The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

New Game!- Full Series Review and Reflection

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” —Edgar Degas

Settling in to life at Eagle Jump studios, Aoba becomes more familiar with the ins and outs of 3D modelling. She experiences career milestones, such as receiving her first paycheque, work additional hours to ensure the graphics team meets their deadlines, and even spends the summer working with her best friend, Nene. All of this effort culminates in the game’s release, which is released smoothly. During a launch party, Kō is assigned as the next art director; despite her doubts about whether or not she’d be able to handle the position, an inspired Aoba states that she’s willing to follow whatever directions Kō decides to take. Thus ends the main body of New Game!, and while there’s another episode on the horizon dealing with a company vacation, for the time being, New Game! draws to a close. As an anime adapted from a Manga Time Kirara Carat manga, New Game! unsurprisingly provides a light-hearted and free-spirited interpretation of what life is like in the arts department of a video game development company. Rather than delving into the technical elements as deeply Shirobako did, New Game! instead chooses a route driven more by the dynamics between each of the different characters — the sum of their interactions creates an atmosphere at Eagle Jump that serves to inspire and encourage Aoba further.

The choice of having a diverse set of characters in New Game! is intended to show that the positive energy in Eagle Jump’s artwork division is a consequence of its incredibly colourful members. From the dedicated and hardworking Kō to bashful Hifumi and FPS_Doug‘s female incarnate in the programmer Umiko, and everyone else in between, the staff at Eagle Jump each serve to work on a very specific aspect of their project. To highlight that each role is unique, each character has a defining characteristic to mirror this notion. For the audience, this serves to ensure each character (and by extension, their position) is differentiable from one another, as well as convey the idea that the diversity in the team contributes to the varied interactions that result in Aoba finding substantial joy working with these individuals on projects that she’s genuinely engaged with. These elements directly contribute to Aoba’s dedication and motivation to put in long hours, as opposed to any social or corporate pressures that might result should a more realistic environment be present.

Because its manga published in Manga Time Kirara Cata, New Game!‘s anime form inherits the general atmosphere and tone from its origins: New Game! is driven entirely by its humour, an element that would simply not be effective had New Game! intended to depict the life of a newly-minted 3D modeller in a realistic fashion. The magazine that it is published in should have been a sufficient indicator that New Game! would not be dealing with the more serious aspects of game development, and consequently, New Game! comes across as presenting a rose-coloured interpretation for what game development is like. Industry professionals will know this not to be true; individuals working for an intelligence agency will similarly remark that James Bond, however entertaining it may be, is not a proper representation of a career in intelligence. The point of these unrealistic works is to offer a respite from the truths of reality and aid viewers in relaxing: by all counts, New Game! has succeeded in doing so, and ultimately, this is what is most relevant when considering whether or not New Game! is worth watching as an anime. My verdict is that New Game! is recommended for all audiences who are interested in viewing a light-hearted caricature of one aspect of game development. For everyone else, New Game! earns a weak recommendation; provided that one does not mind the yuri elements too much, most of the jokes and details are easier to relate to for those who are working, and even without a substantial background in game development and 3D modelling, New Game! manages to present these in an accessible manner.

Screenshots and Commentary

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  • This talk on New Game! will span thirty images, since there are quite a few facets throughout the anime that are conducive for discussion. This marks the third time I’ve used Flickr as my image host: I typically scale my anime review images to a width of 640 so they fit within the area, since this seems sufficient to convey a particular notion. It’s only in gaming or live-action movie screenshots where I opt to go with full 1080p images.

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  • Kō’s tendency to work long hours means that she remains at the office long after everyone’s left; having the place to herself, Koō strips down and enjoys a transient moment with the free air before Rin spots her. This is all kinds of hilarious in an anime, but would be unthinkable in reality.

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  • Misunderstandings such as these are frequent in anime: Rin herself decides to strip down and see what all the fuss is about, but because it’s morning, Aoba’s just arrived. Rin attempts to keep Kō quiet, but Aoba spots them nontheless. Without any of my figure captions, however, and the context that they entail, this image would be considered quite questionable — as an exercise to the readers, if you’ve not seen New Game! and in the absence of any explanation from my end, what are Rin and Kō up to?

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  • I earned my first paycheque back during my days as an office assistant while I was a high school student, and like the fate of most of my dollars, it went straight to the bank. My first paycheque from my first full-time job outside of university, I similarly took to the bank and opened a new savings account with a slightly better interest rate than my old one. I do intend on taking my parents out for dinner in the near future once their schedules allow for it, and the first thing I bought with my first paycheque would be the EVGA GTX 1060.

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  • Aoba and the other artists spend a fair amount of time enjoying their tea, much to Umiko’s disapproval. While I was still an undergraduate student, our lab would have weekly afternoon teas during our meetings, but owing to how busy things got after I became a graduate student, tea disappeared along with these meetings: it seemed as though my supervisor was presenting our work every other week to interested parties from across campus, and even the local media.

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  • After Kō’s stylus malfunctions, Hajime and Aoba set out to buy her a new one. Rocking a Cintiq pen display for her work, some have wondered whether or not this line of equipment is prone to overheating, but reviews have shown that Kō’s model runs rather cool.

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  • While trying to lose weight, Yun adjusts the office thermometer, resulting in a minor temperature war between Kō and Hajime. My old office on university grounds was maintained at a cool 22°C and the thermostats could not be changed, while my new digs, located in a converted nurses’ quarters dating back to the inter-war period, is a small building that is quite susceptible to temperature differences. We have numerous air conditioning units in the building for hot summer days, although I’ve yet to see how cool or warm things can be come winter.

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  • Despite her overwhelming shyness, Hifumi longs to befriend Aoba, as the latter appears to constantly remind her of her pet hedgehog. The two get along quite well, although most of their verbal communications remains somewhat awkward.

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  • While Aoba’s always seen in a business suit, there are some occasions where she’s wearing more casual attire.

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  • Aoba spends a weekend afternoon with Nene Sakura, one of her friends from high school who’s presently enrolled in university, although similarly to Aoba, her physical appearance results in her being misidentified as a child. Despite finding this embarrassing, Nene capitalises on this when one of the theatre staff if she’s interested in a trinket intended for children.

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  • One particularly busy evening, Aoba decides to spend the night with Kō over at the office, and brings a bear-shaped sleeping bag that surprises Kō. Aoba has trouble falling asleep but later succeeds, leaving Kō to try and wake her as morning arrives. I’ve never spent the night over at any of my workplaces, despite one of my own wishes to pull a legendary “all-nighter” during the course of my graduate programme.

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  • Umiko is quick to mention that Aoba’s assets have created problems for the programming team: while the nature of these are not shown, improperly created assets won’t import or display properly inside the game engine, resulting in an asset that looks contrary to the original 3D structure or even one that is outright missing its material or texture data. This is very noticeable, hence Umiko’s actions.

