Answering and posing 11 questions for the Sunshine Blogger Award

Nobody who knows me in real life, or who even reads this site for more than a few minutes, could possibly use the word “sunshine” to describe me, except sarcastically.  Even so, I have to thank Red Metal of Extra Life for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  As part of this nomination, Red Metal put eleven questions to me and the other nominees, which I’ve done my best to answer below.  If any of my answers seem like cop-outs, rest assured that that is completely intentional.

1) In which cases would you deem the manga superior to the anime on which it’s based?

Mahjong Legend Akagi is still near the top of the list of my favorite anime series, but the manga is better if only for the fact that it’s continuing to tell the story of Akagi’s mahjong deathmatch (a literal deathmatch) with the insane billionaire Washizu, while the anime had to cut the story off partway through… because the damn manga wasn’t done yet.  More generally, I’d say any work that goes through what TV Tropes calls “adaptation decay” falls in this category.  I’m not a big manga reader, though.  I can definitely say that anime series based on video games usually are not as good as their source material.

2) Which game do you feel has the best soundtrack?

There are a lot of great game soundtracks out there, so it’s hard for me to pin down one that’s the best. I’ll cheat here and say NieR:Gestalt/Replicant and NieR:Automata together. The two soundtracks do have some thematic links, just like their respective games, so I think it works to lump them together. Everything about these soundtracks is amazing.  In different parts they’re delicate and emotional, sweeping and operatic, powerful, crushing… well, I can’t really do it justice with words, so you should just listen to the music.  You can find most or all of their contents on Youtube, though they’re both well worth a buy.

As a pair of very close runners-up, I’ll put up the Persona and Ar tonelico series.

3) If you could revive a dead video games series, which one would you choose?

No need to even think about this one – Skies of Arcadia. Since there was only one Skies of Arcadia game (I’m not counting the Gamecube remaster) it’s not exactly a series, but I’d love to see a sequel, even though the chances of that happening now are lower than the chances of my winning the Powerball.

Well, a man can dream, anyway.

4) What game/film/album/book did you have a particularly difficult time adding to your collection?

I really had to dig around for a physical copy of a single album by Tokyo Active NEETs.  They’re a doujin music group based in Tokyo (obvious I guess) and their stuff typically has to be imported, if it’s even available for sale online.

Same goes for any limited-release physical copy of an album I want.  I was very happy to get the CD release of Moe Shop’s Moe Moe EP, even though I had to import it from Japan.  The damn thing sold out in a few hours.  It’s probably stupid that I’m into collecting physical copies of albums, games, and books, but there’s always the chance that a Carrington Event could happen and melt worldwide electrical grids and damage equipment, and there go your precious mp3 files.

5) Do you prefer to see a film at home or in the theaters?

When my depression is tamped down enough to get me out of the house on a weekend, I’ve always enjoyed going to the theater. Even if the movie turns out to be lousy, it can still be a good time if I’m with friends, especially if it’s a “funny bad” kind of movie. When I’m at home, I prefer to play games.

6) In what cases did you find yourself siding with critics over fans about a work’s quality?

This is a hard one. I guess I like some of the 80s pop stuff created by formerly ultra-artsy prog-rock bands like Yes and Genesis that’s praised by critics but shunned by a lot of hardcore fans (Yes a lot more, honestly – 90125 is a legit good album.)  This answer is one of my cop-outs, though, because I like most of their 70s prog work a lot more than their 80s work, and Genesis was total crap from Invisible Touch until they broke up.  Just listen to a Phil Collins solo album and you’ll get the idea.  (Better still, don’t.)

7) In what cases did you find yourself siding with fans over critics about a work’s quality?

The Sonic Adventure games. I haven’t reviewed either of them here, though I did take a look at a related soundtrack a while back in which I called them a mixed bag. I still feel that way, but on balance I do have a lot of fun playing them, especially Sonic Adventure 2. No, they’re not perfect games by any means; yes, they do have absolutely stupid plots that make no sense (especially SA2.) But they don’t deserve the evisceration they get from critics today.

