I’ve Been Nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award

sunshine-blogger

Thanks to Yahari Bento for drafting me first overall in the third round of their Sunshine Blogger Award draft. I’ll do everything I can to make coach Bento proud and better the team with my powerful sunshine. Bento has a lot of analyses on their blog as well as a lot of award nominations. If they’ve been nominated that many times, they’re sure to have some quality content, so go check them out.

Rules

  1. Display Award
  2. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  3. Answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  4. Summon Nominate 11 bloggers from the magic circle and write then 11 new questions.

(I just copied the rules from his post. I will go along with said summoning.)

Questions:

1. Your favorite anime series/movie in this year?

Assuming it doesn’t abandon ship by its end, Flip Flappers. If not, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge.

2. You are aniblogger, but do you play games too or not?

I play plenty of games, and normally post reviews of various games on my blog. My preferences for genre are side-scrolling puzzle/action games (a la WayForward), turn-based RPGs, and platformers.

3. Which main characters from which anime do you want to descend from anime world to the where in front of you?

I wouldn’t mind TK from Angel Beats! to descend into my world. He seems like a cool cat.

4. While you are playing internet, what do you like to eat while do that?

Oooooh, no. I don’t normally like eating while on my laptop. If I do, though, it’s usually snack food. Fruit snacks or nuts or something small.

5. Characters you worship/like/love in the latest, will be the one we call “the best/final girl/boy” or not? And that person is…

I… think I understand the question. We will all bow down to Togame and her wisdom. Cheerio!

6. If this world will not produce any anime anymore, you will…

Praise the high heavens that I no longer have to sink years of my life into an art form that I barely care for!!! Seriously though, move on with my life.

7. Do you ever were caught by your parents when you watch/read anime/manga too much? And how do you FEEL when they/he/she are/is in front of your door?

My mother is aware of my anime-consuming habits, as are my siblings. They tease me for “watching too much,” but it’s more just playful bickering than anything serious. It’s a comfortable environment. Also, I watch anime out in the open (laptop and all), so I don’t technically have a “door” in this situation.

8. When you are reading manga/LN, will you lie down and read them like Gi*nt in Dor*em@n or not?

Once again, laptop (I barely own any physical manga copies). I’m more of a sit-down reader, so I only lay down if I’m on my bed and sitting grows tiresome on my bum.

9. Right now, are you sleepy, aren’t you?

Just woke up an hour ago, dude. Muy bueno.

10. It’s not like I’m worried about you, but you are tired answer my questions, aren’t you? (My instinct tells me to run, now!)

No worries! I enjoy the questions.

11. Congratulations! You reach the last question. So if I want you to wave your hand in front of your computer/phone screen, can you do that? Fub! (…There was a power cut in my house.)

I can, but how will you know I have? Will you trust me, coach? My sunshine and all?

Nominations:

Once again, not going to nominate eleven people, as I barely even follow eleven people. I’ll just choose three different bloggers from last time I want to highlight.

  1. AniMonologues: A fairly new follow of mine, they discuss anime in-depth as well as animated films (or just films) in general. They have a well-written style of writing that keeps me intrigued and have a lot of bite to their critiquing style, which is sure to sway me in. They don’t post often, but it’s a better day for me when they do.
  2. PlainPasta: New to the blogging world, PlainPasta writes her thoughts on anime and certain ongoing series. She also has a tendency to pick up series most wouldn’t care to, such as gdgd Fairies and Sekkou Boys. She has a writing style that’s almost bizarrely entertaining, combining an innocent enthusiasm with unemotional objectivity. Definitely worth checking out. Also a hoot on Twitter.
  3. Nichi-chan: I was drawn to N-chan’s blog after a post about how Welcome to the NHK! served as a grim reminder for his lifestyle at the time. His writing technique is wonderful and horribly captivating, adding a sentimental edge to his formulated technique. His usual mantra is episodic thoughts, but will on occasion post the single thought piece or anime review. A great blog to check out.

And as for the questions, I’ll try to keep them swift and painless.

  1. How are you today?
  2. What is your favorite genre of music?
  3. Do you have any pets? If not, why do you hate animals to the point where you wouldn’t consider adopting one?
  4. Have you ever tried to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop just by licking?
  5. If anime became more widespread in its popularity, much in the sense that video games have in the last ten years or so, what anime do you think would take the crown as the general public’s favorite?
  6. Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon? Or Stardew Valley? Or anything like them?
  7. Finances aside, would you rather travel by plane, train, or boat?
  8. Do you think the “Eww, gross! Weeaboo!” stigma of anime and manga would translate to that of a standard light novel enthusiast?
  9. Watch any sports?
  10. What is a story you’d like to see adapted into anime form? (Whether it be from a novel, movie, video game, or otherwise.)
  11. Average hours of sleep you get in a night?

Thanks again to coach Bento for believing in my shininess and I hope to make the world proud. Thank you all.

Top 10 Video Game Time Sinks

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Over the course of a lifetime, it’s safe to say I’ve played a lot of games. Perhaps too many. Consumers always feel the need to get their money’s worth when it comes to buying video games, and while short games can offer some short-term fun, if they have no replayability, they’re likely to sit on the shelf for a while. Wouldn’t it feel somewhat deflating to spend sixty dollars on a shiny new AAA game, only to play it for a combined ten hours of gametime? Games become more memorable and more impactful when the player feels as though they can spend long periods of time with it without getting bored. This emphasis on replayability is something I feel most game developers don’t account for, but it hasn’t always been that way. For this list, I’ll be counting down the Top 10 games I’ve personally put the most time into, and not researching the Top 10 games that would likely be the most time-consuming to complete. That list would be full of MMORPGs. I also tried to limit this list to one game per franchise, so it’d be safe to assume that if a sequel/prequel game appears on this list, I’ve likely spent a lot of time with others games in its franchise, too.

10. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2

dbz budokai 2 logo

Anime wasn’t always a near-constant in my life, but if there was one series that always suited my fancy, it was Dragon Ball Z. It always amazes me to this day how much time I spent on this relatively pointless game. The game is a fighting game, in a style similar to that of most other fighting games. It provides a variety of modes and activities for the player to partake in, but all amount to collecting money or other artificial collectibles to obtain moves or special abilities for characters to fight more efficiently. In the long run, it doesn’t seem to warrant playing it for so long, but as a child, there was always one thing I enjoyed more than anything.

This mode was simply dubbed “Dragon World.” It served as the major mode of the game, akin to a “Story Mode” of sorts. It displayed the story of Dragon Ball Z in a board game-like fashion, with selectable characters as pieces on a large map that corresponds with the story. While on the surface this seems trivial, there are also hidden collectibles throughout each stage that make exploring the world more appealing. One can search for stat boosts, dragon balls, money, and others while combating the characters that make their approach. As a kid, I always loved this style of play where I could boost my character’s stats to absurdly high levels and obliterate the competition without any effort. I’m also a fan of exploring, too, so the options given during this mode always had me digging in every spot I landed in. It’s nice when your attack stat is at 170%, your defense is 180%, and you can move three spots a turn.

I’m sure some would read this and think “How can this stay entertaining for multiple hours at a time?” I’m inclined to agree with their confusion, because I really couldn’t tell you. Every level in Dragon World is essentially the same: dig for goodies and beat the bad guys. Eventually, the player will be transported to a different location where they’ll get to do it all over again with other characters. There’s really no reason why this should be so fun for so long, but I really enjoyed it, and I played it for a very long time. If not for Dragon World, I’d be entering Tournament Mode to compete for money and going in and out of the Item Shop to look for specific skills. Most importantly of all, I just enjoyed playing this simplistic, yet effective fighting game. I wouldn’t put up with everything for so long if the game wasn’t fun. It certainly was.

9. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle

sonic adventure 2 battle

It’s almost cliché to say at this point, but Sonic Adventure 2 was one of my favorite Sonic games as a child. This game was basically an accumulation of everything about the Sonic franchise I held dear. I got to go fast with Sonic and Shadow, treasure hunt with Knuckles and Rouge, and blow stuff up in cool machines with Tails and Eggman. This was a truly magical experience for my childhood mindset, and one that I will always hold dear, despite the fact that the game today is a little less than satisfying.

