Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 10, 2009




Anime Review

Dogs: Stray dogs howling in the dark

By Kokoro-chan

4 OVA, Rating: 17+
D for Dogs.
D for Death.
D for Danger.
And D also for…

Honestly, it is every reviewer's dream to once in a while come across a C grade anime and pochafy it to his/ her heart's content. But to tell you the truth, DOGS, from its successful manga background to the enigmatic plot summary, seemed anything but C grade at first glance. I mean, set a dystopian mafia-infested world as a backdrop, add to that bizarre genetic modifications topped with hot katana-swinging women (and men), sprinkles of earth-shaking gunfights, bullet-showers, characters with attitude problems etc.- and it literally becomes one's RIGHT to expect first-class mind-blowing animated entertainment out of it. But instead the 4 part sorry-excuses-for-OVA-adaptations of the much-hyped manga fail to meet the mark tragically: a success only as a major waste of time and all expectations flushed down the sewer without mercy.

The series is supposed to be a prequel to Miwa Shirow's original manga 'DOGS: Bullets and Carnage'. Now the purpose of a prequel normally should be to introduce the characters and brief flashes of the main story for the benefit of the viewers who may not be familiar with the manga itself. The OVAs here do that too, to some extent… or at least they try. What actually sinks the ship are the inexcusably poor execution and inconsistent story-development issues. The first episode attempts to portray a sombre plunge into intriguing human emotions, but messes up half-way through. The second turns out quite fun, though and the third, coupled with some serious (compared to the rest) action scenes and an engaging plot, is so far the best out of the four. However, the final episode again degrades itself to the biggest upset ever, portraying the main character as a total freak, complete with a weird case of Gynophobia (fear of women. Why, though?) and disconcerting 'Engrish' swearing.

Those who say the best thing about storylines is when they don't have any definite storylines- should give this series a try, I guess. A jumbled assortment of random events happening to the four prime characters should keep you entertained for some time. But then again you might even get confused as to exactly WHO those four are unless you watch the starting and ending credits, which are 'bare-naked' by the way: totally devoid of any upbeat anime-song numbers. Unique, you say? This reviewer rather felt heart-broken. DOGS, it appears, despite its promising attributes, has gone straight to the dogs in the end. *sob*

'Inglourious' Fantasy:
How Tarantino Saves The World

By The Anarchist Kitten

General movie geeks and Tarantino lovers alike have something new to revel in, the latest film from the world's most popular oddity in the film industry- after much disappointment with Grindhouse, Tarantino fans were gleeful to find him returned to his prime with Inglourious Basterds. The director of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Tarantino returns with a World War II fantasy of a film that gleefully and frequently twists, distorts and recreates whatever historical facts get in the way of his feverish and overzealous imagination. This is the Tarantino we all know and love.

Inglourious Basterds starts with an extended, dialog-filled scene of the typical Tarantino school of filmmaking. In Nazi-occupied France in 1941, Col. Hans Landa visits the home of a dairy farmer whom he suspects is hiding Jews. An elegant, exquisitely mannered SS officer, Landa speaks numerous languages fluently, including French, German, Italian and English. His interrogation of the farmer progresses from friendly to terrifying to deadly. And apt introductory scene, actor Christoph Waltz executes a bravura performance as Landa, a man extremely suave and breezily efficient at his job. The not-well-known Waltz easily dances away with Inglourious Basterds, even though Brad Pitt steals the limelight of the film as an equally ruthless American lieutenant.

Pitt plays Aldo Raine, the leader of a ruthless squad of Jewish soldiers specifically created to terrorize Nazis in France. This is very obviously a nod to the iconic 60s film- The Dirty Dozen, in which an American lieutenant trains a dozen ruthless prison inmates for battle during World War II. Each man under Raine's command is ordered to take 100 German scalps, a direct and strict order from the commander himself. Raine and his Jewish soldiers become a notoriously infamous gang, running wild in the French countryside with a license to slaughter and mutilate, to spread fear throughout the Third Reich.

