Experience and digital space

Short answer; No. Long answer; It’s a bit more complicated than that. With digital media, the ontology is often concentrated on viewing the relationship between the consumer, the media and the culture of the media. The digital part is significant. While there are now few generations that have grown up in a world that never lacked the digital component, it is still relatively new introduction in historical scale. Nevertheless, it is present everywhere nowadays and digital elements in out life most likely will keep growing as the time goes by.

Timothy Druckery, a theorist of contemporary media, even went so far to argue that it would not be possible to describe or experience the world without technologically digital devices. He argues further that the evolution from mechanical to technological computer  culture has been more than just a series of new techniques and technological advances, that it is more about the evolution between dynamics of culture, interpretation and experience. Much like Druckery’s collegues, he argues that representative works are based on experience, and it would be hard to argue against that.

Video and computer games are based on experiences people have. First computer RPGs had their roots in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns people had, and this applies to origins of Ultima as well.  Miyamoto has stated that The Legend of Zelda his goal with the game was to have the game feel the same way as if you were exploring a city you have never been in before. You can almost see the overworld map as a city layout in this sense, where certain paths are alleys, larger open areas are parks and numerous dead-ends permiate the game. Or maybe that’s just me. Satoshi Tajiri, the name behind the Pokémon franchise, based the game on his own experience with bug catching. Japan has a history with kids having bug catching as a hobby, and the latest big craze was during the 1990’s. When you consider how a kid has to cover creeks, run over rivers and search the forests for new bugs to catch, you begin to see the adventure and the excitement that Tajiri wanted to convey in Pokémon. You also begin to see where modern Pokémon has started to veer off, emphasizing plot over adventure. There was a good article how Yu Suzuki put Virtua Fighter’s developer through martial arts training each morning in order for his men to animate a punch or a kick right.

That is not to say a game can be created without any experience in subject itself. Hideo Kojima has never been a spy or a soldier on a battlefield, but he nevertheless put his experience from Western movies into use in Metal Gear. You can see the change in certain visual in Metal Gear Solid 2  when they got an actual military advisor on the team. For example, Snake no longer pointed his gun upwards and overall how characters began to handle weapons changed. Small, but rather significant change when you consider how much Metal Gear games depend on the whole experienced soldier schtick.

Nevertheless, all the above mentioned games are representative of some sort of experience and allow the player to experience a sort of simulation of it. With any new sort of media there has been the fear of losing something important to humanity, if you will. With digital media the question of the consumer’s identity has become a question through the fears of how any new media might (or rather will) change our way of thinking and the way we live.

Without a doubt we have both real and virtual spaces as well as the identities that go with them. We have a wear a different persona when we are with our parents or friends, and the same applies to the virtual space. Since the 1990’s virtual space has become more and more daily thing to the point of Facebook and other social media becoming almost essential. However, even in these spaces we have a persona on us that is different from others. Much like how when writing this blog I have a persona on you don’t see in other virtual spaces, though it is overlapping harshly with everything nowadays. While there is no physical aspect to virtual spaces (they are digital and non-physical by definition) they nevertheless are real and can carry to the “real” world. However, we can always the space we choose to interact with, though this has led to the birth of extreme comfort zones where one must feel safe all the time rather than challenging oneself and broaden horizons. After all, nobody wants to get stuck in place for all eternity. Unless they get hit by a car and fall into three years of coma.

Whether or not digital media and virtual identities change our selves in physical form is a topic for a different post (it does, but the extent in which way is expansive), but I can’t but mention that experiences the consumers gain from digital media affects us just as any other similar source. After all, electronic games are an active medium instead of passive like movies or music and require the consumer to learn in order to advance. This has led some to argue that games promote violence through teaching violent methods.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold are the two names responsible of the Columbine Shooting in 1999, and two years later Linda Sanders, whom lost his husband in the shooting, sued 25 different companies, like Id Software, Apogee Software and Interplay Productions, claiming that the event would not have happened if games with extreme violence like this wouldn’t exist. It was argued that certain games allowed the two assailants to train their shooting skills with precision and affected the two in a negative way. However, as we’ve seen multiple times over, games do not cause kids to go violent, and it would seem to be far more about the individual and their mental health than the media they consume.

However, it must be said that even when games are escapism from real world, they still are a product of real experiences. Playing may be just a game much like any other, but the more real world expands into virtual spaces thematically and ideologically, the less there is separation between the two. Ultimately, playing a game will affect the real world persona of the player, thought he question how much is very much up to the individual consumer. Games have been discussing censorship, violence and current topics for more than thirty years now, and for a medium that is about escapism to a large extent, that does not bode well. How much value we can put on a digital world that does not make use of its non-real capabilities and ties itself to the real?

Perhaps the digital personae we use has become less important as the melding of two worlds continues, and the identity we assume is an amalgamation.

ICD-11 video game addiction is being pushed without proper backing

Without a doubt certain percentage of people who play electronic games overdo their hobby. However, this is only for a small percentage of the overall enthusiasts and hobbyists. Furthermore, it would seem that problematic gaming, that is the consumption of electronic gaming that is detrimental to everyday life, itself grows itself thin in time and dissipates on its own. A longitudinal study showed this with 112 adolescents. I’ve already covered why the proposal for gaming disorder has no basis, but it would appear pushing for its suggestions into ICD-11 has merit to it. Merit that wouldn’t serve science, culture, markets or consumers.

Ferguson wrote that less than 1% of people experience video game addiction. His writing is a good read. Game addiction in itself is a very different nature from e.g. gambling. I’ve actually covered issues with pairing electronic gaming and gambling with each other previously, but to make short story even shorter, video game addiction is far more often a symptom of an underlying problem than the cause in itself. Ferguson’s own study supports this. Hell, there’s even a paper arguing against the very concept of video game addiction.

In a discussion between Ferguson and an administrator at the World Health Organisation acknowledged political pressure from countries, particularly from Asian ones, factoring in the inclusion of video game addiction into ICD-11. If countries are pushing its inclusion, that means scientific basis comes second at best and whatever political stance these nations have come in first. That is extremely dangerous, as adding video game addiction opens doors for other far more intrusive and harmful suggestions to be included under its umbrella. Considering video game addiction is extremely loosely defined and would require far more research than what it has, there’s no guarantee any of the future additions would have better research behind it.

You may be asking yourself what nations would have need or use for this sort of addition to the ICD-11. Some nations have reported more deaths from non-stop gaming than others, and mostly we hear these reports from either China or South Korea. In 2005 a 28-years old man died because his heart failed during a session of Starcraft, BBC reports. It is interesting to note from that article that despite Starcraft being a real-time strategy game, professor Mark Griffith only talks about MMORPGs, a very different genre of game. You have far less interaction with your opponent in Starcraft that you have in e.g. World of Warcraft.

South Korea has seen drastic changes in its electronic game landscape, and one of the more worrisome changes came around 2014, when some members of the government began to regard games as a detrimental pastime. South Korea has discussed to enact game addition bill to limit not only the amount of time people should be allowed to play, but also games themselves. However, when you have legislators directly comparing video games to tobacco and alcohol, there is something amiss. South Korean gaming culture is far different from any other, e.g. you can actually graduate to be an e-Sports player. However, much like any other person who has a career in “sports,” e-Sports players suffer from injuries as well. Seeing how the South Korean culture has almost twisted games and e-Sports into a national pastime, it’s no wonder a lot of young people are willing to give a chance to become a player worth millions of wons.

The thing is, South Korea does have a problem with gaming, but rather as we are lacking in evidence for gaming addiction (we have more researches saying against it as linked above), it is far more probable that the South Korean gaming problem is a symptom from an underlying social and cultural troubles. Putting legislation that equates games with drugs and alcohol won’t cure the problem, it will manifest itself some other way later down the line.

Passing a law based on game addiction is hard when you have nothing to base it on. However, if ICD-11 would recognize video game addiction as a valid illness, there would be no need for debating or researching the issue much further; after all, you can simply point out that it’s in the books. That would be injustice.

One of the gaming limiting laws has already passed. The Shutdown law was passed in 2011 and limits people aged under 16 from playing online games during the night between 00:00 and 06:00. While this would sound decent in principle, it is not the government’s job to do what parents should be doing. Furthermore, this law challenged in few occasions as unconstitutional. However, the law is still in effect, albeit nowadays parents can request the ban being lifted from their child.

China’s following this South Korean example with similar legislation that would ban gaming outright from people aged under 18 between 00:00 and 08:00, and would necessitate computers and smartphones to be fitted software that would track down law breakers. Both South Korea and China require their people to use their real IDs when accessing their gaming accounts. In case of South Korea, this is a necessity with many of their websites in general. However, in 2012 Real Name Rule was struck down and rejected by court. The law requiring the usage of users’ real names was introduced in 2007 to combat cyber-bullying. Again, this is treating the symptom, not the cause. Furthermore, as gaming is a million-dollar business, by accusing game industry creating addictive products, governments could push forwards for harsher taxations and other underhanded shenanigans to gain more from the revenues. This may sound like a foil-hat idea, but seeing how few years back we found game journalism colluding and attacking their consumers and recently CIA spying everyone everywhere, this isn’t far fetched.

Games of any kind, be it sports, card games or anything else, are addictive in their own way. For modern electronic games, it’s a whole mess to open why they could be addictive outside the usual action-reward scheme. This is because electronic games have more dimensions than gambling. After all, games are a tool to give leeway for people from their everyday life in an electronic way that supports social interaction through cultural landscape and aims to both challenge and please the players at the same time. They are not gambling, except Complete Gacha in Japan, as gambling quite literally requires wagering money or something else valuable under uncertain conditions for higher gains. Of course, games are designed to pull the player in and be enjoyable, but that is what every form of entertainment does.

If video game addiction would have something to be tied to, it would be escapism. Escapism is always tied to something else than the tool people escape through, and the question I must ask here; what are people escaping from if they are willing to kill and die because of video games?

ICD-11 proposal for gaming disorder has no basis

World Health Organization has a new proposal in the ICD-11 category, one which would add ‘Gaming disorder’ as a valid disease. The definition for this disease would be the impaired control over daily life in which video games would gain priority despite negative consequences. This is tied to Hazardous gaming, where a pattern of gaming that causes physical or mental harm to the individual or to people around of this individual. Hazardous gaming is essentially just a step towards gaming disorder.

I’m calling bullshit on this proposal as it is now.

You probably clicked the link above and read the short description for gaming disorder. Just from that alone we can surmise few problems the proposal has. First of all, the proposal includes only video games, leaving arcade and PC gaming alone, and hazardous gaming simply refers it as ‘gaming.‘ Granted, the terminology I’m using is more old fashioned in comparison, but using video game as an umbrella term for all electronic gaming is weak at best and shows the authors have little knowledge of the industry’s history. Because of this the proposal ignores the fact that games like pachislot, that is undeniably a video game if we were to use the modern umbrella term, are more dependent on gambling addiction than on the proposed form of gaming disorder.

To add to this, those who are playing video games as a career in some form would be singled out to have this disorder. Psychology as a soft science struggles with things like this, as case studies may not apply to the larger population and vice versa. Furthermore, what is considered harmful in these cases is somewhat open question again. The discussion about what is normal behaviour falls into behavioural psychology a bit too heavily and would be a discussion on its own. I would argue in this case that a person who would have symptoms of gaming disorder may simply be a person who is a hermit and finds solitude in his hobby instead of mingling with people. Whether or not he has a disorder would be questioned. Furthermore, if we were to change the hobby in an individual case like this to something like watching movies, would he then have movie viewing disorder? Such disorder does not exist in the papers and has never been proposed thus far.

There are no long-term studies that would support gaming disorder as proposed. Even short-term studies are hard to come by, and the few examples I had in my mind have eluded for me for the time being. However, the addictive action that electronic games offer is not much any different from other forms of similar activities, but these are not singled out as separate diseases for whatever reason. No other leisure activity like video games, or electronic gaming if you’re an old fart like me, has been singled out like this. While some could argue that gambling falls into this category as a singled out, the psychology of gambling is a bit too much to open here and has proper research basis to back it up.

Furthermore, 26 scholars have written an open letter, rebutting this proposal. You can read the whole thing at Research Gate. Their arguments is that inclusion for gaming disorder, even as a proposal, would have economic effects on the industry. Singling a media out like this would be akin to showcasing the harmful effects of tobacco, the difference here being tobacco’ negative effects had solid evidence behind them. Possible effects of this proposal would be adverse limitations on the industry at large. At worst, possible prohibitions and limitations of what sort of games and what content games could have could be realised. South Korea already employs harsh limitations on games as it is. Last UN’s CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) wanted to ban Japanese media that depicted sexual violence against women. Kumiko Yamada, the representative of Japanese wing of Women’s Institute of Contemporary Media Culture, responded to CEDAW’s proposal by stating that their view on the matter was an absolute No. Translated version on Niche Gamer. The reasoning to Japan’s response was that first of all, they are fiction and do not threaten real people. Second reason was that these fields are filled with women, and such ban would do the exact opposite what CEDAW’s aimed at, as disallowing these women to portray fiction whatever they wished would create new venues of sexism towards women. If this proposal about gaming disorder would pass, it would mean limitations and even bans similar to this would come to pass under the guise of population health concerns.

