Virtual-On Retrospective: A Certain Magical Virtual-On

Previous: MARZ

Kamachi Kazuma, a novelist for Dengeki Bunko most known for his A Certain Magical Index series was approached by Sega to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Virtual-On series with a novel. Their approach for Kamachi was to do a new sort of Virtual-On instead of just doing what had been done in the past, resulting in a cross-over novel. This was a sort of dream project for Kamachi, and at this point, it’s not longer just a dream, with A Certain Magical Virtual-On game released in early 2018.

A Certain Magical Index‘s first novel was released in April 2004, debuting Kazuma Kamachi as mainstream light novel writer, which also gained a popular animated series in 2008, and gets its third season in 2018. The series mainly takes place in a fictional city called Academy City, west from Tokyo, where science has advanced more than in the outside world. This city is of scientific marvels, making leaps and bounds to every which way. This means the city has constant testing of new technology and designs, including testing such things as weird soda drink flavours. The city is walled all around, protecting the valued assets and data, but also keeps other people out.

The most important project that’s running in Academy City is its espers. The city has around 2.3 million espers, all students who partake in Power Curriculum Program, which aims to attain one’s own Personal Reality in order to awaken esper powers. Personal Reality is essentially one’s own secular view on reality, able to affect the objective reality’s state through their own “power” to the system in microscale. Essentially an esper believes, if you will, that she can control electricity, and so she does. However, the Curriculum requires quite literal rewiring of the person’s brains through use of various drugs in all forms, various forms of hypnosis and suggestions, slight surgical manipulation of the brain, and different sensory deprivation methods. This rewiring effectively separates the students from reality, after which they may develop powers depending on their own reality. All these powers of course are not as potent as others, with some never manifesting any.

However, this is the science side of things, and the main story takes place in the magic side. Sorcerers mostly belong to different sects and religions of the world, and their magical power does not stem from being separated from the world, but rather from idol worship, where a system of rituals are prepared in order to invoke higher powers to grant supernatural effects on reality. This can range from creating golems to controlling wind with a tool. These are fundamentally different kind of power from that of an esper, and due to the sheer difference how the users’ are wired thanks to the Curriculum, an esper can’t use magic without physical trauma. Similarly, a sorcerer does not have access to espers’ powers, as they lack a Personal Reality.

Enter Kamijou Touma, the series’ main protagonist, who has the power to break down supernatural powers with his right hand. He has a rotten luck, which drops him into fights, causes him to lose money, or in one case, meet up with an English nun named Index, who is being chased. Due to circumstances, Touma is made Index’s companion, with the English church allowing him to accompany her despite the clear threat his right hand poses to them. Index is important asset to the world of magicians, as she holds Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a library of 103 000 forbidden books, in her head due to photographic memory and can recollect information from those pages. This places them both in a crossroad of events and situations, where both the world of science and magic collide with each other, often despite of them, sometimes because of their direct actions.

This is, of course, very short and spartan introduction to the A Certain Magical Index series’ world, as we need some context for A Certain Magical Virtual-On.

Continue reading “Virtual-On Retrospective: A Certain Magical Virtual-On”

Music of the Month; Radio Allergy

Welcome to 2018. I hope you’ll have fun. All things considered, last year wasn’t all that bad.

Looking down the year, and how I failed miserably to keep up a theme during last twelve months, I won’t be doing a monthly themed posts for now. Partially because single posts seem to do so much better when they’re not tied to anything. However, the usual stuff will return in more or less the same shape; Muv-Luv‘s TSF comparisons I’ve yet to cover (there are still few of them on the table), Guilty Gear character design comparisons (those always seem to do rather well) and the occasional mecha design thing, which will have no running theme or the like. Unless someone just pops in and gives me twelve points per theme to talk about. These aren’t New Year’s resolutions, I made none this year, but these are something you can look forwards.

However, looking at the reviews I’ve done, with some feedback from a poll I did a month back or so, it would seem that there is some demand for game reviews. However, these won’t be taking any precedence over other stuff (I still aim to do weird peripheral or other reviews if I can),  but I will review the more esoteric titles that may not see Western releases, like the upcoming A Certain Magical Virtual On. I actually got into the A Certain Magical Index/ Scientific Railgun series because of this upcoming Virtual On crossover, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised on its quality. I had a chance to try and observe how I went from not giving a single damn about the license to actively looking forward how things get combined. That’s a post on its own.

You may have noticed that the Top 5 of 2017 was filled with modern games as opposed to NES or SNES games, and I kinda expect this sort of trend to continue, at least for the first half of the year. There are numerous games coming out this year that I am interested in, and that new VO title really is the one I’m looking for the most. It should give me some material to discuss the differences in the series overall, as I aim to gain the PS2 SEGA Ages release of the first game as well as Virtual On Force. I guess that’s a series of posts on itself, and now that I think about it, I should start writing this series this month, so I can write about A Certain Magical Virtual On right after Oratorio Tangram, as that seems to be the most popular and well-known title in the series. Marz is pretty terrible, but just how terrible? Well, we’ll see.

Which leads to something I’ve been considering doing for a while now; moving slightly away from the writer persona while doing these posts and aiming to do few more personal things… like what I just said about the A Certain X series. That is not to say it’s being abandoned, but long time readers know how I’ve lamented the fact that me and the writer persona have become more or less the same thing. I probably will add a new tag to denote which post has been written from which point of view, but they should be clear. For example, if I were to write how hardback books are superior to paperbacks, that’s a completely subjective view and lacks the writer persona’s view. Whether or not this will cause the quality of the blog drop is another thing entirely, but it’s not like this blog has high standards to begin with, right? Not that these would become the main thing on the blog. Knowing me, I won’t even go through with this at all, but at least its out there.

As for the Digimon design evolution post that was supposed to come up last year, A9Doc hasn’t gotten around finishing it yet, probably due to sheer amount of examples and other stuff that he needs to go over and double-check. I should do one of these as well at some point, the subject is what I should decide on. The Metal Gear  posts are a great example of this sort of thing, so something similar that has a single running object being updated would be great. Something like the design evolution of Pikachu, if it wasn’t something bigger fans have already covered.

As for Muv-Luv, well, there really isn’t anything to go by. With ixtl taking charge of the Kickstarter, backers and fans can only cross their fingers and hope that nothing gets screwed up. I haven’t found enough good sources to comment on whether or not avex pictures acquiring ixtl/âge will be a good thing on the long run, but I’d argue we’ve already seen large shifts within ixtl, with things being rather silent, Kickstarter being taken over (I keep using taken over, because I guarantee you a company like Degica didn’t want to see others meddling in their affairs, even when ixtl is the rights owner) and the lacking news and such. Not that I can blame anyone in charge of these, Japanese corporate politics are such horseshit at times.

As for personal things that might matter for the blog, in some two to three months I’ll be finalising my career change, if all things go as they should. Due to me and my personal life not actually mattering jack shit, all I’ll be saying that depending on the workload and hours I’ll be putting into it, posts may decrease or increase. I keep saying variations of this, because things haven’t been exactly stable for me for number of years now, but maybe this year I’ll be able to have a job that doesn’t require me to screw with the timetables

All that said, have a good one and enjoy your day.