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  • While showing Aoba the basics of airsoft, Kō shows up and manages to step on Umiko’s toes, prompting a classical duel, mano a mano, between the two. Unlike The Man With The Golden Gun, the duel does not extend into a funhouse, nor does it involve Scaramanga’s legendary Golden Gun against 007’s Walther PPK. I’ve longed to take up airsoft, and it might just become a hobby in my future: I would probably go with a personal defense weapon-type airsoft gun of sorts.

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  • The yearly health checkup comes as a bit of a hassle for Eagle Jump’s employees, who find it embarrassing or stressful; this is compounded by a novice nurse, but Aoba’s checkup proceeds reasonably smoothly. Health insurance is not provided for by all companies, but given the importance of health, it’s prudent to have a good healthcare plan. Supplementing that is a good exercise and diet.

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  • A certain individual of Tango-Victor-Tango is insisting that 3D modellers (the official term in the industry) is known more commonly as a “graffiker”, but an extensive search with my Google-Fu finds that this is definitely not the case — no results turn up. Professionals don’t refer to 3D modellers as such, and the search results return German definitions. Thus, it appears I’ve encountered one of those cases of insistent terminology I’ve heard that Tango-Victor-Tango is famous for for myself now, and said individual is not keen on my menacing the discussion threads, wondering why someone like myself is qualified to talk about some of the more technical elements in New Game!.

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  • Driven by a desire to check up on Aoba and to see what her work is like, Nene applies to a summer position at Eagle Jump as a game tester. Testing games is more tricky than testing other software: while some tests can be automated via test suites, some things must still be done via manual testing. This is a particularly tedious and time-consuming process involving running through all possible actions to determine whether or not a bug can be found, and then logging the bug so that it may be rectified.

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  • Owing to her workload, Rin falls ill, and Kō is insistent that she gets some rest. Rin is voiced by Ai Kayano (Girls und Panzer‘s Saori Takebi, GochiUsa‘s Mocha Hōtō and Kanae Mitani of Tamayura), and at this point, I remark that it’s a mark of how long I’ve been around anime, now that I’m beginning to recognise some voice actors more readily.

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  • In some scenes, Umiko can be seen working in Visual Studio 2013 (the version number assumed is based on the fact that New Game! was first released in 2013), and similar to myself, she prefers the dark colour scheme. The white text on black background is easier on the eyes for extended periods (since the brighter screen can cause eyestrain). In the background, a Benelli M4 Super 90 (the M1014), M1911, Baretta pistol and UMP-45 can be seen, along with a sniper rifle whose make I can’t quite readily determine, can be seen.

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  • After getting into a disagreement with Aoba, Nene spends a fair portion of the day distracted. This does not go unnoticed by either Umiko or Kō, although par the course for anime of this sort, the conflict is resolved before the episode is over.

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  • As the game’s release date nears, Kō gives Aoba, Yun and Hajime permission to visit a games exhibition, where they run into Hifumi cosplaying. The games industry is truly gargantuan in scale, and while once regarded as a hobby for desolate folks, it’s grown to rival the cinema industry in terms of size and dollars.

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  • Although Kō is reluctant to dress up for an interview, she does so at Rin’s insistence and immediately blows away everyone in the graphics department, including Aoba, who is dressed contrary to her wont because her suit’s at the dry cleaner. When I was graduate student, I typically rolled with business casual or smart casual attire, enough to be presentable even during surprise meetings with faculty and interviews from the media: although I enjoy informal clothing such as a three-piece suit, it does become uncomfortable after long periods. Presently at work, I dress in smart casual attire.

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  • Nene and Aoba go on a supplies run during the final stretch before deployment, picking up a turbo-charged energy drink for Umiko in the process and accidentally obtains the wrong type of receipt. I’ve chosen not to go with any discussion about Nene’s discovery of a camera bug that exposes the character’s undergarments: the aforementioned individual from Tango-Victor-Tango wonders why it’d be rendered if it increases polygon count, and I note that because it’s not visible, it not rendered on GPU as triangles to impact performance. Further, as simple as a low-poly structure and a texture, it wouldn’t make the asset too much larger if properly created #ggnore.

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  • When the final elements to the game wrap up and it’s time for Nene to leave her summer position, things wind up being quite tearful; Nene bawls her eyes out here and even leads to Aoba tearing up, showing that she’s grown quite fond of her time at Eagle Jump.

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  • On release day, Aoba and the others line up for the day-one collector’s edition, before accidentally letting the slip the identity of a final boss. This would violate their NDA, although thankfully, nothing substantial comes out of it, since some folks have already beaten the game. While this sounds crazy, I have heard some people completing games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided the day it came out.

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  • Reminiscent of Shirobako, the staff are called to the stage and give a short speech about their experiences. This is Kō’s second release party, and while she initially struggles with finding the right words to express her appreciation for the work everyone’s put in, Aoba’s encouragement leads her to a simple but moving speech about her time thus far at Eagle Jump.

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  • Nene wins an airsoft model of the M4 carbine in a prize draw, and although Umiko states that it’s (more or less) the M16 assault rifle, the weapon depicted sports a collapsible stock and also has a shorter barrel: the M16 has a fixed stock and longer barrel compared to the M4.

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  • As the party progresses, Yun and Hajime catch up with one of the voice actors and get her autograph, as well as a photograph with them together. I’ve a photograph of myself with Yū Asakawa from an anime convention: while the local one is quite fun, it’s also on the smaller side. As such, my next attendance will be motivated by the presence of a noteworthy voice actor (Risa Taneda, Sakura Ayane, Inori Minase or Ai Kayano come to mind).

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  • Minus Kō’s tendency to discard any sort of pants or a skirt once most of the employees head home, I find myself to be most similar to her in terms of style: I’m typically quiet and focus on my work, preferring solitude over crowds, and similarly prefer comfortable attire over anything more ostentatious, but over time, I do open up to those around me.

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  • For Aoba, meeting and working with one of her role models is a fulfilment of one of her dreams, and moving forward, her dream is now to continue making games with talented artists such as Kō. This marks the end of my post for New Game!, and with that in mind, a post on Amanchu! will be on the horizon: the finale released yesterday, and I’ll be watching that on very short order so that I can stay on top of my game, just in time for the release of Brae

According to folks who’ve read the manga, the anime adaptation of New Game! covers the first twenty-five chapters, which can be found in the first three volumes. There are a total of five volumes out at present, so it is not unimaginable that audiences could be seeing a second season of New Game! at some point in the future. While official news on whether or not this will become a reality has not been presented, New Game!‘s first season draws to a close. There will be an OVA following Aoba and the others, presumably while they relax in the aftermath of their latest launch, that accompanies the Blu-Ray releases, but for the time being, the release date also remains unknown. Being a cheerful and amusing anime with respect to both its characters and their experiences in games development, New Game! has been a surprisingly enjoyable anime that I originally had no plans to watch.

