Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas blogging

I'm surprised how busy the end of the year has been for me. I've been out of the state for a few days over last weekend, and I've just had the chance to get home, unpack my things, and then repack them all before heading back to my parents' place for Christmas. I'm heading straight on from my parents' place to Japan after Christmas, so I had a fair bit of planning to do (not exactly my strong suit), and I'm still worried I've forgotten something essential.

In the meantime, I'm just taking it easy for a couple of days. The internet here is all sorts of terrible, and any websites that aren't entirely text-based are just a chore to visit, so I'm glad I'm not sticking around for too long. I seriously wonder how I would live my life if I was deprived of an internet connection for any length of time. Maybe I'd actually start on my backlog. Maybe.

I'd put a picture of a cute girl wearing a santa hat here
but the internet's too slow, so just imagine her.

Whinging aside, I quite like Christmas with my family. I think the main reason for this is that I have no relatives in this country aside from my immediate family. I really don't like the sound of a big Christmas with an extended family. We don't do anything really special, just the standard fare - a big meal with lots of prawns and some other seafood/salads on the side, and then probably a long nap in the afternoon. Lazy Christmases are the best Christmases. "Christmases" can be substituted for pretty much anything and that sentence will still hold true.


I'm still doing some last minute planning for my trip, but I'm not doing too much. Despite the impression you might have gotten from my last post, I'm not really one to plan most things in any depth. Comiket, sure, I've got my list nailed down pretty tight, but my time in Japan apart from that is mostly just going to happen as it happens. I'm not sure if I'll be blogging at all while I'm over there, but if the hostels I'm staying at have any decent wireless I'll probably make a post or two in some downtime. Otherwise I won't be making any posts for a while. So it'll be just like usual.


So, I hope you all have a good Christmas and New Years, whether you're spending them with your family, friends, or waifu. And as always, take it easy.

Monday, 5 December 2011

C81 guide


EDIT: the catalogue has been on the internet for a few days now. I'm not going to link it, but if you're having trouble finding it I'd suggest you google "CCC81 torrent".

Comiket 81 is less than a month away!  People with a lot more experience than I have written proper guides to Comiket, but I decided to write a brief one with a bit of info, mostly to jog my own memory before I go to C81 myself at the end of the month. I’ve only been to one Comiket before (C79) so I'm far from an expert, but there is some information I’d like to have known before I went last time that might be useful to others.

The basics:
Dates: 29-31 December
Times: 10am-4pm each day (corporate booths close at 5pm for the first two days)
Comiket is a three-day event happening twice a year. The upcoming Comiket (C81) is happening on the last three days of the year like all winter Comikets. Different days have different focuses, which can roughly be generalised as:

Day 1: Yaoi, shounen, other manga-related works. Also things based on video games.
Day 2: Touhou (doujin, music, games). Some misc anime stuff, gundam, more yaoi.
Day 3: Porn and lots of it. Also doujinsoft, Vocaloid, works based on VNs and anime. 
(This is a generalisation, see here [jp] for a comprehensive breakdown.)

This refers to the doujin circles, as each circle is only there for one of the three days; there are also company booths in a separate area which are open all three days and sell the same thing each day, or at least until they sell out.

Entry is free, but it’s very crowded. As in, VERY crowded. In fact, it redefined the word 'crowd' for me to the extent that I've found nothing to be truly 'crowded' since. This means it can be hard to get where you want to, and that you’ll have to wait in queues for anything remotely popular. If there are specific items that you're after, you can’t just rock up on the day and expect to get anywhere.

Doors open at 10am, but people start arriving from 5am (or even the previous night) to line up. Lining up is worth it if you’re after popular items, as it gives you the chance to get one or two things before the queues for circles get really big. Lining up from early morning gets you in at around 10:30am, while if you arrive at 10am you won’t get in until after 11am. If you arrive at or after noon there won’t be any queue to get in.

Each day ends at 4pm, so you’ve got a very limited window of time to work in. Considering you’ll be doing well to get in before 11am, and most things will be sold out by 3pm, and that queues can be huge, you really need to economise on your time usage.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

AutoRename - keeping anime ordered.

OCD related.

I can get a little bit obsessive about keeping things ordered. I must have spent a fair bit of time making sure all my music is tagged correctly, for example, and I have fairly elaborate tagging and sorting systems for images that I save. Anime is no exception, and I feel the need to rename every file I download to something that looks a bit more ordered. Since that takes a fair bit of effort, especially when I download a whole series at a time, I made a small program to rename the files for me so I could spend less time being autistic and more time watching my chinese girl cartoons.

The topic of organising anime has come up a few times on /a/, and I get the impression that there are other people who might find this sort of thing useful. I'm a bit hesitant to post it though, since it was only really designed for personal use and has had no testing or anything like that. On top of that, I'm a complete amateur whose only instruction on programming has been from high school Visual Basic classes back in the day.

Nevertheless, I tidied it up a bit and uploaded it to Mediafire. It's called AutoRename (a program to auto rename anime that's called AutoRename, lol originality) and it requires Windows and the .NET Framework 3.5, which you'll already have if you run Windows 7. The idea is that you drag anime (or other video files) onto the window, it suggests new names for them, and then you hit the "Rename All" button if you're happy with the suggestions, or you can fiddle with the options to make the suggested name more suited to your taste. You can also add it to the Explorer right-click menu for mkv, avi and mp4 files if you want.

