Arc the Lad review

The Arc the Lad series is based on the Sony PlayStation games Arc the Lad I and Arc the Lad II. Although the title labels Arc as the main character, it really is Elk that holds the spotlight.

The hijacking of an airship prompts the response of Elk to sneak on board to try and save the passengers and crew. What he comes upon is a chimera, a horrible mutated monster that was once a human being. The chimera manages to destroy the airship, but not before Elk manages to get the passengers off in the escape pods.

The air ship held many mysteries, one of which a young girl with a wolf/dog creature locked in a cabin and the arrival of men in black suits just shortly before the crash. Adding to the confusion is the mention of “White House” which awakens a horrible nightmare within Elk.

The background of the storyline appears when Elk hits a flashback of his childhood as his town is being attacked for their magical power, the power of the flame.

Before Elk’s father was shot, he saw a ship land, a ship that he believed to carry his family’s murderers. It was his vow that he would not sleep until he had confronted these people… a group led by Arc. Because of this attack, Arc was labelled a terrorist after presumably killing the king of his homeland, Smeria.

However, there is a slight inconsistency in the art as the series progresses, namely as the later episodes start to slightly degrade in quality. However, the action and suspense makes up for this.

This is just a base of the plot, but it’s full of adventure, excitement and dangers. As the epic progresses, a new darker plot arises with the introduction of a few new characters. It’s something that no anime fan should miss.


If you know me, you most likely know about Roy. But just who exactly is he and what’s his story? Roy is the main character in the famed strategic role-playing series, Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi, who also takes a playable role in the free-for-all game, Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi

Roy (Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi)

The opening story gives introduces us to Roy and his home.

In Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi (in English as The Sealed Sword), Roy is the son of the ruling lord in the principality of Pherae. When the kingdom of Bern invaded Lycia, his father fell ill so it was up to Roy to take command of his army. As his journey progresses, more soldiers join the young prince until he is able to seize the capital of Bern. Roy, like his father, is peaceful and just, although his course of action against the invasion shows he is courageous and can be rebellious at times. Roy can only brandish rapiers and the titular Sword of Seals, the ultimate weapon in the game. As characters in the Fire Emblem series are class based, Roy falls under the Lord class.

Eliwood, Roy’s father, is the star of Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken (Fire Emblem for those who have the North American version). Although Roy himself does not make an appearance in the game, he is hinted at briefly in the story.

Roy only appears in Fuuin no Tsurugi, which was a Japan-exclusive release. Roy’s name is spelled as ロイ in katakana which translates roughly into Roi.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Roy (Super Smash Bros. Melee)

Roy wearing his alternate colours in the Hyrule Temple stage.

Roy is an unlockable character in Nintendo’s all star game, Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube. Performance wise, Roy is the clone of Marth; although a little slower and isn’t that great when it comes to mid-air combat. However, for what Roy lacks in speed, he makes it up with power.

The Fire Emblem hero’s attacks are fire-based which pack more of a punch especially with the Blazer (Up + B) combo. Flare Blade is something to be in awe of, so press and hold the B button to watch the fireworks fly. However, Roy’s greatest ability is his counter-attack which, if timed correctly, will negate any damage and cause injury to the opposing character. Only he and Marth possess this skill.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Unfortunately, Roy is not a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii. His only appearance is that of a collectible sticker.

Are Marth and Roy related?

Roy's character design

Roy’s character design in Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi

No, not in any way, shape or form. While both are from Fire Emblem games, they never make any appearances together. It’s like saying Cloud is Zidane’s or Tidus’ (of Final Fantasy fame) cousin or whatever. There’s no relationship and because they’re in different games, they live in different lands and face different challenges. Marth appears only in Fire Emblem: Dragon of Darkness and Fire Emblem: Sword of Light (NES, Japan only) and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SNES, Japan only) while Roy makes a heroic appearance in Fire Emblem: The Sealed Sword (GBA, Japan only). Marth also starred in the Fire Emblem anime.

