“You know that feeling you get before you do something like mowing the lawn, or washing the dishes? That feeling of ‘ugh, I really don’t want to do this’? Depression is like that, but with everything. Eating, getting out of bed, talking, studying, even great things like going to the beach or drinking a milkshake. It’s just a total sense of apathy and discontent with everything.” – via Reddit.
Losing internet is never a fun thing, especially when it means I can’t update the blog.
This was my fault, of course, I buttle-fucked my finances and as a result I kind of fell into a depression. Losing my internet sucked, but what I hated more was that I got used to not having it. I made very little effort to get it back on, and walking to the library was a good idea that I almost never went through with. In the end, the weight I needed to lose (both for health reasons and for plasma selling reasons, since they don’t let anyone over 400 pounds donate) never came off, and probably got a little worse.
Lately I’ve realized that more often than not, tropes themselves don’t bother me as much as I thought they would. Tropes are usually looked down on as lazy writing (which isn’t completely off), but what I think matters way more than anything is the execution of the ideas in a product rather than the product trying to be completely original.
Anime is pretty bad when it comes to tropes, we all know that right? I mean, anime’s so bad with tropes that some of them have their own genre (e.g: Harem anime vs Romance anime). But of course there are examples where these tropes are done well and the show is remembered for “doing it right”. Take a gag/reference anime for example: Seitokai no Ichizan isn’t as popular and well loved as something like Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, even though both reference other anime and are comedy shows. Seitokai no Ichizan’s humor isn’t as well crafted as Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei. That isn’t to say Seitokai no Ichizan’s a bad show (well, I didn’t like it, but that’s just me), but one of the two shows was clearly done better.
What really bothers me is when a show has the right elements to be a good or even great show…and then it just falls on it’s face. To demonstrate, I’ll single out two shows from the spring season (which is just about over at the time of this writing) that could have been a lot better, but ended up falling short: Akuma no Riddle and Brynhildr in the Darkness.
Akuma no Riddle’s main problem was that Haru’s life never felt like it was in any real trouble. Haru is stuck in a class where 11 people are skilled assassins that need to kill her to get their wish, but each one just can’t seem to seal the deal even when Haru’s wide open. Hell, someone had a fucking bomb necklace on her with a timer set to explode after several hours, but for some reason the person decided to lay out clues to the lock’s combination (Never mind the fact that she desperately needs to win this whole god damned thing to find the cure to her disease). If the show just took some time to maybe throw the fear of God into the viewers when it was go time it would have been so much better. It does this once or twice in the series and those are the best episodes I felt (maybe not “fear of God” quality, but it still went from a light jog to a hard run).
Brynhildr in the Darkness suffers a different problem. All the pieces are there, but the finished product doesn’t hold up. It’s like going to McDonald’s and looking at the menu. You see those pictures of food, but your big mac never looks as good as what’s pictured on the menu. That’s Brynhildr in the Darkness. There are so many better ways they could have framed scenes and added some dramatic weight behind certain events, but instead it feels like we got a C attempt when we know that they could have given us a solid B+ at least.
If you’re looking for a show that does tropes right with great execution, I’ll offer up Bakemonogatari.
Bakemonogatari (and the rest of the series) is at it’s core about a guy helping the women he runs into with their supernatural problems. He ends up with something of a harem because of this, and he’s able to come out on top more times than not. The series does an excellent job weaving dialog with the background (meaning that the background will reflect the dialog instead of being a static image, though that’s a thing more in Nisemonogatari and up), the music is top notch, and most importantly the character are entertaining and put the main character in situations that aren’t so black and white. The main character is far from perfect (which is refreshing really), he’s a giant pervert with no sense of self (to his own detriment), and sometimes stuff just doesn’t go the way he’d like.
I don’t mean to imply that anime is the sole propagator of shit writing, but it’s readily more apparent with anime I feel. So often we see shit anime adaptations or shows that just pander to a certain interest and not even trying to go for the gusto, instead they just rely on the subject matter to sell. It’s just profitable enough for the trend to keep continuing, which I feel is why people claim that anime is worse now than it’s ever been. I don’t subscribe to that mindset, but I don’t think it’s completely off either. I think half assed attempts are the culprit behind the anime industry’s decline and not just simply shows that pander to a certain demographic (though they’re not helping either).
