Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Last Note, First Trip

Could this be the first time ever that we have reached a climax at the end of a year on this sad little show I'm running by myself? The cold stillness of a despairing winter and the warm liveliness of a hopeful spring; after six volumes and a fan disc, we are here at last to witness the bittersweet finale of the first stage of Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata.

From the moment Megumi was revealed to be on the cover for the first time, it was clear that something big was about to go down. If the first five volumes were building up an amusement park and the previous volume was us getting on its emotional roller coaster, then this one is where we go for the wild ride. The best part is that there are still other attractions to visit afterwards.

Previously on SaeKano, ominous clouds gather over the bridge of troubled waters. With the Winter Comiket submission deadline looming just around the corner, Eriri retreats to her family mansion on the Nasu Highlands to finish her illustrations. After going through serious struggles as an artist, she develops a new style and completes her work, but collapses due to the deadly Japanese cold fatigue. Tomoya decides to give up on the game and rushes to Eriri's side. Though initially upset at his decision, Eriri spends Christmas with Tomoya and the two of them finally make peace with each other. Their game would eventually become a top seller, but Tomoya's decision to act alone creates a rift between him and Megumi who begins to distance herself from him after Comiket. Meanwhile, Eriri discovers that she is unable to reproduce her new art style. For a slightly longer version, see here.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Keep Yourself Alive

Come into these arms again, and lay your body down. The rhythm of this trembling heart, is beating like a drum.

Still falls the night. Lust for blood. Killing under a scarlet moon.

For reasons less than honourable, I picked up 太陽のチャンネル or Channel of the Sun, a new title illustrated by Shinobu Kuroya and authored by Yukito Urushibara, yet another scenario writer who's ventured into the world of light novels. I haven't actually read Yukito's best known work いろとりどりのセカイ, so I'm going into this with just the knowledge that he has a habit of repeating himself and padding out sentences, and dividing whole sentences up into small, individual lines. Arguably the latter – aimed at creating a unique sense of rhythm – is not so much of an issue when presented in a book format, since the entire texts are laid out before the readers unlike visual novels that require mouse clicks and button presses. Though on the other hand some will likely find the broken sentences ineffective, clumsy and a pain to trudge through.

The story follows Hitoshiki Shima, a high school student who leads a double life as the strongest hitman. One night, he receives a bag to deliver for his job but is surprised to discover the body of a pretty girl inside. He is almost immediately approached by another mysterious girl who tries to take the bag by force after Hitoshiki refuses to hand it over. Quickly realizing that he's no match for the seemingly immortal girl, Hitoshiki takes the bag and retreats through sewer tunnels. He safely arrives at Kokuma Dormitory – Hitoshiki's home and the destination for his delivery – and shockingly finds the girl in the bag alive as she rises, bathed in sunlight, and asks to meet Rintarou Shima – the original owner of the dormitory, a demon hunter, the self-proclaimed world's No.1 busybody, Hitoshiki's saviour, and his late foster father.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Joy Of Motion

I guess this is where I say Merry early Christmas and dump pretty pictures so I don't have to write anything else.

So here are the illustrations of Date A Live Encore 3, 太陽のチャンネル, and 冴えない彼女の育てかた 7. Expect some ramblings about the last two soon. Especially SaeKano, reading it was like getting hit by a bus. Not that I'd want to know what that actually feels like.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Through The Ashes Of Empire

I should have probably written this much earlier, but I always managed to find some excuses not to. After the previous game kindly left us stranded on a cliff, the latest entry in the Kiseki series, Sen no Kiseki II doesn't mess around for very long and runs everyone off the edge like an out-of-control truck.

As Sen no Kiseki hit the climax with the Aristocratic Coalition Forces taking over the imperial capital, Rean Schwarzer fought against but was defeated by his senior and the terrorist group leader Crow Armbrust, who had just shot dead the Iron Chancellor Giliath Osborne. Against Rean's wishes, his robot Valimar took him away from the battlefield after receiving commands from Celine, leaving his friends and everyone else behind.

