*Lift this blog off the ground and get it running again.
There are too many things that are distracting, destroying, demoralizing, and depressing me that I need an outlet. Kendo works well but I need something else. I've been reading less, and it's significantly noticeable that my vocabulary and mastery of english grammar is beginning to deteriorate.
I enjoy writing and even if it is only for myself again, so be it. I must clear my head so I can focus better on the things that need focus.
- ► August (3)
- ► 2009 (72)
- ► 2008 (84)
Monday, November 14, 2011
*Lift this blog off the ground and get it running again.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Inverseman and Laevatein over at moar powah! happen to be people I know outside of the internet and it seems that we all pre-ordered and started Fate/Extra with different characters. So as a result, Inverseman suggested we do a collab first impressions of the game as it will be different from each perspective. I personally don't know what's entailed in a "first impression" but I'm guessing that it's just a few paragraphs rather than an 8 page long review. This probably also means that I'm going to have to be very terse and skim over parts like how the game's music was great but the volume balance was bad without being specific....I'll give a full proper review once I finish the game.
|Player commands on top. Enemy command list on bottom|
Battle consists of simultaneous turns that are broken down into 6 moves. Each side submits a move order and then the battle commences depending on what both sides submitted. Basically, there are one of three commands you can submit per move: Attack, Guard, and Break. In a rock, paper, scissors fashion, Attack beats Break which beats Guard which Beats Attack. If the same command was submitted on a move, two things can happen. Both sides take damage or both sides cancel each other out resulting in no damage. If one side successfully manages to land the superior move 3 times in a row, that side deals an extra blow separate from the turn.
Here is where difficulty comes into play. First off, the player is unaware of what the enemy pattern is. Usually at first encounters, only one move is revealed, which means for a while the player has to guess the other moves. As the battles with the same monster repeat, there's a chance upon victory of having an additional move revealed slowly making battles easier. But what does this mean for Caster?
Most of the battles a physical punch fests. Caster being a magic type follows the general archetype of being weak regarding physical attributes, which mean that this can only spell disaster. Without a doubt, I felt the difficulty of my class rushing at me quite quickly. Having absolutely no information, I basically had to wing it and hope that I took minimal damage during the opening turns. Then by using deduction, I had to memorize my enemies patterns. Basically, by seeing which attacks went through and which attacks clashed or failed, I was able to learn what the opponent used during that move. Early on, weak inductive reasoning worked fairly well because each enemy had very few patterns so revealing key moves allowed me to assume certain patterns. Needless to say, this slowly got harder as I progressed on but luckily monsters of the same type but different tier seem to retain some of the patterns of the previous tier making it less dangerous.
|DYNAMIC CAMERA ANGLE AND ACTION LINES|
Which is great, except when I mess up because when I do... I'm dead. Literally. If I didn't memorize patterns immediately or figure out which pattern was weighted more early on, I'd be taking hits that remove significant chunks of my HP. One poor turn literally kills me and it's game over. It also doesn't help that when I improve the stats of caster, it makes minimal difference. It also didn't help that early on my caster would do such insignificant damage that battles with normal monsters would last around 5 turns.
|When you're getting your ass handed to you by what appears to be two halves of a mechanical cube barely connected together by what appears to be some form of Dark Matter and named "MOONDUST", you've just hit a new low in player humiliation....|
According to Laevatein, one of his friends pumped only magic into Caster which I can't say I'm supportive of considering how many battles I'm going to be in with normal monsters. Since Caster has limited MP, and it's much harder to recover MP than HP it would be better for me to balance my stats a bit.
