March 06, 2021

FALSE FLAG!!

In an apparent attempt to frame the competition, 2 South African one American and a Dutch V-Tuber have disguised themselves as Hololive and are now terrorizing the necromatically impaired...and themselves...and everybody else. 



Those are some really good skins. 

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February 26, 2021

Questions for my Readers: Uncategorized

Isn't LOG HORIZON supposed to be out this season? Did it not get picked up by an English Language streaming service? 


What's y'alls recommendation for a VPN?

Any good shows running now that don't involve giving money to Disney?

Ordinarily, when thinking of concealed carry, I assume .380 ACP (9mm Cort). However, unforeseen circumstances have caused me to become very interested in .32 ACP. Are there any reliable defensive loads in that caliber? 

Is it safe yet to upgrade to Big Sur? Also, given that I skipped Catalina because of the horror stories,  can I upgrade straight from Mojave?

When you eat taoyaki, do you truly appreciate the effort that went into preparing it?


Art by Akai Sashimi. Support them on Booth and Fanbox!

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February 23, 2021

Condition: UNOPENED-STILL IN BOX

Hahahaha!


Victory is mine!



Most other Cara Dune figures were either sold out, cancelled after I ordered them, or were already going for more that a hundred dollars. I still hold out a very slim hope for the FuncoPops. 

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February 18, 2021

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February 17, 2021

RWBY Season 8 Through Episode 9




RWBY has been a very uneven series, it started out with dreadful production values that were more than compensated for by engaging characters, an intriguing plot and the superb fight choreography of Monty Oum. The series had a lot of potential. Furthermore, it inspired tremendous goodwill as its cast and crew seemed likable and were punching so far above their weight that it was absolutely inspiring. 

Mr. Oum's untimely death during the production of season three foreshadowed rough seas for the series, while the last season he worked on was by far the best until then, subsequent seasons were, despite much higher production values, not as engaging cumulating in the inept 4-episode faceplant that was the finale of season 5.  

However, the subsequent seasons were, while very different, nevertheless enjoyable and the show has improved steadily; regaining much of its appeal even as Rooster Teeth has squandered much of its goodwill with the public. 

Now, with season 8 the show has finally surpassed even the excellent season three, with absolutely brilliant pacing, action and storytelling. Characters develop in unexpected, yet believable ways for both good and ill and the plot has been full of genuine surprises with the action nonstop. 

If you dropped the show, I recommend picking it up again, but you'll probably want to at least watch last season, as this one begins in the middle of the chaos that season ended with. Fortunately, with short seasons and 10-15 minute runtimes on most episodes, the show is a quick watch. 

Monty would be proud. 


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February 16, 2021

One of the Best Things About Science Fiction

...is how it allows one some escapist respite from any reminders of current events. 



If you have not seen Babylon 5 you are wrong! 

But, you are also lucky, as it is currently running on HBO MAX where it has been digitally remastered with modern monitor resolutions in mind. It really is one of the best sci-fi series ever. 

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February 10, 2021

The Expanse Season 5



This show has been good from its beginning 5 years ago, but this latest, abbreviated, 10 episode season moves a mile a minute as it twists, turns and shocks the audience.  Throwaway world building moments from earlier in the series come out of the woodwork to surprise and astonish.  

The fifth season is a 4 ring circus. Since everything in the solar system except Bobbi' and Avaserala's employment situations were, as far as the characters were concerned, going gangbusters at the end of last season, the cast goes on vacation...which is where most of them are when things go pear shaped. 

  The Expanse is an excellent example of fairly hard sci-fi, but beyond its realistic portrayal of space its characterizations and human drama are much better than most, more mundane series. 

The characters include a fellow who has (through either abuse, injury, or genes) basically a psychopath's brain, but who WANTS to be good..so he hangs out with what he assumes to be good people...to aid him in this difficult task. This season finally explains WHY he has this seed of goodness in the vast barren desert of his soul. It's very well handled. 

The only  even arguably unsatisfying moment in the entire season is an obviously late edit necessitated by production realities beyond the scope of this post, but your milage may vary, and it's a spoiler.

All in all this was probably the best season of this generally excellent show thus far. FWIW I think last season, while very good, was the weakest, though in retrospect, it set this season up superbly. 

If you're not watching this show, you are wrong. It's currently available in full, on Amazon Prime. 

