Mystery Blogger Award Double Feature

Time for a break from all the serious analyses and reviews and complaining about the world (well, not that last one — I’ll never stop that, I swear.) I was lucky enough to receive Mystery Blogger Award tags from both Fanfiction Anime World and Extra Life! Many thanks to both animeandfanfiction and Red Metal. They both have excellent sites that you should be following, by the way. If you like anime, films, or video games at all (and if you don’t, how are you reading this post?) give them a look.

I’d normally break this into two parts, but I decided to just write one massive post answering both of their questions, which add up to 16. So I hope you’re ready. First I’ll take on animeandfanfiction’s questions, since those have been pending for a while now.

1) If you could make any fictional character real who would it be and why? What would their relationship be with you? ( best friend, enemy, stranger, partner etc.).

I’ve addressed this sort of thing once or twice before, but I’ll take a different angle this time: I’d want to have a mortal enemy/rival but with enough mutual respect between us that when one of us dies, the other will be disappointed that we didn’t manage to defeat him and make him an ally instead. I’m thinking of a rivalry from Legend of the Galactic Heroes that I won’t say any more about because it would be a spoiler, so I won’t specify a character, but if you’ve seen LOGH you may have some idea of who I’m talking about. Have you watched LOGH yet? You really should.

It’s a very deep show

2) If you could choose to have any power from an anime what would it be? (Examples, jojo stands, my hero academia quirks, etc.).

It might just be because I’m playing Persona 5 Royal, but I would go with the power of Persona. Since the modern Persona games got anime adaptations, I’ll say that counts. I suppose it is similar to a JoJo stand, though. The idea of having an alter ego that’s a reflection of your true self or however that works, I really like it. Though I wonder who my Persona would be. Are there any historical or mythical figures cranky and embittered enough to fit?

3) Is there any blogger on here you’d like to get to know better and be friends with? If so, feel free to tag them and share your honest thoughts!

Here’s your expected cop-out answer: everyone in the community. I really haven’t come across someone in the general anime/game-fan circles here on WordPress who I haven’t liked. That’s certainly not something I can say for creators on other platforms like Youtube, though to be fair I don’t move in that exalted circle. Some big Youtube revenue would be nice, but there also seems to be a lot of drama and poison that goes along with it. I can do without that.

Anyway, I’d be happy to have a dinner with all of you, a rowdy one. After the massive health crisis is over, of course.

4) What anime theme/opening/ending is one of your favorites right now? Is it because it’s catchy, fun or emotional for you and why? (Example easy breezy because it’s fun to dance to).

Well, I don’t/can’t dance, but I’ve always liked the openings to the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series. Especially the first one: it has a real title but people just know it as “bure bure” for reasons that are obvious if you listen to it. It’s nice and aggressive with plenty of despair in the lyrics and tone. I know this one is pretty old at this point, but I still love it just that much.

5) Is there anything not animated yet that you’d like to be? It can be a manga that hasn’t been, a video game, a tv show, etc. Possibilities are endless.

Moby-Dick in anime form, only all the characters are now cute girls. Tell me an entirely genderswapped Moby-Dick wouldn’t be popular. It’s not like that would be going too far — they’ve already turned World War II naval ships into girls, twice in fact. My idea is actually less extreme than that. I just think it would be fun to have an insane lady Ahab yelling about killing the White Whale. Hell, make the whale a girl too, why not. You’d also get the yuri fans on board with the ambiguous Ishmael/Queequeg relationship. Now I really want someone to do this.

This Touhou fanart is the closest I could find to what I’m thinking of. (source: Wool, pixiv)

And now, Red Metal’s questions:

1) What is the most unusual work you’ve ever experienced?

I’ve listened to some weird music — Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica or anything at all put out by the Residents. I’ve seen some strange films as well, though they’re popular in their own niches even if some people don’t “get” them (stuff by David Lynch, David Cronenberg, guys like that.) The most unusual work, though, would probably be The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade which I checked out just out of morbid curiosity back when I was a student. To be fair, I didn’t read anywhere close to the whole thing; it’s extremely slow going and still just as shocking as it probably was back when it was written. But de Sade also deserves credit for writing material that got him thrown into prison and insane asylums many times throughout his life — he wrote this work while imprisoned in the famous Bastille a few years before it was broken into by the French revolutionaries.

