator pitch for the show is basically “Metal Gear meets Indiana Jones.” And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Metal Gear took a lot of its cues from the Spriggan manga. There are so many fights here that would be completely unchanged if you only swapped Yu for Solid Snake.

There’s a later fight against a guy who’s basically roided-up Colonel Campbell who’s basically doing The Boss’s “Remember the basics of CQC!”-shtick, but we’ll get there later. For now, the Noah’s Ark arc ends rather poignantly: as it turns out, being enhanced with powerful telekinesis isn’t really comfortable. Getting trounced by Yu and Jean is about the first thing that happens to MacDougall that gives him any reprieve.

That’s an important lesson for the kids out there. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is beat the shit out of them. It’s like how the following episode is about how tomb raiding is rad AND you can look cute while doing it too.





Yoshino! I love her so much! She’s so cute in her little hiking ensemble and she’s such a money-grubbing little gremlin with amazing face game and she’s PACKING HEAT!

Best character in the series by far, buoyed by how much the animators clearly love drawing her. She’s the most expressive cast member by a mile, and it’s always endearing to see her erode Yu’s willpower simply by being more annoying than he is.


Also, she’s just a high schooler, just like Yu. It’s amusing to think how she affords such ridiculously expensive hardware like whatever kind of gun she’s slinging (folks, what make and model is it? I’m mildly curious, sound off in the forums) and her many grenades. Especially since she’s an independent grave robber without the backing of people like ARCAM or Trident.

Oh yeah, Yu’s ARCAM liaison, a sweaty pencil-pusher type, delivers the best line the whole series during this arc.

This episode does lean more into the supernatural, but it’s more of a fantastical “Indiana Jones” thing (“You betrayed Shiva!”) than anything else; Yu and Yoshino find themselves in a forest in India that’s been cursed by the resentment of an ancient hero-king who lost his consort. The recipe for Soma, godly elixir of immortality, is somewhere in the forest, so ARCAM and Trident (and Yoshino) are quick to hunt it down. But the ghosts in the forest, uh… turn people into tree monsters.

Except this guy, which is a good, because it means we get to do another classic trope: foes forming a temporary alliance to fight a common enemy, i.e. the tree ghosts.

That there is Akatsuki, who’s apparently another old rival of Yu. I like Akatsuki; he apparently likes tokusatsu-hero-themed chocolate bars. This really endeared him to me. Don’t ask me why, but if I see a guy who likes him some henshin heroes and isn’t afraid to snack on stuff with their face on it then I’m immediately endeared to them. I like thinking of him kicking back in his apartment and he has a little shelf of his favorite S.H. Figuarts. Judging by the wrapper, that looks like a palette-swapped Kamen Rider Saber, but given the era the manga is from I think it’s supposed to be a cheeky shout-out to Masakazu Katsura‘s Wingman.

I just like him because he’s the rare anime character in my age cohort who doesn’t look like he’s already at death’s door.




Shut up, Yoshino.

That exchange between the two was cute too, by the way. Any adventure is immediately better with Yoshino around.

His gruff merc schtick also contrasts nicely with Yu’s youthful naivety. And I have to imagine that, if there’s an endgame to Spriggan, it probably has to do with exactly this. I mean, even if ARCAM are the good guys on a relative scale, locking up all the superpowered ancient artifacts in one warehouse is just asking for trouble.

Yoshino is also apparently a medium, which helped her speak to a mummified monk, that was fun. But the episode has a nice ending to it, mixing a good bit of foreshadowing with a good bit of poetic justice: Yoshino almost-steals the recipe to Soma (and has it saved to her phone), but it turns out that the recipe requires an extinct flower.

Foiled again!



I’ll reiterate, I’m really glad the show lets itself be so shamelessly goofy. Like, the next episode has a ticking clock because Yu promises to run the relay race at his school’s sports day, but another rogue artifact threatens to make him miss the date. Now THAT’S drama.
It’s actually rather touching: one of Yu’s classmate is transferring and she wants Yu to be at the sports festival before she leaves. Yu evidently spends only enough time around his classmates to know their names, but he cares enough to want to keep his promise for his classmate. He’s a soldier for a secret organization, but Yu is still a teenager and he’s got a big heart when it comes to his peers. That warmth is very refreshing in him. Ya gotta love delinquents with hearts of gold.

