Yeah, can’t really draw aircraft well. But then again, I hardly practice so why am I even complaining?
Enough of that!
I said the same thing over at DA but, sorry for pretty much just disappearing for a while there.
Life’s been keeping me busy and I haven’t really had much motivation left for anything, I guess…
So what have I been up to lately?
Well, first off, I’ve got a SoundCloud-account now so I can easier torment friends & family with some home-made “musical pleasure” from yours truly. Also bought a cheap MIDI-keyboard, so that helps.
I also bough myself a new laptop…errr laptop hybrid – A Surface Pro to be more precise. I should probably write about that sometime but I quite like it overall. It’s a bit of a compromise…okay, it’s a compromise in many areas but all my other laptops are far too slow for most things nowadays, and I can draw on the Surface so there’s that.
Windows 8.1 is pretty okay actually, and it makes sense on something like this. Sticking with 7 Ultimate on my desktop machine, however.
I’m also finally a part of the smartphone crowd. Took me long enough! Ended up with a Sony Xperia SP, while not perfect, serves me pretty well. Couldn’t replace a dedicated proper portable device though, hence the Surface Pro.
As for loot and stuff, well, I’m always buying stuff but just didn’t get around to post about it. Did go a christmas spending spree however so when those things show up I could post about it. And lastly, I’ve found myself getting more into the world of Hi-Fi and often find myself at sites such as Head-Fi.
I did actually buy a new pair of headphones recently, the JVC HA-S500. There’s a thread about them on Head-Fi and I quite like them. I already have the S400 but found it lacking in “punch” sometimes, especially when worn outside. The S500 is not perfect however but worst of all, I’m afraid it’s a pretty effective gateway drug into more expensive gear. Not sure my wallet could take more abuse…hm hm.
With that said,
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
And here’s to hoping 2014 will be a good (and active) year 🙂
* Translators note: “bishoujo” means pretty girl.
So, I just had a little commenting back and forth going on with Walter, a guy who takes his Fire Emblem very seriously. If you do have even a passing interest in the series, his blog seems like a good place to stop by.
Right, so, what activated this discussion was that Walter addressed Tokimeki Memorial as a visual novel. And I reacted to that – thought that didn’t feel quite right. But, you know, during this short comment box conversation it struck me that the different genres in which all these pretty girl games belong to, they sort of blur together. Genres are mixed with each other, and because these games are primarily still in Japanese, and really only can be looked on as a niche interest for some of us, there’s probably a fair bit of confusion going on.
So basically, instead of derailing that comment field even further, I thought I’d just try and get my thoughts out there and how to tell genres apart…etc!
This might turn into another long post, so be prepared going in 🙂
Let me just start off by dropping some words:
Galge, bishoujo game, visual novel, (adult) adventure game, dating simulation, digital comic and eroge.
(This will work wonders on my search statistics! 😀 )
These are the genres I could think if from the top of my head. Clearly, that’s a fair number. The problem with these are that, these genres manifest themselves not so much visually, as they do through actual gameplay – or lack thereof. So when just having a quick look at games from these different genres, they will probably look pretty samey. They do use the same kind of visual cues, using a similar interface and just generally have a nearly identical presentation.
To see how the games differs, one must observe the actual mechanics of play used in these different genres.
And before I begin, please note that I’m not an expert either – just have a very strong idea of what I think is right here so feel free to call me out 🙂
I want to start with separating the visual novel from the rest of the bunch, as it’s both popular right now and I think it’s possible people might use it as an umbrella term for all the others.
Visual novels, or “VNs” seem to have gained a fair bit of following in the west – Katawa Shoujo, anyone? Also, games from developer KEY comes to mind (Air, Clannad, Kanon) as they have received popular anime adaptions courtesy of studio Kyoto Animation, and thus been able to reach out more than most VNs that just stay in Japan.
To me, a visual novel is just that. It’s a branching novel being told through the use of text and visual imagery. A fancy, digital create-your-own-adventure kind of thing.
Usually, or the ones that I’ve played, these games do not offer very much in the form interaction or exploration – instead they’re all about delivering a story. You play this game to experience the story, the characters in it and what they experience throughout their respective story routes.