Not that it makes 120 Days any easier to read, with characters relating how they committed horrific acts against other characters, who themselves mysteriously heal or even come back to life for no apparent reason other than the story being kind of a mess. It’s a godawful work that I don’t really recommend to anyone, but the history surrounding it and its author is interesting and worth studying. It should be noted that although his literature got him into legal trouble, de Sade was also thrown into prison for committing murders and other horrible acts in real life, so he wasn’t exactly the “pure artist imprisoned for expressing himself” type.

2) What is the best work you have experienced that no one else seems to know about?

That depends on what set of people I’m talking to. I have friends and family with pretty different tastes in art from mine, and they haven’t experienced or even know about most of what I’ve written about on this site. But among that other set of friends, they know stuff like Shin Megami Tensei and Disgaea very well. So once again, it’s hard for me to pin down one single work that I can say is very obscure that I liked. The closest I can think of is something like the album H to He by Van der Graaf Generator that I wrote about a while back. The band definitely has some fans around, but I’ve never met anyone else in real life who’s heard of this music.

3) If you could go back in time and go to the premiere of a classic film, which one would you choose?

Psycho. Aside from being a great movie on its own, the stories of people being terrified by an actual movie in the theater are really interesting — it would be fascinating to sit in with a 1960 audience and watch them lose their shit.

4) If you decided to write fiction, which genre would you choose?

I’ve already started a few stories (not that they’re necessarily ever going anywhere, but they are started) and they’d mostly fit into the science fiction genre. Modern-day realistic settings are too boring, and historical settings require a lot of research that I don’t feel like doing. I find it easier and more entertaining to create my own world. As far as the contents of the stories themselves go, if there’s a genre called “depressive contemplative fiction”, I guess most of it would be in there.

5) What is the most disappointingly predictable plot twist you’ve ever experienced?

This is a spoiler for Grandia II… but shit, that game’s been out for 20 years now, and you’ll see this twist coming too if you play it now for the first time anyway. The big twist involves the Catholic-esque Church of Granas. This massive church organization recruits the main character, the mercenary Ryudo, to escort the nun Elena as she seals pieces of the Devil away so they can’t go around causing a bunch of havoc and killing innocent people.

Well, this is an organized religion in a JRPG, so how do you think that will end? It would have been a far more shocking twist if the Church of Granas had turned out to be completely honest and transparent. While the simple priests and sisters like Elena are well-meaning, their Pope reveals himself to be a mad tyrant who actually wants to steal the power of the Devil to become a living god on Earth. The guy is even named “Pope Innocentius”. How could a character with that name possibly be a good guy? And the game also drops all this material near the very end, as if we’re supposed to be shocked by it. Grandia II is still a great game and a childhood favorite, but even as a kid reading the manual and seeing this guy’s character profile I knew he’d turn out to be a villain. Not much of a twist.

Official Grandia II promo art. The Pope is the guy all the way on the right.

6) What do you consider to be the strangest title for a work?

There are plenty of light novels with stupidly long titles, so any of those might qualify, but since that seems to be an industry standard for light novels none of them stand out. So my answer is the title of the album I mentioned in answer #2 above: the whole thing is H to He, Who Am the Only One. The first part refers to the hydrogen to helium fusion process that the Sun is constantly working on, so at least it makes some kind of sense, and one of the songs is about space travel so I’ll give them that. But the second part of it makes no sense at all. It’s not even grammatical. “Who Am”? What the fuck. I know it’s a dumb cliché but I have to assume some hallucinogenic drugs were involved and the title made perfect sense at the time. There’s no other reasonable explanation for that.

7) Where in a theater do you prefer to sit?

Near the back, but not all the way back. The last movie I saw I nearly got a neck sprain looking up because we were stuck in front and all the other seats were taken. I like to get to the theater early, but not everyone feels the same way (i.e. one friend who insists on doing everything at the last possible minute.)

8) Do you have any graphic novel/manga series you’re currently following?

I don’t usually go in for those, but I have been reading a manga series called Forbidden Scrollery, which as far as I know is the only officially translated and published Touhou Project manga series around. It’s pretty fun, and about what you’d expect from a Touhou manga adaptation if you know the series — cute girls drink tea, solve supernatural mysteries, and threaten to shoot each other with magical bullets and lasers.

I like it, but if you’re not familiar with the setting and background of Touhou before going in, I imagine Forbidden Scrollery could be kind of confusing because it does not really bother setting any of that up. If you’ve played one of the games and know something about the series, though, it’s worth looking up. It’s written by series creator ZUN himself, though the art is thankfully done by Moe Harukawa, who unlike ZUN can actually draw. She has a cute style that fits well with the light mood of the manga. If you like the idea of a slice of life/fantasy mix set in an Edo-era Japanese village, you should check it out (or just check out Touhou in general.)

