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  1. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, A Tribute to Tiag   
    In response to my friend @Mr Poltroon's grammatically-questionable-but-nevertheless-generous patronage, I've decided to utilize my artistic skills and produce a drawing that does justice to his favorite character, Kilometers Edgeworth.
    In short, I labored to reproduce the following piece that I found on an insider artists' hub known as Google Images:

    (I forgot to replace the transparency in his eyes with whiteness, so please don't use a dark skin or he'll look scary and deformed.)
  2. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, I Hate Big Backs and I Can Not Lie   
    The VN reading community likes to argue over the relative merits of so-called "literal" and "liberal" translation, with most people tending to perceive everyone else as being a hardline supporter of one or the other. While I'm sure everybody who knows my views would classify me as a proponent of liberal translation, I tend to think I'm more a proponent of being accurate to the intent of the original text. This blog post is going to outline a couple of specific uses of language which I believe show some of the weaknesses of attempting "literal translation." This isn't going to be anything like an attempt to provide an exhaustive argument against literal translation, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least trying to be a little bit convincing. Still, regardless of your position on that particular argument, you might at least find the examples enlightening. Broadly, I'm going to be talking about figurative language. That's a fancy phrase encompassing a lot of common expressions and classes of expression which exist in every natural human language, as far as I know, and certainly in both Japanese and English. Idioms, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, symbolism: all of these are classes of figurative language.
    For starters, let's talk about idioms. The relevant definition of "idiom", per wiktionary, is, "An expression peculiar to or characteristic of a particular language, especially when the meaning is illogical or separate from the meanings of its component words." The argument pretty much writes itself, right? By definition, if you try to literally translate the words in an idiom, you're going to end up with something at best inaccurate, and at worst completely illogical. Just googling "Japanese idioms" and reading what you see is going to find you dozens of examples of cases where you have to either avoid literal translation or end up with a translation that doesn't make sense. For instance, translating 十人十色 as "ten men, ten colors" isn't going to be comprehensible to an English reader, but the venerable English idiom "different strokes for different folks," which is equivalent in meaning if not exactly in tone, is probably going to fit the bill. Idioms offer pretty much a slam dunk argument in favor of liberal translation*. That said, idioms are not that common an occurrence. However, there are also lesser examples: cases where literal translation yields something meaningful and accurate, but still less accurate than a liberal translation could manage.
    My personal favorite example of a Japanese expression which is not an idiom, but which still benefits massively from a "liberal" translation, is the combination of the noun 背中 (back) and the adjective 大きい (large, big). These two words are often put together in Japanese when praising men, as a way to say a man has a certain, protoypically masculine, attractive physical characteristic. The phrase also carries a subtextual metaphor of reliability: a big back can bear a lot of weight, presumably. Once you start looking for "big backs", you'll see them popping up in literal JP->EN translations all over the place, from Little Busters! to HoshiMemo. The problem is, there's a common English expression which means exactly the same thing as that Japanese expression: "broad shoulders." Now, no dictionary is going to tell you that you can correctly translate 背中, in isolation, as "shoulders." But what's amazing about this pair of Japanese and English expressions is that they not only have the same denotation, but also the same connotation. Both expressions describe the same physical trait, and they both also imply the same personality trait of reliability: a broad pair of shoulders, also, can be trusted to carry your burden.
    The expression "broad shoulders", like its Japanese cousin, sits somewhere between simple non-figurative use of language and an idiom: just knowing the definition of the individual words gets you to the correct meaning of the expression, and even the connotation of implied reliability, when present, is usually obvious. So, by definition, they aren't idioms. But even so, if translated literally in either direction, the original phrase will end up as a pale shadow of what it should be. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be described as broad-shouldered than as big-backed.
    *Unless you believe the purpose of a translation is to teach you Japanese idioms, in which case there isn't enough common ground to even have an argument. I personally like to read translated fiction for the same reason I like to read fiction originally written in English: to enjoy a well-crafted story.
  3. Like
    akaritan reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Microtransactions and my views   
    Let's first lay out my basic view... I loathe microtransactions.
    I'm not an anti-industry activist, and I don't have a serious bone to pick with any individual company about them.  I've had a few bad experiences with them, but the reason for my loathing is something more fundamental, that I came to realize only after I'd put a year or so between my worst experience with them.
    First of all, my experience was with an MMORPG on PC, rather than a blockbuster title or a smartphone game.  As such, in some ways my experience is probably the most 'traditional' one for the original form microtransactions took... the 'pay-to-win' model of massively multiplayer games. 
    Basically, in that game, you could not only buy clothing and armor with real money, you could also massively accelerate your experience gaining and basically not even do several annoying but important quests that gained you new skills and and access to higher classes if you were willing to fork over enough money.  Now, this was the game that essentially put an end to me playing MMO's, even out of curiosity.  Before then, I'd only played subscription-model games, and as a result, I'd never experienced a game designed to essentially squeeze more and more money out of people in that manner.  My frustration kept growing, because up until then, I'd basically played games when they first came out until I reached the level cap, then dropped them, cancelling my subscriptions and deleting my account.  However, in that game, I kept on running into roadblocks to my curiosity about the world I'd entered, and when that frustration reached its peak... I made the mistake of indulging in microtransactions to speed things along.
    I probably wouldn't have realized what it was doing to me or my bank account, if it weren't for the fact that I got caught up in a minor scandal where a GM was raiding players' accounts using his administrative rights and selling off their non-bound equipment and items on the marketplace.  While it wasn't a direct result of my microtransactions, it nonetheless served to cool my head... and make me realize I'd basically thrown away money on virtual items, some of them with frigging time limits for their use.  I got my money back for the stolen items, but only after I flatly stated I wanted nothing to do with the game after that and threatened to lawyer up if they refused.  So, I managed to escape before I reached the degree of financial loss Japanese 'kakinhei' have been casually enduring for years before the concept wormed its way over here (incidentally, it is much, much worse in Japan, China, and Korea than it is here...).
    Microtransactions are essentially an outgrowth of the dlc concept, save without even attempting to give you value for value.  Once you've purchased dlc, it is yours, you can leave it installed without worrying the 'time limit' will run out, and you don't need to feel driven to show off how much money you wasted to people who were just as stupid as you were.  However, the most critical difference is that dlc isn't an 'infinite product'.  It isn't constructed to draw ever greater amounts of money out of the user and indulging in purchasing dlc or a season pass for a regular game you like isn't nearly as damaging to your wallet or your mental health as microtransactions are. 
    Edit: To be clear, I see microtransactions as being one of the most fundamentally dishonest types of scam directed at consumers to have cropped up this century.  The techniques are well-established, predatory, and poisonous, especially to those too young and inexperienced to realize that money doesn't spray in infinite clouds of green from the cards in their parents' wallet. 
  4. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, Noble☆Works Review   
    Today I'll be going through this new visual novel "Noble Works." Some call it a moege, some call it a charage, and people who aren't pretentious call it an eroge.
    The story begins from the perspective of our male protagonist, Noble Works. Noble Works is in a real pickle.

    You see, Noble Works works a lot of part-time jobs in order to pull himself through high school. He lives alone because he doesn't want his parents around when he inevitably does the sexorz with cute girls. Unfortunately, various circumstances have left him unemployed, and he now wonders how he'll pay the month's rent.
    Suddenly, Noble Works is approached by his cute kouhai.

    She and Noble Works attend Hatsushiba Academy together. But apparently you don't have to remember that, because the name of the school appears only twice in the damn game.

    After she contributes jack shizzle to our protagonist's plight, we move on and meet a guy who looks suspiciously similar.

    This guy looks exactly like the protagonist! Having determined that there's been some sort of glitch in the matrix, they decide to battle in order to decide who's the true Noble Works. However, this battle goes a step too far.

    Our protagonist has killed the imposter Noble Works. In a panic, he rushes the body to his apartment.
    Soon thereafter, a group of suspicious people and a cute Chinese girl break in. Despite Noble Works's best attempts, he cannot explain away the corpse at his side.

    The situation gets complex at this point, but it all comes down to this: In order to atone for his sins, Noble Works must attend a prestigious high school academy in the dead guy's place. It's kind of like The Prince and the Pauper, or Princess Evangelion.
    Anyway, we soon meet Bigtittymaid-san.

    I know what you're thinking: That's an awfully short tie she's wearing. In actuality, that's a perfectly normal tie. It's just that her knockers project so greatly that it looks short from this perspective.

    While at school, Noble Works meets the next heroin. Well, first we meet her grampa, this guy:

    Then we see the confused, alien-looking chick.

    Later on, Zoltron Glocknork approaches Noble Works to ask for help.

    Basically, she doesn't know how to play shogi, so she asks our protagonist for help. You can think of shogi as the Japanese version of 52 Pickup.
    The common route gets complicated around this time, so without spoiling too much, I'll skip ahead to alien girl's route. I soon found that this route was a whole lot of plot, a whole of lot shogi, and then a whole lot of "plot." The thing I liked most was how much pee there was.
    The following images aren't NSFW, but they're as close as one can get to NSFW without being NSFW.

    Indeed, by my count, they didn't technically have the sexorz until the fourth H-scene. But urine for a treat, because there's plenty of pee to sustain you until then.

    And when it's finally time for them to do the sexorz, they get into this super-advanced position. Noble Works knows what his girl wants.

    Oh, and then there's pee.

    I'll stop here, where the plot gets pretty intense. The "plot" also gets pretty intense.
    I'd like to finish the whole game before giving it a proper score. I wonder how long it is? Let's see, it's got 57,690 lines, and at >10 words per line, that adds up to at least 576,900 words.