|No really, why are you SO weak?|
|WELL. If you got these kinds of scores on a test, you think you'd be doing well? You know that guy in the background? He's really plotting to kill you.|
Still though, this is the kind of difficulty I don't mind. It's a nice challenge and mildly fun knowing that I have to concentrate constantly or else. I will admit though, I have simply ragequitted a few times after nearly clearing an entire dungeon only to be killed by a rare pattern that I didn't take into account for, but it's always temporary. The story is also very interesting and I'm loving Caster's personality and side comments which seems to every so often hint at who she really is, as well as her true wish and reason for being in this war.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
This week's review will be on the anime "Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou" (Or "Daimaoh," for those of you used to the old transliteration). In a nutshell, This anime was a show based on the light novel that simply was produced and aired at the wrong time. What do I mean by that? If there was any show that helped indicate that the year 2010 would be a year that would push along the era of weak stories and gratuitous amounts of fan service, it would be Seikon no Qwaser. Seriously, it was released in early January of that year and simply had breast feeding scenes every other episode, and it's as if they're only following the trend of Queen's Blade that first aired almost a year before. And then once we get into the spring season of 2010, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou would only disappoint fans as it would further support the argument that anime was headed toward a deep dark, fanservice flooded road. Had it been only released perhaps 2-3 years before, this show could've ranked fairly high and been regarded as a "good" show overall. Maybe it would have also had a 26 episode budget instead of being filler until summer.
But instead it gets one cours instead of the usual 2 because it's only purpose is to stall for time. They're gonna introduce a wide array of characters, introduce the main antagonist by the... 8th or so episode and attempt to wrap it up in the last 2 episodes because episodes 9 and 10 must now about about the lame ass backstory of said recently introduced antagonist who's actually just another useless idiot (like the main characters of visual novels, except he DOESN'T get the girl, so now he's in a state of NTR rage). Christ, it's so formulaic you might as well add onto say that "it's not lupus."
Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou is about a boy named Akuto Sai who is to transfer into Constant Magic Acadamy, a prestigious prepatory school that guarantees that graduates will attain a government position. His dream is to be a Grand Priest (apparently a high government position) to try and better society, but all of that crashes down on him when his aptitude test (a Yatagarasu that predicts the future of students) declares that his future occupation will be Demon King. All hell breaks loose (no pun intended) and the entire school panics as it will be educating a student whose goal in life would be to destroy them. Losing the trust of nearly around him, there are those that still seem to find themselves attached to a now reclusive Akuto. Which leads me to my next point.....
What the hell is up with the english title? "Demon King Daimao"? Really? You're going to repeat the same name except in a different language? How did that get even approved? I understand that saying Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou is a bit hard on the english tongue but what the hell happened? I understand that this title was probably included in one of those batch licenses that companies seem to be forced into doing if they actually want to license highly rated productions but at least translate the title or something.
Titles mean a lot. Whether it's books, movies, TV Shows, or animations. It helps give the audience a first impression of what to expect from the show. As stupid as it sounds, people who watch "Saw" are going to be expecting something sort of key element of the story that will involve a Saw. It sounds stupid because of how obvious it is, but WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO EXPECT WITH AN UNINFORMATIVE SHITTY TITLE?
Regardless, if you want to translate the title literally (like an idiot who's studying Japanese) it comes out to something like "The Demon King of the Most Furthest Back". Sorry, I dont' know why I'm so angry while writing this review...
My personal translation would be "The Grand Overlord in the Far Back". In this way, not much is lost in translation. In the show, Akuto's seating is in the seat at the back of the classroom which explains the title. While all Japanese school anime seem to feature fixed seating arrangements, such is less likely the case in American schools however, the multiple implications of the translated title still work. While sitting in the very back row can denote deliquency, it can also seem to imply those who are shy or anti-social. This double meaning works well for the main character and would have the audience expecting something from the show. Speaking of which, although "demon king" is the literal translation of Maou, I've always thought that Overlord worked quite well. It has a strong enough negative connotation that isn't too harsh (such as tyrant). It also makes fun
Considering the over arching story, shows like these tend to be very wide open and normally result in multiple mini arcs that then make up the series. Because of how short this show is, one would expect better/faster pacing and a need for efficiency to get main plot points out quickly but that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, it seems hellbent on accomplishing as little as possible while attempting to introduce the large array of secondary characters. There's even a goddamned "school trip to the beach" episode which more or less guarantees a waste of budget and an entire episode for fanservice.