Just because they appear together in Super Smash Bros. Melee does not mean they’re blood relatives or are related in anyway.

Does he speak?

Jun Fukuyama performs as the voice talent for Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee… and he does a damn good job!

Mamoru dekimono-no tame-ni, makerarenai! – For those who I protect, I mustn’t lose!
Kurushii tatakai datta. – It was a tough battle.
Shin-no tatakai-wa… korekare da! – The true battle starts here!
Boku wa makenai. – I won’t lose.

What is Fire Emblem anyways?

Fire Emblem is a series of tactical role-playing games developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The games revolve around robust characters in a medieval setting and entrenching story lines. The first games in the series were only released in Japan, and it wasn’t until 2003, 13 years after the first Fire Emblem was released, that one was distributed overseas.
Each battle is turn based, and depending on the number of points of damage dealt are used against the current character’s life points. As each enemy is defeated, experience points are gained, however, if a playable character dies, they cannot be revived and remain unusable for the rest of the game. Should the main character be defeated, the game will end.

Screenshots (from Super Smash Bros. Melee)

Roy charging Flare Blade Roy idling Roy leaping (front)
Roy leaping (back) First Roy Trophy Second Roy Trophy
First Roy Trophy Second Roy Trophy Third Roy Trophy

Kumoricon 2008

Details of my trip down to Kumoricon in Portland, Oregon during the Labour Day long weekend.
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Sakura-Con 2008

My first Sakura-Con ever, filled with awesomeness, bad inside jokes and cosplay!
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Bleach Skate Shoes

Bleach skate shoes

Bleach skate shoes

I finally got the Bleach skate shoes I ordered a few weeks ago. Made by TUK, the shoes are black and white, with a skull print on the sides and a stitched blue, white and red stripes. There’s also another skull embossed in white on the sides as well as one on the bottom. The shoes also come with a pair of black or white laces. The design are very nice and it’s not overwhelmed with flashy colours or emblems. These are pretty cool.

Mine are in size 11, and are very comfy. TUK used the design similar to the Fullmetal Alchemist sneakers made a few years earlier for Hot Topic (I have a pair of those as well).

Unfortunately, there were only 360 pairs made for Viz and were available exclusively on their web site. The shoes are come in men’s sizes 4 through 13.

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja cover

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja cover

I picked up Naruto: Rise of a Ninja during my brief stay in Chicago for Reactor (only because no-one had it in Canada when it was released).

Even though the visuals of the game are cel-shaded, they are amazingly well done. The graphics are bright, crisp and detailed. It’s almost as if the manga itself was coloured on the screen. Ubisoft outdid themselves in this and you can see a lot of detail and the animation is fluid. I can’t say anything bad about this. Video.

The music is crisp and clear and a lot of it is from the anime, while some is made just for the game. I was disappointed over the voice acting as a lot of it was stale and the characters would say the same thing over and over. For the fans who prefer the Japanese voice actors, there is a patch on XBOX Live that lets you download their voices and replace the English ones. However, I did notice that upon doing this, that sometimes the game would freeze.

The controls aren’t too bad. They are a little sensitive, so it’s easy to make a mistake and jump too far. It’s not a big deal, but it counts if you’re under a time limit or trying to pull off a perfect combo.
If you’re a button masher, you may have a little fun but struggle to remember how to pull off some of the killer moves. The killer moves are important as they give you that extra second to land the fatal blow on your opponent.
One thing I noticed, is that there is some lag at certain points. It’s a brief hit when you pick up a coin or other collectible item. If you run through the item, the game pauses for a split millisecond.
Pulling off the ninjutsu takes patience and practice. If you miss the timer (which can be a little frustrating in making the mark), Naruto will do something to show that you didn’t make it, such as a failed clone, or a fart. If you’re in a battle, this will cost you dearly and leaves you open to a serious attack.