The Lieutenant-Colonel agrees!




Anyway, the bad old thing du jour that time is a big clunky robot called the Berserker. And this is probably a good time to mention that a lot of the show’s fight scenes are handled with 3DCG. It’s usually serviceable, if not pretty good, but the textures on the Berserker are the worst-looking thing in the entire show. Real PS1 pre-rendered cutscene-ass textures. Sticks out like a sore bump-mapped thumb.

It reminds me of Masamune Shirow‘s art where everyone is really shiny and the machines and monsters are extremely uncanny-looking CG abominations. Provided, Spriggan (and a lot of recent shows) also use CG for crowd shots. It’s a decent-enough shortcut. As for this one Berserker… yeah, bad stuff man. I expect a slicked-up, wasp-wasted woman in spandex and a guy with a horse-head to walk in after him.

There’s not much more to say about this episode, outside of Colonel Maria Clemente being redeemed as a person (she’s not entirely career-minded) and Yu managing to make it to his sports festival just in time.



The next one, though? Straight-up crystal skulls and Nazis. I can only wonder if this inspired Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

If it did, that movie has a lot of explaining to do, because this is by far my favorite episode out of the bunch. It handily delivers everything I want out of this show, from the souped-up occultism, to the freaky henchmen, to our hero punching Nazis. It’s the ideal form of Spriggan.
There’s so much sublime out-of-context material in this episode too. I am almost loathe to explain any of it.


Most importantly: the Nazis are dunked on and die like vermin in the desert, choking on their own venom. Rest in pieces.

The villain is a total clownshow too. He just talks about Hitler nonstop, to the extent that it even weirds out his Übermensch Aryan sidekick. Just think about how much of a Nazi you have to be to make other Nazis uncomfortable with how much of a Nazi you are.



And the show nonstop dunks on him for the full episode by having him profess these delusions of grandeur in front of a tiny goofy-looking crystal skull. Just perfect.

It’s sure cathartic to see the one bulked-up Nazi get dunked on by Yu’s teacher, to the point where this giant blond guy is just crying like a baby. The tears are delicious.

That whole fight is deliriously good.







God, what a beautifully stupid anime.
And then the final episode deals with an island that vanishes into time and space! Thankfully, it’s not Atlantis–it’s just a weird island with piezoelectrical pyramids and lots and lots of shipwrecks.



This is also the episode where Not-Campbell teaches Yu to remember the basics of CQC. As it turns out, he was once a member of ARCAM but left due to ideological differences between himself and the organization. This is a reocurring-enough theme to where I really wish we could get more episodes in the hopes of us finally seeing Yu butt heads with Arcam over something. Instead, all we get are really cool knife fights.

And the knife fights are really cool, so even if we don’t get further Spriggan seasons, I think they made the right call going the more episodic route here. Like I said earlier, it made it feel like a cool OVA anthology. Plus, this story features the return of Yoshino, and isn’t that what’s most important?

The episode does end with a new figure infiltrating Yu’s school under orders to kill him, but that’s about it as far as serialization. And considering how recently this show came out there are no plans yet for a second season. Which is a shame, I do hope we get more. With that said, I hope Netflix tightens up their subtitling because their QC on their subs is bad. There were a lot of times where there were some clear errors with the subtitles mis-hearing the dialogue; “Mech inventory” vs “Mech infantry”, “don’t wonder” vs “don’t wander“… sure hope all that downsizing was worth it! /sarcasm

Yeah I noticed a lot of weird transcription errors in the dub subtitles like that. They only make sense if someone was transcribing by ear, but why would they do that if there was a perfectly good dub script that somebody had to type up and distribute? Then again, though, if I know one thing about large corporations, it’s that management will always find the most circuitous and wasteful way of doing things.

I mean, hell, ARCAM was shocked that it kept losing platoons to a place literally called The Forest of No Return. That’s not a joke, that’s just how capitalism works.

