Brony Media Overview [Tons of Embeds]

Image by Paradise Wonder

My quest through Equestria Daily‘s media section is finally over after more than two months. I only made it back through June 2011, but due to a series of events, I lost my place, and EQD’s page system makes it difficult to go through their archives. Besides, the further back I go, the less high-quality media there is, and these days so much is produced that I hardly find time for my archive plumbing. Therefor, I’m calling it here.

I’ve listened to several hundred songs, watched at least a hundred PMVs, a few dozen animations, YTPs and flash movies, not even getting into the dozens of games I’ve played and thousands of images I’ve looked at. I’ve gotten deep into brony media culture, and I’m only going deeper. Here are my findings at current depth.

Amazing as Equestria Daily is, the site is unreliable. After all, it’s a blog, not a database, and only wants to be as much. My tastes don’t always agree with those of the EQD review staff. They post up plenty of shit PMVs and tons of generic electronic music that has little in the way of pony—not to say that their tastes are generally bad, just that I intook more than enough crap that I didn’t care for, while finding other stuff that I did looking on my own.

(Totally not butthurt because nothing I’ve submitted to EQD has ever made it :p)

Nevertheless I can’t discount how valuable it is to have a site that delivers large amounts of worthwhile content to an incredibly wide audience. I only hope that a good portion of that audience goes to find things on their own as well. This might be an insane demand actually, because I know firsthand that keeping up with EQD alone is incredibly time-consuming (even if, like me, you don’t read any of the fanfics they post). You probably have to be a jobless, schoolless pony fanatic like myself to intake as much pony as I do while accomplishing anything else.

There are no words to describe the whole of pony media, except that all of it contains pony (and even then, that assessment is questionable at times). Pony media spans every medium and genre, and probably creates a few of its own. There’s pony stuff that I like in every form, and getting into all of it will be a nightmare.

This post will contain a list of each song, video, etc. that I’ve downloaded or favorited on sites like youtube, deviantart, fimfiction, etc., largely without comment. I’d like to say things about them all, but it will be just gushing unless I could dedicate a full post to each item.

Here is a bit more than the tip of the iceberg of all the pony stuff I like. I’m sure I’ll eventually make a full-on canon of all things pony which I enjoy in the future.

In order to keep this list from getting too crowded, I’m limiting it to one item per artist. You’ll see something like “JHaller’s x, x, and x,” while featuring the work which I like most. Everything is largely out of order, but I tried to position the best stuff at the top of each category.

Continue reading

That Fight in Sakamichi no Apollon ep 1

I don’t know if Shinichiro Watanabe actually choreographed the fight scenes in Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, but both shows featured spectacular combat sequences often showcasing strange and eccentric fighting styles. Clearly, Apllon isn’t a story heavy on fighting, nor would it make any sense for the characters to show of eclectic maneuvers.

Were this another show, I’d probably be complaining about the fight scene. Why waste high-grade animation on a fight wherein you can’t tell what the fuck is going on? I might assume that since it’s a non-fight-centric show, maybe they didn’t care that much about how the fights looked.

But of course they did. Watanabe always cares how things look, and I don’t care if this is a manga adaption, he’s going to leave his mark on it. The fight is meant to disorient. Not only does it not establish a horizon line—it seems to purposefully avoid one, cutting to random parts of the fight, showing people anonymously getting thrown around, all set to insane jazz music.

That’s the fight Kaoru witnessed. He didn’t know what the hell was going on—he just saw the magnificent beast that is Sentarou going nuts on a bunch of dudes and had about a million questions running through his head along the lines of “what the fuck just happened?”

Alright, ep 2 is done dling now.

Aquarion’s Critical Juncture

I’ve been on something of a self-imposed hiatus lately thanks to powering my way through Integral Calculus (aka Calculus 2 in most places) for the first time in my life ever. I mean it’s what eats up most of my time by virtue of it being the only subject I do study groups for.  Oftentimes I’m a week behind on anime which restricts me from posting much of anything relevant…what was I talking about again? Oh right, Aquarion Evol.

It's a testament to the sweetness of this coupling that 99% of the Yunoha pictures out there aren't of her getting reamed by a fat dude.

