The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Anime: First Impressions

Urara Meirocho: Reflection and Review After Three

“I need a credit card! Epps, where’s your wallet?”
“Pocket!”
“Which pocket?”
“MY BACK POCKET!”
“You got, like, ten back pockets! ”
“LEFT CHEEK! LEFT CHEEK! LEFT CHEEK!”

—Captain Lennox and USAF Tech Sergeant Epps, Transformers

Raised in a remote mountainous region, Chiya arrives in the town of Meirocho with the aim of finding her mother. After a rough start in the town, she encounters Koume Yukimi and Kon Tatsumi, two aspiring Urara: they incur the wrath of Captain Saku Iroi of the Bloque 1 Patrol Unit and are banished, but Nina Natsume arrives and manages to defuse the situation, introducing herself as a Rank 5 Urara who runs the Natsumeya teahouse, as well as to her younger sister, Nono. When Chiya discovers that a rank-one Urara might be able to help her, she tries to sneak in to the portion of town restricted to higher ranking Urara, only for Saku to stop her; she encourages Chiya to strive for rank one herself, and later, following an exercise in fortune-telling by means of paper lanterns, Chiya and Kon resolve to reach the top of the ranking system. However, while on an errand to retrieve a package for Nina, Kon accidentally breaks a crystal ball at the Benten divination store to compensate Benten, the owner for costs. After learning that it would take a minimum of a year to offset the costs, Chiya agrees to a gamble with Benten: if they should win, Benten will overlook the damages. As it turns out, Benten rigged the bet after seeing Chiya’s resolve to become a Urara. Later, Chiya’s hair is caught in Koume’s buttons, and the two are stuck together until Koume realises that she knows nothing about Chiya, rips off her shirt buttons and openly declares that they’re friends, which entails learning more about one another.

While Urara Meirocho‘s premise and characters are a familiar sight to audiences who have been watching anime (or reading manga) of its genre, offering nothing novel by ways of dynamics and interactions, what makes Urara Meirocho interesting is the unique combination of its setting in a detailed, fictional town with its own organisational system and laws, in conjunction with the details surrounding how Urara work within the universe. The market is saturated with content falling under the moé category, and admittedly, my efforts to watch some of the adaptations from Manga Time Kirara and its subsets have been met with failure: I’ve previously made an attempt to watch Sansha San’yō, Anne Happy and Stella no Mahou and have found them to be quite unremarkable after three episodes. However, in setting Chiya et al.’s misadventures in a distinct town, and through explaining to audiences how divination works within their universe, Urara Meirocho offers something new by means of the location and attendant possibilities to create a different, distinct atmosphere: here, Urara Meirocho is similar to Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, in counting on the combination of the setting and characters to create a slice-of-life comedy that is memorable from the others of its classification.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While it may prima facie seem that I would confuse Chiya of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? and Urara Meirocho‘s Chiya, inspection of the Kanji shows that this won’t be the case: here, Chiya’s name is 千矢 (lit. “A thousand arrows”), against GochiUsa‘s Chiya Ujimatsu, whose given name is 千夜 (lit. “A thousand nights”). This is in reference to arrows flying true and striking their targets. While Chiya (of Urara Meirocho) seems far removed from humanity and can even be feral in nature, similar to Mowgli of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, she’s actually raised by a woman named Setsu, hence her basic knowledge of human traits.

  • When she falls on top of Kon while trying to escape Saku, Chiya apologises by lifting her shirt up. It’s certainly a strange action, perhaps alluding to how some animals roll over onto their backs and expose their vulnerable undersides to indicate submissiveness. Being bipedal, it would be quite uncomfortable to lie down on the ground and roll over: humans exhibit submissiveness by lowering their heads and covering their chest to defend it (dominant postures amongst people include making oneself more visible, denoting confidence and a lack of fear towards possible confrontation.

  • After the commotion is cleared up, Chiya introduces herself to Kon and Koume: the former is a proper girl who wears a ribbon in her hair, giving her the semblance of a fox, while the latter is an energetic girl who enjoys wearing intricate clothing. Chiya is voiced by Sayaka Harada, a newcomer in the voice acting scene who I know best as Tawawa on Monday‘s Ai-chan (it’s a small world, it seems). Yurika Kubo provides Koume’s voice (Hai-Furi‘s Rin Shiretoko, who was very fond of Mashiro), and Kon is voiced by Kaede Hondo, a voice actress whose roles I’m completely unfamiliar with.

  • After being arrested by Saku, Nina Natsume arrives to explain the situation. Voiced by Ai Kayano, Nina is reminiscent of GochiUsa‘s Mocha Hoto in manner and grace. Her younger sister, Nono, is voiced by Haruka Yoshimura (Koharu Shiihara of Sora no Method and Ema Yasuhara from Shirobako): incredibly shy, she carries a doll around with her that was a gift from her mother. Named Matsuko, Nono performs ventriloquism with her doll and is very attached to her doll, describing various scenarios that the others find unnerving.

  • There’s a hilltop overlooking Meirocho (“Labyrinth City”) that the girls visit shortly after receiving their entry-level license papers. The scenery and art style in Urara Meirocho is very stylised, offering a very distinct feel to things; the light texturing in the background is reminiscent of the style used in Valkyria Chronicles. While I would have liked to provide more screenshots in this post of the scenery, Urara Meirocho is about its characters, hence my decision to make all twenty images featuring characters.

