“The game is fun. If it’s not fun, why bother?” -Reggie Fils-Aimé, CEO of Nintendo of America Continue reading “Mario Odyssey – What Video Games Are Supposed To Be”
The UTM writers pick a handful of the most lit and intriguing tracks from the past 30(ish) days. Continue reading “Monthly Bangers: January 2018”
After a brief break over the holiday period, ANIM8OS – the matiest anime podcast on the web – makes its return!
It’s easy to be cynical when it comes to award shows, and even more so when they factor public voting polls into their decision process. Crunchyroll’s inaugural Anime Awards was met with a lot of criticism last year when Yuri!!! On Ice – the romantic figure skating show that garnered a devout audience within and outside the anime community – ended up sweeping in most categories. Whilst a vocal backlash shouldn’t serve to deny what was undeniably a special moment for anime, it’s also easy to empathise with those who feel like a lot of fantastic shows missed their shot at recognition because of its overwhelming presence throughout the categories.
The Anime Awards are making a return this year, however, and it’s looking like they’re making improvements. There’s more categories, a vast range of nominees, no bias towards shows in which Crunchyroll have streaming licenses for and a fancy live event to announce and congratulate all the winners. As it becomes increasingly clear that a lot of traditional film and media award institutes have little interest in recognising the outstanding effort that goes into anime production every year, the presence of a ceremony dedicated to highlighting its diverse display of handiwork and arranged by people with a vested interest in the medium does not go unappreciated.
We neglected to publish an end-of-year anime editorial for 2017, so as compensation we thought we’d list our picks for first round of voting for the Anime Awards 2018!
– Land Of The Lustrous (Orange)
– My Hero Academia S2 (Bones)
– Little Witch Academia (Trigger)
– March Comes In Like A Lion S2 (Shaft)
– A Silent Voice (Kyoto Animation)
– Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Kyoto Animation)
There’s certainly room to question whether it’s fair game to include an anime with a film budget against a bunch of shows made for weekly television broadcast, but when said film is Kyoto Animation’s soul-stirring masterwork A Silent Voice it’s difficult to justify voting for anything else. Beyond its blooming seasonal scenarios and emotive depictions of characters, its evocative use of drawing techniques to represent social anxiety and the hallmarks of adolescent growth is a testament to just how powerful a medium animation can be when it comes to visualising our deepest feelings.
– Land Of The Lustrous (Orange)
– KADO: The Right Answer (Toei Animation)
– RE:CREATORS (TROYCA)
– Attack On Titan S2 (Wit Studio)
– Knight’s & Magic (8 Bit)
– Inuyashiki (MAPPA)
The increasing prominence of CGI and 3D animation within anime is not a change that has necessarily been welcomed by its community en masse. Besides fan preference for the hand-drawn animation that has long been the lifeblood of the medium, there’s definitely a case for the sudden usage of CGI in a mostly 2D environment being jarring to the point that it breaks immersion. But if there was ever a show to sell the merits, Land Of The Lustrous is indisputably the one. For a show with a malleable, mineral-based cast that offers an intriguing take on the concept of body horror, the extra dimension does wonders to add depth – in both senses of the word – to pivotal moments in the story. Lustrous’ crowning achievement, however, lies in its expertly choreographed battle scenes, which utilise 3D movement to showcase levels of fluidity and intensity most action shows can only aspire to match.
– A Silent Voice (Kyoto Animation)
– Your Name (Comix Wave Films)
– In This Corner Of The World (MAPPA)
– Girls Und Panzer Der Film (Actas)
– Kizumonogatari III: Reiketsu-Hen (Shaft)
– Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower (Ufotable)
The inclusion of Your Name in this category personally feels a little outdated – especially since in the UK its initial theatrical run was at the end of 2016 rather than 2017 for US viewers – but even if the body-swapping tale was monumental enough to earn its place as Japan’s fourth highest-grossing film of all time, it’s still second fiddle here to A Silent Voice. Besides the obvious points of it being an endearing story of redemption and an absolute tearjerker, the sincerity in which A Silent Voice handles the personal repercussions of bullying for both the perpetrator and their victim makes for a uniquely thought-provoking theme. Special props to its impeccable sound design, too, which implements aspects of Shouko’s hearing disability in its delivery of the smallest of background noises and tracks.
