Fate EXTELLA: The Umbral Star PS4 [REVIEW] #musoumay

Ah yes, the Fate musous. Yes, Plural.

One that took surprisingly long, despite being one of the more requested crossovers with the formula, according to many japanese surveys results.

And oddly wasn’t snapped up by Tecmo Koei, but by Marvelous, which is both a good and a bad thing, for reasons we’re gonna get into later. But regardless, it’s nice to be reminded that these kind of games aren’t actually a patented formula…. at least i don’t think anymore, but still, this game is another proof that you can attempt a similar formula and Koei won’t sue off the back of their old, very vague patent.

I mean, they did make a “sequel” after this, so i’d think it’s safe to say that at least you can make “musou-likes”, if you so desire. And if the company that owns Senran Kagura can have more than a crack at it, you know the “low budget” excuse doesn’t quite hold as you’d expect and/or hope.

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[EXPRESSO] Tutankhamun: The Last Exhibition (2022) | Here Comes The Centhury Boy

Docufilm time!

This one is an italian production directed by Ernesto Pagano, with some narration by Manuel Agnelli in the original italian release, and by Iggy Pop in the english/international one.

The documentary goes into the early discovery of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 by english aristocrat Howard Carver, talking about the impact on western popular culture the discovery had (including popularizing the “pharaoh’s curse” in various medias) and showing the preparations made for a London based exhibition that started in 2019 to put on the display the many treasures and relics found inside.

All with commentaries by various “talking heads” from the egyptian, italian and british side of things.

It’s not a bad documentary, necessarily, but it’s one that feels like it has to appeal to everyone, so it doesn’t quite committ to a certain direction nor goes into any detail. For example, in a docufilm about Tutankhamun you don’t learn much that wasn’t already common knowledge, you’d think they took the opportunity to actually go further and try to depict who this young pharaoh was a person (more than in a couple of passing lines, anyway), his lineage, the historical background he lived in…

Heck, i would have preferred some more footage of the exhibition itself (since due to COVID pandemic the tour stopped and Egypt decided not to move the artifacts out of the Giza museum), but nope, we have a cool narrating voice trying to fashion some kind of fictionalized “epic” scenes… only to then move to scenes of people slowly misuring, cataloguing and inspecting the artifacts.

It’s not “offensive” nor a complete bore, and it’s short, just 80 minutes long, but that exacerbates the feel this was made just to have something out celebrating the 100th anniversary of “King Tut”’s tomb being discovered.

[EXPRESSO] The Northman (2022) | VIKINGS, RAISE THE SHIELD WALL

Robert Eggers is back, this time not going for a psychological horror-thriller, but a way more straightforward tale of revenge, based on the legend of scandinavian prince Amleth (upon which Shakespear himself based his tragedy), here a young boy welcoming his father back, only to killed by his uncle for the throne and spouse. Amleth escapes, woving bloody vengeance.

Years pass, and as he wanders the lands as a berserker unit, he heards the name of his uncle and then concocts a plan to reach the isolated island where he scurried back some time ago, and exact his long held life-time wov made to his brutally murdered father.

And indeed brutal is the keyword here, as this movie really warrants the title of a “brutal viking epic”, as it depicts this nordic barbaric world inhabited by cruel men more akin to beasts, where pillage and murder exist on daily bases, villages hold ritual sacrifices (even human if need be) to appease their gods, mystical rites are held, witches reveal visions of inescapable fate, etc.

It’s that kind of barbarian middle ages, and The Northman sure as hell doesn’t shy away from showing raids, people being burned alive in houses (and a lot more graphic stuff), and it’s fittingly inhabited by refreshingly unapologetical, unflinchingly brutal characters that all perfectly fit in this world, as even what in other movie would be “the hero” it’s arguably even more despicable than the “villain”.

A lot of style (with Eggers’ touch easily recognizable in some weird psychedelic sequences), great characters, amazing atmosphere, superb cast and a captivating, graphic vengeance tale that enraptures from beginning to end.

