The Infinite Zenith

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And Then Someone Was Gone: Sabagebu! OVA Review

“Let’s face it, comedy is a dead art form. Now tragedy, that’s funny.” —Bender, Futurama

The first Sabagebu! OVA was released on September 24 and follows one of the Survival Game Club’s summer outings. Despite a seemingly-ordinary train ride and Urara’s perversions appearing, things appear quite normal. However, this summer outing is no ordinary one: Miou has devised a fiendish assault course over the lake that the girls must traverse using all of their ingenuity and cunning. After a gruelling effort to reach the end point, Urara is knocked into shark-infested waters and promptly consumed, to Momoka and the others’ horror.

  • After three days and three nights, my cold’s finally disappeared, and with my spirit mostly restored, this weekend was productive as it usually is. This blog post was actually quite unexpected: this morning, after having woken up from a normal sleep free of illness-induced dreams, I discovered the Sabagebu! OVA was finally uploaded and decided to check that out.

  • With my “cold weather’s coming” cold passing, the skies today turned a moody grey and snow began falling. I typically get sick twice a year for around three to four days: once before the weather switches from cold to warm during the spring, and once before the weather switches from warm to cold during the autumn. It’s accurate to within a week, and as it stands now, it’s time to break out the long-sleeves and autumn jackets.

  • I was wondering what was the factor behind the limited discussion of the OVA was, and after seeing it for myself, it’s not difficult to imagine why no one out there has provided a discussion, or even screenshots of the OVA. Maya’s presence in the cabin is actually quite restrained compared to what Urara and Momoka are doing, and Momoka will have none of Urara’s antics.

  • This assault course, though a watered-down version of TheRadBrad’s Wipeout in Trials Evolution, looks quite difficult to complete, bringing to mind some of the challenges seen in Japanese Gameshows. Individuals who take the time to follow the link will be treated to some seven minutes of some of the most amusing Trials Evolution gameplay I’ve ever seen, and in fact, this was probably the video that inspired me to actually purchase the game.

  • I have yet to actually beat Trials Evolution, despite having purchased it in December 2013. I think I have most of the Terminal Velocity maps unlocked, and records show that the last time I played was back when I wrote my SoniAni halfway point reflection post, which was some eight months ago now.

  • Despite Momoka’s reservations about the school swimsuit look, the others convince her to continue onwards with the obstacle course. The first portion consists of an inclined plane of 100 percent grade, which Urara attempts to take advantage of and consequently, is knocked back to the starting line.

  • While Kayo painstakingly tries to make her way across the horizontal bars, Miou bypasses it by walking over top the bars. Doing arm-over-arm on horizontal bars is quite difficult, and even though I train to keep my fitness up, doing the bars still leaves my arms and shoulders a small amount of soreness. When I was in elementary school, I was able to swing around on these bars without any difficulty, and even though I’m absolutely certain I can lift far more than I did back then, it is a little interesting to see the differences in endurance.

  • The inclusion of eels in the pool toes the line for what can be acceptably shown here. Because this is an OVA, certain details are paid to here that were not present within the TV series, and if I had chosen to take the screenshot a few hundred milliseconds earlier, I’m sure this blog would go straight to the 14A category (as of late, it’s been inching towards the PG-13 rating). Again, Maya succumbs to the eels while the others make it through that section of the obstacle course without too much difficulty.

  • The final section of the obstacle course features sharks, and although everyone makes it across in once piece, Momoka and Maya’s swimsuits suffer some structural damage and failure, respectively. However, Urara’s depraved tendencies means that Momoka kicks her back into the shark pools, where even her super-strength cannot save her. The OVA ends on a shocking note, and while I realise this post is essentially a spoiler for the OVA’s events, I’ve chosen not to include screenshots for those specific moments.

  • One does wonder if Sabagebu! has applied Bender’s claim that tragedy is a greater comedy than comedy itself to the OVA. With that said, the OVA marks a welcome return by Ssabagebu!, and thus, my reservations about the next OVA is outweighed by the fact that Sabagebu! delivers comedy exceptionally well. Regular programming resumes after this post, with a talk on Shirobako coming out before October draws to a close.