DOOM: Passing the Game’s Halfway Point

“So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.” —Corrax Entry 7:17

Unsurprisingly, there are a total of thirteen missions in DOOM. Thirteen has long been considered to be an unlucky number, and triskaidekaphobia is quite prevalent, to the extent where buildings omit their thirteenth floor and folks sometimes avoid registering for license plates ending in -13. Although not quite as intimidating as 666, 13 is nonetheless associated with ill-tidings, and consequently, it is perhaps quite appropriate that DOOM opts to go with thirteen missions in its campaign. Having just ripped and torn my way through the Kadingir Sanctum of Hell itself, I’ve now made my way to what is, more or less, the halfway point of DOOM, with the intent of closing off the portal to Hell and stopping Olivia Pierce. Fighting through the hoardes of Hell’s dæmons through the UAC facility, the Doom Slayer continues to find new weapons to aid in his one-man crusade, eventually reaching Hell. Along the way, the Doom Slayer learns more about the UAC and Samuel Hayden’s objectives, as well as how Olivia Pierce’s fascination with Hell and its constructs resulted in this calamity to begin with. Having spent ten hours in the campaign thus far, DOOM never ceases to entertain and impress with its high-pace action and constant incentives for players to explore.

At the forefront of the list of reasons to explore the levels in DOOM is the fact that there are field drones scattered about the more quiet places of each level. These field drones provide players with weapon modifications for the weapons they’ve already found, adding a substantial firepower and versatility advantage to the Doom Slayer’s arsenal. In my case, I’ve chosen to unlock the explosive shots for the combat shotgun, transforming it into a makeshift grenade launcher that is remarkably powerful for weakening tougher opponents. For the heavy assault rifle, the micro-missiles likewise add explosive capabilities to a weapon whose rate of fire can result in a devastating combination. For both of these modifications, I’ve unlocked their respective masteries to further enhance their explosive output. I also have the charged burst for the combat shotgun and the tactical scope for the heavy assault rifle, but these were unlocked simply because I found the field drones before I had any other weapons. I’ve also chosen the stun bomb for the plasma rifle: it’s able to knock out the Possessed Security, whose shields can absorb a fantastic amount of damage and render them a frustrating enemy to take on in great numbers. For the rocket launcher, the lock-on burst is what I’ve gone with so far, being quite useful for ensuring three rockets hit more mobile targets, and the Guass cannon’s siege mode is a monstrosity that deals tremendous damage. Taken together, these mods add additional depth and usefulness to each weapon in the game, encouraging players to play strategically to each weapon’s strengths and also time their application of a weapon mod to maximise combat efficacy.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • One of my coworkers mentioned that the level design in DOOM is what would happen if a fifteen-year-old began sketching their opinions of what a world being consumed by Hell would look like while being bored by a high school class. Everything is over-the-top and absolutely marvelous to behold. DOOM is rifle with Satanic imagery: there are pentagrams, candle-lit alters and sacrificial corpses littering the UAC facility.

  • The over-the-top nature in DOOM contributes to its immense fun factor, and in contrast with modern military shooters, DOOM rewards players generously for walking into the midst of combat and manually tearing apart opponents to recover health and ammunition. Despite its high pacing, DOOM offers players much more control over how they’d like to play the game: in between combat, there’s always an opportunity to explore maps in more detail.

  • I’ve heard varying opinions pertaining to whether or not the remote detonation or lock-on burst modification is superior for the rocket launcher. As is evident in this here image, I’ve elected to pick the lock-on burst, which allows the rocket launcher to lock onto and fire three consecutive rockets at an opponent for massive damage. It’s a powerful fire-and-forget solution useful for situations where movement is essential to survival, and while remote detonation could be useful in giving rockets indirect fire capabilities, I’m generally up in the dæmons’ faces, so I don’t see myself as making too much use of that mod for now.

  • The double-barreled shotgun makes a glorious return. I found it as a secret during the fourth mission, and have since upgraded it so it reloads faster. Should I choose to add the uranium rounds, I’ll be able to unlock the weapon mastery for it that doubles its ammunition efficiency: each shot would only require one round, but this does not compromise its firepower. In the upper right hand corner are combat efficiency points: wiping out dæmons earns one more points that can be used to further improve a weapon modification.

  • It takes nine weapon modification points to fully upgrade one mod, and once all upgrades are obtained, there is an additional challenge to unlock the weapon mastery. The mastery confers nigh-ridiculous firepower for a given weapon, and perhaps the most blatant instance of excessive firepower can be found in the heavy assault rifle’s micro-missiles: the mastery gives the mod the ability to fire as many missiles as they please (until ammunition is depleted). Here, I cross the Argent facility’s bridge, a section of the map that reminds me greatly of the bridge missions in both Half-Life 2 and Wolfenstein: The New Order.

  • Save the pistol, every weapon in DOOM has the potential to turn a target into chunks of meat. I usually try to go for glory kills where possible, although when confronted with multiple dæmons, I will usually keep back and make use of a combination of grenades and directed fire to gain some breathing room. After encountering my first argent cell in the third mission, I’ve since alternated between upgrading my health and ammunition capacity. Once those are maxed out, I will focus on upgrading my armour.

  • The mancubus is a grotesque, lumbering dæmons armed with a pair of biological cannons capable of projecting a noxious stream of super-heated fluid at their enemies. The official documentation states that these weapons are purely biological in nature, whereas in the original DOOM, they were merely flamethrowers. Capable of absorbing a tremendous amount of damage, these brutes are best dealt with from mid-to-long range. One of the glory kills scored against a mancubus is quite macabre: the Doom Slayer will rip out one of its organs and stick said organ down its throat, causing it to explode.

  • The quad damage power-up is absolutely vicious: as per its name, it allows players to deal four times as much damage as they otherwise would, allowing for normally-tricky opponents to be shot down very quickly. A single rocket salvo with quad damage enabled is enough to rend a mancubus, and I’ve upgraded my Praetor suit so that a blast wave is issued whenever a power-up’s duration has passed.

  • The environments in DOOM never cease to amaze me, and here, I climb up the Argent tower. I’ve not attempted it, but those conduits for the argent energy are probably one-hit kills. Owing to carelessness, I did fall from this height and watched as the Doom Slayer’s limbs fell off from the fall. There are some parts of DOOM where this becomes quite amusing: when falling into a “bottomless” chasm, the Doom Slayer’s limbs will explode off him even if the actual fall was only around 10 meters or so.

  • The fourth mission’s single objective is to “kill Olivia Pierce”, but given Samuel Hayden’s dialogues, it would seem that the game would end once that objective is done. As such, when the end of this mission is reached, rather than fulfilling the initial assignment, something surprising happens; Olivia opens a portal, ending the mission. On a completely unrelated note, I wonder who’s reading this post and wondering how someone who greatly enjoyed GochiUsa could find equal enjoyment in something like DOOM😛

  • So, here I am, in the Kadingir Sanctum of Hell. The name itself sounds like something taken out of a high fantasy epic of the sort that one of my friends from high school were particularly fond of reading. He was very much interested in things like WarcraftWarHammer  and Lord of The Rings; we spent numerous math classes talking about these elements while working on the day’s assignments (and my math instructor allowed it simply because I wasn’t in too poor a shape with math back then).

