Author Archives: Hachi76

About Hachi76

Well, I'm a leo. I like long walks on the beach and severely damaging people's faith in a caring, just God. I am both nerdier and cooler than you, and the sooner you accept this, the sooner we can move on. My areas of expertise are Video Games, Anime and Kung Fu Films, with minors in Manga, Film and Music circa the 60's to the 80's

Kung Fu Theater: Shaolin vs. Lama

This year’s pride parade got a little…out of hand.

  • Title: Shaolin dou La Ma
  • Year: 1983
  • Availability: There is a commonly available, English-dub only DVD on the market.

As a Kung Fu fan, I have a truly tremendous pool of material that lies before me. The modern form of the industry has gone through no less than EIGHT distinct “periods” in the 50-odd years it has existed, and as mentioned, some of the studios and directors were remarkably, terrifyingly prolific, putting out near to a dozen films per year for decades. And this is compounded by the immensity of the “Shovel-ware” subdivision, as I like to call it: the quick, made-on-a-buck schlockfests that were put out in the industry’s prime to make a quick profit with as little effort as possible.

Although entertaining in a sense, you generally want to avoid these. You’ve seen them; terrible actors, awful martial arts featuring men flailing at each other stiffly in some sad facsimile of combat, and occasionally whipping out plastic “weapons” to assault the air with. Pretty much, the quintessential “chop socky” flicks that, to this very day, relegate the Kung Fu flick to niche status in the eyes of the general public.

There are telling signs: improper use of a camera, leading to everyone being slightly off-center. Terrible, repetitious dialogue in both English AND Chinese. Bad sets, costuming, fighting, it all just looks terrible. And look out also for a generic (well, more generic) title: any combinations of “Master”, “Shaolin”, “Temple”, “Monk”, “Killer”, “Vs.”, “Fighter”, “Deadly”, “Bloody” and “Bruce Lee” are all big red flags. The best of these tend to be hilarious in their way, and the worst are awful, boring affairs that will just hurt to look at.

“Bruce Lee: Big Red Flag” ironically also the name of an energy drink, coming to you this fall…

But, what happens when those red flags are wrong? What happens when, despite all the signs saying the piece should be terrible, it in fact turns out amazing? It still has all those terrible pieces, sure, but it manages to be amazing in that one, all-important way, and pulls itself up to where its flaws become charm points, and it’s strengths colossal victories? Oh, it can happen, dear readers. It can happen… Continue reading

Anime Theater: Hajime no Ippo pt. 2 (New Challenger)

This image is obviously symbolic of Ippo's desire to see the true face of God...and punch him in the friggin' head.

This image is obviously symbolic of Ippo’s desire to see the true face of God…and punch him in the friggin’ head.

  • Title: Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger
  • Year: 2009
  • American Distributor: None to date, due to the underwhelming performance of the first season here in the states. A release seems unlikely, so get thee to Google…

They say that there’s nowhere to go but down when you reach the top. Having hit the apex of your intention, gotten everything your sick little heart desires, there’s really nothing left for you but the crashing low of disappointment and eventual loss. I don’t believe in that, I actually believe that one simply need sit in their top position, and if that’s not possible, find another ladder to climb. Apparently, that latter proposition gives me a lot in common with Makunouchi Ippo.

Yup, that clumsy-ass lead in was all to get us back into the world of professional boxing and the Japanese athletes, goofballs and general eccentrics that occupy it. After Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting ended in 2002, we had to wait a full SEVEN YEARS for the sequel series. Although the TV movie and the OVA in between provided substantial morsels to snack upon, a true series was what we wanted. And we got it with gusto, with 2009’s Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger, a show that although lacking some important pieces of the perfection of its predecessor, is still a top-notch, non-stop hit parade of humor, heart and hardcore boxing shenanigans.

Also, more Aoki, such as this scene where he appears to be cosplaying as Elliot Gould...

Also, more Aoki antics, such as this scene where he appears to be cosplaying as Elliot Gould…

Continue reading

Hachi Announces Hokuto no Ken Month, Laughs in the Face of Scheduling

Happy Birthday, eyebrows! ...I mean Kenshiro. No, wait, eyebrows...

Happy Birthday, eyebrows!
…I mean Kenshiro. No, wait, eyebrows…

In celebration of 30 years of brawls, brows and beefy boys beating each other, I would like to officially announce that October will be the month of Fist of the North Star, or Hokuto no Ken, if you’re nasty.

Unlike my other slightly ill-fated saga celebration, the Month of the North Star (trademark pending) will be wider in scope, but looser in schedule. It all may come toward the beginning, or you may get a deluge around Halloween, but rest assured, by the end of this month, you will be treated to several Reviews of the North Star (trademark pending), including both TV anime series’, the Shin Hokuto no Ken OVA and the Raoh-gaiden series from a few years back. Also keep a look out for one, maybe two, Lists of the North Star (trademark pending), and a deeper discussion of what has made the Men of the North Star (pretty sure that one is trademarked already…) such enduring characters.

