Disgaeadventures

I’ve had some interest in Disgaea for a while.  It’s a Tactics-style Strategy RPG, and I’ve never met one of those I didn’t like.  I’ve heard tales of the grind involved in this game, the levels going into the thousands, the massive amount of time required, and well, that’s kind of a turn-off for me.  A while back, though, AK did a series of his Deep Read posts on the Disgaea series, and certainly made them sound quite appealing.  So, that, coupled with the promise that the grind wasn’t really that bad unless you’re going after the side content, convinced me to give it a try.  So I picked up the first Disgaea.  And added it to my copious PC game backlog.  And there it sat.  Because that is the fate of anything added to my backlog.  Until, eventually, it gets pulled out, dusted off, and played with joy.  And it was Disgaea’s turn for that recently!

I’m about 5 hours into the game now.  I approached it with trepidation, but what I found there really wasn’t what I expected.   And I found things interesting enough that I felt like sharing my experiences.  So, we’re going to have this, half first impressions post, half after action report.  Something similar to that first post of my Dark Souls Let’s Play.  Except this one, I don’t really plan on turning into a series, but hey, we’ll see.

I played a bit extra to grab screenshots after typing this up, so yes, these don’t always line up with my narrative here. Don’t @ me.

So, a bit of story to start us off.  Our main guy is Laharl, son of King Hardtospelllongname, who ruled over the demon world.  While Laharl was taking a two year long nap, his dad died, passing his rule down to him, except he kept sleeping, so his kingdom all split up into arguing warlords fighting for the scraps of it.  Eventually, Etna, who super obviously has ulterior motives for it, wakes him up and sets him to go beat up all the other demons and put his rightful kingdom back together.  Got it?  Ok.

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Project G: Godzilla vs Biollante (1989)

More Memorable Title: The one the MPAA rated PG for ‘Traditional Godzilla Violence’.

Usually, I lead into these things by talking a bit about the development of the film.  This time, I’m going to take a bit of a different tack, and talk about getting this movie instead.  Toho licenses the western distribution rights for the Godzilla franchise on a film by film basis.  Which leads to tons of different companies having the rights to different films in the franchise, which, for a long time, made it rather difficult to just pick up and watch through the whole Godzilla series.  It’s gotten better in recent years, with Criterion Collection securing the western rights of all the Showa Era films and making those readily available, and Sony holding longtime rights over all the rest of the Heisei era after this as well as the complete Millennium era and releasing some very handy and affordable compilations, but there’s two of Toho’s film from the pre-Reiwa eras that are still largely left out of easy accessibilty.  There’s the Return of Godzilla, which has been out of print for a while but it seems Kraken Publishing still released enough DVDs to make them affordable today.  And then there’s this one.  Miramax licensed out a few limited runs of DVDs, but Toho eventually pulled the license from them, and now nobody has the Western distribution rights to Godzilla vs. Biollante.  There’s no streaming of this movie, and the DVDs fetch a pretty high price, making this the absolutely hardest Godzilla film to get your eyes on.  I managed to find it for what I thought was a reasonable price, but even then, I ended up paying more for it than you would for any brand new, modern day home video release.  

So just keep in mind, what I’m about to relate to you is a rare Godzilla delicacy.  

The Return of Godzilla was financially successful, but not wildly so.  They wanted to do a sequel to it, but the minimal success there, coupled with the failure of some other high profile monster movies at the time, convinced longtime Godzilla producer Tomoyuki Tanaka to wait for a bit, until the market was better for such films.  That ended up being a pause of a few years, before other goofy sci-fiish films, primarily Little Shop of Horrors, started seeing success.  They chose the script for their upcoming film from a contest, taking submissions from a bunch of randos, looking for something that they could use for some traditional kaiju tai kaiju goodness that also took a different tack from the beastie brawls of the showa era.  They ended up settling on the script submitted by a dentist, which was really recycled from a script he had submitted as a teenager to a similar contest for Ultraman and won there.  Director Kazuki Oumori then spent the next three years changing and editing it, using his background as a biologist to correlate Godzilla’s typical anti-nuclear themes with the heavy genetic engineering themes seen here.  In so doing, he also ended up creating and codifying what would really be going on in Godzilla’s Heisei Era.  In a lot of ways, it’s always the second entry that defines a series, and that’s no different here, with Godzilla vs. Biollante’s heavy use of continuity, psychic characters, and CGI beam effects being establishments that would continue for the rest of the series.

