The Infinite Zenith

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

Terrible Anime Challenge: Asking Questions of the Stars in Hensuki

“I hate to break it to you, but what people call ‘love’ is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed. It hits hard, Morty, then it slowly fades, leaving you stranded in a failing marriage. I did it. Your parents are gonna do it. Break the cycle, rise above, Focus on science.” –Rick Sanchez, Rick and Morty

When high school student Keiki Kiryū finds a love letter and a pair of pantsu accompanying it one day following his calligraphy club activities, he enlists the help of his best friend, Shōma Akiyama, to determine who this might be. As Keiki works through the clues based on the timing of who happened to be in the club room at the time, he deduces that the pool of candidates must be limited – senior Sayuki Tokihara, the assistant librarian Yuika Koga, Nao Manjō or student council vice president Ayano Fujimoto. Intending to find the girl behind the love letter, Keiki spends more time with each of Sayuki, Yuika, Nao and Ayano, only to learn that each possesses a unique perversion that makes them quite unappealing. When Keiki runs afoul of third year Koharu Ōtori, he decides to help her become closer to Shōma and ends up finding her to be helpful in seeking out the girl behind the unknown letter: with help from Shōma and Koharu, Keiki ultimately eliminates Ayano, Nao, Yuika and Sayuki as candidates. It turns out that Keiki’s younger sister, Mizuha, had sent the letter, having long been in love with him: she had been adopted after her own parents’ passing, and while Keiki’s regarded her as a sibling, she’d always seen him as something more. While Keiki struggles to accept Mizuha’s feelings, the two do reach a resolution at the series’ end. This is Kawaikereba Hentai demo Suki ni Natte Kuremasuka? (English title Are You Willing to Fall in Love with a Pervert, as Long as She’s Cute?) or Hensuki for brevity, an anime that had aired during the summer. Hensuki‘s outlandish and deviant premise means that one would be hard-pressed to find instructive discourse on the series: discussions elsewhere have drawn dubious references to Japanese law and psychology to make sense of the character’s actions, and end up yielding little in the way of a useful outcome relevant to Hensuki – while I suppose that some viewers go to great lengths to use intellectualism as a cover for some of the series that they watch, it should be evident that requisite knowledge of psychology and law are strictly not needed to figure out what Hensuki was aiming to accomplish with its raunchy story.

At its core, Hensuki draws upon hyperbole to present the idea that falling in love is unpredictable and commands its own price: Keiki is presented as being quite interested in pursuing a relationship with someone, and actively dreams of a romantic experience, so when he receives the initial love letter, he is ecstatic. However, as he delves into figuring out who’d sent the letter, he comes to understand more about Sayuki, Yuika and Nao: Keiki is also subject to each of the girls’ unique and terrifying whims. Sayuki desires nothing more than to be treated as a pet, while Yuika aims to dominate Keiki. Nao has no interest in a relationship and is head-over-heels about yaoi. Spending time with each exacts a toll on the hapless Keiki, who desires nothing more than a storybook romance with an ordinary girl. Hensuki thus acts as a bit of a cautionary tale about relationships, warning viewers to be mindful of what they wish for. In Keiki’s case, Saiyuki, Yuika and Nao are rather more than he’d initially expected, bringing with them their own unique perversions that they expect him to fulfil, and while each of their tendencies are greatly exaggerated, it does act as a rather colourful representation of the idea that entering a relationship extends beyond displays of affection and courtship: one must also be prepared to accept eccentricities about their partner. Keiki ultimately decides that the extremities that Nao, Sayuki and Yuika command simply isn’t worth it, and he laments having spent an entire summer single despite the female attention on him. Hensuki ultimately conveys these learnings through comedy: as viewers watch Keiki suffer, the message becomes quite apparent.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While Hensuki has its shock moments, the central premise of Keiki trying to work out who was responsible for the unknown love letter proved to be engaging enough for me to watch this series at a reasonably smart pace. Keiki’s initial attempts in figuring out this mysterious party’s identity gives Hensuki a bit of a thriller vibe, and the entire crux  of the series is focused on the sorts of discoveries and experience Keiki has after it is shown that members of the Calligraphy Club have feelings for him to varying extents.