Clocking in at around ten minutes, the Sabagebu! OVA is in the same vein as the TV Series, although becuase it was intended to be for the Blu-Ray release, the OVA is decidely more risque than the TV series, turning Urara’s crush on Momoka into something that’s off the charts. Sabagebu! has been finished since late September, so the OVA does bring back the humour that had made the TV series particularly entertaining to watch. With that said, the ending is macabre, even by Sabagebu! standards; Urara’s fate is ambiguous here simply becuase Sabagebu! has never drawn the line between fantasy and reality, allowing characters to respawn freely. While the episode’s title suggests that Urara might be finished off, Urara is also known as the “Unkillable Twintail”, so my money’s on her returning to the second OVA, which is set to release on October 29. My money’s also on a month-long wait to see said OVA.

Sora no Method- Review and Impressions After Three

“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.” —Aeschylus

Upon moving back to Lake Kiriya City, Nonoka Komiya finds herself re-entering the lives of those she had left behind after moving away seven years ago. Before moving, a saucer appeared in the city, drastically changing the cityscape. Nonoka encounters Noel, who promises to grant her wish, but Nonoka has no recollections of what she had done in Lake Kiriya City prior to moving. She nonetheless befriends Yuzuki Mizusaka and promises to help her get rid of the saucer, but also finds herself drawing Shione Togawa’s ire. This is what’s happened after three in Sora no Method, and insofar, this anime appears to be driven by Nonoka’s lack of memories concerning events dating back seven years. All the viewers know is that she had the idea of summoning the saucer to their city. The saucer’s presence is passive, and although it has no physical impact on Lake Kiriya City, the citizens find themselves experiencing mixed feelings about it. Some embrace it and sell merchandise related to the saucer, while others feel that its presence is disruptive and wishes for the saucer to leave. The saucer thus becomes a physical embodiment of the nature of wishes: if they are granted, they may have varying consequences that were not anticipated.

  • My site might be dying, but until the Girls und Panzer Movie comes out, I’ll return from time to time to write about things as they happen. On that note, there’s been no news of when the movie is set to release: last I mentioned it, the only tidbit of information was that it’d be somewhere in 2014, and with 2014 fast coming to a close, one does wonder if the movie won’t be released in 2015. The first moments in Sora no Method is a stunning shot of a field of sunflowers under a brilliant sky during the spring/summer months, a welcoming opening sequence to behold.

  • An abandoned observatory with a reflecting telescope is prominently featured in Sora no Method. This is where Nonoka first meets Noel, a mysterious blue-haired girl whose existence is tied to that of the saucer. Flashbacks frequently return the characters here, suggesting that the spot was a secret hangout for a close group of friends many years ago.

  • Nonoka is the series’ protagonist, taking on the same role as Kanon‘s Yuichi. As the series begins, she’s just moved back to lake Kiriya after a seven-year absence. As much as I hate to admit so, I imagine that the seven references in Kanon and Sora no Method probably aren’t intentional as they are with Bungie Studio’s games.

  • The saucer’s depiction is of superb quality, and it seems to blend in with the afternoon sky. Throughout Sora no Method, there are numerous depictions of Lake Kiriya City and its surroundings, presenting a beautiful, calm world of greenery and peace that I’ve come to enjoy anime greatly for.

  • Souta and Koharu share a brief conversation together: the former is Yuzuki’s older brother, while the latter works for a local store that sells memorabilia of the saucer.

  • Here is another shot of the Lake Kiriya area by evening. I would’ve gotten these posts out sooner, but yesterday was remarkably busy. After my data mining lecture had ended, I left to help my supervisor’s presentation of our lab’s work to students from another university, and stopped by the Red Wagon Diner to pick up their smoked meat hash. Timing meant I set the smoked meat hash aside to go teach my introductory programming tutorial (thankfully, a work period) before returning to the lab for lunch and a meeting.

  • After snapping at Noel for supposedly breaking a photo of her mother and learning that the photo had been damaged while packing, Nonoka decides to go look for Noel and apologise. The first episode introduces the main characters, and although the series features characters with an adorable design, it is gradually leaning into drama territory.

  • Nonoka tearfully embraces Noel, and briefly recalls that they had met long ago. I’m willing to bet that Sora no Method will probably be about Nonoka’s gradual rediscovery of what had happened to her prior to leaving seven years ago, and even though the series is projected to be only thirteen episodes long, it looks like there should be enough time for everything to be fleshed out.