In release, Godzilla vs. Biollante was doomed to repeat it’s predecessor’s mild success, leading the franchise to take another small pause before returning to more familiar territory with its next entry. Toho reportedly regarded this film as ending up having too niche an appeal. It is, however, a well regarded one among fans, with a lot of commentary saying it played with some really interesting ideas, even if the actual execution of them is subject to opinion.  How does it fare in the most important opinion of all; mine?  Let’s read on to find out.

I should say, heading into this though, this is a busy, busy movie.  There’s a lot going on here.  So many characters, so many events, so much stuff.  I’m going to be selectively trimming things in a lot of this, so we’ll move pretty quickly, and there’s also going to be a lot of content I don’t touch.  Because I don’t think anyone wants to read a giant  summary of this, and I don’t have time for that anyways.

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Cooking with Testosterone: Ahi Tuna Steak

For those who only started hanging around here in the past couple of years, I occasionally do an overhyped cooking post for the amusement of my family and friends on Facebook. It’s been a few years since the last one, but crossposting here in case anyone might be entertained by this.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these cooking posts.  Not because I’ve stopped cooking awesome things, no.  Far from it.  I just haven’t really been sure you guys deserve any more of these posts.  But, everyone says that God gives us a grace we don’t deserve, and now I’m doing the same thing to all of you.  One of the very many ways in which you could say that I am god-like.  

Our subject for today is ahi tuna steak.  You may remember tuna from all those sandwiches you ate when you were a kid.  That’s not what we’re making here.  You may not know it, but tuna steak is one of the most hardcore foods there is.  Full of protein, which you need to build muscles, which you may recognize as those things you use to slay your enemies.  It’s also full of Omega 3’s which is helpful in keeping you healthy so you can continue slaying your enemies for years to come.  And it’s also something we are going to fry to an extreme and eat raw like a caveman AT THE SAME TIME.  Physics need not apply here.  And not only that, but tuna steaks are way cheaper than many other cuts of meat, and this cooks up way quick, so if you play your cards right, this is a way more accessible meal than most.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you make the world a much better place through your mere presence.  And if you’re not like me, you certainly wish you were.  You’ve got a long way to go, but you can start being more like me by making sure to source your tuna properly.  Lots of tuna are either overfished or caught using methods that also kill turtles and a bunch of other sea creatures that young women coo over, so you’ve got to use your big brain and probably that supercomputer you’re carrying in your pocket throughout the grocery store to make sure it comes from a place that’s safe to get tuna from.  Otherwise, you’re making the world a worse place, and nothing could be less like me.  

Anyways, once you get ready to eat your tuna steak, first step is to put it in your refrigerator. Because you bought that sucker frozen.  It’ll need to wait in there for about a day before it’s ready for you, so you’ll need to plan ahead.  Use that genius brain of yours to figure out “Hmm, I might want something awesome tomorrow” to let you know when you’ll be ready for it.  

Then, an hour before it’s dinnertime (again, use your giant brain to figure out when that’ll be) you’re going to want to get your marinade going.  Now we’re making Ahi Tuna Steak.  Ahi is what the Japanese call the yellowfin variety of tuna. Which means we need to use Asian flavorings for it.  Because if you don’t, then it’s just a Yellowfin Tuna Steak, and who wants that?  Now, you may recognize Asia as the place where we get all the ninjas, kung fu, and highly stylized pop singers from.  We’re going to bring a smorgasboard of flavors together on this, because my greatness knows no boundaries.  Even in cooking.  

So for the marinade, we start with soy sauce.  Soy sauce is like the ketchup of Asia.  Low sodium soy sauce, because we’re already extending your life by getting you those omega 3’s, we’re not going to shorten it by pumping you full of salt.  It goes with everything, full of flavor, and carries a salt-forward flavor profile incorporating four of the five flavor categories in a pleasant balance.  So maybe it’s nothing like ketchup, but shut up, we’re moving on.  Then, you add in a bit of toasted sesame oil.   This stuff is key.  I will throw this in to all my Asian recipes at the slightest opportunity.  It is so great, I want a candle that smells like toasted sesame oil.  Sometimes I’ll just open the bottle to take a good whiff on its own, even when I’m not using it.  It adds a good bit of umami flavor to our mix.  Umami is the Japanese word for “this tastes good but I don’t know how to describe it.”  Third key ingredient, whenever we’re making a soy sauce marinade, we want to add something sweet to balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce, as the marinading process will bring the salt forward more than the other flavors.  Either brown sugar or honey are typically good counterparts to soy sauce.  I went with honey in this one, but it’s really a judgement call.  Just recognize that my judgement is flawless.  And finally, I want a bit of a kick to it, so we add a bit of cayenne pepper, and to give it some more body of flavor to match the mouthfeel of the tuna steak, we’re going to crack some black pepper into it.  A lot of black pepper.  More than you think you’ll need.  Trust me, its hard to have too much fresh cracked black pepper.  

