Here, have some text.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Warwolf, Tally Two Youkai, Angels High, Engaging!

I don't have anything new, but I needed something here.  Sorry.
So yeah, remember how I promised an update by the Thursday before last?  Yeah, didn't happen, and now I actually have some more Alstroemeria Records albums to talk about (but that'll be the last part).  No more Touhou otherwise though, I promise.  I still haven't found a not sketchy way to play any of the games anyway, and I figure I'd better at least beat one on medium, just so that it doesn't seem too ridiculous that I've read and watched so much about characters that I haven't even seen the original versions of.

Speaking of which, I went on out of curiosity, and browsed through some of their stuff, and man is everything expensive.  I don't know if it's just the dollar being weak against the yen or something, but wow.  I'm definitely not buying anything from there anytime soon, especially not with US shipping expenses, which I imagine must be enormous too.  Also, kanji, kanji everywhere.  There's a joke that four years of Spanish lets you read a novel comfortably, and four years of Japanese lets you barely stumble your way through a comic.  Except it's not a joke, it's probably just a fact.  How does anything ever get done over there?  Oh wait, it doesn't, their government is at least as inefficient as ours is right now.

What Have I Been Playing?
Next Tuesday, the answer is going to be Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.  I downloaded the demo last Thursday and I've been playing it, getting used to the new physics and mechanics.  Planes handle more or less the same as in previous Ace Combat games.  The yaw and roll and pitch are pretty heavy when compared to something like Ace Combat 5 or Zero, but it actually reminds me a bit of Ace Combat 04's more floaty sort of handling.  What doesn't handle like any other console Ace Combat game is acceleration.  Tap the right trigger, and all of a sudden you're going 1500 knots and about to overshoot the Flanker F you've been chasing.  On the other hand, tap the left trigger and you're falling out of the sky.  It's very weird to get used to, but once I do, I imagine it'll just make maneuvering into position all the more precise and swift.  Still, I'll often try to merge with too much energy, or start a series of high alpha maneuvers with too little, and end up dangerously out of position in a way that would cause me a lot of trouble if I were playing against a human opponent.

Maneuvering into position is at the same time more important and less important in Ace Combat Assault Horizon.  With DFM - dogfight mode - you can tap the bumpers and enter this sort of chase scene thing where the enemy is trying to shake your pursuit and you have to try and follow and get off missile shots.  It's the only way to efficiently take down some enemies, and it's actually very cool, but on the other hand, reliance on the new feature means that Project Aces has made taking out aircraft outside of DFM rather more difficult.  Missiles do not track very well at all outside of DFM, requiring very good timing, judgement of energy, and positioning to get hits on the more difficult enemies.  Normal aircraft in ACAH have very passive AIs that seem content to take it in the rudder while you sit behind them and shoot 20mm cannon rounds in their general direction.  This is probably for the better, since the cannon in ACAH does not compensate for lead outside of DFM, so getting a gun track on the target at anything except point blank range is very hard, and is not helped by the fact that it takes a lot more to take down enemy planes in this game than in any other Ace Combat game before it.  Missiles work just fine though, and I can take normal enemies out without any more difficulty than in any other Ace Combat game.

There are also so called "target leads" though, that are much more difficult to engage outside of DFM because the designers did not intend for players to engage them outside of DFM.  Their AI is pretty lackluster - about the same as a normal aircraft in any other Ace Combat game - but man, does the computer ever cheat.  Most of them are scripted to be invincible outside of DFM, even though you can still score missile and gun hits, and I always forget which ones are which until I'll be chasing one, maneuver into position, watch the plane disappear behind a wall of smoke and flame, only to emerge unhurt from the other side.  They also tend to spam flares if you get too trigger happy with the missiles, which can be very difficult to deal with, and will defeat even the most well positioned missile shot.  They're very much like the Yellow squadron planes in AC04's Lifeline mission, and like them, I can still score enough missile hits on any given target lead that I'm pretty sure it'd be dead if it weren't protected by plot armor without much of an issue.  On the other hand, they're very good for training, just scoring missile hit after missile hit in preparation for dealing with the AIs in the real game, and potentially for other humans.

