Blog Announcement: End Times

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Akashi sees something terrible

I apologize if this appears sudden, but I’ve decided to take a step back from this blog indefinitely. I think I’ve been struggling for a long time to keep myself going out a vague sense of obligation, but I think I’m finally done.

I want to stress that I see this as a problem that I have caused for myself. I truly feel grateful for and humbled by the all of the readers I’ve had throughout the years. It might sound self-aggrandizing, but it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve kept this blog alive for 8 years giving myself a break. I think it’s a testament to how welcomed I’ve felt by the anime community if nothing else.

I generally avoid talking too much about my personal life, but I think it’s only fair to explain the large contributing factor to this decision. For a while now, I’ve treated this blog like a second job, and it has coexisted peacefully with my day job. However, that balance has recently changed. I won’t go too much into it, but I essentially chose to take on more responsibilities as a formal web developer (owing a lot of that decision to this blog).

When I started this blog, I was in the final months of college, and I just don’t have the same time I once had. I know it might seem silly with the 1-2 hours I spend each day on this blog, but I can honestly say that the time adds up. In many ways, I’d say it’s been long enough that I’ve built much of my life around this routine. I’m probably taking a drastic measure, but I truly want to see what my life looks like when I’m not thinking about these things.

Mile is busted

So, what does this mean for you? For the time being, I will be keeping the site up and running while I consider my next project. Currently, I have no real plans, other than having some stress-free time with my family over the holidays. My personal domain will likely turn into something else eventually, but the WordPress version of the blog won’t be going anywhere.

If you’re still interested in what I have to say, I’m hoping to move a lot more of my snap commentary to Twitter now that I don’t have to feel guilty about reposting the same comments in a blog post. If you’d like to hear more from me, then I think following me there would be the best way. I also do occasional Twitch streams and post random YouTube videos if that’s more your thing.

Otherwise, I’d just like to end by saying that I truly appreciate everyone who has read what I’ve said on this blog. I can honestly say that I don’t regret starting the blog, and I’m happy to have had this opportunity.

Houkago Saikoro Club Episode 11: A whole new game

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The manager tells Midori about a competition

Once again, we’re back with Midori’s game. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. I actually think the progress that she makes in this episode is cool, and her background contextualizes her game quite well. It feels a bit weird that next week’s episode is the last one. I wonder where it will go. The end of the episode almost suggests a return to Miki’s insecurities.

Midori introduces her improved game

To Midori’s credit, she definitely takes the criticism in this episode much better than before. It’s not like she was overly rude about it in the previous iteration, but she was clearly shying away from it. I also liked how this episode uses the game as a window into her past, since it would make sense that she would base the game on an experience she felt was important.

Midori finds the right path to her game

I think this episode initially comes off with a typical message of creating something you’re happy with rather than catering to an audience. However, I think it does more to approach the importance of gameplay through strategy. It sounds like the real issue with Midori’s first game was that she was restricting paths to victory. As a result, people tended to fall on the same approach to playing the game.

Aya is excited

The strength of the final iteration seemed to come from giving the players more ways to play the game. That’s why the conversation on strategy arises, since the girls are now able to come up with numerous unique playstyles.

Miki notices the similarities between Midori and Emmy

Asi I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have an issue with Emmy’s character. It’s great that she’s supportive of Midori throughout the episode, but she still seems way too perfect. She knows exactly what Midori’s thinking, and she doesn’t seem to be wrong at any point. There’s something off-putting about that.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne Episode 10: Party time

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A new model appears

It’s weird seeing the series slow down after it skipped through so much content. This week’s episode features a brief throwback to Mile’s academy days, but it’s otherwise another team bonding mission. Admittedly, I think the misunderstandings in this episode were fun, especially when Mile has a literal god as her sounding board. I just get the sense that the series has made it a point to get us here when it could have just stayed slice of life at a leisurely pace.

Reina gets a surprise party

Well, I’ll give this flashback credit for being on-topic. These stories always make me feel bad for the friends that Mile left behind when she ran away.

Reina imagines Mile's reaction to the surprise party

I think it’s surprisingly sweet of Reina to feel jealous of Mile’s academy friends.