  • Keiki’s reaction of shock and disgust whenever Sayuki and Yuika force themselves on him is perhaps more of a plausible reaction: reserving physical intimacy for a much closer relationship is a sacrosanct component of relationships, and how forward Sayuki and Yuika are with Keiki ends up creating him much discomfort. Sayuki is a masochist of sorts and longs to be treated as a pet. She knows that her ample bust is something that Keiki is partial to and constantly exploits this whenever competing with Yuika for Keiki’s attention.

  • In the Terrible Anime Challenge schema, Hensuki fits under the “it was enjoyable, contrary to expectations” category: this series certainly is not going to be for everyone, and there are some moments that certainly can be a bit over the top. With this in mind, simply because I got a few good laughs and a good message out of Hensuki does not mean others will share this experience. However, this is no reason to bring in an incomplete knowledge of the belief–desire–intention model to figure out the character’s end goals, as everyone’s objective is simple enough: get close enough to Keiki to satisfy their own goal functions.

  • Since Yuika might not have the same figure as Sayuki, she resorts to even more direct methods of forcing Keiki to have eyes for none other than herself: after Keiki takes her on a proper date to see if she’s the person behind the love letter, Yuika manages to corner him at school, and then forces him to eat pantsu, causing him to pass out. Sayuki is voiced by Ayana Taketatsu (K-On!‘s very own Azusa Nakano, Fū Sawatari of Tamayura, Oreimo‘s Kirino Kōsaka, Ayana Taketatsu from Kiss X Sis, and even Hotaru Shidare from Dagashi Kashi), while Yuika is voiced by Rina Hidaka (Rinon from Ano Natsu de MatteruKantai Collection‘s Kisaragi and Ako Tamaki from And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online?).

  • While Nao seems the most normal of everyone in the calligraphy club, it turns out that she’s into yaoi and wants to get closer to Keiki purely so she can gain new story ideas for her work, which has Shōma and Keiki as the lead characters for a manga. Despite being disinterested in a relationship, she is quite attuned to pushing Keiki’s buttons and initially, in the absence of knowledge surrounding Nao’s interests, viewers do initially believe that Nao could be a viable candidate. Iori Nomizu plays Nao: besides her role as Upotte!‘s Funco, I’m not familiar with her other roles.

  • Sayuki and Yuika use Nao’s work to extort attention from Keiki, intending to show it to Mizuha and ruin her opinion of him should he fail to comply with their absurd requests. While Keiki appears to have average willpower and abstains from doing anything too questionable unless he’s cornered, he greatly cherishes his role as older brother for Mizuha and fears that she might be corrupted by the others’ actions.

  • While contemplating the order of events at the calligraphy club’s room, Keiki saves student council vice president Ayano Fujimoto from falling off the stairs, and she quickly takes an interest to him, luring him into the student council room and crafting an atmosphere that leads Keiki to fall asleep so she can collect his scent. The characters of Hensuki are intentionally exaggerated to make clear the point that relationships have their pluses and minuses.

  • One of the leading complaints about Hensuki outside of its setup was the suggestion that the art and animation here are substandard compared to other series. While Hensuki uses simpler artwork than other series, there are no moments that are so blatantly poor that they come to mind. While the quality of animation and artwork do impact my thoughts on a series, I am not going into each and every work expecting a Makoto Shinkai or Kyoto Animation level experience. As long as things are sufficiently smooth and consistent as not to distract from the characters and their experiences, this aspect earns a pass from me.

