Music of the Month; Wizardry

Don’t take this as me introducing Wizardry into the blog. The theme should be taken as something nostalgic, but as something that wasn’t originally there.


It has become increasingly more difficult to spent any significant portion of my day working on a post of quality. This has been a trend for some time now, and it’s something everyone has noticed. Planning posts in advance have become a chore of sorts, because most of the time an idea just doesn’t have enough lift under its wings, or it would overlap with something I’ve already discussed prior. Sometimes to extensive lengths, and I’d rather tone down on beating the dead horse. I’ve still got three projects under my belt unfinished, so after a certain date, I’ll have to make some modifications on how and why I still keep this blog up. You’ll have to wait a bit for that though. I do have an intention do writ up few device reviews once I’ve gotten my hands on Meanwhile, I’ll use this entry to cover some small topics that are about around now.

Google announced recently that they’re killing off their first-party developer for Stadia. It lasted only one and a half years, and I’m having a hard time remembering the studio’s name. This follows Google’s standard practices of the killing of products and projects in about two years of their existence. Not much love is lost between Stadia and its users, as it never delivered on its promises. Stadia, by all means, has largely been a failure. I’ve followed few of the early adopters on the sideline, and most of these people have ended up disappointed in the product.

Problem with Stadia, of course, is streaming games, its supposed bread and butter. While Virtual Reality is becoming a mature technology now that we have small enough components and robust enough hardware to make it happen, streaming games is woefully in baby shoes simply because of the existing infrastructure doesn’t support it, not to mention the bottlenecks Google’s servers themselves had. Unlike VR, Stadia could take advantage of existing games, though Stadia had little to no titles that excited the customers or made it a must-have device. Stadia didn’t have a leg against consoles hardware or software-wise, and as a computer peripheral or a smartphone addition, it was pathetically awkward and underpowered. Think it this way; would you lug around a PlayStation with a screen attached to it when you could have a GameBoy? Some would, while others might choose to play a laptop and whatever it offered.

Playing games anywhere, anytime, isn’t a new paradigm. People have been carrying decks of cards with them for hundreds of years and still do. Portable electronic games have been a thing since the late 1970s, at least. Stadia was never creating a new paradigm or a way to play games, nor did it expand the market. Google tried to portray Stadia as something for people who didn’t play video games, yet they failed to offer any games that would expand the market. Look at the NES, GameBoy, NDS and the Wii for example of a library that had something for everyone. Even when taking streaming games out of the equation, this was Stadia’s most important failure and it keeps repeating with every failed gaming device thus far; you can’t succeed without an appealing library, the hardware doesn’t matter. What’d I say about beating a dead horse?

Though Stadia’s hardware was effectively just the controller and whatever junk it has inside. Supposedly, there’s a wild variation whether or not the controllers break down easily or if they’re robust. Seems like this is dependent on whether or not the parts were good or if the assembler had a bad day. Nevertheless, what Google failed to realise is that expanded markets don’t really like game controllers, especially the much older generation. There are too many buttons, they have no intuitive way of learning them. The Wiimote, while often laughed at, was a brilliant design that opened an intuitive way to learn the controller not just because of its familiar shape but also limited buttons and placements. The reason a more traditional controllers Nintendo puts out are called Pro controllers is because they’re meant for people who don’t need to learn how to use a controller. It might be hard to imagine for people who have been playing electronic games most, if not all of their lives, but gaming controllers are still rather complex devices despite standardization and are far from intuitive to use. If Google truly wanted to have an open doors experience for everyone who wasn’t a self-appointed gamer, they would’ve made sure Stadia’s library would’ve appealed to these people and designed the controller to lower the entry challenge. Failing at both of these, Stadia ended up as a third wheel, a system that had no appeal whatsoever.

There’s a Mass Effect: Legendary Edition in the horizon, and unlike the guy who I get occasionally writing stuff when I need a break, wrote his view on the whole shebang. Give it a read. However, it must be questioned whether or not this remake should be. All these games run just fine on modern OS and console versions run just as dandy as they ever did. The time, money and all the other resources spent on this compilation of games could have been used to make a new game, or remaster something that would have been in a dire need to be properly updated for modern systems, or remade into a much better game. Pick your choice game of mediocre or outright terrible game that you think could be worked into a gem and you’re already there. Games that already are great, supposedly, don’t need to be remade into a new form. Mass Effect‘s problems as a game can’t be corrected with a remastering and technical update, it’d need to be taken back to the design board and make a whole new draft to make it a game with interesting and engaging play rather than a generic shootyshit with forced talkie bits. It’ll sell nevertheless. The gaming media has been hyping this one for some time now, and loud fans will invade anyone’s feed in any social media at some point.

In other news, all three companies involved in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, that is Activision, Infinity Ward and Major League Gaming Corp have been sued for copyright infringement. Clayton Haugen, a photographer with two books under his belt, accuses these companies of directly copying his character from a work he was promoting. The way these companies did it that they hired the same model/actor and supposedly asked her to obtain similar, if not the same gear as in Haugen’s photos. While a tacticool waifu isn’t anything special in itself, using the same model with almost the same outfit, posing, hairstyle and aiming to get the same kind of photo smells something rotten. Whether or not the accusations Haugen has levelled against the three are true per se, the similarities across the board are much closer to plagiarism and infringement than coincidental. It’s far too easy to fall in love with a design or character, and then just replicate and copy it with slight modifications, resulting in some cheap Chinese knock-off. It’s like those Transformers KO toys you see every so often. You know what they are and where they are from. These Call of Duty promotional shots are close enough to warrant slap strong enough to discourage corporations from doing something like this. They sure as hell will bring the banhammer if joe generic does something remotely IP infringing, yet corporations often get out of jail card for free, especially when it comes to using photos and such.

Japan is a brand; Outside regulation would diminish the value of products of Japanese culture

One of Japan’s most important export product is its culture. For numerous years, their ministry has taken serious notice of their cultural goods making large-scale sales abroad. Cartoons, comics, novels, electronic games and even pornography has seen a constant rise in popularity since the Second World War. Even before that, there were people who were fascinated by this culture that is that much different than the Western hemisphere can offer.

Mitsurugi and his replacement for regions with censorship regarding Japanese imagery

However, this is a rather new event. Japanese culture was not exported by the government itself, but rather by foreigners who entered the country and brought it with them as they returned to their home counties. Whether or not it was because of the infamy of the Japanese actions during the war, or because the culture in itself was not seen as a profitable good to be imported. To this day, import of Japanese culture is seen as a taboo in some parts of the Asian world. For example, South Korea discourages and often outright censors depiction of Japanese culture in their media, which has lead companies to provide modified versions of their games for Korean markets. For example, the samurai Mitsurugi was replaced with Arthur, a European character that just happens to don Japanese armour and sword. Other fields of censorship South Korea frequently employs is regarding Shinto symbols, which get scrubbed from both television programmes and comics. Thailand has a long history with self-censorship, which has extended in policies against media displaying .e.g. Buddhist imagery. Sri Lanka also issues with certain religious concepts being showcased on air.

South Korea nevertheless has imported numerous Japanese products via copyright infringement and piracy among the official releases and has presented numerous Japanese-original products as their own. One of the more famous examples of this might be the design of Robot Taekwon V, which is a modified Mazinger-type design. The later designs in the series incorporate elements from Mobile Suit Gundam and especially from Combat Mecha Xabungle. Numerous bargain bin cartoons, like Space Thunderkids, exhibit numerous types of plagiarism Koreans practised at the time, ranging from music to character designs.

