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Blog Entries posted by AaronIsCrunchy

  1. AaronIsCrunchy
    Katawa Shoujo was a first for me in a few fields, which I might have discussed briefly in an earlier post. It was my first visual novel, and while I'm not exactly a font of knowledge of experience in the medium, it opened me up to a wonderful (if expensive and sometimes questionable) form of storytelling. It was the first exposure I had to a Japanese-style thing, and while not being actually Japanese itself, got me on that road too.
    It was also the first internet forum I got properly involved with, back in February 2014. I managed to rack up over 1,000 posts of mostly (if I'm honest) trying to figure out whether Emi or Rin is bestgirl, mooning over artwork, and just general mindless shitposting. Really, I look back on the time and it's a strange mixture of trying to figure out why I spent so much time there, and being sincerely glad I did. Just distracting myself on there and discussing essentially irrelevant bumph helped me out vastly during a crappy stage of my life, and for that I'm forever grateful towards it.
    However, being a forum based around a singular VN there's only so much somebody can contribute (at least, without being excellent at art or a damn good creative writer). The amount of times a lemon joke can be made, or a Rinfidel can be declared eventually dries up, and so after spending roughly a year on it, I basically stopped going on there. Every now and then I would pop my head back in to see if I was missing anything interesting, but then even those occasions started to disappear, and about 9-10 months went by.
    I figured that, today, I might just see how this little community was doing. I was never what I would call a major part of the community, but as I've already alluded to I was fond of it - I just had nothing left to offer. Yet, I opened it up and what greeted me was a sad state of inactivity. It was, I admit, never the fastest moving forum in the world, but typically things would move at a fair-t'-middling pace most of the time - a good 10 or so topics a day with at least one comment, perhaps one or two with a decent conversation on. But this time, there were 8 topics explored in the 'Public Discussion' field since the start of April. I found one or two conversations - short, but conversations nevertheless - that had taken place, largely among people who were regulars when I used to frequent, but very few new faces.
    To be fair, for what it is it's had a bloody good run (the forums themselves opened in 2007 in their current guise) and to call it dead would be unfair - it's not like nothing's happening - but it seems to be approaching a moribund, final state. Whether it happens next year, or the year after, who knows, but for myself it brings a very real feeling of sadness. I understand this is how forums work. People come and go, some stay for longer than others; this is just a fact of life in these places, and for more 'limited' forums one only expects a natural lifespan, obviously culminating in death. But to see a community start to fade, particularly one I held dear during my time there... Yeah, it does bring me down a little.
    And that got me thinking. I regularly partake in two internet communities, and it made me appreciate how much I actually feel towards these people; people who I've never met and am never likely to meet. Most will likely phase out as time goes by - be it days, months, years - and I fully expect it will be the same for me. I'll likely only think about them once in a while, a thought like "Oh, I wonder how such-and-such is getting on nowadays". The two I am part of are both far more expansive in their scope than the KS forums - Fuwanovel for... well, obviously visual novels, and the other for music - and I suppose that they will probably last longer than I give them my attention as a consequence. But the fact that these communities leave such an indelible mark on my being, however small I may think they are, means that one day I am likely to feel this feeling of sadness once again, whether I come back to find it nearly gone, or whether I stick around long enough to see it fall.
    Sorry for being a bit of a bummer, but this hit me a little harder than I suppose it might/should and wished to vent a little. Here's Renge singing
  2. AaronIsCrunchy
    Figurines are the one common item of anime/manga/VN paraphernalia that I just can't wrap my head around. I can definitely understand the appeal of the limited edition box set due to my love of limited-run music releases. The little added extras, the presentation of the box as you open it, containing the disk, album art and any other odds and sods they decide to throw in (I got a tiny jar of tealeaves in one with a note attached once...) just do it for me. Plus I admit the sense of exclusivity is pretty damn nice too, to make myself sound a complete dick. I can understand posters; a glorious visual representation of your favourite character, emblazened across your wall, simultaneously making the room a brighter place while adding a clear sense of personality to the surroundings. I even understand the dakimakura... cos let's face it, hugs are fucking great. But figurines... I just struggle to get excited about, or see the appeal.
    Rika Furude's life was painfully repetitive enough, without being cast in PVC to stand still for eternity.

    I'd like to qualify right now that this isn't a rant against figurines as such, and certainly not against the people that may collect them. Now I've qualified that, in the event I kinda lose track and it becomes a rant, it's not a rant, because I said so.
    My biggest problem with the figurine is the justification of the price for what they are. In the interests of myself not getting shouted at I won't name any company names that sell them, but generally speaking the ones I have found start at roughly ¥4000 and go up from there. Once postage is taken into account, this is normally just shy of £30, and that's a cheaper one. For £30, I can feed myself for at least 2 weeks, buy an entire series of literature to read (or a translated visual novel) or change the strings on my guitar 3 to 4 times. If I was to buy a figurine, I would likely forget its existence after a month tops due to its lack of practical application (something I will touch upon in a bit), and this is only if they look nice enough to warrant even considering in the first place, which many just...don't. The ones that do actually look good enough that I would even consider buying them would set me back in excess of £60-70, and I can't justify that for a glorified ornament.
    To my eyes anyway, the clean way most characters are drawn does not translate well to 3D, and this is reflected in the model's appearance 90% of the time. Furthermore, they're typically made out of PVC, which only serves to compound the clean-cut presentation of many figurines. Granted, this does in theory provide the purchase with greater durability, but the amount of times I have read about or spoken to someone talking about a broken figurine just puts me off on that front too. Thanks to its PVC makeup this can be corrected by superglue, but surely it's better to have something which can be assembled without having to perform corrective surgery on it?
