Music of the Month; P-O-L-O-N

For some weeks now I’ve been trying to tackle how would I write about the death of one Hideo Azuma. He was a major force in the Japanese comic industry during his golden ages in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He worked alongside with such giants as Monkey Punch of Lupin the 3rd from very early on. His humorous gag comics made him relatively popular, and he increased his following by making science fiction comics in the mid-70’s. Azuma is credit for the first mainstream lolicon work Umi Kara Kita Kikai or The Machine that Came from the Sea. This is the kind of classical lolicon I described in a previous post (I highly recommend reading the linked post for context), not the twisted understanding world has now. Azuma’s works became increasingly erotic in nature, and could be said to be one of the forerunners of the styles and themes that coloured the 1980’s Japanese pop-culture, starting with the late 1970’s doujinshi series Cybele, culminating in motifs found if magazines like Manga Burikko and Comic Lemon People. When Osamu Tezuka created Prime Rosehe stated that there was only one person he considered to be his rival and equal to beat in both themes and visuals, and that was Hideo Azuma. He was already a household name, but with his 1977 comic Ochamegami Monogatari Korokoro Polon already having a TV-adaptation, the effect Azuma had on both media and otaku culture in the 1980’s should not be underestimated, he had become a giant.

Azuma’s increasingly larger workload from the past twenty odd years and larger amount of works in numerous big name magazines would cause him to fall into alcoholism and neglect, ultimately making him simply vanish from his work and home for months end, sometimes over a year, with at least one attempted suicide. During these excursions he would live as a homeless man, finding food wherever he could, sometimes finding an odd job he would take to make some kind of living. Ultimately he would be forced into an alcohol rehab centre. Azuma would create a semi-fictional biography of this time with Disappearance Diary, the only work of his that has been translated in English. Some European countries would see the aforementioned Pollon and Azuma’s most famous work, Nanako SOS, localised, but the rest of his library of works has yet to be officially translated. I warmly, and strongly, recommend picking up Disappearance Diary and give it a good read. It should still be available, as the book got reprinted few times over.

Hideo Azuma continued working with comics, never stopping to draw a new comic. The last pages he ever draw were done on his deathbed, the two last pages on a manuscript that probably will never be published. He died of esophageal cancer at age of 69 in October 13th. He had been treated for it for some before, but ultimately there was very little that could be done at the stage the cancer was in.

Hideo Azuma’s works could be described to he humorous, but that’d be disservice. He has a lot of gag comics under his belt, just as he has numerous erotica, science fiction, fantasy and slice-of-life published. He wasn’t limited by one genre, though during the 2000’s and 2010’s people would call his work moe, a term Azuma himself disliked, feeling that would box him into a unnecessarily small range. It could be argued his works paved the way to modern moe, but that would be disservice. His storytelling ranged from very clear cut and straight, like the aforementioned award winning Disappearance Diary, to something that’s almost like a dream, with landscapes and characters floating through the story as if the pages weren’t really there.

This short concept video shows so much of Azuma’s style and looks, but also slightly touches on other works his was inspired by. There is also footage of him working on an illustration, which in itself is a small marvel

Azuma should be considered among the giants of the industry alongside other of his contemporaries. His works may be largely unknown in the West due to the modern stigma on his 1980’s productions, yet the aftershocks can be seen in the current generation of cute comics and shows. Not even the expanded edition of Disappearance Diary has made its way to the Western markets. With the current market, and how most consumers of Japanese comics tend to be on the adult side, Hideo Azuma’s works might find its market. That said, if Tezuka’s works have a hard time making it through the layers, there’s very little chances a publisher will take a chance with Azuma’s work that isn’t an award winner. There are numerous recommended collections of Azuma’s works that shouldn’t take too much effort to publish, but I’m guessing a Western publisher might want to revise some of the covers.

To tell you the truth, I can not do justice to Hideo Azuma’s life and work. It is so expansive and filled with detail I can’t even begin to scratch, as I’ve always put getting into his works aside every time something else has popped up. It’s as if I am too late now, and though becoming a fan of works after author’s death is nothing new to me. This, however, is a case where I’ve consciously been eyeing Hideo Azuma on the sidelines for several years, waiting that best of times for me to jump all in. That of course never came, and perhaps that’s what I learned from him, and from his Disappearance Diary; you have to make it yourself, nothing will wait for you.

To quote someone who knew him better; Rest in peace, king of lolicon.

Music of the Month; Midnight Chaser

Oy, why wasn’t there a post on Sunday? We’re creeping towards the end of quarterly year, so things are busy. Due to this, I’ve been doing some overtime shifts. Last weekend happened to be at night, so it was either sleep or writing a post, so guess which one I picked. Good side on this is that the salary I’m getting should cover me a server, which I might or might not use to set up something on the long run.

There hasn’t been much happening that I’d need to cover per se in this month’s starter. We reached 1k posts and that almost went by unnoticed, I’m not exactly the one to start celebrating such things. Nevertheless, there was a Different take on customers which I used to vent some stuff off. Not the usual kind, but taken from the maker’s point of view. Largely.

