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Reviews and musings from your favorite narcissist. I'm new to this thing so hopefully it's not too terrible.

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Ranzo

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rbdNTnDkk7k/UCNmZS3GSgI/AAAAAAAAAMA/ejekvK6piMw/s640/GA+(cut).png

( In a galaxy far, far away. )

The Setup

It all started with a flash game. It's hard to believe that my love affair with Visual Novels and my dalliances with manga and anime all sprang from the same source but it's true. Of course, I had watched anime before on both Fox Kids when I was real little, and on Toonami when I was older. The thing of it was I never really tried to seek it out on my own. If a show that I was watching stopped being aired then I stopped watching it. That all changed when I played the Galaxy Angel Sim Date when I was still a freshman in high school. It was on Newgrounds, which was at the time the most popular site for dumb flash games and videos. Of course, being the pervy high schooler that I was, I wanted what was in the adults only category. That's where I found Galaxy Angel Sim Date. Now I don't know exactly why but for some reason I really came to love that game, and I was very interested in finding what it was based on. That led me eventually to the anime, the manga, and much later to the visual novel. The internet can be a weird and amazing place.

The Story

GA- The Duo

(Tact Mayers, the man himself)

The Transvaal Galaxy has been gripped in terror! Exiled Prince Eonia and a huge fleet of unknown vessels have undertaken a massive Coup d'état against the Emperor of Transvaal, and the White Moon! Hope is not lost however, the famed Angel Wing has managed to escape with the last of the royal family aboard the Elsior. Now the fate of the entire galaxy is up to...you, apparently. You are Tact Mayers, a greenhorn layabout who usually leaves all the important work to your adjutant, Lester Coolduras. Unfortunately for your dreams of sloth you are chosen for a daring rescue mission. It's not all bad though as you are also given command of the strongest strike force in the galaxy, powered by only cute girls. Life, it takes and it gives. Basically, the plot is that you must attempt to outrun Eonia's forces for as long as possible. At first, the Angel Wing might not trust their new fresh off the boat commander but who knows, it's a long voyage, anything can happen, even dare I say it, love. Galaxy Angel is without a doubt a pure space opera. It wears it on it's sleeve and dances with it in the dark. It might not be the most intricate of plots but it is still filled with a lot of powerful moments. But just who are the mystery girls?

The Characters

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(Forte and Mint to the left, Vanilla and Ranpha to the right, and Milfeulle in the middle)

Characters are important to any story and in my humble opinion these are some of the best, even if they might not be the most well developed. More than that I've grown up with these characters so I know them backwards and forwards. Each Angel pilots their very own Emblem Frames, which are one of a kind ships powered by the fabled (and convenient) Lost Technology. Here is a breakdown of the characters and what they pilot.

Mifuelle Sakuraba: She pilots the Lucky Star and is the epitome of a air headed girl. She loves to cook and is gifted with a unholy amount of reality breaking luck. Milfeulle also happens to be the "main" girl of the VN.

Ranpha Franboise: Ranpha pilots the Kung Fu Fighter and is basically your typical energetic, and tsundere girl. She works out a lot and loves fortune telling.

Forte Stollen: Forte pilots the Happy Trigger and is in many ways the older sister of the group. She is obsessed with ancient firearms and is an avid collector.

Vanilla H: She pilots the Harvester and is the youngest and most quiet of the troupe. Vanilla is able to control nanomachines incredibly well and is an excellent healer.

Mint Blancmanche: Mint is the pilot of the Trick Master and the source of all good things in this world. Mint is a telepath and because of this does not trust anyone easily. She is obsessed with cute and sweet things.

The story is centered around them with each chapter centered around a specific member of the team. This gives you a chance to get to know each of them while getting closer at the same time. At a certain point the story it is possible to choose a characters and their specific route opens up. There are also quite a few noteworthy side characters like Lester Coolduras who engages you with a galaxy spanning bromance. By some weird design the combat effectiveness of the Emblem Frames are determined by the mental states of each pilot. Your job as the commander is to basically make nice with them or else their performance will suffer. This leads me to one of the more unique aspects of Galaxy Angel, the gameplay.

