Category Archives: Modern Visual Culture

Anime North 2015: Wrap

Trying to keep this to the point, because a good chunk of what I want to write about will be written in a different post: the making of the offkai. Also, this post is taking me 2+ weeks to wrap up? Most of it I had written just a day or two after, but it took a long time to put the finishing touches on it.

Asapon is... Linguini?

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Mobile Gaming, Hard Boys and Girls

TL;DR: it’s false.

Archer and Archer

Recently I read the following articles:

Why Gaming Journalism Should Update Its Thinking on TechCrunch

“You’re Watching It Wrong” on Wrong Every Time

And I think both articles are talking about the same thing, at least when it comes to “first impression.” The religiously zealousness of how some people cling onto their one singular truths may or may not really be so much of a thing, to me, because I can’t quite tell the difference between someone hating on Bobduh and someone being ironic. Thanks, Gators.

The similarity continues to games as entertainment. Ironically here, Fate/stay night is a “traditional” video game, traditional in quotes because the average commenters that left their doo doo in the internet comments section of that TechCrunch article typically would snob down on visual novels. If we describe gamers as circles of hell, Type-Lunatics are probably well above average, so maybe just the first couple circles.

Well, I don’t know. The visual novel fandom out west, at least given my casual impressions, runs the gamut from terrible pirate-whiners-entitlers to bottom-feeding memesters living off just the culture that the other weeaboo fishes leaves off as scraps. I’m probably more the latter. There are above-board guys, too, especially now that this silo is being farmed as much as it has been deserving, so props to those entrepreneurs licensing stuff and localizing it for profit.

Since we’re still at it, let’s compare how much the particular groups make life worse for the other groups. Fate-Lunatics do not much besides harass people on the internet, casually. So not very harmful. Thanks, 4chan. The majority of mobile gamers, at least revenue-wise, come from Asia. Most of them give 2 schlicks, tops, to what western game media has to say about how terrible mobile games is for your bank account, et cetera. Of course, because they are busying playing those games.  So they don’t even really count, by more than one calculation .(Western) gamers are a big deal, I guess, and in a way the “bad” actors in the industry gets a lot of credit for things turning out not-so-great? The game-as-an-art, hierarchical and tradition-laden inertia behind gaming presses is only going to affect people who care to listen to them, which by this point forms more an echo chamber, even including gaters (in a “it-takes-two-to-tango” way). I think irreverence and “games as failing comic book industry” route is where things might be going, except I also don’t think they would simply because people know what video games are like, and they are fun. And we want to know what’s the next fun thing to try. [And on that note, Avengers 2 is not that fun.]

And starting that discovery process from friends is where I’d say most people go first. Which is to say, when they play hand-held, touch-based games and find them fun, they would probably not care too much about the snobbery either. I think there is a subcurrent about social media and how it is slowly replacing the press/media, because precisely these online friends serve both as support group and discovery mechanism. And this mobile snobbery will, in some capacity, help further drive it. Which is also why you can spend big bucks on ad revenue on mobile and do a lot of installs on mobile (at least for some of these games). Which circles back to that TechCrunch article about the problems on mobile. Which also circles back to my initial reaction after reading the first dozen comments.

It is one of empathy. It’s as if none of those people had fun playing a game on their tablet or phone. I mean, there are some good games out there, and it’s not that hard to find them. Even LLSIF is not horrible, although that sates a particular niche for certain gaming demographics, let’s just say. The real irony is that if the game press did a better job covering what’s good and what’s not on mobile gaming, maybe some of these people would have had their opinion changed.

The nexus of these two narratives, between debating UBW viewing order and the nature of gaming press on mobile games, hits home for this Producer who spends his hard-earned money on Million Live. But at this point I’m not even sure the western gaming scene deserves something this good. When the conception of what makes a good game is so narrow, guarded by so many bigots, is it even worth it? It takes a dose of foolishness and a lot of tough love to bring something like that over. There is every pressure to not go outside the box. Japanese Ps understand if you got on board via Anim@s you are not automatically inferior than someone who’s paid his dues during Arcadem@s. This is the kind of fandom model that builds a trashing lols game from the dim-lit and smoke-filled arcade to a baseball stadium.