  • There is a mystique about this scene: Noel sitting under an abstract sculpture with Lake Kiriya and the mountains in the back yield an image that is simultaneously majestic and melancholic. I’m presently feeling under the weather and have been so since Wednesday: thankfully, in spite of the common cold, my taste buds still work, and I recall why I thoroughly enjoy the Red Wagon Diner’s smoked meat hash: it’s the perfect blend of Montreal Smoked Meat (from Pure Pwnage), potato, onion, banana pepper and jalapeño.

  • The onions probably helped stem my cold symptoms further, although I still spent most of today trudging around campus between continuous tutorials and a meeting for my tutorial. Returning back to Sora no Method, Yuzuki and a reluctant Nonoka petition to get rid of the saucer in their sky. Despite not recalling who Yuzuki is, Nonoka decides to help. For posterity’s sake, Yuzuki is voiced by Aki Toyosaki and as such, has an energetic, forward personality.

The setup in Sora no Method is not dissimilar to Kanon, where amnesia plays a central role in the story. Both Nonoka and Yuichi arrive in a town they had stayed in during their childhood, and are immediately greeted by a playful girl (Noel and Ayu), but when reminded by their peers about their pasts seven years ago (both series choose seven, a choice that probably has nothing to do with Bungie’s Seven references), find themselves unable to remember. A little bit of extrapolation allows one to surmise that Sora no Method will see Nonoka spend more time with Yuzuki, Shione, Koharu and Souta, becoming closer to them and in the process, learning what happened seven years back to figure out what Noel and the saucer are really about. Such a story would be quite formulaic, and the possibility that Sora no Method will go in a different direction is non-negligible. For the present, though, it is sufficient to continue watching Sora no Method to see which direction it will take, and how each of the characters figure in Nonoka’s life.

  • Years ago, Nonoka watches the fireworks with her mother. Since the saucer arrived, fireworks are no longer displayed over the lake, and it is these changes that lead Yuzuki to dislike its presence to the point of trying to get rid of it. There was a partial solar eclipse yesterday, visible from my city, and after the lab meeting concluded (with German Cheesecake), I was fortunate enough to learn that the campus Department of Physics and Astronomy were holding a viewing session.

  • Thus, I was able to see my first-ever partial eclipse. The next solar eclipse will be August 21, 2017, and although my old astronomy book predicted that it would be a total eclipse, the book itself dates back to 1999, and modern predictions suggest it will be another partial eclipse. By then, I’ll probably/hopefully a year into doing full-time software development. Thoughts like those concern the future, and while three years may not seem like much, it’ll pass by in the blink of an eye. As such, I’ll begin my job search by Summer 2015.

  • In the immediate future, I’m encouraged to learn Maya now so I can build my own graphical assets for my thesis work; I just finished building a prototype, and although it works, there is a lot that still needs to be done so it’s more visual and scalable. I’m a complete novice to Maya, so now’s a good time to start learning as any. Returning to Sora no Method, episode three sees Yuzuki, Nonoka and Koharu partaking in what appears to be an orienteering event; despite Yuzuki’s insistence on maintaining a brisk pace to finish first, the group falls behind.

  • Shione Togawa is a serious, no-nonsense girl with a love for photography. Her strict appearance is indicative of her personality: in general, girls with a hime-cut are supposed to be stern in manner and may either appear or outright be cold to others, although some anime choose to present these characters as rather friendly. In Sora no Method, though, Shione is not remotely friendly to begin with.

  • Noel’s antics are occasionally showcased in these early episodes; while no one’s ages are explicitly mentioned, the characters appear to be middle-school students for the most part, and Noel might be slightly younger than that. She mentions to Nonoka that she is the saucer itself, or more appropriately, the personification of the saucer and the wishes the girls had made many years ago. The saucer’s role is still a mystery, and one thing that definitely should happen as Sora no Method progresses is explanation of what the saucer is.