So yeah I love this show with a strange, rather unexplainable burning passion especially considering I haven’t seen the original series. As rational as I am there is something about the idea of destined lovers that always stirs up the hopeless romantic in me. The problem is most shows just have the whole OTP, generally non-canon with the show, just whoever the main character happens to meet first or met when they were a little kid. Aquarion is different, Apollo and Silvia’s (Apollonius and Cellane’s) love is fated for 12,000 years, reincarnates and returns again and again, and is rekindled aknew each time. They aren’t just fated childhood friends, they are fated lovers that even death cannot keep apart. They’d be star-crossed lovers if they weren’t so darn good at finding each other time and again. Their love is so fated that they made another anime series just to cash in on the first for them to be together again.

Which brings me to Aquarion’s critical juncture. The question must have been building up in the back of the viewers mind for some time now, but the most recent episodes epic flashback brings the conflict to the center stage. Who or what is Amata? I feel like we’ve come to the point where it needs to be addressed. Is Amata the reincarnation of Apollo or is it Kagura? Or is it some weird homunculus combination of the two? We must first bear in mind that this is a Kawamori anime and he delights in upsetting expectations. What if Amata really isn’t remotely related to Apollo? Is Kawamori going to try and upset the notion of fated love established in the Sousei no Aquarion? It seems like a Kawamori thing to do.

Who is it going to be?

However if Amata isn’t Apollo than why does he have the “Wings of the Sun”, or are those not them? Furthermore we’ve only seen Kagura manifest anything resembling wings once and they didn’t look very sunny to me. On the flip-side, were the memories that Mykage awoke in Kagura false or implanted memories? To be fair his obsessions focus mostly on Silvie (rather than Silvia or Cellane) and I don’t think once name himself as Apollo (or Apollonius). Yet, that could also be legitimate if Silvie, Amata’s mother, was also a resurrection of Silvia, or in some way carried the blood line (or fate line?) of the two. However, Silvie’s kidnapping raises the question of whether Amata and Kagura could in fact be siblings, which could give some legitimacy to the theory that they both partially contain Appolonius’ soul.  We might even be willing to cast doubt on whether Mikono is really Silvia (though I’ve seen little evidence to the contrary or to anyone else being Silvia (though how awesome would it be if it were Brownka or Zessica)). These are the facts and theories I play around with when I consider who is the true reincarnation of the fated lovers, and it’s an example of just how invested I am in the goings on of Aquarion Evol. How Aquarion built that investment with excellent execution and just fucking fun and creative as hell episodes is a story for another post. In the meantime I’ll just ponder these ten and two thousand years, and hope you all will ponder them with me.

It's fun to dream sometimes.

1000th Post: The Titles Keep Changing, But the Intent Is the Same

Might’ve been more romantic if this came a month from now on the site’s fifth birthday, which is also two days before my blog debuts in the second aniblog tourney, but what can I do? I can’t pass up making a special 1000th post. 1000 posts! That’s a lot! This is including the 87 posts that I have set to private, though not including the 54 drafts. When I published my last post, WordPress told me, “this was your 999th post!” so as far as I’m concerned, it’s an unambiguous 1000th. At least the birthday and tourney should get pure content posts.

Figuring out how to run this blog is difficult. I’ve moved away from being an “anime blogger” at present, having spent more time in the past two months blogging My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and, on this site, writing as much about video games as I have about anime. What am I now? What I’ve always been: just a blogger, only now one who’s less focused on one specific subject.

In this post I’ll explore what I should do about my sites, what my dream is as a writer/blogger, my future in anime blogging, and why I want to be more than just an “anime fan.”

I had a dream: of escaping anime fandom

And I succeeded. You’ll remember that two months ago I stated the following: “…there’s an extent to which I think my anime fandom isn’t so much more massive than my other fandoms as it is more inescapable and easy to be a fan of.” I then successfully escaped anime fandom without even trying. I didn’t watch any anime for almost two months, and consequently didn’t read anything about anime (unless it was by otou-san or ghostlightning because I read their writing indiscriminately). Meanwhile, I stepped into My Little Pony fandom in a way as massive as I’ve ever stepped into anything in my life, if not more so.

I didn’t stop being an anime fan, but I stopped being, “Digibro the anime fan.” For a while you could’ve called me, “Digibrony the self-explanatory,” and there’d be no reason for debate since ponies had a totalizing effect on my life that even anime never achieved. I couldn’t have seen that coming, but I knew that things would even out at some point, and then I was wondering… will I just become an anime fan again? Will I be “Digibrony the anime fan?”

