Friday Night Life: Updates & Peach John does One Piece

So today’s quick note of Life, Manga, Anime and More: A late Friday Night Life coming to you on a Monday morning. Just call it a long weekend. . .

In 7 days, this tentacle will be headed back to it’s second homeland of the Rising Sun, where it will spend the majority of April. Post and manga reviews will be sparse this coming month, but I will try and schedule several series reviews.

This leads to a question of what content you might want to see for Monday Manga?

After April, or once I have covered the complete series of manga that I wish too, I’ll start looking into doing reviews as chapters come in. But this leads to a question, do you want a series review, or by chapter review, or a mix?

The assumption is that this tentacle would do it by series, so that you could figure out if it was worth your time to read. But I am open into what you would like to see.

Would you like anime reviews?

What about convention reviews?

Random adventures while traveling across Japan?

Feedback is welcomed.

In the mean time it seems Japanese lingerie maker Peach John has teamed up with One Piece to create a line of anime inspired lingerie.  Peach John They previously did a Sailor Moon series. I have noticed that the product line, actually looks functional.

I don’t see an English site translation, so I think it’s only available in JP.

Details here on their website

Update: Outside JP website here

Developer’s Journal 3: Creating a Race for Savage Worlds

Construct Race for Savage Worlds – Terracotta

My gaming history started many years ago when I was just a young tentacle sitting around a table playing, if I recall: Vampire the Masquerade, but it also could have been Rifts While others might say D&D or AD&D or any other classic sword and sorcery game, my first introduction was modern day or post-apoc sci-fi tech fun. Now I make mention of this vague memory because within the last year, Savage Rifts was released using the Savage Worlds system. Which as a Pathfinder publisher, this is almost blasphemy for me to say. But I blasphemously say, I love Savage Worlds.

I always loved the d6 Star Wars game by West End Games, for it was an open ruleset to create the character you wanted. It had books and books and books of races from a 100 different planets spread across the galaxy. The openness of this ruleset reminds me of Savage Worlds.

So this week the tentacle sat down to try the race creation rules found in the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion. What I wanted to do with the playable race was to have statues that contained the ancestral spirits of the humans that had been brought to animated life. So starting with a little flavor of the above I delved into the book and followed the suggested rules and examples. Using the Construct template as the base, and adapting the flavor and a savage worlds ruleset for the upcoming Art of War , we have the Terracotta (First Draft)

Terracotta

The souls of ancestors of great reverance are entomb in the monasteries of the great cities throughout the land. Royal guards that have served an Imperial Family for at least 30 years or great leaders of rural communities can petition a secret sect of spiritual monks who hold the secrets of reincarnation. These monks guard the sacred ritual of bringing back life of those who have past, rebirthing them into statues of clay and stone. The Heavens do not always answer those who call, but if they are deemed worthy and the offerings are plentiful, the soul of the dead are pushed to animate the statues of their former likeness giving new life to the fabled fallen. These are the Terracota.
Preserved from oblivion at great cost, the terracotta are given a second chance at life. They must knowingly volunteer (or request) to an individual that must serve as a witness during the ritual. With the blessing of Heaven they return to full fill the duty they were unable to accomplish in life. Many terracotta remain in the service of the those that they served in life. Others have stood guard watching over the tombs of long enshrined Emperors they protected for centuries. Upon being brought back, terracottas negotiate their existence before the heavens and with those that bring them back. If terms are not agreed upon, the Heavens withhold their blessings and the soul passes to the afterlife.
Terracottas retain most of the memories of former lives and continue to perform their task. Many have been known to petrify in place where they stand or turn to dust upon failing in their duty. These souls are cursed and unable to pass on, leaving them to haunt the area where they failed. Those that succeed and fulfilled their contract, are given the second chance at life to explore and learn new things that they had missed out on previously.

Racial Concepts:

Immortal Soldier
Terracottas sometimes receive bodies carved from the strongest stone and hardened clay. The new bodies allowing them to take up weapons heavier than any mortal could swing. Going forth to fight again as undying soldiers in the rank and file of a Clan. Dying once only to learned from their flaws of battle and again to stand alongside the living to wage war.