  • After addressing Shione by first name, Nonoka gets decked. Flashbacks show the two as close friends, and I’m quite curious to see what exactly led them to drift apart. At three episodes in, it’s still a little early to be expecting a proper exposition, but it feels appropriate to provide viewers with some explanation by no later than the halfway point such that everyone is on the ball with regards to what is happening. Supernatural elements play a substantial role in Sora no Method, so one hopes that contrasting Glasslip, the elements’ significance to the story are satisfactorily presented.

  • Perhaps there’s a defect about me, but everytime someone adorable in anime, or small children in reality tears up, a bit of my heart melts.

  • So, we’re now three episodes into two of Fall 2014’s offerings, and insofar, I’m okay with what Sora no Method has presented thus far. After I do an “after three” talk for Shirobako, I’ll take a step back from the season’s shows to provide a talk on Tamako Love Story, which has been out on Blu-ray and DVD since October 10. I will also do a talk on Zankyou no Terror, a thrilling series that I’ve been watching. At some point, I should also do a talk on some of the anime that I finished years ago and never discussed here (Papa no iukoto o kikinasai, RDG: Red Data Girl and Kokoro Connect), as well as a short talk on Chobits and Higurashi: When They Cry.

  • Nonoka gets lost herself after leaving to search for Shione, who is presumed to be lost but is in fact lagging a little behind. During her time alone, some memories kick back in, and she recalls more of what happened some seven years ago. Since the number seven keeps popping up, here’s a link to a list of all the instances where Bungie makes use of seven, and in a curious coincidence, the seven is spelled out fourteen times (7 * 2 = 14) this article. This was purely unintentional.

  • We’ve reached the end of this Sora no Method discussion, and moving forwards, the pacing seems to be setting up something big in future episodes without rushing things. I’m going to continue watching this, with a greater frequency than Amagi Brilliant Park, if only for the fact that I haven’t had any protracted dreams about this series yet.

Initially, the presence of fantasy/supernatural elements might be a warning flag after the fiasco Glasslip presented its viewers, but Sora no Method is doing a better job at making it clear that the saucer will play a substantial role, so it will be worthwhile to stick around and see how this is related with Nonoka’s amnesia, as well as how Nonoka’s relationship with each of the other characters will progress as her recollections return. Beyond the story, Sora No Method offers beautiful visuals and characters that are quite endearing to behold. Despite being based off a real-world location in Hokkaido, Lake Kiriya City is depicted as though it were a calm city in a world far apart from our own. I will continue to follow this anime and see which direction it takes: although it’s no GochiUsa or Non Non Biyori, it does stand to be an intriguing story if properly executed. Of course, the similarity between Sora no Method and Kanon (which extends to a seven reference) is a direct consequence of the shows sharing writers, and as such, Sora no Method could very well be a moving story. Contrasting some other reviewers out there, I won’t be so haste to drop Sora no Method, and hopefully, a thrilling adventure will await.

Amagi Brilliant Park- Review and Impressions After Three

“This isn’t mission difficult, it’s mission impossible. ‘Difficult’ should be a walk in the park for you.” —Mission Impossible II

I’ve finally caught up with Amagi Brilliant Park now. After three episodes, I’ve seen the state the park is in, and quite personally, it’s not an amusement park I would visit (although I’m not a frequent visitor of amusement parks anyways). Armed with the task of bringing in two hundred and fifty thousand visitors, under the pain of the park being closed, Seiya Kanie must now turn his considerable talents towards restoring the park’s condition and promoting the public’s interest in it. Together with Isuzu Sento and the park’s staff, Seiya sets out on a journey to do the impossible, introducing methods that surprise and outrage the amusement park’s staff. This is what I’ve seen so far, and Amagi Brilliant Park would have been a reasonably straightforward anime from that premise alone. The inclusion of faeries from Maple Land and magic also adds a new dimension of ridiculousness to Amagi Brilliant Park, reinforcing that despite its premise, things are meant to be comical. This does seem to be Kyoto Animation’s speciality as of late: in Amagi Brilliant Park, they manage to weave in the magic and comedy with the weight presented by the threat of their park closing, and what I am looking forwards to seeing is the changes that this participation will wrought in Seiya. Presented as an overwhelmingly narcissist individual, Seiya is remarkably difficult to get along with (says the blog’s author, who sometimes, albeit jokingly, refers to his ability in the same manner). His decision to help Amagi Brilliant Park and Latifah Fullanza (the park’s director) is motivated by yet unknown motives, but it is quite possible that his actions may eventually lead him to care more greatly about others than he was previously accustomed to. Should this be the case, it’s not difficult to imagine Amagi Brilliant Park as having the potential to take viewers on a fabulous journey to save an amusement park that turns into helping Seiya become a more respectable individual.