It's a shame too, because the cast is fairly diverse and all fairly strong alone. The main character for once isn't some loser, or a reluctant genius. He's a developed, level-headed and self-motivated character who isn't prone to random counter yelling during perverse situations and works well as a decent tsukkomi for comedic relief. The backstory and setting for the world isn't too half-assed either. The ultra-religious undertone existent within the government has been done before, but there's less emphasis on the strong religious aspect which works well to hide the cult-like society and Akuto's goals as well as his actual beliefs that are explained later.
There's also the SINGLE moment when Akuto acts sadistic and evil which counters his general personality but considering the length of the series and the actual main focus of the show, this never gets embellished and the deep infusion of technology with magic is also never explained which left me with many questions. However, as the show progresses on, Akuto's acceptance of the situation around him and his more level headed personality countering the hysteria around him is something interesting to watch. It's quick development in a short period of time but it strengthens Akuto as a good main character.
Considering that airing in 720p is almost standard now, not much can be said about the animation quality except that I'm seeing a lot of stills. It's not noticeable because many of us are used to seeing them in animation, but the very first episode is a good judge of how you'd expect the budget to be spread out. The main and secondary characters are very detailed, and their animation is extremely crisp, while most background characters will stay that way and pretend they're stuck in a landscape painting. Effects are done extremely well. While the 3D modeling needs work (as always. There's never been a case where an anime had well implemented 3D modeling except for Panty&Stocking) particle effects, bloom and general compositing is extremely fluid and nicely meshed into the animation. Actual fight scenes and the use of magic are animated quite well although explosions could use a bit more work. If you look closely enough you can see the repeated layers.
|Bad CG (Seriously, when will animators realize this looks REALLY bad when everythign else doesn't look that spotless?) The track looks great.... but the train.... just... urgh.|
The humor is quite well done. Because of the dynamic range of characters, the comedic points of this show have a bit of extra flair, especially with the observational AI Korone. Not only that, the constant stabs at Akuto's actions and assumptions about the uncanny link to evil is amusing to watch. It's a bit of Schadenfreude as you laugh at Akuto's earnest attempts to establish good rapport with his classmates only for it to backfire on him and help him dig his own grave.
I'm not sure what to say about the music. It seems that since Disgaea, any other show involving Maou seem to follow suit in terms of music. Same instruments are used and similar melodies are borrowed. It's not particularly bad but it does mean that the music then becomes easily forgettable. Oh, and the opening theme is misleading. I have yet to see any part of the show get that dramatic or mindblowing....
It's not a heavy recommend from me. If there's a second season released, I would watch it to see if it improved but I simply can't deal with how much lost potential there was in this show. Regardless, this is currently streaming on hulu via Anime Network, and the DVD and Blu-ray are both out. This show IS visually appealing so the blu-ray will make a significant difference in quality over DVD.
Well.... Disgaea 4 is supposed to be released September 6th, but I've never seen a package take 2 weeks to get across the country.... Soooooo I guess this means I'm getting Disgaea 4 about a week before release..... Nice. I've always wanted an excuse to fall off the face of the earth for a short period of time during summer break.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
First off, let me say "Yes, that is the title of the show." I'm sure you're aware of the tentative grasp of the English language Japanese have, and evidence of such is littered throughout the internet and the country of Japan. So, do I have any idea how to translate that title into something that's understandable? Absolutely not. Nor will I even try. That is simply too much effort and considering I don't have any connections with the industry, I can't even begin to guess at what they were attempting. Funimation's official title is [C] Control - The Money and Soul of Possibility, but even that falls shy of making "perfect" sense. It's just a re-arrangement of where "control" goes and I can see why the title is named as such, but something about it still irks me.
[C] (which is how i'm going to refer to this show assuming wordpress doesn't freak out and assume it's HTML code) is about a college attending economics major named Kimimaro Yoga, who's having financial troubles as he works at a convenience store in attempt to pay the tuition. With a father who disappeared from his life at an early age and a family who can't support his studies, Kimimaro curses the circumstance he's in. It is during one of these days of self-reflection that he meets a man who brings him into the "Financial District," a place where "Entrepreneurs" invest their future (not the financial term, the ambiguous time frame term) and battle with others in an attempt to gain money. However, like in life, even gaining money in the Financial District isn't as easy as it sounds.