The Gameplay

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(Combat Inaction)

The gameplay is pretty basic but it works. After every mission you briefing you give the Angels their orders and they engage in ship to ship combat. Each Emblem Frames have their own special advantages and weakness. For example the Kung Fu Fighter is the fastest but has the weakest shields while the Happy Trigger is the slowest but with the most firepower. Each ship also has a special ability that can be used effectively once a certain bar is filled up. When it does you can give the Frame a command and they will use it against the enemy. (The only one that does not is the Harvester, Vanillas special attack heals all the of the Frames.) Like I said before the gameplay is very bare bones though they often throw some new elements in play like stronger enemy types or more complicated objectives. There is one last ship that I have yet to bring up which is the Elsior, which is another piece of lost technology and the flagship that everyone resides in. It has extremely weak firepower though it mostly makes up with that by having the power to completely heal each Angel Frame. It's poor combat effectiveness and slow speed is easily the most annoying parts in the game. With it's awful firepower it is always advisable to keep it way out of enemy range. While that may be easy enough at first there are several missions when you must escort it through enemy lines which can be incredibly frustrating. The graphics also reflect the fact that this Visual Novel was released in 2002 so don't go expecting that much in that way. Still, the battles can be very thrilling at times and I think it would be quite a loss if the gameplay was not present. The later games really improved the mechanics quite a bit while keeping to the core concept. The second aspect of the game is moving around the Elsior and talking with the crew. This improves the relationship and combat effectiveness. It's pretty basic stuff and it is real easy to see just how each angel thinks of you.

Meh, it's only the 2nd chapter

(Oh yeah did I mention that this is all determined by a telepathic space whale?)

Final Thoughts

What can I say Galaxy Angel is still one of my favorite Visual Novels and I have a great deal of affection for it. It might not have the most compelling of stories, but it does something extremely well and that is make you feel invested with the characters. It can be pretty powerful stuff when they start to actually like and trust you. This is the first part of a great trilogy and it serves as a wonderful jumping off point. The only problem with the game is that since it was released in 2002 it is quite difficult to get working on modern computers. Despite that setback I would really recommend checking out. You might come to love it too.

Ranzo

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(Love Autopsy)

The Setup

Way back when I was in High School I thought I knew what I was going to be. I was destined to become a Lawyer and have my own firm. Now, almost ten years later I look at the wreckage my life has become and say; "Boy, what was I thinking?" Asuka Osachi has similar lofty goals for what she wants to do; she wants to be a Nurse. The former Jellyfish Club President found a book that she once loved as a child and written on the back is a declaration from the past. "I want to be a Nurse!" While most people would pass it off as a passing fancy, a sort of memento from the dreams of childhood. A time when things were hopeful, sweet, pure, instead of cold, bleak, and grey. Not our Auska! She takes it as a rallying cry from the past, a call to arms! Even though she has no idea why she wrote that down so long ago she is determined to become one. Which is weird isn't it? I mean my brother wanted to be a hobo when he was a kid! Can you imagine that? My brother, decides on pursing a life of vagrancy and hardship because that was his childhood dream. What I'm trying to say is that children are stupid and the purity of their dreams don't always make for advisable career options. Auska, who is a complete moron still manages to get over her first hurtle and is accepted into the prestigious Teito Nursing Academy. At her side is her ride-or-die, self titled sweet sister Nao Osachi who is determined to follow after her older sister and her stupid goal. There at the Nursing School our heroes will encounter many strange characters and face many trials. Auska just might obtain her childhood dream but she might find something else, something she was not expecting, something called, love.

The Characters

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(From right to left Nao, Auska, Sakuya, Itsuki)

So like I said before you are playing Auska who is a huge airhead and general goofball. At first I wasn't sure quite what to think of her. I thought she was going to be so ditsy and air-headed that she would launch into the sky. Thankfully, she was not nearly that bad and she really grew on me as the story progressed. I also like that she was at least slightly self aware and capable of some form of rational thought. That's a big plus in my book. She ended up surprising me and made for a great protagonist.

Next up is your little sister Nao and if I had to have a favorite character I think it would be her. She is almost attached to the Auska's hip and has followed her all the way to a nursing school. Now that's dedication! She is the epitome of the adorable sister that you never knew you wanted, but what I really liked most about her were the glimpses of a different side of Nao. Such as when she would tell a ghost story, or when her delinquent past is uncovered. Those different parts really made for a great character. Just, try and stay on her good side. Okay?

Coming in third is Sakuya who is voiced by the lovely Tamura Yukari is also a easy favorite of mine. I adored Tamura's voice in Galaxy Angel so it was a pleasant surprise to hear her here. At first Sakuya comes across as having a haughty princess like personality but as the story progresses she starts to show a much gentler side. She does still retain her biting personality though, thankfully. I liked  watching the bond between the two characters grow. Sakuya is also really good at giving hugs.

Arriving in fourth is Itsuki and frankly she took a while for me to start liking her. I can't exactly put a finger on why but maybe it had to do with how secretive and horrendously vague she can be at times. Maybe it's just because she wears glasses. In any case, eventually her manipulative personality won me over and by the end of her route I just wanted to eat her up.