  • What do you do, when you’re person like Seiya and you’re forced at gunpoint to go on a date with a girl? There’s nothing left to do but go on that date. Apparently, Isuzu Sento’s name was inspired by that of Fifty Cent, and her magic ability is being able to summon muskets at will.

  • I wonder if Shoji Gatoh’s original light novel was actually inspired by Nara Dreamland’s fate, although in Amagi Brilliant Park, the objective will be saving the eponymous amusement park before it succumbs to the same fate that Nara Dreamland succumbed to.

  • Moffle and Seiya immediately hit one another rather than hit it off. His appearance is identical to that of Full Metal Metal Panic Fumoffu, a spin-off of the Full Metal Panic series. This brings to mind the old showdown between Full Metal Panic‘s Arbalest and Gundam 00‘s Exia, as well as their respective show’s protagonists. One website out there put things overwhelmingly in favour of the Arbalest, but after being counteracted by some devastating counter-arguments, the entire website was shut down.

  • A website that disappears after a handful of counterarguments probably wasn’t one that would be successful. Returning back to Amagi Brilliant Park, it appears that Isuzu has all of the goods on Seiya, much to his irritation. However, despite an overwhelmingly disappointing day, he finds the croquettes are excellent, far surpassing everything else the theme park has to offer. For clarity’s sake, the italicised form will refer to the anime, and all other appearances of the name “Amagi Brilliant Park” will refer to the theme park itself.

  • Latifah Fullanza is a princess hailing from Maple Land, a fantastical world that has insofar not been depicted within Amagi Brilliant Park. Kindhearted and ever-hopeful that Amagi Brilliant Park will recover, she recruits Seiya’s help; it appears the two already know one another from before, and this may have led Seiya to quit the entertainment industry.

  • Takaya Kurisu is an employee of Amagi Development, a company that is looking to purchase the land Amagi Brilliant Park is on. He is the one who informs Seiya of Amagi Brilliant Park’s future if they fail to meet attendance quotas within the next three months. While he might be seen as an antagonist by some, the true conflict in Amagi Brilliant Park will likely be character-vs-self.

  • Seiya initially expresses limited desire to lend any efforts towards saving Amagi Brilliant Park from being shut down, although he later changes his mind. The reason for this change is unknown, but in this scene, Seiya demonstrates usage of the Fermi Approximation, a method to make approximations without data. This method fuels the Drake Equation, and I’ve used it to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar before.

  • Capitalising on the moment, Seiya decides to use reverse-psychology to rile up Amagi Brilliant Park’s employees against him, with the aim of both testing their resolve and providing them with someone to openly work hard to disprove. Such tactics are always a gamble, since there’s always the risk that the approach could lead others to simply undermine the individual. However, Amagi Brilliant Park’s employees demonstrate devotion to their park, enough to follow Seiya’s orders.

  • Ironically, sufficiently desperate parties and societies have turned to strongmen in the past before in the face of social and economic collapse, and that led to some of the world’s most oppressive dictatorships being formed. Seiya, however, is significantly more honest: his speech makes no use of scapegoats to shift the blame. Its effectiveness will probably be seen in some of the upcoming episodes.

  • Seiya oversees the engineers’ repair of park attractions and equipment. His decision to close the park for a day to allow for repairs is a rational one, although Moffle expresses outrage at Seiya’s tactics. However, the park is in terrible condition, and repairs could do it much good. The fact that some parts are better maintained than others suggests that the employees responsible for those sections still care greatly about their workplace and occupation, an admirable outlook.

