I've been needing some practice to try and sharpen with my tablet drawing skills, so I decided to make a new wallpaper for my computer. I currently have a self made wallpaper of ONE PIECE's Nico Robin. While no one in that series will ever replace my adoration for this mature and alluring femme fatale, I've also been seduced by yet another ONE PIECE character with looks to kill. Monet from the more recent Punk Hazard Arc.
I really liked this one image of Monet from the latest ONE PIECE anime opening theme, "Hands Up". I got a screencap from You Tube, but the quality was poor and colors flat. I wanted my wallpaper to have some depth to it.
I took this captured image and increased both the size and image quality to 300 DPI. I redrew all the lines that were in the image. However, I wanted to give the picture my own sort of style of coloring. I used the original as a bit of a guide, but you can see where I took some liberties.
I hope you enjoy the picture, and I'd like to hear your thoughts.
The First Date was a concept once used to on Anime Vice to discuss a brand new series. I originally thought it was sort of a silly name, but I finally understood it when I wrote an introduction on Anime Vice for the TRIAGE X series. It just seemed to fit. Like a first date, you're feeling each other out and getting to know the other person. I originally purchased my subscription to the digital English edition of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP to follow series such as ONE PIECE. Along with this series came several others. One that has caught me completely by surprised is CROSS MANAGE created by KAITO.
I'd never so much as heard of it before, but it's really won a place in my heart.
" Talented but aimless Sakurai just can't find a place to belong. After trying - and failing at - one extracurricular activity after another, his life changes thanks to a chance encounter with lacrosse fanatic Toyoguchi, who thinks Sakurai has just what it takes to propel her girls' lacrosse team to victory! "
- VIZ Media
Most people seem to think shonen manga is little more than a boy's power trip fantasy, ala DRAGON BALL Z. However. last year SHONEN JUMP , the highest selling shonen magazine, released information that their readership is 50% male and 50% female. That seems to have effected the sort of series they publish. In fact, CROSS MANAGE only began in Japan back in September of 2012, and I came in at chapter fifteen. The cast is primarily all girls since the story is about a girl's lacrosse team. This isn't a romantic-comedy or filled with fan service. This is straight up a sports drama with some honestly funny comedy mixed in.
Basically, Sakurai was a young soccer prodigy who got injured, and even with surgery would never be back to the way he was. He gave up on the sport that he loved and seemed to lack a direction in his life. One day, he spotted Misora practicing lacrosse under a bridge and found himself offering her a tip that helped her improve. Since then, she was intent on getting Sakurai to be the manager/coach of the team she founded for school. Long story short, he kind of gets tricked into the job and discovers he enjoys it.
The girls of the Fujioka Lacrosse Team aren't what you'd call your average athletes. They're an assortment of all kinds, but what they have in common is a love of the sport and playing with their friends. They each bring some unique talent to the team. Misora is incredibly agile and full of energy, Nachi has strength and endurance, Junko is level headed and excels at making snap decisions, and Yurika is great at reading people's movements like a book. They're hardly the best, but Misora has the goal of winning the high school lacrosse tournament and defeat the Choran Girls' Lacrosse Team, who have held the title for the past ten years.
This is an inspired goal, but not hardly seems plausible. Currently, Choran has Namine Chihara on the team. She's the most skilled player in the nation and even earned a spot on Japan's national team. She has never lost a single game she's played in. The girls of Fujioka are really aiming for the top.
CROSS MANAGE has quickly become a favorite to read each week for me. It can be really entertaining to watch the friendship of the characters as they interact on and off the field. One of the best things about the series is that you don't need to know anything about lacrosse. The way the series is structured, the author slowly spoon feeds the audience the positions, rules, and tactics as they're needed. I sometimes wonder if these manga authors who make these sports series are already fans of the game, or do they just do an insane amount of research before beginning.
I really believe female comic readers who are tired of how women are treated in comics would find this refreshing. It's not about their dating life, and ever girl doesn't have the looks of a super model. It's about their bond as a team and supporting one another to try and do something big. Also, the only spiked heels you'll find in this series are on the cleats. A sports series about a girl's lacrosse team is something you'd never see get so much as a chance in a Western comic series.
Unfortunately, the only way you can currently read this series legally outside of Japan is on the subscription to WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP. A $26.00 subscription gets you a year of this weekly series translated into English. You can find more details and even read a free sample of this and many other at www.shonenjump.com. CROSS MANAGE is currently among the series that are being published same day digital with Japan.
If you're curious, you can still learn about the cast. I've been building up the cast in the wiki database on both Comic Vine and Anime Vice. You can't even find this level of information on Wikipedia. I hope you've enjoyed this first date with a brand new manga series that is well worth your attention.
As Caesar Clown goes to retrieve the children ha had been experimenting on. An incredibly truth is revealed about the mysterious Vergo. Luffy and his gang may have been locked in a cage with Smoker and Tashigi, but the lighthearted hero sure doesn't seem to let that get him down.