Anyway, Spriggan is a lot of fun. I really hope folks check it out! It’s a quick-and-dirty throwback to the old violent OVAs of the 1980s and 90s and it’s good popcorn entertainment. The dub is really fun, and the writing is snappy and witty. I really hope we get more!

Agreed! In fact, you could say I’m springing for more Spriggan.

This Week in Games – One More Direct for the Road

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It’s that time again! No, I’m not talking about Summer Games Done Quick… but you should still be watching (and donating) to that anyway. Yes, my friends, it’s Nintendo Direct time again! My wish to discuss at least one more Nintendo Direct before I depart has been granted, and I am ever so thankful. A Mini Direct, to be precise, but a Direct nonetheless, filled with surprises galore! Let’s not waste time—we’ve got announcements to discuss!

NINTENDO DIRECT SUMMARY: ACTUALLY, I THINK WE SAW IT COMING

Well, we got a lot of good third-party announcements from this Mini Direct! I think most folks came away from watching this feeling quite happy. Yeah, that leaked Tactics Ogre re-release I’m really excited for wasn’t shown, but there were plenty of other announcements to make up for it. As usual, I’m not going to cover everything here, especially if it’s something that’s already out, out very soon, and/or announced elsewhere. I’m sure you all know about Portal by now, right?




First off: Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is available as of today, but CAPCOM announced that we can expect several more updates to the game across the remainder of the year into 2023. Sounds swell!




And then we have… NieR:Automata. Well, I guess if you haven’t played this on any other platform, you’ve now got it on Switch. It’s a native port, not some online cloud-gaming thing, so I do wonder what’s going to be scaled down to get it running on the Switch. Probably a framerate drop, I’m guessing. Also, I want goofy Nintendo character costumes like in the Bayonetta ports. Who doesn’t want to see 2B and 9S as Peach and Mario?




Super Bomberman R 2 doesn’t look too shabby at all, even if it is a reminder that Konami could be making more games with their stable of classic IPs but simply chooses not to. Still, that 15-versus-one multiplayer defense mode sounds like a blast (har).




I never really got into the Megaman Battle Network games, but I know a lot of people who absolutely swear by these titles, so it’s great to see them getting all bundled together. Who knows, I might want to give them a proper playthrough now that they’re all together like this. It’s unfortunate that the GameCube action-oriented spinoff Network Transmission isn’t included, but apparently there are some rights issues involved, so it’s understandable. I think all of the GBA games on modern platforms is more than satisfactory enough.




And hey, it’s our old pal Pac-Man. Pac-Man World was a surprisingly engaging PS One action game series that managed to stand out from the pack (har) of similar 3D platformers clogging the market at the time, and a lot of folks have been hoping the series would make some sort of modern return. While it’s not the fourth installment some folks were really hoping for, a ground-up remake of the first game is certainly welcome, especially with how few well-made whimsical 3D platformers get made these days. Unfortunately, one element of the original isn’t returning: Ms. Pac-Man.

Yes, Ms. Pac-Man has been carefully retconned from every Pac-Man-related rerelease recently, replaced with a character fans have dubbed “Pac-Mom.” The story behind this is long and bizarre, but the short version is: Namco didn’t fully own the rights to Ms. Pac-Man due to a complex development licensing arrangement decades ago, and those rights somehow got sold to trash-tier drugstore checkout mini console maker AtGames, whom current Bandai-Namco does not want to deal with. Thus, Ms. Pac-Man had to get Thanos-snapped out of existence. Will it affect the gameplay of Pac-Man World Re-Pac much? Probably not, but it does mean that games more prominently featuring the Ms are not likely to be re-released anytime soon.




We first talked about Return to Monkey Island not too long ago, and now we’ve got more gameplay footage—and the announcement that it’ll make its console debut on Switch first, with other platforms to follow. Switch just seems like the right place for classic adventure games, y’know?