If you have any feedback please comment or email me, even if just to say that it crashes on opening.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Games everywhere

It can get boring when you're on holidays or otherwise haven't got a lot to do, but I've managed to bounce from distraction to distraction without much downtime in the middle. As I mentioned last post, I'm still working my way through Genius of Sappheiros although that's been put on the backburner this last week since Skyrim was released. I didn't care much for Oblivion, or at least my interest waned pretty quickly after closing the millionth Oblivion gate in a row, but I've been loving Skyrim so far. I've been rolling with the most generic character build ever (1h+shield warrior) but it's still been fun, although I feel way too overpowered. Seriously, dragons are a minor annoyance, and are more of a chore than a challenge. I'm considering bumping the difficulty up but from what I hear that only changes HP, which could just drag things out. Either way, if you're interested in playing, I'd suggest you try a mage or a rogue character to get the most out of it.

But my plans to keep questing in Skyrim have been thrown into jeopardy since I just received a Dota 2 invite. A guy I met on WC3 Dota and still keep in contact with got an invite with two extra keys, and was generous enough to throw one my way. It's still downloading, but it's about to finish and I can't wait to try it out.

I really can't see me doing anything much else for the next few days.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Rising up from the ashes

A few weeks ago I abruptly decided to forgo all non-productive internet usage so I could focus on my upcoming finals. I didn't manage to stick to this perfectly, but I did completely avoid blogs for that time.  Now, though, my uni year is finally over, and I can spend as much time as I want on internet stuff without feeling guilty about it. This happy state of affairs will continue until early January, so I've got quite a decent holiday ahead of me.

But it's not like I managed to do nothing but study for the last few weeks. I've been playing a bit of The Genius of Sappheiros, a Touhou doujin game released a couple of Comikets ago. It's recently gotten an English translation, and I just downloaded it and started playing a few days ago. It's pretty fun so far, though I'm still in the early stages.

The burning hells are populated mostly by giant feet.


The game's a dungeon crawler with turn-based combat when you run into an enemy group. You can also sneak by them but then you miss out on their delicious experience. The boss fights can be pretty tricky but dying isn't really a big deal. You lose any items you'd picked up from your current run of the dungeon, but you keep all the experience you gained.

The storyline has all the subtlety and complexity that you'd expect from a Touhou game: A strange mist is making Youkai sick and Reimu is going to find out who, by beating up everyone in Gensokyo until someone admits to it.

The sprite art is great, as is the music (as expected of a Touhou game). I'd recommend it if you've got some time that you need to get rid of.


Another time-waster that I've recently taken to is the live broadcasts on Nico Nico Douga. I can't even explain why I like these, but there's something cathartic about listening to Japanese girls doing stuff. In some ways it's the "cute girls doing cute things" idea taken further. A lot of them do imitations of anime characters (the K-On girls are especially common), some of them sing with varying degrees of skill, and some just talk about their day. It sounds all sorts of stupid just typing this out, but it can be great to have on in the background when trying to do other things.

Notably, I haven't been able to waste any time on Dota 2 because I still don't have a bloody beta key. It's a bit frustrating to see some people I know get keys just because they begged constantly until someone gave them one. I refuse to do that, but I'd still love to play, especially now that I'm on holidays. Valve claim they'll be sending out new waves pretty frequently now though, so with a bit of luck I'll be in before too long.

And now I'm going to go and catch up with anime from this season. There's a surprising number of shows that I'm really enjoying, and have me actively looking forward to the next episode, so it seems like a pretty good season so far.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

New Vocaloid CDs: Vocalocluster and ハートフルシーケンス

The last of the CDs I've been waiting for finally came in the mail yesterday, so now that I've had a chance to listen to it, I decided to start writing about some of them.

Vocalocluster - compilation

First is the most recent addition: Vocalocluster. It's the latest in the line of compilation CDs that all start with "Vocalo-" and end with some arbitrary English word tacked on to make sure the whole thing makes no sense whatsoever (examples include -genesis, -nexus, -legend, -nation etc). I don't usually buy these general compilation CDs, but this one was an exception. If you've read my previous posts about Miku then you might be able to tell why from the cover art.


the reflected hand is not part of the CD design, believe it or not
It's the usual host of useless free stuff, but this time there was something (the big pad on the right side) that I'm not quite sure about. It has a foam backing, and it's too small to be a mousepad yet too big to be a coaster. It is a mystery.



The CD showcases pretty much every Vocaloid there is, starting out strong with a solid Miku rock song, a lighter song featuring a Luka who was tuned acceptably but no more, and then a catchy Gumi track from cosMo@暴走P. I've said before that I don't care much for this guy, but I do like this song. It's a pleasant change from his Miku work, which all sounds a bit similar to me. Next are a couple of songs by 黒うさP. Not someone I'm familiar with but the songs are well done and very easy to listen to, although they don't particularly stand out. Nem's song brings out some horns and is good apart from the use of Len (just a personal dislike for his voice, not anything to do with the tuning). Neru uses Rin for a rock song next, which turns out to be great. Rin's voice really excels for rock songs, and she doesn't disappoint here. Having said that, the next two songs use Miku to good effect as well, and I can see them growing on me significantly over time.

The second half continues with BadBye featuring a slightly distorted Miku, followed by the twins with possibly my favourite song on the album so far (despite my general dislike of Len). Track 12 is billed as featuring Luka, although it also seems to feature a chorus of others, though I'm not familiar enough with the male vocaloids to pick them out. Speaking of male vocaloids, the next song, by otetsu, features Gakupo. I'd hardly heard him before, but his voice has a very full sound with a good range. This holds for the next track, Arrest Rose, as well - this time featuring the male trio of Gakupo, Kaito and Len. Len has some high parts, but the other two have some nice lines in lower ranges. 夢現 shifts the tone from rock to a fairly light electro track, which stands well on its own but the transition is a little jarring. Meiko is up next, though her voice really is sounding dated. Kaito follows with a very oriental sounding track that doesn't really do it for me, and then the album finishes with a 9 minute trance track by HSP - I like the song, but it doesn't really fit with the rest of the album.