Original Taekwon V and Great Mazinger. Taekwon’s creator, Kim Cheong-gi, has been very open of his plagiarism as he wanted to create Korean-original robot in wake of Mazinger’s popularity

Koreans taking after a Japanese product should not be a surprise though. Japan improved its relation with their fellow Asian countries during the 1970s and 1980s, which in turn allowed their industry to grow even more by exporting their products. It was during this period when Japanese technology gained its fame, with cars making their way across the world and names like Sony were associated with high-quality products par none. A little company called Nintendo also effectively saved the American video game industry while struggling to compete against Sega in European markets.

An iconic pairing on both sides of the sea

Even earlier than that, the world had already begun to see the sort of creativity Japanese media was enjoying. It is thanks to Gigantor and Jonny Sokko and His Flying Robot (Tetsujin #28 and Giant Robot, respectively) that America associated Japan with giant robots, which was only enforced by the upcoming slow but sure burn of animation. Speedracer and other Japanimation paved the way of current trends for Western acceptance of anime. While current mainstream might discourage anyone from visiting these localized products, where characters, stories and sometimes even music were replaced via Americanization, they nevertheless helped these shows to gain a larger audience. They may not have been accurate, or even faithful to the original Japanese product, but that was not how you made business at the time. There was no market for original-language products in the same manner, in many ways, there still are not as many countries across the world still heavily localize and dub for the local market’s consumption.

Whether or not something is localized, unless completely redone from the ground up, you cannot divorce localized material from its original counterpart. The language may change, the story might change or maybe even the whole point of the product might change, yet the core idea will still stay and shine through. All the discussed examples, whether localized or plagiarized, are inherently Japanese on idea level and in concept.

All these shows were imported by individual entities and corporations, so they were mostly to make money. Some products, like the original Godzilla, did see a subtitles release before its localized version, which is an example of a foreign product made to fit the home market in a proper way. Without that, we would not have Godzilla in the global pop-culture landscape. It wasn’t until the late 1980s when Japan’s Takeshita government took the first true initiative to market Japanese culture abroad via exporting Japanese television programmes to other Asian countries. The Japan Media Communication Center, JAMCO for short, was established in 1991 by joint efforts of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Post and Telecommunication. This led to the translation of Japanese television programmes into English as well as developing shows specifically for export markets. Most of these shows were aired in other Asian countries, but many of them also found their way into the Western world. It’s easy to see a show like Iron Chef being promoted for foreign markets thanks to its local popularity, and it could be easily trimmed down from its hour-long episodes into shorter episodes.

Chairman Kaga and his Iron Chefs

All these efforts were furthered in 2001, when Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s (METI) Media and Contents Industry Division established a think-tank examine what challenges and prospects there were in promoting Japanese culture, especially its media contents, to overseas market. In fact, even before that METI had recognized the growing trend of Japanese culture-products to have a rising trend in export, and estimated that multimedia industries, that of electronic entertainment, music, films, software, broadcasting and such would generate over 55 trillion yen, a boost that post-Bubblegum Bubble Japan could’ve used. It would be an understatement that the Japanese government was becoming well aware of the potential of their cultural export.

The combination of Japanese products’ quality and the further steps of having Japanese media presented as Japanese has created its own brand image. Made in Japan is still seen as a certain brand of quality, but nowadays just Japan delivers a certain kind of image of the cultural landscape and the type of products it offers. The constant export of Japanese media goods has furthered the expansion of their culture, with electronic entertainment and multimedia products being in the lead. This might be due to Japan having a much longer history in multimedia productions, something that did not hit the Western world until the 1980s.

Outside electronic games, Japanese comics and cartoons have experienced almost a thirty years rise in popularity in the Western markets, with the late 1990s early 2000s experiencing a breakthrough boom when a new generation found anime. The blooming Internet culture at the exchange of the millennium continued the older VHS fan subtitle culture in digital form, and freely shared shows with added subtitles spread Japanese popular culture even wider. In many ways, the current state of affairs, where almost every new animated programme gains official subtitled release of some sort, is a direct result of this fansub culture and the piracy it promoted. It was, in effect, years of the best kind of promotion and advertisement, which lead these people taking steps to be involved in the industry and make sure that the market would get what it yearned.

I agree, Hank did whine too much. There’s a small story behind all this

Without a doubt, METI’s think-tank is partially responsible for the rise of Japanese media in the Western hemisphere during the previous two decades. When you combine both the existing yet largely untapped market’s yearn with government-driven agenda to promote these products, it is easier to understand how Japanese media products became for more common that what they already were. Japanese cartoons and comics went from an underground culture to mainstream, with anime and manga became terms much more recognized. They became a brand of their own, which effectively state A product of Japan.

Cannon’s American Ninja was just one of the many movies tapping the ninja craze

While this post is focusing on media, it should be noted that Japanese cultural exports also include martial arts. The martial arts and ninja boom of the 1970s and 80s were largely thanks to Japanese influences and Hong Kong cinema. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the properties that is, in effect, a result of Japanese cultural exports and their prevalence in the United States (even though that’s still media). It should be emphasized, that almost every city has at least one form of martial arts school that ties itself to Japan. Be it karate, judo or other forms of budo, the Japanese martial arts have a high status and is one of the more important cultural exports Japan has ever had, but they themselves don’t make much revenue. Nevertheless, Judo was considered significant martial art to the point of being accepted as an Olympic sport at the 1964 games.

Furthermore, Japanese innovation such as Just-in-Time manufacturing Toyota pioneered alongside lean manufacturing have left a worldwide impact. Companies like Motorola and John Deere have employed these in their manufacturing decisions. I would amiss if I would not mention the 5S method, which lays out how to organize workspace for efficiency, which also affects standardization.

If I am to believe the Japanese people that I have conversed with throughout the years, as well as the occasional cultural report I have read, the Japanese enjoy how foreigners take interest in their culture and its products. It is something they take pride in. Works like Super Dimensional Fortress Macross effectively celebrate the culture by weaponising it against the alien species Zentraedi, as they lack their own. To be specific, Macross weaponises the early 1980’s idol culture and makes songs an effective counterattack to disharmonize enemy actions and show that war is not the only option in life. Macross has continued to use songs, idols and robots as a means to celebrate each decade in its own ways, which shows how long-lasting the property is and how much faith Japan has in its culture.

Incidentally, Macross II would aim to undermine the superiority of the idol culture, as its staff considered the idol culture outdated and that it’d become obsolete by the end of the decade. They bet on the wrong racehorse

If you look further into their media products, you will see a pattern forming, where their own country and its people are in focus almost exclusively. Even in works that take place outside Japanese borders (or in fictional worlds) they have heavily implemented their own cultural landscape. Final Fantasy VII may be one of the most globally celebrated roleplaying games, but everything from its design language, storytelling, character designs, music and play is stereotypically Japanese. You have thin heroes with comically large weapons, a mix of science fiction and fantasy in a manner where there is no distinction between the two, cheap drama that is executed in a most exquisite manner and numerous other elements that can be described as Japanisms.

Yasuda Kosuke’s Sakurako Himegasaki is still pitiably cute today (姫ヶ崎櫻子は今日も不憫可愛い) is an example of Japanism about childhood friend taken to the meta-level, as the comic plays tropes straight all the while turning the expected end-results, e.g. the main lead is in love in another character and the friend loses, on their head in a comedic fashion

Japanisms are what could be described as storytelling stereotypes or tropes that exist and are specifically used in Japanese media. It also includes cultural concepts and behaviour that is very much their own thing. To use an example from modern stories, in romance stories the childhood friend of the main character often is in a losing position, thus creating a unique character trope. Japanisms can be silly in their own right, and can often detract the story they are in, they are largely embraced as expected, almost essential, parts of certain genres. These Japanisms also constantly evolve when it comes to the media, with the whole other-world genre taking more and more cues after Japanese roleplaying games instead of general fantasy to the point of actual play mechanics and RPG status screens becoming one of the tropes. The whole genre has become so common, that even foreign publishers have adopted the Japanese name for its, isekai, to further illustrate the contents to customers in-the-know.