See, my colleagues at Ace Combat Skies have come up with a master plan.  There's a game mode in ACAH multiplayer called world domination, where the player chooses a city to join, and compete to take control of all the other cities of the world by flying combat sorties on the offense to new territories and in defense of their own.  Most of the best and experienced Ace Combat pilots in the western world (my humble self included) are on ACS, so this is what we're planning: everybody on the forums joins a really unpopular city, like Dubai, so that it's mostly just us and whatever other people that region manages to get, and together we take the rest of the online community by surprise and conquer the world with our hundred-or-so player army.  First, we would take Tokyo for the sake of the Japanophiles, then we'd take Hawai'i to take control of the world's hula girl stockpile, and then, the world.  They will come to know and fear the ACS clan tag.  Or we'll start in Honolulu and work the other way around, but in either case, it'll be hilarious, this faction that has such a small percent of the online community taking over the world.

Or so we hope.  It's actually more feasible than it sounds.  From what I've seen, most people, even experienced gamers who play flight games on occasion, really don't fly very well at all.  Heck, the professionals that play for the previews, who you'd think would be pretty experienced with this sort of game, fly horribly.  What with the influx of new people drawn to the steel carnage of Assault Horizon, the average opponent probably won't be much harder than the average AI.

Of course, if I wanted to take part in this glorious battle, I'd have to get Xbox Live Gold.  Which sucks.  Maybe if I pay my parents back, I can get a one month subscription, so I can help my comrades for the majority of the fighting.

Life?  What is this life you speak of?

What Am I Watching?
Drunk people outside my window, but that's not important right now.

No, but really, I've been watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Super Dimension Fortress Macross, but as I've already talked about both on here, and I don't really have anything more substantial to say about them, I'll leave it at that.  It did occur to me, however, that Legend of the Galactic Heroes isn't a space opera after all.  What it really is, is a historical epic that happens to be set in the future.  As the show's tagline says: Zu jeder Zeit, an jedem Ort, bleibt das Tun der Menschen das gleiche - in any age, in any place, the acts of men remain the same.  Holy crap is this show awesome, all the politics and history and personalities, and stuff, but of course, that's exactly why it'll never see the light of day stateside.  So ist das Leben.

how do i facial proportions plz k thanks
SDF Macross is still pretty good, like a slightly less stupid version of the original Battlestar Galactica, but that's really not saying much.  The characters aren't great, and the plot is kinda stupid at times, but it does have some genuinely great moments in it, and it's still something cool to put on during dinner.  It's also kind of funny just watching to find animation errors...which isn't that hard, because if I had a penny for every time someone goes off model or crosseyed or there's a sea of elementary school drawings in the background cells, then I'd be able to pay my own way through college.

On the Theoretical Basis Of Anime Clubs
I've thought about it a lot, and I've decided that I'm going to consider thinking about trying to start an anime club next year.  I've never run anything like a club before, and I'm not sure how one goes about starting one, but with all things, one must start with a purpose, and for something like an anime club, which you'd think would be more or less straight forward, there are some odd anomalies and contradictions that have to be solved to form a solid operating principle.  Here is how I see it.

Premise 1) Anime as a blanket concept has fans because there are things going on in Japanese animation that simply are not seen anywhere else.
- Anime itself covers a very wide range of formats and topics.  This results in many subfandoms; many people attracted to the same blanket concept of anime with very divergent tastes.
- Animation has certain inherent filmic qualities to it that are present across subgenres that nevertheless lend it to certain types of stories (mainly those dealing with subjects impractical or impossible to do in live action).
- Animation has certain inherent filmic qualities to it that make certain types of storytelling, character development, and atmosphere possible, whereas in live action it would be impossible.
- Anime undeniably has elements highly influenced by Japanese culture that inherently cannot be found anywhere else.
       - Interest in Japanese culture is not endemic with interest in anime.

Premise 2) Anime fandom itself is very diverse.
- There are many ways to be introduced to anime that each have their own canon of anime titles the fan is likely to be familiar with, and each attracting a different sort of taste.
       - Those introduced from Toonami/Cartoon Network will likely know things like Trigun, Cowboy BeBop, and Gundam Wing.  If they stayed around long enough, maybe FMA, FLCL, and Death Note.
       - Those introduced from the internet will have a very wide range, but will likely at least include Suzumiya Haruhi, and may also include things like Fate/Stay Night and Azumanga Daioh.  Madoka Magica may be on the list too.
       - Those introduced from film theory or a preexisting interest in Japan will likely know things like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and at least a few Studio Ghibli films.
       - There are likely many fans who haven't seen much beyond Shonen Jump shows, like Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece, but are still undeniably part of anime fandom.