– ‘Shadow And Truth’ by One III Notes (ACCA 13: Territory Inspection Dept.)
– ‘Here’ by JUNNA (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
– ‘Shinzou Wo Sasageyo!’ by Linked Horizon (Attack On Titan S2)
– ‘Peace Sign’ by Kenshi Yonezu (My Hero Academia S2)
– ‘The Other Side Of The Wall’ by Void_Chords ft. MARU (Princess Principal)
– ‘Imawa No Shinigami’ by Megumi Hayashibara (Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju S2)
Whilst it’s not exactly clear whether the criteria for Best Opening includes both the song and its accompanying animated sequence, the clarification wouldn’t do anything to make this category any less of a knife fight between two nominees. Void_Chords‘ bombastic ‘The Other Side Of The Wall’ serves as the perfect opening roar for an anime that slickly pulls off the arduous task of making steampunk cool again, but the casually cool jazz licks and rollicking, vocoder-led hook of ‘Shadow And Truth’ from One III Notes just about coup d’état’s the competition. Apologies for, uh, any butchering of the French language for the sake of references there.
– ‘Step Up Love’ by DAOKO x Yasuyuki Okamura (Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond)
– ‘Ishukan Communication’ by Chorogonzu (Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid)
– ‘Kirameku Hamabe’ by Yukiko Ohara (Land Of The Lustrous)
– ‘Hikari, Hikari’ by Yuuka Aisaka (Recovery Of An MMO Junkie)
– ‘Behind’ by Karin Isobe, Yuna Yoshino and Lynn (Just Because!)
– ‘Kafune’ by Brian The Sun (March Comes In Like A Lion S2)
Anime endings generally tend to fall on the more sombre or pensive side of the musical spectrum, so it’s always a treat when a show signs off with a bonafide bop existing for the sole purpose of lodging itself in your brain for the next few hours. Bubbly and highly memorable, ‘Ishukan Communication’ is a wonderful encapsulation of all the things that made Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid a delight to watch. Perhaps its only fault was its partner visual’s inclusion of a calendar segment detailing a week in the life of its main ensemble – a painstaking reminder that it would be a whole week before we were reunited with our fun-loving dragon friends.
– Made In Abyss (Composed by Kevin Penkin)
– Little Witch Academia (Composed by Michiru Ōshima)
– Land Of The Lustrous (Composed by Yoshiaki Fujisawa)
– The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Composed by Junichi Matsumoto)
– ACCA 13: Territory Inspection Dept. (Composed by Ryo Takahashi)
– RE:CREATORS (Composed by Hiroyuki Sawano)
Australian composer Kevin Penkin takes on a role akin to that of an artful puppet master with his score for the devastatingly beautiful Made In Abyss. For the duration of Riko & Reg’s descent into the unknown, he’s constantly manipulating the atmosphere and emotional tone to define the mood of every moment. There’s the unshakeable eeriness of ‘The First Layer’. The folksy rush of ‘Swings And Roundabouts’. The awe-inspiring choral sweep of ‘Hanazeve Caradhina’. It’s every bit as fantastical and magical as the show’s Ghibli-esque setting, and every bit as unpredictable as the show’s winding plot.
Want to have your say? You can find additional information and vote for your picks at the Anime Awards website before the ceremony takes place in Los Angeles on February 24th.
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Over the Christmas period, many of us at UTM found ourselves in possession of a Nintendo Switch – giving us ample opportunity to delve into the incredible roster of games it accumulated across 2017. With Nintendo hoping to shift 20 million units this year, there’s a sense that they’re building up towards another huge year. We turned our speculative desires into words, presenting you with a list of our biggest hopes for the Nintendo Switch in 2018.
Come on, be a real console! Nintendo can do batshit crazy stuff like sell cardboard and call it innovation cuz fanboys will romanticise and fantasise about pretty much anything. But equally there as many people who WANT switch to be a ‘real console’.
They’re doing okay on the game front, but modern consoles aren’t just for games, they’re a multimedia centre. Give me Twitch, give me YouTube, give me Crunchyroll, give me all the apps! No one will have any need for an iPad if they got a tablet that can play games and do ALL THAT SHIT TOO, for a good price!