With the new Guilty Gear hitting the scene with trailers, those posts have been getting some attention. If I were some kind of grubby attention whore, or just someone seeking to expand and take advantage of current trends, I would’ve started dishing out GG design posts despite the hit they would’ve taken in quality. Nice to see people checking ’em out, but it also made me realise I need to rename the posts to include a direct reference to Xrd now that the upcoming game is the latest one. I’ll probably modify the existing posts to include the new game’s designs at some point, whenever I got enough materials at hand (and time to do ’em) all the while new entries will cover both Xrd and whatever this new game will be called. I hope it’ll get a proper title with four Xs.

I got a topic for a new mecha design post as well with the announcement of industrial design version of good ol’ Gundam. Now what makes it industrially designed is anyone’s guess, but probably the fact that Ken Okuyama designed Enzo Ferrari and has some pull. The topic would be hip design and the main approaches it has, open, skirted and what I call diapers. The linked Gundam has that diaper design, as did most old Transformers, so there’s some stuff to cover and wager how they function in comparison to each other.

There was relatively interesting discussion about game storytelling, where I discussed the complete opposite from the other person, with me sticking to the whole player-actions narrative approach while this other person promoted the idea of having separate sequences for clear storytelling, like FMV sequences. I could marriage this with critique why Hideo Kojima should move into making movies rather than games, seeing he has surrounded himself with Hollywood-types and lives in that bubble after leaving Konami, but we’ll see how that goes ends up.

Maybe the last proper topic I’ve simmered in my head during my downtime has been about the new push for digital-only games because one Blu-ray disc is not enough. Last of Us 2 was reported to come on two discs and this was somehow seen a detriment. As if games historically haven’t come on multiple discs or diskettes in the past. The push nevertheless was that this is somehow a great negative, and the post should cover how that’s bullshit. The last few generations have been exceptions on multiple disc games due how large BD space ultimately is, tho 360 games sometimes came on two discs instead of one due to size limitations, like Lords of Shadow is on two discs on 360 while on one with PS3. It’s like people thinking upgraded console is a new thing, despite early generations doing that willy nilly, or that the SNES is Nintendo’s second console.

I might finally do something Lemon People related, but it’d be a gallery of front covers that would get updated as I manage to slowly expand the collection. It appears I am aiming to collect all the published magazines, for better or worse.

This being a new month, I should remind you to take your knives and sharpen them, after which you should oil ’em. Majority of slips and cuts in the kitchen are because of dull knives slipping from their intended target. Cutting a tomato with a nice sharp knife is just so much nicer than trying to force an unsharp slab through it.

Well, work beckons, though when this goes live I’ll be fast asleep.

Music of the Month; ななこSOS

Time to let out some steam. Month’s first post is, after all, a chance for random ramblings.

Unsurprisingly, due last week’s subject with sadpanda and the historical context of lolita complex in Japanese media history, few people asked if I had certain preferences, to put it diplomatically. Perhaps in the classical sense of having some infatuation with a cute character, but that’s more or less normal. People fall in love with inanimate objects almost as easily as they do in real people, or if life has shown that people are untrustworthy, the opposite seems to hold. In the modern, twisted sense? No. Then why would I spend any time on the subject than what I already have? It is solely historical interest. You know that one image macros, the one which shows how manly Japanese cartoons used to be, how adult and serious, and the Now shows nothing but cute stuff and shows with comparatively vapid content. Despite that image being a joke, it did launch an interest how true it really was. Reading history bit by bit via firsthand sources and consuming the media itself.

From someone who used to read history as a hobby, looking back at how consuming the media of old rather than just reading about it. Media can always be consumed, but events themselves can never be. However, much like when you’ve read enough history from multiple points of views, you begin to understand how everything tends to affects something, how events proceed from one to another. The similar effects can be said about media culture, where if you consume enough media of certain region, not just one kind but all kinds, you realise how much everything has worked in symbiosis, how cultural and historical trends in the media has raised its influential head here and there. It just has to be from relatively long period of time and understand the underlying trends. For example, just looking at the 1980’s anime scene with its OVAs and groundbreaking television shows is hard to understand without first without first looking at massive sub-cultural phenomena in the 1970’s like Captain Harlock, Mobile Suit Gundam and Urusei Yatsura. Those are major names, but only selected few with direct influences with 1980’s scene. Of course, the whole lolita complex, or culture of cute, should be taken into account as it was everywhere. If you go few posts back, I cover this a bit more there. Though I have raised myself a question that I have to find an answer to; where does Japan’s lolita complex, moe and culture of cute have original roots in? This requires some investigating.

To tell you the truth, I have been wanting to discuss this matter on the blog for a long, long time. However, due to difficulty and touchy nature of the subject due to its modern connotations, I have simply pushed it back and back again. I’ve talked about Comic Lemon People and series within in a lot, but never directly addressed it simply because there was never really a good angle to approach it with, and it seemed like time has made it ever touchier. However, Exhentai’s death (and rebirth) gave the perfect angle with archiving and its historical value, an angle I’ll probably stick with in the future when and if talking about the subject. On a side note, the alternative music just to continue with theme would’ve been this song.

