Blog Archive

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Kizumonogatari Rewatched:

Kizumonogatari has its good points and bad points.  Oshino's deus ex machina at the end is lame.  He should've just done that from the beginning if he had such an ideal solution.  Why wait until after everyone has suffered and risked so much?

The artistry is really great, but it also often goes overboard with surrealistic scenes that seem totally out of place and unrelated to what's actually going on.  Was there any reason for Tsubasa to be running around nude in some weird sub-space? (without any nipples, making it all the more awkward and dumb).  Why did they have Shinobu and Araragi running around and dancing when they were, in fact, just talking on the roof together?  Stuff like that gets annoying really fast.

The best parts of the movie trilogy were the conversations between Araragi and Tsubasa.  That's where all the real drama was located.  That's when people's feelings were really on the line, that's when we got to know Araragi best as a person.

But what really annoys me is I went and watched Nekomonogatari Kuro right after that, which is just an extension of the pre-Hitagi Tsubasa x Araragi romance story, and it makes absolutely no sense.  He starts off totally in love with Tsubasa, which is to be expected because he promised to get into a romance with her once 'the new semester begins' in Kizumonogatari.  But by the end of the story, for no reason, inscrutably, his feelings have completely changed.  He's no longer interested in her as a woman, but just sees her as some kind of saintly figure to be admired from afar and helped when needed.  This complete shift in polarities is not explained by anyone at anytime.  It just suddenly happens out of the blue.  It clears the way for him to get romantically involved with Hitagi, so it's convenient to the author, but it makes absolutely no sense from the viewpoint of the characters.

Before a guy can reject a girl as a romantic interest, he would have to find her company disagreeable.  This doesn't happen.  Or he could see her as no longer sexy.  But again this doesn't happen either.  Perhaps he could feel like they have nothing in common, but again they have tons of things in common, so that doesn't fly either.  Or he could think that she's out of his league -- but that's ridiculous given that she already consented to have sex with him in no uncertain terms and he's an immortal all-powerful vampire, which should be more than enough credentials for any girl.

It just makes no sense.  The author just tells us as a fait accompli -- despite all the build-up I just did in Kizumonogatari, all of that just 'went away' like Mad Mordagon's love in Willow, for no reason, out of the blue, all of a sudden.  It just 'went away.'  I swear, web novels have more pride than to stoop to such unnatural plot twists.  How the hell does Nisio Isin get away with this?  Why did no one call him on it?

If I had an option I wouldn't get with Tsubasa or Hitagi, I find both of them to be poor companionship.  Nadeko is obviously the best girl.  But I'm not frustrated that Araragi chose the wrong ship, I'm frustrated that the author did a complete 180 u-turn from his previous characterization without any explanation.  He developed a romance in Kizumonogatari and then just by judicial fiat abolished it in Nekomonogatari.  I don't want Araragi to be with Tsubasa, but I do want plots and characters to make sense.

I plan to rewatch all of Bakemonogatari in chronological order, but I can't actually do that until Zokuowarimonogatari comes out (because it occurs, chronologically, before Hanamonogatari.)  I can at least go a long ways towards completion, though, and the summer season isn't very far away, so everything will fall in place soon enough.

Meanwhile, Rurouni Kenshin's manga is finally resuming this June.  Manga is in dire need of help to stay a relevant industry so every return from hiatus is a big deal.

Tensei Shitara Ken Deshita has a great manga, but the actual web novel has just been a chore to read.  I'm not sure if I'll actually get anywhere with this series, so I certainly can't recommend it or label it a must-read to others.  There are plenty of other web novel/light novel options to pursue so there's no reason to fixate on a series that just isn't working for me.

Star Ocean 5 is playable and has great music, but there are way too many annoying and frustrating aspects to the game, like how much time it takes to traverse the world map.  Even Final Fantasy XV was better than this.  The reason I love the Star Ocean franchise is because of game 4.  This one's just a miss.

With Kizumonogatari down, the only anime I haven't rewatched from 2016 is Dragon Ball Super and Mahoutsukai Precure, both of whom are series that are still coming out so there's no sense rewatching.  I'll probably end up rewatching them soon anyway, though, just because 2017 has such a paucity of options, especially when you look at what's available in blu-ray.

Until 2017's anime starts coming out in blu-ray, I can't rewatch any of it.  It's already been a year for stuff like BanG Dream! and not even the first episode is out in blu-ray.  It's no longer to the point of troublesome and has actually gotten worrisome how far the fansubbing community has fallen behind.

12 of the top 14 anime are getting additional content in the future.  In this environment, it's physically impossible for new series to make any major impact in my rankings.  It would take ten to twenty years just to build an anime as long as the current front runners.  And all of the most genius storytellers are content to just keep expanding their old franchises rather than switching to new ones, so where would these new epic stories even come from?