Wise Hermit
After fulfilling their terms, they seek to continue to learn and research the things they were not able to do. Terracottas that play it safe live long and out last many generations of life to pass on the previous teachings to the next. Holding up in libraries and studying the lost arts or applying past techniques to new technologies, they are scholars willing to teach their skills to anyone that will listen.

Racial Traits:

Chi Dependent-2: Terracottas must align their chi for one hour out of every 24 hours to maintain the proper balance of control over their new form with a successful Meditation check. Failing to do so results in Fatigue each day that can lead to Incapacitation. Each level is  recovered with an hour of meditation. At Incapacitation the spirit separates the spirit from the husk and they perish. Alternatively, a terracotta can spend 2 chi points to skip this hour of meditation.
Created: Terracottas are constructs created of stone and clay. They receive +2 to recover from being Shaken, ignore one level of wound modifiers, don’t breathe, and are immune to disease and poison. They cannot heal naturally but must be Repaired (and ignore the “Golden Hour”).
Extreme Weather Sensitivity-2: Terracottas suffers a –4 penalty to resist a extreme heat and cold environmental conditions. It causes their skin to dry out, freeze and crack. If they suffer damage from an attack of these sources, this penalty acts as a bonus to damage.
Flesh of Stone: Their hardened material make up grant Terracottas a +2 Toughness at creation.
Heavenly Mandate-1: Terracottas are still bond to the heavens to serve a purpose after being freed from their initial reasons for rebirth. The being that agreed to fulfill their contract also gains a pawn on the material plane. This divine pact varies, but the terracotta must fulfill this duty. When there’s a chance to complete this goal, they’ll do anything, and take any risk to achieve it.
Inflexible & Heavy-3: Being made of hardened minerals makes it difficult for the terracota to move quickly. They suffer a -1 penalty to all Agility rolls. Their Pace is reduced by 2” and have a run d4 run die.
Unnatural-1: Death should be final for the soul so they can complete the cycle. Those that are rebirthed are seen as an interruption in this process. Not everyone favors the presence of the Terracottas and many view them as outside that natural order. They have the Outsider Hindrance suffer a -2 modifier to Charisma when dealing with those unaccustomed to Terracottas.

 

Overall: The concept of design when using SW is fairly easy for this race. The hardest part was the decision making on the translation of idea to mechanics. I’ll try to go over that next Wednesday for the Developer’s Journal.

Monday Manga: Highschool of the Dead

zombie killing, minor fan service, and a fun time


Rating Summary

Art: 4 – Above Average

Story: 4 – Above Average

Dialogue and Development: 5 – Action, Fan service, Plot

Overall: 5 out of 5 –  I loved this series

*Contains Minor Spoilers* Tentacle writes about events of the manga. Don’t want spoilers, stop reading.

While it is odd timing this manga review was actually scheduled for next week, but we’ll throw this up now in honor of Daisuke Sato passing on March 22, 2017

Still here?

Let’s begin. I’ll try to keep spoilers and plot kills to minimum, but I will mention some of it. I mostly want to talk about the series as a whole. There are 7 volumes you can find, making up 29 chapters, or “acts” as they label them, in this series. You can find 2 omnibus volumes. This is the most commonly seen title on the shelf and it’s nice to have a consolidated book vs seven individual books (limited shelf space).

What is this manga about? Well the zombie apocalypse in modern Japan. The story follows Takashi Komuro, along with his childhood friend Rei Miyamoto as they navigate the troubles of the walking dead starting at their school.

Romance plot: Takashi and Rei, as kids, made a promise to marry each other when they get older. This causes a problem when Rei starts to date Hisashi. He is a friend of Takashi, and is the first “known” zombie we actually see get busted up by Takashi.

There is a point where he is turned into a zombie and begins to attack Rei. Takashi of steps in and handles Zombie Hisashi in front of Rei. This leads Rei to accuse him of jealousy and was the main reason he acted out. Takashi basically says, “we are being attacked by zombies, your being stupid”. At some point in the series they reconcile and Rei admits she loves Takashi and doesn’t want him with any other women. So that’s your love story in a nut shell.

