More Sword Art Online Sword Art Online, despite its stupid premise, continues to impress me.
Asuna, the female lead, is particularly well realized. She's not a shrinking violet. She does not exist to show how awesome the male lead is. Asuna is a full fledged hero in her own right who at this point has unambiguously saved the heroes ass once more than he's saved hers. Unlike Kirito, Asuna was not an experienced gamer and certainly not one of this games Beta Testers, yet she has through sheer determination become at least his equal. She helped form and is now second in command of a guild that is fighting its way through the upper levels, she is however quite close to burnout when she meets Kirito for the second time.
(She's so buff that she could even afford to buy up her cooking skill to the max...my God, she's perfect!)
On the other hand, Kirito, the male lead WAS a Beta Tester and as such is something of a pariah. The beta testers were deeply resented by the other gamers because they knew where everything on the lower levels was, and they did not share with the other players or train them. Kirito did do a bit of mentoring, but is haunted by the mistakes he made early on and at one point early in the series he abandons clearing the game to schlep amongst the lower levels where his skill levels (about 3 times what is common in those regions) make him almost godlike. He spends several episodes doing good deeds and trying to be a hero with decidedly mixed results before realizing that his place is on the "front lines" and heading back.
At this point he's far past any areas he covered in Beta and so has no innate advantages. Though far from perfect he's an interesting and decent person, however he is weary and close to dispair when he by chance, encounters Asuna for the second time.
Kirito has developed as a character quite a lot over the course of the series but its the relationship between the two that is most interesting.
Teamwork! The secret to taking down high level monsters.
These two people really complement and complete each other. They have one of the more realistic and mature relationships I've seen on TV. This is a sad commentary on something since it is a...cartoon...about a virtual relationship...in a video game... but its damned nice to see.
The honeymoon episodes were cute too.
I do like the way the game handles marriage..." Wait!" "We have access to each others whole inventory? I can use his +6 sword!"
It's been amusing to watch people complain about the relationship-centered episodes; apparently the OP and ED animations were too subtle for them.
I like the way Kirito is willing to hold back and let her be cool in public; "why, yes, she is awesome, glad you noticed". He's protective (with good reason), but neither he nor the story treats her as "almost as good". ...and you know she's become a true gamer when she complains that crafting skills aren't deep enough. Marry this one in real life, son!
Posted by: J Greely at Mon Oct 1 11:05:01 2012 (2XtN5)
Yeah, the whole 'fish story' was nicely done on a number of levels.
Episode 3 almost entirely consists of a quiet conversation in a park. The dialog is interesting, though I'm not sure the subtitles are doing it justice. While intriguing, the episode really reinforces my belief that this show cries out for a good dub.
Compared to the previous episodes the character designs are occasionally off model in this one...
I almost feel shafted by this.
While mostly a character episode they did manage to work in some completely unexpected Kung-Fu fighting.
Although it was a near run thing our stalwart hero did eventually manage to vanquish a 10 year old girl.
One thing that did not come out in the first two episodes is that our hero, while quite smart and well intentioned, is a bit of a doofus.
Now is a most excellent time to start playing Billy Versus Snakeman as Star Turtle Village needs Ninjas. With its huge number of options it is ideal for a beginning player and has all sorts of bonuses and perks for established players as well.
For established players or new players that just want to be at a village from the very beginning, then Fractale Village is the place for you! Established and ruled by the benevolent Pixy Misa, Fractale is a quiet, serene village hidden deep in the heart of math.
...Oh and all the nonjas are cute girls (well, except for Archie).
Just click on this banner if you want to learn math ninjutsu...
Billy Versus Snakeman is a simple browser based MMOG in which is set in a universe composed of offbeat parodies of anime shows. You start as a lowly genin, dreaming of ninja awesomenes. However, as you rise up
the ninja ranks, you gain new goals that take you on bizarre adventures, involving, wasteland scavenging, soul reaping, monster fighting. hanafuda, majong and darts as well as exciting careers in the fast food industry. It has a limit on how much you play a day ( you have a very limited amount of stamina) so you are only on about 15 minutes a day. Thus there is no danger of one getting eaten by the game and becoming one of those online gamer after-school specials..unless one were to play multiple characters.