In other news, Muv-Luv photonfloers* got released on Steam, so if you’re inclined to continue reading Muv-Luv related media in English, you might want to check it out. It is currently in sale at ~20 bucks, which isn’t a bad price overall when compared to the hundred bucks plus I paid for the PS3 limited edition. photonmelodies♮ is currently at works, and while we could discuss whether or not it was the right choice to call Before the Shimmering Time Ends as Alterd Fable, I should make note that the fandom kept calling the story by the collection’s name almost a solid decade, and âge themselves ultimately adopted that moniker for it as well. While I will keep referring it as Before the Shimmering Time Ends for the sake of accuracy and Altered Fable will refer to the collection. This really is like taking just Muv-Luv Unlimited from Muv-Luv and call it Muv-Luv. [5.8. Edit] I’ll be damned, the official title will be Altered Fable: A Shimmering Shard of Spacetime. I can live with that, and it caters to both people who simply use Altered Fable and autistic nitpickers like me. Sure, it may not be a direct translation, but keeps the original’s spirit with it as the first direct continuation to Final Extra.

Seeing this is port of the PS3 titles, I’d also urge you to get your hands on the original PC release to experience the minigames in their full, bloody glory as well as have the erotica included. I do still erotica in Muv-Luv to be relatively essential to characterisation and showing humane bonding between characters, but your taste probably varies and many VN enthusiasts would rather push a pillow in porn’s face. Then again, VNs themselves are a media slowly withering into a smaller and smaller niche with each passing year, so perhaps it doesn’t do all that well to forget one of the paramount aspects Japanese PC adventure gaming and Visual novels have carried with them. I’d hate to see a beloved media being reduced to mere pebbles, but the fandom could be proud that the things they love now has little to no smut. What a waste.

While I’m plugging titles with cute girls who get fucked, I might as well throw this Kickstarter in your face; Daily life with Konko, or as the devs decided to translate it, Your Waifu Foxgirl Konko. I’m not terrible keen on this translated title, as it tries too hard, almost trying to hit the Internet’s meme nerve. Why would I give a look at something like this? Truth to be told, I’d rather not say, but might as well; the Japanese version of the game helped get over few dark months earlier this year. While I won’t be getting into any details about that human relationship, having something that wasn’t cold and dead like the winter outside kept me floating. There’s a trial that run in a browser on there, though it does raise some issues with the translation. Teacher is left as Shisho, and whole stroking someone’s head isn’t really sexual, leaving the command as just Stroke does strike a bit hammy. The title really isn’t meant to be played hours on end, but little bit each day. Something to wind down a bit, let things slow down and your worries to fall out. The demo’s also lacking any music, and is far too short to give any proper idea how it works, but its something. It does pretty terrible works at depicting the actual gameplay really. Then again, don’t take my word for it. The Japanese fans funded Live2D version of the game on Campfire recently, with yours truly taking part in it as well via proxy, and Megamisoft didn’t just achieve its goal; they made five and half times as much money they aimed at. The Otaku crowd is crazy, sure. However, I do consider this title to be good therapy in the hectic lifestyle we have. Its good to stop, sit down, and a good cup of tea and pat a foxgirl’s head.

While I’m being straight with you, it wasn’t close that this post wasn’t made. Few days ago, I was more or less through with this. I intended to abandon the blog as is, but nevertheless came back to it. I’ll have to make some hard life choices pretty much right now, and most of it is about what I want to spend time on. Blogging takes surprisingly large amount of time, especially when I’m trying to follow multiple possibly interesting news and stories alongside what might happen with some franchises. It eats time, time that I could use for something else like being outside or practicing drawing. I have come to a point where blogging in itself doesn’t bring anything to the table anymore, unless I am to slightly change how I approach. Less commentary, news and popular culture discussion, more personal stuff and things surrounding them. Perhaps you’ve noticed that design comparisons and reviews have effectively stopped and that’s the reason; they just take so much time and are mentally exhausting. A Youtuber friend named Terry advised me to get a Patreon and see if that would give any reason to move forwards, but I haven’t made it public; I know it would yield no real funding to purchase a domain name or towards unique redesign of the and items to review. However, I’m not shutting that out from the equation, but I’d need a real reason to use it. As for the blog, I’ll still aim to continue for few more years despite the admitted drop in quality and content. Ten years isn’t far away at this point, and It’d be shame just to quite when a decade’s almost full.

By the time you’re reading this, my short vacation is over and I’ve returned to work. Sadly, I managed to get jack shit done during this time due to friends having their vacation at different times, so we had to juggle stuff a lot. Vacation seems to be busier and more hectic than work itself.

Music of the Month; East Coast Summer

Y’know, after you’ve worked through the dark of winter and managed to nab some vacation during summer, it all feels so good. Nevertheless, four weeks off from work goes by so very fast. Even when there will be days when you hope to get back to the work bench and burn yourself five times over just to get shit done properly. Sacrificing your skin for perfection that was not asked for, but dammit I do wish to do work well enough to be satisfied at my handiwork.