9) When it comes to reviewing films, which do you feel are more effective – traditional, written reviews or video essays?

This is a hard one, because I have a natural bias as someone who writes reviews (not film reviews, but the bias is still there.) I like the written form of review better in general just because there’s less spectacle — it’s all words on a page, maybe with a few screenshots thrown in. There’s nothing to distract from the analysis itself. I do get why a lot of people prefer to watch a video review on Youtube, and there are a couple of reviewers there who I think are pretty effective. However, I think the aforementioned Youtube drama bullshit can draw attention away from the basic review/analysis element, which is the whole point in the first place. Not that that’s necessarily the fault of the creators themselves. Maybe it’s just an issue with popularity fomenting drama regardless of the medium.

10) What aspects of old-school game design do you wish would make a comeback?

The aspect where you’d get a full, complete game when you bought it without having to buy DLC. I’m not talking about cosmetic DLC, of course — that stuff is fine with me as long as it doesn’t affect the experience in a significant way. No, I mean having to buy the ending to a game separate from the base game itself. Or having to buy the 18+ scenes in a visual novel at the same rate the base VN sells for, making the full version double the price of the all-ages version. I get that we all like to make more money, but fuck these practices. To be sure, ripping players off has been something the game industry’s been doing since the 80s, so it’s not like this is a new problem, but it is a relatively new form of the old ripoff.

11) What aspects of old-school game design are you glad went away?

Cheap difficulty. That hasn’t totally gone away, of course, but it seems to have been a lot more common in the 80s and early 90s. I’m fine with a game that’s difficult because it presents a true challenge that can be worked out through strategy; that’s great. But a game that presents you with a complete crapshoot of a challenge that takes pure luck to beat, or one that barely even gives you a chance to learn the controls and layout because it only gives you a couple of hits before it kills you — that game is just a piece of shit. Sure, we had GameShark back then and Game Genie before it, but if you have to break a game with cheats to make it playable, its developer has failed.

***

Now it’s my turn to ask a question. But here’s the twist: it’s one multi-part question, and it’s one that I want to pose to everyone reading who cares to answer it. No specific nominations this time, because everyone is nominated.

Do you think the current worldwide health crisis will permanently affect the way people get their entertainment, or will we return to the “old normal” after it’s over? And do you think it would be a positive or negative if people decide in the future to stay home and play games or stream shows or movies instead of getting out to the theater or to concerts? I don’t think it would be a great loss, but I’m not the best person to ask about that because I’m a severe introvert who has no problem being shut in for days or weeks at a time. I have to force myself to go out and socialize, but I know that’s not the case for most people. Well, it might be more the case in the anime/game fan circles, but I don’t want to generalize too much. What’s your opinion?

The Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge Part 3: Revenge of the Sunshine Blogger

Thanks to Pete Davison of MoeGamer for my third nomination for this prestigious award!  If you don’t follow MoeGamer, you’re missing out: Pete posts a lot more than I do (well, that’s true of most bloggers around here, but never mind) and he’s not afraid to write about all kinds of games, including lewd ones the big sites won’t even mention except to pump out ill-informed hit pieces.

Here are the rules of the game as usual:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

And now Pete’s questions:

  • What’s your favourite piece of media (game, book, anime etc) that you think goes underappreciated, and why do you like it so much?

Gregory Peck as Ahab in the best-known film adaptation. I don’t think it’s really possible to adapt Moby-Dick into movie form that well, but Peck killed as Ahab.

Moby-Dick.  I don’t know about using that as an example because it’s one of the biggest, best-known classic English-language novels.  However, it was famously a flop when it was released.  And even though it achieved wild success after Herman Melville’s death, Moby-Dick is now used as one of the go-to examples of a classic novel that’s actually a big ponderous boring piece of shit, which I think could not be further from the truth.  Sure, Melville goes on a bunch of tangents about the shapes of different whales and how much butter Dutch whaling ships packed into their holds in the 1600s, but the novel’s plot and characters are amazing.  There’s a good reason Captain Ahab and the White Whale are so well known and so commonly used as metaphors now, even by people who have never read the novel.