It’s too early to say, because I’ve only re-emerged heavily into other cultures for the past two weeks. However, I didn’t find myself getting hard back into anime as though I’d been unknowingly harshing for a fix (as I’ve done after breaks in the past). I thought I’d end up diving into a new season like I’d missed out on a bunch of shit, but I didn’t react much to the things I watched, and while I remembered love here and there (Zetman), I didn’t go crazy back into otaku mode. I imagine that the effect of Japanese sounding weird to me all of a sudden will go away soon and I’ll remember why I liked some of these seiyuu that right now I’m going uuuhhrrrggg about, but what I also see is a long-broadened horizon waiting to be walked. Right now, more than anime, and even more than ponies (because I’ve almost consumed everything pony that there is, so now it’s more keeping up with new shit), what has my attention is video games. Who knows where this could lead?

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I have a dream: of establishing a personal canon

For years I’ve tried to perfect my favorites list. I’ve known forever that favorites lists are meant to evolve constantly, but now I understand that they key isn’t in a list per say; it’s in having a personal canon.

What is a personal canon as opposed to a favorite’s list? Here’s what four entries in my dream canon would look like, roughly sketched.

What makes this so different from a favorite’s list? Importantly, it’s mixed media, and more importantly, it can contain anything. This would be a literal canon of *everything that I care deeply about, period.* It would all culminate into something like this thing I’ve already started on, only minus all of the stuff outside the “favorite things” section.

My dream is for everything I do to tie into one central canon. I want one location that is a hub for absolutely everything: a singular website that is host to everything which I care about. This raises the all-important question:

Is that place here?

Even though working towards a total canon is my god-tier ultimate dream, it would hardly contain all of my writing about creative works. None of the posts I’ve written since coming off of my last hiatus, for instance, have a place in this canon. Yet, the posts within this canon certainly have a place here (after all, the whole site has been structured around perfecting it). But to what extent?

Video games and anime posts feel right at home here. My Little Pony and music posts don’t. This leads me to think of a separate central location for my canon which would link to posts on all of the separate sites that I use to talk about different things. I already have more than one central location of that sort, and while their purposes aren’t quite the same, they’ve all proved a cumbersome and unappealing system.

The problem is that I like this site the best, and I still have the hardest time reconciling what I want it to be against what I insist on making it. I’ve always said that this site was meant to be the ultimate hub of my output; yet, I have a site for pony posts, I have a site for personal posts, and I have sites for about nine hundred million other things (including, of all things, manga!).

The fear of integrating it all here is diminishing, however. For one thing, my readership is already more than well-established. For another, I never write a post expecting people to read or reply to it, and if I do, I go around publicizing the shit out of it. I’m not terribly concerned with netting new readers is my point, and I trust my readers won’t unfollow my blog just because it becomes varied. (If anything, it could have the positive consequences of 1. not forcing people who just like to read whatever I write to go all over the place, and 2. possibly interesting those people in new things through my writing).

The main post feed of the site isn’t even a thing of great importance. You come here, and there will be tabs, reading “music,” “games,” “anime,” etc., and you can damn well figure out what you’re looking for.

My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull has a long and storied history. At no point was it solely an anime blog. One of the first posts I did here was a review of the Halo 3 beta. I’ve talked more about myself than I have about anime, written about many different aspects of the subculture and surrounding cultures, and all the while deluded myself into thinking that this site was somehow focused. (Myself and probably no one else.)

Where does the site go from here?

It should be obvious: the answer is to condense all of my godfucking ridiculously innumerable blogs into two sites: the Digibro Canon (My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull), and the Digibro Creative Output Center (Modal Hsoul Productions). MSIUD becomes a center for many subjects, though, full-stop, it probably will mostly consist of anime and ponies (and possibly video games if the trend continues).

But what of the community? The people who want to read shit about anime, so they come here, and I go read their blogs or whatever? Look, I’m done watching and blogging current shows beyond the occasional impressions/analysis. I’ve been done reading anime blogs outside of the <10 I subscribe to for a long time. I’m done with the idea that I’m writing for anyone but myself and those who care to take a peek. If anything, I think that the readers who really enjoy me will be happy to see me writing more meaningful articles like the ones I’ve put out maybe once a month in between all the other shit I’ve been crapping out these past seven months.

What can you expect?

- More of the same, since that’s never going away

- More of all the stuff you see listed in that canon image

- More pages

- A site once-over (the site will go down sometime in the next 48 hours and I’ll add shitloads of shit to it)

- More things that aren’t anime

In other words, expect what this site has, at heart, always wanted to be. (animekritik.wordpress.com).