This season, with stuff like Card Captor Sakura, Basilisk and Steins;Gate, represents a crystallization of my rankings.  2019 is going to do lots of cool stuff like complete the stories of SAO, Fairy Tail and Fate/Heaven's Feel.  Once completed, these shows will be completely unassailable by any competition, for the simple reason that they aren't complete like these shows are.  Zokuowarimonogatari is going to fill in the last remaining hole in the Bakemonogatari plotline later this year.  It's a great time to be one of the greats, but it also signifies the irrelevance of the rest of our lives.  Nothing will ever match the series that are finishing up right now.  I doubt my rankings will change much even a century from now.

If some already ranked series got their proper sequels and conclusions, they could shoot up the charts.  But for series that haven't even appeared yet, the mountain is just unscalable.  They're too far behind, and there isn't enough time left to catch up.  The world will be so different in 100 years I doubt anime will even exist.  It's dubious whether mankind will even exist.  AI, virtual reality, spaceflight, genetic engineering, the cure to aging, etc, etc, will all be things that completely upset our common sense.  The people living in that era won't live like we have.  The geniuses of that era won't be spending all their time on anime like we do.  This world that has crawled to a halt, where passivity is the best and only real option because no effort is ever rewarded with anything of permanent value commensurate with said effort, will turn into a world of action and achievement again.  And at that point we won't even need anime to keep us company.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Nao Toyama:

The newest addition to my voice acting hall of fame, 'anime voices,' is Nao Toyama.  She's already in my music hall of fame for her wonderful songs as Kanon from The World God Only Knows, so this perhaps isn't much of a surprise.

Recently Nao Toyama hit it out of the park with her voice acting as Lyria from Granblue Fantasy the Animation, most especially in her enunciation of the simple word "hai," (yes in English).  You can go a long way saying just one word well -- just look at Pikachu.

But her career isn't just one role or one word.  She's played everybody.  Kanon from the World God Only Knows, Tomo-chan from Tamayura, Karen Kujo from Kiniro Mosaic, Ako Atarashi from Saki, Yukiho Kosaka from Love Live, Pafu from Precure, Lelei la Lelena from Gate, Chiho Sasaki from Hataraku Maou-sama!, Reina Prowler from Macross Delta, her skills are boundless.  This is a well deserved honor after her long and brilliant career that extends into music and video game roles.

Meanwhile, Piano no Mori is dropped.  Now that everyone in the show can play the piano perfectly, I don't believe it's really possible to improve your piano play any further.  And if something has stagnated it's no longer interesting.  They should have taken up a more challenging sport.  Piano is apparently easier than bowling.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Breath of Fire V, Gradius V and Lord of Vermilion 2 Music:

Unlike 'basiscape' games, where who knows who's composing what, these three games were composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto.

Admittedly, most of Vermilion 2's music wasn't composed by Sakimoto, but at least it was made clear who composed what so I could just skip the riffraff.  Breath of Fire V and Gradius V are pure Sakimoto, though.

Due to Vermilion 2's composite nature, I only got 4 new good songs from the soundtrack.  (Vermilion 1, by Nobuo Uematsu, only had 1 good song, so Sakimoto still looks pretty good in comparison.)

Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter was another story.  This game is old enough that it's still made in Sakimoto's classical style, which is how all his best songs are composed.  This music wouldn't feel out of place if it were in Final Fantasy 12.  This game netted me 17 new entries to my music hall of fame.  There were actually plenty more good songs from the soundtrack but the environment was so target rich I felt like I could afford to be choosy.

Lastly came Gradius V.  Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of the electronica genre so the whole style of the music was no good.  I don't even like Starcon II's soundtrack, so what hope does a poor imitation have?  As a result this soundtrack came up empty.

All in all that's 21 more Sakimoto songs added to my hall of fame.  Sakimoto's new personal total is 316 songs, 30 more than his rival Yasunori Mitsuda, putting him firmly in third place again.

The hall of fame as a whole has 4823 songs, 10.8 days of continuous listening.  Not bad, but so long as there are still undiscovered treasures out there (like Breath of Fire's soundtrack) there's always room for more.

*My Good Music permapost has been updated to include all the new additions and deletions in a nice clean readable format.  There shouldn't be any more low lying fruit as far as Sakimoto games go, so maybe I can just relax and enjoy my already acquired music until Valkyria 4 comes out. . .

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Odin Sphere Music:

I'm always interested in music composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto or Masaharu Iwata.  The tricky part is figuring out who composed what, especially when the details are all hidden by a group name called 'basiscape.'  This is why I've ignored all basiscape credited games, because it's too much fuss trying to find the composers I like and give them their proper credits.

Luckily for Odin's Sphere there was a website that identified at least some of the songs and who composed which, so I was able to download the targeted songs from at least this game.  It led to a rather nice haul of 7 new hall of fame songs, 4 by Iwata and 3 by Sakimoto.

If there were some way to treat all basiscape soundtracks similarly, I could get hundreds of new songs, but I don't know that way.  I guess Odin Sphere will have to do for now.