  • I find criticisms of Hensuki in the community unconvincing, with some folk enforcing their own perspectives on what a proper relationship should look like and then dismissed Hensuki as implausible or even as a form of wish fulfilment. While analysing the individual episodes yielded little more than “could have, should have” suggestions towards what Keiki should do in his situation and critiquing the story for being a “cop out”, my own approach means that I tend to look at the series from a wider perspective. Rather that studying Keiki and the others’ actions, it is the sum of all character interactions over the course of the series that matter: this lead me to a different conclusion about what message Hensuki aims to present.

  • Overall, I would say that of everyone in Hensuki that isn’t Mizuha, Sayuki is probably the individual who would be most easy to accept and tolerate as far as her preferences go. Nao’s focus on yaoi means that pursuit of anything there wouldn’t be particularly fruitful, and Yuika’s tendencies border on the realm of nightmarish. The post title comes from a line in Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King when Gandalf speaks of the decline of Gondor. Asking questions of the stars can be taken to mean astrology, a pseudoscience that supposes future outcomes can be foretold by astronomical patterns and is known for its wildly inaccurate outcomes.

  • Astrology does have one legitimate stake in history: interest in tracking stellar and planetary motions formed the basis for astronomy and led to developments such as Kepler’s Laws and Newton’s Theory of Gravitation, the outcomes of which can be found in the form of six lunar landers on the lunar surface. Because Mizuha and Keiki are often seen watching a television channel programme that does horoscopes, it seemed appropriate that, in conjunction with the task Keiki is presented with, the sense of uncertainty he encounters does seem like he’s relying on something as unreliable as astrology to figure out who the unknown sender of the love letter was.

  • Conversely, the page quote is sourced from Rick and Morty, and while it may not look it at first glance, it does appear that the theme in Hensuki, considering all of the trouble Keiki goes through for the want of spending his days together with someone ordinary, is that relationships aren’t always as they appear. When things work well, they work really well, but when things go south, they can get ugly very quickly. Rick certainly seems to believe this: despite having conquered every unknown and every challenge known to infinite realities and timelines, love is something that even Rick does not fully understand or have control over.

  • When Ayano receives a free day pass to the municipal pool, she is unable to go. Ayano thus gives the ticket to Keiki, who invites everyone and plans to unveil who had written the original love letter. He provides commentary on everyone’s swimsuits, and is particularly impressed with Mizuha, whose figure is surprisingly, only second to Sayuki’s. Mizuha’s been largely a background character up until the final segments of Hensuki, offering support to Keiki where needed, but otherwise had more of a quiet role. Mizuha is voiced by Kaede Hondo, whom I know best as Urara Meirocho‘s Kon Tatsumi, Koyume Koizuka from Comic Girls and Iroduku‘s Kohaku Tsukishiro.

  • After a day spent frolicking about at the municipal pool, the girls are enrolled into a kokuhaku competition that sees Sayuki, Yuika, Nao and Mizuha compete in. Each of the girls end up presenting a confession that mirrors their own reasons for being interested in Keiki, but ultimately, it is Mizuha who wins. This foreshadows who the love letter’s sender was, and as it turns out, Keiki already had an idea of who it is going into the penultimate episode.

  • Mizuha is revealed to be Keiki’s secret suitor: having spent most of the series watching from afar and offering him advice on how to best get along with Yuika, Sayuki and Nao, Mizuha herself had housed feelings for Keiki for most of her life. She and Keiki are not related; after her parents had died from unknown causes, she was adopted into Keiki’s family. Keiki had always viewed her as a sister, and even after recalling this fact, his view on Mizuha has not changed at all.

  • Hensuki‘s remaining episode is spent dealing with this revelation, and up until now, Hensuki had been proceeding at a smart pace. I admit that this took me by surprise: Mizuha being quite unrelated to Keiki came completely out of left field, and for me, is an instance of what is called cutting the Gordian Knot. Hensuki had created a love tesseract that immobilised Keiki: between Sayuki, Yuika, Nao and Ayano, Keiki is troubled by their perversions, but they each intend to seduce him and have him for themselves. By having Mizuha be the suitor, this defied all expectations.