    The other thing I don't understand particularly is their purpose. I mentioned earlier that I can understand the interest in purchasing a poster, which to my mind performs the same purpose as a figurine but looks better, is cheaper and has a greater impact on the feel of a room. As with everything that has a purely aesthetic purpose, unless they're really, really into something then the most of a reaction it will elicit from people is an 'ah, nice' or a 'looks cool'... and then that's that. There's no real scope for discussion, not much to set the imagination going and not even really much in the way of a point in lending it to someone. In fact, the primary practical function I can make out that they have is a 'certain practice' which I've seen pictures of on /b/, and that's just grim.
    I've never really been one for owning things with a lack of practical application, so I suspect my lack of understanding of the figurine's appeal is largely a reflection upon my slightly dull self. In my explanation I earnestly hope that I've not annoyed anyone, as if collecting them makes you happy then that's all I could really ask. That being said, if anyone does collect them and wants to let me know why, I'd be very curious to hear
    Laters potaters!
  3. AaronIsCrunchy
    Hey Fuwans! I've never done a blog before (or at least, not one that wasn't a work of fiction... is that still a blog?) and therefore I may lack the basic principles of layout, appropriate language, and possibly the most important factor of being slightly interesting. Still, I figured I'd give it a crack, partially to try to understand the events in my life leading up to where I am now and partially to offer my pearls of wisdom on various facets of all things Japanese and fun. I hope that in the very least it's a vaguely entertaining read, and that it might occasionally spark a blob of discussion!
    A few days ago I found myself wondering, while browsing the forums in a way that can only be described as a procrastinatory fashion, at what stage in my life I started to become interested in Japanese things. As a child, I never watched Pokémon, nor owned a Nintendo device, nor played Yu-Gi-Oh! round the back of the playground shed (cards were banned at my infant and primary schools for some reason). I used to like the shape of Japan on maps, but then again I liked the shape of many places on maps - including my first national love of Finland. I used to randomly drop Finnish words into conversation (still do on occasion...), spend ages reading instruction manuals with the Finnish language in, and would watch any film with Finnish subtitles because it seemed cool. In some ways, I was a Finland weeb, if that ever could be a thing.
    Over time, this spread to an interest in language generally, leading to me collating words from anything I could find in a big diary, divided and split into their separate categories with unconnected words scrawled in. I guess I liked thinking how different these things were. However, even this eventually petered out, and for a while I had little more than a passing inquisitive interest in anything outside of my cosy little life in southeast England.
    After school, I went to college, and it was here that I had my first definite experience with things of a Japanese nature. On my second or third day, I started talking to someone - or rather, he started talking to me - about an online roleplaying game which he was an active member of. He was describing to me his current character, telling me all about her personality and appearance, when he said that she was a 'tsundere'. I had no bloody idea what that was, so I naturally asked him (actually, I asked him what's a sundern', which I later found out is a town in Nord Rhine-Westphalia). Following his description, I became curious about why such a trait would exist, although I had no real reference point to go on. This friend went on to play a key role in getting me interested in anime, as at his suggestion I watched Kill La Kill, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and Tokyo Ghoul. I sadly don't talk much with him anymore as I left college and we went our separate ways, but we still chat every now and then.
    Also while at college, I was surfing that halcyon land of the internet formally known as 4chan, when I came across a Katawa Shoujo thread. I'd seen them previously, but never really paid much attention - but, through a mixture of people talking about 'feels' (I liked to think I was somewhat impervious to emotion... ), cute drawn girls and the only vaguely fun 'community' I could find on /b/, I gave it a bash.
    Hanako showing a somewhat accurate portrayal of my experience playing Katawa Shoujo for the first time.
    Yeah. That. My outlook on life was pretty shit at the time, so having something which made me feel so strongly felt like some kind of emotional release for me that I had never had before (Wiosna, its theme tune, still makes me feel rather emotional to this day). It was due to this experience that I started to look out for other visual novels - in the following months, I played True Remembrance, Marry Me Misato!, Homeward, Yandere-chan, and my homeboy at college sourced me a copy of Fate/Stay Night, which with my very basic awareness at the time I'd heard was 'alright'. I started to open up socially again - not only in my actual life, but in my virtual life too, as I joined my first internet community in the Katawa Shoujo forums. It was great to be able to talk to such a wide variety of people about something I couldn't adequately discuss with anyone in the 'real world'.
    How I learned what a 'yandere' was. Hmm.
    Over the course of the next 12 months or so (so I guess April 2014 - April 2015) my interest in things drawn and Japanese-based waned somewhat. After running out of things to say on the KS forums, leaving college and starting university, I just got doing other things - mostly involving playing guitar and habitually cursing my decision of taking mathematics. However, for some reason one day I decided to Google 'visual novels'  and I came across a list of 50 VNs on some site called forums.fuwanovel.net by a user called Kaguya. Now, I'm not gonna say I danced on the rooftops (metaphorically or physically) but needless to say I became very intrigued, researching and reading about and around the titles on this list, as well as starting to make a concerted effort at learning Japanese. At roughly the same time, a friend of mine recommended that I checked out a guy called 'Gackt', in particular his first two albums. I was blown away, and so started to check as many different facets of the Japanese music scene as I could (visual kei, J-Pop, shibuya-kei... and grindcore ). Not two months later, I signed up to this glorious forum and things have only really continued from there!
    This past 5 or 6 months have been a bit like Alice wandering through Wonderland for me. Through my investigations into all things Japan, there have been things that have amused me greatly, things that have appalled me, and some that have just left me thinking what a truly interesting place it is. I still consider myself somewhat of a newbie to things, and that is in part what this blog is going to be about: feeling kinda like a tourist to a largely unfamiliar world, and trying to learn as much as possible along the way.
    Please be patient with me.
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