These Japanisms are one of the reasons why their cultural exports are of interest and make sales. Be it transforming robot toys or whatnot, certain concepts simply take form in a different culture in a completely different manner. Just as you find stereotypically American ideas in their caped hero comics or novels, French stereotypes in their cartoons and British mangy grossness in their media, Japan has the things you can only find in their products and that interests people. The Britons were the only people who could have come up with 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd due to their culture much like how Superman was the ultimate realization of an immigrant to the Americas in the early 20th century.

La parisienne japonaise by Belgian painter Alfred Stevens is an example of French Japonisme, the effect of Japanese aesthetics, design and art influencing western Europe in the 19th century after Japan was forced to reopen their trade in 1858

With the global information exchange constantly growing and ideas exchanging hands, consumers have become more and more aware of exclusive goods. Importing cultural goods, like pots, books and such, has always been a thing, yet towards the new millennium, this has become more and more a mundane thing. While we might have bought a car that was made locally on in the neighbouring country, we have found ourselves in a word where we can get anything from anywhere, if we just want to go through the trouble. Appreciating cultural differences has become more common at the same time, though the United States has stereotypically been the top dog of having others appreciate their cultural differences rather than the other way around. The current global trend of having one, overwhelming global culture to overrun all others is a direct legacy of American export of culture.

As the Japanese government has a history of investing themselves in the exportation of their cultural goods, they have also been concerned about its nature. In June of 2020, Ken Akamatsu of Love Hina fame explained in his Twitter account that he was invited to the House of Councilors questioning sessions, where the government asked What measures are needed for Japanese manga to survive in the world? Akamatsu’s reply was that freedom of expression must come first, as he sees this as Japan’s strength over overseas competition. His fear is to see foreign platforms, which already have larger global influence and market shares, dictating rules and regulations on Japanese originated comics. According to him, the members of the parliament agreed with his sentimentality.

The above in Akamatsu’s own Tweet stating the above and a link

His view is opposed by D.J. Kirkland from Viz Media, who has been vocal for changing and producing manga for Western markets. According to Kirkland, there is going to be a conversation between stakeholders in Japan and Western publishers when it comes to creating content that appeals more to the Western audience. His view that anime is a business is a correct one, yet his intentions largely leave the original creators and their intents out of the equation. Kirkland also ignores that anime and manga have been specifically made for the Japanese market alone and its success as an export product leans heavily on this. Kirkland’s word at its face value, he also considers that US and Western market to be one and the same when this isn’t the case. France, for example, doesn’t exactly rely on English language releases of Japanese works nearly to the same extent as some other countries. English language releases from the US certainly make themselves around the world and do skew the numbers, but the point still stands.

Akamatsu’s worry regarding governmental or industrial over-regulation is relevant. He was the key person in stopping Japanese corporations taking actions against the Japanese homemade comic scene, the doujinshi scene, which sees people making their own created comics they do not own and publishing them at events. This is infringing copyright, something all the companies would have all the power to stop, but due to the nature of doujinshi being a major part of the Japanese popular culture, they are allowed to continue with this half-decade long tradition without much trouble. In fact, majority of the Japanese comic creators have some roots in the doujinshi scene, such as ever-popular CLAMP, and it is not uncommon to find a popular creator having drawn adult material before moving to mainstream comics.

Sony has also showcased how its internal censorship has affected the PlayStation as a platform, as a brand and its library. With numerous games being rejected from the platform, forcing the removal of content and content having to change to meet their Californian HQ’s standards, we have already seen a shift in how Japanese creators’ content has been dictated by an outside force. As Sony has concentrated to cater to Western, or rather, American taste, they’ve lost sales and position in Japan to Nintendo. Furthermore, Switch sales have increased as their more lax policies still allow creators and developers to continue in their usual fashion. This has increased overseas importation of Switch games, as numerous titles get Asian-English releases nowadays. I’ve covered Sony’s censorship before in this blog. You can find the posts on the topic here, here and here. I probably missed one or two.

Original comic design on the left, tweaked design on the right

Some Japanese corporations like Square-Enix have taken precautions to quell possible conflicts by changing pre-existing designs. Final Fantasy VII Remake Tifa’s design got criticized for unnecessary changes, while others still criticized the design for unrealistic body proportions. Character Maam from a 1991 Dragon Quest comic, Dai’s Great Adventure, also saw a redesign from her original Martial Artist class design when revealing mobile iteration of Dai’s Great Adventure.

Censorship on Japanese products isn’t anything new in itself. Ever since Japanese comics and cartoons have arrived to the Western front, be it the US, South America, or parts of Europe, they have seen some degree of censorship. Sometimes its removal of religious imagery as in older Nintendo games, sometimes its removal of blood from comics and cartoons, covering up bare skin or making sure characters say they saw a parachute after blowing up an enemy robot. Viz themselves have a long history in censoring comics they localise, removing whatever they find objectionable at a given time, sometimes making panels look weird even out of their proper context.

Viz’s run for Pokémon Adventures may be infamous for all the female figures they redrew, but scenes like this also got toned down and ended up looking silly

The main difference is that all these have been external changes. Whatever Viz Media has done to censor the versions they publish is their and their customers’ business. The original creator was not limited by anything else but what he had discussed with his editor and staff. What Kirkland, and some of the Japanese government may be proposing, is to control the output of the creators at the source, practising self-censorship and limiting what they can and cannot to create. It would be imposing outsiders’ values and views in order to make Japanese cultural products more palatable for them.

What Sony is imposing on their worldwide developers, and what Ken Akamatsu is fearing, is cultural colonialism.

Homogenizing Japanese products according to outside rules would mean losing all the edge they have held over the competition. Cultural colonialism ultimately destroys the uniqueness of culture and replaces it whatever it currently acceptable by the people who enforced it in the first place. The American censorship is flippant at best, and as they show themselves as the face of the Western world, they would be in the lead of spreading their view of correct and proper culture. The US might not act as the world police as much as it used to in terms of military power, but that’s because war has changed. Now, the war is about information, controlling it and impacting how people behave. By trying to make everyone think and act the same, it becomes easier to exert power over people, even if they’re in a whole different country. Controlling what can be produced, or in what tone, is one step in controlling the way the culture begins to think despite what reality is.

The Japanese culture is a result of their long isolation until they were forced to open trade connections. While many Western nations have their identity moulded through constant interaction with neighbouring countries, Japan has always had the luxury in many ways unique from most of the world. This does bring its own baggage, which has resulted in less than favourable view of Japan around Asia. Outside a few tribe cultures that have had no contact with the rest of the world, the Japanese culture is in many ways closest to an alien culture a Westerner can easily access. Throughout the years this has caused certain fetishization of the culture, which has created the occasional Exotic Orient boom, in which various items and people have been exhibited to the public at large like some circus freaks. Racism has played some part in this, as numerous times these booms haven’t really cared whether or not depictions have been correct, and Asians were seen largely interchangeable with each other. This lead to things like kung fu being a Japanese martial art or Korean language cited as Chinese. These have become less common place nowadays, but the idea of Exotic Orient still raises its head sometimes, but in a more positive light nowadays thanks to the efforts of Asian nations themselves making themselves known brands.