More generally, I side with Sonic fans about the series’ quality for the first ten years of its run, and I’ll fight tooth and nail with critics who claim that Sonic has “never been good.” Sure, there have been plenty of mediocre to poor Sonic games, but that’s no reason to paint them all with the same brush. The Genesis games are still absolute classics.

8) What is the most difficult game you’ve completed?

In terms of cheapness factor, probably Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, though there may be a few old RPGs I played that I’m forgetting about. Nocturne features a lot of old-school difficulty in the sense that it almost never holds your hand or tells you what’s coming next. SMT: Strange Journey is even more difficult, despite the fact that it lets you save almost anywhere – but I’m ashamed to say I have not beaten it yet.  YHVH damn you, Mem Aleph.

9) Which game series have you been following for the longest amount of time?

The two series I still follow religiously are Megami Tensei (starting with Persona 3 in 2006) and Disgaea (starting with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness all the way back in 2003.) In a broader sense, I’ve been following the Mario and Sonic series for longer than either of those, but I’m not an ultra-dedicated fan of either, not even of Sonic, despite all the praise I was heaping on the Genesis games up in answer #7.  I still follow Megami Tensei for the variety of gameplay and stories the series offers, from the crushing existentialist terror of Strange Journey to the schlocky fanservice of Persona 4: Dancing All Night and the Arena games, and Disgaea for the characters and the insane level of post-game content available in every game in the series.

Etna is one of my favorite characters in any game, period. Not very trustworthy, though.

10) In what ways do you feel video game critics to be ahead of their film-loving counterparts?

If we’re talking professional video game critics/journalists, I certainly have my problems with them, but I do think they tend to be more in tune with the tastes of the consumer.  A lot of it comes down to the distinction between high and popular art that I consider totally artificial.  There’s good art and bad art (of course, these definitions are subjective) but how do you draw a clear line between “high” and “low” art?  Good art is good art, no matter what other labels you care to hang on it.  PC and video games are still a young medium, a medium that’s looked down upon by many critics of other media.  So I think a lot of video game critics don’t make that same high/low distinction with games that critics of film, music, theater, etc. make.

As the medium continues to “mature”, though, I think that will change.  We’ve already been seeing this with pieces by game critics calling certain kinds of games “unacceptable” and “immature”.  If maturity means that PC and video games generally become more mainstream, corporate, and safe, I think I prefer immaturity.  But nobody asks me what I prefer when it comes to video games or anything else in the world.

11) How does hype factor into how you ultimately feel about a work?

I’d like to say it doesn’t, but that wouldn’t be true. When a game turns out to be less than expected in quality, I’m more disappointed according to the level of hype the game was receiving beforehand. Mighty No. 9 is a good example. I did not give a single flying fuck about all the drama surrounding the community manager genderbending the main character in fanart or whatever that controversy was about, but I ended up disliking the game anyway because it wasn’t that great in terms of level design and control, and I think the game probably received more hate than it deserved just because expectations were so high at the outset. As I get older, I grow more cynical, though, so I don’t buy into hype quite like I used to.

*****

I held up my end of the bargain.  Now here are my questions.  Almost everything I write about on this site is on games and music, but I tried to keep my questions open to fans of all kinds of media.

1) What’s your favorite or most-used medium for entertainment?

2) What character in a work of fiction would you inhabit and why?  (Assuming you’re experiencing the entire storyline of the game/novel/film/whatever as this character.)

3) What work would you wipe all memories of from your brain if you could so that you could experience it all over again?

4) What’s the most annoying trend occurring in your favorite medium today?

5) What’s the most promising trend occurring in your favorite medium today?

6) How much or how little romance do you like in your games/films/novels/etc.?

7) If you had to be the ruler of one country in any work of fiction, which one would you pick?