So you mix that all up.  You’re going to have to work hard at that too.  Because neither honey nor brown sugar dissolve into the soy sauce+oil concoction we’ve made easily.  I have the strength of ten men, so I got it done pretty easily, but you’ll have to put some work into it.  When you’re done, you pat your thawed tuna steak dry so it can absorb the marinade more readily, then put most of the marinade and the steak into a plastic bag together for an hour.  Save a little bit of the marinade, though.  You can use that as a glaze/sauce once it’s done.  

Towards the end of the hour, get yourself a pan, and get yourself some oil, and make it hot.  Very hot.  Almost as hot as me.  You want that oil furious at you as soon as something enters it.  Because we are going to take that tuna steak, and we are going to sear the hell out of that bad mother.  You want to cook it as hot as the passion that rages within you.  You could even get a small amount of char on it, and still be doing it right.  So cook it hot and fast on one side, for a couple minutes at most, then flip it over, and do it again on the other.  Again, a few minutes max.  Yes, it’s still going to be raw in the middle.  That’s the point of cooking it so hot.  That’s what makes this dish so hardcore.  And also so delicious.  When you’re done, you pull it off and let it sit for a few minutes, then slice it up, pour that marinade you saved over it, and marvel at yourself about how you made yourself an awesome dinner with like ten minutes worth of work.  In fact, I’ve spent more time typing up this post than I did actually cooking it.  You all better be grateful for this glimpse into my majesty.

As for serving it goes, you’ll want some sides to go with.  I had it with a bed of white rice and some sigeumchi namul.  I make a mean sigeumchi namul, but I’m not going into that recipe here, because see what I said at the top about deserving this.  The white rice will add some carbs to this, make it more filling and probably remind you a bit of sushi, and will also make this dish pair well with a glass of sake on the side.  Because rice, rice wine, they might have a flavor connection or something.  You figure it out.

Anyways, at this, hopefully you have a better understanding of how awesome I eat.  And as they say, you are what you eat.  So I’ll see everybody in another year or two.  Maybe I’ll grace you with something like this again, then.  

In Defense of the Dumb

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is apparently a thing.  A joint effort between Square Enix and Koei Tecmo’s Team Ninja that’s apparently remaking the OG Final Fantasy as a gritty action game.  E3 had a trailer for it, and the game… doesn’t really look all that good.  But it does look incredibly dumb, which actually makes it pretty endearing to me.  Let’s talk about that instinct for a bit.

If you’ve been around this space for a while, you know I like plenty of dumb things.  Godzilla.  Platinum’s action games.  Your girlfriend.  Like Final Fantasy Origin, there’s a certain quality to their particular implementation of simplicity and lack of complexity that makes them hit me so much better.  And I’m struggling to place what that quality is.  I believe there’s a certain amount of intention involved.  I’ve said before, that I like dumb things, but I don’t like stupid ones.  As for what makes the distinction between dumb and stupid, well, it’s really subjective.  But I think with me, intention plays a lot into it.  The media I classify as dumb aren’t necessarily trying to be dumb, but they aren’t trying to be super complex or deep.  They’ve set a low bar for certain aspects of their stories, themes, or atmosphere, and they hit that.  Things I think of as stupid tend to feel like they’re aiming way higher than they’re hitting.  Like they’re trying to tell some great complex story, but they really don’t have the chops for it, or they’ve established a certain logic to the plot but don’t end up following its internal rules, or they really didn’t think things through as much as they acted like they do.  But it’s mostly a feel thing, in between there.  

The big thing about dumb media are that they seem to hit on a subconscious level, where you can get a visceral, instinctual enjoyment of the content at the expense of the higher thoughts or deeper meanings there.  It works best when there’s some primary focus to the content that taps into the base emotions; often times pulse-pounding action, but it works just as well with horror, sexuality and plenty of other things that bypass the active conscious to connect directly one of those unthinkingly satisfying feelings.  And as a result, this sense works exactly because its dumb, if they demanded more thought to it, they’d change the nature of the experience entirely.  Watching Godzilla’s giant monster fights destroy half of a city wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if you were getting a full-minded about it, rather, it’d be either tragic or terrifying, as you’re putting thoughts to all the lives lost or impacted by that devastation.  Similarly, there’s a lot of video games that work because they tap into this for their action.  Bayonetta would be horrifying, slaying angels by the hundreds as you summon torture devices out of nowhere and unleash gruesome acts on all of them, if it were higher minded, and that’d make it a lot harder to enjoy its well-developed action gameplay.

