Thursday, December 22, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 8

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 7

Not Amused

Fate/Zero, Ep. 8 - "Mage-Killer"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

Irisviel and Maiya have a fateful encounter with Kirei in this continuation of Ep. 7's intense battle. After learning of Maiya's apparent romantic dalliances with Kiritsugu a few episodes ago, I was not too keen of her being left alone with Irisviel, considering the potential for jealousy. Surprisingly, that sentiment subsided with Irisviel's knowledge of the "affair" and with the lack of any real tension between the two. Turns out, they both had the poker-faced priest to watch out for.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

:boxing: I Mean, It Still Works Out, Right?:: Super Six Finals: Ward vs Froch

Six men went in, half of them dropped out, two of them jeopardized their careers in two different ways, nearly as many substitutes stepped in as participants, and everyone, at some point in time, had something unfortunate happen to them. Yet despite a seemingly good idea going fifteen rounds with Murphy's Law and experiencing numerous setbacks and rescheduling along the way, the finals of Showtime's "Super Six World Boxing Classic" still managed to reach its 2011 set date (albeit, cutting it close…) with two perfectly reasonable contenders for the trophy: Andre Ward and Carl Froch.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Rurouni Kenshin OVA: Reflection (Seisou-hen)

© 1997 N. Watsuki / Shueisha, Fuji-TV, Aniplex Inc.

Rurouni Kenshin OVA: Reflection (Seisou-hen)

Official Sites: Japanese, English
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free]: Niconico
Picture Source: As is from Official English Site (different file name, same picture)

Back in August, Aniplex was generous enough to commemorate Rurouni Kenshin's 15th anniversary by providing a free, one-night-only stream of the celebrated Rurouni Kenshin OVA: Trust & Betrayal (Tsuioku-hen), which was also being re-released, remastered, on Blu-ray for the occasion. It was one of three Kenshin features receiving such a treatment, but now it is Rurouni Kenshin OVA: Reflection (Seisou-hen) turn in the streaming spotlight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Well, That Took Long Enough…

Pardon for the long time away, but I wasn't exactly anticipating the family computer going kaputz at the beginning of the month. I have no idea what could have caused it to go down, but whatever happened, it really did a number on it (though based on the error message and timing, I suspect an automatic Windows Update that didn't save its changes to some the system files too well). I'm moderately good with computers, but I never encountered something this serious, so finding information on it round-the-clock was both time-consuming and taxing.

Unfortunately, all roads led to having perform a Destructive Recovery on the computer, which was made more problematic since there was no device backing files up on it (and the non system-wiping option of a "Normal Recovery" failed to start up, either via partition or Recovery CD--which might have just kicked the operation to the partition). However, I came across information on Ubuntu Live CD, and (mega-)thanks to it, it was simple to dive into the computer and retrieve everyone's files with the external HDD I use to back-up my own personal computer (and thus, no $200-500+ service elsewhere, thank goodness).

Of course, all of this came at the expense of much of my free time, so I have not been able to really write much of anything here at HardDoor, or on Twitter or Facebook, either (though I tried to do a little bit of micro-blogging here-and-there when I could). Despite this, I still managed to spend some of my wind-down time keeping up with Fate/Zero and taking screenshots, as well as checking out few other shows, before falling asleep in my chair from exhaustion. Things are beginning to wind down as a whole as I am almost done with the tons of updates and reinstalling I had to do post-Recovery, so hopefully I can get back to speed on HD (and that something like this doesn't happen again -_- ).

Thanks for your patience,


Thursday, December 01, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 7

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 6 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 8-->

Kiritsugu confidently takes his spot back as "Lead Screenshot"…

Fate/Zero, Ep. 7 - "Evil Forest"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

Tokiomi and the Church make their move in this installment of Fate/Zero, a thrilling affair filled with action and intrigue, particularly in the second half. They enact their plan of dispatching Caster and Ryuunosuke by dangling the carrot of an extra Command Spell in front of the Masters, which attracts the attention of all, including Kiritsugu--who has in his possession Caster's main attraction in Saber.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Revolutionary Girl Utena

Revolutionary Girl Utena

Official Sites: English
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free]: YouTube

If you have paid attention to HD's Twitter feed on the side or read my post earlier in the year, you'll know that I am a very big admirer of the classic 1997 TV anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. Nozomi Ent./Right Stuf is, too, so they have been releasing the series across three superb box sets over the course of this year, remastered and featuring much of the same extras from the Japanese release. So with the release of the third and final box on December 6 (which, like its JP counterpart, includes the theatrical film remake!), Nozomi is commemorating it--and drumming up additional interest--by streaming the first twelve episodes of the series (comprising the first box set, "The Student Council Saga") on their YouTube channel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 6

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 5 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 7

Fate/Zero, Ep. 6 - "Night of Stratagems"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

After back-to-back episodes of superlative animation, Ep. 6 is, understandably, less-than-impressive-looking in Fate/Zero's weakest visual outing, thus far. However, do not mistaken that critique as an indictment on the episode as a whole, which, in spite of a return to its more talky ways, was still a good one that managed to flesh out a few more of its characters. The episode even starts right off the bat with it when we are treated to Irisviel channeling her inner Initial D by drift racing on a spiraling mountain road (complete with CG car), and nearly giving Saber a couple of heart attacks along the way (I'm sure her situation last episode was far more safe). It's a pretty jarring way to introduce an episode following all of the serious, dire action in the previous two, but it was funny in its unexpectedness and humor.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