Raine's team, including a baseball bat-wielding giant of a thug nicknamed Bear Jew, have no reservations about their mission. As the lieutenant matter-of-factly explains to a doomed Nazi, "We ain't in the prisoner taking business, we in the Nazi killing business. And business is booming!"

Tarantino, in his typical style of story-telling chronology, organizes this film, his Jewish revenge fantasy, into chapters that take viewers to various French locales, including Paris. It's there that principal characters Raine, Landa and Shosanna Dreyfus, a young Jewish woman, in charge of a local cinema, who manages to elude Landa's grasp through much of the war, finally converge.

Tarantino's distortion of history brings into the act the supreme masters of the Nazi war machine, including Hitler himself. The film is extremely entertaining, because Tarantino shamelessly turns history and alters facts inside out to suit his own dramatic purposes.

Maybe Inglourious Basterds means nothing. But its pure outlandishness draws eyes to the screen through the entirety of the film's two hours and 32 minutes, and is easily one of the more entertaining films of the year so far.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

By Emil

Let's just come out and say it. Let's. Batman: Arkham Asylum is arguably one of the best game in its class, and definitely the best superhero game EVER. Not to mention that it's probably also the best presented stealth third-person game ever, too. Everything is so stunningly presented- even the graphics are too awesome.

Even typical things like bonus collection are seamless, too. This appears as one of the Riddler's quest, and you can't help but feel a sense of achievement as you complete it. You'll have to solve many of Riddler's riddles and puzzles, with the help of one your gadgets- the visor. When the 'detective-mode' is activated, the world becomes dark, but everything of interest lights up, and not to mention a limited x-ray vision to locate people.

The plot of the game is that the Joker is causing a bit of a disturbance in Arkham Asylum, plotting to create an army of Bane-line creatures (Knightfall, anyone?) threatening Gotham City. So, of course, once again it's up to Batman to put a stop to the madness that is the Joker. Super gadgets, super detectiveness and super stealth, and their awesome integration into the game system makes this game one-of-a-kind, yet.

Not to mention super combat. But, being the game that it is, one of the best, the combat isn't on par with the game's other elements. One expects more from the it; regardless, it's still very enjoyable and fun, especially when someone doesn't just randomly mash together several buttons and hopes that something or the other happens, and instead tries to use the combo system in place. Chaining together regular and counter-attacks builds up a special experience multiplier- after enough has been built up, Batman can perform a special attack for quickly taking down a single foe. Fun.

The stealth aspect of the combat is pretty nifty; sneaking up on foes, and dropping off from higher grounds, or just snatching them up to mid-air; all very fun. 'Taking down foes sneakily is always great entertainment.' Old Chinese proverb. Very true. These 'Predator' type tactics are very useful to the game and often mandatory for you to use them, as some objectives require you to be absolutely invisible lest you alert Joker's henchmen.

'Grab baseball bat off the goon and whack them with it. Hard.' Yet another Old Chinese proverb, and works everytime. It's probably the boss fights where the thick shade of uniqueness of the game starts to become a bit filmsy, or rather it's just a bit out of place. Except for the one with Poison Ivy. And she's hot. So. Yeah.

Other elements of the game includes gliding down from higher grounds with the help of Batman's cape, and his grappling hook has many uses including jumping up short heights, or hiding from your enemies. Other gadgets of Batman include the ol' Batarang, explosives, and a frequency scanner used for stealth-stuff like unlocking doors with security panels on them. The game focuses a lot on exploration, and a part of that exploration is for finding out items and clues left behind by the Riddler. Newly-obtained gadgets allow you access to areas previously barred. The game also implements an upgrade system, where your experience points obtained from defeating foes and solving riddles can be used on upgrades anytime in game.

It's really awesome to finally have a superhero game where a bunch of things aren't just glued together to get a game out just in time with a simultaneous movie-release. Even more awesome since that superhero game is Batman. And well. It's Batman. What more do you want?

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a game that's one of those 'must play' titles. It's so good, that it's even in the Guinness World Records for 'Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever'. It really is that, good. If we had a proper stable and consistent rating system, Batman: Arkham Asylum would get a solid A+.


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

© 2009 The Daily Star