Thursday, July 31, 2014

TV Series Review: True Detective


What do you get when you mix a tremendous cast, a chilling story filled with death, cults to weird gods, an incredibly grim atmosphere, and HBO? You get something really awesome. True Detective is that and more. This is one of those shows that can be used to make the argument that television is no longer what it was. Television has moved towards a serial nature and this show proves exactly why.

Two state detectives, “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and “Marty” Hart (Woody Harrelson) try solving a series of murders and disappearances in Louisiana during the span of roughly 17 years. A murder by itself is not enough to keep people interested in the show. What makes this show captivating is the dialogue between the two lead characters. When you look at them, they couldn’t be more opposite from each other. This fact makes their conversations and philosophizing compelling. The story by itself is enough, but it’s the moments between these characters that make it interesting. 

Now, I would like to make a disclaimer before I continue. This is not an action show. While it has some action scenes, this is drama through and through. It's equally about the journey that Rust and Marty go through (with each other and by themselves) as it is about solving the riddle laid before them.

The creator and writer of the show, Nic Pizzolatto, is relatively unknown in terms of television and film, having only written a couple episodes of the show The Killing before. He has written a couple of books and was born and raised in Louisiana, which is the main reason why the show works so well. Louisiana is the third, most important character, a lot like the gritty streets of New York or Chicago or the rainy back streets of London. The director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, whom I've never heard of or seen his work, has intrigued me enough to find out more about him. His work here is fantastic and along with cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, make the series alive.

The music is great, with a phenomenal mix of classic rock, blues, southern music, and even some hip hop thrown in for good measure. They did a great job in picking a fantastically creepy song for their intro, “Far From Every Road” by The Handsome Family. This song evokes an eeriness similar to what the show strives for essentially. 

Anyone interested in great storytelling, fantastic acting, and doesn’t mind a slow burn, as it were, should be able to enjoy this show. Sure, the fact that it only has 8 episodes might make the end seem a bit rushed, but when looking at the whole package, no one should miss this show.

Web-comic Review: Supernormal Step

By Temper

Magic, face punching and a robot or two; that is the tagline for this month’s web comic recommendation, Supernormal Step. Written, drawn, and colored by Michael Lee Lunsford; Supernormal Step centers on the misadventures of the blue haired heroine Fiona Dae. The plot starts when she gets transported to an alternate dimension Earth where magic is prevalent and where a man named Henderson is the lifetime leader of the United States.

Fiona doesn't care much about her current situation.  The plot mostly centers on her getting used to life on this new version of Earth while also trying to find a way back to her old life on the “normal” Earth. However, Fiona doesn't have to go on this adventure alone, she will have many allies. They will range from the wandering mage that sort of summoned her into this word, to a man trapped in the body of a stuffed bunny because he was a prick. The world of Supernormal Step has diverse characters from various mythical races along with the wonderful art of Lunsford.  During the evolution of the series, each character is portrayed beautifully.

What first attracted me to Supernormal Step was, believe it or not, Lunsford’s involvement with the Create a Wrestler Community that surrounds VGCW. SNST, as he is known over on Twitch, created some of the best looking wrestlers. So naturally, when he announced that he would no longer be making any more CAWs to concentrate more on his art, my interest was peaked. 

I Googled Supernormal Step and it led me to the web-comic. As I usually do with new web-comics, I read from the number one publication to the most recent page at the time. I thought Lunsford’s art was awesome. Fair Warning! Lunsford is also known as Zet13 and he does draw NSFW material, so Google him at your own risk.

Supernormal Step has a fun story, comedy, action, romance, and one of the most comprehensive portrayals of an asexual character I have ever seen. I won’t spoil who it is, but you can go on over to and find out. I highly
recommend it.

Monday, July 28, 2014


 San Francisco, CA, July 16, 2014 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, unveiled the brand new English voice cast for SAILOR MOON to a packed audience of enthusiastic fans at the 2014 Anime Expo in Los Angeles. The company also announced that preorders would be available soon for Blu-ray and DVD for the first home media release of the series that hits retailers on November 11th, making these sets an ideal purchase for the coming Holiday season.   

  VIZ Media has licensed all 5 seasons of the original SAILOR MOON anime series (rated ‘TV-PG’), spanning 200 episodes, as well as all three feature films and specials. As part of the return of the series, VIZ Media is releasing SAILOR MOON , restored for the modern Blu-ray format, with its original un-cropped 4x3 aspect ratio using the original Japanese character names, story elements and relationships, but with an all-new, uncut English dub approved by the original creator, featuring a English voice cast consisting of fan favorites, seasoned talent and exciting new voices. The new production is produced by Jamie Simone and Rita Majkut, with Suzanne Goldish as Voice Director.