Mile wonders how she could have wronged her friends

It’s hilarious that Mile hesitates to spy on her friends while they’re on their quest, but she’s totally fine with spying on their private lives. I was okay with the cookie stealing, but measuring Reina’s chest is a bit suspect.

Mile reveals her tastes

It’s really not hard to figure out where this entire episode is going with the plot threads it sets up, but I will always give this series props for churning out great faces. This episode was a gold mine for reaction face screenshots, so it gets my thumbs up.

Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia Episode 10: A goddess’s aid

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Gilgamesh teases Ishtar

With one goddess recruited, it’s time to move on to the next one. This week’s episode was surprisingly light in tone, feature a surprising number of gags for how important the main mission is. I’m not even talking about Jaguar Warrior here. Of course, she’s there to be a comedic relief character, but there were jokes taken at even Gilgamesh’s expense. That’s why I would call it a humorous episode overall, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Quetzalcoatl makes her appearance

Quetzalcoatl makes Jaguar Warrior’s personality feel much more understandable. Still, it was fun watching her interact with the Ritsuka, especially when she offers to switch sides almost immediately. I curious about Mash’s comments, though. She seems to be looking a lot deeper into Quetzalcoatl’s behavior and finding something strange about it. Or maybe she’s just jealous. Who knows?

The gang reacts to Jaguar Warrior

I think the hidden gem in this episode goes to Ishtar’s faces. I know I’m biased towards these kinds of things, but I think it makes her a strong addition to the cast. I think it’s great that she tends to have a less enthusiastic reaction to most events as a goddess.

Ishtar sneezes

Oh, that’s what the sneeze in the previous episode was supposed to mean. Based on previous conversations, I guess this is supposed to be Ishtar’s real appearance, but I just see it as Ereshkigal from the game.

Ishtar talks about Quetzalcoatl

I’m curious how much sense this comment makes to people who have only seen the anime. In the game, Quetzalcoatl’s boss version is immune to attacks from good-aligned Servants, so you were forced to fight her with neutral or evil Servants (unless you cheese her with Servants that don’t have an alignment). I wonder how this will be incorporated into the fight in this adaptation.

Fou attacks Ishtar

Stop bullying Ishtar, Fou.

Jaguar Warrior gets ignored

I think it’s hilarious that Jaguar Warrior is recruited with literal harem protagonist power. And to top it off, Merlin specifically requests that Ritsuka do it, so it’s just an established fact of the world.

No Guns Life Episode 9: A new job

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Wurzel appears

Well, I guess this week’s episode gets right into the next story. Presumably, the focus will be on Tetsurou as he tries to get Juuzou to accept him as an apprentice of sorts. It looked like the episode was attempting to show how evil Beruehren is as well. It was kind of a weird episode for me overall, since it seemed like it was trying to start something up, but there were multiple stories happening at the same time.

Cunningham reports to the executives

I like the idea of summarizing the previous episodes by telling the story from the antagonists’ point of view, but this Wurzel executive group seems unnecessarily cryptic. It’s like the series is going to great lengths to make them look extra evil. Anyway, it’s a strange way to handle the aftermath of the previous episode, but I give it props for messing with perspective.

The robots have their orders

This is starting to look like a drug company’s cover-up. Is that what the Extended are supposed to represent here?

Juuzou reluctantly joins

Mary’s interactions with Juuzou in this episode are pretty entertaining. I’d like to see Juuzou start training Tetsurou somehow, so he no longer has to rely so much on Harmony.

Mary talks about her brother

To be honest, my first reaction to Mary’s story about her brother was that he was going to turn out to be Juuzou. It technically could still be the case, but I think it’s a lot less likely if they’re supposedly related.

Colt offers Tetsurou a job

Colt feels like a weird character to me. He seems like the kind of person who has fallen on hard time, so I guess I need to be sympathetic towards him. However, I can’t see him as being anyone more than the blabbermouth who reveals Tetsurou’s powers to the enemy.

Juuzou is offered a new job

When I saw the ending of the episode, I was wondering if I should conclude that Colt was secretly Saryshagan. However, it looks like the guy offering the job is covering his face up, so I guess Colt’s just placed himself in danger again. Does this mean Tetsurou got himself mixed up in something sketchy again?