  • After a failed lesson to do tea-leaf divination when Chiya drains all of the tea, the girls decide to step out. Even as early as the first episode, there’s a sweets shop that the girls are likely to make their primary hangout spot for the remainder of Urara Meirocho: they are fond of visiting it to unwind after a long day and enjoy the confectionaries that would not seem out of place in Ama Usa An.

  • I’ve actually been looking for an excuse to use Epps’ “LEFT CHEEK! LEFT CHEEK! LEFT CHEEK” from Transformers for quite some time. Hence, when the girls are scuffling with one another by morning after Chiya makes off to explore the town and figure out where her mother is, I figured this would be it; both Koume and Kon end up tugging on Chiya’s face as punishment. Saku soon arrives to inform everyone that trying to make a divination with no a priori information is a challenge even for the town’s top Urara.

  • Perhaps this is unique to me, but I’ve found that Nono and Nina respectively resemble Itsuki and Fū Inubozaki of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, while Kon is similar to Mimori Tōgō in appearance. While Yūki Yūna is a Hero was somewhat polarising, I personally enjoyed it, and there seems to be a continuation set for release in Fall 2017, alongside an adaptation of a light novel set in the same universe.

  • Gentle, kind and a rank five Urara, Nina runs the Natsumeya teahouse and serves as a mentor to the other Uraras. I’ve heard discussions that the economic structure of Meirocho must be an interesting one, provided that the sheer number of Urara would result in market saturation. However, these individuals seem to making some rather large subjective leaps in their considerations: their first incorrect assumption would be that Meirocho is the only economic centre in their world, and the second is the notion that Urara are incapable of performing in other tasks, such as shopkeeping, law enforcement and so forth.

  • As one who is totally aligned with the scientific method, I cannot say that I am particularly keen on divination, astrology or other forms of predicting the future — while practitioners purport to use supernatural methods that are effective, the fact is that predictions are so broad and general that they can hold true to almost anything, giving the impression that they are effective. Similarly, the exercise here, to predict a yes/no answer by determining if any holes in a paper lantern survive after burning it for 12 seconds, can be approximated by implementing a variation of Conway’s Game of Life (one that would be much less interesting). We create an n by m grid of cells and place twelve points (we call these “marked” grids here) at random on this grid. Then, we seed a set of cells for the fire to begin, and use the ruleset:
    1. Every cell on the grid has three states: “normal”, “on fire”, and “burnt out”
    2. Cells have a secondary property,”marked” and “unmarked”
    3. A cell on fire at time step t will have some probability P (where 0 ≤ P ≤ 1) of burning out at time t + 1
    4. In the Moore neighbourhood of a cell with fire at time t, each cell has some random probability P (where 0 ≤ P ≤ 1)  of igniting at t + 1
    5. Only normal cells can burn, and cells on fire can only become burnt out. A burnt out cell cannot burn again, nor can they become normal again. Cells on fire cannot become normal again.
    6. If a fire overlaps with a marked cell point at time t, and at t + 1, if the fire still overlaps with said cell, the marked cell becomes destroyed, and the total number of marked cells is decremented

  • The approach stipulated is much less fun, a bit more technical, and requires familiarity with a programming language, but also has the advantage of not setting one’s home or hair on fire when executed. Furthermore, this would represent a fun opportunity to implement a variation of Conway’s Game of Life. In the approach, if a single marked grid survives, then the answer is “yes”. Back in Urara Meirocho, Koume tucks in to a platter of sweets. While delicious-looking, it hardly seems worthy of Adam Richman’s Man v. Food challenges with respect to scale; of the desert challenges Richman has taken on, pancakes, milkshakes and ice cream are the ones that come to mind, and he only managed to win in the ice cream challenge.

  • While Chiya tries out a dish of curry rice, Ōshima and Shiozawa look on, hopeful that Saku will feed them, as well. Her subordinates, these two patrol officiers are totally devoted to their service and hold a crush on Saku that the latter seems unaware of. While outwardly serious and focused, audiences gain insight into their minds and hear that they are rather enamoured with Saku to a very high degree, although ironically, while Saku is totally committed towards maintaining a wholesome and safe environment around town, her own mind drifts immediately towards the impure at slightest provocation, causing her to blow her stack.

  • Because the others have displayed a tendency to go off mission quite frequently, Kon ropes everyone together so that they may visit Benten’s shop and acquire a special bowl for divination upon Nina’s request without becoming distracted by the sights and sounds in Meirocho. Ironically, Kon herself becomes enthralled when she sees the diversity of equipment for divination at Benten’s shop, picking up a crystal ball, only to drop it when Benten, the shop’s owner, materialises out of nowhere.

  • So far, the idea of a currency unit has not been provided in Urara MeirochoBenten requires that the four work at her shop for a year to cover the damages, and while providing no solid figure on what the crystal ball is worth, something that has the price of a year’s salary would be of a high value. Kon introduces stones for creating sparks to customers here, after being singled out to wear a maid’s outfit: with her long, dark hair and serious personality, she looks quite similar to K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama here.

  • I’m actually not too sure what a diviner would do with a high-end sword, but in RPG games, different weapons and apparel can be enchanted to boost a user’s stats. While a very natural-seeming mechanic in a video game, it would come across as being quite strange in real life; consider the notion of wearing a necklace or wristwatch that bolstered your intellect during an exam, or a t-shirt that enhances one’s strength only when worn.

