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...

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:22 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 458 words, total size 6 kb.

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. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 02:18 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 715 words, total size 6 kb.

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. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:45 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 37 words, total size 1 kb.

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.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 07:37 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 196 words, total size 2 kb.

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. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:25 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 820 words, total size 9 kb.

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.




Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:51 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 515 words, total size 6 kb.

February 08, 2020

That Show That Got Yeeted After Three episodes For Being Exactly What it Said it Was

Rest assured that this not a trend for this blog. Whatever passes for a format here, this is not it.




However, this show is being aggressively "disappeared" and its case is curious not only for being cancelled after 3 episodes rather than simply slapping a R-rating on it (despite high ratings), but that the streaming company bought the rights to a show about individuals that travel Ersatz Middle Earth and do consumer reviews of BROTHELS, then translated it, dubbed it, REMOVED pixels from it and then, three episodes in, decided that, upon reflection, it might be lewd. 

After careful analysis, much consideration and in-depth research, I've concluded that this show is, in fact, lewd. 

It's only R-rated though, it doesn't actually cross the line despite dancing along it drunkenly while being aggressively irreverent and completely tasteless. 

It also made me laugh, which is probably indicative of deep character flaws on my part.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 03:15 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 168 words, total size 1 kb.

February 02, 2020

So I Heard About Ishuzoku Reviewers

...and did not initially pursue it because, honestly if its only claim to fame is that it's a fan-service show its probably not worth my time.The plot does not inspire confidence..a troupe of (brothel critics?) in a D&D/LOTR esque fantasy-world go around doing reviews of various brothels staffed by numerous fantasy races like elves and mermaids and slimes and..sundry.

 Then I heard the show was quite good, with it actually being described as funny and one of the better shows of the season.. So, I went to Funimation and, to my surprise...



So they have a show that's based on a hentai manga. Its character designs are by a hentai artist. It's plot is more porny than most porn. They depixelated parts of it and they were in the process of dubbing the show. Some of the character designs that have popped up in the promo art , I couldn't even put on this blog clothed. Then all of a sudden they realized "Gracious! This is...(squints) I dare say it might be LEWD!"

How does that even happen!?

 UPDATE: I swear there was a review at the end of that first link.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 02:00 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 198 words, total size 2 kb.

Oh NO!

We had two depressing plague posts back to back, involving 3 different viruses. This is unhygienic, depressing, and not in keeping with the format of what is among its many other formats, still an anime blog.

I should probably watch some anime.
And review it.
In the meantime, here are some AMVs.

One for our new Canadian viewers.


Because this isn't YouTube...we can repeat one from a few years ago.


Caravan Palace is always welcome


Another re-run because...reasons.


Finally, I here tell that we're all Russian bots here so...

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 01:10 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 91 words, total size 1 kb.

February 01, 2020

Star Trek Picard

To say that this show has been unenthusiastically received is a rather large understatement.

Much of this lack of positive buzz can be laid squarely at the feet of  the show's immediate Predecessor Star Trek: Discovery.

Despite incredibly talented actors and superb production values, STD's writing and general asshattery seems to have poisoned the well for many fans with its strange combination of sanctimony, stupidity, and frequent contempt for the fans and its source material. 

Learning from it's showrunner's missteps, CBS-All Access has pinned it's hopes on a new series that is being presented as a sequel to the Star Trek shows of the 90's, built around a geriatric but plucky Admiral Picard.


Despite the logo, only the pilot is on Amazon Prime

It seems that the damage done by STD was considerable, because Picard's ratings have been sufficiently bad that CBS has actually released the pilot of the new show for free viewing on YouTube.ht

So with low expectations, I sat down and watched it.

Jean Luc-Picard, one of the United Federation of Planet's greatest heroes is spending his twilight years on his french vineard, when suddenly the protagonist of a young adult novel blunders into his retirement, setting in motion a series of events that causes him to make an astonishing discovery...

To my surprise, this does not appear at this point to be a bad show, I can't honestly say if it's GOOD yet, as the pilot is mostly set-up, but it's really interesting There are a LOT of interesting ideas being touched on. There are also there are a lot of call-backs to ST:TNG that are respectful and don't have Worf being a Kling-Ork (and there was much rejoicing).

Among the complaints among TREKdom is the rumor that the show makes a POLITICAL statement. Well, it does. Star Trek always has, and one of the major themes of Star Trek is one of universal respect for sentient beings. The brief foray into politics in this pilot are not out of place in a Star Trek episode and part of the political discussion stems from the fact that Picard remains admirably idealistic ( but perhaps naively so given the backstory touched upon in the pilot). 

The story is appealing and the production values look great. It's VERY different from TNG but it seems that it is a part of the same universe, a very different vibe than I got from the few episodes of Discovery I watched.

I am not opposed to watching more of this show. In fact I'm rather impressed and want to see more.

Getting me to PAY for this show is another matter.