Skullgirls is Sexy, Not Sexist

I’m not accusing Ideas Without End author r042 of saying this, but the idea that being “sexy” is also being “sexist” exists alongside the train of thought that had Australia banning porn of girls with A-cup breasts, saying that it promoted pedophilia. You can see where the leap in logic was made, but it doesn’t make sense.

I’d be willing to accept that, for example, a moe-driven visual novel along the lines of Kanon promoted sexism. I do not, however, think it’s inherently condemnable to imagine a situation wherein there is one male who is exponentially more intelligent than his many female friends, ends up solving all of their problems, and beds them afterwards. It’s a fantasy which, were only one or two of them floating around, probably wouldn’t be seen as a big deal. It’s when the fantasy plays all over the place that people start growing weary of it, and that’s where I think the attack on sexiness comes from. There’s nothing inherently objectifying or wrong about sexiness itself. There’s also nothing wrong with writing a work wherein emphasis is placed on appealing to one demographic.

It can(‘t) be helped that the consumer likes what they like. Why do female gamers like the designs in Skullgirls? The same reason males do: the style appeals to them. Why does the style appeal to them? You’d have to trace their entire life story and its roots in the creation of the universe in order to detail exactly why. That’s how taste works. It’s shaped by experience.

It is only as true that video game designs are skewed towards male tastes as it is true that video game designs are skewed towards the tastes of the original handful of people who incited the graphical culture. Games did not become sexy solely by a sales marketing scheme to capture the interest of men: it came because the men who designed the games liked those designs. Why did they like those designs? It can all be traced to someone else. Maybe they had a taste in women shaped by the movies they’d seen. The tastes of the movie directors was shaped by the magazines they read as a kid. The tastes of the magazine editors were shaped by someone else. At some point, you can trace all of this back to the first person who had a particular taste in women, shared it, found comraderie in others, created something that appealed to them, spread it further until it appealed to others, and then was handed further and further into “mass appeal,” whether shaped on purpose or by accident.

What we need to know how to differentiate is the difference between someone choosing a style because they like it, and choosing a style to pander to a demographic.

There’s not a huge difference between these. I’m either “choosing a style because I like it,” or, “choosing a style because they like it.” It’s the latter which can and will be changed to fit the needs of the public. When games are being designed to pander to men, but we want to see games that aren’t, we try to change it. We want to make our voices heard so that we can have games that pander to us by not showing us what we don’t want to see.

Pandering makes sense from a business standpoint. It makes sense that if the loudest demographic is made up of males who want a certain kind of sexy, then they’ll get it. It also makes sense that if enough people are offended by this that they grow loud enough to change something, then they will be pandered to.

r042 made a point in the comments of his post about the design for female Shepard in Mass Effect 3 having been voted on by the community. This is pandering. Yahtzee said as much about the ending being changed. The fact that this is pandering doesn’t make it “sexist.” The fact that it is pandering, when the male version of Shepard wasn’t allowed to be, is what makes it “sexist,” but by “sexist,” I mean “stupid.”

Pandering is politics. Everyone with a voice on the matter is a pundit trying to make things pander to them. If you’re in the camp asking for more sexy ladies, you’re a sexy-lady pundit. If you’re in the camp for less sexy ladies, you’re a less-sexy-ladies pundit. Only in this world of pandering can sexism be called to exist, because sexism is a perceived thing. It is something we allow ourselves to be offended about. It’s an idea that is not inherent in creative works.

Even if the main character of a game is the smartest man alive, thinks all women are idiots, and is constantly proven correct in-game, and if the creator is in agreement with the game’s sentiment, it doesn’t make the game sexist. It might make the creator sexist, but we’re the ones who read the game’s message as we chose. We can chose to read it as the story of a complete fucking douchebag ponce who happens to have surrounded himself with the eight dumbest, least-representative of their sex women on Earth. It’s a story. It can be of anything. Enjoying it wouldn’t make us sexist, just like enjoying Gears of War doesn’t make us a murderer. Taking the game’s ideas to heart and applying them to the world around us, on the other hand, would make us sexist. (Just as chainsawing someone in half would make us murderers.)

I’m rambling like crazy and have probably contradicted myself at least once, but let’s get to the point. How on Earth can we conceive Skullgirls as in any way sexist or offensive? What does the game’s message boil down to?