  • To the far right is Benten herself: the owner of the shop in question, she’s old-fashioned and strict, but also is understanding, deliberately losing a gambling game to allow Chiya and the others to walk free. While a gambler probably on par with James Bond or Han Solo, she sees the resolve in Chiya and her friends, allowing their debt to slide on the basis that they might make fine Urara in the future, even if they are as careless as C (Spectre).

  • When Chiya and Koume are literally stuck together because Chiya’s long hair gets caught in her buttons, the two realise that being bound to one another might not be so effective at bonding. The concept of being tethered together is not new, and has been utilised liberally in many works before Urara Meirocho, usually with the intent of depicting the comedy surrounding the scenario. I note that my usage of “literally” and its variants are only used in the correct manner: the word is intended to describe something word per word rather than as a hyperbole. For instance, “stuck together” usually means “bound to one another by a circumstance” rather than “held together by a constraint”, but in this case, since Chiya and Koume are being held together by a physical bond, it is a literal usage of the phrase.

  • I hear the word “literally” thrown around so frequently in common conversation that I will literally become physically ill if I hear it again. Jokes aside, back in Urara Meirocho, the impasse is broken when Koume realises that she knows next to nothing about Chiya, and makes it known that she’s become friends with her. She pulls her shirt apart, freeing the pair, but also exposes herself. I remark that Urara Meirocho has a great deal of indecent exposure and the like relative to something like GochiUsa, but rather than having the effect of exciting viewers in that manner, it merely serves to be a part of the comedy within the anime.

  • What exactly does Urara mean? A cursory search yields “麗” (“beautiful” in both Chinese and Japanese), but in the context of Urara Meirocho, it’s the name for the occupation of being a fortune teller, rather similar to how gondoliers of the real world are known as undine in ARIA, named after the water elementals from Paracelsus’ texts.

  • Chiya’s fear of getting her hair cut stems back to her childhood, which led her to believe that getting her hair cut would result in copious amounts of blood spraying out. Biologically impossible, it results in Chiya becoming animal-like whenever she fears her hair is about to be cut, and this results in hilarity. One of the reasons I will continue watching Urara Meirocho will be just how squeaky things get whenever chaos prevails: the aural characteristics of the girls’ screams begin approaching those of ultrasound, exceeding what we can hear.

Insofar, I am finding Urara Meirocho to be quite enjoyable, despite my initial reservations; this is because the setting of Meirocho allows for familiar jokes to be presented in a new manner. I will continue following Urara Meirocho for this season, and look forwards to seeing what misadventures await Chiya, Koume, Kon and Nono as they study the way of the Urara with the aim of reaching the top tiers and fulfilling the different dreams that each of the characters have; such series usually aim to depict how everyone’s experiences with one another can induce change in the characters, so one element I will be looking out for is seeing how Chiya and the others mature as the series progresses. While moé anime are oft-criticised for having static characters who learn little from their comings and goings, there have been fantastic examples where friendships and time have given characters new depths (GochiUsa is an excellent example, for instance). As such, it will be interesting to see if Urara Meirocho can do something similar — I look forwards to taking a gander at what this series will have done by the time its conclusion has arrived.

Shelter: Reflections On A Collaborative Music Video Between Porter Robinson and A-1 Pictures

“Collaboration is important not just because it’s a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives. So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy.” —Don Tapscott

Shelter is a six-minute short that illustrates a small section of seventeen year-old Rin’s life in a simulated reality. Although her life is one of infinite tranquility, it is also an immensely lonely experience. As she creates worlds through a tablet, the simulator gradually exposes Rin’s own memories: she was seven when a moon-sized celestial body is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. Her father, Shigeru, constructs a spacecraft to preserve Rin’s life, while making the most of their remaining time on Earth together. Despite its short length, Shelter is quite haunting: this effect is a consequence of the stunning visuals in the short. As Bill Watterson had done with his Calvin and Hobbes comics, Shelter is able to tell a succinct story in the absence of dialogue. An entire world and its story is conceived and explored in the space of six minutes — in fact, the possibilities of such a world have resulted in some viewers yearning for a longer feature that more completely describes Rin and her experiences. Through the visuals alone, Rin is infinitely creative and inquisitive, crafting the wonders of the world to explore as she passes her solitary days. Whether it be vast fields of verdant grass as far as the eye can see or an Aurora Borealis filling the skies, Rin counters her loneliness through creativity. This would be the theme that lies at the heart of Shelter: individuals can create highly compelling works when they are alone, and this act gives them hope, allowing them to find fulfillment in an alternate avenue.

While Rin’s situation seems to be one of melancholy, a bit of reasoned speculation, coupled with Porter Robinson’s upbeat performance, suggests that Shelter is not meant to depict Rin as the last human alive. The music’s lyrics, speaking of how people can be together even if they’re not physically together, plus the overall tone the song conveys, is meant to be a positive one. Consequently, it yields an optimistic tone that permits discussion to wander in a direction that suggests Rin’s loneliness is not infinite. Such a perspective is further augmented by scientific elements: the music video plainly depicts a moon-sized object on the verge of impact with Earth. There are presently few objects of that size in the solar system (the largest object is the dwarf planet, Ceres, which has a diameter of 945 kilometers), and as such, any object with a collision course with Earth would be readily spotted. This in turn allows Earth’s inhabitants a substantial window to prepare, and in a science fiction setting, it is very unlikely that a population would idly allow their species to go extinct, knowing that such an object exists. Barring the more outlandish course of action (i.e. destroying the object), humanity could construct spacecraft and organise a mass exodus from the planet prior to its destruction. Assuming this to hold, there are likely other survivors in this universe, and so, the possibility that Rin is found would be non-zero.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • One of my friends remarks that the possibility for missing out on examples of superb animations is a botheration, although I’ve remarked to him that it’s more about chancing upon the good ones that make things worthwhile. For this talk on Shelter, I’ve got the usual twenty screenshots, and that comes out to around 3.3̅… screenshots per minute, which isn’t quite as high compared to something like Utopia or Cross Road.