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February 08, 2021

On the Utility and Proper Representation of Certain Character Classes

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November 21, 2020

A Lack of Subtlety in Designation Systems is Apparent





From This season's episode 2 of Is it OK to Try to Pick-Up Girls in a Dungeon?...which, 4 episodes in, is, even by the high standards of this show, exceptionally good.

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November 03, 2020

While We Await the Inevitable Chaos...

...let's take a moment to appreciate just how darned gorgeous this MOBILE game is. 


 
...and what a good editor Kuro Ailfa is. 

I am highly tempted to start playing this, but...you know...gacha. 

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October 28, 2020

Meanwhile: In the World of Game Development



Perhaps, but how about you just say that you missed a comma or a period in the last tweet?

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October 09, 2020

Monstergirl Doctor...Almost Over

Well, Monstergirl Doctor has really gone into wilds of nowhere. 



Our female protag, putting up a fierce face. 

There is a brief moment in episode 4 when one of the protagonoists literally trips over what appears to be the actual plot to the show, but that potentially interesting storyline is resolved in the same episode, mostly off camera. It then muddles along for several episodes with our male protagonist being either a predator, or autistic (or possibly both) and our female snake girl protagonist trying to drive through his thick skull the importance of communication with one's patients, or at least not intrusively examining one's female patients without discussing the matter first and getting consent. (good grief)

Dark secrets are revealed...and then thrown away and due to the lack of actual storytelling, background on the world and characters is provided occasionally by a giant exposition squid. 


This is a medical procedural set in a fantasy world and there has been some exploration of interesting ideas...and there are only three episodes left....so I may finish it...for the sake of completeness....but yeah at this point I'm taking a break and am going to have to say that the show has not lived up to its early potential

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September 22, 2020

Oh Look

...there's a Selkie.

I'll give them points just for that. 


Not a monstergirl any of us were expecting...especially in a bikini. 

From episode 2 of Monstergirl Doctor, which follows two rookie doctors, straight out of med-school who are starting out their own private clinic in the town of Lindworm. 

One of the doctors is a young man and his business partner is a 24 foot long snake woman. You see, the show is set in a fantasy world populated with sentient versions of the D&D Monster Manual. Both the human and snekgrrl are doctors specializing in non-human races...most of whom haven't historically been serviced by the medical profession until recently. 

The animation is diffident though the art itself is good. The character designs are by Z-Ton, and the stories, while fairly anodyne are low level medical mysteries. But there's a difficulty: This is set in a medieval fantasy world with little or no magic. They understand germ theory and are practicing "medicine" as we understand it (with reference books, medical exams and treatment) , but their tech level is otherwise is high middle ages or renaissance. Which is kind of interesting and weird. 

Despite the hype (and the first minute of episode 1) Monstergirl Doctor, is, perhaps surprisingly, both SFW and wholesome.  So, yeah, it subverts expectations...but in a good way. 

My only concern after two episodes is that I'm not sure it's going anywhere. Still, it's a pleasant enough 30 minutes. 


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September 13, 2020

It's 2020 in Another World


Well. I'mma gonna take that as foreshadowing. 


Re: Zero is back! Actually, it's BEEN back for 10 weeks but I'd missed it while fighting off harassment and distractions foisted upon me by a nefarious group I'll refer to henceforth as the I.R.L.

Anyway. The first two episodes of the lates installment  of this excellent show are quite solid. At this point, understanding that I'm 8 behind,  I'm recommending it heavily. 

In other cutting edge, breaking news of the trivial: A Certain Scientific Railgun Season 3 has been going for 23 weeks. 3 episodes in, it is actually looking to be up to the previous two seasons' standards. 


Heck, even the most annoying lesbian in all of the future gets an awesome scene

There are several other shows that look to have promise and the I.R.L. is being less obnoxious...at least with my internet connection, so tardy reviews may be forthcoming. 

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April 08, 2020

Cooking Mama CookStar Does not Exist. (UPDATE: Unless it Does.)



There's an odd story over at One Angry Gamer* that is at least partially corroborated by other outlets

It seems that the lates installment in the Cooking Mama franchise is now out. 

Or not. 

Here's a quick overview of what may or may not have happened. 