Character Favorites: Saeko Busujima is the stand out supporting character. She is president of the kendo club and the primary close combatant. She handles the zombies with ease, until she upgrades to an actual katana later in the series. She is this tentacles favorite character for the fact that she has a Saekodichotomy of emotional development that the others don’t seem to go through. She is self aware in the fact that when she is in the rush of battle, she enjoys bashing in the heads of zombies and understands that it’s her nature to be a predator. This awareness bothers her to the point where she feels that she isn’t any difference from the zombies themselves. Mindless killers. There is a point in the story where she decides that it would be better for everyone if she was just one of them, and almost gives up. Of course with a pep talk from the protagonist, she eventually snaps out of it and realizes that she is not the mindless killer that she once thought she was.

The development of her character is just the stand out side story (IMHO) of the series.

Other characters are Saya, the rich daughter of a politician (who I initially thought was yakuza), and is the logical brain of the cast. She helps in deduction of the zombies and has the logistical mindset for ideas. She plays the big sister to an orphan child they group picks up along the way.

Kohta is your “NEET” of the group, if you have to label one. He is is the overweight kid that has a knack for guns. He is kind of the ranged character if you were to compare it to an RPG game. He of course has his own love interest for Saya. He is the hero that has always wanted to be a hero. Once his character gets up and running, he’s pretty sturdy and can jump into the alpha male mindset if need to.

HotD

Overall cast: The group is a solid (fun) overall cast that looks to stand together as they try to outrun the fall of mankind.

Zombie: I love the explanation of the zombies. This is the first real sense I have of zombies are blind but follow sound. It’s “discovered” in this series really well.

Final Thoughts:  I do love this manga series. I love the anime. I have not seen the OVA: Drifters of the Dead, but I’m sure it’s just as entertaining as the anime.

If you want zombie killing, minor fan service, and a fun time (sounds like a tinder profile), then give this one a shot (or baseball bat to the head).

Monday Manga: Shaolin Sisters: Vol 2

Shaolin Sisters: 2 – All Action

SS2
Rating Summary

Art: 4 – Above Average

Story: 3 – Average so far

Dialogue and Development: N/A – Some dialogue, but all action

Overall: 4 out of 5

*Contains Minor Spoilers* Tentacle writes about events in the first volume of the manga. Don’t want spoilers, stop reading.

Just a short review:

Shaolin Sisters Vol. 2 does exactly as it should, delivers blow by blow action. This volume delivers the action in a manga I wanted to see. The angle of this book is 3/4th solid art, pure kung-fu action. While a little to follow what takes place on occasion, the bookstore clerk did not lie when they recommended  to me an action based story, and that is what I wanted.

Juline begins to fight her Pirate Sister, Seiline to prove who she is and that she is the daughter of their father Ryu. We also get the back-story of Seiline, how she became a Pirate Captain along with the relationship with the father. The battle ensues for a number of pages, where we also learn how Seiline’s sidekick/friend came into her life and trained her. Seiline became a rounded out character in this volume.

Sister Kalin didn’t receive too much attention in these pages, as she is still the “sweet” one.

We also introduce “Drake” another antagonist (demon?) who is after the bells. There is an incredible fight between him and the leading female antagonist, Bai Wang.

So will I continue reading the series after my first initial impressions? Yeah, I will pick it up when I get time. I’ve been catching up on Scum’s Wish, The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior, and the latest chapters of Fuuka.

—————–

So it’s been some time since our last entry (17 days). It’s been crazy the last few weeks here for the tentacle. On Wednesday I’ll share the game development news on the progress of Project: BuXia.

Friday Night Life: Betty Boop

Boop boop be doop!

Growing up on a wide range of cartoons in the 80s brought us wonderfully bad things like Thundercats and Silverhawks. I was enamored by shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Woody Wood Pecker. I also enjoyed the classics and developed that first cartoon crush on a scandalous Betty Boop. I can across this make up tutorial the other day and had to share. This youtube user’s channel, Jbunzie, did a fantastic job.  Happy Friday.