  • Keiki’s reaction to Mizuha’s romantic feelings for him has him becoming lethargic and confused. He eventually gets caught in the rain and develops a cold after leaving home to gather his thoughts, and eventually succumbs to his cold, forcing him to return home. Sayuki and Yuika come to visit him and end up sparring with one another: while it is completely off-mission, it seems that Yuika’s desire to dominate others would actually mesh well with Sayuki’s desire to be dominated. Keiki eventually comes to terms with Mizuha and the two resume their lives as siblings, although Mizuha’s flirting becomes more brazen.

  • Overall, for having a surprisingly relevant theme wrapped with a seemingly frivolous premise, and for the amount of hilarity I got from watching Keiki suffer at the hands of Sayuki and Yuika, Hensuki earns a solid B-, a 7.0 of 10 or 2.7 of 4.0. I entered Hensuki with the singular aim of watching Sayuki mess with Keiki in the way that only she can, but ended up with a quasi-whodunit mystery that also had an unexpected message about relationships and a twist I didn’t see coming. I appreciate that everyone won’t see this series the same way, so it’s more than acceptable if there are folks who didn’t like Hensuki.

  • Of everyone, Mizuha looks the most normal, being soft-spoken and having skill with housework, but perhaps unsurprisingly, she has a”thing”: exhibitionism. Outwardly resembling a more voluptuous Miho Nishizumi and having a voice reminiscent of SaeKano‘s Megumi Katō, Mizuha was the last person I’d expect to be the letter’s sender, and Keiki refuses to see her as a romantic partner as Hensuki draws to a close. With this, my post on Hensuki draws to a close, and I hope that this will partially make up for my lack of content over the past few weeks. With the delay in Hibike! Euphonium: Chikai no Finale, I actually have no more conventional posts scheduled for this month beyond the halfway point impressions for Kandagawa Jet Girls, so one of my challenges will be to find stuff to write about and not spend all of my available free time in Battlefield V.

The question of who the unknown suitor is ends up being a lingering question throughout Hensuki, and after numerous red herrings and Chekov Guns that distract and foreshadow the suitor’s identity, after much comedy viewers share at Keiki’s expense, Hensuki reveals that this suitor is none other than Mizuha. This ramifications of this outcome are irrelevant, but its impact on the story simply serves to show that one does indeed miss the forest for the trees: this outcome was completely unexpected, and Keiki notes as much, having decided that the odds of Mizuha sending the letter were zero. Hensuki thus ended up being a bit of a surprise to watch, and while it might be a bit of a depraved series to watch, Hensuki manages to command a certain amount of curiosity that Keiki experiences as he works towards figuring out the love letter’s sender. In conjunction with some moments that are truly outrageous (Yuiki forcing her pantsu into Keiki’s mouth, to name one), Hensuki ends up being a romance-comedy-thriller that gives viewers reason to stick around. Underneath its perversions is a surprisingly relevant and straightforward theme, and ultimately, Hensuki did turn out to be modestly engaging: folks looking for a good laugh from Keiki’s misfortunes might find Hensuki to be a worthwhile title, although for most viewers, Hensuki isn’t going to be particularly meaningful to watch. Irrespective of whether one chooses to watch Hensuki or not, one thing should be abundantly clear: endlessly psychoanalysing the characters to predict their actions and intents is a Sisyphean task, clouding one’s perspective from the broader narrative. I’ve stated this before, but it is worth reiterating that the reductionist approach’s limitations are quite evident in the realm of anime: knowing how a character reacts to certain stimuli is completely insufficient towards working out what a story’s aims are. Hensuki is ultimately something simple that can elicit a few laughs with its straightforward theme, and folks looking to give this one a go should at least know they are not obligated to have a professional understanding of psychology to enjoy this one.

