Tag Archive: science fiction


E3 2014 ~ So Far…

E3-2014

It looks awesome!

It is an event that gamers throughout the world as well as those within the industry look forward to each year.  It is an event where thousands view the conference from their homes via live streaming while others traverse the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center brushing shoulders with big name developers and playing demos of games that seem barely more than a wandering thought for most; it is a time in which all eyes focus towards one finite point. And as always, oh what a show it has been so far.

Monday marked day zero of the 4 day conference showcasing Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony and all they have in store within the coming future.

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Microsoft presented a succinct showing of numerous exclusive and large titles that would exhibit all that the XBox One is truly capable of. Glimpsing the first images of huge names such as Rise of the Tomb Raider, Witcher 3 gameplay footage, Tom Clancy Thehalo_5_guardians-672x372 Division, Forza, and Sunset Overdrive; that alone would have been enough to keep gamers glued onto the coming horizon. Add in a few unexpected twists such as Phantom Dust, an original Xbox remake; much loved Crackdown; new title Scalebound; and of course numerous smaller titles such as Project Spark, Ori and the Dark Forest and handfuls of other Indie games that hold just as much impact and there is little more that could be asked for. Lastly, who could forget to mention the news surrounding the Halo series – Masterchief collection coming out end of year containing all the previous Halo games leading up to the much anticipated Halo 5: Guardians. Microsoft ended their conference stating that they make the Xbox for the gamers and that every gamer helps “shape the future” of the beloved brand and system.

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EA took the stage next bringing with them an entourage of sporting titles and other big names. Opening with Star Wars Battlefront and the greatly anticipated Dragon Age Inquisition (accompanied by a live musical performance) set the stage for what was to DAInquisitionGoGamercome. The new Sims 4 captured much attention with their “smarter Sims, weirder stories” demo which outlined the limitless possibilities players will have. Additionally, EA brought forth gameplay and footage of the new UFC game, NHL 15, PGA Tour (“Golf without limit”), Madden 15 and Fifa 15 to round out their sports venues. Criterion Games went behind the scenes of their newest work which, while unnamed, promises to showcase every mode of transportation and extreme adventure known to man. MOBA Dawngate and Mirror’s Edge also gained some press time. The finale of EA’s conference came with not only long minutes of gameplay for Battlefield Hardline (set on the streets, cops and criminals) but also announced the start of the live beta opening with 64 PS4s in room and directions on how to register both PS4 and PC to those at the conference and at home.

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Next on the lineup came Ubisoft, which in my opinion gave one of the most entertaining shows thus far (pre-show rules given by none other than a group of Rabbids, of course). Opening the stage with the first 5 minutes of footage from Far Cry 4, it started the show on a grand scale and kept on climbing. Just Dance 2015 followed introducing not only new gameplay footage and music but also a new way of playing the game altogether – with a smart phone. Using technology most everyone has paired with the Just Dance App allows anywhere from one to thousands of people to play together – anyone, anytime, anywhere – and of course this was demonstrated with about 30 people on stage, in the balcony and in the aisles of the conference room. Tom Clancy The Divisionac unity graced the screen next with more visual footage to aid the gameplay viewed earlier by Microsoft. As a zombie apocalypse survival shooter without the zombies, its line of “tragedy is invisible” really struck home after viewing this side of the presentation. Racing across the world and a tournament of teams accompanied more information on The Crew with an announced beta of July 23 and a November 11 release date. Next up on their list of heavy hitters came Assassin’s Creed Unity, not only giving an intense preview of the game and just what exactly it means when it says ‘unity’ but also showing an entire missions worth of live gameplay. AC Unity is set to release October 28. On another level entirely, to help gamers enjoy a bit of fitness a new game called Shape Up was introduced as well making fitness activities into a competition (and what gamer can turn down a competition, anyway?). From the talented creators of Child of Light, Valiant Hearts The Great War tore at the crowd and viewer’s heartstrings as it showed a glimpse into the story of 4 separate military personnel all accompanied by their faithful canine. For their grand finale, Ubisoft unveiled something that nobody saw coming. Showing unnamed gameplay as a co-op team of 4 attempts to infiltrate a house and recapture a hostage with tactical prowess, good aim and perma-death, audiences watched in awe as Rainbow Six: Siege was unveiled and truly almost stole the entire show.