The sequel begins with Rean waking up in the Isengard mountain range. Despite desperately wanting to get back to his group in Trista, he finds out from Celine that currently Valimar is not operational and that he's already been unconscious for a month and only survived thanks to Valimar. As Rean makes his way down the mountain, he soon confirms that he's been to the place before with his teacher Yun Ka-Fai, the famous Sword Sage. Rean tells Celine that his hometown, the hot spring village Ymir, is just a few hours away. Before they can get moving however, they are confronted by Demonblaze Soldier Ortheim – a golem from the Dark Ages – and Rean decides to take on the giant despite Celine's warnings. After some struggle, a worn-out Rean realizes he's not doing any real damage. Celine tries to raise a barrier to block the golem's attack but Ortheim effortlessly destroys the barrier and knocks Celine aside. Just as Rean is about to give up, a familiar voice casts a powerful spell which disintegrates the ground under Ortheim; Rean watches as the golem falls to the mountain valley below. Catching his breath, Rean follows the voices calling out to him and finds Tovar Randonneur, Princess Alfin and his sister Elise Schwarzer. Ever worried about her brother, Elise rushes to Rean's side. Seeing that she's safe and sound, Rean is relieved but quickly loses consciousness from exhaustion.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Invent The Universe

Talk about being lazy, but there's something I'd like to share. Speak of being busy, and I'm arriving somewhere but not here.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Home Sweet Grave


Quite frankly even by the series' own standards, I'd say the latest volume of Date A Live is a bit underwhelming and anticlimactic, but at least I didn't have to pause and bury my face in my hands regularly like I did with the godawful 新世黙示録-Death March-. In any case, let's get this over and done with. The illustrations are here.

The One Who Struggles

Continuing from the last volume, Shidou bumps into Tamae and discovers that he has traveled to the past. Tamae leaves after getting her notebook back, while Shidou tries to make sense of what has happened to him. He understands that time can't be reversed but he knows all too well that there is someone who has control over time. Just as he's thinking about Kurumi, a giggle startles him before he realizes it's Kurumi's voice. Shidou scans his surroundings looking for Kurumi but she tells him that she is in a different "time". Kurumi explains that she has sent Shidou 5 years into the past using the Twelfth Bullet -Yud Bet-, as well as the Ninth Bullet -Teth- which allows her to connect communicate telepathically and share senses with people from different times. Shidou says he needs to go back to the present to help Tohka and the others, but Kurumi tells him about how she had sent Spirit Origami to the past before she came back as an Inverse Spirit. Kurumi says she wanted proof that history can be changed. She gets a little sentimental and says she's talked too much. She then urges Shidou to hurry and find out what caused Origami to go Inverse.

Shidou rushes back to his old home and recalls the fire caused by Kotori 5 years ago. Kurumi tells Shidou that she understands his feeling but he should give up on saving Kotori because of the changes it would bring if Kotori didn't become a Spirit. Shidou realizes that had Kotori not become a Spirit, she would have not been recruited into Ratatoskr and Shidou wouldn't have been able to seal the Spirits. Or rather Date A Live would have been a very different story. Shidou apologizes to Kurumi who says she wasn't criticizing him because the possibility of redoing the past is like fine wine in a poisoned glass. Shidou notices Kurumi's words are like warnings to herself, but before he can ask Kurumi for some answers, he's interrupted by his neighbour Suzumoto who's come to share some fresh vegetables with the Itsuka family. Shidou becomes worried as he's just traveled back from the future and looks much older that he should be, but fortunately he's able to use Natsumi's power and change his appearance in time. Kurumi teases Shidou by asking him to stand before a mirror so she can see his cute face. Just then, the sky turns red and the area is swiftly engulfed in flames. Shidou runs to the park where Kotori is and finds his past self, his crying sister, and Phantom. Shidou calls to Phantom but she disappears in a ray of light. He looks up and sees Spirit Origami, clad in a fantastic white dress but her face twisted by anger and hatred. Origami quickly flies away fighting Phantom with Shidou desperately chasing after them. He eventually comes across a couple screaming Origami's name and realizes that they are her parents. Before Shidou can even do anything however, a ray of light rains down and he is blown away by the shock wave. Shidou gets up and is shocked to discover a massive crater where Origami's parents used to be. He sees the young Origami finding and cursing Spirit Origami and realizes that Origami is the person who killed her own parents.

Spirit Origami soon vanishes as the effect of the Twelfth Bullet wears off, while Shidou rushes to the young Origami's aid. Shidou tells the crying Origami that she's not alone and he would gladly take all her sorrow, rage and whatnot, and says to her that by doing so she must not despair. Origami thanks him and asks for his name. She then asks him if everything he has said to her is true, which Shidou confirms. Origami says she will give Shidou her tears, her smiles and happiness. Shidou doesn't expect her to react this way and is surprised. Origami tells him that this is the last time she will cry and the last time she will smile, and that she will keep her anger and kill that Angel no matter how long it takes and what methods she will use. She tells Shidou to keep all her other feelings with him until she kills the Spirit and leaves.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Good Times Bad Times

I miss missing Comiket.