:boxing: ...It'll Do (Definitely), Part 4:: Pacquiao vs. Marquez III

A causal, or perhaps even a non-fan, of boxing could tell you that the biggest match to be made in the sport is between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It is plastered all over the place whenever either name is mentioned, as they are both considered at the top of their craft, and there are fewer mountains for either to climb. However, reality is reality, and that fight has seemed more "pipe dream" than "dream match" with every passing month and every bout both have that is not with one another. Yet, in spite of this, there is still one contest to be held that comes as close to that mythical summit as any other: a third fight between Manny Pacquiao and the one person who one can legitimately claim to have his number--archnemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

:boxing: Joe Frazier (1944-2011)

I never grew up during the 1970s, so I perhaps cannot fully comprehend or appreciate what it was like to live during that great era of boxing, long considered its "Golden Age". It and the sport's defining moment came with "The Fight of the Century", the first meeting between the then-undefeated likes of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Having never lived during that period in time, I cannot measure its impact racially, socially, politically, or just in comparison to the greatest sports stories of the day, firsthand. As with many things in history, there are only three things you can rely on to get as accurate a picture of the past as possible: that which is recorded, that which is written, and that which is experienced first-hand (and, subsequently, recalled).

This past Monday, the man known as "Smokin'" Joe Frazier passed away, a man revered by his peers, scribes, and fans and acknowledged by all and history as one boxing's all-time best. Even though I lack an intimate connection to the figure, much like a child would when looking up to their favorite player or an adult in admiration of one thought to be better then they, there are still accounts from all of those individuals, the poetic prose from the fingertips of writers, and, most importantly, archival footage to see with my own eyes and form my own experience with.

It was through those avenues that I was able to observe the impressive prowess Frazier possessed, the life-and-death struggles he contested in the ring and the struggles of a different kind outside it, with the damaging ridicule Ali flung his way (even when Frazier helped him out financially), having to live in the shadows of his and others, and with his financial struggles post-career. Without a doubt, he was a great, tough, tenacious fighter that, in spite of his present recognition (particularly due to the aforementioned trilogy), deserved more than what he has gotten, and, by many accounts, was also a good human being. There is some comfort in knowing that he and Ali had reportedly made up recently, and at least in death, he was warmly embraced and commemorated by so many for the impact he had in life and in culture. I may not have been around during the height of his career, but it is certainly not hard to see just how good he truly was.

Rest in peace, Joe Frazier…

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 5

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 4 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 6-->

Fate/Zero, Ep. 5 - "Scream of a Mad Beast"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

Picking right up from Ep. 4's endpoint, Rider/King Iskander makes his big impressive entrance onto the battlefield, with a reluctant Waver in tow. He tries to get Saber/Arthuria and Lancer/Diarmuid to acquiesce their roles in the Holy Grail War and serve his cause instead, but neither of the two are amused by his proposal, particularly Saber, being a king herself and wanting to liberate her Britain, not become a vassal for another ruler. Waver's yelping at the situation leads to Lancer's master (Kayneth El-Mellchoi Archibald, aka his teacher) to finally show his face to chide him for his theft of his original artifact and make some big-chested threats of death and doom towards his way. Rider, though, is quick to retort over his former Master-designate's own cowardice with his hiding in the shadows to avoid being attacked, and expresses pride in having a Master that is not afraid to be by his side on the battlefield, which sends Kayneth seething with indignation.

Monday, October 31, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Truly Horrible Anime

There are a lot of anime titles that are available on the ever-growing canvas of digital distribution, and with it, there are many great and beloved titles to be had: Castle of Cagliostro, Last Exile, Code Geass, Now and Then, Here and There, Princess Tutu, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, NANA, TIGER & BUNNY, FLCL, Welcome to the NHK!, Durarara!!, Gankutsuou, Hikaru no Go, noitaminA's Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime) and House of Five Leaves, The Beast Player Erin, STEINS;GATE, Oscar-winner La Maison en Petits Cubes, Gurren Lagann--I could literally go on, and on, and on listing the sheer amount of good works out there. But like in any entertainment genre and medium, not everything made available is necessarily a good one, much less passable. However the means they got there--by "package deal" via a distributor bundling its streaming rights with better works, producers trying to recoup any costs on failure they financed, or because someone had, and maybe still does, think it is still good--there are titles available at your leisure for free or low-cost (legally, of course) that are, to be blunt, not very good. At all.

