Tag Archives: Japan game

Otaku Review: Detective Conan/ Case Closed

Conan as a kid

Take a genius crime-solving teenager. Put him in the body of a six-year-old child, give him a tranquilizer dart, a shooting clock and some other high tech tools that would make Q jealous. Sprinkle it with 800 plus episodes and 20 movies riddled with crime and corpses and there you have it. Detective Conan (aka: Case Closed) is the longest running detective series in the world…and also one of the most violent series imaginable. In virtually every episode someone dies in a gruesome and mysterious way.

A corpse has been found!

Kundo Shinchi was tailing some men in black who knocked him out and fed him an experimental drug that shrunk his body. Since this would put some real strain on his hobby of solving crimes, he came up with a brilliant ploy. He got his friend, Dr. Agasa to make him a bunch of gadgets to compensate for his size and age. Conan then moved in with his friend and potential love interest: Ran.

Conan and the kids from his class


Incidentally, his childhood friend has a father who is a drunken womanizing gumshoe who jumps to conclusions and sucks at solving cases. Fortunately this turned out to be easily rectified, as Conan drugs the poor sod and proceeds to imitate his voice every time a suspect is about to be exposed. This gave the man the nickname Sleeping Kogoro, and a lot of fame (which in turn attracted even more cases). Naturally Conan has to keep it hidden from everyone else, lest the men in black who shrunk him in the first place find out he’s alive, and the proceed to kill everyone he loves and cares about.


Mind you, he’s quite capable of getting them almost killed himself due to the abnormally high crime rate in Japan. I can assure you that when he and his friends are about and at it, corpses will fall from the sky in a flat, featureless desert.

Kogoro, random stranger, Rans friend, Ran and the kids
I want those spy glasses!
Suspension of disbelief, Ran is a black belt.
Rule of awesome beats reality!

Every now and then he is also joined by his fellow classmates and Heiji, who is also a detective, and Ai, who was part of the organization. She too, shrunk herself into a child with the mysterious drug. It should by now be worth mentioning that the first episode of Detective Conan starts with a couple getting decapitated in a roller-coaster, which means that the series can get quite bloody and absurd at times. Most of the time however, it’s quite down to earth (if you ignore the absurd number of explosives that show up in the movies and his inflatable soccer ball dispenser).Some suspension of disbelief is needed, since the whole reason Detective Conan keeps up the masquerade from his friends does become quite arbitrary. It’s not that hard to deduce that this kid is too smart for his own good. But then again time does not seem to move much in the series, even when the technology is updated. The author has clearly done his research, and for the most part it’s accurate and wears its inspiration on its sleeve.

Watch it on Crunchyroll

Njål Sand

Otaku Review: Vandread

My first encounter with anime, as I’ve come to know it, was Vandread. Everything prior to it was either Pokemon or Moomin. In the Vandread universe, men and women live on two different words, which are at war with each other. The beginning sequence follows a ceremony where a new flagship is to be launched and Hibiki has lost a wager and is trying to steal a Mecha. Just as a team of pirates strike, stuff blows up and the prototype ship fuses with the pirate ship. From there on a space adventure with a very unlikely and gender-segregated crew begins.

The show has 26 episodes divided into two seasons; a move that condenses the plot into 75 minutes and a manga. The main theme of the series is the different perspective between men and women who are learning how to live together after being raised on separate worlds…a true culture clash of epic proportions. This is all wrapped inside a deeper plot, complete with character development, tastefully ecchi content and beautifully drawn characters. We follow the shenanigans of the crew and the stubborn, cocky spiky-haired main character, as well as the ditzy alien-loving Dita, who keeps referring to Hibiki as Mr. Alien.

Indeed, this is bonafide scifi show after all, with 3D animated space fights, where he can “merge” his Mecha with the female fighter crafts. This results in some awesome combinations with some rather suggestive cockpit and crew placements! The supporting cast is nice and varied, though they borrow quite a lot form stereotypes. Luckily there is no violent tsundere as the main love interest. Too many shows includes a headstrong, sexually insecure girl whom beats up the boy for just looking at her, even when it’s an honest accident.

In an ocean of questionable animation quality, this is quite pleasant to look at and very decently animated. Due to 3D being used in space, it does not feel out of place at all, even though the 3D has not aged that well. However, it’s a very nice way to avoid the uncanny valley. Naturally there is a stupidly catchy theme song that will probably get stuck in your head. I can’t go too much into the plot details, since that would ruin the story. However the whole series is on YouTube, it seems. The dub there is not too bad; however it’s still a dub.

I enjoyed it, as I’m sure you will as well.