The premise of a decaying amusement park drew my attention rather quickly: I’ve long been a fan of haikyo, or Japanese ruins. These ruins arose from the Japanese price asset bubble, when investors were able to construct properties for business. However, once the bubble burst, maintaining these facilities no longer became viable, and many have been left to nature as their owners abandoned them. Nara Dreamland is perhaps one of the most well-known haikyo. Inspired by Disneyland California, it was constructed in 1961 and closed permanently in 2006 as a result of dwindling attendance. The parks’ infrastructure was just left there to be reclaimed by nature, and several well-known urban explorers have visited Nara Dreamland. They note that such a location is quite eerie and haunting, as what was intended to be a place of amusement is now devoid of human activity. Amagi Brilliant Park has not quite reached these levels yet, although going from what the anime depicts, the park’s state is falling dangerously close to the environment at Nara Dreamland. While the park closing would probably not have been a big deal from a business perspective, Amagi Brilliant Park chooses to include magical beings to emphasise the weight of what could potentially happen should Seiya fail; their presence is a little jarring, but they’re present for good reason.

  • Isuzu commonly relies on her magical musket to set Seiya and Moffle in line whenever the two get into a fist fight. The presence of giant white bandages reinforces the notion that Amagi Brilliant Park is a comedy; official sources designate this as a romance comedy, so if a common rhetoric is to be believed about the first girl introduced, one could reasonably expect Isuzu and Seiya to develop feelings for one another as the series progresses.

  • In a meeting with the staff, Seiya declares that he will make three new changes to the park, altering the hours of operation so it closes later (and installation of appropriate fixtures to ensure its operation into the night hours), doing away with the Fridays-off previously observed and charging a pittance for admissions and services. The first two changes bring Amagi Brilliant Park closer to the operational practises of most amusement parks, but the last change is a little unusual.

  • Ashe is Amagi Brilliant Park’s accountant, and bears a degree of resemblance to Gundam Build FightersBaker. Ashe’s role in Amagi Brilliant Park has been quite limited insofar, and here, she objects to Seiya’s third item. While Seiya understands the ramifications of doing so, he cites that profitability is secondary to attendance and thus, continues as planned.

  • The Elementario are a group of faerie performers at the amusement park. There are four faeries, each with a unique personality: here, Salama (the faerie of fire) captures a fight between Moffle and a family of troublemakers. While she’s typically unmotivated, Salama enjoys making use of social media platforms off her phone.

  • I imagine that Seiya’s move to have Amagi Brilliant Park’s female employees to don swimwear and perform a cheerleading routine was probably the episode’s highlight: even Latifah joins in, although most of the employees are visibly embarrassed by the setup.

  • It probably shouldn’t take a terrible amount of effort to explain why Isuzu is perhaps one of the more interesting characters from initial impressions. She’s stoic, and isn’t particularly good at expressing her emotions, delivering most of her dialogue with a quiet, deadpan approach.

  • Despite appearances, there is a noticeable lack of physics in this scene, reflecting on the fact that Amagi Brilliant Park is not fanservice driven. Now that I think about it, the last Kyoto Animation show I watched in completion was K-On! The Movie, although I’m making my way through Hyouka right now.

  • Moffle gloats about his video’s success over Seiya’s, until Seiya reveals he was the one who uploaded both. I’m beginning to like the dynamics between Seiya and Moffle a great deal.

  • At the time of writing, I picked up the common cold from the shift in temperatures and tiredness: the last two nights have been nightmarish, as I continued dreaming about Amagi Brilliant Park and somehow took on Seiya’s job. If memory serves, I was able to completely optimise operations, but it ultimately felt like I’ve watched around sixteen hours of the anime, even though only four episodes are out. As such, I probably won’t watch any more Amagi Brilliant Park episodes until this cold passes, and my dreams return to normal: every time I get sick, my dreams turn into protracted, tedious periods of existence that torture me until I wake up, leaving behind a terrible feeling that words don’t seem adequate for.

  • Well, that’s pretty much it for this post. Up next is a talk on Sora no Method, and following that will be Shirobako. My copy of the Tamako Love Story has also arrived, so I’ll get a talk on that once I finished watching the movie.