Battlefield V: First Impressions of a Triumphant Return to the Pacific Theatre

“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valour was a common virtue.” –Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

The fifth Tides of War chapter sends players to Iwo Jima and tropical islands of the Pacific Theatre: this latest addition to Battlefield V rectifies some performance issues that had impacted Battlefield V and introduces a more sophisticated sound system, but all eyes are on the newest content that accompanies chapter five. The Pacific Theatre sees the addition of two new maps, the American and Japanese factions, new vehicles and four new weapons immediately available for all players to use, with more weapons upcoming as weekly assignment rewards. This is the single largest update to Battlefield V, and in conjunction with a solid marketing campaign leading up to its launch, the Pacific Theatre marks the strongest that Battlefield V‘s been in the year since it launched. Players finally get access to the iconic M1 Garand rifle, which General Patton described to be the “the greatest battle implement ever devised” for its performance, and by all counts, Battlefield V has done this weapon justice: in its base form, it is a three-shot kill at close ranges, trailing out to four shots at longer ranges, but with the magnum ammunition, the three-shot kill range is extended. Expending an entire magazine results in a distinctive “ping” sound, and the DICE team has even gone through the lengths to animate the odd case where the soldier catching their thumb in the bolt while reloading. The incredible detail and strong performance of the M1 Garand has come to represent a turning point for Battlefield V: new content and consistent improvements to Battlefield V means that the game is considerably more stable and engaging than it was at launch, and the most core of the new additions to Battlefield V, Iwo Jima and Pacific Storm, are so well-crafted that they alone are worth the price of admissions, providing a definitive Battlefield experience where players can partake in large-scale battles involving infantry, aircraft, and tanks in stunningly faithful and detailed environments.

Wake Island is set to release in December, but even though chapter five to Tides of War only comes with two maps, my experiences on Iwo Jima and Pacific Storm have been so immersive that two maps has been plenty to keep me busy. Iwo Jima was probably the most anticipated map, and for good reason: the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War Two was fought between February and March 1945, where American Marines landed on the shores of the island to seize it from the Imperial Japanese army. After a three-day naval bombardment, the Americans hit the beaches and found themselves under heavy fire from a fierce Japanese force. The five-week long battle saw the Americans succeeding in capturing the island, which was ostensibly to be used as an airbase for B-29 crews, and despite how deeply Japanese forces were dug in, they would secure the Iwo Jima. The heavy losses at Iwo Jima resulted in questions raised about the strategic worth of the operation, and while the island did in fact act as a landing strip for B-29s, the outcomes here also served to remind American planners of what an invasion against the Japanese home islands might entail. In Battlefield V, Iwo Jima is best experienced in the Breakthrough game mode, which offers a scaled-down experience for what it would have been like for the American attackers and Japanese defenders. Americans begin on the shores of Iwo Jima’s beaches with black sand, and successfully capturing each sector allows them to push further up the island. The Japanese forces retreat into the caves and tunnels of Mount Suribachi as the match continues, and a successful American effort will see them capture the summit of this volcano. Like the very best maps of Battlefield, Iwo Jima allows all classes to be effective, and with the amount of care put into creating a highly authentic experience: Battlefield V‘s Iwo Jima is roughly seventy percent the size of the real island, and details are meticulously crafted, bringing this gripping and terrifying battle to life, showcasing what Battlefield V is capable of offering to players at its finest.