I wonder if there’s enough fans of Nasuverse to do the same.

Actually, I too struggle with feeling comfortable

PS. Being old enough to remember the introduction of the App store, it makes me wonder if the initial price points (and the ulterior purpose of selling iOS devices via a diverse App ecosystem of affordable applications) ultimately drives mobile gaming towards a certain direction. Like how when Apple parrots out every WWDC how much they’ve paid developers, maybe developers should consider the BATNA in an alternate universe where prices are not set by Apple Marketing, but by the devs themselves. Of course, F2P is still going to prevail as today’s trend, but maybe this facilitation towards the bottom would’ve took out fewer projects and developers and made the transition less device-oriented.

Theme Cafes and Mobage

I was reading some twitter tweets to Swallowtail, the famed Ikebukuro butler cafe. It struck me that these are the kind of things well-executed theme restaurants do. And then it also struck me that this is why I play IM@S Million Live, because it is a well-executed game in a similar manner.

It may or may not be fair to say that theme restaurants are gimmicky. Well, they are just normal eateries with a focus. Andrew Zimmern went to one that’s a prison-themed place. I went to an IDOLM@STER themed cafe (I suppose a cafe or a restaurant is an equally important distinction). I don’t know what is different between the two other than the focus and the type of food each places serve.


If we consider social games or mobile games in that sense, they are gameplay-as-a-secondary-offering games with various themes. And it’s about how these themes execute that makes them or break them, at least for some people. If you want to dine in prison, as a theme restaurant patron, what does it mean? What should go into it? Perhaps it still should be comfortable, but in a way that reminds you that you are in a prison. Perhaps the food should reflect thematically. The atmosphere of the place might be prison-like. It goes on.

And by “secondary offering” I merely mean it is not the central point, as much as it is at best just as important to the purpose of these games or restaurant, which is about some kind of entertaining user experience. Anyway, I don’t want to belittle somehow these things as games or not. Just like I wouldn’t belittle a delicious meal served by cosplayers or by just about anyone else.

Things are a little more vague when we talk about details. To put it in context, when we dine and review the experience, it is usually things like service, quality of food, the value of the meal, if the taste meets the expectation, atmosphere, wait time, and other things like that. In video games, it’s about similar things, except we would translate it to how fun it is, the complexity, the learning curve, how the gameplay integrate with the game’s narrative, how polished the code is, what have you. Like your average yelp or whatever review.

It’s entirely possible to rate a game based on the number of idols available in it.

Ever read reviews like these? And think it’s retarded? I guess that’s kind of like rating how good a buffet restaurant with how many dishes…wait. I guess it just goes to show how video game reviews seem to be a little oddish when put into that “casual” point of view.

But details nonetheless. Like the cylume color of Shiho’s card for Liar Rouge is white and not red? Or blue? Or brown? Because fans called it out on them? Or the selection of images that may make up a collage which tells a narrative behind an ongoing event? Or how the CD releases coordinates with in-game events? Or how in-game cards nods at in-fandom jokes?

Well, that’s par for the course for these character-collecting social games. It’s the extra mile a game like ML goes that impresses me over the other ones I’ve played. But I think this case can be made across the genre, especially when they’re mixed-media franchises with room to collaborate between all of these things.

But for those of us who are easier to please, or who might be open to these kinds of experiences, what values is the execution, the exquisiteness, the finer details of life. It doesn’t matter if you are tapping against rings shooting out of a moving beat or trying to figure out how much money you need to spend to win, it’s more about what it brings to you; what it buys. For those of us that time and money can actually buy things that make us happy in this context–it might be an after-meal espresso or a pile of “energy drinks” that replenishes your in-game stamina–is it worthwhile?