Houkago Saikoro Club Episode 10: Relationship building

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Aya's father returns home

I feel like it’s probably sad that we’ve gotten so far in this series before it showed a game I’d actually played before. I’m probably going to get judged for this. That aside, this week’s episode seems to look more at Aya for a bit. I still think the pacing in this series is weird overall. Both stories in the episode seemed too quick, and I would have honestly preferred if the entire episode was devoted to building the relationships from the second half.

The game is introduced

It was fairly brief, but Blokus was a game I played in high school. I didn’t realize that it was designed in France, so that’s cool to know. I tend to like these kinds of spatial/strategy games.

Aya tells her father to stay away

To be honest, I had a hard time finding Aya’s argument with her father convincing. I think she’s perfectly justified in being upset with him, but she seems to forgive him too easily to me. I get that she probably just needed some time to vent at him, but the context of the game seemed weak.

Emi shows off a new game

Was it just me who didn’t really get the game in the second half? I got the sense that I was missing some key information about how the game was played, and it was mostly just an excuse to pair the girls up. To be fair, I kind of like the pairings in this episode, but I think the episode would have benefited if this section was given more time.

Miki thanks Yoshioka

I’m guessing the idea behind the episode was to showcase the girls’ individual personalities through the shopping aspect, but that would have come out better if the rules were clear. I can’t tell whether Miki was just being naturally modest or if she was playing towards some kind of strategy.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne Episode 9: Back to questing

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The girls continue to earn their keep

Well, this week’s episode didn’t make the most progress in the world, but I suppose the girls need to upgrade their base of operations. Does this technically count as the onsen episode? I guess it’s possible that the relationship with Booneclift becomes important later. Other than that, the episode is a fairly straightforward quest to capture a wyvern.

Guild girl explains the quest

The bit at the beginning about the difficulties of facing a wyvern was pretty entertaining. I’ve played enough D&D to appreciate when the monsters are smart enough to retreat. I’m kind of curious why it’s only the wyvern that’s a problem in this regard, but maybe intelligent creatures are rare in this world.

Mile prepares the next unit

The extended gag for this episode is Mile’s secret plan of tossing her comrades directly into the fight. I can’t say I fully disagree with this plan, to be fair. I do somewhat get the sense that several scenes could have been explained better. Pauline gets an idea of her own, but she passes out before anything can be done.

Reina gets excessively embarrassed to the point of stripping in the forest for some reason. These feel like moments that would be more fleshed out in the novel.

Mile recounts the story of the wyvern

Booneclift’s story about the wyvern is definitely a reference, but it’s such a common story that I’m not sure which one it’s supposed to be. I guess it was funny to see Mile arguing with him about the name of the Wyvern.

Booneclift asks for aid

This scene was unexpectedly hilarious to me for some reason. Maybe it’s the combination of the faces with Booneclift’s surprisingly accurate statement.

The girls spend their money

I mean, I can’t really argue with these priorities.

Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia Episode 9: How to recruit a goddess

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Gilgamesh mourns the dead

Compared to the grand spectacle of last week, this episode was more chill, as the heroes attempt to recoup their losses. I was happy to see the focus on Ishtar, and she’s turning out to be a great character. It makes the sacrifice of the other Servants seem so much more worth it. Plus, I can’t complain about extra screen time for Rin.

Gorgon's story is told

While this is definitely a liberal interpretation of Greek mythology, it’s a cool story. As a fun fact, Medusa was believed to be the only Gorgon who wasn’t immortal. So, she’s technically the least god-like of the three. However, I like how this story of Medusa becoming Gorgon sounds, especially when you factor in Ana’s identity.

Ishtar is confused by the offering

There’s something oddly fitting about throwing a ton of jewels at Ishtar to get her to join the team. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It has come out in small ways in previous episodes, but this episode certainly solidifies Ishtar’s cute side.

Ishtar questions Ritsuka

I think it’s hilarious that Ishtar gets this false impression about Ritsuka’s intentions. Most of her scenes in this episode make her feel much more human. She claims that the ratio between the goddess and the human host is 70 to 30, which is much higher than I was expecting for the human side. It really comes out in scenes like this.

Ishtar tries to help humanity

I do like the idea behind Ishtar’s motivation. She’s trying to shoulder the burden of humanity’s suffering as a goddess to spare them the pain. She even literally calls herself a target for blame, so that humans can pin the cruelty of the world on a supernatural being. I think we as a society (at least in the developed world) are moving away from this crutch, so I like seeing this somewhat antiquated notion showing up in a fitting time period.