As the open letter states, passing the proposal could lead into a moral panic. Gaming in general is no foreign to these, as the industry’s history is well marked with controversies regarding violent games, and more recently about games with sexual content. This would tie itself to the aforementioned limitations and bans, when in reality no good evidence is backing up.

As such, if the proposal would to pass, it would be met with harsh criticism and high scepticism from both common population and scholars. The open letter goes even further and states that passing gaming disorder would harm WHO’s reputation and medical community in general, would dramatically reduce the utility of such a diagnosis, especially when it is not grounded in proper evidence base. Singling games out from the rest of the media out there would open a Pandora’s box of behavioural disorders, where any and all activities from sports to gardening could be diagnosed as a behavioural disorder, saturating and demeaning the whole field at large.

The question you may have now whether or not I am deluded enough to say that there is no disordered gaming. That answer would be No. There are numerous ways a person may end up playing games more that it is healthy, but in numerous researched I’ve read the core reason is more often than not somewhere else. An action in itself can be just a symptom, and singling our excessive gaming in itself disorder would put a patient in possible danger if the underlying reasons are not solved and properly treated. The proposal’s worst case scenario considering health could be treating a symptom while completely disregarding the cause.

Monthly Three; Boys, girls and electronic games

While many of the fears from the late 1800’s and early-to-mid 1900’s still persist when it comes to electronic games, those who play games and are most enthralled by them has not changed too much since then. Things changed with the advent of Golden Era of games, especially with Pac-Man, a game that attracted both men and women to play. Pac-Man as a character was largely a non-descriptive blob despite the game’s and character’s name.

I’ve talked about Industrial revolution being the main dividing point between arts, crafts and design, but when it comes to games it also created a cultural point with boys’ and girls’ cultures. According to E. Anthony Rotundo (1994), the industrial revolution separated boys from their father’s work environment, leaving them for their mothers’ to take care of. Boys moved outside from there, as motherly care usually emphasised good morals, pampering and kindness. Boys’ games and plays often were almost the opposite of this with physical contact with surprising aggressive attitudes. Going against mother’s command was a way to show that you weren’t a momma’s boy, and building from that onwards is a sort of step towards independent manhood. Regardless of how wild these games were, boys would return home to their mothers. One could say that unlike the Freudian Oedipus complex, boys’ fight against their mothers’ culture.

Rotundo contrasts this against girls’ culture, which is tied to their mothers, which have lived in a sort of symbiosis with each other. While he boys’ “adventure island” had a confrontational setting, girls’ had their own place within the “secret gardens.” While girls tend to favour for more socially interactive game with less or not emphasize on competition and physical contact, the concept of secret garden, a secret place reserved only for them and their fantasies. It should be noted that a lot of books for girls are the opposite of this thinking, where their normal lives are broken by a fantastic individual of sorts and their lives see a change, often at the cost of that secluded place. The differences between classic boys’ and girls’ literature is that boys had the heroes travel far away, while the girls’ literature tended to emphasize on staying home. Through that the stakes were different; for boys the adventures were physical like their games, whereas girls’ adventures were more about the psychology and emotions.

It’s not hard to see why electronic games would end up seen as a boys’ hobby. It is far easier to create a game that’s based on competition and rules rather than a game that requires methodical interaction between characters. A game is easy to program to offer a direct challenge the player needs to achieve, like destroying alien invaders than it is to program to reply to inquiries in a naturalistic and sophisticated way to counter the player’s emotional state.

The question whether or not there is a difference between boys’ and girls’ is cultural at its core. American game developer Purple Moon was known for developing games aimed at girls of age 8-14, and their Secret Paths series could be used as an archetypical example of what is generally seen as a girls’ game.

Secret Path games showcases some traditional symbols and images associated with girls. The cursor in the example above is a heart or a ladybug, there is no physical conflict in itself, and whatever action there is leans on metaphysical than physical. Interestingly, despite Purple Moon’s games tend to be simplified in how things are presented, they still manage to make better use of progressive values than most games we have nowadays.

While Purple Moon’s games were designed to be more about places of relaxation, where girls could pour out their stress and observe things with their hearts, so to speak. Each character has their own secret, and it is up to the player to find the secret paths that are laden with gemstones and other artefacts that give social, emotional and psychological strength. These visuals and pathways are representative of the characters’ plight, and the stories these physical environments contain encourage the player to try things out in their own social life. It’s not hard to see why the founder Brenda Laurel called their games as friendship adventures.

Similarly, Theresa Duncan’s Zero Zero is another example of a game that ties to girls’ culture.

While Secret Paths can be regarded as a continuation to the secret garden idea, Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 novel Harriet the Spy, is about another sort of play space for girls; the city. Within the book, Harriet observes her city’s, her microworld’s she creates, citizens and their complex interactions and how she changed them as she sees fit. This idea of creating a world and having total control over it is similar to SimCity. The difference between the two is how SimCity is more about playing god and micro-manage everything. To Harriet, creating this world is just the first step, and moves towards spying on the individuals to the point of breaking in real world buildings to understand adult interactions. The same contrast repeats here; there is no physical confrontation like there would be in boys’ novel, all the challenge comes from the human interactions and gaining information on the interactions.

It wouldn’t be too hard to see Harriet the Spy as a stealth game that has no combat. Zero Zero is essentially a computer adventure game version of the novel, where the player goes through the city and similarly seeks people’s’ stories. Despite this innocent sounding setting, Zero Zero and other games from Theresa Duncan do not try to be sleek and pat down the reality. On the contrary, Zero Zero‘s French are bored and tend to insult the player in a stereotypical fashion, as do the flowers. Women with strong make-up smoke freely and tend to flash themselves, promising an event in the Red Lights district.  The Sims has a considerable female fanbase, and in a way can be seen as a modern example of a game that allows the player not only play dollhouse, but also play god and decide the interactions.

Secret Path games and Zero Zero are good examples of two strong sides of traditional girls’ games. Secret Path games are very balanced and encourages the player to feel, so to speak. Zero Zero is an example of a game that shows the misshapen world in a very caricature fashion and encourages the player to seek knowledge and information that is hidden from them. Both are about exploring a physical space, but in the end both are about the players’ inner worlds.

Games like Pac-Man and Nights into Dreams are in neither space as such. Pac-Man‘s design as a character and game had no points to either direction, and as such I personally consider Ms. Pac-Man a needles exercise in hindsight despite it becoming extremely popular. Nights into Dreams on the other hand was designed to be androgynous from the get go, both in gameplay and character designs. It even has a boy and a girl character, Elliot and Claris, who have very different dreams for their life.

As games have evolved, contact between the two cultures have become more frequent. One could argue that open world games that contain as much non-physical social confrontation as they do physical are mixing these cultures. MMORPG’s and other games that offer larger interaction with real life people also supports the idea of supportive interaction between girls while offering brotherly confrontation and rivalry boys’ culture has. This sort of neutral space in gaming requires both sides giving something in, and in real life this can cause some argumentation and fighting between children.

Stereotypical girls’ games tend not to be remembered. Purple Moon folded in 1999 and merged with Mattel, and their games were not without criticism. Their games were called to be called sexist, stereotyping the characters and themes, a thing that can be extended to a lot of other girls’ games, especially Barbie games. The space where these games were set in was another major factor.

Space is a keyword here. The pinball culture if the mid-1900’s was very masculine and based on long-standing tradition of penny arcades. When these games began to appear outside their initially designated areas, e.g. pinballs in restaurants and shopping centres, it was seen as a positive progress as anyone, women included, could now access these machines. As games moved away from spaces that were largely seen as dominated by men like universities’ IT-departments and penny arcades, the view on them changed. Pinball is not associated with violent rebels any more, but as a classic game everybody can play. Similarly, the advent of Japanese games in arcades and the renaissance of electronic gaming after the second Video game Crash introduced further colourful and fantastic creatures to the electronic game culture. Pac-Man, Mario Bros., and their like, despite being competitive, offered visuals that weren’t all about blowing shit up, but also attractive colours and challenges that weren’t just about the abstract.

It should be noted that games like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog and Abe’s Odyssey garnered players from both sexes, and both games shows that in the end, the player character doesn’t really matter as people don’t tend to see themselves in the character. If there is a character creation, sometimes people make themselves, but often it’s an admired, a fantasy version of themselves. They create a fantasy persona, and similarly each player character out there is a fantasy persona that the player doesn’t exactly identify with. After all, the player character is largely unimportant, the game world is what matters.

Perhaps the only truly neutral game between the spaces and cultures is Tetris. Tetris wasn’t just a game that can be described a perfect game and neutral, but a game that was everywhere. It was on home computer where anyone could play it and it was on the Game Boy where everyone could carry it with them. There is no true confrontation in the game, and despite the having a competitive goal in form of scoring, the gameplay is from neither world particularly.

Digital gambling?

It’s a thing you don’t hear much. I was reading a book this morning with family, and I heard something about games, be it digital or traditional (as they put) having an adverse effect on people who play them.  There was no true cohesion in what they were saying, talking about gambling and money games in general via mobile devices and such. Not until they started showcasing Counter Strike and talking about how that affects people too. They were speaking of esports.

It sounds so unnecessary. Electronic gaming seems to be a term these people do no simply use and in the views of those who handle addicted gamblers, digital gaming seems to be largely the same thing as their paper counterpart. What throws a spin to this whole thing is that the professional commentator of digital gaming in the show portrayed video and console games as a whole in the same light as gambling. All of them share the same points of decision-making and addictive qualities, she said. I had to question aloud whether or not this was an intentional narrative made to showcase that Super Mario Bros. is in the same league and Internet poker. In whatever game in general, be it soccer or the like, we go through similar thought patterns and have to discern the best outcome. We gamble and we may win or lose against the odds, there’s nothing special to it in of itself. Gambling addicts are a whole another thing, as are the people who sit days worth in front of the computer playing MMORPGs and start to get rotten feet.

The idea of labeling all electronic games under one banner is largely stupid, especially when digital game is, essentially, just a synonym for a video game. After all, a video game is a visual multimedia source that is combined with set rules and controls the player interact and commands, often to achieve a victory condition. Some form of money may be present, especially in modern mobile phone games, but that alone should not be contrasted to gambling.

The first thing I found about digital gaming as such was from Peluuri, an online site for gambling addicts. Without noticing it, those who consume electronic games in genera have been lumped together with gambling addicts. The reason isn’t hard to guess; news about some child dropping thousands into a mobile game for whatever reason still pop up frequently, and the fact that esports has brought the dimension of gambling into video game circuits.

Except, what the expert in the telly show was talking about the problems digital gaming brings with it, and the aforementioned website confirms her assertions. Problem gaming is defined excessive amount of time and/or money spend on money games, that have a negative effect on the person’s life, like his psychic or physical health, studies or work life, economy and/or human relations. …for those who consume computer games in large quantities, it was noted that they share similar problems with handling their emotions, channeling them properly or escapism via games similar to those who gamble. All this seems to give note that while site speaks mostly about gambling, the people who handle gambling addicts have dropped video game addicts into the same category because the majority of the addicts on either side share the same psychological problems.

Why the hell do people think games are the reason when even these help websites clearly say that’s in the person and not in the game that’s wrong?

Why the hell do they find a need to use digital gaming? What’s the point of using yet another term for something that already had two valid terms? There is now answer, but I’ll amuse myself this a bit. Video and computer games replaced electronic gaming at one point completely, and now that both of those terms have been dragged through the mud for a good couple of decades now, the current generation that doesn’t want to associate their research and intentions with any of have decided to choose a more diplomatic term. We do live in a digital age, after all.

The advent of esports of course seems to have played a rather large part in this. People gamble which team will win, and biased researchers will see whatever they want in the electronic/digital/computer/console game landscape. Is the person who contests in esports comparable to a person who gambles? Perhaps to a person who gambles at a tournament, but I’d make a comparison with a race driver more. Sponsors put money into the machines the competitor then puts all his efforts in. Esports is someone’s career after all, at least to some extent.

In the end, making it a game addiction when people don’t have any other outlet to channel their problems into is deceptive, blaming the thing that’s being used to channel things rather than accuse the person of wrongdoing. It’s the same with same when games are blamed to cause shootings. In the end, the individual person and his problems are always the key to everything. If gambling, video games, booze, driving, masturbation, rock climbing or any other activity worsens their life, why in the hell are their relatives and friends letting him ruin his life like that? Even adults needs help, sometimes forced.

Traditionally, gambling has been treated as its own thing while all other forms of addiction, be it sports or the like, have been their own thing. Mixing computer and console games give them the wrong connotation, and adding digital gaming as a new thing for the old doesn’t help. Not that the common consumer even cares about this, all they want is to have those drunkard failed gamblers off their block, and get those no-good video game nerds outside to breathe some fresh air and mingle with other people.

Music of the Month; Hero Story

When you put you think about it for a moment, we don’t have anyone who is like Jackie Chan at this time. He has made physical comedy and action into his own. Every strike, be on himself or on the opponent, has a smile with it.

We don’t need another Jackie Chan. Much like some regard Jackie Chan to be sort of continuation of Bruce Lee’s more serious fights, the cinema will be in need of somebody who would carry similar rough and real style in fights on the silver screen. He wants no trouble, but the audience sure enjoys when gets some.