The Japanese government’s worry over Japanese comics losing place in the overseas market is baseless. Currently, Shonen Jump comics are outselling Marvel and DC in the US. Various European countries have a steady flow of Japanese titles on their publishing lists. France especially has an impressive library of Japanese comics, perhaps the most in the European sphere that does not speak English as their first language.

Jump comics last circulation numbers. These are figures to salivate after

The government would have to worry if the industry itself or the government would begin to regulate the creative industries for Western markets. For the last thirty years, the Japanese government has done a lot to promote Japanese culture and its products, thus have seen a steady rise in overseas exports in every media field. While some programming has been specifically made to fit overseas market tastes, only a few individuals have taken straight actions to produce overseas market-specific products, like Mazinger. However, more and more mixed media projects concern themselves with the overseas market, resulting in shows that end up on Netflix and built to fit the global streaming service. In itself, there is nothing negative in trying to make products appeal to more than one market. That is just business. However, that approach does not take anime and manga’s primary target consumers to be the Japanese. The true uniqueness of what manga and anime as brands would offer would be removed, and the brand of Japan would be exchangeable with whatever other countries. In other words, under cultural colonialism, that uniqueness would vanish.

First Comics published Go Nagai’s Mazinger specifically for the US market in 1998. A single issue A Treville Book would retain the same moniker, but the book was rebranded as Mazinger U.S.A. Version for the Japanese markets in 1999.

Nevertheless, if the Japanese media would be regulated to suit foreign markets, they would undermine all the efforts the government has seen thus far as it would lead to current market objecting. It would be the opposite what the market has loudly wanted for decades now; uncensored, uninhibited works that are presented in the same forms as they originally were in Japan. Of course, by installing regulations at the source, the customers wants and wishes could be underhandedly circumvented. Outsider regulation at the source could, of course, cut costs when the localizing company publishes it, as there might not find any need to edit the content as it was already made for their liking. While the occasional overseas market-specific piece isn’t all that rare, they are also transparently pandering and lower in quality. Numerous properties have been turned into international brands later in their life, which has given away their visible deterioration of quality and loss of that original spark.

If it was just a few companies pushing for this level of censorship, they could be stepped around by using other companies or forming new ones. However, if these regulations would come from the government, it would damage the Japanese media industries deeply and heavily. A market suicide of this scale would be unpresented. Not only the government think-tanks would have to device new ways to market now-censored products that supposedly should sell better to the Westerners, but the companies that enjoyed large customer bases would have to spend insurmountable amount of money for marketing in order to keep now-damaged market while trying to expand it with these new pieces.

Furthermore, the generation that initiated the new millennium anime boom in the West will be replaced with a new one in the upcoming decade or two, and chances are Japanese media will see less consumption naturally at a global scale. This is due to the new generation always wanting to replace what their parents thing. This is the natural relation between parents and children. The best way Japanese government and the industries can combat this is to have their new generation of creators to take reins after the old masters, something that seems to be natural for the Japanese culture.

The question that lies under all this is What has made Japanese cultural products so appealing? The answer can be shortly be given as They’re Japanese. A product of another culture always offers a whole new alternative that can’t be found anywhere else. Perhaps it is the aesthetics that hit the right spot with some, perhaps it is the story beats. Maybe it’s all those Japanisms that inhabit each and every work to the brim. It still has to be admitted that Japan might need to cater to the overseas market in any case in the future. This is due to their constantly ageing population, which drops the buying power the nation overall has. The inverted age-pyramid keeps growing as the childbirth rates keep falling. This will ultimately require a shift in the Japanese culture when it comes to foreign markets and to foreigners themselves, but what kind of shift it’ll be we’ll have to wait and see. In a connected world as ours, it might be hard to imagine Japan closing itself once again, but that isn’t completely out of the question if physical connections are lost and we become connected only digitally. Nevertheless, at some point, there will be a need for people who would rather make comics and cartoons to work in other fields due to social changes, but that too will result in cultural works that reflect their times.

Japanese media, and their culture, is unique. The Japanese people know this and they celebrate it, more so than some other countries out there. They don’t hate themselves. They’re not afraid of showing it either, and they wish to share it with the world, if possible, with certain limitations. Their nation and the identity it has is strong and cohesive with a large number of regional differences to give vivid accents to any work. To break Japan’s export of culture with cultural colonialism would be heavily damaging, if not outright erasing the identity cultural products voice. Cultural exchange should not be this sort of one-sided corporate exchange, but where both sides agree and celebrate each other’s differences while agreeing to disagree with the incompatible ones. These are individuals and private companies who have a set target audience, and they should not be forced to cater other audiences or their whims if they choose not to.

Music of the Month: Ice Brain

I started this post originally lamenting how tired and utterly exhausted I am how the news has become a tool to radicalise people. Even after all these decades and knowing yellow journalism has been after that headline that would attract coin, these last five to six years have been a special kind of trash fire that has made me lost faith in every single news source that I used to follow. Be it on television, Youtube, on paper or individual journalists on the field, not one is even attempting to showcase a balanced, objective view what’s going on. Instead, I have found myself in a need to weave through dozens of different sources just to find what was really said or what really happened. I’m looking at the States across the pond and wondering how the people allowed themselves to be divided, as to be conquered. The news and social media has done nothing but radicalised all ends of the political spectrum, and the US desperately needs more than two governing parties. It’s a goddamn mess they’re having there.

I wanted to get that one out. I’m tired, worried, stressed and cranky. I am not a good company, and that probably is being reflected in whatever post I’m making in these upcoming months, because this is a thing that I know won’t go away anytime soon due to work and issues with personal life. It would be nice to have breaks and things to enjoy, to get rid of all the things pressing on my neck at the moment, but that’s not going to happen in some twenty years now. Work isn’t really helping with this any, as we just entered Q1 of the financial year and it’s always a terrible, slow and janky time. I would rather keep working and push stuff forwards, yet bureaucracy and other slower workers put breaks on everything despite we had a nice and smooth working schedule and line-up all ready. Yet the Q1 hit and everything was put to a total halt and I’m already so full of being able to do jack shit nothing and yet needing roll to work and be there like I had a rod up my ass. It’s not productive and honesty wastes my time and nerves. You’d think I could sit down and write more posts or perhaps even practice drawing, but that’s a No-No. Company policies. Yet you have motherfuckers taking hour-long breaks and almost two-hour lunch breaks, but doing your job while doing something else on the side gets you reprimanded. So if there’s a post missing, it’s more likely I’m trying to spend that time recovering from something with friends or simply not wanting to put my head out there. I’ve started to take a new hobby in napping.

On other stuff that might be more interest to you, dear reader, is that the Muv-Luv Alternative comic is being digitally published. It’s available on Amazon, but I truly recommend their Gumroad option over Amazon in every single respect. Not only the service is better, but you’d also be supporting proper competition between companies. If you don’t have a Gumroad account, this is the time for it and get cracking with all those other stuff you can find there.

When it comes to video games, have you noticed how the Switch is being excluded from the 9th Generation of video game consoles despite it being the one that started it? For whatever reason people are lumping it with the 8th Generation, but then again these are the people who consider certain pole marks to be the sign of a generation rather than, y’know, the next thing. Certainly, the gaming media population can’t be so dumb to assume that raytracing and whatever newfangled keys are being jingled in front of the customer this year are the only things that determine a generation. It’s like how the Dreamcast wasn’t considered competition for the PlayStation 2 because it had launched earlier. Yet here we are now, counting it as the first of the sixth generation of video game consoles. Nintendo already had a console in the eighth generation, and that was the Wii U. It might’ve been a total failure, a worse bomb than the Virtual Boy, yet it still counts as their mark of failure straight up after the glorious Wii. Oh well, people who think this is a life-or-death matter (or Wikipedia editors) will keep debating how the Switch belongs to the 8th generation because of its lack of hardware power, though that logic would throw all the previous generations to disarray in a rather messy manner.