Cooking Mama CookStar was announced for the Nintendo Switch and in its promo materials an offhand mention was made that it would employ blockchain technology. (For some reason). 

This led to crazy conspiratorial speculation that the game was an elaborate and cunning crypto-currency mining scheme. 

The game release date has come and gone.


It was available at some point, because there are people who have physical copies that are playable...if not connected to the internet. 

There are unconfirmed reports that the game is a terrible power hog and reports that an early version could damage the Switch. (How?)

There were reports (read anonymous posts) on Discord that the crypto-mining software was also forwarding user info to nefarious people for nefarious purposes. (A source quoted in the IGN article invokes the Kochs). 
  
Nintendo assures everybody that there never was no-way no-how any crypto mining software on their game. 

Analysts who have examined one of the few extant examples of the game claim there is evidence that crypto-mining software was removed...clumsily, which accounts for the games reported poor optimization. 
Tweetshot from O.A.G source here

Other sources say that there's nothing in the code that is indicative of crypto-mining now. 

It's unclear, however, who actually developed this particular game. There are three companies denying any responsibility for it and another sketchy address in Connecticut. It's also unclear at what level of development blockchain technology was considered. Nintendo says it wasn't  but it clearly was considered seriously somewhere at some point was it was mentioned in the promotional materials. (along with the vegetarian option...which may or may not be significant)

So what really is going on here?
No one who's asking knows and no one who knows is talking. 

However the game existed at some point as there are "let's plays" on You Tube: 



Nintendo says all is well. Buy their game. Which you can't get. 

UPDATE 19:39 April 8: It now appears to be available via the game's website. They are only selling physical copies though (which is not in and of itself a bad thing) 

 * Don't read the comments! 
** Screencap taken at time of this post is here
more...

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March 31, 2020

GranBlue Fantasy (Season 2)




After the first season of GranBlue Fantasy (from 3 years ago) was so much better than expected I was wary of looking at what current year produced. 

My trepidation was about half justified. 

The first episode is one that could have been from the first season, except that it seems intended to introduce a new character to the crew. About 7 minutes into episode 1 I was like: "So THAT'S where that character is from!"I don't know much about the game this is based on other than it is popular and has several former Square Enix people working on it, but I do note that Alizia, appears to be a real fan favorite, because unlike the previously introduced characters, her fan-art is all over the place. 



Probably because she knows Kung-Fu.

Aliza is a Draph, this IPs equivalent to dwarves at 4 and a half feet tall, she's easily underestimated. However, after discovering that she's about the most formidable  hand to hand fighter they have ever encountered and after Aliza finds herself being genuinely impressed with the heroes idealism, and courage...and discovering that they have not identical, but overlapping goals and motivations and that the superpowered shortstack only lacks for transportation...they go their separate ways, making the episode essentially a pointless throwaway which doesn't actually advance the plot at all. 

The next actual arc starts off dumb, with everybody acting dumb and saying dumb things while forcing the audience to flash back a decade to Katalina's training...which was exactly like a Japanese high school except for the trial by combat part. 

However, this weird four episode (!) flashback to high school angst does end up advancing the overall story in spite of itself and it is kind of poignant towards the end.

The episode between 5 and 6 is a Netflix adaptation. 

Allow me to explain:
Apparently, in the Gacha game this is based on you can play one of two characters, either Gran or a girl in the same village with a similar backstory named Djeeta (on the left). 



Between the two seasons, Djeeta has had 3 episodes dedicated to her reality and apparently she's much better at this than Gran is. 

Djeeta possesses fashion sense and commands a larger, hand-picked  crew of snappier dressers than Gran does and it can be assumed that she's been waltzing all over the map rolling critical successes because her ship and crew does not have any of the money or maintenance problems that drive much of the decisions made in the main show*. The episode between five and six is a light hearted Halloween episode where Djeeta's crew discover a mystery involving animated dead people and everybody has a good time. 

In stark contrast the actual episode 6 involves Gran and his smaller, fashion challenged crew stumbling upon a mystery involving animated dead people and it is a genuinely scary and fast moving three episode arc in which they come very, very close to dying while dealing with some very grim things, with nothing but their wits. 

Despite being rather dark, it's in this second arc that the show actually regains its footing and from that point on GranBlue Fantasy is back up to its old standards.

