Archive for January, 2007

Nazo Nazo

Sometimes it's the little things that spark off a grand and lengthy mental journey that ends up taking several hundred words' worth of space to fully ramble out. The culprit for this one was the full ending dance of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, one of the happiest songs I've heard.

MoHS is, shall I say, a controversial fandom. I won't say it's a controversial series, since it's not that complicated to figure out, but it's already gotten the popularity surge and backlash that has taken over a great many discussions. One cannot have the latter before the former, since it may well be that some people genuinely dislike the series, but it's only after seeing all the people who do like it that they feel the need to speak out about their dislike. That, more than the "I'm rebelling against popular trends" sorts, is what I believe to be the source of a popularity backlash. Nobody's going to really know if you think a series is overhyped if a) the series is not hyped to a great amount in the first place, and b) you don't actually mention your opinions about said series.

I'm not going to try to change anyone's opinions about the series. If you think it's awesome, great. If you think it sucks, also great. I really don't care if you like it or not; I don't evangelize shows or interests. What I get irritated about is if I get shows or opinions evangelized onto me (hence why I don't do it to other people), and this seems to happen a lot with MoHS, as opposed to other series like, say, Read or Die. The sad part is that this often works, to some extent; when I read all the bashing of MoHS that goes on, I can feel my enthusiasm for the series, and indeed anime in general, waning greatly. I just can't really understand being defined by hate instead of love for something, which to me is what being a fan is all about.

But that's probably just a character failing of mine.

One of the things that irritate me when people bash MoHS is when they do so and give no real reason that tells me why they, personally, don't like it. "It's overhyped" doesn't really cut it for me; does that mean that they would like it if it weren't hyped at all? If so, why the furious bashing of the show, instead of the hyping? So on and so forth.

And so, I'll use this space (MY BLOG, MINE MINE MINE) to give, in a typically disjointed rambling fashion, the reasons why I absolutely love The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I'll be putting aside judgements on plot and story and style, since while I think that they are great, it's all been discussed to death before and boiled down to "because I like them".

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People who Know Me Long Time would probably have guessed that given a choice between three factions of Humans, Swarming Aliens, and Artificial Intelligences, I'd pick the AIs over pretty much anything. I felt that Durandal (Marathon) and SHODAN (System Shock) and even 343 Guilty Spark (Halo) were incredibly, utterly awesome characters in their own right. I have no logical or rational reason for this other than sheer unbridled fanboyism.

Now, it's not that I liked them, as much as I liked thinking about them. AIs in fiction fascinate me, especially those which are supposed to be "more powerful", so to speak, than normal human beings. The AI could be the antagonist and I could be rooting for the protagonists as per usual and cheer when the AI is defeated, but until then, I want to learn as much about this AI as possible, and how it actually worked (within the confines of its fictional universe, of course). I suppose it's the appeal of seeing what a near-omnipotent non-human entity can and will do, and how it goes about doing it.

Therefore, when I finally picked up The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, I gravitated towards my usual interest, and the TechnoCore caught my immediate attention. I had read Hyperion (the previous and first book in the series) before that, but I wasn't used to the style of writing then, and so I'll probably be re-reading it soon.

But why did I pick up the books anyway? Simple: they were featured in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Specifically, The Fall of Hyperion was shown in episode 2 (Kyonologically), as Yuki Nagato was reading it. The following contains major spoilers for the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, as well as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, for the entire anime run and up to volume 7 of the novels. Read on at your own risk. Also, I'm going to be going into Fanfiction What-If mode.

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An unexpected announcement.

I'm not really a big fan of Happiness. While I'm usually a sucker for harem-comedy anime, especially visual novel conversions, there's just something about Happiness that makes me feel weary and bored after watching half an episode. I think part of it is due to the mediocre animation quality, and the strange use of colour gradients that make it feel too bright and overexposed. The music also didn't really hook me as much as some other shows at the time, and finally, the lack of fansubs made following this show a lot more effort than I thought was worth it.

