Sunday, May 24, 2009

To Heart PSE

Friday, the classes at the university were suspended due to the swine flu (that is being called "new type of influenza" here). If nothing changes, I will a have a unexpected break until the 27.

Without nothing planned to do that friday and heavily advised to not to go outside if avoidable, I purchased on-line To Heart PSE at Comshop, and I received it today.

To Heart PSE is the PC port of the Playstation version (Play Station Edition), released in 2003.
Years ago I purchased the original adult version of To Heart (when was re-released with a new package and reduced price), and this is the improved all-ages version.

Manual and stickers. There's a minigame called "○△□×" that uses the buttons of the PlayStation, so you can put the stickers on the keyboard to match a PS controller.

The limited edition extras: a telephone card with the serial number (in my case 2,734 of 10,000) and a useless but cool ministand

To Heart is an eroge released in 1997 by Leaf under the publisher Aquaplus.
It was the title that popularized the visual novel genre, created a year before with the other games in the Leaf Visual Novel Series, Shizuku and Kizuato.
Before visual novel genre was the standard for eroge, the standard was dating sims, popularized with the non ero Tokimeki Memorial. In the west, visual novels are still commonly called dating sims because of this.

The Playstation version, released in 1999, removed all the adult scenes but improved the graphics and included voice acting. I think it was the first eroge that was ported as an all-ages game for consoles.
The original character designer was Minazuki Tooru, but was completely redesigned by Kawata Hisashi for the PS version. All the graphics were redrawn, including the character cuts, backgrounds and event pictures.
In the following comparison shots, above is the original To Heart and below the PSE version:

Story-wise, you play as Fujita Hiroyuki -a nice fellow who lives almost all the time alone and is more likable than most of the main characters of visual novels- that interacts with several girls during his school days.

All of the girls are very stereotyped, but when the game was released they were almost original. After the success of To Heart, every galgame character released afterwards tends to use one of the following stock personalities:

Kamigishi Akari
The childhood friend of the main character, who wakes up some mornings and calls with the "chan" suffix. Friendly, likable and a bit shy, she also excels in cooking. She is the main heroine by default.

Nagaoka Shiho
Friend of both Akari and Hiroyuki, acts a bit aggressively towards the later to hide that in fact she likes him. She is bad at studies and prefer to go to an arcade center or karaoke instead. She is also a gossip fanatic.
Hoshina Tomoko
The serious and responsable class president, who looks really pretty if she removes her trademark glasses and pony-tail. Stereotyped enough, she also uses the Kansai dialect and acts as a tsukkomi.

HMX-12 "Multi"
The first and original maid robot. The only sci-fi element in an overall realistic setting.
The "HM" means "Home Maid" and the X is to mark her prototype status.
Multi was sent to Hiroyuki's school to learn how to act like a human, but is very clumsy, so is a fine example of the "too human to be a robot".
Her popularity eclipsed the rest of the cast, even the main heroine Akari, and was a big influence in posterior similar games and mangas.

Miyauchi Lemmy
Half American and half Japanese, she is how Japanese sees foreigners: blond, tall, noisy and overly expressive. Also is a panchira character. 
She's in the archery club to feel the "typical Japanese culture".

Kurusugawa Serika
Heir of the wealthy Kurusugawa family (makers of the maid robots), is the ojou-sama character, but unlike most of similar characters, she doesn't act as an obnoxious spoiled brat. Instead, she speaks absentmindedly and very quietly. She is interested in black magic and the occult.
Serika is a senpai, one year older (17)
than the previous characters.

Matsubara Aoi
Multi palette swap. The slightly tomboy-ish martial arts practitioner. A year younger than the main cast (15). Idolizes Ayaka, who uses the same "extreme style" of martial arts.

Himekawa Kotone
A girl with telekinetic powers, but unable to fully control them. Because of that, she rejects to socialize much. She is also one year younger than the main cast.

Hinayama Rio
Another girl in the same class than Hiroyuki. Her family is poor, so she is constantly doing half-time jobs.
In the original
R-18 version of the game, she was a hidden heroine with a very short route unlocked upon completing Akari scenario, but was greatly expanded in the PSE version.

Kurusugawa Ayaka
Younger sister of Serika by one year. Despite looking almost identical, they have totally different personalities, because Ayaka is outgoing and confident.
She goes to another school than her sister and the rest of the characters, and is a martial arts champion.
Ayaka doesn't have a route in the original game, but gains a short one in the PSE version.

HMX-13 "Serio"
Sister of Multi, she is an advanced maid robot model. Unlike her sister, Serio is (almost) emotionless and eficient, being "too robot to be human". She is in test period in Ayaka's school, so is almost always with her acting as her personal maid.
She doesn't have a route in any version of the game, she have only two almost identical character cuts and only one event graphic in the PSE version, but since is my favorite character I list her with the main cast.

To Heart was my first in many ways: It was the first VN that I played in Japanese (without understanding it), it was the first VN that I purchased, the anime version was the first anime that I downloaded (via Napster, in mov format recorded from a VHS fansub), the first purchase that I did in eBay was a Serio gashapon...
The "first one" is always memorable, so that is why I still love this franchise very much.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Comptiq Magazine June '09

Today I went to buy some books that I need for classes, and also purchased Comptiq Magazine June issue.

As an extra it included a nice Saber Lily shitajiki:



It also included some pages with TYPE-MOON news, but nothing groundbreaking.