It’s not a Nintendo Direct without a surprise release drop, and this time, it’s a roguelite platformer from… Cygames? Yes! It’s Little Noah: Scion of Paradise! This is quite a pleasant surprise: the Little Noah character and world (designed by beloved illustrator Akihiko Yoshida) come from a mobile game of the same name, which appears to have been released as the generically titled Battle Champs in some territories. The mobile game shut down a while back, but Cygames seems to like the character and setting so much that they made a whole new game around her just for funsies. If you’re curious, I suggest giving Scion of Paradise a shot – it’s quite good!




Hey, do you like trains? I’m not a train person, but there are plenty of folks out there who just can’t get enough train sims in their life. And that’s where RAILGRADE from independent Japanese developer Minakata Dynamics comes in. In-depth building and management simulations like this are surprisingly sparse on Switch, so I hope it finds an audience.




RPG Time: The Legend of Wright looks really cute. The “kid draws a game in their notebook you can play” concept isn’t new, but it’s also an idea that hasn’t yet been done very well (remember Drawn to Death? Yeah, I didn’t think so). I’m hoping it turns out nicely, because I adore the look of it.




More Sonic Frontiers footage. This time… in space! Well, cyberspace. These levels look a bit more structured than the open world we’ve seen footage of so far, and I’m happy to see them filled with the colorful, abstract geometry that made the classic Sonic games so visually striking. Can we just, like… go back in that direction, Sega? Please?




You might have forgotten that there was a Doraemon-themed Story of Seasons game. I did. But it did well enough for Marvelous and Bandai Namco to team up again for a sequel! Chalk that up to Doraemon’s enduring popularity in Asia, I suppose. Anyhow, it’s Story of Seasons, so you know what to expect. It’ll be pleasant, I’m sure.




Harvestella is Square-Enix‘s first big crack at an RPG/life sim hybrid in the vein of Sakuna and Rune Factory. You’ve got a farm to tend to, a bigger world to explore, a bunch of NPCs to interact and form relationships with… and a whole lot of monsters to kill. See, the world of Harvestella has five seasons, and the fifth season, “Quietus,” is the season of death and destruction that you and your companions want to put a stop to. (I’m a little weirded out by this, since the hometown of my youth is called “The City of Five Seasons” and has seen numerous large-scale natural disasters hit since I moved away. Hmmm…)




Dragon Quest Treasures has a new trailer and a release date—December 9! It looks like it may scratch a bit of the itch left behind by the lack of a new Dragon Quest Builders.




And finally, we have official confirmation of Persona 5 Royal, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 3 Portable coming to Switch! It would’ve been nice if all of the platforms were announced together so we didn’t have to hear all the social media “why not Switch?!” complaints, but the staggered announcement likely came from both Microsoft and Nintendo wanting to feature the games prominently in their platform-specific presentations. Ah well, Persona for everybody! Hooray!

Speaking of Persona…

SEGA WANTS TO TAKE ATLUS TO HOLLYWOOD

We frequently see articles claiming that “the game industry is bigger than Hollywood,” but in reality, that’s not true. Despite how huge gaming is in 2022, there is still no game out there that’s as accessible to the global masses as a big film release. And with film-and-TV-slash-streaming multiverses bringing in the big bucks these days, there’s prime opportunity to expand Brands™ beyond gaming into even more mainstream media.

One of the more recent success stories in this space has been the Sonic the Hedgehog movies, which both raked in a whole heap of cash for Sega. But Sonic’s not the only gaming property Sega wants to bring to a different medium. In an interview with IGN, Sega producer Toru Nakahara—who has been heavily involved in both Sonic films and the upcoming Sonic Prime—mentioned that he sees potential in big Hollywood adaptations of Atlus‘s games.

Atlus’ worlds are filled with high drama, cutting-edge style, and compelling characters… Stories like those from the Persona franchise really resonate with our fans and we see an opportunity to expand the lore like no one has seen—or played—before.”

While Nakahara mentions other Atlus titles like Catherine and Shin Megami Tensei as well, the big point is obvious: Sega sees a lot of potential in the idea of a big Hollywood Persona adaptation. It makes sense: live-action character drama mixed with the spectacle of CG Personas waging battles against supernatural beings sounds like a formula for a hit in that teen and young adult demographic marketing types all love. Plus, the Persona name has nerd cred already. It’s not a terrible idea at all, really…

…though after seeing numerous awful western live-action adaptations of Japanese properties over the years, I can also understand why the very thought of Hollywood Persona would make most Atlus fans nervous. Personally, I think Persona as a concept can still “work” without being set in Japan and addressing Japanese social issues, but I also feel like most Western movie and film production types would totally misconstrue what makes the games so interesting to people in the first place.

