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(no subject) [Jan. 10th, 2014|04:18 pm]
I'm trying to put together a list of anime for a friend, and have been running into the same problem I always have when

asked for recommendations: Trying to narrow it down to the most appropriate.

First, the things everyone else has seen - These are mostly action shows.
Cowboy Bebop
Code Geass
Death Note
Full Metal Alchemist - There are two Full Metal Alchemist series, which have separate continuities.

Either one is fine.

Secondary recommendations for this list:
Darker than Black

The famous Movies:
Ghost in the Shell
Perfect Blue
The Girl who Leapt Through Time
Everything by Studio Ghibli
5 centimeters per second

Secondary Movie recommendations:
Wings of Honneamise
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Time of Eve

Some other popular shows that showcase a variety of anime:
Monster - Thriller/Mystery about a doctor chsaing a murderer around post-cold war Eastern Europe
Mushishi - Fantasy about a man who solves magical mysteries
Kamichu - Comedy/fantasy about a girl who becomes a god, but still has to go to school
Chihayafuru - Sports Drama/Romance
Kaiji - Gambling drama/Thriller
Gurren Lagann - Mecha, over the top action
Eureka Seven - Mecha, more serious drama (Child soldiers, ethnic cleansing)/action
Kare Kano - Romance, melodrama, angsty teenagers
Nana - Romance, melodrama, angsty young adults
Ouran High School Host Club - Comedy and Romance
K-On! - Light comedy

Secondary recommendations:
Cardcaptor Sakura - Magical Girl, focus on Drama/Romance
Heartcatch Precure - Magical Girl, focus on fighting
Macross - Serious Mecha/Scifi drama
Great Teacher Onizuka - Comedy Drama about a delinquent teacher
Ranma 1/2 - Martial Arts Comedy Action

Lasty, a few shows I am particularly fond of, but may not recommend to someone just starting out:
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
Casshern Sins
The Guyver
Turn A Gundam
Excel Saga
Hidamari Sketch
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Zero Escape [Jan. 9th, 2013|11:45 pm]
I'm a big fan of the Zero Escape series of Visual Novel/Adventure games, and, having just finished Virtue's Last Reward, I wanted to get some thoughts down.

999 was a great game that had a few technical problems. The greatness came from the writing more than anything else. The game is not very difficult and the puzzles are quite easy, but the great storyline and atmosphere that the game created overcame all that to make it a game I think people should play. My technical issues with the game can listed as follows:
1 - You cannot skip puzzles on the second playthrough.
2 - Even with massively increased text speed, getting through the novel sections again is a chore that takes too long.

Virtue's Last Reward fixes these issues with a function that lets you skip to any scene you have reached in the game's branching story at will. However, this very same function causes problems with the flow of the game. The original 999 had you make three major choices to reach an ending. Pick one of two doors, then one of three doors, then one of three doors again. Sure, there were plenty of variations, but what was behind each door was largely independent of the previous choices, except two combinations of choices which led to extra scenes after the third room was finished.

In VLR, however, the story branches out in such a way that previous choices always come into play, but the storyline remains similar each time. This has a couple of effects.
As a benefit, your choices feel more relevant to whatever the current situation is. Also, not having to repeat puzzles is a major lifesaver. Almost all my time in VLR was spent watching new dialogue or solving fresh puzzles, which is a vast improvement.
However, the way the flowchart is used breaks the flow of certain scenes. Some endings cannot be witnessed without first achieving other endings, so that the final ending you witness is the so-called "True Ending". Constantly running into TO BE CONTINUED screens makes for a disruptive experience, though. Unlike in 999, where each story ran from start to finish, you can easily witness the second act of one storyline, then the third act of a different storyline, and finally discover that you're stuck until you go back to the start and pick an entirely different first choice anyway.

It was still quite good, and very addictive once you got into it, but I do feel that 999 is the better game, even with its flaws. I will be very interested to hear my friend's experiences, since he's ended up playing them in reverse order. I think there may have been too many spoilers for him to fully appreciate the original game, but I hope he still enjoyed it.

I also eagerly await any announcement of a third game.

Edit: Also what the hell why didn't the UK release get dual audio when the US did? Even more bizarrely, the single audio we got was Japanese? I probably would have picked it anyway for the cast, but I do like having the option available.
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Starblazer Adventures [Dec. 4th, 2012|02:30 am]
Maybe it's time to post about our Thursday night roleplaying sessions. I haven't really done much roleplaying in the past year, so it was nice to start up a group, even if I am stuck being in charge. I kind of like running games, but I can only do it for so long before my interest inevitably wanes and I want to move on to something else.