For all the talk about whether Moby-Dick is an allegory, it’s at the very least a story about a man driven so insane by his personal cause of revenge that he ends up dragging a crew full of men along with him who originally joined only to kill some whales for their oil and get their cut of the profits at the end of the journey.  And Ahab’s revenge is not against another human, but against a monster whale who destroys entire giant whaling ships by ramming them into splinters.  It features action, suspense, conspiracy, philosophy, and what some people argue is a gay marriage 150 years before it was legal in Massachusetts (see Chapter X, though you could also interpret it as a sort of “sworn brother” situation that 21st century readers are seeing too much in a modern light.)  I really recommend checking the novel out, even if you have some preconceived notions about it being too difficult or boring.

  • How long have you been creating things online, and how did you start?

If any kind of writing counts, I’ve been creating for almost ten years now, when I took work as a freelance writer through a site creating website copy for small business clients.  This blog is my longest-running project by far.  I started it as something non-law-related to do while I attended law school, and I’ve kept it going far longer than I ever thought I would.

  • Do you share your creative work with your “real life” friends and family? If so, how do they respond? If not, why not?

I’ve written on this blog and in a couple of other places under pseudonyms for the last six years now, and I’ve never shared any of it with any real-life friends or family.  The biggest reason is that I want the freedom to write whatever I like, and if certain of my friends or relatives knew I kept this blog, I’d feel the need not only to censor myself but to delete some of the old stuff I’ve written.  Honestly, with my close friends it wouldn’t be such a problem if they knew.  With almost my entire family, though, I have to maintain a persona, and one that I wouldn’t be able to keep up if they read some of the stuff I’ve written here (like say my recent review of Nekopara — I don’t need to deal with the questions that might raise among the relatives.)  And once you’ve told even a single person, even one you trust, that you write a blog, that information can easily leak out in all kinds of ways.  It’s not worth the risk.

I don’t need them thinking I’m a horny pastry puffer, even if it’s the truth

To put it in a more positive way, I want to be completely open and honest with my readers, and I wouldn’t be able to do that if my real life family/friends knew about it.  I’m not really happy about that, but it’s just part of life.

  • Social media: helpful or harmful? Why do you feel that way?

I’m a bitter misanthropic weirdo, so probably not the best person to ask about social media.  My own highly skewed opinion is that it’s generally harmful, at least if we’re talking about Facebook. It creates an expectation that everyone should share every aspect of their lives, even the private ones, if they want to be part of society.  As much as Mr. Zuckerberg and his underlings might insist that they value user privacy before House and Senate panels and in press releases, they don’t.  Of course they don’t — destroying the concept of privacy is their greatest purpose.  How else can they sell user data to third parties?

Sorry, I’m getting all conspiratorial here.  I promise I’m not one of those guys who thinks lizard-people run the New World Order or any of that nonsense.  I’m just happy that I’m a loner who doesn’t have a Facebook account.  I do like Twitter, though, since it doesn’t demand you use your real name and encourages drunk people at the bar/club to make stupid comments on their phones they regret in the morning.  Twitter still has some negative effects on society, I think, but those are balanced by the entertainment value it provides.  Facebook, by contrast, is just a pile of shit.  The newer platforms I have no idea about because they came around when I got old (“old” here being past my early 20s, so apologies to my elders.)  Maybe they’re shit too, maybe not.

  • You’re presenting an important meeting, and you feel a horrific, probably unavoidable fart brewing. What do you do?

Excuse myself.  If I’m asked why, tell them the truth.  If they would prefer to have some kind of android who doesn’t fart, let them build one.  And if I get into trouble with my boss for it, well, so be it.  I’d rather lose a job like that than keep it.  Hopefully everyone there is understanding.

  • Have you done anything that has taken you out of your “comfort zone” recently? How did you handle it?

I recently went to a friend’s party full of people I didn’t know and most of whom I couldn’t talk to much because they 1) weren’t lawyers I could talk shop with and 2) weren’t weird nerds I could talk weird nerd stuff with.  Or if one of them was the latter, I wouldn’t know how to broach that kind of subject on a first meeting.  Basically, I’m socially inept — a lot less inept than I used to be, but still inept.  I was happy to be there for my friend, of course, but I hated it otherwise.  If I could, I’d never leave my comfort zone again; fuck everything outside of it.  Sadly, that’s not an option for me.

I’ll never get my social link ranks up with this attitude.

  • How have your tastes in media changed from how they were as a child and/or teen… if they’ve changed at all?

They haven’t really changed that much.  I still like fiction with sci-fi and fantasy elements, I still like anime stylings, I still like the same kinds of video games (even if I no longer have time to play all the 50+ hour RPGs I’d like to), and I still don’t care for most of what’s available on TV aside from sitcoms that are both funny and break the usual sitcom model (like Seinfeld, The Office, and I’d also argue The Simpsons, Futurama, and South Park even though they’re cartoons.)  And my favorite novel is still Moby-Dick.  I guess I haven’t grown much at all in the last two decades.

