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Kenshin_sama

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  1. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Litrpg series: Project Crysalis   
    Since I'm still messing around with Cabbit's new game, I thought I'd drop a short review of a litrpg series I just finished reading.
    Project Crysalis is based in a future where Earth has been abandoned (not because it is ruined anymore, but because the first non-Terrestrial human nation forced people to leave) in favor of living in colonies all across our solar system.  The main political and scientific power in the first three books is Lunar, a nation built on the Moon that began when a private corporation morphed into its own nation-state and managed to completely defeat the Terrestrial nations when they tried to challenge their independence.  
    That said, it is still a solar system of many nations, with Lunar essentially being the mammoth whale in the room that everyone pretends not to be scared by.
    The protagonist of the story, known for most of the story by his preferred game handle of Sagie, was one of many orphans that were presented with their first parents - in a virtual realm - at the age of twelve, when he was first allowed the use of a full immersion pod.  While he experiences a brief period of blissful happiness (mostly due to how good of a fit he is with his new family), a horrid betrayal by someone he trusts ends up with him exiled to the in-game Hell, where he is subject to the kind of suffering (and the pain is real) that is really, really hard to picture, even with vivid descriptions from the author, John Gold.  
    As for how he handles it... well, Sagie isn't exactly a fragile sort.  Rather than rerolling, like most would expect, his desire to return to his virtual (but realer than life) family drives him to climb his way up through a very horribly realistic Hell, inuring himself to suffering and gaining power along the way.  For those with a weak stomach, most of the ways he gains power are pretty morbid.  He uses blood rituals, necromancy, eats demons, and deliberately goes out of his way to strengthen his resistance to the various types of damage and pain Hell can dish out.  Sagie, while he was extremely focused even before his fall into Hell, becomes focused to the point that it is almost painful to read his story at times.
    The first four books basically focus on his adventures in Project Crysalis, as the virtual world essentially shits on him at every turn (Shield Hero had it easy in comparison).  He tries to help people, he's seen as a monster.  He tries to defend himself, he is seen as a monster.  To be honest, I cried more than once for him, just because it was so godawful.   
    The last two books are... a different animal entirely.  To be honest, in order to avoid spoiling it, I'll only say that those who came to love Sagie in the first three books will be frustrated for large portions of the second three.  I know I was.  That's not to say it wasn't interesting, it was immensely so.  However, I often felt cheated, because I loved following that manic little demon while looking over his shoulder in fascination to see what crazy idea he will come up with next (and many of his ideas really are insane).  
    The last two books are full of conspiracy, horror, and self-sacrifice on a grand scale.  Even just taken on their own, they would be first-class books.  There just isn't that much of Sagie there until the final entry, where you get to see him up to his usual craziness, albeit in a way that is quite different from before.
    Overall, it is an excellent book series.  It has its bumpy parts and can be frequently frustrating or emotionally painful to read, but for those willing to delve into it, it is completely worth it.
  2. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Thank you all for coming along for this ride! (Indefinite Hiatus)   
    Hey there all!
     
    I will start with saying  that I really treasure my time spent writing this blog and interacting with various people involved in the EVN community. You guys were awesome company in this journey and despite the obscurity of this project, I feel like it benefited me personally in many ways and maybe even helped people appreciate the value within the non-JP visual novel scene. I'm really thankful to all the people that read my blog, the devs that offered me their time and gave me their games for review – they all made these 2+ years into something special.
    When I started this project, there were two main things that motivated me. The first one was the frustration over dismissal of EVNs which is still common sense in the large parts of the VN fan community – belittling of the very games that made me fall in love with the visual novel formula. I wanted to create a space that is fully dedicated to discussion and promotion of EVNs as worthwhile and significant part of the genre. The second part was even more personal – my personal struggles with video game addiction and other issues, my ambition to shift my focus into a more challenging and creative activity. In many ways, I consider both my goals relative successes. While slowly, the perception of EVNs is changing and the scene evolving in interesting ways – while it shares pretty much all the suffering of other indie niches, with PC gaming in general being oversaturated and hard to navigate, I feel that it at least established itself as a significant formula that is attractive for story-oriented devs and appreciated by a significant audience. In other words, EVNs are here to stay and in time fewer and fewer people will be able to easily dismiss them as poor imitations of Japanese games. Whether my work had any impact in this regard? Apart from a bunch of people on Fuwanovel that I know I influenced in personal interactions, I honestly have no idea. I want to think there was some minor impact, but I had enough fun in the process and learned enough that I don't mind either way. I did my best and changed a few things about myself, which was the most important part for me.
    Of course, I'm in no way saying that I'm putting the blog on hiatus because my job here is done. The real reason is much more prosaic – I just can't keep up with it. The last month was particularly devastating in this regard, with very little time for me to either read or write. And while an obvious answer would be to just work at my own pace and publish stuff whenever I'm able to, it's not really something that would work out for me. Missing deadlines, thinking about future projects, it all became a source of stress rather than a source of fun, and I feel it would only get worse with time. While I really wanted to keep the project alive, I don't want to do so at any cost. I feel burned out. I barely read VNs for fun. I don't watch anime for a few months now. I need a change of pace and ability to rediscover my love for these hobbies. The blog, sadly, became a prime obstacle in this.
    So, what's going to happen now? The blog will cease to get updates, unless something special happens. I might still do game jam summaries, as those are something I massively enjoy. I might also publish something on Fuwanovel from time to time – I'm theoretically still an editor there. The one part of the project that's definitely here to stay is the Steam Curator account. The devs that sent me their games deserve to at least get a Steam review and, generally, an evaluation of their work. I will also use my Twitter to publish updates about new games listed on the Curator account. The Steam reviews themselves will likely be a bit more polished – not that much though, I don't want to jump straight into the same burnout-inducing rabbit whole.
     
    So, once more, thank you for sticking around and I hope my project gave you some amusement. And, of course, see you around – I'm not giving up on EVNs and the community around them any time soon.
  3. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Reflecting on my Otaku Origins   
    I took my first steps onto the road of the otaku in 1992, when I watched the poorly dubbed (all dubs were godawful back then) Record of Lodoss War Volume 1 OVA VCR tape.  Now, I was already a heavy fantasy addict, having been introduced to the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance in 1990, and my obsession was at its peak at the time.  When I watched Record of Lodoss War, I saw the typical 'elven maiden with human hero' romance in a new way (incidentally, this is a pretty typical romantic theme in those days, less so nowadays).  I also saw oddities that stood out as odd to me precisely because of the oddly black and white point of view enforced on one by the various D&D universes.  
    Of course, I was a chuunibyou brat by that time, already, so it should surprise no one that I got obsessed.  It got ten times worse, however, when I encountered Chrono Trigger as it was played on my cousin's SNES.  Chrono Trigger is still, to this day, one of the single best rpgs ever made.  Looking back, considering all that has been done since then, it is almost TERRIFYING that someone was able to do what was done with Chrono Trigger with the limitations placed by using the SNES system.  The story, the world, and the various layers of time were put together into such a subtly complex experience that, to this day, I've yet to see any other rpg manage it.  Chrono Cross would manage to imitate some elements of this with its parallel world jumping, but Chrono Trigger's jumping around in time gave you impetus to explore how every aspect of the world could change based on how and when you did certain things.  Rumors constantly abounded that there were secret endings (such as the infamous 'vampire Chrono' or 'Save Schala' fake rumors, which some believe led to the way the Chrono Cross storyline was handled), and people - such as me - would play the game repeatedly, using all the meager saves allowed by the cartridge limitations of the time, in hopes that they might trigger those endings or find a way to discover something new.  
    In all honesty, Chrono Trigger being the game that got me into jrpgs probably ruined me for life.  It set my standards to a ridiculously high level on a subconscious plane, resulting in me comparing every single jrpg experience since then to it.  Aesthetically, musically, and structurally, it was a true jrpg kamige.  It was also the game that turned jrpgs into my second otaku obsession.
    During the SNES-PS2 eras, I literally bought and played EVERY jrpg that came out.  I still own them, in fact.  I played most of the PS1 and SNES era games multiple times.
    However, it was also in the PS2 era (often called the 'dawn of the mainstream jrpg') that jrpg quality began to fall off drastically.  The kind of genius and artistic flair using minimal resources you saw in previous eras was lost entirely within a few years of the release of FFX (FFX being a good game that also turned VO from a curiosity to a mainstream 'thing').  Musical direction, a role differing from composition, where someone was assigned to decide the timing of using a musical score and which ones fit which dungeons, which story scenes, disappeared in the middle of the PS2 era, as VO was used to fill the gaps of emotionality.  However, this also meant that the subtlety of previous eras was lost with a swiftness that left me bewildered at the time.  
    By the time the PS3 era came around, jrpgs were slowing down, due to what I now call 'flashy kusoge fatigue'.  Oh, a few sub-genres, such as the Atelier series' alchemy obsessed SOL titles and the more action-based titles continued to be prolific, but what were called 'console-style rpgs' started to vanish.  MMO elements were introduced into normal jrpgs, making progression and gameplay less interesting as a result (mostly because it seemed to have been done primarily to draw the WoW crowds into solo rpgs).  Storytelling was dying a surprisingly swift death, as tedious gameplay elements (for loot and level-obsessed completionists) began to devour higher and higher proportions of each game's overall playtime.  
    There is a very good reason why people go back and play so-called 'retro' jrpgs so much.  There simply aren't that many more recent jrpgs that have that kind of flair and subtle genius.  I know for a fact that one of the best ways to get people addicted to jrpgs is still just to let them play Chrono Trigger.  
    Ironically, it was VNs that saved my soul.  This was back in 2008, four years before I joined Fuwa.  I was introduced to Tsukihime by a fellow anime fansubber, and, for the first time in over three years, I had something interesting enough (story-wise) that I was given a perspective on the nature of my growing irritation and fatigue with jrpgs in general.  At the time, the JVN industry was still as vital and full of genius as the jrpg industry was in the PS1 era.  Tsukihime and a few other major classics put out near the turn of the century had created the potential for a market of story-focused VNs that had allowed more and more creative people to get into the medium.  Masada was releasing his latest version of Dies Irae, and there were literally hundreds of potentially interesting VNs for me to try.
    Needless to say, I lost my mind almost as badly as when I first played Chrono Trigger.  I must have blown four grand of my meager savings on VNs within the first year, and I didn't regret a penny of it.  Yes, roughly two-thirds of what I bought was pure crap.  However, the gems I discovered gave me a taste of the potential of the medium in a way that was horribly addictive.  Moreover, after a few years of being starved of any decent new stories, even the worst VNs had something that I could find I liked about them.  
    In retrospect, I have an addictive personality.  I get addicted to things easily, especially when they scratch my story bug.  People have said to me, when it came to my jrpg obsession 'if you want a good story, why don't you read a book?', to which I usually gave them a blank stare and said 'I'm already reading good books.  I just want stories in my games too.'  
    Interestingly enough, there were a few bursts of true creativity in jrpgs in the years since, like Tales of Berseria and Nier: Automata, but they partially stand out due to the sheer bleakness of the genre landscape.  People praise Octopath Traveler and Dragon Quest XI with intensity, and they practically worship Bravely Default.  However, I have been shocked at how low-quality the presentation of these stories has been.  It's like an entire generation has gotten used to ineptness in presentation to the point where they can be charmed by backhanded efforts at retro-nostalgia.  Octopath has all the grind of the old SaGa Frontier games with none of the charm, the best part of each of the paths being at the beginning.  Dragon Quest XI retains the horribly grindy nature of Dragon Quest games without improving on the formula in any real way.  Moreover, locking so much content into the post-game annoys the hell out of me (I prefer new game +, obviously).  
    JVNs have suffered their own decline, which is ironically due to the same demographics that inflated the medium in the first place (the dominance of the moe/charage lovers).  VNs were always destined to be a niche medium, but the over-specialization of the industry has led to an inability to adapt to changing spending habits and demographics.  Even if they wanted to regear for a new generation of consumers, most companies no longer have the access to the necessary talent to do so.
    I'm fairly sure that jrpgs suffer from a similar lack.  Yes, there are some excellent composers and graphic designers in the jrpg industry, as well as access to the solid voice-acting industry of Japan and the growing one here in the US.  However, there is a severe lack of writers capable of bringing a story to life, and there is no point in a top-tier OST that has no one to properly coordinate its use.  The very fact that something like Undertale could bury so much of the commercial rpg industry, in the eyes of rpg fans, says everything about how far the industry has fallen.
    So what am I getting at?  Not really anything, in truth.  I just needed to blow off some steam.  Thank you for reading.
  4. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Litrpg series I've liked so far   
    I have only recently 'discovered' the litrpg genre (for those unfamiliar with this, the most similar examples I can give are Overlord, SAO, and Log Horizon) of novels.  As such, I'm not going to presume to review things like stat systems and how the stories 'played'.  It would be ridiculous for me to do so (since I'm not a min-max freak who loves all that math), and it would also be boring as hell to listen to here, lol.  I will note some classic tropes:  Protagonists who jump to wrong conclusions about the 'systems', meaninglessly horrific tribulations that seem tailor-made to force the protagonist to grow, a higher tendency toward gamer brain (dual-thinking amorality, a tendency to consider people not from Earth to be soulless NPCs, etc), and min-maxing and/or crafting obsessed protagonists.  
    The Chaos Seeds
    In the Chaos Seeds, a dark force plotting on a Jupiter-sized world called the Land decides to summon humans from Earth using a video game, whereupon he believes the Chaotic nature of the humans of Earth (who all have a bit of Chaos in their souls) will destroy the seals holding his kind.  Richter, the protagonist, is one of the first such individuals.  Richter is a clever man who was also a heavy gamer on Earth, and his reaction to be ripped from his homeworld is oddly muted (at first).  Rather, he quickly throws himself into adapting to his new world, making the best of it, mostly forgetting Earth as irrelevant.  This story has a lot of fighting, crafting, and town-building for those interested in those things.  I will also say that it doesn't make one of the greater mistakes some litrpgs make, such as making brain-shots non-fatal if the individual has high hp, lol.
    Singularity Online
    To be honest, this is one of my favorites (a relatively recent one).  Essentially, the protagonist, a guy named Jeff from a future that seems just one step removed from the horrors of Giga's Baldr series, is a programmer involved with the company making a VRMMO named Singularity Online.  The setting of the game is an interesting combo of Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time setups, with corrupted races, a powerful and unkillable ultimate evil, and enclaves of the Light surrounded by Blight and Darkness.  Jeff, who is a genius programmer and scientist, through the game's system, manages to gain the class of Sorcerer, which allows him to make his own spells (yes, very D&D), though this requires imagination, inspiration, will, and passion to succeed.  Jeff is a pretty all-around awesome guy, in that he has a powerful sense of self, a strong sense of compassion, and a knack for figuring out stuff he wasn't supposed to.  Reading his story as he works is one of the better litrpg experiences out there, at least so far.
    The Silver Fox and Western Hero
    I'll be honest.  This is actually more Wuxia than litrpg, with the only litrpg element being the protagonist's ability to look at his progression in cultivation.  The protagonist of this story suffers from racism constantly throughout the story, with only rare individuals considering him on a personal level instead of a racial level.  Not only this, he is constantly forced to weather assaults from all fronts in his path toward ascendance, with allies suffering for getting involved with him and those he loves constantly under the most horrific of threats.  He is an insanely stubborn individual, determined to find his own path, forever denying the easy way.  While this series can be immensely stressful, it is also very good, so far.
    Ten Realms
    This series begins with the Two Week Curse, which is both the name of the first book and the name of a phenomena where people from Earth spontaneously begin displaying semi-magical abilities before suddenly disappearing two weeks later.  Erik and Rugrat are mercenaries, playing bodyguard to people from a parasite corporation in a war-torn African nation (unnamed), until they get ambushed (due to their client being a total moron) and Erik loses his legs and gets the Two Week Curse.  They immediately begin to prepare, with Erik using his newfound mana to create a healing spell that lets him regrow his legs and Rugrat building a capsule full of guns and supplies to take with them.  They are then taken to the new world, the Ten Realms, a game-like world with a mix of traditional leveling and cultivation.  Most of the series, so far, has Erik and Rugrat forging a path of progression while dragging their increasing (rapidly) number of followers in their wake.  Erik is the one who constantly pushes the limits of what is possible, while Rugrat tends to rest a little more on his natural talent than his friend, while also supporting him in various ways.  One of the most important things of this series is the soldiers' bond between Erik and Rugrat, that of two men who trust each other utterly, knowing both their own abilities and those of their partner.  It adds a rather unusual flavor to the usual litrpg/Wuxia combo.
    Conclusion
    These are the series that have left the best impression on me over the last three months.  While I've read almost forty series and ninety books, these are the ones that stood out the most.
     