Yes, the REPUBLIC of China, better known as Taiwan, also lays claim to the islets. and a small task force of patriotic Taiwanese fishermen sallied forth to make sure that this unspeakable mess got even more complicated. Taiwanese patrol boats, which had been escorting the flotilla gave covering fire with their own watercannon. It appears that no one was injured.
The Taiwanese fishermen are concerned because if the 200 mile EEZ around the islets is strictly enforced, they would loose the bulk of their fishing grounds. (The islands are just over a hundred miles from Taiwan. )
China Dailyimpliesthere was no intent to land, just a peaceful protest to assert fishing rights. However Want China Times says they expressly refused to rule it out..
China Post has been covering this since the protestors left Taiwan and has this to say..
Chen Chun-sheng, chairman of the Su'ao
District Fishermen's Association, emphasised that the purpose of the
operation is to protest Japan's "nationalisationâ€ of the island chain
and also to advocate the rights of Taiwanese fishermen. The operation
was made possible with a NT$5 million (US$170,500) donation to subsidise
fuel costs, Chen said.
China Post link is via AMPOTAN, who has much more including information on the individual who is suspected of chartering the fishing boats....a Taiwanese businessman who made his fortune on the mainland and who has (allegedly) been taking over Taiwanese media outlets and making them pro-PRC mouthpieces.
Taken by itself the Taiwan-Japan dispute is not too worrying and can likely be resolved with some fisheries treaty. However, these things never happen in isolation and with Mainland China and Japan having such a high stakes dispute over the islets this becomes something of a spanner in the works.
The army was quite close though, since they were in Iraq (I only know about it because I had to explain to friends about that strange G3-lookalike they brought to the party). I know it's not the same thing as war with China, but still, some of them were shot at.
But they weren't supposed to be in combat. It's actually against the constitution of Japan for any of its military forces to engage in combat outside of Japanese territory. (Germany's constitution includes the same provision.)
Even Japan's sending non-combatant formations to Iraq was extremely controversial back home in Japan.
It appears that any portion of the Japanese Constitution can be amended, including those that deal with the military. However, Wikipedia says that no portion has been amended since it was enacted in 1947...
Posted by: Siergen at Tue Sep 25 22:18:11 2012 (Bv5ty)
I'm sure there isn't a constitution anywhere in the world which doesn't include an amendment process.
Filched from Don who nicked it from RSM who despite being a journalism major knows basic chemistry better than the people at Dominoe. This is of concern because if their chemistry is THIS bad then they might think Zyklon B is a vitamin.
So, What About Those Fishing Boats
The Chinese media is claiming that the fishing fleet that left for the Senkaku Islands mentioned in this post was apocryphal.
Information that a large number of Chinese fishing boats are heading for
the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture is false, the chief of a
Japan Coast Guard office in the southern prefecture said Tuesday.
It seems that a fishing season opened which much like the Alaska season involves a mad dash to sea, that this happened in the middle of the current crisis was run with by the press.
Note that this is a Chinese newspaper and I'm not hearing this anywhere else yet so take with adequate salt.
Indeed, Asahi Shinbun is reporting that the Chinese are keeping several patrol boats and several hundred fishing boats "in the vicinity of" the Senkakus. This means that they are not there now, possibly over the horizon, but could rush the islands at any time.
A senior official of the Japan Coast Guard said the agency was
already braced for a more aggressive maritime offensive from China,
considering the moves it has recently taken.
"We need to deal with it,â€ the official said.
The primary duty of fishery monitoring ships is to prevent illegal operations by fishing boats.
But a source close to the Japan Coast Guard said the reality
is different. The source said Chinese fishing boats tend to move upon
the instructions of a monitoring ship.
"With a single command, fishing boats could head southward (to the Senkakus) all at once,â€ the source said.
The Japan Coast Guard has assembled 50 patrol boats around
the Senkaku Islands in case Chinese government ships or fishing boats
enter Japanese territorial waters. Many of the vessels have been sent by
regional coast guard headquarters across the country.
