The last Pokemon game I bought was Red back in 1998, which I played so thoroughly over the next year or so that the resulting burnout has lasted over ten years now. A few days ago, while at work, I felt a strong urge to play again. Who knows why? The next day, though, I bought a copy of the recently-released Pokemon: White Version (not Black, because I prefer to hang around Pokemon that look like me lulz). Anyway, I thought the impressions of a prodigal Pokemon fan may interest those who’ve kept up with the series, so I’ll share my thoughts so far.
First of all, the basic gameplay hasn’t changed at all, as far as I can tell (I just got the first badge about 1.5 hours in). You wander around, catch little critters, train them, and fight them against other little critters. It’s still a great premise, and I can certainly see why the franchise has continued to sell so well.
As for changes, White and Black are more politically correct than Red and Blue. For one thing, instead of Prof. Oak we have some woman professor, and instead of having to play as a boy you can choose between a girl and a boy who looks like a girl. Enough girls play Pokemon that having a girl avatar is probably a good move (though I’m guessing it’s one that’s a few generations old now). Also, there’s a lot more talk about the special relationship between humans and Pokemon and what it means to be a good trainer. I think Red/Blue touched on this, but it wasn’t a major theme. I guess it’s a decent way to teach younger players to take care of animals, but really I just want to catch monsters and fight them.
Which brings me to Team Plasma, our antagonists who want to liberate the world’s Pokemon. They seem shady and I hear they have some ulterior motive, but… I don’t know. I always liked the original games’ simplicity. Not that White/Black is a new Hamlet or anything, but Red/Blue seemed to focus more on just catching and training Pokemon. Your rival there was Gary, who was your rival because he was a jerk and… that was it really. No motive that I can remember. He just was a jerk. Oh, and I guess Team Rocket was there too doing, ah, whatever their big plan was. Conquer the world or something. I realise that after over a decade you need to mix up the story a bit, but there’s something to be said about the almost perfect simplicity of the originals, which really captured that childlike feeling of adventure better than almost any other game I know of. I’ll wait until I finish the games to decide whether the new Pokemon measures up.…
I finally got hold of the long-awaited blu-ray edition of FLCL, which is second only to serial experiments lain among my favourite (and most-watched) anime. Just owning the whole series gives me sufficient cause to celebrate, since I only own vols. 1 and 3 of the previous release (plus the full series as a bootleg).
I’ve read that the Japanese edition had serious problems with video quality, so North American publisher Funimation did their own remastering. The end result looks very good. There were moments when lines became noticeably jagged or the screen looked a bit fuzzy, so one could easily tell that this show came out before HDTVs were common, but I think they do look better than the original DVD release. If you already have the old DVDs and aren’t a big fan, though, it’s probably not worth the purchase.
On a final note, this is the first post I’ve written via my iPhone, so if anything looks weird that’s probably why.…
I finished the anime Ghost Hound last night, which an acquaintance of mine recommended to me a while back. Apparently, some of the same staff who worked on serial experiments lain, which I loved, also worked on Ghost Hound, including writer Konaka Chiaki. The resemblance was obvious, too, since both tackle similar themes and share some stylistic touches (like extreme close-ups of people’s eyes or mouth).
Overall, it’s an excellent series. Good animation, likable characters, skillful plotting, all the things one checks for. The ending should ideally have been two episodes instead of one, since it felt rushed and everything turned out unbelievably hunky-dory. Overall, though, I felt satisfied.
Even aside from the lain connection, though, it’s the type of show I tend to enjoy. Most premises built on a polytheistic or animistic mythology appeal to me. Perhaps a world populated by the supernatural offers an intriguing contrast to the materialist worldview common in the United States.…
I watched Last Exile the other day, after a couple years of seeing several people whose opinion I respect speak well of it. Very seldom am I led astray by those I trust, especially when the work in question gets near-universal praise as Last Exile does. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing someone who outright dislikes it.
Yet, I dropped it after just two episodes.
There were a few problems, but two factors especially turned me off right away. First, ugly computer-generated aircraft. CG animation almost always looks bad anyway, but looks especially jarring when used with traditional 2D animation. To the show’s credit, though, the rest of the animation looked good.
Second, the two protagonists irritated the hell out of me. Both fall into the archetype I call the ‘noble retard,’ a character who always does the right thing even if it’s plainly impossible, suicidal, and possibly not even worthwhile. Emiya in Fate / Stay Night and the male lead (whatever his name was) in Elfen Lied both fit the archetype, and dragged down both shows. Two of them together, though, is just too much for me.
Maybe I’ll give this show another chance down the road – two episodes on a seven-DVD series isn’t all that much, after all – especially given the praise it gets. For now, though, I’ll have to put it down as one of the bigger disappointments I’ve had recently.…