“These eight girls kick ass.”

That’s all there is to it. The game is about eight awesome, kick-ass characters, five of whom happen to be sexy. That’s right, only five! Not even are all the women in the game designed to be sexy. Among the roster is a decaying zombie girl, a giant hell-monster, and a little girl who is also a cartoon robot. Among the five that are sexy, they are quite varied. Yes, four of them have considerable bust sizes, but when did that become a problem? It’s not as if real women don’t often have large breasts.

Here’s a noteworthy fact: the weights and proportions of the girls are listed on the game’s website, along with pictures of them. Here’s the main character, Filia:

I realize that BMI is a pretty broken measurement system, but hear me out. At 5’4″, 142 lbs., Filia is at the upper limit of “normal” (18.5—24.9) with a BMI of 24.4. She’s almost overweight. As you can see in this image, Filia is visibly chubby compared to your average video game heroine. At 34C (don’t get me wrong, I know jack shit about bras) I imagine that her breast size is fairly average for a girl of her weight.

Filia is nonetheless seen as attractive and has a lot of fans. Hear that? She’s an average, realistically-proportioned girl, who looks good. My brother and I were in love with her design instantly, and so was my brother’s female friend who immediately wanted to buy the game just for the character designs (she has no interest in fighting games) and is already planning a cosplay of Filia. Her body type, as it turns out, is almost the same!

Why is Filia an attractive design? It has nothing to do with pandering or idealization. It’s because the designs in Skullgirls are phenomenal and the animation is unbelievable. Filia is drawn masterfully, the same way all the other girls are, from the more “classically” sexy Valentine to the grotesquely thin Painwheel. Everything in the game is gorgeous. The characters, the backgrounds, the effects, even the graphic design of the menus is excellent.

Yes, Valentine (the ninja-nurse) and Parasoul (who looks like a pantsless Russian super-spy) are supposed to look fetishized. Yes, the game has made a point for there to be a character with A, B, C, D, DD, and E-cup breasts, and yes, their three sizes are publicized. You know what else is publicized? Their personalities. What does Valentine like and dislike? (click to enlarge)

I don’t see a fetishized list of interests. I see likes and dislikes as varied and personal as my own. I see a character—a silly cartoon character, yes, but a realized one. Not a one-dimensional “personality” with a pair of tits tacked onto it like you might get in another fighting game. (Or even just the pair of tits, as you’ll get in Dead or Alive). Are you going to tell me that a realized character like this is offensive just because she’s sexy? If I slapped a pair of pants on this girl and closed her shirt, would you suddenly not be offended anymore? This is silly.

Skullgirls isn’t pandering. It isn’t sexist. It’s sexy. It’s also a whole lot of other things, such as excellent.

P.S. The developers have stated intent to include male characters in future DLC. I wonder how these characters would have or will sway claims of sexism.

Games That Are Their Own Reward

R042 of Ideas Without End recently published a series of posts about his disillusionment with video games, concluding with what he’d like to see out of them in the future. He used Dark Souls (my favorite game) as an example of what to do right. The main idea I got from the post is that a great game is one whose reward for playing it is being able to play more of it.

Years ago, I got really into JRPGs. My reasoning was that the “story” was the most important aspect of a game to me, and I liked the stories in JRPGs the most. Nowadays, I can’t stand the stories in most JRPGs, leaving me with little else to care about. JRPGs aren’t particularly fun to play. They can be at times, but when I have to do things like hours of grinding, I grow tired of playing. If the story isn’t rewarding enough to continue, I wonder, “why am I playing this?”

I’m not a completionist. The last two games I reviewed, I did not complete. I was very into Persona 2 for a time, but as it wore on, everything became tiring. A once-interesting story evolved into the same trite “saving the world” BS that it always becomes in JRPGs, and the difficulty became arduous beyond the point of being fun. I made it to the final boss, but by then I cared so little and was so unwilling to keep grinding that I gave up.

Killer7 was very different. I never stopped loving the story to pieces, but the game became more challenging than I was willing to cope with. It wasn’t enough fun to play that I was willing to step up to its challenge. However, I think Killer7 is a great example of a game whose reward for playing it is getting to play more of it. The game has a unique and realized gameplay mechanic which some might enjoy and master. I lacked the patience to do so and didn’t enjoy it enough, but I get why others would go to the trouble.