8) Do you think virtual reality will improve anytime in the near future to the extent that it’s actually worth using?  Or are we already at that point?

9) I’ve heard people say that the novel is a dying form of art and that changes in attention span length and the constant multitasking our generation is involved in will make them obsolete.  If you have an opinion on that matter, do you agree or disagree?

10) Are you optimistic about the future of the human race?

11) Cake or pie?  (There’s only one right answer.)

And here are the 11 (edit: 12.  I can’t count.) people/sites I’m tagging.  Yeah, for once I’m following the rules of the game.  If you’ve already been tagged, or doing this kind of thing just isn’t your style, feel free to ignore my questions.  Of course, anyone else is also free to take part if they feel like it.

Retro Freak Reviews

Otaku Orbit

Strange Girl Gaming

Games Revisited

Otaku Alcove

Home Button

Blimps Go 180

Hi-Fi Adventures

The Bibliophagist

NekoJonez

Wordynerdbird

Shoot the Rookie

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An open letter to my friends in the practice of law

Today I’m doing something I’d typically never think of doing: showing some goodwill to my fellow humans.

What a ridiculous thought

Okay, I’m really not that bitter and miserable all the time. But sometimes I am, and it’s easy to forget at those times that I rely upon other people, just as the rest of us do. The most excellent Irina from the site I drink and watch anime (who also happened to take one of the best ideas for a site name that I didn’t think of myself) reminded me of this when she nominated me for the Blogging Chums Award established by one beams19. The rules follow:

This may seem like a bit of an odd award but I think it’s so important to tell the people closest to us how much we care about them, and in a world that is so full of hate and division, it’s the little things we do that can help make a big impact – so go tell someone you love them!

This award isn’t compulsory by any means but if you decide to take part, it would mean the world to me. I wonder if there will ever be a day when I’m scrolling through WordPress Reader and I see the Blogging Chum Award floating around on other blogs!”

The Rules:

Be sure to use the award image! (note: made by the author of Daring to Impress, which seems to be focused on fashion and such)
List the rules & about paragraph!
Thank whoever nominated you!
Write a letter to someone who means a lot to you to spread some positivity around the Internet – anyone will do!
Nominate 5 more people for the award and go let them know about it in their comments!

 

That’s some challenge. I could certainly thank any one of my fellow writers for their support and for doing what they do, and I do want to give my thanks to them. As the title suggests, though, there’s another group of people I want to thank today: my friends at the bar.  (The legal bar, not the bar you drink at, though I sometimes go to that kind of bar and meet friends there.)  I’m certain none of them will read this post, but if any do out of pure coincidence, it would make me happy, even if I am maintaining my anonymity here.

The practice of law is rough, frustrating, and dirty for many attorneys.  Some of us work in family law representing husbands and wives in the process of divorcing, splitting goods and property and the custody of children.  Some of us represent clients before administrative agencies with massive backlogs.  Some of us prosecute criminal defendants and some of us defend them in a criminal justice system that often seems twisted and backwards and stacked against the poor and working people, despite our stated standard of justice for all.  A few of us – fewer than most people realize – work at large firms for corporate clients, making big salaries but billing unbelievable numbers of hours per year, to the point that our free evenings and weekends are reduced or vanish altogether.  And 99% of the law is extremely unglamorous, no matter what part of it you practice.

“Counsel, please stop shouting and pointing at everyone.”

We all have one thing in common, though: we’re all subject to more or less the same rules of ethics, and we all bust our asses to make our clients and bosses happy.  And sometimes the effort required to perform the necessary work and maintain our ethical standards causes a lot of stress.  There’s a reason law is one of the highest-ranked professions in instances of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide.  I’ve gone through experiences in my brief time as a lawyer that made me seriously question my decision to go to law school and sit for the bar.  Our own state bar association is finally acknowledging the problem, but aside from a help line and a referral program to mental health professionals, it doesn’t offer much in the way of aid.  And to be honest, it can’t – this profession is what it is, and there’s only so much you can do about the level of stress it causes its practitioners.