This is a very atypical pattern nowadays with the first half of the series being an incoherent  dumpster fire and the two arcs of the second half being quite solid. 

The characters remain likable and the show's production values remain high. In fact, here's no noticeable change in look aside from a slight increase in quality despite switching studious from A-1 to MAPPA. That may account for the rough start in the scripting though. 

CyGames has their own animation studio now (Which also did Manaria Friends, set in the GranBlue universe) and they've been very fastidious about the quality of their animation adaptations.  I wonder if the sharp increase in script quality midway through was due to an intervention. 

In any event, while I can't fully recommend the series given its rough start, I can say it gets better, and left me still interested in the story and hoping for a sequel. 

* Though it is possible that the expense of her crew's solid gem and bronze armor caused them to skimp on the abdominal plates. 

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March 27, 2020

More Surprises in 2020




Ka92 sums up the astonishment felt by many in the gaming community upon learning that the new Animal Crossing not only has giant spiders in it, but that they can totally kill you. 

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March 17, 2020

At The Intersection of Vigilanteism, Consumer Advocacy, and Internet Videography

In a world that is enmeshed in stupid regulation those who expose the corrupt can find themselves breaking the law. 


Then there's these two loons from the current arc of My Hero Academia


"While we wait for the cops to respond, let's read the super-chats."

Gentleman Criminal and LaBrava are two obnoxious LARPers who stream their petty (Ever. SO. Petty.) crimes in pursuit of clicks. Being supervillains, their campy videos keep getting deplatformed, which is playing havoc with their income stream.  Given that monstrous propoganda videos by actual psychopaths continue to stay up (and get more clicks than the silly antics of these two) it seems that their targeting by content providers stems mainly from the fact that they keep embarrassing bad actors who have a lot of clout.  

I'm 3 episodes behind, but this subplot now looks to be rather more consequential than it first appeared. This show, an ode to American comic books, has had some villains that are both well realized and truly terrifying, so I find myself both surprised and amused that this world actually has some 'silver age' villains running around.

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February 24, 2020

GranBlue Fantasy The Animation (Series 1)




Granblue Fantasy  aired in 2017 and I did not really pursue it at the time.
Well, I  noted that the show features many elements that can be considered to be warning signs in media, much like brightly colored coral  is underwater....such as...

*It's based on a video game.
*Nay, a GACHA game actually.
*It's set in a sort of steampunk Middle Earth.
*The initial set up appears to be a series of bromides, bound together with cliche's served on a bed of tropes.
*This thing exists, and talks...


Vyrn is completely off model with the rest of the show. Even the other cute animals don't look like this.

...and that's where I initially stopped watching, because with all the other warning signs this just did not seem promising.

However, there is a sequel series out now, and, given the slim pickings of this season I decided, to check it out and to that end, I decided to give the old series another shot.

I'm glad I did.



Meet Lieutenant Katalina Alize. Until a few hours ago a highly skilled and decorated soldier of  of the Erste Empire who was (until a few hours ago) in charge of security for an undisclosed research project. This involved undisclosed badness being perpetrated on Penny Plot Device Lyria (the young girl in the background). We join our statuesque heroine in the process of rescuing Lyria from her own troops, on a flying battleship. In the process of this unorthodox personnel transfer, Lt. Alize demonstrates that she's not a diversity hire, but rather an example of authority being derived from asskicking ability. Katalina is an accomplished spellblade who makes short work of her former shipmates until a particularly smarmy example of effete' aristocracy unleashes a magical weapon upon the young lady she's trying to rescue, precipitating an explosion, that results in Lyria falling from the ship, into the forest of a floating sky island near...



Gran, who, as we are introduced to him, is chopping wood in full plate armor, not because they have only one Gran model, but because he's a little fanatical about his swordsmanship training. Upon seeing the Battleship fly overhead, suffer an explosion, and drop what they took to be flaming debris in the forest, Gran and the off-model pokemon noted above rush to the scene of impact to see what happened (and if necessary work to control any forest fires). They find Lyria, unconscious outside the long sealed shrine to the island's god (called Bahamut). They note that the long abandoned and off limits shrine is...glowing. Lyria awakens, and after virtually no exposition is found by Katalina, as well as imperial troops. After a brief fight Gran, realizing that the two ladies are actually fugitives, takes a moment to ponder who the bad guys are in this situation, a question that is helpfully addressed by the Imperial troops as they interact with the locals...