    Gee, that's longer than Infinite Jest, one of the longest novels ever written. I wonder what it says about our society when some degenerates will dedicate more time to a game about pee fetishes than David Foster Wallace's classics.
  5. Like
    akaritan reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, An explanation of the "Golden Age of VNs"   
    Some veterans of reading untranslated VNs refer to the period between 2004 and 2010 as 'The Golden Age of Visual Novels'.  However, you shouldn't really take that statement at face value, as the meaning is a bit more complex than you'd think.
    There are some significant differences between VNs today and VNs during that period that both made it the peak of the medium's sales in Japan and produced the greatest ratio of quality VNs to crap VNs. 
    One of the primary differences was that, other than moege, there were no strict genre boundaries and genre conventions had yet to slide into place in the minds of fans and writers both.  Companies were mostly experimenters during that time, sometimes basing their projects on previous works (Tsukihime and the Key games got a lot of knock-offs during this time, of varying levels of quality) and sometimes forging out on their own.  
    Since there were few genre boundaries, companies were more likely to give the creative staff free reign as to what kind of story they could write, and  - ironically - this actually helped define the various genres in the years to come, as people explored the boundaries of how they could stretch a concept or theme in a story.  Some of these attempts were abortive (ie- thematic moege where all the heroines are of the same type, such as tsundere or yandere, generally didn't catch on) but others were immensely successful (ie- the definition of the chuunige genre and its gradual escape from gakuen battle mania).  However, the point is that the writers, directors, and producers of the time were allowed to fiddle with the formula a lot  more than they are now.  Most major companies nowadays have a 'signature style', that was formed during that period, even if their greatest successes weren't during that period. 
    This period also killed the 'pure moege' as a genre, ending the majority genre of the previous half-decade (moege having dominated during that period due to the Da Capo series and Key's games).  The rise of the charage, a demi-moege genre that was much wider in scope and more adaptable, occurred during this period, mostly unrecognized until after the fact.  At the same time, nakige, which had previously been enslaved to the moege genre through Key and others like them, came to define itself as a new, standalone genre that wasn't necessarily dependent on moe stylization.  Even Key itself moved beyond pure moe, though it didn't entirely abandon some elements of it (as the existence of Kud testifies).
    However, this age was already ending in 2009, as clearly-delineated genre norms began to form, and charage became the driver for the industry, taking us back, in spirit, to the age before that.  By 2011, the ratio of truly creative works to derivative works was overwhelmingly in favor of the latter, in comparison to the previous decade. 
    That isn't to say that the years since haven't produced some great works.  That is patently untrue in my experience... but the fact remains that fewer and fewer writers are able or willing to look outside the 'genre boxes' for answers as to what to write.  I sometimes refer to our current age as the Age of Stagnation, where there is an overwhelming industry pressure to stick to genre norms and those that break the mold are so exceptional they stand out more than they should.
    It is possible to create a charage kamige... but it is much easier to make a kamige out of a game that breaks genre boundaries, lol.
  6. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, MYANIMELIST.NET IS LITERALLY HITLER   
  7. Like
    akaritan reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, Subarashiki Hibi The Importance of the Down the Rabbit Hole 1   
    *This post contains no spoilers!
    Before starting this post, I suppose that I should give a brief introduction and summary for Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai (Our Wonderful Everyday ~Discontinuous Existence). However, Asceai in his review of the VN probably gave the best and most condensed summary for this fairly complicated story. So I will borrow his words:
    “Subarashiki Hibi is a story told in six chapters. The chapters are of varying lengths and structure, but for the most part, they cover the month of July 2012 from a number of different perspectives.
    The story begins in chapter #1, 'Down the Rabbit-Hole" on July 12, 2012. The protagonist; Minakami Yuki; lives a peaceful everyday life with Tsukasa and Kagami; her childhood friends; when one day she meets a mysterious girl, Takashima Zakuro (a girl in another class in Yuki's school, who seems to have met Yuki before but Yuki does not remember this).
    The next day, she learns that Takashima Zakuro has killed herself. Rumors in school are abuzz about predictions of the end of the world in 2012 - one of which is a Web site called the "Web Bot Project", a network of crawlers designed to harness the 'collective unconsciousness' to make predictions.
    A boy in Yuki's class named Mamiya Takuji stands up and makes an apocalyptic prediction, stating that the world will end on the 20th, and that Zakuro's death was the first sign. He speaks of an event he dubs "the Last Sky", where the world will be destroyed and reborn.
    The clock is ticking and more people die as the prophesied date draws closer and closer while Yuki attempts to get to the bottom of the identity of Mamiya Takuji, the Web Bot Project and the Last Sky.”
    Although this is a highly accurate plot summary of Suba Hibi that avoids spoilers, what a prospective reader of Suba Hibi should also know, is that the story is divided into two parts. The two parts are fundamentally interlinked, but are also kept separate. And it is this aspect of the visual novel that really defines it as a masterpiece. There is the part of the work that is a story, and then there is the part that is a philosophical work. Both parts are handled excellently well, and mix together in a fascinating and integral way. Simply, these chapters: Down the Rabbit Hole 2, It's My Own Invention, Looking-Glass Insects, Jabberwocky, Which Dreamed it, Jabberwocky 2, and the first two epilogues are a complete story. The VN very well could have been just these parts, and it would have been a damn good work of art. And yet, the visual novel is not just these parts. Down the Rabbit Hole 1, End Sky 2, and all the scenes with Ayana throughout all the chapters are included as well. And by virtue of just being there, it forces the reader to question why? These parts add nothing to the actual narrative of the story, and yet it is these parts that mark the very start and the very end of the story. With a mysterious girl named Ayana showing up periodically throughout the story to remind us not to get too caught up in the events of the story. That while the narrative part of the story is fascinating, and very easy to get lost in. There is a whole deeper layer to everything going on that we will only get a clue of at the very end.
    Down the Rabbit-Hole 1, which I will refer to as Chapter 0, gets a lot of flak for being considered a weak start to an otherwise excellent story. And although Down the Rabbit-Hole 1 does have a fair bit of fluff, it is an absolutely integral part of the story. As an introduction, Chapter 0 has the role of establishing what kind of mind set the reader should approach this story with. And it is for this reason that Chapter 0 is so important. Suba Hibi is a philosophical work above all else. Upon finishing this story, you get the feeling that Sca-ji (the primary creator) wanted to write a philosophical thesis of his own, but then decided to create a whole visual novel instead. And I'm so glad he chose that route. By using fiction to express these concepts, and forcing the reader to see the story not as a story but as a world of its own, it gets us to see the relevance of said philosophies. The whole story is essentially there to create a conversation about various philosophical topics, with solipsism being one of the big ones. This is what Chapter 0 exists for, to get the reader to understand that the events we will see unfold as the actual story progresses is not meant to be just mere entertainment (and oh boy is it a thrill ride), but to keep in mind that there is even deeper subtext to everything going on.
    Takashima Zakuro, the girl whose suicide is the triggering point, or perhaps even the direct cause of all the events that follow, plays an entirely different role in Chapter 0. With the exclusion of this chapter, she is a normal character and even the primary protagonist of the Looking Glass-Insect chapter. But in Chapter 0, she has the role of being a character that knows what is going on. A role that she shares only with Otonashi Ayana (except that Ayana retains that role throughout the entire duration of the story, not just in Chapter 0 as is Zakuro's case). When reading Chapter 0, we are told and even see some interesting and cryptic things, but have no way of piecing those things together. Thereby giving you enough information to be curious about the under workings of everything that is going on, but with no means of figuring that out yourself without continuing into the proverbial “Rabbit Hole”.
    It is for that reason that Suba Hibi is first and foremost a philosophical work, because above all else our purpose is to try to figure out what is going on. And once the story really gets rolling in Down the Rabbit-Hole 2, we experience the main events from a myriad of unreliable perspectives. Meaning that trying to figure out what is going on is less like a puzzle as would be in a typical mystery, but more about determining what makes the most sense from the scrambled information we get. In fact, without giving any major spoilers, it is made quite clear at the very end of the story that interpreting the story is the only solution we have, meaning that everything isn't laid out clearly by the end. Which once again, adds significance to Chapter 0.
    Upon finishing Suba Hibi (meaning reading End Sky 2), you will want to reread Chapter 0 since now we as readers will no longer be in Minakami Yuki's shoes as we were the first time. Throughout the whole first reading of the story, Chapter 0 was nothing but a source of questions. Upon the second time, it is our source for answers. We have the necessary knowledge to be sharing the table with Takashima Zakuro and Ayana, since this time around, like them we will also know what is going on. When Zakuro and Ayana spoke to Yuki in our first reading, it felt like the two characters with any sort knowledge of what was really going on were keeping us in the dark. They would give subtle clues, but those clues were useless at that time. In the second reading of chapter 0, as readers we are equals in knowledge to Ayana and Zakuro and can finally make use of those clues. And the VN understands this. In fact, Ayana first introduces herself in Chapter 0 by saying “It's been a while”, addressing herself not to Yuki, but to the audience. The true meaning of this remark is very apparent to a second time reader, and instantly reminds you of the conversation you had with Ayana in End Sky 2.Although in a first reading, you probably will easily disregarded this, thinking that Ayana and Yuki briefly met before, and that Yuki simply doesn't remember. And it is here where the role that Ayana and Zakuro play differ in Chapter 0.
    (Here is an upload of that entire first encounter with Ayana in Down the Rabbit Hole 1, English subtitles are available)
    When Zakuro speaks, she is speaking to Yuki the character, not us the audience. Ayana however, really speaks directly to us, the audience (in all the chapters of this story), and that “it's been a while” (久しぶり) is essentially proof of that. As you progress in the story and work through the other chapters, Takashima's role is quite different from Chapter 0's, and she is much more ignorant compared to her chapter 0 self. Ayana however, no matter what chapter you read (and therefore which character's perspective you are seeing), is the exact same. In a story so filled with inconsistency, she is always the one consistent factor. Which goes back to my first point, just as Chapter 0 and End Sky2 are separate from the main story, so is Otonashi Ayana.
    Suba Hibi is not a simple story, and it is not meant to be only enjoyed for its emotional highs and lows; it's strange beginning makes that clear. Furthermore, during the process of reading, in case you ever forget that, Ayana is always there to remind you of that fact. Especially with the appearances she makes near the climax of the story in various chapters.
    But perhaps what I love most is the use of perspective. Returning to a previous point, in your first reading of Chapter 0 you will naturally orient your own perspective with Yuki's since all the information we receive in that chapter is from her. In fact, the whole story is told from the first person perspective of various unreliable narrators. And in every chapter we will identify our understanding of things from that character's point of view.
    But by the second reading of the story, because we have a complete picture of everything, there is a dichotomy between the reader, and the protagonist's narration. An artificial feeling that we are in a third perspective emerges. Because at this point we can balance what the protagonist perceives, with an objective understanding. Which causes us to identify with out own (third person) perspective of the story, rather than submitting to the protagonist's point of view. The more the reader develops their own personal perspective of things, the more they can relate to Ayana. The one character whose role is simply to be an objective observer.
    In a first reading, conversations with Ayana seem like she is teasing the reader for how little they actually know of what is going on. But this is because in a first reading, we identify with whichever protagonist's perspective we are seeing. Ayana is teasing us the reader by teasing the character she is talking to. The more we identify with the character's point of view, the more annoying and weird Ayana seems. But the more we identify with our own perspective (meaning by having read everything already), the more Ayana feels like an equal talking to us. Since just like the reader, she is the only other objective perspective on everything.
    In fact, this brings us back to the fact that unlike a book, where a first person narrative is without dispute a first person narrative. This is a visual novel, with choices. Even with all the information presented to us is in first person, it is by nature of its medium a third person experience since we dictate the story at certain key points. And Ayana is there to remind us that we like her, are experiencing things from an objective point of view.
  8. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, A Solution to Rising Healthcare Costs in the United States   
    Punching Doctors to Reduce Healthcare Spending in the United States
    Healthcare costs in the United States are the highest of any country in the world, even when adjusting for relative wealth1 (Figure 1). In spite of this, life expectancy in the United States falls behind that of other OECD countries2, as demonstrated in Figure 2. Considering the disparity in life expectancy by income quintile3―a disparity that is not nearly as pronounced in other countries4―it is presumable that the overall life expectancy in the United States would increase significantly if universal coverage were achieved5, thereby granting the poor, who are disproportionately represented by uninsurance and underinsurance6, access to basic preventative services.