And frankly, there’s an element of relaxation to dumb things as well. I don’t know about you, but I spend all the freaking time thinking. My work requires a lot of mental labor, then I come home and friends and family are constantly demanding my thoughts and my attention, and even in my off time, most of my day-to-day pursuits require a fair bit of intellectual involvement. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy it, thinking is an awesome thing in all. Especially when you’re as genius as I am. And I am an ironman, but even so, I can’t be on all the time. It’s really valuable, sometimes, to get a quiet moment, get into something that just turns the brain off and bypasses the suspension of disbelief for a while, and connects without requiring any more of that Mind Work from me. It’s refreshing, leaves me more prepared to do all those things that do require more thought.

Even otherwise serious works tap into this phenomenon, too.  The comic relief characters to provide those moments of levity, those jokes and one liners in the middle of firefights, the humor that would be ill-placed in real life but just seem to work in the context of the story?  That all counts under this, too.  It takes the mind away from an intellectual exploration of what’s going on and down into an instinctual sense of safety and levity.  It distracts your mind, at least for a moment, and draws it from just processing into outright feeling.   And, doing so, they manage the impact of their more cerebral moments, keep them from seeming too serious, too dangerous, etc.

So, let’s hear it for the dumb things.  The things that bypass the conscious thought to deliver a feeling straight to the emotional level.  And so doing, hit us in our hearts without bypassing our heads.

The Free Games Faceoff

The Epic vs. Apple trial came and went back in May.  We won’t have a decision for some time yet, and if you want the legal analysis of it, there’s plenty of better educated (maybe) places you can go elsewhere for it.  But, in between all the grown professionals degenerating to high school level drama, a whole bunch of private information was revealed, as is common for these trials.  One of those bits was that Epic Games had spent $11 million dollars in its first nine months on the free game giveaways they do every week.  Which is a lot of money.  As you may have guessed.

PCGamer put out an article around the time that was revealed raising the question of how many of those games have their staff, you know, actually played?  And the answers were, univerally, few to none.  And had me thinking as well.  I’ve been picking up on Epic’s Free Games pretty religiously.  I have this thing, where if you offer me a free game, I’m probably going to take it.  So right now, I’ve got a library with Epic Games Store of 160-something games.  None of which I’ve spent a dime for.  How many of those have I actually played?  Exactly 10.  

Now, to be fair, some of the games in my EGS library are backups of games I own in other formats or storefronts, which I redeemed because consoles might break down or discs scratch, and I don’t quite trust a service like say, Amazon to keep their games launcher active in perpetuity.  So those shouldn’t really count.  And given how common it is for players, PC players especially, to have massive backlogs, to the point of being a joke these days, many of us have already got a glut of choice, and although we might be interested in the games we’re picking up, if it’s not one we’ve chosen ourselves, it’s not likely to be at the top of the to-play list.  And frankly, you get a lot of free games through Epic Games Store.  1-2 a week.  If you habitually add them to your library whenever they’re available, as I do, it’d be very difficult to keep on top of all of them unless you were focusing all your play time on the Epic Games Store exclusives.  

But, all of that also applies to Amazon’s Twitch Prime/Prime Gaming service.  5 free games a month, at least, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription.  I’ve built up a massive library through them without spending a dime.  And yet, although I’ve still have more unplayed than not, I’ve played around 20% of my Twitch Prime library, well more than the 6% of the EGS.  And that has me wondering, why is that? Epic’s giveaways are generally of higher-profile games, giving out a lot or really notable, if mildly aged, AAA productions and some notable darlings as opposed to the mostly unknown indies you get through Amazon. You’d think I’d be going for the more known quantities. But I don’t.  And I know why.  Because I’m a genius.  

I like starting up new games.  Getting into something anew, learning brand new systems, and going through the generally more highly polished opening stages of the game is good times.  And it can be extra fun trying out a completely unknown game.  So sometimes, I just get in the mood to pull something I’d never heard of from my library and give it a try.  Usually kind of a whim of the moment thing.  The thing about digital games though, as well as current gen gaming in general, is that it requires a bit of lead time.  Games have to download and/or install. How much time specifically depends on the game.  Could be mere minutes, or it could be, on my slow rural internet, an all day affair.  Epic Games Store is definitely a much more robust launcher than the Twitch Desktop App I use for my Prime Gaming, but one really basic feature that Twitch has and Epic doesn’t is that it’ll let you know how big the darn game is before you start installing it.  How much downtime you’ll need in advance.  And for my whim-based “I’m gonna wanna try something new in like 15 minutes” tastes in those moments, being able to see what games I can actually get ready in that time is invaluable.  