STD so poisoned the well that I'm ambivalent at best about subscribing to CBS All-Access when this show, as appealing as it seems, could very easily go completely off the rails and end up in a dumpster fire. Moreover, the general contempt that some of the showrunners have expressed for the fans in general and my demographic in particular do not encourage me to give them money.

That then is the problem that CBS faces with this show. The pilot is pretty good and actually encouraging.Two years ago I and others would have been begging them to take my money for this show, but after STD that is a much higher bar now, and the new normal of being nickle-and-dime'd to death by an ever expanding number of streaming services is a particular source of resentment for many, including myself.

Time will tell if this warrants a subscription.

I might be persuaded to buy the DVD's though.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:53 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 600 words, total size 5 kb.

January 25, 2020

Oh.

Wait.
I dropped a bit.
This is not a parody. It's actually the U.S. Space Force logo.
Cool!


Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 07:07 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 19 words, total size 1 kb.

January 13, 2020

Thirty Four People

....enjoy this show.



I think I'll pass.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:48 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 10 words, total size 1 kb.

From what reserves does one draw from when one has already given every ounce of one's strength?

When pondering the above missive in the presence of others one should ensure that one is smiling and maintaining one's composure so as not to cause any unnecessary distress or alarm.



Because that's what heroes do.

My Hero Academia has been really really good this season. Despite its very Japanese trappings this show is touching on some of the best aspects of American superhero comics and exploring the themes of the genre in ways that would make Lee, Kirby and Ditko proud.  Even the dashes of melodrama one expects in an unironic superhero show have been pulled off with superb skill and astonishing sincerity.

Product Warning: May cause...allergies.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 04:22 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 125 words, total size 1 kb.

January 07, 2020

Snerk


Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 12:17 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 1 words, total size 1 kb.

December 31, 2019

Meanwhile: in His Secret Lair, Far Beneath the Earth's Crust...and Mantle, and Outer Core, and Inner Core and Mantle and Crust Again...

...or ( if you're not on this side of the planet) just Ambient Irony, Pixy's embedded several AMVs including this really well edited piece built around a song from Shaka Ponk of all things...



Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:24 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 56 words, total size 1 kb.

November 10, 2019

Today, on the Latest Episode of Ascendence of the Bookworm....




more...

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 14 words, total size 1 kb.

November 02, 2019

A Failure to Communicate

Is becoming the bane of our heroine.



From episode 5 of Ascendance of a Bookworm in which our heroine discovers the cost of ink and has her most cunning plans embezzled in good faith.



Anyway, minimalist animation aside, I'm still enjoying this show.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:06 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 48 words, total size 2 kb.

November 01, 2019

On The Percieved Lack of Progress

I've seen several places lamenting the fact that  Blade Runner was set in November of 2019 and we haven't achieved the milestones presented in the film.

Oh Please:

Paraphrasing Lowther, It's true we don't have flying cars, but L.A. is a festering third world disease ridden hell hole. Technology focused Mega Corporations have bribed the powers that be and use their products like a jack boot on the throat of humanity.  The outlook for the individual is bleak despite impressive economic growth and while Mr.Musk's Mars plans are are 5-10 years in the future, a number of people DO look at them longingly for a better life (or at least a more rewarding one) in the off-world colonies. Intimately tied to why people might look at a spartan,tenuous and perilous existence working to hew from the bareness of of Utopia-Planatia, Occator or Rheasilvia, homes for future generations is that there are are now beings among us who look human but are childlike in many ways, have pre-programed violent emotional responses to certain phrases and are a fairly dangerous and worrisome addition to society.  

So really the differences come down to no flying cars and artistic license in that the SJWs don't look like Rutger Hauer or Daryl Hannah.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:50 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 214 words, total size 2 kb.

October 26, 2019

DO NOT WATCH

...the first episode of My Hero Academia season 4.



It's pointless filler that has nothing happen and sort of but not comprehensively re-caps the first three seasons.

Start with this season's episode 2 (#65). Because then you won't drop this series and thereby miss the next two episodes, which are really good.




Wow.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:18 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 57 words, total size 1 kb.

October 21, 2019

It's looking Like a Keeper

Three episodes in Ascendance of a Bookworm seems to be living up to its initial promise.

It appears to be a very low budget show animation and art wise, but the story of a librarian who finds herself stuck in a 5-year old body in a parallel world's dark ages remains quite engaging.



Our heroine is saddled with myriad obstacles (for one thing, she's stuck in a 5 year old's body) but she's really determined and I particularly like that not everything she tries works, more-so that she learns from her mistakes and tries different things.

This is actually better than I'd hoped. I initially thought she was a Renfaire enthusiast and/or had experience making paper for calligraphy, but no. It turns out that Urano/Main doesn't actually have any hands on or technical knowledge of what she's trying to do. However, she has some historical knowledge of vaguely how it happened in our world and given that she KNOWS it can be done, she's doing experiments to figure out for herself, how to make a book.




Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:02 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 182 words, total size 2 kb.

<< Page 1 of 35 >>
117kb generated in CPU 0.13, elapsed 0.3153 seconds.
78 queries taking 0.2163 seconds, 367 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.