Written on Wild West wanted posters of the most dangerous criminals. A reward was given whether the polecat was brought in dead or alive.

The term "Dead or Alive" lost most of its effectiveness in the latter part of the 19th century. This is mainly due to the fact that bounty hunters in the Wild West were not paid nearly as well for the body of the accused as they were for a live person.

Furthermore, California, the site of much of the "Dead or Alive" reward postings, banned the use of the phrase in the 1890's.

Dead or Alive is Tecmo's gorgeous fighting game series. When the original was released in 1997, it had people's jaws dropping - there was nothing out on the market quite like it; the visuals were out of this world. The gameplay was... different. Some people loved the unique system, which allowed all moves to be countered if done correctly, others detested it, complaining about the super-precise timing required to pull the counters off. The critics complained that without the counters, the game lacked any real depth and since the counters were unusable anyway, the game was doomed.

DoA survived, and it thrived. There was really one simple reason for this: boobs. Thousands upon thousands of horny teenage boys wandered into arcades and as they watched the game go through it's attract sequence, their eyes fixated on the insanely busty women in the game. And, as these women fought, they jumped, they ducked, they sidestepped, they kicked... and their heaving breasts followed in perfect unison. In fact, the programmers, for whatever reasons, probably overdid the physics of the breasts - they were just insanely bouncy. This feature came to be known as "jubbling".

Oh, there were male characters - but no one cared about them. They didn't have jubbling breasts. They didn't even have jubbling penii (yes, I know it's penises, but I like penii). Oh, the game had other good features, like multiple-level stages, but no one cared, except when one of the female fighters jumped from one level to the next - the recoil effect was phenomenal.

In 1999, Dead or Alive 2 was released. The gameplay was better (though those who hated it, still hated it), the graphics were better, and the programmers - having stopped their raging hormones or having overcome puberty - moderated the jubbling significantly. In the Dreamcast version, you could set your age in the options menu to 99 to get the maximum jubbling effect (which was still much less than the original games, but noticable anyway). There were, of course, more female characters, to most everyone's joy. These females now had different costumes - so you could pick the ones you thought looked sexier. In addition, the game had air vents on the floors of some stages. When your female character passed over it, if she was wearing the right kinds of costumes, the costumes would blow up, revealing her panties. This probably caused multiple unexpected orgasms the first time some gamers discovered it. In a later Dreamcast release, Dead or Alive: Limited Edition, there were even more costumes for all the ladies (6 or 9, I can't remember which, for all females as opposed to a maximum of 3 beforehand). There was also a release of Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore for the Playstation 2, which was basically the same game with slightly better graphics. To further make a case for mastrubation, Tecmo released lots of CGI shots of the DoA2 girls in swimwear. Gaming and fan sites posted the shots with much fervor. They're still up everywhere. Go look for yourselves. (And come back and read the rest of this wu.)

Dead or Alive 3 is being developed for the next-generation consoles as I write this. I know for a fact that it shall be released on the Microsoft X-Box. I am not sure about the PS2 or Nintendo GameCube. Looking at the pictures already up on many websites, the game looks every bit at the forefront of visuals as the original. Let's hope the jubbling hasn't been toned down further (from, say, "That defies Newton's Laws!" of the original to "BOING!" of the sequel to "Good god, are we in Martian gravity?" or something similar).

You may be so obsessed watching the jubbling that you may fail to notice another distinctive feature of DoA (as a series): REALLY BAD writing. Maybe it's just horrible translation from Japanese (Zero Wing comes to mind), but the "story" mode is just nonsensical. The characters often speak in bad grammar, their "conversations" have nothing to do with each other's sentences, and - in general - you'll be wondering what the fuck is going on (until you look at the jubbling). For example, in a particular fight, a female character says the name of the opposing male fighter. The male fighter says (I'm paraphrasing, but this is pretty close), "You know me?" The female fighter says, "Aren't you... my brother?" Then the announcer says "Get ready... FIGHT!" WTF? Here are a few memorable one-liners:

"Oh, oh! You came again?" - Ayane

"Victory arouses me!" - Ein

"Hey, you didn't have time to sing." - Ayane, to Helena

"Everything... is my... bogus!" - Tengu

"I am the Miyama's women Tengu!" - Ayane

"Look at my Iron Fist!" - Gen Fu

DoA had the following 9 fighters: Kasumi, Jann Lee, Lei-Fang, Bayman, Tina, Ryu Hayabusa, Zack, Gen-Fu, and Raido. DoA2 had the following 13: Ayane, Bass, Ein, Gen-Fu, Hayabusa, Helena, Jann Lee, Kasumi, Lei-Fang, Leon, Ryu, Tina, and Zack, plus the final boss, Tengu. DoA3 has some returning characters (the females, of course), but the complete list isn't available as of yet.

Also a film by Miike Takashi, which is gaining a cult following in the west. Currently the only officially available english subtitled version is on the Tartan Video label in the UK, but there are sure to be bootlegs or fansubs knocking around the place too. There are two sequels, also to be released in the UK; Dead or Alive 2 and Dead or Alive: Final. Their plots are completely unrelated to the first film.

The opening five minutes of the film is a montage of way over-the-top action and killing. The very begining shows the film's two main characters, played by Riki Takeuchi and Show Aikawa, who are big stars in v-cinema, perched on a pier and counting in the films soundtrack (as in 1, 2, 1-2-3-4). This seems to be the directors way of showing that the film is a work of pure pulp fiction. What follows is a collection of very extreme and short shots including a man snorting a twenty-foot line of cocaine, lots of strippers, and lots of assasinations, culminating in a mans' stomach contents being blasted out over the camera in slow motion. Surprisingly, the rest of the film is a tad more subtle, until the completely way-out ending.

The story is fairly difficult to follow, especially for westerners, but is in many ways quite typical of the Japanese organised crime genre. In a nutshell, it's about a cop who makes deals with crime gangs in order to pay for his daughters operation. Meanwhile, the Japanese and Chinese crime syndicates are planning to join forces, but there's a third party, a gang descended from Japanese war orphans, who also have something planned.

Takashi litters the film with bizzare touches. One scene takes place in someone's apartment where he makes bestiality porn films, and one character is drowned in her own excrement. Despite these touches, I felt the film drags in the middle, but it's worth sticking around for the truly bewildering ending. In a similar way to Odishon, I think Takashi is probably just having a bit of a laugh. He was given the film to make as another straight-to-video film and without Takashi it would probably have been just another forgetable v-cinema outing, but he obviously decided he'd like to have some fun with it, and he has an imagination, so it turned out how it did.

Interesting fact about the ending which illustrates this point (*Spoiler ahead*):

The script simply had the two characters pointing guns at each other, it faded to black and gunfire was heard. Since both stars were heroes in the v-cinema circuit, neither could be killed, so it was left with the audience not knowing which one was the victor. However Takashi decided to make this a bit more interesting (after all, it's been done in other films), and so he took it to the extreme and had the world blow up. Nice.

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