Kill la Kill is nuts. Not quite FLCL nuts but nuts all the same. This series is equal parts Battle Royale, Sailor Moon and FLCL in that Ryuko Matoi finds herself being transformed into a bad arse, fellow student thrashing monster thanks to her anthropomorphic school uniform. Pretty in so many ways, Kill la Kill is one of the more irreverent series to hit screens in years.

Honnouji Academy - where the school is ruled by students clad in special outfits called Goku Uniforms. Deriding the student body as "pigs in human clothing," Student Council President Satsuki Kiryuin, along with her loyal underlings, the Elite Four, has the academy under their absolute control.

One day, a vagrant schoolgirl named Ryuko Matoi appears and tries to get Satsuki, who recognizes her Scissor Blade, to talk. Was their encounter a mere coincidence or fate? The clash between the two will soon consume the whole academy!

Animated by the reasonably new studio TRIGGER, Kill la Kill bears many of the hallmarks of GAINAX animation which makes perfect sense since the newly established studio is made up of former GAINAX staff members. The animation flits between top notch contemporary anime styling and an almost Cartoon Network-esque aesthetic which punctuates comedic beats. Another established trademark of GAINAX, which was first utilised to great effect in FLCL, is the use of particle effects which TRIGGER has recreated perfectly. Whenever dust or explosions occur, it is accompanied by animated particles which give a distinctively layered feel to the scene.

The animation quality in general is fantastic, highly polished and scrubs up tremendously on Blu Ray. The character designs are all memorable, if at times a little heavy handed on the fan-service. That said, this is a series that comes across as being incredibly self-aware in so much as fan service serves a double purpose by offering both bleeding noses and a laugh at the expense of the viewer themselves, that is to say that the fan service is both confronting, ridiculous and walks a fine line between being laughable and offensive. This is generally due to the design of Satsuki and Ryuko’s costumes and transformations which both feature a rather questionable shot of a … *ahem* … front wedgie.

As with Gundam Unicorn, Attack on Titan and Blue Exorcist, one of the greatest features of Kill la Kill is the soundtrack which is supplied by my new favourite composer Hiroyuki Sawano. While the soundtrack is at times drowned out by sound effects and dialogue, as it should be, the notable melding of rock and electronica provides a meaty foundation on which to build a very memorable anime series. This is just another example that makes me pine for a local collector’s edition release which includes the soundtrack. One thing is for certain, as his track record currently stands, Sawano can do no wrong.

The collector's box contains, well, the box, as well as a few gorgeous postcard sized art cards which wouldn't look out of place framed and mounted. It’s great to see something in addition to the usual cardboard box included in the collector’s edition, particularly when they’re as high quality as these cards. While a soundtrack, t-shirt or other goods would be awesome, for a measly $5 more, the box and art cards will make a good addition to any fans collection.

Kill la Kill is a fantastic series which is filled with laughs, awesomely insane battles, fantastic animation, a brilliant soundtrack and more WTF moments than you can poke one-armed scissors at. In only 4 episodes, this release teases that there is far more happening at Honnouji Academy than meets the eye and if volume 2 is anywhere near as nuts as this first release, I’m in!

- Ryan
Kill laKill volume 1 is available from Madman on DVD and Blu Ray now. 
Thanks to its voluminous cast, This is Where I Leave You has an 'overcrowded elevator' feel about it. I couldn't help picturing a maximum capacity sign, wondering which of the surplus characters I'd happily jettison to give everyone else some room to move. With so many moving parts, the film is forced to the juggle multiple plot lines where nothing particularly interesting was explored, which left me wondering what the point was.

The Altman family is reuniting in the wake of their father’s untimely passing. Despite being an atheist, Papa Altman's dying wish is that his family sits Shiva in order to bring everyone together for some much needed family time. The family's woes are a veritable smorgasbord of dysfunction, with each member’s problems topped by the next. Given this is a family reunion flick, one by one they start to find the happiness that's been eluding them through the love and support of their ... Sorry I just threw up a little. The film just doesn't take any chances, merely playing on the usual tropes without tackling riskier content.