By making choices when prompted you dictate which way the story will develop. Some choices are obvious, some less so. Playing a visual novel game is about finding the route you seek, learning what choices to avoid and generally just getting lost in the world painted up – getting immersed. In terms of pacing, most VNs I’ve played takes you through a single day at a time, so you can immerse yourself in the life of…whoever you’re supposed to be.
Examples: Fortune Arterial, every game from Key, Gift, ToHeart 2, Katawa Shoujo, and many many more.
Adventure & Digital comics
This is such a broad term. And it’s not to be confused with old Lucas Arts games either 😛
The “adventure” game might look like a visual novel, and it too might have a pretty heavy emphasis on storytelling. The difference is how they go about delivering this to you.
Contrary to the visual novel, where the idea is immersion through following a story and then dictate where it goes, adventure is about immersion through the interaction and exploring of the game world. The story will proceed once the player has met certain criteria or taken certain actions.
How this goes about is that, as you’d expect, you have choice of where to go, who to talk about and about what. What item you want to use to solve a problem etc.
To my understanding, adventure games and dating sims, which are similar but still different, were more common a number of years back and today seem to have been almost completely replaced by visual novels. Are they just easier to make, or what? 😛
Examples: EVE-series, Snatcher, Policenauts, Doukyuusei.
Now, similar to adventure games, but much more straight forward, are the digital comics. They can be a lot more linear and as a result easier to go through. Think of them as a light adventure game.
Examples: Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, Urusei Yatsura * Stay with you, RANMA 1/2 Toraware no Hanayome.
This is an interesting one. It might still contain traces of both the visual novel and adventure game, but the focus seems to be on managing. Managing what? Parameters, most often.
Exactly what you’ll be doing can differ though. Sometimes you’re just managing your daily day to day life, other times you’re tasked with managing a group of people – there are a number of different “sims” out there. Dating sims and raising sims, to name two popular ones.
For example, a dating simulation would be about getting to know girls, then date them with the goal of entering a relationship. These girls might be attracted to different attributes which you can improve as the game progresses. A raising sim on the other hand, is about managing another person. For example, the Graduation games are about helping a number of students with different personalities and strengths/weaknesses graduate.
In another game you’re handed with the task overseeing a group of idols and making sure they get popular. Or maybe train a fighter. There are lots of variations on this.
Interestingly enough, even though the focus is on gameplay rather than storytelling – some of these aren’t so empty on story as one would think.
Examples: Tokimeki Memorial, Graduation, The IDOLM@STER, Princess Maker, Pia Carrot, Comic Party.
There are other genres too of course, such as strategy RPGs and simulation RPGs and so on, which borrow the same visual presentation as these do. In fact, the visual novel way of story telling is a very easy and effective way of both introducing characters and progressing a story with limited resources have therefore seen widespread use.
For example, a tactical strategy game could contain visual novel-style story telling and let units gain experience points in an RPG like fashion. They could also feature different amount of adult content and thus complicate things further. Which brings me to…!
What about galge & eroge? Galge is short for “gal game” and I lump that together with the bishoujo game (pretty girl game) genre. I suppose as long as a game contains pretty girls as it’s main theme it can be considered a galge/bishoujo game. It’s like a very broad generalisation of all games discussed here.
Eroge, erotic game, means that the game features erotic content as a major theme – and to my knowledge doesn’t say anything exactly about actual gameplay mechanics, just that it will feature such content. In essence, there’s an important difference between an eroge and a game which features erotic scenes in it’s narrative context. Anyone that has ever tried to play a visual novel for it’s adult content probably knows what I mean – it can take AGES before you get to see anything 😀
Actually, on the topic of adult content, there seems to be common notion on the internet that most, if not all, galge/pretty girl games are porn. Well, they are not and the easiest way to tell if a game has adult content or not, is to see for which platform or system was this game released.