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Sony ended day zero of E3 with a somewhat overly long but well done conference. As anyone who watched the conference can say, there is no doubt that Sony ever tires of stating how they bring things to gamers first and they bring it better. Destiny opened their show as well as announcing a glacier white PS4 bundle that will be available at game launch. Following this came numerous game previews and announcements to include The Order 1886 footage, Entwined, Infamous DLC, Little Big Planet 3, Bloodborne, Far Cry Destiny4 (with the ability to play co-op even if friends do not own the game), Dead Island 2, Diablo III (with last of us zombies included – hello clickers! :eek:), Battlefield Hardline, Disney Infinity 2, Majicka 2, Remastered classic Grim Fandango, Let it die, Abzu (from some of the same creators as Journey), and No Man’s Sky. A huge list of games all with great potential as well as great exclusives for playing them on PS4. Additional hardware was also shown such as Project Morpheus, the supposed future of gaming incorporating the Playstation camera. Also discussed was PSN as a whole as well as free to play games. Information was also given on Playstation Now and its hundreds of titles available on any device and even a Sony TV with a dualshock 3 controller (July 31 open beta PS4). Playstation TV will also be available later this year for a $99 price tag or a $130 bundle. Following this technology interlude it returned to what players really wanted to see: Mortal Kombat X gameplay, PS+ promotions, A new show based on a graphic novel called Powers, Ratchet & Clank movie and remastered game, Last of Us remastered, Metal Gear Solid 5 Phantom Pain footage, Grand Theft Auto V for PS4 announcement, Batman Arkham Knight gameplay and a glimpse at Uncharted 4. Phew. It was a long two hour conference for Sony, but they certainly delivered.

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Finally, the start of Day One began with Nintendo’s pre-recorded conference and they brought exactly what people were looking for. Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U showed more depth into Mii fighting styles and techniques (to include brawler, fighter andYoshisWoolyWorld gunner as well as over 36 mixed abilities) and also gave the first view of something called Amiibo – a way of bringing toys to life (much like Disney Infinity or Skylanders). These small figures of Mario, Link, Pikachu and many more can be used to bring powerful, yet unique, characters into certain games such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart (among many more to come) simply by hovering the figurine over a corner of the Wii U Gamepad. The adorable Yoshi’s Woolly World was looked into as well showing the initial idea process of it to actual game play as well as a look into a new game featuring Toad called Captain Toad Treasure Tracker. A game that most everyone held their breath in anticipation for was word of  a new Zelda game for Wii U and although only a small amount of footage was seen, the promise of a truly open world and the beauty and mystery that has always surrounded the Zelda universe surely made every fan smile. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire as well as Bayonetta 2 were given some previews as well as Kirby and the Rainbow Curse and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Small interviews and footage were also shown for the upcoming Hyrule Warriors (confirming Link, Zelda, Impa and Midna as playable characters), Mario Maker (an amusing new twist on creating and playing Mario levels either in classic or more updated form) and a new ink shooter battle game called Splatoon.

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All in all, E3 2014 has been huge and there is no way to crown just one conference as the best. With major cross platform titles to exclusive franchises to unique and quirky adventures, there is something for every type of gamer no matter what system they may own or prefer (if not all of them). As E3 continues for the next two days there are still bounds of news, trailers, booths and demos to see whether it is on site at the convention center or from the comfort of home. So enjoy one of the biggest events in the gaming industry, let anticipation reach an entirely new level and know that at the end of the day, everyone is leaving as a winner!

“Booker, are you afraid of God?”

“No, but I’m afraid of you.”

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There is always a lighthouse.  A man. A city.

From the depths of Rapture, Bioshock brought players into a world unlike any other; where choices and decisions not only affected the player but also the ultimate consequences to come. Now the tables have turned to a new time and a new city; to a place so Utopian yet so corrupt: the sky-high dwelling of Columbia.

The year is 1912 and American exceptionalism has reached its pinnacle. The city floats high above “the sodom below” basking in the picturesque glow and ideals of its founder and prophet, Zachary Comstock. Kept afloat by a mix of quantum levitation and blimps, Columbia not only rises above the rest of America physically, but sees itself in a higher spectrum all around.

Despite its isolation and independence, the steampunk paradise amidst the clouds has more dark secrets and atrocity than one might bioshock_infinite_46initially suspect. It is something of a floating battle ship armed with heavy artillary, zeppelins, airships, machine gun turrets and various other weaponry. It is a hostility that has seen the face of and impacted The Boxer Rebellion and even houses a fierce civil conflict within its own boundaries. Within this internal struggle lies two main forces: the city’s ruling class which prioritizes a specific religion and strict signs of racial purification and the Vox Populi (translating to ‘voice of the people’ in Latin), a revolutionary group intending to overthrow the powers in charge and gain equal rights for all citizens of Columbia.