    Figure 1: Healthcare spending (public + private) per capita in several OECD countries.
    Source: The Kaiser Family Foundation

    Figure 2: Life Expectancy at Birth of OECD Countries, 2011.
    Opinions regarding the manner in which universal coverage can be achieved, or should be achieved, vary widely by partisan affiliation7. However, in consideration of the fact that Medicaid, the United States federal program that seeks to alleviate uninsurance among the poor, yields high returns on investment8, bipartisan support should exist for a proposal in which funds accrued from an agreeable health-related policy change were earmarked to expand coverage under Medicaid.
    In particular, Republican politicians widely favor tort reform9, whereby legislation is enacted to minimize malpractice lawsuits against doctors. These costly lawsuits, it is reasoned, not only waste time and money where the cause for litigation is often trivial, but also incentivize medical practitioners to order unnecessary and expensive testing.
    This investigation proposes an alternative to tort reform: Violence against doctors.
    The phenomenon of violence against doctors and other medical practitioners exists primarily in China, where, accordingly, malpractice lawsuits are less common than in other countries10. As patients find it difficult to successfully sue practitioners who provide inadequate care or order unnecessary tests (often at the expense of the patient in the form of co-pays and deductibles), they instead retaliate by violence against those practitioners. While the patient may make this decision out of personal emotions, this phenomenon theoretically works to the benefit of the healthcare system at large, because this incentivization against malpractice is much less expensive than lawsuits.
    The conservative think tank American Action Forum estimates that tort reform enacted nation-wide could save $15 billion11. This figure will serve as the minimum amount of savings required for this "Violence Against Doctors" system to be considered successful. (In fact, this system will likely have additional benefits not shared with tort reform; for example, tort reform enacted in Texas simply capped the plaintiff's allowed expenditure of medical malpractice lawsuits12, which does not necessarily disincentivize the doctor from committing malpractice or ordering excessive testing.)
    In 2008, there were 63,370 medical malpractice lawsuits costing a total $55.6 billion across the system, meaning that the mean lawsuit costs approximately $877,387. In order to save $15 billion, therefore, 17,096 lawsuits (or roughly 27% of all medical malpractice lawsuits) would have to be avoided by violence-induced disincentivization.
    In order to standardize the amount of violence against doctors, we will use "punches" by the patient against the practitioner as the unit of measurement. Figure 3 demonstrates the theoretical relationship between each punch and the amount of averted medical malpractice lawsuits.

    Figure 3: Relationship between punches and resultant averted lawsuits.
    Because 0 punches should result in 0 averted lawsuits, the regression does not have a y-intercept. Therefore, the relationship between the two variables is y = mx, where "m" represents the amount of lawsuits averted per punch. For example, if a patient punching a practitioner results in two fewer lawsuits, then m = (1 punch)/(2 averted lawsuits) = 0.5 punches per averted lawsuit.
    However, intuitively, it is much more probable that the value of m exceeds 1, meaning that multiple punches are required to avoid a lawsuit. Therefore, to achieve the desired number of averted lawsuits (17,096), it is necessary to estimate the required number of overall punches, p, multiplied by the inverse of the coefficient m.

    Figure 4: Number of punches required to avert desired number of lawsuits.
    In the above relationship, the quantity p (punches) × m-1 (averted lawsuits/punch) = averted lawsuits. Randomized control trial(s) will be necessary to yield the values of m and p.
    The following factors may contribute to uncertainty:
    Other units, such as "kicks" and "karate chops" can be utilized in lieu of or in coordination with punches, and separate experiments may need to be conducted in order to measure the coefficient m of these alternative methods. Less discrete methods, such as "rear naked chokes, "kimuras," and "Batista Bombs," may be utilized by the patient in practice but would be difficult to quantify as a function of m. The value of m is subject to variation depending on the medical practitioner's income: An identical number of punches administered to two separate practitioners should result in more averted lawsuits from the better-paid practitioner. This effectively makes the legislation progressive in terms of revenue, which should please Democrats. In many cases, the medical practitioner may retaliate by engaging in combat with the patient; this would result in an increase in the value of m and thus a decrease in the value of p, indicating that more punches will be required to achieve 17,096 averted lawsuits. The above factor is exacerbated by the fact that the constitution of patients, by definition, is usually inferior to that of the medical practitioner. Care centers may enact measures to retaliate against potential violence by patients. In China, for example, hospital staff have been taught kung fu13 and security personnel recruited to minimize violence. This problem could be alleviated by outlawing such defensive measures. Practitioners who receive an excessive amount of punches may end up as patients themselves; subsequently, they may be the victim of malpractice by another practitioner, prompting further violence and possibly resulting in a death spiral. Conclusions
    Depending on the findings of potential experimentation, public healthcare spending may be significantly decreased by implementing at the federal level laws with the following effects:
    Patients who perceive malpractice on the part of their medical practitioners may punch those practitioners without personal repercussion. As the effectiveness of alternative methods of violence are revealed by reliable experimentation, those methods will be permitted (and encouraged) alongside punches. Immediate family members of the patients who perceive malpractice on the part of their medical practitioners may punch those practitioners without personal repercussion. Medical practitioners are not allowed to carry weapons within a 2-mile radius of any care center in which they work. Medical practitioners are not allowed to practice martial arts within a 2-mile radius of any care center in which they work. Add an exception to this rule when the medical practitioner is administering outpatient care and a robber invades the patient's home. Improve price transparency. Yearly analyses by the Congressional Budget Office will be performed in order to determine the increased revenue resulting from these provisions, and this revenue will be earmarked to expand Medicaid.
    http://kff.org/health-costs/issue-brief/snapshots-health-care-spending-in-the-united-states-selected-oecd-countries/ https://aneconomicsense.org/2013/11/22/us-health-care-high-cost-and-mediocre-results/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/18/the-government-is-spending-more-to-help-rich-seniors-than-poor-ones/?utm_term=.b78a869d9c01 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK62373/ http://keepthemiddleclassalive.com/inequality-and-health/ http://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/ http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/13/more-americans-say-government-should-ensure-health-care-coverage/ http://ccf.georgetown.edu/2015/07/28/medicaid-provides-excellent-long-term-return-investment/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/12/30/top-republicans-say-theres-a-medical-malpractice-crisis-experts-say-there-isnt/?utm_term=.7046065be43e https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4261607/#CR3 https://www.americanactionforum.org/research/tort-reforms-impact-health-care-costs/ http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/texass-cap-for-medical-malpractice-damages.html http://world.time.com/2013/11/06/kung-fu-doctors-shanghai-hospitals-train-medical-staff-for-attacks/
  9. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Getting the Madness Out Of Your Method   
    I recently came to the sobering realization that I've been editing translations of visual novels for about a year now. I've edited some 40,000 translated lines across large chunks of four works, and in the process I've learned a whole lot. Mostly what I've learned is about the mechanics of how to write well, and correspondingly that's mostly what I've written about on this blog, but today I'm tackling a slightly different subject: how to arrange the time you spend editing.
    This advice is principally targeted to people working on longer projects. If you're working on something shorter than say 4,000 lines, things change a little bit because it's much more feasible to easily keep the whole thing in your head with just a couple of readings, whereas with longer works, you're going to have to plan for it to be a marathon. Even so, most of this advice still applies to shorter works, but the key difference is that it's much more feasible to knock out an entire short work in a month or so, then let the script rest for a month or so, and then go back and give it all another fairly quick once-over in a week or two, and then call it done. With a longer work, you'll end up working on sections at a time and need to go back and work on random sections periodically over a period of many months.
    So, that explanation done, here are the various techniques which work for me. It's worth mentioning that most of these are applicable not just to editing, but also to translation:
    Read It First
    If at all possible, you should read the whole piece once before you start working on it. If you can't read the original language and you're following closely behind the translator, then you don't have much of an option here of course, but if it's possible for you to read it, do it. Reading first will both save you time and result in a higher-quality product. The benefit of reading first is more easily recognizing broad themes and motifs as soon as you first work on them, and similarly, recognizing smaller-scale things like running gags which need to be set up correctly early on. The earlier you can start handling these things correctly, the less work will be required to go back and fix them up afterwards, and the less likely you are to simply miss something while going back to fix them up.
    Push Your Changes Frequently
    Every day's chunk of work should be pushed to a central server for your team (Google Sheets, Git, SVN, whatever). Your team members need to be able to see what you're doing, and hopefully will be reading what you check in and offering critique; no one person has all the answers. Don't sit on local changes and fuss at them until they're perfect. Do a day's work and push it.
    Always Check Your Whole Set Of Changes Over Before Pushing
    This is the most important piece of advice I have here, so pay attention.
    Every time when I sit down to edit new lines, I generally work through about 100-200 lines of translated text, almost always with the game playing so that I can get all the added context (including voice over, but also scripting: scene changes aren't always obvious from your script editor, and sometimes they completely change the interpretation of a line). Once I'm done with that first editing pass with the game, I save my changes locally, and then I go read through all of my edited lines again in order (no game this time, and usually not even looking at the translation). During this second pass, I'm mostly looking for copy editing issues, like typos and grammar errors. I find a lot of them. Like, a whole lot. I'm a very good copy editor, but I've come to grips with the fact that when I'm line editing, I make a ton of mistakes. I rarely do any line editing again during this second pass (hopefully there's not much need to... although I usually do often find one or two lines I want to tweak), but I usually fix a solid 3-4 typos during this second pass, among the 100-200 lines I edited. Given that this second pass is pretty quick to do when the scene is still fresh in your mind, I consider this time very well-spent. My edited scripts still need QC (editing your own work is hard), but a great deal less than they would otherwise.
    Keep Tweaking
    After I've gone through that two-pass edit step, I usually won't look at a scene again for at least a month, often longer. However, I'll frequently hit natural stopping points when working through fresh sections of a script (e.g., maybe I finish a whole route, or I simply catch up with the translator on the route I'm working on). When that happens, I will go back and re-edit something I've already done. When I re-edit, usually I find things are fine, but I always find at least a few lines per scene I want to change. This second line edit takes much less time than the initial line edit, but still usually ends up with a fair number of changes. The rule for checking over these changes before pushing applies here, too: whenever you line edit, after you're done, save it all locally and read through the whole diff of changes for the day, mostly looking for copy editing mistakes: you'll find some, nearly every time.
    The reason to do this is mostly that your perspective on the game will be evolving as you build more of a rapport with it: characters will become better established in your mind, and you'll want to make them consistent. Maybe your preferences around phrasing certain things will change. Because larger VN translation projects typically span a year (or multiple...), there's a lot of time for you to change your mind about things. You don't want the work to end up inconsistent, so the best remedy for this is to be constantly rereading chunks of it and tweaking them, massaging them until they're more internally consistent. These re-edits are always much faster than the initial edit, and doing them bears a lot of fruit in terms of quality.
    In short:
    10 Line edit
    20 Copy edit
    30 SLEEP 1 MONTH
    40 GOTO 10
    Work Slowly But Steadily: Avoid Burnout
    VNs are long, and the time you can commit on any given day is always going to be a tiny fraction of what it will take to finish the work. If you tell yourself, "This weekend I'm going to sit down and work on this for six hours," you're only going to grow to dislike it before too long (it will feel like too much of a burden) and you're going to start slipping on those promises to yourself very quickly. The only way large projects get done on anything approaching a reasonable timeline is through a constant accumulation of bite-sized pieces of work. Plan to work on the project for 45 minutes a day, six or seven days a week, and you will be much less likely to get burned out and walk away from the project. Maybe every now and then you'll get motivated and work longer, getting more than the usual done on a given day, and that is all well and good, but such exceptional days will turn out to be a drop in the bucket compared to the constant steady progress from doing a regular, fixed amount of work every day.
    In Summary
    Working on a VN translation is a lot of difficult work, so treat it with respect. The above is what's worked for me to keep me going at this steadily for a year, constantly getting work done and constantly improving. What works for you? Got any tips to share?
  10. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, I got a cast-off figure   
    WARNING: NSFW images below:

  11. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, On the Important Matter Regarding Cats and Laser Pointers   
    While the final cause of my chronic insomnia has been a subject of much consternation on my part, the answer was none too subtle last night. Indeed, something weighed heavily on my heart, compounding the recurring problem of Arby's-induced arterial blockage.
    If I were to own a cat, would it ever catch on to my laser-pointing diversions? As any former or current participant in this activity can attest, it is very entertaining, such that one should enjoy it in the absence of concerns that it may someday become infeasible. I ruminated on this question after recalling this gif that tangentially addresses the matter.
    In other words, may I consider the feline mind analogous to that of a dog who, in a like manner, readily fetches the stick only to endure the same Sisyphean struggle moments later and without cessation?
  12. Like
    akaritan reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Toxic Tropes: The Childhood Promise, the easygoing osananajimi relationship   
    I decided to start a series covering certain tropes I consider to be generally toxic for various reasons.  These tropes are not character archetypes (which I will probably make a different series of posts about later), just to let you know.
    This time, I want to cover the childhood promise, and easygoing relationships with osananajimi heroines.
    The Childhood Promise
    Perhaps one of the most prolifically used tropes in charage in particular and VNs in general, the childhood promise is also one of the most poorly utilized tropes in existence.
    There are a number of reasons why a writer might choose to use this... and here is a list:
    1) To create an excuse for a deredere heroine.  For better or worse, the childhood promise has created more heroines who were in love with the protagonist before the story began than any other trope.  'Love at first sight' is such a fundamentally ridiculous concept that it isn't even worth considering when it pops up, so this often takes the place of that trope with deredere heroines.
    2)  To lessen the need for non-flashback character development.  The flashback is a useful tool when characterizing a heroine, as the past is the building blocks of a character.  However, with a childhood promise, flashbacks sometimes take on a new meaning and intensity, sometimes even taking center stage from the heroine's story in the present. 
    3)  To create impetus for the formation of a romantic relationship.  This is the most obvious reason, since all tropes in a charage are directed to eitehr developing the characters or the romance.
    The problem with this trope is that it really is overused.  How many heroines have you encountered who have had a protagonist promise marriage to them in the past?  What about a promise to reunite in the future?  What about a promise to always be friends?  It seems like two out of three of all charage inevitably use this  particular trope, and, while it is a convenient one, it does have a tendency to cheapen the overall experience when utilized poorly.  In and of itself, like most tropes, it has the potential to be immensely useful... and when used properly it does actually enhance the experience.  However, there is a tendency with the current generation of charage/moege writers to 'rely' on it rather than 'use' it.
    Easygoing relationships with Osananajimi Heroines
    The Osananajimi Heroine is the single most common type of heroine in existence... and almost as common is the easygoing relationships between them and the protagonists (extreme tsunderes sometimes being an exception).  As an example, the protagonist from Tsuyokiss and Kani.  He wakes her up every morning before going to school, they exchange insults almost like male friends... and when things finally turn to romance neither can seem to figure out how to do it.
    This trope's pitfall is right there... whenever the time comes to transform it into a romantic relationship, you get huge bumps, with neither side apparently capable of figuring out how to get out of a decade-long rut.  The first few times you run into this, it is kind of funny, but the thirtieth time I hit this particular bump, I was at the point where I wanted to drop any and all osananajimi heroines out the airlock and into the nearest star.
    Worse is when the writer awkwardly rewrites the boundaries of their relationship.  Humans are creatures of habit, so it doesn't make sense for the heroine and protagonist to completely ignore that perfectly serviceable path they've been using for years for the overgrown and hard to see path going off into the Forest of Normal Lovers. 
    The point is, as amusing as this trope can be, it doesn't mix well with romance.
    Look forward to my next post on Toxic Tropes.
  13. Like
    akaritan reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Bad Fapanese: A Bathroom Diary (11月24日)   
    Well, long time no content here, eh. So, uhh, I started writing a diary when I poop. But it’s in bad Fapanese. I have some faint hope that seeing my amusing stumbles might inspire you to practice writing in Japanese. Yes, you over there in my target audience of maybe one person. The actual content of this entry is unlikely to inspire anyone, so it’s all the better that nobody will understand it anyway.
    For authenticity (and hopefully showing that it’s ok to mess up a bit or something) I have preserved all the grammatical and kanji errors I made, noting what I spotted reading through it again below.
    [1] I’m not even sure if the つつ grammar is any good here, but I made a more fundamental error. つつ needs to be attached to the actual stem of the verb in question (here 近づく), rather than what you get when I use ichidan verb rules on godan verbs. tl;dr this should be 近づきつつ.
    [2] While 一月 apparently can mean “one month”, it also means “January”. What I meant to write was 一ヶ月.
    [3] Pls decide if you want a chouon or not in the word you katakana’d because you don’t know the fapanese one, zaka.
    [4] I wrote this kanji wrong, using 良 as the right side.
    [5]感請 should be 感情 here.
    [6] I wrote 機 without the tree on the left and kinda wrong in general. I have recreated my failure in paint for you to enjoy.

    View the full article
  14. Like
    akaritan reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Why the Nostalgia?   
    If some of you failed to notice, I've been going back over my list of ancient favorites amongst the moege/charage/slice-of-life genres.  Why am I doing this?  I actually have some good reasons, other than whims.
    First, I keep recommending these things to people, but when you start talking about a VN you last played five years ago, people tend to let it in one ear and out the other.  I mean, my long-term memory for games and books is pretty good, but my brain is fairly compartmentalized, so I don't remember them actively unless I go through the effort to refresh that memory.  Can I continue to say that I honestly recommend something without playing it in the recent enough past that I can compare it to other, more recent VN experiences, through more jaded eyes?
    Second, I want to know just how much nostalgia is coloring my viewpoint.  To be blunt, the longer you are away from your favorite games or VNs, the more the memory gets beautified by distance in time.  When I recently did a speed replay of G-senjou, I reaffirmed why I disliked the story structure while at the same time realizing that I didn't always do it justice due to my biases (no, I didn't blog on it, but I was mostly doing it for my own edification, anyway). 
    Third, I like to think that I try to be as objective as possible, so I wanted to reexplore my VN roots when it came to my attitude toward charage/moege.  One thing I've noticed as I replayed certain charage from the past is that the best of the older generation wasted the least time on 'everyday' slice-of-life, ironically.  The gradual shift to put an excessive emphasis on the everyday life aspects of charage and moege is a relatively recent phenomenon, from what I've re-experienced.  A part of this is that, as the audience in Japan has aged, so has their nostalgia for an 'ideal youth' become much stronger.  The fact is, a lot of the 'devoted' moe-gamers in Japan aren't young people (at least not the ones who are also erogamers).  They are older people who want to experience an idealized version of youth through a non-person protagonist's viewpoint.  Ironically, this seems to be the reason why the market is shrinking, since younger generations don't find that kind of stuff as accessible as the older generation does, so you can tell to some extent what generation a company is appealing to by how weak the protagonist is and/or archetypical the characters are, lol.
  15. Like
    akaritan reacted to Kawasumi for a blog entry, NikuNiku review: lazy edition   
    so, since im the lazy sidekick for the TL, it was only fitting that I finished this fucking amazing gory mess of a vn after everybody else was done lol. So here is my review, in super lazy edition
    +superb endings
    +/- great BGM, short loops (around a minute each) (favorite bgm track: https://clyp.it/epwzo4pz )
    + the voice acting is amazing
    - the main antagonist wasnt voiced
    + great suspense all around
    +well constructed scenario with great characters
    +ruby-sama <3
    +lots of nice scenes for guro fanatics (they even fuck you over with surprise feels in the middle of over the top guro scenes, thats quite impressive tbh)
    - Mia as a protag is really nice, but her character doesnt stand out as much as the others. But shes fucking moe in a good way, also banya is amazing at writing female characters thats just plain awesome in general, so its not because shes a pushover or the regular danzel in distress (im looking at you grisaia writers) but because her personality can feel kinda dull at times
    - can be kinda predictable for some, but to its defense, it feels like the writer accounted for this and had different theory "traps" set all over the plot that was there to confuse you
    this gets a solid 9/10 from me, it made me feel the same way that saya no uta did and its only a very very small portion of vns that does this. good job banya. Cant wait to read extravaganza now for sure.
  16. Like
    akaritan reacted to john 'mr. customer' smith for a blog entry, LewdGamer in a nutshell   
    I'm going to hell for this.

