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  1. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from mitchhamilton for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 1: Obligatory Introduction   
    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.
    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!
  2. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from Dergonu for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 1: Obligatory Introduction   
    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.
    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!
  3. Like
    Kenshin_sama got a reaction from SolBlade for a blog entry, Learning How To Learn Japanese, Part 1: Obligatory Introduction   
    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.
    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!
  4. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Haru to Yuki   
    This is the latest game released by Akabeisoft3, the bastard company made by Akabeisoft2 to take in all the subsidiaries of its parent company other than itself, Applique, and Akatsuki Works.  The game was written by Nakajima Taiga, who first made his name as the writer of Dekinai Watashi ga, Kurikaesu and gained yet more fame with the utsuge Inochi no Spare. 
    This game is a nakige, though it is one that leaves a lot more bitter in with the sweet than is normal.  It is based in a Japanese inn called Yuki, where ghosts can interact with the physical world in order to complete the desire that keeps them in the world.  In order to hide the fact that they are ghosts from the normal customers, the employees wear cosplay to make the unusual or out of season clothing the ghosts are often wearing not stand out.
    The protagonist, Haruto is the bantou, the male in charge of greeting customers arriving and taking reservations.  He has been there for ten years and is seen as a reliable employee by the younger staff.  He is very much a workaholic, performing his duties with absolute devotion and no real hesitation... it is just that those duties involve arranging the things that 'non-reservation customers' (the ghosts) need to fulfill their last desires.  These desires are often simple things like wanting to say something or leave a message for a loved one, but can also be somewhat crazy things like wanting to get into a swordfight to the death.  Haruto takes on all these requests without hesitation or any real emotional disturbance.  Nonetheless, he does care.
    The partings in this game are probably the most vivid aspect... naturally, you come to know the ghosts' stories, and when the time for parting comes, it is always sad, even if you know they are going away happy and satisfied.  I cried repeatedly during these scenes.
    There are four heroines in this game:  Neko, the ghost of a girl who wanted to live freely but was unable to when alive; San, a cheery girl who gets along with everyone and enjoys her work; Kohane, a nervous otaku girl whose dream is to become a professional cook; and Sakine, a somewhat gloomy woman in her mid to late twenties who decided to work at the inn on impulse. 
    Neko was the first heroine I pursued, mostly because I have a thing for girls who say ~nyaa.  Neko is a seemingly whimsical girl who loves to hang around the protagonist and constantly makes false attempts to play hooky from her work... but never really does so.  Her path starts out as a soft romance between two souls with a lot in common...
    ... but the fact is that Neko is a ghost, and there was no way it was going to have a purely happy ending.  Neko's path is full of small happiness and frequent sorrow, and the desire that binds her to the world is heartbreaking in and of itself.  I honestly found myself crying for the entirety of the last hour of the path, to the point where I developed a sinus headache.
    Kohane is the assistant to Makoto, the fake homosexual cook (the story behind how that happened is hilarious in retrospect but it is part of a sad scene).  She is shy and is very negative about herself, but there is enough iron in her core that she has managed to stay for one year under Makoto's extremely harsh tutelage.  Kohane is a living heroine (as opposed to Neko, who was a ghost), and her path differs accordingly.
    Kohane's personal issues were actually fairly interesting... enough so that I was honestly able to empathize with the last scene and cry my eyes out (again).  The last scenes in this path are all highly emotional, but there is a lot less bitter in with the sweet than Neko's ending, which feels more bitter.  One issue that is common to both this one and Neko's path is that the protagonist's own issues aren't addressed, sadly for him, though it doesn't seem to bother him much (which is understandable once you know about him).  It isn't a negative issue, since it makes sense within the context of the story.
    Sakina is the only full adult heroine in this VN (by the story, I'm guessing 27 or 28).  Having quit her job previous to coming to stay at the inn, she decides to work there soon after the game begins.  She is quiet, shy, and a bit gloomy at times.  However, she is also kind and thoughtful.  Unlike the other heroines, you will only rarely see her smile, but those few smiles are the ones that get you.
    Sakina's path is... tied up with the protagonist's past.  The way this route turns out is different from the previous two (though I can't tell you why without spoiling), but it was interesting in and of itself.  I didn't end up crying my way through the whole later part of the game, but the ending was uplifting and bright. 
    San is the game's central heroine.  Her personality is bright and sunny, generous and giving by nature with a strong spirit.   San is a student as well as one of the inn's hostesses (a job shared by Neko and Sakina), and her favored cosplay are a dog-girl, a maid, and a new wafuu (Japanese style) idol. 
    Her path, like many central heroine paths, is the only one where all the major character issues are resolved (though only speculatively based on the epilogue in a few cases), and it is also the only one where the protagonist's own major issue is resolved.  Like Neko's path, this one is very bittersweet, and like many cases in this VN, the partings here had me in tears for long periods of time, leading to sinus headaches (this game took me longer than it would have otherwise because I kept having to stop playing after I cried myself into a headache).  I will say that I consider the ending to be a happy one, but, thinking of how San had to feel in the time between the ending and the epilogue breaks my heart even now...
    Overall, this is an excellent nakige by a writer who seems to be able to write across all the genres and involving characters of all types and ages.  For those who want a lot of catharsis, this is a great choice, but be prepared for a bit more 'bitter' in with the 'sweet' than is normal with a nakige (though it is still a nakige, rather than an utsuge).  Despite my remarks on how bittersweet this game is as a whole, it should be noted that the atmosphere at Yuki, the ryokan (Japanese-style inn) that serves the setting, is very warm, welcoming, and downright familial to the point that I found myself wanting to jump into the game and stay a night there.   I liked all the characters, including the side-ones, like Sentarou (the night security guard and exorcist that bears a passing resemblance to Archer from FSN), Toki (the century and a half hold ghost owner of the inn), and Makoto (the macho fake homosexual head cook).   This isn't a kamige, though I'm tempted to call it one based on my general level of satisfaction, but it comes pretty damned close.
  5. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Phantom Trigger vol. 5 is out!   
    All right, I know advertisements aren't what you normally find in The Freditorial, but what publication doesn't have an ad spot every now and then? But I want you to know, the reason I'm posting this isn't to shill the game, but simply because, well, because I really liked this game and liked working on it, and I'm proud of the work we did on it!
    I think Phantom Trigger did itself a disservice by attaching "Grisaia" to its name. While I have a lot of respect for the original Grisaia trilogy, the Phantom Trigger series is totally its own thing. What's more, you certainly don't need to have read the original Grisaia series to enjoy it. Oh, did that catch your attention? You haven't finished the original Grisaia trilogy yet? Same here, TBH. The games are a serious time investment.
    You know what's not a serious time investment? The Phantom Trigger games! Each volume is short and well-paced, with a good balance of character and relationship building and satisfying action sequences, and each ends with a solid conclusion to the chapter. The first volume starts off a bit slow since it has a big cast to introduce, but each subsequent volume dives deep into one featured heroine while growing the cast a little further. By volume 5, you're looking at this big, crazy cast of quirky, lovable girls. Like Tohka. Oh, man, Tohka.
    Anyway, give it a try!
    Volume 5 is hot off the presses: https://store.steampowered.com/app/871280/Grisaia_Phantom_Trigger_Vol5/
    And if you need to catch up on the series, volumes 1-4 are available in a bundle at a pretty nice price: https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/5497/Grisaia_Phantom_Trigger_Vol_14_Bundle/
    But if you get 1-4, make sure you play them all and then play 5, too, because I only worked on this latest volume, so when you talk about how funny all the comedy is (and lemme tell you, man, it is freaking hilarious), I'm only going to get to take a smidgen of the credit for it on volume 5!
  6. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, VN Special [Major Spoilers]: Higashide and Evolimit   
    It is no secret that I am a huge Higashide Yuuichirou fan and that Evolimit is my favorite Higashide Yuuichirou game.  Before I go any further into this, I should note that Evolimit has the dubious honor of being the VN I've played the most often... a total of six times, as of two hours ago.  I should also explain what Higashide's unique qualities are as a writer.
    Higashide Yuuichirou wrote six VNs for Propeller before retiring from VNs completely to work for Type-Moon as a writer.  He also worked on the Vita version of FSN, with the Caster and Rider routes, the Muramasa FD, Princess Waltz (as an assistant), and Fate/Extella Link.  His qualities as a writer include a peculiar genius for the characterization of 'heroic' characters, the ability to create villains/antagonists worthy of those same heroic characters, and an even rarer ability to both write and integrate SOL with those aspects.  For better or worse, most SOL writers fail utterly when it comes to dramatic characterization and most chuunige writers suck at SOL compared to specialists.  However, Higashide manages to do both at a very high level and, when he is 'in the zone', does it better than any other writer I've encountered. 
    Some will argue with me about this, naming Shumon Yuu, Masada, or even Hino Wataru.  However, it needs to be said that Shumon Yuu writes in a manner that is so unique that it is completely genre-free.  Masada writes excellent dramatic characters, but his SOL is average at best.  Hino Wataru tends to shift the balance of his games back and forth, and there is usually a huge gap between the quality of the paths of heroines he loves and those he merely likes.
    I have never felt like Higashide has failed to give a heroine a fair shake.  In fact, Higashide almost never makes heroines the true focus of a game/path from beginning to end.  Circumstances, events, the protagonist, the antagonist, and the pattern as a whole often far transcend the heroine of a given path.  His heroines are often good, but I've yet to encounter a path in a Higashide game where I felt cheated. 
    Higashide is a devout follower of the concept of the 'heroine that is always by the protagonist's side, no matter who he chooses'.  This type of heroine pops up in a lot of chuunige.  Kagome in Comyu is probably the most blatant example of this, but Higashide takes it to extreme lengths.  In Ayakashibito it was Suzu, in Bullet Butlers it was Selma, and in Evolimit it is Shizuku.  The key point of each of these heroines is that the bond with the protagonist transcends romantic relationships (though it leads to them in their own paths).  Suzu is both parent and older sister to Soushichi, Selma is Rick's master and truest friend, and Shizuku and Shiranui are ridiculously close friends, so close that they easily settle into a familial role toward one another.  Why is this important?  Because these characters and their relationships form the largest and firmest pillar that serves as a backbone for each of these protagonists' view of the world and how they relate to it. 
    Evolimit is a kamige.  Yes, that is my opinion, but I'll stand by it until the end of days if necessary.  For this entry, I'm going to focus on characters, their interrelationships, and their influences on one another.  From here on in, I will intermittently add in spoilers, which I will put in boxes.  These spoilers will often reveal aspects of the story you absolutely do not want to know until you've played the game, so I recommend just reading the parts that aren't spoiler-boxed and going back after you've had the opportunity to play the game.
    The Characters
    Shiranui (nobody calls him Yoshikazu, interestingly), is an interesting character.  Like the other two Higashide kamige protagonists (Ayakashibito's Soushichi and Bullet Butlers' Rick), he is, when it comes down to it, a classic hero.  He is the type who will, without hesitation, throw away his life for others if it comes down to it, take a bullet for a friend, or mercilessly destroy someone or something that seeks to harm them.  Since this is revealed in the prologue (and my rules about spoilers don't apply to prologues), I'll go ahead and describe his basic set of circumstances. 
    First, Shiranui was one of the Calamity Monkeys, the first colonial/terraforming expedition sent to Mars by the more-or-less unified governments of Earth.  Born with a bad heart, he spent much of his youth in horrible pain and fear, wondering if that day would be the day his heart went out.  However, he received a heart transplant, and soon after he encountered Kokoro, the spiritual remnants of the young Chinese girl who was his heart's original owner.  The reason I reveal this particularly dramatic element in advance is because it is necessary to describe his peculiar personality.
    On the surface, Shiranui is a slightly pervy young man with an ever-present smile who goes out of his way to be something of a clown.  In stressful situations, he is surprisingly perceptive, brave, and compassionate.  However, there is one peculiarity that is all-important to grasping his character.
    He is incapable of sorrow.
    The reason goes back to the spiritual remnant of his heart's original owner, Kokoro.  In order to allow her to remain within him, he, of his own free will, gave up his ability to feel sorrow (as well as odd bits and pieces of other emotions) in order to allow what amounts to a second person to inhabit part of his brain.  She is also the reason he chose to head for Mars.  When he discovered that her dream was to go to Mars as part of a colonial expedition he, without hesitation, chose to take the baton and run with it, ferociously devoting himself to the duty of taking her there as part of himself. 
    The Heroines
  7. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Yuuko for a blog entry, Why Yuuko is the best girl in Kirikoi?   
    Yuuko, aka the best waifu EOPs will never get if I can do something to stop it. (Looking at you MG be careful!!)