It is here that the player controlled protagonist, Booker DeWitt, is sent to retrieve the girl, fulfill his mission and finally erase his debt.

On a turbulent and rainy night, a small boat carrying three passengers rows towards a solitary lighthouse. Allowing DeWitt to exit upon the dock, the two confounding rowers turn away with hardly an explanation between them. Entering the lighthouse, DeWitt finds its sole occupant brutally murdered with but a small note left for him and him alone: “Don’t disappoint us.” Climbing to the top of the lighthouse, DeWitt discovers a contraption that will take him on the final leg of his journey: to Columbia.

Arriving at a half submerged candlelit church and forcibly receiving a hasty baptism drowning, DeWitt is finally set loose upon the sights and sounds of Columbia. He then sets his aim on getting to Monument Island, a huge angelic statue rising through the middle of the city, where Elizabeth is being held captive.

Bioshock-Infinite-tin-man-600x337Once Elizabeth joins in on the escape, you will probably wonder where she has been all of your life. She becomes the best of npc allies almost instantly: telling you not to worry about her in battle, as she can fend for herself (which means ducking out of the line of fire, which also alerts you to when enemies are close at hand); additionally, Elizabeth will also pick up spare money, ammo, weapons, health kits and salts that she will toss to you mid-battle should the need arise as well as pick any locks along the way. One other unique ability that Elizabeth harnesses is the skill to open tears throughout the world. These tears can show a window to another time and place and can also bring useful objects to and from their current space time continuum.

Bioshock Infinite is a game where it is apparent to see the time and detail that went into its creation. From graphics to story to soundtrack, everything flows together in perfect harmony throughout so much of the game that it is no wonder it has received such high scores and reviews from numerous sources.

The graphics and visuals of Columbia make up for nearly the entire backdrop of the game and it is plain to see every beautiful painstaking detail that went into its mastery. Artistic flourishes and paintings line the streets, shops and buildings of Columbia in a mix of bright, steampunk design. From the initial setting of a happy, festival atmosphere to the defiled and burning streets of the lower commons, there is not a corner or crevice of the game left ignored. The skylines that run throughout the cloud city provide an even more unique element to the floating vessel, and not only bear a fast and necessary way of transportation but also add another versatile element to combat situations. Even though most of the time the action will be so great you only have time to look for the next cover or barrier between you and the onslaught of bullets, when you do have a moment to breathe, the setting is breathtaking and is worth taking in as often as possible.

Gameplay wise, Bioshock gives you an arsenal you should feel fairly accustomed with if you have played the previous installments. Abioshock-infinite-pc-ps3-xbox-360-screenshots-33 main gun (of which you can hold and switch between two at a time), a melee weapon in the form of the skyhook and a power called vigors, which vary and are discovered throughout the game. A sleek mastery of using all three elements will grant the player the best outcome through any gunfight be it from regular infantry opposition, motorized patriots with the likeness of America’s founding fathers, or handymen, the giant mechanized “Big Daddys” of Columbia. Vigors range from possessing machines and enemies to fight for you to calling a murder of crows to swarm, damage and distract your target; they can also be set to fire directly upon an enemy or set as a trap to be walked over. The skyhook and skylines running throughout Columbia do add a fun alternative at times as well as providing a quick and often necessary means of travel. Smooth controls throughout aid in quick reaction times and uninterrupted action even taking Elizabeth’s aid into account. The endless fights can becomes repetitive at times as you find a setup that works for you, but the introduction of new enemies will often prove different weapons or vigors more useful and various upgrades to them will change their outcomes as well. However, for the length of the game the battles almost always had some measure of challenge to them – the final fight in particular.

The soundtrack that accompanies the game is the perfect accompaniment to the often astounding visuals. From serene choral pieces to adrenaline inducing battle tones, the background sounds move you just as much as the action and story itself. The various reintroduced hits of the 1900s also come as a pleasant surprise whether they consist of a barbershop quarter rendition of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys or “Girls just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper heard briefly through a tear in a famous musicians house. They easily add an element of surprise and surrealness amidst the idealistic retro-future American background. It is a soundtrack that can find success of its own accord and adds to, and never takes away from, the entirety of the game from start to finish.

bioshock boys of silenceDespite some of the controversy about the extreme violence in Bioshock Infinite, it is a necessary evil. Even the characters remark at one point, “what did you think would happen?” after a particularly brutal scene. The game is not about skirting around issues, but rather envelopes a plethora of extremes. Criticism exists in mass on the amount and level of violence used; but it is through that violence that not only pushes the story forward but also forces players to go through with it despite an innate feeling of how very wrong it is. It makes the players confront the violence head-on not only through general survival, but also in the decisions they make (to spare or kill a person) and through Elizabeth’s reactions to those decisions. There truly can be no morality in extremes.