In the end I suppose it’s all business anyway and they’re going to do what makes them the most money. I just wish they would try a little bit harder, that’s all. If they had tried harder, maybe season two of Chuunibyou wouldn’t have sucked as hard as it did (I’m still salty over that shit! They had such a good first season, and then KyoAni just fucked it up and produced whatever the hell it is we got with season two.).
Once in a while I’ll see someone comment on a show like Madoka and ask: “I don’t get why everyone flips their shit over the show, it’s not like Revolutionary Girl Utena didn’t already do ‘Dark Magical Girl setting’ or whatever.”. They’re confused why a new show gets praise over an older show for doing similar things. Likewise, people also get confused when a popular show like Attack on Titan gets called “the best anime ever”, despite its flaws (pacing being a big one). “Attack on Titan is not the best shit out there. What the hell is wrong with people? (X anime) is way better than that shit man”.
I bring up both points because they have the same root “problem” (I don’t think it’s a problem, but lets just go with that word here for now): The “problem” aren’t the shows or people in question, the “problem” is a lack of exposure and emotion response.
Lets talk about the first point: The reason people don’t think of a show like Revolutionary Girl Utena when discussing Madoka is because Revolutionary Girl Utena is fucking old (seriously, it’s almost 20 years old!). It’s a simple as that. Maybe it could be that they’re letting the show stand on it’s own two legs, but most likely it’s because people haven’t watched a show that’s older and didn’t get popular over here like Cowboy Bebop did during the same time. This principle applies to any show that people criticize for treading old ground while getting praise at the same time.
The second point is a little more complex than the first. Why do shows like Attack on Titan get called “Best Anime Ever”? I think the answer is this: People rarely ever logic out their feelings on a series before expressing their opinions. People aren’t trying to be analytical about their hobbies most of the time. If someone says a show is the best anime ever, you’re probably not reading someone’s carefully thought-out dissertation where they compare the show in question to it’s predecessors, what you’re reading is someone’s emotional response to something. That’s what the majority of opinions are in the first place! People aren’t fucking sitting there trying to puzzle out if Attack on Titan was the Schindler’s List of anime, they’re talking about how much they enjoyed the god damn show.
Mind you, I’m no better sometimes, so I’m willing to throw myself under the bus along with the people I’m talking about. I think the issue is this (and this might be a double standard, but bear with): a show like Attack on Titan is positively received because it does a lot of things right, and it’s very much an entry level show. It doesn’t tread on the usual tropes people think of when they look at anime: It’s action isn’t based on some kind of powerlevel wank off, there’s no “cute girls doing cute things”, there’s no bullshit incest subplot, and there’s no “will they won’t they” romance. It’s just a brutal action show with high production values. It’s an entry level show that also touches on what older anime fans (those of us who got into anime because of stuff like Ninja Scroll or Vampire Hunter D) used to get back in the day before anime became what it is today.
That’s all it is in the end, a lack of exposure to older shows and emotional responses to stuff people like. Mind you, I’m not telling anyone what to do here: I’m right there with people when it comes to bitching about shows I don’t like, I’m simply trying to offer up an explanation here to some complaints I see online from time to time. I’m all for people asking these things because it gets people talking, even if it’s written antagonistically, so long as a conversation starts or someone takes something from it.
We’re nearing the end of the Spring season of anime. It’s been a pretty great season so far, and I’ve decided to put together this post with my thoughts on where shows ranked. What follows are the shows I have watched this season and where I’ve ranked them. There are some noteworthy shows that are missing (One Week Friends, Jojo, Love Live, for example) that simply fell through the cracks, so it’s not just me having shit taste, though I suppose that for you guys to decide at the end of all this.
I know I said that the previous post was the end of these entries, and while that’s technically true, I have some thoughts about the whole thing. After all, the original point of the “Adventures in Final Fantasy Tactics Editing” was supposed to be a dev blog of sorts, but after a few posts I stopped dev blogging and doing something of a Let’s Play. That was fun for awhile, but eventually it became boring and writing about it became frustrating.
Hacking this game was one of the worst things I’ve ever done in my 16 years of playing this game. Giving everyone every job at the beginning just sucks the fun out of everything. The initial joy of running around chapter one with a bard or a dancer quickly runs out as soon as you get to chapter two and everything kind of evens out and bards/dancers go back to being crappy jobs with okay support/reaction/movement abilities (well, Bard’s Move+3 anyway). Likewise, Samurai and Ninja don’t work well until late chapter two unless you also hacked the shops to sell everything early (and then tune the availability of those items as well). So what you’re really stuck with are the same classes you could have unlocked easily enough in chapter one (well, Lancer could be thrown in with Samurai and Ninja), so it doesn’t matter in the end.