Good kids go home now because the following post contains material that some readers may find arousing, boring, confronting, disturbing, emancipating, etc. and is intended for immature audience only. Viewer discretion is advised but not encouraged.

The new release from Misaki Kurehito (Cradle) and Kuroya Shinobu (Puffsleeve) was really all I wanted to get from the event, but in the end I bought a number of other things with it because I'm just impulsive like that. Well, I guess one can't have a main course without a few entrées after all. Apart from the usual event bag, piece of cradle 11 is bundled with a desk pad, a cleaning cloth and Love Live! plastic coasters, which I will probably never use. The book is fairly light content-wise and contains mostly single pages of Kurehito and Shinobu's NSFW a-r-t. It's all pretty tame but no need to thank me if you got promoted at work.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

First Impressions Of Earth

Space reserved for practical reasons.

This may very well be yet another year plagued by various delays, but at least some things are coming through. After the Try to be Brave/Weed Spirit and Little Monster EPs, I wasn't too sure what to expect out of Back-alley Spiders. In the end though it seems that not much has changed, a2c still plays really well and TERRA still can't really sing. On the other hand, Kindred Spirits Guitar Arrange Version is fairly intriguing in terms of how much restraint Godspeed and the others are showing throughout the album.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Do You Remember Love?

In spite of my reduced activity in Lemuria of phosphorescent, I managed to achieve the title of God Slayer just before the release of 天秤のLa DEA。~戦女神MEMORIA~. There's no connection between the two games whatsoever, but I feel like my life is now complete.

Eriri is going to crash and burn in the next volume, isn't she?
Here I thought 冴えない彼女の育て方 was just going to be fairly uneventful albeit harmlessly fun, but Maruto sure showed me that it's quite not the case. While the latest volume can be seen as a nice gesture from Maruto to fans of Eriri, Megumi distancing herself from Tomoya and the rest of their doujin circle ends the story on a rather solemn note. The worst part is probably the fact that the next volume is going to be a series of short stories, because the editor asked Maruto to buy some time before the anime airs. Really now? It's pretty hard to imagine that they won't butcher Kurehito's fluid art style, which had drawn me in well before I knew of Maruto's involvement. I'm such a sucker.

For those unfamiliar with the series, 冴えない彼女の育て方 is authored by Fumiaki Maruto, a veteran scenario writer who is probably best known for penning White Album 2 these days, and illustrated by Kurehito Misaki. The story follows Tomoya Aki, an otaku whose chance encounter with a beautiful girl during the spring break inspires him to make a doujin game with a heroine based on the girl. A month later, Tomoya finds out that the girl is actually his classmate Megumi Katou, an ordinary girl with no notable features. Joining Tomoya on his project are his childhood friend and doujin artist Eriri Spencer Sawamura, his senior and popular light novel writer Utaha Kasumigaoka, and his cousin Michiru Hyoudou who is the vocalist and guitarist of icy tail. Together they form the doujin circle Blessing Software and youthful shenanigans ensue. Currently they are working hard to finish up their game before the Winter Comiket deadline.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Consequence Of Chaos

The month has just started but it already feels like a repeat of last April.

It's not everyday that I get to open the post with a wide image, even if it's not particularly relevant. I'm not going to overload anyone with information so here's Date A Live ~Heroines Strategy Program~ in your friendly neighbourhood format. Or you can always go seven times bigger and get the original lossless files here instead. Putting it all together took a lot longer than I had anticipated.

Despite 130 pages or so of delicious artworks by Tsunako, Hyperdimesion Neptunia Re;Birth 1&2 The Complete Guide + Visual Collection isn't too great. A good number of the illustrations included in the book have already been published some time ago anyway, which is a little disappointing to be honest. The complete guide which takes up half of the book feels a bit like an afterthought and likely won't be especially helpful to most people. Nevertheless, it's nice to finally have various store exclusive illustrations in clean high resolution.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Born Under A Bad Sign

There should be an achievement for beating the final boss in Drag-on Dragoon 3 with eyes closed. Three's DLC scenario was definitely not what I had in mind though.