I think I had an idea for a solid plan what to do for this summer’s long-form post, but I guess that whisky I drank washed it all away. Not that I can keep up with my plans anyway at this point, life’s getting a bit busier again for no good reason. At least I have plums to eat. If you wonder what the hell am I talking about, I had a tradition to write one longer post about a topic, like a read through of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien Latest Edition or Themes of Godzilla, which will get that sequel post at some point with Shin Godzilla. I’ll just have to take my time with that, because a part of the discussion will be about whether or not it rips of Kami no Kemono tl. as Beast of God, a 1992 giant monster comic by Tomoe Keisuke. It’s pretty damn well illustrated and written. Just look ho w spiffy the cover is.

Yes, the official English title is Ogre: The Geo-Monster. We don’t talk about the English title much

While I could’ve used some Internet resources to skim over what are and what aren’t, I find it much easier just to get the original material in hand and see myself what’s on the paper. I don’t need to rely on second hand information or translation guesses from or rumours. Remember how Mega Man fandom used to discuss how Sergess was confirmed as Dr. Wily in Rockman X2 comic? Never happened, I had to make a live-reading of the comic years back to confirm the rumour false.

I can’t recall all that clearly if I ever write about the difference of being influenced, ripping off or just subconsciously inserting sources of inspirations into your work properly, but I did make a post how Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse is a sum of multiple sources of inspiration to the point of basically each episode serving few new more or less apparent additions. Like how Cui Yifei is effectively Shampoo from Ranma ½. Things like that. Hatsuke Miku isn’t exactly her main source, though that probably got changed around after she got the nickname ‘Chinese Miku’. Probably would be worthwhile to make a whole post on how much MLA TE just “recycles” inspiration into itself.

The whole story really is Top Gun mixed with Gundam 0083 with a good dash of Macross Plus in MLA setting, so that’s always something to the show. ML overall is like an otaku dreamhouse, filled with references and jokes left and right. Kinda like Gekisatsu! Uchuuken just not as overt and direct about it, and far less IP infringing.

I’ll also take some liberties and might skip a post during the upcoming four weeks or so if it looks like there’s something else I could spend my time on. Be it washing the carpets I have or screwing around with people I know, I’m going to treat this summer as a possibility to take a break of the routine I’ve been having for a good while now. A chance to get back to promised projects, like getting a gallery of CGs via emulation or scanning stuff I’ve promised. If I get time for that. Knowing the usual way vacations and such go, you end up being busier than during work. Maybe I just suck at scheduling.

Before I call quits on this post, I’d still like to touch a bit on the whole games streaming services. Yes, I’ve pretty much beaten that horse to the ground and given it few good kicks, but the more time passes the more I see some people doubting its success. Thus far it has not been a success as such, but very few tech steps like this are during their decade. People often forget how big VR was in the early 90’s with gaming. 3D boom came and went. Streaming games to players hasn’t been exactly a smooth experience thus far, but perhaps Google can make it a mainstream success during 2020’s. We are moving towards media experience where the consumer has no control over the media itself after all. Google making the console experience effectively just the controller is more or less natural simplification of the whole concept technology allows. I’m not their target audience, but their current setup seems to be aimed to shallow Red Ocean market. Whether or not it will work as intended, and even if it doesn’t, we’ll have to sit and wait to see if it’ll become mass market success.

Music of the Month; Megalomania

It has been a rather stressful last month or so. I didn’t even notice when summer months turned around, and that I could’ve set this post last week, or earlier. Things just flow at a rapid pace, with summer heat being a pest. Even my plan to attend a convention to have a presentation was shot down by car breaking down on me and the spare part might cost up to a grand with some luck. There has also been a death in the family, so excuse me if this post will end up being rather short and anemic.

I’ve come to a point where I can safely say that I won’t be planning the future of the blog. It was certainly fun to plan stuff out when and how I’d make certain posts, but that’s just not all that possible if I want to spend any time off the computer screen. That’s not to say I’ll just abandon every long-running posts I have, but as you’ve noticed during the last year and a half (or most likely, have not) is that all plans have mostly gone to shit. Time is of the essence, and that is something I would like to spend elsewhere at times as well.

To cover some topics quickly, the gaming disorder has now been officially been recognised as a disease by the WHO. I’ve covered this topic myself few times over, and the arguments and sources linked in them still apply. WHO is not exactly the most popular organisation going around, and I hope this will be redacted or made far more accurate than what its current for is, as now its determinants really fucking everywhere. You could apply the main forms of it to any enthusiast in a given hobby. A healthy obsession for a hobby is a thing, but hey, a person who appreciates their hobby to a high point should now be considered mentally ill. What a load of shit. Niche Gamer has an opinion piece why WHO is flawed classification, echoing some of the stuff I’ve already written, but also going into deeper and wider look. Ryan Pearson’s article touches on proper points, but leaves the whole political aspect out. Maybe for the better, outside some of the internal leaks that commented on certain nations pushing this classification there is no solid evidence for it.