  • One of the questions that were fielded by other views is whether or not Shelter could have worked if the individual in the simulation were male rather than female. The answer is “yes”, since the concepts about creativity and loneliness, as well as parental love, transcend gender. These are universal values people share, so whether or not the protagonist is male or female wouldn’t change the fact that Shelter would have solid animation and music that brings out the moods.

  • One of the reasons I’ve grown fond of anime is because of the fact that landscapes and worlds are so vividly created: through the course of the six minutes, a range of locations, both abstract and extraordinary, are shown. These worlds, created through Rin’s tablet, are fluidly created: the control that she has over these worlds is akin to playing an ultra-high fidelity version of Minecraft or similar.

  • With technology’s pacing, I would not be particularly surprised if virtual and augmented reality technologies capable of creating images that the mind do not reject become commonplace within the next decade. The release of increasingly powerful graphics hardware, coupled with decreasing power costs and efficient algorithms for rendering and shading means that there could be a future where phones and wearable headsets carry GPUs surpassing even the modern-generation GTX Titans in performance while allowing for extended periods of wireless usage.

  • I watched Shelter about a week ago, but things have been rather busy: I was able to do my weekly discussion for Brave Witches owing to a fortuitous break in my schedule, and then on Friday, I attended a stand-up comedy evening with my coworkers, enjoying both the smoked ribs and fries dinner as well as the show itself. I spent most of yesterday playing through Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and finished the Golem City story mission before visiting a local Chinese restaurant for dinner (beef short ribs in a pepper sauce, Peking-style pork chops and crispy chicken, among other dishes). As such, yesterday saw limited motivation to write.

  • However, I’m back in full force today, and so, this review will be done before I forget about it. Back in Shelter, in a beautiful field stretching as far as the eye can see, Rin recreates a single tree with a swing on it, then vaguely recalls getting hurt on a swing. Her old memories start manifesting as she begins recalling memories of a distant past, and hints that her reality is not what it seems begin appearing via flashbacks.

  • For the most part, reception to Shelter has been positive, and I am in the camp that believes that Shelter is worthwhile. I’ve come across a particularly asinine review from “Zergneedsfood” that purports Shelter to be “utterly trite” for “undermining” the viewers with its supposed lack of “emotional resonance”. From a personal perspective, that was never the point of Shelter to begin with, so the review becomes rather disingenuous for trying to academically critique something for a theme it does not intentionally portray. Compare the chap who wonders why he cannot fulfill the role of a counter-sniper with a shotgun.

  • How does one differentiate an honest review from one that is psuedo-intellectual in nature? The answer is surprisingly straightforwards: a psuedo-intellectual review is excessively critical, with a propensity for sesquipedalian loquaciousness. In short, a psuedo-intellectual author believes that a complex vocabulary somehow elevates their argument’s value. When writing, one should not require a dictionary every five words because the author had multiple tabs to Thesaurus.com or were using Microsoft Office’s built-in thesaurus to replace terms in their prose. These individuals hide behind a veneer of sophistication, forcibly enforcing their own narrow world-view upon others with the intent of impressing or intimidating other readers.

  • Whenever such nonsensical reviews are encountered, I make it a point to remind readers that the opinions of someone with a blog or an uncommonly diverse vocabulary do not confer any additional weight towards their argument. This probably is the reason why this blog gets the same traffic in a day as theirs does over a month. This goes both ways: if I say something that does not align with your own views, that’s perfectly fine. Back in Shelter, Rin strolls through an abstract field of trees adorned with emissive cube ornaments.

  • I’ve often joked that I could be quite happy with any size of home provided I’ve got a stable power supply and powerful internet connection, since when I’m at home, I tend to be hanging out on a computer of sorts. On pleasant days, I take to the parks nearby for a stroll, preferring to enjoy the sunshine and blue skies (or minimally, a lack of temperature extremities or precipitation). One of the strongest features of my city is the relatively large number of pathways and parks.

  • Admittedly, for me, the music in Shelter was sometimes eclipsed by the visuals: I’m very much a visual person, having a fondness for figures, diagrams and charts. I learn fastest when a procedure is illustrated step-wise as a diagram, and as such, when it comes to most entertainment, I also keep my eyes on the visuals. Smooth and well-done, the animations in Shelter were produced by A-1 Pictures, who also did work on Garakowa: Restore The World (accounting for the similarities in style and atmosphere).

  • While the first half of Shelter is illustrating Rin’s everyday life as she passes the time creating new worlds to explore, the second half arises after old memories begin manifesting: she recalls events that happened in her childhood as the simulation taps into her mind. I recall reading a text about the limitations of human intelligence, and one postulate put forth the idea that humans do not universally have eidetic memories is because that such a capacity would allow one to recall highly painful memories with ease.

  • This could be detrimental, and I count myself as thankful that I cannot recall with a high precision all of the negative things I’ve experienced (usually, just the lessons associated with them). This is merely a theory, and from an evolutionary perspective, the practical reasons why humans cannot be more intelligent (assuming a common definition of intelligence to exist, of course) is that a larger mind would make passing through the birth canal more difficult: infants are born with their heads very nearly at adult sizes.