Premise 3) Anime fandom shares the uniting factor of being a fairly small community.
- Anime is largely accessible only through the internet.
- Anime fans are accessible and common only on the internet.
- Common interest in something uncommon is a uniting factor.  Anime fandom is quite uncommon.

Premise 4) Anime fandom is largely self sustaining.
- Anime fandom has its own reference pool, and therefore its own set of in jokes and memes.
       - Anime fandom also has the big three sub-fandoms: Vocaloid, Hetalia, and Touhou.
- Anime fandom is largely self-contained.
- Such a blanket sort of fandom inherently cannot be defined by a singular source material and therefore must be defined by the conception of its own fans.

Therefore An anime club must serve two separate imperatives.
1) An anime club must promote the concept of anime.
2) An anime club must promote anime fandom.

Things therefore entailed that an anime club must do.
- Meet.
- Watch anime.
       - Ideally, anime that exemplifies something inherently good about anime that all who appreciate anime can potentially enjoy regardless of what they're already familiar with.
- Discuss anime.
- Consume secondary media concerning anime.

Things therefore not entailed that an anime club do, but might be commendable.
- Hold events outside of itself.
- Attend events outside of itself.
- Collaborate with the Japanese club.
       - Anime as an interest is innately filmic rather than related to Japanese culture, but as the two are nonetheless interrelated, it might be in both our interests to occasionally work together.

Things therefore entailed that an anime club should never do.
- Promote ideals that are inherent to a specific subset of anime fandom but not applicable to a whole.  (in-joke focused shows like Lucky Star or any moe-for-the-sake-of-moe sort of shows fall under this category)
- Neglect moderation and leadership.
- Crossplay.

Practical concerns.
- We should probably not try to watch shows and OVAs longer than 15 episodes (so that they may be watched in three weeks or less).
- Unless it's unlicensed in the states, or unreasonably hard to obtain, we should only watch legal streams or DVDs, if for quality reasons alone.
- Meetings should probably be on Saturday so as not to conflict with homework or other clubs.
- Hentai would probably be a very bad idea.

First Three Things I've Unilaterally Decided We Should Watch
- Daicon IV Opening Animation (would make a good introduction on the first day)
- Ghost in the Shell (it's a truly great film with broad appeal that's not Ghibli)
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica (has things to offer to pretty much all types of anime fans, would introduce old school fans to what the new school has to offer, and fits perfectly into four episode arcs)

More Alstroemeria Records
Yep, there's more of them, and since y'all must have been so entertained by them last time, I've decided to do it again (don't worry, there's only two this time).

"Yeah yeah, talk to the butterfly; I'm
gonna go to the ghost disco, but
not before I strike an elegant pose."
Well, it's probably not the best Alstroemeria Records album out there, but it's probably got the most awesome cover art, or if not the most awesome, the most descriptive.  I'll give you a hint: it's not power metal.

Alright, first off we have...wait...this is the right album, right?  Did I just accidentally turn on some mid 80s synth rock?  I dunno, but whatever it is, Cheek Colors has a pretty epic, 80s-tastic opening section.  It's pretty sweet...right up until the vocals start.  As much as I may complain about Nomico, at least she's accurate and has an interesting voice.  Haruna, the vocalist for Cheek Colors, very nearly ruins it, with one of the least charismatic, barely on key performances on an Alstroemeria track yet.  Anyway, still pretty cool, even if it's pretty pop-like for Minoshima.  I just wish the idea were done better justice.  After this are three songs I've already talked about because they were on Exserens (the compilation album): Dark Road, Alice Maestra, and Voile, The Magic Library.  After those three is Wind's Believer, a pretty good down-beat song in the same vein as the previous three, though also a bit more groovy with its baseline and percussion.  Misato also proves again why she's probably the best of the vocalists who contributes to Alstroemeria Records with a surprisingly effective performance.  The eponymous Harmony follows.  I gotta say, the grooviness of the track goes so well with the cover art that it's not even funny.  I get the feeling that this exactly the song the artist had in mind when he created it.  Following it up is Interlude, a Minoshima original and by far the most interesting track on the album, with its variable tempo, unconventional, almost tape-loop like vocal sampling, and general contrast with the rest of the album.  The next track is Maple Wizen (2007AW Re-Master), a very good example of Minoshima in laid back house dance mode, which is good, because it's seven minutes.  The last track is Suwa Foughten [sic] Field, and holy crap, did Minoshima san just figure out how to use nomico?  I mean, I call her helium voice, but she's actually pretty good when used right, like on this track.  Actually, I'm not sure Yuki Kajiura might not have had something to do with it.  Hmm...