Generally, console releases are free from or feature very little in the case of such material. Some games are more risqué than others (i.e. fanservice) but you should not be seeing any direct, full on pr0n in any major console release. Except for the NEC PC-FX library which totally got that going on. But the PC-FX wanted to be like a PC, and that’s where you’ll find it. If a game has a PC release, it’s pretty safe to assume – even if a console version of the same title exists and doesn’t – that it will have adult content.
What usually happens is a game is released on the PC and it features adult scenes and material. Later said game gets ported to a popular game console and, in line with the restrictions or wishes from the company behind the console, the potentially “offensive material” is removed. Often a new character or route is added to make this version seem interesting still.
This is what normally happens with popular PC titles when ported to consoles. For example, Comic Party was first released for PC and it featured adult scenes with the heroine of your choice at the end of her story progression. Comic Party was then ported to the Dreamcast, dubbed Comic Party DCE or “Dreamcast edition”. Now, the endings were changed and the porn removed. A new character, Subaru, was also added. Later on, this version, Comic Party DCE was brought back to the PC, again sans porn.
However, sometimes, things happens the other way around. Popular visual novel ToHeart 2 was released to much acclaim on the Playstation 2. When it later got a PC port, however, they added erotic content to the endings of each character and dubbed it “ToHeart 2 X-Rated”. On top of this, a new character & route was also added.
So it can go both ways, really. The most important thing about this however is that I wouldn’t call ToHeart 2 a straight up eroge – because the porn is not the reoccurring theme – it’s not the point, it’s more of a “reward” because it’s at the utmost end of a characters route. Like, “here’s something for your hard work!”. A carrot, if you will. Now whether this is content you wish to see or not is another question.
So, if a game is all about meeting cute girls in order to proceed on with the mating, it’s an eroge, if it’s a visual novel with some porn in the end, it’s more of like an adult visual novel. See what I’m getting at?
It’s really easy to see why things tend to get confusing after a while – without seeing the game in action long enough to determine just what kind of game it is, it can sometimes be almost impossible to tell them apart 😀
And if you want a modern, popular example of a game which at first can be hard to categorize, what about the Ace Attorney-games? It’s a lawyer simulation with a slight arcade feel, featuring both visual novel style story telling and adventure segments where you look for cues. And if we stretch this quite a bit further…what about James Bond movies? All that I’ve seen (not that many actually) has featured Mr.Bond in bed with at least one lady at some point in time, but the Bond movies are not sold together with the smut on the 18+ shelves. It might feature adult scenes, but it’s not actually about them. It’s like the reverse of why you don’t watch smut for “the plot”.
Anyway, I’ve ranted on long enough – need some breakfast! 🙂
After all these loot posts, let’s talk anime for a change.
Winter season 2013 is upon us and the shows I was thinking of checking out have slowly started started to emerge. In all this, after checking out the first episodes of about 3 new shows, I felt a sudden craving for more.
Because I could skip the first few episodes, I was able to marathon it yesterday after work.
Turns out what I wrote back then still holds up to how I felt watching it now.
I think I’ve managed to pinpoint exactly what it is that I had against the show when watching it last time – Ano Natsu often is incredibly awkward. Well, romance shows all tend to be a bit like that but Ano Natsu manages to create some very embarrasing scenes in too few episodes. That’s one thing that really put me off when watching this.
The other thing was the pretty the vague connection to the Onegai-series, as I mentioned in my old post. I just can’t put my finger on who this show really is for. Is it for those who’ve seen Onegai Teacher/Twins or is it intended as a stand alone piece of work? The problem is, in my opinion, it manages to be neither of those things and once again, ends up feeling odd, slightly out of place and again, awkward.
To be fair, Ano Natsu de Matteru is actually a pretty decent/good romance show. After all, I rather liked it, despite some issues I’ll discuss below.
Characters are pretty decent, production quality is good and it never gets too sappy or depressing – So, all criticism aside it’s probably worth a watch.
But that’s not what I want to get at. No, more like, what is the purpose of Ano Natsu’s existence?