Although Bioshock Infinite may not hold up to every expectation set by the original, it is a game that is thoroughly enjoyable and stays with you long after the final credits have finished. It will, without a doubt, make you think and question everything that you have seen and done; and it is no wonder it is one of the most talked about games in the industry at this time. Various difficulties, to include the extra challenging 1999 mode unlocked after first completion, as well as numerous achievements gives this title plenty of replay value; and that doesn’t even include the fact that once you have seen the story to its end, playing through again will show you the game in an almost entirely new light. It may still be early in the year, but it is easy to see this as a GOTY contestant. Whether you have been with the series since the original or are looking to see what all the excitement is about, playing through this title is a decision you will not likely regret.

A debt. A girl. A cage. A songbird.

Columbia awaits.

“The mind of the subject will desperately struggle to create memories where none exist…”

“They’ll give you a second chance, and they’ll let you relive your life.”

“All the way…from the very beginning.”

“Change one thing, fulfill one wish.”

“You know what you’d wish for, don’t you?”

“But just remember…”

“It will be the last thing you ever do.”

2020142-to_the_moon_launch_poster_medWhat defines a thing of excellence? Is it money, fame, or notoriety? Maybe, but oftentimes it is none of these things. Perhaps, in the end, it is the most simple and pure of things in life that truly make all the difference.

Imagine a machine that can make your one, true dream become reality. However, this machine cannot simply be utilized at any given moment; rather only at the very end of one’s life, in their very last moments. It is less a physical accomplishment and more a subconscious effort where those in charge of the machine traverse through cherished memories in order to find that one place in time that will set you on the correct course to fulfill your final wish.

In Freebird Games title To the Moon, it follows the last days and memories of Johnny Wyles and those that risk everything to make his dream come true. Two doctors of Sigmund Corp are assigned to Johnny’s case: Dr. Eva Rosaline and Dr. Neil Watts; and these two soon face a heart-wrenching trial in completing their assigned task. Johnny’s wish is to go to the moon. Sounds simple enough, right? But here is the catch: he has no idea why he wants this so bad; which not only makes things more difficult for the doctors, but ultimately gives them no place to start from. Memory by memory, Eva and Neil must transcend various years of Johnny’s life from his current age to his childhood to try and discover why he wants to go to the moon and then implement the idea to his younger self and make it a reality.

Playing more like a visual novel than your generic platformer, To the Moon takes audiences by their heart strings through Johnny’s story, through his life. Laughter, smiles, confusion and tears will accompany your journey as you take control of one of the two doctors and piece together memory fragments throughout each period of time.

To the Moon is truly unlike any game, any story, any experience you may have had; and what makes it all the more incredible is that it isn’t accomplished by an outstanding graphical achievement, diverse soundtrack or fluid controls. The mastery itself lies in the story this game weaves. A story that admittedly starts out a bit slow yet draws you into its inescapable grasp before you even realize it.freebird_games_to_the_moon_1162681_g1

In regards to graphics, music and controls; none of these features are particularly notorious by any means on their own, but they are not flawed either…they simply might not be what you would normally expect to find in today’s gaming world. Graphics reigning from a colorful 16-bit era show everything you need as you side scroll the characters throughout the areas finding intriguing clues and dialogue via simple keyboard and mouse controls. The soundtrack of this game comes through piano solos and serenades; which stands not only as a fitting accompaniment but also holds significant relevance to the story. Its one alternative being a singular vocal track, sung by Laura Shigihara, at one of the most pivotal and emotion moments in the game.

Even as emotion driven as the main story is, let’s not pretend the game doesn’t hold a fair amount of humor and mockery to it as well. From snarky remarks between the doctors to amusing situations within Johnny’s past, there are many moments that will literally have you laughing out loud. The game also makes many classic references to various TV shows, anime and trends of current and past years to include: Neil screaming “Kamehameha” as he breaks through a memory shield, fighting zombies by throwing cactus plants at them, a final fantasy-esque battle between Eva and a rampant squirrel and even mention of those little Tamogatchi virtual pets (to even give a small glimpse as to what is in store).