The Epic Games Store launcher has had, in my experience, some reliability problems as well.  There was one notable time where the whole thing hardcore crashed on me, and required a reinstall to work again, in the process severing its connection to every single game I installed through it and requiring a lot of manually sorting through program files to get my hard drive space back from those then-inaccessable games.  And even without that, the Epic Games Store app takes a long time to load, even when I’ve got a shortcut to the game I want to play.  It’s got a lot of other features that Twitch Prime does not, like the super valuable ability to pause a download, but overall, it’s not an easy one to work with.

The Epic Games Store overall has been an experience that Epic is obviously putting their big fat Fortnite profits towards bringing people to and getting initial customers from, but not so much into making an easy or pleasant thing to use.  I’ll keep going for it as long as it continues to give me free games, such as it is, but I imagine usage rates are probably still going to be low until the storefront gets a bit easier to use.  Until then, the Twitch Desktop App may be a bit clunky and featureless, and obviously not especially meant as a game delivery service, but it gets me what I need in a more convenient manner.  And my games used seems to reflect that.

Project G-The Return of Godzilla (1984)

More Memorable Title: The Godzilla of the Cold War

We’re back with this, the one where Godzilla’s back!  And back with a reboot and a whole new continuity at that!  All that stuff we’ve been talking about in the series thus far?  All that story, history, origins, everything there?  We’re done with all that.  With the exception of the first film, the OG 1954 Godzilla, everything else is all out the window.  We’re starting fresh, here.  With this film, we officially enter Godzilla’s Heisei era.  

So, the last film of Godzilla’s Showa era hit in 1975.  Toho didn’t intend to end the series there, and in fact tried to get some more productions going a couple of times, but for whatever reason, none of them got off the ground.  In 1979, longtime series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka took charge of bringing Godzilla back to screens for the series’ 25th anniversary, and, inspired by the then-recent Three Mile Island incident and the then-modern adult oriented sci-fi/horror films of the time, wanted to return the series to its adult-oriented, anti-nuclear roots.  He still wasn’t able to get anything going for a while, until finally, in the mid-1980s, pieces started to come into place.  He combined elements from a bunch of cancelled Godzilla projects, made it modern to the cold war politics of the time, and started gathering a team around it.  Longtime director Ishiro Honda wasn’t up for participating, tied up with his work with Akira Kurosawa and also feeling the series shouldn’t be continued after the death of Godzilla’s special effects producer Eiji Tsuburaya, so Koji Hashimoto, who served as assistant director on a number of Showa Era projects, got called up to take the seat. Teruyoshi Nakano, who had led the special effects under Tsuburaya’s guidance when the latter’s health prevented him from working fully, took the lead once more on that front.  Series newcomer Reijiro Koroku handled music composition, making a score that’s quite different from Akira Ikufube’s previous work but honestly very solid for the film.  And finally, finally, they managed to get things going and get a film out, kicking off Godzilla’s revival.  

The Return of Godzilla is, as I said, considered the first film of Godzilla’s Heisei era.  But it was actually made in Japan’s Showa era, as the shift to the real Heisei wouldn’t happen for a few more years.  So, that explains perfectly why a lot of the things that would become emblematic of the Godzilla’s Heisei era; the recurring characters, the laser spamming, the 1-vs-1 monster fights, the prominence of psychic abilities, you don’t really get that showing up in this film just yet.  What you do get, that will carry over to later films until they start going the ‘noble demon’ route with Godzilla, is that you have a Big G here that is bigger and meaner than we’ve seen before.  Gone Is the ‘friend to all children’ Godzilla of films past.  This Godzilla is legitimately monstrous.  Much like the 1954 original, Godzilla here is coming to town to ruin lives and chew bubble gum.  And they don’t make bubble gum big enough for him.  

The Return of Godzilla is a film that reviewed rather poorly, but is very well regarded by fans.  Looking at things from my perspective, who has the better take on it?  Well, let’s dig in to find out.

The film opens with a fishing vessel navigating near an uninhabited island in a fierce thunderstorm.  The crew are trying frantically to force their way to shore to weather it.  One of the crewmembers, Sourface, so named because he shows little emotion other than mild irritation with everything occuring in the film, looks out at the island only to see something very large and monstrous silhouetted in the lightning.

