Fullmetal Alchemist – Where Metal meets the Body

Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA for short) is a great series and one my wife really enjoys as well. Like all Japanese anime, it has a lesson to be learned. In this one however, it is an extremely hard lesson with some extreme consequences.

Welcome to the world where alchemy is a reality. However there are some things that should not be tried. After the death of their mother, Edward and Alphonse Elric try to bring her back using the art of alchemy. In their attempt however, Ed losses some of his limbs while his brother’s soul is transferred into a armored knight. Thus we learn about the Law of Equivalent Exchange.

Now they are on the search for the exclusive Philosopher’s Stone. A magical red stone that they hope will be able to correct their current situation. In trying to do this, Ed decides to become a State Alchemist. This is an alchemist employed by the State Military of Amestris. In a way, Ed hopes that by joining, he will be able to find more information on the stone for him and his brother.

Along the way they meet many new friends and of course enemies (Homunculi). It seems that there are others trying to manipulate life – for the sake of power. There are many twists to this series that always leave you guessing where it will go. This is one of the draws to this series besides the characters. Just when you think you know who is the good or bad guy, everything flips.

If you are into cosplay and have a group of friends, this is one that you may want to do. You can easily do several characters from this series and be a hit at the conventions.

Can you really catch them all?

Ash and Pikachu
Ash and Pikachu

As you can tell by the title, we are going to talk about Pokémon this time.One of 2 of the favorite things my son likes in reference to gaming.

To give you a bit of history, in 1996 this game called Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri for some company called Nintendo. Anyone ever heard of them? Would you believe that this idea originated as a childhood hobby of collecting insects – seriously it did. Makes me wonder why my son likes them so much. Even my wife got on the bandwagon and has a collection of the Pokémon cards with Bulbasaur being her favorite.

Bit of background now on the story. You have a young boy by the name of Ash who’s first Pokémon is a pikachu. This is an electric type Pokémon which will be come Ash’s best bud throughout the series. The other types that are easy to mention are grass, water, fire, rock, flying and ground. In total there are 17 various types and each has there own unique defense and attacks.This of course helps to really widen the field for a variety of battle with them. To help you along with all the hundreds of different Pokémon, you have a Pokédex. Kind of a portable computer database for you to review.

The hard part however, is catching them. You first need to battle the Pokémon and after you tire it out, try to capture it with your Pokéball. Even after a good battle, if they do not want to be caught ‘pop’ goes the ball and out they come. Through all the trials and tribulations of life and Poke battles, Ash finds many friends. On top of all this, he has the uncanny luck of meeting all the RARE Pokémon you can imagine.

Of course where would our heroes be without some villains. In comes Team Rocket with Jessie, James and their Pokémon Meowth. This is not the original Team Rocket, but the more well known by far. They act more like the three stooges than actual villains, but they do put on a good show. They came with the latest gadgets to catch the poor Pokémon. However, in the end, Ash and his group always seems to win.

To think this simple concept has turned into this International sensation.Can’t go to a supermarket, retail or gaming store without bumping into something from this franchise. Even in Japan they got crazy and you can even fly an airplane (747 no less) with your favorite characters for everyone to see. For those who want to stay closer to the ground, they even had trains covered with the characters.

Even at the conventions, you can catch them dressing up as Ash or even Pikachu for that matter. Though, I have seen some really odd versions of them on the intertnet. Catch the Pokémon fever yourself and see if you can catch them all.

btw: To answer the title, there is no freaking way to catch them all unless you have bank to pay for them all!

Hatsune Miku – Singer in a Box

(concept) illustration by KEI
Hatsune Miku - illustration by KEI

From Ninja, to Pirates to Sailor Moon, where is our adventure of to next. What the heck does he mean by the title? Miku is not a Singer in a box, what craziness is this.

Well, I decided to find the roots of one of the most famous non-living Singers in the world. Little did I know that this was not all that it seemed. This lovely lady – Hatsune Miku – actually started out as a simple Singing Synthesizer. It was later development into a software called Vocaloid. This is where we get the name of ‘Singer in a Box’. Not only was it produced in Japanese and English, but you can now get it in Korean, Chinese and Spanish.

Vocaloid Group
Vocaloid Group

What was cool with this was that a new character was created for each version. They just didn’t stop at one Vocaloid, but decided to set out to form a diverse group of them. I think this was a smart call as it really showcases the way you can market a product without that much capital. Seriously, so many people have fell in love with these characters, that it just makes one of the greatest promotional series. If you want, you should check out the numerous figures that have been designed and sold of them. Even I want the VN2 version figure so I can start at it’s awesomeness.

Why the heck is Miku sometimes pictured holding a LEEK and carry it around for that matter. Why would this vegetable (sort of spring onion on steroids) be such a draw for this character. I guess it is to whack all the fanboys away from her – LOL.

Now lets not leave out cosplay of Hatsune Miku which has exploded across the conventions. I think this is one character that anyone who saw it would recognize her immediately. You can even check out a great blog review right here of Gloria (Sweet Angel) showcasing one of the many cosplays you can find here.

What’s up for the next blog form yours truely, well lets just say my son will be helping me as you ‘Gotta Catch them All“.

Sailing to the Moon

Gave you a little hint last month on my Pirate’s blog on what we will be reviewing today. If you couldn’t figure it out, we will be talking about Sailor Moon.

Not really one of the shows I watched regularly as it was more for girls. I did however catch it as it came on with my other ‘cartoons’ in the old days. This has some romance, but there was only one main male character. Luckily however, it is not a harem show as it dealt with the girls and their issues.