I’m going to let myself loose with this one. I don’t give a damn how this post forms, I’ve drank a bit too much whisky after my work computer decided to screw with me.

As usual during the upcoming Christmas season, all and every day becomes a bit more hectic and there may be weeks where there may be lack of posts here and there. This also means that many parents will be purchasing their kids games as presents. I would recommend any parent or person buying a game as a gift to a younger one to pay attention to the recommended ages on the boxes. Much like with movies, games do have adult content you shouldn’t direct towards child minded people.

Thus, I find it absolutely idiotic that Target Down Under removes Grand Theft Auto V from their shelves. Why? The V2 .pdf doesn’t say, but it’s because it portrays violence towards women. Whoopdy fucking doo I say. Here’s the thing; GTA has always portrayed violence and it has never changed in that regard. Be it a woman or a man in the game, the player has all the freedom to blow their heads off if they feel like doing so. If modern feminism was concerned about equality, they would have raised other issues, but no. It has to be this damn politically correct comfy zone bullshit we have nowadays everywhere. Going to the petition that Target seemed to deem valid enough misses the point that everything they describe the player can do in-game applies to everything. What about all the men who have survived the violence in their lives? It’s incredible double think just to note the other side while disregarding the other completely.

In addition, the petition makes a point that games like GTA V, in all essence, encourage certain kind of thinking and causes violence via grooming. This is absolute horseshit. There are numerous studies that show the exact opposite. People with inclinations to violence will always be more violent despite what form of media they are exposed to. It takes mentally ill person to think the thing he sees in fictional setting is right. Only a stupid and ignorant person would assume people take everything at face value. It takes a special kind of idiot just to listen and believe rather think for themselves and search further information while challenging his views. Everything affects everything, and if we are to say electronic games affect people, we also have to take notice that all forms of media and interaction does the exact same thing.

In a sense, a lot of psychologists are wasting their time and effort on proving points everybody and their mothers can say through life experiences. There are better things to research on, like development of psyche.

However, there’s two more pressing matters in this one; this is censorship through pressure and obstruction of free market. Target continues to sell other games and DVD with similar content for whatever reason. I would have thought we already got over this ‘games-are-evil’ thing a decade ago, but it seems this generation that first time grew up with digital entertainment have no real fights anymore to fight, so they need to grasp every little bit they can challenge for whatever reasons they can think of. There are other battles to be fought and won, including making the macro economical situation better and teaching people to fish rather than give them the fish outright.

It baffles me why people would go their way out and take away something they enjoy, something that doesn’t harm anyone? Rather than concerning what media does to people, be it men or women, we should pay more attention to the people themselves, in the education they are given and in what sort of raising they are given. It’s not every day you hear news about a mug victim saying he had it coming for being a privileged person. This thing baffles me to no end. If a person comes up to you and holds you at gunpoint, taking your money, you have every right to call them a criminal and a bad person. Not to mention the mugged person has horribly mangled view of what middle-class is. Sometimes I wish we could take everybody, including myself, into somewhere else where the social norms we are so used to do not apply. Having only one point of view and sticking with affects anyone negatively.

Accepting certain universal truths is a good thing to do, like that the tree makes a sound in the forest when falling even if somebody is not listening to it and that a person who mugs you is a criminal and should be judged according to local laws, but we always need to remember that the view one holds can be completely contradicted by someone other’s and it is always good to understand why is that. We do not need to agree with each other in any point, but neither should we be forcing our views or actions on others that disagree. Informing and encouraging further information search should be something we do rather than becoming heralds of some agenda. Hell, go read the researches I linked earlier. There’s few things there that do not completely match the sentence they are linked in, and I fully encourage you to read research documents that argue otherwise. Information is power, and the more objective and valid information you have, the more powerful you are.

When you become a preacher of some word, you’re essentially inside a religion and enact the exact the same things certain religions have been criticised for doing. I can understand a religious person coming to be and asking if I have found God, because that is their faith and that is how their religion reads them to do. When somebody comes with a political agenda in their hands to convert me into their political movement, I often ask them to screw off. Except Greenpeace, with Greenpeace I usually have good chat what’s going on and what sort of crazy stuff these people have been doing as of late.

Ah, screw it. One more for the road.

HA HAA! TIME FOR MORE WHISKY.

Cookies, tomato sauce and fictional character personalities

When you go visit your local groceries store next time, check out the cookies section. I want you to notice all the different sort of cookies there are, from salty to tasteless and all the way to the most sweetest thing imaginable. Check the amount of flavours they have and how many of the cookies have a varying degree of chocolate. Some have huge chunks, some have small bits spread everywhere and some just have top of solid sweet chocolate. Naturally you’ll also find immense amounts of cookies that have no chocolate at all. Some may have strawberry bits, some may have blueberry bits and some may have bits of Love inside of them. I mean Blackcurrant.

Move to the sauce section, and pay attention to the amount of different consistency in e.g. Dolmio sauces. You got different consistencies in one flavour alone, from runny to very chunky. In the basic tomato sauce there should be around five levels of chunkiness, and one of the levels without a doubt is the one you personally prefer over any other.

There are numerous different variations of one thing because consumers do not have one thing they love. There is no best, only bests.

This applies to electronic games just as much as it does apply groceries. You have numerous different First Person Shooting games varying from runny to chunky in order to appease different sub-sect inside the customer group. Just like there are people who dislike tomato sauce, there are people who can’t get into FPS games and will opt for something else. Same with Role Playing Games, where you have the solid, crunchy chocolate ones in form of Final Fantasy, and then the foamy ones with chocolate bits thrown in there randomly in form of Dragon Quest. It is not uncommon to find people who prefer multiple options, but there are usually few options they’d always prefer over the many others.

Just like Muv-Luv has different routes for different girls, the reader selects those routes first he finds most preferable. There is no worse or best route when it comes to personal selection, but depending how well the route is written can be reviewed as per literary standards.

Certain things can be quantified and observed to see what is, purely objectively speaking, better over another. It’s not uncommon to see people claiming one thing being horrible and mass having shit taste because they prefer one thing over the other. That’s the immature way of taking it, and because we can only argue over our preferences and not facts, this happen every time a solid, positive experience is involved. I have observed arguments over the smallest things being better over another, like between two brands of ketchup, but we all know that such things are moot.

To some extent.

The ketchup that sells the most is most preferable, the best out there. However, there are numerous different ketchups that sell around equal numbers. The aforementioned bests. This is a highly interesting thing when you begin to look into this, because it’s not apparent at first. Actually, the whole multiple types of sauces thing is relatively new thing overall, as for the longest time the market people saw the best thing being what was stereotypically seen as the best, the most classic of tomato sauces. Nowadays it would feel weird not to have large selection one thing in different flavours.

When it comes to electronic games, the term experience with them is thrown out far too many times. The problem with a claim of a game being an extraordinary experience is that the claim is based on either marketing quip or a personal experience, thus lacking proper validity. It’s an opinion.

What constitutes as a part of the game experience is rather vague, and once again, up to individuals to determine. For some the experience itself is only the game’s play itself. In cinema terms, it’s watching the movie. Other people on the other hand may see the game experience as something a bit larger, starting from unwrapping/ unboxing the game to putting the game inside the machine and everything that surrounds this. Some dislike this whole physical thing just like some people have moved into having only digital game libraries on their consoles.

This entry actually got its start from a small discussion whether or not emulators offered a better experience than physical consoles. Emulator enthusiasts are ready to claim their side as the victor, and they’d be incorrect. However, before the physical folks start to grin, they’re the same. If we are to use the term subject, we have to keep in mind that it is a person’s subjective, personal reality over a thing. That can’t be denied by anything, and claiming that this person is wrong in his opinion or experience would invalidate the claimer’s own doings just as much.

We all know that emulators allow all sorts of interesting things that the physical consoles don’t, like upscaling, filters, further colour options, save states and so on. That can’t be disagreed with and these can be left alone if one chooses to do so. With emulators we have the issue of emulation and that is a quantifiable and we can compare the function of the emulator over the physical console. An emulator like ZSNES that runs on hacks and plugins with inaccurate timings, causing the game being played inaccurately. An emulator is supposed to emulate, and we can argue with a solid base that an emulator should be able to emulate the console perfectly in order to be considered to convey the same experience of the game. Then again, if you consider the physicality, then even the very notion of running an emulator throws this out of the window. You also have the number of people who don’t care about the accuracy of the emulators and concern themselves only over how well the emulator is able to run. With a real console you wouldn’t have compatibility issues, and that if anything we all can agree is a detriment on the emulators.

With emulation and physical consoles we need to remember that it is the console that is emulated, not the game. While there is an attitude that a console is not able to run a game properly due to the console being too weak, we need to remember that the game is made for the console. There are clear limitations given both in software and in hardware. Most of the hardware is set in stone, and the things like the controller sets certain limits. A NES controller can’t have the amount of functions that a SNES controller has, but that it not detrimental to the game itself.

In overall terms console games are programmed to their respective consoles and blaming the console for the slowdowns and such in the game is largely misplaced. As console games are made for a console, it is up to the game developer to see that the game is able to run on the given console. There are numerous way a skilled developer is able to get around the limitations a console offers, and with all and any console generations we’ve seen numerous ways how numerous limitations have been defeated in a way or another. If a developer finds a console too powerless for their designed game, they are always free to move to PC platform, which relatively speaking has no real limits. Then again, the PC platform then brings in the numerous different configurations it can have and is completely different can of worms. Or used to be, seeing how this and last generation of game console are dumbed down PCs.

Nevertheless, as a game is intended to be run on certain hardware and is designed to solely run on that hardware, emulation must reflect this. However, the older the console, the more tricks you will find, like developers using CRT televisions’ Rainbow Banding to make create effects in-game or have memory buffer zones in the overscan area. Some games are known to use the hardware’s limitations for the benefit of the game. Space Invaders is a well known title that abused the hardware’s incapability to play at best speed initially, but as the aliens die out the hardware is able to handle the game better, thus the faster movement of the aliens toward the end of the round. An emulator would accurately need to emulate the cycles and timings in the hardware, as well as their limitations, in order to create an accurate representation of the game and the hardware.

However, in reality most people don’t care about the accuracy or how well the emulator itself emulates the console as long as the game is playable. That is a preference just as any, and does not constitute as a valid argument in a proper discussion on the things despite many arguing otherwise.

As you’ve figured out, the people offering any product needs think of the multiple customers within the a group of customers. This seems evident in itself, but we all know that people mainly see their opinions and preferences over other’s. This doesn’t work when you’re trying to make a living. While you may be able to sell one type of product for some time enough to make a living, it is imperative to broaden the selection and your own horizons in order to expand the market and avoid oversaturation. Rarely it is the case of one person doing one product to a market for too long. Everybody will buy one sauce if only one variety is offered. You would find a sweet spot for selling a more chunky variation of that sauce.

The experiences and the preferences that go with them are individual. You’ll find people who share your preferences and have completely different ones. As they are subjective, neither is better over the other, and perhaps it would be best if we’d try to understand where they come from their stand. Of course, it goes both ways, and if the other guy calls your waifu a shit, be sure to respectively disagree.

Then you can tell him to go step unto cat shit.

Eromantisicism

There seems to be a general opinion that if a story, be it film or something else, has explicit sex then it’s automatically slated as porn and the value of the whole thing just hits rock bottom. Nevertheless, we have loads of classic stories filled with explicit sex within them and the antique and nobody seems to regard them as anything negative. If classic stories can have erotica, why not the modern stories?

Modern society overall is overly saturated with bare skin and sex appeal. Contrary to the popular misconception, sex doesn’t always sell and yet it’s pretty much everywhere. There’s been a huge backslash from various sides how advertising uses female appeal. Then again, it uses male appeal just as much, so I’m not going to drag out any feminist arguments here (mostly because they’re just stupid.) Next to advertising we see sexual material in various other places and they’re not seen as any worse. I don’t remember anyone complaining about Titanic’s sex scene, and I regarded it as something completely unnecessary.I mean, did we really need to see the breasts painted and getting not-so-implied-sex there? Hint; we didn’t.

Most of you know think I’m a damn hypocrite to criticise Titanic’s erotica while keeping such a high regard on âge’s body of works. In a way, I completely admit that there’s some of that, but hear me out. The question whether or not including erotica has a place in a story is not a light one. If the story wants to be slightly realistic with 20-something characters, there’s bound to be sex. Rather than just thinking They’re having sex, I’d like my readers to regard whether or not it works in the context and how the overall work is presented, and what the medium is. Sex scenes can and should have more important context than just being plain porn if they are meant to add to the story.

There are people with different taste and point of view on the subject. I completely understand the point that sex needs to be kept as something unique and within certain small limits. Then again, sex is something that we all are familiar with even from our childhood and allowing it to be a defining matter in anything shouldn’t be allowed as much as it is. I don’t wish to say that sexuality scares some people, but that seems to be the case. How sexuality is handled within a body of work is very important because of this, and at the moment we have to weight every erotic scene on their own with the rest of the other elements within a story.

