Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, July 10, 2008




Anime Review By Le Chupacabra

Action / Drama
1 Movie
Production IG
Ages 15+

What if Nazi Germany had claimed victory during the World War II? Letting that information sink in, Jin-Roh starts off portraying a Japan ravaged by violence, poverty and rebellion. In order to maintain law and order, the government have adopted a fascist regime, mired by corruption. To combat this, a national terrorist organisation known as “The Sect” fight for freedom. In retaliation, a highly-capable combat unit bedecked in armour are dispatched. This leads to bloody clashes erupt all over the country. Amidst this, the tale of Kazuki Fuse of the Kerberos Panzer Troops and Kei Amemiya of “The Sect”, begins.

I quite enjoy alternate world stories particularly when an author or director can really capture and create a believable world. However, Jin-Roh, despite an interesting premise, zooms in further and chooses to showcase the meeting of two people from opposing sides.

The result is a stark humanistic tale of allegory, betrayal and intrigue. The narrative and themes draw heavily from “Red Hiding Hood” but not in the way you think. This isn't the same story you've heard as a child; it's the original macabre tale that's far removed from the fairy tale trappings of modern revisions. The concept is brought up many times and its integration is a chilling, disconcerting one. There are strong shades of 1984 as well, George Orwell fans may like to note.

The story looks deep into the heart and soul of Kazuki Fuse and the strife within. When the girl Kei enters his life, you get to observe how the conflict between man and beast - both part of Fuse - will end. Other characters become involved, all having some part in Fuse's journey, and it's through these interactions and events that both his personality and the world around him are developed and divulged. The film-like pacing and quiet yet intense storytelling all augment this emotional, introspective narrative.

The art direction is hauntingly beautiful and creates a fanastically dark atmosphere. Eschewing the use of any computer generated imagery (despite being produced around the year 2000), Jin-Roh relies on painstakingly detailed hand-drawn artwork. The backgrounds are marvellous painted cels that truly express the transformation into this dystopian world. Characters are rendered realistically to the point that you may think they were based on actual people; the superb animation only makes them more believable. Similarly, the voice acting is of rather high quality, making those tender moments something special. The English dub is quite solid and is well worth listening to.

The soundtrack is a gritty, subdued affair that will go unnoticed yet deserves mentions for its part in subtly complementing the mood.

While I can't say this was by any means a perfect anime, I'm hard-pressed to find any debilitating flaws. Perhaps at most, the Red Riding Hood allegory might have been a tad overused. The movie explores themes that quite a few viewers may not appreciate or particularly enjoy. This is not meant for younger viewers.

A moving, powerful drama that serves as an utterly absorbing reimagination of an old fairy tale, Jin-Roh is a work of art, both figuratively and literally. It's a dark, mature story that offers depth and introspection in a dignified manner and is all the more richer for it.

By Beb-E

Franchise exploitation is one of the most common occurrences in the gaming industry today. A bigshot (sometimes small) developing company makes a game, it's a hit, so next year they make a replica of the game, and decides to call it <Game Name> <Year of release> or <Game Name> <nth Installment>.

Take the NFS series for example. It was good until the 6th game. And then came the 'yo' thing. Then it got crap. I shan't even go into FIFA, or NFL or whatever the heck.

Today's game, Devil May Cry, is yet another continuation of a franchise. And the question is, is worth the continuation? Or is it yet another franchise exploitation.

Devil May Cry 4 was released on the consoles back in late January and early February. It was finally recently released for the PC. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

The installation is simple enough, after which you can start the game with either DX9 mode or DX10 mode. I doubt one or the other makes a whole lot of difference. The game starts with a fast-paced pre-rendered movie, which uses the graphics same as in-game, as is common these days. The pre-rendered movie is a not an intro. You could call it a music video with bits of pieces of the game thrown in together to make a decent enough 'intro'.

From then on however, the fun factor goes a slight bit down hill. The options are a complete mess. They show tutorials with PS2 controls, and what not. Too many trivial flaws, so best not go there. Simply put, once again, the options are a mess.

Story: Essentially, you play as Nero, a member of the Order of the Swords. The game starts off in a church dedicated to the worship of Sparda, the father of Dante and Vergil. Sparda was a demon who rebelled against his race for mankind. Talk about some overdue recognition. After an assassination of the head priest by Dante, Nero goes on a manhunt after the assailant, and the game starts as a horde of demons attack the church. The game progresses with 'missions' as in the previous games, and each of them are full of cutscenes that, er, try to tell the story. What it actually does is show off a fist full of fancy moves. DMC4 has its own plot twists and turns, and somethings are bound to leave you wanting answers.