But why would that “ruin the fun”? It’s because the fun of these games (at least for me) are about getting some work done on my units to get them to the job I want, and if I find that I like using a Geomancer while working my way towards Ninja, then that unit stays there. Essentially I like to think of my units as people, and in a sense I kind of roleplay while playing the game (not like, super hardcore or anything, more like what Metal Gear Vincent ended up being). Having everything open right away just doesn’t lead to anything fun like that (Metal Gear Vincent being the exception).
The same thing happened with Pokémon. Used to be that my crew (My brother, my friend, and myself) all played Pokémon the same way: Get some Pokébros, get badges, get legendaries, live it up, and maybe go for a complete Pokédex.
And then my brother started doing a tournament series at the library (which was part of a thing he started while working at said library called “Save*Point”, where we setup 8 man Mario Kart Double Dash matches and did Smash Bros. Melee as well). This was during Pokémon’s 3rd gen (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/Leaf Green/Fire Red) run, and we had recently fallen back in love with Pokémon. Battling seemed to be a great thing to start doing at these Save*Point tournaments, and with gusto we began to form our teams. At the time, it was pure, innocent. I rocked a Xatu and a Shiftry in my team, along with Mr. Mime (I don’t recall what else I used in my early teams). I thought these dudes were awesome. Xatu is my favorite Pokémon of all time, and the other two were just cool (I named my Mr. Mime after Verbal Kent from Usual Suspects).
As the scene grew, we looked more and more into the ins and out of team building, and eventually found out about something called Effort Values (EVs). Turns out that there’s an entire subsystem of stats that determine how strong you can make your Pokémon! That was ridiculous, who knew something like that was ever in there? Well, one thing led to another, and then we found out about Individual Values, which measured how strong you Pokémon COULD become. These IVs were determined at birth, and had their own mechanics separate from EVs. The rabbit hole was deeper than I ever imagined, and we took it upon ourselves to master them.
So we started breeding for IVs and training up EVs (Fire Red/Leaf Green was great for EV training), and we took our Pokémon out into the tournaments, and when they didn’t work we spent days breeding different Pokémon. Eventually we deduced that our favorite Pokémon just weren’t up to snuff, so Xatu, Shiftry, and Mr. Mime lost their spots on my team and I started breeding Salamences and Starmies instead.
All the while that initial spark, that innocence that we had when playing pokemon was fading, but it was replaced with this competitive scene, so it wasn’t so bad. Our teams had heart in them. We put blood, sweat, and swears into our teams, and we got great memories out of the bargain.
Eventually, however, even that started fading. Breeding became a pain, EV training dull, and raising the Pokémon all the way to level 100 was a chore. We lost that spark from our early days of competitive battling. Some of it was the metagame changing and us becoming fatigued while trying to adapt, but mostly it was us getting older or starting college or a job. So our solution was generating Pokémon with a third party program (Pokésav in this case, though later a GTS exploit was used). Now we could simply skip the bullshit with breeding and EV training and skip right to the part that matters: Battling.
That elation of not having to breed and train lasted about a week, and slowly but surely the fun of Pokémon faded. When your Pokémon are simply a collection of ones and zeroes to you, when they’re just things you barely know, they lose their shine. My perfect IV Salamence wasn’t interesting at all. He wasn’t something I had built up from the ground up and crafted. He was just another Salamence. I put him in a separate box from my team I bred without thinking, but I knew deep down he wasn’t anything I cared about. If he didn’t work I’d simply try a new Salamence with a different hold item and move set.
And that instant when I realized it all, the game became boring as fuck.
Luckily for me, I’ve found my initial love for the games again, and even bred up a team like in the old days (they really went above and beyond to help facilitate breeding in Pokémon X/Y), but that innocence is still lost. I’ll never entertain the notion of trying to use Xatu or Torterra in a real team. They’ll always be there for going through a new game though, and that’s fine with me.
To bring this all back to the initial point: I peered into the mechanics of Final Fantasy Tactics once and lost a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad. When I started hacking the game and opened up classes right away and changed shop inventories, the game lost it’s soul. The wound isn’t deep, but for now at least I don’t see myself trying to start a new data anytime soon. These wounds need time to heal, and when I do eventually play it again, I won’t be doing any hacking to the game. It’s too much work for very little payoff.