The short version: A good start, with some great rock songs carrying through the bulk of the album, showing off some good producers using a wide range of Vocaloids. The tuning is pretty good overall, and the music itself is solid too. The ending is a little bit weaker, but the album as a whole is a good listen, and one of the stronger compilation albums I've heard. I linked a few of the songs in the track list above, but all the tracks can be found on Nico Nico Douga.

Ok, going to try for less of a wall of text for the next one.

ハートフルシケンス (Heartful Sequence) - EasyPop

The first EasyPop song I heard was ハッピーシンセサイザ (Happy Synthesizer), and I absolutely loved it. This is EasyPop's only album to my knowledge, and it isn't all Vocaloid.





I was surprised when I heard ハッピーシンセサイザ on this album only to find that it wasn't the Gumi and Luka version, but rather sung by a couple of real people. My gut reaction was negative, but my opinion has improved after listening to it a bit, and now I quite like it. A remix of the original Vocaloid version is also on the disc. Most of the songs are sung by Luka, but there are songs by Miku and two human vocalists scattered throughout the track list, and Gumi does a duet with Luka on one of the later tracks.

There's not as much to say on this one because it keeps a pretty consistent tone throughout. As the artist's name suggests, the album is fairly light pop with a very relaxed tone (although the lyrics aren't all as easygoing). The sound stays pretty minimal throughout, with only a few instruments in most songs. Despite the similar tone, the tracks don't come across as too repetitive, although you can definitely tell they're all by the same artist. If you like one you'll probably like them all, and vice versa. Leading on from that, if you haven't heard any EasyPop then listen to this song.

All up, I think this is a great album. The cover art is appealing as well, I always like to see characters depicted differently from the standard anime style.

I still have a few new albums but I'm going to leave it here for this post.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sport

Today was a slow day. It was a slow week, in fact. It gets like this when there's only a few weeks left in the uni year and holidays are looming just over the horizon. I'm not really having to study too hard at the moment though, so I thought I'd take it easy and spend most of the weekend watching sport.

I couldn't find any pics of Saber in a suit that I liked, so this'll have to do

Well, most people probably wouldn't consider Starcraft a sport. I actually missed most of the first two days of MLG, but managed to catch a few today. None of the games I saw were particularly amazing, and I only saw a bit of Tastosis before getting stuck with Day9 and DJWheat. I doubt I'll wake up early enough to watch any more games tomorrow, so I'll probably just live with whatever highlights I read about afterwards. I'm watching less Starcraft than I used to. It's not that I'm sick of it, but games are played so often that I've become a little burned out on it, and now I only seem to watch the ending stages of the GSLs, and the odd bit of other tournaments.

I also watched a couple of games of rugby union, which is probably the only "normal" sport I care about. This is almost certainly due to my birth and upbringing in New Zealand, which has (pretty objectively) the best team in the world. Tonight's game was the second semi-final of the World Cup, with New Zealand playing Australia. New Zealand won convincingly and, within seconds of the game finishing, my parents called me to discuss the game and generally just be happy about the result. I don't mind at all, it's far better than in summer when they want to talk about the cricket, which is possibly the most boring sport in existence.



I still haven't watched all the first episodes of the shows I'm interested in at the moment, but Fate/Zero is making me want to reread Fate/Stay Night instead of working through these other shows. I haven't read a VN in a while now so I'm fine with that, but I probably shouldn't reread F/SN when there's plenty of titles that I still haven't read once. I've got Symphonic Rain, True Remembrance and Sekien no Inganock sitting on my hard drive waiting to go, so if you want to recommend me one of these (or any other VN) to read instead then I'd appreciate that.

I initially had some big post written up about completely different stuff, but decided I didn't like it and deleted it all. Such is life.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Exam done

It seems to have become the norm that I take a week or two's break from blogging or reading/commenting on other people's blogs pretty much every time I post, and I'm sorry. I did have a reason though: a massive exam today. I believe I mentioned it a while ago, basically it was all practical, with minimal preparation time, and it counted for a quarter of my entire year's mark.



Strangely, I wasn't feeling nervous when I woke up this morning to go and sit it. I get this thing where my mind feels clear and I really don't feel anxious at all, but my hands are shaking and my heart's beating really fast. Obviously I really am terrified, but my mind does a pretty good job of pretending otherwise. It suits me fine though, because although I probably look a wreck to anyone else, I can still speak clearly, which is definitely a plus for these sorts of exams.

The day really didn't get off to a good start - it was pouring with rain so I was soaked when I got to the venue, we were told to arrive at 10am but they were running late so I had to sit there nervously talking to the other people sitting it for about another hour, and then I only got half my allotted perusal time because of - I don't even really know, probably an accidental oversight due to everyone running behind time. The guy in charge of moving people from station to station did give me a Mentos though, which was nice.

It all went pretty quickly after that. Despite the huge amount of my mark it was worth, the exam was only five stations of 10 minutes each. Each station is pass/fail (0% or 5%), and I did great on two of them, decently on another two, and poorly on one - I had to talk to a patient for 6 minutes, come to a diagnosis, and present it. That should've been fine, but the patient was vague and I came up with something stupid. I'm allowed to fail one station and still pass overall though, so that's alright, and I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll pass.