Gameplay: It's hardly any different from DMC 3. In fact, the controls in the PC version are downright horrible. It's extremely difficult to get a hang of it, and it's not very smooth. The jumps are awkward, and the dodges even so. There are other annoying gameplay mechanics, like the lack of a mouse. The camera can be moved, but with the keyboard and not the much less movement restricted mouse. You can use a gamepad, though, if you have one, which I suppose would make the controls smoother. But, how many of us actually have gamepads?

Graphics: The graphics are great, however the PC version has a lot of glitches. Turning on the anti-aliasing does not fix jagged edges, and the screen frequently flickers during cutscenes. Nero is like his predecessor similarly modelled, and ultimately looks, just like his predecessor, a bit on the feminine side. All the other characters, too, are modelled feminely, including the female characters. The backgrounds and artworks, though, are to be praised, which create a really nice atmosphere. If only, you could explore the world more.

Sound: Unlike DMC3, this game does not really have a very good soundtrack. The voice acting however is a major improvement. Dante sounds actually sounds okay, and Nero is… okay, too, I guess. Anyway. There's really not much to say about the Sounds of the game. It's just… okay.

Conclusion: Not the best of games out there, but it has its good sides. It has a sort of engaging story, and an extremely fun gameplay. However, that too lasts for only so long before it gets repetitive. I mean, really. How long can you exactly slash at the same enemies over and over and over again. Still, the fun lasts long enough for you to finish the game. The focus on combos and getting high style points make it a difficult and challenging game. And perhaps, that's what makes it fun for some people.

Anyway, when it all comes down to 'it', it's got a good enough story, and a fun extreme-paced gameplay, with plenty of eye-candy. There's a bit of something for everyone. Try it out. Might be worth your time. And your money.

By Hasib Shaikh

On a sunny June 28, 2008, four new faces joined the music scene in Bangladesh. I sat in the interestingly designed Decagon Cafe of Rangs-Nilu Square located at Dhanmondi 5A with Emil the lead singer of the new rock band Shunno.

My first question is how did you guys think of the band's name?
Emil: The name Shunno was actually given all of a sudden when we were actually releasing our first song in a mixed album called Bonno. Everything was ready, the song was ready to go, but the name wasn't ready yet. So me, Shaker were the only two members at that point. And Fuad Bhai - Fuad Al Muktadir. We were all discussing what possible names can be given, and all of a sudden Shunno came in as an option. Shunno was an option because we wanted to keep the name simple, we wanted to keep the name two syllables for certain reasons. We wanted something that if you hear it once, you'll always remember it. That's why Shunno fulfilled all the criteria, and that's why Shunno was given.

Ok. I should have asked first, how do you guys know each other?
E: Ok, Shaker and I were the founder members of the band. We were actually friends. Before we even became band members, we were friends because we lived in the same area, we actually aada-fied (hung out) in the same area. And then eventually, Shaker brought in Michael because Shaker used to do music with Michael before and then Labib joined in later on.

What other bands would Shunno compare itself to?
E: Well, we actually liked to cover a few bands like Maroon 5, a few alternative bands like Creed, Alterbridge and Matchbox Twenty. We like Scorpions. Basically, we're not into very heavy music, like Metal songs. We listen to all kinds of songs, but we think we could probably compare ourselves to these bands.

Where do you see the band in 5 years?
E: In five years we would like to release at least two more albums, and we would like to improve with every album we release. In five years, we would like to be appreciated as one of the most good musicians of this country, and probably also do something outside of our country.

Where do you see the band in 10 years?
In 10 years, it's very difficult to say. The same thing we would like to make something different. In 10 years, we would like to be very good musicians, and also contribute to the music scene, not only for us but for the younger generations as well.

Sponsored by Samsung Mobile, a concert took place later that day at Decagon Café. Some of the other bands featured were Raaga, The J's and Nemesis. After the concert, Emil generously allowed me a few more minutes of his time.

How do you think the band's first ever concert went?
E: I think the concert went very well. It surpassed our expectations. We had two surprises: One of them were we had Arnob performing with Nemesis, and Sanjay performing with Radioactive.

How big was the crowd?
E: The concert was sold-out. It was a full house. The audience seemed to have enjoyed the show. They were cheering and loving the band.

Ok, now I'm going to ask you some personal questions.
When did you first start singing?
E: I started when I was young, ever since my childhood. My mother and my sister used to sing as well, so I would join in with them

What do you like to do in your spare time?
E: In my spare time, I like to chat on the internet, surf the web and also I play football at times.

This last question is from your female fans:
Would you date a fan?
E: Sure, Why not?

Produced by their own label Maroon Music, Shunno's debut album 'Notun Srot', which was released June 28, 2008, is in stores now. Thank you Emil and the band Shunno for your time.


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