As though a PS3 graphics quality translated version of Umineko weren't enough, more good news has emerged on all fronts:
A new Higurashi anime, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Itadaki is being made, another oav in addition to the Kaku that's in development. Every addition to this series so far has been great so this too is enormously welcome.
Love Live is getting a second anime season after its great blu-ray sales. Now this is Japan at its best, responding to viewer interest by giving us more of what we want, what could be simpler? I felt the anime series was too short and didn't really tie up all the loose threads or fully explore its enormous cast of characters, so a second season has plenty of potential. Why couldn't a new season of Sword Art Online have been announced as expeditiously as Love Live? It's only been a couple months since the first season of Love Live ended and they've already reassured us there will be more. Meanwhile Sword Art Online's final blu-ray is coming out soon and there's still no mention of a second season. . .
In addition, Square Enix has admitted that the sound quality of its old video games wasn't that great. Basically, the tinny, synthesizer, sound card type music available in the ancient days of the SNES could not do justice to the amazingly well composed musical masterpieces that are Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI. As such, they've decided to remaster the music and release a new set of soundtrack cd's, starting with FF IV this July, V in August, and VI some time shortly after that. This would be of tremendous value to Final Fantasy music lovers, who so far have had no real options. Orchestrated pieces don't cover the entire soundtrack and are too far from the original mood, the same for rock band remixes done by 'The Black Mages.' All of these certainly have higher sound quality, but they sound nothing like the original music we grew to love by playing the games. All we've wanted is the same music but with much higher quality sound, notes that are less shrill to the ear, like the Final Fantasy music from the later games, which are also synthesizer but sound great just the way they are.
As for Final Fantasy I, II, and III music, your best shot at better sound quality for these works is the Final Fantasy I and II Dawn of Souls ost, a remake of the original games, and the Final Fantasy III DS ost, a remake of the third game. Even these handheld music versions feel a little lacking in sound quality, but they're an enormous step up from the original NES music from these games, which is so tinny and shrill that no one could possibly enjoy listening to them. Like usual, there's plenty of fantastic music composed by a master composer hiding in these games, if only the hardware had supported Uematsu's vision from the beginning.
Hopefully these new OST remasters stay true to the original intent of the SNES music, but sound ten times as mellifluous. If such a thing comes true, the world will be blessed with some of the most beautiful music to ever be composed in human history.
Tengen Toppa Gurrenn Lagann is getting a much needed graphical upgrade by moving from dvd to Blu-ray, June 26th, which is just a week away. DVD's simply can't hold enough information on a disk to show high resolution, high framerate images on an HD screen. I honestly have no idea why the DVD format still exists, it's so cripplingly bad. But the important thing is people will finally get to see Gurrenn Lagann the way it was meant to be seen, instead of as a compressed, pixilated, eye-cancer inducing wreck. If both this and Ranma 1/2 get a fansub release, then virtually all the best anime ever made will be out in high resolution. We're just waiting for the Sailor Moon remake to solve the last problem of this type -- Galaxy Angel has already received a blu-ray makeover, the last blu-ray box of the series came out just this May (though no fan group has jumped on this project like they have Cowboy Bebop blu-ray, more's the shame).
Higurashi still has no blu ray release for its first two seasons, but the graphics may be so low that it wouldn't benefit from blu ray anyway. One Piece, Naruto, Inuyasha, Major and the like were too long series to bother worrying about blu-ray. They were never meant to be artistic masterpieces in the first place, it's far more about the story when it comes to those shows. Da Capo, likewise, is just too old to benefit from a blu ray release, the graphics were horrid in the first season and upscaling them wouldn't help any. I do wish Record of Lodoss War received a blu ray release, and it's been discussed before by American companies, but somehow nothing ever comes of it. The Lodoss War OAV's were drawn so perfectly, so beautifully, that blu ray is really the only fair way to convey the images, they're wasted on a dvd player.
If Sailor Moon's remake actually follows the plot, with modern day graphics, it will fill in the last major pothole in 'low quality but good series.' Ranma 1/2's blu ray release is a godsend in this department because old versions of the show are about the size of postage stamps unless you want horribly pixelated eye cancer at full screen sizes. Too bad no fansub group has been leaping at the chance to re-encode them. . . Well, even Ranma 1/2 raws on blu ray are better than translated Ranma 1/2 without blu ray. That's how big the gap yawns.
Hunter x Hunter's latest episode was absolutely epic. The new royal guard was as deliciously well voice acted as the cat girl from Bakemonogatari, which is saying a lot. Also, the overall feel of menace that exudes the entire arc so far has been electrifying. The entire series, all the training Gon and Killua have gone through up until now, everything was for this moment, this fight, this decisive threat to mankind which the Chimera Ants represent. If the Ants aren't stopped here, it's over. They are so strong and multiply so quickly that no force on Earth will be able to fight back again. This arc is the justification and purpose of the entire series from the very first chapter ever released back in 1998.
Not to be outdone, Railgun is showing why it's the 14th best anime series ever. For the first time in the series, two evenly matched level 5's duke it out in a spectacular show of equal parts beauty, power, and wits. And in the midst of this fireworks display of psychic powers, a great deal of characterization is given to all the parties involved, making the fight all the more poignant. This was pretty much the perfect fight. Aside from Goku vs. Frieza or something, it simply cannot be done any better. Anyone who hasn't seen Railgun yet really needs to get started already. You can't afford to have not watched this series.
Last but not least, Doki Doki Pretty Cure announced at the end of its latest episode that 'the 5th Pretty Cure will be appearing soon.' Oh my God! A 5th Pretty Cure?????????????????????????????
Are you kidding me?
Pretty Cure have almost always maxed out at four. Yes Precure 5 and Smile Precure had five members, but they all joined at the very beginning. There has never been five Pretty Cure, one of whom converts from the dark side before. It's such a pleasant surprise, and proves that even ten seasons in the longest and best anime series of all time still has tricks up its sleeves. Though it's conceivable that the 5th Precure will be the Princess of the Trump Kingdom or some other dark horse, it's pretty much assured that the 5th Precure will be Regina. If Regina is the new Pretty Cure, that's also an unprecedented twist. Never before has the daughter of the last boss been one of the heroes. That's practically unthinkable, much less unprecedented. What a great twist. It reminds me of Willow, for lack of any anime example to compare it to. And when it comes to Regina's beauty, she doesn't lose to the dark knight daughter in Willow either, for that matter. Mana's efforts to understand a girl who simply hasn't been raised correctly up until this point are about to pay off. Instead of condemning her for being 'bad,' which Regina most certainly was this whole series long, she simply explained to her each time why what she was doing was wrong, and kept holding out her hand in forgiveness after each event with a compassionate smile. Thank you Mana! Thank you for saving Regina's heart and adding a fifth Pretty Cure to this already remarkable cast! Even with this, Doki Doki won't compare to Smile's group, but with this, Doki Doki is definitely going to be one of the best seasons of Precure ever. How do they do it? Every time, they just make the franchise even better.
New series or old series, everything is getting more and better. All hail the month of June!