  • Rin receives a stuffed bear from her father as a gift during Christmas. It strikes me that, after the Remembrance Day long weekend and my convocation, I will need to begin Christmas shopping. I glance at the calendar and remark that already, a week of November has very nearly elapsed. Daylight Savings ended yesterday evening, requiring that clocks be rolled back an hour, and I got an extra hour’s worth of sleep. The skies are noticeably darker now than they were a week ago, and winter will nearly be upon us.

  • Rin traversing her old memories brings to mind how the Pensieve in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter operates. An apparatus for storing memories, such a device could be quite useful for recalling different memories and giving the brain additional storage. While initially a curiosity, Pensieves become a major element within the novels, as Harry utilises them to understand Voldemort, as well as Snape.

  • As this moon-sized object draws closer, its interactions with the Earth’s atmosphere would cause the surface to heat up considerably well before it contacts the planet, accounting for why it looks more like a gas giant than a rocky object. An object of such size would hit with enough force to displace the whole of the lithosphere and generate enough heat to create a world-wide firestorm. Volcanic activity would increase on the surface, and once the debris settles, the entire planet would be seen as one large lava field from orbit.

  • To ensure that his daughter survives, the scientist creates a specialised spacecraft, to send her off. It’s a tearful farewell. Owing to the scope of Shelter, nothing else is shown, but this premise has been mentioned to be an excellent starting point for an OVA or even a full-fledged movie. Like countless viewers before me, it would definitely be worth checking out if a full length narrative was to be created, although similar to Star Wars Madness and Cross Road, I imagine that this probably won’t be the case.

  • This image shows the object colliding with the Earth’s surface, and the results are consistent with those seen in an animation portraying the effects of a hypothetical body of 500 kilometers in diameter impacting the Earth. While such scenarios are often used in science fiction, that there is intelligent life on Earth is the surest sign that such objects are rare in the Solar System: in the Earth’s early history, impacts would have been very common, but as the planets coalesced, the number of smaller objects decreased in number as they were absorbed into larger entities.

  • The end of the music video is viewed by some to be on the pessimistic side, since the final shot is that of Rin tearing up while in the spacecraft. It may have been more fitting to conclude with search lights shining upon her in the pod, which could have lessened or even eliminated the ambiguity, but other than that, this was a rather fun music video.

  • I’ll be resuming regular programming shortly after: ahead of time, I’ll be doing a talk on Mankind Divided now that I’ve finished talking with Talos Rucker. There will be some special post coming out later this week related to Remembrance Day, as well as a short reflection on my convocation from graduate school, in addition to the scheduled post for Brave Witches.

Fluidly animated and remarkably well-produced, Shelter is a visual treat to behold: Robinson’s performance complements the visual components, although there are points where the visuals seem to even eclipse the song. This collaborative project was a remarkably enjoyable watch despite its short length, and as remarked by countless others, its biggest shortcoming seems to be its short length, wondering whether or not there could be a more substantial story that carries on the narrative in the future to either show more of Rin’s backstory or her future experiences. It’s not very often I do standalone talks for music videos, but Shelter‘s execution is quite remarkable. As a collaboration between Eastern and Western artists, some audience members have remarked that Shelter could be an exciting beginning for international works. In light of some articles, such as one at Anime News Network discussing whether or not Japan’s projected population decline, these individuals feel that cooperation is very much welcomed to both bolster creativity and address the unsustainable aspects of the Japanese animation industry. Both components are quite important, and I very much welcome prospects of increased collaboration.

Shuumatsu no Izetta: Review and Reflections After Three

“We must be the great arsenal of democracy…I believe that the Axis powers are not going to win this war. I base that belief on the latest and best of information.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt

In an alternate history where the Empire of Germania begins a war of conquest for the European continent. Seeking to capture the small country of Eylstadt, Germanian forces capture princess Ortfiné “Finé” Fredericka von Eylstadt with the aim of using her as a bargaining chip, but inadvertently awaken a Witch, Izetta. Her promise and friendship to Finé unforgotten, she promises to help protect Princess Finé and defend Eylstadt, demonstrating the nature of her powers against advancing Germanian forces at Coenenberg and Single-handedly turning the tide of battle. This is a reasonable and succinct account for what’s occurred in Shuumatsu no Izetta (English, Izetta: The Last Witch) thus far, another one of this season’s historical-fantasy anime. Three episodes in, Shuumatsu no Izetta has proven to be quite entertaining, but is also strikingly familiar: the previous historical-fantasy I beheld was Valkyria Chronicles, which similarly involved a large empire invading a small nation amidst a continent-wide war, as well as supernatural beings with the ability to influence the outcome of a battle on their own. However, Shuumatsu no Izetta‘s world is more similar to our own, as opposed to the greater number of fictional elements seen in Valkyria Chronicles — Junkers dive bombers and Panzer IIIs can be seen, along with real-world anti-tank rifles. The question then becomes: how does the quasi-realistic setting contribute to Shuumatsu no Izetta‘s enjoyment factor?