  17. Like
    akaritan reacted to Dergonu for a blog entry, Shi ni Iku Kimi, Yakata ni Mebuku Zouo   
    Hey, it has been a while since I wrote a blog entry. I did make one not too long ago, when the Maggot Baits TL got announced, but thanks to the forum rollback, that got purged. (Thanks a lot Nosebleed. Yeah, we know it was you!!!)
    Anyways, in this blog entry I'll be talking about the guro game that got released by Bug System about 3 weeks ago, Shi ni Iku Kimi, Yakata ni Mebuku Zouo. I picked this up after @Kawasumi told me about it and asked if I wanted to read it with him, (thanks for that by the way, love you <3), and I was completely hooked after just a few minutes in the game. Now, I know guro isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I just really wanted to write something about this game, so here we are.
    The game has a very simple but effective plot and story, though it was a lot longer then I was expecting. (The 2-10 hour marking on VNDB is right on the edge; the game is a hell of a lot closer to 10 than 2. Depending on your reading speed, it could definitely feel like a medium game.)
    At first glance, I thought this was a mere guro nukige, but that was not the case at all.
    A few small details before we start: The game is NOT translated, at least not at the moment. The difficulty of the game is honestly not very high. I'd say beginners can give this a go without running into many issues. You'll find some words you aren't familiar with unless you read a lot of guro, but it's not very hard to understand it if you use a text hooker and parser. Honestly, if you really want to try out the game, you might actually be fine with a machine translation. Test it out and see for yourself. Main point is, the game isn't very difficult to read.
    Let's get into the story:
    It happened without any warning.

    In a world that was peaceful, superior beings suddenly appeared.
    They one-sidedly massacred humans, and the world was swallowed by a whirlpool of chaos.

    While our heroine Mia was shopping with her family, she also fell victim.
    With her father, mother, and older sister dead, she desperately tried to escape, but before she could a different superior man appeared before her.
    Falling into desperation and prepared to die, Mia took up a knife and stabbed the man.

    The next second, she lost consciousness.
    Not knowing what had happened to her, she felt a great pain on her stomach.

    "You hurt my body, now I can't allow you to die easily. Your sin... deserves ten thousand deaths..."
    Pulled from the VNDB description. Basically, Mia stabs a "superior-man" (that is literally what they are called in the game,) and he swears she will die ten thousand times as punishment for her grave sin.
    Some more information on these "superior beings", they look like humans, but are seemingly immortal, can use magic, feed on humans and the lot of them are just a gang of messed up bastards.
    Mia wakes up in a mansion, and soon finds out that this mansion has been taken over by the superior-man she stabbed. He explains the "rules of the mansion" to her in a completely calm and collected tone of voice. (Then crushes her arm to bits after the explenation. What a nice guy!)
    To sum it up, Mia can do whatever she wants inside the mansion and no one will try to stop her, (she can even try to escape if she wants, but it will be futile, as a barrier has been put up around the house, and the only way to turn off the barrier is to kill the man.) Mia's room is "magic", and it will heal any injury, no matter how serious it is. Basically, even if Mia is dead, as long as a part of her corpse is brought up into her room, it will heal over time and bring her back. The reason this room exists is simple: the man will do horrible things to Mia whenever he feels like it, torturing and killing her, and the only way to stop the loop of her being murdered then resurrected is to kill the man with her own hands. Now the game begins; Mia has to look for a way to kill the Superior-Man in order to stop the loop. Also, one small detail that is important to add in is that whenever Mia dies, her memories get all messed up. (The ressurection magic isn't perfect.) This means that you as a reader will be confused as hell a LOT of the game, because you see things from Mia's point of view, and many times she will wake up having forgotten lots of things while the game kept on going, which means you won't get what the fuck is going on at first. (This is a good thing though, as the confusion adds to the suspense in the game when Mia walks around trying to figure out what is going on and how she can save herself and the others trapped in the mansion. Of course, all the confusion is cleared up in the end, so if you stick with it, you'll get all the answers you want.) Sadly, it did also make the game repeat itself a lot, which wasn't a deal-breaker, but it did get a bit boring after a while. "Mia wakes up, wonders where she is, puts on clothes, walks out into the hallway, goes down to the dining hall." Rinse and repeat.
    The art, music, CGs and backgrounds used in the game are all freaking stellar. It's very high quality stuff. The music is great, and adds to the feeling you have of being trapped in a mansion with a psycopath walking around. It's such a simple horror setup, but it's pulled off so well in the game. The art is quite hilarious actually, because it has a strong moe feel to it. (But, this game is not a moege, obviously )
    Here is a CG from the game, so you can see the amazing moe art in all its glory:

    And to get a taste of the dark elements, and the great music in the game, here is the game's opening. (The censored youtube version.)
    Anyways, like I mentioned in passing earlier, there will be other people in the mansion as well. These people are humans the Superior-Man caprutres for food, and some of them he chooses to use for toys, kind of like Mia. During the game, you get several choices that will let you choose Mia's and the other girls' fate in the mansion. Make a wrong turn, and ... well, you'll figure that out on your own if you choose to play the game
    Some of the other characters will try to help Mia plot out a plan to kill the Superior-Man, and you will be able to decide how you proceed with the plan and so on. Some of the choices will "reward" you with unique CGs and scenes that you cannot get otherwise, making for some decent replay value. The game also has a large amount of endings, (I believe it has around 7 or 8,) so you can keep getting different outcomes depending on your choices.
    All in all, the game is freaking awesome for those who likes dark horror games. Of course, the game focuses heavily on H-content, and several of the scenes contain some fairly "spicy" fetishes, so it's not a game everyone will enjoy, but like I said before, this is not a pure nukige. There is a clear story and the game has a purpose. Everything that happens in the game adds to the story in some way, and as you continue to progress through it, you'll be dying to figure out what happens next.
    That's about it, (this might have turned out a bit messy, sorry for that. Just really wanted to write something about this game real quick.) I'll be trying to get out more blog posts in the future, as I have been way too inactive with my blog after I finished The Last GM Standing.
    Anyways, thanks for reading! Go play the game!
  18. Like
    akaritan reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Pragmatic VN gaming: Some common sense   
    For better or worse, the VN localization industry in America and other Western nations is expanding rapidly, primarily due to the efforts of aggressive localization companies such as Mangagamer and Sekai Project, but also due to the increased interest on the part of at least some Japanese VN companies in making a few extra bucks through localization. 
    I say 'for better or worse' because the increase in localizations has actually begun to outline what some of the biggest problems with VNs are, for those living in the West.  What I've put down below is basic guidance... not all of which I follow myself, but which is mostly common sense (which a surprising number of new Fuwans seem to be ignorant of).
    Ethical/Legal problems
    1. Piracy- To be blunt, prosecuting consumers of pirated games is a waste of time, and most companies are quite well aware of this.  So, most of the fallout for this kind of thing is going to keep hitting the websites and individuals who promote the distribution end of things.  A few examples will most likely be made of outspoken pirate consumers (the idiots, in other words), but the problem here is almost entirely ethical for most.  Tell me, do you think it is right not to pay for content if you happen to have the money needed to pay for it?
    2. Lolicon content- Seriously guys?  When I saw that Maitetsu was getting a localization, even though it was an all-ages one, alarm bells went off in my head.  Someone is inevitably going to put up an h-patch for the game, and that is going to cause a huge amount of controversy later on that could be a huge blow to the industry, in the short run.  Loli content is one of the two nuclear bombs of Japanese eroge, and it is the one that honestly bothers me the most personally (not so much morally, as in a pragmatic sense).
    3. Rapegames- I'm going to be blunt... considering the degree to which Western culture has come to consider rape a mortal sin, do you really think games focused around rape and extreme sexual situations (ie the entire Maggot Baits game) are safe for the industry to localize, if you consider their potential to backfire?  There is no conceivable way that these games could be considered anything other than obscene by any reasonable critic (not a community one, in other words), and in the long run, games like these have an enormous potential to castrate the localization industry.
    4. School-based games- Sadly, the excuse that 'all the heroines are over eighteen' is only going to take you so far in some countries... to be blunt, a judge is unlikely to listen to that kind of protestation if, for whatever insane reason, you end up dragged into court.
    Common sense issues
    1. I don't think anyone has any business telling us we can't import Japanese games, including VNs.  However, as a matter of common sense, you should probably avoid importing anything with a lot of content linked to the numbers 2 and 3 in the section above.  I don't mean to piss on your bonfire, but if you are going to buy something with that kind of material, at least have the sense to use digital download purchases and/or don't display the packages for that type of eroge where casual visitors can see them.
    2. Figurines and other side-junk- Within reason, there is no reason why a fan of a particular bit of otaku media shouldn't order figurines, statuettes, oppai mousepads, etc to decorate their room or gaming space.  However, keep it within reason... I've seen otaku friends of mine go insane and overpurchase, even going into debt, over buying swag.  If you aren't rich, have the sense to focus on the main material first, then expand at a reasonable pace into the swag.  To an extent, the same can be said of the games themselves, considering the costs of the actual purchases plus import costs.
    3.  Anonymity is your best friend.  Don't pull stupid crap like linking your Facebook profile to your dlsite or getchu account... for that matter, don't link them to your Fuwanovel account, if you are a fan of 'deep' eroge content.  Leaving that kind of data around for casual skimmers to find is just plain stupid.
    4.  If you are a fantranslator, number 3 applies emphatically unless you are about to go 'legit' by handing your translation to a localization company.
    5.  During scandal times (like when the media is making a big deal over an eroge-related issue such as during the infamous Rapelay incident) have the sense to take cover and avoid conversing on rapegames and lolige publicly. 
    6.  Know the difference between being open about your libido and being excessive *remembers Steve*
    A final comment
    Needless to say, almost all the issues above revolve around controversial sexual content.  Part of that is that many people, both inside and outside the VN fanbase, have trouble marking the difference between fiction and reality when it comes to otaku media (an insanity that I can understand but am long past).  As a legal argument, it (as in the argument that figments of an artist's or writer's imagination, as opposed to real women, cannot be considered underaged and cannot be considered victims in any way, form, or fashion) actually has a lot of merit... but that doesn't mean that they'll rule in your favor, in the end, lol.  The West is prudish, to the extreme.  There is no telling when religious interests will slip a noose around our necks, and general moralists are just as bad.  I'm not perfect about taking my own advice.  I'm a VN junkie, and I really don't have any morals when it comes to my search for good VN stories.  I might be disgusted by some content, but that won't prevent me from experiencing the story, lol.  However, a lot of the people around me seem to be utterly unaware of the risks of being an eroge reader... and I felt I had to put this out there, for the 'public' good, even though I'm certain I've already pissed off the anti-censorship and pro-piracy parts of the community, lol. 
  19. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, What Is Editing? (baby don't hurt me)   
    My blog posts so far have mostly been about how to edit. That holds true for most every other VN editing blog I've ever seen as well. But I'm a really big believer in approaching any significant task from a "Why, What, How" perspective. So now, let's try to answer those first two questions.
    Even "What Is Editing" would be starting in too far (it made for a better title, so sue me). Let's start with this: why do translation projects, or even original fiction projects like novels, have editors?
    The goal of editing is to help the author achieve their goals.
    An author brings a whole lot of goals to the table: a story, characters with personalities and motivations, a setting, overarching motifs, style, ... probably a lot of other stuff I forgot. Anyway, you get the idea; there's a lot there which they're just trying to get out on paper (or bits, or whatever) and then into your brain.
    An editor doesn't bring any of that stuff. An editor instead strives to understand all of these things the author wants to communicate, finds the points where they can be better achieved, and refines the text to better achieve the author's goals. Although there's obviously some overlap, there are quite different skill sets involved in the raw writing and the editing, and thus the two roles are often fulfilled by two people.
    How about for a translated VN, rather than for, say, writing a novel? The story is roughly the same, actually. Although the translator has essentially the same goals as the editor in this case, the skill sets required are quite different, and thus differentiating the two roles is not uncommon and frequently beneficial to the project, for the same reasons as it is with original writing and editing.
    I'll also add that an original writer is usually considered "too close" to the original text to make a good editor. Even a writer who is also a great editor will benefit from having someone else edit their manuscript. I haven't heard the same thing said of translators, though, so that might not be relevant to this special case. But the skill set differentiation point still stands in the case of translation.
    Assuming you're satisfied with that explanation for Why, let's move on to What.
    Professional manuscript editing typically distinguishes four kinds of editing: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Those are ordered based on both the scope of changes they make, and also the chronological order in which you should do them: developmental editing is very macroscopic and happens first, while proofreading is very microscopic and happens last. Let's drill into each:
    Developmental Editing
    Developmental editing is, first, the act of identifying all of those authorial goals I mentioned, and second the act of cutting, rearranging, and adding large chunks (think: add this whole new scene, cut that whole character) in order to advance the author's goals.
    Obviously, that second half isn't applicable to VN translation. You're not going to cut whole scenes or change how characters behave. Those decisions have already long since been made by the original writers, hopefully with the help of an editor of their own ;).
    But the first half is essential, and is quite a bit harder in VN translation, since you generally can't actually talk to the writer. Read it all, understand the authorial goals, and build a strong, consistent interpretation of the plot, the characters, the motifs, the setting, the tone, everything you can think of. If you don't form an interpretation while translating/editing, you're liable to thwart the author's goals as part of your translation, and as a result accidentally obscure or entirely lose key points of the original intent. Of course, you'll occasionally make mistakes in your interpretation, resulting in mistakes in translation. But if you don't even form an interpretation, the result will actually be worse: you'll still make mistakes in the translation, and the resulting translation will certainly be internally inconsistent, but you won't notice those internal inconsistencies because you have no guiding interpretation. If you form a consistent interpretation and let it guide your translation, when the text goes against your interpretation, the resulting inconsistency means you'll notice it, correct your interpretation, and then go back and modify your translation to fit the corrected interpretation.
    Line Editing
    Line editing is about assessing and fixing the flow of a scene and the flow of a line. It's about logic, language, word choice, rhythm, the mechanics of a sentence, and the sound of human speech. It is not concerned with grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling, but more with higher-level ideas like tone, emotion, and atmosphere. A line editor worries whether a sentence ought to be punchy or loquacious, not whether it has all the commas in all the right places.
    "Logic" probably seemed a bit out of place there, so let me give an example for that one in particular, since it's essential. For example, unless you're editing the VN equivalent of a Beckett play (and if you are, please point me to that VN, because I'm interested), one dialog line should generally be a logical response to the previous one. A canny line editor will ensure the logical flow from event to event, line to line, and even scene to scene, ensuring consistency of the narration.
    This is also where all that authorial intent mentioned above comes into play: an editor in this capacity should also be ensuring consistency of a line with those overarching goals. A good line editor will help ensure that characterization is consistent, for instance, or that a motif is not buried inappropriately. An editor, in their avatar as the keeper of consistency, is crucial to achieving those authorial goals.
    The prose side of line editing is also key simply because stilted speech, unnatural utterances, redundant repetition, awkward alliteration, and their ilk all kick you out of the immersion. Your brain wants to keep reading something when it flows well. And nothing hits softer than shitty prose.
    Line editing is the meat of VN editing. It's what most existing VN editing blogs are about, not coincidentally. If you're an editor for a VN, line editing is what you should be thinking about constantly.
    In addition to recommending other VN editing blogs, notably Darbury's blog (mostly about line editing, though all the punctuation ones are more about copy editing) and Moogy's now-ancient blog post (basically all about line editing), I'll also suggest you go read up on line editing in a general setting. A quick search for "what is line editing" will lead you to mountains of useful links. As a random example, this is one such useful link, and it's hilarious, well-written, and edifying: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/short-course-line-editing. There is a veritable sea of such articles on the internet. Read them.
    Copy Editing
    Copy editing is about the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It's not the same as proofreading, but it's getting close. The copy editor typically should select and enforce an appropriate style manual (AP, Chicago, MLA, take your pick). The copy editor is the person who gets mad when you write "I baked 7 blackbirds into that pie." instead of "I baked seven blackbirds into that pie.", and who calmly, patiently replaces all your misused hyphens in the middle of sentences with em-dashes.
    You're unlikely to have a dedicated copy editor on a VN project; if you've got the "editor" role, you're probably it. I think this is along the lines of what most people think of already when they hear "editing" anyway, but really the line editing is the most important to the enjoyment of the text. Still, the picky people among us can get awfully uppity if you start putting in stuff like ellipses with four dots and inconsistent use of the Oxford comma (sidebar for the attentive: I'm for it, as you've already noticed). Copy editing is a particularly thankless job, since it's not like you can do an exceptional job of copy editing and really salvage a bad manuscript, but poor copy editing can certainly hurt an otherwise-good manuscript. So it's worth investing the time in doing it carefully.
    One important recommendation for copy editing: take notes and build up a style document and glossary for your VN as you go. Are honorifics being used? What about name order? If you're going to romanize some words, is your romanization consistent? Do you 1) always write "senpai", 2) always write "sempai", or 3) mix and match? I don't care if it's 1 or 2, but it better not be 3. Write conventions like this in a shared document and make sure everybody knows about the conventions and the document.
    Proofreading is the final stage of this pipeline. The role includes checking for grammatical errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos, and perhaps some more exotic things like incorrect English dialect. It's straightforward and mechanical. Like copy editing, it is essentially thankless. It is, nonetheless, important. While you're making big sweeping edits doing all the stuff above, you're going to create tons of errors at this level. They need to be fixed. Make sure you have someone (preferably not the "editor", because they're too close to the text) do a proofreading sweep. You can lump it into QC if you like, but make sure that whoever is assigned to do this is looking at it carefully. Check. Every. Single. Word. There are errors in there, I guarantee you, and they're embarrassing. Getting the number of errors down to near-zero before you release your translation is going to make both you and your audience happier.
    In Summary
    There's not one editor; there are four. In an ideal world, with original fiction, you'd actually have someone separate filling each role. For a translation you don't need a developmental editor, leaving you needing three editors. In the non-ideal world you live in, you've probably got at least two of those roles to yourself. Push for someone else to handle proofreading, at least (call it "QC" if you have to), and make sure said person has the necessary ability and attention to detail. If you're the "editor", then you're almost certainly doing both line editing and copy editing. When that happens, make sure you keep a balance amongst all the things you need to do: for instance, spend 10% of your effort trying to understand what the author is trying to achieve, 88% of your effort on line editing (it's the meat, after all), and 2% on copy editing the little details like punctuation, romanization, etc.
    And If You Can Only Remember One Thing
    Focus on line editing.
  20. Like
    akaritan reacted to Fiddle for a blog entry, THIS LAMP SUCKS   