The New SAILOR MOON English Cast Includes:  

Usagi Tsukino / Sailor Moon – Stephanie Sheh
Ami Mizuno / Sailor Mercury – Kate Higgins
Rei Hino / Sailor Mars – Christina Vee
Makoto Kino / Sailor Jupiter – Amanda Miller
Minako Aino / Sailor Venus – Cherami Leigh
Mamoru Chiba / Tuxedo Mask – Robbie Daymond

The SAILOR MOON Supporting Cast Includes:  

Luna – Michelle Ruff
Artemis – Johnny Yong Bosch

Naru Osaka – Danielle Nicole
Gurio Umino – Ben Diskin

Ikuku Tsukino – Tara Platt
Kenji Tsukino – Keith Silverstein
Shingo Tsukino – Nicolas Roye

Queen Beryl – Cindy Robinson

Jadite – Todd Haberkom
Nephrite – Liam O’Brien
Zoicite – Lucien Dodge
Kunzite – Patrick Seitz

  VIZ Media also thrills fans as it presents SAILOR MOON for the first time, uncut and re-mastered, on Blu-ray and DVD. Pre-orders are now available for Season One, Part 1 (Episodes 1-23) of SAILOR MOON in a special Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, as well as a Standard Edition DVD-only release. Watch our social media channels for coming information on how you can be among the first to secure your home media order for SAILOR MOON, which will debut on November 11th. Fans who preorder at and select anime specialty retailers will receive a limited edition collectible memorial coin for Season One Part 1 (while supplies last), first in a series of 5 that features Usagi’s transformation brooch and iconic phrase! The coin is 1.5” diameter in size, and made from sturdy gold-tone metal.    

  SAILOR MOON Limited Edition Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack Season One Part One · Available November 11 · Preorders Available Soon!
Special set contains 23 episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs and 3 DVDs that are packaged in a premium shimmery rainbow foil-accented chipboard box. Set also includes a collectable full-color 88-page SAILOR MOON booklet filled with art, character profiles, episode guides and more. Episodes are presented in 1080p High Definition with a 4x3 native aspect ratio, and English and Japanese stereo audio and available English subtitles; a ‘signs and songs’ subtitle track will also be included. An interactive art gallery along with an exclusive all-new behind the scenes footage and special SAILOR MOON convention panel footage and trailers are also included. Packaging art will be unveiled soon.  

  SAILOR MOON Standard Edition DVD Set Season One Part One ·
Available November 11 · Preorders Available Soon!
Set features Season One, Part 1 (Episodes 1-23) on 3 DVDs offered in a full-color, elegant foil-accented O-card cover package. English and Japanese stereo audio is available, along with English subtitles and a ‘signs and songs’ subtitle track. Standard DVD set also includes an announcement convention reel. Packaging art will be unveiled soon.  

  Also don’t miss brand new remastered episodes of SAILOR MOON, available now on Hulu and, VIZ Media’s consolidated online destination for FREE streaming anime content in the U.S.! Two new episodes (subtitled) debut each Monday.

  The smash hit SAILOR MOON anime series is inspired by the bestselling manga (graphic novel) series created by Naoko Takeuchi (published in North America by Kodansha). In the series, Usagi Tsukino is a cheerful 14-year-old schoolgirl who often finds herself in unwanted trouble. One day, she saves a talking cat named Luna from some mean kids, and her life is changed forever. Luna gives Usagi a magic brooch that transforms her into Sailor Moon, defender of love and justice! Now Usagi must work with Luna to find the other Sailor Guardians and the Moon Princess, whose Legendary Silver Crystal is Earth’s only hope against the dark forces of the evil Queen Beryl!    

  Additional information on Neon Alley is available at:

  For more information on SAILOR MOON, or other award-winning anime titles from VIZ Media, please visit

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Series Review: Fargo

By Snow Drift

Fargo (2014) is an American, crime-drama television series inspired by the 1996 film of the same name directed by the Coen brothers. Created and written by Noah Hawley, the show stars actors such as Billy Bob Thornton (Lorne Malvo), Allison Tolman (Deputy Molly Solverson), Colin Hanks (Officer Gus Grimly), and Martin Freeman (Lester Nygaard). The story centers on assassin-for-hire Malvo, who arrives at the town of Bemidji, Minnesota and influences Lester to indulge in violence and malice. When a series of murders happen in a short time, Deputy Solverson puts it upon herself to investigate and find the real culprits of the crimes.