So anyway, Starblazer is a setting based on a British sci-fi comic from the 80s. It's got a bit of an old-fashioned feel to it, a sort of Flash Gordon thing, but definitely mixed with a bit more of a 2000AD mentality. It was interesting to see that Grant Morrison of Animal Man and Doom Patrol fame getting his start in Starblazer, but that's all kind of irrelevant since I've never read the comics and am essentially running my own pulp setting.

Our heroes protagonists are:
Captain "Lightning" Rod Johnson - Space Academy Jock and all-round heroic individual, on the run after being framed for high treason by his own father, the legendary Admiral "Iron" Rod Johnson. Rod is an Ace pilot, a crack shot, and a man always ready with a quip for the occasion.
Subject 69 - An artificial human raised in a lab by the nefarious Nova Corporation to become a living weapon, Subject was rescued by Rod and is now discovering all about the outside world while protecting his new friends with his space kung-fu skills. It's anyone's guess how he'll turn out after hanging out with this crew of oddballs, however.
Doctor Quantum - Once a highly regarded member of the Fighting Scientists, Doc Quantum gave it all up to help Rod and Subject in their quest for truth and justice. A great believer in SCIENCE!, the Doc has a way with genetics as well as computers, although is frequently exasperated at the antics of the crew. A recent lab accident has unlocked his latent psychic abilities, although they have yet to prove their worth over more practical abilities, like the Doc's trusty Universal Scan-o-tron 9000.
Betty - Betty originally approached the group as a reporter covering their famous exploits, but unbeknownst to them, she is actually a fiction writer who bases her stories on the things the crew gets up to. Streetwise and good with words, Betty and her cybernetic monkey have proven an invaluable addition to a group otherwise lacking in tact and diplomacy.

The crew travel through space, solving mysteries and delivering cargo and have so far uncovered a plot by the neighbouring Xirconian Empire and the mad Dr Zeerust to sabotage a trade conference with a secret battle fortress, and stopped the attacks of a deadly psychic space vampire terrorising a small colony. Currently they are deep in the bowels of a Nova Corp facility, rescuing a group of missing orphans from unethical genetic experiments.
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Finally [Nov. 21st, 2012|08:50 pm]
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E3 [Jun. 6th, 2012|03:50 pm]
Taking advantage of the extended bank holiday, I watched the big three press conferences this year.

Microsoft had sequels to games I didn't care about the first time round, and apps and dashboard stuff that I still don't care about, and Usher, whose music I am not a fan of. Pretty lame stuff.

Sony had the new Quantic Dream game, which will definitely be worth playing, even if it will likely have flaws. And Sony Smash Brothers, which seems to be missing something. I think it needs items. The Last of Us could be good, but could easily be a scripted mess. I doubt I'll play it either way, but at least it's not a sequel. By the end of this conference it was pretty depressing how similar everything looked. The third person action adventure shooting genre is just so dull.

Nintendo managed to screw up. The Wii U game that looks most exciting, P-100 Project, wasn't shown at the conference. Ports of older games should not have got that much coverage. And Mass Effect 3 wtf. The Mass Effect Trilogy I could understand, but 3 only? Nintendoland looks quite fun, though, and Lego Grand Theft Auto looks quite entertaining. Another 2D Mario game, though? They'll undoubtedly be good, but I think I'm starting to get Mario fatigue. And the 3DS games were all announced last year, so nothing new there. Oh, and there was a glimpse of a 2D Mickey game.

I dunno, the whole thing so far has been a bit lame, although a few interesting things have turned up. Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 was a bit of a surprise. I'm not sure what they'll do with it, I'm kind of new to Dynasty Wariors games, but it could be fun. The Square Enix tech demo was very impressive, but I find it hard to get too excited about improved graphics any more. And there was that Watch Dogs game, which looked like Assassin's Creed set in the very near future, with "hacking" powers that might as well be magic. Could be cool, could be crap.

Good thing I have a backlog of games to finish, which I'll get right to as soon as I'm done with Xenoblade. I'm only 110 hours in so far.
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I learnt something today [May. 23rd, 2012|03:30 pm]

There are five types of fire.

Class A - Solids
Class B - Liquids
Class C - Gases
Class ZAP! - Electrics
Class F - Cooking Oil

Thank you for tuning in to the first installment in a new series.
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Finally! [May. 21st, 2012|09:09 pm]
I haven't been playing enough on Tenhou, but I finally reached Dan rank (again), and with it, access to the second lobby.

Image in hereCollapse )

I got scared for a second when I couldn't access it without paying, but then I remembered that the premium flash client only lets you into the unranked room unless you pay. The simple client works fine, though.

