The X Button
Tales to Admonish

by Todd Ciolek, Aug 27th 2014

The official Street Fighter website recently uploaded a timeline depicting the various forms of Street Fighter IV. It's quite helpful for anyone confused about who's in which game. It's also a merciless tease to me.

See how everyone's lined up in the Ultra Street Fighter IV menu? There's one empty space on the bottom-right, inviting us to imagine just who we'd put there. Street Fighter has all sorts of characters to choose from, and the game's cosmopolitan focus makes it easy to insert an original fighter from a yet-unrepresented country.

So who would you put in that space? I have six download codes for the full Ultra Street Fighter IV: three for the PLAYSTATION Network, three for XBox Live. Tell me which character should join the next Street Fighter, and mention whether you'd want the PSN or XBox Live version. Your entry can be any character from a video game—just give a name and a title of origin, plus your system preference. Nothing more.

Entries are due to me (toddciolek at gmail.com) by midnight EST on Thursday, September 4. That's a smaller time frame than the typical contest gets here, but the entries are very simple this time around. I'll select the winners at random, but I'll keep track of all the suggestions and publish them here. You never know who might be reading.

NEWS

NINTENDO GIVES IN AND MAKES A POKEMON FIGHTER
A Pokémon fighting game was surely in Nintendo's reservoir long before now. The entire Pokémon empire revolves around little creatures dueling one-on-one, or, as many an older anime fan called it circa 2000, “cartoon cockfighting.” Perhaps Nintendo just needed the right collaborators. Pokken Tournament is an arcade fighter partly from Bandai Namco, and both Tekken chief producer Katsuhiro Harada and Soul Calibur producer Masaaki Hoshino are involved. Hence the name, a portmanteau of Pokémon and Tekken's “Iron Fist” kanji.

The first trailer shows early footage of a Machamp and a Lucario settling hash while a cautionary “Game Footage Not Final” lurks at the screen corner. Harada mentioned that the game won't use the Tekken engine or focus so heavily on the technical points of a fighter, and it won't have Tekken cameos either. It's slated for arcades so far, but Pokémon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara all but confirmed a home version. It has Wii U all over it, doesn't it?

If there's one thing that could draw attention away from a Pokémon fighter, it's a leaked final roster for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. A series of YouTube videos popped up earlier this week and showed a number of previously unannounced characters. Among them were R.O.B. and Earthbound's Ness, who appeared in previous Smash Bros. games. The real surprises were Bowser Jr., Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles, and the snickering dog from Duck Hunt. The footage disappeared quickly, leaving many to debate its authenticity. If it's real, I'm looking forward to playing as the Duck Hunt dog. Shulk is OK in my book, though I would've preferred someone from The Last Story. Speaking of which…

MISTWALKER THROWS TERRA BATTLE UPON THE MERCY OF THE PUBLIC
The days of big-budget Mistwalker RPGs are presumably over. Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi formed the studio to recapture the success of his grandest series, and he succeeded only part-way. For what it's worth, my opinion of Mistwalker went up with each major game. I found Blue Dragon forgettable, even though it was the company's biggest hit in terms of spin-offs and sequels. Lost Odyssey had some tedious battles, but I enjoyed its short-story interludes, perhaps more than the actual game. And The Last Story, Mistwalker's major RPG for the Wii? I loved it even through the slowdown-prone battles and save-the-princess clichés. So I'm glad that Mistwalker is still doing something, even if it's just an Android and iOS RPG.

Terra Battle is a free-to-play RPG with grid-driven gameplay and a storyline that spans thirty chapters, complete with an ending. It also has music by Final Fantasy's Nobuo Uematsu and some excellent art from Kimihiko Fujisaka, known for The Last Story and the Drakengard series (and Mistwalker and Cavia's never-made Cry On). Sakaguchi revealed the game in July, and we now have a placeholder website, an international release frame of October, and news on just how it will expand. New content will depend on just how many people download the title, and two million users will put Mistwalker to work on a console version of the game. Seems steep, but that's the only way to get the studio out of the smartphone scene.

MITCHELL GETS HEARTS POUNDIN' WITH NEWS OF CANNON DANCER, OTHER ARCADE OBSCURITIES
I'll always sympathize with outfits like Mitchell Corporation, an old developer and publisher that never had a major breakthrough. Mitchell experimented with all sorts of arcade games during the 1990s, when arcade games still mattered, but their only widespread releases came from Puzz Loop (aka Ballistic) and CAPCOM's Buster Bros. Mitchell stopped making games in 2012, after a stream of puzzle titles on the Nintendo DS, and that seemed to be the end of things.

Mitchell's not done yet. Founder Roy Ozaki plans to retire this year, and he'd like to license a bunch of Mitchell's old arcade releases to anyone interested in putting them on new systems. John Szczepaniak, author of the recent and semi-controversial The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers, revealed that Mitchell wants to lease the games for “mobile phones, computers, and other devices.”

Cannon Dancer is the star among Mitchell's arcade creations. Also known as Osman, it's the work of Strider director Kouichi Yotsui, and it has much the same flavor in its tale of a determined action hero hopping around the globe. Yet it's much more surreal than Strider. The protagonist jump-kicks his way through a glittering minaret metropolis, bounces off mid-air diamonds, ends up chained in the desert, rides a submarine, and hurls through the crystalline space fortress of the bizarre, goddess-like Abdullah the Slaver. Cannon Dancer's a fantastic (though short) side-scroller, and it's a shame that it never came to any home system. Well, here's a chance for someone to fix that.