Trois Noir
The god of nuclear fusion still
has yet to discover the secret
of how to sit in a chair.
Alstroemeria Records is not the only Doujin circle that composes tracks based on Touhou compositions.  Two of the most prominent DJs besides Minoshima san to do so are Sound Online (Tsukasa) and ALiCE'S_EMOTiON (also known as REDALiCE), and fortunately for us, they all seem like pretty good friends.  In fact, they decided one day to do a project together: a three part album called Trois, that would be composed of Trois Rouge (ALiCE'S_EMOTiON), Trois Noir (Alstroemeria Records), and Trois Bleu (Sound Online).  So far, I've only heard Alstroemeria's third of the project, but maybe later tonight even, I'll check out Tsukasa san's.  I've heard one or two of his tracks, and they're pretty good, and much more trance like in style.  Should be interesting.

Anyway, just like most Alstroemeria albums, Trois Noir starts with an original Minoshima composition that leads into the first track.  This time, the opening is Showdown/For Lovers Not Fighters, which in true Alstroemeria tradition, features an English phrase (telling us, apparently, to "eat it") looped to a very deep electronic organ like synth riff.  It's an interesting track for its instrumentation, even if compositionally it's very much traditional PlastiQ World Plastik World era Minoshima, and it still features the trademark bland Alstroemeria vocals, though thankfully within a reasonable octave this ti...HOLY CRAP, DID MISATO JUST TRY TO HIT F7?  I would have forgiven Minoshima if he had decided to autotune that, but I guess he has standards too.  This is followed by Flight on Tears, which reminds me very much of something that might have been on Lovelight, with the synth strings and upbeat melody, and a this time quite good vocal performance by Misato san.  Next is 光の都 (City of Light), which...wait a second, this is adapted from the same composition as the opening to Memories of Phantasm.  This one is a lot less normal-anime-OP-style, which makes sense, since it's not from an anime OP.  Also, it's actually a Sound Online track, which would explain why it...well...doesn't sound like Minoshima.  After this is...wait...this is WAY the hell not a Minoshima or Tsukasa track.  Underground Bridge, REDALiCE's main contribution to Noir, is far more like something you'd hear at a rave than anything else on any other Alstroemeria Records, but for what it is, it's a very good track, and it definitely still has a place on the album.  Well, I say that, and the next track, Nuclear Fusion couldn't be any more different if Minoshima had been trying.  Nuclear Fusion is much more like alternative rock than anything else I've ever head from Alstroemeria Records, and it works quite well.  Following is Last Remote, a...the hell do you call this?  It's not house, it's not alternative, it's not tanzmetall, it's...really heavy alternative synth rock?  The vocals are by Ayumi Nomiya, and are actually excellent for an Alstroemeria track.  Why don't we hear her more often?  Then comes REDALiCE'S remix of everyone's favorite, Bad Apple!!.  Or should I say, Rave Apple?  It's not incredible, but it's pretty hard to mess up Bad Apple.  Anyway, Gallardo (I haven't the faintest), a pretty typical Minoshima original, comes next.  Fortunately, typically Minoshima original tracks are pretty awesome.  Finally, the last track is a Sound Online remix of For Lovers Not Fighters, which, well, sounds like Tsukasa's version of For Lovers Not Fighters.  Which happens to be pretty awesome, actually.  A very atypical album for Alstroemeria Records, but a pretty good one nonetheless.

And now, remember that thing called the conservation of energy?  Screw that, physics is for dorks!  This is what a world where car tires can have a negative coefficient of friction looks like.

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