That’s why I’m writing this post to my friends in the practice of law.  I won’t lie – this profession does contain assholes, blowhards, and backstabbers.  But it also contains a lot of faithful, trustworthy, and classy people.  From my experience (and despite popular opinion) the second type of lawyer is more common than the first.  The friends I made as a law student and an attorney have given me a great deal of help with their support and advice, perhaps more than they know.  To those friends, I can only give my thanks and express my hope that I will always rank among the second type of lawyer and not the first.

As for the nominations – this is where I hit a wall.  As I’ve said before, this blog is a bit of a dead end since I’ve been out of the networking loop for the last, uh, five and a half years or so.  That’s something I’m trying to change, but for the time being, I will go ahead and tag The Otaku Judge and also Pete over at MoeGamer – no pressure, of course, and I haven’t seen the good Judge around for a while, but hopefully he’ll make his return soon.

Plans for the new year

I don’t usually make these kinds of posts, but I wanted to wish my readers a happy new year and to put forward a few of my plans and intentions for 2019.  Not massively vague resolutions that will be dropped within two weeks, but actual, viable plans.

1) Get through the stack of music I was planning to review.  The new year means a return to work, and a return to horrible downtown commutes, and an opportunity to listen to all the new albums I’ve got (and some old ones I’ve had lying around unlistened to.)

2) Post on a more regular basis.  Not every day or necessarily even every week, but no two-to-three-month hiatuses anymore.  I won’t pull a Spoony on you (in fact, I couldn’t, because Spoony skipped out on patrons who were giving him $5,000 a month to produce content and I don’t make a god damn penny off of this site.  Which is fine with me – it’s not my day job or even my night job.  But I won’t leave it behind, all the same.)

3) Try to shift from a constantly negative attitude to a cautiously positive one.  My disposition was never anywhere close to cheery and it never will be, but I’m tired of feeling miserable all the time.  Depression feeds itself, and its appetite grows by what it feeds on.  I’m determined to get out of my hole somehow.  Maybe a little less drinking is in order.

4) Try to affect some kind of positive change in society this year.  That’s something we can all do.  My tendency is to shut myself off, to reject and deny other people.  But that approach clearly hasn’t served me at all.  It’s not like I really want to be that way, but it’s hard to avoid sometimes.  This goal goes hand in hand with #3.

However, I promise not to compromise on my sincerely held beliefs.

In the meantime, all my best wishes for a good new year.  I can only speak for how it is in the United States, but people here seem to be optimistic despite everything that’s happened last year – and despite the sorry state of our leadership.  The only thing to do is push forward.  Let’s all do our part, no matter where we are.

Don’t drink and go to Amazon

So, some explanation is in order. I was out with a friend drinking on Friday night after a week at the legal grind, and we got a little farther gone than usual. I ended up getting home late and then drinking a lot of seltzer straight out of the bottle as I am wont to do when I’m in that state before passing out for good. The weekend proceeded normally. Monday morning I returned to work, and what should I have found when I returned home but a box from Amazon.

The problem: I wasn’t expecting a box from Amazon.

Yes, I ordered and paid for this Aigis (or Aegis, as she’s called here) figure in the “Parfom” line I bought through Amazon Prime on my phone that night, a fact that only came to my attention after I checked my order history on Amazon. I dropped $70 on it.

The Latin phrase In vino veritas, or “In wine, truth”, is a popular one. I tell outrageous and unbelievable lies about myself when I drink too much, so maybe it doesn’t apply to me in a certain sense. In a deeper and more profound sense, however, the saying is definitely true for me. I wanted to buy this figure of my robotic waifu from Persona 3, and I only had the nerve to do so when I was wasted.  Because fuck the electric bill.