And it's not just Cannon Dancer up for grabs! Mitchell's license-able back catalog has other arcade relics rarely seen in the wild. There's Charlie Ninja, an action-platformer where a shinobi with a Garfield-ish grin fights off Old West desperadoes, a football team, a mad scientist, and a street gang apparently led by Ash from Bare Knuckle III. There's Double Wings, a top-view biplane shooter reminiscent of Fire Shark and Varth. There's Gamshara, a feudal-Japan gallery shooter in the style of Cabal and Wild Guns. There's the amazingly named This Good Octopus, a puzzle game about a mollusk throwing colored oildrums around an aquarium. You'll also see the action game Funky Jet, the early fighter The Karate Tournament, and the mini-game collection Sotsugyo Shosho. The rest of the lineup consists of “mature” games like Three Engraved Intentions, Demon Mirage Mahjong, Lady Killer, and Party Time: Gonta the Diver II. No Japanese arcade of the 1990s could be without a naughty mahjong title.

I wouldn't bother with something like Lady Killer unless you really want a Gals Panic clone with inappropriately positioned cartoon octopuses, but most of Mitchell's older games are neat artifacts of an arcade era long gone by. It's a shame that nicely curated collections like the CAPCOM Arcade Cabinet are a rarity. I'd buy a Mitchell set just for Cannon Dancer and This Good Octopus.

THE TALES OF XILLIA 2 TEST

The Tales series is a stubbornly lodged staple among RPGs. It's not as successful as Dragon Quest. It's not as gorgeous as Final Fantasy. It's not as subtly endearing as Earthbound or as wondrously grim as Valkyrie Profile. Yet Tales games do one thing better than just about every other major RPG series. They're predictable.

That's not a bad thing.

This is a time of trepidation. Dragon Quest is preoccupied with online play. Final Fantasy is wandering aimless and miserable. No one is in the mood to make another Earthbound or Valkyrie Profile, and perhaps they shouldn't even try. In this age the Tales series is a bastion of comfortable clichés, a candy-hued blanket to pull over your head and fend off the monsters of disappointment. Some Tales games may be better than others, but fans can rely on them to deliver in a few important categories.

This may be the best way to approach Tales of Xillia 2. We'll see just how well it provides what we expect from a Tales game.

A VAGUE PLOT AND CONFUSING TERMINOLOGY
Tales games are usually far-reaching heroic journeys at heart, but they adore their neologisms like few other fantasies. One can't set foot in Tales of Vesperia or Tales of Symphonia without being pelted by Bodhi Blastia and Exspheres and Key Crests. The original Tales of Xillia had its own spate of invented vocabulary, revolving around a guardian spirit named Maxwell and energy sources called spyrixes. It took a while to explain just what the hell all the mana and spirits meant, and how it all pertained to the discrete realms of Rieze Maxia and Elympios.

In that light, Tales of Xillia 2 is approachable stuff. The original game's cards are on the table: people travel freely between the worlds of Rieze Maxima and Elympios, and the spirit-related problems are background noise at first. Its hero is Ludger Kresnik, a humble chef and aspiring corporate officer wrapped up in a terrorist plot that extends to his own family. He's also stuck protecting Elle Marta, a little girl who's clearly in deeper than she realizes. Their journey soon lands in metaphysical alternate-reality territory, but even then it's not so hard to understand. Much of the gobbledygook is reserved for inadvisable asides, such as pausing in the midst of a trainjacking so one character can explain how Allium Orbs do the same thing as Lillium Orbs.

LIKEABLE STOCK CHARACTERS
Tales games are always more about their characters than the cohesion of their plotlines. There may be a world to elaborately rescue, but your typical Tales cares more about what happens along the way: the conversations and little moments and eye-rolling pranks shared among a party of mismatched weirdos. Tales of Xillia 2 has all of the series hallmarks. Little chats arise at the press of a button, post-battle celebrations go beyond the usual posturing, and the game frequently leans out of its way to build up the bonds between the little surrogate family it's assembled. The voice acting and character animation seem better this time around, even though they're working with the original game's materia much of the time.

Xillia's returning cast remains appealing in a clichéd fashion. Bashful young med student Jude Mathis is now a more confident doctor, scattered nurse Leia is now a reporter, suave mercenary Alvin is no longer clearly out to betray the group five times before the first dungeon, lonesome orphan Elize is a tad more mature, spiritual emissary Milla is a tad more human, and slightly lecherous butler Rowen is…well, mostly the same. Xillia 2's new characters aren't quite so easy to like. Elle, who's not directly playable, can be a grating little twerp at times, and she'll stay sympathetic only as long as you remind yourself of the unpleasant burden she carries.

Ludger himself is a rarity for the Tales line: a largely silent hero. He supplies gasps and interjections here and there, but his dialogue consists mostly of player-directed responses for the first run-through of the game. His options don't matter much early in the story, but weightier choices emerge later and the ending differs at the player's selection. If nothing else, it's better than the original Tales of Xillia's decision to chop up Jude and Milla's perspectives on a single story and sell them as different paths.

FAST-PACED BATTLES
Tales games excel by stripping away the usual mechanics of an RPG battle. Instead of plucking from menus, players guide characters around little battle arenas, all while slashing and jumping and switching targets. It unfolds like a simple action game, and it's easy to swap leads characters and stage combos. The series evolved quite a bit from the repetitive random encounters of Tales of Phantasia, and Tales of Xillia has an exceptional combat system driven by team-up attacks and convenient maneuvers.