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Since reading r042′s post, I’ve thought about this every time I’ve played a game or watched others do so. I wonder, “what am I getting out of this game? What makes me want to keep playing this?” It’s a primal understanding I have about why I will or won’t keep playing a game. I could easily tell you specific reasons why I disliked a game, but it’s even more interesting to me how I can step back and really get a grand sense of why it is that I don’t enjoy it.

Take Skyrim, which r042 discusses in one of his posts.

A friend told me that he would’ve played Skyrim for 300+ hours if it had the battle system of Dark Souls. More than that, I think Skyrim needs *anything* rewarding to make it better. If it had a gripping and unique story, maybe it would justify the shit battle system. Of course, it’d never have one of those. I can count the number of games that really made me care about the story on ten digits or less. However, were there a real sense of accomplishment from winning battles, like there is in Dark Souls, it would be more interesting. Progress would be marked not by how much time you played the game, but by how well you mastered the gameplay.

Even JRPGs are better about this than something like Skyrim. In Skyrim, the most tactical element is managing your weapons/armor/magic/etc. and stat allocation. In JRPGs, these elements exist alongside the tactics used to win battles. Finding the perfect combinations of summons to breeze through a dungeon in Persona 2 is where much of the game’s satisfaction comes from. The only satisfaction I got from Skyrim was riding around on Applejack thanks to a pony mod. (And, to be fair, I got immersed in the one town I explored, though not as well as I did in five seconds of playing Dark Souls.)

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I think I’m lucky not to be a hardcore gamer, because I don’t have to suffer any of r042′s disillusionment. Nor, indeed, the disillusionment of my favorite video game critic, Yahtzee. Unlike him, I don’t play a game every week and find myself drowning in how many shitty games there are. I only play the already-recognized gems handed down by reviewers like him. I generally like all of the games that I play, and I stop playing them when I stop liking them. I’m left with none of the negative emotions towards gaming as a whole that someone who plays them all would have.

I’ve been playing several games lately, but the one worth mention here is Yahtzee’s own recently-released action platformer, Poacher. Action platformers might be the best genre for what r042 calls “real games,” in that they tend to be the most challenging and most rewarding. They’re more streamlined than the likes of Dark Souls, but in Metroidvania games in particular, there’s still a huge amount of player agency in what you decide to do. There are often many things that are not necessary to finish the game, but still actually effect the game, like missile packs and health packs in Metroid. Getting these items is a decision which the player makes and alters the game in a meaningful way, which is important.

Anyway, we have Poacher, and it’s a game which I’m 33% through and don’t want to play anymore. Because Poacher really is a perfect example of a game whose reward is playing more of it, and being challenged further. It is highly influenced by another game that does this perfectly, Cave Story. Both are driven almost purely by gripping gameplay and challenge. And both of them, I couldn’t finish, because I gave up. I reached the final boss in Cave Story and found it entirely too difficult. Poacher is constantly punishing, and I know that it only gets harder as it goes, so I’m pretty much stuck in that one.

What the hell is the point I’m trying to make? I have no idea.

In Medaka Box, Nisioisin Does Goddere

Medaka Box follows the character formula that defines Nisioisin’s writing. There’s a girl who’s a genius-badass, and a guy who’s a badass-genius. The girl is aware of her own genius, while the guy is doubly aware of the girl’s genius. The guy is also aware of his own genius, but believes (and is usually right) that his is far lesser than hers. The guy is not unconfident: he knows that he’s a badass and somewhat of a genius, but he’s so sure that the girl is better than him that he understates his badassness. We only see his badassness in his interactions with anyone other than the girl, as he treats all others as equal to or lower than himself (unless they’re yet another incredible badass/genius).

Is this explanation confusing you? It should be. Nisioisin writes confusing stories. Usually, they’re full of constant, biased, loopy narration. Medaka Box doesn’t have this element—it’s more straightforward, not only because it’s based on a manga, but more importantly because that manga runs in Shounen Jump and not, say, Faust. (Nisioisin has written manga that are exactly as head-fucking as his prose.)

Regardless of narrative style, the point stands that Nisioisin’s main duo is very here. Medaka is a genius (I’m actually shocked that this exact word didn’t see any use in the episode) in just about any field, and has an overwhelming presence. (Well, she should have one, but it wasn’t portrayed as overwhelmingly as, say, Senjougahara is in Bakemonogatari.) The lead character is second only to her in genius and skill, yet he presents her as being a world apart from himself. And just like other Nisio leads who are “surrounded by geniuses,” the lead seems convinced that he’s only as good as he is because Medaka rubbed off on him. I’ll bet Medaka believes differently, and will reveal to him his personal badassery at some point.