Now I get to look forward to finals in a few weeks! Looks like I won't be taking it easy for a while. At least after that I'll get two months off.




Just so this post isn't entirely just me blogging about my life: what shows are you watching this season?  I haven't seen any myself yet, although I've got the first episodes of Fate/Zero and Persona 4 sitting on my hard disk waiting to be watched. I'm also planning to check out Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai and Mirai Nikki. There's a few others I may be interested in such as Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown and Un-Go, but I might wait to see how well they're received first. I also downloaded all the currently released episodes of Penguindrum. People seem to think it's a decent show, and the OP is sung by Yakushimaru Etsuko, so that makes it worth a watch if you ask me.

I still have a handful of Vocaloid albums I want to blog about, so I might try to get another post up in a few days. I've got a bit of a backlog of blogs to read, so I'm going to go get started on that.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Lat Miku

More aptly known as Hipster Miku, this is another figure to add to my stack of Miku figures. To think that at one stage I firmly believed that one figure per character was the way to go. The timing's pretty good since my Tony Miku is in for repairs (turns out that pose is a bit hard on her feet) and I've got a spot on the Miku shelf in my cabinet that this new figure will fit nicely into.

No shots of the box, because I'm lazy like that, but it's just the normal sort of box with photos of the figure all over it.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Flights! and anime


I finally booked my flights for my trip at the end of the year, so it looks like going to C81 is definitely going to be happening! I'm hoping to have enough money saved by December that I can enjoy lots of good food and drink there as well as funds for assorted doujins from Comiket.  My plan so far is to fly into Tokyo on Boxing Day, go to Comiket, stay for New Years, then take the train to Osaka and spend a few more days there, checking out all the nearby places like Kyoto and Nara as well. Exciting stuff - it's a shame I have to get through a couple more months of uni before I can go.

Since the anime season is essentially over, I think I'll comment on a few of the shows I've been watching as well.

Usagi Drop - Just finished this one last night. I hadn't read the manga, although I had been spoiled as to its ending, but the spoilers didn't turn out to be relevant to the anime thankfully. I really liked this show. Rin was positively adorable throughout, and it was heartwarming watching her and Daikichi, especially as he adapts his life to fit Rin in. The art style was great, with everything looking like it was painted rather than drawn, and this was the only show this season that I watched the OP/ED on every episode for.

Steins;Gate - A great show as well. Then again, I don't really see how a show about a mad scientist (IT'S SO COOL!), time travel, and an evil organisation could be bad. For the last episode I went hunting for Dr Pepper - I ended up finding some in an American sweets import store - and put on my lab coat just to get myself in the mood. The VN has apparently been extremely quickly translated, so I'm looking forward to that.

Kaiji 2 - It isn't over yet, but I was amazed last episode when I saw that the bog arc remains unresolved, again. The show is glacially paced and I'm convinced it would be better told in half the episodes. It's still not over, and I don't know whether Kaiji ends up winning or not, but there have been so many contrivances so far that I can't bring myself to be too excited.

Tiger & Bunny - I liked it more in the first half when it was a monster-of-the-week show with interesting characters, and some development shown between episodes. The latter half all just seemed a bit silly for me, with some important story points being led into extensively then resolved very quickly and unexpectedly (sometimes off-screen).

Nichijou - Very hit and miss. Having said that, Yukko was a good character and scenes with her interacting with Mio or Mai were pretty funny. I didn't like the Professor so much. The animation was nice, as expected of KyoAni, and the OPs were great. It just wasn't a very consistent comedy.

The only show I'm watching that will continue into next season is The Idolmaster. I had no expectations for this, but it's been very enjoyable so far. I'm not sure what other shows I'll be watching next season, but I'll probably post about them when I decide.

Anyway it's mid morning and I'm hungry, so I'm going to go make some pancakes. Take it easy!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Busy

I haven't been able to take it easy all week, since I've had to spend most of my free time studying. My inner NEET keeps telling me to just procrastinate, so it's a constant struggle between my notes and the myriad distractions out there to actually get anything done.

After a few days of varying productivity it was Friday, the day of the exam. I had to be up early since, due to the usual administrative incompetence, I had a tute scheduled that morning as well. It was the usual group session, where we run through the various steps of a case and try and sort it out. It was my turn to read out the material for the group as well, which led to an awkward situation. I'd read out the background information when another person commented that I should read more often since I apparently have a good voice, and several others agreed. I appreciated the compliment, but damn I really don't know how to respond in that sort of situation. I sort of laughed it off and kept going, but perhaps I'd have been better off blushing profusely and stammering "s-s-stupid...". My image isn't very tsundere though, so I stuck with laughing nervously.

It could have gone worse
After that finished, I had my exam. They're always stressful because the questions tend to be obscure as fuck rather than being about the important key issues we've been learning. It wasn't organised very well either, with all 400 odd students crammed into the one lecture theatre right next to each other. Cheating would have been extremely easy, except that I don't trust the people next to me to know the answers any more than I do. It went alright though, and it was only a midsemester exam so it wasn't worth many marks either.

With the exam out of the way, my weekend has been going great. Minecraft 1.8 got leaked, so I've been playing a lot of that on a friend's server. The changes are making exploring a lot more fun, specifically the ravines, extended caverns and abandoned mineshafts. It's a shame a lot of the patch's features have been gutted and delayed for a future patch, but I kinda expected it. Minecraft doesn't have a great record for delivering important features on time, so I'll take what I can get.