The answer is a simple one: so far, the opening shots of a war and the inclusion of a magical girl equivalent of John-117 or the Doom Slayer have come together to create an intriguing universe. Finé herself strives to play a greater role in maintaining her country’s security as it becomes entangled in conflict, hesitating to ask her friend to fight on her behalf, while Izetta, longing to aid Finé as gratitude for accepting her when no one else would, wishes to play a greater role in defending Eylstadt even if it means using her magic with lethal consequences. Three episodes in, the main theme in Shuumatsu no Izetta has yet to be presented, but all of the aspects shown thus far together suggest that audiences are likely to be in for an interesting showing this season as all of the different aspects in both Finé and Izetta’s character come into play, in conjunction with the larger war at hand. Without the might of Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy and a Witch in its place, the journey to see Elystadt liberated will definitely be one I follow keenly for this season.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I never thought I’d be watching, much less writing about Shuumatsu no Izetta. This additional series comes courtesy of Jusuchin of Right Wing Otaku, who’s concurrently writing about Shuumatsu no Izetta with Brave Witches. Curiosity soon took hold, and I decided to check out the first episode. What I saw was something that impressed me sufficiently for me to pick it up, so I’ll now be watching this one alongside Brave Witches and Hibike! Euphonium.

  • Ortfiné “Finé” Fredericka von Eylstadt (center) is the princess and last heir to the throne in the nation of Eylstadt. Honourable and determined are two adjectives that capture her spirit: despite being of nobility, Finé is not hesitant to risk death for her country’s sake, standing in contrast with the sort of courage deficiency seen in other cases. At the start of Shuumatsu no Izetta, she and her guards are on a train trying to evade Germanian forces.

  • There’s actually no point in me having this screenshot here beyond the purposes perhaps amusing those who read this post, and in fact, I probably could have included another screenshot with military hardware such that it could be discussed in greater detail. With respect to military hardware, Battlefield 1‘s launch is this Friday, and having seen the footage for the campaign, as well as the multiplayer maps, I’m rather excited to see where the game goes.

  • While I’m very curious to try out Battlefield 1, I’m not sure if it’ll be in my pocketbook’s best interest to purchase the game; poor exchange ranges mean that I’ll need to shell out eighty dollars for a standard edition, rather than sixty. Of course, if an opportune sale occurs, I’m almost certain to buy Battlefield 1, and in the meantime, may purchase one month of EA Access to play the trial. Returning to Shuumatsu no Izetta, I introduce the antagonists. Belkman (left) and Rickert (right) are two Germanian characters, who are, according to documentation, cites the former as the primary antagonist holding the rank of major, and Rickert is is assistant.

  • Blitzkrieg is utilised by Germanian forces to great effect in Shuumatsu no Izetta: Junkers Ju 87 (Stuka) dive bombers are used here to soften targets before ground forces arrive. The German techniques in blitzkrieg made use of a combination of close air support in conjunction with armour and infantry. These high-speed tactics allowed German forces to avoid stalemate and overwhelm an enemy prepared to fight static warfare as seen in World War I, and while effective, historians debate whether or not blitzkrieg can formally be considered a tactic.

  • Against the Eylstadt ground forces, the Germanian forces roll through the countryside unopposed and regard the resistance as a mere nuisance. The start of their campaign is quite similar to Russia’s ground invasion of Estonia in Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, where T90s begin a campaign to smash alleged terrorist positions. After American Apaches and their Hellfire missiles intervene, the Russians withdraw their forces on short order. No such support exists for Eylstadt at this point, and as such, they rapidly begin losing ground.

  • After her capture at an opera while discussing with Britannian Lord Redford to gain their support in the war to repel the Germanian forces, Finé is captured. She had considered marriage with Prince Henry  to consolidate her position, illustrating her commitment to Eylstadt. Here, she clashes with her Germanian captors in an aircraft noted to be carrying materials of great importance, along with a capsule with a certain individual inside.

  • After awakening, the Witch Izetta commanders one of the anti-tank rifles (identified to be a PTRS-41, a Russian model firing an 14.5 x 114mm AP round with a five-round magazine), bewitches it to fly and realises that Finé has fallen. Making haste to save Finé, she is overjoyed to be reunited once more with her. Although anti-tank rifles were widely used following the introduction of the first tanks in World War One, improving armour meant these weapons became obsolete by the Korean War.

  • The function of anti-tank rifles have diverged into two families of weapons, anti-materiel rifles, and man-portable anti-armour weapons. Although incapable of outright destroying a tank, they can be used to immobilise or damage tank components sufficiently to render them mission-incapable. After she’s saved Finé from falling to her death, a squadron of Germanian aircraft soon arrive, forcing Izetta to engage them. She utilises this boomstick as a broomstick, and the story behind why witches are commonly associated with brooms are discussed in an earlier post about Flying Witch.

  • Izetta’s magic is decidedly more visceral than those of Makoto’s, matching the spells of Harry Potter in terms of effectiveness. It appears that she can transmute blood into different elemental effects and here, uses it to drive ice shards through one of the pursuing aircraft. In games, such as Ragnarok OnlineWorld of Warcraft and even Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, I’ve never been too fond of ice elemental attacks, preferring fire and lightning builds for my mages.

  • After returning to the ground, Izetta discards the anti-tank rifle and resolves to save Finé. They soon run into a battalion of dejected Eylstadt soldiers, and Finé is taken in to recover. I remark that, although this post may have its usual twenty images, it was a considerable challenge to pick and choose. Ultimately, I went with a combination of combat and character moments: this is an anime where the fight sequences are worthy of mention, so the combat is better watched than read about on a blog such as this.