Kemono Friends Rewatched:

Only the first couple and final couple episodes of this show are truly great, but it was still good enough to rewatch.  The rewatch did lead me to downrank the show to #183, because a lot of it was just 'animal of the week' boring non-plot-progressive nonsense.  Death March took Kemono Friends' place at #145.  Next up for rewatching is Kizumonogatari.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Spice and Wolf volume 19 Read:

Spice and Wolf isn't very good, but it isn't bad writing either.  It's generally interesting enough to keep turning the pages.  For such a long series, it's amazing there's still stuff left to write about, but somehow the author manages.

Spice and Wolf was the last translated light novel I hadn't read yet in my good books rankings.  I'm finally all caught up.  Which means it's time to try out a new light novel series not currently in my rankings -- Tensei Shitara Ken Deshita.  The manga gets you to chapter 46 of the web novel, at which point it's time to start reading.

I found some more Nobuo Uematsu remixes and a Yasunori Mitsuda remix, this time from Gun Hazard.  As a result, my music hall of fame is down to 4795 songs.  I think Hitoshi Sakimoto might have made some remixes in Legaia 2 Duel Saga, but the songs are so different I'm not quite sure.  I guess you could argue it either way.  They can stay for now.

Listening to relatively new music while reading new light novels is not a bad way to pass the time until the World Cup.  But maybe now that I've caught up on my reading and have no further duties I should try playing Star Ocean 5 instead?  Hmm. . .

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar volume 8 Read:

When a book is good, it can be read in a breeze.  Hai to Gensou 8 was good, really good.  There was character development, there was important dialogue, new situations they'd never faced before, and like always fantastic action scenes with perfectly choreographed, complicated battles.

This is what happens when you get back to Grimgar, the actual setting for the plot, instead of wasting your time in worthless meanders.  I have no idea what the author was thinking in books 5-7, but book 8 is right back to where the story used to be, at the same fever pitch of excellence as the anime.  There are still three more books out in Japan, but the translation is moving along so swiftly that maybe we'll see them all by the end of 2018.  Hai to Gensou may be one of the bright spots of the year after all.

The value added of Full Metal Panic!'s books is going down as the anime comes out, and the value added of Hai to Gensou keeps going up with the release of these new volumes, so Ao Jumonji has moved up to 3rd in my light novel rankings and Shoji Gatoh down to 4th.  Hai to Gensou may eventually surpass even #1 SAO, given that SAO's anime is supposedly adapting all of Alicization.  #2 Index is also receiving a third season, so its value added will also be shrinking even as Hai to Gensou grows.  We might be looking at the #1 must-read light novel series by 2019.  Another way of putting it is Hai to Gensou not receiving a second anime season is the greatest tragedy on Earth.

Spice and Wolf volume 19 is next on my reading list, and then Parchment and Wolf book 2 comes out just four days from now.  (Though who knows if or when the pirated version will be released.)  Aside from those two, I've read every translated snippet of the 27 light novel series in my Good Books hall of fame.  It's tough keeping up with so many various works, but someone has to do it.

After Spice and Wolf, I want to find some more good light novel series, because Kakashi Hiden and Sakura Hiden really aren't up to snuff.  I'd at least like to replace those two.  But I can't take on any new projects until I at least finish my old ones.

I listened to all my newly introduced music Hall of Fame songs at least a second time to make sure they were really worthy, but it turns out they were all fine.  The songs that were actually lacking were Asuka Sakai's which I've been listening to for a while.  Both of those were cut and the composer reduced to 0 worth and eliminated.  There was also a frustrating moment when I realized that FF 6's opening theme not only copied a portion of Terra's theme, which itunes could be used to snip out so wasn't an issue, it also copied a portion of another song from FF 6, Catastrophe.  At that point I just threw up my hands in disgust and deleted it.  Nobuo Uematsu is the worst when it comes to remixes, though everyone does it, he's just completely shameless.

Even Coin Song is partially a remix of Edgar and Sabin, but at least it eventually deviates into its own tune eventually.  So for now I'm putting up with it.

I added in the title theme of Valkyria Chronicles 4 to make up some of the gap, one of the only two songs youtube has released from the game, but that still leaves my music hall of fame at 4798 songs.  The perfect symmetry is lost once more.  I guess like a flower, nice round numbers occasionally bloom but they always wilt again afterwards.

Nobody is really in my hall of fame until I've heard them 100 times and am still satisfied, and even then sometimes songs are kicked out afterwards.  But when you've heard a song twice and still haven't changed your mind, generally you don't change your mind on the third time either.  So I'd say at the very least these tunes have gotten through the danger zone.  Which means all these new game soundtracks I downloaded are exactly as good as I touted them to be.

There was a humorous survey where Americans listed their main causes of stress -- not having enough money, not getting enough sleep, ill health, etc.  They said that their favorite stress relief activities were listening to music and watching tv (as well as exercising.)  I'm just sitting here smugly laughing as I listen to my 500 new euphonious treasures and watch all the anime I want while sleeping in as long as I desire.  If everyone had taken my advice to begin with, they could all be living like me, the ideal life by their own self-admission.  But they spurned my advice and went off to do their own thing, and now they're reaping the whirlwind.

I'm already happy.  I want other people to be happy too.  But if they don't follow my example, there's nothing more I can do.