There’s a new Godzilla out there, and I honestly have no want to see it. The 2014 Godzilla was a disappointment at best, extremely boring at worst. As a movie, it was extremely kitch, safe and resorted on failing consumer expectations. I might go to see Godzilla II (I do love how overseas market gets a number before King of the Monsters in an era where too few movies are numbered anymore) and do a short first impression review, but I’d need to kick myself into the theater and get someone to go with me. Not a tall order, but this is also a good time to rewatch Shin Godzilla and add its themes to the Themes of Godzilla post I have floating around. That’s a post that should get expanded, but with what time?

Here’s the beef I’ve always had with Godzilla, and technically with any other franchise that does the same thing Robocop; it gets dumbed down for the kids. Not just in story, but also in production values and themes. Those movies that are aimed for children audience mainly have the short end of the stick in every regard from story to special effects. The VS Godzilla did find a good balance between adult themes and kid friendly Godzilla, but at the same time looking at the series in perspective it is clear how run out of worthy ideas and resorted on their catalog of popular monsters, setting the whole theme of reusing and revamping old monsters in new guises for the future. Godzilla stopped pushing the envelope well into the 60’s, yet the VS series didn’t even try. Space Godzilla? Evil Mothra? Plant Godzilla? Another Mechanical giant monster based on previous monster? I do love the VS series of movies, but goddamn do they look meek when you take the nostalgia goggles off. Ever since I found out the Gamera trilogy, I’ve been going back to those movies ever since, and its influences are very, very strong in these new millennium American Godzilla movies. Maybe I should just cut this rant short for now. There is room for a serious Godzilla movie every now and then, but the rest will colour the cultural perception. It’s just that very few want to make a good Godzilla that took itself and its themes seriously. No, let’s just drop an Oxygen Destroyer as a missile and call it a day. Let’s not even consider its ramifications.

E3 is around the corner again, I honestly couldn’t give jack shit at the moment. I know I used to make posts about it, but with the lack of time (there’s that again, I’m repeating myself far too often) I’d rather not spend three days of watching direct advertisement meant to sell me games I probably don’t want anyway. Less reason to get angry, more reason to enjoy whatever sunshine and wasps this summer offers. Sure, I’ll probably end up writing a post or two if something interesting pops up in the news sites that warrant speeding the videos over after the fact, but otherwise, I really have to question the hype surrounding E3 when it is world’s most expensive marketing event. Hatebait click articles of course would make money, but that’s not how we roll here.

How we roll is with tea heated in the microwave, added sugar and drinking while the spoon is still in the mug. Just remember to sharpen those knives of yours, that makes cooking safer.

And oh yeah, R-Type Final 2 has some 50h left in its Kickstarter, throw some money at it if you want to fund a resurrection of one of the genre defining franchises.

Music of the Month; Harmony

It may not come as any kind of surprise, but I like three things about ‘koto.’ I’ve always found the music played with the instrument rather relaxing, though something that I do not listen very often. Very rarely, if we’re completely honest about this, it’s something that works best in certain rare moods. Secondly, I really like the colour that carries its name. Koto was a name given to a certain shade of natural light wood brown lacquer, which I extensively used back in the day when I had the chance to do woodwork on the side of learning how to handle steel. Thirdly, I simply like the sound of it as a name, much like how Hibiki resonates with me. The two purposes this choice then reflects are the fact I really need to relax more and not overwork myself (It has shown itself rather harshly at times in overt tiredness and leaving all personal projects aside) and that the new era of Reiwa has begun on Japan. Perhaps this makes the blog seem like weeb garbage, but these monthly openers are one of those posts that don’t need to follow any cohesive line for the blog.

So, what does the music represent for the month? Even I have no clear rhyme or reason for that outside that I mostly likely have to drop few posts in order to make time for projects that have been on ice or waiting to get done for quite literal years now. They’re not massive, just extremely boring and time consuming. Most of these are scanning projects, one of them is writing a book, and the rest are assortment of things like finishing some personal design work, changing the blog’s outlook and things like that. You might consider most of these trivial and fast things to do, but striving for quality takes time. For example, the quality in scanning I try to aim takes time. A book takes a whole day of dealing with, from unbinding to scanning and correcting the pages. While not hard, it is tedious and errors are bound to be made.

While I usually do some sort of coverage regarding what’s been popular on the blog on a yearly basis, I’ll have to make a special mention on the slight rising popularity of the Guilty Gear character design comparisons., which is also why they got their own dedicated page at the top of the page bar. They’ve been making around a bit more than usual, which is positive direction and does give me some faith that this little hobby might end up being entertaining or maybe even slightly informative for someone. I’m not surprised that most popular posts are also the ones that take the most time to make. I did plan to drop the amount of posts I make in order to make longer ones, but that plan kinda backfired on me thanks to the whole overworking myself thing.