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 4

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 3 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 5-->

Fate/Zero, Ep. 4 - "Spearhead"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

"When seeing these trailers, I have to remind myself, 'Fate/Zero is a TV series, not a film…'"

That is what I said on Twitter when I first saw a batch of trailers on Fate/Zero's site. I knew ufotable was capable of very high animation quality following Kara no Kyoukai (even Ninja Nonsense looked pretty good), but I knew better than to expect theatrical-level animation for a television series. Well, at least I though I did…

Thursday, October 27, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 3

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 2 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 4-->

Fate/Zero, Ep. 3 - "Fuyuki City"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

If the last episode's theme was "Getting to Know You", then this week's was "Getting to Know You II: Not Everything is As What It Seems…". While Tokiomi ruminates over his grandiose future plans with the similarly-aspiring Archer/Gilgamesh (suave, devious, megalomaniac-style, with wineglass in hand), Kirei meets up with his Church counterpart (the "judge" presiding over the Holy Grail War) to take refuge following the death of his Servant--or so it seemed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 2

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 1 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 3-->

Fate/Zero, Ep. 2 - "The Fake First Shot"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

We get to know a bit more about the summoned beings in Fate/Zero's second episode, which yielded some facts I was suspecting beforehand, one being that the Servants are actually real-life (or based on real-life) figures from history (Warning: link contains some spoilers). The episode's beginning illustrates this with a humorous reflection by King Iskander ("Rider", who is based on the Arabic account of Alexander the Great), who expresses amazement at the diminutive size of the land he spent his life trying to conquer when shown the area on a world map. The idea of historical figures being used as magical pawns is a neat, awe-inspiring deal, but it is when his Master, Waver, brings up the matter of the Holy Grail that another, more important aspect is highlighted: the "Servants" aren't entirely subservient.

Monday, October 17, 2011

:anime: FUNimation x Niconico = Funico + (Potential) Greatness

Friday night's news of a partnership between North American distributor FUNimation and Niconico, the N. American version of ubiquitous Japanese streaming/video networking site Nico Nico Douga, is perhaps the biggest news in the region's anime industry in the last few years. With the new venture, dubbed "Funico", both will seek out major licenses together, with Niconico providing the streaming and FUNimation handling the disc and download-to-own (DTO) distribution. What makes this such a major deal is that you have the two biggest juggernauts in their respective fields joining forces in such a way that it compliments each other so handsomely.

Friday, October 14, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere Ep. 1

If you think this looks confusing, just watch the show…

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, Ep. 1 - "Those Lined Up Before the Horizon"
[The Anime Network] [Crunchyroll]

To fully describe or decipher what Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere is all about or what is going on in its first episode is, quite seriously, an act in futility. "Futile" in the sense that trying to wad through the streams of clunky exposition and its even clunkier premise is perhaps not worth the enduring headache you'll experience attempting such a feat.

Friday, October 07, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 1

To Fate/Zero, Ep. 2-->

Fate/Zero, Ep. 1 - "Summoning of the Heroes"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

Fate/Zero, the prequel to TYPE-MOON's popular Fate/stay night visual novel and anime series, quickly became one of the most anticipated series of the year when it was announced. One of the biggest reasons for that was the involvement of Gen Urobuchi, who penned the novel the anime is based on and as well as one of the biggest hits in years, January's Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Its screenplay was its strongest and most lauded aspect and it helped propel Urobuchi's name, already a knowledgeable one among otaku as game maker Nitroplus' chief writer, to the upper echelons of the anime world, despite having only done a handful of such titles previously (Phantom (OVA/TV), Blassreiter).

For Fate/Zero, he is only supervising the script (mistaken prior for doing the actual screenplay adaptation, which was one of the driving forces behind the show's hype), but it was not the only thing that had fans antsy for its debut, as ufotable, fresh from their star-making film adaptation of TYPE-MOON's Kara no Kyoukai - the Garden of Sinners, was handling the animation production and Yuki Kajiura, who composed the scores to both Kara no Kyoukai (her best work to-date, IMO) and Madoka Magica, would be lending her talents to the series, as well. There was also the aspect of it telling the backstory to the famed Fate series that provided its high-profile status, alone, though thankfully for this neophyte, the first episode of Fate/Zero was not too hard to follow.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

HardDoor, Now Serving:: Open-Facebook Sandwiches!!

Should go well with Cream of Twitter… Mmm… ;)

It was one year ago yesterday that HardDoor unveiled its new, revamped layout. One of the biggest additions to it was the introduction of a widget that displayed the blog's Twitter there, which made its own debut a few months before as an early anniversary present to it. What I never mentioned at the time was that I also considered starting a Facebook page at the same time, too. What stopped me, though, was that I never really got the point of FB--even more so than my preconceived notions of Twitter, which I initially poked fun at for some of its banality, but also managed to see--and ultimately affirm--the usefulness in it. In FB, I kind of "got" it, but never really "got" it.

In spite of that, I have always kept the door open. And with many anime companies having FB pages that they links to on Twitter, I have got a little more accustomed to it. I've seen it implemented in different ways elsewhere, too (who hasn't at this point?), and since I still had a desire to start a page for HD, I figured what better day to start one than on October 4th, 2011?

Some may have already noticed the widgets on the side of the blog, which I place before even announcing the page here (thus spoiling the surprise). So far, I'm finding more use out of FB than I thought I would, though I don't plan on disclosing every little detail of my digital life (which they seemingly want you do). I do, though, plan on using it to post blog status updates and also as a "mini-diary" sort of thing…or something, since I'm still in the midst of figuring out what to really do with it. The URL is sort of temporary, since FB won't grant you a real one until the page gains 25 fans (*fingers crossed*), but for now, I hope you will enjoy it and watch me find meaning to its existence!