Fate/unlimited codes PORTABLE is still scheduled for June 18. The cover of the game will be the pic on the right (also the cover of this issue).

Fate/stay night [Réalta Nua] will be also re-released as a budget title on June 18.

A clear pic from the cover.
Since is a different cover from the previous version, I must purchase it.

MELTY BLOOD Actress Again for the PS2, will be released on August 20.
Is not new info, but Ryougi Shiki is confirmed as a new playable character.

Kara no Kyokai 7th movie, Satsujin Kousatsu, will be on theaters this August.
The dvd of the 6th movie, Boukyaku Rokuon, will be released on July 29

And CANAAN anime, that will air this summer. No fixed date and no new info.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - Lagann Hen

Yesterday the Aoi matsuri was held, one of the main festivals in Kyoto.
I went directly after classes to Kamigamo-jinja, were the parade ends, but it was already late when I left, I did a train exchange in Kawaramachi and a 40 minutes of walk... At the end I arrived just in time for the closing moments:

After that, I went to a Japanese theather for the first time, to see the movie Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - Lagann Hen.

Contrary to popular belief, anime is not a popular genre in Japan, and every anime except the main stream ones (One Piece, Meitantei Conan...) are considered way too otaku-ish. That is why most of the anime is airing between 11 P.M. and 4 A.M, because is not targeted toward "normal people".
Anyway, what I wanted to say is that Gurren Lagann is airing in only one cinema in Kyoto, and where only 14 persons, myself included, watching the movie...

With the trailers you can see that you are labeled as a geek for watching this movie: the new Evangelion movie, Summer Wars (directed by Hosoda with designs of Sadamoto), the new Star Trek movie and Transformers 2.

When you purchase the ticket, they give you a Stamp Card, and if you get stamped 3 times they give you a random film strip from the movie. It sounds tempting, but you must go to the cinema 3 times (1,500 yen each, and this being the "reducted fee" for university students) and the chances of getting a lousy strip are high (for the record, the strip that I got from the limited Evangelion Movie dvd was from this scene).

The movie itself was gorgeous. The EPICness in the series was high, but in the movie reaches another whole level. Unlike the previous film, fewer scenes are directly recycled from the TV series. There are several changes in the plot, some of them quite important.

It was really great and the last 30 minutes of the movie were one of the most memorable moments in anime history.

And now a few screenshots from the movie. HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD!!!:

In the movie Simon sees the transformation of Nia just after this scene.

Nia got several ecchi poses here and there, and even clearly visible nipples at one point.

EDIT: Here, I found a pic of it.

Dai-Gurren Dan members before the last battle.

Kamina and Kittan in the "awakening of the dream" part. The Dai-Gurren Dan members survives the battle, but Kittan still dies.

For the last battle, almost every Gurren Dan member gets his/her own Tengen Toppa and shows it in a minute of glory. In the pic is Nia's Tengen Toppa Sorubaania (ソルバーニア), that I think the correct romanized name is Solvernia.

Gurren Lagann last form, the bigger-than-ever Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, that resembles a blue Kamina with red cape. To get an idea of the size, those white dots in the background are galaxies.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More on Fate/unlimited codes

A week ago a new trailer of Fate/unlimited codes PORTABLE was released, and besides casual wear Rider, hoodless Caster is also confirmed:

A few more sample pages of the the "Extended Edition" artbook were also released:

As well as a colored pic of WonderGOO tapestry:

As I said before, I'll end with 2 copies of the game and I'm selling one of them. I have a buyer that is half-heartedly willing to buy it, but anyone who wants it takes priority over him.
Only an unopened game will be included, and I'm selling it for 5,000 yen -shipping cost included- via PayPal . Interested people leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Doujinshi purchase

And the only doujinshi that I purchased is this one released at Comic1 convention by circle King Revolver; Itsuki-chan To Yatteshimau, featuring Itsuki from Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo, a series that I don't watch because is the typical Sunrise mecha anime... and I'm not very fond of the mecha genre.

Hybrid Active Figure Saber by Azone

Yesterday I went to Osaka with another companion from the university.
I think I'm getting a reputation as a doujinshi freak, because she wanted to buy BL doujinshi and asked me to show her the way to K-Books.
Since is still Golden Week, yesterday DenDen was unusually crowded, even with the rain.

While she was doing her purchases, I went to Lashinbang because there were a couple of things that I wanted to buy. One of them, a telephone card featuring a fox-eared Illya, was already sold. I'm not a big fan of telephone cards, but I systematically buy all the TYPE-MOON ones that are in the 1,000 yen price range (not so many, because the usual price is 2,000 yen or more).

The other thing was 1/6 Hybrid Active Figure Saber by Azone.
It was released in early 2007 for 23,000 yen, but since it was so expensive and I'm not a fan of dolls, I let it go until now, that I found it for 11,000 yen.

The quality is really astonishing, so you can see why is so expensive.

Here displayed without the armor parts.

 The face was done by Ouzaka Miki (Cherry Blossom). Is not great, and with that pseudo-happy face it seems that is high on drugs or something...

 Every piece of armor is metal, even the armored parts of the boots and the hanging details in the robe.

Caliburn is also cast in heavy metal, so heavy that the doll arm is unable to hold it properly...

Since is the Fate/hollow ataraxia version, it includes the new outfit. 

 I don't want to change the clothes, so here's a pic with the casual clothes, from Azone webpage.

In the official Azone shop in Osaka I purchased a couple of stands, one for the newly acquired Saber and one for Shiki, 420 yen each.