In the same manner, I’ve have started the next Fighter elements in TSFs post, but due to lack of certain resources on my part and the sheer burnout I had with Muv-Luv, it’s been sitting in my top item in Illustrator for some time. Yes, the one franchise this blog probably made biggest rounds with at a point sort of burned me through rather badly, and it has been rather gruesome task to slowly but surely to reacquaint myself with all of it again. I’ll introducing the franchise to an audience at a con this summer (their English page is strangely lacking in any sort of programme description) in respect of a friend’s request, so it’s a good chance to revisit things. If things go as intended, I hope to spin things off from that and do something of the kind every year, covering TSFs and such as we go by. Then again, none of this should be any surprise to anyone who follows this blogs or whatever shit I throw at the small amount of social media I use under guise. To tell you the truth, a lot of things regarding Muv-Luv were out of obligation, and I intended to carry those to the end. I just hope it won’t burn the throughout and leave me distanced from the series altogether. If your whole world is just tasty chocolate and strawberries, those two will become the most mundane and repetitive taste there is. I guess the same can be applied to those those Guilty Gear posts I mentioned before. At first they were a riot to make, but with lack of time and constantly trying to read the lore and musical reference turned something interesting into tedium.

Speaking of stuff that I’ve taken a small break from, there has been a significant lack of Iczer-1 stuff as of late from me, so those production materials that I threw up last weekend are there to keep things up on that front. That Iczer-3 radiocassette drama coverage will come through one of these days, but its in the backburner way behind the ML stuff I have to go through first.

Didn’t really mean to turn this post into complaining or opening my mind with this stuff. This day is International Worker’s Day, and you should be having a day off and relaxing. Take things easy, sit back and a sip from the mug whatever you have in it.

Music of the Month; 3-2-1 Let’ Go

So, here we are, more than a decade since the last proper R-Type game that wasn’t driven by plot and tactics, and R-Type Final 2 has been announced. Seeing that there are a whole generation who seem to have missed the franchise as a whole, I’ll be giving it a similar short introduction post in the same manner I did for Aleste. The death of the shooting genre might be two decades old, but when a venerable name like this steps back into the field, a name that once wrestled in the same class as Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Gradius, 1984,  and other heavy hitters, it should be noted. R-Type returns to its roots, even if for one title. More can’t be asked for. More on that when the post proper gets made.

As for posts that should or should not be made, I know work is a constant and recurring excuse I give out on being either late or simply not having time to do proper research for the longer posts I was so keen to make, but I have to resort to that once more. Sadly (gladly?) our production got ramped up by a notch again, meaning work needs to be done and yours truly is there to meet the quota. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Then again, I will have that full four weeks of summer vacation, all of which I can spend inside and write and scan stuff that I’ve missed. Like last week. Last weekend was a mess, as I was supposed to go out of town, but got sick thanks to cold nights with fever and all, and in the end couldn’t do jack shit. I’ll be doing double duty this weekend to balance things up, though I’m more and more convinced I’d need someone else on this blog to ensure content production keeps up in the schedule, but very few people are willing to do stuff like this out of joy of it all. Topics for those are already lined up, and interestingly both of them are shooting game related. Well, the above should give some strong hints on what the other will be.

I’ve put the third post about scanning on hold for now, as I need to track down some nice old games related magazine to scan, but it can’t really be any magazine. It needs to be from around the mid-90’s and of certain kind. A high-end publication won’t do, so I might try to find my old mag that covered Spaceworld 1996. I remember that being in a very busted condition and the overall paper quality being of semi-decent kind. It might be lost to time at this point, but I can always track down something else. Might be worth tracking down a random 90’s Japanese gaming magazine instead for record keeping. I’ve also asked a Youtube for his view on the matter for a third party view, and we’ll see if either of us remember to say about that when I get my hands on whatever magazine it ends up being.

Enjoy the music piece, and please remember to sharpen, hone and oil your knives now that a new month as kicked itself into a higher gear again. A sharper knife doesn’t just mean better cutting, but also safer cooking. A blunt knife slips and rips more easily, and is danger to all.

Music of the Month; Shubi-Beam Explosion

I recently managed to fuck up shoulder and neck muscles, preventing me to do a lot stuff I usually do. Work has been bit of a hell because of this, and sitting in front of a computer and typing something down just makes it worse. I’ll probably have to skip next week’s posts because of this, I don’t want this to get worse. This is a reminder for all of you that you should remember to stretch and warm up your muscles more often, especially if your work is in the office or requires heavy lifting or unusual working positions.

The music’s the for the month overall is PC-Engine. That’d be the console that became Turbografx-16 in the West. I recently obtained a PC-Engine Duo-R, modified with a region switch and RGB output. The seller pitched an Everdrive to the mix as well, which allows ROM files to be put on a SD Card. While I just discussed the nature of all the games on a single card, I’ve already made preparations and decisions on this. Just like with the Everdrive N8, which I have an old review up, the Everdrive won’t be an issue when it comes to collecting. It’ll just help me to keep the Hu-Cards in better condition. I just need to find some kind of solution to house the loose cards, either by creating a separate box for them, or custom make some sort of sleeve for a binder. Like trading cards.