Of course, this is all speculative, and it’s possible nothing will come from it… but if you see a live-action Persona series emerge in the next couple of years, you shouldn’t be surprised.

ASSORTED NEWSBITS

  • Bandai Namco and KOEI Tecmo are teaming up for a new Monster Rancher game… with a twist. See, instead of raising moderately-sized monsters, you’re raising ginormous kaiju. And not just any kaiju, either—you’re bringing up the famous monsters from the beloved Ultraman tokusatsu series.




    An English-language Asian version of Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher is due later this year. No word on a North American or European release yet, but Ultraman production company Tsuburaya has been trying to push the series harder into international markets—heck, there’s even an Ultraman pinball game now! Interest in classic tokusatsu and kaiju is at an all-time high abroad, so here’s hoping for wide international distribution of this one… but if it doesn’t leave Southeast Asia, you’ve still got plenty of importing options.

  • Star Ocean: Divine Force has a release date of October 27. That’s a lot sooner than I was expecting, honestly. The Square-Enix YouTube channel has also posted a bunch of introductory gameplay and story footage, so check that out if you’re interested.
  • Meanwhile, surprise sleeper hit Stranger of Paradise is getting a DLC expansion called Trials of the Dragon King. Sounds a lot like the Bahamut class-change trial in the original Final Fantasy



  • Taito, in collaboration with expert emulation masters M2, have announced a new classic collection: the Ray’z Arcade Chronology for Switch and PS4. This set covers the three games of TaitoS. Ray series — Rayforce, Raystorm, and Raycrisis — and includes newly-remade, arcade-accurate HD versions of the latter two games along with the usual array of M2 extras and gameplay-tracking gadgets. Release is set for early 2023, and it’s quite likely the set will come Westward, likely through one of the small-run boutique publishers.
  • More games have been announced for the MegaDrive Mini 2! After Burner II, Columns III, Megapanel, Outrun, Puzzle & Action Ichidant-R, Splatterhouse 2, the anime-licensed Nadia – Secret of Blue Water, and the unreleased puzzle game Star Mobile make up new cartridge game selections, while arcade ports of Starblade, Ninja Warriors, and Night Striker join the Mega CD lineup. Ninja Warriors and Night Striker may not be the best ports of those games, but their soundtracks and extras are nothing short of fantastic. There’s also a big flight-stick accessory called the Cyber Stick being released alongside the system – the original 1990 Cyber Stick worked with both X68000 PCs and the Megadrive, and it’s been faithfully recreated using a USB port instead of the old connector. Perhaps it’ll work with modern PCs as well? Also, Alien Soldier was confirmed on a separate Uncle From Another World stream, so that makes this a must-buy. (Like it wasn’t already.)




And that wraps up what is likely to be my last ever Nintendo Direct lineup. I’m not leaving TWIG just yet, but unless there’s a big surprise presentation in the next few weeks, I think my days of snarkily summarizing announcement megastreams have ended. So, what was your favorite announcement from the Direct? Did anything particularly surprise (or disappoint) you? How about the prospect of live action Atlus adaptations—could they work, or are they a bad idea all around? And will they just announce Rocket Knight Adventures for the MD Mini 2 already?! Jeez, you’re killing me here, Sega! Bring whatever you want to say about this week’s gaming news to the forums, which are linked below as usual.

Enjoy the holiday weekend—I’ll be here playing games, keeping tabs on AX news, and hoping I saved enough quartz for a Castoria roll. Laters!

This Week in Games – See You Next

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And here it is, my final This Week in Games column. It’s been a fantastic run, y’all. There’s plenty of stuff to talk about this week, but before we get into that, I want to thank you all for reading this for so long. It’s been a lot of fun having a place to editorialize on the news every week. (Except for all of the Activision shit. God, that was just miserable to read and report on.)