The back of the box is interesting.  Mostly in Japanese, which makes sense – one of the few bits of English printed on it states that this product may only be sold in Japan, which… I don’t live in Japan, so I guess they aren’t enforcing this rule too closely.  Then again, it is in “like new” condition, so it must have been resold.  At any rate, Aigis had already made her way to the US when I ordered this, because it shipped over the weekend with Prime.  I won’t worry about it, though, because according to the box:

Now that’s some prime Engrish.  Will I receive a happiest moment, however?  We’ll see.  This figure was made by a manufacturer called Phat! in conjunction with Good Smile Company, the latter of which also makes the high-quality Nendoroid line of figures (a.k.a. those far far superior versions of Funko Pops that are also a lot more expensive) so I think I probably will.

Before we take Aigis out of the box, there’s one more piece of English text to examine here.

At first, I misread this warning and got sad and slightly ashamed of myself.  But then I noticed that there’s a period between “toy” and “for”.  You’ll see it if you squint.  See, Mom?  It’s not a toy, and it’s not for kids.  The box says so.  Just… just leave me alone!

After some struggling to get her to attach to the stand, here she is, looking ready for action.  This Aigis figure is sort of an intermediate design between the realistically proportioned Figma figures and the super-deformed Nendoroids.  Just like a lot of those figures, this one is extremely posable and comes with different faces and various hand attachments.  Aigis being a weaponized android, she has both regular hands and gun-finger hands, and also cannon, giant fist and rifle attachments for her right arm that I can’t figure out how to get on yet without breaking her arm clean off.  Let’s try changing out her facial expression, at least.

Is it a terrifying abomination from one of your nightmares?  No, it’s just Aigis without her face.  I wonder if she can canonically take her face off like this.  Nice trick to play on the SEES crew, though she might scare the dog.

That’s better.  Her other expression is a pretty cool-looking pissed off, but I like this one best.  Aigis is hanging out on my desk in this form now, keeping watch.

So, I guess the point of this post is to not log onto Amazon when you’re drinking.  Except I’m not really unhappy with the result of my boozed up Amazon misadventure because I actually really like this figure.  I do like Nendoroids a lot – the only two other figures I own are Nendoroids – and this is sort of a larger, differently-apportioned version of that sort of figure.  And I couldn’t ask for a better gift from my inebriated self than a figure of Aigis, even if that lousy fucker did spend $70 on it that I should probably have spent elsewhere.  Like on food.  It’s a myth that all lawyers are rich.  Good God do I wish it were not a myth, but it is.

Update #3 of ?

phoenixwright

Hello readers.  I was planning to make an update post about how I’m still still not dead, even after my last two long absences.  There’s been a lot going on with me.  I passed the bar and have been working for a judge for a few months now assisting with research and sitting in on trials.  It’s been interesting and occasionally crazy, and I could write a whole post about how despite that it’s still not nearly as exciting as a Phoenix Wright game or even a Law & Order episode, or about how you really really shouldn’t go to law school.

But now that we’ve elected a god damn Caligula as our president, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point doing that now.  I still can’t believe this happened.  All you folks who voted for Trump and are deliriously happy right now – I don’t bear any ill will against you.  But I will ask you one or two years from now if you feel the same way you do now.  You’ve put a con man into the White House.  Hillary might have been a typically corrupt politician, but she wasn’t really any different in that case from any of the other typically corrupt politicians we’ve had in office in the past.  Trump is different – and not in a good way.  Mark my words and remember them years from now.  If we’re still around, that is.  I’m sorry for the off-topic post this morning but I had to say something about this.  As a Muslim (sort of lapsed, but still) with a lot of Arab family who was born and raised American, I honestly feel kind of like a Jew in Europe in the 1930s now.

Okay, so maybe that’s too dramatic.  But after all the poisonous rhetoric that’s come out this election cycle, can you blame me?  In any case, I’m not going anywhere, and I plan to get back onto a regular writing schedule here, if only to help distract myself from what’s going on right now.  I did just buy a PS4.  What better way to distract myself from reality?