The film is filled to the brim with excellent performers who seem to be crawling over one another to get a smidge of the spotlight. The standouts are Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, who get to share the more touching moments, and Adam Driver, whose man-child shtick is the source of the film’s laughs. Apart from that, the performances could be considered good but not great, which is a shame, considering who the film boasts on its roster. In particular, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda were criminally underused.

The straightforward look and feel of the film is quickly becoming the hallmark of director Shawn Levy; his filmography is made up of workmanlike titles like this. It’s shot competently and looks quite nice, but lacks the confidence to do anything really impressive. It’s just safe.

This is Where I Leave You is one of the films which comes and goes with little fanfare, and rightly so. It’s fine if you’re looking for a simple family drama with a few laughs thrown in along the way. I’d suggest you revisit The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson) or the original Death at a Funeral (Frank Oz) for a much better family reunion experience.

This is Where I Leave You opens in theatres this Thursday. If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to drop a line below or drop by our Facebook page.

- Stu

Are you ready for a MASSIVE weekend of wall to wall gaming awesomeness? How could you say no?!?

Thanks to our pals at PAX Australia, we've got a double 3 Day Pass (valued at $300) to PAX which is being held in Melbourne from October 31 - November 2. Considering that weekend passes have been sold out since November 2013, I guess you could say that this is a money-can't-buy kind of scenario!

In 2004, the folks at Penny Arcade decided they wanted a show exclusively for gaming. Sure, comics, anime, and other nerd hobbies were cool, and those activities all had their own shows... so what about games? From that idea spawned a small 4,500 person event in Bellevue, Washington, focused on the culture and community that is gaming. Since then, the show hasn't looked back. Doubling in size each year until venue capacities were reached, in 2010 the show expanded into Boston for PAX East, drawing tens of thousands of attendees in the inaugural year. The shows in Seattle and Boston represent the two largest gaming events in North America, and in 2013 for the first time PAX expanded internationally to Australia where it is now a yearly event!

All you have to do is fill out the form below and you're in the running to win yourself a double 3-day pass. Don't forget, you can get yourself a bonus entry just by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook!

Entries close 11:59pm on Sunday 26th October 2014. This prize includes 1x double 3-day pass to PAXAUS 2014, flights, accommodation and other costs are not included. Your details will not be used in any way other than for the delivery of your prize. Geek of Oz and PAX AUS do not take any responsibility for the loss, damage or delay of/to prizes sent to winners (blame Australia Post for that one). The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered upon. One entry per person, subsequent entries will be void. Incorrect answers will be void. Prizes are not redeemable for cash or any other kind of trading currency such as creds, latinum, sen, kan, zeni, double dollars or Ankh Morpork dollars. Geek Of Oz take no responsibility for head explosions caused by utter awesomeness. This competition is only open to Australian residents. Any questions or queries can be submitted through the comment section at the bottom of screen. Good luck!
At times, I question how far I've actually aged. Biologically I'm 24 years old, but it's anyone's guess what number the parts inside the brain case add up to. Sometimes I feel the relative youngness of those 24 years, but sometimes I regress into something closer to single digits.

Disney Infinity 2.0 makes me regress, in a great way. There are few other ways one can enjoy Thor fighting Elsa from Frozen in a treehouse, or Star-Lord and Dash from The Incredibles having a foot-race through New York, or even Iron Man picking up and punting Jack Skellington over a gaping abyss like a flying red-and-gold man cannon, unless you regress somewhat.