Anyway, 66 matches and I got enough points to get in. Decoding that image, I'm pretty happy with my play so far.
1st place = 0.303
2nd place = 0.287
3rd place = 0.227
4th place = 0.181

Which doesn't quite add up to 1, but oh well. Anyway, based on that I can see that not only have I been winning a lot, I've also got a decent number of second places, which is very important. Starting in this lobby, you get points for placing second, so it can really help. On the right it has my last 38 games as well, which goes back about 3 weeks. That's 11 1st places, 11 2nd places, 10 3rd places and 6 last places. Coming last about half as often as everything else? That's fine by me.

I've got better at abandoning hands. I've finally trained myself to throw away tenpai when I need to, and holding on to a safe pair to discard later, even if it disrupts a tanyao or pinfu hand, is something I think about. While I still adore tanyao pinfu, it's no longer my goal in every game. I try to avoid going for cheap open hands, but I'll do it if I think I can get there fast enough.

Also, that's a Rate of 1712, which is decent. To get to the third lobby you need 1800 or above and 4th dan. I doubt I'll be able to get there for a long time, but coming into the second lobby with a rating above 1700 is a decent start.

So, I'm still not great, and the dan lobby might demolish me, but I feel better about my prospects at the tournament now.
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AKB0048 [May. 16th, 2012|11:27 am]
I don't think I can go any longer without posting about a certain anime that started airing recently.

I cannot stop grinning like an idiot while watching thisCollapse )
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So close to Yakuman [May. 9th, 2012|03:02 pm]
I just wanted to show offCollapse )
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Thoughts following the Avengers post [May. 2nd, 2012|04:49 pm]
After watching a film at the cinema, I always like to look at the reviews afterwards. While there is some kind of dumb pleasure in seeing a herd-response that corresponds to my own opinion, I always make sure to pay careful attention to the negative reviews. I say the negative reviews because I generally enjoy going to the cinema, even to see trashy films, and very few films leave me feeling angry. Not counting weird avante-garde stuff like Finisterrae and The Gravedigger, Sucker Punch is probably the best example. That film was pure dross. Terminator Salvation was pretty bad as well.

But putting all this aside, the point is that I like to read criticism of things I like. Maybe this is out of fear that I had the wrong opinion (which is total bullshit, how can you have the wrong opinion about a film?), but I like to think it helps engender a higher level of critical reasoning, and an element of self awareness. It also helps curb hyperbole, and my hyperbole needs curbing more than anyone elses.

Speaking of hyperbole, I think it has become far too prevalent in general recently, and as with much of modern pop culture, I blame the internet. Two things are at fault here. Increased globalisation means increased competition, and championing a film that you like means going up against Every Other Film in the world. Hundreds of new films come out each year, and standing out requires effort. No-one wants to settle for "a decent film" nowadays, people want "an amazing film".

The other part is the group-think that starts to dominate the online space, as ardent fans seek out those who echo their own love of a particular film, and, combined with the mantra "If you don't like it, you don't have to talk about it," has led to a culture of excessive praise in many conversation hubs online.

This is even wors in the world of video games, where it has long been acknowleged that the 10-point scale is represented as follows:
9 - Good game
8 - Decent game
7 - Playable if you like that sort of thing
Less than 7 - Shit

Which is obviously total codswallop to anyone with a functioning brain.

I have respect for crtitics willing to break this norm, and Yahtzee would get more of a bonus for coming down hard on games if I didn't feel he tries too hard to live up to his schtick nowadays.

But back to my main point, which is that I like criticism that actually criticises. I don't always agree with a negative film review, but I do think it's worth checking to see if good points are brought up. I found a couple of Avengers reviews that raised similar concerns to my own, although generally in a more eloquent manner. (Hey, these guys are paid film critics, I just have a Livejournal.) I also saw a pretty terrible review of The Cabin in the Woods, which I dismissed as complete dross and either a troll or a hack job. Not because he disliked the film, but because the review was really bad.

So, um, hooray for criticism? I dunno.

Oh wait, the point I was going to discuss was the self-awareness thing. Some of the stuff I like is complete trash. Complete trash. The fact that I watch so much anime should make this evident. It's not like every series can be as good as Cowboy Bebop or Planetes.

Speaking of Anime ratings, I finally got an up to date MyAnimeList. I was gratified that the scores I gave things I finished had a curve that peaked at about 7. You might think this contradicts what I said earlier about video game review scores, but it is not so. I (normally) only rate things I have finished, and so it makes sense that I generally don't finish things I don't like. Why would I? I'm not being paid to watch this stuff.

But anyway, I like some pretty bad stuff, and I think accepting that was a pretty big part of maturing. Of feeling content with who I am. I do know about art, AND I know what I like, and the two don't always overlap.

I'm going to wrap this post up now before it balloons further.
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