The new Star Wars movies are going to be great. These movies aren't filler, because they're all based around George Lucas's outlines in the first place. Lucas simply isn't going to work as hard on them as he did in the previous movies, his creative contributions are already in place. But the people who are going to work on them are a stellar lineup. We have all the old stars returning, including Harrison Ford. John Williams is scoring the music. Lawrence Kasdan, the reason why Empire Strikes Back was so good, is the screenplay writer. With people like this working on Star Wars VII, it may be the best movie in the series.
Star Wars has a good number of flaws, from dumb alien creatures to unrealistic fights. But you must remember that it has some of the most compelling dialogue, scenery, action sequences, and music of all time. If it isn't the greatest movie franchise ever, it's in the top 5. Adding three more films to this list, with the talent mentioned above at the helm, will probably settle its place as #1 for good. This isn't like additional James Bond movies that are pure filler and pure mindless action with a completely forgettable cast of characters each time. These are going to be serious contributions to the Star Wars universe that will stand on an even competitive field with 1-6.
Another competitor for the greatest franchise ever is Lord of the Rings, whose next Hobbit movie comes out this December, and the last a year after that. When Hobbit is finally done, hopefully they will make an announcement about Silmarillion, I believe the best fiction Tolkien ever wrote.
Sadly, the third competitor for best movie franchise ever is Ted Turner's civil war series, "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals." The third movie in the trilogy should be "The Last Full Measure," but no matter how long we wait they refuse to announce it and fully cover the Civil War the way it was intended to be. I can only assume that the United States is now so rabidly anti-Confederate that they refuse to even allow a sympathetic portrayal of the other side from a historical viewpoint, because simply based on the cinematic quality these films are the most moving, brilliant epics to ever appear on screen.
Once you get past these three franchises the quality of western movies quickly drops to near zero. Superhero movies are entertaining, but they are empty calories. People can't learn from superhumans because we aren't superhuman, so the whole story is irrelevant. Harry Potter is just dumb. Same for Twilight and the like. James Bond is mindless. I will give a shout out to "Willow," "Braveheart," "The Princess Bride" and "Toy Story" but they really aren't on par with the above three franchises. By the way, the new Star Wars movie is being done by the same people who worked on Toy Story, so really this is the most talented group Hollywood has to offer.
Disney movies are good for little girls but that's about it. "Gone With the Wind" was impressive for its time but I doubt it would be very popular now. "Terminator 2" was a great movie, perhaps the best movie ever, but the rest of the franchise really drags it down. If only Wheel of Time were made into a movie series, it could stand up there with the best. If only.
When it comes to visual arts, you're best off just sticking with anime. Western movies just aren't that good and find it very difficult to compete.
So, setting movies aside, because they just aren't an appealing enough category to pay much attention to, the other bit of good news is that Dynasty Warriors 8 will receive the Japanese voices component to the game in August. It was supposed to come with the initial disk, but a month late isn't terrible. Japanese voices are not only much better voice acted than English voices, they cover the whole game, including the narration segments and the camp life segments. The English dub goes strangely silent half the time, so this game especially it's necessary to play with Japanese audio and English subtitles throughout. If I had known the game didn't have Japanese audio to start with, I wouldn't have bought it until this content was available. English voices are bad enough, but when it switches to pure silence and no voices at all that's just unacceptable. I'm not playing it until it does become available, because right now the game just doesn't feel complete.
The other reason the game isn't worth playing right now is the lack of downloadable content. In Japan, they're enjoying six new weapons, forty new songs, six new stages, and four new costumes. Over here we've got nothing available for download. Until we get the full version of the game like the Japanese have it just feels pointless to play our amputated version. Forty new songs, all of which are free for download over there, represents a 40% increase in the total amount of music in the game. That's a huge upgrade to their playing experience. It's like their game is twice as good as ours right now. Hopefully the west will have access to all this content before DW8 Xtreme Legends comes out, otherwise it will become outmoded before it's even released. As for DW8 XL, the delay of its announcement is killing me. It's been nearly six months since the game came out in Japan, so XL should have been announced by now. I want to know who the new characters will be and what stages they will have available for play. It's my hope that DW8 is the definitive Dynasty Warriors game that manages to include all the music, costumes, characters, weapons and stages from all the previous games in one package. So far they've made good on this promise, by including all previous characters, all the old costumes and forty more songs, but there are still some missing weapons and stages that haven't been included yet. If XL could fix that oversight, then DW8 will genuinely be the one go-to source you need to enjoy the entire franchise experience.
Additional good news is that after Railgun Sisters ends, J.C. Staff is going to resume Little Busters: Refrain in the fall. Just like Clannad After Story was better than Clannad, Refrain promises to be better than Little Busters, which simply set the stage for the true tale to begin. There are still some questions surrounding this series though -- will it be 12 episodes or 24? Will it include Saya Tokido or not? If Refrain is done well, fine. But if it's done poorly, we'll have no choice but to wait for the Little Busters Ecstasy visual novel translation project to finish in order to see the real story, which may yet be years away. However, the promise of a new opening and ending theme for the new season specially composed by Jun Maeda is enough to make this new anime season worthwhile all on its own. Remember how spectacular Clannad AS's opening was? It was the same thing there, that song wasn't even in the VN and had to be specially made for the anime. We're about to get a repeat of that musical gift to the world. I can't wait. I really wish the summer season would just end now so we could start watching Little Busters again.
From what we know now, the other new fall anime series are pretty lackluster. No big name sequels to any big name franchises, just a bunch of new series with no established credentials. BlazBlue might be good, and that's about it. Hopefully as the new fall season approaches, more big name announcements will be made, or the season is going to be pretty pitiful overall.
One other piece of exciting news is the Seagate hard drive. Using its new HAMR technology, Seagate is going to release a 6 TB external hard drive in 2014, twice the capacity of the current technology at no real additional cost. This is perfect for people who want anime blu-ray collections, because each of those files takes up quite a lot of space. But with Seagate on our side, no matter how detailed or high resolution anime becomes, we'll always be ready to archive it for later. These are the types of increases in quality of life that make the modern world so much better than what came before. They're subtle, but they happen every day.