Nintendo will always be the ‘other’ console without basic modern functionality, and I really want them to be a part of the best console discussion. I also really don’t want to fork out for an iPad just to watch anime in bed.
More 3rd Party Ports
Although Breath of The Wild and Mario Odyssey were stunning entries to their respective franchises, to access all the incredible roster of games from 2017, your gonna need another console – namely a PS4 (sorry Microsoft). Their list of 3rd party partners announced at the initial Switch unveiling is a wealth of port possibilities and the handheld nature gives these games a whole new aspect in which they can be repurchased.
With Atlus on board hopefully there’s chance to take Persona 5 everywhere in an attempt to make a dent in the gargantuan storyline and max our confidant bonds with Ann (not Yusuke though – worst boy), whilst Square Enix and Platinum could give us a chance to do an introspective weep on the train with NieR: Automata.
No Rushed Major Titles
It’d be impossible for Nintendo to recreate landmark year they had in 2017, their major titles set a whole new benchmark for quality. It’s important that the console shifting franchises they have left are given plenty of time to meet the new standards, and to ensure the Switch isn’t devoid of high quality games in future years.
To guarantee that kids and those who are kids at heart will be unwrapping a Nintendo Switch at Christmas, it’s obvious they’ll need at least one huge game to draw more people in. Animal Crossing seems like the least taxing option, it feels too early to see our favourite mascots scrapping in a new Super Smash Bros, and it’d be a surprise if Metroid Prime 4 is ready for 2018 given it was only presentable in JPEG form at E3.
However, the rumoured push for a Pokémon title in 2018 is the most worrying prospect given that the 3DS is defined by the wasted potential of the games that feel unfinished – exciting prospects were unrealised, the amount of newly introduced Pokémon shrank dramatically, and the worlds were barren of exploration. Game Freak definitely need plenty of time to craft their own Breath of The Wild.
Switch Integration With Mobile Apps
Whilst the Switch was undeniably the golden goose of Nintendo’s 2017, the company also deserves credit for its improved forays into the mobile app market following 2016’s lacklustre social app Miitomo and the gimmicky Super Mario Run. Fire Emblem Heroes was an excellent example of scaling down a series to be more accessible to newcomers whilst rolling out features catered towards its longterm devotees and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offered a welcome return to the communal aspect of the franchise that fans had grown to miss.
When Nintendo initially teased Animal Crossing for mobile in 2016, they had mentioned they were working to ensure that the smartphone spin-off “will be connected with the world of Animal Crossing for dedicated gaming systems” in future – an aspect they’ve curiously gone mute on following its release. With mainline Switch releases for both Fire Emblem and (assumedly) Animal Crossing on the way, it would be a wasted opportunity for Ninty to not capitalise on their micro successes in some shape or form – whether it be via promotional campaigns and login bonuses in the countdowns to their releases or expense-free opportunities to earn skill points or resources to use on either system.
The Long-Awaited Return of Virtual Console
To both their benefit and their detriment, Nintendo have always been about innovating the way we play games – a desire most recently demonstrated by the announcement of Nintendo Labo this week, a collection of cardboard contraptions built with the intent of offering more child-friendly ways to interact with the Switch. For many, however, the foundation of their love for Nintendo lies simply in their esteemed history of iconic video game titles – making the current omission of a much-adored feature acknowledging exactly that on the Switch all the more frustrating.
It’s uncertain as to why Virtual Console – the Wii era e-shop staple that offered console owners the chance to purchase older titles they missed/miss conveniently on one console – is yet to appear on the Switch. Some speculate that it’ll be revealed alongside the console’s fee-based online services later this year. Perhaps, however, the sweeping popularity of remasters has influenced their approach to porting old titles – a sound business decision supported by the recently revealed HD remaster of the cult DS RPG The World Ends With You and various fully-priced Wii U ports. Regardless of the circumstances, the sooner Nintendo can get their iconic back catalogue of old-school console gems – Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Kirby Air Ride to name a choice few – to their portable hardware prince, the better it’ll be for business and consumer alike.
Nathan Butler, Connor Cass & Joshua Pauley