  • At one point, my friend grew weary of not having anyone to talk to about Half-Life 2‘s episodes, and so, lent me both games so that I could play through them and share with him my experiences. At the time, only a handful of my classmates had a computer that could run the game, and my then-new Dell XPS 420 proved up to the task: previously, the game’s requirements looked quite steep, requiring a 3.4 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and a GT 6800. After I beat both games, we recounted the achievements and challenges encountered, wondering when either Half-Life 3 or Half-Life 2 Episode 3 would come out.

  • I’ve not conversed with this friend since I was in my undergraduate program a few years ago, and I’m hoping he’s doing alright. Back in DOOM, I wield a Gauss cannon against a Hell Knight. Firing a flechette at extremely high velocities, the Gauss cannon deals massive damage against opponents. It shares an ammunition pool as the plasma rifle, and as a semi-automatic, precision weapon, it is effective at longer ranges.

  • The Hellscape of Kadingir Sanctum reminds me of the more fantastical (and uninhabitable) regions of Azeroth: some regions, such as the Blasted Lands, Burning Steppes and Searing Gorge come to mind, although the floating geometries also bear some resemblance to places in Outland. I’ve not set foot in Azeroth since I was in high school, when another one of my friends hosted his own private World of Warcraft server. In DOOM, however, the objective isn’t to complete quests and do raid instances: it’s merely to maximise the amount of destruction as possible en route to the portal that will take the Doom Slayer back to Mars.

  • The cacodemons make a return from the original DOOM: these floating dæmons bear much resemblance to their original incarnations, although their ranged attack (now described as a toxic, charged ball of sludge rather than being plasma) now blurs the Doom Slayer’s vision for a few moments, enough for the dæmon to close the distance and utilise its biting attack. The projectiles the cacodemons hurl are slow and can be dodged, so in conjunction with the rocket launcher or gauss cannon, they can be easily dispatched.

  • Bottomless micro-missiles can be abused to deal massive damage in a very short period of time, and while this can chew through ammunition very quickly, the damage dealt is unreal. With the narrative in DOOM as it stands now, I posit that the UAC were the forerunners who utilised argent energy to render Mars habitable. After the Doom Slayer defeats everything Hell throws at him, colonists from Manhome begin arriving to populate Mars, which subsequently becomes renamed Aqua as argent energy provides enough power to terraform the planet, maintain a gravity more similar to that of Earth’s, and help the planet retain a breathable atmosphere.

  • With this in mind, it’s not particularly implausible that ARIA is the result of the Doom Slayer’s heroics, allowing Akari and her friends to experience the peacefulness of life in Neo Venezia. Some of Aqua’s more supernatural phenomenon can therefore be explained as a result of remnant argent energy artefacts. Halfway through DOOM, I fight the Baron of Hell for the first time. Ever-faithful to the original DOOM incarnation, these Minotaur-like dæmons are among the toughest of all enemies. Besides possessing a powerful ranged attacking taking the form of a verdant hell-energy fireball, these beasts are highly swift in their movements, and dying to them results in the Doom Slayer’s lower body being torn off, before the screen goes black as his head is crushed.

  • The siege mode modification for the Gauss cannon allows the weapon to fire a devastating beam that can punch through multiple targets. Its tradeoff is that it freezes player movement while it’s charging, but with the weapon mastery, siege mode is said to transform the Gauss cannon into a miniature BFG. Notions of “siege mode” are not new, and I recall a friend playing through Starcraft with siege tanks, right before a Halo 2 LAN party was set to begin. The siege tanks have a mode where they can increase their attack range and damage at the expense of movement, and I wonder if DOOM‘s incarnation of siege mode was inspired by Starcraft.

  • The floating islands and forbidding-looking environment reminds me of World of Warcraft‘s Hellfire Peninsula to some extent: I first visited the location shortly after beginning my final year of high school and was overwhelmed with the intimidating atmosphere, having spent most of my time on Azeroth previously. However, as I quested more frequently here, that sense gradually faded. I’m certain that, were the friend who had lent me both Half-Life 2 episodes to still be in contact with me, he’d definitely enjoy the atmospherics and gameplay of DOOM.

  • With the sixth mission now complete, I return to the UAC facility on Mars to continue seeking the means to shut down the portal to Hell. This post thus draws to a close, and in the near future, I will be aiming to get a finale post for New Game! out, as well as one for Rick and Morty‘s first season; the latter, I’m finally finished after some two-and-a-half years. I’ve heard that a third season is coming out, so I’ll see about watching the second season at a faster rate than I did for the first season. Once October rolls around, I’ll also be rolling out a talk for Amanchu!, which I’m enjoying immensely — both the New Game! and Amanchu! posts will be extended to thirty images each, since I’ve got quite a bit to discuss for each anime.

The further I progress in DOOM, I more I realise that DOOM handles similarly to the Halo ports for PC. I’ve gone back and played some Halo 2 Vista for PC, finding the controls were more or less identical for both titles. Both games also feature memorable campaign missions, each of which are easily differentiable from one another. With this in mind, DOOM handles significantly more smoothly, and even eight hours after my initial experience, there are still so many moments that amaze and astound, whether it be the appearance of familiar enemies from the original DOOM (and watching the different death animations that result should I fall to them), or watching all of the different graphics effects when entering a new area. I’ve still not seen the chain gun or BFG 9000 at this point in the game; similarly, the pinkie dæmons have yet to make an appearance, but my instincts tell me those additions won’t be too far off, and I’m excited to continue moving through DOOM to see what other cool features are in the game. In fact, at my current rate of progression, I might be able to finsih this game just in time for Thanksgiving Weekend.

The Hunt For Red October: Review and Reflection

“Once more, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary — the American Navy. For forty years, your fathers before you, and your older brothers played this game, and played it well. But today the game is different; we have the advantage.” —Captain Marko Ramius

Dubbed by Ronald Reagan as the “perfect yarn”, Tom Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October (1984) began his career as a techno-thriller novelist and was adapted into a movie starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in 1990. While some minor differences arise between the film and novel, the general plot in the film is consistent with its novel counterpart. Soviet submarine captain Marko Ramius (Connery) plots a defection from the Soviet Union while commanding the Red October, a Typhoon-class equipped with a revolutionary magnetohydrodynamic drive that renders it nearly silent to sonar. CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Baldwin) successfully deduces Ramius’ intentions and struggles to convince his superiors that Ramius is planning to defect before the American and Soviet forces engage one another in combat. The Hunt For Red October was a superb novel, characterised by its matter-of-fact writing style and incredibly detailed explanations of some of the technologies utilised on board submarines. The film, although different from the novel in some places, manages to capture the atmosphere and technical details of the novel: despite the plot’s slower progression compared to contemporary movies, all of the moments are integrated well with one another to create an ever-present sense of suspense that would doubtlessly permeate submarine operations.