I feel as though there is so much to say about this game…yet I would never deprive anyone of having the experience of playing it for the first time themselves. Going into this game with naught but a recommendation left me entirely unprepared for what I would be witnessing. The people in our lives, our dreams, our hopes – what does it all come down to in the end? Everything seems to simple, yet within that simplicity lies one of the most heartfelt, beautiful and well told stories I have ever heard.

If you could go back, back to the beginning, and change anything to make just one dream come true…would you?

“Until the stars all fall down”

“They empty from the sky”

“But I don’t mind”

“…If you’re with me, then everything’s alright.”

Ignorance is Bliss in Utopia ~ No. 6

“Is that what life is, Nezumi? Shion? If it is, that means you guys taught me what it is to be alive. You never know what happens. There’s nothing absolute about what humans create.”

A perfect world. A world without corruption or poverty, where people love their city, their home, and cherish all that they love. With life giving such comfort, who would ever dare to think anything otherwise?

It all started four years ago, in the midst a horrific  storm; when young honor student Shion flung back the windows, stepped into the pouring rain and winds and shouted for all his heart to the skies above. Never would he have expected to see a young dark haired boy standing in that same window, a bullet wound bloodying his arm and a spirit to fight and will to survive nearly unmatched. Never would he imagine how this night would change his entire future.No.6.full.606472

But four years is more than enough time for life to be ripped apart at the seams.

Working his sub-average job running surveillance of a local park, a strange and unexplainable death occurs leaving Shion and his work partner in total awe. Within mere seconds a normal man is aged, dead and decayed and authorities swiftly take the body away. When the same fate meets his partner the next day at work, the authorities not only take the body away but also place Shion under arrest for suspicion – not for the death, but for once harboring an escaped person in his youth and speaking in suspicion of his own government and city.

It is then, upon his transport to the correctional facility, that he is reunited with the boy he helped those four years ago, Nezumi. Perhaps his reasons lay to pay back the favor or perhaps to give Shion, a sole person who showed him kindness, another chance at life.

Nezumi and Shion escape outside the walls of No. 6 and into the western area – a reality that the citizens of No. 6 truly know nothing of. With the help of Nezumi, Shion narrowly survives meeting the same fate of his coworker by removing the parasite before it can truly take hold and destroy him. From there, they seek to make a change…although their sights are not necessarily set on the same goal.

No.6 animeFor Nezumi, that goal is to destroy No. 6 in its entirety; for Shion, it is to create a serum to save his home and beloved city. However, their goals may not be so far apart as the two form a bond and end up racing towards the finish together, working with a once journalist of No.6 and a woman known as Dogkeeper.

No. 6 is an 11 episode series revolving around the downfall of a perfect city and those who aim to fight back. As dark secrets and cover-ups begin to unfold and evil acts become apparent, there is truly no place safe for anyone – inside or outside the city. Black or white, good or evil, inside or outside – this is how Nezumi sees things and it doesn’t take long before the others begin to think similarly of their situation.

Although short in length, the series never failed to bring up a riveting plot, unseen twists and character growth. One area in which the anime did leave question is that there is simply so much material given that it often leaves many things unanswered. When all is said and done though, it is a series that certainly entertains and will keep you watching to the very end.

“You called me, and I listened. I reached out, and you caught my arm. I opened the window so I could meet you.

That’s our truth, Nezumi.”

“Do you want to give me a name?”

“Yeah. From now on, your name is KARA.”

Artificial intelligence may seem to be something only found within fiction and movies, but in all reality, it is a part of science diligently researched and worked upon. We may not see it now, in ten years, or even 50; but at some point in the future, AI may become a significant part of our everyday lives.

It might be fate, or even just irony, that I stumbled upon this vision from game developer Quantic Dream (widely recognized for its innovative game Heavy Rain) recently. As this past weekend I worked my way through both Portal 2 (speaking of AI…) and replayed Heavy Rain, seeing and experiencing KARA couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

In a 7 minute long video running in real time on the Playstation 3, KARA maintains Quantic Dream’s vision of implementing true emotion into a gaming experience.  It is not done through dazzling story elements or breathtaking action sequences, it is simply raw unparalleled emotion and feeling.