Yeah, it is closer to gambling (the casino style) as a lifestyle and entertainment than, say, buying a book so you can read it on your own terms, even if it exists somewhere in between. But I don’t think the world would want only one or the other and never both, to exist as options for anyone and everyone. At the same time, if you’ve ever been to places like Atlantic City or Las Vegas, these are pretty crass institutions. When a dirt-cheap looking mobile game can deliver (I still feel like Cinderella Girls is just a glorified pachinko interface, at least the Japanese one) the same experience on your budget smart-whatever device, maybe it’s time to rethink all this.

It also explains why there’s still all this resistance from what typifies as “gamers” to accept mobile gaming. I don’t think of it either way, other than as long as people are comfortable with this sort of things coexisting.

Which is also to say there are not much in terms of maid cafes and that type of theme restaurants in the US for much the same reasons. It’s a pity.

Seiyuu Nicknames, 2015 Spring Edition

I reference seiyuu by nickname sometimes. It’s not a habit I pride on and I think it’s better, in such a blog, to refer people by their family names. It can get confusing since romanized, a lot of people’s names are the same, so nicknames often help as a better way to communicate. (Especially since the reverse situation, while does happen, rarely does due to the way nicknames tend to form.) Anyway, I digress. Ask me separately about how I feel about them sometimes I guess.

For sake of ease of recalling, I group them by how I felt like it (kinda) and sorted by nickname, since I figured that’s the better mapping. Also I’m limiting it to the names I would use on this blog. I know there are more nicknames than what I list here, and some seiyuu have many nicknames that I only list a few. Truth is I don’t even know all of them, even people I reference to.

Also I’m avoiding the list of people who are not new because this is going to get REAL long if I added people like Miyukichi and Asumiss in the mix. It’s already really long.

Only if CG was this cool

Core IM@S

  • Akky/Akki – The (recently) married and with-child, Hasegawa Akiko. Plays Miki.
  • Asapon – A high end nickname for her is like “Shimoneta” because Shimoda Asami is like that. the CV for Ami/Mami is also playful.
  • Azumin – Asakura Azami. Yukiho’s second CV. Best known otherwise in her High School DxD and ChuuniKoi roles.
  • Chiaking – Takahashi Chiaki, or Azusa’s CV. See also King. See also “JPY” or “Juicy Party Yeah”???
  • Eririn/Eriko – Nakamura Eriko plays Haruka.
  • Haramii – Hara Yumi. Lately Takane’s CV’s new nickname “Hanyanya” has gained steam, but it has yet to stick.
  • Hirorin – Hirata Hiromi plays Makoto. Also see Kaachan.
  • Jurikichi – Takita Juri, or Kotori’s CV. The second 765Pro mom.
  • Kaachan – Somehow Hirorin gained this nickname because she was pretty public about her early goings of being a new mom. TBD how this nickname will stick with multiple buns in the oven in the near future!
  • Kami – Wakabayashi Naomi, or Ritsuko. Mom #3.
  • King – It’s actually just the next stage of Chiaking.
  • Kugyuu/Kugimi/etc – Kugimiya Rie, you know her.
  • Mingosu – Imai Asami, CV for Chihaya. Just a side note but Mingosu is often a suffix (see: Asamigosu, Eromingosu, EriMingosu)
  • Nunu/Nu – Numakura Manami, CV for Hibiki. Nuuuuuuuu.
  • Sensei – Often refers to Nakamura in this context but in general this is a flexible nickname in all cases.
  • Yurishii – Hase Yurina. The original Yukiho CV. Also goes by Ochiai Yurika. Retired from IM@S back in 2010 or so.

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Spring 2015 Anime Intake

Just some notes.

Wow, but how do you pass this off?

Denpa Kyoushi – I like the concept and idea but the execution is too much of that “weekly manga turned anime chapter 1″ nonsense that generally sours me on most of such types of manga. TrySail’s OP is catchy if all too ordinary. Whatever pays the bills I guess. Another 10ch anime. I guess let’s get that out of the way: gorioshi full force this spring for TrySale yeah? I hope Useful Dreamer moves.