Last year's vanilla Infinity (which I guess is 1.0?) was a gaming-cum-merchandising attempt by Disney to make the Skylanders lightning strike for them. It was a fairly simplistic but artistically engrossing game that featured a plethora of Disney characters - existing in the real world as wallet-puncturing plastic figures you could put on a base to use in-game - fighting as allies or enemies in five campaigns and a fantastic Forge World-esque mode called the Toy Box. While vast chunks of the gameplay were derivative of just about any basic kids' platformer/action game, and the stories were - to put it charitably - a bit of a joke, the Toy Box provided hours of fun by creating maps, challenges, mini-games and giant grass-block status of Mickey Mouse's head (the latter of which, surprisingly, is fairly easy to navigate once you unlock the jetpack).

A year later, the sequel takes the same formula and throws a collective of similarly bank-breaking Marvel Comics figures into the mix to play with. Like its predecessor the gameplay and story for all of Infinity 2.0's three current campaigns is simple, spanning stories involving the Avengers, the Ultimate Spider-Man crew and the Guardians of the Galaxy respectively. The narrative boils down to "Bad guy from the Marvel Universe does a bad thing, heroes stop them, everyone gets cake afterwards". The button-pressing mostly involves hitting things, throwing things, riding around on things, flying around on things and blowing up things, sometimes with several of the above happening at once. Groundbreaking innovation is not what you've come here for. No, trust me when I tell you that you're here for the Toy Box.

The fun inherent to the Toy Box - in all honesty, most of the reason to buy the game - is purely cartoonish. It comes from putting Disney and Marvel characters together into situations like racing down a water slide or driving dune buggies into haunted castles. TheMinecraft-inspired creation of maps and the suite of toys to add to them adds dimensions of uniqueness and creativity (when you're not making simulacras of locations from Disney movies). It's the same formula that makes smacking two action figures together in sandcastles fun when you were younger, without the chance of breaking anything if they collide at the wrong point. Simple, colourful and full of vibrancy.

Tweaks have also been made to existing mechanics since the first game, most notably through the
inclusion of RPG-style Skill Trees to customise characters a bit everytime they level up. Granted, most of that customisation is just more colourful ways to destroy things and jump/fly higher, but it's still a welcome change from the last game's choice to have level up numbers not really mean anything. Well, not meaning anything other than being a representation of how many hours you've sunk into getting Jack Sparrow to the optimum level for bragging rights.

All praise said, though, you've really got to want to be into the Toy Box to get any decent mileage from Infinity 2.0. If you don't have the patience for creating Cinderella's castle from scratch or
making a miles-long racetrack over tons of lava then you may find the price point a bit of a disincentive towards purchase. As I said before the campaigns are simplistic and don't offer much in the way of variety, with much of the runtime devoted to different ways of smacking things, so it means you need to rely on making your own fun to register the game as anything other than a momentary simple digression from more complicated fare. That's as double-edged a sword as ever there's been since claymores were invented.

But if you do really dig the Toy Box, and creating fuel for fanfics by putting Black Widow and Rapunzel together on an adventure into the heart of an alien volcano, then Infinity 2.0 may be right up your proverbial alley. There's not a lot more I can say about it; fun, colour and childish glee are all in abundance while variance and complexity take a lunch break. This is a game where the most difficult decision is choosing which pairing of childhood characters you're going to send to the Disneyland Haunted Mansion that sits beside the balloon house from Up. Sometimes, that's not such a bad thing.

- Chris

Disney Infinity is available now for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii U, iOS and PC, and available in 2015 for PlayStation Vita.
Over the years there have been numerous vidja games set in the Tolkien realm and just about every one of them has been worse than a Ring Wraith’s hand writing. Seriously, how are they supposed to have any sort of dexterity with those spindly, armour clad fingers? Anyway, just when you thought all hope was lost, along comes Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor from WB Interactive Entertainment and Monolith Productions.

Set between the events of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, you take control of Talion, a ranger of the Gondor garrison who, along with his family, are cut down by some of Sauron’s baddies before being rejected by death. You then find yourself bound to an amnesiac Elven Wraith and adventures abound. By adventures I mean lots of heads get chopped off.