Tom Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October marks the beginning of the Jack Ryan universe, and my first Tom Clancy novel was Threat Vector: by this time, Jack Ryan Sr. is the President of the United States, having defeated Ed Keatly in elections. However, in The Hunt For Red October, Ryan is a CIA analyst working in London. While Ryan has training as a marine, he is not a sailor and therefore finds himself uncomfortable at sea once he is tasked to prove that his theory holds true. Throughout The Hunt For Red October, Ryan is presented as a dedicated academic in search of the truth with the aim of halting a war. By comparison, the government and military officers are more set in their ways, and find themselves bemused by Ryan’s tenacity. However, even then, there are exceptions: sonar technician Petty Officer Jones of the USS Dallas is a bright mind, devising a clever means of tracking the Red October: his actions are instrumental in helping Ryan locate the Red October and convince his superiors that Ramius is indeed planning to defect. Through Ryan and Jones, Clancy suggests that the military’s capabilities are closely tied to the quality of the intelligence that they receive. While Ryan encounters some resistance to his theory from senior US officials, Commander Mancuso of the USS Dallas is willing to take a chance on Jones’ ideas. It is therefore unsurprising that the USS Dallas does manage to find the Red October, while Ryan is given limited help to demonstrate that Ramius is defecting until he boards the Dallas. This contrast suggests that unorthodox conclusions can still have some relevance, and that solid intelligence is necessary for a plan to execute well: in general, Tom Clancy held the view that the worth of good intelligence acquisition and analysis should never be underestimated, and this theme returns in his novels quite frequently.

A superb movie on all counts, The Hunt For Red October is also said to have inspired for some of the events seen in Hai-Furi. This led some viewers to develop unrealistic expectations for Hai-Furi, and some individuals spent the anime’s entire run complaining about every conceivable element when their expectations were not fulfilled. According to the staff, Reiko Yoshida drew elements from The Hunt For Red October to guide some of the narrative elements seen in Hai-Furi. While long-held to be significant amongst those who watched Hai-Furi, it should be abundantly clear that The Hunt For Red October and Hai-Furi share only similarity in the fact that it is set on the high seas: there are no strong indicators that specifics from the former’s narrative entered the latter. The Hunt For Red October is firmly guided by the narrative, whereas the flow of events is much looser in Hai-Furi. While The Hunt For Red October deals with Jack Ryan’s adventures to prove that Ramius is defecting, Hai-Furi is about the growth the the Harekaze’s crew as they encounter one misadventure after another. The former places a great deal of emphasis on technical accuracy and even allows the military hardware to shine ahead of the cast on some occasions, whereas Hai-Furi was first and foremost about Akeno and her crew. Similarly, there is a very real suspense and sense of urgency in The Hunt For Red October: had Ryan and the USS Dallas failed, hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union may have resulted in a shooting war. In Hai-Furi, limited world-building prevents the implications of the Totalitarian Virus from being a true threat; this was acceptable in Hai-Furi for the reason that the anime never was intended about a larger perspective about the dynamics between two superpowers. Taken together, while Yoshida and the remainder of Hai-Furi‘s staff may have watched The Hunt For Red October as a reference for Hai-Furi, the similarities between these two disparate works remains superficial at best, and consequently, I hold that it is unreasonable to approach Hai-Furi with the same mindset and expect that the anime satisfy the requirements that made The Hunt For Red October such an enjoyable film.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Sean Connery is Marko Ramius, a Lithuanian submarine commander whose father was a high ranking Soviet officer. A highly competent strategist, Ramius is highly adaptive to situations and is counted as one of the USSR’s best minds on submarine warfare, having written the Soviet doctrine on it in-universe. I remark that the screenshots in this post are of an unusual aspect ratio owing to the original: my image capture software crops out letterboxes automatically, resulting in narrower images.

  • In The Hunt For Red October, Jack Ryan is portrayed by Alec Baldwin: this role goes to Harrison Ford in The Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and while Ford does an excellent job in conveying Jack Ryan as a highly earnest, devoted analyst, one downside is that Ford’s dialogue can sometimes be difficult to hear. Baldwin, on the other hand, presents Ryan as a wide-eyed but competent analyst who’s just starting out on his journey.

  • The interior of the three submarines in The Hunt For Red October are coloured differently to ensure that they are easy to differentiate from one another: much of the film is set within submarine interiors, and according to production notes, actual filming inside a submarine would have been remarkably difficult, so in the film, large sound stages were created instead with special apparatus to simulate the motions of a submarine.

  • After Ryan obtains some photographs of the Red October in dry dock, he notices the presence of unusual doors on its superstructure. The images are sent to submarine expert Skip Taylor, who suggests that the Red October is equipped with a magnetohydrodynamic drive. Such a propulsion system would make use of magnets to draw in water and expel it to create thrust, but such technologies remain experimental for the present.

  • Ramius takes full control of the Red October after disposing of political officer Putin. He announces that their mission will be to conduct missile drills off the US Coast, and then sail to Cuba for recuperation once their assignment is complete. Carefully planning each move, Ramius betrays nothing to the other crew: impressed with the mission orders, the bridge crew begin singing the Soviet national anthem.

  • The sonar operator on board the USS Dallas, Jones is presented as being highly attuned to his equipment; he is able to differentiate between submarine signatures and the movement of whales in the ocean. In the novel, he states that he was a Caltech student with aspirations to complete his Master’s and Doctorate dissertation, but created an accident that led to his dismissal. In the meantime, he’s joined the navy, and his expertise with electronics play a vital role in helping the Dallas track the Red October.

  • Ryan is asked to present his findings to US government officials after he discusses the theory behind Ramius’ defection to Vice Admiral Greer. Played by James Earl Jones (who had supplied Darth Vader’s voice in the original Star Wars trilogy), Greer is shown to be open to whatever ideas Ryan has, and furthermore, is also quite fond of coffee. The Red October is described as being an immense threat to US security: being able to move undetected would have allowed it to position itself anywhere along the US coast for a nuclear strike.

  • Ryan describes the Soviet fleet’s movements as an indicator that Ramius had intended to defect, reasoning that as a high-ranking officier, Ramius would be able to hand-pick his staff, making it easier to defect. Coupled with the fleet’s deployment is in response to Soviet fears that the Red October will indeed defect based on a letter, and orders the Soviet fleet has received, this leads Ryan to his conclusion. The officials fear a full-on war in light of the risk that the Red October may be “in the hands of a madman”, but nonetheless ask him to investigate such that a war might be avoided.

  • The novel, more so than the film, gives ample exposition for all of the characters that play a significant role; Tom Clancy is meticulous in detailing even some of the secondary characters’ backgrounds in order to illustrate that they are highly competent for their occupations. This style carries over to his final novels, Threat Vector and Command Authority, and serves a powerful function in ensuring that there is no doubt that the characters’ actions are motivated by their experience and expertise in their given field. This stands in stark contrast with Hai-Furi (or even Girls und Panzer), which leads some viewers to challenge the appropriateness of the characters’ actions in their respective universes.

