Forever Million Live

Today is the last day of operation for the GREE-published version of Million Live, which is the original IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE game. Ps call it “greemas” for short. It is the core product of that IP and it is now shut down as of this writing, just moments ago.

There are so many things I want to say so I’ll just keep it short and in bullets. Think of it as a way for me to commemorate this occasion.

This game was how my “gacha cherry” was popped. This meant my mental barriers were rationalized away and since then I spent good money on games I think that are worth it, which is namely just the other two major IDOLM@STER SNS games, Deresute and Theater Days. I also spend money on games that I think have entertained me a lot, just much less. (For example, I already spent maybe $160 in Pricone Redive but I probably will stop there. This is not even 10% of what I spent in Greemas.)

This game was occasionally very fun, but usually more a chore. The saving grace is that the chore part is pretty light, unless you wanted to do a crazy amount of ranking. In the finals stats page the game provided during its shutdown period, I was able to get the “IDOLM@STER” achievement 11 times, which is just to say I was able to produce at least 1 idol in the top percentiles. I forget exactly. But it’s little things like that which makes this game fun.

The thing I will miss the most about Greemas is how it is a game that really went to creative places. Like a Star Wars inspired event. Or taking traditional idol torture to the next level. Or the Namasuka Sunday events. Or Tokugawa’s Castle, literally. There were various sports meets. There was TGS. There was the live on the space station. It was nuts. Theater Days so far has not even came close to scratching that itch, although it does seem things might move in that direction finally…

Million Live might be the first time where the game and the live events were closely integrated, to the degree that you can have producer support walls and even ticket lotteries in the game. Will this tradition continue? I hope so.

It is definitely the first IM@S game where recorded lines from the live were delivered into game as content, days just after the event. It’s a great way to energize your hardcore eventing fan base. It also points at the live events as a part of the game. It is the kind of thing that makes me think that Million Live is an IP where the content revolves around the live events.

This is all besides the core community on Greemas. During the Theater Boost [idol voting for Theater Days] people were communicating on the idol boards on Greemas. Greemas also has a dialog engine where you can create commu screens and it ran contests on the best fan-submitted entries. On top of the basic player communication and lounges, there are no easy replacements for them.

Thank you Greemas. Million Live will continue without you, but it will never be the same and we will never forget the good (and bad) times!


Kawaii Kon 2018: Wrap

I went to Hawaii again. It was a good time.

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To Wit, Magus’ Bore and Re-diving Into Pricone

To bounce off the evirus again, maybe this is what he was thinking of when he got snarky on adaptations? To quote:

To be honest, it sort of reaffirms my nagging suspicions that The Ancient Magus’ Bride works better as a manga than it does as an anime. I don’t believe this is the fault of the WIT STUDIO adaptation, because it is beautifully done and the quality has remained high throughout. Instead, I suspect the stories featured in the series might just lend themselves better to print than anime.

Having no real horse in the race and not have read the manga (but watched all the anime so far), somehow it makes sense. Like, this anime is not going to get me to read the manga. Maybe it serves as a meta, a talking point, for people to bring up the manga and get people interested (“Oh you are watching Magus’ Bride? The manga is so much better.”) but that’s like throwing on too much shade. I think the anime is decent, it is, to a more jaded viewer like me, something refreshing and different. It might still be kind of the same yokai story centered around a gifted human child, but this spin is way up my alley than, say, Natsume Yuujincho. Just like how Fate-verse is still the best for recasting western folklore and historic figures to do some dumb things, I don’t really like and I am not interested in the Japanese standards on this take. It’s refreshing, even if the anime and story content is quite drab and obtuse I think… Perfect for Kyoto Animation, in retrospect.

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WIT STUDIO is also producing the anime in Princess Connect Re:Dive, which is the latest and greatest galge-mobage from Cygames. Having seriously played the original Princess Connect game, I was looking forward to this with some trepidation, and so far I think the developers have answered my concerns.

Big picture-wise, Princess Connect and Pricone:R are the player-versus-player realm wars equivalent to social gaming as the hoard of Korean grinders were to the EverQuests and WOWs of the 00s.  Well, it’s more like guild wars, ha ha. But in the greater Japanese social game pachinko-machine-like scene, it is a relative rarity. There are other games like this but none with the spit and shine of Pricone:R I think; well, certainly none with a Tanaka Kouhei score. Pricone the original was a browser-based game with some real-time stuff, and most of the graphics are rudimentary, as you’d expect a game launched in 2014-2015. Pricone:R on the other hand, is a little piece of Sakura Taisen heaven coupled with a standard auto-playing, character-party, fantasy RPG, side combat doohicky that you might see in the Danmachi social game or some such.