Tales of Xillia 2 is content to build on that. Battles move even quicker than they did in the first Xillia, jumping and air-juggling aren't as sluggish, and there's less downtime when a special-move gauge does dry. The smattering of new features involves Ludger. He can switch between melee blades, hammers, and firearms at the touch of a button, and a slow-building meter lets him go Super Saiyan switch forms and blast enemies with trans-dimensional speed. There's little cause for complaint in Tales of Xilla 2's battles.

A NEW IDEA OR TWO
No Tales game wallows in routine and refinement all of the time, and Tales of Xillia 2 offers a twist on Ludger's role as a dimension-hopping, world-saving babysitter. After a horrific (and strangely off-screen) terrorist attack, Ludger is revived by an oily extortionist and stuck with a 15-million-gald bill. The player pays it off incrementally, at first doing standard fantasy quests to raise money. Unfortunately, the debt also restricts Ludger's progress. Like some twisted right-wing social welfare plan, Elympios society monitors debtors and keeps them from traveling too much until they pay off a certain amount. It's a slightly more plausible take on an RPG's blunt methods of keeping players on a set path, but Tales of Xillia 2 doesn't do much with it.

The game's other innovation finds Ludger traversing alternate realities where events and people follow slightly different fates. Xillia doesn't get all that philosophical in its war of pure existence, but it hides a few interesting tweaks of a trans-dimensional struggle—a little like Chrono Cross without the eight billion insufferable supporting characters. Yet it's also an excuse to re-use the same dungeons and towns with sepia filters and distortions. And all too often, they're the dungeons and towns players already saw in the original Tales of Xillia.

Yes, Tales of Xillia 2 recycles a good deal of its predecessor in the cities, the monster-filled byways, and other sights. That alone may be forgivable, but much of the game, new and old alike, lasts longer than it should. Side quests get repetitive even when you undertake several at a time, and Ludger's debt soon goes from a cute joke to a needless albatross. Nor does it help that the surroundings are uncomplicated. Tales games vary in their level design, and Xillia's stages were often dull, puzzle-free holding pens for monsters. The sequel doesn't really change that.

Tales of Xillia 2 at least has some side attractions. You can hunt down cats for one of the most annoying side characters this side of Final Fantasy XIII-2's Chocolina. You can send the rescued pets to search areas for rare items. You can play a poker game and make money faster than any side-quest. Strangely enough, you can't engage in any elaborate cooking mini-game, even though Ludger's a chef and such diversions were part of many previous titles. Perhaps I missed it. I never found that Tower of Druaga dungeon back in Tales of Destiny, you know.

SOME SILLY NAMES
The Tales series practices the proud game-and-anime tradition of giving characters names that range from perfectly conventional to downright bizarre. You'll see Lloyd Irving and Zelos Wilder adventuring beside someone named Presea Combatir. Or perhaps you'll find Tear Grants or Flynn Scifo or Kor Meteor joining a party full of normal names. Tales of Xillia was a bit lacking in this regard. Jude Mathis, Milla Maxwell, and Leia Rolando weren't monikers that would even raise an eyebrow in the real world. Fortunately, Tales of Xillia 2 has Ludger (pronounced like the German pistol) and the corporate oligarch Bisley Bakur. A noble practice continues.

AN ANIMAL OR PUPPET SIDEKICK OF VARYING ANNOYANCE
Some Tales pets are background decoration. Some are full-blown characters. Some can be downright irritating. Consider Teepo, the blobbish purple puppet who voices Elize's insecurities in the original Tales of Xillia. I actually liked Teepo in a hateful manner. The little goblin was clearly meant to be annoying, and seeing it vex fantasy-RPG stereotypes like a muppety alien facehugger amused me. A lot of Xillia players did not agree, and they probably won't be happy to see Teepo back in the sequel.

For those who find Teepo obnoxious and remain unconvinced that sharing is in fact caring, Tales of Xillia 2 has Rollo, Ludger's cat. He's a rotund, adorable companion throughout the game, and he gives only emphatic meows and hisses instead of any actual dialogue. He's probably the least irksome animal sidekick since Repede, Tales of Vesperia's smoking hound. Tales of Xillia 2 gets a few things wrong, but Rollo isn't one of them.

FINAL SCORE: IT'S A TALES GAME OUT OF 10
Tales of Xillia 2 is precisely what it appears to be. In visual flourish, music, gameplay, characters, and novelty it fits firmly into the mold of decent yet rarely remarkable Tales games. It's undemanding and casually enjoyable. As far as I can tell, that's what the majority of Tales fans are after: something safe.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

DANGANRONPA 2: GOODBYE DESPAIR
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS Vita
Release Date: September 2
Alternate Title: Misadventure Island
MSRP: $39.99 (regular edition), $59.99 (already sold-out special edition)

I have some advice for those of you interested in Danganronpa 2: avoid anything that discusses it in detail. Swear off any Wikipedia pages, YouTube videos, and accursed discussion forums that deal with the original Danganronpa or its sequel. And don't think you can stop at knowing just one minor plot scrap from the game's first half-hour. If you read a single tantalizing revelation, you might read another, and before you know it you'll find out everything about the game and hate yourself for not discovering all of it first-hand. Not that this happened to me with the first Danganronpa or anything.