And of course there was the Starcraft. The show matches before the finals were extremely funny, with Losira (T) vs MC (Z) probably being the highlight. Lots of joking around, good-natured trashtalking, and funny builds with offraces. For the finals themselves, I was very sure MVP was going to win. So sure, in fact, that I decided to bet a small sum of money on it. The odds were well in his favour but I still made about $20 off it, which is a pretty decent return. So yeah, it's been a good weekend.

I was going to take some pictures of Lat Miku but my camera's mysteriously drained its entire battery just sitting there doing nothing. I've got it on to charge, so I should be able to take the pictures in a day or two.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Some new music

Some of those music CDs I ordered have arrived. The rest haven't been posted yet since they're waiting on one of them to be released before shipping. It's a bright sunny Spring day (the weather's wasted no time changing seasons), so apologies in advance for the intense glare on the photos.

tabgraphics works summer 11 (from C80)
So it's not entirely CDs, although the artbook from this is mostly just a beefed up CD booklet with a few extra pages.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Deus Ex and much frustration

So I was really looking forward to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I said a while back that I'd preordered the collector's edition, which came with an artbook, a DVD with various extras on it, and a figure of the main character. I'd paid off the preorder in full, and was eagerly awaiting release.

The night before release, though, I was called up by the EB Games store and informed that they wouldn't have a copy for me. There'd been some allocation error or something, I don't know the specifics but it all seemed pretty bullshit to me. I was in the middle of a DotA game at the time so I just told them we could sort it out tomorrow when I went in to pick it up. The next day I went in and the guy told me much the same thing, that for reasons beyond his control his store hadn't received the requested number of copies. Again, it all sounded like a load of shit to me, but I realised it wasn't his fault personally so I didn't give him too hard a time of it. I did tell him I was extremely annoyed, and asked him what the point of preordering was at all, if not to guarantee a copy of the game come release day. He agreed with me, and said it reflected extremely badly on the company and that he was very sorry about it.

In the end I was given a copy of the augmented edition (like the collector's but without the figure) for the price of the normal game. I still wasn't happy since I could've gotten it even cheaper on the internet, but by that stage I just wanted to go home and play it.

I never asked for this

And then it started pouring down on the way home, so I took my glasses off when I got off the bus and put them in my jacket pocket. Of course, when I got home and went to get changed, I forgot all about this and ended up accidentally standing on them, and now they're quite broken. I hope they're not too expensive to fix. At least I'm short sighted so it doesn't impact my ability to see my computer screens clearly.


It was kinda like this, minus all cuteness.

The day looked up after that though. I thoroughly enjoyed Deus Ex, and have just finished my first playthrough today. I liked the endings. A lot of people on /v/ complained that they don't give you a lot of closure, but I think it was a nice way of reflecting on your choices without messing too much with the canon already established by the first game. If there was one thing about the game that annoyed me, it would be the boss fights. The second one had me stumped for so long, as I was mostly a non-lethal stealth character and I just kept getting demolished in the fight. After trying for over half an hour I gave up and went to bed. The next day I woke up and tried it again, and beat that fight on the first try. Feels unexpected man.

I'd recommend it if you're interested in stealth shooter RPGs. It's a fairly long game, and it has a lot of replay potential.

I'm on holidays for a week now, so naturally I'll get nothing useful done all week. I might go play another few games of DotA, even though it's only going to make me annoyed.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Not taking it easy enough



It's been a busy last couple of weeks. I had some assignments to do that I'd completely put off until the last minute, so I had to spend a few long days getting them done. That's not the half of it though, since I've been busy watching the first reveal of DotA 2 in that German tournament with the insane prize pool.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

From leeks to hotdogs

It's been a couple of months since I posted anything about Toyota's Miku campaign, so I figured I'd see what's happened since then. I'd hoped that it'd just die down and fade away, but then came the whole bacon-wrapped hotdog fiasco, and a couple more opportunities to make some more terrible terrible ads:




These two are a bit cringe-worthy, but could be worse. I still think it sounds silly to say "Miku-chan" in an English language ad, but that's not such a big deal. The worst is yet to come:




Yeah, I really have no idea what they were going for in these two. The ads aren't about Toyota any more, since the last three haven't had anything to do with cars, and they certainly aren't about Vocaloid as a music synthesizing program, so the only remaining possibility seems to be to piss off fans and shit on any chance of Vocaloid being taken seriously.

If you don't think the videos themselves are bad enough, take a look at the Youtube comments, where the reactions range from the positive ("MUKI IS TAKINGOVERTHE WORLD!!") to the negative ("Dont do it miku!!! dont fall for the people who nuked your home country!!", "*transforms into Black Rock Shooter* i will go and save miku before she is lost forever!").

There's also been a contest to come up with an American Miku design, to be announced at the J-Pop Summit Festival in San Francisco later this month. Given the bacon-wrapped hotdog theme though, it's clear what they're shooting for in the American market.



At this point maybe they'd be better off going the whole way and changing the song they're using from World is Mine to something more appropriate:


今の私よりもっと太く大きくなって見せるよ
On the bright side, there haven't been any new commercials in a while. I can only hope this trend continues.

I recently ordered a stack of Vocaloid CDs myself, after getting my tax return. I have no idea why the government taxes my welfare payments only to give all the tax back to me at the end of the year anyway, but it makes for a nice windfall. I ordered the new Gumi compilation album that's coming out in a month, as well as 8#Prince's newest CD and some older stuff by 40mp, among others. Hopefully they won't take too long to arrive.