Last but certainly not least is Kaede your teacher. She is your nursing instructor and the person you want to become. She is poised, confident, and reportedly turned down the prestigious Nightingale Award. She has a unexpectedly really adorable side to her and her route is pure cuteness.

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(How dare you make me feel things!)

The Story

One of the things I liked most about the story was the setting. Teito Nursing Academy was such a departure from the typical setting that I'm used to. There was evident care in making sure that this didn't become just a school life simulator. Nursing School is hard and incredibly focused and I like how real they made that aspect feel. Auska learns first hand just how hard it is when she struggles just to learn how to specially make a bed. It seemed very real to me. Of course when the characters routes take off the nursing school aspect understandably takes a backseat but it was nice to have while it was there. I also really loved how the yuri was handled in this Visual Novel. Specifically, I like how they did not treat the fact that two girls could love each other as anything strange or weird. Which was nice because a lot of times it's something that the story draws a lot of attention towards. Here, it's treated as a natural thing which I really appreciated. Each route is very different and well crafted and takes the story in many varied and often unpredictable directions.

My Two Cents

Overall, I loved it. I enjoyed the story, tone, characters, atmosphere, the whole kit and kaboodle. Nurse Love Addiction truly surprised me and in the best way possible. If I were to give it a score I would give it a high 8 because I had a excellent time with it all the way through. I would recommend this to anyone regardless if you are a yuri fan or not. it's just a good story and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Oh and one last thing..

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Ranzo

Villains have always fascinated me for as long as I can remember. Maybe it was the way they operated, the way they moved. Their goals always so divergent from the heroes or so eerily similar that it made you question who you were really rooting for. Almost every story has em' or inserts something to take their place, such as society, nature etc. A villain right can give you someone to really root against, or for if you are so inclined. They can drive the story along like no other and pull the hero into the most strenuous and exacting endeavors. A villain done wrong however, can have all the impact of a wet fart in a scorching plain. What makes a good villain? I think a good villain is made up of five things appearance, presence, voice, power, and goal. I think these are essential for a villain to work in a story. Without these traits you might as well just drag up from the earth your cliche mustache twirling villain and prop him up for all to see. So without further ado here are my favorite villains and why. This isn't a comprehensive list and the order is nonessential.

1. Slade

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Slade was a incredible villain and he is essential to why I still count Teen Titans as one of my favorite shows. He had everything I wanted in a villain. What I most loved about him was voice, power, and presence. First off was his voice, Ron Perlman did a amazing job with the voice of Slade. He lent Slade a voice of menace and absolute confidence that broke time and time again upon the Titans backs. His power to was impressive. He could go toe to toe with any of the Titans and beat them and it took all of their power to stop them. His presence was also incredible he dominated every single scene that he was in without question.

2. The Joker

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Joker is the perfect villain and I think he shines the brightest in the animated series. He is a perfect counter to Batman in every way and is the absolute opposite of everything that he wants to protect. I like the animated Joker the best simply because of Mark Hamil. I truly believe that voicing him is the best thing that he has ever done.

3. Vernon Schillinger (OZ)

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Schillinger easily represents everything I detest in a person. He's an out and out Nazi, and as cold and callous as they come. Yet it was his detestable nature that made him such a good villain. In a show that's known for it's brutality he was easily the most vicious. What really made me like him was the brief glimpses of something resembling humanity that he would show. To this day it is hard to look at JK Simmons and not see Schillinger, no matter how many goofy Dads he plays.

4.Frank (Once Upon a Time in the West)

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/villains/images/f/fc/Frank-2.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20160820230523

In the movie this is how Frank is first introduced it's such a brilliant and brutal scene that really impacted me

This early act of callous cruelty gives him a malignant presence in every scene he is in. He's completely willing to do anything and everything to get what he wants. Henry Fonda gives him a air of quiet detachment and a sense of invincibility.

5. Perfect Cell

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I love Perfect Cell because he is such a amazing antagonist. He has the abilities and weaknesses of all the greatest warriors. He is confident and arrogant without overdoing it. So many villains like him are just over the top that it just becomes laughable. It was great to see him evolve from his imperfect state to his perfect one. I also like that his goal was simply to find a worthy opponent to test his power on.

6. Mr. Dark (Something Wicked This Way Comes)

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Mr. Dark is another good villain that is so understated and yet so powerful. He operates a carnival that promises people their deepest wishes and feeds on them. Jonathan Pryce does an amazing job of giving him such a threatening edge with just a few words.

7. Cluny the Scourge

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Now Redwall had a lot of great villains but Cluny is always going to be my favorite of them all. He is such a perfect adversary he is ruthless but also clever, brutal yet cunning. His mere presence inspired instant fear and his drive inspired hundreds.