Pacific Storm is the other map available to players, being a redesign of Battlefield 4‘s Paracel Storm. While it is not explicitly modelled after any real battles, the Solomon Islands Campaign in 1944 or Guadalcanal Campaign in 1943 could be close candidates. Set in a vivid tropical archipelago, Pacific Storm is the opposite of Iwo Jima, with dense vegetation, stunningly blue waters and numerous routes following trails to villages and fortifications. The archipelago of islands making up Pacific Storm are connected by bridges and in shallower spots, can be easily traversed, providing numerous flanking routes for teams to both capitalise upon and be wearisome of. Pacific Storm is at its best in the Conquest game mode, as the tropical jungle provides plenty of sandbox moments that, similarly to Iwo Jima, accommodate for a variety of play-styles. The setting actually brings to mind the island base of KanColle: The Movie, where Fubuki and the others begin hearing strange echoes in the nearby Ironbottom Sound and, upon setting out to investigate, discover the truth behind the Abyssals. The setting in KanColle: The Movie struck a fine balance between the tropical paradise the Kan-musume are stationed in, with beautiful beaches, aqua water and idyllic huts, as well as the sense of unease emanating from Ironbottom Sound. In Battlefield V, Pacific Storm is able to create a similar experience, providing a beautiful venue that conceals hidden dangers in the form of other players. While perhaps not as cinematic as Iwo Jima, Pacific Storm is nonetheless a strong map that offers something for almost all play styles. Overall, DICE has done a fantastic job with the new maps, weapons, vehicles and factions in its updates, and while the maps and weapons have been great, DICE deserves special mention for how the Japanese faction was handled.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It seems appropriate to begin this talk with a kill from the M1 Garand, which I’ve outfitted with the 3x scope and went with specialisations that improved performance at range, culminating with me picking “heavy load” to give the weapon increased damage at the expense to the rate of fire. While the iron sights on the M1 Garand are very usable, at longer ranges, it is easier to lose sight of targets if they are hidden behind the iron sight assembly and amongst the dense foliage of the new maps. I’ve found the M1 Garand to be a highly versatile and reliable weapon, although since I tend to reload after every engagement, I don’t hear the distinct ping too often. This audio cue is actually a fantastic way to tell me when to duck away for a reload.

  • The scout class gets access to the Arisaka Type 99 bolt-action rifle, which shares similar performance with the Gewehr M.95. Firing a 7.7 mm round compared to the Type 38’s 6.5 mm round, the Type 99 was intended to replace the Type 38 – the newer Type 99s were both lighter and shorter than the Type 38 but had more range and stopping power. This made the Type 99’s recoil more noticeable, and while regarded as a solid rifle in terms of manufacturing quality, the construction process began declining towards the end of the war.

  • While I typically avoid piloting aircraft owing to their fickle controls and my own ineptitude with flying, the release of new maps always prompts me to spawn in an aircraft so I can explore a little, and here, I manage a lucky headshot using the F4U Corsair’s bomber variant, which is equipped with 20 mm cannons. The F4U is regarded as one of the finest carrier-launched aircraft to fight in World War Two despite initial difficulties, and Japanese pilots came to fear seeing the aircraft. Looking through my stats, it appears that I’ve broken my old headshot record: my longest headshot is now a respectable 365 metres, and since I don’t ever recall using a bolt action rifle to secure that kill, I must’ve done so using a vehicle.

  • Readers wondering why I’ve not opened November with any posts now have their answer: I’ve been busy experiencing the Pacific Theatre content of Battlefield V, to the point of preferring to play Battlefield V over blogging. It also happens to be the case that we’re at a bit of an intermediary period with the fall anime season, where we’re not quite at the halfway point of Kandagawa Jet Girls; the airing of a recap episode this past week means we’re now a week later than expected here. I’ll be writing about the series at the halfway point once the sixth episode airs, and in the meantime, I’m making reasonable headway into Hensuki, which I picked up out of vain curiosity.

  • The introduction of the Japanese faction means being able to rock the Kinuyo Nishi loadout: Type 97 Chi-ha medium tank is the Japanese counterpart to the M4 Sherman, and in practise, it excels at hit-and-fade, being more manoeuvrable than the M4. Its main armament is a 57 mm cannon with thirty rounds available: while carrying more rounds and firing faster than the M4 Sherman, the base Chi-ha deals less damage against armour, making it better suited to anti-infantry engagements. With the armour on the Chi-ha being relatively weak, I would actually not adopt Kinuyo’s love for 突撃 (Hepburn totsugeki, or “charge!”), and instead, move as far forwards with infantry as I can to provide cover for them.

