Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts & Review: Berserk - The Golden Age Arc I & II: The Egg of the King & The Battle For Doldrey

I attended the Berserk Double Feature Event at New People in San Francisco last night with a friend of mine. Being able to see the first two movies on the big screen was quite a treat.

I already saw the first movie, The Egg of the King, on Blu-ray when it first came out, so being able to see The Battle For Doldrey for the first time -- and on the big screen -- months before its DVD/BD release* was quite exciting. You won't be able to fully enjoy the scope of the battlefield until you see it in a theater equipped with surround sound.

An important thing to note about the Berserk series and its story is that the violence and sex contained within its plot are not there for "shock value" or for entertainment sake. The Medieval Era (in particular, The Dark Ages) was one of many brutal periods during human history, and its depiction in Berserk is a reflection of that. It's not politically correct in any stretch of the imagination; it's not meant to be.

Both movies are surprisingly very well paced, focusing only on the key points of the story and character development. This makes the films very easy to digest for new fans of the series and for those who have never heard of it, while it helps longtime fans get back into pace with the story without having to deal with a lot of "plot fluff" (remember the Griffith bathing scene near the beginning of the series?).

The integration of CGI within the initial 2D animation does take some getting used to, but otherwise implemented well. Most of it is done during the battle sequences and more often during the battlefield scenes. There were times that I was so caught up with the action that I barely notice whether or not the scene was done in CG.

Both movies were presented in its English dubbed format, since Neon Alley was the main organizer of the event, along with promoting its streaming service. The English voice cast did a rather good job depicting the characters, in comparison with the Japanese voice cast. For the main characters, Marc Diraison voiced Guts, Kevin T. Collins voiced Griffith and Carolyn Keranen voiced Casca.

Susumu Hirasawa returns with his song, "Aria", as the movies' title track. You may remember him from the song, "~FORCES~", from the Anime. Hirasawa-san composed the soundtracks for both the Berserk Anime and video games. He also composed the soundtrack for Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent and Paprika. The music score works well in tandem with the overall atmosphere of the series, from epic orchestrations during the battlefield scenes to its soft moody undertone tracks.

Despite the truncated feel of the movies, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I & II are enjoyable in their own right, both as a quick and easy introduction to Berserk, and as a classic Anime and Manga series done with a fresh coat of paint for newer generations of fans. The animation is beautifully done and the music score is excellent. The violence and sex scenes might be too much for some fans, but they don't deter from the overall story too much.

I very much enjoyed watching both movies and I can't wait to see The Golden Age Arc III: Decent when its released here in the States!

*Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II - The Battle For Doldrey will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America on August 6, 2013.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Cherry Blossom Festival, Delays & Other Things

Hey, everyone.

Have you ever heard of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival? This cultural event is held every year in April at Japantown (Nihonmachi, 日本町) in the city of San Francisco. The event is celebrated during two back-to-back weekends and has various activities that showcase the community's Japanese cultural heritage.

On the last day of the festival, a Grand Parade is held that feature parade floats, dancers and musicians, taiko (太鼓) drums, people in Anime costumes (cosplay), and groups of men and women carrying the mikoshi (神輿, portable shrines). The parade begins at City Hall on Polk and McAllister, and winds its way along a fifteen block route to Japantown.

This event holds great significance with me, ever since I first began working at the late Mikado store back in 2007. Working at the store during this event gave me a better understanding of Japanese culture and its importance within the community. Ever since then, I have done volunteer work alongside Japan Video & Media as their official photographer of the Anime Costume Competition & Parade. This will be my third year working with them as I will be their official photographer of the Anime Costume Parade and Dream Show this year.

Because of this, my first full-fledged Blog entry will be delayed until next week. I'm juggling between posting my personal experiences being a video game enthusiast in what's still considered a male dominated hobby and my views on the progression of Anime throughout the years. I was also debating doing "reviews" (and I call them reviews very loosely) on said Anime shows/movies and video games. 

Maybe I'm stressing too much over doing meaningful Blog posts. you know what I hate most about bars? When they use dispensed ice slush for their blended iced drinks rather then blending the ingredients together in an actual blender. If I wanted an alcoholic ice slush drink, I'd buy myself a Slurpee and mix some gin in it.

Until next time!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oh hey, what's this doing here?

After much procrastination, I've finally caved in and started a Blog.

Why, you ask? Well, I used to Blog on LiveJournal (people still use that?) many years ago, but after some personal issues, I dropped it.

I wanted to get back into writing again, at least writing on a semi-regular basis. Also, if I find that I'm talking way too much for Twitter (you can only say so much with 140 characters or less), I can always use this.

So, what kind of Blog entries will you be expecting? Well...
  • I like Japanese Anime. A lot.
  • I also like video games. A lot.
  • I collect figures (a.k.a. "plastic crap").
  • I have a wide musical palette.
  • I rant too much for my own good.
  • I'm also too random for my own good.
As for the "Oh, hey!" expression, it's just a random quirk of mine.

Well, let's see where this Blog takes me.