Such precautions are important because Danganronpa 2 thrives on shocking the player. In an arrangement suspiciously similar to that of the original Danganronpa, the sequel follows sixteen high-ranking students from Hope's Peak Academy. Their school trip leads to an island, where the headmaster, a stuffed two-tone bear named Monokuma, tells them all about the twisted game they unwittingly entered. They can leave the island only by getting away with the murder of a fellow student. If the rest of the class solves the crime, the culprit is executed. If not, the killer walks free and everyone else is put to death. The contest grows more complicated with the specialized skills of the students, who include the nation's Ultimate Cook, Ultimate Gymnast, Ultimate Gamer, Ultimate Photographer, Ultimate Nurse, Ultimate Affluent Prodigy, Ultimate Breeder (animals, mind you), Ultimate Team Manager, Ultimate Swordswoman, Ultimate Musician, Ultimate Mechanic, Ultimate Traditional Dancer, Ultimate Yakuza, Ultimate Lucky Student, and, my personal favorite, an Ultimate Princess named Sonia Nevermind. Once again, artist Rui Komatsuzaki makes every character look like a conniving lunatic. Yes, even the Ultimate Princess.

Protagonist Hajime Hinata's bout of convenient amnesia keeps him from remembering his Ultimate designation, so he's the player's avatar in all of this. Part of the game is spent wandering the tropical isle, talking to classmates, and buying trinkets. Yet the inevitable murders spur the player to investigations and hunts for evidence, and it all leads to a trial. Dangaronpa 2 expands the original game's roundtable discussions, as players have to navigate even fiercer debates and use “truth bullets” to break down arguments. Players also piece together key phrases by snatching letters in a more challenging version of the Hangman's Gambit, while the Logic Dive is a psychedelic wireframe Rez-like spin through Hajime's own perceptions.

Retellings await later in the game: Dangan Island finds the students having a nice, murder-free vacation, while Danganronpa If is an alternate spin on the first game. Then there's Magical Miracle Girl Monomi, an action diversion where players control Monomi, the ineffectual rabbit-like counterpart to Monokuma's bearish villainy. I'd guess that Monomi is not to be trusted, but that might be an accidental spoiler.

WARRIORS OROCHI 3 ULTIMATE
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo KOEI
Platform: PS4/Xbox One, PlayStation 3/PS Vita (digital only)
Release Date: September 2
Most Wanted Character: Robert T. Sturgeon
MSRP: $39.99 (Vita), $49.99 (PlayStation 3, $59.99 (PS4/Xbox One)

Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is an upgrade of an upgrade, an enhanced version of the Wii U's Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. The entire idea remains the same, of course. Warriors Orochi is a big battlefield clash in the tradition of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, wherein players smack around droves of soldiers amid semi-historical military campaigns. Warriors Orochi sheds a good deal of textbook faithfulness, as it's a crossover featuring characters from the two series and any other Tecmo and KOEI properties that care to squeeze into the roster.

So what's new in Ultimate? Co-operative play gets a push, for one thing. An entire team of characters can rush into the field at once, and both players can bring out their parties for a six-character “Shin Musou Burst” attack. A Triple Rush character-switching combination attack launches enemies into the air, and a Midair Tie Up action provides more aerial moves. All of the characters have slight gameplay tweaks, larger item storage, secondary skills, new weapons, higher level caps, enemy-defeated counts, and experience stockpiles. A new Gauntlet Mode also allows for five-character teams to take on various trials and practice battle formations. And it's easier to call your horse in the thick of combat.

The cast includes everyone from prior Warriors Orochi 3 titles, which means you'll see Ryu Hayabusa, Ayane, Rachel, and Momiji from Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, plus Joan of Arc and Achilles alongside the more traditional Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors characters. Ultimate has new names from its internal lore: Tamamo, Kyubi no Kitsune, Hundun, Yinglong, and a younger version of Nezka. The outside guests this time are Kasumi from Dead or Alive, Sophitia from Soul Calibur IV, and the delightfully named Sterkenburg Cranach from Atelier Meruru. There are no characters from Tecmo KOEI's Hyrule Warriors just yet. Wait for the inevitable Warriors Orochi 4 on the Wii U.

Also Available:
Hatoful Boyfriend may be the most talked-about dating sim or visual novel of this modern era. Originally a browser-based prank, it grew into a full game on the strength of its premise: intelligent birds dominate the world of the future, and you're a teenage girl chosen to attend the otherwise all-avian St. PigeoNation's school. And so the players meets, befriends, and possibly romances all sorts of male students who just happen to be fantail pigeons, rock doves, button quails, partridges, crows, and pheasants.

A fan translation for Hatoful Boyfriend came out in 2012, but this September 4 sees Mediatonic's remake of the game arriving on Steam. Creator Hato Moa devised a new scenario and ending for this version, and one can reserve a collector's edition with a soundtrack, wallpapers, and a comic by Moa. It's a convenient way to experience what I'd call the finest tale of bird-based romance to come around since Alfred Hitchcock took his terriers for a walk. I hope someone quotes that in a press release.

ONE PIECE UNLIMITED WORLD RED CONTEST: THE REST

Last week's column brought around the winners of the One Piece Unlimited World Red Contest, in which everyone plotted the censorship of mostly undeserving anime series. This week brings out the runners-up!

Cordelia Messick is on to something here.