The scene cuts there, and opens up the next morning.  The radio is calling out that in the storm last night, a number of ships, including the one we just saw, went missing.  We’re on a boat, a smaller one this time, a personal vessel.  It’s captain, someone whose name I actually remember this time.  Because he has the same name as that four-armed miniboss from Mortal Kombat.  And that guy from Yakuza that’s crazy awesome, emphasis on the crazy.  For that matter, he was there back in one of the worst films of the Showa era.  That’s right.  I promised he’d come back.  This guy transcends continuity.  We’re looking here at Goro Maki.  Yes, named just like the guy from Mortal Kombat and the guy from Yakuza, once again. So, obviously, Son of Godzilla didn’t happen here, and he’s played by a new actor this time, but the basics of this guy are the same.  He’s a reporter that searches down leads so hard he jumps into crazy dangerous situations.  He dresses exclusively in hideously ugly clothes.  And he is absolutely 100% couthless.  I don’t say that lightly.  You don’t insult a man’s couth.  You just don’t.  But it is impossible to describe him here without mentioning that.  

So anyways, Goro is sailing the high seas ripping opponents apart with his four arms apparently looking for those missing ships to get a scoop when he comes across one, coincidentally the one we just saw a few minutes ago.  He lashes the ships together, hops on board, and starts investigating.  It appears that nobody’s around.  There is some strange goo on the floor, though.  He gets into some cabin or bridge or ship term or something, and find someone sitting on a chair there.  He turns them around, and it looks like this guy got attacked by the girl from The Ring.  He’s all dessicated and mummified.  Then, Goro searches the ship some more, and finds some more dehydrated dead bodies.  He goes through their lockers, because, why not I guess?  Inside one of them, he finds Sourface, still alive, shell-shocked, clutching a hatchet.  Now, a normal person, would, you know try to help them, but we’re dealing with Goro Maki here.  Goro instead snaps a picture, and then goes through the guys pockets, finding a picture of Sourface with some girl and a student ID.  Then he gets attacked by… eeeeeeegh…. Shockirus.

Shockirus is a giant sea louse.  That’s about it.  But they gave it a name and made it part of the Godzilla monster canon, so they legitimatized it.  I don’t know if you know this about me, but I haaaate giant bugs.  Nearly every time.  So Shockirus can go eat a dick.  And he tries to, leaping onto Goro Maki and maneuvering to start sucking him dry.  Goro grabs a weapon, but Shockirus has a hard shell, and Goro’s unable to pierce it.  Goro starts preparing for the lame death you know is coming for him eventually, but then Sourface manages to hack into it and kill it from behind.

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Visual Novel Theatre: Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru

Let’s establish some facts here.  As you’ve known if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I am an incredible specimen of a man.  My muscles are like mountains.  My features are proof that man was made in God’s own image.  My bearing is so manly that some women have claimed to have gotten pregnant just by staring into my eyes.  I am a bastion of healthy masculinity.  A paragon of the male form.  This is not up for debate.

So, I’ve been playing Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru.  Discord will, unless you turn the option off, show others what game you’re playing at the time.  My Discord buddies have been trying to sass me for being so manly and also playing Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru.  But it doesn’t work.  Because Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru is the shit.  I am unsassable on this account.  

I don’t get that whole part of people’s assumptions anyways.  Enjoying something that doesn’t match the box they mentally put you in somehow lowers your quality or something?  I don’t got time for that.  Good works are good works.  

Anyways, we’re here to talk Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru.  Eventually I’m going to find some way to shorten that title in writing here, but I haven’t figured it out yet.  It’s a spinoff of the Grisaia series, which I had no idea about while playing/reading through it, but it does retroactively make some things that happened make a bit more sense.  Although I’ve got like no idea of what Grisaia’s all about, so maybe that’s me injecting too much good will.  Anyways, Chiru Chiru Michiru (got it!) is a visual novel about one of those Sailor Moon-esque magical girls fighting against some evil that has invaded her world.  Except everyone’s a blithering idiot.  And it’s awesome.  

Although right off the bat, that does lead to some ‘your mileage may vary’ stuff.  This is a comedy visual novel, one from Japan, and humor is already really subjective and gets even more so when you’re dealing across cultures.  Different cultures find different things funny, so this may not necessarily connect with you.  And it’s very heavily surrealist comedy at that, which not everyone vibes with.  But I do.  And this hit right on the dot for me.  I loved this visual novel.  It left me laughing at a bunch of points.  In, like, a really manly and attractive way of course.  Because that’s how I do everything.  See the first paragraph.

So, the story opens with our heroine, Matsushima Michiru, an aspiring pop idol that’s not really all that successful at it.  The only venue she plays at is a bar owned and operated by Asako, a weapons- and military ops-obsessed friend of hers.  She’s also constantly accompanied by Sachi, a young woman who always wears a maid outfit and loves sharks.  After a somewhat disappointing performance, Michiru goes for a walk when a talking cat riding a star falls from the sky and lands on her, killing her instantly.  