While I’m still rooting for the previously planned stuff, that might have to take backseat until my shoulder’s in proper condition. This also means I’d rather do something easier and quick that doesn’t require me to sit in front of the computer and doing any graphical editing or whatnot.  However, doing stuff like reviewing the PC-E’s Avenue 3 controller I got with it should be doable, as most of the stuff is done away from the computer. Fiddling with the controller to take photos of the insides and seeing what makes it tick, all that relaxing stuff. I’d also like to take a look at the library of games PC-E had to offer, mostly some of the more famous titles. Well, I say famous but in reality I mean titles that have solidified themselves into the sub-cultural background of the console. Like how NES had Mega Man, the PC-E had Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman. Everybody knows about the shooting games, but there is a healthy amount of interesting titles of varied quality that more or less represent the best the console has to offer. Whether or not that is on the same level as its competitors of the time is another thing altogether, but seeing it came in third place in the sales race against Nintendo and Sega, you can probably guess how the quality overall was.

 

For now, enjoy the music. I need to slap some Voltaren on my shoulder and take some pain killers.

Music of the Month; Ninjas

You know what we’re going to talk about again? That’s right, censorship.

For the last few days, Kenichiro Takaki’s interview on Inside Games have been making some rounds about the Internet. Pretty much everyone has covered this at some level, with Lewd Gamer having one and Censored Gaming having a video on the subject too. The topic that Takaki mentions is sort of side mention on the overall interview, but the core of it is as follows; the original idea for Senran Kagura 7EVEN would be impossible to release and the developers have to reconsider everything about the game itself due to the censorship policies Sony is currently employing. Furthermore, Takaki mentions that these regulations are trend that will spread further.

Imagine that, an entertainment many consider a form of art becoming censored to serve a view. The moment art has been perverted to serve a view by limiting what can contain within the art, it stops being art and becomes a vehicle for the ideology the censor upholds.

That is, if we consider electronic games as a form of art. Otherwise we might just have to face that the industry is a business where business sensibilities and winds of politics play extremely large role. I guess the late 2010’s and part of 2020’s will be remembered when Sony and Valve, and maybe some other corporations as well, begun to censor games harshly in moral panic about sexual depiction of fictional characters.

You may laugh at the whole thing, it is “only” Senran Kagura after all. Then let’s not forget all the titles Valve has banned from Steam, or the extensive censorship NISA employed within almost every title they publish (not to mention the sheer amount of bugs their localisations are known for, or the lacklustre as all hell translations they have going) or how Sony has effectively blocked titles from being published due to their risque nature. I’ve talked about these few times over. It’s not just a slippery slope we’re having here, it’s a no-friction glassy ice slope at 60-degree angle we’re trying to not to bust our tail bones on here, and we’ve got nothing but shitty shoes with hard plastic soles. The only way the consumer can effectively fight against this is by getting political and goddamn I know most of my readers hate that.

Thankfully, this time it’s easy. No reason to grab the flag of your political view and some Molotov cocktails, but simply to refuse to support or purchase any products from the offending companies, refuse to use their services and goods, and make sure that that they know it. Send ’em an email, go to a forum or whatever. Money talks more than empty promises or deeds gone cold. With the amount of entertainment and games out there, you will always have other options that will fill that niche. If that’s not the case, that’s a goddamn good time to start looking into alternatives that you didn’t know existed. Easier said that done, I know.

But why is that I keep talking about this titty ninja franchise? That’s something I had to ask myself when Takaki’s interview came out. Am I fan of the series? Do I just appreciate it? Despite the rather mediocre nature of majority of the games, what makes me coming back and revisiting the series time and time again? I’ve got no answer for you, and I can assure you its not not the front and back assets of the characters. I’ll be breaking some character as the blogger with this and rust up a post about how exactly I got involved with the franchise. It’s like that old ass Kimi ga Nozomu Eien post from years yonder (Jesus Christ I hope I’ve gotten better since then) but about a series that’s still relevant. No, I’m not going to put much trust in KGNE remake, especially now that Nekopara-style has vomited itself all over it.

Speaking of other posts for the month, or for the next two months depending how much I’m going to overwork myself, nothing definitive has planned outside the usual stuff I talked in January, but now you can add Iczer Robo’s visual history to that, where I cover some of the major illustrations and designs that the Iczer series’ mecha has seen. This’ll include some of the more obscure ones as well, namely the original comic version and its 1990’s counterpart, and the two animal themed mechas from Iczer-3 audio drama, because Iczer Dragon needs more love in general.

Both will take some time to finish. In the meantime, I’m to grab a bottle of whisky and celebrate my anniversary.

Music of the Month; Awakening After 1000 Years

I hope you had a good change of year, and that your first dream of the year was pleasant.

As I’ve mentioned each month for the past year, maintaining the blog in its current pace has become more difficult as life has taken its toll on it.  Thus, I’ve made the unpleasant choice to change how often the blog gets an entry; from now on, weekend (Sunday) posts are the only I can guarantee staying where they are, though the time they go online will go online will most likely fluctuate. Wednesday posts will be there if there is time to type them down, if there is interesting enough topics and if I have energy for it. In exchange, I’ll be looking more into long form posts when a subject so demands. This means the commentary posts will probably be shorter, but perhaps at the same time more to the point. In best case scenario, this means more shorter posts in bursts while I’m working on something else, but don’t count on this to any extent. The work I do is taxing on both physical and mental facilities. There are other projects elsewhere that I must give more attention to as well, namely continuing scanning of materials for archival, both donated and old materials that have been on the backburner for a long time. I’ve been asked to do an entry on scanning, and I’ll probably do that sometime this year.