Here’s the problematic bit. It’s exactly not a secret that this show bother heavily from the Onegai-saga. The story about the girl who crashes her spaceship on earth and gets involved with a spectacled boy and his friends in the progress, should feel very familiar to anyone who has ever read the plot description of Onegai Teacher. The characters also feel familiar, though not everyone is represented this time. They are not really carbon copies, but they are playing a similar role. Add to that a lush, laid back rural scenery and the fact that the overall “sound” of the music score would feel right at home in both Onegai Teacher and it’s follow up. The “feel” and mood is pretty similar as well.
Not to mention all the moments of “hey, does this sound familiar to you?” *hint hint* *nudge nudge*
It doesn’t go all the way, however. At any second, I was expecting Ichika to blurt out that she’s a relative/descendant of Mizuho/Kei and Lemon to reveal that she’s actually Ichigo and hasn’t aged a bit. In fact, that was Ichigo’s “schtick”, if I remember correctly.
But the ending was pretty vague (i.e. they didn’t make it super obvious), so for an airhead like me, the connection is still pretty much up for discussion.
I guess for me, Ano Natsu doesn’t feel so much like a sequel as a semi-reboot. I do not mean a total reboot. More like, the staff wanted to tell the story again but with a new cast.
….aaaand, I’m not really sure how I feel about that.
See, I quite liked the old cast. Let’s be honest here. Onegai Teacher is far from the best romance show ever made and certainly not without it’s flaws. But something about it catches me every time.
I really liked seeing the couples form during it’s run and in my eyes, the best thing that ever happened to Onegai Teacher was Onegai Twins. I mean, yeah, the new cast was pretty good I guess (okay, I quite like them) but what I enjoyed the most was that because the setting remained the same, you sort of got like an epilogue to the original show as well. I always thought that was kinda neat.
Probably was something like that I was hoping for this time around too. I didn’t at first, I just thought Ano Natsu would have a similar feel thanks to the screenplay writer and character designer being involved was the same as in Onegai. But when the first episode turned out the way it did, the comparisons (and the expectations) were most likely inevitable.
In the end, now, I can’t help but to wonder if we ever will get any more Onegai-related releases, be it anime, manga, drama CDs or novels, or if this served as the staff’s final hurrah with this IP.
I sure know I could take another entry. 🙂
Actually, looking over at the wiki, Ano Natsu has been adapted to both manga, light novels and a book, but you know what I mean! 😉
Lastly, I’m left with a few personal gripes with Ano Natsu:
* Lemon, despite all the badassery in the end, feels rather flat as a character this time ’round. She’s mostly just played for comedic relief and plot convenience. Not that Ichigo didn’t play a similar role in Onegai Twins, but she was a tad deeper in Teacher.
* Despite being aired early 2012, no one seems to have a cell phone. Is this some kind of alternative future? Are they really teenage students? I can’t go outside the door without seeing young kids having a smarter phone than me. They’re pretty much everywhere and I have no reason to believe Japan would be any different, not even in the countryside. Except if like…the reception is really bad or something retarded like that. There were a couple of times where they all went “oh man, did you know where he/she went? I’ve gotta look for him/her!!”, and the fact that nobody seemed to start off by making a phone call just seemed…unreal. 😀
* Which brings me to the point of, that old camera is fine for filming for fun, but when making the darn movie, just use a normal camera. Waugh! D:
Allright, that’s quite enough of me ranting.
I somehow managed to misplace or loose my debit card last Friday after I did a bit of shopping in the local mall. I noticed the day after when I was going to pull the card out to pay for a magazine and a train ticket. Good thing I had some cash on me as well. Since I couldn’t find it after a very thorough search, I called in and blocked the card.
A new one should probably be in my hands at the end of this week at least but right now I can’t buy stuff online, and that’s…surprisingly annoying.
I bet my wallet like me better this way, however. I’m sure that by next week I will be back, spending full force *hint* again.
…maybe I should lose it more often.
It’s hard not to think about the state of the anime industry after just having watched the first episode of Eureka Seven: AO and reading a bit of ANN’s spring anime guide, as well as remembering some of the discussion on their forums when the Otomo Katsuhiro, creator of Akira said that that the anime industry wasn’t doing well and that there wasn’t enough money for the kind of big movie productions he would like to see.