  • Surprise! You have a single “save game” slot, and you somehow managed to trigger it to save right before something from your life that you want to try again. What is the thing you want to try again, what would you do differently and how do you think that might change your current life, if at all?

Can I cheat and say “my whole life?”

Okay, fine.  A real answer.  I guess I would go back to high school and try harder at math.  I have a lot of interest in astronomy, biology, and other sciences, but I can’t understand them on anything higher than the layman’s level.  Sure, I know law well enough, though at this point my knowledge is still much more theory than practice.  But if I could get on that STEM track, maybe I’d be happier now.  I don’t know.  It could also be a case of the grass being greener and all that.

  • What are some things you feel comfortable talking about now that you wouldn’t have been able to discuss when you were younger?

The only thing I can think of that I can talk about more openly now is my depression, and then not even with certain people (some of my relatives who don’t believe depression is a real thing come to mind.)  I used to just hate myself and think that was normal, but when I realized that it wasn’t, I understood that I had a problem.  Even then, for a long time I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone about it, but now I see it as more of a mechanical issue than something that’s “my fault” if that makes sense.  There’s no shame in a machine having a broken part, even if that part can’t be replaced.  You just have to keep working as best you can.

  • Someone online writes something that you think is irredeemably stupid, and you’re pretty sure you have the specialist knowledge required to dismantle their argument comprehensively and grind it into dust. What do you do? Be honest!

Years ago, I’d have to admit that I would have taken that fucker apart completely.  Today, though, I wouldn’t do it.  I can’t even remember the last internet fight I got into, it was so long ago.  However, that shouldn’t be taken as a sign of maturity so much as a sign of apathy.

  • Regrettably, the fart escaped before you were able to leave the meeting room, regardless of your intentions. It was a right old noisy ripper and it stinks. How do you handle the situation?

Own up to it.  I don’t think there’s anything else you can do in that situation.  Blaming it on someone else will only make things worse for you.  If you’re honest, people will appreciate your honesty at best.  At worst, they’ll think you’re an asshole, but at least an honest one.  And it’s better to be thought an honest asshole than a deceptive nice guy.  Again, years ago I might have given a different answer, but I no longer have the energy to pretend any more than I absolutely have to.

These were some very insightful questions.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer them!  Here are my own questions, as the rules require.  However, I couldn’t think of eleven good questions this time.  I’ve already done this twice, after all.  So I cut the number of questions down to seven, but the last question is an extra-long hypothetical to make up for it.

1) Have you played a game that was so immersive and compelling that you ended up feeling disconnected from the real world while playing it?  If so, what was it and what do you think drew you into its world?

2) Is there a game that’s had a profound impact on you, either as a kid or as an adult?  What was that game and what influence do you think it’s had on you?

3) Is there a game that you loved as a kid but that disappointed badly when you revisited it as an adult?  What do you think appealed to you about it then, and why do you think that appeal’s been lost?

4) How do you feel about the use of subtitles in games?  Would you want every game made in a foreign language to be dubbed into your native language if possible, or do you prefer subs?

5) Have you ever sold a game, game console or handheld, accessory, or similar object that you later regretted selling?

6) With the dominance of Amazon and digital game markets, do you think brick-and-mortar game stores will be able to hang on for much longer?  If they can’t, will we lose anything meaningful as a result?

7) Your government approaches you with an offer: join its upcoming first manned mission to Mars.  You’ll receive a large salary, and if you have a family, they’ll be very well compensated.  If the mission is successful, you’ll be away from them for at least three or four years.  However, the mission is so dangerous that there’s a high chance (let’s say for the sake of the hypothetical 70%) that you will never return to Earth.  No matter what happens, you’ll be immortalized in history if you join this mission, and if you end up dead or stranded, your family would continue to receive a large pension.  Would you take them up on the offer?  (Assume also that you have skills that would be essential to such a mission, but that other experts would be equally able to perform the same functions, so the mission would still proceed if you decline to join.)

And the nominees this time are:

Angie of Backlog Crusader

Strange Girl Gaming

The Otaku Judge

Honest Gamer

A Geeky Gal

Best Nerd Life

One More Level

The Dragon’s Tea Party

gamergal.exe

Geek. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat

Sega Does

And also Red Metal and Lost to the Aether — apologies for throwing this tag at you again after answering my last set of questions so thoroughly.