Facebook: HardDoor

Thursday, September 29, 2011

:anime: HardDoor's Seasonal Anime Preview 2011-12 Special:: noitaminA (Autumn, Winter)

Fuji TV's noitaminA block has regularly produced a number of high-quality and notable works, but its spring and summer lineups this year looked so promising, I decided to do a mini-seasonal preview special on it. It was intended to be just a one-time feature, but I was open to doing it once more if the block proved especially interesting once more. No offense to Fuji TV or noitaminA, but it seemed so unlikely at the time that they could possibly strike such gold again.

And yet, here we are…

Similar to the past two seasons, noitaminA looks to have pulled out all of the stops for their autumn and winter lineups, which carry a number of interesting notes. The first of those are the big-named staffs being assembled for UN-GO and GUILTY CROWN (by BONES and Production I.G, respectively (well, a division of the latter, anyway), who also handled the summer slate of titles), creating an intriguing mix of talent whose final products should yield some equally intriguing results. GUILTY CROWN's run, however, will be stretching into the winter as a two-cour series, leaving the second timeslot to the surprise entrant of a Black Rock Shooter TV series in January February 2012 (thus making it "A Very supercell Winter", with the group's involvement in both noitaminA shows for that season's lineup).

[UPDATE (01/10/12): NoitaminA made a surprise announcement of a fourth series to debut in the season, albeit a three-episode long, Flash-based animation in Thermae Romae, whereas Black Rock Shooter was pushed back to February. More after the break…]

Monday, September 26, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Black Cat

Halloween comes a little early. But not really…

Black Cat

Official Sites: Japanese, English
Additional Links: Manga Site, TBS Site, ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free]: FUNimation, Hulu

It's not exactly Halloween yet, and despite its title, it's not exactly a Halloween, or even scary, title, either, but what Black Cat is, though, is a very fine and stylish action series.

Train Heartnet, aka "Black Cat", was once one of the most feared members of an elite assassin group, but after a life-altering encounter with a female bounty hunter, he shunned his former killer persona and left the organization. Sven, an older, down-on-his-luck bounty hunter, takes Train up as a partner, alongside young girl/deadly bio-weapon Eve. While the trio chase after bounties and their new future, Train's obsessive and power-hungry mentor vies to have his ward of old return to his former self and be by his side as he spearheads a rebellion against their former employer…

Saturday, September 17, 2011

:boxing: Smoke & Mirrors…:: Mayweather vs. Ortiz / "Give Us Barabbas!":: Alvarez vs. Gomez

For the past couple of weeks, you may have wondered as to why you have not seen any sort of mention about tonight's Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Victor Ortiz bout either here or on Twitter. Simply put, I didn't want to give it any more hype than it already has, much of it very bloated. Copious amounts of airtime has been dedicated to the promotion of the fight on mainstream media venues, as everyone has treated it like it is the biggest event of the year. In actuality, it's not--not even close (More than Pacquiao-Marquez III? Really?)--but by vaunted perception, it, sadly, is. The reality is this: Victor Ortiz should not have been matched up with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and is nowhere close enough to being at his level to either warrant it or this level of attention. Of course, he garners much of it because of Mayweather (the only real reason), his rough-and-tumble childhood, and his brash talk of knocking him out, but if the non- or casual boxing fan steps away from the media pressers or the fighters' chirping, they might realize that much of the bout is smoke and mirrors…

Monday, August 29, 2011

:anime: Ani-Journal (BETA) - For August 29, 2011

Back in June, I hinted at some new things I had planned for HD, and this was one of them (though not the "new segment" I was referring to, so I guess you can consider this as one of those "surprises"… ;) ). I'm still debating over the exact format (hence the "BETA" tag), so please bear with me as I experiment with it over time.

"Ani-Journal" is basically my collection of thoughts on my current anime viewings and whatever going-ons are happening in the industry, as well as any other miscellaneous things (i.e. newly-purchased releases, anime-related commentary). I have been mulling over something like this for a while now, where I can cover a variety of topics and subject matters in short form and be a little more frank and informal than usual. It's sort of like a cross between "Anime Kibbles 'n' Bits" of old, HD's Twitter feed, and the more formal postings here, but in bite-sized and easily digestible form. It isn't a replacement of the latter by any means, just a little something on the side (think of it as the "lounge room" of HD… ;D ). There is no set schedule of when new entries appear, they just pop-up whenever they do, like a GAINAX reference or a loli scene in a Shinbo/SHAFT show. I'm strongly considering a boxing version (a revamped "Boxing Bits"?), and/or just a melding both into a central feature along HD's topical guidelines, but that'll come at another time. But anyways…

Thursday, August 18, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Rurouni Kenshin OVA: Trust & Betrayal (Tsuioku-hen)

© N. Watsuki / Shueisha, Fuji-TV, Aniplex Inc.

