Archive for April, 2010

Sumire Kanou in TDP

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

With the banner post on TDP out of the way, there are some matters to discuss in detail (do not look if you are concerned about spoilers). The biggest of them is Sumire.

Although everything in the coverage of Toradora at Ani-nouto was supposed to be about Ami, Sumire loomed large in my mind, albeit silently. IIRC she was only mentioned in the field guide and the post about space- and career-related plot issues. Sumire was portrayed as a rather sympathetic character, one I find quite admirable. She was clear-headed and charismatic. A bit unsubtle, yes, but that was human. Kitamura shared my admiration, although one of the advantages of advanced age is that I can admire Sumire without necessarily desiring to get into her panties. In the end, Sumire being a side character, her role, and thus screen time, were limited.

In TDP, Sumire is developed with a significant depth (on the Planetarium path), even getting her own ending. Unfortunately, I cannot say I like the direction creators took with her. We knew that she was domineering in the office, but now we know she is the same at home. In fact, she may be a big reason why her younger sister Sakura is obviously neurotic. She is also no stranger to cruel pranks that we came to expect from Ami, such as pushing Ryuuji down as a joke.

In a way, anime flirted with the concept of the other side of Sumire in ep.16. Her decision to fight Taiga was explicitly explained — in public — by pent-up frustrations and a mood swing. But of course the circumstances were extraordinary, so that snap was easy to forgive her. The game, however, makes it a point to run with the wide model that includes less admirable personality traits. It is a pity, in my view.

Just to make it worse, Ami received a sympathetic treatment in TDP despite being the usual bitch most of the time. Oh well. Different media, different canons.

Jessi’s S1E1 and how not to run blogs

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

SDB announces that S1E1 published something again, which you would never know if you were subscribed to the site feed. Jessi saw fit to pipe the feed through RSSPECT.com and then discontinue doing it without an announcement (not even a 404). Now everyone who cares reading her amusingly hate-filled screeds have to resubscribe — which they will know to do only if they read Ani-nouto or Chizumatic.

This story is a good illustration why I viscerally hate bloggers who use 3-rd party replicators like Feedburner (obviously Kabitzin and Zyl hate me too because both use Google feedproxy at present). Sure, perhaps RSSPECT was a bad website, but Jessi gets the blame for the “no announcement” part, and for the ridiculous idea of using RSSPect in the first place.

UPDATE: Steven says that Jessi is a victim of circumstances and novice’s ignorance, and that someone else ran the blog. But even if it takes her off the hook, the lesson is still there.

Nova’s cynical plan

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Jinx.fi:

I’m pretty sure I’ve already gotten more views out of all this than I would have by just silently staying in the ABT. In fact, this month is now the record month with 11k views and still growing (previous monthly record was a year ago with about 9600 views). I had to call my hosting service yesterday to request more bandwidth. Otherwise Jinx! would be offline by the end of next weekend.

Awesome. Scamp is a genius, I’m telling you.

P.S. I know that there was no plan, but it made for a good headline.

What if CD wins ABT?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Why has nobody noticed so far that Scamp’s very own Cart Driver is in the running (seeded into the first round with rank 33, and currently winning)?

Oh Nova, you card

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Jinx.fi: “Anime industry is like a family. You hurt my family, I hurt you. Odex just wasn’t tough enough.” I am sure it’s fueled by his pilgrimage to Singapore (the heart of English-language animeblogging for some reason), but it’s funny.

Author in Wonderland of VN

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I am not done with Toradora Portable (TDP), but I have some notes to share. They may contain spoilers, hopefully inoffensive.

TDP is readily available (for now) from retailers like Play-Asia. It is a UMD game for Sony PSP, with all the upsides of convenience balanced with the downsides of a proprietary platform (for example, there is no way to take screenshots, which is just a total garbage policy by Sony).

VN weenies often complain about anime adaptations (F/SN fans are among the most vocal). Naturally, crossing the barrier of media requires changes. TDP is uniquely situated by being a derivative in the other direction, and by very closely tied to anime: not just in plot, but also in employing the same cast. I fully approve how the material was handled in the transition.

