January 28, 2015

Fridge Illogic

So, let me see if I've got this straight. In Absolute Duo, there's this drug called Luciful (Engrish for Lucifur?) that apparently has been administered to tens, if not hundreds of thousands of kids, the only mentioned effect of which is that 0.1% of them develop this ability to generate psychic/magical weapons. Then they get to go to school to learn to fight with them, but at least half get turned away the first day (which would probably leave them incapable of enrolling in another school for at least a term).

Okay, so... Why? Why are tens or hundreds of thousands of parents allowing their children to be injected with this drug, and why are these kids being taught how to fight? With whom are they supposed to be fighting once they graduate? Why are their parents basically enlisting their children into some kind of army?

What happens to the other 99.9% who don't manifest abilities? What happens to the 0.05% who DO manifest psychic weapons but are turned away from training with them? Is it really a good idea to give kids swords and spears and such that you can't take away from them and set them loose in the world without even any training?

Yeah, Rule of Cool, but no, somebody wasn't thinking here, at all.

(And furthermore, if this is some kind of new technology, why does everyone act like there's some kind of long-standing tradition attached to this?)

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January 21, 2015

Silver Hair is a curse

I may have mentioned that I have a weakness for characters with white/silver hair (especially if they're dark skinned). Unfortunately, lately this has led me to some pretty awful anime series.

The most recent one I finished was "Blade & Soul" which should be retitled "Blade and Soulless". The "Heroine" of the series was a sort of ninja assassin from the "Sword Clan" whose entire clan, (most especially her master) were wiped out by this new Evil Empire. She, thanks to her training, is stoic, virtually emotionless, and barely speaks. At first it looked like it might be some kind of Wandering Hero(ine) story, but no, the writers had a VERY small cast they wanted to work with, (virtually all of them female and very busty, so if that's all you care about, go to town) and an equally small list of locations to have the action. Alka is supposedly motivated by revenge for her murdered master, a murder she was accused of by the empire mage/warriors who actually did the deed, for which she has a bounty on her. Only problem is, she doesn't come across as motivated by much of anything.

Protip, while it might sound cool to build your story about a strong, silent, badass blade chick, the actual result is about as interesting as a brick.

Another central character is this blonde woman who runs the most famous huge saloon (and implied brothel, although none of that is in evidence). Eventually it comes out that Alka, as one of her assignments, killed her lover, the one who built the place for her. She wants revenge, but she's way too sophisticated to just have her killed. She wants Alka to suffer, but as an emotionless wretch, that's impossible. Two thirds of the way through, Alka gets her revenge, killing "Jin Varrel" the top of the warrior/mages of the Empire, who uses some kind of magic called the Corruption that mostly makes people shred and vanish, but it doesn't work well on Alka, because her butterfly tattoo is kinda magical too, although she apparently doesn't know much about it.

Alka being out of work and out of reasons to do much of anything wanders about, running into people who miss loved ones she's killed or people who want to kill her, but she remains pretty much empty. Starving, the Proprietess of the bar/brothel gives her a job, and assigns her to work with a girl who had a murderous past, but is really nice and helpful, actually. Alka shows the barest glimmer of starting to care, so the girl is killed. Revenge at last! But it's strangely unsatisfying.

Jin Varrel is resurrected by the second in command, who actually turns out to be the real leader of the baddies (after the emperor) because Jin is really just an empty emotionless puppet because that's the only thing that can contain the Corruption. But this time, she somehow hangs on to her original identity, and somehow Alka is connected. I say Somehow advisedly, because it doesn't make much sense. You could wear out a strip of carpet going back and forth to the fridge with this series. They meet up, fight, and somehow Alka having emotions (which hurts her fighting ability) frees Jin up too, because they are "Alike" (The dead barmaid also made a point about how they were alike, which is the key to Alka's emotions, it seems), and so instead of finishing fighting to the death, they hug or something.

There's also a sort of Desert Pirate Queen, and a brash, noisy drunken bounty hunter girl, but they don't really drive the plot very much, although they both contribute vast tracts of land to the scenery.