While it may be cliché to say that I loved this game as a kid, it might be even more cliché to say that the game is very clearly overrated. The story makes zero sense, the sound quality is jarring, and the enjoyment of the game really depends on the level of interest one has with the style of gameplay each character incorporates. Going fast, treasure hunting, or shooting things with robots. It all sounds fun, but Sonic Adventure 2 has a way of making things more dull than meets the eye, but this isn’t a full review.

A large portion of my time dedicated to this game came in the form of “Chao World.” This mode isn’t even part of the main storyline. It’s a side thing where players can raise little creatures called chao and use them to compete in wrestling, races, or otherwise keep ’em company. Defeating robotic enemies in a level will have them drop a certain colored core, and the player can take them to the Chao Garden where the chao will feast upon the nutrients to raise its individual skills. That sounds horrifying described that way. In any case, my love for leveling things up powered through and gave me an innate motivation to power these little buggers up to the highest possible level, while having them transform into “mature” chaos. This process of leveling up and caring for the chao takes quite a bit of time, too. One can’t expect to raise a perfectly OP chao over the course of a weekend. It takes weeks of dedication and playing the game over and over again. While it may seem cheap as it’s supposed to take a while, Chao World is probably the single-most largest reason I spent so much time logging hours into this game. Not for the game itself, but for a cute side mode that requires time and dedication. Almost like Tamagotchi or something.

8. Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense

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It’s at this point in the list where we can finally get down with our bad selves.

This game is already familiar to those who read my Top 10 Most Impactful Games of My Childhood list, so there isn’t much need to go over a lot of for this list. Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense is a poor man’s Twisted Metal. Though I would be willing to debate that this game is better than Twisted Metal. With a full roster of unique (and peculiarly diverse) characters and a premise of “blowing shit up,” Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense is a revamped and reloaded sequel that manages to remain fun and fresh throughout time. Whether or not this infatuation of the game is due to my own nostalgic spectacles is beyond me, but it won’t stop me from recommending it every chance I get.

This game, unlike the two games before it, is something I actually still play to this day. Sonic Adventure 2: Battle gets old after the first couple of playthroughs, and Budokai 2‘s gameplay mechanics and modes pale in comparison to future titles, such as Budokai 3. What makes this game so amazingly replayable is… to be honest, I’m not really sure. Whether it be, once again, the nostalgic value I feel for the game, the overpowered cheat codes, or the glitchiness of the game that makes the gameplay incredibly unpredictable, 2nd Offense has this magic power over me that has me wanting to play it every time I think about it. The catchy music, the memorably bad (and almost indistinguishable) character dialogue, the silly story, the bizarre character-specific special weapons; this game has so much going for it that it’s a shame not many know about it. I cannot begin to describe the amount of entertainment this game has provided me.

The only reason this game doesn’t make it higher on the list is because when I do play this game, it typically isn’t for very long. Completing the game 100% shouldn’t take more than a couple of days, and aside from doing the Quest Mode, most other modes are pretty mediocre. The only one I can recall off-hand is Survival Mode, which is exactly what it’s titled. Something I’d do once maybe for something different, but it’s not really too immersive. Had this game not had that magic longevity to it, it probably wouldn’t have a long shelf life. But it does have that magic to it—at least in my eyes—so it remains as one of the most replayable games among my video game library.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I should start playing this game again…

7. Pokémon Silver

pokemon silver

It seems like I’ve been talking about this game a lot recently. No matter; Pokémon Silver is the game that introduced me to the main line of Pokémon games. It’s the game that introduced me to the gaming phenomenon that the Pokémon empire had been building up to that point. I was already fond of the Pokémon anime, along with various Pokémon game spin-offs, but I never really got the taste of a true Pokémon experience. Until I played Silver.

Like 2nd Offense (You’ll be seeing this a few more times), Silver is a game I still play to this day. While I no longer have a physical copy of the game, I still have an emulator to play the game for me, and the amount of time I spent with the game as a kid combined with recent playthroughs, Silver has taken a pretty big chunk of time out of my life. While the game is somewhat limited with the efficiency of certain pokémon as competent main party material, I also do my best to vary the pokémon I have with every playthrough. I actually went through with Togetic as a main party member with my most recent playthrough, and have even used Corsola as a party member before. Who uses Corsola?

Admittedly, the game does get a little stale after the first couple times. I don’t play this game religiously, and only ever start another run after a year or so. I know almost everything about the game at this point that it becomes more of a chore to grind and listen to familiar dialogue than anything. Still, if I was so tired of it, I wouldn’t continue to go back to it. Regardless of its age and lack of player-friendly resources, Silver remains the pinnacle of Pokémon in my heart.

6. Smackdown vs. Raw 2008

svr 2008

Here’s a fun fact: I was a gigantic fan of the WWF/E as a kid. Wrestlers such as The Undertaker, Kane, Hulk Hogan, Booker T, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and more hold such a nostalgic place in my heart as one of the most testosterone-fueled interests I had as a kid. It was also the only testosterone-fueled interest I had as a kid, as a childhood reclusive gamer. I played a lot from the Smackdown vs. Raw franchise, but 2008 was the one I remember playing the most, as it was the only game from the series I actually cared enough to own.

Growing up, I only had Nintendo consoles, for the most part. The Smackdown vs. Raw series of games didn’t make the jump to Nintendo consoles until this game (though optimization to the Wii was not pretty). I was introduced to the series by a friend of mine, who had a Playstation 2, and was a huge fan of the WWE. Several years later, I was given an Xbox 360 as a Christmas present(?) by my father, along with a copy of this game, which is where the timely love affair began.

One of the most charming things about this game is not the story or its large roster of characters. It’s the Creation Modes. Creating wrestlers in this game (and most other games in the series) is an abject fetishist’s dream come true. The possibilities given to the player are downright hilarious. Players can choose to create characters with deformed limbs, absurdly huge or small body parts, and can even have accessories such as horns and wings added to the character for good measure. The creative monster within me always has a blast creating horrid, abominable creatures to duke it out in the ring with normal wrestlers. I truly wish I had the ability to share an archive of characters I’ve created over the years. Believe me, they’re things of beauty. Playing through the Story Mode with these created characters is equally as entertaining.

The other thing that has made me spend so much time with this game is something called General Manager Mode. It’s a mode where the player can act as a General Manager of one of three shows the WWE has to offer, where they can assign matches, build wrestlers’ popularity and work with their needs, and compete in ratings with the other two networks to achieve an award by the end of the year. As this is a week-by-week sort of basis, this mode takes a very long time to go through in its entirety. And I was horribly addicted to it. I’ve always been one who enjoys control in video games, and given the opportunity to control an entire brand of the WWE, choosing who I want to be champion and who gets to be popular and who gets to be in a rivalry and… you get it. It was something right up my alley, and I never looked back. I must’ve played this mode a good dozen times before I ever got tired of it. The hours racked up like crazy, and when I start at noon, then look down at the clock to see it half past five, that’s when you know you’re completely immersed. Oh, how unproductive of a teenager I was.

5. Team Fortress 2

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I’ve already dedicated an ode to this game that you can read up on, but in case you have, I’ll make this entry quick.

Team Fortress 2 is a game I’ve known about for a while, but never really had the know-how to download it onto my computer. That all changed one day when I was informed that the game had become free to play on Steam. After finishing off the still-humorous character trailers available for each class, I was ready to download and play the game for myself, and I had myself a damn good time.

I played this game for years, and have seen it go through constant amounts of updates and changes, but despite all of this, I’ve only accumulated a little over 100 hours of playtime, according to my Steam. I think part of this is because the game doesn’t take very long to play. Each match ranges from two to maybe seven minutes tops, while varying modes take varying amounts of time to complete. After I’ve had my fill of every string of matches, only an hour or two has gone by, and that’s mostly how it went whenever I played. Team Fortress 2 isn’t a game I can play for long stretches of time. It doesn’t have enough substance for that. This is a game one can play to have a near-guaranteed good time, but that’s about it. While it has some staying power, there are times when the game can become stale. After all, I haven’t played the game in years.