Hey everyone! Have you ever heard of this new family-friendly cartoon series called the Magical Adventures of Maggie? (Madoka Magica) It follow a young girl whose name is Maggie (Madoka) and her friend Sarah (Sayaka) who meet a magical talking cat named Kookie! (Kyuubey) Kookie offers the girls a promise that if they become adventurers and find treasures, he can turn them into princesses! He gives the girls powers to transform into Halloween costumes and gives them giant magical lollipops for them to use on their journey!

Together, the girls go on super fun adventurers to far away lands together and meet new characters like leprechauns, fairies and unicorns, including a new friend named Mary (Mami) would has a magic wand to turn anything into bunnies and a friendly witch named Charlotte who loves to sing songs and spread happiness and joy! But soon, a new student comes into the picture named Hannah (Homura), who says that she'll be a better adventurer than they ever will be. Together, however, Maggie, Sarah, and Mary have the power of friendship to prove to Hannah that friendship is the most powerful magic of all and that anything is possible if you work together!

“T N” makes sure that samurai shows are safe for everyone.

Cartoon's name: "Gintama: Samurai Souls".

* Synopsis *
Gintoki (jin-TOE-kee) used to be a samurai, but nowadays he hangs out with his friends Joe Shimura (SHIM-mer-ah) and Kagura 'Scout' Lee doing odd jobs. He'll do whatever job you give him, from finding a lost pet octopus to saving the world from invasive alien ducks. But Gintoki and friends better be careful, because the sword-wielding Samurai Squad are there to bust anyone who has too much fun!

* Characters (important changes)*
Format: 4Kids Name / Original Name
- Description.
Helen / Otose
- Original: Owner of a snack bar. They serve alcohol. She's often seen smoking.
- 4Kids: Owner of Helen's Snacks-in-a-Bottle, a snack bar where their specialty is bottled snacks such as bottled parfaits, bottled ice cream, and bottled cookies. She's often seen with a lollipop in her mouth (it's supposedly the latest fad). People often pass out in the bar from eating/drinking too many snacks.

Terry Harris / Taizo Hasegawa - Original: His nickname is "Madao" (marude dame na ossan, meaning "totally useless middle-aged man"). He becomes a homeless man. Is occasionally seen with cardboard boxes and used cans. Is often seen smoking. Likes to drink and gamble. - 4Kids: People call him a hippy. He quit his job when he realized that it was contributing to the destruction of the earth's environment. He changes his ways and goes green. He's often found on the streets because he is one with the earth. Likes to recycle, pick up trash, and do green things. Is often seen with an eco-friendly lollipop in his mouth. Likes to drink bottled snacks and play eco-board games.

George Radley/ Isao Kondo
- Original: As a gag, he is often shown naked. Is the commander of the Shinsengumi.
- 4Kids: The gag is he wears a chicken suit. Is the commander of the Samurai Squad.

Benjamin 'Ben' Cunningham/ Toshirou Hijikata
- Original: Known for smoking. Called the brains of the Shinsengumi. Often threatens to assist people with seppuku.
- 4Kids: Keeps a lollipop in his mouth. He's called the brains of the Samurai Squad, because he's very *cunning* (name pun intended). Often threatens people that he will make them eat Joe's sister's bad cooking (digitally replace a sword with a pan of burnt eggs).

* Misc Changes *
In Gintama: Samurai Souls, the Transvestite Performing Club is replaced with "Vegetables-in-a-bottle Land", where the waiters are men wearing vegetable suits and matching makeup. They compete with Helen's Snacks-in-a-Bottle.

Sadism (and masochism) is a recurring thing in Gintama. In Gintama: Samurai Souls, characters instead give each other words of encouragement.

Gintama often makes references to Japanese pop/otaku culture. Gintama: Samurai Souls changes these references to be more relatable to American kids. Mentions of things like Dragon Quest or Japanese idols/politicians would be replaced by references to things/people such as Pokenom, Ciley Myrus, and Oarack Bobama. Gundams would be replaced with the Statue of Liberty and other iconic landmarks (with colorful plastic beam-weapons where needed).

Kelda Sproston runs Tokyo Ghoul through the educational ringer.

Tokyo Reader

We have decided to adapt Tokyo Ghoul for a child friendly audience; we really think that it can persuade this upcoming generation to become avid book readers! Please read the prologue, our age range is 7-10. American names are given in parentheses.

Tokyo Reader Prologue

Kaneki (Ken) is a hard working lad who goes to school at Sunnyhill academy with his best friend Hide (Joey). He has a GPA of 4.5 and just loves books! One day the girl of Ken's dreams walks in, Rize (Lisa), who just happens to love books too, and they decide to have lunch together to discuss books.

However, after lunch Lisa feels that she would like some company home as she has a special edition of Ken's book at home and would like to show him. As they are making their way home Lisa suddenly tells Ken that she has a secret. Last week, after wishing on a star she gained a special power that allows her to read even more books! Ken astounded by this fact looks shocked when Lisa's new ‘arms’ appear. Lisa tells him that she got this special power due to wanting to read more than one book at a time. Ken asks “What about your eyes?”

Lisa replies, “These eyes just help me read at night better!”.

Ken still in awe at this fact, asks Lisa to show him her new powers. She agrees and demonstrates by making a really big bookshelf for him out of steel girders. “Wow” Ken says in amazement, “Really? I'd really love to read lots, and lots of books too. It would be awesome!”