-Njål Sand-

Haven Review: Magical Eyes – Red is for Anguish

TitleFirst up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

One of the things I quickly learned when I was in Japan is how rich and complex is its culture. The written language for instance, utilizes basic Chinese characters, but then requires speakers to learn multiple pronunciations for each character, depending on its use in a sentence. It then compounds the issue with two more alphabets not found in Chinese, each of which must be carefully integrated alongside the Chinese script. Needless to say it was a challenge to learn! Also during my journey I considered a serious study of shogi (Japanese chess). I was already a decent player of traditional (aka “International”) chess, so I figured it wouldn’t be a problem to learn a new variant. It turns out that shogi makes traditional chess look like checkers! It’s a lot of fun, but very tough.

Bird But this report is neither about language nor chess. It’s about the unique phenomenon known as manga…the Japanese graphic novel. If a manga becomes a cartoon movie, it’s then known as anime. Either way, our motif of extreme complexity continues as we try to decipher plot and purpose, both within and outside the bounds of story. Submitted for your approval: Magical Eyes – Red is for Anguish, developed by Pomera Studios and published by Fruitbat Factory. As a graphic novel presented in video game format, this title has properties of both manga and anime. The object of the game is to make your way, one screen at a time, through the trials and twists of a highly convoluted story line. Red is for Anguish is the first installment in what is purported to be a series of Magical Eyes stories. Early indications suggest that each episode will contain a different color in its name.

TwinsSo what can we say about this novel without spoiling the plot? I don’t usually quote outside sources when writing, but here I must make an exception. I’ve read several reviews, and they’re all under the impression that the story centers around a businessman who claims to have had his arm cut off by a living doll. Now I’ve been playing this game for several hours and guess what; no businessmen, no dolls and no arms. Before getting into what I did find, I’ll post a quick disclaimer:

Recently a large patch was released for Red is for Anguish, resulting in one of two possibilities:

1. The aforementioned story arc has been removed, replaced or simply pushed forward a few hours.
2. No change has been made to the story at all; I just need to grind ahead to find it.

If the latter is the case, then you can ignore everything I’ve said so far (although Japanese chess really is an amazing game).

ChefWhat I found in Red is for Anguish is as follows. The story opens with an animated fairy tale of sorts. A sweet little girl, loved and admired by the townsfolk is cursed by a monster to become destructive. Two brave heroes appear in an attempt to lift the curse. The people of the town realize that the destruction is not the girl’s fault, and are intent on forgiving her, should the curse be broken. The girl, still self-aware, vows to become a champion of curse removal in the future, if she’s able. How’s that for a non-committal, anti-spoiler review?

Classroom We’re on a roll, so let’s continue. After you see the fairy tale to its conclusion, the story shifts to modern-day Japan, where an affluent woman can’t seem to shake an unnatural attraction to her own grandmother. This emotional bond grows so overwhelming that it winds up killing the younger, after which the elder becomes distraught and also dies. It seems that in this universe if you die a highly emotional death, you return as a zombie-like creature bent on leeching life from others in a fruitless attempt to restore lost relationships. Such has happened to the younger woman, who now wanders the streets aimlessly. A young man happens to encounter this newly made zombie-woman, resulting in…martial arts combat, of course!

At this point I was really hoping to see a businessman’s arm, or at least a few of his fingers. But alas, not yet. In fact by now you should see how the title goes; one arc after another, and seemingly unrelated. The small amount of story I’ve cited occurs right at the very beginning, and the screenshots I’ve included have nothing to do with any of it. They are however part of the actual game…I swear.
MapAs you read through the title’s plethora of dialog, special keywords will occasionally show up in a bold, colorful font. You can click these to learn more about Japanese culture in general. Also, from time to time you’ll come across an exciting mini-game embedded into the story. This is called “Reasoning Mode” and presents in the form of a pop-quiz. If you’ve been paying attention to the plot, you should have no problem answering the questions and earning bonus scenes and content as a reward. If you happen to answer a question incorrectly, you can always restore from a previous save. Considering the game gives you 150 save slots, you should have no problem returning to any specific point in the story!

So overall, is Magical Eyes – Red is for Anguish worth it? For fans of interactive manga, the answer is yes. Priced on Steam at $15 (USD), it’s a good value. Add in the 13 Steam achievements and it upgrades to “very good”.

In the meantime, expect a lot of information (and a fair amount of confusion) to be thrown at you during play. Dialog is odd at the best of times and downright creepy at others. This is quite entertaining and helps to balance the tedium often associated with lengthy graphic novels. So enjoy…and as always: Ikimashou!

-Chris Roberts-