It’s sure to be an interesting time, so stay tuned to The Wired Fish for your dose of beef and manliness.

And vaguely menacing eye hair...

And vaguely menacing glares.

 

FSW List 76: Top 8 Hajime no Ippo Fights

What do you do, when everyone is blue...and punching each other.

What do you do, when everyone is blue…and punching each other.

So, there’s this show. Hajime no Ippo. And it’s about struggle and friendship and humor and self worth. And you know what else it’s about?

Boxing. That sport that involves people punching eachother a lot. So naturally, you’d expect there to be some hardcore matches in the series. This is a list of the top fights in a series filled with great fights. Fists will fly, tears and blood will be shed, and you will shout many “OOOOOOH!”s as you watch. As I list the fights, I’ll also go into some small detail of the arc of episodes that leads up to the fight, since in some of these cases, the lead in adds an extra level of depth to the matches themselves.

Note, this is from the series as a whole, so that includes the first and second TV anime, the TV movie and the OVA. Oh, and of course, SPOILERS WILL ABOUND IN THIS LIST.

That being said, let’s get started! READY! BOX!

Continue reading

New Dragon Ball Z Game “Battle of Z” Trailer Released, Hachi Caresses His Balls Gently…Slowly…

Well, time to get my golden wig out...

Well, time to get my golden wig out…

Source: Kanzenshuu

A new Dragon Ball Z brawler has finally been announced, sans release date, but what’s been seen is quite exciting.

Let me preface this by saying that I am a huge DBZ fan. Huge. Absolutely massive. I’ve been watching the show since I was five, and even as an older male, when it should be a ripe target for my practiced snark and cynicism, I can’t help but love it.

And I love video games. And video games about Dragon Ball Z are a particular delicacy, especially since they tend to be halfway-decent. A fan boy will endure a lot to play his favorite show, but Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, waaaaay back on the early PS2, is considered one of the first reasonably fun anime games to come here. And its “threequel”, Budokai 3, is actually considered to be a really good game. So was its successor trilogy, the Tenkaichi series, with Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 being my favorite DBZ game of all time, and a personal fave for its great music, fun combat and ungodly amounts of content. Continue reading

Gamer Review: Thomas Was Alone

But not for long...

But not for long…

  • Title: Thomas Was Alone
  • Developer: Mike Bithell
  • Publisher: Mike Bithell
  • Console: PC, Mac, PS3 and PSVita

Profound. That’s not a word that I, or anyone, should ever use lightly. To ascribe something any level of profundity is to register it as a higher form of something. To say that something has ellicited a level of feeling and thought in us that deserves not only special attention, but praise. It is a difficult task to be profound, that it is.

And especially in videogames, it is hard to believe that anything can be a “profound” experience. Most lack that certain something, maybe due to rigidity of form, or an intent that they just can’t shake in the name of deeper meaning. Or maybe some try too hard. Or, in other cases, try too little and the only “profound” nature they have is to be profoundly dumb, or profoundly disappointing.

Or both.

Or both.

And yet, now and then, they do make their way to us. Shadow of the Colossus, a masterwork of isolation and stark beauty. Journey, a short but painfully gorgeous adventure that acts as one big allegory for the paths we all must take in life. And now, I can honestly say that Thomas Was Alone has joined those ranks because, although it might not have their beauty or depth, it manages to do the almost impossible; to tackle what it means to exist, to understand our place in the universe and alongside our peers, and it tackles it with a sharp wit and a deeply compelling heart. Continue reading

In Memorial: Kenji Utsumi

Ken-oh has returned to the heavens...

Ken-oh has returned to the heavens…

On June 13, 2013, the world of Japanese VO suffered a really terrible loss when Kenji Utsumi, one of the most veteran seiyu (Japanese voice actors) in the business, lost his battle with cancer, passing away at age 75.

As the Wired Fish’s resident anime geek, as well as one of a relatively low number of passionate “voice actor enthusiasts”, I find that I grow fond of certain voices. Certain actors who fill a niche well, giving me a fond thrill whenever I hear them. “Ah, there’s X actor, good to know this hero’s in good hands!” or “Oh, she’s voiced by Y, no wonder I hate her.” Utsumi-san had made a career out of voicing rough and tumble guys, his lower register voice giving many a throaty growl to characters both old and new, and I’d like to highlight a few here. Continue reading

FSW: Anime Theater: Hajime no Ippo pt. 1

Ippo will punch your expectations in the FACE...and then apologize profusely. He's THAT kind of guy...