There were some interesting announcements at Anime Expo over the holiday weekend, but rather than do my usual trailer-by-trailer reporting/breakdown/commentary, I’ll link you all over to the special ANN Anime Expo 2022 page, where you can find details on stuff like Inupara, My Hero Ultra Rumble, Witch on the Holy Night, Anonymous;Code, and Aksys’s stunning slate of otome titles. The AX reporting crew did an amazing job this year, made even more impressive with how long we’ve all been away from big physical events like this. I’ve worked the Anime Expo news beat before, and it’s tough, so I’d be very happy if you all checked out the fruits of the ANN con crew’s labor.

Now – let’s move on to this week’s big news.

THE DEAD E3 MONSTER HAS FOUND ITS DR. FRANKENSTEIN

We all know that E3 has been kind of a shitshow for the past few years – and that’s when it actually happened. Ever since COVID emerged, the already-ailing event, hobbled by numerous major publishers pulling out, has struggled in any form, be it in-person or online. It’s not hard to see why: E3 is big, expensive, crowded, and is so over-stuffed with announcements and hype that it’s hard for anything to get the attention it deserves. Does any publisher need E3 when they have the online outreach to make announcements and promote themselves on their own terms? The answer seems to be “no.”

But, you see, E3 makes money for the Entertainment Software Association (the industry trade group responsible not just for E3, but for the ESRB rating system and lobbying against preservation and right to repair laws). That money is important, and goddammit, if they have to hire somebody else to attempt to reshape and pump some life into E3’s bloated corpse, then they’re gonna do it!

And that’s where ReedPop comes in. ReedPop should be a familiar name for those of us on the geek con circuit, as they run a whole mess of shows across the United States and abroad: New York Comic Con, C2E2, Florida SuperCon, and all of the PAX conventions. They’re the folks who will be running E3 from 2023 onwards.

It’s certainly not a bad choice. ReedPop have done some corporate-focused event work before with gameindustry.biz, and E3 is (ostensibly) an industry-only show… but we also have seen the ESA’s flailing attempts to make a public-facing E3 to draw in more attention (and, more importantly, more exhibitors). ReedPop has a track record of running really big public-attendance nerd events. It’s not hard to see where this is going.

But will it still be the E3 we remember from years past? Probably not. I’m expecting something more like a less fan-involved PAX, geared more towards general attendees than industry business. Will it bring back the companies who left? Hard to say, at this point: events like this are definitely more appealing due to the direct-to-consumer connections (and the ability to move merch), but there’s a lot more competition in that space. Even if it does try to stay more corporate-focused, events like Summer Game Fest and first-party promoted showcases still seem to be the preferred choice of consumers.

We’ll see how it goes, I suppose, but I’d keep expectations tempered.

SQUARE-ENIX DOES THE RELEASE DATE SHUFFLE

It’s already been a pretty busy 2022 for Square-Enix, but whoa boy, the fall and autumn release months of this year are looking absolutely jam-packed. Release dates for Star Ocean the Divine Force (October 27), Harvestella (November 4) and Dragon Quest Treasures (Dec 9) were announced not too long ago, but there’s more where that came from. A lot more.




For starters, The Diofield Chronicle, the strategy-RPG that was surprise-announced during a State of Play event, is coming a lot sooner than most of us expected on September 22nd. This was announced on a Japanese livestream focusing on the title. I am, however, just slightly concerned about how little marketing there has been for the game since its initial debut. Obviously, S-E has a lot to sell us this year, but seeing that the official Twitter account for the game has less followers than I do is somewhat alarming!




Next up is Valkyrie Elysium, which is launching a week later on the 27th. Also sooner than I expected. (PC players, however, will have to wait until the 12th of November).

But wait, there’s more! Not only is Valkyrie Elysium launching, but a port of Valkyrie Profile Lenneth is coming to PS4 and PS5! This is included in the digital deluxe version of Elysium, but it will be sold separately as well. Great news for those of you who have heard nerds like me talk endlessly about how great Valkyrie Profile is but don’t want to spend the time and money needed to hunt down PSOne or PSP copies of the game! Hopefully Valkyrie Elysium will be good enough that it won’t be completely overshone by its predecessor.