Sadly, I am finding myself more apathetic as I keep writing this, so instead of trying to force myself to find more cheery subjects and not try to talk about Australia banning Japanese adult magazines and sex toys with cartoon characters, which is a puritanical action that belongs to the 1700-century and has no place in the modern world, I’ll just go make something to eat instead and consider spending few minutes with Episode I Racer instead.

Music of the Month; Dare ni demo aru ashita

It’s been some time I last sat down to type things down, but all things must come to an end and other things begin from it. The month’s break came in good use, I would’ve otherwise found myself a kind of nervous wreck you see some people being, burning themselves down for no good reason. I know too many people who have taken the world’s burden unto themselves, and when their strength hasn’t been enough and they’ve exahusted themselves, burning the sheer will to go on with anything, it’ll only hurt them and everyone around them. Purchasing my own place to live in, moving all the furniture and collections, then trying to arrange them into their proper places all the while purchasing necessities (like a new bed because the old one literally blew itself apart when I loosened some screws) and then living more than two months on a razor’s edge regarding my job, something that in earnest is still a thing, I’m sure you can tell that I didn’t need any extra weight on my back. We’re not going to back to normal schedule just yet, however, as I’ll have to prioritise work and things with this new-old house, both of which are delivering constant headaches. There are no plans, but I have some ideas and seedlings that I want to type about, but hopefully, our favourite Digimon blogger A9, or The Doc, will get his promised Star Trek post done at some point to cover my ass a little bit.


As for what’s been happening with the month, there hasn’t really been any time for me to keep up with events. However, I did notice that Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, or Rumbling Hearts, Visual Novel has been confirmed for an English language release. While I’d like to say I have been waiting for this VN to be translated like the rising moon, I have to admit that the time has passed for me. My currently longest, and one of the oldest, post is all about one specific route of the VN, the one that is probably “canon.” I put quotes there, as it’s really best to think KGNE as its own thing from Muv-Luv despite the two sharing overall continuity and were designed to be counterparts. Alas, their history is not exactly that. The two work are very different and the strings the play and the beats they hit are very different, and ultimately I would argue that their audiences are different. Sure, VN fans will eat anything semi-decent they’ll get their hands on, but KGNE is in its own league. It’s often cited to coin the term tsundere, though that’s not exactly correct. The reviews and articles of the time did call it the first nakige for ‘crying game’. KGNE‘s story beats hit points where you find yourself for numerous reasons, tearing up. Be it because something lovely and touching is happening, or because or something massively horrifying hit your way. From what I’ve read, it was also one of the first numbers of VN titles that, in its own way, legitimised the format for the common consumers. Sure, VNs had seen ports to home consoles well before KGNE hit the scene. yet this one didn’t just get ported to Dreamcast and Playstation 2, but also probably is still one of the handful few VNs that have properly well made animated adaptation. The now-busted podcast we had in Muv-Luv Kickstarter’s wake had a special episode just for KGNE and it’s one of the few things I would recommend anyone to listen to just because there are three other guys that aren’t me discussing the series. The show wasn’t just a hit in Japan, it was for a time a popular culture landmark and the work that defined âge as a development studio as well as setting them a benchmark all of their works would be compared to in the future, whatever they may be. It’s a work âge can’t surpass with Muv-Luv. They would need to create something new, something that wouldn’t have the baggage and expectations of a whole franchise and do it as if their life depended on it. Muv-Luv Alternative is damn close to this. I’ve heard that thematically Leaf’s White Album 2 has similar overall thematics, and to quote anon late 2014 It does Kimi ga Nozomu Eien better. Dunno, would be good Japanese practise, I’d guess.


I don’t know how many VN companies would do board games based on a family restaurant and side-characters working in said restaurant. I’d really want that Sky Temple tea set though, it exists out there somewhere

Anyway, KGNE is one of those titles that probably will feel old to VN readers due to its age. The medium has changed in subtle ways since 2001. Many things it does in writing probably will be seen archaic and somewhat driven to the ground, but that’s where perspective has to play a part. This is a thing that I had a discussion with few friends recently, with some of them being VN readers. A point was raised that even taking into ML‘s Kickstarter into account, translating KGNE now is rather late. It being removed from its frame of time will necessitate the aforementioned perspective, but most people won’t do that. They’ll go in expecting something grand and world-shaking. If you come from ML or numerous other hard-hitting VNs, there’s bound to be something to disappoint you. It’s very nature as a grounded slice of life, or This is true life as one of the taglines for the English anime release went, isn’t exactly something that seems popular or wanted nowadays. It has no fantastical elements to it to speak of. In business sense, KGNE doesn’t lend itself for sequels or franchising, which is really a plus from an individual point of view. It’s a single work that tops what it does. You don’t need anything more. The story starts and ends here, and that’s great.

Timing has never been âge’s strengths, and they’ve often kept pushing titles back due to delays of some kind, which ultimately kills interest, even among fans. The core build-in audience âge has, of course, is their main audience, with people who are nostalgic for the anime in the Western front being their second target. I can’t keep track how many times I’ve seen someone mentioning they’ve watched the show ages ago when they were a kid or something similar, showcasing interest to explore that original work.  While âge fans will know how KGNE is tied to Muv-Luv, I would consider it a misstep if that was the main point in the advertisement. Sure, that’s probably the easiest way go with it, yet that’ll build the image that these being tied tightly together means you can’t really enjoy one without the other. Separation is needed to deliver the best possible impact between the two IPs. A triple combo of presenting KGNE VN as a defining work of the company and massively classic piece of work in the medium would be the first hit, followed by striking nostalgia people feel toward the anime still by pulling in some recognisable bits and bobs, then followed by connecting it to Muv-Luv indirectly. KGNE has to be allowed to breathe by itself. I just hope it’s not too late. âge knows how to heat the flames in the forge when it comes to the fans, but the steel tends to cool down or burn out in the forge if left unattended, ultimately flame itself burning through all that coal.


If you’ve never seen AyuMayu Theatre, I would urge you to track it down and watch it

Coming Soon? I doubt, unless 2030 is soon for you

I’m glad KGNE is finally getting that English translation. It is a work I do think should be available for everyone. In the same breath, I must mention that I do consider every single sex scene in the work to be of importance. It’s part of the way the story is structured, and one of or two truly feel like traditional VN design where porn was a must. I do think the same way about Muv-Luv‘s scenes, mind you, though only a handful of them are truly necessary and highly important. Funny that really, all of them involve Sumika. Nevertheless. the translation also has to impeccible, but knowing how much love is involved with everything, I’ll show faith in proper handling of the work.


With âge intending to remake Kimi ga Nozomu Eien sometime in the future, I can’t help but I have to consider this to be the right step. Re-introduce the work to the Western audience, maybe try to get some kind of deal with whoever has the English license at the moment to release the Blu-Ray pack to strike gold with that nostalgia even more. With Sayori of Nekopara fame working on the KGNE Remake, I have to admit having no interest in it at the moment. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien Latest Edition was an expansion of the original for modern hardware all the while including new routes from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien Special Fandisc. Even after the Remake/Reboot, whichever they want to call in the end, Latest Edition will stay the definitive version of the original Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and should be considered as. âge doing the reboot means they have an insanely difficult task to surpass the original in every possible way, something I can’t believe they would be able to do. Perhaps a miracle will happen and I’ll be applauding it the finest piece of âge’s history. That’ll remain to be seen.