If there's a war, the first battle will be fought by the respective countries Coast Guards.
This could turn into a HELL of a real mess real quick.
The JCG is a crackerjack service but coping with hoards of civilians who cannot be harmed but must not be allowed to land while dealing with warships is a thorny problem.
One dead fisherman and China might claim causus belli.
This is a dreadful situation that could spin completely out of control either by an error or a simple boating accident.
The secret of brinkmanship is to stop short of the brink. The danger is that the ground can shift as one stands on the edge. That happened one August 98 years ago and did not work out well for anyone involved.
From one of the more uninspiring series concepts in an uninspiring season comes...a surprise!
Its the year 2022, and a new MMORPG is coming online. This one has the latest in interface technology. namely a VR headset that operates through direct neural stimulation. The game is from a well regarded developer and highly anticipated. Our hero, who goes by the online handle of Kirito was one of the games Beta Testers. He logs on and mucks about for a bit, gives pointers to a new player and then tries to help the new player log out...but he can't.
There is no log-out option.
Enter the godlike online Avatar of the games developer who informs the 10,000 odd players that this is by design, and that he is informing the world of his deed. Oh....and if they die in-game their interface helmets will fry their brains. If anyone tries to unhook them, the helmets fail safe will kill them (which happens immediately to over 200 players as frantic loved ones watching his broadcast fail to heed his warning).
Now about 9800 people are stuck in a virtual Tolkienesque world. before he logs himself out, the madman leaves them with one tenuous hope...his assurance that they can escape if they clear all 100 levels.
OK let's say right up front that the premise of this show does not inspire confidence.
Sword Art Online greatly exceeded my expectations however, and at 11 episodes in, I'm going to recommend it.
This show has exceptional character development, not only of the male lead but also of Asuna, the heroine, who is smart, tough and genuinely heroic. Although she's not present for a good portion of the show she is surprisingly well realized and has grown noticeably as a person during the course of the series. Asuna is one of the best female action leads in years.
Kirito, the male lead, is the main focus of the story early on and develops noticeably in the first few episodes. He is run through the ringer, but Kirito, while far from perfect learns from his mistakes and does evolve as a person. His development is actually quite believable. Kirito is also smart which is always a pleasant surprise in these shows.
The show can be grim. The premise means that there will be a body count, but it is not gory and there is an optimism that runs through the whole thing. The show touches on things like ostracization, survivors guilt, ethics, love, the definition of happiness, and the difference between bravado and courage far better than one has any business to expect from a cartoon...let alone one about being stuck in a video game.
I am astonished to be so thoroughly enjoying this show. I just hope that they don't completely bollox it toward the end, as is the fate of so many initially good shows.
However, with much of the staff of Moretsu Pirates involved, I'm allowing myself a bit of optimism here.
I've held that the strength of this story is not in a concept that we've
seen before, but in the psychology of the players. From the fate of
the Black Cats, to murder mystery, to the relationship between Asuna and
Kirito -- the characters are the strength of the story.
With the latest episode, they've gone into uncharted waters with an
anime original plot. I'd expected this much earlier, but they raced
through the two years to get Asuna back into the story, I guess.
Posted by: ubu at Tue Sep 18 16:43:54 2012 (e9h6K)
Thanks for the recommendation - I'll try to make time to watch it..
As I recall, Hack//Sign also had a player who could not log-out of the game world (just one), but the story never really went anywhere, at least not in the anime...
Posted by: Siergen at Tue Sep 18 19:19:46 2012 (Bv5ty)
I didn't think this latest one was anime-original; people on a number of forums were waiting for her to show up. Or did they make significant changes to her story?
I'm judiciously avoiding spoilerses...of course it seems that there are only 2 eps left which I find worrisome from a plot/pacing standpoint.
@ Seirgen: Yes. The "stuck in a video game" plot has been a very reliable indicator of fail. On the other hand this show doesn't have the sumptuous art direction and Yuki Kaijiura score...but it tells engaging stories and has characters I give a damn about...so advantage SAO.
@ No One in Particular
I liked how they had Sachi in the opening credits all the way through...which really led me to not expect what happened . I fully expected her to make it.