My pluralism may be helped by the observation that for a supposed cheap tie-in, TDP is really quite amazing. Notice that I am not a complete VN virgin: I dabbed by playing Hourglass of Summer and Starlight. I am no judge of writing, and I can see technical problems in TDP, but I liked it from the start, and the Ami path completely won me over.

Thus far I saw various ends for Taiga, Ami, Sumire, and… Yuri-sensei. The latter is actually a gag end: you get Yuri end where other VN would’ve had a Bad End. Fail to capture items or navigate dialogs and you are railroaded to it. I did not pursue Taiga end specifically, and received an ok Taiga end by failing Sumire end. Speaking of which, Sumire end has a major path all to itself, with the end that made me cringe at how contrieved it was, as the writers had to reconcile the anime premise with putting Ryuuji into the picture somehow. Fortunately, the main branch and especially Ami washed it away decisively. Ami’s True End is just about perfect. It builds up well, it’s a little bittersweet, yet hopeful; I would say the story is adult-like. In terms of anime it’s close to how Honey and Clover handles it. The dialogue is scintillating to my weaboo ear.

The sound is obviously helped by Toradora‘s stellar cast, especially Eri Kitamura. I think she shined in the game more for various reasons. For example, Ami actually has a trimodal personality. Two are well-known: Ami-chan and Ami-hime. But there is also The Real Ami, which is not well outlined in the anime. The final gym shed scene may be it, if I recall, but even so no blogger even took a note. In the game though, it is an explicit part of the text, and Eri Kitamura had to capture it. Good job, I say.

Not all parts of the production were so good. In particular, it’s possible — very easy in fact — for the player to hit story fragments in varying order, but in a couple of places the dialog is not adjusted for that, making a complete hash of the proceedings. In other parts the dialog changes, and in yet other ones writers are careful with expressions. For instance, you may run into Taiga and find that she’s bleeding; the subsequent dialog is careful not to deal with the reasons why. The alternative is to talk to someone who explains what happened. All of that is an equivalent of SHAFT’s lack of animation: the creators saved on dialog variants.

By the way, not sure if it’s a downside, but TDP has no sex of any kind. Actually, not even a kiss (at paths that I followed). On the other hand creators relish in bikinis, even including corresponding filler. Just as in the anime, boys are nipple-less at the pool. It is really dumb, but not a fault of TDP itself, more like Japan’s.

The accessibility to Anglophones is an issue that does not loom large in my mind anymore. My wife once watched me play TDP and I interpreted the lines for her (it was not a real synchronous translation because the playback stops after every two sentences). I was surprised how much I was able to interpret that way. Still, I missed quite a bit as well. Fortunately the game is fully voiced (including Ryuuji’s lines, although excluding choice selections), so I was able to look kanji up phonetically in my electronic dictionary. I don’t know if it is likely for TDP to receive a translation (either official or unofficial), because I do not know anything about the gaming market. Honestly, I even have no idea if Toradora anime by NISA is likely to be a success, what to say about the game.

One last thing I liked about TDP is that it’s a real VN. I did not have to suffer through some retarded combat sequences, and the closest the game came to a puzzle was what I call a “mood dialog”, when the player selected from a set of 18 questions for protagonist to ask his interlocutor. I watched how Ana-sempai played Lux-Pain and the combat in it was, not to put too fine a point to it, garbage. Why even include it?! TDP did not and it is great.

I just wish there was a Linux port.

UPDATE: More at Meenuvia, including the final boss.

Baka-Updates is banned from AdSense

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Coming at the heels of the Little White Butterflies scandal, the story of Google kicking Baka-Updates off AdSense (via) is certain to raise a few eyebrows. However, I should note that Google policies for AdSense always were stacked in Google favour and deeply unfair to users of AdSense. It is absolutely nothing new to be kicked off and banned forever for no reason and with no explanation, let alone a due process. Google know that you cannot sue them, unless you’re a big international company or a D.C. lawer. So, Baka-Updates is just as likely not to be a victim of anti-manga purge.

Although I am not in any way financially involved at present, I am keeping an eye at alternative advertisement providers, such as Blogads, Project Wonderful, etc. One good way to know what trends is to keep an eye at the top representatives of groups who the Google establishment hates, like gun rights activists and jihad exposers. Perhaps we should add scanlators to the pool now.