8. Kirei Kotomine

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Kotomine was a perfect villain in Fate/Stay night and a great foil for Shirou. What really made him a great villain in my eyes was seeing his corruption in Fate/Zero. I also like that he sought the grail for the shear curiosity of what it would spawn.

9. Maou

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Maou is a great antagonist because he is constantly two steps ahead of everyone. He has plans within plans and he sets himself up as the adversary of Haru just for the shear joy of it.

10. Jack Of Blades (Fable)

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Jack Of Blades is one of my favorite villains simply because of his appearance and voice. That alone makes him such a menacing villain. I also loved the mystery behind his mask and background. Who was he before he found the mask? That question goes unanswered witch makes the allure of him all the more powerful.

Well that's all the villains I can think of at the moment I will probably add to it later. What are your favorite villains? Let me know!

Ranzo

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Campus Notes-Forget Me Not (Aka The Adventures of the Pointy Teeth, the Spade, and the Beret)

The Setup

Campus Notes immediately stood out to me because it is one of the few Visual Novels that actually is set in a University. In a medium dominated by the stale and overused High School setting it was a breath of fresh air to say the least. Your characters name is Yuta Kiriha and he is a new transfer student of the University of Tsukuba. Typically, College is supposed to be a time of finding your path, forging lifelong friendships, spending many sleepless nights studying last minute for a test, and getting irresponsibly drunk and puking all over yourself. Unfortunately for Yuta, after the opening ceremony he instead runs afoul of several oddballs and a strange doll like girl. Such is the spinning turmoil of fate. Yuta awakes the next morning only to find out that for some unknown reason nearly everyone on campus has completely forgotten who he is. If that wasn't enough after every day they forget him all over again. It is up to Yuta and his merry band of oddballs to uncover the truth behind the lost memories.

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Why do harbingers of doom always look like cute girls?

The Characters

Yuta is not the best protagonist I have ever encountered but he is far, far, from being the worst. Yuta is aided in his quest by the three oddballs from before and his new pal Fuma. They all bizarrely have the same struggles that Yuta has so they decide to band together in order to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. The oddball's names are Togi, Sion, and Kaen and they are some of the most unique characters I have experienced in a Visual Novel so far. They are the primary draws of the VN and they are just so much fun! Togi, Sion, and Kaen all have their own quirks and peculiarities and yet they all balance each other out. They're very fleshed out and not your typical tropey VN girl in the slightest. All of them are pursuing science degrees and it shows in their outlook and their theories on the situation. Togi is sarcastic and cynical and easily my favorite. She has a sweet side about her and she is the most overtly flirty one of the group. Sion is brash and the more intellectual of the group. She also loves her line, "I believe only what I can see for myself." Kaen loves gardening and cute things, is pretty tomboyish, and has a bad habit of referring to herself in the third person. Yuta as I mentioned before is decent enough and he has some pretty good lines even though he is often overwhelmed by the strength of the girls personalities. Fuma is a good platonic friend character and I liked how realistic the way Yuta and Fuma met each other came across. Each heroine has their own mini route which gives us a lot more insight into the girls background and backstories. The mini routes all stem from each girls theory of what exactly is the cause of this phenomenon.

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(From right to left Sion, Kaen, and Togi)

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(Oh and this is Fuma who is busily cursing the fact that he is but a sidekick)

My Two Cents

The mystery in Campus Notes does a pretty good job in moving the story along but it was the weakest part of the Visual Novel for me. What really makes it what it is are the characters and the dialogue between them and Yuta. The dialogue is something that I really loved and a lot of it reminded me of all the weird conversations I would have with own friends. The main problem with Campus Notes is that it is pretty short at most 15 hours and that's only if you really take your time with it. This is most noticeable in the girls routes when they abruptly come to a premature end. It makes sense within the context of the narrative but it still felt unsatisfying. The second problem I had with it was that there are a hardly any cgs in the game. Each girl only has two devoted to them which I thought was a real shame because there were a lot of scenes in the VN that I felt could have easily warranted their own cg. Lastly, there is the problem of the side characters. From what I have been able to determine a lot of these characters are in fact from the other Visual Novels that 4th Cluster has published. I had no idea who these characters were and it felt a bit off when one of them would suddenly appear. It did make me want to play their other releases however, though they have yet to be translated. The ending to the story itself felt a bit anticlimactic after all the setup but I wasn't too terribly disappointed. Despite its faults, it does enough things right for me to want to give it a hearty recommendation. My final verdict for it is a 8/10 it's by far not the best VN I have ever played but I'm still really glad I played it.

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