Hack//Sign ended where the first game began. It was a prequel to the game. That's why nothing important was resolved.
This sounds strange coming from someone who is a big fan of Strike Witches, I know, but I just can't get past the stupidity of the concept for this series. I can't take it seriously. For one thing, I'm having a hard time believing that people in the outside world haven't figured out how to get people out of the game safely in two years of elapsed time. Don't they have access to the servers? Access to all the design notes? Access to the whole development team? Even if the lead guy is keeping his mouth shut, a project like this has to have included dozens or hundreds of other engineers and I don't buy that all of them are so dedicated to this plot that none of them are willing to cooperate with authorities on trying to shut it down.
Steven, how about a disgruntled programmer embedding hidden code just before the final compile, then deleting his source code before going into hiding and/or faking his own death? Or an external group hitting the game severs with a subtle virus that attacks a flaw in the low-level hardware?
Also, if any of the trapped players are relatives of powerful politicians, you can bet that any attempts to interfere with the game servers will be met with tons of government oversight, legislative committee meetings, and associated red tape.
If those arguments don't sway you, suppose the game is hosted on the same "cloud" as the software which is used to design next-generation strike witch boots? Surely we can't risk any action that might imperil the war effort...
Posted by: Siergen at Tue Sep 18 21:56:12 2012 (Bv5ty)
Siergen, you obviously haven't been involved in any major software development efforts lately.
All large development projects use source control systems. That means that when you want to make a change, you have to check out the source module, make your alteration, and then check it back in. There's an audit trail, and every change is tracked. Furthermore, the source control system permits the development group to retreat to any point during the entire development process if need be.
RCS is ancient at this point but it's an example of such things. Modern source control systems are far more elaborate and capable.
In other words, it isn't possible for someone to "sneak in a change" and then sneak it back out again with no way for anyone else to know it happened.
The premise is quite dumb. More to the point, how does the device determine you've lost your connection to the server? How does it distinguish that from lag? Two seconds is plenty long to cut a couple cables, but it's -nothing- in lag terms.
I think it also suffers from rushing things a little. We go straight from "here is Kirito and a handful of other beta testers, and the great unwashed of regular players in mostly starting gear" to "here is Kirito the loner, and also several hostile self-organized guilds". Exactly how you go from A to B would have been pretty interesting; instead we get convenient comic-book-cutout villains when the plot calls for them (and they even look like ugly villains, despite the conceit that everyone is playing characters that look like themselves.)
Even saying all that, though, it still turned out pretty well. Kirito's got his stuff together, generally speaking - he'd make a good harem lead (by Steven's criteria) if it was that kind of show. It's not a great show - there's still some highly-selective stupidity when it's convenient for the plot - but it'll do, it'll do.
If I were going to write this plot (and I'm not expecting it to come out like this!), I'd set it up such that the fry-your-brain thing wasn't correct, and that casualties don't actually die, but that players are told that to keep them engaged (and families compensated handsomely to keep them agreeable). The big question is "why", but I don't want to place a guess that's too close to what might be actually happening in the show...
I work on software development for the US Navy. In theory, we have strict code reviews, source/version controls, nightly backups, disaster recovery plans, etc. And one of these years, we may actually attempt to put that theory into practice...
Posted by: Siergen at Tue Sep 18 22:16:28 2012 (Bv5ty)
I heartily grant you that the premise is dubious. However, there are a couple of reasons that the government might not be able to get the people out.
1: Perhaps he pulled an Ozymandias and killed his whole development team. (The man is a psychopath after all). design notes and such might have been purged...obviously he had 2 sets anyway, one without the crazy for government and public consumption.
2: the fact that the first run of helmets sell out after only 10,000 copies and sell out in less than a day. Presumably the full run would have been in the millions, yet this special first edition was limited to 10,000. Why? Hype officially but a short run with no shelf time might give him a better opportunity to add nasties and booby-traps undetected by the Japanese equivalent of UL...who had presumably checked the prototypes and any safe helmets he provided them. This is 2022 so the manufacturing process may well be 3-D printing meaning that
A: he could have surreptitiously installed his own modifications.