  5. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The rules of a Good Trap Protagonist game   
    I will say it, yes, games with trap protagonists are one of my secret pleasures.  While there are numerous types of this particular niche in VNs, and there are a disproportionate number of this type of game compared to ten years ago, there are some rules shared by all the greats that I thought I'd put out there.
    1.  A good trap protagonist is a voiced protagonist.  Most trap protagonists are voiced.  There are a number of reasons for this, but, regardless of the reason, almost all the 'good' trap protagonist are voiced.  There are exceptions (early on) or ones where the voice was added on later (Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou), but they are just that, exceptions.
    2.  The protagonist has some kind of spectacularly high level skill or attractive point.  This really is universal.  In some cases it is housework (protagonist in Otome no Sahou) and in others it is physical prowess, force of personality, or artistic talent.  However, regardless of what it is, no good trap protagonist is devoid of such skills.
    3.  There is at least one 'ojousama' heroine.  While this is not universal, given the nature of this type of game and the fact that most of the schools they 'sneak into' are girls' schools, this is inevitable.  Girls schools, even in Japan, are private institutions, meaning there is inevitably (or so says the kami of eroge) going to be at least one sheltered girl that comes from wealth.
    4.  There will be at least some drama when the protagonist is 'revealed' to the heroines.  Easy transitions make for bad games.  All the heroines merely accepting it as if it doesn't matter at all means that there was no weight at all to the protagonist's earlier whini- *coughs* ahem, worrying about being revealed.  While this drama might be comedic, tense, or sexual in nature, it should not go without note.
    5.  At some point, most such protagonists will begin to react naturally as their female persona without realizing it (leading to many fans simply forgetting their original names, such as in the case with Mizuki in Koi no Canvas).
    There are two major types of this type of protagonist.  One is the 'forceful personality' type, and the other is the 'submissive personality' type.  An example of the former would be Ojousama no Hanbun wa Ren'ai de Dekiteimasu, and an example of the latter would be Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas.  In the former case, the protagonist has a clear objective in infiltrating the girls' school, and he uses his personal abilities ruthlessly and aggressively for that purpose.  In the latter case, the protagonist loses himself (herself as I sometimes think of Mizuki) in his role so completely that he often catches himself reacting entirely as a female.
    I like both types, and I find this particular niche tends to produce a disproportionate amount of good games compared to the rest of the VN world... but then, I'm biased.
    Edit: As a side note, for those who are interested in recs involving this kind of thing, there are no truly transgender protagonists in any of these games, as far as I know.  There are a few who get addicted to dressing in drag or who live as a woman of their own free will even after the story is over depending on the route (Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou), but as far as I know none of these have been confirmed as actually being transgender.  That's not to say that none of the writers/makers have intended any of these protagonists to be such (it is a distinct possibility), but so far, in the games I've played/read, none of them have actually confirmed themselves as being such, even in their own thoughts (though again, some have edged around it or verged upon it).  
    Edit2: Examples of this type of game that have either a submissive or a dominant protagonist that also are top tier.
    Submissive (outside of H, since most H scenes in male-oriented VNs are inevitably bed-yakuza affairs)
    Tsuki ni Yorisou, Otome no Sahou
    Otome ga Tsumugu Koi no Canvas
    Otome Domain
    Dominant
    Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide 
    Ojousama no Hanbun wa Ren'ai de Dekiteimasu
    Otoboku (despite appearances, all three games)
    Koi Suru Otome to Shugo no Tate (though this one can be borderline at times)
    Hmm... there were fewer great ones than I thought... the barrage of endless Ensemble games makes me forget sometimes, lol.
  6. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Concerto Note   
    Concerto Note is a game I bought years ago and stuck in a small box containing my 'rainy day classics' without playing it.  Recommended to me over eight years ago as a classic kamige, I essentially forgot about it until I saw that Cross Concerto was coming out soon.
    This game uses a 'parallel story' system with a flowchart, where obtaining items on the non-true paths is required to complete the true path successfully.  This particular type of system is fairly rare, but it occasionally pops up in 'true heroine/path' games. 
    I'm going to be straightforward on the heroines... the heroines don't really stand out as being unusual, except for Rito.  Wakana is your standard optimistic genkikko, Shirayuki is your standard frail ojousama, Seika is your standard 'is liked by girls more than men' type (fights, talks and acts like a man by Japanese standards, etc), and Sayori is your standard gentle-mannered oneesan type (with maid as an extra element).
    Rito, on the other hand, doesn't quite fit into any of the standard archetypes.  On the surface, her interactions with Shinya make them seem like standard-issue 'husband/wife childhood friends' who practically finish one another's sentences, but their relationship is much more peculiar than it seems on the surface.  Moreover, Rito is an excessively rational person who can figure out just about any situation from the smallest number of clues.  I say 'excessively rational' because, as is noted in the story, she mostly separates her emotional state completely from her actual course of action, and she doesn't make knee-jerk reactions to others (except Seika and Shinya).  She also possesses eidetic memory.
    The story in this game focuses on the protagonist and friends (which people become friends varies based on whether you are on Route 1 or Route 2 of the common route, with Route 1 having Wakana, Shirayuki and Rito's paths; and Route 2 containing Sayori's and Seika's paths) as they try to combat the unnatural bad luck (or rather lack of fortune as Tama puts it) that is befalling them.  This is mostly done by stealing other people's luck through Tama (directly in Shinya's case, and in a contagion-style manner with the others) to counter the fatal misfortune waiting ten days in the future from the beginning of the story.
    To be blunt, the weakest point of Concerto Note's story is the really short period of time in which the story occurs.  Forming a strong romantic relationship between the characters feels very unnatural in Seika's and Shirayuki's cases due to the time constraints and lack of previous connection. 
    Wakana's path (which is the one you are supposed to play first) suffers from Wakana being one of the game's two weakest heroines along with Shirayuki.  Where this path stumbles is in the central conflict... or rather its source.  While it is the sort of conflict that would be believable in a charage (where details are generally vague in any case), in a plotge with as many precisely-used plot devices as this one, it felt forced.
    Shirayuki's path also suffers due to the heroine's weakness... but it also suffers because Shirayuki's connection to the protagonist and friends is so weak.  In a VN that covered a longer span of time, the events in the path would have been more believable, but the kind of actions both Shirayuki and Shinya take in this path came very close to breaking the suspension of disbelief at times.  Emotionally, the path is more touching than Wakana's, and the central conflict is much more believable.  However, the romantic aspects were forced/hurried.
    Seika has a similar problem to Shirayuki but to a lesser extent.  The extreme nature of the situation where Seika gets involved with the group in Route 2 of the common route and the common elements to both her and Shinya's personalities and backgrounds made her path less problematic to believe.  This path also manages to have a more believable conflict than Wakana's (which is the least believable conflict in the game) while matching Shirayuki's path for emotional impact. 
    Sayori's path is my favorite other than Rito's.  While Sayori is a secondary character in most of the paths, a strong effort is made to fill out her character in this path... and it succeeds.  Moreover, the romance in this path is cute and believable, and the emotional connections feel the most real of the paths so far.
    Rito's path... is extremely heavy, both story-wise and atmosphere-wise.  It tackles the darkness behind Kannagi that is only hinted at in the other paths, as well as revealing just how Shinya and Rito became friends (specifically rather than in general terms).  It also tackles the truth of Tama and the reason why the characters suffered from such extreme misfortune.  Compared to the often comedic nature of the other paths, this path is often grim or sad... but it also feels like a culmination of all the scraps found in the others. 
    In other words, it is a standard true path, with perhaps a steeper gap in atmosphere than is the norm.  However, this was familiar to me from other Applique games, as many of them have similar shifts in atmosphere between paths.
    Conclusion
    It is easy to understand why this game became a classic.  While it lacks the sheer impact that Tasogare no Sinsemilla had, the relationship between Rito and Shinya quickly became one of my favorite parts of the story.  For anyone who wants a good plotge and isn't an art bigot (as in, absolutely hates anything made more than five years ago), this is a good choice.
  7. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The problem with reviews and reviewers   
    Anyone who has read one of my reviews knows I'm something of a cynic and a pessimist.  I try to think the best about every VN I go into, but my first impulse is to see what is wrong, rather than what is right. 
    Whether it is optimism and rose-colored glasses or pessimism and cynicism, and excess of either is often a negative influence on the quality of a review.  Generally speaking, I usually make an effort to find something I like about a VN's concept before going in, then I start the VN trying to enjoy it as an outgrowth of that.  By the end, this usually results in me having experienced both the negative and positive aspects of the VN... the problem is, when reviewing, it is all too easy to forget what is good about the VN.
    As a result, when I'm writing up a review, the first thing I do is write up a list of the good points I found, ignoring the mitigating negative factors.  I then build the review around these and include the negative points in with the rest... but you can probably tell that being positive just doesn't come naturally to me, since I tend to be pretty harsh.
    However, by using this system, I've found dozens of VN gems over the years that I probably would have discarded for perceived negative qualities if I didn't use this process.  Indeed, early on in my reading of untranslated VNs, I dropped numerous ones simply because they had a negative aspect that I got obsessed with.  I would later go back and replay them, only to find that the negative aspect wasn't as big a deal as I thought at the time, since I made the effort to go back with a differing perspective.
    A poor quality in a reviewer is the tendency to ignore the negatives about something you like.  Another one is to rate things entirely based on aspects you only have a vague grasp or focus on (in my case, due to my eye problems, I'm not the best judge of artwork, and my musical sense is entirely based on how it enhances the atmosphere, rather than raw quality comprehension).  I'm a story reviewer.  I review almost exclusively based on the story, characters, and presentation.  As such, art and sound rarely have a place in my reviews, since I don't think I'm qualified to evaluate them except in the most general of terms.
    I can tell when a VA did an exceptional job, because it stands out enough for me to notice.  I will even mention this in the review, since it takes a lot for a performance to stand out to me.  However, I never pretend to know the ins and outs of specific aspects of VA or musical quality.  I simply don't have the right kind of ear for that kind of thing, not being musically inclined. 
    One thing I've noticed in some reviewers who prefer niche genres (such as myself) is to display a tendency I refer to as PGRD (or Popular Game Reactionary Disorder).  It is a fictional mental disease that many of us who have a distinct preference for a niche genre display that causes us to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to popular works, simply because they are mainstream.  This is a problem that is particularly common in Western otakus of around my age, who became fanboys during a time when watching anime, playing Japanese video games, and reading manga had a rather strong stigma that left us feeling isolated and defensive.  However, it is also present in people who prefer niche genres (I get the double whammy, being both).  That sense of isolation leads to a tendency to over-praise our favorite materials and bash anything that we see as being too popular.
    In reverse, there are those who automatically dismiss anything that isn't mainstream.  Both types are reactionary in nature and have little to do with the quality of the materials in question.  Being a long-time sci-fi addict, I can't understand why anyone would enjoy Avatar (the movie).  However, if I make the mistake of saying that in front of a fanboy of the movie, I will inevitably get a vociferous lecture on how misunderstood the movie is by science fiction fans...
    There are many such examples of such behavior I have experienced over the years, both in myself and in others.  As such, a reviewer has to be willing to examine his own motives for liking or hating something.  Are you being cynical for the sake of being cynical?  Are you over-praising something to the point of overlooking the obvious problems with it?  Are you making excuses while thinking you are making a reasoned argument?  On the other side, are you ignoring the voice of reason to give you an excuse to dislike something? 
    In the end, bias is unavoidable... but it is a reviewer's duty to do their best to cast aside as much of it as possible, because people use our reviews as reference points when they pick what they want to play/read/watch.
  8. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Stubbornness and Burnout   
    For those familiar with me, you know I spent year after year doing VN of the Month and that I ritualistically complained about how tired I was of this or that trope or bad habit that plagued the industry or games.  I was asked repeatedly why I could still plow through so many VNs, despite the stress?  The simple answer is that I have always been stubborn as hell.  I've experienced 'burnout' numerous times in my life, mostly because I have a naturally obsessive personality.  Once I start obsessing over something, I literally am incapable of ceasing to do so without something jarring me completely away from it for a time, which usually results in me realizing I burned out long ago and have just been hanging out of stubbornness. 
    The same was the case for VNs.  When I first started playing VNs, all VNs were worth at least trying.  However, as time went on, I increasingly lost interest in most nukige and eventually my interest in 'everyday teenaged life SOL romance' (or 'the standard charage') began to fade.  It was probably about 2016 when this reached the critical point, but it took another year and a two-week bout of flu where I couldn't think well enough to play anything to bump me out of my years-long trance. 
    Part of it was that I rarely, if ever, took a break from VNs during those years.  I was always playing at least one, and I had a tendency to barrel through them consecutively without even a short pause to rest, week after week, month after month.  I used  most of my free time to play them, I structured my work schedule and habits around playing them, and I generally existed solely to do so.
    I dunno how many of you can even imagine what living like that is like... but it was the fact that I am no longer driven to play game after game that is letting me sit back and enjoy the few I actually want to play.  I go back and pull stuff out of my attic on a whim, I dig through my collection based on a desire to relive a single scene, and I generally just take pleasure in playing what I want to play.
    Would it be strange for you to hear that this all feels unnatural to me, after all these years?  I've been playing third-rate charage I didn't want to even see, much less play, for years... and now I only play stuff that takes my interest, dropping them if I don't see any hope for the game to break out of the shell of mediocrity.  I don't feel driven to blog about replays beyond when I feel like it or when I think I have something to add to a previous assessment, and I can actually sit back and enjoy the few charage I actually feel like I want to play.
    While I do have regrets, they aren't about the years spent obsessing and over-playing VNs, despite my previous words.  I set out to do VN of the Month because, at the time, there was no way for people to have an idea of what they were getting into with most VNs.  It was a bit startling how few people were seriously trying to let people know what kind of VNs were out there without spoiling everything from beginning to end.  Even today, most reviewers can't seem to keep heavy spoilers out of the text, which saddens me.  However, I no longer feel that it is my mission to 'fix' this.  I've been there, I've done that, and I won't be doing it again.
    I will still play VNs, and I will still review them (on occasion), but don't expect me to be as prolific as I used to be, lol.
  9. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Some thoughts: A few Months later   
    It has been almost six months since I ceased VN of the Month.  I can say now that while I do, surprisingly, miss some aspects of that particular column, the freedom giving it up has granted me is far greater compensation. 
    When I was doing VN of the Month, I was literally the only person commenting on most of the non-nukige VNs in a given month.  I was driven by a sense of obligation to those who read my blog to continue regardless of what it was doing to me and my life, and I can say now that that wasn't a healthy situation for me. 
    I am still a VN addict.  I probably always will be, just as I am a heavy reader in general and a lover of role-playing games.  However, I still think the role I put it on myself to play was a necessary one.
    How many people who play untranslated VNs give honest opinions devoid of spoilers?  For that matter, how many of them are honest about their biases when they feel they can't give a particular VN a fair chance? 
    I made myself abide by a pretty strict set of rules when I was doing VN of the Month.
     One was that I would primarily evaluate VNs based on story, character development, and setting, while only mentioning visual and audio elements when they were obviously exceptional.  My reason for this is that I lack the background to properly evaluate the technical aspects of audio-visual materials, whereas I have extensive experience with all sorts of reading material in general and fiction in particular. 
    Another was that I would, on a regular basis, restate my particular biases, reminding people of the limitations of my objectivity.  This was because I was writing on all VNs I played for the first time, and it would have been unfair for me to fail to state my biases beforehand when playing something that was outside my tastes or something that hit them spot on.
    The third was a resolve to avoid excessive spoilers.  My standard was the Getchu page.  If information was released on the Getchu page or the official site, I didn't consider it to be a spoiler, but I was to avoid spoiling things beyond that, except when absolutely necessary.
    The fourth and final rule was to strive for objectivity inasmuch as possible and be honest with myself and my readers when it wasn't possible. 
    These rules were my guide posts for the years I did VN of the Month, and they served me well, generally... but I reached my limit.  To be blunt, VN of the Month was only made possible because of my high reading speed and my willingness to structure my life solely around playing VNs and making money to buy more.  Naturally, this way of doing things was doomed to failure eventually, but I got so caught up in actually doing it that I didn't notice it really at the time.
    Now, I play only what I want to play, and that makes me a much happier person, despite a few wistful moments where I wonder if I couldn't have done it a little while longer.
  10. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Shoujo to Toshi no Sa, Futamawari   
    For those of you who are curious, I played this VN on a request from an old friend who wanted an opinion before he bought it (I already had the game, just hadn't opened it).  This game is relatively short, being a kinetic novel, but that doesn't detract from the experience at all, at least in my eyes.
    Now, I was skeptical about the concept of a VN focused on romance between a middle-aged guy and a girl in school... for one thing, it is a theme that has been mostly avoided like the plague outside of nukige in recent years.  For another, it is a type that is hard to pull off without it seeming like a self-serving old man writer vicariously enjoying time with young girls.
    Luckily, this game manages to pull the relationship and its formation off rather believably, which was a surprise to me.  While this game isn't the type to get named in an awards show or make it to the top of my list of VNs to play, I can honestly say it was worth playing, and I don't regret the time spent on it.  The relationship formation is extremely gradual, with neither of them having any feelings for each other beyond awkward friendliness at first.  This made the slow shift in their feelings feel natural to me, as they began to get past their mutual loneliness and began to care for one another aside from the need to ease it. 
    This isn't, for once, a story about an old man taking advantage of a much younger girl (if anything, she's the one who forces things along at the critical points), but it doesn't avoid the issues that inevitably come up in this type of situation either.  There is some drama, but it ends on a touching note, with the major issues involving the characters' relationships solved for the most part.
     