  • The Japanese and American vehicles have a much more extensive specialisation tree compared to the German and British vehicles, so one must reach level six before they can fully customise their vehicles. By comparison, the new infantry weapons still have four levels, and I’ve fully unlocked the specialisations for the M1 Garand, as well as the new M1919A6. The M1 Garand can alternatively be equipped with rifle grenades, adding more explosive power to the assault’s arsenal, and shortly before Halloween, when the Pacific maps released, I spent several evenings levelling up the M1 Garand in team death match.

  • At the closer ranges, the iron sights on the M1 Garand are highly easy to use, to the point where I’d found myself immensely impressed with the base weapon’s performance. Without any updates, the M1 Garand is a three-shot kill at close ranges and trails out to four shots, whereas with the magnum rounds, it becomes three shots at all ranges. Here, I hang back on one of the landing craft to pick off targets from a distance: the black sands and grey skies of Iwo Jima bring to mind Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima: I recall watching both movies early in 2018 in anticipation for Battlefield V, and now, it’s been such a rush to finally be able to experience this in the game.

  • The Kay loadout consists of the base M4 Sherman, a solid all-around medium tank with no particular weaknesses or strengths that plays to her preference for a fair fight. Slightly more cumbersome and durable compared to the Chi-ha, the M4 Sherman was one of the most widely-produced tanks of World War Two, known for its reliability and relatively low cost. While it was originally intended to fight toe-to-toe with the Panzer IV, advances in German armour meant the M4 would require several upgrades to remain effective. In its base form, the M4 of Battlefield V excels at medium ranges against both infantry and armour. Upgrading the tank allows it to sacrifice longer range anti-infantry performance for a devastating flamethrower, or dedicate the main gun into an anti-tank weapon.

  • Pacific Storm has the opposite weather of Iwo Jima for the most part, featuring beautiful blue skies that bring to mind the oceans of Kantai Collection. While there is no naval combat per seBattlefield V does offer amphibious tanks for both the Japanese and American forces. Whereas ordinary tanks would sink in deeper waters, the amphibious tanks can traverse deeper water and allow for allied soldiers to be carried towards the beaches for landings. In the Breakthrough game mode, the American forces are always the attackers, and Japanese forces are always defending.

  • My favourite aspect about playing as the Japanese faction is being able to listen to authentic Japanese dialogue and understanding precisely what is said without subtitles. I’ve studied both Japanese and German as a student, although constant exposure to Japanese means that my Japanese is actually now on par with my Mandarin proficiency, leaving my German in the dust. I have no trouble discerning what the Japanese soldiers are saying, and this really led me to appreciate the amount of work that went into creating the Japanese faction, from voice acting to ensuring all of the visual assets, like uniforms, were authentic.

  • On the whole, playing nothing but Conquest and Breakthrough led me to realise that at the core of the modern Battlefield experience are really these two game modes – Breakthrough is more of a cinematic experience that allows one to feel what it was like on both sides of a battle, while Conquest is more of a sandbox that provides more opportunity to mess around. While my earliest Battlefield experiences were with team death match, Conquest quickly became a staple for me, and it is only now that I’ve truly begun to appreciate the Breakthrough game mode.

  • Having looked at footage from Battlefield 1942, I find myself throughly impressed that this game was complex as it was. Older games always have an additional wow factor considering hardware and technical constraints of their period: seeing mechanics in older games work as well as they did attests to the incredible amount of effort that went into the development of these games, and while they may handle and look crude, they nonetheless remain enjoyable; players returning to Battlefield 1942 comment that a major part of the enjoyment in these old titles is that they actually let the imagination roam more freely, whereas in something like Battlefield V, the visual fidelity is so high that one needn’t really exercise their imaginations.