    Hey what's up guys in this new blog entry I will be talking about the best girl in Hapymaher Kirikoi. Her name is Toriumi Yuuko, the perfect girl if you ask me. Those of you who are playing Hapymaher Kirikoi get cucked. She pretty much only appears in the fan disc that is not translated *insert evil laugh here*. (Wait Kirikoi is not translated in the first place.
    Anyways here is a list what makes Yuuko so good.
    Is cute Has short hair Has big bobs Pukes on you Needs you to protect her Very wife Here is a list of pics of Yuuko being cute:
    Despite her weak body Yuuko is very good at fencing

    Also Yuuko is a genius piano player

    Yuuko is also friends with the Scandinavian princesses

    Yuuko watches movies with her lonely neighbor girl

    Yuuko knows how to eat very stylish dinner

    Yuuko can also take the lead when needed

    Yuuko is a bowling pro

    Yuuko is also a crocodile

    Thanks for reading folk. Remember to smash that like and subscribe button if you want more high quality content like this.
  8. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Experimental Book Post: The Under Jurisdiction Series   
    First, I should note that this is a series that is right up the alley of people like Dergonu... it were a VN.  This series, Under Jurisdiction by Susan R Matthews, mostly follows Andrej Koscuisko, a Drakonij Prince and would-be (though not by his own will) Inquisitor. 
    The Under Jurisdiction series is based in a sci-fi future where humanity, at some point, diversified so greatly that sub-specification has occurred (though most aren't quite separate species entirely.  In this future, humanity (such as it is) is ruled by the judiciary, in the form of the Bench.  All humans are subject to the law as proclaimed by the judicial forces, and punishments are mostly corporal... horribly so in some cases. 
    In this setting, torture is not only allowed, it is actually carried out by licensed medical professionals trained to inflict the maximum amount of pain to gain confessions of crimes (regardless of how heavy the evidence is), and, where it is justified, to torture them to death in the most horrible of fashions.  This legal use of torture as a deterrent to criminals has led to a gradual decay in the morale of the planets ruled by the Judges on the Bench, and rebellions have begun to occur on a regular basis by the time the protagonist, Andrej, takes his first steps into the world of the Fleet.
    Andrej Koscuisko
    Andrej is an extremely complex man... a man raised in a noble family of oligarchs who believe intensely and with absolute conviction in the duties of noblesse oblige and the duties to those under a lord's protection.  He is also a young medical professional, a genius surgeon and chemist with a the kind of skill in actual surgical procedures that is seen so rarely as to be unheard of.  He understands the human body (all races) to a degree that is often terrifying, and this is part of what becomes his plague... for when he begins his training, he discovers that, to his horror, the process of Inquisition brings out an intense, sick hunger to inflict pain upon and dominate the subjects that come under his hands.  Coupled with his natural understanding of the body and human psychology, he comes out of his training as the most horrifyingly skilled Inquisitor in Bench history, an artist of pain eternally on the verge of madness due to the conflicting imperatives within him.  He is only held back from the edge of the cliff by the efforts of his Bond Involuntaries, former criminals implanted with behavioral governors that force them to absolute obedience, so they can serve as his aides, and they are thus under his protection.  Their care for him, for his sanity, for his health, and for his honor, is all that keeps the sadistic madness at bay as it fights with his honor and inherent compassion...
    The Story
    The story follows Andrej from his training as an Inquisitor and first encounter with a Bond Involuntary, to his first duty as a Fleet Inquisitor and beyond... His fight with madness as he tries to glean mercy and justice from the horrors he is forced to perform on others, his fight to keep his honor, to protect his Bond Involuntaries from others who would use them poorly, and his fight with his own, culturally-ingrained sense of filial duty are intense to read.  For all the foreignness of his culture, Andrej's journeys through life leave behind an impact far out of proportion for the actual deeds he performs. 
    Unfortunately, if you have a weak stomach, I can't recommend this story at all.  The galaxy Under Jurisdiction is one of the most horrifying dystopian sci-fi systems I've ever seen... all the worse when you realize that it all began out of a desire for justice and fair play in a universe where human racism has, if anything, gotten worse thousands of years after leaving Earth.
  9. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Narcosis for a blog entry, Yougen Tennyo   
    Warning: This review isn't necessarily safe for work, but all the nsfw content remains hidden within the spoiler tags. Read at your own discretion.

    Title: 妖幻天女 (The Bewitching Celestial Maiden)
    Developer: Scoop
    Release: 2001/01/25
    Genre: Fantasy
    Rating: AO/18+
    After way too many vns in our existence all the plots slowly run together into one and character development stops being important. It is when we want to take a break and get our hands on something extra crispy - as long as it allows us to indulge in the deepest of desires, there's no place for needless banter. We are merely simple beings with simple needs... and being a simple guy, I couldn't neglect a game, one of my friends recommended me long ago. "Play this japanese erogi", he said. "You will reach true happiness.", he said. At that point I barely knew moon runes, so I couldn't care less. Now when things changed, I accidentally stumbled upon this magnificent piece of software, while browsing through more forgotten corners of the japanese net. Was it worth it?
    If you're interested, please continue.

    It's common for sons of well-established leaders to be mostly useless, good-for-nothing gallants. Raziel isn't an exception.
    Prince Raziel is the successor to the demon throne, but his interests vary wildly from whatever his father keeps in stock, not to mention actual marriage. When his soon-to-be fiancée turns out to be an angel - a mortal enemy of the demon kind - Raziel takes a liking for the girl and decides to make her his bride, much to Demon King's disapproval. After a heated argument, king promises to approve of their relationship, but only if Raziel manages to bring her back to the demon realm. Clueless on how to begin, prince Raziel joins forces with his ever profit-hungry childhood friend Rosetta and together they embark on a fantastic journey through mystical realms, full of glorious dickings and endless hopes for treasure troves ready to be taken.

    In this realm, your future half is revealed through divination, the rest does not seem to matter that much.
    In order to reach the heavens above, our duo has to traverse through 魔界 ("Hell" for you, uneducated peasants) and obtain four elemental stones, which will allow them to open a magical portal leading to the mortal plane. From there onwards, they will have to pass through the Machine Country and Country of the Beasts, before they reach entrance to heavens. A seemingly simple task, if not for the fact the stones are being kept away within four great towers and each of them is supposedly protected by a powerful guardian. Obviously, the stones themselves contain tremendous powers that allow it's bearer to control the elemental energies and as such, shouldn't ever fall into anyone's hands, especially demon.

    What a cutie. I'm obviously talking about Rosette.
    No one really knows what lies beyond the mortal gates, but they're confident to push onwards. Such is their fate.
    TL&DR version: It's a game about a demon prince, boning any females that stand on his way to achieve true happiness. Also, snakes. Lots of 'em.

    Thanks for stating the obvious, Rosette.
    Yougen Tennyo is a classic eroge, deeply rooted within the galgame realm of late 80's and early 90's. Game itself is divided into two parts - the usual story mode, presented in ADV fashion and a Qix-esque mini game, where your take control of our dark-winged protagonist trying to slash through maps compromised of tiles, avoiding and fighting against a variety of opponents. The capricious all-female guardians force him into a game of wits and wagers to prove his worthiness on being the next owner of the stones... and perhaps something else.
    As you slowly progress through the game, you quickly find out the damn stones are as relevant as Raziel's fidelity. While each failure results in a classic "game over" screen, after which the game restarts, actual victories net you - the player - not only story progression, but the main reward - h-scenes, in which our protagonist has his way with the defeated ladies (sometimes likewise). And boy, oh boy - if you enjoy stories, where protagonists are either rogues or straight out bastards, while females constantly switch from prideful to poor, oppressed beings into lust-filled demons demanding your se- I mean, your unyielding attention - you'll love every minute of it. It's not a mystery to behold our dear ladies are of supernatural origin and being forever bound to a single place with no one to accompany them, they grew both very lonely and bored over the passing centuries. Surely - they might be ill-tempered and/or cautious (PMS, perhaps), but it's in your task to soften them up and judging from devs, the best possible way to do so is by being rough. Push onwards, traveller. Open all the gates!
    The whole story is divided into seven arcs, not counting prologue and epilogue. There are four different towers and three realms our heroes will have to pass in order to reach ending. Each of the areas is a home to one of the game's heroines.
    The Earth Tower, inhabited by our shy nymph Raka (guarding the Earth Stone) Kingdom of Winds, home to the capricious sylph Sherra (guarding the Wind Stone) Tower of the Flames, guarded by the tsun fire sprite, Narsemi (guarding the Fire Stone) Rainy Kingdom, home to the tempting undine, Arga (guarding the Water Stone) Machine Country (human world), managed by the automaton Queen, Lia Country of the Beasts, supervised by proud centauress, Eija. Finally, the Heavenly Realm, where Raziel's fated bride - Oferina - resides. As a reader, you will spend most of the time following Raziel and Rosetta from place to place and engage in battles with it's guardians; either chasing after the more timid gals, or confronting the powerful vixens directly, ultimately falling into their playful clutches. It's worthy to note despite game's initial simplicity, girls themselves prove to be pleasantly developed, both in terms of personalities and the less, but not less important bits (when it applied). Each of the encounters is different and has something else in stock - there's a nut for every bolt, as they say. Not all of them run away scared or remain hostile to the protagonist. Some - in fact - welcome him as a pleasant surprise in their realms, offering to exchange their stones (wew) for a friendly game of cat and mouse. Those games - often being contests of strength, wits and spirit - ultimately turn to time, where they slowly get to know each other and sadly - the only time where we can learn something more about them. Fans of Rance series might find themselves at home, as most of the events in the story are described in an ultimately comedic fashion, rather than being serious and you can't deny that Raziel - even for being a villainous sort of a protagonist - isn't inherently bad, or evil as his only ultimate goal is to find a way to heavens and meet with his fated fiancée. In other words, you quickly let certain things go past the radar, even when most of the acts committed by Raziel could easily be described as nothing else but forcey fun time.
    Things get more hectic in the end, when you finally reach the Celestial Kingdom, that turns out to be less celestial, than you thought at first. A rather tiny, but surprising plot twist occurs, where you confront an unexpected guest and have to rescue Oferina from a fate far worse than death... I'd rather omit the details to avoid potential spoiling, but the whole final confrontation left me as much distressed and angry, as hilariously grinning for the remaining portion of the game.