Moving along, what is goddere? Hitoyoshi is tsundere, as he admits in the episode. Goddere is a term that, as far as I know, came from Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, wherein Kyouka claimed to be the most supreme kind of dere, “goddere,” and said, “it’s not like I’m being omnipotent and all-powerful for your sake!” To me, the idea of goddere, which Kyouka expressed to an extent, and which Medaka expresses to the fullest, is literally “the love of a God.” It’s when the character either is or sees herself as so powerful that her love is protection, like the love of God. Medaka seems to be preaching that she’ll protect everyone with her endless benevolence. Pray to Medaka and thou shalt be saved.

On a different note, Kamina is back from the dead!

I didn’t like this episode very much but I’m not ready to drop the show yet.

Applying Baka-Raptor Ratings To My “Completed” List

The Baka-Raptor rating system is interesting because anyone can easily implement it. It does away with the most challenging elements of most rating systems by not requiring that shows be compared against one-another. Everything is determined by objective readings of one’s subjective experience with a series. It also looks like a lot of fun, so I’m using it.

I chose to interpret the question, “was the show strong all around?” as, “did the show never bore me?” This means I had to not only recognize the show as strong, but actively enjoy the whole of it. I did this to prevent shows that I like and respect as strong but don’t totally enjoy from getting a ++. I assume this is similar to how Baka-Raptor uses the question.

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I Did Right By Queen’s Blade, and Dropped It Nonetheless

Two years ago, Baka-Raptor endorsed Queen’s Blade with a rare double-down endorsement. He didn’t claim that the show was the pinnacle of awesomeness—he said that it was a great show which hadn’t been given a proper chance by anime bloggers, who’d dismissed it for its pornographic nature. I’ve defended shows the same way because I’m not a ponce, and anyone who’s not a ponce would defend a show for the same reason.

Of course, I’ve been guilty in the past of criticizing shows that I hadn’t given a proper chance. Rectifying that mistake is something I’ve put great emphasis on over the years. Queen’s Blade was a show that I initially dismissed and shit-talked when it debuted in 2009, and Baka-Raptor called me out on it. When he did his endorsement of the series, I promised him that I’d give it a shot.

I watched three episodes back then on a crappy stream somewhere, then said I’d get back to it. In light of the new season starting, I decided now was the time to give it another shot. I rightly watched it in 1080p, which brought to life the show’s gorgeous background art. Unfortunately, everything else in the show is ugly.

May as well start there. (By the way, I’m tipsy right now from taking a sip every time I saw bare tits in the first three eps of season two, so forgive me if I meander in this post): this is not an attractive show to me. Before you accuse me of being biased against big tits or something, allow me to firmly retort. There are a number of large-breasted characters whose designs I adore. To name a few off the top of my head: Kallen Stadtfeld, Suzumiya Haruhi, and Sonoshee McLaren. I didn’t find anyone in Queen’s Blade attractive, regardless of breast size—but that’s not what I mean by ugly.

If the characters were consistently drawn with the quality that they are in the ending sequence, then I wouldn’t complain. I’d simply call it a matter of taste. But the fact is, Queen’s Blade has shoddy-ass character art and animation which looks like hell most of the time. Considering that some fifty percent of the show is fanservice shots, this is a crime. I’ve said somewhere or another that THE most important places for animation/art to shine is in fanservice and fighting scenes. When these scenes are shit, then it pushes that shit straight into the viewer’s face. I don’t like shit in my face.

But I didn’t come to this show for the looks. I knew in 2010 that I didn’t like the way it looked. I came because Baka-Raptor championed the writing and the plot.

Like him, I thought that Listy’s betrayal in episode three was a nice touch, and it inspired me to continue with the show. After watching six episodes of season one and three episodes of season two (because Baka-Raptor told me to go straight to S2 if I got bored with S1), nothing else has impressed me about the plot or writing.

Character motivations in this series are as cliche and boring as they can get. All that saved the backstory scenes from being insufferable was their merciful shortness. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the reasons any character had for fighting, and didn’t ultimately care who won any fights. For that matter, the characters have only the most basic personality traits which I don’t care about either. They aren’t very well-ruonded I guess is what I’m saying (well, they certainly are WELL-ROUNDED if you catch my drift).