I’ve stated before that having games like this compete with games such as Pokémon Silver, which is supposed to take 20-30 hours to complete a run through, is somewhat unfair, but for what its worth, Team Fortress 2 took up a longer span of my life than Silver did, which I think accounts for something. It isn’t so much that Silver doesn’t have staying power, but Team Fortress 2 can stay fresh for extended periods of time. The only thing is, for people who enjoy a “point” in a game like me, it’s a game that’s destined to sit on the shelf for a while. Only its spontaneous results can save it from staying there for too long.

4. The Sims 2

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This is the part of the list where I feel especially ashamed of all the time I wasted.

I feel this is an easy choice for a lot of gamers out there. How couldn’t you spend a lot of time on a game like this? On a game that lets you simulate real life? The game is absurdly popular and is a safehaven for almost every kind of gamer out there, especially casual gamers. I know people in my family who almost never play video games that have spent countless amounts of hours on this game. There’s just something about this game that has people from every type of life obsessing over controlling gibberish-spewing human models.

I already explained before about my love for control. This should have become an immediate thought after stating so. Why not control the lives of fictional people the way I want to? Why not create myself and live the life I was destined to live?  Oh, the exploitations this game can have on one’s ego. Make yourself skinny. Have lots of friends. Get all the girls/boys. Get your dream job. Explore the vast world of this fictional Earth! Y’know what? I think I know why this game is so popular.

I was one of the little pudgekins who enjoyed divvying up fictional characters into a community full of normal people. For the most part. The Sims 2 also plays host to some leniency when creating characters. One can make aliens, most notably, and can also contort characters’ faces and bodies into that of horrid creatures. Not to the same degree as Smackdown vs. Raw 2008, but enough to get some chuckles out of. But if one has some mods for this game, prepare for complete chaos. However, I tended to take this game rather realistically. I enjoyed playing God with my characters and genuinely cared about their well-being, so I guided them through to an upstanding path, straight and narrow. I enjoyed it so much that I did it for years. But alas the game, like most, gets dull after so long.

I haven’t played The Sims 2 in many years, along with subsequent sequels. However, I played it enough during my childhood and teenage years to warrant a very high spot on this list. Once I was getting up there in age, the game became more fun to play around with than take seriously, so I decided, with the help of my brother, to change the tale of Pleasantview and its population to that of murderers and psychopaths, all living within a world of immoral and disgusting acts of anarchy. The appearance of the people were changed to suit this new setting, and it entertained me for a long while. But a joke gets old quickly, and afterwards The Sims 2 became yet another dust collector for my old cupboard. I can only look back fondly and think, “Wow, I was an evil child.”

3. Guitar Hero III

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The passion started with Guitar Hero II, but once I had my hands on Guitar Hero III, I never, ever let it go. As a teenager, I always felt somewhat ashamed that I knew almost everything I knew about music because of the Guitar Hero games. But now, I see it more as a blessing than anything. It’s amazing how a collection of video games can help improve my knowledge and widen my horizons on the world of rock music, and it certainly did. Bands like Kansas, Heart, Foo Fighters, Danzig, Black Sabbath, Social Distortion, Thin Lizzy, Avenged Sevenfold, and many others were introduced to me (some only by name) thanks to this collection of games. I think it’s amazing that a game can both be fun and educational, though this type of education probably isn’t one that’ll likely be very useful in real life.

While this game specifically isn’t one I still play today, I do fancy some playtime with other Guitar Hero games every once in a while. But this one is what I consider my favorite, as its the one I spent the most time with, and the one I used to nurture my skills to near perfect levels. I’m able to play on Expert with ease, with very few songs able to put me on edge. Through the Fire and Flames, specifically, is one of those songs. I’ve gotten through it before (Though I probably couldn’t now), and damn was I proud when I finally got through that hellish intro. It took me hours just to get through that part alone. Playing the rest of the game, well, that’s a story of its own.

Guitar Hero III is one of those rare games where I can always pick it up and instantly have fun. I really enjoy the variety of different songs to play and the complexities of some of the harder songs. A lot of the bonus tracks provide great fun, too, especially Impulse by Endless Sporadic. Many people regard the Guitar Hero series as overhyped games for casual players, but most casual players wouldn’t be able to play on Expert Mode. I almost shudder watching someone mess up on difficulties lower than Hard. I don’t see Guitar Hero III or any of the other games as “casual games,” but I can definitely see why people would consider them so. The game is far too tough for me to consider it casual.

What I find even more impressive is that I played this game on the Wii, which is notorious for lagging. If I can boost my skills that much playing the game for years on the Wii, the Xbox 360 version came as a Godsend. It was then that I could truly challenge myself to get as high a score as I could, and get the longest streak of notes hit. However, a lot more time spent on this game was done so in the efforts of bragging rights. If you’d like to get a glimpse into my Guitar Hero obsession and slightly cringey comments, you can go check out my page on Scorehero, where I spent heavy amounts of time back in 2009.

2. Madden 12

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People who read my blog had to have seen this coming, especially for people who read my ode to it a few months back. I already described the massive amount of hours I’ve put into this game, and still do to this day. It’s essentially my Minecraft; even when the action gets dull, I still find it fun from my imagination alone.

My love for Madden 12 came at some point after my blooming love for football in 2011. It allowed me to memorize all the names of all the teams and all the players and all their numbers and all their heights and weights and all their ratings and holy hell how long will this sentence run on? I was in a phase of my life where I was experiencing something enormous for the first time, and Madden 12 was sort of the gateway into that realm. It eased me into the rules of the game, the players who inhabited it, and the complexities of offenses and defenses. It did so much for me in terms of what football really was, almost in the sense that Guitar Hero III introduced me to a wider margin of musical talents. Madden 12 is the game that keeps on giving, even if in the eyes of normal people the game is rather half-assed.

The game is basically just that: football. You can either choose to play exhibition matches, play as a single superstar, or control one (or all) entire organization in Franchise Mode. What would you assume a lover of control chose to spend the most time with? Indeed, Franchise Mode is the go-to mode for me whenever I decide to play. In fact, it’s the only mode I’ll willingly play. I am literally only playing this game for a single purpose, and for some odd reason, that single purpose has yet to become boring to me, even after four years. I still log countless hours into this game, though it helps when games take an average of forty-five to fifty-five minutes to complete. It’s almost cheap, in a way. But what if I told you I spent more time organizing teams and playing with players’ stats than I have actually playing in the games? Wipe the pity off your face. I’m just as ashamed as you are.

It’s simply a game that never gets boring to me. There are stretches of time where I don’t play it, but once I start playing it again, I can’t put it down. It’s genuinely the closest I’ve come to an addiction to a certain game in my entire life. I can back up this claim by also mentioning that I have bought four copies of this game, broke one copy out of frustration, and returned a copy just to come back a month later to buy it back.

I need serious help.

1. World of Warcraft

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I don’t think this really needs a thorough explanation.

It’s a gigantic and popular MMORPG, one of the most ambitious games of the mid-2000’s, and very, very captivating. This is truly the pinnacle of fantasy gaming and has been for many years. While its current state leaves much to be desired, private realms still exist to give back to the community the magic that Blizzard Entertainment once gave to millions of people worldwide. I was one of those millions.

Let me describe how much time I spent with this game. Over six years of me spending half the day traveling through Azeroth and the Outlands. Buying every expansion pack up to Cataclysm. Making at least a hundred characters, and getting them to varying levels. My mother constantly jabbering the family about how addicted we were to the game. My already minimal social life dwindled into obscurity. My weight skyrocketed. My eyes shrunk. My life was forever changed after one recommendation from a long-lost online friend.

World of Warcraft wasn’t so much a game but a larger than life experience to me, but I’m sure everyone says that after becoming addicted to the game. The amount of detail to the game was staggering for the time, and the huge map to explore made the game incredibly time consuming. The quests, the impact, the lore, the everything. Everything was great about World of Warcraft. I couldn’t possibly leave it alone. And it couldn’t leave me alone.