Still, there was the one thing that made Happiness remotely interesting to me was the resident trap Jun Watarase, and yes, his trappiness was one factor in my interest. It's actually more that Jun is not only just a trap, but also a) an attractive trap, and more importantly, b) one of the guys. Watching him interact with Yuuma and Hachi in such a natural, easygoing way, while Haruhi and the others were going all "does he love me? does he hate me?" felt refreshing and fun. In a harem comedy, Jun fills the role of the Close Friend, who isn't a horny guy or a potential love interest girl (at least not in the official game). The frustration with deciding on a suitable gender pronoun seems minor by comparison.

After it became clear that there wasn't going to be a whole lot of Jun screentime in the series (since Jun is, sadly, a side character), I stopped watching Happiness after episode 4 or so. However, when I heard that the OVA was going to be Jun-centric, I decided to watch that all the way through. Watarase Jun no Kareinaru Ichinichi ("Watarase Jun's Day as a Pretty Girl") turned out to be fairly entertaining, but didn't really exceed my expectations or anything.

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Opening Video scenes.

<rankendrake> Don't worry, according to what I read… Izen multiplies like bacteria, so there's unlimited of her to go around

Most people will probably have heard of Gadget Trial by now. If not, then some explanation might be in order: Gadget Trial is a bishoujo game that plays something like Advance Wars. (For those who have no idea what AW is, it's a sort of turn-based military strategy game, with units moving around a square-based map, and attacking each other via short cutscenes. There's quite a bit more, but then it gets into irrelevant details.) The demo (in Japanese) can be obtained here, as well as the rather amusing demo video trailer. An unofficial English patch, for the demo and the full game, can be found here.

The game is very clean, at least up to Mission 6 (which is where I've played until). I didn't see anything that would even be considered remotely risque, although I'd hesitate to say that little kids can play this game, simply because this is a game about blowing things up, albeit cartoon violence (no blood or gore). There's a few bits of dialogue which goes into great detail about being "murderers" and "weapons of mass destruction", played up for laughs. So it's safe in terms of sex, safe in terms of the depiction of violence, but maybe not so safe in terms of violent words.

The premise is that this is some time in the future, after the last world war of unspecified number. The ETU has developed the E-series robots, which look like cute girls entirely because this would raise troop morale. I defecate you not: that's the actual reason given. Of course, being that the E-series is supposed to replace generic human soldiers, I'm not sure whose morale is supposed to be raised. Anyway, of these robots, there's the White version (ie yours, the player's), and the Black version (ie the computer opponent). The White version has emotions and personalities and such (can think for themselves, but are more difficult to control), while the Black version are more like typical emotionless robots (completely obedient to commands and has slightly better processing power, but incapable of improvisation). Now, the military has decided to pit these two versions against each other in practical trials, in order to decide which version will be mass-produced.

In short: White team vs. Black team. Both attempt to blow each other up. Kill everyone that's not on your team or capture your opponent's buildings for the win.

Usually I don't like to play turn-based strategy games, since I lose incredibly easily. This is largely because I have problems sacrificing my lesser units for temporary gain, as is essential in basic strategy and tactics. It took most of my meagre gaming ability to get to as far as I am, and I believe there are about 20 or so missions in total (no tutorials as such; it's mostly on-the-job training). The thought of seeing all the bishoujo game scenes between actual missions was more or less the only thing keeping me going at times; the power of moe compelled me.

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The Grand List of Console Role-Playing Game Cliches, number 40. Zelda's Axiom:

Whenever somebody tells you about "the five ancient talismans" or "the nine legendary crystals" or whatever, you can be quite confident that Saving the World will require you to go out and find every last one of them.

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Nagato desu.

Thanks to Maestro, I am now the reasonably proud owner of an anime blog.

I'll be spending the next few weeks trying to learn all the various ins-and-outs of WordPress and the like. I've got a fairly good grip of HTML 4.01, and XHTML 1.0 doesn't seem to be that different. I've only started practicing CSS2, though, and while I'm confident in the simple things like making the text look all pretty, floating block placement and sidebars are a bit much.

And then there's WordPress, and the choice of plugins, and the general vocabulary of blogging in general. "Trackback"? What's that? "RSS"? Speak English, dammit.

Anyway, please be patient with me while I try not to break the site any more than I have to.

While I fiddle around with the settings, I'll just mention a bit about myself, and what this blog is likely to be about. I'll probably clean up these ramblings and place it in the "About Me" page, but until then, this will have to do. Also, these will be long and self-absorbed, which will probably give you a hint about posts to come.

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