    And they all lived happily ever after... or did they?
    I found the whole concept of the game symbolic at times. Embarking from the depths of the netherworld, collecting elements that form the basis of universe, passing through the human realm, reaching the kingdom representing nature itself (one that will always remain above humanity) and finally reaching heavens, representing self-understanding all create a somewhat mystic feeling. Each of the realms seems to be a self-sufficient, closed-off state - more of a dream, where our heroines reside, mostly alone, if not counting their faithful servitors. The lack of humans within their own world is thought-provoking and you start to wonder, what happened. Did we lost ourselves in our never-ending pursuit of perfection or perhaps the mechanical puppets themselves are what remained of our own kind? In contrast to this, the Country of the Beasts seems like a bliss, akin to ancient descriptions of Promised Land, or Eden. We see all the animals in the backgrounds - both herbivores and carnivores - living in perfect harmony. A place of eternal happiness and ultimately something we cannot return to. The Celestial world above seems very cold and empty, with ancient ruins older than the universe itself. It reflects in Oferina's eyes - distant, melancholic and filled with solitude.
    All those states form what could be seemingly described as our own consciousness. Quite artsy, to be honest.

    This is what happens, when you allow greedy lolis to do as they please.
    In overall, I found the whole story to be pleasant and really enjoyable, if not a bit repetitive. Despite being plain and very much straightforward, the entire voyage got me hooked until the very end. For that I have to thank the game's heroines and Rosetta's constant antics.

    Though the developers consider Yougen Tennyo a mix between ADV and Qix, the mini-game portion itself feels closer to Bomberman, rather than similar puzzle/arcade titles.
    The mechanics are very simple. Your primary task is to clear each stage from all the tiles scattered on the floor. There's a timer running, so you have to hurry up, because when it reaches zero it's instant game over.
    Raziel moves across the tiles, leaving a flaming trail behind him which can be used to close them in simple geometric patterns. When you succeed, all tiles contained inside turn into elemental bullets and shoot in a direction our character was last facing. Those can be used to damage and kill the servitors sent by the guardians to hinder our progress. Killed enemies will sometimes leave power-ups. Those are divided into few different types - offensive, defensive and utility, ranging from instant bombs and bonus lives to additional time or stop it for a while, prevent opponents from spawning on the map or summon Rosette's lovely pet companion - Grimarkin (actually, it's a female as well... hopefully) - to either destroy tiles or launch attacks at the opponents. Again, despite it's simplicity, the mini game turned out to be a lot more engaging than I expected. It's feels very balanced and provides constant challenge, while not being an overly frustrating addition. If you will play straight from the beginning and have some skill with arcade games, you shouldn't have any problems in reaching the end, considering how generous stages can be at times, raining you with constant stream of 1-UP's.
    You're also gifted with Rosetta's presence in the bottom-left window, cheerfully commenting on your achievements and mishaps, because all we need is more sarcasm.

    My only note is that the game could still use a bit more variety in map design and puzzle elements. If not for the slight changes in terrain graphics and opponents, you could be as well playing the same exact thing, over and over again.
    The whole game is divided into 7 different worlds and each of them contains four stages. The first one is considered more or less an introduction. The second one adds more opponents. Sub-bosses appear in third stage. Those are usually powerful beings and each of them comes with a fairly different set of skills, requiring different approach to clean stages. They can be killed, but attempting to do so can be quite tricky, considering their toughness.
    In the final stage, you will confront the guardian heroines themselves. Similar to sub-bosses, ladies have different skills and attacks, becoming progressively more dangerous and difficult to beat as the game progresses. Personally, I found Eija to be the most challenging opponent, truly worthy of her character. Heroines can be defeated as well, but they are one of the toughest opponents existing, requiring a lot of effort. Regadless, as your main task is to clear all the tiles, beating them is not required, but purely optional.

    Regarding boss fights, it's worth to remember about Rosetta's treasure hunting requests, if you want to earn her gratitude. As to why, I will leave it for players to deduce themselves
    Art & Music
    There is "music" in this game.
    Jokes, aside - it's all simple FM-midi tunes. Those might have been good around thirty years ago, but not anymore. Regardless, they are fitting and create a good background noise for all the action.

    Queen Eija is a lovely lady, but the bottom part seems incompatible.
    What really does shine, though is the art. For a game of it's time, Yougen Tennyo managed to reach a peculiar mix between simplicity and utmost artistry. The majority of art, including character concepts was done by Minoru Murao (of Knights, Last Exile, Burst Angel and 707R fame, amongst other works), remaining nothing less than gorgeous. It's obvious Minoru was heavily inspired by Arabian Nights (visible in character designs and setting) and Art Nouveau with it's flowery patterns, thick outlines, minimal shading, subtly drawn faces and beautiful anatomy. All of this is a true feast for eyes to look upon. The unique mix between erotica and high art - the subtle embrace of delicate female beauty portrayed against the flowery plains, contrasting with the primal joviality of our dark-winged demon protagonist turned out to be a really tasteful and unique approach for a visual novel of this kind.

    It's a shame the game is so old and as such, former hardware limitations prevented higher resolution graphics.

    Because our protagonist is a an awful, awful person.
    The cherry on the top.
    If you're a fan of 100% consensual vanilla H, stay the hell away from this game, as some of the scenes might end in complete disgust to all things japanese, possibly combined with police knocking on your doors.
    If otherwise, this - my friend - will be one of the most memorable experiences in your life, you might feel ashamed of but won't ever regret.
    Not only you get beautiful gals, as they pant and tussle in ecstasy, there's a lot more in store for all the fans of dirty erotica. Our protagonist is a shape shifting dweller of the netherworld himself, capable to turn into a gigantic snake and command a whole flock of scale-covered familiars, ready to pursue his every single order. He is not afraid to use them to the fullest potential (don't click that link at work, seriously). The game offers a wide variety of heroines with different personalities, sexual experience and level of kinkiness, which results in a lot of funny situations (mostly for us, less for them), not to mention preceding sexual innuendos and dirty talking. As an seemingly inconspicuous but powerful apex predator - demonic avatar of lust and depravity - you will slowly drive your unsuspecting victims into a corner, devoid them of their dignity and work them up to new heights of carnal pleasure, they never experienced before.
    Even tentacles in this game come as one of the most beautiful I've ever came across and quite cuddly in their own way
    If you ever thought how females felt during the age of myth, play this game. Being forcefully taken against your own will is just the very beginning of a never-ending circle of perversion, our ancestors excelled at. Not only we loved to imagine how things are done within the celestial realm, but the cleverness behind the sex acts themselves could only equal to cunning tactics, our demigod brethren (and possibly sisters) employed to seduce their targets. Bulls, swans, sneks, golden rain, fog, treasure chests, spiders, mirrors, more sneks, wine, eagles, even more sneks, larks, mysterious objects(?) were all just a tip of an iceberg floating within a sea of wriggling snakes.
    This game just loves snakes. I won't be surprised you too might start to like them afterwards.
    I can't forget to mention how hard Yougen Tennyo is to obtain nowadays (if you're a collector) and how even more difficult is to make it run on any modern PC at all. Since the game is basically a self-extracting software CD from circa 2001, it does not recognize modern display standards. I had to hack the executable in order to make it work on a 16:9 screen, although it did manage to open properly on another machine running Windows 7 on a 5:4 monitor, in 1280x1024 resolution. I suspect a windows hooker, such as DxWnd might be able to run it as well. If you own the original CD, an optical drive is surely required.
    End thoughts
    If you're a fan of oldschool eroge, looking for something nice and not overly long nor difficult to play, this game - despite it's complete obscurity - is a true gem in the rough and shouldn't be omitted.
    Gorgeous, highly stylized art Six different heroines standing on your path, plus Rosetta and your would-be fiancée Despite the themes, story is mostly light and comedic, akin to Rance games Plenty of well drawn and varied h-cgs with pretty, fairy-like gals You get to bang a haughty centauress 👌 Rosetta is cute af and she gets her screen time as well (provided you know what to do) You get cucked Cons:
    No catgirls (sub-boss in the penultimate map doesn't count) The story can be considered shallow and characters could include more depth The mini-game could use more variety in terms of mechanics The game is a pain in the ass to run on modern systems, unless you own a retro pc Lack of possibility to save, skip and fast-forward the text the old style censorship with it's invisible weenies and huge mosaics gets really annoying at times If resident lolis weren't enough, Narsemi's arc might be an actual deal breaker for a lot of people (YMMV) You get cucked
  10. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, On Moderation and the Validity of Unenforced Standards   
    The problem
    While spurred by recent events, this essay touches on something that seems to have been a pattern in site moderation for some time now.
    Let me make a claim: if a rule, especially one that is vaguely worded, is not enforced, for a decent amount of people that rule does not exist. This nonexistence integrates into the mental model of the rules that forum members construct, no matter what the formal rules may say. For members using this mental model, beginning to enforce a rule that was previously unenforced is equivalent to creating a new rule. As such, the same procedures as those used to notify forum members of new rules should be applied, possibly with some adaptation on the lines of "we will now actually enforce this rule", as the rule effectively did not previously exist.
    The ur-example of this is the loligeddon of yore. The takeaway from the loligeddon when it comes to this essay is this: mods repeatedly stated that no rules had actually been changed. Yet nevertheless the appearance and subsequent removal of a particularly problematic post sparked sweeping policy changes, a cleanup operation, a tl;dr post by the administrator explaining the changes, et cetera. This should make it clear that changing policy is a big deal, even if no written rules actually change.
    Recent policy changes, however, have been very different from what happened during the loligeddon. Frequently the only indication that effective rules have changed has been moderator action, sometimes fairly strict. In essentially all cases this action has been explained either inadequately or, most commonly, not at all. When this occurs the target(s) of moderation will likely feel that they have been unfairly, erratically targeted by a capricious, uncommunicative bully. What do you do when you get bullied? Well, you could talk to HR, but the mod that bullied you is probably in HR anyway and you might not even know who did it. Another option is to fight back. You annoy me, I pay you back in kind - and if I can get some fun at your expense, sure, why not? You're a bully, you deserve it.[1]
    I do not mean to suggest that we need to have a tl;dr writeup every time a rule is changed, but a simple statement of intent would be appreciated. I estimate that writing this should take no more than 20 minutes. As an example, here's a hypothetical notice regarding the changing of rules on gifs that took me ~10 minutes to write. Note that the policy mentioned here could be reversed or altered to be more specific if it turns out that it was unclear or did more harm than good, which is arguably more difficult to do if the rule has been made official.[2]
    In the light of this, I would like to present some recommendations.
    When moderating, consider if your action is effectively creating or modifying rules
    Remember: in the minds of some of your users, unenforced rules may as well not exist. If you decide to moderate something that was previously typically not being moderated, this will cause confusion and consternation.
    As such, whenever you make a decision, ask yourself: am I changing the rules? If so, you need to consider both whether your action is actually justified, and how you are going to inform the public of your policy change. You are not a cop, you are a judge in a precedent-setting court. This is especially true due to the (understandable) current policy of supporting other mods' decisions near unconditionally.
    Do not make controversial decisions when following up is difficult
    On some occasions moderators have moderated while on vacation, using their phone, with bad connections et cetera. I strongly recommend against making anything close to a controversial decision in these conditions. You will end up both ruining your vacation and doing a bad job.
    Talk first, shoot later
    If you are performing a moderator action which reasonably should include notifying the target of the action, write up the informative PM or otherwise establish communication before enforcement. You could also consider writing up the notification of intent to change / differently enforce / clarify rules before moderating. Most of the time nobody is harmed much by leaving something up until you can handle it properly. For things that require more urgent management such as a fast-evolving derailment, consider either using a PM template for 1-2 people or making a post stating that you have removed derailing posts in the thread you moderated.
    Make people feel heard
    One key theme of this essay is the importance of communication. This extends beyond just notifying people of changes to the rules. I am under no illusions that your actions will go uncontested or that people won't meme and fling shit at you even if you try your best to communicate as advised in this essay. In part this is due to the frustration some people, and certainly I myself, consider you responsible for creating due to your actions up to this point. However, when hostility meets well-practiced civility its fires often run out of fuel. If you constructively engage with those who would oppose you, you can both soothe their frustration and create better, more precise final rules.
    Obviously there has to be a limit and ultimately you set the rules to follow. But explaining, refining, and justifying your position elevates it from that of a dim-witted bully with little justification for their actions to someone who has a well-grounded but different opinion of what the rules should be. The first one deserves punishment, the second, grudging respect.
    As a personal observation: in general, you should assume that much less of your decisions are obviously justified than you currently think. One man's common sense is another man's borderline acceptability is another man's utterly idiotic rule enforcement.
    Moderation is a hard job
    If this all seems like a lot of hard work to you, congratulations! That's what I thought too when the mod applications came along, so I didn't apply. Any moderators that cannot actually moderate disputes should either confine themselves to routine, uncontroversial moderation tasks or step down from their position. Believe me, nobody will die either way, and you'll get to spend your free time doing something that suits you better.