I admit that this is an extremely challenging subject overall. I may come off as someone who advocates open sex and bare skin everywhere, or I might come out as someone who would like to limit everything to minimum. I wish to do neither, but rise a question if a sex scene, erotical or not, has a place in a story. A well done scene can benefit a story quite well, whereas a scene with no real function other than sex itself works against the work. In worst case, such scene can make the work what we see as just porn.

I personally knew few people who really hate my approach to nudity and erotic material in itself, such as my mother, and deem that if there’s a certain amount of act in there, then everything’s ruined altogether. These people can’t seem to enjoy the story knowing that there’s an erotic scene tied to the overall plot, and plays an important role in it. I’ve wondered why these people are so uncomfortable with the presence of sex, but throwing theories out there isn’t going to do anything good if I can’t put out anything solid. I’m sure part of this can be traced to personal preferences, but also to overall cultural values and how each person has been raised.

Porn itself wasn’t always just the act itself like it seems to be nowadays. Pornographic films used to be a genre that had a story. No, I don’t mean the classical pizza guy and hot woman with no cash, but an actual story. Sexploitation films do have a load of gems that tell a complete story that also ties the sex scenes well to the film. They don’t just feel likeseparate scenes, but an actual part of the story. Nowadays the industry has become more and more mechanized, in more ways than one, and simple sex act films have become the most common. Josh Hadley has excellent episodes of his radio shows going over this subject with actors from the industry, and he has written multiple articles about porn films. I do recommend tracking them down if you have even the slightest of interest, as the porn industry has seen few massive changes over the years and misconceptions are abundant in the modern world.

Still, every medium has its sexual content, graphical or not. Harlequin novels are the worst of the bunch (even I read few and they really are bad) whereas few classical pieces show sex with the respect it needs. Films are divided between direct porn acts and well handled scenes within sexploitation, and music has more songs about losing virginity than I can even start to think of. Comics have both soft and hardcore content, as well as loads of implied scenes. Games usually follow the same line as films, but the likes of Mass Effect do not bring anything to the table with their romance and sex. It just bogs the whole thing. Personally I loved a TV-show called The Hunger back in the 90’s, which had rather horrifying stories tied to erotica. Most of the were pretty well made stories overall, and have some rather good horror elements in there. Not just physical like splatter movies, but rather there aresome that will disturb you mentally. In some episodes there’s a strong hints of Heavy Metal influences as well.

(Sorry, we’re gonna go with some Muv-Luv again so hold on to your butts.)

The overall medium of visual novels is nothing short of pornographic, which is kind of a sad thing when you can have completely unique audiovisual experience in lieu of something like mixing theatre and literature. The medium has potential but it’s bogged down by its fame. In that, having erotica in Muv-Luv is not a question of “if” but rather what kind of. To be honest, the erotica in Muv-Luv is rather tasty (par one) and works in the context. Sumika is a childhood friend of our main character Takeru, and the two basically have spent their life together as it is. They used to batch together, play together, sleep together and all that children do. At least I used to do these things when I was a wee lad with girls… kinda explains things in some perspective. Sumika hasn’t really taken any action towards Takeru at any point due to everybody basically agreeing that he is her man and that’s that. When a new threat steps in, and takes over Takeru’s daily life by first appearing in his bed and buying the whole neighborhood and starting to basically live with him, Sumika needs to step her game. She does, which culminates in a hot spring visit, where Sumika steps in Takeru’s bath and offers to wash his back. This is her attempt to make Takeru see her as a woman rather than just a girl from his childhood.

A lot of people call this a slutty move and the same people most likely never met a woman with high hopes and feelings, but no real way to express them. Presenting yourself as a woman, and wishing the other side to see how far you’re willing to go just for him to notice you as something to be desired of in both physical and emotional level might be the last option you have. Naturally, you could always just say I really love you would you like to go out with me, but that’s just not romantic at all. I’ve personally had few of these, and every time it’s just as awkward, but heartwarming at the same time. Yes, I’m a horrible man for not returning their feelings but I have a personal conviction of not shoving it in unless there’s love involved.

As the story progresses a bit further, it comes clear that our main man has his own feelings towards Sumika, but doesn’t really know how to handle them. Ultimately, he comes forth with his feelings that really were there, just underneath the daily banter the two always have. It’s an emotional scene overall, which ends up the two sharing a bed. It’s something that Sumika quite clearly has thought of many times and something she has wished for. How the scene has been handled is good and has a lot of emotional weight in it. It’s true that it is partially there because it’s expected from a VN to include explicit erotica, but is handled with dignity and care like such a situation should be. Nothing is too overt, everything’s rather to the ground and it’s actually more heartwarming than arousing. You can see in that one scene that the writers put a lot of care in not to break the characters’ characteristics, and they still have some of that slight banter in there. It’s a rather cathartic scene overall, showing both of them being completely true to themselves, and to each other. It’s erotica for sure, but it’s a far cry from porn, as the scene isn’t really what you would masturbate at. I’m sure there are a lot of people who grabbed their hoses and wiggled it around, but isn’t that a bit demeaning to the scene?

Later on in the story there are two other scenes. other showing rather graphic content how one can be violated, and it has its place. Without it the story wouldn’t work as well. The scene that follows has even more importance in human sense. I won’t spoil them, unless somebody demands to know what BETA research does to people.

I went a little off from the point I was trying to say there; it matters how erotica is handled in the context. In Muv-Luv it works as it’s a cathartic moment both to the characters and to the reader. It also matters how it’s handled, and in Muv-Luv Sumika’s route is handled with care. Other routes are a bit different, but we’re not goingto talk about those now. All-Ages versions of the story fade out before the act itself and return right after. While you don’t really lose anything regarding the story you do lose something regarding the characters and the overall weight of the story. Without the erotica, the story would have less weight overall.

The reason why I’m so keen on talking about that one scene in Titanic is not because I personally like the film. To me it’s just another in the bunch, but I always loved its sets and cinematography. It’s a beautiful piece with rather good characters and acting, and the overall film works very well in romanticizing the period while still keeping that good amount of grit in there to balance things. There are only three points that degrade from the overall experience, which I’ve already mentioned, but here they are; the length, the sex scene and the propeller guy. Length is an issue with the director and the editor and can’t really be helped, but the propeller scene is just out of place from the overall serious and realistic piece. It’s something that Looney Tunes would do. In this regard the sex scene should work, it’s realistic after all and should give more romance to the overall story, but the rest of the film in comparison is clinic in this sense. It’s a shift in paradigm how to the film works and what it’s doing. Now, if it would actually make a sort of genre shift into softcore porn, then it would actually serve a purpose, but it’s just a scene of no content. We learn nothing of these characters or anything else within this scene. A scene without purpose is a scene that should be cut away.

Would Titanic have less weight without the one sex scene? I’d argue no. While it is a story of two characters falling in love and then one of them dying, Titanic itself doesn’t really care about them. There are numerous other people we meet on that boat and numerous other people who share the same fate. I’d remove the man hitting one of the fan blades. That was just tasteless. With or without the sex scene the film has the same weight. I’d cut it out simply to keep the film shorter, its way too long as it is.

Let’s take the classic James Bond films as an example. We know that Bond is a stud, we know that he is a man who knows his ways throughout women’s bodies. His scenes of seduction are rather well made, usually having a nice sensual scene, and the cutting away to Bond waking up or putting his watch on. It works in the context of the film, and the genre, as Bond is a womanizer. When he decides to get a woman, he gets a woman, even if it means to kill a few communists while doing his seduction.

Getting laid is an integral part of classic Bond. Craig’s Bond is a bit more down to earth, but still manages to seduce a woman or two per film. It’s somewhat downplayed and has more velvet kind of quality to them, which works just fine. Having the seduction and well implied sex is highly important to a Bond film, because seduction of the fairer sex is part of the whole Bond deal.

If I had the possibility, I’d buy a softcore porn film called Dinosaur Island on LaserDisc. The coverart of the film is pretty awesome, as it has both Attack of the 50ft. Woman and especially the One Million Years B.C., which happens to be one of my favourite films.

If anyone has a clean version of this, please let me know. I’d love to get this as a poster

Dinosaur Island has very little to offer as a cerebral film or as something to masturbate as. It’s a simple film of few US soldiers landing on an island with an amazon tribe. Well, the island has dinosaurs as well, but you might’ve figured it out at this point. The content in Dinosaur Island is by all means pornographic and meant as such.However, these scenes do contrast the attitudes the amazons and the soldiers have, and some of the soldiers’ own personalities shine through while they are having sex.  The movie, withthe little value it has, would be nothing without these scenes. They give weight, not meaning, to the overall body of work. They have a reason to exist within the film. The dinosaur effects look pretty decent for an ultra-low budget softcore flick from 1994. I really don’t recommend anyone seeing it, unless they’re hardcore softcore fans and love the coverart. Whoever posed for that picture had some… talent.

I do understand that showcasing a sex scene in a film is difficult, especially if the director wants to aim for a tasteful scene and not mechanical porn. Well, a sex scene, no matter how tasteful it is, is still pornographic in its nature. Going too far will make somebody gasp atsuch obscenities, and show too little and somebody will ask What was the point of it. Making good porn is hard on its own, and making tasteful porn that really isn’t porn is even more difficult. Whymake a sex scene to have no real content other than shadowy act if it doesn’t add anything? Well, people tend to get somewhat uncomfortable about sex, at least the general public. People get embarrassed and shy when two people are having sex. Truth to be told, looking at two people having sex is not the most beautiful sight in the world, and porn rarely looks like the real thing (unless you’re into amateur voyeur.) It’s a global paradigm to regard these tasteful sex scenes as acceptable, and most of the time I just ask why. Rarely I see a film with a sex scene where the actors make it look convincing, and the directors puts meaning in there either with small conversation or what the characters are doing. Just seeing outlines and shadows humping each other and doing the same generic motions every other sex scene does is just… bleh. It’s not tasteful, it’s a waste of time and money. Then how are you supposed to make a sex scene that shows the actual act, adds character development or/and shows sides from the character we never knew before?

Truth to be told, such scene can’t be really made without the audience accepting the pornographic content as something that important and that they shouldn’t hold it against the film but for it. Literature has harder time with this, as describing the scene might end up being just another Harlequin piece without really going anywhere. Comics and Visual Novels have the possibility to use text and visuals for their advantage, and VNs even have sound. Simple sound based erotica is rather hard, as it demands a lot of describing, and depending on the use, a lot of talents from the voice actors’ side.

It seems that everybody accepts that if you need to have a sex scene, it must be kind of separate scene and completely unique. Meaning that it shouldn’t really have much meaning outside A) getting main female lead pregnant B) showing that the main characters love each other C) both. The most graphical sex scenes are usually saved for the likes of rape and other violent sex to further show how bad man the guy is. Very, very rarely the rapist is woman in films.

We can’t really talk about porn without addressing the industry. Porn industry has its problems, and then some more problems, but I’m not an expert on the industry’s problems. There’s loads of good documents about the subject, like After Porn Ends. However, I also recommend checking out Pornography – The Secret History of Civilisation, as it goes through porn since ancient times to modern times. Josh Hadley’s Lost in the Static is STILL a nice place to hear about porn and the industry in certain episodes.

I’m sure someone is thinking at some point But think of the children!and I hear you.

How much sex should we allow to be shown in works that also have child audience? Depends really what you regard to be the red line between a child and a teenager, and even then whether or not you regard teenagers as children. American Pie is a film that just seeps sex all over the place, and is still R-12 film just like Titanic. I’ve got nothing against American Pie, but personally I regard is one of the biggest piece trash ever filmed. However, the “sex” scenes in there actually do contribute to the overall story and characters, and I have to give this to American Pie; to extend it does understand the sexually confused young people and uses it to convey a proper overall story.

Sexuality and children is a touchy subject and I’ve got a bit too little experience to completely dwell into the subject. I can only talk from my own observations and about my personal history. I agree that childhood seems to end earlier with each new generation, and this saddens me. However, I strongly disagree that it’s the environment that causes this. No amount of sexual material can “end” a childhood. It’s the parents that demand their children to be little adults that they are not. In the city I’ve seen six years old girls in a slutty outfits because their mom thinks its “cute.” Then again I’ve seen eight year old drinking beer and smoking, so it doesn’t just stop there. Proper parenting is the alpha and the omega what kind of childhood someone has. The aforementioned two examples are cases of failed parenting.
Allowing the child to recognize that sexuality and sex exists doesn’t push them to the world of adults. Pretty much every 8-year old already knows of flowers and bees on some level and regard it as some matter to laugh at, until puberty hits. The most important thing is to allow sexuality and sex to be acknowledged and give it proper weight. I don’t mean hammering the child with lectures about sex and how important it is. Most of the time it’s enough to tell Little Ben that mom and dad do have sex sometimes, and it’s important. Being direct and frank when Little Ben asks things is important as well. Little Ben then can snicker at it and laugh at it with his friends, until one day he realizes the deeper meaning of the thing he already knew. I’m not saying that we should force sexuality on our kids, but to allow them to recognise that it exists on their own terms, and grow knowing that it exists. They’ll know what it means when the time hits them, but then they’ll be a bit more prepared.