Developer’s Journal 2: Rise of the Tiger Clan

Rise of the Tiger Clan

In this edition of Developer’s Journal we look at the 2nd draft copy of the history section of one of the three clans found in our forthcoming RPG Art of War.  This focuses on the the rise of the Tiger Clan


Tiger Clan

Clan Family Names: Date, Huang, Khan, Lao, Luo, Luong, Ma, Sakai, Shingen, Sun, Yu, Zhang, Zhao

Common Tenets: Benevolence, Harmony

Common Concepts: Buxist, Youxia

Common Descriptors: Caregiver, Elemental, Fluid, Monk, White-hare

Clan Technique: Deflect Arrow, Ground Breaker, or Moon Rabbit Leap

Rise of the Stripped Tiger

The story of the Tiger Clan begins just as any other points in history where the oppressed bind together to stand against tyranny of any form. The clan comes from the former nomadic traditions of the vibrant communities across all of the Hanxia Plains. Farming villages that hold to seasonal festivals to celebrate the life of the common people. They believe in the practice of a balance of living in harmony with nature and each other.

They came into their own when the surrounding barbaric warlords threatened their quiet life with raiding and pillaging. Warlords living in the Wylds looking to expand their territory ravaged the land with constant displays of violence. Sending hordes of raiders to raze crops, demolish rival warlord’s villages, the slaughter livestock, enslave those who didn’t pay tribute and desecrate sacred shrines of the Enlightened Way.

It was the keepers of these holy places, the Buxist of the Enlightened Way, were the first to speak out against the imbalances of oppression. These monks of virtue trained in the use of chi, developed physical techniques to align with the mind to perform great feats of marvel. The Buxist taught the basics of these techniques to the local villages in order to help defend against the raiding bandits. They trained while they harvested and fortified their homes with the offerings that the Plains provided to them.

It wasn’t long until the warlord by the name of Black Jade heard of a village that learned the secrets of the balanced path and looked bend it to his will. Arriving in the village, Black jade, went looking for the senior monk that is said to have mastered shattering swords with his fist. To his dismay, the monk had moved onto the next village, leaving behind only his wisdom. Black Jade pressed the village elders for the location of the scrolls the he had left. Offering first with money, than protection from the other warlords, and finally he used intimidation.

Those that were present during the initial altercation are said to have been divided. Some stood in fear, unable to move, while others instinctively responded with flight. Then there were those that responded with a type of aggression of vengeance. Vengeance against those who didn’t follow the basic tenets of balance, those that followed corruption, power and tyranny.

Those that responded became known as the 13 Heroes of the Cleansing Jade. They traveled from village to village spreading their interpretation of the old teachings and training them in defense against invaders. These teachings united villages into larger communities that began to take the names of the heroes as their own. Bring about the 13 established families.

As news spread of the fall of warlord after warlord, so did the Emperor’s eye turn toward the plains. Rumors and fear of revolt spread throughout the court, and under encouragement of Kitsune Samurai of the court, the Emperor dispatched a royal military unit to suppress any threats of the empire. Upon arriving at the village of Lao, it seemed as though life was proceeding as normal. The troops of the Kitsune Clan attache were welcomed with loyal cheers. When village elders meet with the diplomats, they informed them that a resolution was already in hand, and all the Hanxia Plains villages remained loyal to the Empire.

As the royal army traveled to secure further territory from the savagery of the remaining warbands, they found similar stories with each village. The royal emissary called for each hero to return with the Kitsune Clan as honored guest to tell their story to the Emperor. Those that agreed, arrived in the capital to a grand ceremony with an audience to appear in front of the royal family. It was here that, the Emperor annotated each of them minor noble standing. He called the collection of heroes representing each village in attendance the Tiger Clan for their calm and fierce demeanor. All members of the Tiger Clan were assigned the duty of protecting the realm from injustice, preserving the code of BuXia, and keeping the kingdom in balance.

icon-2-tiger-clan-monk

Monday Manga: Shaolin Sisters: Vol 1

3 Sisters, 3 Bells. = 3 of 5 stars

3 Sisters
Rating Summary

Art: 3 – Average

Story: 3 – Average so far

Dialogue and Development: 3 – quick development that could have been stretched over the first two books, to give more history of the characters.