And the worst of it all? I never found out how to change Axe/Flails from random damage to fixed damage. The one thing I wanted most from this patch was to finally be able to bring an axe into a fight and not feel like I was just being a shitter. What a missed opportunity!
“Here’s to You” edition.
We last left off with an easy victory in Bariaus Valley, and everyone celebrating their victory. Shawn, Metal Gear Vincent, Ramza, Agnes, and Black Chocobo, all of whome deserve a rest, have instead pushed through to save Princess Ovelia because it’s best that she runs around with Ramza and pals instead of living a posh life style and be asked to make some public appearances once in a while.
Chapter 2, Battle 9: Golgorand Execution Site
Right off the bat they tried to gib my chocobo and Metal Gear Vincent, but that didn’t take, and Metal Gear Vincent mounted his chocobo and flew off to snipe.
At some point the knights killed Shawn, but that’s small potatoes. Metal Gear Vincent can just fly over and pop off a Phoenix down. In the mean time he’s got adorable time mages to blow up.
More blows are exchanged, and then that fucking Geo-Knight nailed Agnes with Hell Ivy’s stop effect. I swear to Christ, I’m going to put that dude in The Sharp Shooter when I get a chance.
Things are getting dicey. Shawn’s fading quick, Metal Gear Vincent can’t be raised, and I’ve got a pringles chocobo and two slow units left against 3 other slow units.
My fingers quickly went for L1-R1-Select-Start combo to restart…but then I remembered what I told myself when I started this blog. “If he dies, he dies”. While I was quoting Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, I wasn’t referring to Apollo Creed, but more promising myself that I wouldn’t restart on the account of someone boxilyzing/crystalyzing. My head held high, I took the crystal on Ramza’s next turn.
Two turns later, Agnes hurled a javelin into the final knights’ chest, ending the fight.
Some work had to be done. Marty, who’s been sidelined since the beginning of chapter two was brought to Bariaus Valley and trained up. Metal Gear Vincent went off with his chocobo and mastered Auto Potion. Ramza put down the Katana in favor of a sword and became a squire. Lionel Castle was not going to be a joke, and I had to work accordingly.
Finally after a long battle of repetitive motions, I’ve got something of a fighting chance against Lionel Castle.
Chapter 2, Battle 10: The Gates of Lionel Castle.
Metal Gear Vincent lets out a ungodly cry and Marty takes off and damn near wipes out the archer nearest him.Ramza decides to use Yell and speed up Metal Gear Vincent, and climbs down to open the gate on his next turn.
The summoner revved up the Front Train and started charging Shiva. That Summoner is never a good thing to leave alive ever, so something had to be done.
Unfortunately the Chocobo didn’t kill the summoner, and Shiva diamond dusted him soon afterwards. Marty took it as well, but that didn’t stop him from charging the summoner with a sword in his hand and throwing it into the summoner’s chest, business end first.
Two caught Shuriken later and some high potions, I’m doing pretty good. Not celebrating yet though, even if Auto Potion is making this fight a lot better. Metal Gear Vincent phoenix down’s Marty in vain as the knight on the bridge just throws another shuriken at him and takes him down.
Gafgarion made a half-hearted attempt at Metal Gear Vincent’s life, but Auto Potion just topped Metal Gear Vincent’s HP, and that was the last thing Gaffy got to do before he got bum rushed. One of the knights rushed for his crystal, ignoring the fact that she just charged into the middle of three people who had just previously killed the person that crystal belonged to.
And here we are, one last knight standing, and a full house on my side. Marty redeems his lack luster performance in the beginning of the chapter with a tactical Shuriken to the knights’ chest.
Finally, the time as come for the final battle of chapter two.
Chapter Two, Battle 11: Inside Lionel Castle
Ramza, Agnes, Marty, Black Chocobo, and Metal Gear Vincent came into the chambers of the cardinal, swords and gun half raised. There was no cheer. There was no post battle high fives exchanged. There was an air of boredom about them as they pushed through the corridors of Lionel Castle, any resistance met along the way was brushed aside the same way you would wipe off eraser shavings from a pad of notebook paper. Even the torches on the walls were dim with boredom.
Morale should be high. Morale should be soaring like Kanye’s ego during an interview. Morale was in short supply.
