Reviewing Netflix’s ‘Castlevania’ from a ‘Castlevania’ Junkie

Recently Netflix has released the first “season” of Castlevania, a gory, animated version of the beloved Konami series featuring our favorite vampire killers trying to take down Dracula. I am a huge fan of Castlevania, from the platformer NES days to its Metroidvania-style games on the DS; I was curious to see how they would portray the game in a show format. There is definitely some potential if given to the right people. With only being four episodes long, how does show fare with the original material?

Long story short, some work is required but it is a good start.

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Your Name: When Body-Swapping Encounters Adolescence

Your Name, Makoto Shinkai’s latest animated film, has been making news and setting records in Japan (it’s currently the second highest grossing film of all time over there!) and after watching it, I’m not surprised. Your Name initially comes off as a light-hearted comedy but evolves into a film that touches upon various relatable themes that are woven throughout this story of adolescence, nostalgia, and love.

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Stumbling Down Memory Lane with ‘Double Dragon IV’

The NES was my staple console for the majority of my childhood. While I did not have many games at my disposal, games like Double Dragon and Double Dragon II were titles that I played just about every day on my own and with friends. I still consider Double Dragon II to be one of my favorite NES games and it influenced my tastes in games I play today. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series’ creation, Arc System Works recruited many of the original crew that made the original game to make a brand new sequel in the form of the 8-bit games I cherished as a child. When hearing about this news, I was excited and skeptical at the same time. The nostalgia side of me wanted it but would it be enough to maintain my interest in the current era of video games?

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The Exhibition of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

My time in Japan is dwindling down fast so I have been trying to travel a lot. I went to Tokyo last week to check out a video game exhibit (more on that another time) but my friend informed me that there was a Sailor Moon exhibit over at Tokyo City View, the observation deck in Roppongi Hills. Being a huge Sailor Moon fan, I knew I needed to check it out for myself.

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Cosplay and Osaka: My Final Nipponbashi Street Festa

Ever since I moved to Japan in 2011, I have been checking out Osaka’s (my current hometown) cosplay extravaganza, the Nipponbashi Street Festa. Every year around the end of March, hundreds of cosplayers, anime/video game fans, and photographers collide in Nipponbashi (aka Den Den Town), Osaka’s answer to Akihabara. Sadly, this was my final experience in witnessing this wonderful event as I will be moving back to the U.S. this summer.

As always, it did not disappoint.

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My Journey Through Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Square-Enix’s MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Just when I thought my MMO days were numbered, I tried out the game and am now playing it often with my friends. Needless to say, I was quite hyped when the first expansion, Heavensward, was released in June. After playing it throughout the summer and into the new year, I have finally collected my thoughts on the game and its current state.

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Remembering Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata

I had just finished teaching my fifth grade class in Japan when I heard the news that the President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, passed away due to bile duct cancer. The news was a slap to the face to me; I had just been talking about Splatoon to some of my students.  While I am not as close to Nintendo as I was when I was a child, I cannot deny to say that Mr. Iwata’s work in the company hadn’t influenced my life.

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My Visit to Final Fantasy XIV’s Eorzea Cafe

With the Final Fantasy XIV expansion Heavensward coming out in less than a week, the game has been in my mind for the past few days.  It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the game. Anything Final Fantasy XIV-related, I will eat  it up. Literally.

So when it was announced that they were going to have a FFXIV-themed restaurant open in Akihabara, Japan, I was absolutely thrilled. I have the fortune to be living in Japan so it wasn’t a pipe dream to visit. Back in March, a friend was visiting me and she also wanted to go because she loves the Final Fantasy series. It ended up being one of our first places that we visited in Tokyo.

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Nipponbashi Street Festa: Cosplay Invades Osaka

Japan. The land of anime and manga. When those two are brought up, usually the district of Akihabara in the city of Tokyo comes to mind. Sure, Akihabara still is the mecca of countless arcades with floors full of games, stores full of anime merchandise, and tons of specialty stores that will probably have what you are looking for. However, Akihabara is not the only area where these things can be found.

Nipponbashi, otherwise known as Den Den Town, can be seen as the Akihabara of Osaka. While not the size of Akihabara, Den Den Town still caters to the needs of many nerds, myself included. The laidback and easygoing pace of Den Den Town is a lot more relaxing than the hustle and bustle of Akiba. Den Den Town is also home to one of my favorite events of the year: the Nipponbashi Street Festa.