My personal start with sexuality was somewhere around when I was four. My brothers had found a porn magazine and had hid it in their hideout in the woods, and showed it to me. I distinctly remember three images that have burned to my retinas for all time, but at the time it was just something to look at. That was the time when I acknowledged that this was something that people did and enjoyed quite a lot. I had very little knowledge on human biology, so I didn’t care what was really going on. Some years later I realized how babies are made through The Bold and the Beautiful. Before that point I didn’t have any sort of lessons on sex and sexuality, it was just simple deduction; sex makes babies. This has allowed me to value sex as an act and as something to bring people closer together, and my early contact with hardcore pornography hasn’t really impacted me negatively. I’d argue that my approach to such thing was due to great parenting, as my mother never really kept these things secret or anything. Can’t say anything about my dad, he never was there when I needed, and kept butting in when I never wanted him there.

It’s cultural as well as individual how this is seen. The silhouette sex scenes serve their weak purpose in films, but perhaps when we can all accept the weight of sex itself, and allow ourselves to enjoy it as just as important part of the story as any scene, then perhaps we have been able to shatter a wall between something what we think, and what’s completely natural.

Perhaps it’s not really a question of if there should be erotica in anything or not. Erotica can give more weight if handled well enough, and I truly do believe that porn has its merits in a story. Discussing of what and what is not art is an eternal subject with no conclusion, but rejecting erotical material’s merits could be compared to rejecting Picasso’s. That’s a bit overblown comparison for sure, but the point still stands.

Oh dear did I go off the subject few times there…

Now you might wonder what the hell is eromanticism. Well, it’s a combination of erotic and romance; eromance. I might come out somewhat perverted at times, but be assured dear reader; it’s all in the name of love and romance.

Irisu Syndrome, or That Which Forces Your Hand

Let’s talk about a bit about horror games. Video games are in general a nice change of pace after books and films, as they offer a sense of freedom to the player. Every action that takes place in the game is the result of players’ actions and made choices. Even Super Mario Bros. gives a lot of options to the player; do you avoid the Goomba or do you stomp it, how will you advance, do you stop collecting coins etc. When was the last time you could choose the characters’ actions in the middle of a movie or in a book? Granted, select your own adventure books have that but that’s another point to discuss. However, horror games usually make the player to choose something forceful to make the characters survive. Mostly this is to kill or escape from various hideous beings and monsters, but very few horror game make the player be one of the horrors and act against their own instincts, even if the player wouldn’t be aware of this. A friend of mine compared Resident Evil to Silent Hill once saying that Silent Hill is the better of the two in horror as “the player is forced to journey towards where he really doesn’t.” I agree with him with this sentiment, but I personally I don’t like horror games’ designs in general. Eight out of ten the survival aspect is made to hamper everything that the player can do. Sure, you’re “surviving” but where’s the horror? In the story?

A horror game should incorporate the horror element better into the gameplay. Forbidden Siren actually does this pretty well, using episodic gameplay and indirect advancement in the plot. Siren is one of those games I’d like to get into my shelf, but I wouldn’t play it in the dark for a long time. All the mentioned horror games follow the same basic horror game design of darkness + hampered gameplay + story is the horror. The freedom is very small in these games, as the player most likely always comes better ways to tackle the obstacles, but can’t do so because the game designers either didn’t think of that, or want the player to experience the game in their way. Developers, let the player choose what they want to do and go with it. You’re not here to make art. If you’re going to make a game in survival horror genre, be sure to create at least twenty different solutions to one puzzle. It would actually be a nice change of pace to have a sandbox style of horror game, where the player can choose any action they want. For example, a Shibido is tracing you and you’re running away from it on the streets. In every horror game, you’d have to find a safe location, but what if you could take that piece of pipe, smash the window in and continue from there? The Shibido would smell you for sure, but it would have to think for a second or two are you inside where the window was smashed or are you outside. This would also call upon other Shibido, but the same applies. It’s funny to think this way that Contra gives more freedom to the player how to play the game than vast majority of horror games. The freedom of choice is surprisingly small in 3D games it seems.

Let’s discuss a small game I came across recently, that doesn’t really simulate freedom of choice, but practically forces the player to do some dark things without him noticing it. The game I’m talking about is Irisu Syndrome, a game that doesn’t only mess with the player, but with the folder it resides in.
Now I’m going to go into a lot of spoiler territory, so before that be sure to test whether or not your system runs the game. It’s a simple physics based puzzle with a twist. I have to say that Irisu Syndrome is great little gem. While it’s not the best puzzle out there by far, the presentation and everything that comes with it is simply superb. It’s a freeware game so there’s very little reason NOT to play it, except if you can’t work around with Applocale. You should get one of your techfriends work on this nevertheless, if you’re into something different.
The game’s completely free and translated as well, so go grab it. Go on, play some rounds, I’ll be waiting here. Just try not to read the whole post in the blog if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Games that mess with the player aren’t that rare. There was this RPG that would send e-mails to the player and some times phone calls. There are numerous games that do something like that, and Irisu Syndrome is one of those. Spoiler text time folks; after you’ve installed Irisu Syndrome, it creates a .PNG file in the directory it resides in. Every time you lose a game, the image gets altered a bit, sometimes messing the characters or returning them to normal. Not only that, but bunch of text files appear in the same folder, messaging something to the player. When you manage to rack enough points with six tries in a row, you’ll get something… disturbing.
Irisu Syndrome’s puzzle is said to represent the main heroine’s psyche as it falls down bit by bit. In the end, the player might get the realization that he was the one gnawing her, destroying her sanity bit by bit. After that, the realization what the game has made the player do sinks in.
To those who have played Irisu Syndrome and completed it, you know that I’m broadening the truth a little bit, but not too much. In the end, Irisu Syndrome is a mean game to the player. It starts as an innocent piece of software, becomes really dark at one point and then surprises you.
It’s really hard to discuss about Irisu Syndrome without giving away what it is about. Did I mention that it has a METSU mode you can access via severed cat’s head?

Now don’t think that Irisu Syndrome is one of “those video games” that are only about violence and blood, because it’s more about the good things in life in a cleaver mask. It don’t like to tell people “to experience a game,” but in this case I recommend you to sit through everything in this game, and experience it. Also, this post has a not-so-well hidden message.

Also, I noticed how messed and incoherent this post was. Blame KoFXIII and Irisu Syndrome for that.

“This is a very small, very large, very precious story about love and courage”

Edited and tweaked on 25th of December 2012 to honour the yearly Sadohashima Day, also known as the Christmas Day

There exist two stories that I keep close to my heart. One story is from nine years ago, and the other is as recent as from few weeks ago. These two stories are what I reflect much of myself against, and how I will grow in the upcoming years. This is something that I want to tell and share with those who are willing to listen. I want to share the tears I’ve shed and the sorrow I’ve felt for these stories. However, I afraid this post will be spoiler heavy. If you want to enjoy both Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Muv-Luv to the fullest, please go through them before reading this. Otherwise, do continue onwards.

Some years ago a friend of mind burned me a disc called Blue People Special. The Disc contained the first episodes of then-new series of Sonic X, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and some series I can’t recall. While Sonic X was fun to watch, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien was the one that, without a doubt, changed my life. The title of Visual Novel and the series translates something along the lines of The Eternity You Wish and is commonly abbreviated as KimiNozo. It is a small story of three friends, love and tragedy. Before we get to the core of this post, Muv-Luv, we need to go through some of the KimiNozo’s plot, and I’ll abbreviate the first three episodes of the series here. They can be skipped, but I’d recommend you either watch the series or read the VN.

“ Like the stars that twinkle in the night sky

Hearts that have melted together will never come apart.

Even though these hands let go

As long as neither of us forget “

Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is a story of your normal life, a story of a love triangle of harshest caliber. Suzumiya Haruka, quite timid girl is in love with Narumi Takayuki and asks her friend Hayase Mitsuki to introduce them to each other. They hand out for some time together, until On That Hill Haruka finally manages to confess her love to Takayuki. Takayuki decides to answer to her feelings and they start to date. Takayuki is dense and oblivious to dating and barely can understand Haruka’s feelings, but tries his best nevertheless. Mitsuki feels jealous at times, and even though she doesn’t admit or show it anybody, it’s clear. After some time Takayuki and Haruka become closer to each other to the point that they show their love in physical form. At one day, Takayuki’s late for their date, due to him buying Haruka a book she has been looking for, and for the fact that Mitsuki steals more of his time and makes Takayuki to buy her a present; a silver ring. However, life can be cruel, as even those five minutes or so Takayuki is late decides the fate of all of them for the next three years; Haruka is hit by a car and falls into coma, Takayuki has a complete mental breakdown and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Mitsuki is the one and only line keeping Takayuki from killing himself, even if it costs her most of her life.

Rumbling Hearts, the opening of the Visual Novel, is the ending song of the second episode of the series

Three years have gone past. Takayuki is a part-timer in local restaurant Sky Temple, and seemingly is doing fine. He meets Mitsuki and Shinji, a long time friend since forever. They spend some time drinking and changing news from each other. Later, Mitsuki and Takayuki spend a night together, where Mitsuki asks him whether or not he would like to live with her. Takayuki leaves the answer open, but asks her in the morning whether she would like to move in with him.

” …Your place is the same as three years ago… “

In all reality, neither Takayuki or Mitsuki are doing fine. Mitsuki is tortured by her love to him and the guilt she feels towards Haruka. Takayuki phases out every time accidents are brought up, and is rather anti-social to other people outside his job and closest friends. However, Mitsuki manages to make things clear with Takayuki and they both manage to agree that they’ll be sharing their lives together. While they’re walking back home, they meet with Haruka’s younger sister, Akane, who is furious at them both, even more so at Takayuki who hasn’t visited Haruka’s bedside in years… due to her parents forbidding him, for her and his own sanity. At one point in the past, Takayuki took comatose Haruka to a date, denying everything that had happened.

Ultimately, Mitsuki decides not to move in with Takayuki, and admits that their relationship is stretched thin to her senior member of the company she works in. At the time, Takayuki phones her to arrange them to meet later that day. Much to Mitsuki’s surprise Takayuki has decided to continue living on and starts to search for a place they both can live together.

” I don’t think this is wrong. It’s not as though we’re trying to forget about Haruka. It’s just that right now, we have our own lives to live. Your’s and mine’s… “

Mitsuki falls into tears (as did I), Takayuki has seemingly taken a step forwards in his life and seemingly admits many things about himself. Months pass on as they search for a place and keep living their life quite happily, eating curry rice. One day Akane makes a phonecall.

Takayuki jumps to the phone, spilling his drink. Haruka wants to see Takayuki, she wants to see him more than anything else in the world. Both of them are startled to the point of Takayuki falling back into his mental breakdown, Mitsuki falling into desperation. They decide to visit Haruka the day together, even if Takayuki doesn’t really want to initially.

Haruka does not know that it has been three years since the accident happened.

And thus, Dr. Kouzuki decides to protect Haruka’s fragile mind and body in form of charade; no one is to tell Haruka that three years have passed, no one is to act that way for her safety. When he sees Haruka, it all floods back to Takayuki, he can barely watch at Haruka, until Mitsuki pushes him a bit forwards next to her, breaking him down to tears due to all the guilt he has beared to that moment.

Akane dumps all her hatred towards Takayuki and Mitsuki, burdening them with more guilt for the love they feel.

From here on, everything changes for the third time and the rawness and cruelness of life lifts its head.

This is essentially the first four episodes of the series in a tight package. What drives the series is the story and characters. The Visual Novel might have those numerous scenes of sex as per genre, and Kimi ga Nozomu Eien uses them to depict how fragile, or strong, the human nature is. KimiNozo is about the feeling of the heart rather than feelings of the flesh. âge’s main writer Yoshimune Kouki researched Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in-depth with rest of the staff in order to convey most realistic depiction they could’ve muster. Kouki managed in this so well, that there is numerous readers/ watchers that have told to have PTSD themselves to an extent. The story is strong, cruel, unhappy, filled with emotions and tears. There is nothing that is supernatural or over the top. It’s the tragedy of it all, how people cope with difficult situations, breakdowns, lies and love.

I wouldn’t say that I enjoy KimiNozo, I doubt very few people actually enjoy it. KimiNozo is a story that mangled my own feelings up and down, punched me to guts more than I can remember, made me cry my eyes out… and made me realize that love is a cruel and selfish thing.

Humans by their nature are cruel and selfish, and this is core of KimiNozo. Because of KimiNozo, I began to wonder what it really means to love somebody. Before that I’ve never thought of loving anyone; I always saw myself as the one guy who every one can depend on, but no one really cares deeply for. It made me wonder whether or not I was the kind of person who deserves to be loved to the point where I shunned people away from me just to keep me from hurting them. I acted like a fool, teased a lot of people and acted like I never understood other people’s feelings and wants just to keep that away by a touch, but close enough so I wouldn’t be left alone. KimiNozo changed me somewhat; to this day I still look how I act and wonder why is it so hard to stop being this kind of idiot. Surely, I act less foolishly than before, but the fact that I still act obliviously about other people’s feelings is a pain.

Ultimately I am a selfish person who wants to be of use for all around me.

You could say that I still have an open wound from KimiNozo, and that wound most likely will stay there until the end of my days. It’s a wound I can’t really heal myself from alone. KimiNozo thus carries huge amount of memories for me just from watching it, but there’s a one particular memory that still hurts me, because KimiNozo once hurt a person close to me. Thou that person is still close to my heart, she’s only a friend nowadays, a good friend at that I would not want to lose.