Latest, the most definitive, Edition



Music of the Month; Zoolook

In honestly had no music chosen for the month because nothing really has popped up that would colour the idea the starting the autumn season and getting back to work. Maybe there is, now that I think of it.

If you’re wondering where you’ve heard this song, it was largely sampled into Captain Blood‘s intro sequence. Just be sure to listen to the end


Before you get into the whole nitty gritty and draggin yourself back into the wheel that is work, eat, sleep repeat, remember to sharper your knives. Makes making those dinners etc faster and more safer than withaa dull knife, assuming you won’t avert your attention from the news.

With the previous post, the Hori Mini Pad for Switch review, was the first time I gave Wordress’ Block editor a go. It’s a system where you grab and drag blocks around, each blocking having their own stuff about them. Well, that turned out to be a disaster in itself. The system is unintuitive and hampers your workflow if you just want to sit down and type down something rather than create a whole new page. At some point I will end up changing the theme for the blog, but that’s something that’ll happen sometime next year. So, apologies for double messages, if people got ’em. Should not happen again, as I’d rather fuck off to another blogging site rather than use Block editor again. The reason the post went online on Saturday rather than Sunday was because my yearly leave ended on Sunday and I wanted to spent that day without thinking much about the blog.

In more relevant matters, Muv-Luv photonmeldies is now on Steam. If you missed the Kickstarter few years back, this is the last bit, before we forage into more unknown lands. With the Kickstarter and both Total Eclipse and Schwarzesmarken TV-adaptations localised, the Western fandom has expanded and found content providers more worthwhile on tackling various subjects and covering the franchise overall. While I still intend to continue with the TSF -plane comparisons at a later date (the issue still is with the lack of visual materials for some of the TFS I really would like to cover) as well as cover topics and themes that don’t get discussed too often, like with the Artificial Intelligence posts (can be found in the âge related posts, link above), I must admit that I have found myself falling into out from this niche. To say, some Youtubers and the other bloggers have taken the torch and ran with it. I don’t exactly mind it, I have no want to capitalise on something, even if it would probably bring in more readers or such. The question is of course When? and I honestly have no answer to it. I’ll have to regain that drive to cover those at some point, but at this moment I am still trying to excavate old magazines to archive.

Have I ever told you this is my single favourite piece made for ML? I probably have, but it’s still neat as well.

As for the blog overall, with further inspection and consideration, I’ll be letting more Wednesday’s posts go by. Certain necessities have risen up recently that will take my attention away about every other day as well as the need to continue a certain scanning project that is sorely late, dismissing one of the two weekly posts if necessary is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. However, as said, this happens if it is only necessary. On the other hand, Wednesday’s post should probably be considered as the Weekday posts, as it probably is better just to make one when I have the time for it, and a good idea. We can discuss if I ever had good ideas and have botched any decent ones I’ve had.


Music of the Month; Vanburlan of Darkness

I wanted to have a theme this month for the sake of old times, but due to things, I can’t really muster one. Mostly because I’m officially on my yearly leave and I would like to spend some time away from home and computer, if possible. Though I’ll try to stick to my summer tradition and write one large post just for the kicks.

There were bunch of Muv-Luv news on a stream that came out on the 1st, but it aired middle of the night here. Nothing much I can say about it now, but synopsis based on the two mobile games that were announced among other stuff might be in place for those who missed it as well. Not that I’m intending to become a news vendor or something, but a synopsis is always a synopsis.

An interesting phenomena on the Internet is how regionally people seem to consider certain standards as valid across the board. Maybe saying it another way would make it a bit more clear what I mean; People tend to default to their own frame rather than think universally, globally. Not only this leads to assuming what other people think or how they may react to something, but also tends to set certain framework under which we individually function. Take slavery as an easy example. Depending on your region the first thing you come to may be the slavery practised in Africa’s Sahel Region, child labour across the globe, historical slavery e.g. the ancient Romans practised, or as practised in the United States and other nations before it was ended. Possibilities are that you simply default to thinking the master/slave relation input and output has in technology. Perhaps some Asian region will still remember the slavery as practised by the Chinese throughout the ages, and is still practised some forms, like sexual slavery. Seeing how much American media tends to govern English language sites, it’s easy to see how their concepts and understandings tend to drip unto elsewhere, still recognised as foreign thinking. Different cultural standpoints don’t always meet, but they don’t need to be in direct conflict either. It’s as if anyone who has a different worldview despite similar values, just in different priorities and order, becomes somehow less and almost evil.

Ah well, that’s just me. I just want people to strive and aim for peace, not to win over each other. That can cause the pendulum swings to hit harder than intended. Saying something so generic probably will be construed to mean whatever people want to see in it, despite it just meaning what it says; I want people to be at peace with each other. I’ll aim to tone down whatever political shit there’s in the posts, but recently I’ve found myself veering into politics without intentions. Not everything needs to be political, not all things are political, after all.

Though I have a controller review coming up, but because the global parcel movement is completely fucked and packages are being lost and aren’t moving anywhere, it’s probably that I’ll get that controller only after my yearly leave is ended. That reminds me, I have few customer works to do, so those will take some significant time. Probably gonna override some posts, but who cares. It’s summer, everybody’s out, except the people living at the South side of the globe.

As it is a new month, be sure to sharpen, polish and oil your knives. Sharper knives make safer cooking.

Music of the Month; Major Demon

Whenever I find myself discussing electronic game history and culture, I’m always surprised how much information out there is heavily biased towards the American view. Take the 1984 video game crash for an example. It’s touted as an industry wide destruction that was dooming the whole industry. Rarely you see anyone mention that arcades were doing just fine and neither Europe or Japan (and by that extension, rest of Asia) felt the effects. Nor is it often mentioned that this was the second time the video game industry felt a crash, as the first one was experienced in 1979 with the death of Pong clones. Atari managed to survive that market, but the saturated Pong consoles didn’t experience a smooth transition to the Second Generation as much as it was a truck driven to a wall and whatever could be salvaged was put together and out. Then again, only in the US. Japan had its own thing going on with Cassette Vision and other domestic consoles going around with Atari’s consoles being mostly a niche, a side dish at best. European markets have always been more driven by computer markets rather than consoles, hence why the British and French microcomputers mostly get a glancing mention in US sources based while European memoirs celebrate them. Because of these microcomputers, every console in until the PlayStation had a hard time to penetrate the markets, especially if they were disastrously mismanaged like the NES and its high-cost cartridges. The Sega Master System managed to nab important countries under its belt due to decent marketing and cheaper titles. In the meanwhile, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and similar computers were making strides, alongside later entries like Atari ST and Amiga. The only real place the NES pounced its competition like there was no tomorrow was in the US, as even in Japan Famicom faced serious competition from the PC-Engine.

It’s understandable how a lot of misconceptions about the electronic game market of the 1980’s have come about. Not only it was an era where Japanese economy bubble was rumbling across the world, but also a time when the industry was still brand new and saw its most dramatic high and lows. After those growing pains, electronic game market has been rather stable, though it becoming a behemoth of all entertainment industries has also translated to rising costs across the board. Nevertheless, with the NES striking gold in the US, lot of assumptions and deductions where made based on the local market synergies, as Nintendo was represented somewhat homely device as were its games. One of the reasons why Nintendo saw so much effort to localise certain Japanese big hits, like Dragon Quest, with loads of extra content in the package, as well as their now infamous censorship rules. Due to the sheer separation of markets, the US wouldn’t see the progression of Japanese developed games until the NES hit the shores, effectively skipping many genre’s and NES’ own growing pains, and pretty much all of the classic NEC PC titles, outside some that got ported to MS-DOS at a later date, like Sorcerian. This would lead into old arguments about some games being ripoffs of others or companies copying style and design from others, while the matter might be around. The previous post can be said to be about this to some extent.