  • Adding to the realism factor in The Hunt For Red October is the fact that shots are not fired for the sake of action. As a thriller that strives to maintain some factual realism, there is a very rigid structure that ensures shots are not fired out of anger. Much of the fun aspects in the movie come from suspense resulting from close encounters, and watching the different characters draw upon their expertise in response to difficult situations.

  • One of the things about The Hunt For Red October that I initially found a little surprising was that the Russian characters started out speaking Russian, and halfway into a conversation between Ramius and Putin, the language switches out to English. This was done to aid the audiences in viewing and reduce the need for subtitles; when the Russian sailors and Americans are in the same scene, the Russians speak Russian again. In Hai-Furi, there are no Russian characters; Wilhelmina is German, but like Ramius, she is bilingual, being able to communicate with Akeno and the others in fluent Japanese.

  • The Red October’s situation is obfuscated by the Russian ambassador, who claims to know little beyond what Moscow has told him and later settles on the Soviet fleet’s activity as being part of a major rescue operation.

  • The Red October’s voyage is not smooth: a ways into their trek across the Atlantic, their magnetohydrodynamic drive, known more simply as a caterpillar, develops a malfunction arising from sabotage. The identity of the saboteur is not known until later in the film, but Ryan’s remarks earlier, that the senior officials on board the Red October must have been handpicked, would suggest that one of the lower-ranking crew must be responsible for things.

  • Moody grey skies and rough surface conditions define the Atlantic ocean. Ryan is not particularly fond of flying: he states that he’s never slept soundly on a commercial flight before, but the rough ride over the Atlantic makes any discomforts of a commercial flight trivial by comparison. Ryan is sent to make contact with the USS Dallas. Running low on fuel, the helicopter makes to return to the carrier after failing to insert Ryan into the Dallas, but driven by determination to see his task through, Ryan cuts himself loose, falling into the frigid Atlantic.

  • Once Ryan is on board the Dallas, he exchanges messages with Ramius and confirms that the latter is indeed intending to defect. With this knowledge in mind, Ryan boards a rescue submarine (explicitly given as an Avalon-class in the novel) and meets with Ramius for the first time. The comparisons between Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October first appeared on April 21, two days before the third episode aired and brought to attention of the anime community courtesy of one Myssa Rei. Discussions at Tango-Victor-Tango proved nonexistent, and it’s more than likely that none of their members have watched The Hunt For Red October in full.

  • Returning to The Hunt For Red October, after establishing contact with the Americans, Ramius is surprised that they have guessed what he was seeking. I find that Ramius resembles Chino’s grandfather of GochiUsa. If folks are tossing around wild theories about how Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October are related, then I get to throw an inane theory of my own into the mix. I posit that after landing in America, Ramius takes on a new name and lives in the US for several years before moving to Colmar, France, where he starts his own coffee shop, calling it Rabbit House.

  • The US Navy drops a torpedo in the water, but it is self-destructed by Vice Admiral Greer. In order to quickly evacuate the other crew, Ramius stages an emergency with the Red October’s nuclear reactor, and once the surface, Ramius will remain with the other officers to scuttle the ship. Shortly after this news became known, some folks later would claim the staff drew from The Hunt For Red October, models for the characters’ roles.

  • Continuing on from the above bullet, the only character who could have been inspired by The Hunt For Red October‘s characters is Akeno, and even this is a weak claim, as the only commonality the two share is an uncommonly good eye for overcoming adversity. Beyond this, the two characters are as different as night and day. Further to this, sonar does not play as substantial a role in Hai-Furi compared to The Hunt For Red October, and complex political elements are absent in the former. Back in The Hunt For Red October, once Ryan is on board the Dallas, he exchanges messages with Ramius and confirms that the latter is indeed intending to defect. With this knowledge in mind, Ryan boards a rescue submarine (explicitly given as an Avalon-class in the novel) and meets with Ramius for the first time.

  • The action-heavy sequences begin in the movie’s final act: besides Ryan, Mancuso and Jones also boards. Ramius speaks with Ryan about asylum in the United States and also asks about Ryan’s role. Ryan is asked to help with operating the Red October, and Ramius remarks that he’s doing a fine job for someone who’s operating a submarine for the first time. Ryan surprises the others when he reveals that he’s a CIA analyst.

  • It turns out that Ramius’ motivations for defecting arise from a combination of factors: his dissatisfaction with the Soviet Union stem partly from the death of his wife at the hands of an incompetent doctor. Because the aforementioned doctor was related to high-ranking party officials, he was allowed to continue operating without any consequences. Furthermore, upon being assigned the Red October, Ramius realised that such a weapon was built purely for a first strike mission, growing disillusioned with serving the USSR.

  • We’re now approaching the autumn season, and this year’s September has been something of a different one compared to previous years. However, while I no longer return to classes, the ceaseless flow of the season continues along: trees are beginning to turn a deep golden colour, standing out against azure skies. In another week, it will be perfect to go for a stroll in the aspen groves nearby: the temperatures now are ideal for an afternoon stroll.

  • It’s a little bewildering as to how quickly time’s flown by; this is likely a consequence of work, although this also means that I now look forwards to weekends with double the appreciation as I did during my time as a student. Yesterday, I had a chance to attend the Illuminasia festival at the zoo: under a cool and clear evening skies, I was able to watch several Chinese performances and see the meticulously-constructed paper lanterns around the zoo. A piping-hot cup of hot cocoa rounded off the evening, and today, I spent most of it going through DOOM.

  • Back in The Hunt For Red October, the sabateur, revealed to be Loginov, a cook, opens fire and wounds Borodin before fleeing into the missile bay with the intent of launching a missile and sinking the Red October in the process. During a tense standoff in the labyrinthine quarters, Ramius is wounded, but Ryan manages to kill Loginov before the latter could destroy the missiles.

  • I have no doubt in my mind that, had the submarine crews of The Hunt For Red October been assigned to immobilise the Musashi of Hai-Furi, they would have succeeded within a much shorter period than the Harekaze and its allies during the final battle. The logistics of how exactly the Blue Mermaids work in Hai-Furi notwithstanding, I found that the relative lack of world-building meant that numerous elements were poorly-expressed: I recall a particularly awful set of Tweets where someone claiming to be staff attempted to explain away modern aerodynamics and heavier-than-air flight.

  • The Red October faces one final threat: the Konovalov and its captain, Tupolev. One of Ramius’ former students, Tupolev both admires and despises Ramius, making it a point to personally sink the Red October to demonstrate the might of the Soviet system. By capitalising on the arming distance for the Soviet torpedoes, however, the Red October escapes destruction from a direct hit.