Basically, you’re following the young Naruto Uzumaki around as he yearns to become Konoha’s next hokage, or head ninja. In Story Mode, you take on missions to build up your skill, health and chakra to take on even bigger missions.
An added bonus is that the game includes clips from the anime to help explain what’s going on. However, it’s cut and pasted together, so you’ll see in-game graphics mixed with scenes from the animated series. Unfortunately, it looks like a poorly done clip-show at times.

There’s lots to do in this game, and I can’t put it down. You need patience and skill to take this game on, so be prepared to sit on your ass for a long time and just explore.
I need to renew my Xbox Live subscription, but there’s stuff you can download as well as online multiplayer matches. Overall, it’s pretty good and I do recommend it for any Naruto fan.

NOTE: Online play over XBOX Live was not mentioned due to the fact that I do not have an active XBOX Live Gold account.

Official Website

Reactor 2007

My first out of province, full anime convention, Reactor 2007, held in Wheeling, Illinois between November 2nd and 4th, 2007.
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Anime Evolution 2007

Free parking in /b/ lot

Free parking in /b/ lot

I’ve never been to an anime convention before; I only heard about them from my friends who’ve attended some of the larger ones like Anime Central and Sakura-Con. After hearing about Anime Evolution, I was interested in attending to see all the cosplays and perhaps beef-up on some of my favourite series or perhaps catch something new.

The convention was hosted at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Mountain campus, which as the name describes, is on the top of a mountain. It’s a little out of the way, but isn’t too far from SkyTrain and bus service. The weather looked fairly gloomy, but fortunately the rain held off. Even if it did pour, it wouldn’t have mattered much seeing as much of the event space is covered.

Inside one of the buildings, the halls were lined with artists’ tables and displays of their work. I rounded the corner and wound up at registration where I had to fill out a form to get my badge. Since I arrived on the Saturday, I only got a one day badge. I was also given a bag with a guide, programming schedule and a choice of VHS tapes from a cardboard box. I skipped on the tapes since none of the series interested me and the fact I wouldn’t have been able to play them.

Akira Toya and Fujiwara-no-Sai pose

Akira Toya and Fujiwara-no-Sai pose

I went outside and wandered around for a little while snapping pictures of the various costumes that milled about on the concourse. It wasn’t hard to find the main stage for the walk-offs and performances since the covered plaza between the library and administrative offices was filled with chairs and a roped off platform. Just behind the rows of chairs, there was a fenced in area that was stocked with tables stacked with handicrafts. I didn’t go in seeing as it was closed when I arrived.

I went inside the building that housed offices to look for the dealer’s room, and was greeted with a line up leading into the room. After a half hour wait, I was finally able to enter a set of small rooms crammed with tables overflowing with boxes of models, figures, manga and DVDs. Fortunately the room after was a little larger, but still quite crowded with all the people browsing and making purchases.

Contestants line up for the walk-off

Contestants line up for the walk-off

Afterwards, I made my way back out into the plaza and grabbed a seat with some friends for the walk-offs. Teams of two contestants would appear on stage, emceed by G. I. Joe’s Cobra Commander and Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion; then make short performances set to music alternating between the participants. The contestants would then be judged on their act and then proceed to the final round which was to be held on Sunday. Apparently the winner would be proclaimed “King of Bishonen” Overall, the walk-off was pretty entertaining.

I returned to the hallway where the artist’s alley was setup, perusing the many tables lined up along the walls. It wasn’t too crowded making it easy for me to take my time and look through the various styles presented by the artists. I ended up purchasing some prints and a shirt as a gift for a friend.

Back outside, I met up with a few more friends and spent a good while taking pictures of cosplay in and around the quadrangle. I was surprised to see a few Zidanes from Final Fantasy IX amongst the crowds of characters from Kingdom Hearts, Naruto, Legend of Zelda, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, InuYasha, Evangelion, Final Fantasy, and Invader Zim.