I originally had something different planned for this month's pick, but when a work such as this becomes available, you've got to change plans…

Rurouni Kenshin OVA: Trust & Betrayal (Tsuioku-hen)

Official Sites: Japanese, English
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free]: niconico
Picture Source: Edited from Aniplex USA's Facebook page

Ever since debuting in 1999, the four-part prequel OVA to Rurouni Kenshin, Trust & Betrayal (Tsuioku-hen), has, statistically, been the highest-rated anime of all-time (according to the two most notable anime databases at Anime News Network and (although it was 2nd behind the classic Legend of the Galatic Heroes on MAL around its height)). More than Cowboy Bebop, more than Neon Genesis Evangelion, more than any of Hayao Miyazaki's or Ghibli's films--obviously, it is no small feat, and for the better part of the decade that followed, it held that distinction in the face of other strong contenders: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Mushi-Shi, Bakemonogatari (the best-selling anime of the decade), FLCLMillennium Actress, and even the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. It has since yielded that title to some more recent and well-known titles in the last few years, such as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, CLANNAD: After Story, and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, though with the current generation of newer, younger fans growing up in an age of increased Internet access--and with that, a quicker and easier access to anime--and a bigger fanbase, in general, than circa 1999, it is perhaps not too surprising, especially when you also consider that those three (including current MAL front-runner Gintama') all came from recent, more relevant, and very popular franchises.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Bamboo Blade

Bamboo Blade

Official Sites: Japanese, English
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Video [Free]: FUNimation, Anime News Network (Sub / Dub)

Sports anime have never really found a footing in the North American market, in spite of some rather well-received ones that have appeared here in retail and on the web (Princess Nine, Fighting Spirit/Hajime no Ippo, Big Windup!, and Cross Game, to name a few). They are big in Japan, though, and classic titles of the likes of Champion Joe/Ashita no Joe and Ace wo Nerae! have had a widespread influence on anime and manga, regardless of their genre, for the decades that followed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

:boxing: Boxing Bits ::07.27.11:: Khan Zaps Judah


Amir Khan KO5 Zab Judah

Before their anticipated match-up this past Saturday, more than fair share of people had Zab Judah, rejuvenated and refocused, knocking-out rising star Amir Khan by the halfway point. But the only one left standing by then wasn't the Brooklynite…

Sunday, July 24, 2011

:boxing: The Breaking Point

What happens when you numerically out-land your opponent across every category? When your connect rate doubles (and sometimes triples) your opponent's in every single round? When you land nearly 50% of your power punches (more than double his own, at 21%)? Where your lowest round percentage of 34% still tops his best by 5% (and was the only time, besides a 38% in another round, that you went below 40% in the entire fight--and you still connected more than him both times!) and your highest was 68% (with two other trips above 60%--spending half of the fight landing at least 45% of your power punches)? How about when you out-jab and, in total, out-land your opponent by a 2:1 margin, snapping back his head with each successive shot, displaying the greater ring generalship, and having people question the health of your opponent more than your own, as you don a massive knot on the side of your head? And what happens when the crowd, analysts, the press, and other ringside observers--including your opponent's corner during the match--have you winning the fight?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Manager's Special!: Gundam Wing & RahXephon!!

Two years ago for HardDoor's third anniversary, I did a special post detailing how I got into anime, and in it I mentioned two series I considered to be my absolute favorites: Gundam Wing, which helped solidify my interest in anime, and RahXephon, which I have considered to be the best anime I have ever seen (and I don't throw that kind of praise around so lightly). As such, I think it is only appropriate that for HardDoor's fifth anniversary, I dedicate this month's Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick to the two shows I hold so dear to myself.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

HardDoor--The Fifth Anniversary!!

HardDoor's original look, prior to its Oct. 2010 revamp. Now here in spirit…

HardDoor...Not exactly the most common of blog names......

So what is "HardDoor" and why is this named so? Perhaps at a later date I'll explain the history of the name (if you really want to call it that), but for now, I'll say this much: this blog is pretty "random" when it comes to topics. Anime, Boxing, a little bit of politics, maybe (or not :D ).

Today is a pretty good day to start HardDoor (I mean, it's the 26th of June!). Soon, I'll be populating it with thoughts on the various said topics, all while figuring out the strange little trinkets laid out on this blogging station. So until then...toodles <>:O

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anniversary Month Comes to HardDoor!!

In just a scant few weeks (on June 26, to be exact), HardDoor will be celebrating its five year anniversary! Across this month and the others to come, I'll be doing a few retrospects, some anniversary-related special features, introduce a new segment, and maybe pull off a surprise or two. ;)

While work has kept me pretty busy from really carrying out the extent of what I had originally planned for June, I won't let it stop me from carrying out as much of it as possible. Of course, there are also other features to handle, too, such as "Decade's Best" and the continuation of reviews for a **certain** show (-_-) , so keep out for those, as well.

So, hopefully without delay, here's to some happy future reading!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Korekuraide Utau (Sing in my own way)

Creator: Kousuke Sugimoto
Artist Sites: Main Site, YouTube Channel
Additional Links: ANN Article
Video [Free]: YouTube

As luck would have it, just one month after posting about the newest work from one half of last January's independent short recommendations, Hiroyasu Ishida (aka "Tete"), the other half from the feature, Kousuke Sugimoto, happened to post his own new project onto YouTube earlier this month. "Korekuraide Utau (Sing in my own way)" is a music video for a song by friend Handsome Kenya, which falls very much into the same rambunctious vein as Sugimoto's previous "the TV show", with its seemingly random comedic vignettes, kinetic imagination, and interconnectivity, plus some kicking music (and nice lyrics, too). While you view the video (which is thankfully subtitled), try to keep in mind that Sugimoto is self-trained and in his late-twenties…


:boxing: Boxing Bits ::05.31.11:: Pacquiao, Ward, & Hopkins Get It Done Right…

Three weeks, three major fights (and a few others)--some showed up to do their thing, and some others forgot to.