If it wasn't a big enough shock to find out that mysterious Vergo introduced two chapters ago is a Vice Admiral for the Marines. He's actually a pirate who infiltrated their ranks as a spy 15 years ago. All as part of the will of his captain, Donquixote Doflamingo. Color me intrigued.
I should probably slap myself for not realizing who this "Joker" actually is. The name has been tossed around quite a bit recently. It was a nice feint in story telling. Code names aren't common in ONE PIECE. Joker is in actuality Donquixote Doflamingo, a member of the Shichibukai. Now that I look at how Doflamingo always has that creepy grin and controls his own men and government officials through fear of his powers. I wouldn't be surprised if he was partially based around the Clown Prince of Crime. Oda's based characters on Michael Jackson and ROCK HORROR cast. I wouldn't put it past him.
I was sensing some deja vu with the whole scene of Luffy locked in a cage with Smoker. It's funny that Robin is the one who points it out. Seeing how last time something similar to this happened, Robin was on the outside looking in. It's a nice touch of Oda to add. Anyone who's followed this series would make the same comparison. It also highlights the kind of protagonist Luffy is, as well. All this deep drama going on around him. A big new villain revealed, trapped with enemies, wrapped in chains that takes away his powers, and no apparent path of escape. And Luffy has a big grin, and he's laughing at the irony of his situation. Poor, self-serious Law trapped in the middle. Add that to the list why ONE PIECE is always a fun read.
The early pages do serve a purpose, but feels a bit off place. It just seems to hammer home that to most of the world Vergo is a trustful and loyal man to the Marines. All this to hide his part in a grand conspiracy. It's just the introduction of such a random character as Yarisugi in the middle of it was overkill - pun intended**
It's also a little frustrating that we still aren't even clear on why Luffy suddenly passed out while fighting Caesar a few chapters back. The conventional wisdom is that the gas got to him, but I'm not so sure.
The plot is thickening to an almost head spinning degree. No one can claim that Oda is slowing down or going in circles. Here I was ready for just another fun adventure on a strange island of fire and ice, but it's turning into a deep and meaningful plot with some incredible twists. One that's using some of my favorite characters in amazing ways. I just home we get a bit more action soon.
**See character Yarisugi character page for explanation of that joke.
Earlier today on Twitter, The Anime Network confirmed that Sentai Filmworks will be releasing the first part of the PERSONA 4 THE ANIMATION series to the US market with a full English dub for both DVD and Blu-ray. This will be on Sept. 18 2012. This is a month after the True End episode is released to the Japanese market. Still no cast announcements have been revealed.
This news also confirms another set of details. PERSONA 4 will apparently be sold as a two part collection. The release date information was labeled for "PERSONA 4 COLLECTION 1". That unsurprisingly also means that there will be a Part 2 to be released later.
Product details for the first part of the set was listed on ANN along with other future releases from Sentai Filmworks this year. There will be 12 episodes in this Part 1 Collection, and the pricing is set for DVD $59.98 SRP & BD $69.98 SRP.
SYNOPSIS: When Yu Narukami moves to the country town of Inaba to stay with his uncle and cousin, he's expecting a lot more peace and quiet than he's been used to in the big city. What he isn't expecting is for his uncle's job as a police detective to spill over into his own life. Or for the murders that are occurring across town to be somehow linked to Yu's own strange experiences, odd local weather patterns and a mysterious TV show world that seems to be attempting to get Yu to enter it! Now, together with a new group of friends, Yu must plunge into a bizarre alternate reality where he gains unique abilities that will either help him solve the riddle of the mystery killer, or lead him to his doom. Journey into the Velvet Room and beyond as the hit PlayStation 2® game becomes a spectacular anime in PERSONA 4 Collection 1!
There is currently no pre-order option on Amazon.com, but it can be found now on Rightstuf.com.
The series can be watched in its entirety on either The Anime Network - HERE or HULU - HERE. Nick and I also wrote reviews for all but the last episode. The list of these reviews can be found on the PERSONA 4 THE ANIMATION main page on AnimeVice.com.
Source: The Anime Network & ANN HERE
Back when I first saw the original tutorial trailer for the soon to be release PERSONA 4 ARENA fighting game. I was shocked at the level of depth in the systems they were creating for this game. Well, it was only recently that ATLUS USA released a trailer for the advanced tactics behind the game. In this tutorial trailer, Mitsuru Kirijo, one of the heroines from PERSONA 3, gives step by step instructions behind some of the tactics that could make you a P4A grand master.
I remember that the guys of Giant Bomb pretty much laughed this game off when it was first revealed as little more that gimmick, but this is looking pretty impressive. I already find fighting games intimidating. There are normally just so many systems to learn and combos to hit. If you don't master them or at least become proficient. You're often going to get slaughtered in online play. I was shocked when status ailments were added in the PERSONA 4 anime, but they are also mixing them into this game play.
PERSONA 4 ARENA is due out in the US for the PS3 and XBox 360 in August 7, 2012 (July 26 in Japan), and is currently available for preorder at Amazon.com.