One of the aspects I loved most about this mini-series, along with the original movie, is that the situation is self-contained and low-key, to an extent. While in the movie the murders were exclusively contained within the boundaries of the small towns and its few characters, the TV series lifted its limits a bit to indulge itself in more out-of-town characters, from the FBI to a mafia-like organization in the town of Fargo. However, it is still within certain limits, the mini-series giving the viewer the opportunity to observe the few characters of the show. It is with these limits that each character can be explored to its completion without the show worrying about having to develop dozens of them at a time. The self-containment, furthermore, assists in not over-complicating the plot, which may distract the viewers from what is important.

While multiple TV series and/or films attempt to portray every murder as fantastical, exaggerated, and even surreal, Fargo decides to ignore those tropes and leave each murder as simple and to the point. It is with this technique that the mini-series could guide the viewers’ attention away from the grotesqueness and gore of the murder victim and towards the living characters themselves. The fear and interest is not on how many people have died and the manner in which they did: it is in the worry of what might happen to the rest of the characters. After watching various murder-related stories, one would believe that everything would become a sort of murder-fest or free-for-all. However, Fargo concentrates more on the emotions and mentality of the characters and how these are affected and developed as the series progresses. It is not about Deputy Solverson’s possibility of dying or of uncovering a complex conspiracy: it is about her investigation, her determination, her horror, and her disbelief at what she is witnessing. Along with the other characters, it is not simply about saving or killing or an end-justifies-the-means situation for heroes, villains, and anti-heroes: it is about the concept of inaction; the willingness to not only do what’s right, but to face the horrors of reality, accept their truth, and still be willing to fight against dangerous men. It is also an exploration of how small-town people deal with extreme situations without turning the story too overly dramatic. Although Malvo, Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg), and Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) give the story an aspect of the extraordinary, they are limited within their own boundaries too: they are highly trained assassins, but are clearly mortal and vulnerable to any attack. It is in fact their personalities that make them unique and not particularly their skill-sets.

Furthermore, the dark comedy of the series helps avoid submerging the series into an extreme level of psychological “grim and gritty.” With the humor, the viewer will not have to always perceive the world as a constant stream of death and lies. It is within this dark reality that people can still laugh and have joy, even if it’s just an attempt to levy their fears. This humor is accompanied by a sense of realism that the story has, seen how many of the characters react to their particular abnormal situations with a sense of confoundment; there is no exaggerated or extreme reaction to what is happening in their lives. Instead, each character attempts to access the situation with what they perceive is rational to them. Instead of screaming and having hysteria, the characters get to go through shock. Additionally, it is in this silent observation of their situation that the audience can see the characters project their inner fear: for with just a few heavy breathings, widening of eyes, mumbling and stumbling in their speech and particular choice of words is enough for the viewer to understand who these individuals are. 

All in all, Fargo is a fascinating series for the type of viewer that enjoys self-contained and low-key crime dramas that concentrates heavily on the character development than on the murder victims and their mode of dying. It is short and to the point, without delving too much in multiple subplots.

(Warning: Fargo contains violence, blood, gore, and sexual scenes.)

Manga Review: Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation vol.2

Story and art by: Yoshiyuki Nishi
By Aliraluna

Are you a victim of unwanted spirit possession? Is there a ghost you need sent up and away… or down to burn for all eternity? If the answer is yes, then you need Muhyo and Roji, experts in magic law. Serving justice to evil spirits is their specialty.

After Muhyo mentioned the name “Enchu”, Roji is wondering who this person is and why is he after Muhyo? Will we get some answers?

Article #6: Unfading: 
Muhyo and Roji were called by the parents of two high-school students called Nozomi and Takahiro, as they know they are hiding a ghost. Arriving at their secret place they see a ghost called Yuta who was their former classmate and best friend. Yuta (when he was alive) came up with the idea of create a painting on a wall before graduation, but he had an accident. What will happen if he tries to stay in this world?

Article #7 and #8: Nana’s Photos/ Daddy: 
“Muhyo’s rules, No. 3: Meeting with former clients is prohibited…but exceptions will be made for new cases”. Kenji comes back to visit, but he’s not alone! Nana who is a soon-to-be photographer, whose dad passed away two months ago and her mother left her, has taken lots of pictures. Kenji explains that there’s a ghost in all of them, and he’s correct. Muhyo explains that she’s a medium and that’s the reason why she may attract lots of ghosts. Why does Nana get mad when Muhyo explains the situation? Does it have anything to do with her late father? Find out and meet this new character.

