Life/Blog Update

So this blog has been very quiet since January which has a lot of causes, but it’s mainly due to my anxiety disorder kicking up big time. I’ve started therapy to combat it and while that is working, it’s also draining my energy big time. On top of this I’m studying for my N4 JLPT test in July. Because I’m a massive masochist that way. xD

I’ve got a secondary blog Difficulty Setting Hard on which I chronicle my struggle trying to study while dealing with mental illness.

As for this blog, I have a plan for it and I’ve been doing some prep work. Once I’ve finished my JLPT on 3rd July and come back from the Japan Expo a week later I’ll get started on overhauling this place. Till then you can find me at my second blog, twitter and of course at That Game Club where I’ll be pretending that playing Norn9 is a valid way of studying…

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Project Diva Mirai DX

16282163155_9b5bfa581f If you follow me on twitter you’ve probably seen me tweet pictures from this game. I’ve been playing it for the past several weeks and have spent most of that time clearing songs to earn points so I can buy more cute clothes and stuff.

And there is a lot to buy and do. The first thing that struck me when I started the game was that the main menu was that you have to search for the rhythm section. The first options are dressing up and playing with your vocaloid partner. Besides these you also have the option to go outside to shop or create music and dances in the various studios around town. You can even play PuyoPuyo against your partner. You can access all these features from the beginning, but to get content for them you’ll need to actually play the rhythm game!

The rhythm portion itself is really well put together. I’ve played both Project Diva F games on PS3 and Vita and this game has more songs than both of those to start with. It also allows you to pick button or tap mode, which give you different play styles. The song selection is good, with some of the usual classics like The World Is Mine and Senbonzakura, mixed in with songs I hadn’t encountered yet like Animal Fortune Telling, Sweet Magic and Glow. I’m also really glad to see Happy Synthesizer in the list as it’s a favourite of mine. ^^
CYq9GzGUwAEwG9VWhile the songs are fun, it’s the dress up and, to put it frankly, the grinding for all the costumes, card designs and other bonus things that keeps me coming back to the game. I’ve long since cleared all the songs and gotten the “end credits” but so far the game is proving really, really addictive. So if you have a 3DS and you like vocaloids or rhythm games in general, check this game out.

As a side note, it is pretty rare for games like this to make it to the west, so especially on a region locked system like the 3DS (where I can’t just import the Japanese game) I’m happy to notice I get a fair amount of profile cards for it over streetpass. It’s great to see games like this selling here. Gives me hope that we’ll get more of them in the future. ^^

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Book review: The secret history of MI6

This book details the first 40 years of SIS, or as it’s better known MI6, history. It was commissioned by MI6 and written by historian Keith Jeffrey, who was given full access to their archives. Well full  access by secret service standards, so only in so far as it doesn’t compromise national security or people involved. Though so long after the facts the bigger problem proves the lack of archive. Whether simply never created or destroyed at a later date, keeping the service secret means as little paperwork as possible.

Sadly this means that a lot of story can only be traced through the numbers involved. How many people were stationed where, when and especially: how much it all cost. This made the book really boring to at times and I admit to skipping over parts that were mainly this. On the plus side if you want all the details, this book certainly has them. Luckily there are plenty of fun parts in between this. Details of the duties of technical departments, anecdotes about agents in the field and extracts from letters and diaries are really fun to read.

So if you’re really into MI6, history in general or are researching the subject this is the book for you. If you just want to read some fun real life spy stories, perhaps look around for another book.

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Mahou shoujo tai Arusu

SheilaI found this show while browsing around and started watching on a whim and I fell in love with it right from the first episode. I’m still watching the final “adventure” episodes which are basically little side stories taking place about half way through the main plot I’d guess, but everything so far has been crazy fun and enjoyable. The show centres around a young girl named Alice who lives in the our world for about half an episode before jumping off a building after a magical book her father gave her. This jump doesn’t kill her, but rather she wakes up in a magical world. There she chases after a magical fairy and gets caught by a couple of witches and meets Sheila and Eva. Two young witches with who she ends up living while she learns magic. It turns out though that there’s a crisis in the witches’ world and there aren’t enough fairies any more to allow all the witches to work magic. Alice and the other girls get caught up in the intrigue and plotting of their elders and the plot goes from there.