And finally, it's only a week and a half until the Dota 2 championships - it'll be the first look at the game as well as (to my knowledge) the biggest prize pool in video gaming's history. I may do a post about this later, as I consider it a pretty big deal.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

MY LIFE also a bit about comiket but don't get your hopes up

I haven't been reading or commenting on blogs as much as I'd have liked to over the past week or two, sorry about that.  I was also going to do a non-shitpost, but I don't think that's going to happen either.

Next year, my uni course becomes more vocational rather than class-based, and I'll be based somewhere other than my university. There's a whole selection and preferencing system to choose where I'll be, and that's all going to be happening in a couple of weeks, which has gotten me a bit stressed out and unable to take it easy. The horrible part is that if my first preference has too many people going there (which it will), a chunk of them get shafted to wherever on their list still has spots open. Going by last year's numbers, the odds of that happening are about 30%. If I'm in that number? Best case I get a 2 hour commute to class and back every day, worst case I'm forcibly relocated to a town 800km up the coast, in shared living arrangements. For at least a year. That sounds like an awfully shitty way to spend a year, so I'm just hoping that I'm lucky enough to avoid that fate.

Think you can organise something for me, Remi?

But I'd feel bad if I just whinged about stuff for a whole blog post, so I'll talk about Wonderfes for a bit. There was a lot of stuff I like the look of, though I probably can't remember half of it. I don't mind the look of GSC's Madoka scale figures, though I'll still wait to see if any other companies (namely Alter) do anything with more interesting poses. The Love is War Miku has her base back, with slightly different paint, and there were a bunch more Mikus as well, some I liked, some I didn't. There was some more BRS and Saber stuff (including a Fate/Zero Saber on a bike) but I don't have an interest on collecting any more of those characters. There's also a zillion more nendos coming out, but at this stage it's stranger if a character doesn't get a nendo, so there's not much point going on about them.

Speaking of festivals and the like, Summer Comiket is coming up pretty soon too, although I haven't seen much discussion on it. It's a shame, because I don't use pixiv or anything that much, so I like to get an idea of what other people are looking forward to and take a look at what they recommend. I briefly skimmed the catalog for some of the names I'm interested in, and came across a few things, though only one thing that I would really like a physical copy of:


An artbook I was expecting, but a CD too? That's something I really want to buy, hopefully I'll be able to proxy it from Melonbooks or something afterwards.

I went through some of my photos from last year and found a couple from C79. Most of them were too blurry to salvage, but I at least got passable photos of the Milky Holmes cars. They were driving around Akiba a couple of days before Comiket too.

This was around noon on the first day, well after the initial crowds had died down.




I've got a few vaguely amusing Engrishy photos as well, which I might upload sometime if I can't think of any better content. 

And as a postscript: I finished MLA. I thought it was pretty damn good. If you have any interest in VNs and/or mechas, you should consider reading it.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Relief



I finally got my exam results back the other day. It was several weeks later in coming that it should have been, and I was pretty worked up about it, but I did manage to pass everything. I ended up getting between 60-70% for all my different exams, which seems like a safe enough pass, but the pass cut-off isn't set at 50%, and for these exams it was 58%, which makes things a lot closer. It's a terrible system that only serves to increase stress on the students, but I still passed so I get to take it easy again for a while. I was one of the lucky ones though, the class average was also 58%, which would suggest half the class failed.




Apart from that, this post is just filler since I can't tear myself away from Muv Luv for any length of time. I estimate I'm about halfway through Alternative, but there's still so much that's yet to be resolved. Screw it, resuming play now. Have some Komachi, and I'll put up a proper post in the next few days (or however long it takes me to finish MLA).

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Cradle Song preview

OELVNs are not something I really keep track of. I know about Katawa Shoujo of course, as well as Dandelion Girl, and I'm sure we're all well aware of Uncle Mugen's masterpieces, but my understanding was that everything else is mostly pretty bad. I heard about Cradle Song on /a/ the other day and checked the teaser out, having no expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was well made, and actually pretty interesting.

The story (going by the synopsis on the devs' site) sounds like The Matrix with superpowers and high school students. It may not be original but it's certainly not generic and sounds like it could make for a good setting. The downloadable preview version is only 10-15 minutes long: don't expect a demo, it's just a teaser. If you're interested, you can get it off the site.

If you'd rather not, I took a few screenshots from the teaser.


The protag and his crush

All VNs need a lewd onee-san




"Welcome...to the real world."




It ends immediately following that choice.

Apparently it'll be at least a year before we're likely to see a demo, and presumably at least another year before a full release (assuming it doesn't just fall apart somewhere along the way). I hope it makes it to a release though - I like the idea of OELVNs and I think they have the potential to take off if a few decent works make it to release (consider how many people are interested in KS outside the pre-existing VN fanbase). The art looks good, the music is good, and the story seems like it has potential. The writing quality is pretty good too, although I think there may be a few too many adjectives forced into some sentences. 

The good thing about the writing, common to all OELVNs, is that it isn't a translation. It's refreshing to see some everyday English phrases and idioms that you just don't see in translated works, and it makes conversations feel more real. It's a nice change to not see "It can't be helped..." at least.

Speaking of translated VNs, I've just finished Muv Luv Extra. It was okay. I did Sumika's route first but regretted my decision about half way through as I found Meiya to be the more interesting character by far. After finishing those two routes I decided to do Ayamine's as well, which was another bad decision. Her route was boring and involved her having feelings for another guy. I'm definitely not going through the rest, and will go straight on to Unlimited. Somehow I've still managed to avoid any spoilers about Alternative, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

I know Alternative is supposed to be awesome, but I don't know what Unlimited is like. Is it just the same as Extra with a military theme? I really don't want to go through the same SoL comedy again straight away.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Keeping the internet on the internet

A lot of people get annoyed about internet memes and the like finding their way into the real world. I can't say it really annoys me, although I do find it quite amusing that people think it's a good idea. I saw a kid on the train today wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with Rick Astley's face, with text reading, "I roll with Rick".