Ippo will punch your expectations in the FACE…and then apologize profusely. He’s THAT kind of guy…

  • Title: Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting (aka “Fighting Spirit” in its US release)
  • Year: 2000
  • American Distribution: Geneon put out the entire series under the “Fighting Spirit” title, dubbed and all, and most volumes are easily found on Amazon or similar sites. Prices range from 10-20 bucks per 4-episode volume.

Anime is wonderful for a variety of reasons. It’s fun, challenging, surprising, silly, deep, creative, horrifying, mind blowing and very, very varied. Animation here in the US is wonderful and varied as well, this is true, but in Japan, the art form is used to tell stories not just aimed at kids or adults, but of all genres and depths. The anime industry is as wide as the film industry, at the very least, and twice as creative.

So sometimes, when you’re watching the cosmic beast being fought by the young warrior with daddy issues, or the metaphysically challenging ending of a space opera-style show, or seeing a buff dude get punched through a mountain, you forget anime, and by extension, manga’s, talent for simply telling a story. For like all media, any show or story is only as good as the people making it.

And nowhere is this more exemplified than in Hajime no Ippo, George Morikawa’s masterclass in well-rounded, yet accessible and fun storytelling, set to the very terrestrial sport of boxing. A masterclass in great character design, interesting plots and how one uses such a broad, creative artform to tell a constrained, character-based story. Continue reading

Anime-Kung Fu Theater: Rurouni Kenshin

Watch our hero, watch him stand, ANGRILY, in front of stairs...

Watch our hero, watch him stand, ANGRILY, in front of stairs…

  • Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji kenkaku roman tan (according to IMDB)
  • Year: 2012
  • Availability: Not yet “officially” available here, but DVD acquisition is easy, and a localization is absolutely inevitable.

The art of the live-action adaptation is a most difficult and unforgiving field. Anime, almost without exception, is an art form that takes advantage of its unreality to tell stories that would otherwise be impossible to tell in another format. Maybe they’d require unrealistic staging or locations. Maybe the characters need to go through some shit that no real person could feasibly go through. Or maybe someone needs to get punched through several miles of earth, and well, with the exception of Hong Kong legend Lo Meng, I can’t think of anyone in the real world who could handle THAT particular stunt.

I heart him. I heart him so FUCKING much...

I heart him. I heart him so FUCKING much…

Because of this, most anime adaptations tend to run the gamut from “decent” to “holy shit, my brain eyes are on fire, summon the lord for the end-times have come” Some of them are uproariously bad/good times, like the old Fist of the North Star movie with Gary Daniels and Malcolm McDowell. Others are just depressingly bad, like the horrific Blood Plus movie made a few years back. And still others are just, well, BORING, like Mushishi (based off one of my absolute faves, no less). So imagine my shock when, after watching the Rurouni Kenshin live-action film, I sat back and said to myself that it was…good. Damn good. Really damn good. Miracles happen, that they do. Pretty Asian miracles in red hakama… Continue reading

First Step Week Delayed to THIS Week, Hachi Offers to Sever Leg in Recompense

So…some of you may have noticed the lack of much Hajime no Ippo-related writing here, despite my claims to a large amount of such things coming out. Well, that’s because it will be coming this week, for reasons that have nothing to do with my inability to recover from a drunken, debaucherous weekend at a convention, coupled with E3 coverage NO SIREE, HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT.

…*ahem*. Anyway, expect all the boxing fun promised last week to instead come this week. I would also like to officially announce that First Step Week is now dedicated in loving memory to Kenji Utsumi, the voice actor for Coach Genji Kamogawa who tragically passed away last week. I’m offering this to his memory, so I’d better damn well be up to snuff.

Well folks, see you in the times to come.

Announcing: First Step Week (FSW), Celebrating Hajime no Ippo

So much MANLINESS...and eyebrows. Also eyebrows.

So much MANLINESS…and eyebrows. Also eyebrows.

Well, that about says it, doesn’t it? Yes, to celebrate the…well, no occasion really, just to celebrate, we will be taking a week to look at the long running manga and anime classic, Hajime no Ippo.

“But Hachi, you divine morsel you, what exactly is Hajime no Ippo?” Good question! Hajime no Ippo is a boxing manga created by Joji Morikawa back in 1989, and is still running today. And…that’s it. No bells, no whistles. It’s a boxing story, about boxers and the boxing they do. There is naught a magical girl or a energy beam to be found, and no one will be killing anyone’s family member in revenge for a past slight, or seeking to save the world. It simply chronicles the adventures of one Makunouchi Ippo, as he endeavors to improve himself through the path of boxing, and to find out for himself what true strength is.

Well, of course, there are the occasional techniques and training montages that strain credulity, at best. And the characters are as broad and eccentric as any manga you’ll ever find. But that is all the surface dressing to what is easily one of the best stories, and particularly one of the best anime, you will ever find.