Manny Pacquiao UD Shane Mosley [Showtime PPV]

While the bout was not as awful as many have said, it wasn't amazing by any means and I can understand the universal panning of it. Simply put: Pacquiao showed up to fight, and Mosley showed up to survive. The Filipino dominated in typical fashion, but was unable to put on the sort of hurting he has laid on previous opponents like Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. This was chiefly because Mosley, after getting knocked down in Round 3, convinced himself that he wasn't going to win and did not want to get pulled into a tit-for-tat firefight, thus jeopardizing his streak of not getting knocked-out.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

:boxing: ...It'll Do (At Least, For Me…), Part 3:: Pacquiao vs. Mosley

When this fight was first announced awhile back, I was looking forward to Manny Pacquiao fighting "Sugar" Shane Mosley, even though so many downed the fight, and doing a nice write-up on it, too.

However, duty (aka "work") beckons, and I have not had a whole lot of time to post anything (hence the lack of updates as of late). But I do not want to let this fight pass by without saying anything on it (which everyone and their mother are now hotly anticipating). On the other hand, there's not a whole lot of time left, so let's keep things short and sweet…

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: rain town

Creator: Hiroyasu Ishida (aka "Tete")
Artist Sites: Main Site, pixiv Profile, YouTube Channel
Additional Links: "rain town" PV, Main Site post (**spoilers**), "rain town" Gallery (**spoilers**)
Video [Free]: YouTube

 "In this town, since who knows when, rain has never stopped. Residents moved out to suburbs and higher ground around "rain town". Peoples memories are now deeply submerged. But into this forgotten rainy town sometimes, someone wanders."

Last January, I recommended two independent shorts singularly animated (for the most part) by two individuals. One of them was Hiroyasu Ishida (also known as "Tete"), a student at Kyoto Seika Universitiy's Faculty of Manga (which also teaches animation), and besides highlighting his award-winning "Fumiko's Confession", I also made mention of his one-minute "rain town" PV, which left a big impression on me, despite its brevity and relative simplicity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

:anime: HardDoor's Seasonal Anime Preview 2011 Special:: noitaminA (Spring, Summer)

Fuji TV's noitaminA block has produced a fine number of great titles over the years. Their slate for the spring and summer cours, however, looks particularly strong, enough so to warrant this special installment of HD's seasonal anime preview. While full-fledged ones of old are currently on hiatus due to time constraints, I thought it would still be worthwhile to churn out an edition for something like noitaminA. I have had my eye on these series since they have been announced, and hope they turn out as good as they appear to be. And knowing noitaminA's track record, their chances seem high…

Thursday, March 31, 2011

:anime: First/Final/Only Impression:: **That Which Shall Not Be Named**

There is no show picture to show because the show doesn't deserve it, so you'll have to settle for this stylish picture of a question mark, instead.

Review: [Title Withheld (and with good reason…)]

Official Sites: Please…
Additional Links: None.
Video [Free/Pay]: You are better off not knowing…

When it comes to reviews here at HardDoor, my aim is not to tell you what you must or must not watch, but to discuss and provide critical analysis on it, leaving the decision ultimately up to you, the reader. I actually encourage you to watch the title anyway, so you can form your own opinion on it, as I personally do not like someone dictating to me something along the lines of the former. You will never find me saying "Avoid this like the plague!" or "Don't watch this title at all costs!", because it's not my thing. I think we are all our own people and I don't need to tell you what to do. A situation would really have to be something for me to do something like that.

Well, I'm making an exception for this one…

Saturday, March 26, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (or just "Mongolian Chop Squad")

Official Sites: Japanese, English
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Video [Free]: FUNimation Videos, Hulu, Anime News Network (Sub / Dub)

As can often be the case in the world and life, some things don't get the attention they deserve, in spite how good they are. Such is the case with this month's free/low-cost anime pick…

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad has never been a top seller in the U.S. Most of those who have seen it can testify to how good it is, but I imagine that number isn't a mighty one. FUNimation did a fantastic job with its dubbing and singing and has supported the title for a long time, but with it being re-released under its subtitle only (either to try to breathe life into its sales, or to avoid any legal trouble with the real-life, unrelated band), questions of its future on the market comes to mind. Hopefully, the worst never comes to past, considering the effort they put into the release and just how good the show is, but either way, BECK is worth of garnering more attention, hence its spotlight here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

:anime: Alright, Alright…FINE!!