Dragon home

My absolute favourite part of this show though is the animation and art design. The studio behind this Studio 4C and they are well known for their quirky style and it works so well here. Each fairy is different and fun to look at, the world is gorgeous and their house is built on top of a dragon who flies them around! I’d insert more screenshots, but you really just need to see it all in motion. The character designs and colours don’t really work for me until they start to move then everything just comes alive and sucks me in. The relatively simple drawing style works to really bring out the essentials and give focus to the action. It also has some of the best integrated CG animation I’ve seen in anime. Which is really impressive considering the show is from 2004.

So in conclusion if you want a fun show about magic set in an imaginative world with gorgeous animation, give Mahou Shoujo Tai Arusu a go.

Arusu

If you live in Europe you can watch the show on Viewster where the English title for this show is Tweeny Witches. Which almost made me skip over the show. Tween puts me in mind of marketeers trying to appeal to kids. Considering the original title translates to Magical Girl Squad Alice, I don’t know how they came up with it, but it sucks. But this doesn’t change the fact that the show itself is actually awesome and you should give it go.

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Summer 2011 impressions (part 2)

I was going to do all the anime I tried this season, but it’s just too much so I’ll just do the three show that I’ll be watching this season.

Usagi Drop

This anime is so sweet it’s just a joy to watch. The story starts when Daikichi’s grandfather dies. He left behind his illegitimate daughter a six year old girl named Rin. Nobody in the family wants to take her in, they’re too busy, don’t want the stigma, etc. Daikichi, annoyed with their squabbling and liking what he’s seen of Rin so far decides to take her in. From there on it’s the story of the two of them getting used to each other.

Rin’s cute, but not like Yune from Ikoku Meiro no Croisée. She’s cute because of how she reacts to things, trying to act grown up at times or just being a kid at others. The direction is great too, using minimal conversation and letting the images do the explaining. The slow pace and low action story might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you like a well executed josei story this is for you.

No 6

No 6 is the second Noitamina show this season (Usagi drop is the first) and it’s a completely different show in many ways though it’s similar in others. Both have so far emphasised characters over plot, Usagi more No 6, and both are well animated and directed. No 6 is about a utopian city in a post apocalyptic world. That is to say it’s about a city with a totalitarian regime where everything’s fine until you scratch the surface. Which is exactly what happens to Shion when he runs into Nezumi. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave it at that.

Like I said before, it’s the characters that make this one shine. Shion’s naivite and openness provide a great contrast with Nezumi’s streetwise attitude. The fact that the relationship between these two has a huge BL overtone also helps in my opinion (bring on the doujinshi <3). The pacing’s great, the characters believable, it’s just a really well made anime.

Mawaru Penguindrum

I adore the art direction of this series.❤ It’s just so bright and colourful, full of detail where it needs to be, but without when it isn’t necessary. The plot so far has revealed little of itself, but basically Kamba and Shoma’s sister, Himari, dies because there’s nothing modern medicine can do to save her. However she’s, temporarily?, revived by a Kaizer Penguin hat that occasionally takes command of her body to initiate “survival strategy”. Sounds confusing? It kind of is, but it’s mainly intriguing. Also the Pengi hat comes with 3 helper Pengi’s which are hilarious and adorable at the same time. Not much more I can say about this at the moment.

So that’s this season’s impressions for me. I’m going to try to write here once a week about anime, games or whatever else comes to mind. Though I promise to keep it otaku related.

Jaa ne~

Posted in Anime, First impressions, Mawaru Penguindrum, No 6, Usagi drop | 3 Comments

Summer 2011 first impressions (part 1)

So I guess I didn’t stick with it very well… Never been good at keeping diaries, etc. ^^”

Still I’ve been watching a ton of first episodes this season and I reading the various reviews leaves me wanting to post my own opinion and where better to do this than on my own blog? So here’s yet another attempt of me to get this up and going. I’m afraid I can’t promise to be regular, but if anybody reads this and likes bear with me.

That said lets start with the first impressions:

Blood-C

Saya summed up

Imagine Kobato as a vampire demon hunter and you’ve got the protagonist of this show. Mind-boggling isn’t it? For most of the first part of this episode I was wondering what I was watching. Saya has the same airhead bubbly personality that Kobato has, though luckily they didn’t keep up the tripping over running gag this time. The red and black uniforms felt really out of place…

And then the second part rolled around and suddenly there’s a sacred sword and a downright awesome fight scene.  And that was it, the episode was over. The first half was boring and the second half totally awesome. What really stood out though was the split personality of Saya. Personally I’m going to believe that she acts so over the top nice to everybody because she knows she’s really a vampire and doesn’t want to be. If that’s so we should be in for some interesting moments.