Europe of course had all the trickling effects, and Nintendo never even enforced the need to properly convert NTSC 60Hz games to PAL 50Hz. Funny that, it also goes backwards, with some European developed games run unintentionally faster on NTSC systems. Not that Sega cared either, and the industry standard of not doing the necessary conversions stuck. Video games are a business after all, you put limitations and rules what can be in these titles to encourage sales, and flaunt your stances and values in the best ways you can to show the customer how much trust can be put on them.

Not exactly my usual month’s breaker, but I don’t really have much plans. Due to changes in career and job description, my usual work days have become longer and while work in itself might be easier with robots, it is more stressful with its own little issues that I have to learn from the mud. Moving these posts’ release schedule to 16:00 GMT0 have made a significant different in how much time I can put into typing stuff down. Hobbies shouldn’t feel like work, and I’ve removed quite a load with that simple change. I’m not exactly sure if there is a notable difference in quality or amount of text I’ve produced during as of late. With summer heat hitting the streets more and more each day, I’ve found myself wanting to spend more time out, hence there might be times when I’ll just miss a post intentionally. Not that I’ll abuse this decision, breaking a decade long habit is rather difficult. I’m also adamant on returning to make reviews at some point, but that really depends if anything interesting comes at hand. My heart still lies in reviewing controllers, but the sheer lack of need for new ones and nothing peculiar coming my way has thrown a monkey wrench in those gears. Ah well, I can always make those short series introductions.

Music of the Month: Mecha Godzilla

Things change and we have to be like the willow in the wind; ever bending but never relenting. So it’s come about again that this blog has to change itself to accommodate life and changes. With my work changing, this time this blog will have its posts postponed by six hours. Normally these posts have gone online around 11:00 GMT 0, plus minus daylight saving time. From this post onwards, they will go online six hours later, around 17:00 GMT0. This change it due to two reasons, first being that my work schedule has changed for the moment, which has changed the times when I can sit down, research, read and write. The second reason is that I have often had the need to rush things, and hopefully by moving things back six hours I don’t have a reason to have a fire under my ass to hurry stuff out nobody’s paying me for.  You will see shorter posts on the workdays as well, as discussed in previous Monthly Musics. Weekend posts hopefully will see increase in length and quality. Hopefully being the keyword here.

As for the rest of the month’s topics, there are few I’ll aim to visit, but just as previously, all bets are off. Star Trek Picard had its run, and it’s been terrible. Discussing Artificial Intelligence again will be something we’ll revisit, this time inspired how badly Picard used Trek‘s own AI and how entertainment industry tends to use the same ol’ Evil-AI over and over. Incidentally, Muv-Luv is an example where you have two superintelligences showcasing two opposing sides, with the BETA being AI gone wrong (Kouki mentioned how the BETA on Earth in Muv-Luv Alternative were misbehaving) and how the 00 Unit is AI working as intended.  Still, we have the heavy tendency of anthropomorphising AI to a severe degree, while in reality AI will most likely be something completely different and, for the lack of better word, inhuman. Popular culture and media tends to think AI is like a super intelligent and fast thinking human-like intelligence, but that’s mostly fiction. Computers don’t think like humans do, their “logic” is not the same as human logic and so on and so on, you’ve heard this all. In sheer hardware, computers have been beating humans for several decades now, but the way they “think” and “remember” is extremely different, and ultimately frighteningly inhuman to some. Saying that AI is instant death to mankind is also hyperbole at its finest.

The second topic might be automation, again, but from a different angle. Sure automation is nice and everybody hypes it up every which way, but nobody ever tells you how putting up automation takes several years at best and even then will break down every five minutes or so because of existing tolerances, programming errors, mistakes in the materials, someone setting off some limit alarm and so on. While automation is the future, the kind of automation so many factory owner and company CEO dreams about is still far in the future, when these machines will actually be making almost everything and no human contact is in the middle. When we talk about automation taking over traditional jobs, we’re at a point where this evolution has been going around for several decades and thousands of hours of work to get shit done right before robots march into the factories. Automation is nice, but humans have always utilised tools to make their work easier. We’re still doing that, just in bigger scale and with more intelligent tools. A skilful user is still required.

As for the third, well, Monster Maker. I should get the original set within few days and then I just need to translate the rules. I’ve got few other versions on the side as well for comparisons’ sake, and few doujinshi offshoots, one which doesn’t have any relation but we’ll be throwing that in there anyway because why not. Rather than full-blown historics, I’ve decided to stick with the basics of the franchise, touch on topics here and there to make it familiar to the reader and point the way where to get the actual games if they’re interested in. Thirty years of history is a long time to cover, and impossible if there are no true sources to use. I would have to hunt down different PnP magazines and such for interviews and period-specific reviews, and if we’re honest, that ain’t happening. That money is going for more essential purchases.

With this being the first date of the month, I hope you’ll also remember to sharpen and oil your knives. A sharper knife is a sharper tool in the kitchen, and makes cooking that much more fun.

Music of the Month; Barrelfire Desperado

After I hit that nine years of blogging anniversary few weeks back, I went back and looked back at the stuff I’ve written. Jesus Christ what drivel. I can’t deny that there aren’t any stuff I’d say I have a good feeling about. Proud is too strong a word, but maybe saying there’s worth in there works better. That’s probably something I need to work over for myself, that I try to be worth something to someone, but considerations what people consider worthwhile don’t match up with me (or with each other) all that often. Who would give a damn about archiving a random comic book from the 80’s nobody has never heard about? Well, that’s the point really, maybe archivists get it. Maybe they don’t, there’s so much data on the Internet and on physical archives already, and we just keep producing this stuff more and more every single damn day.

You’ve probably followed the advent of SARS-CoV-19 virus’ makings its ways in China, and then steadily spreading across the globe. I’ve found some kind of macabre interest in following the events through the eyes of leakers and individuals who get their message out through the Chinese Communist Party blocked Internet. It’s not exactly the most uplifting hobby, especially when it went from following how well everything was screwed up in the early phases, where travellers were allowed to move willy nilly around, to what we have now. Ever increasing amount of spreading across the world with mortality rate piling up. The sickness it causes, COVID-19, isn’t exactly a laughing matter, especially considering how long the sickness festers before symptoms pop up. I would wish all of my readers to take care of your basic hygiene and avoid travelling to areas with confirmed cases, as well as limiting your Internet purchases from foreign regions for now. I’d also recommend getting full eight hours of sleep as often as possible, as sleep is the best natural resistance against viral diseases. I don’t intend to make any posts about the virus or the disease it spreads, unless something highly significant comes into play. Spreading of this virus can only be curbed if people are willing not to travel.

That said, global recession is a reality companies and corporations have to consider. If worst case hits China, their economy will tank and cheap produce from them will trickle down. Global market probably will follow in suit and tank, meaning we’re going to be in a place where consumers won’t have as much cash at hand just to throw at something expensive they don’t need. The Wii was perfectly priced console for its period, something the 360 and PS3 had to fight against. People still joke about $599 price. Especially considering if China’s production will tank much further, production of electronics and whatnot will grind slowly to a halt. This is where digital distribution should start to shine like no other, but they still need to sway with significantly cheaper price tags than their physical counterparts. Think of how the Wii found the perfect spot with cheaper hardware, good enough visual presentation and games people wanted to play. At least during Wii’s first half of life.