Those fiercely bound to Tolkien’s lore will have a bit of an issue with the story as it not only diverts from the general feel of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth texts by focussing on what is essentially a revenge story, but also mucks about with the timeline by introducing Gollum, and also with the power of Celebrimbor and apparent immortality of Talion. That said, if you’re a common, garden variety fan and not an absolute purist, you’ll absolutely adore the amount of lore that Shadow of Mordor has on offer.

Almost everything you encounter, or kill, has an interesting lore article or appendix attached in the game menu. From the menu you also get to upgrade Talion via two separate skill-trees which unlock certain abilities of both the Ranger and Wraith variety. While you may think that upgrading your ghostly abilities would be a better value proposition, the Ranger abilities are equally as useful and arguably more brutal. To promote a balanced style of play, these two skill trees are unlocked by increasing two separate levelling platforms which involve missions tailored towards either Celebrimbor or Talion while simply going around and chopping Uruk’s heads off will increase your general skills or, in the case of Uruk Captains, unlock runes to power up weapons. These differing ways in which to upgrape your character, specific skills and weapons is a great motivation to take part in side missions and even free-roaming, instead of just ploughing through the main missions.

The visuals in this game are fantastic in every way and are incredibly polished. The landscapes are suitably desolate but still manage to exude a beauty that fantasy fans will surely appreciate. While I can't comment on other platforms, the PS4's textures, draw distance and sheer volume of action on screen at any one time is remarkable. Stand upon a high point and you'll be able to see Uruk hassling human slaves, Caragon ravaging characters one after the other and a whole scenic view of a despair filled, yet strangely beautiful landscape. Muddy puddles, red earth trails and battered ramparts are your general view until you stumble upon strongholds which, after the abandonment of Gondor, look as splendorous as they do ramshackled. It’s in these moments, when under siege from hordes of almost entirely unique baddies, that you may well encounter a Captain.

These sub-level bosses all have their own strengths and weaknesses which can become known to you by interrogating the right minion. At times this allows you to finish them in one swing of your blade or release of your bow, but at times can be extremely perilous. If you so happen to die at the hands of a captain, their own power level increases, making them an even more lethal opponent and initiating the very impressive ‘Nemesis’ system. This system sees your opponents challenging each other as they increase in power and as they do, their physical appearance and even armour will change as well. In fact, each of these foes will remember you and make comments such as “I won’t go down so easy this time” if you beat them previously or “why won’t you stay dead?” if they beat you. Going even one step further, enemies who were defeated by fire may exhibit burns, or one downed by an arrow to the face may wear a patch on your next encounter. This system is truly impressive and makes the your interactions with these Uruk captains feel unique and personal, giving weight to what feels like a constant threat.

The gameplay feels like a mash-up of Batman: Arkham Origins and Assassin’s Creed which is in no way a bad thing. It gives you the freedom to utilise the environment to your advantage, strike from afar, go in guns (figuratively) blazing or lurk in the shadows all the while flowing between attacks and being prompted to conduct counter-attacks or fantastically brutal executions. The counter-attack function is very fluid, even when breaking mid-attack, but not so much as to make battles simple. You’ll easily find yourself overwhelmed by swarming Uruk.

This is the Lord of the Rings/Tolkien game that we’ve been waiting for. Sure, it takes a few liberties here and there but for the most part it feels as though this is a tale that may very well have been left out of the history books following the desertion of Gondor and the rise of Sauron. Encounters with known characters, albeit lesser known characters, is always a thrill as are mentions of previous events and hints of what’s to come. It may not be Tolkien canon, but Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a very well executed game with more than enough lore to keep Rings fans very happy. Now if you'll excuse me, I have Uruk to cleave.

-       - Ryan

Don'tcha just love the circus?