Like Amagi Brilliant Park, there's a final episode that comes out of nowhere, throws the characters into a stupid treasure hunt storyline, and really adds nothing. And don't even bother with the little chibi vignettes that came out with the BD release.

It was crap. (I had to balance out the last two brilliant series I wrote about.)

In further erronious pursuit of the Silver-hair... I was watching Absolute Duo. And as charming as the girl is, I am totally sick of the guy who acts like a girl throwing herself at him is radioactive trope. And when they strung together a SERIES of "Awkward falls into compromising positions" in the second episode, I just stopped the tape and walked away.

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January 18, 2015

Shingeki no Bahamut_ Genesis : The end

So, Eraser was very late with the last three episodes, but I was also late in finally sitting down to watch them....

That was the single most EPIC finale I have ever seen.

I can't even begin to summarize what happened, but it was magnificent. Revelations, like Amira's true origin. Betrayals, the king burning Joan of Arc at the stake, the gods forsaking her, and her transformation into a demon... Redemption. The entire Holy host and Demonic hordes assembled to fight Bahamut, and getting decimated, the reveal of the true villain, and the littlest weapon that takes him down, with the greatest sacrifice to deploy it. The sense of scale when some of the party is miles away, but you can see the big things going on. The unlikely hero whom you knew would be propelled to his destiny fulfilling it. And he finally got his kiss.

And a nice full-circle ending wrapping it all up in a bow.

It was brilliant.

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January 17, 2015

Junketsu no Maria

Just a brief note because it's late, but I just watched the first episode of Junketsu no Maria, and Joe-Bob says, Watch it!

This has the potential to be something really good.  I'll be writing more later about it, I'm sure.

Also watched the first of the new Durarara. They definitely are being responsive to their fan-base, since the episode was mostly about Celty, but it had brief appearances by most of the huge ensemble cast. I don't remember who most of them are though, so this one might be one to save up for after mainlining the original.

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January 11, 2015

Okay, so that's kinda cool

I just tracked down the webUI.zip file for adding the web interface to uTorrent. They don't make it easy, since all the links in 2.x are no longer valid, now that they've commoditized version 3.0.  But a little google-foo found the help forum page that has a link to the latest version.  Which actually works fine with 2.x (The only thing I've noticed so far is that it doesn't support the peers tab, but looking through the release notes and history, that's an api that's only in 3.0 and later.  No big deal).

Still, the upshot is now that if I'm in the other room and I am reading on my laptop, and find an interesting torrent, I can download it, move it to Himawari through the regular Windows file sharing, drop it in my AutoLoad Torrents folder, and then open a link in my browser to start it.

This doesn't happen TOO often, but it has a couple of times. I've locked it down to just the IP I assigned to Etna. I don't want to expose it to the world, and my Router/Modem doesn't make it very safe to do so anyway.

Anyway, it's kinda slick.

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January 02, 2015

Hitsugi no Chaika

When the first season started, I only got a few episodes in before I didn't have enough time to follow it. I kept getting it, and I continued with the second season. I'm finally going through it and I'm really glad I did.

This show has all kinds of elements to make it really interesting. Multiple factions, each with their own perfectly valid motivations, Major game-changing plot twists that alter the course of events, but which still logically follow. A Multiple-McGuffin search quest that is actually different at each stage of the game. And no sign of a high school.

I mentioned Chaika before as a Magical Sniper. She's not the only one. Actually, that can be read two ways. First, the "Gundo" is a standard Magical weapon and multiple characters use one, but more interestingly, Chaika herself is not the only one.

It seems that after the Eight Heroes from the Six Nations took down the "Taboo Emperor" Gaz (Who had developed the science of magic to truly obscene ends) five years ago, the countryside has been crawling with girls claiming to be his daughter, much like Anastasia. They're all of similar appearance, and all have the same goal, to collect the remains of the Emperor, although their motivations are different.