  • Another element I’ve come to enjoy deeply in Shuumatsu no Izetta is the depiction of landscapes and cityscapes in Eylstadt. These stills brilliantly capture the colours and atmospherics of a mountainous nation, and similarly, the fortress that Eylstadt forces defend in the third episode is set on a cliffside reminiscent of Sora no Woto‘s Clocktower Fortress. The artwork in Shuumatsu no Izetta is amazing, even if there are other scenes where lower level of detail can be plainly seen (such as faceless characters).

  • The French FT-17 light tank was a beast of a weapon that will be balanced for Battlefield 1‘s release (I believe the changes are that it will have weaker armour and a longer self-repair time, which should give infantry a chance to set up their AT rocket guns and other anti-armour weapons to defeat them), and historically, could deal some damage to early German Panzer models, being used right up until the end of World War II. However, in Shuumatsu no Izetta, the FT-17 is shown to be outclassed by the Germanian Panzer IIIs that constitute their ground forces — the Eylstadt forces completely lose their armour on short order on the ground.

  • Izetta and Finé’s friendship is a particularly strong one because during their childhood, Finé immediately accepted and found astounding Izetta’s Witch powers, whereas Izetta had grown accustomed to being ostrisised for possessing them. Her grandmother asks that Izetta avoid using her powers in front of others, but Izetta decides that their use is necessary for Finé’s sake.

  • Finé’s wounds are tended to as Izetta looks on with concern. Realising that Finé’s kindness is exceptional, she later negotiates with Finé to help her defend Eylstadt, although Finé initially declines, stating that Izetta’s safety is of a greater priority. One wonders whether or not Izetta’s devotion to Finé might resemble a Wookie’s Life Debt: in Star Wars, Chewbacca pledges his life to Han Solo after Solo saved him from slavery and accompanies him on his adventures.

  • The Germanians are presented as being quite confident, almost to the point of arrogance, in their own military might, although they mention as answering to an emperor rather than a Führer. Save for a short moment in Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, I do not think I’ve ever seen Hitler in an anime before. In Germany, law strictly prohibits the use of any Nazi symbolism except for historical purposes, although in the United States and Canada, these symbols are allowed under free speech (although in Canada, such symbols are not permitted to convey messages of hate).

  • The battle at Coenenberg is a rather thrilling one to watch after Izetta joins the fray: earlier, it is particularly one-sided, with the Eylstadt forces sustaining heavy casualties. She makes use of medieval lances as makeshift funnels and quickly shoots down most of the aircraft, stops to borrow an LMG and returns to the fortress to obtain some swords. It took considerable effort to ensure that for this talk, I spelt the location as “Coenenberg” rather than “Cronenberg”: the latter refers to David Cronenberg’s signature style of body horror, adopted for use in Rick and Morty.

  • In many forms of media, armour is shown to be decimated to emphasise how powerful a character is. Tanks, powerful vehicles in the real world with exceptional durability, are usually destroyed with ease  to make clear this point: Izetta flips several tanks with her magic and even stops a Panzer III’s main cannon with a magical shield, as Selvaria had done in Valkyria Chronicles. However, these feats are assisted by magic, and I note that in Halo, the Spartans could right flipped Scorpion tanks, which weight three times as much as Panzer IIIs. Originally implemented as a gameplay mechanic, since vehicles in Halo have an unfortunate propensity to flip on uneven surfaces, Frank O’Connor (development director at 343 Industries) has stated that Spartans can indeed do so.

  • Realising that Izetta is single-handedly changing the course of the battle as the Master Chief and Doom Slayer are wont to doing in their respective universes, Finé asks the soldiers around her to provide support. Earlier, she directly orders her soldiers to stand down, asking them whether or not it would be worthwhile to meaninglessly sacrifice their lives now for a fight whose course has already been decided.

  • With the battle concluded, and the passing of the Eylstadt Emperor, the third episode draws to a close, as does the weekend. This weekend’s been unremarkable but relaxing: I’ve begun playing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and it’s been a smooth experience so far, save the minor drops in frame rates in some areas of the game. I’m still playing through the Prague missions right now, and will probably do a talk on my experiences after I take off for the Golem district. With respect to upcoming posts, I’ll be targeting Hibike! Euphonium‘s second season: owing to the special setup of the opening episode, that post will be a bit longer than usual.

In fact, owing to the multi-faceted features in Shuumatsu no Izetta, I cannot help but wonder whether or not this anime will span two cours rather than one. Given how the narrative has opened up, Shuumatsu no Izetta appears to be utilising its earlier episodes to showcase combat sequences and slowly flesh out Izetta and Finé’s characters, while leaving the Germanian forces as a hirtherto unexplored antagonist. This approach is less appropriate for the time constraints in a one-cour anime, and given that Shuumatsu no Izetta‘s world seems to be a reasonably complex one, having double the runtime would easily allow for a fully fleshed-out story to be adequately explored. With this in consideration, I’ve got no plans to do episodic reviews for Shuumatsu no Izetta at present, but I do look forwards to watching the events of Shuumatsu no Izetta unfold, as well as seeing what writer Hiroyuki Yoshino (who’d previously done the composition and screenplay for Sora no Woto) has in mind for this anime. If this ends up being a two-cour anime, I’ll return at the halfway point to provide remarks on how Shuumatsu no Izetta is faring, as well as a talk on the entire series, otherwise, there will be a single post on whether or not one cour was satisfactory for providing a solid narrative for what is looking to be an intriguing show for this season.