  21. Like
    akaritan reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Other Oddball Punctuation in VNs: A Final Roundup   
    It's sad but true: we've finally come to the end of our tour of Japanese punctuation for VN editors. But before we bid adieu, there are a few more types we have yet to cover. None merit full blog posts, however, so I offer them up here in a bit of a punctuation grab bag. Reach in if you dare.
    The placeholder:  〇
    The 〇 is typically used to censor offensive language by replacing one of the characters in a word. It's the equivalent of writing "f*ck" or "sh-t" or in English. Everyone knows what's being said, but we can all pretend we didn't say it. Kumbaya, amirite? Cursing really isn't a thing in Japanese, of course, so these marks get used either for our naughtiest bits — think "cock" and "dick," or "pussy" and "cunt" — or certain other socially offensive terms. You might be surprised to see censoring in the middle of an H-scene that, in all other respects, has spared no detail or volume of liquid, but there you go. Just think of them as pixel mosaics for written text.
    As for editing these bad boys, you should almost always just go with uncensored English. Fuck yeah. The one situation where you might want to consider doing otherwise is when a VN also bleeps these words in the VO. In that case, you'd also be justified in using the censored English equivalent with either *, -, or _ replacing vowels as needed. Pick only one wildcard and be consistent in its use.
    Another use for these characters in Japanese is to mask portions of real-life names or places — e.g., Bu〇er King. This is done both out of a sense of propriety and to avoid the wrath of real-life lawyers. You'll conceivably see the names of celebrities, bands, games, movies, etc. all masked in this fashion. Thankfully, there's a long tradition of this in Western literature as well, most notably in the Victorian era — "I sent my butler out to the renowned psychic, Madame G—, to seek her advice on the matter." Our best course of action during editing is to mimic the Japanese, but do so in the English tradition, replacing the omitted portion with an em-dash — two if the excised text is particularly long.
    Sometimes, rather than use 〇 for masking, a VN writer will choose to come up with soundalike parody names for the person, place, or thing being referenced. And so you'll end up with people talking about anime like Wagonball Z and Tailor Moon. If the VN chooses this option, then so should you. Do your best to come up with witty replacements in English.
    More rarely, you'll see a double 〇〇 all by its lonesome. This just stands for "word goes here." It's a literal placeholder. If you encounter it in narration, you can usually replace it with a few underscores, like _________. If it appears in voiced dialogue, possible options include "blahblah," "yada yada," "blankity-blank," or whatever else you can think up.
    Parentheses: ( )
    In VNs, these typically indicate a line should be read as internal monologue, or in some cases, a stage whisper.
    The meaning is clear in both languages, so best to keep these as they are. Unless, of course, your text engine is one of those rare snowflakes that can output English italics. In that case, use those.
    Bedazzlers: ★☆♪♫❤❆❀✿❁
    Okay, they're not actually called "bedazzlers," but it's a good a name as any. You know what I'm talking about, right? That big ol' box of typographical Lucky Charms that gets dumped right onto VN text to provide some wacky flavor to the proceedings. Hearts, stars, flowers, snowflakes, music notes, Zodiac signs, etc. 
    Some common uses include:
    - A music note at the end of a line to show it's being sung. ("Fly me to the moon♪")
    - A heart somewhere in a line to indicate puppy love at its most disgusting. ("He's so dreeeamy❤")
    - A name or term being bracketed by stars to show that it's extrasupervery OMGmagical. ("Aha! I've transformed into ☆Magical Girl Bertha☆")
    - A tiny gun so we can commit suicide after enduring all the above.
    These little pretties are self-explanatory enough that I tend to leave them as is. Japan's gotta Japan, right? But use your best judgement; if you feel like they're getting in the way of the of the English narrative, go ahead and prune them back — or omit them entirely.
    Full stop.
    Not the punctuation; the whole series of punctuation articles. We're done. If I think of any more oddball Japanese punctuation marks worth discussing, I'll add them to the end of this post. But otherwise: happy f〇cking editing!
  22. Like
    akaritan reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Waving goodbye to the wave dash ( 〜 ) in VN translations   
    Another day, another deep dive into the esoterica of visual novel punctuation. Next on our chopping block: the wave dash ( 〜 ), which looks an awful lot like the Western tilde (~) but functions nothing like it. Our refrain here is a familiar one: the wave dash has no place in well-localized English VNs and should be removed or replaced wherever possible. No ifs, no ands, but one very small but.
    How 〜  functions in Japanese
    The wave dash has several fairly pedestrian functions in written Japanese, including separating ranges of values, which is handled by the en-dash (–) in English; denoting geographic origins; and separating title from subtitle, which is handled by the colon in English (e.g., Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo). These are all fairly boring, however, and if you’re an editor, your translator should already have converted such wave dashes to their Western equivalents.
    Where things get interesting, and by “interesting” I mean “annoying,” is when we start looking at some more colloquial uses that pop up in translated VNs with alarming frequency.
    The wave dash can be used to elongate and modulate a vowel sound, much like the long vowel mark (ー) in katakana. You’ll sometimes find 〜  applied to the end of a word, and it’s implied that this longer sound is audibly “brighter.” Terms like “uptalk,” “vibrato/tremolo,” “kawaii” and “girlish” get thrown around a lot. (Think of the stereotypically perky “Ohayooooo” morning greeting you often hear in VNs or anime.) It’s usually a deliberate choice by the character, done to sound cute, funny, etc.. The wave dash can also be added to the end of a sentence to suggest the entire line should be read with that same brighter inflection – a happy sing-song of sorts. Or sometimes, it can signify literal musicality, as in the line should actually be sung. “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day〜 ” Less frequently, and usually in the context of digital communications, the wave dash can be used to suggest that a word or sentence should be read as being ironic/sarcastic. “Oh great. What a beautiful morning 〜 ” As you can see, there are a bunch of possible readings of any given wave dash, and the correct interpretation depends largely on textual and cultural context. Add in the fact that 〜 is non-standard English punctuation that your average non-otaku isn't familiar with (never mind its various nuances), and it seems like a no-brainer to dump it and convey the intended meaning in clean, clear English instead.
    But no. For some fecking reason, VNs are littered with these fecking squigglers. They’re fecking everywhere, like that scene in The Lost Boys where one of the Coreys, I don’t know which goddamn one, starts eating a takeout container of lo mein but Kiefer Sutherland or some other vampire guy gets all vampirey and is like, “Nuh-uh, Corey” and that selfsame Corey suddenly looks down and his delicious noodles have turned into thousands of these wriggling, white maggots and he can’t vom fast enough.
    It’s literally like that. Literally.
    The answer? Get rid of them.
    Do your readers a kindness and remove wave dashes wherever you encounter them. If your translator has done their job right, you’ll have all the context you need to turn those dashes into well-formed English that anyone can understand. That doesn’t always mean stretching out the last letters preceding the wave dash, mind you. That ways lies disasteeeeeer. All you need to do is ask yourself one simple question: How would it sound natural if a native English-speaker rephrased this line? That’s it!
    Let’s look at some examples. The easiest is where the English usage matches the Japanese, such as stretching out a vowel. So imagine a character walks into a dark and spooky house, then calls out to see if anyone’s home.
    What about cute inflections? Well, English is a rich language; there are plenty of ways to make a sentence sound perkier:
    There’s no magic formula, and it's not rocket science. It's just sitting down and rewriting. And if you’re doing your job as an editor, you should pretty much be rewriting every single line anyway, so it’s no added hardship.
    The one, small exception
    If you remember, I mentioned digital communications a little earlier. This is the one place where I’d recommend you let a sleeping wave dash lie. Typographical oddities (such as emoticons) are part and parcel of the electronic vernacular, so it feels much more natural to let them stay in a text or an IM that’s being quoted verbatim. You want your reader to feel like they’re seeing exactly what the character has on their screen. Just make sure you’ve edited these lines so the English meaning will still be clear if the wave dashes were removed.
    After all, there’s a world of difference between “Great advice, Darbury 〜 ” and “Great advice, Darbury 〜 ”
  23. Like
    akaritan reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Kiss Kiss, Interrobang Bang (?! and !? in VNs)   
    Next up in our parade of visual novel punctuation: the interrobang. That’s right, I said the interrobang. Can you believe it?!   Huh?! What the hell's an interrobang?! "Interrobang" is the term we'll borrow to describe that little dogpile of punctuation, usually represented as ?! or !?, that sits at the end of nearly every question in a visual novel. It's meant to convey incredulity, combining elements of both a question and an exclamation. And, since the typical VN's stock-in-trade is exaggerated emotion, you'll end up seeing it a lot. Because why have your characters simply ask a question when they can GODDAMN SCREAM IT at Samuel L. Jackson levels.   I mentioned we're borrowing the term. The actual interrobang (‽, a ? combined with a !) is a bizarro punctuation mark crowdsourced by an ad agency back in 1962, along with the term “interrobang” itself. (If Wikipedia is to be believed, other suggested names included “QuizDing," “exclamaquest," and “exclarotive.”) It fell out of fashion after the 1960s, though, so you'll rarely see it in the wild. Still, it lurks in the Unicode of a few fonts here and there, lingering on like some creepy conjoined twins left chained to a steam pipe in the dark basement of the English language.   In the meantime, we'll appropriate it here to describe its unpacked counterparts, !? and ?!.   So is it “!?” or the other way around?! Now that we know what our faux interrobang does, our next concern is how it should be edited. Do we (!?) shoot first and ask questions later or (?!) vice versa? There’s little agreement among language mavens as to which is correct, and most VN scripts I’ve seen switch between the two on a whim — sometimes in the very same line. Thus, it falls to the editor and/or translator to impose some order on the situation.   The simple answer: Pick one and stick with it; I don't really care which. Consistency is our primary concern here. The standard emoji character set uses !?, so you'd be entirely justified in rolling with that. Some argue that !? is also more typographically appealing, and I'd tend to agree. However...   The advanced answer: My own preference is to switch between the two on a case-by-case basis, with ?! winning out 95% of the time. That's because I tend to think in terms of nested levels of punctuation, rather than a monolithic model. Which is to say, the sentence   should be read structurally as:
    with the ! modifying a base question and turning it into an exclamation. Since that’s what the interrobang typically does, I end up using ?! in almost all instances. But there are exceptions. Imagine some friends who find out they've won a contest to meet David Hasselhoff. Mid-celebration, it occurs to them they didn't actually enter, so there's no way they should have won.
    Here, a base exclamatory statement is being modified into a question: (We did it!)? so !? would be the more appropriate choice. This kind of usage requires an editor or translator to make lots of judgement calls, however. If you don’t feel comfortable getting that deep into the contextual weeds, there’s absolutely no shame in going the simple route and using one option across the board.
    What about interrogangbangs?!?!? Last but not least, we have the situation where a character goes into full freakout mode and says things like:   In these cases, make sure the first piece of punctuation aligns with the intent of original sentence — is it an exclamation or a question? — then keep the rest of the punctuation exactly as it appears. Or, if you’re opting for the simple method, don’t change a thing. Just stick with the punctuation as provided and keep on walking. It’s what The Hoff would want.
  24. Like
    akaritan reacted to Palas for a blog entry, The Ultimate Analysis of Katawa Shoujo   
    Ladies and gentlemen whose first experience with a visual novel was Katawa Shoujo, please raise your right hands. Very good. Very good, ladies and gentlemen. Now, those of you who have never played it, please raise your left hand. No, m'Lady, watching a Let's Play can't possibly count as a playthrough. I beg your pardon? Why, yes, it's completely different.  But this is for another time, is it not? Well, then. To those who failed to raise either hand when prompted, be it because you were already a seasoned visual novel player when it was released or you just happened to come across it when you were just starting out, I apologize. I'm afraid this won't be a very interesting read to you. It wouldn't be for me.