Our Heroes are traveling with the White Chaika, a fairly innocent girl who works magic, and whose goal for the remains (Which are high-performance sources of magic - something our heroes fail to take advantage of when their other resources are low) is simply to give them a decent burial.

Eventually they run across another trio, one of whom comes to be known as the Red Chaika, she is more violent, has shorter hair, and wields a chain-sword. Her goal is to collect the remains and use them for revenge.

There's also the Blue Chaika, who found out her true origin and decided not to be a Chaika any more, and renamed herself Layla. She is a rather evil bitch who manipulated others with drugs and sex, and is hoping to plunge the world into warfare again simply for the carnage of it.

What's that I said? True origin? Oh yeah, as much as we'd like to think "Our" White Chaika is the original and the others are fakes, that's not so. There are hints earlier (with Layla), but a few episodes into the second season, there is horrifying confirmation. All of the Chaikas are fakes. It's all part of the Emperor's plan.

There's also another part of the plan, when Teams White and Red discover an island meant to house the Emperor's treasure, it turns out to be the Emperor's Moreau Island, where they have been mass-replicating various magical beasts and demi-humans (generic Kemonomimi and Kobalds by the looks of it). The Chaika's weren't replicated, but made from kidnapped girls and remodeled and reprogrammed.

Also on the island is a girl, quite possibly entirely artificial. She needed the presence of a Chaika to become activated, and she bonds to the White Chaika. At a critical juncture it turns out that she's a living(ish) weapon, a Gundo of tremendous power. After they escape the island, she goes from being basically inert to insisting, with that kind of disturbing quiet insistence that they WILL continue going after the remains, even after learning the truth.

There are a lot of characters in the crew, The brother and sister "Saboteurs" (Who aren't really siblings, just childhood friends) - basically ninjas - who first hook up with White Chaika. There is, of course, sexual tension,  Chaika bonds with him innocently, but won't acknowledge it, which his sister needles him about endlessly. She also is a rather deadpan tsundere, who expresses her care in unusual ways, like "Don't wound him too badly when you kill him, I plan to have him stuffed." She's never lovey-dovey towards him, but she definitely has the prior claim to him. Finally at some point they pick up a shape-changing female "Dragoon" who mostly wants to fight him to the death, but they keep putting it off, so she keeps sticking around. She transforms from an giant armored dragon into a frilly girl and a cat.

Red Chaika also has a thing for the boy Saboteur, but can't bring herself to admit it, even if her teammates can see it and needle her about it.

The nice thing about all this stuff is that the show ISN'T built entirely around it. It's a factor in their characters, to be sure, but it's not the driver of the plot. (I was afraid it would derail in that direction about halfway into the first season, but they got back on track.)

There's also a crew of good guys who have some interesting dynamics.

I still have another 6 episodes to go on the second season, and I'm eager to see how it turns out, but first, a couple of pictures, just because I haven't had many lately.

Gentle, kind, innocent White Chaika blowing a safe. (Okay, it's a re-run)

Red Chaika after a near miss with the dissection table.

Blue Chaika/Layla. Shame she's the most evil. There's no way she's wearing panties under that.

Update: It turns out the second season only has 10 episodes, so I actually had them all. Good thing too. The denouement of the series is really, really good. Once they introduce the Black Chaika....

Not triplets, but her dolls. She has a lot of dolls who used to be Chaikas.

I made a prediction at the very beginning of the series that the quest would bring about a Very Bad Thing, and it certainly did. I nailed it. But the journey was very much worth it, and took some routes I never would have guessed.

There were only two weak spots in the series: the establishment of the affections in the first half, and a fighting tournament in the second that could have been de-emphasized. But I guess the fight was important background for the events in the end, though it had some obviously dumb moments. Still, they didn't rise to the level of ruining the story.

All of the possible details got properly tied up as well, Things that had been set up since well back in the first season came into play. You might say that a whole mantlepiece of Chaika's Guns had been fired by the final act.

Well, you might not, but I went there.

All in all, it was awesome.  Recommended.

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