  11. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN Assesment: Hatsugamai   
    Hatsugamai (or Soshite Hatsukoi ga Imouto ni Naru) is one of my favorite nakige from the last four years.  Feeling in the need of some emotional catharsis, I finally went back to it a while back, and I was blown away a second time by just how powerful the emotions this game brings out are.
    First, it should be noted that Alcot Honeycomb, the subsidiary of Alcot that produced this game is known for two things... that it is a low to mid-price and budget company and for the fact that they have never produced a flop.  Every one of their games has come out in the black within six months of release, and they inevitably end up placing at least in the top twenty of any given year.  Another quality of their games is that there are no 'wasted scenes' in their games.  Every scene drives story and path progression, without exception.  This game is no exception.
    I am going to focus on introducing the characters of this game, since you can check out my previous blog post on the game if you want an idea of what the game as a whole is like. 
    Tokitani Kazuharu- The protagonist of the story, he is a hard-working young man who is absolutely devoted to his own financial independence and protecting his 'family' (currently consisting of Shinobu and Manami).  At the age of eight, he ran away from home to get away from verbal and physical abuse from his mother and eventually adopted another runaway, his 'imouto' Shinobu.  If it weren't for Old Man Tatara, their current guardian, he probably would have ended up living on the street for the rest of what was likely to be a very short life.  As it is, he works hard every day at multiple part time jobs to feed, clothe, and shelter himself and Shinobu (ignoring Tatara's offers to pay for everything) and lives at a rickety school dorm with Tatara's granddaughter Manami.  Kazuharu is a young man of intense feeling and kindness.  While he considers himself to be a practical, at times unfeeling person, it is fairly obvious to those around him that he is the very reverse of that.  Kazuharu is constitutionally incapable of setting aside responsibilities or abandoning someone who calls out to him for help.  His immense capacity for love and selfless behavior make him a powerful character, and his emotional scars often bring tears to my eyes.
    Tokitani Shinobu- As a small child, she ran away from an abusive situation to live under a bridge, where she was found and informally adopted by Kazuharu.   She quickly and intensely fell in love with Kazuharu after his ferocious efforts to protect her and keep her fed in the time before Tatara discovered and took them in, and that love has, if anything, only grown deeper and more intense with time (she is almost yandere at times).  Unlike Kazuharu, who struggles with school while working, she is the student council president and the highest scorer on school tests, while still working multiple part-time jobs.  Like Kazuharu, she has a very clear-headed and down-to-earth view of the future... if you ignore the fact that her view of the future involves her creating a corporation solely so she can take the burden of financial support off her brother's shoulders.  Despite how this sounds, she isn't completely monomaniacal.  Having been practically raised by Kazuharu and seeing him as an example, she is a deeply kind and compassionate young woman, with a deep capacity for love that matches his own.
    Tatara Manami- One of the three major side characters in the game, along with her grandfather, she is a child (about ten) who speaks in Kansai-ben and has a tendency to abuse pseudo-anglicanisms.  Her cheery personality and cute attempts to sort-of mother the people at the dorm hide a deep loneliness born from the fact that her parents abandoned her, leaving her busy grandfather to raise her pretty much as an absentee parent.  She has a strong bond with the Tokitani siblings, one that is at times adversarial (jokingly) with Kazuharu and conspiratorial with Shinobu. 
    Tatara Taizen- Shinobu and Kazuharu's guardian and Manami's grandfather... as well as the owner and head of the board of directors for Shinobu and Kazuharu's high school.  He is a man who has spent his entire life in education and sent innumerable students out to succeed in the world.  However, his own family is a horrible mess, with his daughter and son-in-law having abandoned his granddaughter Manami and his own responsibilities making it impossible for him to raise her in his own home.  He adopted Shinobu and Kazuharu when he discovered them as runaways (he has apparently done this in the past) and supported them out of compassion.  He is a true educator at heart, devoting himself to the well-being and future of his students.  He and Kazuharu frequently fight (in a friendly manner) and his mannerisms are frequently humorous or deliberately display him as a dirty old man.  However, his love for Manami and the two siblings is deep. 
    Minamino Shouhei- Kazuharu's best friend and the son of a yakuza family.  Despite his origins, his goal in life is to work in childcare, and his personality is kind and cheerful to the core.  Along with Yuka and the Tokitani siblings, he is part of a group of 'hard-working friends' who have been together more or less since before middle school.  He deeply resents the path his father wants for him in life, and he is definitely in rebellion against the family business.  While he is unaware of the Tokitani siblings' past, he is still the only person who can confront Kazuharu on completely equal terms in the game (for reasons that become obvious if you play the game).
    Miyamoto Yuuka- The other childhood friend besides Shouhei (and one of the heroines) she is a pin-up model who dreams of becoming an actress, working long hours after school toward that goal and ignoring her parents' skepticism.  Yuuka is a bright and cheerful character with perhaps the most 'normal' viewpoint of the characters in the game, serving as a touchstone for the warped (understandably so) viewpoints of the other characters.  That said, she is also in the entertainment business, so she isn't unfamiliar with the 'dark side'.  However, it hasn't tainted her, as of yet.  She has a strong will and is a dreamer at heart (whereas the others are mostly down to earth), contrasting her to the other characters on just about every point.
    Tanaka Neneko- A ferociously strong-willed senpai at both Kazuharu's work and at school, she is also the worst kind of boss, ordering him to do everything in five minutes.  Raised in an unstable household where both her parents were frequently ill, her role model was her elder sister, who worked intensely hard to bring the family back together after the kids were briefly put into the system due to their parents' inability to work.  Neneko works intensely hard, often getting exasperated reactions from Kazuharu (who works for money, only working hard when it is necessary or when it is part of the job).  She is constantly smiling and is the older sister of the group, frequently ending up as the advisor when it isn't her path.
    Kawatsu Tsubasa- The game's main heroine, whose appearance is the catalyst for the events that create the game's story.  Like Kazuharu and Shinobu, she has experienced both abandonment and abuse from her family (mostly psychological abuse), but unlike those two, she isn't really capable of anger, so she has no outlet to release her stress.  Despite her fragile appearance, she is not weak-willed... she is simply the type that endures, bending with the wind rather than standing firm within it.  Like both Kazuharu and Shinobu, she has an intense, deep well of love.  However, she is also far more willing to believe in others than either of them is, unwilling to give up on others until she is driven beyond her ability to endure. 
  12. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Why I still haven't given up on VNs.   
    After ten years playing VNs, you would think I would have completely lost faith in them by now, especially considering just how many I've played (744 not counting most of the nukige, replays and incomplete/dropped ones).  Most VNs that aren't nukige are SOL-fests that exist solely to promote nostalgic fantasies about life in high school and getting into bishoujos' pants... not that that is an entirely horrible goal, but it isn't something I want to see five hundred times over.
    The romance is usually puerile and has no relation to reality, the characters have all their hard edges filed away by the needs of the archetype, and drama is used solely to add 'spice' (like one sprinkle of pumpkin spice, not cracked red pepper) to an otherwise endlessly sweet and bland recipe. 
    So how is it that someone who has experienced that much essentially boring and pointless repetition of the same scenarios able to continue to enjoy VNs, even if he can't stand meaningless SOL anymore?
    At one time, it was a sense of duty, a belief that I was doing the community good by digging gems out of the piles of crap that are the SOL genre.  I also had a sense of pride that I made an effort of objectivity that I have literally seen no one else attempt.  I played games no one else bothered with because they didn't have the time or patience, and I did it because I thought someone looking at the games would want to know what they were getting into.
    I paid a price in a growing sense of bitterness, of boredom, and of a sense that I was forgetting the reason why I began to read fiction in the first place.  I paid a price in people continually being trolls and trying to draw me into fights over my opinions on these games.  I had people start reddits and send me pms being sympathetic about the very conversations they'd started (yes that happens). 
    I also had people who respected what I was doing, and I knew there were people in the community who benefited from the fact that I was doing it.  I watched VNs I had pushed get localizations and fantls (usually to my surprise), and I saw others that I had labeled as mediocre get hyped to a ridiculous degree.   I tried to get other people to help with what I was doing, only to find that, without a reading speed similar to mine, it was too much of a burden on their lives and ate up the time to read the VNs they wanted to read. 
    The bad generally outweighed the good immensely while I was doing VN of the Month, and even after, I found that the after-effects of my years of playing games I wasn't interested in personally had left me with scars I was unable to feel while my sense of duty was keeping me going. 
    However, I can say that I still haven't given up on VNs.
    Why? 
    The reason is ridiculously simple and at the same time profound (at least to me).  I love the medium.  For someone who likes an experience that combines the reading, visual input, and music without the need for a lot of input from the one experiencing it, VNs provide a unique storytelling experience.  Books are great for the imagination and can send our souls exploring across landscapes that exist only in our own minds, but VNs provide a more filled-out framework for those who don't necessarily have the imagination to fill in all the gaps on their own, without rotting the imagination to the degree manga and anime do.  I've been able to get people who had trouble reading books into VNs, then led them straight back to books and opened the world of imagination to them.  I've seen people who had begun to feel the otaku community offered nothing more to them come alive again after playing a chuunige or a charage.  I've picked up a random moe-looking VN and found a deep and compelling story that remains within me dozens of times.
    In the end, it is moments, experiences like that that keep me coming back, believing in the possibilities of VNs even now.  It is the desire to find more such experiences that keeps me looking at new releases each month, and it is the belief that those experiences will never entirely vanish that keeps me from condemning the industry as a whole for the way it sabotages itself at times. 
  13. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from Dreamysyu for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 4: Addressing Mental Health Issues   
    For those who suffer from any sort of mental health issue, you are probably going to have the worst time staying committed to studying. But with the right kind of mindset and a practical approach, you may find yourself well within reach of your goal. While this guide is not a suitable replacement for real treatment from a specialist, it may give you a few ideas on how to deal with your own issues. But everyone has their own unique issues and complications, so there isn’t a single correct answer for everybody.
     