Article #9: Roju’s Pen: 
Is the day Roji has been waiting for: he receives a package with a magical pen to create wards and an invitation to the annual advancement test. Later, Nana comes back to explain that she saw a ghost on a bridge but Muhyo doesn’t care. Roji decides to go and help. Will he be successful with his new weapon?

Articles #10 and #11: Presence/ Premonition: 
Muhyo decides to take Roji to his advancement tests. In there, Nana visits the library with him and while Roji looks for a certain book, a boy appears out of nowhere. Later on, while Roji’s at the test Nana sees Judge Yoichi and when she gets closer, she sees he has small mouths all over his body. What will happen to him and everyone?

Articles #12, #13 and #14: Madness/ Pride/ Together: 
At the cafĂ©, Roji learns that Muhyo, Judge Yoichi and Enchu were best friends and classmates when they were young. Knowing that Enchu is now attacking and on the dark side because he was always obsessed with talent and he wanted to be the Executor. They are under attack by paper ghosts and get trapped inside, but Roji with his powerful pen and strength destroys lots of them all at once, earning him the special promotion of First Clerk! 

Comic Review: Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood

 By Snow Drift

Persepolis is written by Marjane Satrapi and originally published by French comic book publisher L’Association in four volumes between the years 2000 and 2003. The comic is the autobiographical graphic novel of the author’s life, first during the Islamic revolution in Iran, and later during Iran’s war against Iraq. I’ll be dividing these reviews according to the two-volume version, published by Random House: Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. 

A particularly fascinating aspect of the graphic novel is its art style. It’s very simplistic, with basic use of black and white and avoiding any aspect of natural shading or lightening. However, the way that Satrapi implements this style is enough to express the emotional narrative of each scene. The cartoonish style gives Satrapi the opportunity to portray comedic scenes with exaggerated facial expressions or physical movements, sentimental and gentle ones with a simplistic visual imagery of emotional responses, and horrific ones as well. The lack of blood and gore helps the reader prioritize the person itself. It’s within these fundamental aspects of the drawings, where the author avoids displaying background details, which helps the reader pay attention to the main events and characters of the scenes. Satrapi avoids distractions, putting her message front and center for all of the readers of her work. 

The narrative style and the dialogue are major factors in the plot of the graphic novel. Each chapter is made to demonstrate the development of the characters and of Iran. It’s straight to the point, avoiding distractions to the story. Random events in the author’s life, even if they had an impact on her, are not a priority to the narrative of the story. Like its art style, the story has no subtly, symbolism, or metaphorical aspects to it; Satrapi wants the reader clearly see the conditions of her life and of her country. Its content is raw and the dialogue was written in just the right way to not only demonstrate simply the point of the characters’ messages, but to also distinguish each character as unique. Just like the art, there is no decorative aspect to the plot. 

Although this is an autobiographical graphic novel, Satrapi doesn’t entirely concentrate on herself. The story also explores her family and Iran. Her uncle Anoosh, her grandfather, and even her maid Mehri are not only influences in the author’s development, but they are also their own people, demonstrating the horror, injustices, and repression of Iran’s society during the 1980s. The pasts of the country and of the individuals, play an important role in Iran’s current state of affairs, and of Satrapi, who grew up with a historical, religious, political, and societal baggage on her shoulders, which is further explored in her second book, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. Since Satrapi is a child for most of the first book, she perceived the world as a child would. Everything seemed black and white, good and evil easily discernible. However, the horrors she witnesses will lead her to understand that the world is made of shades of grey, and that good people don’t always triumph. By the end of this first book, Satrapi has a keen understanding of what is true injustice and suffering, and won’t merely repeat what other adults tell her about Iran and the world.

Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood successfully portrays groundwork from which Satrapi had to stand on during a time that should’ve been of innocence. The heavy political and horror-filled atmosphere that she lived through will follow her throughout her life, especially when she confronts other cultures and their prejudiced view of her culture. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Manga Review: Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation

Story and art by: Yoshiyuki Nishi
By Aliraluna

Are you a victim of unwanted spirit possession? Is there a ghost you need sent up and away or down to burn for all eternity? If the answer is yes, then you need Muhyo and Roji, experts in magic law. Serving justice to evil spirits is their specialty.