I will also begin listing blog entries on Minds. While Twitter’s all nice and that, I intend to start updating things into Minds that don’t make a good blog, and probably will see more personal takes on things rather than from the blogger persona I utilise here.

Speaking of this year, I’ve come up some plans what to cover, though take all of what stands here with extremely small grain of salt. tl;dr version would be The blog’s post schedule will become more erratic and update schedules are thrown out of the window.

A Comic Lemon People retrospective has been in my mind for some, with examples and concentration on its golden era of the early and mid 1980’s, before the content changed in terms of quality , and then how ultimately the changes in the 1990’s landscape didn’t have enough room for it any further. While we are talking about a magazine that was drawn pornography in most cases, the stories, settings and cultural zeitgeist the magazine represented had an incredible impact on the Japanese popular culture to the point that the contents of Lemon People seem almost quaint nowadays as even the most standard evening show or comic aimed at teenage audience has rougher and more explicit content. While I have physical examples to take advantage, they can be used to infer events only so far. Actual research will be slow and painful, as there are very little English sources, and the few I’ve read throughout the years, have more or less died out due lack of maintenance. This one will take some time to get even started, and in the end might end up being just a showcase of what sort of magazine was rather than its publication history and difficulties.

The Themes of Godzilla post will get expanded. I’ve missed many chances to add Shin Godzilla at the end, but considering that post in itself was made to celebrate its upcoming original theatrical, it’d be only natural that it would be missing from there.  However, I wish to expand on the later entries as well, and make the post more robust overall, covering the movies in slightly more depth and expanding each entry rather than relying on few sentences to carry out what I’m trying to say. Personally, I consider that post to be relatively important, especially when we consider how much the Showa era directors put themselves into these movies and their thematic motifs. Well, at least before the late 1970’s. Antuarlly, this requires me to rewatch all of the movies again, so this project will be long-term and probably won’t be finished for some time.

If there’s going to be anything âge related this year is completely up to them. I haven’t been able to do some of the Tactical Surface Fighters comparisons thanks to lacking image materials, which in truth I have but not in a handy format, but the planned final entries from the original /m/ threads will be carried out. As for the rest, hell if I know if I’m being blunt. âge has not really said anything out in public about anything, but it’s clear that they’re working on something. That Kimi ga Nozomu Eien remake using Sayori of Nekopara fame as lead illustrator is coming up, which is something I have personally no interest in solely based on the style and visual design. It’ll be used as a comparison fodder down the line. However, considering âge has published nothing of worth for the last decade or so, with Total Eclipse enjoying marginal success at best and Schwarzesmarken being a total bombs with extreme lack of sales, it’s no surprise Avex managed to buy them from Acid and ixtl going through rebranding to become anchor. âge and ixtl have a history if mismanaging their projects, Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative being one of them, I’ve got little to no faith on whatever comes out.

âge held a poll aimed at the Japanese fans a month or two back, and it would seem that they are leaning on creating a new mobile game, which honestly doesn’t serve the franchise jack shit. The brand doesn’t lend itself well to the mobile game format, despite Strike Frontier attempting to solve the issue of every character in the BETAverse we cared about to a large extend being dead. A New Beginning from Exogularity magazines shows âge using clones to bring these characters back, which is a cop-out and shows how the staff is in a corner. All the new characters they’ve introduced in other works have been more or less unpopular, and as characters from side stories, they have no real base to stand on. While exploring the setting and expanding the history is all good and nice, it should have been clear that if they were to continue with the franchise, they should’ve continued onward with new characters in similar fashion how Muv-Luv continues off from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, and how that continued off from Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu, by using the same setting and having some relation to the previous characters. Muv-Luv Alternative 2 could’ve showcased us a group that came after Valkyries, showcasing us  the impact their deed had, have certain major characters become a large part of the story in surprising ways and continue naturally from that. Bringing back Sumika, Meiya and the rest as clones or alternative universe selves is just bad form and lousy writing. Now, âge/anchor has lost their chances, the iron’s cold again. They need a popular animated series, a completely new entry into the franchise and shitloads of support to stay properly relevant. Be it as a VN corporation (which have gone down in numbers in recent years) or as a branch of Avex that push out Muv-Luv products to keep themselves from going the way of Hudson.

As the last thing, I’ve been interesting in seeing what makes the Senran Kagura series tick for me. While I still refuse to call myself a fan, you’ve seen the series pop in my Top 5 lists during these last few years, and considering I’ve been buying the games, I’m more and more interested to see for myself what it really is that keeps me with the franchise. No, it’s not the ninja tits. My first reaction to the game series was that it was nothing but titty service to the otaku masses, which it honestly is, but then somehow down the line the games’ play snatched me in. This Senran Kagura introspective will be small and relatively short, as I doubt people are interesting in reading what a personal view on the series is.

I’d also like to more controller reviews, but I haven’t come across many interesting ones as of late.

Enjoy your early year, by the time you’re reading this post I am already at work.