>2011

The thing that gets me here is not only that rickrolling never was funny enough to justify putting it on a t-shirt, but also that he's missed the boat by a good three or four years. You know a meme is well and truly dead when it's covered by the mainstream media, and that happened at least a couple of years ago. Maybe he was wearing it "ironically", whatever that means.



I also saw this masterpiece scrawled on the wall near my bus stop. Now I don't even have to be near a computer to get my daily fix of internet crap! At least this one is still somewhat relevant I guess.

The main problem with this sort of stuff is that internet memes are inside jokes. They can be (though certainly don't have to be) funny, but the humour relies nearly entirely on context and shared experience. Take that context away (i.e. out of the internet) and the joke becomes meaningless. If you've ever been in a situation where a few people in a group have some private joke that makes no sense to anyone else yet they keep repeating it ad nauseam then you'll know how obnoxious this can be. I think the appeal comes from being privy to some cool hip thing on the internet that no one else knows about, and getting to feel all superior as a result. Just as likely is the possibility that I'm overthinking things and the reason is nothing more than "rofl so randum xD". Either way, I dislike it.

In a lot of ways I wish the internet wasn't quite as mainstream as it's become. It's not that I want the secret clubhouse back, I don't care about that at all. The problem is that seeing these memes in real life is an acute reminder that the demographics of the sites I visit are changing, and that I have less in common with the users than I once did. This doesn't say much about the sites I don't visit, and I'd be curious as to how a Yahoo Answers user manages to function in the real world without constant life support.


On a completely different topic, today is the worst day of the week because I have the longest amount of time to go until the next Steins;Gate episode. I've still successfully managed to avoid all spoilers, and I'm really enjoying the show so far. You've probably already seen this clip (spoilers for ep 13), I laughed.

I have no idea what I'm going to watch in the new season, what's looking good?

Friday, 1 July 2011

GSC Racing Miku

As usual, I'd meant to write a post about this ages ago. As usual, I got hit with another bout of having no motivation whatsoever. Such is life. I had planned to get some lighting set up for the photos, but it turns out the new bulbs I bought for my desk lamp were way more yellow than I'd thought, and Miku just looked like she'd been jarated in all the shots. Because of that, I went back to natural lighting. The only problem there is that there are a few more shadows than I'd like, particularly on the less close-up shots. Sorry about that.

Onto the figure. To be more specific, she's Racing Miku, and was recently released by GSC. She's based on an illustration by Redjuice for Good Smile Racing. I can't find a good picture of it after five seconds of Google Image Search, so you'll have to look for it yourself if you're interested.

I forgot to take any photos of the box again, which is a shame because it's quite good. The original illustration is on one of the sides, and it's immediately apparent that the figure is a pretty faithful adaptation.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Saki S2

So I wasn't planning on posting anything today since I still don't have my damn figs (you'd think it was Australia post on strike) but I just read that Saki is getting a second season. Fuck yes, I love me some yuri-fuelled mahjong with superpowers.

Unfortunately there's no indication of when it'll air; hopefully it won't take too long.

image from 2ch
In celebration of this news, have some WAI WAI.


Presumably it's taken this long to get the funding to properly animate Nodoka's breasts.

Having not read the manga at all, I don't know where the plot will go. One thing's for sure though - it took all of the first season for Saki and Nodoka to hold hands, so it'll probably be pretty slow going on that front.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A bomb, JC!

My exams are over, so I can take it easy again. I haven't been reading or commenting much on other's blogs for a bit now, but I'll make an effort to catch up on posts from the last week or so.

I don't think I did very well on my exams, not that I can blame anyone but myself, but I'm still hoping it'll all work out for the best. If I do end up failing them then I'll have some serious thoughts about dropping out, but otherwise I'd probably like to see it through to the end, even if just so the last few years don't seem like such a waste.

I was hoping either Rin or Racing Miku would have showed up by now, as a nice way to celebrate the end of the semester, but they're still MIA. I hope they're not somehow involved in whatever's going on with the Canadian postal service. There's no reason they should be, but from what I hear SAL shipments often end up on bizarre, fantastical trips around the world before getting to their destination so it might be possible. Unlikely, but worrying about pointless and improbable shit is what I do best!

I decided to preorder Deus Ex: Human Revolution yesterday. Since I'm not buying any figures this month, and probably won't buy any next month either, I decided to go full out and get the collector's edition. It comes with an action figure, the soundtrack, an extra DVD and an artbook, as well as an awesome box design and some in-game DLC.

obligatory
Overpriced, maybe, but I only >buy one or two games a year anyway. It'd be fair to say I've bought into the hype surrounding the leak on /v/, but I loved the first game and have replayed it many a time so I was already pretty damn excited about the prospect of another game in the series. The revelation that it may not suck arse (see: Invisible War) is just icing on the cake. The 23rd of August can't come soon enough.

Sorry if this is less comprehensible than normal; my brain is still a bit shot from the last week or two. I'm hurting for sleep too, but that's going to be the case for a while longer yet: the GSL finals are on this afternoon immediately followed by Dreamhack. Sleep's good and all, but so is Starcraft. Even if MMA is just going to stomp Polt 4-0.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Alter's Asuka Test Plug Suit ver.