Our main character, Serena Tsukino, ends up meeting a cat. Not just any cat, but a talking cat named Luna (go figure). She ends up telling her that she is this great fighter of justice and she is needed to help fight against the Dark Kingdom. What we actually find out is that she was sent into the future by the Moon Princess to protect the Earth. Along with other Sailor Senshi (as well as our Male lead Tuxedo Mask) to help in the battle against these villains.

Besides the Sailor Moon, you also have the ‘Sailor Scouts’ which are named after each of the other planets – Sailor Mercury, Venus, Mars, Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto. This was before Pluto was classified not a planet anymore – but I digress. Now they don’t all come out together, but some are brought in as the show proceeds.

Now out of all these girls, there is only one other hero who just happens to be a male character. I guess you need a ‘masked magician’ to come to your rescue if you are in need. It is funny as he throws a red rose down to mark his entrance. Very romantic and mysterious – wooooo. You get the sense that there is a relation brewing and it does.

Now we switch over to the ‘Dark Side’ and look at the villains of the Dark Kingdom. They happen to be lead by Queen Beryl. They actually destroyed the old Moon Kingdom and want to insure they don’t come back. What they actually want to do is bring life back to Metalia. In order to do this, they need to suck the life out of humans using monsters that are summoned by one of her 4 Shitennou. Of course, Sailor Moon and company are here to stop them and save Humanity and Earth.

Even in the US, this has been a huge hit and merchandised well, but not as much as others. It is funny that I was walking in an Antique / Consignment store and actually found some of their merchandise. Even though this has pretty much ended, it is continually being revisited. There has been games and live action movies which keep this anime alive. I think it really was a great show that made girls feel empowered to be more than they were no matter the obstacles.

This group of characters has been heavily cosplayed for years and for good reason. Everyone wanted to be Sailor Moon as she was the lead. What made this great though, was that f you had a small group of friends, then you could as the team. This really got you some attention at any convention.

As for my next blog, lets just say it is a very famous singer that started only as artwork and a figure.

There be Pirates Afoot

We had a bunch of fun with the Ninjas the last time we posted. We are now on to the PIRATES!

Avast Ye Maties and climb aboard for a water filled adventure. We are of course going to talk about the sensation known as One Piece. Everything in this series is over the top. The characters, scenery, wildlife, just plan all of it. I think this is what adds to the fun of the series. Similar to Naruto, we will have a male character that is pushing the envelope on all levels. Alas however, I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning.

We start off with the execution of Gold Roger aka The King of Pirates. He makes it know that he has a treasure called ‘One Piece’ that is out at the Grand Line. This treasure, with this death, is now up for grabs and starts what is known as the ‘Great Pirate Era’.

Lets now introduce you to a young boy (Monkey D. Luffy) who is sitting in a bar/restaurant listing to pirate tales by ‘Red-Haired Shanks’. What Shanks doesn’t realize however is that Luffy is ‘eating’ his treasure, a Devil Fruit (like all boys, he has a bottomless stomach). As it turns out, this is the Gum Gum Fruit and Luffy’s body is now as bendable as rubber. Sounds great huh, but the ill side effect is that anyone who eats these fruits, can’t swim. Must be great being a pirate with amazing powers, but can’t swim – oops.  After a battle in town, Shanks gives Luffy his hat and thus is born ‘Straw Hat Luffy’.

With each adventure, a new shipmate (friend) is found. His original crew starts off  with (in order met) Zoro (3-Blade Sword man), Nami (sexy Thief and Navigator), Usopp (tells tall tales, but great with a slingshot), Sanji (their chef who is a skirt chaser) and to round out the crew Chopper (a anthropomorphic Reindeer Doctor). If you think this is a rag-tag team, wait until you meet the rest of the crew. It is always a fun adventure full of hi-jinks and danger, but they manage to get through it. I swear that Luffy dies like 50 times in this series with all the crap that is thrown at him.

Now let’s expand on the Devil Fruit and the other Pirates of the show. This may be a mixed bag however as most of the Pirates have eaten the Devil Fruit. There are actually 3 types of fruit. These fruits types are Paramecia Fruit (alters the body in some fashion), Zoan Fruit (allows you to change into an animal) or Logia Fruit (you can actually become an element). I am not sure if the fruit is labeled what it does before you eat it, but I am not sure I would be able to take the chance on eating one.

Some of my favorite Pirates are Buggy, Ace and Hody Jones. Buggy is a clown pirate that ate the Chop Chop Fruit. He can literally chop his body into pieces and each part acts as an extension of his body. Now Ace (who is Luffy’s older brother) ate the Flare Flare Fruit. He has the ability to make and control fire with his body. As for Hody Jones, well he is just a plain old Fishman – with a really big mouth and razor sharp teeth. Just as unique as each pirate is, there ships and flags also reflect their personalities. Some are just the size of rafts that the Blackbeard Pirated use to ones that are huge like Moby Dick which the Whitebeards Pirates use that can swim under water.

By the way, who is policing these guys? That would be the World Government and their Navy. These guys are more like the Keystone Cops than anything else, but do have a few heavy weights like Smoker (ate the Smoke Smoke Fruit). They popup here and there to cause issues, but end up just being an annoyance more than anything.

This is an extremely fun read or show to watch for anyone who has a funny bone. My son has been enjoying both and even drew a One Piece scene on his Math Test (boat and crew). For a fun time and an extremely wild adventure to boot, this is one series that you have to catch up on. Not wanting to take my work on this, well for the record, the Manga series has been breaking publication records in Japan. Volume 57 of the series sold 2,305,594 copies alone.

One Piece also has a great variety of merchandise that is as vast as the seas. There is so much that you will fill your Treasure Chest to the brink of exploding. If you want to get you and your crew setup in the pirate gear, then check out the fine selection at Miccostumes.

Here is a hint of our next post: We see several Sailors who are happy playing with the Planets.