Triage X – Boobs, gangsters and sentai-type team bloody violence is a winning formula. Can it keep on executing I don’t know. Will it have a theme worthwhile I know even less.

Shoukugeki no Soma – Food Wars is a better title. Same problem I have with Denpa Kyoushi applies, but this is executed better. Tanechan’s O-voice LOLOL. Somehow just as erotic as Triage X IMO. Might keep with it a bit just due to strength of its material.

Danmachi – Hestia mania aside the anime itself is intriguing. Its light novel roots show, for better or for worse. As long as the story trucks on I think we’ll be okay on this one since I doubt it can outstay its welcome at ep 13, the boobstring memes regardless.

Houkagou no Pleadies – I like the way it looks and its presentation but it is seriously boring. Would be hard to motivate me to try episode 2, but I might go that far.

Punchline – It’s a lot of fun and this anime has more details in it than most. Just the production value alone is worth keep on with it. Another Tenchan anime, but this one she at least gets to do a very different role. I have no qualms on the oddishly contrasting subject matter, noitaminA aside.

Dia no A – Can we get some not recaps please. OK I guess they need a break, but can they just not have any episodes? LOL.

Sound Euphonium – Looks great, with less filling. My favorite part of the show so far is its channeling of moody high school artsy feels and the way they frame the cast’s voice. Moyochi sounds positively neutral and natural in this, and even Moeshi’s typical saccharine sound fits like a glove. The brass animation porn is…shiny. And I still don’t get why Asuka is so adored when Mamiko is by all means superior.

Fate UBW – I like the new direction, I guess. UBW always strikes me as something with a lot of room for improvement. At least this might turn out to be one, I don’t know.

OreGuile 2 – Feels like the first one, minor differences aside.

Plastic Memories – It’s charming in a second-tier cartoon with SF motifs kind of way. Tenchan is working that cooldere and has a lot of lines to go with. I feel like this is her natural niche, just a matter of getting a character with enough scenes and speaking lines (sorry Shiho, Akame). Story-wise and character-wise it’s actually not remarkable, for someone as fatigued by Asmov-style robot stories as I am, but I’m sure the feels will come flowing sooner or later.

Etotama – Surprisingly a lot of fun, just like Rieshon is surprisingly a lot of fun. She still needs lots of help, but calling Etotama the Rieshon anime is pretty spot on. I don’t know if I would be adverse to gorioshi of Rieshon but the idea entertains. Well, I don’t think she can handle real gorioshi anyway. This is also the most anime anime this season, 3DCG included.

Show by Rock – This and Etotama are like, poised for head-to-head comparison I feel. It’s got that weird shoujo anime vibe to it that matches what it tries to do but feel a little weird, kind of like the 3DCG feels a little weird. It’s worth trucking through a bit, because the idea shines through the lackluster execution. At least will keep an eye on.

Re-Kan – It’s okay. I would like to watch more shows like this, but the hook doesn’t really have anything on me. I’ll let nature take its course on this one.

Stuff still to try?

Sidonia S2 – Will wait to marathon. Thanks Netflix :(

Gunslinger Stratos – Universally panned! Gotta try one.

Oremonogatari – Universally praised! Must resist urge to badmouth it.

I tried watching RIN-NE and stopped a couple seconds in.

Yamada-kun – The caps looked interesting, so is the cast.

Griasia – Just a matter of time. I like this show in that it’s the first one in a long while where I sat through it while finding it difficult to watch, but still felt compelled about it. Looking forward to season 2…

Kekkai Sensen – Just haven’t gotten around to it.

I still have built-in Funimation bias, I don’t hate them, but I don’t expect to use their services unless they upload it to youtube or Hulu, as they typically do. Not even Ninja Slayer will get me to subscribe I’m afraid. FWIW, Inferno Cop was free and freely subbed. I think that goes a long way getting it viral and popular.

That said, I’m watching a few shorts. Like the Suzuken/Yukarin duo show, and maybe will pick up another one or two.