Karneval seems to be the lovechild of a mangaka who wanted to fold Final Fantasy, Soul Eater and Spirited Away together and see what came out of such an unholy union. That's not to say the idea couldn't produce something original, but at the same time there's a distinct sense of familiarity. It goes beyond mere homage or utilisation of the tropes of the anime medium and into "I could've sworn I've seen this before" territory. Whether you're one for going over well-trod ground or prefer the undiscovered country will largely determine how much you end up taking to Karneval's thirteen episodes of colourful adventure making.

The story follows Nai, a young platinum-haired protagonist (with strange purple hair-horns) who's snatched away from a fate worse than death at the hands of a shape shifting Eldritch nightmare who'd fit right at home in Yubaba's bathhouse. Nai's saviour, Gareki, brings him to the attention of Circus, apparently the most powerful military defence force on the planet whose members all look like stage magicians. Circus exists to handle the crazy supernatural stuff the normal world can't handle, while they themselves are under scrutiny by Kafka, a mysterious organisation who may or may not have something to do with the aforementioned Eldritch creatures and illegal genetic experimentation. Our heroes must aid Circus in their endeavours while also trying to get to the bottom of why everyone seems to want to get their hands on Nai.

The major drawcard Karneval possesses is colour; as befits an anime whose title and naming devices elicit ideas of big, bombastic circus life, the palette and thematic schemes on display are gorgeous. The earliest and most striking visual elements are characters' eyes - drawn in a strange manner with gradient irises instead of single-colour eyeballs - and it only escalates from there. The fore- and backgrounds are rich with visual detail, but at the same time the colour doesn't overwhelm the story. Visual gorgeousness also extends to the kinda strange aesthetic the show utilises. There are old-school castles and seaside villages that go with machine guns and business suits to create an interesting style; it's somewhat like how Attack on Titan combines agrarian garb and horses with ninja-flipout-swordfighting and wall-mounted cannons. So if nothing else you can take away that Karneval is really, really pretty.

But beyond the stellar art style, Karneval has a couple of problems. I can't tell if it was made specifically for those who've read the manga or not, but it feels like a story with half the exposition missing. I spent most of the first episode scratching my head, only just registering much of what was happening thanks to the perfunctory explanation the box blurb gave me. I get that a lot of anime choose to begin in medias res but there's a bit of grounding needed to keep your audience engaged from the off. Things become clearer as the story progresses, but it's definitely the kind of shaky start I'd recommend against implementing.

As I said, the overlapping character arcs and mish-mash of visual elements bring a lot of familiarity from within other IPs to the fore, most pointedly borrowing battle scenes, aesthetics, character archetypes and even that thrown-in-the-deep-end opening from the Final Fantasy games. The secret ruling council of Circus evokes Seele from Neon Genesis Evangelion, the airship our protagonists use looks snagged from Cowboy Bebop, and some of the town scenes look to borrow a bit of the aesthetic style from Tales of Xillia. It might be a little unfair to point out similarities between Karneval and other contemporaries, but considering how hard it is to get invested in the story from the get-go it's hard not to notice the little things early on.

The English voice cast acquit themselves adequately, but there's a problem with the sound engineering in that dialogue intended to sound like thought bubbles isn't altered as such; whenever Gareki's thinking about why Nai is apparently so valuable to everyone it sounds like he's directly asking Nai rather than having that echoey quality as he introspects. It's a little disconcerting to see Gareki seemingly ponder this stuff out loud while his lips don't move, prompting questions as to whether the man has somehow cultivated unsubtle telepathy.

Also, on a minor note, Nai's English-dubbed voice is a little annoying. I get Nai's not exactly the kind of deep-voiced badass J. Michael Tatum might lend his vocal chords to (much less a character who might not be entirely human), but voice actor Sean Teague can't seem to decide whether Nai should sound like a pre-teen boy or an androgynous runaway and wavers between the two. With everything else going on the inconsistency is a little jarring.

