Super Team Ups – The MCU & The Avengers: Infinity War 2/4

Spoilers Ahead!

Tuesday I summarised the MCU as best as I could in brief, and tried to give you some idea of what to expect from Infinity War without giving too much away. Today the gloves are off, and so begins the review proper.

Given the volume of characters in play, it makes absolute sense to divide the narrative between them, each group trying to find a way to halt the progress of the Mad Titan. So let’s take this group by group, doing insufficient justice to each character as we go because we have many years to summarise with each:

Continue reading “Super Team Ups – The MCU & The Avengers: Infinity War 2/4”

Review – Game Of Thrones Season 7

Winter has come. It has kicked down the door and is making itself at home despite the fact that we’ve called the police and are cradling a knife for fear that winter does something unpredictable, but all it’s doing is drinking a beer it brought with it and asking if we’re feeling ok.

That’s a bit of a belaboured metaphor, but I’m going somewhere with it. This has been the shortest season of Game of Thrones to date, in fact this and the remaining season are supposed to constitute a single super-season that brings the series that has now wandered from the Song of Ice and Fire source material rather dramatically. Gone are the magic horns Dragonbinder and the Horn of Winter, gone are half the characters, and the rich prophetic and psychological elements of Martin’s epic that inspired the watered down show. Continue reading “Review – Game Of Thrones Season 7”

Leaking Information: Is It Bad For Business?

In the last few days there has been a leak that shows us an early print of the upcoming Magic: the Gathering block Ixalan. This is actually the second leak, but the first was barely a glimpse of the cover art which gives us some idea of the inspirations behind it, and listed with a different name “Atlazan”. Very minor compared to this huge release of info, a sheet of actual cards not due to be released for months. Understandably, Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro are not happy about this, but is a leak all that bad?

Creative Control

For Wizards of the Coast a great deal of money, effort, and time goes into preparing their usual advertising campaign. This isn’t just the regular steady drip feeds of new cards through social media worldwide, but it also includes the short stories on their website written by teams of cannon artists developing the wonderfully deep narratives behind every block, and the normal promo events with Friday Night Magic prereleases.

Read this piece by M;tG web content manger Trick Jarrett from the leaks around the Oath of the Gatewatch block two years ago about how such information leaks can undermine months, even years of work. For him it’s a personal kick in the teeth as it’s his work that’s being undermined. Through various associations with outside companies WotC expose themselves to the possibility of unauthorised leaks on a regular basis, but it’s still important to them to maintain creative control over the advertising process.

Hype

It seems like a no-brainer, leaks happen because people want to know stuff! There’d be no need or call for leaked information if people weren’t interested, and there isn’t a company that doesn’t want anyone to be interested in their product. Should a company be keen to know that people are so determined to learn about their product that they’re willing to go around their planned release schedule?

And by all means make a big deal about how you don’t want anyone to know about the information, but in many ways bemoaning the leak helps draw attention to it. You can frequently bring more attention with a leak and you’re own adverse reaction to it, than with your average run of advertising. Does Magic need the extra attention a leak might bring in for them? Not necessarily, but their advertisement can usually be formulaic. It can do some good to shake things up from time to time. Not that I’m accusing them of leaking their own cards, but maybe they needn’t be so downhearted.

Unfair Advantages

Let us not forget that this is not just a game of fun for some people, and that Magic is a game played at a competitive level, and it’s these people watching attentively at the leak sites to get a head start on the maths. That may sound a little over-the-top but there’s actual money in it for some people. And those players less involved who pursue the game’s news less rigorously lose out. In those particularly rare instances where leaks are more physical than just a photograph, some people can get hold of some early copies of cards long before release.

These are the kinds of leaks that can truly damage a game and cause serious issues for the competitions that are integral to the gradual releases.

Deadpool

Just a quick note on one of the finest examples of a film that could have never existed without leaked footage. Plenty of us have speculated on the possibility that Sony, probably Ryan Reynolds himself stole the test footage in an effort to make his little fan project a reality, and if that little flicker of perfection hadn’t hit the internet like an atom bomb we may have lost one of the best superhero films of the decade. Now, there’s no good comparison to make between a film and a CCG with regular releases, but it does go to show that leaks can have their benefits, and while they may wound the pride of the developers, ultimately they may find their efforts rewarded.

Some Speculation

Pros and cons aside let’s take a look at some of the content of the Ixalan sheet. It goes without saying that mechanically the cards are a solid mix of the usual chaff that will inevitably prove mildly useful or too specific for regular circulation, and the merciless and glorious horror cards that will have me – I mean, will have people buying booster after booster without a shred of remorse for their poor aching bank balance. I want to talk story and themes here.