That’s enough gushing. Fact of the matter is, World of Warcraft is, by far, the biggest video game time sink I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Is it a predictable choice? Yeah. Is it an easy choice? Yeah. Does any of this make its spot any less warranted? Absolutely not. The amount of time that has zoomed by because of this game is on levels unheard of by mortal beings. It’s not just me, either. Many people can attest to the amount of time this game has spent biding their time. But hey, it was fun, and that’s all that really matters. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Honorable Mentions: Mario Party, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Entry #1: Tamako Market (SoA 2016)

tamako market 1

This was a nice start to the Summer of Anime. And I mean that literally, too, as this series had a nice start to it, one that made me feel relaxed and at ease, while also tickling my fancy with an enigmatic and prideful bird full of whimsical gusto. This series had me stunned for a few episodes, as I didn’t think Tamako Market would be anything aside from cute girls doing cute things, but it has something as intricate as a plot! A bird suddenly appears in Tamako’s life, and exclaims that he’s searching for a bride for the prince that he serves under. This doesn’t last long as he eats a shit-ton on mochi, a central concept in this series, and becomes too fat to fly long distances. Oh, what humor comes abound within Tamako Market.

If I could describe this series in one word, I would use the word “unique.” That’s not to say that the series is original in many senses, but I feel it trying to be, along with many other things. The series has talking animals, darker-skinned characters, an implied transgender character, and the stench of a slice-of-life, romance, comedy, and Studio Ghibli all wrapped up in a one-cour series. It incorporates (or tries to) many different settings and moods and plot devices that one could argue the primary genre to be many different things. Tamako Market would be an interesting anime to sit down and interpret, but part of me believes that underneath it all, the pretty moving picture is but a corporate machine trying to take advantage of running trends.

tamako market 3

Just as fast as the series captured my interest, it lost it with its meandering direction and commitment to nothing. I grew tired of the series by episode six, but that’s not to say it didn’t improve from there. Much like a series dubbed SaeKanoTamako Market‘s quality shifts dramatically up and down with each passing episode. The focus could turn to the romantic intentions of a side character and go through his ambitions to convey those feelings with disastrous results, but then switch over to mindless dribble of a coffee shop owner who mumbles on about how music harbors meaning to the soul. Far out, bro. The series has a way of wanting to try to put meaning and intrigue in just about every single character and event that it becomes superficial. It becomes so tedious to try and keep up with everything that when it isn’t focusing on such things, as with showcasing the trivial lives of a few high school girls, it becomes uninteresting and hard to care for. Not to mention, a lot of the characters don’t have the amount of development to care for beyond their significance to the plot.

It wants to convey a sense of family and camaraderie among the denizens of the small, close-knit shopping district that Tamako resides in, and by series’ end, it does this well enough. The only issue is that this series revolves around Tamako, the central character and the girl the series is named after. She is, putting it bluntly, dull. She doesn’t seem to have any sort of deeper thought than that she loves her family, friends, and mochi. It’s really all she has going for her; she’s cheerful, she’s altruistic, and she’s as dense as a male character in a Harem series. Hell, she could be a male character in a Harem series if her attitude went from cheerful to pessimistic. Putting the show essentially on her back makes the series uninteresting. The characters I look forward to seeing on-screen are all directly correlated to her and her needs and desires, whether I like it or not. When a conflict arises with various characters, it’s typically because of or directly related to Tamako, which destroys any sense of individuality among these side characters. God help the character who wants to become something of their own right instead of having to have Tamako cheer them on in order for them to take flight. I’m reminded of Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi.

tamako market 4

With all that the series tries to do, it doesn’t miss on all factors. I mentioned a talking bird character above, whose name is Dera, that plays well into the comedy of the show. In a sense, Dera can be classified as my favorite character, as he’s the only character I consistently enjoyed seeing on-screen, despite not believing he’s a fully-developed character. He is, in most regards, the comic relief. His arrogant and quick-to-alter temperament is one I enjoyed from the beginning. I also think he’s designed well enough to suit the “moe” factor of this show (and believe me, this series goes for moe). Spending this much time on one character alone shows that I found this series to be at least amusing. Comedy is fairly strong and Dera has a lot to do with that, but characters’ reactions and quick wits also provide some short chuckles. I also thought the emphasis on love was subtle enough to be effective, yet prolonged enough to be irritating. I like how it shows love to be an emotion of dramatic weight and intensity, but for each character experiencing it, even middle-age males, to dance around with red faces, screaming for people to leave them alone, it becomes stupid. I’m sick of characters being shy. I really am.

Upon finishing the series, I read a comment stating that this series was essentially a set-up for Tamako Love Story, a ninety-minute long movie focusing on Tamako and the childhood friend who loves her. I have yet to see the movie, but if it plays out like I expect it to, that comment really rings true… and that isn’t exactly a compliment to the series. It only confirms that Tamako is the star and anyone who tries to jump from outside the realm of her viewpoint must do so with her hand held in theirs. All others be damned. Tamako, Tamako, Tamako.

Another key positive with Tamako Market is the animation. I don’t mean the overall look of the show, which is nice on its own, but the way the characters move and express their facial features. Kyoto Animation is already well-renowned for a number of successful anime series, and it’s easy to see why with how much effort looks to have been put into character models. I haven’t seen an anime with this level of fluidity in quite some time, which only makes me expect the same type of quality from KyoAni’s other works. Free!, anyone? The level of “moe” is also fairly present, effective with cute, teenage girls dancing around in marching band uniforms and having fun with baton practice and whatever else. Pigtails and a hundred different eye, hair, and skin colors, shades, and styles. It almost feels like this series was KyoAni’s playground of uninhibited creativity and cuteness. Even Dera looks cuter when he’s round and plump. Though, if I were to offer any nitpicks, the female characters all do look fairly similar. Their facial features all seem to have the same sort of template, copy-pasted onto other characters.

tamako market 2

Moe and empty cheerfulness can only reach so far. For someone who enjoys critical thinking and thought-provoking themes, Tamako Market only served as an enjoyable scraping along solid pavement covered in colorful portraits made of chalk. Perhaps I’ll find more enjoyment in a tight-knit focused movie sequel that is Tamako Love Story, but that has little impact on how I view its predecessor. Tamako isn’t enough to pull the show forward with a multitude of other characters hovering around her, and Dera isn’t enough to make the show one of unending whimsy. It struggles aimlessly in-between, never quite reaching the emotional powerhouse it wants to be or achieving the passion that its characters so strongly put forth.

Personal Score: C-

Critical Score: C

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Top 10 Favorite Soul Series Characters

project soul

As I’m sure many can relate, the Soul series has made quite the impression on my life. I discovered the series as a demo for Soul Calibur II back as a child while I was perusing the electronic section of my local Toys “R” Us store. My time spent playing with it and the already fixated fascination with the character named “Nightmare” proved to be the deciding factor in begging my mother to buy it for me. Soon enough, Soul Calibur II was among my library and became one of the many classic games of my childhood.

Fast forward sometime, due to the fact that I only had a Gamecube throughout the 2,000’s, our family decided to get an Xbox 360, with which we were able to buy Soul Calibur IV; and soon enough, Soul Calibur V. Throughout its history, many characters have come and gone—45 major characters, to be precise. Some have made the Soul series into the lasting legacy that it’s become, while others haven’t the intrigue or the super glue to be able to stick to the hearts of gamers everywhere… or even future rosters.

In this list, I will be chronicling the top ten characters from the Soul series universe that have successfully super glued their place within my own heart. This is normally the part where I add any stipulations toward my list, but I can’t really think of any, knowing my list of characters beforehand. Don’t expect any bonus characters, I suppose?

#10: Ivy

Ivy

Predictably enough, Ivy is one of the most iconic characters in the Soul series. Even if you’ve never heard of the games, you’re likely to come across this voluptuous woman somewhere on the internet. Perhaps Rule 34.