Well, the cat uses a magic wand to beat her soul back into her body, so it’s all good.  And then it says it’s looking for someone to go be a magical girl, and Michiru wishes it luck.  And then time passes eventually they get back together again under circumstances and Michiru agrees to be a magical girl and hunt down the Seven’s Chaos invading from the World of Magic in order to save both worlds and also have her wish granted.  Except she’s embarrassingly bad at it and can’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds and have almost no magical power to speak of.  And it’s hilarious.  

The Visual Novel is surprisingly solid, presentation-wise.  It’s framed like it’s actually an anime, and you get full animated OPs and credit sequences with every episode, in addition to an anime transformation sequence, complete with barbie doll nudity, as is traditional for magical girl shows.  The art is really good, with a wide variety of backgrounds and the character portraits are pretty dynamic, with some action on them to represent the action going on in the narrative.  It’s also fully voiced.  In Japanese, of course, but I thought it was a really nice touch.  

The writing is competent enough.  The plot is super simple, and you’ll likely figure out most of where it’s going within the first hour or so of the first game.  It’s mostly there as a framework for the humor.  There’s a bit of awkward phrasing or odd concept transitions, likely things that weren’t or couldn’t be translated elegantly from Japanese, and if you’re looking for a big great story that makes perfect sense, you’re likely to be disappointed here.  There’s also a few bits in there that seem to come out of nowhere and not really go anywhere, although now that I know that this is a spinoff of the Grisaia series, it seems a lot of those were in fact references to that.  So maybe play/read that first and come here.  Or just don’t sweat it that much.  Although I’m finding now that the dumb little crapkid from Chiru Chiru Michiru is the main protagonist of Grisaia?  Maybe I don’t want to check that out after all.  I hate crapkids.  But yeah, the overall plot is base and predictable, but that’s not really what I’d recommend coming here for.  It’s really all about the humor.

And humor is always subjective.  Here, it’s downright absurd.  Like, there is one character, Michiru’s hypercompetent magical girl rival, whom you could say is the straight man, but even she is so straight it becomes absurd.  Like, to the point of using the limitless magical powers at her disposal, which can literally do anything she chooses, to simply summon mundane guns to blow her enemies away.  Personally, I love a well done absurd humor.  And this is definitely well done.  And you know, when it decides to pull back the humor, to finally inject a sense of danger and action to it too?  Those are well done as well.

So yeah.  If you happen to have a sense of humor like mine, I’d highly suggest checking out Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru.  But maybe check out Grisaia first, so things make sense.  Except not, because I didn’t know that was a thing until literally like an hour ago, and therefore can’t recommend it.  But either way, don’t sass me.  I am unsassable on this account.  

Double Sunshine

Life still hasn’t let up, kicking me in the delightfully shaped rear end while I kick back even harder.  Time’s at a premium, so it’s hard to get posts together, but luckily, that’s where you get friends stepping into help out.  We’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award several times already.  We possibly might be the most nominated blog in history.  For all I know.  And as I’ve said before, although I don’t really do these viral blog awards the dignity of passing them on, I do appreciate being nominated, as it’s a good way of putting together content when time is limited.  And it’s always nice being considered.  So, very recently, when we’ve gotten Sunshine Blogger nomination number 5 from AK at Everything is Bad for You and number 6 from Red Metal at Extra Life Reviews, it came as a nice breath of fresh air in these busy times.  Good for me, because I get to make some content that I enjoy doing, and good for you, because you get to learn more about the best thing that ever happened to you.  So lets hop to it.

First up, obligatorily and enthusiastically, if you’re hanging out around my parts, you probably already know AK and Red Metal.  You’ve likely spent a lot of time at their blogs.  Because at this point, the three of us bounce things get on so much we’ve essentially formed a Player Character Party in the JRPG that is the blogsphere.  But if you haven’t, check them out.  If you like my work, you’ll likely like theirs as well.  

On to the questions!  Starting with AK’s.

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Playing with the Main Man

Really busy lately, so this post will be pretty quick. Although I don’t have much to say here that won’t be a repeat of this post, so check that if you want to see me run my mouth a bit more.

Anyways, life is complicated, stuff comes and goes, priorities shift, and sometimes people need to drop things out of our schedule. As you may know if you’ve been following me for a while, I’ve been running a long-term D&D game. And, once again, we’ve had a player need to put other things in their life higher than our Sunday afternoon games, so we’ve got an opening we’re currently recruiting for fill. If you’re interested in playing some D&D 5e, and would be up for a roleplay-heavy post-apocalyptic fantasy sort of deal, you can check out where we’re currently recruiting, online here. I think you might need a Roll20 account to view that, so if you’re not sure if you’re up for that just to get the summary, you can check out that prior post I linked for more of a description of our game. We’re hoping to invite someone to our game within a couple of days, so get word in fast if you’re up to it. And although all of you reading this are my dearest, deepest friends, of course, I’m only one of four voices picking our next player, so I can’t really promise a spot to anyone. No matter how much I love you.