If there's anything that should tell you to watch this anime, it's probably that it's one of the few anime in the last couple of years or so that have involved the main character(s) being older than the overused high schoolers. We're finally getting characters that are dealing with their own lives, and trying to find out who they are and what they want in life (high school can get too superficial sometimes).
[C] is an original short 11 episoder meant to be a season filler as well as a testing ground for Tatsunoko Production (I'll explain later on). The budget is fairly solid, story works pretty well and and a as a show overall, it's a good time sink. Nothing award winning but it has a fairly good script, character designs and doesn't get too heavy.
While supposed to look like an average background character, Kimimaro does a pretty good job at looking ordinary yet unique at the same time. The color scheme is probably the saving grace and helps him from blending in too much with the background. His bright sky blue hoodie contrasts pretty well with the lonely, grayed urban backdrop of the normal world and the ultra high-tech appearing, neon flooding Financial District. His primary companion in the Financial District named Mashu is also very distinct, and problematically one of the few humanoid companions of the Entrepreneurs of the Financial District.
I say problematically because this creates the "unique identity isolation effect" if that were to ever be an actual term. Because most of the companions are beast-like beings and the limited cast of main characters seem to have humanoid beings (who also have comparable traits) the art itself unintentionally (or purposefully) isolates these characters into being unique and emphasizing the main reason why they're the main characters. It's irritating to watch sometimes I 'm not one for figurative giant scrolling marquees indicating that because this trait is unique, the character is special.
The world where this show takes place is developed but not quite complex. There are a lot of aerial shots as well as long pans which seem to indicate that they were trying to show off the "large world" that exists within the show, and there are discussions regarding what's happening in other countries with actual English voice actors speaking proper English in an attempt to emulate foreign companies but it's simply not good enough. Development of characters are still far too shallow with the exception of the leads and a select few secondary/tertiary characters but too many of them are far too easily forgettable, which indicates a large problem especially for a show this short. There's also the discussions of morality, the value of future and ethics which seems to bolster the world a bit, but in actuality, it just creates a small "sphere of influence," if you will, around said section that's drifting along somewhere in the world with no concrete connection, especially since most of the show is spent on Kimimaro being wishy-washy. Hell, even the entity that is Kimimaro's father, who is supposed to have some sort of major influence to how Kimimaro became the way he is along with their connection to the Financial District is blurry. If anything, I'd say that's a big problem.
The production values regarding the animation are pretty well distributed.... I think.... Maybe? As I mentioned earlier, this show seems to have been a testing ground for Tatsunoko Production. What I mean by that is the show elements that take place in the Financial District (Mashu, Masakaki) switch between from being rendered in 3D or 2D. Not only that, it seems that quality assurance is inconsistent. One thing is for certain though, the battles and the rendering of the Financial District is very well done and does show off a high budget, which leads me to believe that the inconsistency with characters moving between 2D and 3D is a result of the production team testing something with the models. What's even more unusual though, is that sometimes it's hard to tell that the character is in 3D because of how well they're rendered along with high quality compositing but other times it's very noticiable as the cel-shaded model sticks out in a 2D environment. Tatsunoko isn't an unknown company (to Japanese at least). They may not be as strong as Kyoto but they have some money making cows that can help them fund production for newer shows. Seeing this kind of work from them only leads me to believe they were rushed and were trying different methods during production. I'm expecting this to be fixed into a more consistent style during DVD/Blu-Ray release, SHAFT style.
For the spring season, [C] wasn't too bad. There were a couple others that I was following simultaneously and despite all its issues [C] held up fairly well. I ended up dropping, or not even watching, a handful of shows during the spring season for different reasons but I decided to stick with this one. The development and relations between the main characters of the show were fairly well developed but there was always a feeling that something was missing, and it's a lack of depth with many other characters that have had repeat appearances. Granted it's 12 episodes and thus it's a given that it's going to be missing some content, and depth but this is too much. It's a matter where they're supposed to "show not tell" but they're keeping it too straightforward and simple at times which is keeping this show from being better. The music is too forgettable, while the OP and ED themes fit and showed off the high quality that Tatsunoko is capable of, the actual soundtrack was lackluster. The pacing I would say was pretty good overall, so if this show had gone to 15 episodes or so, it may have helped fix all the problems I mentioned (excluding the animation issues)
I watched this show through Funimation's simulcast stream. If I recall correctly, Anime News Network seems to be in some sort of partnership with Hulu. You should be able to watch the episodes there until DVD/Blu-ray media is released.