Just hearing the music of the series make me teary eyed, and sqeamish. A friend of mine remembers me being a total ruin for a half year or so. We’ve both agreed that without KimiNozo I wouldn’t be the person I am today. The story had something that struck me down and struck me hard. It’s a love story, and story that I regard high in value. Without a question, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is my favouite series.

There’s one more thing I learned in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien; sometimes, to love is to let go.

First time when I saw KimiNozo I was divided by the ending in two. It basically broke me down and it took me a long time to think through whether or not the ending was good. To put it more clearly, only few years ago I decided that the ending was the one I wanted. I rewatched the series while writing this post, and this was the first time I could watch it completely without much trouble. That would be thanks to Muv-Luv.

The ending wasn’t as melancholic as I remembered; it was not as crushing as I remembered. Watching it all again made me realize that the ending, after it all, is a happy ending; Haruka realizes her dreams, fights to make it atop the hill, and meets her friends for the first time in years. After all this time I had somehow managed to miss this small and yet the most important detail in the whole story. A weight of nine years was lifted from my shoulders.

Still, this is the first story to ever make me crumble to pieces. I love the characters, flawed as they may, I love the sombreness of it all and the feeling when it all ends. Loving it would be a wrong word, but there is no real way to convey what I feel properly. To me, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien is important. It’s something I want to keep remembering and mirroring my past and current self unto.

And it has a sequel of sorts. With giant robots. and aliens.

You may imagine the FURY I had. I couldn’t understand why would âge create a story with goddamn aliens and giant robots in the same world as KimiNozo. It was like a sledgehammer had fallen to my head. I denied the very existence of it completely. For years I dropped following âge completely. I wanted to stay true to KimiNozo, and I did. I’m a stubborn man if you hadn’t noticed yet.

Two years ago the sequel was translated. People jumped the ship and read the Visual Novels. Back then I passed it off as bunch raving loonatics who couldn’t understand a good story even if stepped unto them like Godzilla.

But before that, let’s talk about a side story known as Akane Maniax, which serves as the bridge between KimiNozo and Muv-Luv. It’s a tale about Gohda Jouji, a man with a soul of fire. He became âge’s gag character practically in every title he is in and at times transforms into Tekkuman Blade. The OVA based on the Visual Novel is three episodes long and tells the story pretty well. The thing that really irks me is the fact that how I loathe it. Well, more accurately I loathed it. I rewatched it after reading Muv-Luv and watching KimiNozo, and found it highly amusing mix of KimiNozo’s strong, serious feelings and the over the top comedy of Muv-Luv Extra. It soon begins at the end of KimiNozo, and ends at 22nd of October 2001, where Mitsurugi Meiya forcibly takes Jouji’s seat next to one named Shirogane Takeru. Jouji either becomes Tekkuman Blade, or gets transferred to another school.

Passing the torch

As stated, I hated the idea of aliens, giant robots or even comedy in my KimiNozo, thus swept everything under the rug that I didn’t want to see and told myself that they were shit and never could stand to the quality that is KimiNozo.

Jesus Christ I’m glad I was wrong as anyone can ever be anywhere in this existence or in any other.

SUMIKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

About three weeks ago the kind bunch of anonymous at an image board of a fourth kind with mechanical tendencies convinced me to give a go with Muv-Luv, explaining that there is a thing that keeps so-called Extra-verse where KimiNozo and Extra-part of Muv-Luv separate from the world of aliens and robots. With this, I ventured in with only two or three spoilers. Oh god I was not preraped to go it all through again, not like this.

All rights to original owners, and thanks to the anon who made this

Muv-Luv is not really a sequel to Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. It takes place in the same world, in the same city but few years later after Haruka’s accident. Muv-Luv is separated in three parts; Extra, Unlimited and Alternative. There is an epilogue, but I’ll get into it much later. Some characters appear in Muv-Luv’s Extra, mainly Akane. Thanks to an imbecile named Jouji Gouda, she got over the events of KimiNozo and doing pretty well. Later, some other KimiNozo characters are to appear… but differently.

From now on you’ll excuse me. I will most likely sound a raving fanboy and all that. What I want to through here isn’t a synopsis of the novel or a review, but my own personal experience with Muv-Luv. It was something that I couldn’t stop, it’s something that almost tortured me, something that broke me down, made me question my own believes and ultimately gave me realizations and a resolution I’ve been seeking for.

For my own sake, I’ll be going through each of the three episodes one by one.

Welcome to Extra; enjoy your stay. You’ll want to come back soon

Muv-Luv Extra begins with a slice of life comedy, contrasting directly to the somber tone of KimiNozo in pretty much every way. The main character, Shirogane Takeru, has a childhood friend and girl-next-door Kagami Sumika. Sumika has a habbit to run through the Shirogane household and wake Takeru up. Otherwise he’d be late for school. Sumika could be described as your-of-the-mill energetic high-school girl with small violent tendencies and strong wish to be with Takeru ’til the end of times. The reader can clearly see where this is all going from this, but then it was the 22nd of October 2001 one morning.

It’s my dream as well to wake up next to a woman with GP02 head. Wait no it isn’t. Not that I wouldn’t mind…

During that morning, Sumika finds Takeru waking next to a mysterious blue haired woman named Mitsurugi Meiya, the sole daughter of Mitsurugi and the one who shall inhert the most powerful corporation in Japan. NOW you can see where this is going.

Muv-Luv Extra does not only begin with a high and fun note, but keeps it up all the time. Meiya’s personality is very dignified and she thinks everything can be solved with money and power. Her status is very and so is her attitude towards everything. Meiya’s is noble to the heart and bears strong believes and convictions. There are slew of other characters as well that are close to Takeru, either romantically or just as friends. As per Visual Novel standard, you can take pretty much any of these characters to bed. How the story goes, the reader is encouraged to read all the routes through for better understanding of events and characters. However, the two main heroines are the main focus, and finishing both Meiya’s and Sumika’s routes open the next part of Muv-Luv; Unlimited.

Extra continues on with high-school shenigans all around with overblown comedy scenes here and there. Takeru’s a gamer-extraordinaire in an arcade game called Valgern-ON, which is by all intents and purposes a Virtual-On expy of the series. The arcade machine has a cockpit where the player sits in and plays the game like he was really piloting it. Takeru always keeps rivaling with his friend, Mikoto Yoroi. Mikoto’s gender is open for question for now and we might never know if Mikoto’s a boy or a girl. In one scene Meiya’s wishes to learn to play Valgern-ON in order to get closer to Takeru, and they play 2-on-2 game which both sides find rather entertaining. Then there’s a sports arc where Takeru has to maintain a team of lacrosse players mainly consisting of newbies. Tensions are even more tight, words are thrown around and people are getting mad at each other… and Sumika’s a klutz.

The class rep. is Sakaki Chizuru, a little uptight girl who has had a hard life, and who’s small light in life is soon going to be taken away as the lacrosse club in the school is going to be shut down due to disinterest. Even then she’s a strong person who cares for people, even is she doesn’t show it. Her direct opposite in the story is Ayamine Kei, a Rei Ayanami clone. She’s silent, direct, playful and incredebly good at close combat in every part of the story.

Then there’s always the classic “mascot” of the bunch, Tamase Miki. She’s an upbeat, short and pink-haired girl who looks and acts like a cat most of the times, but excels greatly in archery. She’s always bringing something happier to everyone’s lives. They all have their own routes in the story if the reader wants to advance romantically with them as per Visual Novel standards. It would be a good idea to walk through these for more insight they give for each character and to their nature. Muv-Luv has one thing that will make you come back to them later on.

From 6 onwards clockwise, it’s Sakaki Chizuru, Kashiwagi Haruko (a true fembro), Yoroi Mikoto of unknown gender, Ayamine Kei the sly Rei clone done right, Mitsurugi Meiya and the one I fell on love, Kagami Sumika

There’s also these two teachers, Kouzuki Yuuko and Jinguuji Marimo. Yuuko makes Marimo wear Morrigan-like cosplay at times and emotionally tortures her as best friends should. Whereas Yuuko is an insane genious with theories about quantum causality theories she got from a PS2 game while Marimo’s kind and sofhearted teacher. She’s actually a good teacher, but her constitution isn’t really that up to her. They both support Takeru in their own way, and Yuuko even has a route of her own.

Just remembering how it all went down makes me feel a bit uneasy, knowing what’s coming after.

Towards the ending there’s the ‘compulsory’ hot spring / onsen arc, where Sumika shows her feelings towards Takeru. The scene is soft and romantic and delivers Sumika’s feelings to the reader quite well, and makes one wonder his selected options again.

Up until this scene my main choice was Meiya. Sumika’s a strong girl, the one who knows to survive anything that’s thrown at her. Meiya felt like a person who would need someone to love her. This scene is where Sumika threw her feelings at Takeru, at the reader, at me. This was the point where I stopped thinking in a manner “who would need me most” and started to think “who I really love.”

Extra might be rather generic at points, but it’s well written and conveys all the characters well. All of its intentions is to make the reader get into the core personality of the characters, to care what happens to them and basically fall in love with them. I couldn’t let myself go for Meiya after all, and decided to stick true to my own feelings and chose to follow the road that lead to Sumika.

And how it did with it all. Extra’s an integral part of Muv-Luv as it sets everything that is going to come afterwards. It’s a happy slice of life that captivates the reader long enough.

Extra leaves a warm feeling after it has ended.

If you have any intentions of reading Muv-Luv, then stop here right now. I think spoiling Extra even to this extend has an impact, but for any further spoiling will be fatal.

Then, one morning Takeru wakes up and wonders why isn’t Sumika barging in and taking names again. School’s going to start soon. When he goes out, the only thing he sees is devastation, empty and crumbled houses… with a giant robot on top of what’s left of Sumika’s house next door.

Welcome to Unlimited.

Muv-Luv Unlimited comes in the same package as Muv-Luv Extra, simply branded as Muv-Luv. However, they’re treated as two separate entities most of the time.

Takeru decides that’s his dreaming; after all, giant robots are obsession of all healthy teenage boys. He promptly walks towards Hakuryo school, which seems to have changed into a military base. At this time he’s strained and detained, and then thrown into detention cell block. There he slowly starts to realize that something’s wrong, really wrong. Then, Professor Kouzuki Yuuko comes to him, releases from his cell and discusses the possibilities from where Takeru has come from. By all logic, they come to an conclusion that Takeru’s from another world.

In this world history has taken another path, and final straw was the extra-terrestrial enemy known as the BETA, or Being of Extraterrestrial origin which are Adversary to humanity. The BETA have decimated the human population to mere one billion from six and ravage the lands so that not even grass grows where they live. Unlimited portrays the desperate struggle against the BETA in most effective way; you do not see the conflicts or the enemy, but you will feel the effects. The strongest weapon the BETA has to them is their sheer insane amount of numbers behind them. The BETA… well, we’ll get to them later on. Unlimited in the end is the second part of Muv-Luv. Here begins Takeru’s growth, and to what he has to be.

Unlimited brings back most of characters you met in Extra, in a whole different world. Here they have grown in a world of war and destruction; serving in the military for their nation and mankind itself is crystal clear. To defeat the BETA is to save mankind. There is no middle line. All the core personalities are there, but they have small changes all around. Meiya for example doesn’t act all that high anymore, and is far more rooted to the ground, understanding “the commoner.” Her ideals and believes are even stronger, and that’s not just because the world is going even more bonkers. Or rather, the world has no hope, literally.

You wouldn’t notice it right away, as Takeru’s very existence contradicts a lot about the world around him. He’s sloppy, talks in a strange manner, has interests that nobody knows about, and generally being one of the few men around.

The one thing I would (not) want to see when waking up for school

Takeru wants to join the cadets of the Hakuryo Military base in order to pilot some goddamn giant robots. Who wouldn’t!? Well, knowing what the world is like…

Personally I got some nice flashbacks and memories from those five days in army. While Extra didn’t really bring up any memories or the like at first, Unlimited did; the schedules, the strict rules, all of it. It was fun and I felt that it mattered to an extent that I was there, even though I acknowledged that there’s not much that I can do just as a soldier; I need to be higher and be used by the higher people in order to become their equel and use them to complete my own goals. However, there’s no need for that in this world yet, we aren’t in war with anybody at the moment, and I hope from my heart that it will stay so.

But Unlimited. Compared to the Extra’s wacky high-school comedy shenigans, Unlimited is more akin to “cadets in high-school with militaristic overtones” setting. There’s a huge change in the atmosphere in between Extra and Unlimited, and it keeps pressing the reader the further one reads Unlimited.

There’s an island arc where the cadet team is sent to their final test whether or not they can become one of the Eishi, pilots of the Tactical Surface Fighter, or TSF for short. Actually, this is the second time this particular cadet team is taking it. The first time around they failed it. Without much of Takeru’s assistance, they somehow manage to survive the ordeal and began their TSF training with simulators in full fledged pilot suits.

I know what you’re all thinking about, but I assure you that it’s not. The suits are form of powered armour that gives greater resistance, protect from external physical traumas. The they’re like that is to get rid of personal shame and all that, as in the frontlines there’s no room for privacy; men and women are to share are places without a second thought. In design and by use this is one of the nicest looking pilot suit out there. Function follows a form a bit, but it doesn’t let it lack. Ultimately it fills the in-universe needs completely.