What happens next is probably not too difficult to predict: one imagines that over the anime’s run, Seiya will continue running the park in his own manner, encountering minor successes and setbacks as the series progresses. He will probably become more positively-viewed amongst the park’s staff as the series wears on, probably after brining the park back from the brink of destruction (except maybe Moffle, whose trust will only be earnt after he does something significant). Along the way, Seiya may even discover something about the park and turn that to everyone’s advantage, drawing in crowds. By the end of the series, it’s not difficult to see Amagi Brilliant Park meet the minimum requirements and perhaps even prosper. Such speculation is not based on anything beyond Kyoto Animation’s style, which leans towards happy endings. Naturally, I will continue watching Amagi Brilliant Park to see how Seiya saves the theme park, as well as changes in his character as he’s carrying out his assignment. In the meantime, my blog seems to be suffering the same fate as the Amagi Brilliant Park itself regarding traffic, perhaps signalling that its twilight has come. I’ll worry about this site’s fate if the need demands it.

Three Year Anniversary!

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” —John Mayer

Perhaps it bears testament to just how insane my schedule is when I was not able to even write a short post about how it’s been three years since I started this blog. The official anniversary of this blog is October 17, 2011, but as I spent that time grading Python exercises and working on various assignments, the blog’s anniversary somehow fell from my mind. Curiously enough, today provided a respite from all of that, and as I look back on this blog’s past year, the statistics tell a story of a blog that’s grown. I’m now nearing my 500th post (I think I’ll be seven away with this one), and the traffic here now is around 25 times what it was when I first started three years ago, when I was still an undergraduate student. Posts recall stories of my academic year, some of the projects and challenges I’ve faced, the different things each summer has seen. Even though my schedule is busier than it’s ever been, I’ve managed to find enough time to write here and there. The Infinite Zenith is but one of the countless blogs out there about anime and gaming, intended to provide my insights on anime and games for the readers as much as it is a diary of sorts for myself: when I read through older entries, I recall vividly what was happening when I wrote those posts.

  • In my previous two anniversary posts, I showcased images of well-drawn anime girls in beach attire, but this post is a little more reflective, so I’ve opted to go with slightly different images. When I read through different posts in the archive, I’m reminded of things I did long ago; it’s equivalent to reading a diary, albeit one that I don’t mind showing to the world because it doesn’t hold all of my secrets and talks about things ranging from themes in anime to random tips for pwning shooters.

  • I suppose the images were chosen to represent the scope and scale that the future holds: adventure into the future is simultaneously exciting and frightening, filled with unknown possibility. For the present, though, I return my mind to the present and will hopefully finish my simulation’s prototype before the month is over, then turn my attention to either learning Maya or adding further functionality, depending on my supervisor’s recommendations.

It’s hardly a surprise that blogging is a substantial time commitment, and in spite of my schedule (even now), I’ve managed to continue writing posts. I sometimes wonder if the blog should have another author, but recalling that I write here for my own posterity as much as I do with the intent of exploring anime and games, I think Infinite Zenith will remain a one-man army for the present. While the specifics behind the blog’s future is uncertain, I can say for certain that I will stick around long enough to talk about the upcoming Girls und Panzer Movie (whose release date is still unknown), as well as the Tamayura movies, and Strike Witches OVAs. This past year was an incredible ride for the blog, and although I doubt I’ll be able to blog with the same commitment for the upcoming year, I’ll definitely continue blogging, and inform readers of what the blog’s fate is as it happens. The upcoming year is definitely going to be big, as I (will strive to) get further into my graduate thesis, learning any tool I may need with my fullest effort and, hopefully, turn out another journal publication or conference paper. As well, I will strive to turn my dreams of travelling Japan (the precise destination is still under consideration) into a reality.

The Infinite Zenith’s Firing Range: Sabagebu!-style

“Maybe some arm shots or leg shots. Maybe, you know, try to stay away from that head.” —FPS_Doug, Pure Pwnage