Scott Ramsoomair answering some questions

Scott Ramsoomair answering some questions

The only panel I attended was that of VG Cat’s Scott Ramsoomair. Scott shared a bit of the background behind the web comic, fielded questions from the fans and even put on a short concert for us with a piano that happened to be in the room.

Overall, my first anime convention was pretty cool, but way too short. Next time I will have to opt for the full three day experience to take it all in. There’s just so much to see and do that can’t be done in a single day.

Photos are available on Gallery.

Skateboards, anime style!

It’s no surprise that popular anime series have inspired various styles of merchandise, but skateboards? Yes, there are boards out on the street with a ninja design or a monster.

Naruto skateboard deck

Naruto skateboard deck

Viz Media had 400 custom-made, limited edition Naruto skateboard decks available for sale on their web site. Of the 400 boards manufactured, 200 were a yellowish base highlighted by an outline of Sasuke, Naruto and Kakashi with “NARUTO” written in the top corner. The remaining 200 featured Gaara in a stance on a brick red background along with his name in the corner.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! craze also spurred a variety of skateboards that featured the main character Yugi Mutou with a few creatures from his card deck. These decks (no pun intended) also came with their own trucks and wheels, with the latter often displaying the logo from the series along the edges.

There are a few other series that have boards out there, including Digimon, Bakugan and Pokemon. Just remember that these decks are aimed at a younger generation and may not stand up to the tricks of more serious riders.


I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it. Naruto is an anime and manga series conceived by Masashi Kishimoto focused around a young up and coming ninja struggling to be recognized. It’s a pretty cool series that has lots of potential.

Sakura, Sasuke, NarutoBasically, Naruto follows an air-headed, energetic, loud-mouthed ninja-in-training. The series starts off with him graduating from the Ninja Academy in the Village Hidden in the Leaves. The hyperactive blond is paired with the boy-obsessive Sakura and the secluded Sasuke under the watchful eye of the apathetic Kakashi as the newly formed Team Seven.

I’ll pick off the three main characters and give a brief explanation on them.

Naruto is dead set on showing everyone he can be the best ninja there is -even if there’s a prank or two involved. His yearning for attention stems from the fact that the villagers have shunned him from a young age. A violent nine-tailed fox demon is sealed deep inside Naruto making him an outcast amongst others. However, Naruto learns that others do put aside this stigma and work to teach him teamwork and friendship as he continues his journey.

SasukeSasuke leads a mysterious life which is dictated by his past and lives only for revenge as a result. At first Sasuke was not interested in being teamed up with Naruto since he considered him a loser until orange jacketed ninja saved him from a potentially fatal fight. Sasuke is an exceptionally strong fighter, trained in his clan’s ability to use fire and is not to be underestimated in battle.

Sakura is a smart girl with excellent control and an insatiable thirst for Sasuke, even though he blows her off. Sakura is good at controlling her chakra, but demonstrates an understanding in basic ninja skills. Sakura is known for one of her physical traits: an over sized forehead which garners many jokes, even from her closest friends.

Naruto's Clone JutsuThe artwork is outstanding. I love the details and designs used by Kishimoto. The story takes place in Japan, but features some modernistic styles along with contemporary Japanese architecture. Each character has their own unique look and feel. Naruto pretty much appears out of place because of his bright orange outfit. We’re all used to seeing ninjas as completely clad in black, silent and deadly, but Naruto and his teammates changes all that. Some of the designs are catchy such as Sasuke’s exam outfit (all black with white bandages) or Rock Lee’s green jumpsuit and 1970’s orange leg warmers. However, the classic ninja conception makes cameo appearances later on as the elite ANBU squad (sort of the CIA of the series).

I’ve been following Naruto since early 2005, a late start. Currently I’m watching the anime and reading the manga so it’s like a running parallel. There isn’t much deviation between the two, except that the anime has fillers. Lots of fillers, which is unfortunate since they were used to help keep new episodes from airing along with new chapter releases in Japan. All in all, it has room to grow and as the story expands, new situations arise and challenge Naruto.

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