It’s just hard to look away, even when a guy it’s getting an unrequested Skeletor-style “nosejob”.

To quote Nathan Explosion yet again: “Brutal”. In all the right ways.

Paripi Koumei / Ya Boy Kongming! (2022) [ANIME FIRST IMPRESSIONS]

(Impressions based upon the first 3 episodes)

I stumbled by chance into this new anime, and i feel it was meant to be, given my love for Romance Of The Three Kingdoms i’m not gonna skim over a new anime with good ol’ Zhuge Liang (AKA Kongming) as the protagonist, especially since it’s not a historical tale, but a sort of isekai-ish story where, after his death by illness in the Wuzhang Plains, sees him reincarnated as his young self in modern Shibuya during Halloween.

He gets drunk as a skunk and enjoys the party life that night, then the next day he’s helped by a young girl, an aspiring singer called Eiko, realizes what actually happened to him, and decides to help her back by serving as her “career strategist”, but first he needs a job to secure some “war funds”.

Luckily Eiko works and sings at a club run by a huge ROTTK nerd, so “ya boy” Kongming is hired as a barman.

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Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires PS4 [DEMO] [HANDS-ON]

With the game officially launching in the west in less than a month, Koei finally released the demo for Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires…. properly, i saw plenty of people that managed to get it via the Microsoft Store by fenagling with the regional accounts, but even those versions made available for non-english speaking territories had english in it.

Whatever, the demo is out now pretty much everywhere on consoles, and it includes the tutorial for the basic combat and the battle of Changsha, but NOT the Diplomacy phases and political managerie.

Make sense since they want to showcase the revamped Castle Sieges, by letting you play the battle of Changsha on the invading or defensive’s side, and also the revised Edit Mode, it’s an Empires game after, and you will be able to carry over the created officers’ data to the full game.

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[EXPRESSO] Exhibition On Screen: Sunflowers (2021) | Now Available On CDi

Yeah, i changed my mind and on a whim went to see this limited screening event release.

This is actually the latest in the Exhibition On Screen gallery series of art documentaries, which already featured the dutch master painter Van Gogh twice (Van Gogh In Japan and Van Gogh: A New Way Of Seeing), which makes sense as many other films (documentaries and fiction) based on the life of Vincent Van Gogh and his art were and are still made regularly, with various degrees of quality.

So i was surprised by this one, as it centers on an apparently both specific and banal subject of Van Gogh’s output, his series of Sunflowers paintings, often mistaken as a single work but actually consist of 11 variations-iterations, and exploring the reasons why these prove to be incredibly iconic and popular for decades, the factual events (and theories) under which Van Gogh painted them, and some narrative inserts with actor Jamie de Courcey as Van Gogh.

Honestly, it explores the subject quite well, avoiding most of the obvious and beyond well known facts, and it being just a glorified advert for a museum (as they can be, like that one documentary about the Hermitage narrated by Jeremy Irons), while we do travel across the globe to see the 5 publicly owned pieces of the series (one in the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum, of course), in what they differ from each other, and we go a bit deeper in the matters of restauration, of critique and preservation of these painting, as well into connected topic of botany, and the persisting popularity of what are – at first glance – very simple and almost banal in terms of subject.

Not great, but definitely a good art documentary, one coming in a comfortable 90 minutes package.

[EXPRESSO] House Of Gucci (2021) | This Is The Dynasty

House Of Gucci is not “accurate”, let’s make it abundantly clear.

It’s definitely an instance where it’s important to emphatize the “inspired by real events” disclaimer, because this isn’t “All The Money In The World” Ridley Scott, this is him going full soap/telenovelas on the real life Gucci family feud that started in the 70s and culminated in 1995, with Patrizia Reggiani ordering the assassination of Maurizio Gucci, her husband and also the entrepreneur & president of the Gucci fashion firm.