Having finally put down foolish notions of being a samurai, Ramza resigned himself to his fate of sticking with the Squire route. A tired route, one that was like a well used road where the track marks are more like trenches. Ramza knew it was only a matter of time before he would end up the same as every other Ramza before him, though how he knew that truth he could never figure out.
Likewise, Agnes never truly cared about being a knight. She was only there to learn how to break weapons and the like, but her heart was never in it. If one were to measure her love for knightly duties, a scale of one to ten wouldn’t cut it; her love for knighthood would never go beyond 1, so the excess numbers would be useless. Instead one should use a zero to one scale, so that the marker would never go above zero.
Marty has no idea what he wants. He was eager to join Ramza and follow him, but he never thought anything after that. When Ramza asked him to put down his knives and put up his dukes, Marty did so without hesitation, but there was no emotion there. He played soldier and did what was asked of him, but it never resonated with him. When sidelined after the bandits attacked Ramza and crew in Dorter, he was happy. For the first time since joining up, he felt at peace. And then Ramza called him back out, face full of grief. He was to take Shawn’s now vacant spot. His heart broke, but he soldiered up and did what he was told. The realization that he’s never going to make his own decision is weighing on him heavily.
Black Chocobo is just happy to be there. Black Chocobo loves it when people ride him into battle. He doesn’t quite like it when people stab him, but he’s unable to really complain because no one can speak chocobo, so no one would listen anyway. The air of discontent coming from Ramza and the others was slowing him down like age would an old man, however. Was it regret he felt? No, that’s not it. Was it fear? No, he didn’t have feelings like that. Perhaps it was something that one can’t explain, like the feeling one gets when they’re at home alone and the phone rings and for a split second they feel that pang of acknowledgement that they’re going to hear from someone that a loved one is in the hospital, more like burdensome knowledge than fear or anxiety. Only for Black Chocobo that pang was not going away.
And then there’s Metal Gear Vincent.
They had come to rely on Metal Gear Vincent. Battle after battle he has watched them, saving them again and again. He even took up chemistry to help them out, but he too grew bored of it all. In the end his fellow Flip Mode squad mates lost their soul, their heart, the beat, even. A Flip Mode Squad that no longer had the flow is a Flip Mode Squad only in name. A Flip Mode Squad that no longer had soul has lost it’s way.
As a shorty he was always told that if he ain’t gonna be part of the greatest, he gotta be the greatest himself.
So Metal Gear Vincent decided to switch it on’em.
Marty turns from Queklain, something like a mixture of anticipation and fear gleamed in his eyes. He looked at Metal Gear Vincent, recalling the times they spent in the barracks, the times in the field. Understanding dawned on him, and for the first time Marty wanted something.
He charged Metal Gear Vincent, two swords raised up high as he leaped into the air. He would come down on him and bring both blades into Metal Gear Vincent’s chest and throat…or at least, he would have, had Metal Gear Vincent not sidestepped.
Marty raised his hands up. For a brief moment he contemplated begging for his life. No, that wouldn’t do, he thought, I won’t disgrace my comrades by doing something as selfish as asking to be spared. He turned his head towards Metal Gear Vincent, a question half formed in his throat.
“Metal Gear Vincent, why did-”
Casually expunging his spent cartridge from his rifle, Metal Gear Vincent walked up to the Black Chocobo, who looked back with eyes that did not betray Metal Gear Vincent’s trust. With a glance back at Queklain (who had sat back and watched the whole time) as he mounted the Black Chocobo, Metal Gear Vincent holstered his rifle onto his back and adjusted his hat.
Metal Gear Vincent exited the premises, but not before taking his rifle and chambered a round into it. He turned once more to Queklain, who had turned his back on the whole scene, and put a slug into the demon’s head. Something of an explosion of souls and fel magics came from behind Metal Gear Vincent, and a small red sphere rolled it’s way past him. The Black Chocobo grasped it in his mouth and offered it to Metal Gear Vincent, who inspected the Zodiac Stone briefly before pocketing it.
As he left the castle from the north, Metal Gear Vincent looked to the sky. The sky was clear save for a few clouds, which seemed to drift across the sky towards the same point, almost like a path. In his heart, Metal Gear Vincent knew he must follow those clouds, that path. He smiled for the first time since he started this whole journey. In the smile was something like a song; a composition which did not exist before and would not exist ever again in the same way.
Metal Gear Vincent clucked his Chocobo and sauntered off, sun on his back and purpose in his soul. He was Flip Mode once again.