  • A second torpedo fired from the Konovalov is set with no arming distance in order to avoid a repeat of the first torpedo, but skilful maneuvering from the Red October results in the second torpedo impacting the Konovalov, sinking it. In the novel, Red October rams the Konovalov broadside, suffering damage to its hull but otherwise sinking it all the same. Either way, the final threat is ended, and thus, the stories enter their denouement.

  • Back on the surface, the rescued Soviet sailors watch as an explosion breaks the surface, leading them to believe that the Red October has been destroyed. The Red October’s fate is not mentioned in the movie or in the novel, but Tom Clancy makes an aside in The Cardinal of the Kremlin, where it’s revealed that the Red October was analysed extensively. Its technology was reverse-engineered, and the vessel was then sunk in a remote ocean basin to minimise the odds of its wreck being discovered.

  • Like my Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie review, one of the greatest challenges faced during the acquisition of photographs for this post was to find those that were not blurred. Live action photographs can be quite difficult to capture when movement is involved, in comparison to anime screenshots, and I needed to go through some sections, frame by frame, to pick those with the least amount of blurring.

  • Despite the vast disparities in terms of emotional tenour and technical detail between Hai-Furi and The Hunt For Red October, I nonetheless enjoyed the former for the elements that it was able to execute well. Even at present, I’m not sure why some individuals are so vociferous about an anime when such a wide selection of more technical, fully fleshed out stories are available for enjoyment.

  • When Ramius cites Christopher Columbus, Ryan responds with a cordial “Welcome to the New World, sir”.This brings the movie, and this post, to a close: intended to partially be a discussion of the movie and, partially be a rebuttal to dispel any remaining notions that it is reasonable to expect Hai-Furi to match the same standards as The Hunt For Red October, it marks the second time I’ve done a review for a live-action film. Upcoming posts will include my impressions of DOOM after the halfway point, and later this month, a talk on New Game! once its finale is out. As well, I’m planning on reviewing Rick and Morty‘s first season at some point in the very near future, now that I’m only one episode from finishing (consider that I started watching during May 2014).

Hai-Furi will likely be consigned to oblivion within a year’s time, but The Hunt For Red October remains immediately recognisable and has been counted as a timeless film: its narrative and capacity to keep audiences guessing is masterfully executed even some twenty six years after its release. Coupled with a fantastic soundtrack from Basil Poledouris (whose Prokofiev-esque “Hymn to Red October” summarises the entire tenour in The Hunt For Red October completely), The Hunt For Red October was an absolute joy to watch. With its wonderfully detailed presentation of the hardware and depiction of competent naval staff for both sides, The Hunt For Red October is able to connect the significance of every character’s actions with respect to the bigger picture. These aspects result in a film that remains quite memorable and definitely worth watching, and on a similar note, Tom Clancy’s novel is likewise a solid read. With both the novel and film finished on my end, I’ve set my sights on reading Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising, which is set outside of the Jack Ryan universe and deals with a third World War fought entirely with conventional weapons. I’ve heard that there is a fantastic section dealing with armoured warfare and that the novel satisfactorily captures old Soviet military doctrine such that Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy was motivated by Tom Clancy’s works to some extent.

Reflections Through a Preview of Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” —Seneca

Announced back during the Girls und Panzer Heartful Tank Carnival event back on August 28, Girls und Panzer is set to return with a sequel titled Girls und Panzer: Saishuushou (“Final Chapter”) at some indeterminate point in the future. The trailer has just become available on the ‘net, and over its forty-second run, showcases Ooarai’s students in their winter regalia. A group of Leichter Ladungsträger Goliath (Sd.Kfz. 302/303a/303b) units, essentially remote-controlled armoured mines, can be seen in the trailer’s opening moments, followed by students handing out newspapers carrying what appears to be breaking news. Despite this footage, intel on what format this sequel will take remains unknown, as is the projected release date of said sequel; what Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter will entail is similarly a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. From a financial perspective, that Girls und Panzer would be getting a sequel is not particularly surprising, although from a narrative perspective, it will be quite intriguing to determine what will await audiences once this sequel does become released.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • These Goliath here are German mobile armoured mines, seen rolling in formation under snowy weather reminiscent of that seen in Tom Clancy’s The Division. Beyond the setting during the winter season and the occurrence of a large news event, the trailer does not tell much more about Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter, leaving much speculation in its wake.

  • The student handing out the newspaper in this image bears a remarkable similarity to Sore ga Seiyū‘s Futaba Ichinose, minus the purple hair. The trailer has been available at 1080p, and as such, details in the newspapers can be made out. They suggest that the events will take place over the course of a day, leading some to (incorrectly) speculate that this will be an OVA. However, I present the counterargument that trailers do not usually tell the full story, and it is possible that these students are handing out newspapers with information that act as a catalyst for what will occur within Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter. Ergo, a one-day event being shown on a newspaper in a trailer does not sufficiently show that The Final Chapter will consist of a single OVA episode.

  • Ooarai is seen making use of barrage balloons to further broadcast news: barrage balloons were historically used to dissuade enemy attack by holding up cables that could disrupt aircraft operation, although modern aircraft can easily circumvent their function by flying at much greater altitudes than the balloons. Such balloons are not widely used in contemporary militaries, but such balloons have been re-purposed to carry nuclear devices higher into the atmosphere for testing purposes.

  • Whereas an immensely long wait would await audiences if Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter were to take the form of another film, a TV series would allow for superior accessibility, followed by an OVA series. As it stands, I am hoping that Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter will take the form of a  TV series — any wait extending beyond April 5, 2018 would extinguish the English-speaking community’s capacity to watch and review a movie short of flying to Japan.

  • Screenshots of Momo and some other students operating under night lighting conditions immediately surfaced on Twitter following the announcement of Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter, and at the time, I noted in my DOOM impressions post that I would refrain from discussing this sequel announcement in detail until more information became available. Nearly four weeks later, a trailer has appeared, and I’ve made substantial headway into DOOM, having just completed Kadingir Sanctum.

  • That “more information” takes the form of a 40-second trailer, and as I’ve got ten screenshots in this here post, down from the original fourteen, suggests a screenshot density of  twenty-one images per minute, making this one of the posts with a large number of screenshots relative to the media length. The red lighting seen here is a common attribute in military settings active under dark: red light has a longer wavelength than other colours and disrupts night vision to a lesser extent. For civilian applications, astronomers also use red flashlights to consult star charts, and some stargazing apps now come with a night vision mode that renders all elements in red.

  • Going into a continuation, I personally was not expecting one to be announced so soon, but upon realising that Girls und Panzer Der Film‘s box office performance was impressive, such a development became much more plausible. That this will be a sequel is interesting, and I am looking forwards to seeing what directions Girls und Panzer will take next, but the prospect of another movie is not one I would enjoy: the wait for Girls und Panzer Der Film was not pleasant, especially on account of the social media reactions of the film’s contents and the knowledge that a chance to see the film for myself would require at minimum a half-year’s wait.