    Oh and be very careful about self-diagnosing these types of illnesses. Mental health is a complicated subject that requires a lot of training to make the correct judgment, so please seek confirmation from a professional before you decide to take on that kind of baggage. Sadness and fear, even on a regular basis, are normal human emotions. It’s only when they affect you in an abnormal way (which, again, needs a proper diagnosis) that you need to be concerned.
     
    Okay, so some of you may have noticed I’ve been severely behind on updating my blog. Well, as it turns out, the solution I had in mind for anxiety didn’t pan out very well. I had gone through another bout of anxiety, lagged behind on my homework, and was left with virtually no time to put out another post. But I’m actually really happy I delayed it since I’ve gained so much valuable knowledge about anxiety since September.
     
    When I initially started writing this entry, I had written about the success I was having with positive self-talk. At the time, I was extremely focused on repeating a single line to myself in order to stay motivated, and it was working for a good while. But see, once the idea had lost its novelty after a couple months, I wasn’t getting any kind of benefit from it. I did feel a sense of confidence I hadn’t felt in a long time, and it was making me more productive, but it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. What I’ve learned since then is that I need more than false confidence to drive me forward, and I think I may have come up with a more reliable way of coping with my emotions. I’m still using positive self-talk in order to combat negative thinking, but I’m doing so in a much less specific way.
     
    For my most recent episode, I was unable to pull myself out of it, but I had managed to escape after two whole months of misery by focusing on the more crucial flaws with my mindset. I happened upon a simple, yet insightful comment on Quora that helped me ground my thoughts and properly outline my path to improvement. One of my key takeaways from this was to focus on what could happen rather than what has happened already. If your mind is stuck in the past and all you can do is think about is how much you haven’t accomplished, you won’t have much to look forward to. Additionally, you need to accept the problems you have in front of you and see them more as opportunities for growth rather than as barriers. If you can find a solution to the problem at hand, then you’ve exercised the part of your brain that solves problems. And if you can’t find a solution, then your accomplishments will be much more meaningful because you had to jump through extra hoops to succeed.
     
    Another issue I’ve had the most difficulty with is blaming my problems on everything. I can’t get good sleep because of my noisy surroundings, I’m not losing weight because of all the sweets around the house, I can’t concentrate well because I’m under a lot of stress, I’m unhappy because I can’t afford to support my emotional needs, my life sucks because society sucks, my parents are the reason I’m not that smart, and so on and so forth. I was always thinking about how much crap I had working against me, and yet I never wanted to see myself as the source of my misfortune. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to preach personal responsibility or anything as mundane as that. I do understand that the human mind is easily susceptible to influence, and that we aren’t in full control of our decisions or circumstances. However, I do think there is something to be gained by taking ownership of your problems. What this does is take you out of a state of hopelessness and entrapment, and empowers you to pursue your goals further. When you decide to take life into your own hands, you can then mold it into something you want it to be.
     
    Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned is to accept myself for who am. I am a nervous wreck. I freak out whenever I set out to do any kind of improvement. Having to make major life adjustments always puts me on edge. I will panic even as I’m handing in a homework assignment, terrified of how the professor will grade it. And my response to these dilemmas has been to either pretend the fear isn’t there, convince myself that I can’t keep living this way, or beat myself up when I let my nervousness get the better of me. But instead of just working against my anxiety, I decided it was time I started working alongside it and let it be. What I’ve come to understand since then is that fear hurts my motivation a lot more than it does my performance, so I don’t even need to acknowledge it as an obstacle. I eventually came to the conclusion that it’s better to focus on resolving issues that I have immediate control over rather than the ones I can’t do anything about. There is still chance I’ll be able to find a fix eventually, but I have no way of knowing what that is at this very moment. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.
     
    And to wrap things up, I’ll jot a few quick tips you may have heard about already, but are still important to know. There won’t always be an ideal time to get something done; do it anyways. Try to focus on what went right rather than the opposite. Don’t be afraid to work hard; working hard will generally give you advantage over others. Finish what you’ve started, even after it loses its novelty. Don’t ever feel discouraged if you can’t solve a problem in a timely manner.
     
    Afterword:
    So, did anyone miss me at all? Yeah, this one was a real doozy. I was putting myself through even more stress trying to find time for this blog during college, but I wound up having to wait until Winter break to finish writing this entry. Thankfully I won’t have any more classes to take until next year, so I’ll have all the time I need to keep this blog up and running… and to get caught up on all the dust I’ve let accumulate in my room and bathroom. Oh and I started my Japanese studies back up again yesterday too! I’ve been kinda behind on them up until now due to excessive stress (to the point of neck injury) and my scramble to get homework turned in on time, but I’m 50% sure I’ll be fine in the near future.
     
    Next week’s topic will be on living a healthy lifestyle. Once you’re able to find proper coping methods, the next step toward building momentum is figuring out how to best optimize all the other factors that impact your brain’s performance.
  14. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from Templarseeker for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 4: Addressing Mental Health Issues   
    For those who suffer from any sort of mental health issue, you are probably going to have the worst time staying committed to studying. But with the right kind of mindset and a practical approach, you may find yourself well within reach of your goal. While this guide is not a suitable replacement for real treatment from a specialist, it may give you a few ideas on how to deal with your own issues. But everyone has their own unique issues and complications, so there isn’t a single correct answer for everybody.
     
    Oh and be very careful about self-diagnosing these types of illnesses. Mental health is a complicated subject that requires a lot of training to make the correct judgment, so please seek confirmation from a professional before you decide to take on that kind of baggage. Sadness and fear, even on a regular basis, are normal human emotions. It’s only when they affect you in an abnormal way (which, again, needs a proper diagnosis) that you need to be concerned.
     
    Okay, so some of you may have noticed I’ve been severely behind on updating my blog. Well, as it turns out, the solution I had in mind for anxiety didn’t pan out very well. I had gone through another bout of anxiety, lagged behind on my homework, and was left with virtually no time to put out another post. But I’m actually really happy I delayed it since I’ve gained so much valuable knowledge about anxiety since September.
     
    When I initially started writing this entry, I had written about the success I was having with positive self-talk. At the time, I was extremely focused on repeating a single line to myself in order to stay motivated, and it was working for a good while. But see, once the idea had lost its novelty after a couple months, I wasn’t getting any kind of benefit from it. I did feel a sense of confidence I hadn’t felt in a long time, and it was making me more productive, but it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. What I’ve learned since then is that I need more than false confidence to drive me forward, and I think I may have come up with a more reliable way of coping with my emotions. I’m still using positive self-talk in order to combat negative thinking, but I’m doing so in a much less specific way.
     