    I personally don't consider the mods bullies when I do this kind of thing, but I do consider them deserving of public ridicule. The intention is both to correct behaviour and to extract some entertainment out of people that deserve to be made fun of.
    And yeah, I have no respect for authority. None. I will judge you by your actions alone.
    This is an assumption based on my conception of normie considerations like pride, sticking with your decision, whatever.
    Obviously if a rule does more harm than good it should be removed whether or not it was enforced temporarily, but it is probably easier to do so politically if it was in fact considered temporary.
    Look, I'm trying desperately not to kill all normies every day here. Give me a break.
  11. Sad
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Ramaladni for a blog entry, Hajimete no Okaa-san - a misunderstood gem   
    Disclaimer: I played the recent fan translation and from my (limited) knowledge of Japanese, I found it to be quite accurate. I was actually surprised by how the translator made certain sentences work and I can't recall an instance where I thought the translation looked strange. 
    When Hajimete no Okaa-san's fan translation came out, it caused a tiny yet significant uproar on certain visual novel related communities. The English idiom that spans over a century - don't judge a book by its cover - could possibly have been created for this very moment. I hope that by writing this review, I can clear up any misconceptions about this novel, teach you to not judge a work by its outward appearance and give you the courage to read a truly touching story. 
    Dealing with the loss of a loved isn't easy, no matter if you're an adult or a child, and even more so if the person in question is an irreplaceable person that you've vowed eternity to or that defines your complete existence. 

    When our unnamed protagonist, who I will refer to as "Papa", loses his beloved wife to a traffic accident, he is left with the troublesome task of single parenting. Confronting the sorrows of one who has been turned into pure white ash, he finds solace in the one and only person who could understand him and also the one who might be suffering the most - his one and only daughter Chiyori (Chii).
    Hajimete no Okaa-san is a very special Visual Novel. Unlike the disappointing standard of recent releases, it treats both its audience and characters with the respect they deserve. The most significant difference between this novel and the many others is the fact that its willing to portray the characters as real human beings. Please allow me to mention that there exist only eight translated visual novels with the "Widower Protagonist" and likely no other that focuses as deeply on the theme of single parenting.
    The rather simplistic approach to emotions is surprisingly expressive, although one could argue about the emotional depth of a 6-year old, I was able to completely grasp both the personality of Chii through the brilliant performance of seiyuu Amakawa Milk (a respectable veteran in her own right with a wide palette of roles) and the internal monologues of Papa.
    The beginning is rather surprising. The amount of effort that the creators have put into this work is nearly palpable, often leaving one surprised at how nicely written and how well the narrative flows. Starting with ordinary slice-of-life scenes, we're thrown into the daily life of Papa and her daughter Chii. Starting with the smallest things like learning how to write hiragana and her own name in Kanji, the basics of arithmetic, giving up one's fork and knife and mastering the use of chopsticks - they are all endearing moments that help us connect with Chii as a character and reminding us of times long past of our childhood when everything was much simpler. It is this genuine and pure simplicity that initially made this novel stand out.
    In contrast to this feeling, enter "Chii wa kodomo janai!" - Chii is no longer a child. Her own desire to find a way to deal with her own sorrows, all the while supporting the one person she loves most in her world, one of the most satisfying factors of reading through this novel is observing Chii's maturity as a character.
    Despite the more lighthearted scenes, the novel is plentiful with well-timed drama which never for a moment felt excessive or artificial. Papa is stuck in a constant internal moral debate which at times stops him from realising the suffering of those who are right in front of his eyes.

    As far as storytelling goes, one of the biggest attributes ishow the reader has the freedom to change the course of the story (albeit into premature ends). As for this aspect, I would like to divide the story in three or four parts (I will just say that the forth part is a Web Omake, essentially a short epilogue that portrays the life of our two, now three characters after the events of the main game).
    The first being the first two hours where we accompany the characters until the inevitable H-scene. Here, the reader is given the choice to not go through it at all and completely avoid the H-scene, ending the game prematurely. To not give in to his dark desires and not abandoning one's morals, is too a possible answer that Papa can find. 
    The second part and probably the longest, accompanies our two characters as their relationship develops. The most important aspect that I'd like to bring up is that the whole theme of pregnancy is treated. In many eroge, pregnancy is either completely ignored, allowing our most likely 16-year old protagonist to let out his seed without any worries in the world, or treated as an afterthought, perhaps featured in one last H-scene before the game ends. In this novel, not only do we see their relationship flourish but the passage of time, told by the growth of Chii's belly and change of hairstyle (over five different character sprites!), shows us that this is aspect that is willing to be embraced, often being the case for worry for our protagonist.
    At the end of the second part, the reader is given another important choice: to go beyond mere carnal desires and a parent's desire to protect his child and thus taking their relationship to the next level, or to once again fall into self-hatred and not take responsibility for one's actions. Thus begins the third part: "I want Papa to always be by my side". While perhaps as long as the first part, it's perhaps the one with the most emotional impact. Vowing to combat loneliness, Papa and Chii realise that being surrounded by the people you love is far more important than having a peaceful life. Chii does not become a replacement - she is her own person and the most important thing in the world to our protagonist. As long as two people can love each other, that is more than enough.
    And as long as there is love, there is warmth. A new family is born. The two become three, the warmth keeps rising and it spreads to others around. When I finished reading Hajimete no Okaa-san, I felt a warmth deep inside of me because I realised I had just been through a really special experience. With this review, I hope that I convinced you to read this beautiful story and too come to have warmth in your heart. Thank you for reading.
    https://imgur.com/a/FpPkAxp (This might be a little of a spoiler so I won't post it as an image, but it's the last and most impactful scene of the novel)
    I am open to criticism and would be happy if you could help me improve as a reviewer. 
  12. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, April Release: Koneko Neko Neko   
    Yes, I did this game first.  This is one of those games that is a bit hard to define.  It is part moege, part nukige and part charage... and part surrealist story.  It is about cats being reborn as humans being reborn as cats being reborn as humans (it gets ridiculously complex, to the point where there is no point in keeping track). 
    There also isn't a whole lot to say about this game... it is mostly at-home SOL, h-scenes, and reminiscence of past lives.  As a VN, it is a bit hard to read because it jumps around in time so much, and I'll probably forget this VN before long.  However, I gave it an extra point for making me cry several times, lol. 
  13. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Mirai Nostalgia   
    Mirai Nostalgia is the game that turned Purple Soft around.  After Ashita no Kimi to Au Tame ni, the company produced a number of middling and poor quality games, and it looked like Purple Software was going to fade into the background, like a lot of other companies that prospered during the 'Golden Age'.  Then, all of the sudden, they released this game...  and they regained the hearts of their followers, leading to a series of high quality releases, including Hapymaher, Amatsutsumi, and Aoi Tori.
    Mirai Nostalgia follows an extensive cast of characters... a group of friends centering primarily around the protagonist Youichi and Uta (called Hime by the rest of the group).  Like most high quality VNs with a lot of SOL, the interactions with the friend characters and non-heroines are lively and vitally important to fleshing out the setting and characters as a group and as individuals. 
    The Protagonist
    Kudou Youichi- Youichi is a lazy young man who is utterly incompetent at all forms of housework.  He lives alone (at first) with the ancient bakeneko Kuro (who has apparently been alive for over a thousand years) and is a weak esper, possessing telekinesis and an unstable teleportation ability.  In obedience to his family traditions, he keeps his powers hidden from all but those few others around him that also possess powers.  Youichi is, by nature, a very calm, accepting individual who instinctively puts others first, often disregarding his own well-being if faced with the needs of others.  He is also generally on the lowest rung of the family ladder (even the cat is above him), and he spends a lot of his time accommodating the females in his life (Shizuku and his little sisters especially). 
    The Heroines
    Kasuga Iori- Iori is a traditional black-haired beauty and a miko... with an airgun and immensely powerful telekinetic abilities (think being able to erase someone from existence with pure kinetic force).  She is also constantly threatening Youichi's life, for reasons she declines to mention to him, and her temper is almost always sharp-edged.  She is definitely S by nature.  Despite this apparently violent nature, she also has a deep capacity for love and compassion, and she is quite capable of forgiving a lot from those she cares about (though Youichi apparently pushes her over the edge).
    Hatori Uta- Youichi's osananajimi, the daughter of the CEO of a large electronics company, and the spiritual center of the group of friends that lies at the center of the story.  She definitely marches by her own drummer, living life as she wants to live it and ignoring inconvenient realities completely.  All of the group of friends can't help but love her, and she doesn't have a mean bone in her body.  She is a heavy gamer and loves nothing more than beating the shit out of Youichi in competitive gaming.
    Kudou Nono- The older of Youichi's twin stepsisters, a genkikko who does the vault in track and field.  She loves to exercise, loves to eat, and loves her oniichan (not necessarily in that order, depending on her priorities at any given moment).  She always has a smile on her face and can make friends with just about anyone.
    Kudou Hina- The younger of Youichi's twin stepsisters, a sharp-tongued beauty with glasses who rules the Kudou family with an iron fist.  A natural dictator, she openly states that her goal is to become the next student council president and enslave the student body to her will.  She adores her niisan, but she doesn't let that stop her from insulting him constantly and prodding him into doing what she wants him to do.  Where Nono is the type that wears her heart on her sleeve, Hina is the type that has quiet depths beneath the surface.
    Anna- Anna is an esper who has traveled from the future to the past, in order to change the timeline she came from.  She states that the future Youichi denied her confession of love, and she also presents herself as the most powerful esper in existence.  She is generally a prankster, playful and easygoing, taking endless pleasure in teasing Youichi.  However, she is quite obviously hiding a lot of things from him...  She is also the true heroine.
    The Other Characters
    Hatori Ei- Uta's elder brother, a rootless wanderer who travels the world for years at a time.  His generally irresponsible nature makes him the butt of jokes for most of the group of friends, and he and Shizuku are rivals for the position of 'elder caretakers' in the group.
    Hoshikawa Shizuku- The all-powerful student council president, Youichi's cousin, an immensely powerful clairvoyant, and the 'elder sister' of the group.  Most of the group's members have resigned themselves to being her slaves, and when the whim takes her, she drags them all into her schemes and plots.  She cares deeply about the other members of the group, but her position as an elder sister often puts her in the position of having to think of what is best for everyone.
    Sanada Kanata- The waitress at a local cafe, one of Youichi's osananajimis, and an infamous dojikko.  She shines the most as the butt of jokes or when being dragged around by Shizuku or caught up in her schemes.  Everybody teases her, but they all love her, too. 
    Kase Touya- An unfortunate young man who finds himself in the same position as Kanata most of the time (the butt of jokes and getting dragged into trouble by Shizuku).  While he is good-looking, because of his overly eager manner, most girls don't take him seriously, and he has yet to manage to get a girlfriend.  He and Youichi often commiserate about their treatment by the girls in the group.
    Kuro- A thousand year old bakeneko (youkai cat) who has advised the Kudou family for generations and is one of the 'people' who raised Youichi.  Once an immensely powerful youkai, time has taken its toll, and now he only retains the ability to speak mentally to those who possess esper abilities.  Immensely dignified, wise, and gentle by nature, Youichi's trust in him as an advisor is absolute.  While Kuro will advise if asked or if he thinks it is truly needed, he doesn't believe in 'holding the student's hand' (figuratively speaking) and is perfectly willing to sit back and let Youichi make his own mistakes. 
    Kasuga Haru- Iori's mother, an easygoing nurse and sometime coach to the track and field team, she is an immensely strong person (mentally and spiritually).  Her capacity for love is as deep and strong as her daughter's, and one can see the results in Iori's private interactions with her.  She does share Iori's S side though.
    The story
    Mirai Nostalgia's story begins with the protagonist's first contact with Anna, the supposed 'girl from the future' and the return of his twin imoutos, Nono and Hina after several years apart.  Soon after, he encounters Iori, and his peaceful life is suddenly overturned as a result.  This is a nakige, much like the other games Purple Soft has made since, but its style is more 'traditional' (closer to the format Key pioneered, albeit with a stronger central story).  My suggested play order for this game is Hina>Nono>Uta>Iori>Anna.  The reasons are pretty obvious if you play the game, but I'll go ahead and outline them here.  I basically put them in order from 'least relevant to the central story' to 'most relevant'.  Hina's path is by far the weakest of the five, which is probably inevitable in retrospect (Hina's character is hard to grasp as a heroine).  Nono is a bit stronger as a heroine, but the events leading up to the climax of the story felt forced in comparison to the events that led to her and Youichi becoming lovers.  Uta's path is a bit more fantastical in some ways, mostly because of an unexpected turn of events caused by Uta's dependent personality.  Iori's path... is emotionally powerful, not the least because it reveals the biggest reason why Anna returned to the past.  Anna's path... is a cryfest.  I cried through roughly a third of Anna's path both times I played this game, simply because it was just that good.
    The audio
    This game's music is slightly above the standard quality for commercial VNs, so it is noteworthy in that sense.  However, this was also the VN where Purple Soft began to seriously typecast the company's favored voice actors (Kazane in particular), and so you can pretty much tell the personality of a Purple Soft character by the sound of their voice, in a generalized sense, lol.
    The first time Purple Soft used Koku for their visuals was in this game, and for those who have played Hapymaher or Chrono Clock, the style will be familiar by now.
    This game is a nice nakige with a strong mix of humorous slice of life and powerful emotional moments.  If you want a good nakige to sit down and read through that is less moe-dependent than a Key VN, this is an excellent choice.
  14. Sad
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Yuuko for a blog entry, Why Riddle Joker is Kongou's Bongos   
    WARNING: This blog post contains weird Kiri level shit that causes brain damage so reading is not recommended
    Well yaharro there.
    This is no ordinary story. This is a story about love, despair, and how Kiri lost his mind.
    But, in the end, this is all fiction. So do not worry. I will not appear behind your back and force you to burn burn your heart and soul like I did with [CENSORED]
    So here I am writing a review about Riddle Joker (NOT JOKERS) by everyone's favorite erogay producer Yuzusoft