Which is to say, there’s a ton of actual anime in the Pricone:R game itself. Well, maybe a ton is exaggerating, but every commu chapter ends with an ending animation with animated next episode preview? LOL. About 90 percent of the commu is the standard talking sprite over a dialog box sort of deal, but they do drop those anime in and around fairly consistently. And WIT did well with them.

My worry in Pricone:R was that it would stop being a PVP focused affair, and it turned out to be a dumb thing to worry about, because it still is. It’s the only game I play that does not a have friend list (let alone friend support). It retains the whole clan mechanics, except so far it doesn’t have any elements of clan warfare (so you can’t filter clan recruits by time slots of when people will be online to play versus battles, as there are none such things). There are two PVP arenas players can participate for loot and glory, but they are both for individuals. Clan interaction so far is a mix of friends list and the ability to ask people for gear in exchange for rupees. The lack of clan-based PVP is still a concern, but I hope they address it soon since they have some outright “to be deployed later” place holders in the game right now.

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Some straight up disclosure and Pricone:R meta, because I’ve been playing it quite a bit lately. Some key thoughts:

  • Spend some money to make more money. The core of this game is a versus experience. Payout in arena and princess arena are in the 1000s of gems. By bucking the bell curve you can stand to make good dosh. The game is also fairly generous, because you can’t be competitive until you roll enough to get your core team up and running, and enough memory fragments to upgrade your 1* and 2* characters. If you want to save up gems for a future roll, you can, but know that you will not make as much gem-wise as someone who spend  them wisely. It literally is spending gems to earn gems, and there will be a balance point where the end result is a powerful team of characters and still lots of free gems in the bank. Playing it too safe means you might have a lot of gems, but your parties’ development will be lagging.
  • Princess Arena needs more balance tweaks. It’s hard to maintain rank, easy to gain rank. The result is it becomes expensive time-wise and a bit expensive gem-wise to reach heights in Princess Arena. Basically, you need to have 2 great teams to stay afloat, but just 1 great team to go up. This is mainly because NPCs have 3 good teams, which is harder to beat sometimes, but less of a sure thing on paper than in practice, so people don’t fight NPCs and instead fight people with 2 great teams, since you just have to beat their second-best team to win.
  • Comp is life, but actually levels are more important. Assuming at rank 7 and equal star power, a level 60 fully upgrade guy will beat a level 50 fully upgraded guy often. Even if the level 60 paper versus the level 50 scissors are, well, paper versus scissors in rock-paper-scissors. This is the zen of Princess Connect Redive. The essence. The zeitgeist. The soul. Whatever. In other words, don’t be the level 50 paper fighting a level 60 scissors. Things also gets much more complex when you deal with a team of 5 characters where the flaws of one guy can be covered up by another guy, but you get the idea.
  • Team comp thus can be boiled down by characters and their counters. Like, the ever popular Suzune/Io back row versus, say, Tamaki, who is flawed in Arena but powerful in this situation.
  • Anna is fun, she is not great, and her explosion power is what makes it fun. Don’t let people tell you that she sucks because her explosion power sucks. That’s like saying because individuals almost never win the lottery, having a free lottery ticket sucks. Without her explosion power, Anna is plenty good. If her power helps you even or win a losing game, so much the better.
  • This is still the game I call characters by seiyuu, but now that I’m talking to plebs on reddit and elsewhere I kind of have to learn the names of the characters.

Dissonant Antarctica

I read this and like, I have a very different impression of Yorimoi. Let me quote:

Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe) is remarkably well done. Before the season started, I fully expected it to be a trite “cute-girls-doing-cute-things” fluff piece about high school girls having implausibly canned adventures in Antarctica. However, it turns out Yorimoi adopts a serious attitude toward exploring the logistics required and examining just how something like this might actually be accomplished. I take it as a triumph of original anime that the story seems well thought out and enjoyable in ways that are often missing from anime adaptations of preexisting works, particularly when such anime try hard (to their detriment) to closely follow the source material.

Wait, so Yurucamp TV, a manga adaptation that is all about the details of doing camping as a bunch of high school girls in the fall/winter time frame, does not adopt a serious attitude towards exploring the logistics required and examining just how something like camping might actually be accomplished? Are we even watching the same things?