The issue thus resolved, he lends his pitifully non-magical swordsmanship to the two young ladies, and, while nowhere near as skilled as Lt. Katalina, he proves to be quite impressive in his own right, punching well above his weight.



Upon recieving a  bit of exposition after the Imperials withdraw, Gran decides it's a really good idea to accompany these two young ladies on their quest, which currently is to get as far from this island as possible, and ultimately is to...

Umm..

They are going to work on that while flying away in their airship.



To my astonishment, GranBlue Fantasy  is a hoot!
For all it's many many cliche's this series actually manages to work and not be boring. The pacing is solid throughout and most of the characters are nicely fleshed out. This is a remarkably ensemble cast, with everyone bringing something to the table and as the party grows over the series, they all complement each other well and compensate for each other's weaknesses.



There are consistent and nice character touches too,



Regarding visual quality, there a few off-model scenes and the 12th episode seems to have been rushed, with some of the VFX not up to the series' usual high standards. The art direction is gorgeous, and the animation appears to mostly be cell animation. As often happens, the CGI doesn't quite mesh and this would normally be jarring. However, the computer animation is used mainly for unearthly/ supernatural things where the "off" look actually works very well.

I watched it in two sittings and found it quite enjoyable. the climactic episode (12) is a little odd, and as mentioned earlier seems a bit rushed. Perhaps it was intended to be two episodes. However, it definitely sets the stage for another season, and while it does advance the plot, it really seems more like a mid-season climax than any sort of denouement. This would probably have infuriated me in 2017, but as GBF2 is currently airing it means I have something to look forward to.

There is an episode 13, but it is essentially a Netflix adaptation.

All, in all, I was quite surprised how enjoyable and engaging this show is. It is basic fantasy with a side of steampunk, but it is quite nicely executed and has me hooked for more. 

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February 16, 2020

RWBY Season 7

RWBY's 7th season having just wrapped up on Crunchyroll, it warrants some comment. But first a brief review is warranted of this shows history. Initially started with  a pilot that showcased its tragically low budget, superb voicework, spectacular fight choreography and great promise, the show proceeded to be almost schizophrenically uneven but maintained interest with its interesting characters and  its setting, while something of a cliche' buffet, was genuinely intriguing. The first season was enjoyable despite itself and showed real promise.

The next two seasons got better, surprised its audience, and while the action animation never recovered from the death of Monty Oum midway through the production of season three, the other production values, story and characterizations got exceptional. ...until the season 5 finale which was a fight spread out over approximately 377,482 hours of tedious soliloquy and nothing happening. Season Six was much better, the production values being incredibly good and the story itself having regained its stride, though the finale was a soft cliffhanger.


Rooster Teeth has had its issues of late and its management has seemed to go out of its way to antagonize some of its fans. The company is no longer the 20 or so people punching above their weight but is rather, now, a division of AT&T which makes this seasons enhanced production values pretty much expected and the production problems reported in the media fairly inexcusable.

Given the internal issues being reported and the various clashes with the fandom, one ought not be surprised if the show is a dumpster fire.

Instead, the surprise comes from Season 7 kicking ass. 



This season gets right almost everything that slipped through the cracks in season 5. In particular the pacing is solid throughout, building tension throughout the story to a genuinely gripping season finale.

Even the fight choreography has improved to the point that it's finally approaching parity with the late Monty Oum's work in season's one and two, as this two minute clip from the season opener shows.



This is, hands down, the best season of this show ever. Story wise, the show manages to throw all manner of curve-balls while still retaining its internal logic. There is a little bit of perfuntory advancement in episode two '"Hey! Everybody gets new uniforms!" but almost everything else is beautifully paced and even the surprises (and boy are there surprises), make perfect sense as they're bringing together threads from six other seasons.


This brings us to the two minor quibbles with the show, one is that a lot of the plot is not fully understandable if you haven't seen the previous seasons, (which, sadly means watching season 5). Oh you'll be able to figure it out, but you'll lack that delicious moment of realization when the waiter smiles.

There is also another issue which has caused some consternation in some circles.
but honestly even that development doesn't really detract from the show this time around.

This was just a really solid season and I find myself looking forward to the next (probably last one) with genuine eagerness.




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