    For my most recent episode, I was unable to pull myself out of it, but I had managed to escape after two whole months of misery by focusing on the more crucial flaws with my mindset. I happened upon a simple, yet insightful comment on Quora that helped me ground my thoughts and properly outline my path to improvement. One of my key takeaways from this was to focus on what could happen rather than what has happened already. If your mind is stuck in the past and all you can do is think about is how much you haven’t accomplished, you won’t have much to look forward to. Additionally, you need to accept the problems you have in front of you and see them more as opportunities for growth rather than as barriers. If you can find a solution to the problem at hand, then you’ve exercised the part of your brain that solves problems. And if you can’t find a solution, then your accomplishments will be much more meaningful because you had to jump through extra hoops to succeed.
     
    Another issue I’ve had the most difficulty with is blaming my problems on everything. I can’t get good sleep because of my noisy surroundings, I’m not losing weight because of all the sweets around the house, I can’t concentrate well because I’m under a lot of stress, I’m unhappy because I can’t afford to support my emotional needs, my life sucks because society sucks, my parents are the reason I’m not that smart, and so on and so forth. I was always thinking about how much crap I had working against me, and yet I never wanted to see myself as the source of my misfortune. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to preach personal responsibility or anything as mundane as that. I do understand that the human mind is easily susceptible to influence, and that we aren’t in full control of our decisions or circumstances. However, I do think there is something to be gained by taking ownership of your problems. What this does is take you out of a state of hopelessness and entrapment, and empowers you to pursue your goals further. When you decide to take life into your own hands, you can then mold it into something you want it to be.
     
    Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned is to accept myself for who am. I am a nervous wreck. I freak out whenever I set out to do any kind of improvement. Having to make major life adjustments always puts me on edge. I will panic even as I’m handing in a homework assignment, terrified of how the professor will grade it. And my response to these dilemmas has been to either pretend the fear isn’t there, convince myself that I can’t keep living this way, or beat myself up when I let my nervousness get the better of me. But instead of just working against my anxiety, I decided it was time I started working alongside it and let it be. What I’ve come to understand since then is that fear hurts my motivation a lot more than it does my performance, so I don’t even need to acknowledge it as an obstacle. I eventually came to the conclusion that it’s better to focus on resolving issues that I have immediate control over rather than the ones I can’t do anything about. There is still chance I’ll be able to find a fix eventually, but I have no way of knowing what that is at this very moment. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.
     
    And to wrap things up, I’ll jot a few quick tips you may have heard about already, but are still important to know. There won’t always be an ideal time to get something done; do it anyways. Try to focus on what went right rather than the opposite. Don’t be afraid to work hard; working hard will generally give you advantage over others. Finish what you’ve started, even after it loses its novelty. Don’t ever feel discouraged if you can’t solve a problem in a timely manner.
     
    Afterword:
    So, did anyone miss me at all? Yeah, this one was a real doozy. I was putting myself through even more stress trying to find time for this blog during college, but I wound up having to wait until Winter break to finish writing this entry. Thankfully I won’t have any more classes to take until next year, so I’ll have all the time I need to keep this blog up and running… and to get caught up on all the dust I’ve let accumulate in my room and bathroom. Oh and I started my Japanese studies back up again yesterday too! I’ve been kinda behind on them up until now due to excessive stress (to the point of neck injury) and my scramble to get homework turned in on time, but I’m 50% sure I’ll be fine in the near future.
     
    Next week’s topic will be on living a healthy lifestyle. Once you’re able to find proper coping methods, the next step toward building momentum is figuring out how to best optimize all the other factors that impact your brain’s performance.
  15. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from Plk_Lesiak for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 4: Addressing Mental Health Issues   
    For those who suffer from any sort of mental health issue, you are probably going to have the worst time staying committed to studying. But with the right kind of mindset and a practical approach, you may find yourself well within reach of your goal. While this guide is not a suitable replacement for real treatment from a specialist, it may give you a few ideas on how to deal with your own issues. But everyone has their own unique issues and complications, so there isn’t a single correct answer for everybody.
     
    Oh and be very careful about self-diagnosing these types of illnesses. Mental health is a complicated subject that requires a lot of training to make the correct judgment, so please seek confirmation from a professional before you decide to take on that kind of baggage. Sadness and fear, even on a regular basis, are normal human emotions. It’s only when they affect you in an abnormal way (which, again, needs a proper diagnosis) that you need to be concerned.
     
    Okay, so some of you may have noticed I’ve been severely behind on updating my blog. Well, as it turns out, the solution I had in mind for anxiety didn’t pan out very well. I had gone through another bout of anxiety, lagged behind on my homework, and was left with virtually no time to put out another post. But I’m actually really happy I delayed it since I’ve gained so much valuable knowledge about anxiety since September.
     
    When I initially started writing this entry, I had written about the success I was having with positive self-talk. At the time, I was extremely focused on repeating a single line to myself in order to stay motivated, and it was working for a good while. But see, once the idea had lost its novelty after a couple months, I wasn’t getting any kind of benefit from it. I did feel a sense of confidence I hadn’t felt in a long time, and it was making me more productive, but it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. What I’ve learned since then is that I need more than false confidence to drive me forward, and I think I may have come up with a more reliable way of coping with my emotions. I’m still using positive self-talk in order to combat negative thinking, but I’m doing so in a much less specific way.
     
    For my most recent episode, I was unable to pull myself out of it, but I had managed to escape after two whole months of misery by focusing on the more crucial flaws with my mindset. I happened upon a simple, yet insightful comment on Quora that helped me ground my thoughts and properly outline my path to improvement. One of my key takeaways from this was to focus on what could happen rather than what has happened already. If your mind is stuck in the past and all you can do is think about is how much you haven’t accomplished, you won’t have much to look forward to. Additionally, you need to accept the problems you have in front of you and see them more as opportunities for growth rather than as barriers. If you can find a solution to the problem at hand, then you’ve exercised the part of your brain that solves problems. And if you can’t find a solution, then your accomplishments will be much more meaningful because you had to jump through extra hoops to succeed.
     
    Another issue I’ve had the most difficulty with is blaming my problems on everything. I can’t get good sleep because of my noisy surroundings, I’m not losing weight because of all the sweets around the house, I can’t concentrate well because I’m under a lot of stress, I’m unhappy because I can’t afford to support my emotional needs, my life sucks because society sucks, my parents are the reason I’m not that smart, and so on and so forth. I was always thinking about how much crap I had working against me, and yet I never wanted to see myself as the source of my misfortune. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to preach personal responsibility or anything as mundane as that. I do understand that the human mind is easily susceptible to influence, and that we aren’t in full control of our decisions or circumstances. However, I do think there is something to be gained by taking ownership of your problems. What this does is take you out of a state of hopelessness and entrapment, and empowers you to pursue your goals further. When you decide to take life into your own hands, you can then mold it into something you want it to be.
     
    Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned is to accept myself for who am. I am a nervous wreck. I freak out whenever I set out to do any kind of improvement. Having to make major life adjustments always puts me on edge. I will panic even as I’m handing in a homework assignment, terrified of how the professor will grade it. And my response to these dilemmas has been to either pretend the fear isn’t there, convince myself that I can’t keep living this way, or beat myself up when I let my nervousness get the better of me. But instead of just working against my anxiety, I decided it was time I started working alongside it and let it be. What I’ve come to understand since then is that fear hurts my motivation a lot more than it does my performance, so I don’t even need to acknowledge it as an obstacle. I eventually came to the conclusion that it’s better to focus on resolving issues that I have immediate control over rather than the ones I can’t do anything about. There is still chance I’ll be able to find a fix eventually, but I have no way of knowing what that is at this very moment. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.
     
    And to wrap things up, I’ll jot a few quick tips you may have heard about already, but are still important to know. There won’t always be an ideal time to get something done; do it anyways. Try to focus on what went right rather than the opposite. Don’t be afraid to work hard; working hard will generally give you advantage over others. Finish what you’ve started, even after it loses its novelty. Don’t ever feel discouraged if you can’t solve a problem in a timely manner.
     
    Afterword:
    So, did anyone miss me at all? Yeah, this one was a real doozy. I was putting myself through even more stress trying to find time for this blog during college, but I wound up having to wait until Winter break to finish writing this entry. Thankfully I won’t have any more classes to take until next year, so I’ll have all the time I need to keep this blog up and running… and to get caught up on all the dust I’ve let accumulate in my room and bathroom. Oh and I started my Japanese studies back up again yesterday too! I’ve been kinda behind on them up until now due to excessive stress (to the point of neck injury) and my scramble to get homework turned in on time, but I’m 50% sure I’ll be fine in the near future.
     
    Next week’s topic will be on living a healthy lifestyle. Once you’re able to find proper coping methods, the next step toward building momentum is figuring out how to best optimize all the other factors that impact your brain’s performance.
  16. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, JRPG: Growlanser IV   
    The Growlanser series is one of those weird, hardly known jrpg series that died out after the ps2 era (mostly because its gameplay was too traditional, but also because the transition to 2.5D sprites failed so miserably in V and VI, along with the derivative, predictable story).  However, before its death, it produced four first-class games, three of them linked in a single chronology.  IV, also known as Wayfarer of Time, is the exception in the series as a whole, being the only entirely standalone game.
    Growlanser IV's Western release was on the PSP (also playable on the Vita and PSTV) with a modified main route and an 'evil' route that you could access on NG+.  The first four Growlanser games can be said to be very attractive to those who like player agency.  This is because, depending on how you fight, how you play, and what conversation choices you make (three of the four protagonists are silent ones whose) you could not only alter your own perceptions of the main character, but you could also alter the ending and even the game flow as a whole dramatically. 
    Growlanser IV isn't an exception to this, but in a way it is easier.  One reason is that you aren't required to get the highest rating on  all story missions to get access to the 'true' ending.  Rather, it uses a 'fate alteration' system which allows you to take on sidequests, take various actions in combat, and make choices in conversations that alter how the game ends, who lives, and who dies.  The 'Modified Route', which is pretty much the 'good' route, pretty much requires you to alter every possible character's fate in order to create the result of ten major characters still being alive past the turning point of the story and the end.   With some of these characters, it is as simple as saving them in a certain story battle, with others it requires making the right choices in conversations with them in order to change how they act, thus preventing their deaths.
    In this way, I came out of Growlanser IV feeling that, for the first time in a long time, that player agency actually mattered.  Hell, I never thought scolding a girl about throwing things then showing her kindness would give me an opportunity to save her soul later.
    The main story itself is heavy on war politics, much like all the other games in the series.  In this case, it is a war story spread across about four years (my estimate) that ends up involving the whole of the known world.  The protagonist, raised in a mercenary outfit, ends up getting involved with saving the world and the nations in it... but you rarely see him being treated like a 'chosen one' outside of a few of his own companions.  Rather, most reactions are based in that person's standpoint and affiliation, which made both the enemies and allies feel real to me in a way few jrpgs ever manage. 
    This game manages to avoid the traditional pitfalls of the average jrpg.  What do I mean?  I mean that tendency toward hot-blooded idealism and dew-eyed innocence about human nature that ruin 90% of JRPGs storywise.  I mean, a king isn't interested in saving the world... he is interested in enriching his country.  Good people in the wrong position will do bad things, and bad people who can benefit from it will do good things.  The characters feel like people, and I don't feel like I'm talking to carbon copies of characters from a thousand other jrpgs like I do with most mainline jrpgs.
    The battle system in this game is a combination of turn-based and real-time strategy.  Generally speaking, you start out at a certain point of the map, and your characters move in real time when you aren't making choices about their next action.  It is possible to alter their course, and you can block enemies' routes with your warriors' bodies.  Knacks (non-magic activation skills) can be used to strike hard, slow enemies' turns,or slow their chanting of magic.  Magic takes a while to chant, but in exchange you can take normal actions immediately afterward, and spells can be canceled at any time just by pressing the triangle button and going to the character in question.
    Perhaps the game's biggest overt weak point gameplay-wise is the way you learn skills (passives), Knacks (instant-use attack/support/debuff/buffs), and magic.  They are learned by attaching spellstones to the characters' ring weapons (three to a weapon, with the level of the stone you can attach limited by the ring's slots) and killing enemies in battle.  The reason why this is a problem is simple... only the character who deals the fatal blow to an enemy gains ability points for their... abilities.  A warrior who can take out five enemies at once with the use of the circle strike knack is going to find it easier to learn abilities than a mage or archer that can only strike one enemy at a time (synchronize spells later on to cast area spells utilizing multiple characters... but it still can't beat the quickness of AOE knacks). 
    The greatest help to the player is the fact that you can buff before going into battle using spells, thus eliminating the need to tie up magic users in buffing for the first part of a battle.  Considering that most story battles have time limits, this is an issue.  This game rewards clever use of the systems like the arena and buff spells and will seriously sodomize you if you go through the game without thinking or preparing.
    Overall, Growlanser IV was the series' peak, and it saddens me greatly that the series was killed in the PS2 era.  This game is about sixty hours long for the first playthrough (successive playthroughs are easier), and it is one of the better rpg stories I've ever played, being somewhat reminiscent of Suikoden, which is funny, considering they rose to cult popularity around the same time.
     