Disclosure: I dropped Yorimoi like 3 episodes in, as I didn’t buy in to any of the main characters except the tarento. It’s not a trite “cute-girls-doing-cute-things” fluff piece. It’s an “annoying-girls-doing-weird-things” piece, where I often find the characters obnoxious and incorrigible, for weird character development reasons I’m sure they’ll explore later but I can’t be bothered to care–or stick around long enough to find out. I guess it also doesn’t help that Antarctica is not that an exotic location to me, since I’ve read up about it over the years following research that was done down there, and talked to a guy who spent some time there. The show itself is well done, I think, but the posture came across as too full of itself and there’s a degree of calculatedness that runs against my expectation of something that’s more organic in the making.

Actually Yurucamp gets it. What Yorimoi might take a season to do, Yurucamp does it in 1 to 2 episodes. And in essence, it does what I want to see, and just keeps on doing it. How many times did the girls in Yorimoi go to Antartica yet? (I guess episode 8 by the time of this writing.) It doesn’t need that setup. I don’t need to be hit in the face with your quirky personality quirks every few minutes. That some people in Japan have the balls to make a story about high schoolers wanting to go to Antartica, in 2017 terms, is just too much for me to take seriously–except it’s a serious anime! I’d rather watch a show where a bunch of Japanese high schoolers try to raise fund for a summer vacation in New York City–at least I find their destination worth investing in terms of my emotions and attention span. After all, NYC too is quite far, basically it’s as far as another world.

It’s worth examining what “cute-girls-doing-cute-things” mean for each work. I’ve been watching anime since the 90s, at least following TV anime with any real interests, and this descriptor dates back well even before that. I remember watching Magic Knight Rayearth–cute girls doing isekai RPG but in a meta way–and that was already a pretty solid framing of this notion. If somehow the Kirara-manga-adaptation brand has altered this category by flooding the market with trendy cute-girls-doing-not-much anime, please show how this is the case. I can understand, say, shows like Jinsei or Anne-Happy, or something, don’t get into the nitty gritty–but they aren’t shows about doing something. I just don’t understand the criticism as applied to manga or light novel adaptation in which the details are omitted, in which we can apply “cute-girls-doing-cute-thing” tag to. Death March? That is not even in the same genre. Slow Start and Mitsuboshi Colors? Yeah okay, but they aren’t about doing anything specific really (well, Slow Start is about mental trauma, I guess, and Mitsuboshi is about brats being brats). Koizumi is like Yurucamp that they are both very meticulous about specifics, and adopt from manga. Does that leave Takunomi as the only show that fits Evirus’s description?

I just don’t think that statement has any merit. In the scope of things Yorimoi is well-put-together, and there’s a strong feeling of production value? But I find the writing and direction betraying the same expectation in a negative way instead.


PSA: Please Don’t Facebook Your Anison Live Bootleg Like a Pleb

Link here.

Here’s the problem. It’s besides the point that you are a “fansub group” and solicit money via Patreon or whatever. When you post a bootleg of Toyama Nao’s solo live publicly it stops being yours and it starts to become a problem. There are less KY ways to spread the love. If you are too KY to realize it, then you’re no better than Logan Paul, who doesn’t have a clue and post videos of dumb things that should not be posted.

It’s too 20th century to say this is a copyright issue. It is an image/ethics issue–a low quality audio bootleg is only going to please existing fans and not really make new ones, so it’s not effective outreach. Yeah, people will appreciate access to things they don’t have, but it’s not your place to give it publicly. I have a bunch of bootleg audio with pro equipment and I can tell you it’s rare that the audio will come out well enough that I am not ashamed enough to publicly share, let alone publish as a fansubber, especially because when you’re in Japan and you’re gonna likely have to hide the stuff when you record. It’s a different attitude and culture in Japan and don’t gaijin smash your way out of it…then put it on social media saying it’s a service you do for your viewers, just like that guy.

What is it good for? It’s like the photos you take on your trip through life–keep it to yourself to reminisce or share it with close ones when you hang out. Don’t let Facebook condition your Pavlov dog-brain and think you should or you are entitled to publicly share this stuff like food pics and selfies, because that’s not the right etiquette and it happens to be illegal. I don’t even care for the reputation damage–a live bootleg is way better than, say, a movie bootleg (LOL Indonesia etc).

Don’t be a pleb. And more importantly, don’t be that guy.

PS. This reminds me, gonna listen to my bootleg Kanno Yoko music now, been on a Kanno streak lately.