Lisa says to Ken, “I am able to give you half of my power but I'll have to disappear for a long time as I'll have to read all my 1000 new books at half the pace." “Oh?” Ken replies, “If you'd let me have some of your powers I'd be very grateful”.

“There is one thing you'd need to know before we do this…” Lisa said hesitantly, “To be able to use this power, you are only allowed to eat ink."

Ken looked puzzled “Ink? I can't have hamburgers?” he responded.

“Yeah, well, as ink is used in every book, to be able to become one with the books you must eat ink!”

“Well, that doesn't sound too bad” Ken replied “Where can I get ink from?”

“It's quite easy, in this town there are many giant squid barbeques that happen on the street here, people go crazy for them so you have to make sure you're in there quick!”

Ken accepts Lisa's power but finds eating giant squid a bit difficult at first. He then goes on a journey to find out others who can help him become the ultimate reader!

Joshua Main makes his own personal Attack on Titan, so to speak.

Attack on Titan (The Kids version)

As it is, Attack on Titan is way too violent to air on channels like Nicktoons or Vortexx. So here is what a kids version of Attack on Titan would be like.

These changes are:

­ Logo:The current logo is way too nasty looking and would scare kids.

Kids would like this better.

­ Change opening theme song to "Best day of my life" by American Authors

­ Instead of swearing the characters would say phrases like Good day, Nice guy, and YES!

­ The Titans will now have paper bags taped over their heads.

­ When a Titan bleeds, it cuts to a picture of The Smurfs.

­When a human bleeds, the blood turns into popcorn.

­ Instead of killing the Titans, everybody is just trying to cheer them up.

­ All main characters will break into song and dance many times per episode.

­ The Maneuver Gear is now an ordinary school backpack.

­ Characters now talk about how much fun they have at school together even though there is no school in the series.

­ All references to violence(Kill,Maim,Destroy,Murder,Genocide,ETC) are replaced with the words "Play Catch. "

­Tape pictures of My Little Pony characters over the heads of any nasty looking people.

­ Any ominous themes on the soundtrack have turned into music from Spongebob Squarepants.

­Frozen quotes will be scattered throughout every episode.

­Ending theme is now the Spongebob theme song.

­ The last episode of each season will not be aired at all.

­ Next episode teaser has been cut.

Completely different episode names(partial list below)

Episode 1:Fun at the Park

Episode 2:Mommy!! Can I please buy a Titan????

Episode 3:Eren plays Hide and Seek with a Titan

Episode 4:Let's take the Titan for a walk!

Episode 5:The Titan has a boo­boo

Episode 6 : What's for lunch at school today?

Episode 7 The Titan plays baseball

This new version of AOT would be aired not on Toonami, but on Nick Jr.

The DVD cover will be all glittery and colorful.

­Instead of the the original TV­MA rating,the new AOT will be rated TV­Y,suitable for even babies.

­New intermissions will tell you how to brush your teeth.

Merchandise consists of Baby bottles, Pacifiers, Diapers, Stuffed Animals, Backpacks, Shoes, Baby T­shirts, Barbies.

To fit in with Dora the Explorer on the same channel, random Spanish phrases are thrown into the show's script.

The videogame tie­in for the U.S. version would be on the Leapster system. In it the Titans now teach you the alphabet and numbers.

There will be special crossovers on the following Nick Jr. shows: Bubble Guppies, Dora the Explorer, Yo Gabba Gabba.

A live action movie will happen with the cast of "Big Time Rush" playing as the Titans.

Tagline for the show: "Let's play at the park!'

DVD case will have words like Cool,Fun, and Yippee!

Age range 0­-10 years old

Channel Nick Jr.

Rating TV­Y

Will appeal to fans of: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street

With this new version, kids can safely experience one of the most popular anime series of the last year, and learn math and letters when doing so. They would also like the cute Titans and the colorful logo.

This version is one made especially for kids! (Adults may like it too!)

Every kid would want their own Maneuver Gear backpack.

You can also buy a special audio CD of the Titans singing the Spongebob theme song,along with 20 other songs.

The new Titans are trying to be like the new Mickey Mouse or Mario.

The commercials will go like this...Do you like Spongebob Squarepants? If so, you will love the next great childrens cartoon! Attack on Titan! Full of Fun,and Learning! The Titans are just adorable! Only on Nick Jr.

There would also be an Attack on Titan float at the Thanksgiving Day Parade,right next to Spongebob Squarepants.

Kevin Miller sees nothing here that a little creative localization can't fix!

The anime that would be the best option to become kid friendly is Mirai Nikki, or Future Diary. We would start by saying that rather than dying when the diary is destroyed, the losers would be taken to a time out area until the game is over, then they go back like nothing happened. The episodes with guns would be changed into water guns, with the reason being that if the dairy is destroyed, the owner loses. The sword attacks would all be replaced by wooden swords and the blood would simply be erased. If anyone who is not a diary owner falls in battle, the person who did the deed would remind the viewer that the fallen person is simply knocked out and will be fine later.

The biggest change would be to Yuno Gasai. Instead of having her kill her parents from two worlds, the kid safe version would have her parents on a long vacation, or working so much that they are never home. And the huge crater in Yuno's backyard would just be when she came to this world with nothing at the bottom of it. Instead of Yuno dooming one world just for more time with Yukiteru, she just world jumps to play this fun game again, but gets more bored every time she wins.