Your Name: Remarks about a future review

“Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.” —Mary Pierce

Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no na wa (the English title, Your Name, will be used from here on out) is one of 2016’s biggest anime movies; while its box office numbers are smaller than those of Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the film’s sales have reached a total of 11.1 billion yen (roughly 111 million USD), putting it at nearly five times the total box office gross that Girls und Panzer Der Film made. The trailers hinted at a narrative involving exchange of conciousness between a Tokyo high school male student and a high school female student living in rural Japan. Your Name is inspired by the classical Heian work, Torikaebaya Monogatari, where two siblings possessed mannerisms are those of the opposite sex, as well as Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, in which the eponymous characters fall in love with one another after Griffin receives a post card from Sabine that changes his life forever. With a more compelling and immersive narrative than any of his previous films, Shinkai casts Your Name as a powerful story where themes of distance and longing are now interwoven with initiative and resolve. His characters take charge of their situation and are no longer passive observers; they actively make an effort towards altering their circumstances, resulting in a film that is rather more conclusive and satisfying, even if some elements are roughly presented.

  • Kimi no na wa will hitherto be known as Your Name for easier typing. In this short preview review, I utilise screenshots obtained from the trailers, hence their quality, although I’m rather excited to see how sharp screenshots will look in full 1080p. Makoto Shinkai’s films look amazing in full quality, and since The Place Promised In Our Early Days, I’ve aimed to watch his films at the best possible quality to really take in all of the visual elements.

  • Makoto Shinkai’s interior environments are incredibly detailed and give a very lived-in feeling: the trend continues into Your Name, with Taki’s room filled with clutter appropriate for that of a high school student. His iPhone 6 is visible here, and throughout the movie, he uses the LINE app for communications. A Japanese platform for instant messaging and VOIP conversations, I prefer to use Skype only because all of my contacts, save one, use Skype.

  • Mitsuha expresses total frustration at the monotony in her life, shouting out that she wishes to respawn as a “handsome Tokyo boy” with the expectation that life could be more exciting. The movie juxtaposes this with her experiences as Taki, who leads a busy life. On top of being a student, he works part time at an Italian restaurant. On the topic of respawning, I’m still early to be thinking about that sort of thing, but should respawns be real, I’d probably like a chance to live in the Japanese countryside.

  • Notions of conscious transfer and body-swapping remains (thankfully) confined to the realm of fiction for the present: if someone were to swap places with me for a day, the kind of chaos it would cause would be immense. Because such a transfer is impossible, people strongly identify individuals based on their appearance as much as their personalities, so an exchange of any sort would result in an identity crisis of sorts.

  • In Your Name, Makoto Shinkai takes his animation to the next level: where Taki is in Mitsuha’s place, he gropes Mitsuha and results in Mitsuha’s younger sister growing suspicious. Later, during a basketball game, Taki executes a move that Mitusha would unlikely carry out, and the camera angles illustrate that non-rigid physics in Your Name are also well-tended to, standing in contrast with his previous films.

  • One of the elements I will need to consider for the figure captions in the full review is how to refer to the characters while they’re swapped, without resulting in any sort of confusion. The notation will probably resolve itself, and with no known release date for the BDs, I imagine there will be plenty of time to figure out how I will structure said review. The soundtrack, performed by RADWIMPS, is a reasonably enjoyable listen; I found myself enjoying the violin and piano pieces much more than the lyrical performances.

  • The vocal songs interspersed throughout Your Name are a bit different than the sort of music I enjoy, although they do add some impact to the film. I will aim to keep spoilers in this review to an absolute minimum, especially in light of how difficult it will be to access this movie in some places. Intel has been lacking, and besides the fact that Funimation’s licensed Your Name, dates and locations for North American screenings of this movie simply don’t exist.

  • A vast field in the top of a caldera is one of the locales in Your Name. The scale of the landscape is reminiscent of the finis terra of Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, and while Your Name is ostensibly set in the real world, there are enough supernatural elements for the film to be classified as a fantasy, as well. The trailers have done a fantastic job of making it known that body switching is plays a substantial role in Your Name, although the movie itself uses this as one of many elements to deliver a multi-dimensional story.

  • Besides figuring out how to best present a talk on the themes in Your Name, I will also take advantage of the (presently) unknown time between now and the home release to eyeball whether or not the effects of an impact event is reasonably depicted in Your Name. I’m normally quite lax when it comes to accuracy in anime, but because Makoto Shinkai’s visuals are particularly good, I hold higher expectations; if the visuals correspond at least somewhat plausibly with real world observations, I will be satisfied.

  • As with Girls und Panzer Der Film, I will do my best to let readers know when a home release becomes a reality. With this post now done, and the fall season under way, I will tend to the Non Non Biyori Repeat OVA before Brave Witches kicks off.

Your Name is a moving and engaging film that features an optimistic theme; deriving a combination of elements from Five Centimeters per Second, Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below and The Garden of Words, Your Name tells a tale of separation as a smaller component in a much larger series of events. Driven by a desire to reach closure of some sort, Shinkai has his characters sieze the initiative rather than resigning themselves to what could have been in Your Name. The end result is an immensely meaningful conclusion to Your Name, and consequently, it is unsurprising that the film has performed as observed in the box office. At present, no information is available on when the home release is coming out, but I definitely will be doing a full review of the movie once the home release becomes available: like Girls und Panzer Der Film, it will be a larger talk with anywhere from sixty to ninety screenshots. Experience has found that such a post will take anywhere from nine to twelve hours to write, but this time, with the movie’s contents fresh on my mind, I’ll be able to distribute that time over a greater period, meaning that writing such a post will mean less exhaustion on my end.

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 the M14 battle rifle, 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.