I was wrong about the tournament

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

My initial reflex was to ignore the Aniblog Tourney, since I’m not in it anyway, and it seemed like a cynical hit-mongering scheme at first. But after making a fool out of myself in Kuro’s comments, I reconsidered the facts, and the facts are: 1. The tournament site is not promoting either RP the person or RP the site, 2. The site is not running ads (which it probably should, actually). In my defence, I figured it out before someone else prodded me into doing so.

N.B. I would not have anything against the tournament actually being a promotional tool or lining RP’s pockets with ad revenue. All I am saying, I made a factually incorrect comment, not implying any judgement. Of course I would not need to promote it now if it were a cynical ploy, because I would not be guilty of misrepresentation.

Meanwhile, Kuro amended his post by dropping the link and referring to “RP’s arrogance” and “self-aggrandizing scheme” over the following comment:

I’m not sure what purpose an email to the blog authors would have served. Permission? Acknowledgment? But for what? Unlike animeblips, which I know you’re not a fan of, the tourney isn’t lifting content. And there’s no effort required on the authors part.

There’s nothing cynical about this. It was an idea sparked by talk about previous anime blog awards, and a similar tourney I noticed among sports blogs (in honor of the NCAA basketball tourney).

Honestly, we felt it’d be a good chance for a.) to let the readers in on some of the fun b.) shine some light on newer, lesser known blogs.

Maybe I’m just underestimating how much people value their e-peen, but I really doubt anyone’s going to get off on this. Whichever blog “wins” probably already has all the e-peen he needs.

Also, it’s nothing like the OEG. The OEG was a personal tirade against the usage of a certain word. It was a “competition” in only the most bastardized sense.

Lastly, if you’ve got suggestions post them on the blog. I don’t think at any point an email will go out to the blog writers in advance, but in the future we could probably allow some extra time and explicit direction to give people a chance to opt-out of the tourney.

I think RP addressed the intent of the tournament better in this comment than in long position statements on the actual site. I cannot see why Kuro is throwing link-removing tantrums. To suggest, as he did, that “the creators [of tournament] could have given the blogs in the tournament a heads-up email too; y’know, just for being polite and such” is plainly ridiculous. Am I supposed to e-mail to everyone I link now, too? I don’t think so. So, by his actions, au contrarie to the desired result, Kuro only made me more likely to weigh in with promotion of the tournament.

P.S. I probably need to say something about Nova being silly as well, but whatever. Same points, same refutation. But a nice toehoe picture (I happen to know that ice is Cirno’s power)!

UPDATE: Josh created a click-through bracket on a free sports website. I’m a little surprised that it only supports power-of-2 sets, but it’s readable.

Hung on B-gata H-kei 01

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

The article at BakaGasuBakuHatsu adopts a sardonic tone, but the result is “pleasantly surprised”, as typical for many bloggers watching Gatakei.

So yeah, that’s the basic premise behind this one. Yamada has just joined High School, which apparently means it’s time for her to pick up guys and score! I’m not sure how she got this idea since her friend thinks she’s kind of crazy and no one else seems to be on board with her. […]

Actually, as I gather, entering high school may be a good excuse for a fresh start. Remember Taniguchi cataloging and ranking everyone (IIRC, Nagato received an A — Correction: Zyl e-mailed it was A-minus)?

I blame DiGiKerot

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Why Box 4, you ask? Simple: it’s the only IM@S box that is not sold out yet.

UPDATE: Juri Takita on stage, poorly captured by my DVD player:

I recognize her instantly because of her very special brand of endearing ugly. Plus, the whole story of Kotori.

UPDATE: I remember how I was reading an interview of Hung (in that sadly short-lived series of Kabitzin’s investigations) and he said — in 2007:

I guess I’d say that Beta-Waffle is my favorite blog that still updates regularly. How can you not like a blog that has such an ugly layout and ghastly drawings on purpose? At least, I think they’re on purpose.

That was when I added it to my feedlist… And it pretty much went downhill from there. Beta-waffle quickly reached the top of the list by elbowing away Chizumatic (because Steven cannot decide if he wants to blog about ducks, beavers, computers, or Obama-sama), and stayed there. [Correction: he has, in fact, decided — Author]

I’m pretty certain DiGi is over IM@S by now though. But I am still fixated after the initial shock. I may even finish Xenoglossia one day.