Monday, July 11, 2011
First off. I'd like to shift everyone's attention over to sketchpad.tv. ATK decided to go out on a limb and try something new: utilize live streaming and pool viewers together. This way, artists can get more attention and more exposure. We're still looking for artists to stream in certain timeblocks for now we're just hoping that we can garner enough attention.
Secondly. I've decided to start writing for a site called Moar Powah! It's like an "everything" blog but it's made by a college friend of mine. Hopefully, if he starts pushing me with deadlines then I'll be more willing to write stuff on both there and here.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Minato Sahashi has failed his college entrance exams twice and is basically branded a loser. He meets a girl named Musubi who's under attack. Giving her shelter and time, she then tells him that she is a being known as a Sekirei and that he is an Ashikabi, one of a arbitary number of masters who have the ability to contract with some of the 108 Sekirei in existence. Forced into a secret "Sekirei Project" that involves him, Musubi and the city, Minato does what he can to get by.
I know..... It's hard to read. There are so many things that flash warning signs: loser protagonist, random girl falling on him, secret projects, 108 people unrelated to the chinese novel.... In fact. It's a spoiler but to be expected, let me add harem in there as well...
Simply put, if you were to mash Mai-hime and Ikkitousen together, you'd get Sekirei. Without giving too much away, Sekirei are these super human beings who have specific abilities such as controlling fire or being a skilled martial artist. Sekirei also seem to need to be "winged" to fight properly. To "wing" Sekirei, the most general way is to kiss them in which they will then stabilize and follow their Ashikabi, though apparently contact between the mucus membranes also counts.
YES, the anime is massive fanservice.
By the way. I'd like to mention that it's one of the male sekirei mentions that they could go "further" than just kissing, even if he is a bishounen.
I've been trying to figure out a way to deal with this but I'll break it down in the usual manner.
First off, the art style itself isn't bad. Generally the eyes are very round and it's really to each their own. Character designs for the protagonist and main support characters are fairly solid, they all fall into a generic archetype which is kinda annoying.
Moving onto the characters themselves, the protagonist basically forms a harem of cookie cutter girls who have unique abilities which is basically the only thing that's keeping them from being mistaken with another person, and the creator can't seem to decide on whether he wanted a 108 harem fest or if he wanted to actually create 108 distinct "heroes" as you see a handful of male Sekirei, two of which are significant characters though it's still about a 11:1 female-male ratio.
And as usual, we've got a male protagonist, with a self-esteem issue, is a pushover, next to useless, somehow wins the heart of a handful of Sekirei, and would be a "good" character if he only pushed himself.....right. This is probably the biggest turn off for anything for me. I'm so absolutely sick of useless protagonists who have no strengths except for being some sort of arbitrary moral support when he "decides to do something." Christ, even having him attend college would improve my view, but no. He's gotta fail TWICE and be a loser rounin cause "that's when you pick yourself up!" He's also a terrible reluctant protagonist (Saito from Zero no Tsukaima does a better job) and the voice actor is pretty bad.
Setting up the usual harem scheme, this is also supposed to mean massive fan service, and to be honest, I'm on the fence here about this. Having been released a couple years before the "moeblob" and the Seikon no Qwaser/Queens Blade censor pushing era (July 2008 and July 2010 for the first and second seasons respectively) Sekirei was not subject to the stupid pink, airy background with the character yelling "iiiiyaaaaaa" the annoying time wasting scenes we see today. I think I've only seen maybe one or two of these ridiculous glorified scenes that are purely for fanservice only.