There’s a prevailing theme in the art contents, pirates and dinosaurs. There’s more to discuss but I feel that needs to sink in for a moment, pirates and dinosaurs. I’m also rather gratified to see that Ixalan’s giant reptiles are depicted with feathers. Early speculations included strong Atlantean and south American styles in the visual thematics, continuing in the ancient civilization themes, Greece, Mongolia, and Egypt, and with feathered reptiles we may see some Aztec deities or myths, perhaps a coatl like creature somewhere in the block.

Finally we have our pivotal planeswalker, Vraska the Unseen, or whatever nickname she accrues. It’s going to be great to see a minor figure get some air time, although could the gorgon/assassin join the Gatewatch? I doubt it. That said I also doubt she’ll be the main threat to Jace and the Gatewatch.

Whether the leak is for the better or the worse, this is going to be a cool set, and I’m really looking forward to the future of the game.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Last week we had a look at the original Fullmetal Alchemist series which aired between 2003 to 2004. Today, let’s look at Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and let’s get down to what actually makes the difference between the two as well as why you would watch one over the other.

WARNING: This article potentially has spoilers. Actually; it definitely has a few spoilers but nothing too spoil-y.

Story

So the story of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is more in line with the manga. Actually, it’s basically taken direct from the manga – It’s really quite spot on. Of course there are a few liberties taken as you’d expect but there’s nothing major. Basically the whole story from the manga is in Brotherhood.

If you’ve already read the story of Fullmetal Alchemist and want to decide which to start on, then it really depends. Do you want to see the real story in anime form or do you want to see a different story in the same universe? That’s where you draw the line between the two. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is beautifully along the actual story and as such, the story is that much better. Whilst the story in the 2003 series was good, there were a few elements which didn’t feel quite right: Namely characters like Wrath.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood has a much more “serious” Wrath than the original.

You might recall in my previous article on Fullmetal Alchemist, I brought up Wrath as a character. Well, the above picture is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood’s Wrath – Yeah, he’s quite different isn’t he? In the 2003 series, Wrath was a youngen who was created by Izumi, Ed and Al’s “sensei”. In this one, he’s a fair bit older and he’s a lot more wrathful – The 2003 Wrath was more “angry at the world” than wrathful. It was a peculiar difference but not too surprising, considering the story of the 2003 series was completed before the story itself was completed.

Visuals

this isn’t fair in all honesty. Yes, the artwork and animation in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is better – But that’s simply because this was made many years later than the 2003 series! Technology has improved and so have peoples techniques. Plus, Fullmetal Alchemist became a very popular anime and manga, thus they really could afford whatever the heck they want. With that in mind, here’s some stunning artwork promoting Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.

Beautiful!

Sure thing, that’s not really directly from the series, but honestly the artwork in Brotherhood is so much more crisp from its 2003 counterpart that it’s not really unfair to provide promo artwork. Animations also feel way more fluid too, so it’s easier on the eyes in general.

Character development

I’m not going to delve into this one too much, however Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood does have better character development in general.

As the comments in my last article said; Ed cries a lot more in the original series – This is true. However I actually believe in the given situations he was in, a boy of his age would have reacted in similar vain. With the exception of that bit of character development, however – In almost every way characters are developed better in Brotherhood. This is simply because the story has been made, the story is predetermined and it was a story that developed over time – Not rushed through to get a weekly episode out.

Music and voices

The one point of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood that doesn’t quite stand to its predecessor is the music!

The music is fine but sadly it’s just that: Fine. It sets moods, it gets you hyped for the show but the original series did music so much better, it’s shocking. You felt like you were going into an adventure with the original series and with Brotherhood – Well it feels like a very well written opening in the above clips case, but it’s not exactly a very “big and adventurous” feeling. At least for me, it wasn’t – I’d welcome your comments on the opening and closing songs for Brotherhood in the comments section – I’m interested if you think the music is as good as the originals.

There’s a change in voice with Alphonse which is noticeable but it’s nothing bad. It works rather well – That’s all you need to know, I guess. Edward’s still Vic Mignogna so if you didn’t want a different voice for Edward, then you won’t be upset! To his credit, Vic does hold the voice for Ed quite well and for some reason I feel as if he sounds better in this series. I’m not sure why I think that, it could just be memory playing odd tricks on me.

Overall

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is an anime you can’t miss if you want to be a full fledged Otaku. Not only is it ridiculously popular, it’s a bloody good watch. It’s closer to the manga by a long way and on top of that, a lot of elements is vastly improved upon the original.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: 5/5 stars. Well done!

For the record, although I’ve given Brotherhood the full fledged 5 stars, the original series is really as good – For entirely different reasons. If I had to tell you to watch one however, Brotherhood tips that scale just a bit more as it’s more true to the story.

What did you think? Have I covered most of the major differences as to why Brotherhood is considered the “superior” anime? For the record, I don’t think it is superior – It’s a more accurate take on the manga, that’s all there is to it. I just love the story of Fullmetal Alchemist. As always, I’d love your comments on this!