Ivy is a character tormented by her blood. By that, I mean she’s inherited the lineage of one of the original wielders of Soul Edge: Cervantes de Leon. Because of this, the fragments of the wicked sword Soul Edge are innately drawn to her, as she to them. Her physical growth has all but deteriorated, leaving her body forever young in age, and the pain of holding back her desire to wield Soul Edge has made her into a brooding and lonely character. Despite her role in the original Soul Calibur, Ivy has good intentions at heart, but craves the desire to free herself from the blood that occupies her.

It’s also interesting to note that while her appearance in every Soul series game except the first has her in next to nothing, she doesn’t have the typical sadistic or playful nature that one would expect from a lady dressed so lightly. To me, this gives her a sense of independence from other characters assumed within the role of the scantily-clad “babe” in fighting games. Her mood suits her backstory, and I’m all the more thankful for it.

If not for her body, one may know Ivy for her weapon: the Snake Sword. A sword with the ability to contort and manipulate its blade into a rope-like whip, giving both an edge on power and on range. Project Soul has made a lot out of her moveset and taken advantage of the unique weapon at her disposal. All in all, there’s a reason why she’s so beloved, with as many reasons as there are stars in the sky. Well, perhaps not that much, but Ivy is a character a lot of people can find to appreciate.

#9: Voldo

Voldo

Speaking of characters with revealing outfits and unique weapons, meet Voldo, the strangest character ever conceived by Project Soul.

This old fart (age 67 by Soul Calibur V) gets points immediately for memorability. His mummy-like appearance and inability to speak or see gives him a sort of fanatical spirit that transcends the realm of reality, even more than the Soul series already does. His agility and maneuvering capabilities have given him many comparisons; most notably a spider, which reflects his appearance in Soul Calibur V. In a nutshell, this thing is a dignified weirdo, and it’s awesome.

Voldo has always been one of my favorite characters to play as. His fighting style is a forest of kinks and widgets that the player can only hope to maintain in a coherent manner. His throw commands are always a treat to watch, simply on the basis of how bizarre they are. And the Mantis Crawl is deliciously on-the-walls. I mean that, too; he can climb on walls doing that.

This mummified monster could’ve placed higher on this list, had it not been for his predictable and repetitive storyline. In every game, his purpose seems to remain the same: get Soul Edge because “Vercci,” his master in life, told him to from beyond the grave. Voldo, as loyal as he is, does just that, over and over, game after game. It ends up making him the residual “evil lackey” of each game—always being pushed aside by the good guys, never to be heard from again. He never seems to have any focal point in the games he’s a part of, one who doesn’t seem to interact with other characters in the series either, aside from Yoshimitsu in Soul Calibur II, or serving under Nightmare, always cementing his lackey status.

Nevertheless, gameplay and aesthetic points alone are enough to make Voldo a likable and memorable character within the Soul series. It helps when he’s been in every major title to date.

#8: Tira

Tira

People new to my blog or don’t know me aren’t aware of my fondness for manipulative women. Those who do know probably saw this pick coming at some point. Or maybe they didn’t. I don’t know. I like manipulative women.

Truth be told, while I think Tira is an interesting character in her own right, she probably wouldn’t have made this list if Soul Calibur V were never released. Like Voldo before her, she always seemed to fit into that “lackey” role in the two major games she was a part of. However, she did play more of a role setting up the plot to Soul Calibur V than any other character. I don’t know if I should be thankful for that. In any case, her influence on other characters and her actions have created a rift in the Soul series universe that can never be changed… probably. For that, she deserves a lot of credit.

What Soul Calibur V did for her was establish her into a menacing and effective lead antagonist. Sure, Soul Edge or Nightmare are typically thought of as the central antagonist, but I’d make the case that Tira is the character that gets the plot moving and allows for things to take a turn for the worst. She, in essence, upgrades herself from lackey to independent, antagonizing threat. To top it all off, her reasoning for all of this? Destruction and chaos. She loves the satisfaction of death, and indulges in sweet, sweet anarchy. While she realizes she can never have the incredible power of Soul Edge, she can at least allow it to flourish throughout the world.

Why not continue the chain of unique weapons? Tira’s Ring Blade is something unlike any has seen before in a fighting game. While I appreciate the use of creativity through and through, I never really cared for her fighting style. Perhaps I’m bad with her, but I’ve never really been any good with her, nor does her style feel comfortable to me. But my own incompetence won’t subtract any points overall. I love how you can even change her personality by having her pound her head against her blade to give her a slightly different moveset. It seems Tira is as fun a character for the development team as she is fun to watch go all out.

If I had anything truly negative to say about her, it’s her voice in Soul Calibur IV. Fuck her voice. I’m also not a huge fan of her poofy-green appearance in Soul Calibur III, but that’s not anything concrete.

#7: Yoshimitsu

Yoshimitsu

I’m really beating this whole “creativity personality” thing to death, huh?

Allow me to clarify something for hardcore Soul series fans before we continue: I’m referring to Yoshimitsu before Soul Calibur V, as those who are aware know that the Yoshimitsu in that game is a different person than the Yoshimitsu in previous titles. Sure, they share the same name, personality, voice, fighting style, and are essentially clones of one another aside from slightly different heights and weights, but that’s just a cop-out.

This fanatical character is basically the Robin Hood of the Soul series. He has a heart of gold and a resolute pride unmatched by anyone. He tends to the weak and the poor while carrying out his mission to eradicate all evil from existence. But fear not, shounen-loathers! His personality is anything but the standard angsty speeches and barren social skills. His knowledge is overwhelming and his demeanor is wacky and mirthful. Many a quotable line beckons from his concealed lips, and his upbeat, offbeat voice is one that can sooth the innards of any foul temperament.

His fighting style is also a charming crusade. Not only does he arm himself with a katana, but he even attacks with the short flag and pole planted on his back. He even uses it as a flotation device. Something more absurd, you ask? Well, why not use your blade as a pogo stick? With Yoshimitsu, anything is possible. Perhaps you’re feeling guilty over your own wrongdoing. That’s okay! Yoshimitsu can stab himself in the chest! That’s right, Yoshimitsu has a move where he stabs himself in the chest, having the blade stick out of his back to inflict massive damage to the opponent. All this and more to behold upon the fighting style of the blade called… “Yoshimitsu.”

Namu, namu, namu, namu, namu, namu!

#6: Kilik

Kilik

A man with a harrowing past and an inner struggle with evil, Kilik is one of the more “normal” characters in the Soul series universe. However, what he lacks in wackiness, he makes up for in resolve and the pursuit of peace. His life is a constant struggle to maintain, as the residue of Soul Edge powdered his conscience and controls him to do his bidding. Only the sacred mirror, Dvapara-Yuga, can ease him into his own state of mind.

His beginnings are similar to that of Siegfried: he had unintentionally killed one of his precious family members, and because of it, holds himself accountable and desires to atone for his misdeeds. While Siegfried becomes the poster child for all that is good and just later on, Kilik quietly has been doing so on the side, even aiding Xianghua in defeating Nightmare in Soul Calibur. His selfless nature and almost spiritual presence has made Kilik one of the more intriguing “normal” characters amongst the roster.

His training under Edge Master allows him to control his evil energy and become stronger with his ambitions. By the end of Soul Calibur IV, he sacrifices every desire within himself to become the protector of all he cherishes. He does this by warding off evil in solitude, away from everyone and everything, so that he doesn’t have to get anyone involved. With this, he takes on the role of the new Edge Master by Soul Calibur V. It’s a bittersweet progression for a troubled hero, but one that I feel is appropriate for someone of his conditioning.

Kilik has always stood out to me, ever since my first time playing Soul Calibur II. His rather pessimistic, but altogether pure intentions have given me a sense that there’s a lot underneath his skin. Not to mention, his fighting style is rather user-friendly, I think… not to mention cheap when exploitable. He’s also one of the more quotable characters from the game, humorously or not. I often mishear the things he says, giving me hilarious memories of exclaiming, “Cats! Cats! Hey-yah!” or “S’alright!”