Well-rounded characters aren’t a make-or-break thing for me, but if the characters suck, the animation sucks, so much sucks, what’s there to like? The plot, supposedly. I ask, what fucking plot?! This is the entire plot of the show: a bunch of boring women are fighting to become queen. When they aren’t doing this, they are involving themselves in random, stupid hijinks and terrible attempts at comedy. When they *are* fighting, they talk the whole time, stand around, and when they attack, the animation is shit and there’s no sense of how powerful characters are in relation to one-another (and these power levels are wildly inconsistent).

In three episodes of season two, the only thing I enjoyed was how Nyx, who was horribly boring, got defeated by Elina. Not because of the subversion of justice, but because Nyx was annoying and needed a one-way ticket out of the god damned show.

Anyway, the long and short of it is, I was disappointed.

One Good Reason Space Bros Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

is that it’s a grown-up show. When I saw it on this season’s chart, I was all too ready to blow it off, having long grown tired of A1 Pictures’ constant stream of very pretty looking melodramatic shows. But this isn’t a show about lame crying teenagers, it’s about a grown-up pair of brothers going to space. There’s still a lot of crying, but it’s adult crying. Or something.

Unlike ghostlightning, I couldn’t care less about space, astronomy, or hard science, but I do love shows about brotherhood, because like him, I am the oldest (of three in my case). My first brother is only a year and a half younger than me, whereas Mutto’s is three years, but it’s just as well. When I was fifteen or so, my brother started to overtake me in height, and Mutto’s looks like he overtook him at twelve. Hibito is god damn monstrous.

I’m ten years too young to have a brother who’s way the fuck more successful than I am, but that doesn’t mean it seems unlikely. He may be fairly directionless, but at least he’s in a university, unlike some older brother who’s been bumming around the house for almost a solid year.

Mutto and Hibito seem to have been really close, which is good for me because I’m also extremely close to my brothers. Victor (nineteen) and I certainly ran around in a forest recording things for most of our teen years. Unlike Mutto, but like Hibito, my brother and I never forget anything that we do (though Victor is MUCH better at remembering every promise that I’ve ever made to him, apparently). We probably will never forget because the video evidence is everywhere, constantly reminding us.

Here’s a fact I didn’t remember: apparently, our still-running Project Awesomeness comedy series was originally something I thought would make us “famous.” According to Victor, every time I’ve ever talked about my plans, they’re about how I’m going to become rich and famous one day. Then I think back—to things I always remember, now re-contextualized into a straight line.

I remember being eight years old, Victor probably six, and we were jumping up and down on our beds. I was explaining to him that the video game I was “designing” was going to make me two million dollars. I literally thought that if I “designed” a game (this involved writing strategy-guide-esque descriptions of levels, drawing maps and enemies, etc.) and sold it to Nintendo, they would give me two million dollars. With that money, I explained, still jumping, I would purchase every video game console and every video game in existence.

Fast forward seven years; I’m fifteen, he’s fourteen. I’m dead-set on becoming a director. As a matter of fact, what I want to do is drop out of school like Ryuhei Kitamura did and make a breakout low-budget film, like he did with Versus, and become world famous. My breakout would make me a full-time director, and what did I want to do with the money? Buy every anime DVD in existence. I never change.

Hell, maybe the reason I’m not driven right now is that there’s no massive stock of collectible entertainment I want to purchase.

Anyways, here’s what my little brothers want to do in life:

My fourteen year-old brother, Shade, wants to be a game designer.

Victor isn’t sure exactly what he wants to do, but he knows he wants to do film, and he’s in a film curriculum.

HORY SHIET.

Both of them are lazy and impassionate, yet both are far better at what they’re trying to do than I ever was (and more consistent). Shade modifies his PC games (i.e. making Minecraft skins, etc.) and has a load of modeling programs. Victor is good enough at editing videos and enjoys it enough that there’s no reason for me to ever do it (I am terrible).

Have I gotten off-track? Mutto is a reprisal of Hirata Hiroaki’s previous role as Kotetsu from Tiger and Bunny: another older guy who we love, who acts like a loser even though he really isn’t one. Both characters start by losing their jobs and work their way back to the top (one would expect).

This show could be great, or it could be good. Basking in the majesty of space doesn’t have any effect on me, but we’ll see how it goes.