  17. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, An Opinion: Grittiness vs Humanity   
    This is an opinion that has been a long time in forming, but I am coming around to an opinion that the more simplistic viewpoints I've possessed on the differences between American approaches to storytelling and Japanese ones are somewhat off the mark. Note:  This is a rant, it should be treated as a rant, and if it doesn't make sense to you, that is because it is my brain leaking into text on this blog.
    First, my original opinion:
    To put it simply, it was my belief that the Japanese had a tendency to go for emotional surrealism (in other words, emotional bombardment) and visual excess (exaggeration) to tell their stories.  In opposition, Americans tend to go for the 'gritty and realistic', with straight out bullet to the head realism.  This was a generalization that, while based on my experiences with Japanese video games that told a story (both VNs and jrpgs) and Western games that more or less tried to do the same (Isometric RPGs, Bethesda-style games, etc), was never meant to be an absolute statement but just a general opinion of the tendencies I'd encountered.
    Second, my new opinion: 
    First, I've come to the conclusion that American gaming companies don't know how to tell a story anymore (since Bioware has gone crappy, Obsidian is about to get absorbed/has been absorbed by a company that has no idea of what it is doing, and the Witcher was made by Polish people).  Second, the Japanese seem to suffer from a similar malaise... and the source is, quite ironically, fairly similar in the cases of mainstream games.
    It is the disease I call the 'MMO virus'.  Yes, you who actually read my blog know my opinion on online multiplayer games and what they have done to erode storytelling games in general, but my recent conclusion is that this erosion has actually reached a critical point in the last five years.  Rebellions against the progression of this disease have occurred (Tales of Berseria, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Nier: Automata come to mind for the Japanese, and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire for America), but these have been relatively minor upthrusts against the toxins released by the cloud of mission-based 'stories' you see in games nowadays.  Bethesda has also contributed to this plague (fetch quests and hunt the monster quests  being a common plague for them as well), and it seems like every time I turn around, I see another game trying to tell its story through an obvious mission or quest system is sitting right there.  Sure, the systems had their roots in D&D games, but the way they've developed is the result of the plague that infected the world using games like WoW as its vector.
    I first began to see signs of this disease back in the PS2 era, though it was mostly limited to 'high end' games at the time, like Final Fantasy (XII having essentially repurposed and altered XI's MMO battle system for a single-player model), I was honestly horrified to see how easy it was to let myself get led around by the nose from objective to objective in hopes that I'd find the story in there somewhere.  The problem was, once the objectives became my reason for playing (as was inevitable, because that is the tactic they use to draw you in), I increasingly realized that I couldn't enjoy what story was being told, because I was impatient to get to the next objective, even though I didn't find any of that searching for objectives to be fun in the least.
    VNs suffer from a different set of problems.  While jrpgs and western games suffer from the simple fact that the current generation of makers grew up obsessing over pathetic attempts to graft stories onto multiplayer games, VNs suffer from the fact that the best and brightest of their creators are... getting old.  Hell, some of them even died in between projects.  Worse, no one of equal capability has replaced them, leading to an unfortunate confluence of near-universal incompetence and corporate inability to grasp the reasons for failure and fix it. 
    No, I'm not saying that all new VNs suck.  Hell, if they all sucked, I wouldn't still be trying to go back and play them, like the burnt-out junkie I am.  No, my issue is that there is a sudden dearth of developed talent within the world of VNs that has gotten horrible in the last five years.  Most of the major names are retired, have moved on to 'greater' things, or are dead.  Shumon Yuu is silent, Hino Wataru seems to have gone underground, Masada is probably off in his own little world, Fujisaki Ryuuta is circling in place, Kurashiki Tatsuya is off indulging his inner sadist with half-assed games, Kazuki Fumi can't seem to stick with one thing long enough to make it great since Akeiro Kaikitan, and Agobarrier is three years dead.  That isn't even mentioning all the formerly major names that have just decided to retire without telling anyone or got hired away by mainstream video game companies. 
    What is replacing them are primarily LN writers... who, unfortunately, tend to write like middle school street kids on crack (and not in a good way).  They often have great ideas, but they are fuzzy about execution and lacking in technique.  As a result, you get a bunch of third-rate one-off VNs that no one really likes.
    Artists aren't a problem.  There will always be plenty of skilled otaku artists who can draw h-scenes.  The issue is and always will be writers... because it is the writer that decides whether a VN will become remembered for years to come or be dropped back into the dung at the bottom of the latrine.
  18. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Deatte 5-fun wa Ore no Mono! Jikan Teishi to Atropos   
    The first thing most of you are going to ask is why I didn't play Deep One first, given my tastes... but the answer is fairly simple.  An a-hole spoiled the entire story on the release day to me in a PM on another site, and I read it before I realized what he was doing.  As such, my enthusiasm was dampened to almost nothing, and I'm left feeling listless about everything in general.  The commentary about it all over the untranslated VN community only accelerated its trip to being sealed in my archives, lol.
    I picked up this game mostly because Hulotte games are generally good for cheap laughs and funny characters in slightly mystical settings.  This game is unusual for them, in the fact that there is a true path and heroine.  Sadly, my tolerance for happy SOL games has gone down greatly in recent years, and so don't be surprised if I'm a bit harsh at times while writing this commentary.
    First, the protagonist, Yuuma (how many Yuuma protagonists have I encountered now?  lol), obtains a watch that can stop time for five minutes from a clearly suspicious fortune teller named Hakua who promptly worms her way into his life, constantly encouraging him to use it for sexual reasons.  Sadly for her, he gets bored of the watch inside the prologue, and the watch itself only serves as a catalyst to move the heroine relationships forward outside of the climax of some of the paths, lol. 
    I'll be straight with you... I love Sakura, so when her path was over, I felt like I'd been cheated greatly.  Oh, there was some decent drama and incest love is always good for me, especially when her actions are so hilarious.  However, this path is the one that decided my impression of all the non-true paths. I felt that there could have been some more detailed drama included in this path, and the drama that was there was mostly her being an idiot.  The path took only about two hours for me to read, and I came out of it feeling cheated, somehow.  *sighs*
    Unfortunately, this greatly effected my feelings toward the other paths as I played them, and I became so bored by the end of Noa's path that I dropped the game outright for a week while I did other things (like work and playing random video games) before picking it up again yesterday.  I forced myself through Kanon's route, enjoying some of the moments but still fuming about Sakura... and in the end, I couldn't even fully enjoy Hakua's path.  Part of that is Hakua's path is nothing I haven't seen a few dozen times in games like this, but that was made worse by my lingering sourness on the game in general. 
    Objectively, Hakua's path is obviously better structured and written than the others... but it follows the pattern of self-sacrificing true heroines everywhere.  Moreover, the exact happenings in the story were rather predictable due events in the other paths which established just what state she was in before I even headed into it.  In the end, I came out of this game feeling cheated and wishing they'd just stuck with the harem formula from their previous games.
  19. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, An Assessment of the Silverio Series concept [Spoilers]   
    First, it should be noted that I love the Silverio series, regardless of its flaws.  I see those flaws, I recognize them, then I shrug as I realize I don't give a flying fart about how the critical part of myself feels. 
    First, lets consider the two games that have come out (so far, given that the setting is so insanely detailed that it would be sad if they didn't make more games) in the series separately. 
    Silverio Vendetta
    Silverio Vendetta follows Zephyr Colerain, an unemployed deserter with an inordinate fondness for alcohol accompanied by an inability to handle it.  Zephyr, if you take a step back and look at him, is antithetical to every other chuunige protagonist in existence.  The cynicism isn't a problem.  Roughly half of all chuunige protagonists are cynical on one level or another.  The pessimism, while extreme, is nothing unusual.  No, what makes him unique is his sheer... baseness.  Zephyr, at his core, is a weak man who is perfectly willing to stain his hands with the blood of the innocent and the good to protect what he cares about... in order to protect himself.  Zephyr is a coward, he is not only afraid all the time in battle, but his first impulse is to run away whenever a situation gets hard (though that fleeing takes different forms depending on the situation).  When he is confronted with someone who sees him an obstacle to their ideals, he wants nothing more than to trample and spit on the glory of the person in front of him.  Zephyr is essentially the embodiment of the part of us that is envious and resentful of those more capable than ourselves, with his only saving grace being that he nonetheless can at times drive himself to stand against his own nature. 
    In other words, in 99% of all the games I've played, he'd essentially be one of those petty minor bosses who got squished like a bug by my level 10 characters.  He is also very similar to Rusalka from Dies Irae (if you have played the game, note her Creation spell's essential meaning). 
    Zephyr is accompanied by Vendetta, an artificially weaponized and resurrected corpse with an unknown purpose who is psychically linked with him, who constantly kicks him in the ass to get him to be a man and be a better person (which is often hilarious in and of itself, since Zephyr has no intention of doing so on his own). 
    On the other side is Christopher Valzeride, an undoubted hero who gives selflessly of himself, who never gives up, who moves forward with no desire for recompense.  In most chuunige VNs, Valzeride would be the protagonist.  His intensity of spirit, his iron will, his burning idealism... combined with a realistic understanding of the costs of his path forwar... make him an ideal archetype for a chuunige protagonist in a 'heroic style' chuunige. 
    However, the fundamental theme that starts out the game and resonates throughout all the paths is 'What is victory?'  Zephyr is a man who has been destroyed, carved away, piece by bloody piece, by his own victories, gaining nothing but more pain and the next, even more difficult battle from anything he achieved.  He is the picture of a man forced into a role by his talents and utterly unsuited to it by his essential nature.  Valzeride is a man who seeks victory above all else and merely accepts the greater tribulations that await him as the price of his path. 
    Essentially, the two men are polar extremes of human potential that encompass both the best and worst of the two extremes.  Zephyr, while capable of kindness and gentleness, is cruel in his cowardice and malicious toward those who corner him with their valor and vivid idealism.  Valzeride loves human virtue but is utterly incapable of kindness or personal empathy, as his own nature rejects anything ambiguous and weak.  He honestly can't empathize with the suffering others draw from their tribulations, and this is why he serves as a great antagonist, despite essentially being a truly virtuous man in addition to being a hero.
    Silverio Trinity
    Silverio Trinity focuses a lot more intensely on the nature of the 'Light', as embodied by Valzeride in the previous game.  It portrays those who take after him as 'Zombies of Light', men and women who simply move forward because they are incapable of conceiving of any other course of action.  As is said repeatedly in both games in various fashions, 'A hero of light continues forward, running over the hapless individuals who get in their way, unable to compromise, unable to consider the suffering of others except as the price for the brilliant shining future they seek to bring about.' 
    Ashe, the protagonist, is by nature a good and caring young man.  He can be driven to anger for the sake of others, and he has a deep well of compassion that is honest in its depth... and contrasts starkly with the other characters aspected of Light, such as Gilbert, Helios, and even Dainsleif.  Ashe recognizes and empathizes with the weakness of others, and his understanding of them is more than just the intellectual recognition you see out of individuals like Valzeride and Gilbert.  In this fashion, Trinity is more of a contrasting of common humanity with the two extremes of human nature (darkness and light as represented by the protagonists and antagonists of Vendetta).  Its narrative, while having a different locale and characters, is a direct continuation of the conversation with the reader begun with Vendetta, and its conclusion is interesting, to say the least (Edit: Though it can be said to be a typical conclusion for such 'conversation' in a Japanese VN).
     