That isn't to say there aren't any breasts. There's lots of breasts, so many of the characters are so endowed you'd think there was some sort of disease going going around, and likewise there are also many bathing scenes and instances where breasts are exposed, and while that may seem to be the focus for some people, it feels like one of those cases where the animation production is simply just going along with following the manga and its respective scenes. There's not much glorification on the fact that there's exposed skin (except in the first few episodes) and it almost becomes like an everyday thing where even major plot points are discussed in the nude. There's no frame cut, dynamic angle changes, or change in music, and for that I'm grateful because in some sense, it's actually tasteful, or used as humor. There's one scene where the main characters are discussing something harem related and all you see filling up the frame from different angles are the breasts of the characters talking.
The other type of fanservice is the ikkitousen style of exploding clothes during fight scenes. I don't think it ever gets as bad as ikkitousen where I recall in of the OVAs one of the characters just straight up yells that there aren't enough exposed breasts in the scene but it's on that kind of level.
Moving on, the production values for Sekirei is fairly solid. You do see the occasional still shot, panning corner cutting but most of the fight scenes are crisp and generally don't repeat clips. But it's obvious that they also have a limited budget and know how to evenly distribute it (unlike SHAFT...) but it does also result in some unintentionally hilarious scenes such as this:
|I... um....uh.... I think the answer is C? I mean I think I see something regarding phenotypes but I'm not too sure what a ""oquckdame" is... or the rest of the page for that matter.... You know... maybe Minato really isn't that stupid.|
The story and some of the execution of the plot needs work. Lots of work actually. There are questions that I had about plot points early on that were never addressed, such as "What happens when a Sekirei shuts down?" There are apparently rules that govern fights between Sekirei but it's never explained as of yet about the result. It seems akin to death as that's how the characters in the show are reacting but then there are hints that they can come back or something.... It's sketchy. There's also the issue where in the second season, there's a constant recurrence (almost to where it becomes an inadvertent gag) of the "bad timing" device. The one I'm referring to is where there are two characters who are looking for each other but have bad luck and never do meet resulting said characters being at the same place at the same time but looking in opposite directions or alternating their arrivals at a same place. In general, this isn't a bad device UNLESS THEY NEVER MEET. In that case, it's simply downright irritating and a waste of time. One can only have so much tolerance before it gets annoying, and it occurs throughout an entire season. Overall, however, the main plot is hammered in fairly well (I think...) but it's specifics that get somewhat problematic.
The biggest part about Sekirei that keeps it from being the absolute trash it's over arching plot is supposed to make it out to be are the inter-character relations. In addition to supposedly being all different Sekirei seem to also have been "born" in chronological order starting from number 01 all the way to 108, and within the numbers there are elite groups and members who work under different organizations and are in different political areas of the city the show takes place in. In addition, there's a strong emphasis on "fated" destinies and the belief that Sekirei actually choose their master based upon their reactions to certain people, and of course there are Ashikabi who initiate the "winging" through brute force resulting in a large range and mix of characters that can exist in the world. Putting the main protagonist's harem aside, the show gets fairly deep into tertiary characters, but unfortunately, not deep enough. It falls just short of a complex and well crafted world.
Before I wrap this up, one final thing that amused me (I couldn't really find a place to put this anywhere else) was Kusano's character. She's the 108th Sekirei and the youngest in the entire story I believe. She's supposed to be about 5-8 years old and is one of the few incarnations of the old school "moe" device. For those of you who are unaware. There are actually two uses for "moe." The old school/generation version was used to describe characters (mainly girls) who evoked a platonic love from the viewers for the character. Basically the main difference from the old "moe" and the lolita complex was that moe was non sexual. Nowadays, it's used fairly plainly to mean something that's cute but closer to sexual emotions. Anyway, Kusano is a pretty plain and generic character standalone, but the execution by the creator along with the voice actor made this show a bit more amusing with the occasional jealous fits that Kusano has.
Sekirei is a show that needs work. It's good but not great. It's bad, but not terrible. Depending on your point of view, I would generally say that it ranges at either below average or above average but not the middle itself. It isn't a bad time sink and the physical quality of the show is pretty good. Assuming the manga still runs, Sekirei will probably go for a third season as well.