A memorable character on his own, while also humorously so in my own mind, Kilik is another mainstay of the series that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, appearing in every major title after Soul Edge.

#5: Astaroth

Astaroth

Again, I’d like to clarify that this entry is Astaroth from before Soul Calibur V, as the entity that appears in that game is one of an army of clones created after the original Astaroth’s death at the hands of Maxi.

Astaroth, like Voldo and Tira, tends to fit into the category of “evil lackey” from time to time. However, it’s been shown on numerous occasions that Astaroth is a being of his own accord, who is simply waiting for the opportunity to provide himself with more power than he can imagine. His thirst for power and souls is his calling card, and damn any worm or cur who dares to stop him.

His portrayal in Soul Calibur II is the form I cherish most notably, as I’m sure many would agree. While his dark attitude and lust for power translates into future games, his appearance and voice are by far the most delectable in Soul Calibur II. In future games, he tends to become more outright monstrous, eventually evolving into a… stone golem… bird… thing… that I don’t really care for. It is his human form, complete with pupil-less eyes and a heart beating out of his chest that clamors the most appreciation from me.

His voice is also perfect for him in SC: II. The raspy, yet dreadfully sinister and low tone of his booming voice rolls off the ears like Whitney’s Miltank. His future cackling pales in comparison to his previous portrayal, not to mention his dialogue in future games becomes entirely too tryhard. Oh, J. S. Gilbert. How I miss you so.

Although a tad one-dimensional character-wise, Astaroth’s aesthetics make him one of the more, dare I say, “badass” characters in the Soul series. What can I say? He just looks, sounds, and plays ferociously savage, and it’s fantastic.

#4: Taki

Taki

If not Ivy, this may be the single-most well known female character in the Soul series. Y’know how everyone loves ninjas? How do you think people would react to a female ninja with large breasts? Positively? Yeah, I’d think so, too.

Taki’s outlook on life is similar to that of Yoshimitsu: her goal is to destroy any and all evil from the world. The only difference between them is their demeanor. While Yoshimitsu is kooky and spontaneous, Taki has a stern, no-nonsense personality that makes her as deadly as she is lovely. However, like most with a basic sense of justice, she has a caring and empathetic heart, one that shows through throughout the Soul series’ story.  Taki’s character is one I can get behind and one of the more appealing storylines in my mind. One of good intentions, but with antihero-like attitude or behavior.

Taki is my favorite female character to play as. Her fighting style is quick and merciless, much akin to her line of work. Many a created character I made in Soul Calibur IV and V were based on Taki’s moveset. I suppose that decisiveness with every minor swing is appealing through her own character, much more than just arbitrary attacks. I enjoy the speed and the dexterity of her actions, while also feeling the weight of every skillful swing. Hell, I even somewhat admire Natsu for this, even if she’s just a glorified clone character.

It’s really unfortunate that she didn’t appear in Soul Calibur V, however, I expected it based on her age. She had been in every major Soul title up to that point, and with going on 46 years of age, I’m not sure her body would be able to handle that same agility she had before. At least we have Natsu though, right?

Right?

#3: Talim

Talim

When comprising this list, this took me completely by surprise. I would have told you yesterday that my favorite female character in the Soul series was Taki (Oops, spoiler). However, as I pondered it more and more, there’s really something about Talim that gets to me. I don’t know if it’s her optimistic and pure-hearted nature, her youth, or her looks, but Talim has a strange essence wrapped around my mind. There’s something about her that even I can’t explain, that makes me like her a lot.

Fun fact: according to a poll organized by the Soul Calibur Facebook page, Talim ended up getting the most votes by the end. I predict this was simply out of spite that she wasn’t in Soul Calibur V, despite her being only 32 by its timeframe, but it could also show how much Talim’s impact left the fans. I’m not alone in thinking she’s strangely attractive.

What makes it all the more alarming is that, as a character, she isn’t really all that interesting. She’s the “Mother Theresa” archetype who does everything for the sake of others and is kind-hearted beyond her years. She doesn’t care to fight, but does when all others options are exhausted, and she even has a spiritual guidance, in the form of WIND. This dependence on WIND is also an important part of her character, as she spouts the word WIND constantly throughout her dialogue. Whether she’s using it to her advantage or letting it blow her wherever it may choose, Talim’s obsession with WIND is sure to provoke some more than others.

Focusing solely on her physical make-up, she’s small and young, being the shortest and the youngest character (prior to SC: V) character within the game (aside from perhaps Amy). Perhaps the paternal instincts in me and fans everywhere root for her like one would root for the innocence of an infant trying to walk. Perhaps her compactness and perceived naivety is considered “moe” to many. While I find her design appealing and definitely find her to be cute, I don’t think I’d fit her into that category. I suppose she’s considered doll-like in stature. Weebs love that shit, right?

There’s also the perception that she has a romantic interest in one Yun-seong. I know fans are into romance as much as I’m into femme fatales, but could that translate into individual fans of her, herself, and not for the exploitation of “shipping” her with others? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure of what I’m writing anymore, clearly. Bottom line, I really like Talim. A lot. And I’m not really sure why myself. She’s cute, I guess. And her WIND mantra makes her an easy target of insult. Ho-hum.

#2: Nightmare

Nightmare

Final clarification for this countdown: the Nightmare I am including on this list is the Nightmare from Soul Calibur and Soul Calibur II. The Nightmare that has Siegfried held hostage inside the azure armor, being controlled by the might of Soul Edge.

And yes, it is a very predictable choice.

While characters such as Ivy, Taki, and Voldo may be recognizable faces of the Soul franchise, Nightmare is the franchise. Look at the logo for Project Soul up at the top of this page. Who is that pictured there? Nightmare. He (or occasionally it) is the most recognizable and single-most important antagonist to each Soul game aside from Soul Edge. By the way, do you know which rendition of Nightmare the Project Soul logo has? Soul Calibur II. Y’know which Nightmare portrayal is my favorite? The one from Soul Calibur II. His impact left quite the mark.

The way he looks, feels, sounds, behaves; everything about his portrayal in SC: II is perfect. It is, again, the image that most fans think of whenever they think of the Soul series. While future renditions of Nightmare are nothing to scoff at (except SC: V, which I personally loathe), I feel the controlled and ominous appearance of Nightmare in I and II becomes more impactful than the outright malfested mess of chaos it ends up becoming. Not to mention, with Siegfried as a host, the continued struggle for control and the manipulation of the sins that he had once committed, this Nightmare becomes a lot more intriguing based on an innate unpredictability and a symbol of his war against himself.

Nightmare’s fighting style is my favorite to control, in SC: II in particular. I love the power behind every attack, and the onslaught he’s capable of with moves that terrorize the opponent. And his screams only suit the mood, ranging between heartless abandon and controlled agony. Nightmare’s voice is, dare I admit, orgasmic. I personally love his only line with his Destined Battle against Raphael: “You conceited, wretched human!” His unfiltered outrage and energy behind every threat, every aggressive bark, suits his appearance greatly and makes for, well, a nightmare.

His impact is unquestionable, but I feel the Nightmare playing host to Siegfried provides an ultimately more intriguing kind of monster: the monster inside us all. As I said before, everything about him is perfect in SC: II, but they soon put him inside a swarm of chaos that, while still awesome to behold, doesn’t have the same intrigue as once present. Nostalgia may also be highly present in my deciding of this, but nevertheless, Nightmare is one of my favorite characters in the Soul series, and he’d be the favorite, if not for—

#1: Mitsurugi

Mitsurugi

—Mitsurugi.

Yes, my favorite character in the entirety of the Soul series is a swordsman thirsty for a challenge. My fondness for the Japanese swordsman has not gone unnoticed by Project Soul, as he holds the distinction of being a playable character in every game in the Soul series. That’s quite the feat.

