Archive for the 'ren-ai' Category

And now something completely different

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

I played through a ren-ai game (actually, one episode) that Rocket posted, mostly because it runs on Linux very smoothly. Interesting, but for some odd reason I feel uncomfortable starting with the game, and at times inside. I played Leisure Suit Larry with no issues back in the day, so this is strange. Maybe it’s the uncertainty.

Now I’m kicking myself for passing over the Ai yori Aoshi visual novel in Fry’s one day. Since I’m familiar with the material, by playing that item I would know if it’s the ren-ai format that causes the discomfort, or the content. But at the time I have already known that Ai yori Aoshi was a stupid harem which I hated, so I decided to wait for a better chance to get familiar with the format in the future.

Thanks to Rocket the future is here, but results are inconclusive.

P.S. RACS has it, $34.98, but it turned out to be a Windows game, and therefore useless for me. A short search reveals that Hirameki publishes material in DVD format as well, but there’s nothing based on a familiar anime (or vice versa).

UPDATE: Rocket replies… to a comment. Obviously he is not familiar with hyperlinks.

UPDATE: Awesome fanart — including the captain! But how did Jason become “the best author of anime bloggers”? Simple: he collaborates with Sixten on Hearts Content.

Hirameki is out of business

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Yesterday I saw it mentioned Visual-Novels.net, with ANN reporting it a day later: Hirameki is gone. The message at their website says: “Hirameki International Group, Inc. has decided to bow out of publishing Interactive Visual Novels as of January 2, 2008.”

Coincidently, Hourglass of Summer was the centerpiece of the loot I received at the same day. I already played a little, and it was pretty bad on the technical side. It was readily apparent that DVD has no performance to do what the game designers wanted to do. The inhabitants of #animedvd suggested that the reason for this is that Hirameki ported the game from PC to DVD. Thus, sprite motion, which PC can do easily, is choppy at DVD. In the same time, the game has virtually no animation. Presumably, a game authored for DVD from the start would deliver a more satisfactory experience.

If Hourglass is a flagship title for DVD, I’m not surprised that it never sold. This does not explain why Hirameki died, because I presume most sales came from PC games, free of the aforementioned problems.

UPDATE: Heisei Democracy:

Despite the official closure of Hirameki’s doors many of their titles are still available for purchase, including the critically acclaimed Ever17 and Phantom of Inferno.

No Hourglass? Evidently I selected the worst title. Unfortunatley, Phantom is action, so…

Hourglass grinding

Friday, January 11th, 2008

If anyone wondered why I never have any content at the blog anymore, it’s because I’m grinding on the Hourglass of Summer like a Chinese goldminer in WoW. My word, that thing is long.

Currently I’m playing it straight with the unshakable love of Kaho, but I think I might switch to Tomo for the next pass, unless the game disappoints me severily enough to drop it. This will give me an idea how branchy the plot is.

SDB on Tea Society …

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I and Steven for some odd reason often march in lockstep like goosestepping nazis (e.g. watching Shingu)… OK, it was a bad analogy, because we’re not in complete sync this time. While I’m struggling with Hourglass, he’s sampling another Hirameki title, Tea Society of a Witch.

The biggest disappointment is that there’s very little animation. I thought I’d get the kind of stuff I got from anime. What I actually got was lots of static frames where almost the only thing that ever changed was the facial expression of the girl on the screen, plus changing subtitles.

What can I say? It’s only too true, even though excuses were offered. That said, I have to note that the length packed onto a single DVD is amazing, and lack of video may have something to do with it.

I think if Steven is at all interested in this art, he should check out PC games instead of DVDs. I limit myself to DVDs because they are cross-platform, but he is a Windows user, he can get the best.

Hourglass halfway

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

The length of this thing keeps confusing me. Every time I think that I must’ve reached the halfway point, it just keeps going deeper and deeper. For example, Mana’s arrival threw me into a loop. It just made no sense whatsoever.

Since then I looked into the booklet, which says that Mana is going to be badly injured and hints that Kotaro has a chance to prevent it. Perhaps they want to force him to make a choice between saving Kaho and Mana. That would make at least some sense, but still…

Speaking of choices, I suspect that a vast majority of them are empty and the plot railroads the events. Indeed it’s the only way to make the thing fit on DVD. For example, in the beginning Kotaro is offered a choice to discuss his predicament with Ai or Takeshi, whereas anyone with a brain larger than a pea would see that the only reasonable choice is to chat with Tomo. Which is what happens eventually.