  20. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Meguri, Hitohira part 1   
    Due to work and other stuff, I hadn't had time to really get into this until recently, and with friday signaling the release of October's list of VNs, at least one of which (Deep One) will play immediately, I felt that it would be fitting to go ahead and give you my initial impression  of the game. 
    My first impression, after playing through the prologue, was that, while this game is pretty old, it is also very... familiar in an odd way.  At first, I couldn't figure out where that impression was coming from... but then it struck me!
    I finally figured out where Favorite stole its basic style.  It always bugged the hell out of me that Favorite was able to produce such decent to great games despite essentially being a company full of lolicons and the writer basically being an unknown who produced two mediocre games before Irotoridori.  The atmosphere of Meguri, Hitohira is almost identical to Irotoridori and AstralAir... which made the game feel pretty familiar as I delved into it. 
    However, this familiarity wasn't a bad thing, because I always liked the atmosphere of those games, even if I felt nothing but contempt for the loliconism.  Say what you want about Favorite, but the atmosphere of their games is usually worth buying them for.
    That said, this is a Shumon Yuu work... and Shumon Yuu is easily the best non-genre-specific writer in VNs.  I was crying inside the prologue, empathizing deeply with the protagonist, his predicament, and his hangups, despite knowing that similar protagonists in other VNs have pissed me off in the past (understand, it takes a master's hand to make the suffering and self-hatred of a sensitive young man as sweet as honey, and when it goes wrong, it generally feels like I was eating aspartame in powder form afterwards).  The fact that the game is very, very dated didn't hurt the presentation nearly as much as it does with some other old games (Ikusa Megami comes to mind, as does Tsukihime, despite my love for it). 
    Since I haven't hit an ending, I don't have a conclusion for you... but even if this game were to flop on its face later (an impossibility, given the writer) it would still be worth playing.  You probably won't see my final impressions for a while, because, even though this game is engrossing and emotional, it takes actual courage get into it, since I know Shumon Yuu's habits well enough to figure out in a vague sense where he plans to go with the story (Hint: Most of Shumon Yuu's games almost border on utsuge at times, with the exception of Tenshi no Hane o Fumanaide).
  21. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, CharaBration! ~Otome wa Koi shite Charabureru~   
    Let's be clear... I have no reason to try to be fair to charage anymore.  This might sound like a terrible statement to make, but the fact is, I've been a lot nicer than I wanted to be for years when it came to charage.  I went out of my way to look for positive aspects, and when I found one, I deliberately put it in as positive a light I could without overdoing it.  This was because the sensation I got coming out of most charage was fatigue.  SOL, in small doses, is enjoyable and even relaxing... in the kind of doses I experienced over the last five years, it is downright toxic.
    Now, down to the game... CharaBration is what is termed a 'thematic charage'.  This is a type of VN with a preset theme that all the heroines and possibly the protagonist all adhere to to one degree or another.  In this case, it is the duality of the heroines/protagonist's character types.  Each of the characters presents one face to the world and another in private... and in the case of this game, the gap between them is massive.  
    The heroine who starts as the initial focus is Hai, the protagonist's cousin whom he thought was a sickly ojousama that he had to take care of... and is really the kind of tomboy who dominates all the males around her, with a coarse manner and foul language.  Yukia, who is pretending to be her sister Mirei, presents herself normally as an arrogant leader who always dominates the room, but in private, she is shy and has trouble talking at all.  Himeme is normally acts in a false male role, but she really prefers to act like the girl she really is.  All the heroines are like this to one degree or another, and Rikka (the protagonist) ends up splitting his life between pretending to be a maid and attending school in his male form.
    Now... this is a game with a lot of potentially fun elements, and it would have been great if the 'hidden' character traits for Hai, who was presented as the main heroine at first, weren't so grating.  Starting out with a positive hatred for Hai that never really faded even after I got into the heroine routes (her ojousama act just made me more irritated, due to that fake cough) was a huge drag on the experience for me, and it is the reason why I took so long to finish even the paths I did.  Hai is annoying, to be straight about it.  While her presence is necessary to create the situation going in, her persona (both of them) drove me up the wall. 
    The fact that I actually liked the other heroines only made it worse, because whenever she came onto the scene, I just wanted to delete her character.  I'm sure some will love her (there is someone for everyone, supposedly), but she isn't for me.
    Common Route
    Tbh, the common route spent so much time on Hai and stuff related to her that I'm tempted to erase it from my brain.  However, it needs to be said that it does a good job of introducing the heroines and creating their relationships with Yuki/Rikka.  Rikka is a standard 'I protest dressing up like a girl but I subconsciously am coming to love it' trap protagonist, and that creates a few moderately amusing scenes... However, I can't really said this did a good job of anything but introducing the heroines and creating those basic relationships.  It is a pretty short common route, and the heroine routes afterward aren't long either, so it feels like more time and effort could have been spent deepening the relationships before they headed off into the romantic wilds. 
    Yukia
    Yukia is easy to like, at least for me.  Her helpful, kind nature is prevalent throughout much of the VN, and her other persona is mostly amusing (some of the ways she strings together lines to hold a conversation together make me laugh).  Her relationship with her sister, Mirei, which comes out in her path, is amusing on several levels, and I like the way she grows as a character during the course of her path.  That said, her ending is somewhat disappointing, as I would have liked to see what she and Rikka were like after graduation.
    Corona
    I chose Corona as the second heroine mostly because she is Yukia's opposite in so many ways...  and because I rolled a pair of dice to decide which would be the second and final heroine I would play (I can't bring myself to play all the heroines in this type of game anymore).   Umm... I really like her character, if only because it makes me laugh (an easily-embarrassed prime personality and a secondary personality that strips without a hint of hesitation and is obsessed with other women's breasts... definitely worth a laugh).   In fact, this path is nicely weird, especially because of how those twin personalities interact with the romance.  If Yukia's path was par for the course (predictable and staid as trap protagonist and ojousama heroines go), Corona's went pretty far out there.  The epilogue and after story was also too close to the ending in chronology though, *sighs*.
     
    Conclusions
    Despite some high points, this game is pretty average as charage go.  Like a lot of thematic charage, it makes the mistake of assuming that the theme is all-powerful, and, as a result, it falls short on a lot of minor points.  I was particularly irritated at the way they handled the endings/epilogues, and I felt that the writer didn't really do Corona or Yukia justice, when it came down to it.  Given more detail and time spent deepening character relationships in a believable fashion, it would have been much easier to engross myself in the setting.  Unfortunately, that never happened here (the good parts of Yukia's and Corona's paths stand out so much precisely because they are the best parts of the VN by far).  It felt like the writer wrote his favorite scenes first then sort of created a bare-bones framework to support it using the theme.
  22. Thanks
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from LanThief(HUN) for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 3: Productivity Apps   
    Index
    Disclaimer: I am not being paid to promote any of these apps.
    From here on out, I’ll be shifting the focus of this blog to the more indirect methods of improving learning efficiency. While these techniques aren’t designed for learning Japanese specifically, they can greatly enhance your ability to retain information and study consistently. Sorry I won’t be able to write more posts like the one from last week, but I’m still learning at a snails’ pace due to college-imposed time constraints. Hopefully I'll be able to write another post like that in the future as I continue to study.
     
    Pomodoro Technique
    The pomodoro technique is an effective learning method that can not only improve your concentration and motivation, but help you manage your time more reliably. The way this technique works involves setting a pomodoro duration for somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes (25 is recommended), taking a short break (typically 5 minutes) between each pomodoro, and taking a long break (typically 15 minutes) after finishing a set of 4 pomodoros. Concentrating on any kind of learning material is going to be taxing on the brain, so you’ll want to let it cool down at times to make studying more productive and enjoyable. It’s thanks to this technique that I can study for 8 hours in a day without getting a migraine, and I am finding it easier to not get lost in thought.
     
    There are specialized pomodoro timers you can use that will give you a timer for both the study and the break duration, and they'll be able to keep track of when you need a longer break instead of a shorter one. You should be able to find one just fine in Google Play or App Store, and you can buy a physical pomodoro timer on Amazon if you don’t have a smart phone (a kitchen timer and pen and paper can work if you don’t want to buy this). I don’t know much about the options for App Store or physical timers, but I do like Pomodoro Timer Lite on Google Play since it has a minimalist design, decent customization, and only shows a single popup ad asking you to buy the pro version once per day (it's a minor annoyance, but can be removed for just a few bucks (USD)).
     

     
    Habit Development
    One of the most effective ways to commit yourself to studying Japanese is by making it a regular habit. It takes roughly 30 days for something to become a habit, and 66 days to become fully committed to it. The key to making this work is setting realistic goals for yourself and overemphasizing the importance of following through with them every day. You’re free to choose whatever method fits you best, but I like to take a baby steps approach by setting small goals that only require a trivial amount of time, and gradually building on them by increasing the duration after a successful 66-day commitment. Even on the most miserable and depressing days, I can bring myself to study Japanese for one Pomodoro duration at the bare minimum, and aim for three pomodoros when I’m not down in the dumps. While going for the minimum may not produce the most optimal results, it’s still better than doing nothing.
     
    I recommend using a habit tracker app so that you can reliably measure the number of days you commit to a habit without the frustration of noting everything on paper. For both App Store and Google Play, I recommend using Habit Bull since it’s ad free, gives you reminders to update your habits, and provides a good interface to work with. I’d advise staying away from the pro version since you shouldn’t be tracking more than 1-3 habits at a time (anything more than 3 is difficult to sustain), and I’ve come across several reviews and posts from their in-app forums talking about how the devs aren’t very responsive when it comes to purchase issues.
     

     
    Developing habits can also serve as a useful method of measuring success when learning Japanese, and being able to measure progress is an excellent way to keep yourself motivated. As I mentioned in the introduction post, learning Japanese will take years of commitment, but developing a habit is something that can be done in a matter of months.
     
    Daily Routine Checklist
    It’s never a bad idea to give your lifestyle some form of structure, especially when you have issues committing to tasks you want to do. Even though I’ve been doing it for years, making lifestyle changes has always been a struggle for me because I didn’t have a good point of reference to look to. But that has changed drastically since I started writing down the steps to a workable daily routine using a checklist. That’s not to say I didn’t at least try to follow a routine before, but oftentimes I would either add too many changes to adjust to or I would forget to do something I wanted to. Given how unreliable the human brain is when it comes to extracting details from memory (usually), it’s much better to see the steps you need to take written out for you. Doing so can also make it easier to adjust to whatever changes you may need to incorporate.
     
    For this particular task, I can really only recommend ColorNote on Android. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find a reasonable alternative on iOS for managing a daily routine, so I’m afraid you may be out of luck if you own an iPhone (if anyone has suggestions, please let me know). And managing something like this without a smart phone is probably more trouble than it’s worth. As far as ColorNote goes, it has an easy-to-work-with interface that allows you to add checklist notes from the top or bottom, uncheck everything on the list through menu commands, rearrange notes using an edit mode, and organize a list of notes through color coding mechanisms. That way I can write down my entire routine and check each item off as I go through them. That’s not to say I’ll spend the whole day looking at a checklist; I mostly find myself using it during transition periods. Another neat aspect of ColorNote's list design is that you can skip certain tasks when you're not able to do them and come back to them later when you're able to.
     

     
    Distraction Management
    Unfortunately, many of the methods you’ll use to learn Japanese (especially as a beginner) will require a computer to use. This means that you’ll be subject to a number of potential distractions a computer can provide. Thankfully there are a couple solutions available to help you stay focused.
     
    If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely have some kind of obsessive compulsion to browse through various social websites, hoping to find that one voluptuous post that caters to your lust for immediate gratification. Thankfully, LeechBlock provides a solution to that. This addon is surprisingly well-designed, given how it allows you the freedom to block specific web pages at specific times and days, and even prevents you from accessing the options to change settings when it meets the conditions you set. Oh, and did I mention it has different block sets for multiple conditions? Yeah, it’s sexy. Unfortunately this plugin only works with web page loading on Firefox, so you’ll want something like Stay Focused (which isn’t as good, in my opinion) for Chrome if you’re ever inclined to use that. Since I’m mainly a Firefox user, I only use Stay Focused to keep myself from switching browsers when my blocks go up. I haven’t found anything for Microsoft’s browsers, but I would like to think no one is desperate enough to fall back on those.
     

     
    Now for any applications you have installed locally, you’re going to need something that can directly interact with your OS, which is where Cold Turkey comes in. As with LeechBlock, you can have this set for specific times and days, but it works for applications in addition to web pages. Sadly, this does come with a $25 price tag, but at least you’ll have the option to try it for a week before buying it, and you only have to pay for it once (not a bad deal, really). Once you’ve entered a time period you’ve set for a program/webpage, Cold Turkey will terminate the program or block the page on the spot, and it will kill blocked programs immediately if you try to start them back up. That way you can keep yourself from accessing distracting games and desktop apps and focus more on your studies. Unfortunately, you are still going to need some semblance of discipline to not distract yourself with something that isn’t on your computer, or find a workaround to get to your blocked content. But at least you won’t be as easily distracted as you were before.
    Afterword
    Thanks again for your continued readership! Ya know, this article was a lot shorter before I started editing it, which is unusual since my edits mostly involve cutting content. But yeah, this time I wanted to add in a few other applications I didn't have originally since they were also very helpful to me. Also, if any of you are wondering why I kept the title as is despite the nature of this post, it's mostly because I consider the Learning How To Learn series a documentation of my own personal development in the form of a guide. It's definitely not the most conventional way to write a guide, but I think there are more than enough of those already, lol. I'm just going to keep writing what I want to and hope someone finds them useful.
     