Rhyme like a Rolling Stone! The Persona 3 Retrospective, Part 6(e); Characters-Koromaru, Ken, and Shinjiro

Part 6(a) S.E.E.S. and Protag

Part 6(b) Yukari and Junpei

Part 6(c) Akihiko and Mitsuru

Part 6(d) Fuuka and Aigis

Koromaru

The Strength

Koromaru is a dog.  With human-level intelligence that can summon a persona.  It’s barely explained.  In fact, for that matter, it contradicts other information given about personae, in that the whole reason Aigis is shaped like a human and not a tank or something is that it’s necessary for her to see herself as human in order to be able to manifest a persona, but here’s this dog with a persona so whatever.  

Anyways, Koromaru is basically Hachiko.  He used to live with a monk that would take him on nightly walks.  One day, the monk got killed by shadows, and Koromaru continued their nightly walks alone, and spent a lot of time hanging around the shrine the monk used to take care of.  Then one day, the team detects some shadows roaming outside Tartarus attacking the shrine.  Akihiko heads there, only to find the shadows already dead and Koromaru injured.  Putting 2 and 2 together because he’s not the dumb meathead the later games think he is, Akihiko realizes this dog must have a persona.  So he takes him back to the team, they get him medical care, and then Koromaru joins up with S.E.E.S.

Every Persona from this point forward has an animal-like character.  Persona 4 and 5 makes sure its a character that can talk, however.  Koromaru can’t, which poses some problems.  To be fair, they do a decent job of communicating Koromaru’s personality through his actions, such as it is, and Aigis can understand his thoughts and sometimes interprets them for others.  From that, you learn that Koromaru is very loyal and protective of those he considers family, and admires bravery.  He also likes certain TV shows demonstrating brave people, and has a near human-level comprehension of the world.  But they only take it so far.  Koromaru gets left out of a lot, not having much input in dialogue heavy scenes, not usually being with the party when they’re away from the dorm, and not really having much in the way of impact on the plot.  Which is a shame.  We only get a shallow view of Koromaru, and there was a lot more room for developing him.  As a result, he’s the most forgettable member of the cast, to the point he either doesn’t get included or gets bound together with another character for most of the spinoffs.  

He does have one big moment, however.  In the midst of the party’s darkest moment, when Shuji Ikutsuki betrayed them and was in the midst of crucifying them, he didn’t bother crucifying the dog.  It was Koromaru who tore the device he was using to control Aigis away from him, enabling her to break free from her programming and save the party.  So, if it weren’t for Koromaru, the party wouldn’t have survived to save the day and make millions of dollars in game sales.  That counts for something, at least.

In combat, Koromaru’s speedy.  The most speedy.  He’s the fastest, most accurate, and most evasive character in your party, and tops most shadows in all those areas, too.  On the flip side, he’s really not durable.  Shadows will have a harder time hitting them than anyone else, but when they do, he’ll go down fast.  Other than that, not especially much to write home about.  He uses knives to fight, and is accurate but not so damaging with them.  He does pretty decently with magic, and has an arsenal of fire and instant-kill darkness spells behind him.  Given the only other character with dedicated fire spells is Junpei, who is realllllly not great at magic, he’s the one to go with if your MC’s personas are focused on other things.  He’s also a very direct character.  Doesn’t have a lot of tricks to him, pretty much just basic attacks and direct damage or instant-kill spells.  His persona is Cerberus, which both fits his doggy nature, and I’m also pretty sure is a reference to Pascal, your dog that you turned into Cerberus in SMT 1.  He does not get an ultimate persona.  That requires personality development, and when you barely show up in the plot, well…

Ken Amada

The Loser

Nobody likes Ken.

Shinjiro Aragaki

The Hieropha-

What?  No.  No, we’re not doing that.  No Ken.  I’m not going there.  You can’t make me.

Ken Amada

The Garbage

Ok, so Ken is this little prat that nobody actually wants around because he ruins everything he touches.  And that’s about all there is to say about Ken.  Let’s move on.

Shinjiro Ara-

Seriously.  There are things mankind is not meant to know.  The existence of Ken Amada is one of those things.  Trust me.

You don’t trust me.  

Jerk.

Fine.

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