What can I say about Mitsurugi that isn’t already common knowledge? He’s popular, he’s respected, he’s fun to play as, he looks awesome; he is awesome. His fighting style, if not for Nightmare’s/Siegfriend’s, would be my favorite fighting style to play with. His cocky, albeit humorous demeanor makes him an immensely likable character. There’s something almost satirical in how he involves himself in every Soul series game. He goes up to random people, strong or otherwise perceived to be, and challenges them to duels. Seeing as he’s still searching for a challenge up to this point, he seems to have won every one, which has garnered him some enemies, one of which being Setsuka.

He also seems to have gotten a rival in Taki, who prevents him from ever coming close to Soul Edge. To this day, Mitsurugi has never successfully come across Soul Edge in any canon storyline, which I find hilarious for one so prevalent and so popular within the franchise. Taki must work wonders. Also, color me slanderous, but I had thought at one point that Taki and Mitsurugi were an implied item. However, reading more into it, Taki doesn’t seem to come up much in Mitsurugi’s story, and vice versa. It seems odd to label her a rival even though they don’t encounter one another very often, or so it seems.

In any case, Mitsurugi has everything one could possibly want in a character: personality, motivation, physical appeal, and an unending quest to strive for. While he may seem plain on the surface, Mitsurugi is a character who is respected even by the game designers, as he’s constantly regarded as one of the strongest warriors in the game. This is evidenced by his duel with Algol, the supposed Hero King, the one man able to resist Soul Edge’s influence, in which he almost won. Aside from all that, he’s just another character who seems to be consistently great in every game he’s a part of. I like him quite a bit, as I’m sure many do. That’s why he’s my favorite character in the Soul series.

 

Thoughts on Princess Lover

princess lover 1

About a week ago, I felt rather lonely. Not lonely because of a lack of human affection or company, but lonely in the sense that I was lacking my occasional need for stupid, ecchi, romantic garbage. I make it no secret that I have a strange fondness for awful romantic comedies or off-the-wall ecchies. I even made a list documenting it. Due to my love (or perhaps some self-conditioning throughout the years) of these titles, I have to indulge in them every once in a while in order to satisfy my thirst for variety, lest I want to go crazy. That is why the topic of discussion today is what it is.

Princess Lover is an anime that accurately fits into the category of “awful romantic comedy” or “off-the-wall ecchi.” However, what I didn’t expect from this anime is the randomly dramatic twists and turns that plague its entirety. The show opens up with a gathering of the male lead and his parents discussing his future. Soon after, it cuts to the present as it’s revealed that his parents were killed “in an accident.” That’s a somewhat harsh way to begin a stupid romantic comedy, huh? It’s interesting, really, to see the kind of mood Princess Lover takes with its story. It begins on a dark note, continues on a semi-serious note, then quickly manages to cruise into standard high school slice of life territory, only to go back to dramatics whenever character development is necessary. However, the last four episodes or so are mostly serious, with a sprinkling of comedy.

Of course, going into this I expected nothing. I expected writing on the level of MM! or Senran Kagura, but I ended up with something a tad more mature. But before I admit anything that would imply that the writing in Princess Lover is good, allow me to state that the writing is anything but that. The writing is incredibly faulty. The resolutions to the plot are absolutely fanatical and the male lead’s situation and surrounding cast are heavily embellished. Despite its more dramatic and mature structure, it does not shy away from up-skirt shots, cleavage-friendly camera angles, or random, sexual dialogue off-screen for humor. What surprised me most about the writing is more noticeable within the characters, rather than the story. The story is hilariously bad. The characters? Not entirely so.

princess lover 4

I can honestly say that I didn’t hate any character in this show. Not a lot of them are really likable or developed, but I didn’t hate any of them. That may seem like bittersweet praise, but it’s a lot more than some series could ever ask for. Princess Lover‘s cast of characters all offer some sort of enjoyability to them, even if it’s minute. Even the male lead is likable to a degree. And I hate male leads. There’s a strange determination to make each female character as cute as possible, while also giving them their own sense of identity and things to grow from. It is, in a sense, mature. The women handle the prospect of competing with each other for the male lead’s hand in love realistically, with some giving up while others feel they can’t try simply because they have no shot. I never really cared for the whole “rivals in love” sort of thing. It felt simplistic and childish to me. Here, we have the women thinking of the man rather than their own desires, knowing that he’d probably be happier with one other girl rather than themselves. That was fairly surprising to see in an anime like this, and I for one appreciate it.

Aside from that aspect, there is evidence to show a level of sense-awareness with the subject matter. Episode six is a nice indicator of this, as it shows the male lead far different from his typical, male-lead demeanor. Episode six is basically the “joke episode” of the series, or the “fan service episode” of the series. It shows the most tits (and it shows a lot of ’em), it shows the most comedy, and it shows the most carefree atmosphere between the characters by a long shot. It also has nothing to do with anything whatsoever. It could be cut from the series completely and nothing would be lost because of it. However, it does offer a subtle jab from the creators that they aren’t taking their series too seriously. This can be both good and bad. Good in the sense that it’s a little variety in a mostly dramatic series of beautiful and OP women, and bad that it completely takes away any seriousness this series could have maintained by that point. However, it’s hard to really take an ecchi seriously anyway, so I don’t see much of the point in it regardless.

princess lover 3

It’s a fairly enjoyable series for what it is. It tries really hard to be dramatic and breath-takingly epic, and that’s ultimately its downfall. But hey, I adore these types of pseudo-intellectual mockeries of storytelling among big-breasted babes with different colored hair. What makes it better is how it looks. After all, why have an ecchi show not look beautiful? It’s ecchi. The better it looks, the more it will sell. For 2009 standards, I think it pulls it off quite well. Animation-wise…. Eh. It could be better, but every character looks presentable enough and the effort based around the humor is commendable. The ecchi segments start off slow, with a shot of cleavage or underwear here and there, but nothing too explicit. It’s not until episode four or so that it begins to show quite a bit of skin. And tits. With nipples. I once wrote an entry on the OVA special for Cat Planet Cuties commenting how all the girls’ nipples looked the same. It’s no different here. All breasts are essentially the same. Copy/paste from one girl to the next, with slightly different skin tones or sizes.

It’s brainless nonsense, but enjoyable brainless nonsense. A show that fits exactly with what I desire from horrible anime rom-coms: good-looking characters, a story written by corporate drunks on their day off while skimming through porn channels, and a surprising amount of care given to expressing the strengths of its female cast. Again, don’t get me wrong. This show is fucking awful. It is not one I would willingly recommend to those looking for “quality anime,” but it’s something of a time-waster with a little bit of a kick. For those looking for something “to turn their brains off to,” this would be a ripe candidate. But for those more like me, who enjoy ripping an anime to shreds objectively, this is also something to rattle the bones with.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

School is Procrastination’s Mellow Fellow

Due to reasons that are completely my fault, I haven’t been able to post on here as much as I’ve wanted to. Anyone actively following will have seen that all I’ve been posting about lately is NFL-related stuff. Believe me, it’s been a nightmare trying to fit that stuff in, too.

School is taking up a lot of my time, and my procrastination habit is only making it far worse. My time management has been pathetic thus far, causing me to either push off homework assignments or skip class altogether. I’ve also been horrible with trying to wake up and do the things I need to do. This morning, I planned to wake up at 6:00 A.M. to finish up a draft of a four page paper (which is basically nothing). This is what happened:

6:00 A.M.: Wakes up and sets alarm for 7:00 A.M. Goes back to sleep.

7:00 A.M.: Wakes up and sets alarm for 8:00 A.M. Goes back to sleep.

8:00 A.M.: Wakes up and sets alarm for 8:30 A.M. Goes back to sleep.

8:30 A.M.: Wakes up and sets alarm for 9:20 A.M. Goes back to sleep.

9:20 A.M.: Wakes up and gets into a sitting position, staring at the ground for a couple minutes. Decides to take the grade deduction for incomplete work. Lays back down and falls asleep.

9:45 A.M.: Checks the time. Falls back asleep.

10:25 A.M.: Checks the time. Falls back asleep.

10:55 A.M.: Checks the time. Wakes up. School starts in an hour and a half.

Also note: Last night I went to bed at 11:00 P.M. I’m really awful.