Even when effecting an outcome, choices in Hourglass are often similar to elections: I have to select the least evil. It has a lot to do with the protagonist being dumb like a stump, which disappoints. On the other hand, I became less disappointed about the lack of animation. All I have to do is to regard VN as a kind of manga, only on optical media. When seen in that light, Hourglass is a compelling entertainment.

BTW, Sixten seems to explore the Ai avenue, but the events are all the same. But of course! Railroad plot.

This is the first professional visual novel I’ve played, and if other visual novels are this good, I can understand why they’re big among anime fans.

I think it’s “manga fans” now. Compared to anime, VN is just not in the same league.

Hourglass… 90% done, 90% remains

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Now that I made peace with the medium (“it’s only a full-color manga with audiobook overlay”), I can hate the content freely.

The phenomenal stupidity of the male lead, Kotaro, is something I have never seen before. I wasn’t that stupid at his age myself, and trust me, I was quite stupid.

For one thing, Kotaro is using the calendar to transmit information already, although it’s the default crossing of the day. That’s great, so why not to create a diary? Same function, a letter from yesterday me to tomorrow me. It’s elementary, but is a symptom of a bigger problem: he never stops to reflect on anything. It’s always running from girl to girl nonstop.

I am approximately at the moment when Kotaro is beginning to stalk Mana. I can understand that he has no benefit of reading spoiling notes from DVD booklet, that’s fine. Since he is not breaking the 4th wall, he cannot instantly decode Jane’s foreshadowing, that’s fine too. But could he at least write down the predicted events, map them, identify inflection points at which they can be disrupted? If everything else fails, intercept Kaho and pay for taxi or something.

And finally, most of his errors would’ve been corrected if he talked to Tomo. Just how dumb would one be not to? I’m even suspecting I chose bad answers somewhere. In his place I would be in tight contact with her, if not personally then over the phone.

Oh, and by mid-August Kaho is seriously starting to fall for the dork. Her dad’s sheltering policies have backfired: if she went out more it wouldn’t have happened. Sad, really.

P.S. Here’s an example of actual dialog:

AI: But if I start dieting, my breasts are going to shrink first.
KOTARO: Well, you don’t have any to begin with…
AI: I do! How rude, I have some, look!!

I fully expected a choice to follow: a) watch and comment, b) stop her, c) put it in. But it wasn’t there.

Maybe Kotaro is so dumb because the scriptwriter was dumb.

Hourglass, hourglass

Friday, March 7th, 2008

I am aware that this blog is turning into all Hourglass all the time kind of deal, but what can I do? It’s longer than I imagined and it takes all my anime time. I finally visited the walkthrough, and found that only now I’m at about the middle. One path is perhaps 50 anime episodes worth, if not 100.

Why is Mana changing in a boys’ locker room? Even if she was lost in thought, it should be hard to make a wrong turn like that, but apparently she managed it. Remember about drivers with cellphones and things they do…

The walkthrough has cute character summaries, painted for each girl’s path. Full of spoilers, of course. Some were obvious, but not others. Tomo’s one is especially shocking, I had no idea. Here’s one for Lee Jane (nobody wants to play her, right?):

You really don’t get to know her very well until August 31. But through the brief time you spend with her, you realize that you have feelings for her. As a Time Patroller, she has to avoid direct contact with citizens of the era that she day-dropped into. It’s a lonely and thankless job. While watching you help Kaho avoid her untimely demise, Lee Jane develops a deep appreciation for you as a person, and starts to fall in love with you. Is your love meant to be? The answer lies in the epilogue for Lee Jane’s true ending.

Riight, and I bet that not forking the plot until so late saves a lot of space on the DVD.

Avatar on Visual Novels

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Seen at Avatar’s:

More Fate in the future, to be followed by the newly-translated Unlimited Blade Works (Rin route, basically.) And to hear tell, the third path, Heaven’s Feel (Sakura route, dark x e^100) should be finished soon too. I tried to convince Author to try it out, but it seems he won’t run it if it won’t run under Linux. Definitely a mistake, I think – if you like the concept of visual novels as a format, you owe it to yourself to at least look at the best examples thereof.

So this is what “UBW” is, good to know.

About the “best examples”, I’m not quite sure it works that way. Since I do not like manga, and VN is nothing but colored manga which I cannot read at my own pace or away from a PC… I don’t think the “best examples” of the medium are going to do anything. I’m not disparaging VN, but, like Hollywood movies, it’s just not something I like on the whole. I can take this comparison even further and say that the same movies have “best examples”, such as Jackson’s LoTR.