    In part 4, I'll go over some methods of coping with depression in order to keep it from significantly interfering with your learning goals. Hope to see you there!
  23. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Quick Review: Kokoro Connect LN   
    I haven't posted anything particularly editorial in a while, nor have I landed a new FuwaReview in a while; I've been busy with one thing or another, and also I just haven't had that much to write about. However, today I finished reading new shiny new Kokoro Connect: Hito Random release, and when I finished, I knew I had to write something up about it.

    I first watched Kokoro Connect way back when I didn't know who to ask for recommendations and was still finding my way around anime. I was mostly just going through things that were highly ranked on AnimeNewsNetwork's overall rankings, that were accessible without pirating, and that sounded interesting. But I didn't pick it up without some trepidation. Back then, I was a little put off by fanservice in general, and the show's description was selling the perverted body-swapping angle really hard, so I was concerned it was just some shallow fanservice show. Still, I decided to take the plunge anyway, thinking there had to be more to it given the show's reception, and boy was I ever glad I did.
    Nothing pushes my buttons like Kokoro Connect. The story it tells is as closely tailored to my own preferences as anything I could ever ask for: coherent and interesting characters, immensely human drama, realistic romantic development, clear story beats and plot arcs accumulating to bigger themes, and a little spritz of magic to grease the wheels of the plot. Hell, the anime even got a great dub, featuring the immensely talented Luci Christian as best girl Inaba. It's an all-time favorite for me, something I can happily recommend to anyone.
    One of my favorite elements of the show is that each arc feels so complete. In 3-5 episodes, a new twist emerges, a plot unfolds around it, the characters grow in response, and at the end it resolves fully, always in a satisfying way. The one season and the OVA together had four such arcs all together, and while I was immensely satisfied with where it ended after each one, when I finished the last OVA, I still thought to myself, man, I wish there was more of this. What I eventually learned, when I finished the show and went to read about its origins, was that the reason for the tight storytelling was that the show was based on an existing series of light novels, of which the show only covered the first four out of ten (eleven of you count a volume of short stories). There was a whole lot of content out there I hadn't seen yet! Except, it wasn't available in English...
    And that brings us to today, when I got to read the first English volume of the English release. And let me tell you guys, it is gooood. The translation is fluid, natural, and well-written. The characters pop right out of the page, and the narration is consistently solid and occasionally beautiful. Props to the localization team on their work here! I do have a couple minor gripes, of course: leaving people's heights in centimeters, which is totally bizarre in an American English translation (sure I can do the calculation, but talk about kicking you out of the immersion. Fortunately this only happened once); and not translating the per-volume titles ("hito random" ain't exactly my idea of a punchy title).
    So how did it hold up, revisiting the material again after all these years? It's still awesome! I had to stifle my laughter a few times so I didn't look like a weirdo laughing out loud in the middle of a plane flight. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I felt tears welling up in my eyes at a couple of particularly touching scenes, and had to fight just as hard to hold them back.
    And while there's nothing major that's new here, versus what you'd see in the first five volumes of the anime, there are little bits and pieces that make it worth the time, especially in the narration, something inherently missing from an anime.
    So what are you waiting for? There's a criminally neglected property out there finally getting a great English release, and it deserves your attention. Go out and give it a try! https://j-novel.club/v/kokoro-connect-hito-random
  24. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from 1P1A for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 3: Productivity Apps   
    Index
    Disclaimer: I am not being paid to promote any of these apps.
    From here on out, I’ll be shifting the focus of this blog to the more indirect methods of improving learning efficiency. While these techniques aren’t designed for learning Japanese specifically, they can greatly enhance your ability to retain information and study consistently. Sorry I won’t be able to write more posts like the one from last week, but I’m still learning at a snails’ pace due to college-imposed time constraints. Hopefully I'll be able to write another post like that in the future as I continue to study.
     
    Pomodoro Technique
    The pomodoro technique is an effective learning method that can not only improve your concentration and motivation, but help you manage your time more reliably. The way this technique works involves setting a pomodoro duration for somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes (25 is recommended), taking a short break (typically 5 minutes) between each pomodoro, and taking a long break (typically 15 minutes) after finishing a set of 4 pomodoros. Concentrating on any kind of learning material is going to be taxing on the brain, so you’ll want to let it cool down at times to make studying more productive and enjoyable. It’s thanks to this technique that I can study for 8 hours in a day without getting a migraine, and I am finding it easier to not get lost in thought.
     
    There are specialized pomodoro timers you can use that will give you a timer for both the study and the break duration, and they'll be able to keep track of when you need a longer break instead of a shorter one. You should be able to find one just fine in Google Play or App Store, and you can buy a physical pomodoro timer on Amazon if you don’t have a smart phone (a kitchen timer and pen and paper can work if you don’t want to buy this). I don’t know much about the options for App Store or physical timers, but I do like Pomodoro Timer Lite on Google Play since it has a minimalist design, decent customization, and only shows a single popup ad asking you to buy the pro version once per day (it's a minor annoyance, but can be removed for just a few bucks (USD)).
     

     
    Habit Development
    One of the most effective ways to commit yourself to studying Japanese is by making it a regular habit. It takes roughly 30 days for something to become a habit, and 66 days to become fully committed to it. The key to making this work is setting realistic goals for yourself and overemphasizing the importance of following through with them every day. You’re free to choose whatever method fits you best, but I like to take a baby steps approach by setting small goals that only require a trivial amount of time, and gradually building on them by increasing the duration after a successful 66-day commitment. Even on the most miserable and depressing days, I can bring myself to study Japanese for one Pomodoro duration at the bare minimum, and aim for three pomodoros when I’m not down in the dumps. While going for the minimum may not produce the most optimal results, it’s still better than doing nothing.
     
    I recommend using a habit tracker app so that you can reliably measure the number of days you commit to a habit without the frustration of noting everything on paper. For both App Store and Google Play, I recommend using Habit Bull since it’s ad free, gives you reminders to update your habits, and provides a good interface to work with. I’d advise staying away from the pro version since you shouldn’t be tracking more than 1-3 habits at a time (anything more than 3 is difficult to sustain), and I’ve come across several reviews and posts from their in-app forums talking about how the devs aren’t very responsive when it comes to purchase issues.
     

     
    Developing habits can also serve as a useful method of measuring success when learning Japanese, and being able to measure progress is an excellent way to keep yourself motivated. As I mentioned in the introduction post, learning Japanese will take years of commitment, but developing a habit is something that can be done in a matter of months.
     
    Daily Routine Checklist
    It’s never a bad idea to give your lifestyle some form of structure, especially when you have issues committing to tasks you want to do. Even though I’ve been doing it for years, making lifestyle changes has always been a struggle for me because I didn’t have a good point of reference to look to. But that has changed drastically since I started writing down the steps to a workable daily routine using a checklist. That’s not to say I didn’t at least try to follow a routine before, but oftentimes I would either add too many changes to adjust to or I would forget to do something I wanted to. Given how unreliable the human brain is when it comes to extracting details from memory (usually), it’s much better to see the steps you need to take written out for you. Doing so can also make it easier to adjust to whatever changes you may need to incorporate.
     
    For this particular task, I can really only recommend ColorNote on Android. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find a reasonable alternative on iOS for managing a daily routine, so I’m afraid you may be out of luck if you own an iPhone (if anyone has suggestions, please let me know). And managing something like this without a smart phone is probably more trouble than it’s worth. As far as ColorNote goes, it has an easy-to-work-with interface that allows you to add checklist notes from the top or bottom, uncheck everything on the list through menu commands, rearrange notes using an edit mode, and organize a list of notes through color coding mechanisms. That way I can write down my entire routine and check each item off as I go through them. That’s not to say I’ll spend the whole day looking at a checklist; I mostly find myself using it during transition periods. Another neat aspect of ColorNote's list design is that you can skip certain tasks when you're not able to do them and come back to them later when you're able to.
     

     
    Distraction Management
    Unfortunately, many of the methods you’ll use to learn Japanese (especially as a beginner) will require a computer to use. This means that you’ll be subject to a number of potential distractions a computer can provide. Thankfully there are a couple solutions available to help you stay focused.
     
    If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely have some kind of obsessive compulsion to browse through various social websites, hoping to find that one voluptuous post that caters to your lust for immediate gratification. Thankfully, LeechBlock provides a solution to that. This addon is surprisingly well-designed, given how it allows you the freedom to block specific web pages at specific times and days, and even prevents you from accessing the options to change settings when it meets the conditions you set. Oh, and did I mention it has different block sets for multiple conditions? Yeah, it’s sexy. Unfortunately this plugin only works with web page loading on Firefox, so you’ll want something like Stay Focused (which isn’t as good, in my opinion) for Chrome if you’re ever inclined to use that. Since I’m mainly a Firefox user, I only use Stay Focused to keep myself from switching browsers when my blocks go up. I haven’t found anything for Microsoft’s browsers, but I would like to think no one is desperate enough to fall back on those.
     

     
    Now for any applications you have installed locally, you’re going to need something that can directly interact with your OS, which is where Cold Turkey comes in. As with LeechBlock, you can have this set for specific times and days, but it works for applications in addition to web pages. Sadly, this does come with a $25 price tag, but at least you’ll have the option to try it for a week before buying it, and you only have to pay for it once (not a bad deal, really). Once you’ve entered a time period you’ve set for a program/webpage, Cold Turkey will terminate the program or block the page on the spot, and it will kill blocked programs immediately if you try to start them back up. That way you can keep yourself from accessing distracting games and desktop apps and focus more on your studies. Unfortunately, you are still going to need some semblance of discipline to not distract yourself with something that isn’t on your computer, or find a workaround to get to your blocked content. But at least you won’t be as easily distracted as you were before.
    Afterword
    Thanks again for your continued readership! Ya know, this article was a lot shorter before I started editing it, which is unusual since my edits mostly involve cutting content. But yeah, this time I wanted to add in a few other applications I didn't have originally since they were also very helpful to me. Also, if any of you are wondering why I kept the title as is despite the nature of this post, it's mostly because I consider the Learning How To Learn series a documentation of my own personal development in the form of a guide. It's definitely not the most conventional way to write a guide, but I think there are more than enough of those already, lol. I'm just going to keep writing what I want to and hope someone finds them useful.
     
    In part 4, I'll go over some methods of coping with depression in order to keep it from significantly interfering with your learning goals. Hope to see you there!
  25. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from mitchhamilton for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 1: Obligatory Introduction   
    Index
    Hello and welcome to my Learning How To Learn Japanese guide series! My name is Kenshin_sama, and today I’d like to go over a basic overview of what these guides will be about. What I aim to accomplish with this series is share some of the observations I made while studying in hopes that they aid you in finding a sustainable method for yourself. While many of the techniques I discuss can be applied to almost any area of study, I’ll be writing these guides specifically for those who want to learn Japanese.
    Guide format:
    After dedicating several hours to writing this guide, I came to the realization that I’ve put in far too much information to consume all at once; and after some deliberation, I decided to break my guide into a series of smaller guides to provide moderate break points and make it a little less intimidating. Each guide will be dedicated to certain lifestyle aspects or learning techniques that can make the process of learning Japanese easier. Every time I create a new guide, I'll add a link to an index at the top of each entry for convenient navigation.
    What you should know before you start learning Japanese:
    Gaining proficiency in any new language is going to require a substantial time investment throughout the entirety your life; make sure you can justify that kind of commitment to yourself before getting started. There are plenty of reasons you might want to consider learning Japanese other than for increased enjoyment of your hobbies, but make sure they’re enough to keep you motivated.
    The key to studying effectively is studying consistently. In the wise words of James Raymond Watkins, “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” If you can spend more time studying, great, but it is imperative that you take the time to study almost every day, even if it’s only for a short duration.
    I’m not sure if this is still a commonly held belief, but I think I’ll go ahead and address this argument in case you get the wrong idea. It is not impractical to learn a completely new language as an adult. You may have heard it said on occasion that the best time to learn any new language is at a young age. I’m not willing to verify the accuracy of that statement since it’s not exactly relevant to this guide (I’m not writing this for 5-year-olds), but I can say with some certainty that it is never too late to get started. I’ve heard plenty of stories about people who’ve started learning their second language in their late 20s or older, and have achieved fluency in that language with enough practice. Just know that it’s perfectly normal to suck at learning a new language at first; your age is not to blame.
    Afterword:
    Thank you very much for reading. It was not my intention to make the introduction post this long, but I wanted to be sure I made some of my points as clear as possible. I'd greatly appreciate it if any of you would be kind enough to share your thoughts on this guide. In part 2, I’ll be going over a certain method of learning Japanese grammar through Anki. I'm almost positive that this method won't take over as the primary go-to for learning grammar, but I figured it'd be worth sharing anyways since it's working well for me and I haven't seen it brought up in any other JP guide (at least the ones promoted on this site). Hope to see you there!
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