For years, I have considered Revolutionary Girl Utena to be the "greatest show I would never own". Don't get me wrong, I have tons of respect for the series and count it as one of the best things I have ever seen across any media. The great writing, its copious layers, the enjoyable and memorable characters, its unique, almost-Seussian design and animation styles, the ubiquitous scores by Shinkichi Mitsumune (BGM) and J. A. Seazer (duels), its boldness: I have adored so much of it and what it has accomplished, and under most circumstances, I would have dropped down cash on it in a heartbeat and snatched up all of its sets (and probably the movie, too).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

:boxing: Boxing Bits ::03.17.11:: Martinez Dismantles Dzinzurik…

Alt. Title(s)"Battle of the Serge", "Sergio/Sergiy", "Power Serge"…


Sergio Martinez TKO8 Sergiy Dzinzurik [HBO]

Sergio Martinez may have had a career highlight in his one-punch demolishing of Paul Williams this past November, but he may have possibly eclipsed that with his performance Saturday night against top contender Sergiy Dzinzurik. "Maravilla" dedicated himself to a hard, snapping jab early on before tattooing the rugged and ridged Dzinzurik with his usual odd-angled shots, with his hooks being the most dangerous ones of all, as they accounted for a bulk the five knockdowns delivered. Though he was able to score two and looked in control against an unwavering opponent prior to the 7th, he hadn't moved around the ring as much as usual for much of the fight and as such, especially with his unique posture and fighting style, was absorbing more punches than necessary.

Friday, March 11, 2011

:anime: It's That Time of The Year, Again:: Crunchyroll Hosts Global Shinkai Day!

Just a quick reminder, Crunchyroll is once again hosting its three-day celebration of the works of anime auteur Makoto Shinkai. "Global Shinkai Day" will be hosting the director's self-made first feature, Voices of a Distant Star, The place promised in our early days--his first feature-length film--, and his most recent film, 5 centimeters per second, which was just re-released on DVD by CR (with Bandai Ent.'s assistance). The festival was recommended last March as its "Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick", and while I'm not repeating picks again (something I try to avoid), I could not pass up another mention of it. Shinkai is a wonderful artist and a free event like this gives one a great opportunity to see his works for the first time (or revisit them all over again). The timing is also a bit ironic, since I made allusions to his visual style in my anime pick and review of the recent Wish Upon the Pleiades (Hokago no Pleiades).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

:anime: Final Impression:: Wish Upon the Pleiades (Hokago no Pleiades)

Review: Wish Upon the Pleiades (Hokago no Pleiades)

Official Sites: Japanese
Additional Links: ANN Entry, HD's Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month (Feb. 2011)
Video [Free]: YouTube

In one of the more unlikely pairings you'll find on the scene, automaker SUBARU and GAINAX collaborated to make the YouTube exclusive (well, until the inevitable BD/DVD release) magical girl show Hokago no Pleiades (or Wish Upon the Pleiades, in English). At first glance, one can easily detect the monetary input of the production with its Shinkai-esque starry skies, vibrant lighting and coloring, and beautifully-rendered backgrounds. And with its genre trappings, the series is certainly not bereft of lovely character designs or animation work, not to mention a top-notch music production.

But…that's all I can really say about the show.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Wish Upon the Pleiades (Hokago no Pleiades)

Wish Upon the Pleiades (Hokago no Pleiades)

Official Sites: Japanese
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Video [Free]: YouTube

Wish Upon the Pleiades (Hokago no Pleiades), an animated collaboration from automaker SUBARU (whose name is the Japanese equivalent of the star cluster) and anime powerhouse GAINAX (Petite Princess Yucie, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Magical Shopping Center Abenobashi, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Gunbuster), made its anticipated bow onto YouTube this month, and in addition to its untranslated form, an English-subbed version of the show has also been provided.

Comprising of four 5-7 minute episodes, HnP follows along traditional "magical girl" lines, focusing on a young girl named Subaru, who stumbles upon a secret meeting of girls at her school that are moonlighting as magical girls. Just as quickly as she discovers them is she recruited to their ranks as they try to retrieve lost "engine parts"--though an adversary also in search of them stands in their way. Stellar animation--with Shinkai-level visuals--and great music help punctuate SUBARU x GAINAX's gorgeous production.

As often the case with YouTube's content, the videos are free to watch and are available in upwards of 720p in HD. The YT page itself is interesting, in that you can watch the videos via a simple, menu-like layout at the top, or just below it through the usual YT layout the separate playlists (and unlike with the top section, there is a full-screen button with the player). Additionally, the official website also hosts a "goody bag" ZIP-file full of character wallpaper, at resolutions ranging from 1024x768 to 1920x1080, including ones for iPhone/iPod touch devices (click on the third link on the main page with the "ZIP" page icon, or right-click here to save the file). Owners of those iDevices who access the site can find wallpaper for them there.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

:anime: Free Anime Directory Update! ::For 02.08.11::

It's been awhile since the last update, which came during the big overhaul and location change last October, but the Directory has received some new entries and a few updates since then. So let's check them out!