Whenever the state of the anime industry is the subject of discussion, there’s always two opposite opinions that quickly shows up and starts clashing with each other.
The first one is that the industry is dying, having lost a lot of it’s past creativity and constantly pamper to otaku by serving one fan service-filled moe*-checklist anime after the other, in the hopes of earning money on merchandise and sales of DVDs & Blu-Rays which, in addition to slightly improved artwork, often contain less censoring.
The other one is that the industry actually doing pretty good (some parts of it, anyway) and that the ones who constantly complain about moe-anime need to accept that anime isn’t going to be the “their anime” forever and it now has new fans to cater to. It’s easier then ever to create anime, thanks to the digitalisation of the tools involved and we can now legally enjoy a new show in high definition through streams, pretty much the same time it airs in Japan. Complaints about an high amount of fanservice is often countered with that many old shows the old timers like, just like new anime, contains fan service, so it’s a weird point to get all worked up about.
I would say both of these opinions are, to a certain extent, correct. I don’t think the anime industry is thriving and I too have a harder time with each passing anime season to find shows I really like & care about. But at the same time, I know that franchises such as K-ON!, Madoka & Strike Witches are wildly popular and does great damage to the idea that there’s just too little money to be had in the industry. In some cases, a show like K-ON! might actually help another seemingly unrelated market, like, for example the market for musical instruments – since Yui & the others uses real brand instruments. Heck, it’s not only instruments, I want to remember there being a bit of a hunt for the particular pair of headphones Mio used. Clearly, there’s still money to be had here, maybe especially now when it seems companies and studios are quite sure what the fans like. So they make more of it, as is a usual and well proven business practice I’m having a hard time faulting them for, in a business sort of view anyway.
No, the industry is still alive. It has certainly changed, but I don’t see it go away any time soon.
What is at stake on the other hand, is it’s skill. The old guard of well known animators and directors have aged, some have even passed away and others are just not very active. Also, quite a bit of animation work is being outsourced to studios in other countries and the use of computer generated graphics seems to have become standard practice. It’s true that it saves time when creating complex scenes & special effects, but it also removes precious practice opportunities for the animators themselves.
I remember reading that they used CG for soldiers and horses in one of the upcoming Berserk movies because they didn’t have anyone that could animate that sort of thing well enough.
The fact that the tools of the trade has almost gone completely digital is probably the saddest part of all for me. Even though it makes the work easier and probably less expensive. I know we commonly get some pretty sweet animation in TV-anime now that a couple of years back would’ve showed up in an OVA instead. I remember when I watched You’re Under Arrest and how bad the TV-series looked compared to the OVA, even though it was a newer production. There is no lack of evidence that the quality of TV animation has improved. But here’s the sad part. Digital anime have a tendency to look too clean, sterile even, and sometimes the colors feel washed out as well. It feels like the human touch has disappeared in the end result. As for the colors, I think the problem lies with that you’re able to pick any color you want. That might sound a bit odd but let me explain: cells in older anime was painted by hand with special cell colors. These were strictly defined and even colors close to each other had a certain “gap” in tone. When picking a color digitally, and this is something I’ve experienced myself all to often, it can be hard to choose fitting colors that are not too bright or too dark, especially when it comes to add shading to another already colored area. Also, the way anime is colored have changed during the years, currently, it seems to be popular to use a quite minimalistic kind of coloring. At least when compared to the colorful explosion that was the 80s.
The digital workspace has another, very special drawback as well. The amount of leftover material from the production has diminished greatly. This might sound as a weird thing to nag about but, remember all those people that collected anime cells? Well, there is no such thing to collect any more.
To be honest, not every cell is something you’d want in your collection and the ones I see for sale online from time to time are mostly stuff that no one wanted to buy, for a good reason. But overall, it is my personal understanding that those whose appreciate the art of creating an anime, those interested in the actual production and the people behind it, are not a group you see too many of in anime fandom today. People gush over voice actors, idols & illustrators, sure, to a certain extent also character creators & directors, but not that many talk about their favorite animators and the like.