They reaaaaallllyyyy strain credulity some times...

As previously stated, they reaaaaallllyyyy strain credulity some times…

Hajime no Ippo is a triumph of great storytelling, great character development, amazing humor and heart, and of course, amazing fights. However, it is…well, not terribly well-known here in the states. Oh, it has a fanbase, of course. A small, fiercely dedicated one at that, and I and several of my friends count ourselves in said circle. But ask any ten anime fans about it, and you’ll be lucky to find one or two who know what the hell you are talking about.

Which is a shame. Almost without exception, this is anime at its finest. Not its most bombastic, or its most over-the-top. But just…finest. Doing what anime should do; tell a story in a compelling, fun and occasionally gonzo way.

So, to wit, this week will be to educate you. There will be articles galore! Lists! General discussion! And reviews of both the anime series’ that have come out based on the show! It’ll be a good time, and if  I do my job, you’ll be poised to get into one of the best stories in the art form.

We begin tomorrow! Bring your gloves…

Bethesda Announces The Evil Within, Hachi Reminds Himself to get a Tetanus Shot

Fun fact: this was originally the subtitle to that CG Final Fantasy movie from a few years back. OH, HISTORY SLAM, TAKE THAT, SQUARESOFT'S LONG-DEFUNCT FILMS DIVISION!

Fun fact: this was originally the subtitle to that CG Final Fantasy movie from a few years back. OH, HISTORY SLAM, TAKE THAT, SQUARESOFT’S LONG-DEFUNCT FILMS DIVISION!

Source: IGN

For a while now, Shinji Mikami, the man behind Resident Evil (among other things) has been teasing his new game, previously code named “Project Zwei”, because Mikami likes English like we like syphilis.

The announcement came through this morning that the project is in fact a survival horror game called The Evil Within. It’s being billed as “A return to TRUE survival horror” and “The perfect blend of action and horror.” The game is to be published by Bethesda Softworks and is being developed by Mikami’s studio Tango Gameworks.  Continue reading

Gamer Review: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

*Insert Pink Floyd reference here*

Not every kiss begins with K…

  • Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  • Release Date: March 20th, 2013 (24th in America)
  • Developer: Next Level Games
  • Publisher: Nintendo

Ahhhh, remember the early 2000’s? Gods, those were heady times. The Dreamcast went under with the arrival of the PS2, Microsoft was throwing its hat into the world of console gaming with this nifty thing of theirs called “The Xbox”, and games were poised to explode into mainstream culture as never before.

And here comes Nintendo, with their little purple Picnic Basket of a console. But in a break with tradition, they launched, not with a new Mario game (that would come a bit later, with the…divisive, Super Mario Sunshine), but with a Luigi game. A Luigi game featuring him sucking up ghosts with a vacuum cleaner. Huh. Regardless, Luigi’s Mansion is a fondly remembered part of the Gamecube’s launch window, and has lain dormant as a franchise for a number of years.

Until now. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon features the return of ol’ Mr. Green to the world of Ghostbusting, with all the flashlight shining, specter catching and treasure seeking you can want. Almost more than you can want, actually. But his return also heralds the arrival of one of the 3DS’ most unique little gems, one that evolves its predecessor, and yet still feels nostalgic at heart…

Continue reading

Newsbreak: Arkham Origins Announced, Hachi Prepares to Become The Night…Again.

Find out the REAL story behind Big Boss and the founding of...whoa, wait, wrong series...

Find out the REAL story behind Big Boss and the founding of…whoa, wait, wrong series…

Source: IGN

In a move that will surprise no one with a basic knowledge of series-milking, Warner Bros. announced the development of Arkham Origins, the latest in the critically and fanbase beloved “Arkham” series of Batman videogames. Precious little information is available at the moment, other than the fact that it will take place before either of the other games, starring a younger, more inexperienced Batman just arrived in the city and on the lookout for love and meaning in his life after the accident.

I may be lying about that last part, but it is totally a prequel.

Continue reading

Newsbreak: Dynasty Warriors 8 Confirmed For International Release, Hachi Starts Counting Seconds

Ooooh, my "Flaming Chinese Man" collectible is coming in the mail!

Ooooh, my “Flaming Chinese Man” collectible is coming in the mail!

Source: Koei Warriors

In the most exciting news I’ve heard since sliced bread was used to power that Haitian dirigible (oh, you didn’t hear? Pay attention…), a producer over at Koei made it officially known that Dynasty Warriors 8 (known as Shin Sangoku Musou 7 in Japan, because of…reasons that would take a bit of doing to explain) will be releasing here in the US and in Europe. And it’s sooner than I anticipated, coming to us on July 16th. Continue reading