Honestly this isn't what I had planned to do but the latest volume of Date A Live is quite amusing for all the wrong reasons. So here it goes. The illustration scans are here.

Origami Tobiichi

The prologue. Origami Tobiichi hadn't always been "special". She was certainly smart, and did well in academics and sports, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. At most it was just something that her parents could be proud of in parent-teacher interviews. She was good at mathematics but struggled with Japanese; she enjoyed gratin but disliked celery; and her dream was to be a cute bride (Origami please). The young Origami thought that the lovely world would go on forever. But the summer five years ago changed everything.

Well I don't think I need to reiterate the incident five years ago. Origami found her parents alive and was about to reach out to her father before something akin to bright light suddenly descended from the sky and blew her away. What remained of her parents were nothing more than small fragments. It was at that moment Origami swore that she would take revenge on the mysterious girl who killed her parents.

Origami was taken in by her aunt, who was once affiliated with AST. Through her aunt, Origami learnt about Spirits, and decided to train herself to be strong enough so that she can avenge her parents. She no longer had any weak subjects in school, and food became mere nutrients. Her dream had changed to "killing that Spirit" as well, and I don't know which one is worse. Although Origami's mind was set and she pushed herself hard to achieve her goals, there were moments that she could set her mind at ease thanks to Shidou. Her feelings for him is closer to some form of emotional dependence than love. It was through Shidou that she managed to retain a sense of herself. So even if it was because of Shidou that she ended up being hunted by AST, she did not hate him once. She joined AST to fight against Spirits, but she could not defeat them with the Realizers she had. She needed more power, so she joined DEM where she obtained cutting-edge equipment and the body for it.

The Target is Shidou

Or alternatively, and perhaps more literally, Shidou the Targeted.

A pleasant fragrance invades Shidou in his sleep. He stretches, the back of his hand meeting something warm and soft, followed by a quiet moan. Realizing that something is amiss, Shidou wakes up to find Natsumi, in her adult form, sitting next to him on his bed. Natsumi greets the startled Shidou, who has quickly backed away from her. Shidou is surprised to see Natsumi in this form, but Kotori enters the room and beats him up before he could figure out what's going on.

Kotori explains to Shidou that while Natsumi's powers have been sealed successfully, her mental strength is extremely weak and her emotions are quite unstable. As a result, her powers manifest much more easily than Tohka and the other Spirits'. Kotori tries to lecture Natsumi but they end up insulting each other about their bust sizes.

Mugino, is that you? Kotori gets caught up in the moment and remarks that even if Natsumi has a nice body after transformation, her real body is shorter and smaller than Kotori's. The remark apparently upsets Natsumi so much that she starts crying. Kotori is forced to eat her own words and admits that she is more of a shorty than Natsumi, only to realize that Natsumi has tricked her. Natsumi runs away and Kotori goes after her. As peacefulness returns to his room, Shidou decides to clean himself up.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Another Heaven

I know I'm never on time with this kind of thing, but I wish everyone who chances upon this lazy quarter of the internet a happy New Year. I'm certain that this year is going to be quite exciting with many things to look forward to. So don't stop taking it easy just yet.!MYlUkCST!crj5YljH3oot-_WRTG2EXmuz3QoAnnyaNo5s3kNsIJ4

Amazingly enough it's already been 3 years since the last time that the G5 Project had done anything together, and no doubt many have been eagerly anticipating a new album for a long time. I personally didn't feel like it's really been that long since G5 2010, mostly because Godspeed had put out G.O.D. and Growl in the meantime. It's difficult to describe the feeling I had when I found out that a new G5 album was slated for release at the Winter Comiket, but I wasn't too thrilled about it. Indeed, it was with some skepticism that I bought the album, because the era when crossfades could be trusted had long since gone. Yet at the same time I was aching to hear the evolution of some of my favourite guitarists' music. My life is truly blessed with ambivalence.

Even if I tried my hardest, it would have been difficult not to compare G5 2013 with the previous albums. In my opinion, G5 2013 is like a totally different beast than what the G5 Project had offered so far. It's aspiring, spontaneous and experimental. There was never a dull moment on the album for me, but on the other hand high points were far and few between. A wild beast, ready to surprise the world with its majestic roar, but has yet to break free of the chains that have been binding it for far too long. That's pretty much how I feel about the album. In that sense I guess one could even say that G5 2013 has more in common with G.O.D. than the other G5 releases.