I suppose the point of this note is to vent out my frustration with my inability to stick to my words, on top of putting out something, as I probably won’t have time to put out anything else until early tomorrow morning. I’m determined to see this lax nature be put to rest now that school is starting to ask more of my time. Until then, my entries may be more sporadic and one-dimensional, as NFL-related notes are easy to write about.

I apologize to anyone who only comes here for anime.

NFL Pick ‘Ems (Week One; 2015)

[Indianapolis @ Buffalo]

There seems to be chatter that Buffalo has a legitimate chance of beating Indianapolis, much in part to their terrifying front four and dual threat project at quarterback. It would be easy to pick Indianapolis in this match-up, seeing as they’re a consistently good team. However, Buffalo’s defense did make both Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning look like Geno Smith last season. Not to mention Indianapolis’s defense isn’t anything extraordinary. It will be interesting to see Tyrod Taylor at quarterback for Buffalo in his first career start after four years as a back-up to Joe Flacco. Do I think he’ll be anything special? Not likely, but we’ll see. With the uncertainty of Buffalo’s offense, I feel more inclined to favor Indianapolis in this game.

Winner: Indianapolis

[Cleveland @ New York (Jets)]

Two dismal franchises who are constantly subjected as the butt of many jokes. One of these teams can say that literally. Both have aged veteran back-ups as starting quarterbacks. Both have pretty good defenses. New York has debatably better running options and undebatably better receiving options. Mix in the fact that Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are the starting cornerbacks for New York’s defense and it’s hard to pick against them, especially when they’re playing at home. I expect a defensive game, but who knows what will happen with these two teams.

Winner: New York

[Carolina @ Jacksonville]

Carolina’s only receiving threat is tight end Greg Olsen. With Kelvin Benjamin lost for the year, the starting wide receivers for Carolina’s offense are Ted Ginn and Philly Brown. When you combine their receiving stats from last year, it amounts to 35 receptions, 486 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Let me reiterate: Carolina’s only receiving threat is tight end Greg Olsen. Their defense, however, is quite stout… when they want to be. Last year, their defense started out awful, giving up an average 374 yards per game. After their bye week, that average dropped to 265 yards a game. If that defense continues to flourish, it should be an easy game. Who are they facing an—oh. Jacksonville? Yeah, they shouldn’t have any problems.

Winner: Carolina

[Green Bay @ Chicago]

Oh, woe is the Green Bay Packers, who lost their #1 receiver in Jordy Nelson during the preseason. How can they possibly go up against the 30th ranked defense two years running with a two-time MVP at quarterback and Pro Bowl weapons at running back and wide receiver?

Winner: Green Bay

[Kansas City @ Houston]

Now this is an interesting match-up. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding both of these teams. Houston has the benefit of J.J. Watt, but do they have any other stars on the defensive side to pick up the slack? They got Vince Wilfork in the offseason and re-signed Kareem Jackson. And what of Jadeveon Clowney? Will he be the force they expected when they drafted him #1 overall in 2014? The offensive side isn’t any more clear. They released Andre Johnson, their all-time leading receiver, and are starting veteran Brian Hoyer at quarterback. If one were to ask if the Houston Texans improved during the offseason, I’m not sure many would answer positively.

On the contrary, Kansas City looks a little more optimistic. Jeremy Maclin has looked to be a stud throughout the preseason and Alex Smith is a lot more reliable than Brian Hoyer. On defense, not much has changed. Still more Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and the return of Derrick Johnson should provide a fierce defensive nightmare for the Houston offensive line. It’s an interesting match-up ripe with uncertainty, but I have to go against the home team.

Winner: Kansas City

[Miami @ Washington]

Miami has Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake, Jordan Cameron, a plethora of athletic receivers, Ndamukong Suh, Reshad Jones, Brent Grimes, and Olivier Vernon. Washington has controversy.

Winner: Miami

[Seattle @ St. Louis]

Seattle hasn’t always been at their best away, but St. Louis has shown inconsistency with their production year-in and year-out. Their defense has always been good, but never great, despite great talent amongst every position. Nick Foles is definitely an upgrade at quarterback, but will it be enough to get St. Louis past the hump? Against Seattle in their opener, who have largely retained their roster from last year (save one member), I don’t think they’ll get off to a great start.

Winner: Seattle

[Detroit @ San Diego]

Another interesting match-up. Two teams who had overall good seasons last year, though San Diego wishes Philip Rivers didn’t get injured halfway through the season. With Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games of the season, Philip Rivers has very few targets to choose from. On the flipside, can Detroit’s defense continue their surprise surge from last year? I believe this will be a close match-up, but I think Detroit’s offense will be the deciding factor in its outcome.

Winner: Detroit

[New Orleans @ Arizona]

Arizona had a lot of offseason signings both offensively and defensively, molding their team into something new, while retaining their old ways. Carson Palmer is back starting and looks to continue his winning ways. I still feel Arizona doesn’t have as many weapons as they could have, but will take advantage of what they have. New Orleans is historically less dangerous on the road, and Arizona’s defense is fairly good in its own right. Drew Brees or not, I don’t expect New Orleans to exceed twenty points. Oh, and their defense doesn’t look good either.

Winner: Arizona

[Baltimore @ Denver]

Baltimore’s preseason left much to be desired. Their defense didn’t look up to the team’s standards, giving up 21 points against Philadelphia’s starting offense in their second game. Questions are starting to arise for John Harbaugh’s former Super Bowl-winning team. However, Baltimore has a tendency to do more with less, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up finishing the season with a winning record. However, against the high-flying offense (despite a declining Peyton Manning) and pass-rushing defense of the Denver Broncos, I don’t think their season will start with a win.

Winner: Denver

[Cincinnati @ Oakland]

Is this game gonna be nationally televised? No? Okay, cool.

Winner: Cincinnati

[Tennessee @ Tampa Bay]

The #1 pick going against the #2 pick. Or more accurately, they’re going against each other’s defenses, but you can’t sell tickets that way. The coincidence is definitely uncanny, regardless. Neither of these teams have looked all that spectacular in the preseason, though I believe Tampa Bay has more playmakers on both sides of the ball. As much as I’d like to see Tennessee flourish with Marcus Mariota, I don’t think they have all the pieces in place to do so yet. Despite this, I think the game will be close, with Tampa Bay pulling out by a field goal or two.

Winner: Tampa Bay

[New York (Giants) @ Dallas]

Oh, boy! Remember last year when Odell Beckham had that amazing catch against Dallas? I wonder what he’ll do this time! Holy shit, football is awesome! Remember what the final score for that game was? Dallas winning 31-28. That shouldn’t change.

Winner: Dallas

[Philadelphia @ Atlanta]

Philadelphia, out of any other team, had the best preseason for me. Sam Bradford looks like a great pick-up and its defense looks like it can hold its own. I’ve been impressed with Chip Kelly’s alterations to this team and was at first very skeptical of his decisions. I can’t wait to see how the season plays out for them. Hopefully Bradford doesn’t tear another ACL. Atlanta is another team I thought looked good in the preseason. Their offense hasn’t skipped a beat with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’ chemistry, and their defense looks to have improved dramatically from last year. Aside from the past two years, Atlanta has also been very good at home, so this will be a tough match-up. In the end, however, I think Philadelphia has the edge with its front seven.

Winner: Philadelphia

[Minnesota @ San Francisco]

Honest question: does anyone believe that San Francisco will finish the year with a winning record, taking into consideration all the players they lost in the offseason? This team is the very definition of uncertainty. Former head coach Jim Harbaugh is gone. Patrick Willis is gone. Justin Smith is gone. Aldon Smith is gone. Anthony Davis is gone. Chris Borland is gone. Michael Crabtree is gone. Mike Iupati is gone. Perrish Cox is gone. Frank Gore is gone. Combine all those players together and that’s a total of 21 Pro Bowl appearances. San Francisco looks like a defeated franchise right now.

And the Vikings look like a rising power.

Winner: Minnesota

(I have a link to Odell Beckham’s catch highlighted under “amazing catch,” but WordPress doesn’t want to show it for some reason.)