    This is a game featuring celebrities such as Bilbo Baggins (our protagonist), Aquaman, trap who is not a trap, and Kiri's waifu
    Oh and let's not forget the smug loli...
    Riddle Joker is a story set in the near future where chuunibyou middle schoolers (this game's playerbase) have taken over the Kyoto University Katsura Campus.
    Our protagonist [CENSORED] and his little sister Nanami are also ordinary middle school chuunibyous attending the reformed Kyoto University Middle School while actually playing to be secret agents.
    After sometime Kiri gets bored and takes control of [CENSORED]'s body and starts dating the school idol called Mitsukasa Ayase

    Isn't she cute~~~
    I love her just so much that my heart goes dokyuuuuuun every time I hear her talk
    I accidentally saved over 500 of her voices

    Meanwhile when I was having sekkusu fun with my new wife our local Aquaman got dumber

    To those of you who disagree with me here is proof that this is indeed the God's work that you can't even rate because what kind of believer gives god a score
    Have a very nice naizuri scene. Her smile just heales me. NSFW
    You thought I would share my wife's boobs with you all? Ha! You can all go die.

    *No [CENSORED] were hurt during the making of this blog post
    **I said during the making
    ****I was forced to do this
  15. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Riddle Jokers   
    I'm going to be blunt (as usual), Riddle Jokers is probably a sign that Yuzu Soft is starting to stagnate as a company. 
    I'm not trying to be mean or bashing Yuzu Soft for the sake of it... but, after finishing two paths of this game, I felt hugely exhausted, despite the fact that the paths are actually shorter than some of their other works.  The reason is fairly simple... the cast of characters this time around just isn't that interesting.
    Part of that is that the protagonist himself is a bit too 'normal' for someone in his line of work.  Another part of it is that the heroines all fall into standard Yuzu Soft archetypes (whether setting or the character personality), and as a result, I was able to figure out the specifics of the paths I played so far almost from the beginning.  The most 'interesting' of the heroines, Ayase, I intended to leave to last, so I haven't played her (because she is the obvious main heroine candidate). 
    The common route is, at best, 'all right'.  Of course, there are moments that made me smile, and the SOL is standard Yuzu Soft quality/style.  However, I felt that they hit on all the wrong notes when they were handling the Astral abilities.  One issue is that the balance between the oddly realistic/gritty moments and the rest of the game is horrible (those moments tease at a much more interesting set of possibilities), but another is that I honestly just got bored with what was going on too early.  Yuzu Soft makes long SOL games, and as a result, every time I play one of their games, I end feeling at least a little fatigued.  Worse, the humor is too mild to keep the brain stimulated most of the time, and the h-scenes are just... excessively long.  Ichaicha in the heroine routes is excessive (I've been complaining about this since Dracu-riot, so that's nothing new), and... each of the first two paths I played (Hazuki and Mayu) had just enough of it to put me over the edge of my ability to endure. 
    Since this game was channeling Dracu-riot so obviously (isolated/enclosed environment, persecuted inhabitants, background efforts to destroy their refuge, etc), it was hard to escape the feeling that this was a pathetic attempt to relive what was best about that game.  Unfortunately, because they traced the ideas so closely in some ways, the points where the game comes up short are just too obvious.
    One of those areas is action.  Say what you like about Dracu-riot, but its few action scenes were generally excellent (for what they were, action scenes in a charage) and the buildup was skillfully orchestrated.  The same can't really be said about this game.  While there are a few action scenes, the effort to narrate them and build up to them is rather... underwhelming.  
    Another is the secret agent angle... to be frank, the protagonist just isn't that capable.  Oh, he is a decently-skilled fighter and his ability is cool in a way, but he falls apart whenever he hits an emotional block and he has a critical failure for an agent... he hates lying.
    Last of all is the Astral-user issue... I have to say that this wasn't handled nearly as well as the vampires in Dracu-riot.  There are very few times in the VN's common route where prejudice or persecution even comes up, much less becomes an issue (aside from the conclusion of the route), and there is no attempt to bring the situation 'to life' in the reader's mind, which is a critical failure, in my opinion.
    Honestly, when it comes down to it, the reasons I couldn't bring myself to like this game are all involved with me inevitably comparing it to Dracu-riot.  On its own, it isn't a bad VN, but I have had the unfortunate experience of having both played Dracu-riot twice all the way through and have helped as a translation-checker on the translation... so my impression of this game was further ruined by my excessive involvement with the game it was imitating in structure.
    I couldn't bring out an unbiased opinion here, so I'm not going to say you shouldn't play it... but if you do, play it before Dracu-riot, not after.
    Edit: Also, one thing that was missing was non-romantic friendly intimacy between the characters... despite the fact that they mostly live in the same dorm, there is relatively little interaction between the characters as a group, meaning I didn't really feel that they 'came to life' like the characters of Dracu-riot or even Senren Banka.
  16. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Changing views of localization   
    Yay, Clephas is contributing to a controversial topic in his blog!  *listens for the hisses and boos of his loving public*
    More seriously, I'm not out to bash fantranslators, localization companies, or anyone else involved with the process.  I've been on both sides (consumer and producer) and I can honestly say that I can see all four sides of the argument (the producer side, the negative consumer side, the neutral consumer side, and the positive consumer side).
    The Positive Consumer
    Based on my personal experience (beginning with jrpgs in the nineties), most people begin in this stage.  Honestly, I didn't know enough to figure out when things were badly translated, and as long as the lines weren't too out there (spoony bard, lol), it never really got to me.  There are plenty of people out here who remain in this stage forever, never taking interest one way or the other in the translation aspects of things... and that is perfectly natural.  Most Americans (if not people from other countries) are essentially linguistic bigots, and as a result, they won't care if things are wrong as long as they can't tell just by playing a game, reading a book, or enjoying an anime or film.
    The Negative Consumer
    Most people with at least some knowledge of Japanese end up in this stage at some point.  The reasons are manifold, but the biggest one is the 'literalist disease'.  Almost everyone who gets involved with translation or knows enough Japanese to nitpick is under a peculiar delusion... that 'Literal Japanese to English translation isn't an oxymoron'.  Unfortunately for their delusions, my personal experience and the experience of many others does not bear this particular one out. 
    Literalist translation is a delusion born of a misapprehension of the Rosetta Stone concept... basically because we can generally match up most words with their equivalents in our own languages given a decent reference point, that perfect translations are both possible and should be provided without hesitation by mechanical translators (often literally).  However, this ignores two major issues... the cultural basis for the formation of modern language's concepts and the difference in how the language is structured (grammar in other words). 
    This isn't the only reason for ending up in this stage... some people are in it because it makes them feel superior or they like trolling 'lesser beings' (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about).  Others simply disagree with the way the translation is handled or the usage of censorship.  There are innumerable reasons for ending up in this stage, and that is the reason why it is the single largest one in the 'experienced' community.
    The Neutral Consumer
    This is the smallest grouping... mostly because it pretty much demands that you have resolved to stop caring one way or the other about localization quality.  The most common reason to end up here is because you can play VNs, watch anime, and read manga/LNs without a localization, so the concept becomes irrelevant (or at least of less interest) to you.  Another is that you get tired of being trolled (or trolling yourself) and decide to shut off your emotions about it.  Last of all are the people who just want to 'spread the word' and don't really care about quality issues (people who are just happy VNs are getting localized).  Since a lot of this group don't even buy localizations except to 'support the cause', this group has a lot less invested in the arguments, overall.
    The Producer
    ... need I mention that being on this side sucks?  No matter how good a job you do, you get bashed by someone, and inevitably someone is going to decide to nitpick every one of your word choices.  Literalists will hate you for not doing exactly what they want, generalists will hate you for picking obscure/dead words from actual literary English (as opposed to spoken English) because the concepts involved are dead in modern English, and everyone else will hate you for censorship or because you are too slow. 
    While you get combative people or apologetic people from this side every once in a while, most just stop paying attention to the noise, for the sake of their mental health. 
  17. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, RPG commentary: Growlanser 3   
    Before I go back to my work, which is going to take the rest of the day to finish, I thought I'd leave yall with a commentary on one of my favorite jrpgs, Growlanser 3.
    Growlanser 3, released in the US as part of a collection with Growlanser 2, was the final localization done by Working Designs, the company that pioneered independent localization of jrpgs in the US (up until then, most had been localized by Japanese companies or the console first-party company).  It is the prequel to 1 and 2 (a battle about midway through 3 results in the world you see in 1 and 2 and remains as a legend to the people there), and often competes with IV for being considered the best game in the series.
    In Growlanser 3, the sun is dying, famine is rampant, rain falls eternally at some places and hardly at all in others.  Plague has destroyed entire nations, and those that remain are fighting ferociously for the few places where the land is still fertile.  Assassination, genocide, and cold realpolitik have hardened the hearts of leaders, and the people that remain are growing increasingly desperate, further fueling the flames of war.
    Into this comes Slayn, a young man with no memories and a talent for Darkness magic, accompanied by a Dark Fairy (fairies in the Growlanser universe are usually sentient concentrations of elemental spirits in a tiny female form), enters the scene about this time.  As she tries to discover the truth about himself, he gets caught up in the war and ends up seeking the causes behind the slow death of his world.
    Growlanser's signature battle system is a combination of RTS and ATB systems, where your characters each have a speed that determines how fast their turn comes up.  Motion across the battlefield is in real time (based on that character's stats), and in order to engage an enemy, you have to bring them within range.
    Magic in this game starts out as simple elemental spells, which increase in power as you chant them longer (based on the character's ability, you will be limited in how high the level you can reach with that character at any given time) and are one of only a few ways in which you can ignore range issues.  The reason this is important is that, in order to get the true ending (where certain characters survive where they would normally die), you must get a 'mission complete' on every single story battle.  Since doing so often requires preventing the massacre of running civilians or preventing the escape of a particular enemy, range becomes a serious issue from the beginning, so strategically utilizing magic and having some idea of how long it will take your characters to reach an enemy and move after they attack is important. 
    Choices in this game have a huge potential variance, depending on how you've shaped Slayn's personality (through early on choices and a certain event which lets you shape his base personality and capabilities).  If he is cold and rational, you will find yourself unable to make enraged conversational choices, and if he is hot-blooded, you will find it impossible to make Slayn take the high road in some situations. 
    Story-wise, this game manages to touch human emotion in a way I think newcomers to jrpgs will be surprised at.  Growlanser 3's world is dying, and most of the world is already dead.  As a result, you find yourself walking through the aftermath of plagues, witnessing massacres, and overall confronting both the best and worst of human nature when put into an extreme situation.  For a jrpg, this kind of display of human weakness is fairly unusual, since most tend to strike an optimistic note in that sense, but this is actually typical on some levels for the series.  In Growlanser 2, it is quite possible to side with the villains (given that you've fulfilled the proper conditions), and Growlanser IV's world isn't exactly kind to its people, even aside from the bigger issues. 
    The visuals in this game were done by Urushihara Satoshi, who also handled such anime as Bubblegum Crisis, Queen's Blade, and Plastic Little.  As such, they are aesthetically pleasing, even now that the basic style has changed radically (this guy has a great aesthetic sense... though he is a bit overly ero-ero, from what I remember of Legend of Lemnear). 
    Overall, if you want to start looking back into the past of jrpgs, this is a good game to start with (though at this point, you'll probably be forced to use an emulator).
  18. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to MayoeruHitori for a blog entry, The Chuuni and Chuunibyou FAQ (自称)   
    The Chuuni and Chuunibyou FAQ (自称)