               I say so as I belong to the last group I mentioned. I'll keep both my hands in my pocket, thanks. To be honest, I don't really share the nostalgia of those who spent hours reading an Emotional Narrative Clickable Slideshow (this is what "visual novel" means in Japanese) for the first time with Katawa Shoujo, nor do I share the perplex skepticism of those who have watched the hurricane of hype from a safe distance. Unfortunately for you who are reading right now, no distance is safe enough.
                I hope that, by the end of this humble piece, you are all able to mutter "so this is what Katawa Shoujo is all about!", yes, even you who raised the right hand. Especially you. Because you see, it has been four years since the most popular non-Japanese visual novel was launched. Your views on it may have changed now, but can you reflect on what about the game roped you in? It could have been both your first and your last visual novel, but it wasn't. What, then, can you tell to your fellow readers who have yet to play Katawa Shoujo?
                Let's start with where most of the stories take place. We have probably all been to Yamaku High. It's Oblivious Garden's homonymous setting. it's Everlasting Summer's Sovyonok, as well as Ever17's LeMU. These aren't worlds or cities - rather, these are smaller places you end up knowing all too well, places you could get tired of. What is special in such settings is that they are a monument to the character - it represents a fundamental flaw or condition of the protagonist, one he cannot fight against and, because of that, will always mirror the way he deals with said flaw or condition. After all, he's there because of that condition, in one way or another. So it's one giant mirror for a character's development, a characteristic that enhances storytelling by keeping one element intact but changing everything else. Yamaku tells a story not through flow, but through contrast. Now, there is a very particular institution in real life that has this effect on us, that has us looking directly at the changes in us when we look at the changes in the place or how we deal with the surroundings.
                Home is a place you know all too well. It's a place you could get tired of and that always embodies a certain aspect in you - childhood, a particular struggle, a series of fortunate events. Thus, this type of setting is capable of emulating both stability - inexorability even - and change and this is why it's so powerful. It's both a hurricane and a mountain and, as such, it's capable of condensing a multitude of feelings that the story can extract and use for its own benefit.
                Consider here that Yamaku encompasses its student body, too. Sorry, sir? Oh, how could I forget? I'm not usually this careless... probably. I'm verry sorry. I'll explain what Yamaku is. It's a school for students with special needs, ranging from the hearing-impaired to amputees to those with a chronic and dangerous diseases, the latter being Hisao's case.
                You could expect transferring into a new school to be difficult, but transferring into a school like this is even more difficult - and not comfortable, as not any disability you may have keeps you from connecting with the fictional world - and so doesn't Hisao's. But more on that later. Case in point, you are an outsider and have no idea how to deal with your new current life. Now this is, of course, a pretty relatable and common situation. However, Katawa Shoujo very cleverly turns that which is internal to external, plain to see difficulties. It is hard to communicate with and reach common grounds with a figure of authority you barely know. Shizune, as president of the student council, is no different. However, because she's deaf, even those who normally have no difficulty in dealing with this kind of thing are forced to concede and are caught wondering whether it's right to look at her while she's talking or to look at the interpreter, Misha.
                Likewise, it's hard enough to approach a shy person and make friends with them. But even if you think you're good at this, at "getting people out of their shell" (could you be any sillier?), Hanako is a challenge. Her shyness is made visible and physical by her burn scars. I don't mean to say the girls' disabilities are metaphors. They are what they are, but they have a very practical effect of forcefully reducing most players to Hisao, beating their feet to fit in his shoes. It's very hard for someone to think ahead of Hisao in his situation, because he struggles as much as the player to behave normally in front of all the people he wants to talk to, but doesn't know how.
                Therefore, a certain magic occurs: daily life becomes a challenge. A simple shared meal is a novelty and a puzzle; ordering in the cafeteria is as complicated at first as choosing from a French menu (given you aren't French, I suppose); the most trivial smalltalk can become a sequence of faux pas. However, it's unavoidable - it's daily life, after all. The sun will rise every day (or as Super Mega Comics so brilliantly put, there is one day every day), you want it or not. As we wanted to demonstrate, a hurricane and a mountain, all at once. And since we're at it, I'd like to think we all took school life pretty seriously when we were there. The person we admired but who didn't think much of us was a big deal; being too ashamed to talk to a classmate for the first time even if it's been three years since you started studying in the same class was a thing; wanting to bury your head in the sand for the slightest mistake was normal.
                Katawa Shoujo emulates the seriousness of daily life artificially, by giving you small, but quite difficult problems, one at a time. In this scenario, slice of life narrative gains value, gains stakes. Thus, in the player's head, few moments are useless - they all become a part of learning how to live as Hisao.
                This is how the game drags you in its universe, which is mostly self-sufficient, since it's you who makes of it what you will. Hisao's disability, a heart condition that nearly killed him and had him imprisoned in a hospital for four months, was carefully chosen - it doesn't impede Hisao from doing mostly anything, but it's perfectly possible to relate, because it entails feeling like you don't know what's going on within yourself - a feeling we all know, have felt at some point and which scared the hell away of us even if it wasn't life-threatening at all.
                But it isn't easy to make a fictional setting feel like home, even if it works in the narrative. The allure is not in the mechanism itself but in how you experience it. Therefore, the feeling of familiarity with the setting, and by corollary with the visual novel as a whole, is built through small repetitions here and there in different contexts. By doing this, each and every aspect of life in Yamaku becomes unique, but paramount. You could say these are the smaller reflections that make up the "hurricane, but mountain" approach.
                Now, Katawa Shoujo's soundtrack gained a lot of praise and I will be the first to declare myself a fan of NicolArmarfi and Blue123's work, but I'd like to argue that much of its effectiveness in conveying feelings comes from the music direction. For instance - and I know this technique is common in visual novels, but humour me nevertheless - not all late afternoon scenes are accompanied by the song Afternoon, but this song will only play in late afternoon scenes. This being the case, the reference for "afternoon time" becomes special in Yamaku. Everyone has to go through afternoons every day, but afternoons in Yamaku feel like something special due to the music that slowly collects your memories and throws them back at you every time it plays. That's the role of a leitmotif and there are plenty of them. The same happens to the heroines' themes - and it is very clear, due to clear presentation of each girl from the start, whose theme is each song.
                A series of nods and shared themes help weaving a complex net of fond memories in the game, each scene being important at least in the atmosphere if not exactly in the narrative. Wiosna - the title theme -, Hokabi and Stride, for example, play in completely different scenes and have specific moods, but the shared theme connects them and makes Katawa Shoujo feel more focused, as if walking towards something. The absolute commitment to the color beige and a few symbols like the heart patched with bandages somewhat helps countering the full jarring effect the conflicting art styles would otherwise have, too.
                So Yamaku is presented at first as the complete impossibility of dealing with our shortcomings. It's how it feels for Hisao, it's how it feels for us. Having forced to play his role, we are kept mulling over the smallest issues - would pushing ourselves a little further do us any good? How do we want to cope? You can fight against it and keep in shape or simply give up on everything that having a weak heart makes a little harder. This is our common route. It has a theme and all choices are supposed to reflect how much you want to distance yourself or dive in this new world and your newfound circumstances. And all of the heroines are better than you - they deal with their own selves much better than you do and know their way around whatever difficulty their disabilities might impose. Of course they have their troubles, but you are not there to help them out. Isn't there someone you should be taking care of before starting to think you can take care of other people? That is, of course, yourself? There is a certain virtue they show that you must learn to access their route. And there's a virtue you already have that they could use.
                This creates five different Hisao guys and you slowly shape yourself to be one of these. In each case, there is a virtue you as a person (or as a player following a walkthrough) possess and something you could work on.  Take Lilly. The choices that lead to her route - and the second to the last one, especially - are all about how honest you are with others regarding your limitations and specialties. All that surrounds Lilly, thus, is a big question of "can you respect yourself enough to rely on others?". Being aware of your weak heart doesn't mean you accept it as an integral part of yourself. Lilly, however, with all flaws she may have, for she is a human being after all, is who she is not in spite of her blindness, but because of it.
                This is the conclusion Hisao reaches in, if I'm not mistaken, every route: if it wasn't for the heart attack, his life wouldn't have changed. If it wasn't for the heart attack, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to like the people he comes to like across the routes and to do the things he does, with all the trouble his heart causes. If it wasn't for the heart attack, he wouldn't be able to thank the heart attack for everything it catalysed. But he reaches this conclusion through five different means and having faced five different challenges regarding how to deal with people, how to love himself and others. And it's only like this that he can finally deposit his feelings again in the endless stream of day-by-day.
                 The emotion carried out doesn't derive from them. It derives from you. Through the heroines, the story changes Yamaku. Through Yamaku, the story changes Hisao. Through Hisao, the story changes you. It's a spell that only works because all five routes follow the same principle and work under a single logic, which is to include the extraordinary in the ordinary and vice-versa, changing your perceptions of both of them. By blurring the line, it allows you to draw your own line again, almost from scratch, and making you feel like you've learned something.
                This is why, ladies and gentlemen who raised the left hand, the game is still very much adored. It is something, a well-crafted gear with a specific intent and effect. Its production values are not high, especially not compared with Japanese commercial visual novels. However, Katawa Shoujo squeezes the assets they have until the very last drop and blend them in the most specific way in order to create a remarkable experience above all things. I hope I have clarified to you who raised your right hand, or even you who kept your hands in your pockets like I did, what remarkable experience is this. It is not on a technical level, but it's built through very much technical means. Few visual novels are so focused - but also so broad in its themes.
                And like this, I would like to end this piece in a positive tone, a message that the game itself conveys. Please let these words guide your actions, if not in times of pressure, in the small troubles you come across everyday and that brought you here just as much as your merits. At the very least, it's a tip to be successful when playing Katawa Shoujo for the first time: you are not alone, and you are not strange. You are you, and everyone has damage. Be the better person.
                Have a safe trip home, wherever that may be.
  25. Like
    akaritan reacted to babiker for a blog entry, A Thousand and Two Nights: Revenge of The Kittens   
    Alright, here's number two! Note that these aren't put in any particular order. Enjoy
    1-Understanding Nyanyans
    I made a conscious effort to stay from cats last time, but screw it:They are everywhere for a reason. If you're looking to understand cat behavior and language more, or just want cute kittie pics, this should satisfy you:
     2-TFW you start out strong, but then things go downhill...
    ... Literally
    3- Reasons why you shouldn't post your pictures on the internet.
    Sure, this particular position is kinda asking for it... But anyone with enough photoshop skillz can turn even the most innocent picture of you into a sex tape. Beware
    4-Why Women Can't Drive in Saudi Arabia
     5-When you're trying to take down the boss your team be like
    I guess you can say this about any team in a co-op game.
    And that is that. I didn't type the paragraphs I thought I would, but "The best of speeches are the clear and short" (let's see if you can find the source of that. Note that it's translated from Arabic :P) . Lemme know whachya think buddeh, I'll be sure to... Consider your words  
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