And yes, the men get exact same suits. The transparent membrane is also cheaper to produce than coloured one. Cuttings costs in a world where the only real economy is in war machines this kind of thing is expected. All the food is artificial in the world. While some things are stil lacking when compared to Extra-verse, Unlimited has some really neat technology, mostly thanks to BETA and the war against them.

As I said, Unlimited brings most of the characters from Extra to this other world. A certain human called Kagami Sumika does not exist in this world. However, there exists a girl named Yashiro Kasumi, a Russian ESP user from Alternative III. The Alternative projects are a plans to understand and go against the BETA. All Alternative Plans from I to III are failures, and Alternative IV is what’s left of III. Russian albino psychic loli girls, anyone?

Whereas Sumika is love incarnate, Kasumi’s cute incarnate

Yuuko worked on Alternative IV with Kasumi, and Takeru wanted to become an awesome pilot to stop the destruction of mankind. 24th of Decemember, the colonel of Yokohama base told the new Eishi that Alternative IV was cancelled, and Alternative V was to step into action; to choose handful of surviving human and send them to space for an interstellar travel towards another planet, which may or may not exist.

In all regards, Unlimited’s Meiya route ends in two ways, and only the other one is slightly more happier. To me, the ending was about Takeru and Meiya switching each other places in one of those space vessels, until they decide that it is Meiya who should go. In the end, Meiya gives Takeru a child in that faraway planet, telling her tales of her courageous father fighting the BETA in a world that used to be her home. Howeber, the second part of Alternative V is to bombard the Earth with G-Bombs, making it practically a dead rock with salt seas instead of oceans in most places. People living in close contact to each other, riots, murders and everything that could ever go wrong when the world in ending happens. Then there’s the remnant BETA forces that keep destroying the last of humanity’s homes, and there’s very little what UN or anyone can do at this point.

To say the least, Unlimited ends in a desperate note. There’s very little that gives actual hope for survival, just the small glimpse of humanity’s life on another planet, on another world. Takeru is willing to defend alone this planet for the true love he has found.

Unlimited asked me to think what I think my position in life, and to an even more extend what I can do, what I’m capable of. It begged me to ask again Who am I? The answer I gave was “A man who can cry.”

In the end, there’s always Alternative

The second you see that, you realize that Alternative is something not to take lightly. Long has gone the pink logo, high-school antics and bubbly music. Extra and Unlimited laid down the base that is Alternative. The name itself should tell you what to expect, and I’d say forget it all. This episode is where the nature of the world steps towards you without a second thought, looks at you and punches you in the gut while grinning. It is raw, grotesque, violent, realistic, warm, loving, brave and proud.

Alternative begins on October 22nd 2001 when Takeru wakes up in his home for school, noting that Sumika’s not there to wake him up. He enjoys thae fact that all of Unlimited has been a dream… until he steps outside to the vasteland that is his hometown.

Naturally, Takeru feels that something’s strange. He walks to the military base again, and the guards once more start ti pin him down. However, this time Takeru isn’t the weak himself, he has served in the militray past three years according to his memories and seen the devastation the world will see because of Alternative V, and thus puts up a nice fight against the guards to the point they draw their gun at him. They call for Yuuko, and Takeru manages to convince her to listen. During their talk Takeru tells what kind of world he comes from… from what two kind of worlds he comes from; one that he was born in, the world of peace, and the world ravaged by BETA and G-Bombs in the future. He wants to save the mankind and he needs Yuuko’s help in order to complete Alternative IV so that Alternative V never takes off.

This is where Alternative begins, where the second core of Muv-Luv lies; in the desperate struggle against time, humanity, BETA and life itself. Takeru is adamant about saving the world from its destined future, but first of all he has to make sure that he and the other cadets graduate before they did last time. Takeru has to meet everyone again; Shizuru, Kei, Meiya, Mikoto, Miki, Marimo and Meiya. Takeru’s training makes it all worth it this time and he is cadet-extraordinaire, successing in everything he does. While he thinks this might damage the morale of the group, his competence and will inspires people around him to think why they are there, and to push themselves to their limits and beyond.

At one point Takeru travels to his original world with Yuuko’s help in order to fetch a theory that helps in the completion of Alternative IV’s most important component; the 00 Unit. Takeru being the causality conductor he can do that. He is the one that connects the worlds together. With Yuuko, Takeru’s going to save the world and destroy whatever made him the causality conductor in order to return to his world.

Takeru manages to make them all graduate earlier than before, and his aptitude test to become an Eishi is top in the whole world history… just like last time. Here starts what he can; Takeru’s an excellent pilot, but an Eishi, not yet. At one point he wants Yuuko to modify the OS (Operating System, like Windows and so on) to make it far more effective and more like the Valgern-ON arcade game. In other words; to make piloting a giant robot easy.

There is an event where the squad is equipped with the experimental OS against live enemies, rebels of sorts. Here, the Grand Shogun appears and Takeru is the one who is trusted with her health. Becauce of Takeru’s manouvers and the TSF’s movements she soon looses her consciusness. This prompts his superior to give him a direct order to administer a drug that could take the Grand Shogun’s life. He is hesitant, even if he has made his decree to save the world no matter what. Takeru questions his convictions if he can’t sacrifice even one person for the good of all humanity.

Theories that he and Yuuko with bunch of engineers in use are proved against real-life aces that have survived in the frontlines against the BETA. Even the ace’s are impressed about the new OS, and one even offers some sexual action, that Takeru refuses.

At this point, Takeru is filled with hope, filled with courage and want to save all those around him. With this new OS and better machines, he can do it, he save them all!

In the middle of the training exercise, the BETA attack the battlefield. None of the soldiers in their TSF’s have real weapons, only paintballs and such. Takeru looses it completely and starts shooting the BETA with with peaguns of paint. He is struck down and almost dies if it was not for Captain Isumi.

Afterwards, Takeru is devistated; all of his work, all of his talent and will couldn’t be of any use. He shattered before the real enemy for the first time, he lost it just by seeing a BETA. Marimo comes to talk to him, tells him about her past and what an Eishi should strife for. Takeru feels a lot better when talking to her.

Even if I knew of this scene beforehand to an extent, I wasn’t prepared for it. It struck me deep and hard. Without a doubt I trembled, I vividly remember my hands shaking and I couldn’t stop them. This, if anything, is a turning point in Alternative that assured the reader that from now on nothing will be easy, no goal is achived without a sacrifice and stained blood. The reader at this point acts like Takeru does; he runs away. There was few morning when I woke up to Sumika waking me in my dream, then another morning where Kasumi woke up, and morning where I woke up in cold sweat to bone gnawing sound and deep stretching and cracking of flesh. Alongside with the sound CODE 991 alarm sound. It’s a sound I do not wish to hear anywhere in this real world ever again. Even during the week I was startled by a sound of an alarm clock and associated it with BETA. Even the sound of people scuttling around made me uneasy.

Takeru is collapses completely, becomes catatonic for a while due to psychosis, drugs and trauma. After he wakes up in his quarters, Meiya comes to concolate him, but Takeru in all of his anger almost rapes him. Meiya offers her body to him if it were to help, but Takeru manages to pull himself together a bit and runs away.

He wants to go home, to the peaceful world he came from and forget everything that has ever happened. Yuuko agrees and sends him to the place where he wants to escape. From this moment a world known as Extra Branch is born, where Takeru’s own selfish nature and him running away from his problems kills a person close to him and… hurts the person she loves the most in far more ways than one.

Takeru hears from Teacher Yuuko that it is because he is the causality conductor, and the only way to revert everything that has happened is to find what made him the causality conductor and destroy it. As long as Takeru would live in this world he would allow memories of other world flow into this one and cause events to happen that would never occur otherwise. In essence, Takeru is the BETA of his own home world, bringing pain and suffering from the other world he has lived in. There are two ways; to end his life there, or to return to the other world, save the mankind and find whatever made him the causality conductor.

Takeru has no choice. He returns to the other world and begs this world’s Yuuko to let him help to finish the Alternative IV and save whatever he can. Seeing the person he loved most hurt opened his eyes and he found a resolution to finish it all, even if was to stain his hands in blood. Lucky for him, during the week he was absent the 00 Unit was completed.

In this world a girl named Kagami Sumika did not exist. Only her remains, a brain in a glass case that Takeru had always seen when visiting Kasumi. Sumika’s part is a painful and traumatic one, filled with hatred towards the BETA and what they did to her and this world’s real Takeru. 00 Unit is essentially a quantum computer in a body that resembles human… with a quatified human persona in it. The theory Takeru brought back earlier let Yuuko to kill of what was left of Kagami Sumika and create 00 Unit. In essence, Takeru’s hands are stained in the blood of the one he never wished to hurt, the one he always truly loved… and he never realized that she was this close, even if it is some other world’s Sumika, she’s always Sumika.

00 Unit is almost catatonic, and only few times react to anything, but with Takeru she becomes unstable and replies with strong intent of killing of BETA. It is up to Takeru to bring out the humanity in her, to bring forth all that is Kagami Sumika. In few days Takeru manages to draw Sumika more and more out of her shell, making the 00 Unit more human. She acknowledges that she is not what you would call human; body of artificial origin, brain of silicon and inner structure of BETA materials. She may have the softness and warmth of a human, but she’s far more than that. Takeru manages to stabilize Sumika to the point she recognizes the world and him. 00 Unit is ready for her first mission in XG-70 ‘Susano’o.’

Takeru and his squadmates are joined the Isumi’s Valkyries far before any of this happen. Well, just before Takeru runs away. Captain Isumi is a woman who I admire in every respect. Without her help Takeru would’ve stayed as an innocent brat. Captain made him realize few facts about what he needs to do. The motto of Valkyries is not to be understated, especially in this world.

“ Complete your mission with all your might

Despair not ’till your last breath

Do not die in vain “

This motto is something I believe in. These words are strong, and hold a meaning of what it means to be one of the Valkyries. I can’t help myself but to think of those five days where I found part of the resolution I came to have during Alternative.

Enter Sadogashima. Welcome to place where hell reigns. Begin mission to eradicate a BETA Hive that has threatened Japan to this day.

Sadogashima is a cruel arc that shows all that has come up to this point in Takeru’s life. He has to use all of his experience and might to overcome the BETA here. The enemy is in tens of thousands, literally. Even when this mission officially is co-operation between the UN, Japanese Army and American forces, the true reason is to test the Alternative IV’s 00 Unit in the field.

When the 00 Unit and Susano’o enter the battlefield, there’s little hope around. In one miraclous flash Susano’o wipes out massive amounts of BETA and decimates the upper structure of the Hive in one blast. Susano’o is the trump card humanity is relying on alongside 00 Unit. Here, Takeru has a flashback from Unlimited where he and Meiya shared their bodies in love. One of Sumika’s powers as 00 Unit is ESP much like Kasumi’s. She tries to be conscious of Takeru all the time on the battlefield and reads every thought and emotion he has. Seeing him having sex with another woman makes her collapse, Susano’o along with her.

The battle turns for the worst. Immense amount of BETA are attacking the human forces from underground tunnels. Takeru has to retrieve Sumika from Susano’o, and the Captain has to make the machine self-destruct. Things turn for the worse, when one of the Valkyries get damaged and stays behind to support Captain, who can’t engage the self-destruct sequence. This Valkyrie, Kashiwagi, dies in the hands and teeth of the BETA. Isumi makes the Susano’o self-destruct by force.

Without a doubt, Captain and her words to the Valkyries during her final moments were carved into my mind. Just as Takeru clenches his teeth, I realized that I would do anything to protect those who I love. I had gained a resolution to protect smiles of those whom I don’t know, the laughs of that I can’t hear. It sounds idealistic, but in this world there’s few deeds that anyone can do to protect those people he loves most. I’ve decided to join the army no matter the condition I am in, to guard over the freedom my friends may enjoy if it ever were threatened. Freedom is a fragile thing that can be lost so easily. In this current world there are people who would like to lose their freedom in order to live a secure and controlled life. Perhaps I’m one of those people to an extent, but I admit it. I want to see how far I can take myself in the service, how long I can make it.

After the mission Sumika is introduced rest of the crew. By all means she is now Kagami Sumika rather than just 00 Unit. She seems a bit uneasy with all these people she is with now, but that’s understandable due to the situation at hand. During the introductions Takeru gets flashbacks from his past, multiple of his past. At this point it comes clear that this isn’t the first time Takeru has looped back in time, but he has indeed looped numerous times, and these flashbacks of the other girls are from those different timelines, and due to him being the causality conductor these memories also flood to his squadmates memories.

In the end, Takeru mans up and confesses his feelings to distressed Sumika. Finally, the very thing Takeru has been fighting for and this world’s Sumika can achieve… and Sumika turns Takeru down. Ultimately, she tells hims that he bother her, his a distraction from her mission and that Takeru isn’t needed anymore. Sumika has already finished making preparations for Takeru’s transfer out of Yokohama base somewhere where he should stay safe. Sumika leaves broken Takeru On That Hill, until Meiya comes up there. Takeru tells her everything, and Meiya tells him that Sumika was runnin past her with a face filled with tears. At that moment, with Meiya’s help, Takeru realizes that Sumika’s Sumika; she always does and says differently what she really wants. The following day he confronts Sumika again and makes everything clear; after that they’re through. Whatever it is Sumika’s hiding won’t make him stop loving her, nothing could.