The other characters would not need much change. Yukiteru Amano would have parents who are very much in love and instead of being killed off, his parents would just be kidnapped when they are knocked out. Takao Hiyama would simply get the gun and time out area changes I stated before. Minene Uryu would fight the main characters not at a blown up school, but at an old abandoned building, and be armed with water bombs. Keigo Kurusu would tell his fellow police officers that they are only doing a training exercise and to use non lethal guns. Tsubaki Kasugano would be a positive deity, not a cult leader, and wants to help everyone. Yomotsu Hirasaka can still be a hero but with the weapon changes and a more batman toned voice. Reisuke Houjou can stay about the same as well, since he was written as a four year old already, and only really has to change his poison gas into knock out gas. Karyuudo Tsukishima can stay a dog trainer but the dogs are only trained to fetch items, like the diaries. Marco Ikusaba, Ai Mikami, Kamado Ueshita, and John Bacchus can keep their roles they already had. Deus Ex and Muru Muru never really did anything too big until the end of the story, and even then there does not need to be much of a change. All the secondary characters, from Aru, Masumi, and beyond can stay the same as well, just with Aru getting rid of the slight love he had for Yukiteru, which would be changed to friendship.

When Dakota Snelgrove is through with Gantz, it won't need a Manga Man warning sticker or anything!

Anime: Gantz

How I would censor and edit it to make it "kid-friendly":

1. All the large breasted women (which is just about all the female characters) would have the cleavage lines edited out and the shirts edited higher up or be edited out of the show completely.

2. Gantz (the ball) would be replaced with a large cutesy teddy bear, because the black ball is "too ominous for kids." The Bear would be named "Game Leader Berry."

3. Gantz would actually be the name of a "virtual world" where Kerry (Kurono) and Joe (Kato), two best friends from highschool, have to fight aliens. Except the aliens are now known as "Destructanoids" who want to take over the world.

4. All blood would be edited out completely and anytime blood is shown on a body, it is changed to look like nothing but black dust. Because in the game world you aren't actually hurt.

5. All physical violence between characters is removed as well, being edited with nothing but more scenes of Kerry and Joe talking about their friendship and rivalry for the affections of Katelyn (Kishimoto).

6. Joe and Kerry have each had crushes on Katelyn since they met when they got tagged in to play the game to stop the "Destructanoids." In the original anime Kishimoto dies a pretty ugly death due to acid, but in the show this never happens. She gets attacked by "Thousand Arms" and then gets just edited out. Explained by poorly written dialogue later.

7. Instead of it taking place in Tokyo the show takes place in Los Angeles.

Dark Absol sends all of Elfen Lied's problems into space.

The anime I pick is Elfen Lied:

The girls that are non-human are now the aliens whose ability is that when their invisible hands touch the human, the affected area are turned into the colorful patterns. The opening scene starts with gunmen are using the orange guns that shoots lasers. When the invisible hands from the girls' back 'cut' any part of human body, those that are missing limbs are instead replaced by the another limbs that's pink and are covered in the petal flower shape and the blood that are spewing out are edited out. The humans that are touched by the invisible hands are turned into the catatonic state and their eyes that are when they're dead are turned into the blue light that acts as if they're flashlight. The girls (non-human ones) that are naked/nude are now wearing the one-piece swimsuit that's colored purple. The little girl (non-human) at the near end that's dying in an explosion is retold to be made that the little girl is teleporting out into space. The whole plot is that the non-human girls want to escape from the planet Earth and live happily in space. All the swears and anything that are suggestive are edited into those that says like 'darn' or 'dang-naggit.' Settings that are taking place in Japan instead take place in Los Angeles, California.

K Roberts gives Dusk maiden of Amnesia a little rewrite, preferably delivered by a booming narrator at awkward times.

Dusk maiden of Amnesia, for kids.

60 years ago, Yuuko Kanoe suddenly woke up as a ghost, not knowing how it happened or why. Yuuko can only be seen by a select few, namely Teiichi Niiya and Kirie Kanoe, great-grandniece of Yuuko. Yuuko's sister became chairman of the local high school. Missing her sister, Yuuko became the guardian of this school, but eventually grew tired of that and began haunting the place.

Being a ghost means that she did not have an entirely physical presence, so she never had to deal with perspiration again and therefore was able to keep wearing the same clothes every day, never having to take them off to wash them. EVER.

Another benefit of being a ghost , closely related to the last one, is that Yuuko never had to take a bath again. EVER.

Mysteriously, Yuuko never aged as the years went on, so she maintained the body and playfulness of a teenager. Teiichi fell in love with Yuuko at first sight, and the two of them had fun messing with Momoe Okonogi, Teiichi's cousin. Kirie, being Momoe's best friend, found their teasing of Momoe aggravating and frequently got into arguments with Teiichi about it. Teiichi never really wanted to mess with Momoe, but Yuuko forced him to go along with it, and she got angry with Teiichi for trying to be make it up to Momoe, who was completely oblivious to the fact that anything out of the ordinary was even happening.

One day, a portal opened up between our world and an alternate universe, with an evil version of Yuuko appearing. Jealous of Teiichi's love for good Yuuko, she gave Yuuko amnesia and made Teiichi experience what it was like to be Yuuko before she turned into a ghost. Not knowing how to handle experiencing life in the body of a girl, Teiichi ran away and got into an accident. Momoe, being the closest Teiichi has to family, goes out of her way to make Teiichi feel better, even going as far as feeding him with her chopsticks. Now that he is in good spirits again, he seeks out Yuuko and tells her just how much he loves her. Everyone has fun together as members of the Paranormal Investigations Club and they all live happily ever after, except for evil Yuuko, who suddenly disappears through the portal one day.