B: The helmets are unitary designs even less tinker friendly than my iMac.
3: 200 or so people died when relatives tried to pull them out. It is likely that more died later when the government did. If the helmets are booby trapped (and they are explicitly stated to have backup battery supplies in the helmet )ANY tampering will set it off. Given that the remaining people are physically OK a risk adverse administration might just put everyone in a hospital with IV feed and try to negotiate with the terrorist.
4: Hacking the system might involve similar risks..if the system crashes or tampering is detected everyone will likely be fried.
5: Finally, there might be a social stigma against gaming otaku sufficient to inhibit efforts. After all these 'losers' got them selves into this. This is unlikely but possible.
So it doesn't beggar belief that the people could be trapped.
The same cannot be said for an interface so amazing that ones cooking skill is important because the food you eat in game to keep your stats gives the same sensations as eating.... ...but out of respect to the catgirls I'll speak no more of that.
This show not hard Sci-Fi, it's fantasy and it's about relationships and charachter development rather than Verneian extrapolation.
If I were involved, I would have gone techno-magic and said a wizard did it.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Wed Sep 19 09:24:09 2012 (jwKxK)
One of my coworkers has been specializing in software forensics. She's seen a case where it was claimed that a developer had injected malware into the product before being terminated. All the review mechanisms Steven talked about were performed, and nothing was found. It was eventually discovered (after LOTS of headscratching) that they were using open source version control and build systems, and the rogue developer had simply compiled his own rogue versions of those tools and put them into the development environments, giving him the ability to inject code that didn't appear in the source files anywhere. Clever, hard to detect, and once detected, you still don't have the source available for analysis.
Posted by: David at Wed Sep 19 12:43:40 2012 (+yn5x)
There's a lot more here and here over at Ampotan which is covering the situation via the local media.
Their coverage includes this interesting tidbit...
This photo appeared on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter. Photographs such
as these donâ€™t last long on the Net in China. It reads: Chinese people!
What should we oppose? No wage increases. Public officials make large
profits from illegal land transactions. We canâ€™t buy a home. We die
because we canâ€™t go to a hospital. We canâ€™t die because graves are too
expensive. We use all our assets to graduate from college and still
canâ€™t get a job.
There are 30 grievances in all. I donâ€™t see any about the Japanese.
It's traditional in totalitarian states when the peasants start grumbling to try to rally them by picking an external fight. E.g. Argentina's periodic attempts to take the Falkland Islands.
With the world economic slowdown, which is finally affecting China's internal economy, I wonder if that's what's going on this time. The Senkaku islands would make a perfect distraction.
A revolution in China right about now would be pretty terrifying. But there's never been a totalitarian government which built a large bourgeois class and didn't eventually face revolution from them. (Contra Marxist ideology, revolution is a sport of the bourgeois. The proletariat never revolts.)
Part of the problem is that the legitimacy of the Chinese government is wholly wrapped up in economic advancement.
"Legitimacy", in this context, is the perception among the public that the government has the right to rule. This runs very high in, say, democratic countries right after election time, when the government can point directly to the election results as evidence of the mandate of the electorate. It runs very low in totalitarian nations that have just suffered a coup, since that drives home the notion that the man on top is only on top by the power of shooting anyone who disagrees. (By contrast, a totalitarian government can have high legitimacy if the people believe that government policies are an expression of their own desires... for example, Nazi Germany around 1937.)
China's original legitimacy stemmed from promulgation of the Communist revolution. That's dead, dead, dead these days... but nothing much has come to replace it either. China's still ruled by a nominally-Communist party that, in practice, is turning into a hereditary oligarchy of party officials. The adoption of capitalism has helped soften that a lot by providing good economic growth, and nothing puts off revolution like today being measurably better than yesterday. This is especially true when the freedoms that are thereby restricted were never really enjoyed by the Chinese to begin with...
But without that economic growth, people have a greater incentive to take a close look at the governance of China, and that is an ugly thing to look at these days.
Can China whip up enough anti-Japanese sentiment? They can't actually go to war with Japan, because that brings in the US. More to the point, China needs Western markets more than Western markets need China. If things get sufficiently bad there, retaliatory tariffs have the potential to gut the Chinese growth engine and kick off precisely the kind of unrest that the Chinese government is trying to prevent with their jingoist nonsense...