--Forgot to put this in the Directory at the time of the overhaul, but it's in there now. I had some trouble finding an anime listing on the site over a year ago, but I managed to finally find one there. The selection is slightly bigger, too (though still on the meager side). But hey, they got some Godzilla films, too. ;)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

:boxing: Quick Pick! ::01.29.11:: Bradley vs Alexander

Tonight, the big fight between WBO Light Welterweight Champion Timothy Bradley and upstart WBC Champion Devon Alexander takes place at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan on HBO--but you might not totally get its weight with the amount of people set to attend. But for now, let's set aside the decision to hold the match far away from either man's respective domains of California or Missouri (and thus robbing it of potential ticket sales and good word-of-mouth at either location, or even at Las Vegas or Atlantic City) and the poor attempt at emulating the Pacquiao-Cowboys Stadium dynamic (while known names among boxing fans, neither are crossover stars like Pacquiao and aren't ready to fill stadiums, yet) and just focus on the night's proceedings…

Thursday, January 27, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Oreimo Ep. 8

<--To Oreimo, Ep. 7

The face of a soul shattering into a million pieces…

After a hiatus for "Decade's Best", year-end write-ups, and other postings, HD's reviews of Oreimo pick up right where they left off at with Ep. 8's!

OreimoEp. 8 - "My Little Sister Can't Be Animated"

With Kirino's novel being a success, the publishers have decided to turn it into an upcoming anime. The budding author takes Saori and Kuroneko along with her to the production meeting with the staff and producers, where her giddiness over the show and eager requests are brought down in flames by the hard-nosed screenwriter and reality. After the story is picked apart, ground through the mill, and suggested for alterations--including making the little sister-loving lead into a male--Kirino's spirit is thoroughly crushed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: RideBack


Official Sites: English
Additional Links: Tokyo MX Page, ANN Entry
Video [Free]: FUNimation Videos, Hulu, Anime News Network

Last month, I recommended Highschool of the Dead (which was also reviewed last week), Madhouse's adaptation of the manga which prominently featured two subjects not normally (if, really, ever) covered by the studio: zombie horror and heavy fanservice. It was a stark departure for them, even with the sheer number of works they have produced that spread across the spectrum, but it was not the only uncharacteristic title they made of recent. In the prior year, RideBack debuted in January 2009, representing Madhouse's first real mecha-centric work in their near 40-year history. While the subject of robots, in general, is not foreign to the studio (Metropolis, Battle Angel/GUNNM, Chobits), a production with people piloting mecha is not something they have done before (Patlabor WXIII notwithstanding, which more of an investigative drama and bereft of mecha action until briefly at the end). But at the same time, RideBack is not your typical mecha show…

Thursday, January 20, 2011

:anime: Final Impression:: Highschool of the Dead

Review: Highschool of the Dead (High School of the Dead)

Official Sites: Japanese
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Video [Free]: The Anime Network (Ep. 1 is available to everyone at the "Guest" level, and Eps. 2 and beyond for those who register, which is at no cost), Hulu

When coming across the trailer for Highschool of the Dead last summer, there were a few things that stunned me about it--none of which involved its content of zombies and big boobs. For one, I was really impressed by it. I'm no fan of the horror genre, much less shows with heavy fanservice, and in both cases, there have been many a cheap and paltry entry. But with HOTD, it was quite clear that a lot of effort went into the production and presentation of it with its stunning animation and color palette, with its intensity pouring out of the screen. Its character designs were easy on the eyes, too, and with all of the frantic action and fluidity, what started as a curiosity over its title became a hot anticipation for a show screaming "greatness" and "instant hit".

So I was also quite stunned to see Madhouse's name pop up during it. It certainly explained the high level of artistry on display, but for a studio that has covered a wide swath of genres, horror (of the zombie variety) and fanservice are two that they have very rarely done. And that they decided to put this much effort into a show with both (and an admittedly/purposefully-schlocky title) was especially puzzling. Not that the studio has a "snobby" reputation, but given their pedigree, one might naturally assume that this type of material would be "beneath them". On top of that, Death Note director Tetsuro Araki and big-time screenwriter Yousuke Kuroda (Honey & Clover, Gungrave, Hellsing Ultimate, Infinite Ryvius) were attached to it, furthering the notion that nothing added up. At least at first glance, as what unfolds is a well thought-out and -presented tale with depth all around--as well as one of the best anime of 2010.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Compare & Contrast:: 2009 Predictions vs 2010 Reality…

As noted in last week's 2010 lookback/2011 look-forward, a surprising amount of the predictions made for 2010 happened to come true during the year…well, sort of. In this addendum to "2010, Fade Out… 2011, Fade In…", we'll be looking back at each of the predictions made at the end of 2009 and how much did (and didn't) come to past in 2010…

Monday, January 03, 2011

2010, Fade Out… 2011, Fade In…

2010 turned out to be a pretty nice one, both personally and for the site.  Much of the first half of the year saw the realization of one of my biggest goals in covering the pattern of dark-skinned characters in anime that have been shot in the head. Aside from the lull in late-summer (writer's block?), everything went fairly well, and the discussion thread experiment, while not a total success (only the ANN one got going), proved interesting. Of course, I would have done a few things differently, but overall, given its scope and size, it went well.

The second half of the year was perhaps the most pivotal for HardDoor, to-date. A completely new design, an improved layout, the start of HD's Twitter page and its integration into the site (a big, big addition itself, begun a month to the day before, and in honor of, HD's fourth anniversary), the introduction of anime reviews, as well as a greater emphasis on using pictures in posts (first tested with "Blacks & Head Shots in Anime") have all been implemented for the blog, which have certainly helped in making the blog more accessible and looking nice, as well as raising its awareness.