There seems to be something of a trend for anime and manga with a certain degree of “aspiration” about it these days.
Whether it’s the explicit gym instruction provided by How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?, the survival advice that hopefully none of us will ever have to use from Are You Lost? or the crash course in biology that Cells At Work! gave us, it seems that Japanese popular media is on something of an “edutainment” binge right now.
Plus-Sized Elf, first released in October of 2018, falls into this category to a certain extent, presenting the seemingly absurd juxtaposition between traditionally beautiful fantasy species and the distinctly modern problem of obesity. Settle down with a big bag of fries and let’s explore the first volume.
Continue reading Plus-Sized Elf, Vol. 1: Fantasy, Fries and Fitness
I have a confession to make: at the time of writing, the Tales series is, for the most part, a bit of a black spot in my JRPG knowledge.
I’m not completely clueless on the appeal of the series, however, since back when I was on USgamer I covered the first Tales of Xillia game… and quite early in MoeGamer’s life I explored its sequel in what we now know as a Cover Game feature, albeit before I’d decided to make that a regular thing.
The characters of Xillia in general were a consistently appealing aspect… but one stood out in particular. Milla Maxwell.
Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Milla Maxwell
The Neptunia series has always, at least in part, been about taking a sidelong glance at elements of popular culture, particularly those related to video games, and Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online is no exception.
Through its overall aesthetic — particularly its art and music — it both pays homage to and parodies a variety of influences in both the online and offline role-playing game spheres, but in doing so it manages to retain a strong enough sense of its own identity to still be clearly recognisable as a Neptunia game.
In fact, through the combination of Tsunako’s distinctive character designs, their energetic scripts and their light-hearted, inclusive nature that draws the player in to the experience, there’s a strong argument for Neptunia games being some of the most immediately recognisable Japanese games on the market today. And I’m all for that.
Continue reading Cyberdimension Neptunia: Art Imitates Life
Sega’s Mega Drive console — or the Genesis to those of you in the States — was a wonderful machine.
In many ways, it started the process of making gaming “cool”, and laid the groundwork for Sony’s solid efforts to make our whole form of entertainment a lot more mainstream with the first PlayStation. But more importantly, it played host to a wide variety of absolutely fantastic games.
One such title was Game Arts’ Alisia Dragoon, an unusual action game that combines elements of disparate genres to produce an extremely memorable, enjoyable and addictive game that still holds up well today.
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Alisia Dragoon
Fairy Fencer F and its Advent Dark Force counterpart represent an interesting melting pot of influences.
We’ve already talked about how the gameplay includes influences from Compile Heart’s own Neptunia series, and how the narrative includes influences from classic JRPGs of yore, but Fairy Fencer F’s diverse background is perhaps most apparent when it comes to its audio-visual aesthetic.
Featuring concept art by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame, character designs by Tsunako of Neptunia fame and contributions to the soundtrack from longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and his band Earthbound Papas, Fairy Fencer F certainly has some impressively heavyweight talent behind it.
Continue reading Fairy Fencer F ADF: Sights and Sounds
Gal*Gun Double Peace is memorable for a whole lot of different reasons: its contribution to the revival of rail shooters, its silly but touching plot and its striking audio-visual aesthetic.
Unlike many other anime-inspired games, the art and music of Gal*Gun are not the work of particularly well-known or established names — but there’s some decent pedigree there if you take the time to look into things a bit more deeply.
So let’s do just that, shall we?
Continue reading Gal*Gun: Sights and Sounds
The Senran Kagura series has a particularly striking aesthetic that makes it instantly recognisable — and this is the work of not only its visuals, but its soundtrack, too.
Combining the distinctive character designs of artist Nan Yaegashi with a delightfully rockin’ (and varied) soundtrack, Senran Kagura clearly has a keen awareness of the fact that successful series consider their identities carefully. While it clearly isn’t on the same scale in terms of budget as today’s most lavish triple-A titles, what it does do within the constraints of its medium, console hardware, game engine and presentation style is a significant factor in what makes it one of the most fondly regarded Japanese franchises out there.
Senran Kagura Estival Versus is the most impressive installment to date — and while it shines on the lovely screen of the Vita, it’s an absolute delight to behold on a big TV thanks to the PS4 version.
Continue reading Senran Kagura Estival Versus: Sights and Sounds