Well, I'll Just Take HER out of my Rolodex
This VOCALOID concert from a couple of years ago was an glorious bit of stagecraft and still impresses.
However, I liked this particular song a heck of a lot more before I found out what the lyrics meant.
I had no idea the character was supposed to be such a bizarre, spoiled, high-mai debutante. What were they thinking?
OTOH, it's obvious that the pixel-prima donna wouldn't give me the time of day...which means that in at least some ways this VOCALOID is just like real women!
This is practically AI.
Next Len and Rin will be passing a Turing test.
The end times: They are here.
Oh So THAT'S How It's Done
I noted this in passing the other day on YouTube and I wondered..."How?"
The second opening credits song to Nichijou simply does not seem to lend itself to a trance version in any way shape or form.
Bakemonogatari EP 1
Crunchyroll has now started streaming Bakemonogatari in a possibly futile attempt to have its sequel (Nisemonogatari) make sense.
I'd heard generally good things about this series so I'm giving it a shot. I must say I was unprepared for the sheer SHAFTacular SHAFTieness of this SHAFT production.
How SHAFTy is it?
This is the staircase at the school....
This is a hallway in the same school...
Yes, SHAFT tends to be aggressively surrealist in its art direction and this show rather maxes that out. It's quirky look accentuates the otherworldly feel of the story. The use of "lighting" is particularly effective.
Despite its striking visuals this is not a show that relies on imagery
to tell a tale. It is VERY dialog heavy...and text heavy...with episode
one having several flashes of 'textposition' that are onscreen for such a
short period of time that they frequently defy even the pause button.
Despite this one annoyance and opening with one of the most gratuitous
panty-shots I have ever seen this is a pretty intelligent and intriguing
Our hero, Kyomi Araragi...
...is a senior at the academically challenging and architecturally improbable Naoetsu High School. He's your typical high school senior with the minor exceptions that he's smart and organized enough to be vice president of the student council and he's a former vampire, having spent much of his junior/senior vacation as a blood sucking creature of the night. He's better now, but struggles with lingering eosophobia which frequently makes getting to first period on time a challenge.
His closest thing to a friend in school is...
Tsubasa Hyakawa, the student council president. She she is helpful, smart, adventurous in her choice of undergarments, frighteningly well organized, an exceptional student and quite down to earth. Araragi has immense respect for her. She shares homeroom with... Hitagi Senjogahara, who our hero recently saved by catching her when she fell down the schools spectacular stairshaft....a kindness for which she is less than grateful.
Hitagi is never without adequate school supplies despite never carrying a bookbag or purse and indeed is a very good student notwithstanding a lingering illness that has caused her to miss much school. Hitagi is a bit underweight and is not particularly sociable. In fact she's a very private person to the point that one might consider her a bit crabby. Despite this, our hero attempts to befriend her which sets in motion a series of bizarre and painful events.
This is an odd show, but it is a clever and even thoughtful supernatural adventure and thus far I'm really liking it.
1She's a very private person to the point that one might consider her a bit crabby.
I see what you did there.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Sun Sep 16 21:05:12 2012 (yqnY1)
Her lack of sociability is a staple of her life.
Posted by: ubu at Sun Sep 16 23:56:01 2012 (GfCSm)
Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention. Araragi is the class VP, not the overall council VP. And he's actually a bit lazy and has poor grades. Tsubasa-chan roped him into his position and has been tutoring him.
And yes, it's very dialog heavy; in fact that is the overwhelming strength of the show, even more than the art.
Posted by: ubu at Sun Sep 16 23:59:35 2012 (GfCSm)
I actually downloaded the series a while ago, but I haven't gotten around to watching it. I mostly did that to check out a scene from later in the series that someone told me about. The show seems to have more title cards than a silent movie.
Posted by: Mauser at Tue Sep 18 02:23:14 2012 (cZPoz)
Yeah. It's unfortunate that it's Aniplex handling the distribution because this is one of those rare shows that actually needs a dub.