    Because I wanted to settle the basics first.
    Q. What is chuunibyou?
    A.  "Chuunibyou" (中二病) is a Japanese word that literally means middle [school] second [year] syndrome. But it's not an actual medical syndrome. It refers to certain behavior.
    So what exactly does it mean? That depends on who you ask.
    The person to coin it, radio host Ijuuin Hikaru, defined it more or less as the foolish behavior of second year middle school students, in the context of school life.
    But the term quickly spread and took on a life of its own. Pixiv's wiki has one popular definition: "a colloquial term intended to poke fun at the behavioral tendencies of pubescent kids stemming from their self-absorption and psychological complexes".
    ...Personally, I don't like Pixiv's definition. It's too condescending, focusing on psychoanalyzing behavior rather than accurately cataloging what it consists of. I realize that it's hard to pin down what exactly chuunibyou is, so it's tempting to take a step back, vaguely reference a few psychological terms, and declare that sufficient. But that's NOT sufficient, and here's why.
    This term has long since passed the point when it was just a casual way to talk about how silly kids can be. It's been fully embraced by otaku culture. In other words, "chuunibyou" behavior--in terms of what it stems from, how it's expressed, how others should react to it, what its appeals are, what tropes it connects to, and so on--has been deconstructed and re-evaluated a thousand times over.
    Here's my personal definition, that I believe to be more modern: chuunibyou is a personality trait that refers to behavior supposedly commonly seen in many second year middle school students. That behavior consists of a person acting or speaking so as to emulate what they consider the cool or admirable demeanor of characters within stories. Furthermore, that behavior is starkly mismatched with what a layman would perceive to be a rational behavioral foundation for that person, resulting in others viewing their behavior as peculiar. The person in question either doesn't notice or doesn't care about the mismatch.
    Let's run through a couple of quick examples and break them down in terms of character, emulated demeanor, and perception of mismatch.
    Person considers a character in a light novel who speaks mysteriously to be cool. Adopts mysterious phrasings, even when talking about mundane things. This is viewed as pointless by others, because there is no benefit to speaking cryptically about mundane things. Person considers a character in a manga who has a dragon sealed in his right arm to be cool. Inks a dragon tattoo onto their arm, and covertly shows it off to others, as an approximation of that character's demeanor. This is viewed as silly by others, because the ink on their arm does not actually materially benefit them or affect their life in any way. Person considers a character in an anime who possesses a cursed katana that unleashes it power when an incantation is recited to be cool. Buys a katana prop, occasionally carrying it around, and muttering a personally written incantation occasionally, as a way to mimic the feeling of being that character. This is viewed as silly by others, because the katana prop has no supernatural properties that would respond to an incantation. Person considers a super-strong delinquent or a heroic vigilante in a story to be cool. Begins to dress like and use the slang of a delinquent, act like a tough fighter despite have no real knowledge of martial arts beyond a few tidbits, and occasionally spout rhetoric about justice or strength, out of a desire to emulate those characters. This is viewed as silly or awkward by others, mostly because the person in question can't actually fight and because the lines they spoke about justice and strength just came off as pretentious. Note that I narrowed my definition of chuunibyou in order to make it better match otaku culture. The broader and popular definition of chuunibyou includes people who aren't inspired by stories, such as hipsters. Lastly, I'll note that chuunibyou can be shortened to just chuuni.

    Q. Aren't people like Hiei from Yuu Yuu Hakusho and Gilgamesh from Fate/stay night also called "chuunibyou"? But they're not delusional middle school students--they actually have special powers.
    A. Yes, and no. This ties back to what I said about how the term chuunibyou has expanded. You can call them chuunibyou if you want, but for clarity, it may be better to call them "chuuni". I'll explain why in the next section.

    Q. What is chuuni?
    A. Remember how I said that otaku culture has changed the term chuunibyou? I already went over the fact that Ijuuin Hikaru's initial meaning was essentially abandoned, and gave my personal definition for chuunibyou in the context of otaku culture.
    Well, to put it simply, the word chuunibyou ended up having ANOTHER meaning, on top of the more traditional one that describes a behavior. Also, in order to make that other type of chuunibyou distinct from the traditional one, people ended up typically shortening it to just "chuuni".
    The heart of "chuunibyou" is its source, the "coolness" that makes people behave in a chuunibyou way. And as discerning otaku, people quickly wanted a way to refer to that "coolness". THAT is "chuuni". The "byou" (syndrome) part is cut off the end, so the shortened version of the word fits this meaning well.
    Stated more formally, the broadest possible definition of chuuni is any story or story element (whether a character or trope) that inspires, or could inspire, a person to behave in a chuunibyou way. In other words, it's whatever a second year middle school student would view as cool or enviable.
    HOWEVER, people haven't been content with such a broad definition of chuuni. There are many informal, narrower trope-oriented definitions. I say "informal" because few people try to provide any exact list of what tropes are "sufficiently" chuuni. But you can be sure that different people have different perceptions of the word chuuni. More on that in later posts, potentially.
    Finally, I'll note that as I said earlier, the traditional definition of chuunibyou is also occasionally shortened to chuuni. As a matter of fact, neither "chuuni" nor "chuunibyou" is exclusive to any specific meaning, which can admittedly make things confusing.