For this Firing Range, I’ll be doing a talk on Maya Kyoudou’s preferred loadout from Sabagebu!, and in keeping with Maya’s lack of sidearms and other equipment, I’ve just rolled with the M4A1 with a random assortment of squad specialisations. In Sabagebu!, Maya runs with the M4A1 with Close Quarters Battle Receiver and an XPS variant of an EOTech holographic sight. The shortened barrel makes the weapons more compact and allows it to excel at close quarters, so for gathering footage here, I’ve stuck primarily with close-quarters engagements. To mirror Maya’s loadout, I’ve equipped my M4A1 with the holo sight and a flash suppressor. In Battlefield 3, the M4A1 is considered to be the best all-around carbine for the engineer class, with a high rate of fire (800 RPM), low recoil and fast reload time (1.85 seconds if there’s a round chambered, or 2.48 seconds from empty). In close quarters, this weapon is roughly the same as an assault rifle with regards to damage output, but thanks to the low recoil, the M4A1 remains useful at longer ranges, allowing one to perform reasonably well in a variety of situations. Outfitted with the flash suppressor and the holographic sight, I found that the flash suppressor did not do too much for the weapon, as the vertical recoil is already quite low. The holographic sight, on the other hand, helps with longer range aiming, affording a bit more magnification while retaining the same aiming speed as the red dot sights. At close quarters, the weapon is quite accurate even when fired from the hip, and allowed me to hold my own against assault rifles and even shotguns.

  • My typical setup for the M4A1 is a red dot sight, foregrip and heavy barrel for longer range combat, or a laser sight for close-quarters death match battles. The laser sight helps improve hip-firing; in older games like Halo and Half-Life 2, hip firing is the norm, and aiming down sights is only used for weapons with optics; when I go back and play classics, I have to remind myself not to keep trying to aim down sights.

  • It’s been more than half a year since I bought Battlefield 3 Premium, and it was only recently where i was able to play a match on Wake Island, a classic Battlefield map. I wound up joining the losing team, but somehow managed to make my way into first place on my team in the scoreboard on the virtue of capturing many flags and, on top of that, maintaining a positive KD ratio all the while. This stands contrary to my typical performance in Conquest matches, where I wind up dying a lot but score many points for my team.

  • Because the M4A1 is a carbine, this post will feature a lot of carbine ribbons. I recall that, back when I first started playing Battlefield 3, my KD ratio was roughly 0.65, but I’ve managed to raise it. Because I’m an objectives-focused player, my KD ratio tends to be quite low, but my score per minute remains quite good. These metrics are fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, although I have experienced several cases where there were people using aimbots (it’s easy to tell when someone’s killing me from across the map with a G17, which does 13 points of damage past 50 meters).

  • I admit that a lot of my headshots with automatic weapons happen without me thinking about them too much. As of late, the setup on Kharg Island means that it’s become one of my favourite places to go and play around with different loadouts. In team DM, The map consists of a large building on one end and containers on the other. Some players immediately parachute onto the roof, which overlooks the entire map and proceed to snipe players, but I’m familiar enough with the containers’ layout so I know where to counter-snipe without being too open a target. During this particular match, I went on a short killstreak and got another combat efficiency ribbon, but died shortly after.

  • I’m quite comfortable with the M4A1 now, and up next in the Firing Range series will probably be a talk on Upotte‘s L85A2, or “Elle-chan”. I’ll roll out talks on Sora no Method and Amagi Brilliant Park this Friday, and as I’m a ways into Shirobako, so a talk on that should be out by Hallow’s Eve at the very latest. I’m pushing back the Aldnoah.Zero talk indefinitely, as I’ve encountered some difficulties with the post and will work on it only if time permits. I also noticed that my feed at some anime aggregators have stopped working, probably because I have too many gaming posts; it’s their loss, since I offer unusual discussions not found anywhere else.

What is the verdict in Maya’s loadout? One would be inclined to say that Maya probably is just really unlucky, because the M4A1 performs quite well. Except at extreme ranges meant for sniper rifles, I was able to perform quite consistently at close and medium ranges, scoring headshots on targets up to 50 meters away and holding out at close ranges against even shotguns. Through this loadout, I warmed up to the holographic sight, as well. The flash suppressor was chosen to best mimic the Close Quarters Battle Receiver; the M4A1 in Battlefield 3 has the standard barrel. Flash suppressors are intended to reduce muzzle flash and make one less visible on a map; as well, they reduce the vertical recoil. The already low recoil means that typically, I would probably prefer a heavy barrel to improve long-range engagements (the hip-fire accuracy can be supplemented with a laser sight, which I did not equip for this discussion). Ultimately, the M4A1 is an immensely versatile weapon, and Maya’s loadout is effective in and of itself: her infamous propensity to get shot down first is a part of the humour in Sabagebu! and does not suggest that her weapon and customisation was a poor choice.