Either way the first episode was too weird to allow me to decide whether I want to watch the rest or not. So I’ll stick with this one for a bit longer. ^^

Kamisama no memo-chou

It’s been a week or so since I watched the first ep of this and I don’t really remember much about it. The male lead has no presence, even the show acknowledges this, but the other characters weren’t particularly memorable either. The main focus of the series is the little NEET girl who plays detective from her room using a computer setup that made me drool. The girl herself annoyed me a bit with her arrogance.

What really struck me though, is that for a series about a detective there appears to be very little to mystery side of the story so far, but perhaps that’ll improve if the series goes on a bit longer.

Sacred Seven

A private, sniper rifle wielding, army of french maids. That pretty much sums up this series to me. It’s silly, camp and gloriously overdone. Now if the characters and the story can become just a tad bit more interesting it’ll be a truly great show to watch.

Ikoku meiro no Croisée

So much innuendo… Oh wait, that’s just my dirty brain. xD The girl, Yune, is cute and pretty much devoid of personality. The rest of the cast is just devoid of personality. If it wasn’t for the fact that my fiance and I spent this entire episode cracking loli jokes at it I would’ve fallen asleep.

The plot is nothing more than a 11 year old girl coming to 19th century Paris to act as poster girl for a failing metallurgy shop. That’s it, from there on it’s just watching bland characters interact in predictable ways. I can’t say more about it, ’cause I can’t remember more of it. It was just so bland and no cute doll-like girl can change that.

Posted in Anime, Blood C, First impressions, Ikoku meiro no Croisée, Kamisama no memo-chou, Sacred Seven | Leave a comment

Ridiculous romance

*Warning spoiler heavy rant*

So I watched the seventh episode of Bakuman a few days back and to be honest, it was the first episode I didn’t enjoy watching. The main reason, it focused nearly completely on the most stupid romance plot I’ve come across so far and I’ve read my share of teen romance books.

Basically the driving force of this entire anime series is a promise between the male lead, Mashiro, and his flame Azuki. The promise each other to get married once they’ve achieved their dreams. For Mashiro this means becoming a mangaka and Azuki wants to be a seiyu. So far, so good and pretty cute too. I mean a couple driven by a promise, cheering each other on is something I enjoy watching. However, the mangaka’s who created this story felt it was necessary to add a twist: until they achieve their dreams they won’t speak to each other only communicate through e-mail.

How bloody retarded is that? Pardon my Klatchian, but this just annoys the hell out of me. If you truly love each other, then why, why would you make a promise like that? Wouldn’t you want to get closer to the object of your love? I know I wanted to. Also with this promise, what happens if you don’t reach your goal? As far as I can see they plan on just giving up then and never pursuing this course again.

To me this raises some questions about the Azuki, who was after all the one to suggest this. Why did she suggest it? Is she so naive that she just straight out believes neither of them will fail and it’ll all just be plain sailing till they get married in 5 years or so? I find this kind of hard to believe for one reason: didn’t she get this idea from her mother? After all her mother had a very similar romance, which went absolutely nowhere, because the object of her affections couldn’t reach his goal before she decided to marry someone else. Considering the huge house she now lives in this plot device is starting to feel like a test to me. Either become good enough to provide me with a stable income or I will marry someone else.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. Perhaps Azuki really is that naive and seltered. That doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an absolutly ridiculous romance plot which I would prefer to see axed as soon as possible.

On a side note, what was up with Shujin suddenly turning around and saying they’d compete for the Tezuka price after hearing that their first manga didn’t make it as a finalist. Shouldn’t that fact just go towards proofing his point that they need more time to craft a well-rounded manga? Oh well, I guess the plot demanded more action. Next time more manga please and less of this excuse of a romance.

EDIT:

So it’s been several years since I wrote this post and boy have I learned a lot since then. Mostly I’ve learned a lot more about the patriarchy and how it works and influence our media. So now I realise that the above plot point is really a way of literally making Azuki a reward for Mashiro. A sad and extremely overused trope.

However, considering the culture we live in and how hard it can be for girls to say no to guys for fear of retribution my head canon will now be that this is Azuki’s way of getting rid of Mashiro. She daren’t say no to this gun-ho guy, so instead devises this plan to get rid of him. Knowing with his poor discipline he’ll never make it.

(NOTE: I don’t care what actually happens in the manga/anime. I’ve long since dropped this anime over my frustrations with the Azuki & Mashiro sub-plot and I’m never picking it up again.)

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