Therefore it is very refreshing to find a blog like Anipages and it’s forum community. I’m not well educated enough to be able to participate in such discussions, but I enjoy their existence. Probably even more now that my Laser Disc collection is growing and I find myself watching those older shows again. I love it because I appreciate the handiwork.
Does anyone remember those DAICON openings GAINAX did, by the way? Those are still pretty famous and gets thrown around a bit, but there are also other similar pieces of animation done by other grups, such as the opening for URACON III and maybe even more curiously, an opening animation for Anime Expo 1993. You read that right, even an American con had it’s own hand-animated opening sequence. That pretty much blew my mind when I found out.
DAICON IV opening animation. You can skip to 2:00 if you are impatient.
URACON III opening animation.
Anime Expo 1993 opening animation.
When trying to dig out gems like these, I’ve found a whole slew of newer, modern independent anime and they pretty much follow the same trends as their commercial counterparts. Many are experimental, but instead of experimenting with animation, they experiment with themes & storytelling.
This is turning out to be a little long winded and it feels I’m starting to go off-track, so I should probably stop spewing words now but, to sum it up, I think that the animation industry is doing okay. I’m not a fan of everything it produces and in the digital transition it lost some part of it’s soul, but we gained HD-resolution anime and streaming (which I’m not really interested in, weirdly enough). For those that prefer productions that still have a bit of the old feel left, movie-anime seems like a better bet, rather than TV-anime. Still, I guess things could be worse. As far as I understand, the manga industry probably have more of a problem.
But that’s for another day.
Geesh, this post makes me seem much older than I am. I didn’t even get into anime until the 2000s.
* It is a japanese slang word, that has become quite common nowadays.
It’s originally intended meaning is referring to a love for a certain character or a fetish however it can also now describe a non-sexual love for something, like a hobby.
Sean over @ Retro Otaku wrote a post that made me sit down and think about these things.
Time to sit down and get serious for a moment.
All contemporary things will one day be called “retro”. Even the Xbox 360 and PS3 cannot escape that. This feels more relevant than ever, since rumours about their successors have been begun roaring their heads. Yes, both these systems are actually starting to get old – and I haven’t had them that long at all! Figures.
But when we sit there in the future with our new Xboxes and Playstations, I will probably have a hard time calling the old systems retro the same way I can do with for example the Saturn, SNES or PC Engine.
In fact, I will go out on a limb here and say that the last “true” generation of consoles that are now considered to be retro, is the 6th generation, that is to say the Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Gamecube & the original Xbox. Why? Because they’re easily collectable.
Think about this for a moment: With any of these systems, you can pick one up used (obviously, good luck finding a new one…that is not a PS2), a couple of games and be on your way. That sounds easy and simple, right? But so many things, security measures and “features” have been introduced during this current generation of gaming consoles (the 7th generation) that such a simple thing might not actually work a few years in the future. Or even now. We’ve got accounts connected to things like Xbox LIVE & Playstation Network, which may or may not need signing in order to access the systems features, we have always-online DRM, online passes, we have digital distribution and we have downloadable content, DLC. Owning a physical copy of a game doesn’t mean you can get away from all this, as you might still need to use a service such as Steam in order to access and play it. All of which lifts “power” from our hands and it also makes any sort of preservation bloody difficult. Oh and collecting. Better buy those Live Arcade games now before they cease to exist and hope that hard drive won’t break down.
What if, 10 years down the line you want to replay a game that’s out now, that isn’t a “game of the year” or complete edition, including all DLC released for it and so on, in order to enjoy “the full experience”, without having bought all that stuff earlier? Would you be able to do that? I don’t know. We don’t know. Some services might have the content stored for longer periods of time, like Steam, since the timeline for PC gaming is much more dynamic. If if was a 360 or PS3 game? Don’t count on it, unless you can get your hands someone else’s hard drive or something.
And that’s the problem we’re facing now and surely will continue to face with the next generation of gaming consoles. It’s probably safe to believe that your contemporary gaming system of choice won’t become a brick when the new systems arrives but I’m pretty sure we can forget having access to the complete library of games released. And that sucks.
Long live the last generation of truly collectable systems!