Add these two to the aforementioned titles (and the ambiguously-dated “winter 2022” FFVII Crisis Core remake) and things are looking mighty busy for the big S-E over the holiday. Unfortunately, there’s some bad news here as well: one of their heavy hitters has suffered yet another delay.

Forspoken has been pushed back yet again, moving from October 2022 to January of next year. No reason was given for the delay, aside from some non-specific “conversations with partners.” It could be that the devs need more time to polish it, or it could just be that Squeenix wants to launch it in a less crowded timeframe where it’s not competing with the publisher’s other games. Whatever the reason, this is hopefully the Forspoken’s final delay.

Also, Live A Live is out on the 22nd of this month on Switch. I’ve been playing a preview build for the past few days, and I’m loving it so far. The remake team very clearly had a lot of love for this obscure gem, and they’ve done a bang-up job sprucing up the visuals and music: Detailed sprite animations, extensive voice acting, even a redone theme song sung by anime’s king crooner himself, Hironobu Kageyama. Download the demo if you’re curious and haven’t already!

ASSORTED NEWSBITS

  • There’s a Lollipop Chainsaw remake coming from Dragami Games! That’s pretty exciting… or it would be, if not for the fact that the two biggest names attached to the original game, Suda51 and James Gunn, are not involved at all, and were actually sort of surprised by the whole thing.

    So… yeah. That’s a bit of a red flag there, especially if you were hoping for some additional story or dialogue!

  • God of War Ragnarok finally has a November 9th release date. Now we don’t have to hear all of the social-media complaining about the lack of new information. Ha ha, just kidding, people on social media always complain about something!
  • Don’t have an OLED Switch yet? Still on the fence about getting one? Perhaps this new model might finally pry your wallet open: the Splatoon 3 Limited Edition, launching August 26th. Included are two special Joy-Cons, a special dock, and an OLED Switch hardware base. Not included, however: The actual Splatoon 3 game, which debuts two weeks later. What’s with these console LEs not even including a proper game pack-in?



  • Ray’z Arcade Chronology is launching on Switch and PS4 on March 9, 2023… in Japan. Still no word on an international release. In an infuriating move, there is a special limited-edition bonus that is only available to those who order the game on Amazon Japan during Prime Day on the 12th: R-Gear, the cancelled sprite-based Rayforce Or, more specifically, what was made of the game before it was scrapped and everybody moved to make Raystorm instead. Hey publishers: PLEASE STOP MAKING GAMES FOR YOUR RETRO COMPILATIONS PRE-ORDER ONLY. IT SUCKS AND WE ALL HATE IT.

And now we reach the conclusion. So, where am I going after this? I’ll still be doing reviews, previews, and features for various outlets – including ANN, so I’ll still have some presence here. However, my main focus will be on writing about Japanese games, retro games, and indie games for the PlayStation Blog. I’m super excited to be working with some amazing folks over there, and I’m eager to shine a spotlight on the games I love on a very big platform. I’m also working on an as-of-yet unannounced project with some very cool members of the fighting game community, which I hope will be revealed soon. If you want to keep tabs on my exploits and hear me talk about my favorite Taito titles, you can find me over on Twitter. You can also find me hanging out in the Twitch channel of my partner Matt, aka LordBBH.

Tonight, I’m meeting with ANN reviewer and frequent This Week in Anime commentator Jean-Karlo over at Quarterworld to discuss him taking over for me. I have no reason to believe that this column is now in anything but very capable hands. And with that, my time at TWIG concludes.

THIS WEEK IN GAMES: JOURNEY TO TAITRONICA


EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Christopher MacDonald

PRODUCER

Lynzee Loveridge

DIRECTOR

Heidi Kemps

PROGRAMMERS

Kim Morrissy

Choo Sum Lee

IN MEMORY

Zac Bertschy

SPECIAL THANKS

Matt “LordBBH” Hall

Todd Ciolek

All ANN Staff

THANK YOU FOR PLAYING!!!