The story here is presented with the focus on Patrizia introducing herself to Maurizio as a way to get into the Gucci family business, then manipulating and orchestrating the Guccis to turn against each other in order to force the hand of Maurizio in taking rein of the company, despite him starting out as totally indifferent to his heritage and without any true ambition to get involved in it.

She basically turn what start out as fairly decent people into monsters for her own ambition and ruthless desire for dominance, and at one point a tarot card reader is involved, etc.

This is a 2 hour soap opera with a huge movie budget, make no mistake about it, that it’s the main tone of House Of Gucci, as a bombast story about the rise and fall of a dynasty (pun not intended but fitting nonetheless), with very little interest in realism, given the odd – and i feel deliberate – direction some of the cast was given, as some actors feel like they’re acting in a completely different movie, like an unrecognizable Jared Leto in overacting overdrive as “Gucci’s Fethry Duck”.

Despite the sometimes inconsistent tone and it being really trashy, there’s a magnetic kitsch charm to it all, great performances, and it’s massively entertaining all the way through.

[EXPRESSO] The Last Duel (2021) | Power Jousting

Ridley Scott is back with a tale of “chivalry rivalry”, based on a book of the same name by Eric Juager, and set in medieval France between two squires, as Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) challenges his friend and equal Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a judicial duel after Carrougues’ wife, Marguerite De Thibouville, accuses him of having raped her.

So she waits as the outcome of the duel will decide her fate as well, as she could be labeled a liar and burned alive.

As many fellow reviewers, i’m quite sorrowful at the fact basically no one it’s seeing this movie or its even aware it’s out in theathers, but i guess there isn’t much audience for a non-fantasy historical medieval drama that it’s really all about the court’ power struggles and characters, with some battles thrown into the mix but clearly not the focus of the film, which it’s quite bleak, grotesque, and brutal without even mentioning the realistically messy campal battles and the duel itself.

The major reason that might have irked people right away is the subject, in a fear of having a movie trying to retrofit modern stances and angles on the subject of rape into a medieval drama… it doesn’t, it obviously tackling the issue with a modern view of the subject, but it’s handled in a realistic fashion to the time period, and it definitely doesn’t pull any punches or “plays favorites” in a tale about injustice and how truth doesn’t really matter to power and those who hold it.

Not that i need to explain much of this fairly obvious theme of “might makes right” and what it entails,, as the movie doesn’t really go for a subtle approach, nor it needed to.

A bit long, but overall pretty dang good.

Musing on Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires after the TGS 2021 Tecmo Koei presentation

First of all, let me just say i’m happy Koei is continuining their historical strategy series in time, so i’m glad we’re getting another Nogunaga’s Ambition, but my taste lies more in their hack n slash musou titles based on the same historical periods of China and Japan, so i’m gonna unleash some thoughts on Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires i had for some weeks, after the first gameplay video shown at the China Joy event.

Preface: i often find the Empires spin-offs often quite hit or miss, great in theory but not always in execution, as it’s by design a compromise, it’s never gonna be proper deep strategy management like the Romance Of The Three Kingdoms series, otherwise there would be no point to that or them even being named after Dynasty Warriors.

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So, a “few” words about that Samurai Warriors 5.

While i won’t have a review for the game out anytime soon (as explained in a previous post earlier this month), i want to say a few things about Samurai Warriors 5, after getting the Treasure Box edition (because i’m a sucker for artbook and CDs) and clocking in 32hours (which include finishing the story mode, of course) into it, as a last piece before i give the blog (and myself, to some extent) some rest.

I have like 5 pages of text and notes written about it, but i’ll try to be “brief” here.

It’s better than Dynasty Warriors 9?

Yes, it would have been quite hard to do even worse than that.

But it’s amazing how Omega Force still kinda held unto some of the crappier design choices from that shit title, leading to some old problems of the Warriors series coming back in new, unexpected and baffling ways.

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