I had intended to post this over a week ago, but it's been overcast (and freezing cold) for days on end, so with no decent lighting of my own I've had to wait for a bit of sun to come out again. I'm glad it finally has, because I've got Racing Miku and UBW Rin heading to me as we speak so I really can't put this off any longer.

I picked Asuka up off Amiami for a hefty discount, while everyone else was fighting over the Senjougahara figure that was also heavily discounted. Only a few days before that I decided I wanted to buy an Asuka figure, as I mentioned in a previous post, so this purchase seemed to be destined. Impulse purchases can turn out bad, but I'm very happy with this one - I think she looks amazing.


Thursday, 2 June 2011

oh god exams

A package finally arrived for me yesterday, although all things considered it was actually pretty quick for SAL. Regardless, I took a few photos of my new Asuka figure yesterday, but they didn't turn out very well so I might have another go today.


I was toying with the idea of taking her out into the yard for some photos, since there's a spot against the wall with a few rocks that I think would go fairly well with her. There's a fair chance I won't though, especially today because most of my housemates are still home and it would be too embarrassing.

I hide my "power-level" pretty religiously - I know the prevailing attitude on many sites seems to be that you shouldn't do this and anyone who doesn't accept your hobbies for what they are is a bad person et cetera but I don't subscribe to this idea. It's all nice and idealistic, but I can't help but worry about what people think of me, even if "people" are just my parents and housemates.

There's quite a distinction between people thinking I'm weird for sitting in my room all the time, and people thinking I'm weird for sitting in my room all the time playing with girl toys. In my mind at least. At least the people I live with respect my privacy enough (or fear the state of my room enough) that they wouldn't just come into my room for whatever reason.

I'm pretty big on privacy. I can't stand the thought of someone coming into my room without knocking, or using my computer without my permission. I'm glad my family respected my privacy when I lived with them, although it didn't stop me getting pretty paranoid over things, especially with my computer. The few times I've had to let others use my computer, it's been a different browser (I keep Firefox installed for the once a year Mum wants to check a site quickly or something) with all other programs and folders closed, and I still hover around anxiously until they're finished.

I don't even know where I'm going with this. What are your views on privacy/"power-level" hiding? Even if the other party is limited to your parents. If you're lucky enough to live alone, just know that I'm very envious of you. I think the biggest motivating factor for me to get a full-time job would be to afford my own place of some sort. It wouldn't have to be nice in the slightest; fast internet and no one else living there would be the only two criteria.

Also, I probably won't be posting much for a couple of weeks (except maybe some pictures of my Asuka figure if I end up taking any I like). I've got my mid-year exams coming up, and getting kicked out of uni would mean losing access to the government handouts that are my sole source of income. And that would mean I'd have to cancel my Amiami pre-orders. So I'll be hitting the books for a while. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Expensive Miku, cheap Miku

So I had a nice big thoughtful entry all written up and ready to post but, just before I hit the 'publish' button, I decided I didn't like it and deleted it all. I'm pretty tired, so my second attempt will be shorter.

cannot have

I hope we can all agree that the Magician Miku figure that was recently released is a fine bit of work. Unfortunately, it's a garage kit and was a very limited release, so you could be forgiven for giving up all hope of getting one for yourself. Don't worry though, there's still a few available here and there, such as this one being auctioned on Yahoo Japan - there's still two days to go, but the current bid is already a hefty ¥86,000. Painted or not, that's a veritable shitload of money. Maybe she'll be made into a PVC figure, god knows anything Miku-related is a license to print money.


As for the American Miku saga, be sure to buy Miku's first US single, "The World Is Mine", which is now available on iTunes and Amazon! The press release, which rather misleadingly made it seem like the song itself had only just been released for the first time, was published on Reuters about two weeks ago to no one's notice, and on various other bastions of journalistic integrity such as MTV to slightly more attention. Cue the weeaboo hipsters claiming to have liked supercell (as if they were some super obscure underground group) before they were popular.

ANN reported that the single peaked at number 7 on the iTunes charts, which seems pretty impressive, although the competition wasn't as fierce as you might have thought. Somewhere over the Rainbow charted higher, but The World is Mine did beat out the ever-popular Rasputin and Amazing Grace.

I also thought it was interesting that both Amazon and iTunes are asking 99c for the single, while it's being offered as a free download on supercell's own website. No doubt this whole process will be repeated sooner or later for Melt and Love is War - if people are willing to pay, it'd seem a bit silly not to.


I'm still baffled by the choice of song, and would have thought something that doesn't show off Miku's glass-shattering soprano potential quite so much would have been a more obvious choice, but what would I know. I  find the whole situation fascinating though, and will continue to keep an eye on it.

That's all. I'm going to sleep. Good night.

Plug Suit Asuka status: Dispatch from outward office of exchange. Maybe if I keep refreshing it'll get here faster.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Lethargy

Another wave of lethargy has swept over me, and I've spent the last few days doing more or less nothing. I think it's passing now, so I'd better take advantage of it while I can.

I-it's not like I WANTED to b-buy you or anything

I said in my last post that I was looking into getting an Asuka figure, possibly Alter's. Within a couple of days, the following things had happened:

  • I looked at a few other possibilities, but preferred Alter's
  • A post in the /fig/ thread on /jp/ alerted me to Amiami having a good sale on her (46% off!)
  • Amiami emailed me to let me know that UBW Rin was going to be another month
By this stage, I was ready to accept that it was fate and just go for it. I had the money saved up for my May order anyway, and it even worked out cheaper (and I've got another whole month to save up the money for Rin). She's coming by SAL so I expect her any time between tomorrow and Christmas.