P.S. Blogging about Fate, it’s impossible not to notice that the fandom is heavily game influenced. The coverage at Beta-Waffle is typical: 90% game, 5% anime. And you know, I am just not into it. I come from the outside, appreciate the anime, ignore the game. If you’re not interested, read DiGiKerot.

P.P.S. Rin is hot, Evirus is right. But you know, Saber is hot too, in her tragic way. I still cannot decide who is better.

UPDATE: DiGiKerot writes to correct the record:

Regarding your comment that Fate coverage on blogs is 90% game, 5% anime, I’m not sure that’s quite right – it’s more 90% figures (largely being format-neutral), 3% game and 1% anime. Seriously, it’s one of the most heavily merchandised shows outside of Evangelion., and the number of figure releases is pretty incredible.

For the record, I actually rather liked anime version of F/SN – I thought it was all pretty well handled all round – it’s just that by the time I watched it I didn’t really have anything to say about it that hadn’t been said many, many times before elsewhere (I guess that’s what happens when you wait for the DVD release, but given that Geneon USA actually co-produced the show I figured I’d just wait for it). In any case, it faired better than the adaption of Type-Moons Tsukihime, which I enjoyed but had gaping plot-holes for anyone who hadn’t played the original VN.

Didn’t have anything to say? That’s humble. And I’m sure my impression of FSN was unoriginal. But when I started searching what people wrote about it, pickings were slim, unlike, for instance, ef (which owes to a game, so makes a fair comparison). It was all the game all the time for FSN.

Hourglass ends

Monday, March 24th, 2008

In the end I marathoned the remainder of the damn thing in two days, since I leave for Tokyo tomorrow and I didn’t want to leave Hourglass of Summer hanging. God that was long. The amazing part, by the way, is how the OVA lasts for 2 episodes only. I have to admit I’m curious how they managed to compress it.

Overall, I had some good fun, but it wasn’t substantial enough entertainment. For those who went there, I think the best parts were at the end, when Ai and Kaho let their jealosy to get better of them. Also, Takeshi was awesome, many times (I penciled “Takeshi is awesome” 4 times in various places). I wonder if he gets Kaho on the Ai path. That’d be cool. In any case, visual novels do not seem like anything I’m interested in, but I had to try to be sure.

Oh, and almost forgot. One thing I had in mind starting this trip was Omo’s comment:

I think the ultimate achievement of ef is bringing that visual novel flair and style to the anime format. That’s why we’ve never seen something like this before…

Sadly, I lost it. Somewhere in the beginning, when I got over the discomfort with the medium and found the right mental framework (“audiobook manga on DVD”), I thought that I was beginning to see what he meant, but now the feeling has dissipated. Should’ve operationalized it back then.

Hourglass OVA

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Everyone knows the “poisoned by manga” phenomenon, when someone reads the parent manga first and then unable to take an anime adaptation on its face value. Since I never read manga and essentially play no games, I rarely experience it. But, as I mentioned before, Hourglass of Summer, or Natsuiro no Sunadokei, spawned a little 2 episode OVA. Of course I had to watch it.

The biggest part, I just cannot take the cold and computerized art of the VN. But OVA felt warm and comfortable from the start, despite obviously lousy animation. Probably it’s only a matter of habit, but it’s strange how big the difference felt. Once screencaps are sized down, it’s almost not there anymore. Also, I love the motion, and if the game art were moving, who knows how it would be.

Otherwise, the traditional art was about the only good thing about the OVA. The script stuffed more elements from the VN into the OVA than its 2-episode format could take, especially the 2nd episode suffered. The segment with Tomo was not explained at all, cellphone explained poorly, Ai’s appearance in Kotaro’s house taken self-evident. I did not understand just how Kotaro’s intervention saved Mana.

They also made it worse by introducing ecchi, in fact fetishist elements which were missing from the game. If you think that anime cannot be ruined by adding ecchi, think of the poor 2-ep OVA which just does not have the time for this.

So, overall, a deeply flawed little anime, but at it was enjoyable if you squint just right. And I still liked it better than the VN. Weird.

P.S. The weird shit with the mirror in the OP is explained in the Postscriptum, just watch it. However, the latter itself contains weird shit. It almost looks like stolen from Lain for lulz.