Overall: 3 out of 5

“Juline Kenga’s life changes suddenly when the school she was living at is attacked, leaving only her alive. As his final act, the kung-fu master gives her a small bell from her father, a missing powerful sorcerer. Now Juline must search for her two half sisters, each who possess their own special bells. She and her sisters must use the secret of the bells to find their father and defeat Bai Wang, a sorceress on a sacred mountain who wants the power of the bells for herself.” ~ AnimeNewsNetwork (ANN)

*Contains Spoilers* Tentacle writes about events in the first volume of the manga. Don’t want spoilers, stop reading.

Still here? Let’s move on.

While browsing the local used bookstore for their fine collection of manga, this tentacle looked to break from its romantic comedy and harem-esque manga it finds itself consistently going back to by no fault of its own. It was looking for something different to break beyond the barriers of its comfort zone and expand into the universe of martial arts action manga. Something without too much top busting and cloths ripping fan service and something slightly focused on a good story with action.

While pursuing the aisles (yes, plural, it’s great to have manga supported locally nearby), a staff member came up to inquire if this tentacle needed assistance (sure enough, it did). Commenting on this middle-aged otaku’s shirt, the staff member proceeded to ask questions of interest to help narrow down the subject matter needed for choosing the proper material to start this exploration into action and adventure.

After narrowing down the selection, she recommended an easy read with a compelling storyline to start the travels. The choice was between the two: mecha or martial arts. As a martial arts film fanatic, we chose the later and proceeded through a few title before settling on the first volume of what could be a fun series: Shaolin Sisters.

The opening scenes feature Juline Kenga, martial artist and heir to a sacred martial arts clan. She is off on excursion to a nearby spring to bathe before a morning of training. The art in this section is standard to the classic semi-heavy lines of manga illustration, taking into consideration of the properly illuminated areas to offer a bit of early fan service in the first few pages. While we don’t mind the fan service, as it is a staple in all genres, it was a bit early and one should know it is the only part here in this first chapter that is presented. Hopefully, it doesn’t make a consistent appearance in the series, but it serves the purpose of getting the reader’s attention.

Minor rant over, we move on to find Juline being found by servant of the clan that was sent to answer a summons from the master. As it is in many stories of many young masters of the martial arts, she is late for an important training. Without much delay, she readies herself and rushes back to the training hall excited to begin practice.

It is during this time of her morning dip, that the old kung-fu master and all members of the clan are under assault of one of many antagonists, King Baiwon. Baiwon looks to collect three artifacts said to hold magical powers to aid his rule of the people. When Juline arrives, she finds everyone, but a few survivors, that have been outright slaughtered off panel. Including the injured and slowly dying master who then informs Juline of her past.

The master informs Juline of her past and that her father has left her a present. A single bell that is said to be infused with magical abilities. He tells her that it is one of three bells given to each of the owner’s daughters, and that she was one of these sisters. The dying master entrusts her with the bell and the knowledge that she now must find her two sisters, who each maintain similar bells.

3 Bells
Fast pace forward…

In succession the manga moves pretty forward in her travels to find her sisters. When she gets closer to her first sister, Kaline in a nearby village, their bells ring out for each other. When Juline tells Kaline of her story, Kaline is hesitant but joins her in the quest to reunite the three bells. It fast forward even more quickly and we find the third and final sister with the last bell. When in close proximity, all three bells ring out with Juline telling her story. While Seiline, who is a pirate captain does not believe her two sisters and says they must prove their worth. The challenged has been accepted by Juline and will face the eldest sister Seiline in combat to prove her connection of a common father.

Cliff hanger ending.

This is where the first volume of Shaolin Sisters ends, just before the family duel. Is this first volume interesting enough to continue the adventure into the next book? That’s a great question this tentacle is struggling with. It has potential to take off, but the fast introduction, development of character and story does not hold its attention. What can be said is that it is a jump into the action type of story and moves at a pace readers will like for a fighting manga. It should be a quick series to finish. Volume 2 currently sits on the nightstand but hasn’t been picked up yet. Maybe this weekend. Will everyone be kung-fu fighting?

Let’s sum it all up out of 5.

Art: 3 – Standard. Good solid lines and proportions of the characters are not distracting. Nothing outlandish.

Story: 3 – It could be an interesting read, it just moves a little too quick for me.

Dialogue and Development: 3 – quick development that could have been stretched over the first two books, to give more history of the characters.

Overall: 3