No Guns Life Episode 8: Release full power

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Olivier admonishes her father

This week’s episode was a strange mix of high intensity from Juuzou’s transformation and a meandering monologue from Armed. I don’t know if it’s supposed to feel more realistic, but I get the sense that Armed is often dancing around the subject when he’s providing background that I want to hear. I might just be tired of him ranting about the greater good or whatever. There also seems to be some kind of growth for Olivier in this episode as well, but it might have needed some more setup.

Juuzou is taken down

The episode tells us a decent amount about Juuzou’s past as a Gun Slave unit. It’s not directly stated as far as I could tell, but it seems like his body was turned into a literal weapon during the war. It makes me wonder what happened to the rest, though. We’ve seen that Seven is a similar unit, but how rare are these survivors?

Juuzou's powers activate

I suppose a reasonable explanation is that the rest of the units went mad, and only a few were able to retain their humanity. Seeing Juuzou go nuts in this episode was pretty cool. Since he’s a later unit, it makes sense that he would be able to overpower Armed. I suppose it’s meant to counter the earlier statement about Juuzou’s lack of strategy. When he goes completely automatic, the strategy aspect doesn’t seem to matter at all.

Juuzou asks Olivier what she wants

It was a nice moment having Juuzou regain consciousness when Olivier asks him to kill Armed. I do think it’s awkward that she finds out the truth only because Armed continuously narrates everything out loud. I understand that he’s a hero in the public eye, but he seriously needs to learn to shut up.

Olivier tries to revive Juuzou

I guess I’m not sold on Olivier’s change of heart. I think it makes sense for Juuzou to push her to do the right thing, but I think it would have been more effective if she had linked it to her memory of her father. Nothing from the conversation at the beginning of the episode seems relevant to her choice. At best, I think you could argue that she chooses to go back to the plan she told her father, reaching a position of power and dealing with Armed through the proper government channels.

Armed is a puppet all along

I think Armed was a decent antagonist, but I don’t have a problem with him being a puppet all along. I would have liked to have seen him reporting to government officials, but I guess it’s simpler if he’s a puppet for Beruehren. At the end of the day, the company controls everything, huh?

Houkago Saikoro Club Episode 9: Game design classes

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The group breaks for exams

I guess we’re getting into some new territory now that the cast is complete. I don’t particularly have a problem with Midori feeling insecure after having met Emmy, but I think that the two characters would be better off if they balanced each other out. It’s still early, so there’s definitely still hope for that, but that was the main thing that bothered me in this episode. Other than that, I liked how it approached the universality of playground games and basically defending homebrew rules.

Emmy tries to find the shop

As I mentioned before, my main concern with this episode is that it seems to validate Midori’s insecurities. Emmy seems to have a real knack for game design, and she comes from the lauded country of Germany. It’s true that Midori needs to swallow her pride, but I would prefer if Emmy had her own set of flaws too. The episode starts off by joking that she has a bad sense of direction, but that doesn’t translate to much.

Midori is unable to clear all of the locations

I like that the episode gives Emmy the win in Elfenland. Combined with her flashback to her friends in Germany, it feels like she deserves that win. Also, I don’t know if it was just me, but I have no real sense of why her final move was able to win the game. Is this something for people more familiar with the game?

Miki explains the game

This episode takes a weird digression into childhood games, but it ties it together well. I liked how it touches on the shared concepts in the playground games of different countries. I’m more familiar with “Red Light Green Light”, but I can still see similar concepts in the Japanese version of it. I’ve also coincidentally seen the Korean version as well, and that version is even subtly different in its own way.

Emmy tries to improve the game

In some senses, a playground game is kind of a weird example. It makes sense for the rules to be simple since children play these games. That being said, I do like how the episode naturally gives Emmy the chance to modify the game by using somewhat basic concepts. I know people can often get a bit straight-laced with the rules, so it’s nice to see the girls embracing the adaptations.

Emmy tries to handle Midori

All in all, I think this setup is promising so far. Emmy mentions that she initially wanted to develop a game with her childhood friend, so I take this episode as the beginning of her potential partnership with Midori. I think it would be cool to see the two working together.