What Sumika tells and shows Takeru in this scene was shocking. The BETA had caught hundreds of humans and slowly took them away, until only this world’s Takeru was to defend Sumika… and he was killed in the most gruesome way he could see. And what they did to Sumika made me feel sick. It’s something that I never wanted her to experience. Just like Takeru, I felt my stomache turn, but after the scene I wanted to hold her in my arms and loved her even more.

Whatever she said, whatever they did to her didn’t matter. She’s here and now, that’s all what matters.

The following night is the night Sumika becomes one with the man she has always loved, the one she has always longed for.

The happiness did not last long, as the remnant BETA from the destroyed Sadogashima Hive are attacking the base with full force. The fight is long and hard, and things get worse when the military realizes that the BETA are using human tactics against them, something that they have never done before. This proves that the BETA can think tacticfully, but have never shown this before. The Valkyries are the final line of defence against th BETA, as they ram their way inside the bottom of the base where a BETA reactor still fucntion for various purposes, least of which is keeping Sumika alive. At this time, two of the Valkyries sacrifice their lives for other to live; Suzumiya Haruka and Hayase Mitsuki.

To see them in this world at first was a nostalgic scene, but to see them die in the hands of enemies like this struck me hard. Haruka is killed violently by a BETA warrior while she was trying to shut down the BETA reactor. Hayase sacrifices herself to destroy the reactor. Since Takeru’s return, and even before that, death and sorrow has been a constant partner to the reader. âge has been punching my buttons before, but this time they’re using a sledgehammer to break me down. It’s not just the deaths, it’s the absolute despair of it all.

Soon after Hayase’s noble deed he is put into sleep. All of his squadron has been fighting almost a day straight, and with that one pill they can get rest.

Upon Takeru’s awakening, he is now Storm Vanguard 01, the leader of Isumi’s Valkyries. While there’s little they can do, they check their TSF’s condition and stand-by for orders, but they can’t just stand there doing nothing. By Takeru’s command, the Valkyries are to help with food distribution for the wounded. Takeru takes it all as the one who has the responsibility and he knows it.

Because of the recent attack one thing has become devastatingly clear; the BETA reactor was not only the thing powering part of the Yokohama base, but also a BETA computer that spread information onwards to the Original Hive. This means that less than in three days the Original Hive will have all knowledge of mankind’s strategies and tactics due to Sumika’s “blood” being purified by it. Soon BETA would know everything and more. Yuuko starts to prepare fast launch of the Operation Ouka; an all-out assault to the Original Hive with almost-completed XG-40d Susano’o 4 spearheading the attack against the Main Objective with Valkyries serving their role as the protectors.

âge made put a day of comedy and love here. It’s something every reader needs before the ascencion to the Original Hive.

Yuuko’s plan is to send the Valkyries in the core of the Hive alone. All other forces that are to join would only slow them down. The Royal Guard that has been looking over Meiya and the Grand Shogun decide to give their own TSF’s for the Valkyries use, as their own machines are completely bust after the BETA attack. These machines are from the very top of the line, specifically made for those who are one of the Royal House; the Takemikazuchi.

With these, the probability of achieving the object and destroying it rises, as does their chance of survival.

Takeru is to pilot the Susano’o with Kasumi and Sumika is serve as the the main computer for it. All other Valkyrie’s main and only objective is to protect them.

The Original Hive infiltration is a success thanks to the sacrifice of all soldiers send to their deaths alongside the Valkyries. Death takes its tolls inside and outside the Original Hive, and the Valkyries soon find their Main Objective; the Main Hall. They just need to pass two doors and be doen with it. However, the amount of BETA is something they didn’t expect, even if this was the Original Hive where all BETA on Earth originally came from. Chizuru and Ayamine are the first one to admit their feelings towards Takeru between each other, and sacrifice their lives to stop part of BETA invasion by triggering a cave-in with their selfdestruct devices.

They are followed by Miki, who has a damaged Takemikazuchi from earlier fight, and she stays put, sniping them one by one, until her unit is run over. Mikoto engages shut procedure of the first door after the Susano’o has passed it at the cost of her own life.

With Meiya’s help Takeru is face to face against the Main Objective, the which calls itself as Superior Existence. BETA do not see anything carbon based as a lifeform as per their creators’ programming, and see humanity as something to be recycled, a raw material. The Superior’s attacks halt the Susano’o, causes Sumika to regress back to her previous state and Kasumi to lose control of her own self. The Superior speaks to Takeru through both of them, learning of humanity and of him, as does Takeru. One of the most staggering thing he hears is taht the Creators are a silicon based species, and that there are 10^37 Superior Existances in the this Universe. Meiya soon arrives to help Takeru, but struck down and forced to be become shield against Susano’o’s Particle Cannon. The Superior begins to probe Meiya’s body as BETA did with Sumika, forcing her hand and mind into regions she never wished to go. She pleades Takeru to shoot, to end it all in one shot. The catatonic Sumika slowly awakens as Takeru’s own mind is starting to crumble a bit, until Sumika pulls everything she can into one moment where all powers are restored only to Takeru to pull the trigger, ending a life she valued so highly of… and saving the mankind.

” I could not give you my love, thus I give you my life “

This song, the Flame of Life, is my the song I stand by. It’s a sad song, a sad march for all those who have died and potrays the ultimate sacrifice one can give for others to live on. All of the Valkyries stood by their believes to protect those they loved the most, to protect the one person closes to their hearts.

The Original Hive is destroyed, the Superior Existence no longer exists on Earth and Takeru with Kasumi and Sumika are the only ones that managed to escape with Susano’o’s escape shuttle.

Upon waking inside the shuttle Kasumi informs of Takeru that the mission was successful. The Superior Existence is dead. She tells that Takeru can now return his own world that the thing that made him the causality conductor no longer exists. She tells Takeru that Sumika, the 00 Unit, is no longer with him. Sumika had given her all for Takeru to survive, so that he could go back to his world. Sumika shown Kasumi that it was her own will that made Takeru the causality conductor. The very core of her when she was just brain only longed to see Takeru. The purest form of subconscious and the will to trigger causality pulled Takeru’s of various realities to this world in 22nd of October 2001, and she was the one that caused Takeru to loop every time he had died. It was Sumika’s will to see him alive and hold him in her arms again. All this ceased to be when Sumika finally became one with Takeru that one night, the night where 00 Unit was not more and Kagami Sumika was born again in this world.

Takeru asks Kasumi to lock the shuttle doors for five minutes, he asks five minutes where he can be Shirogane Takeru and cry not just for Sumika, but all of that have lost their lives today for him, the Valkyries. In those five minutes he lets himself to be human once more rather than the saviour of all mankind. After that he will greet every person outside with a smile of an Eishi, proudly carrying the weight of the Valkyries and everything he has done to achieve this moment.

Even if Takeru wants to stay in his world and fight the remaining BETAs, there is nothing to keep him in this world anymore. The memory of Shirogane Takeru will be lost from all men in this world, except from the memories of Kasumi and Yuuko, who both will take these secrets to their graves. Nobody will ever remember the name of Shirogane Takeru or the members of the Valkyries, there will never be a person to know what has taken place and what was done in order to humanity to survive.

As Takeru starts to fade back to his own world, Kasumi tells her feelings over the whiteness that overcomes.

The story of Muv-Luv is about love and courage, to the point where one has to stain his hands in order to save something larger than oneself. It’s about a love that could be never given. It’s about untold sacrifices made for us and about those brave souls that did them. With this the story of Muv-Luv comes to an end. A sad end with a bright future filled with tears.

After Alternative there starts a small epilogue called Final Extra. This is the world where Takeru returned to. He holds no memories what has come to pass. As the cause of causality conductor has ceased to exist, all the damage he has done are reverted in all the worlds.

Final Extra begins on 22nd of October 2001, where Takeru wakes next to an unknown blue haired girl, and Sumika rushes to wake him up. Everything seems to play like in Extra, but here Mikoto is clearly a girl… and Mitsurugi Yuuhi, Meiya’s older twin sister, is alive.

There is also one person who did not exist in Extra, and that one person is Yashiro Kasumi.

She comes up to Takeru and Sumika, thanking them both of all what they have done and bursts in tears. With this, all those who have died in the war against BETA will always live on in another world, if only in the memories of two people. From this moment on, the bratty saviour and all of his Valkyries may live in this world peacefully until the end of their days.

As you might’ve noticed, KimiNozo had a great influence on my emotions and view of life’s cruelty. It woke me from my state of sort of self-pity and made me realize that even to me there is love and closeness by. Even if during the last year I’ve returned to the mind-setting of “there’s nobody for me, I’m good as a servant to all” it’s far different from what I was like ten years ago. With Muv-Luv I realized that if I want to become servant to all, I mustn’t be afraid of what lies ahead. Indeed army service might not be the ideal solution for that, but it is something that I want to go through. It is something that I feel I can do for those I want to protect, and that ultimately whatever the future holds it will serve me as well. Takeru’s conviction to make it through spoke to my own loyalty towards my loved ones, my friends and my country. I found matters that I want to defend, matters that I see in the films and books of Winter War. Perhaps it could be said that after Muv-Luv I’ve become a bit more patriotic. I found a sense of duty that I can do.

Indeed, the other thing I found in Muv-Luv is that I can do things with these two hands.

I discussion with during the Alternative arc with a teacher prompted me ask myself whether or not I realize that these hands of mine as skilled. For the first time in my life I was willing to admit that I am good at something, and the feeling has been growing steadily since that.

As I went through a journal of threads I kept as I travelled through Muv-Luv I noticed that few people mentioned me becoming and sounding more like Shirogane Takeru as time went by. Looking it back now I find myself having some of the same elements that build up Takeru. We both are joking assholes most of the time, always dense with other people’s feelings and passing important things by. However, when time calls it we both become serious and do what needs to be done. Some of the words and mindsets are the same. No doubt I become Shirogane Takeru in the story itself, and it affected me greatly. Now, outside the story, I wish something of him won’t ever leave my soul and mind, that I can always carry the burden he did with me so that it may drive me forwards. Is the love I feel towards Sumika real? Whether or not it’s real, it doesn’t matter that much. What matters the most is that I can say that I can love again.

There is something that I can do, there is something I must do. There is something that I want to do, even if it would mean to give my life for all those I love.

While writing this post during these last days I have gone through everything again in my mind from the beginning to the very end. Muv-Luv is my favourite piece of fiction with Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, and 生命の炎 / The Flame of Life has become me favourite piece of music, somber as it is. Every time I listen to this song I find myself become serious and my eyesight becomes less with the tears pushing through. There was times when I wanted to quit and tell myself “Muv-Luv’s too much work, quit here and pretend that the story had a happy end,” but I kept pushing myself forwards, bracing for the impacts that âge would deliver. Whatever I did I never was prepared. The story is well written and extremely well presented, and the passion from both original writers and from the translation team seeps through. Muv-Luv, much like KimiNozo, is an end-product that has been crafted will great care and love. The emotions it dugged up from deep within me will last long, of not until I die. It’s not nothing new that a fictional story affects one’s life so greatly, but to me Muv-Luv is something far larger than just a story. It’s a tale that I want to pass on to the future generations in some form, a story worth retelling to those that come after me.

I’m sure I’ve missed tons of details I wanted to go through and there’s bound to be countless of typing errors and grammar is bonkers. That doesn’t matter as long I managed to tell my own experience with this.

“What’s next?” I’ve been asking from myself. In the future I see nothing as usual, but now it glimmers and shines with hope. Slowly I’m overcoming matters of love that have been pressing me down during the last year. Perhaps somewhere in the days of tomorrow I can let myself fall in love again. Perhaps I can tackle my own skills and use them to create new things and sharpen these eyes even further. Perhaps I will one day stand in the line with fellow soldiers and vow to protect the nation I love so much; a country is nothing without its people, and people are the country. If it ever were to take place, I want to protect these people whom with I live.

We’re human and we hurt each other daily. We are human and we heal these wounds after every day. In the end, I want to see every person smiling and laughing. That is my selfish wish. It’s my own desire to let others go first, leaving me behind so I can support them. However, this wish denies my the chance to protect them. If I have to lose my own smile and laughter over others, I’d be glad to give them away. I believe that there is something good in all of us that wishes the same thing, something that makes us ‘human.’

The ground I stand by is my own principles and believes. These things keep me pushing on after every harship I face… and I was losing them before I read Muv-Luv. I can now stand again with sort of pride in my hands, and clearly say for once who I am. Idealistic view? Yes, very much so, but that’s who I am, and will always be.

There is a flame that burns inside of me brightly. I won’t let it die out ever again.

To end this post with a little brighter end, let’s listen to one more song, the song that serves both as the opening of Muv-Luv, and as the ending.

It’s been about two weeks when I started reading MuvLuv. Now it feels that everything’s just starting.

8.9.2012 Edit. if you enjoyed this post, be sure to read this as well.