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Ms. Answerman
Legend of the Answerfiend ~ New Saga

by Rebecca Bundy,

I recently received the second Fullmetal Alchemist game as a gift and wanted to see what it was like. The only experience I had with the first game was watching Zac play it, but the general consensus online and from friends was that it sucked. The second is supposed to be a vast improvement over the first, but since I have no first-hand experience playing the first I won't be comparing the two. Instead I'll focus on how the second compares to other games out now.

When it comes to graphics, I adore cel shading in video games. FMA 2's cel shading, however, is outdated to the point where Dark Cloud 2 looks slightly better. It doesn't help that exploration is extremely limited due to invisible walls keeping you from getting within 10 feet of any piece of scenery, which is almost painfully generic in itself.

The voice actors, as far as I could tell, are the exact same ones from the anime and bring a lot of life (along with familiarity) to the game. Even the generic bad guy voices manage to pull off their lines well.

Game play is mostly a mixed bag. I love all the options that you have when it comes to fighting with Ed, especially with the weapons he can transmute and the various combos he can pull off with each weapon. The large variety of transmutable world objects adds a lot to strategy and, if used correctly, can make a difficult battle much easier. You have Al as a permanently game-controlled second who, for the most part, does a pretty good job when fighting monsters without straying too far from your side. On the downside, I've had a lot of problems controlling him during boss battles for some reason and most of the time he refuses to listen to my commands, making it almost impossible to use the rage move at critical times. Enemy AI still sucks though. Scar, as difficult as he is when you first meet him, can be taken down to about 50% health simply by standing behind a box, getting him trapped on the other side, and letting Al hit him with a ranged weapon. This is the way it is with most of the AI.

I wasn't too fond of how the story started out with the events from the first two episodes, especially since they could've introduced Ed and Al, alchemy, and the game play by using a new story. Once you get past the first two chapters, which mostly rehashed stuff from the anime, it branches away into the game's main story about a ghostly woman, the appearance of strange monsters, and an alchemist who can use alchemy with a clap of his hands. There's also some new animation that pops up during key points in the game, which are just as solid as anything from the anime.

Overall, it's a fun game that manages to keep the fighting fresh and interesting but I'm not sure I'd recommend this game to anyone who hasn't seen or doesn't like the anime.

I was wondering if there was a 3rd Yū Yū Hakusho movie? I read it in many articles that there was a third Yū Yū Hakusho movie but I cannot confirm it after searching the Internet for weeks for it and it seems like there's no source to trace it back to. Thank you for your time...

If you ever read something in an article, it's always a good idea to include a link to said article(s) when emailing me or, if it was published in a magazine, which issue it was in. In this case, it sounds like A) you misread the article(s) or B) the article(s) had no source and were talking about rumors/hopes/possibilities. Considering how popular YYH was in Japan, it wouldn't have been unexpected if three or more movies were made.

Only two though were made. There were also two OVA's which followed the “let's rehash the series and add a few minutes of new footage to wrangle in the fans” formula, so it's possible that someone thought that one (or both) of these were the third movie.

Dear Ms. Answerman,
I've always traditionally been a fan of anime, as opposed to manga. Other than getting the manga version of Akira, I never really read much. Recently, I went into a book store and was dumbfounded by the gigantic amounts of manga on the shelf, most of them titles I had never heard of before (as opposed to adaptations of anime, or the original manga a series or movie was based on).
I'd like to dig in, but the problem is that there just seems to be so many titles out there, it's tough to sift through them all, and the publishers aren't very good at putting good synopsises on the physical books themselves(although to be fair, most paperback publishers aren't). And unlike anime which has some very good sites dedicated to reviews Anime Academy springs to mind), there doesn't seem to be that many resources on internet for reviews of manga. I'm not looking or asking for much. Just a few sentences to give me the gist of what's going on so I'll know if it's worth spending my money to buy and time to read. Do you know of any websites that have large amounts of manga reviews to help get me started?
Patrick Hogan

Anime Boredom and AnimeOnDVD both have a pretty decent selection of manga reviews. If there's a particular title that you're interested in, amazon.com lets readers post their own reviews of the volume in question. What you have to keep in mind is that every reviewer has their own likes and dislikes and most series are geared towards a particular audience. A reviewer might give a glowing review of Fruits Basket, but you might not like it if you're more of a T&A or fighting type of person.

Before you start “digging in”, you might want to try the first volumes of a variety of exceptional series. Some I'd recommend are Fruits Basket (shoujo), Suikoden III (wartime/battle), Petshop of Horrors and/or xxxHOLiC (emphasis on shorter stories that lead into an overall story), Hellsing and/or Berserk (action/fighting/adult), and any of the Shounen Jump series (Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece, etc) to fill your shounen quota. Once you get an idea of what you like, you can focus on the “good” or “great” titles that are still worth reading but not by an audience that isn't geared towards them. It can sometimes be hard to find these, even with reviews, so your best bet will be to visit the stores, read the synopsis on the back, look at the artwork, read a few pages, and then if everything looks “good”, “great”, or “exceptional”, buy it. The best way to dig in is through trial and error. If you don't have a lot of money to throw around, limit yourself to one purchase a week and if nothing comes out one week, try buying the first volume of a new series. If you're not sure where a series is going, give it a max of four volumes to hook you. If you find that the story is going nowhere, stop buying it.

It's also really important to note too that most anime fans feel that the American manga industry has reached an over saturation point. It might look a little intimidating in the book stores, but you'll find that many of the series either suck or aren't geared towards you. If you're on a strict budget, make sure you drop the “good” series and focus only on the “great” and/or “exceptional”.

Ms. Answerman,
I've been a fan of the manhwa Priest since discovering the beautifully done art style. After falling in love with the gritty art style, i noticed that the book had an unusually good story, and extremely well written characters. After reading the first few volumes, I quickly developed the need to finish out the story, and in a relatively short time had up to volume 14. My questions are, has more of this book been published, and does Tokyopop plan to release it here? Oh and great column! Keep up the excellent work!

TOKYOPOP's webpage for Priest has 15 volumes listed, though there's no information on the 15th volume. A bit of searching shows that various sites (such as amazon) have a listed release date of August 2005, but without an official release date it's impossible to know whether or not they've simply used the most current month in hopes of getting preorders or not. You can always try asking your local stores to see if they have any information about when/if the 15th volume will arrive.

Do you know what happened to Fist of the Blue Sky? The series is 7 volumes long but they only released 4. To make matters worse volume 4 ended with a major plot twist. Now I'll never know what happens next.

Gutsoon went out of business a while ago. They aren't releasing anything anymore; the best you can hope for right now is that some other publisher licenses the title, which is, to say the least, a long shot. Or you could always try the old method, importing the Japanese version and learning the language. I suppose it depends how much you really like the series!

In the english track of Midori Days, it seems that some voices are being sped up during the times when a character is in mini-mode, as they sound deeper and more natural when in normal-size mode - this is most apparent with Seiji during a role-reversal sequence. Is speed shifting common, or do voice actors just have a knack for sounding inhumanly chirpy?

Normally the answer is 'no' but in the case of Midori Days, yes, they clearly did a little speed shifting to get the Chipmunk-esque voices of the characters' chibi forms. This isn't a common practice, so it's an interesting choice by the director of the Midori Days dub.

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