    That's all the questions I can think to pose to myself currently. Maybe I'll come up with more later and add them.
  19. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Dir Lifyna   
    Dir Lifyna is the name of the world in which Eushully's Ikusa Megami games, Kamidori Alchemy Meister, and most of the rest of their games are based. 
    I love Dir Lifyna.  I don't think I'm alone in this, since it was the unexpected popularity of the setting in the original Ikusa Megami that resulted in the ridiculous number of follow up games that culminated in Ikusa Megami Zero (which most fanboys consider the best game Eushully has ever made). 
    The setting is deep, based in a world built in the aftermath of a pure fantasy world (with no humans) being linked then melded accidentally with a future Earth that was apparently far beyond even our current technological level (think matter-of-course genetic modification and cybernetics, as well as artificial lifeforms of more than human complexity).  At the end of the war that resulted from the initial contact, humanity's deities (artificial and otherwise) lost to the 'Living Gods', and humanity's history and most of its technology was systematically erased from the world.  Most of humanity's original gods either died or went into hiding, and the remaining humans mostly worship the Living Gods.  Other races that were 'hidden' before the initial contact (Nagas, for example) retained a faith and service to some of them, but that has just resulted in them being ever more marginalized in the world as it has become. 
    Humanity, ironically, has become the most numerous intelligent race, providing most of the faith (which provides power to deities) to sustain the Living Gods, causing even those Living Gods' own creations to often be as marginalized as the servants of the Old Gods.   Demihumans often find themselves forced to coexist with humans or pushed out of the better lands, leading to conflicts in which the churches of various deities often take sides, even if the deities themselves don't (most deities that aren't a devoted patron of a certain race tend to prioritize the power gained from worship over all things, it seems like). 
    Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the various games set in this world is that they rarely provide a purely human-centric viewpoint on things.  Serika, the protagonist of the IM series, can't be considered to be human in any wise (either in perspective or body), Meishoku no Reiki's protagonist is practically a demon lord, Madou Koukaku's protagonist is the ruler of a mixed-race country, Kami no Rhapsody is all about people competing for the right to rule over a multi-race federation, and the Genrin series focuses on a half-demon protagonist who tries to conquer a mostly-human region for the sake of survival (at least at first). 
    'Chosen Heroes' (usually half-immortal paladins called 'shinkakusha' granted a portion of a deity's essence) are often monsters wearing human skin, priests are mostly political animals or dogmatists, and the conflict between Darkness and Light rarely falls into a 'good vs evil' formula, regardless of perspective. 
    That's when the games are trying to be serious from beginning to end, such as with Genrin, IM, or Madou Koukaku.  However, some of the more 'frivolous' games (such as Sankai Ou no Yubiwa, Kamidori, or Kamiyui) are often lighter affairs, though the essential nature of the setting usually bleeds through at odd moments, usually near the end. 
    Unfortunately, Eushully has a bad habit of switching writers frequently, and this results in huge dips and rises in quality between releases, story-wise.  As a result, while the company manages to produce kamige like IMZ on occasion, it more often hits a more moderate note like with Verita or Kami no Rhapsody... or strays into outright kusoge territory like with Sankai Ou or Himegari. 
    Gameplay wise, the company's works in this universe are a mixed bag... Ikusa Megami's battle system is essentially a variant on the ATB system, combined with a 'use it and it grows' approach to skill trees.  On the other hand, Genrin was essentially a crappier version of Fire Emblem, Madou Koukaku was conquest strategy, and Kami no Rhapsody was a fairly horrible take on standard Japanese-style srpgs (seriously, obsessing over gimmicks like touch screen adaptation with an ero VN gameplay hybrid is just idiotic).  It seems at times like Eushully wants to try every popular Japanese single player game genre at one point or another... 
    Anyway, if you are still reading, thanks for paying attention to this random ramble. 
  20. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, 2nd Experimental Book Post: Honor Harrington   
    First, I should mention that I'm a huge fan of David Weber.  Even his crappiest book is still interesting to read (the crappiest book being Out of the Dark, an Independence Day-style story where the world is saved by Dracula, lol).  However, the Honor Harrington series is my favorite series written by him.
    Beginning with On Basilisk Station, this military sci-fi series begins focused on the character known as - obviously - Honor Harrington, a young warship captain getting command of a new light cruiser. 
    Honor is the post gender-disparity female of the feminist movement's dreams, a woman born and raised in a society where gender limitations were nonexistent and nothing is thought of women going into the military.  Weber, for all his faults as writer, has never shown the prejudices a lot of male sci-fi writers tend to have in this area, and Honor is by far his most popular and powerful character.  She begins the series as a commander, the lowest rank in the Royal Manticoran Navy allowed independent command of a starship, and, as she takes trip after trip though the fires of war's hell, she gradually climbs the ranks of her star nation's military, suffering pain and loss, as well as joy and glory in equal amounts. 
    Honor doesn't go through life unscarred... she is a rare individual who can't use regen therapies and can't accept her own cloned tissues, so her tendency to get her ships shot to hell around her has definite permanent consequences to her body and life.  This isn't some two-dimensional warrior who slays enemies in one-sided competitions and comes out the other side covered and glory and only possessing superficial scars.  Honor is the type of person who, because of her integrity and essential strength as a human being, continually manages to put herself in the worst kind of situations.  She doesn't always win, more of her people die than don't, and she suffers from all the guilt you could possibly imagine a morally upright young woman could suffer in such a situation. 
    In fact, that is David Weber's brilliance with this series...  Honor definitely climbs the social ladder during the series (even by the third book, she is already pretty high up there), but her essential humanity and her growth as a person gives true life to a series which could easily (and often threatens to) turn into a dry recitation of destruction and death on a literally interstellar scale.  Weber freely admits he intended to kill her off in the seventh or eighth book, but the fans kept her alive through petitions against that decision, lol. 
    All in all, that has turned out well.  What was originally a simple and direct conflict between a constitutional monarchy and a socialist expansionist empire gone mad has expanded to a fully galactic scale story, opening up several side storylines (the Crown of Slaves being the most beloved of those).  While Honor still remains a central individual in the series, things have long-since grown too complex and grand in scale for any individual to control its flow. 
    I can say straight out that I love this series and don't regret investing the hundred dollars or so it took to get all the books currently released.  There have been a few poor entries (the most recent one is widely disliked for being a rehashing from a different perspective of events in the previous book), the series as a whole is one that any military sci-fi fan should at least try to read.  The societies involved, the events, and the characters make it worth it, even if it is obvious Weber has no intention of concluding it any time soon, even after over fifteen books.
  21. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Clephas Guide to a fun untranslated chuunige life   
    For the hell of it, I decided to make up a 'suggested playlist' for people who like/are interested in chuunige who have just begun to play untranslated VNs.
    There are two variations on this guide.  One is a 'test the waters, gradually take a dip, then dive into the depths' guide.  The other is a 'Spartan Guide', which starts out with medium difficulty VNs and moves into harder and harder ones at the top tiers.  Each VN list will have four tiers, based on a combination of my estimation of difficulty in reading.
    For those unfamiliar with the term 'chuunige', some examples of chuunige that are translated are Fate/Stay Night, Tsukihime, Sorcery Jokers, and Tokyo Babel.  I believe you can get the drift from those four examples, lol.
    Soft Landing
    Tier 1 suggestions (difficulty ranges from a 4-7 on a scale of 10)- Tiny Dungeon series, Draculius, Hyper→Highspeed→Genius (main path only), Ryuukishi Bloody Saga, ExE
    Tier 2 suggestions (difficulty ranges from a 5-7.5 on a scale of 10)- Bloody Rondo, Shinigami no Testament, Gensou no Idea, Sinclient, Innocent Bullet. Yurikago yori Tenshi Made
    Tier 3 Suggestions (note: VNs on this list range in difficulty from 6-8 on a scale of 10)- Evolimit, Bullet Butlers, Hello, Lady, Izuna Zanshinken, Devils Devel concept
    Tier 4 Suggestions (note: VNs on this list range from 6-10 on a scale of 10)-  Jingai Makyou, Soukou Akki Muramasa, Silverio Vendetta, Zero Infinity, Vermilion Bind of Blood, Tokyo Necro, Bradyon Veda
    Tier 1 Suggestions- Evolimit, Yurikago Yori Tenshi Made, Izuna Zanshinken(starts at the high end of 'soft landing' tier 2 up through the middle of tier 3)
    Tier 2 Suggestions- Hello, Lady, Bullet Butlers, Devils Devel Concept
    Tier 3 Suggestions- Vermilion Bind of Blood, Jingai Makyou
    Tier 4 Suggestions- Silverio Vendetta, Zero Infinity, Tokyo Necro, Muramasa, Bradyon Veda
    Some Last thoughts
    Understand, I know people who are just fine with conversational Japanese and even a number of native speakers who can't handle Bradyon Veda or Muramasa.  I honestly suggest you leave those two to last, no matter what. Bullet Butlers is slightly harder than Evolimit due to fantasy terminology.  Vermilion is the easiest of the Tier 4 from 'soft landing'.  I honestly suggest that anyone just beginning with this list do ExE or Draculius first, because if you can't understand what is going on in either of those even giving yourself time to do so, then you won't be able to play anything else on the list.
    Toss aside stupid pride when playing chuunige and use a text hooker and kanji parsing engine (Mecab or jparser in TA will do fine).  Chuunige often use kanji in ways almost unique to the individual writer or that are so archaic that even a native speaker won't grasp them immediately.  This is a bad habit of chuunige writers in general.  Some writers even revive kanji that have been out of common use since the middle of the twentieth century. 
    Don't feel like you are a traitor for looking up verbs or nouns you haven't encountered before.  Almost all chuunige writers use 'literary Japanese', which is almost never seen in anime or manga.  Literary Japanese, just like literary English, still uses terms that went out of use in the verbal part of the language decades or even centuries ago.  Still, the verbs and nouns themselves are most likely in the dict on your parser, so it should be easy to look up their meanings. 
  22. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to MaggieROBOT for a blog entry, What?! A moege tale?!   
    Or: The ballad of the girl that couldn't control some borderline shotacon impulses.
    Hiii guys and gals! This week I'll just post this quick rambling because I have tons of studying left to do for my master's degree entrance exam. So let me tell you a short story about something I love in VNs: pretty boys. (Don't worry, there's moege too, the title isn't a lie like the cake)
    Okay, it's not like I don't like 2D pretty girls. They're awesome too, in their ways, but... I don't know, my eyes just got pulled to the boys, in all the wrong places.
    I read tons of varied stuff. I don't put a link for my VNDB list on my profile because that wouldn't help anyone in giving me recommendations. Even I never found a pattern in that list, an amalgamation of otomege, BL, galge, Yuri, OELVN and one obvious troll VN made purposely bad but still so bad it's so good. BUT! I noticed I never read a single moege. Of course, my (preconceived) opinion of them are that they are boring and have way too many routes and excessive length. I'm a completionist, but read all routes in a moege seems like a chore I'm not sure I want to go through. But preconceived notions are bad, like real bad, so I started to look for something that picked my interest.
    And I stumble upon something called Haruoto Alice * Gram. Judge me all you want, but I clicked in it just because this adorable Hatsune Miku expy in winter clothes! Kyaaaaa~ Because first you see the heroines, then if the game is shit.

    Okay, the character design is already pleasant enough for my eyes (wait, but all moeges have cute designs, that isn't the problem with them!)! I mean, these girls are all kinda cute!

    There's one more, but she was too meh, I didn't bother with her too much. Okay, their tits are a bit too balloon for my tastes, but I can easily ignore this. I'm determined to give some moege a chance, I can't give up so easi...
    I kept scrolling the vndb page...
    And stumble on... him.