This stand alone piece shows a machine becoming conscious and self-aware for the first time; the moment she is brought to life, undergoing assembly and a series of brief initiation tests.  She introduces her serial number, goes through her various functions of taking appointments, watching the kids, cleaning the house (among others) and she even speaks over 300 languages which is then demonstrated through both speech and song. When she asks to be given a name, the programmer behind the camera calls her KARA…and she repeats her name with a sense of pride. Other tests go by as she is assembled together and she passes them all easily. However, when it is explained that she is to be sold as merchandise, that she is merely an expensive computer with legs, she does not simply acknowledge this information – she is hurt by it.

“I thought…”

“You thought? What did you think?”

“I thought, that I was alive.”

At this the programmer considers her defective and to be disassembled immediately. As the machine begins undoing her piece by piece, KARA begs and pleads for the programmer to stop, to please not disassemble her, and that she promises to be good and do everything she is told. The machine continues on as her mechanical heart beats faster and faster.

“Stop! Will you please stop?”

“…I’m scared!”

…the entire room ceases all motion. Time stands still.

“Please, I’m begging you. I want to live!”

It is an experience designed to capture the moments of a machine becoming human.  KARA first awakens to her mechanical role but within a brief 5-6 minutes begins showing human like emotions from happiness to fear to sadness to respect. Quantic Dream wished to create a semblance of emotion not only through the actions and effects of KARA but also to impact those viewing the film. Unlike their work in Heavy Rain, KARA was filmed using 65 motion capture cameras within a sound proof studio in order to film performance and voice within one take simultaneously.

Even years after its release, people may still be surprised at what can be accomplished with the PS3s engine and capabilities. As technology continues to advance, so too does the gaming industry. KARA may not be a game, but it is still an experience worth having. With stunning visuals and emotional performance, KARA transcends a realm between science fiction and reality. In its own way, it stands to teach everyone a small yet valuable lesson. Perhaps humanity is something we all take for granted, and it is within those that are not human in which we can truly find realization in our faults.

Shakugan no Shana

“I am the flaming haired blazing eyed hunter but I am also Shana.  My mission is clear…”

The world you know is not what you think it is. From an outside point of view everything is as it should be, however in a dimension that only few can understand and see there are forces of balance and chaos that threaten to take over existence.

Yuji Sakai is your typical high school student going through the everyday motions of life when he is swiftly thrown into a war between the balances.  When a seal engulfs an area of the city the world is frozen in time and all movement ceases…except for Yuji.  Within an instance a large doll-like monster appears and all of the people around him are engulfed in blue flames – the doll begins to absorb their essence with ravenous abandon.

This is when the flaming haired blazing eyed hunter shows up and destroys the doll like creature that is later found out to be an entity called a denizen.  Once the battle is over the flame haze and her contract partner Alastor briefly explain what is going on.  Although to the untrained eye every person looks normal, those who can view the seals see what truly lies beneath.  Everyone that can be seen with small blue flames are merely torches or people who are slowly losing their existence. These people have lost their bodies some time ago and can be considered dead; all that remains will disappear soon enough with not a memory of their presence left behind.  Yuji finds out he, too, is a torch; but he is different.  Yuji is something called a mystes and contains a highly sought after ability called the midnight lost child – an ability which allows his flame to never extinguish.  This is a powerful trait heavily sought after by the lords of the crimson denizen world and more importantly, a trifecta of evil called the Bal Masque.

Their relationship begins being “only a torch” and “only a flame haze”  but Yuji doesn’t agree to that idea at all.  He gives the girl the name “Shana” after the large katana she wields and she and Yuji begin to work and fight together.  When they are with each other their powers double in strength and they can accomplish feats neither thought possible in order to vanquish the crimson denizens and restore balance to the city.

Through dozens of battles against those who wish to consume the cities existence, Shana and Yuji face plenty of struggles all the while growing closer and attempting to keep up a normal high school life.   Shana is not the only Flame Haze in Misato City and rival flame hazes soon enter the area forming both alliances and enemies, making every battle a race to keep the balance in it’s rightful place.

A compelling story, likeable characters, and plenty of action and humor make this an anime that will not disappoint.  While its popularity in the US is considerably smaller and unknown compared to overseas, the anime is currently running for three seasons with additional manga, films, and light novels.  It is an series I have greatly enjoyed and will definitely be watching the other seasons. Maybe the world is nothing like how you know it, or maybe it is after all.  Do you want to find out?

“For now we’re going to live our lives the best we can; a short distance away from where the world is displaced”