Follow Muhyo, the youngest of the executors of magic law, and Roji his second clerk assistant (lowest rank) in the many adventures they will have while Roji learns more about magic law, and strange events start happening. Enjoy the first manga I read!

Article #1: Rie & Taeko: 
Rie Inoue pays a visit to tell them about “the girl on track 5” believing that the ghost is indeed a girl that pulls people’s legs and that she may have been a classmate, specifically a friend of hers and she thinks she killed her. Will both girls find redemption and know what really happened?

Article #2: Old Mrs. Kiyomi: 
Muhyo and Roji are starving but there’s no money! Just when Muhyo is eating a book this cute old lady called Kiyomi Taguchi arrives with curry and a new case. She runs a student dormitory that is now haunted. One day, the students went to tell her about a a one-eyed ghost and left because they were really scared. She needs them to come back as she promised her late husband that every Sunday she would give curry to the students because they are poor… Who’s that ghost and what does it want?

Article #3: Genius
In the middle of the night they receive a call to arrive at a mansion. Shiratori explains that at two in the morning precisely, a shadow starts playing the piano. Muhyo explains that sometimes the emotion of ‘hate’ from several people get together creating a haunt. Later on, they find the paper that has their advertisement and notice that the colors of the mark of magic laws are inverted… Was this case on purpose?

Article #4: The Present: 
A “normal” day in their lives, Muhyo gets angry because Roji was using his book and he throws a fit. Roji goes away while crying when he suddenly finds himself sitting in an old chair. He decides to give this antique to Muhyo, but things get worse. Why did Muhyo reject his present?

Article #5: Kenji, Destroyer of Signs:
In this chapter, we meet a boy (that will appear later) named Kenji who doesn't believe in ghosts and decides to throw a rock at their sign. Also, he’s going steal a seal from a temple. What will happen? Will he finally believe in ghosts?

Special One-shot: 
Kaya’s Onodera house is alive; the temperature changes and it gets worse when a man appears. She think it has to do with Nobuo, a guy that followed her everywhere and everyone called him a stalker… Is it really him? I wouldn't trust that cellphone strap.

Microsoft Recap

By UnderBreex

Once again, it's that time of the year, when wake up really early, rush to the living room, and take a look at our favorite things while celebrating with our closest family and friends. No, it's not Christmas! It’s the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014! Once again, bringing exciting new video game titles and updates from our favorite companies in the industry. Let's recap!

Starting with Microsoft, the company needed to deliver something genuine for both hardcore and casual gamers, and exciting too, for the love of Lord Whaley! They needed to deliver convincing titles with mind-blowing content, not another cable box. Thankfully, Microsoft learned from their mistakes (asides not hiring a host like Ubisoft), and presented amazing possibilities that had me questioning the safety of my bank savings.
Some of the new announcements included exclusive and third party games, gameplay demos, and new trailers for games such as:

* - Multi-Consoles   ** - Exclusives

-Forza Horizon 2**

-Crackdown 3**
-Dragon Age: Inquisition*
-Sunset Overdrive**
-Project Spark**
-Ori and the Blind Forest**
-Halo 5: Guardians**
-New character for Killer Instinct: Season 2**
-Phantom Dust reboot**
-Dance Central Spotlight**

-The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt*
-Halo: The Master Chief Collection**

These strong titles may be the key for the Xbox One to dethrone the PlayStation 4 in sales, and finally prove its potential, or at least it will by next year.
Starting with Forza Horizon 2, this title gives you the competitive driving thrill of your life. Not only does it have beautiful graphics, it also has a new driving mechanism which no other driving game dominates until now. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a big deal, including Halo 1, 2, 3 and 4 remastered for the Xbox One for only $60. It's well-suited for new Xbox owners looking to have one of the best gaming titles in the history. We also got some footage from Halo 5: Guardians, and it was amazing. We expect nothing less from a classic title going into the next generation. One of the biggest surprises was Crackdown 3. Even though extensive gameplay was previewed, they didn’t reveal many details. Finally, Sunset Overdrive has had me craving an Xbox One since last year and it’s not because it reminds me of InFamous a little bit. Sunset Overdrive looks insane as a Creepachu (look it up, thank me later), it's colorful, versatile, and overall very entertaining. More importantly, it’s also a much needed new franchise for this console. Who would’ve guessed that we could launch a teddy bear strapped with a stick of dynamite to destroy enemies?
Microsoft is playing it safe for now by finally showing up some promising titles and engaging what we all love, while also lowering the console’s price tag a $100 by removing the Kinect. The Xbox One is finally heading down a brighter path.