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How Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Renewed my Love for the MMO

Back in the day, when I played single-player games, most of them were RPGs. My first RPG was Final Fantasy IV (or Final Fantasy II in the U.S.). I fell in love with it instantly and followed the series all the way into the Playstation 2 era.

When Final Fantasy XI was announced, I was completely psyched about it. Final Fantasy XI was to be an MMORPG — a massively multiplayer online RPG. The co-op lover in me squealed — playing an RPG with hundreds of people all over the world? Sign me up!

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VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Meets Anime Booze-Em-Up

As a person who writes and likes to people-watch, bars fascinate me. People from all sorts of different backgrounds gather in one area to have a drink or five. As a fellow customer, I would only overhear bits and pieces of other people’s lives and it all sounded really interesting. I always wondered what it would be like to be a bartender, the gateway to our alcoholic pleasure. It’s common knowledge that bartenders have the most interesting stories since they get to see and hear about everyone’s lives (whether you wanted to or not). I always wanted to see how that would be like.

VA-11 HALL-A gives me that opportunity.

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Diggin’ In the Carts: A Sound Test for Your Childhood

I love video game music. Ever since I started playing them back in the NES/Famicom days, I have always appreciated the catchy tunes from various games. This never went away as games evolved; if anything, my love for them only expanded. I would say at least 50% of my iPod library contains music from video games ranging from the 80s to the present day.

Nowadays, accessing the music you wanted to hear is pretty easy; usually a search on YouTube will do it. But back in the day, you had to either go to that specific part of the game or record it yourself. Props to my dad who had the fantastic idea of using an audio recorder to record Magic Sword through the SNES by going through each song in the sound test for a couple of minutes and recording it onto a cassette for me to jam to while on the move.

But now? I can just type that on YouTube and voila!

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Looking Back at Batman: The Animated Series

In 1992, when I was only eight years old, my Batman knowledge was near non-existent. All I had to go on was the old Adam West Batman series that would repeat endlessly on the now-defunct Family Channel and Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, a movie that was too Tim Burton for my tastes. However, like any other kid, I loved cartoons. Getting home after school, my ritual was to grab a snack and watch The Disney Afternoon or Tiny Toon Adventures. Like the Adam West Batman, these shows were all lighthearted and mostly innocent.

Then Batman: The Animated Series premiered.

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GameCenter CX: Kachou On!

Video games have been part of my life ever since I was a little kid. Ever since I was five, I have had a console in my room or living room, waiting to be played every day. I have a lot of memories of playing the NES. While I had some games, I played the majority of them either by borrowing some from friends or renting them at the local video store. You basically had to judge what kind of game you were going to get by the cover and the back of the box. It really was a crapshoot, but that was half the fun of it. After that you would gather your friends and/or siblings to enjoy it for the weekend until you had to return it.

The majority of the games were very difficult to beat and required endless trial and error. You had to have a ton of patience if you wanted to get anywhere. However, once you cleared a level you weren’t able to or finished a game you had sunk hours in gave you the greatest feeling in the world. Or, you would run out of time and say “Screw it, I can’t do it for now,” and return the game. And then it was on to the next one. That was my childhood in a nutshell when it came to games. I miss those days. I miss those old retro games and just the feeling of trying to conquer the random titles I was given for the weekend. I wish more people could experience the feelings I had as a game-loving kid. But how?

Enter GameCenter CX.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Maximum Spider?

One thing Japan gets screwed out of are movie release dates. Half the time we won’t get a movie until a good four to six months from the original date from the States. There are a few exceptions though, with The Amazing Spider-Man series being one of them. Having watched it about a week ago, I’ve had some time to reflect on the sequel to the 2012 superhero reboot.

Entertaining? Yes. Amazing? Not quite.

Needless to say, minor spoilers will follow.

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The Terror of the Game Over Screen

Originally posted at The Space Between Two Worlds

I had a lot of fears back when I was a kid.  Most of them were typical for my age like being scared of the dark, the dentist, or getting lost somewhere. However, I think game overs had to be one of the weirder fears. Or was it? As a kid who loved playing video games, it was only natural that I’d be seeing tons of game over screens. Back in the day, most were pretty simple; a black screen with the words “Game Over” with sad music playing. No biggie.

However, there were some that scared the shit out of me.

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