    Wait, this is a moege... Of course... there's no route with him...
    I gave up on my moege quest. I'm too far gone.
  23. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VN: Love Revenge (REVISED)   
    Now, I know what you are wondering... 'Why did Clephas pick a charage for a random VN this time around?"  The answer is not as straightforward as usual....
    This game is about as close to being the 'perfect' charage as I've ever encountered.  That's not to say it is exceptional in every way.  There are better written and better presented charage out there.  However, I've yet to encounter a charage that utilizes every single element included to the greatest degree possible like this one does.  First, the protagonist is not just the average guy, but neither is he super-exceptional.  He is just interesting enough to make a good viewpoint (his fear of women, his skill at martial arts, and the taste for cross-dressing he tries to deny) for a game like this without his personality dominating everything.  His issues are vital to all the paths, though in different ways due to the way they intertwine with the heroines' issues.
    Second, the heroines are all fairly interesting... or at least funny, if they aren't intellectually interesting (Honoka's tendency to see everyone around her as food when she hasn't eaten in the last hour is one example).  The actual paths are split into three arcs... the Rielle Arc, the Honoka/Rin Arc, and the Renka/Senri Arc.  Each arc approaches the protagonist's own issues differently, ranging from a gradual healing (Rielle) to confronting the source (Honoka/Rin), to a wildly different approach (won't spoil it: Renka/Senri). 
    This game is brilliantly executed and not dependent on H-content to support it as a whole (which is probably why the game got ported five times), which is a huge plus, since most charage tend to be reliant on dating and h-content to fill out the heroine paths. 
    This game doesn't waste time.  While there is plenty of slice-of-life, much of it amusing, all of it moves the story - and not so incidentally, Yuuki's personal growth - forward.  There is not a single wasted element in this story, and that is a feat in and of itself... I once referred to this game as 'bare bones', but that was probably not the right expression.  This game is filled out nicely... it just doesn't waste time on stuff that has nothing to do with story advancement or character development.
    Overall, if you want to know what the charage ideal looks like, this is a good choice.  While it isn't a kamige, it is a game that hits all the spots charage are meant to hit without seeming puerile or shallow to a reader like me, who is more than a little jaded.
    Edit: It should be noted that the phenomenon of 'heroines devouring the protagonist', where the heroines' strength of character pretty much buries the protagonist, does not occur in this VN, which is a feat in and of itself.  For obvious reasons, most charage heroines are far more interesting than their protagonist, but that often results in a game that feels unbalanced and is vaguely unsatisfying, because many writers actually put down the protagonist to make the heroines shine more... thus leaving a vague feeling of dissatisfaction behind in the end.
    Edit2: Adding heroine, character descriptions below.
    Kusunoki Yuuki- Yuuki is a reasonably intelligent (slightly above average) young man who is well known for his good heart and ability to put others before himself.  When he tries to confess to his girlfriend, a young woman named Ran, she tells him she only went out with him as part of a penalty game and dumps him.  As a result, he becomes unable to trust females and instinctively rejects interpersonal contact, even with his own little sister Tatsuki and his childhood friend Honoka.  He quite naturally acts for the sake of others, despite this mental illness, and as a result he is a natural harem-builder.  However, he is also as dense as the containment for a fission reactor core, meaning that he never notices. This comes at least in part from his inability to trust the feelings of women.  He is a skilled martial-artist and very good at fighting one-on-one, but he has no talent for handling multiple opponents at once.
    Rielle Anderson- The CEO of the Anderson Corporation, an orphan girl who built her fortune from almost nothing in a matter of years.  She is behind the new city policy that encourages romance, as well as engineering the 'love-war events' that are being tested at Yuuki's school.  She is very blunt and expressive, as well as being highly aggressive when it comes to getting what she wants.  She has a ruthless side, but it is not something she indulges to excess (she is a CEO after all).  However, she, like Yuuki, tends to put others before herself when it comes to those she cares about, and she frequently indulges in philanthropy. 
    Suzushiro Rin- One of Yuuki's classmates and a close friend of Honoka.  She is extremely distrustful of men due to her past experiences, and her reactions to men tend to range from dry and disinterested to outright malice.  The exception is Yuuki, with whom she finds herself forming a sort of rapport almost from the beginning, due to his affliction.  At her core, she is a kind-hearted and considerate young woman, but her experiences have rendered her with one of the most terrible of all afflictions... tsundere-ism.
    Hiiragi Honoka- Yuuki's childhood friend and the person hurt the most by his inability to be close with women.  She is a sweet, somewhat airheaded young woman with an insanely protective side directed toward Yuuki.   She has been in love with him from childhood, but he never notices... and she is too much of a hetare to confess her love to him.  When she gets hungry (which is often) she goes into a state where those around her start looking tasty, and she begins fantasizing about how she would cook them... with utter seriousness.  She feels deeply and acts really directly in response to those feelings, especially when it comes to Yuuki.
    Hazakura Renka- The vice-president of the student council.  Normally, she is a serious, somewhat uptight young woman with genius level intelligence, but when she sees Yuuki she becomes a prowling panther, panting after him as if he were a delicious-looking deer.  She is close with Senri and the only person who can jerk her up short... and vise-versa.  She is one of the very few people around Yuuki who don't set off his condition, and she is always very considerate about it, even going so far as to subtly lead him away from areas where females gather.
    Asagiri Senri- Called 'the Prince' for her behavior that looks like it came straight out of a shoujo manga, Senri takes a certain pleasure in being surrounded by females and naturally hits on any female that crosses her path.  She takes a shine to Yuuki early on, after Renka becomes obsessed with him.  Almost no one knows she is a woman, because she arranged things that way.  She is a genius scientist who really doesn't need to attend school, but she does so for her own reasons, not the least of which her fondness for role-playing as the school's prince. 
    Side Characters
    Azami Taiga- Yuuki and Honoka's childhood friend.  He is a muscular guy who frequently gets treated like a delinquent, despite being about as far from one as it is possible to be.  He is extremely protective of Yuuki, similar to Honoka, but he is also better than her about respecting his desire to change and encouraging him to break out of the shell he is trapped in.  Unfortunately for him, almost everyone in the group that surrounds Yuuki and the class in general picks on him, and he ends up taking up the worst jobs in any given situation.
    Chigaya Rei- A teacher at Yuuki's school who is infamous for his heavy smoking habit and fondness for not coming to his own classes.  His bad habit of getting off track during class makes him well-liked by the students, but most people wonder just how he manages to avoid getting fired.
    Kusunoki Tatsuki- Yuuki's little sister, she is madly in love with her older brother.  When he begins rejecting all women, she discovers that she is a masochist and takes pleasure in the way he slaps her hand away and avoids her.  She is Tsukumo's owner, and everyone but her knows that her job in life is to keep that particular monster in its cage.
    Kokonoei Tsukumo- A bisexual cosplayer and Tatsuki's closest friend.  She moves entirely on instinct and is utterly uncontrollable, frequently stealing looks at Tatsuki's panties and stealing the panties themselves.  She is incapable of forethought and has an unnatural instinct for knowing when and how to cause the most trouble.  If it weren't for Tatsuki's ability to control her to some extent, she probably would have been expelled long ago.
    Rindou Anju- The school's banchou and the single most physically capable student at the school.  She also is the child of the dojo that Yuuki attended and treats him as her underling... she is also one of two women Yuuki can actually deal with at close range from the beginning.  Despite her attempts to act the lone wolf, Yuuki and the others inevitably manage to ruin her plans and make her seem likable, much to her consternation.
    Kuga Erika- One of Rielle's two maid assistants.  She is a black-hearted young woman whose hobbies involve SM and writing down information in her 'blackmail diary' to use against others.  While she technically has more common sense than Yuzuha, few would willingly want to deal with her over her sister.
    Kuga Yuzuha- A rude, violent young woman and one of Rielle's two maid assistants, primarily acting as a bodyguard and troubleshooter.  She is easygoing and friendly to those with the right attitude and combative when provoked.  When drunk, she reverts to a small child and tends to end up as a target for Erika's sadistic side.  She keeps slacking off on the job and getting her pay cut, but she never learns her lesson.
    Tsubaki Koharu- Yuuki's homeroom teacher, a small woman in her late twenties who is obsessed over the fact that she still doesn't have a boyfriend.  Her tendency to spiral into depression after mentioning this fact in class has become a regular source of amusement for her students, and Taiga generally gets the job of breaking her out of it. 
  24. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, I Hate Big Backs and I Can Not Lie   
    The VN reading community likes to argue over the relative merits of so-called "literal" and "liberal" translation, with most people tending to perceive everyone else as being a hardline supporter of one or the other. While I'm sure everybody who knows my views would classify me as a proponent of liberal translation, I tend to think I'm more a proponent of being accurate to the intent of the original text. This blog post is going to outline a couple of specific uses of language which I believe show some of the weaknesses of attempting "literal translation." This isn't going to be anything like an attempt to provide an exhaustive argument against literal translation, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least trying to be a little bit convincing. Still, regardless of your position on that particular argument, you might at least find the examples enlightening. Broadly, I'm going to be talking about figurative language. That's a fancy phrase encompassing a lot of common expressions and classes of expression which exist in every natural human language, as far as I know, and certainly in both Japanese and English. Idioms, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, symbolism: all of these are classes of figurative language.
    For starters, let's talk about idioms. The relevant definition of "idiom", per wiktionary, is, "An expression peculiar to or characteristic of a particular language, especially when the meaning is illogical or separate from the meanings of its component words." The argument pretty much writes itself, right? By definition, if you try to literally translate the words in an idiom, you're going to end up with something at best inaccurate, and at worst completely illogical. Just googling "Japanese idioms" and reading what you see is going to find you dozens of examples of cases where you have to either avoid literal translation or end up with a translation that doesn't make sense. For instance, translating 十人十色 as "ten men, ten colors" isn't going to be comprehensible to an English reader, but the venerable English idiom "different strokes for different folks," which is equivalent in meaning if not exactly in tone, is probably going to fit the bill. Idioms offer pretty much a slam dunk argument in favor of liberal translation*. That said, idioms are not that common an occurrence. However, there are also lesser examples: cases where literal translation yields something meaningful and accurate, but still less accurate than a liberal translation could manage.
    My personal favorite example of a Japanese expression which is not an idiom, but which still benefits massively from a "liberal" translation, is the combination of the noun 背中 (back) and the adjective 大きい (large, big). These two words are often put together in Japanese when praising men, as a way to say a man has a certain, protoypically masculine, attractive physical characteristic. The phrase also carries a subtextual metaphor of reliability: a big back can bear a lot of weight, presumably. Once you start looking for "big backs", you'll see them popping up in literal JP->EN translations all over the place, from Little Busters! to HoshiMemo. The problem is, there's a common English expression which means exactly the same thing as that Japanese expression: "broad shoulders." Now, no dictionary is going to tell you that you can correctly translate 背中, in isolation, as "shoulders." But what's amazing about this pair of Japanese and English expressions is that they not only have the same denotation, but also the same connotation. Both expressions describe the same physical trait, and they both also imply the same personality trait of reliability: a broad pair of shoulders, also, can be trusted to carry your burden.
    The expression "broad shoulders", like its Japanese cousin, sits somewhere between simple non-figurative use of language and an idiom: just knowing the definition of the individual words gets you to the correct meaning of the expression, and even the connotation of implied reliability, when present, is usually obvious. So, by definition, they aren't idioms. But even so, if translated literally in either direction, the original phrase will end up as a pale shadow of what it should be. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be described as broad-shouldered than as big-backed.
    *Unless you believe the purpose of a translation is to teach you Japanese idioms, in which case there isn't enough common ground to even have an argument. I personally like to read translated fiction for the same reason I like to read fiction originally written in English: to enjoy a well-crafted story.
  25. Like
    Kenshin_sama reacted to sanahtlig for a blog entry, Nonconsensual scenes censored in Nutaku's Kamihime Project R   
    Nutaku has been caught censoring dialogues implying non-consensual sex in free-to-play ero-RPG Kamihime Project R, reneging on earlier promises.
    Rape scenes censored in Nutaku's Kamihime Project R
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