That’s a thing I’ve been told for some twenty years now, that digital will take over physical. Every five years, physical will be completely phased out with digital taking over. We’re fifteen years later after the first given deadline, and physical media is still around. While its sales have been diminished for sure, it isn’t languishing and has found its own niche.

As for something lighter things, and more related to the blog proper, I’ve cued up a Monster Maker franchise as the next short introduction. This is a perfect example how you pick up something completely harmless, think it’s just a series of five games across different systems and don’t think any of it. Then you start reading more about, look more into what items there has been for sale, what sort of deals and promotions have been tied to the name and finally you have in your hands a well loved staple of Japanese fantasy genre that started as a 1988 card game with five different entries with own unique sets of rules and cards, Rance Quest Edition via a deal with Alice Soft, few Revised editions and a 2018 Remake edition with revised rules, dozens of spin-off tabletop board and other games, additional video and computer games that range from simulating the actual game itself to fully-fledged console RPGs alá Dragon Quest, different pen and paper RPG iterations, strategy boardgames, few model kit lines that not only featured the characters, but dioramas and enemies in more of the expensive boxes, comics of all kind, light novels and God know what I’ve missed. I could spend a whole year cataloguing all this and I wouldn’t be finished because tracking down even the most common of the games can get rather expensive. Not to mention all the fan produced stuff, which of course ranges from crude homebrew simulations to erotic adventures of the characters in the world. By 1991, the game already had seven mainline entries.

Be sure to check Kugatsuhime’s Twitter. We’ll talk about the author/s whenever I get to the series introduction post proper. Which probably will be a series of posts at this point.

Even getting started is a chore (a gross understatement), because in order to properly describe the base game, or the 2018 Remake and Rance Quest Edition for now, the rules had to be translated because only the original game has dubious rules translations around the net. Well, whenever we get to the post proper, it will be supplemented with a PDF file for the rules for you to use alongside proper description for the 2018 Remake. I would love to use the original for this and make a direct comparison between the two, but we are talking about thirty years old card game that’s not exactly the easiest to find, and needing to purchase it. I’ve seen it go for 1000yen at one time, and another time over 10 000yen. There’s also a Revised edition that was published in the mid-00’s, with option to create your own cards for the deck (they sold blank cards for that specific purpose) but the cheapest I’ve seen it go in public trading has been around 18 000yen. Hell, just writing this itself made me check few more sites and I found yet another set of five entries I’ve missed prior. This is how you dig yourself in a deep ass hole, finding something that seems interesting, getting few stuff just to get you started and you find out you got thirty odd years of expansive franchise very few in the English speaking world even knows exists and you’re adamant to make it known more. I can honestly say that if you want to hear more about the franchise with scans and stuff around, those Ko-Fi tips would come in handy. Otherwise I’ll be drudging through as usual, and just pick the more prominent examples that are around.

On the meantime, remember to sharpen and oil your kitchen knives. A sharper knife makes safer and more pleasant cooking.


Music of the Month; The Hidden One

Funnily enough, for a guy who doesn’t really like fantasy or RPGs all that much, something about  7th Dragon 2020 games hits the spot. It’s probably because it’s what I’ve started to call as urban fantasy. Something that has your usual magic stuff, but at the same time isn’t about elves and orcs, but more about relatively normal world in somewhat modern settings with heavy emphasize on other traditional fantasy elements. I simply have no stomach for Tolkien-esque fantasy or its relatives. That’s why going through The Wheel of Time books has been such a slog. I can appreciate them just fine, but the points of emphasize are completely whack. Yeah let’s talk about someone riding a horse three pages and describe a world altering event in half. That’s a hyperbole, but still fitting.

If you’re a new reader, you might be wondering what the hell is this post. Well, every month starts with a no-topic post about random things that might have to do something that I have planned for the month, or just random babbling about something that wouldn’t make a post unto itself. In other words, a way to let me loose some steam from the kettle that’s been brewing a bit too hard.

I’m rather tired of both Star Trek and Star Wars discussions, that much I said in last post. That’s still true, but Trek has become a topic of interest against thanks to Star Trek Picard or STP hitting the online services. Seeing the first two episodes, I’m less interested to see any of the show past these two episodes as it kills any spirit of the previous shows it had, ignoring Discovery. For Star Trek there always was a hopeful future, that mankind and our allied species could coexist not because out of convenience or superior genetical evolution, but because we’ve decided to be better. A social evolution where we were allowed to stretch towards the best we can become and aim even further. Nothing but ourselves could stop it. The Next Generation took the idea a bit too far, one could argue, with the rule that there should be no conflicts among the crew. The Roddenberry box, as they call the set of rules that govern the future. However, those rules did make it seem more like a future where no difference of thought was allowed, and if you deviated from the government sanction ideal, you were hammered down in other manners. Never the less, outside these few stumbles in the rules, that were ignored when there was a better story to be told, the Federation of Planets and the Starfleet were representations of a better future. In STP, and in Abrams’ movies, this has not been the case, and this sort of view of future governments being, to put it straight, evil has become more and more common. Especially for franchises that used to have the opposite governing system. It’s like future can’t hold hope for us any longer, that everything has to look dark and people betray each other all the time. It’s not exactly a new phenomena either, but things are just being turned darker and darker for no reason. You can argue that the modern Star Trek is telling stories about current events and situations like the writers, actors and producers are saying, but the whole continuing storyline format doesn’t allow that properly. You don’t have the contrast how things should be against the handled subject. You don’t have the light and shadow dancing between twilight and dawn. All you’re having is darkness. Perpetual darkness that depresses you, and all you hope it would snow that the night would seem that much brighter. The more I look at modern takes on older media, the less I see hope were there should be. Not only that, but there is no significance with most of the stories, there’s no payback. Like with modern Star Wars movies, the payback is miserable for all the misery you have to watch through. In the end, you’re left with a character with least meat to her and none of the ones that ultimately mattered. I’m babbling at this point, but it might be the whisky I finally managed to get a glass for.

The past month has been a bit rough, if I’m completely honest with you. This has come through the quality and language of the posts bit too much. More often than not I’ve had pleasant and relaxing time when writing, but last month was more or less me banging my head against a concrete slate. Not because of lack of topics, but due to me not exactly feeling like adding any more load on my back. You shouldn’t bring your work home, but it’s kinda hard when your boss calls you when you’re at home. Working from home, if I’m completely honest, is probably one of the worst ways to go. Unless you have a specified space or room for your office. Your normal life and work life should be mostly apart.

February is a short month, and I’ve given up on planning anything for the future. I’ve got a too large a list of shit to finish, like that TSF-plane comparison charts (at least two or three yet on the workbench) and continuing with the Guilty Gear design comparisons, though now adding Strive‘s designs would probably hit the spot. Comic Lemon People history has been sitting on the back burner for years now, but maybe I could get my hands on some magazines I’m missing to make it some kind of History as seen on the pages of the magazine kind of thing. Less about the history of the magazine and more about its contents and how that got spread around. Mentioning stuff like Zeorymer OVA would be necessary, and I guess that would lead into discussion about Cream Lemon and Lemon Angel as well. Not exactly a topic I’m eager to tackle, if I’m honest, due to the whole amount of work outside writing. Probably a post worth all the effort, but not now. Not the way things are now. There’s also that one device review coming on, that hand-held track ball, but there are few kinks I want to learn about in usage that I want to experiment before giving an end-users opinion.

I’ll probably be skipping next week’s Wednesday post, and save that writing time to device a new About section to replace the old one. In hindsight, just removing that particular page probably would leave people confused the mixed and contradictory views on the blog. After all, I don’t underline everything I write, but rather try to view issues more than just one view, unless provocation is intended.

What a way to waste a post for 2020.02.02.