Christina Louie won't have any of your gloomy disposition, Noir.

Noir ==> Blanc

Noir is about two young female assassins trying to uncover their past while facing off against the mysterious organization Les Soldats. In this PG friendly adaptation, Mireille and Kirika are two hilariously skilled clowns for hire–spreading laughter and shenanigans everywhere they go. Instead of weapons like guns, knives, and hand to hand combat, the two women have an arsenal of aerobatics, water guns, confetti bombs, silly string, water balloons, feather dusters, and mini pinata bombs filled with candies and whistles. They target solemn folks like morticians, government officials, accounts, police officers, or anyone who pays them enough for their guerilla style pranks. Blanc is the only thing a forgetful Kirika remembers about herself whereas Mireille is a boisterous Frenchwoman who instead of smoking cigarettes always has Pocky sticks in her mouth. Blanc becomes the moniker for both Mireille and Kirika's clowning business which strikes awe and excitement in the hearts of the wary and solemn people of Paris. Blanc use large bundles of colorful balloons or fireworks as distractions from their prank victims and rivals as the two women escape on unicycles. They become notorious in the street of Paris as an unseen force that cannot be caught.

Instead of the Les Soldats, there are Les Mimes (pronounced like MEMES), an ancient clan of mimes who for centuries have been the unspoken elite of trickers in Paris. The Les Mimes ritual is steeped in silence and secrecy mostly due to the fact that the mimes only communicate through over-dramatic pantomimes and over exaggerated facial expressions (mimes are forbidden to talk)–which the majority of non-mimes do not understand.

As the series progress, Kirika is to be revealed to have been a former member of Les Mimes as a child prodigy. Kirika underwent the secret initiation into Les Mimes which was to perform so passionately and convincing for someone (mostly children, they were easier to excite) that they would be moved to tears. Little did Les Mimes members realize that these tears the children cried were from fear or anxiousness rather than joy. Kirika, as the brilliant but naïve mime known as Blanc, was sent to pantomime adults– rival clowns in the local circus who happen to be Mireille's parents. They were so moved by Kirika's pantomime ability they not only cried but left the business. This traumatized Kirika so much she ran away from Les Mimes the price that cost her her long term memory (they gave her anesthesia). As a result, a young Mireille fended for herself as a clown for hire for different traveling circuses.

Despite this shocking revelation, Mireille and Kirika as Blanc once again ban together to take down Les Mimes. Instead of “assassinate” or “kill”, Blanc use various tactics to “laugh-in-nate” using pranks, impressions, and slapstick comedy to make members of Les Mimes break the vow of silence through laughter. When separated Mireille and Kirika are left to deal with a barrage of revenge pies to the face, but when Blanc are together nobody can resist the urge to laugh.

I'm sure some TV execs considered ideas like Ahren Ream's back in the Ranma ½ boom of the mid-1990s.

How about we try this with Ranma ½. It's a series I've always loved and am quite familiar with.

In this kid friendly version of Ranma ½: we have Ranma Saotome, a boy who has a strange curse that makes it that whenever he is hit with cold water ..... his body switches places with the spirit of his twin sister who died. Wait! NO! Dying can't be allowed in a kids show. She only got lost. His father switches places with a panda for reasons that are never explained. Ranma and his father live with the Tendo Family who happen to be distant family, because unmarried young men and women that aren't related shouldn't live under the same roof . The engagement thing won't be present because romance is a bit too much for a childrens program. All nudity and violence are also edited out.

Ranma and the gang are part of a group of extreme patty cake players who hit each others hands very fast ( this will require lots of editing ) and the first to mess up the rhythm loses resulting in them fainting from the humiliation of failure ( heaven forbid anyone would actually be fighting ).

Shampoo is not a Chinese Amazon. Instead she is an acrobat and dancer. In China Ranma beat Shampoo in a game of Dance Dance Revolution. So she followed him to Japan because she wanted him to be her new dance instructor. Mousse had also been applying for this position and doesn't want Ranma to have it. Shampoo turns into a cat, because as a kid she often caused mischief and blamed it on the cats and the curse came back to haunt her. Ranma had got bitten by a cat when he was little which is why he fears cats, because no father would ever throw their child to a bunch of hungry cats. Mousse turns into a duck because it used to be his favorite food and his mother used to always say "If you eat so much duck you're gonna turn into one! "

Kuno calls himself the blue tornado because he swings his stick so fast he creates gusts of wind and instead of poetry he always speaks of good morals like " Always obey the traffic laws" but that's all he does. Akane never hits Ranma. Instead the words " RANMA YOU JERK!" appear on the screen as she shouts them. Wait! Let's replace JERK with DUMMY! Happosai isn't a pervert. Instead he makes old blankets into clothing for poor children.

Nobody consumes alcohol. instead of sake they drink high quality water served hot and their faces get blushed from the heat. Ryoga's cursed to turn into a pig due to his bad table manners. Ranma and his father lost Ukyo while playing tag. The okonomiyaki cart just happened to come with them.

I could go on, but I'm reaching my maximum amount of words.

And we're just about at this column's word limit, too! Many thanks to everyone who entered!


Todd Ciolek occasionally updates his website, and you can follow him on Twitter if you want.


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