I sound like I'm bitching a little too much, and I don't mean to, but Karneval doesn't have the kind of wham-in-your-face story it needs to backup the truly gorgeous visual design. At the end of the day I guess I'd call it "ok". Might not make for as much of an engrossing epic as it does a series of quite pretty scenes and characters, but I guess they all can't be winners. If nothing else, at least it didn't think to lecture me on correct potato harvesting techniques the way Maoyu did.

- Chris
 Karneval is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Madman now!

You’ve got to admire the way Kevin Smith does business. Last year, Smith and his partner-in-crime Scott Mosier cooked up the idea for Tusk during a particularly hilarious episode of their weekly podcast, the Smodcast, during which Smith read out an advertisement from Gumtree purporting to be from a person seeking a flatmate who would be willing to dress as a walrus in order to live rent-free. This led to Smith penning a script for the film and turning to his loyal army of twitter followers to decide whether or not it should be made. With overwhelming support, Smith’s fans got behind the project and now, just over a year later, Tusk has arrived. If this is where Smith’s career is headed, it’ll never be super-profitable but I’m on board for whatever comes next. Tusk is a challenging mixed bag of a film which is lodged squarely in the ‘seen to be believed’ category.

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment) host a podcast titled The Not-See Party (say it with a German accent to reveal the joke) which involves them interviewing internet ‘celebrities’ and searching for wacky online stories. Wallace travels to Canada to interview one such guest, however fate intervenes when he reads a letter attached to the wall of a public toilet which piques his interest, given his thirst for the obscure. In response to the letter, the intrepid Wallace heads into the wilds of Canada where he meets wheelchair-bound, kindly old Howard Howe (Michael Parks) who regales him with stories of oceanic adventures, Russian treasure hunters, Hemingway and, of course, walruses. All sense of decency is thrown out the window as Tusk explores where one man’s love of a walrus can take him. Safe to say, it’s somewhere near the depths of depravity.

The action is weaved around scenes where characters are locked in prolonged conversations, which of course plays perfectly to Smith’s strengths as a writer. These conversations do come within a hair’s breadth of being self-indulgent as they tend to drag slightly, and it was quite clear that Smith was pouring much of himself into the script, but then that’s always been present in his work (along with his propensity for dick and fart jokes). It can all be forgiven because there are so few filmmakers of late who seem to relish scenes consisting only of conversation, like he does. It’s partially the reason why I’m enamoured by the works of not only Smith but the Coen Brothers, David Mamet and Quentin Tarantino, because they produce such deceptively simple yet enthralling scenes primarily focused upon dialogue. The writing is the key to the success of the film, since it sets a tone of relative seriousness over what is otherwise a ludicrous concept. I don’t mind dumb when done smartly.

Michael Parks is fantastic as Howard Howe, inducing a real sense of unease whenever he’s on screen. His chemistry with Justin Long anchors the entire film in a realm of believability, despite the craziness in which they are eventually embroiled. Just as the leads in Woody Allen films tend to take on his mannerisms, Justin Long feels like he’s channelling Kevin Smith as Wallace. He’s quick-witted and juvenile, yet wants to be taken seriously when it suits him. Haley Joel Osment and Wallace’s long suffering girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) have very little to do on screen and only really feature in the final act of the film. The film’s only other major contributor is Johnny Depp as Guy Lapointe, an eccentric Canadian investigator who’s hot on the heels of Mr Howe. Depp’s performance is part Colombo, part Inspector Clouseau, part whatever-you-call-that-particular-Johnny-Depp swagger nowadays. It’s not a bad performance as such, but not as effective as you might want from a Depp appearance.

Tusk is a weird little film with some pretty nasty imagery which should appeal to you body-horror fans. I’d suggest getting a few mates, downing some beers and experiencing the wackiness together. Tusk is out now in select cinemas. If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts, feel free to call me out over on our Facebook page or drop a line below.

- Stu