  • Girls und Panzer never explicitly provided a timeline for when its events occur, but using a bit of reasoning, Miho transfers to Ooarai in around March, and most of the events of the TV series and movie occur between April and August and September, respectively. The depiction of snowfall and winter uniforms suggests that Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter will take place in November or later, which is not particularly far away from the events of the movie.

  • Some viewers have suggested that the presence of winter uniforms indicate plans to make Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter a TV series. Winter uniforms alone are an insufficient indicator that there are plans to make The Final Chapter a full TV series: the Locodol OVAs featured new footage in their openings, despite no known plans to create a second season. With that being said, I see no evidence to firmly suggest that the continuation will be a single OVA and as such, I’m hoping that The Final Chapter will be a full-fledged TV series.

  • I was planning on doing a DOOM post now that I’ve crossed the halfway point, and that would have brought my no-anime-post-streak up to a month, but the Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter trailer released earlier today, giving me a non-gaming topic to discuss. With that in mind, the trailer is quite short, and in the absence of further intel, it’s time for me to return to ripping and tearing my way through DOOM. I cannot guarantee that I’ll be on top of Girls und Panzer-releated news as I had been for the film owing to real-world obligations, but I will do my best to blog about information as it becomes available, as well as Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter itself once it does come out.

Going solely from the title, it would appear that Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter will be the conclusion to the Girls und Panzer franchise. After the events of Girls und Panzer Der Film, the ultimate fate of Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team remained indeterminate — they had succeeded in saving their school carrier a second time, but the accomplishment itself disclosed little about what experiences Miho and her classmates would encounter in their future Panzerfahren endeavours. Ergo, a successful continuation would need to address what the significance of Ooarai’s accomplishments are for its students, and as such, Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter would ideally be granted a TV series in which to adequately explore developments for Ooarai’s Panzerfahren team. For the first time in living memory, the entire Girls und Panzer community’s perspectives align with mine: a TV series would be a fantastic means of creating such a narrative, and allow Girls und Panzer to utilise time as a means of presenting more strategically-driven Panzerfahren scenes, as opposed to the spectacle in the movie. All of this, however, is speculation: more is known about Half-Life 3 than about Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter, for the present. With this in mind, I will be keeping two eyes on developments pertaining to Girls und Panzer: The Final Chapter.

iOS 10- Initial Impressions on a Mid-Autumn Festival

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” —Che Guevara

Released just two days ago, on September 13, iOS 10 is the latest iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system. With my years of experience in updating to the newest versions of iOS, I can easily say that this year’s update was by far the smoothest: I plugged in my devices, ran the installers and followed the on-screen prompts to load iOS 10. When completed, I was immediately welcomed with iOS 10’s latest feature: a redesigned lock screen that allows access to a plethora of widgets and the camera. The notifications system has also been given updates, making it easier than ever to respond to new events as they occur. Similarly, the control center has been given an overhaul, giving users separate panes to control their devices. Together with the new widgets menu, iOS 10 makes it easier than ever to quickly glance at one’s email inbox or the weather. The music app has also been given some updates and changes in organisation. I was rather fond of the system implemented in iOS 9, and the new music app feels a little unintuitive by comparison, although I imagine that with time, I’ll get used to things. I’ve only been playing around with iOS 10 for half an hour, so there are plenty of new features, including an improved iMessage client, multi-lingual keyboard and changes to the built-in email client, but so far, the experience has been relatively smooth.

  • My home screen hasn’t actually changed all that much since iOS 9 (or iOS 8, for that matter). I still organise my apps the same way I did back in 2013, although my collection of games and utilities have grown since then. One of my favourite apps is PDF Expert, an incredibly powerful and useful apps that allows for PDF organisation and annotation. I’ve utilised it to keep track of schedules during conferences and revisions to my thesis, although now that I’m done my graduate program, I’m not too certain as to whether or not I’ll use PDF expert frequently.

  • Instead of zooming in fully to a folder, the new visualisation system in iOS 10 expands a folder over the home screen as an overlay. It’s a very subtle change from iOS 9, although I’ve grown rather fond of this functionality. Pages and Keynote for iOS are visible here, now with powerful new features. I made extensive use of both apps during my thesis: I had backed up my defense presentation to iCloud as a countermeasure for if my MacBook Pro should fail, and also was quite prepared to defend using my iPhone, but fortunately, the defense proceeded without a hitch. I later would bring my iPad to Cancún for the ALIFE XV Conference and gave a pair of presentations there.

  • The new control center is much more expansive and spacious compared to previous incarnations, and I’ve immediately taken a liking to it: all of the features are out in the open now, making it very easy to make small adjustments to the iPad or iPhone even on the fly. The usefulness of the control center is such that I now can’t imagine operating an iOS device without it: it makes turning on the WiFi or Bluetooth significantly easier. The new widgets center is also a pleasant improvement, as is the new notifications center, but because tonight’s been a quiet evening, I haven’t seen it in operation yet.

  • The new music app feels a lot more rudimentary than its iOS 9 counterpart, with its increased use of white space and larger font sizes. I can still find and play songs with ease as I did with the previous music app, and while I’m not too fond of the new, larger UI elements, I can adapt. However, iOS 10’s music app has one critical omission: lyrics are gone now for all songs loaded onto the device. It’s a move reminiscent of what happened in iOS 5, and while I’ve not used the lyrics mechanism in iOS for quite some time, its absence is rather noticeable.

  • The iPad Air 2 can still handle multi-tasking flawlessly with iOS 10: I’m browsing through a webpage, reading a Wikipedia article and watching the first episode of Sora no Woto here at the same time, and each app handles smoothly. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting an anime-related post in quite some time (the past four posts have dealt with games to some capacity, and the Planetarian review was written nearly a month ago). With that being said, New Game! is reaching its conclusion, and surprisingly, I’m reasonably caught up, so a post will be coming out within a week of the finale’s release near the month’s end.

Besides seeing my upgrading to iOS 10, today also happens to be the Mid-Autumn festival, celebrating the autumn full moon on the lunar calendar and the associated harvest celebrations. While this year’s schedule precluded a full banquet, there’s always time for Moon Cake. Further to this, the weather this year has been remarkably pleasant (after nearly a full month of rain in August), and the harvest moon looks marvelous, with its golden hue. It’s far cry from the events of two years ago, where a massive snowstorm rolled into my AO hours after sunset on the evening of the Mid-Autumn festival. Returning back to iOS 10, as with my assessment of iOS 9 from last year, the latest iOS turns out to be a pleasant upgrade from its predecessor; both my iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 handle the new system with ease. My devices lack a 3D-touch sensor and the M9 processor, so I won’t be able to capitalise on some of the more novel features that come with iOS 10 (speaking to the pace at which these incremental changes are made), but all of the minor updates, coupled with the fact that they don’t seem to detrimentally impact the performance or battery life of my older devices, means that iOS 10 will be a fine update for frequent use in the upcoming year.