  • The Pacific Theatre reintroduces into Battlefield V the concept of Battle Pickups, which were first seen in Battlefield 4 and implemented as the Elite Kits in Battlefield 1 – these are powerful weapons that offer the wielder a tactical advantage. In Battlefield 4, Battle Pickups include anti-materiel rifles that were one-shot kills at any range, powerful anti-vehicle options surpassing the Engineer’s kit and even an experimental railgun, but despite their power, prevented players from using their loadout. Battlefield 1‘s Elite Kits bolstered the players’ resistant to gunfire and damage output, turning them into juggernauts. By Battlefield V, Battle Pickups have been improved for balance without compromising their power: they now occupy the player’s second gadget slot when picked up.

  • The Type 94 Shin Guntō katana is one of the Battle Pickups. This melee weapon is deadly effective in close quarters, with a quick stroke, longer effective range than standard melee weapons, and the ability to one-shot any infantry. While carrying the katana, players essentially become Strike Witches‘ Mio Sakamoto and her reppuzan, taking on the power to kill any infantry in one hit. It’s a fantastic addition to Battlefield V and brings back memories of Halo 2, where the Covenant’s Energy Sword was a similarly coveted weapon for being able to down players with one lunge.

  • On the black sands of Battlefield V‘s Iwo Jima, vehicles have no trouble pushing up the beaches, whereas in the real Iwo Jima, soldiers were reported as getting stuck in the sands and leaving them vulnerable to Japanese fire. Three days of shelling had done very little damage to the entrenched Japanese forces, and when the Americans began their landings, the Japanese soldiers would lie in wait until the Americans were close enough to be fired upon. With the sand impeding progress, the Marines were forced to disembark from their vehicles, opening them up to enemy fire, and it wasn’t until the Navel Construction Battalions bulldozed roads that more serious progress was made.

  • The Type 100 submachine gun is added as a new weapon for the medic class: with a higher rate of fire and lower damage than other machine guns, the Type 100 remains reasonably accurate at close quarters and is a fun weapon to wield. I’m still in the middle of levelling it up, but given the weapon’s strengths, I think that I’ll typically run it with the specialisations that bolster its hipfire: for the most part, submachine guns can be run with iron sights because one spends most of their time hipfiring, but in the odd case where I am forced to engage a more distant foe, I typically go with the Nydar sight for improved target acquisition.

  • Capture point delta in Pacific Storm is probably the most hotly contested location on the map in conquest, and the unique layout means that the team holding it needs to be weary of attack from any directions: those looking to seize control of the point can come from the shores or from land, so during the course of a match, this point will change hands more frequently than any other. Rolling a tank here can allow one to deal massive damage to enemy forces.

  • At the time of writing, I’ve used the Chi-ha more frequently than I have the M4, with the inevitable result that I’ve been able to unlock more of its specialisations. In this post, I’ve been running the base Chi-ha, which is modestly effective against enemy M4 tanks and amphibious tanks alike despite its weaker cannon: with Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second act focused on Miho squaring off against Kinuyo, the Battlefield V presentation of the latter’s tank suggests a technically imposing enemy to fight. We’ve seen Kinuyo fight alongside Miho previously, and Chi-ha Tan’s weakness appears to be a fondness for charging, but their tanks aren’t exactly slouches in the performance department, either.

  • There is, of course, one caveat: Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second part won’t release until February 27, 2020. This is an unreasonably long wait, and I can think of no reasons that this should be the case. At the current rate of progression, estimating a one-year gap between home releases, it means that it’ll be 2024 before all six chapters to Das Finale are done. Consider that by then, Battlefield 7 will be out, and to put things in perspective, 2024 is sufficiently far away such that the gap between now and then is equivalent to the gap between the present and when I started work on The Giant Walkthrough Brain in 2014.

  • While we’ve seen that Kinuyo’s preferred approach in battle is to recklessly charge forwards with her tanks, the Chi-ha possessed a maximum of 25 mm of armour and a 57 mm gun that was intended for anti-infantry combat. The gun could punch through 25 mm of armour at 1000 metres, and while it may have been satisfactory against the disorganised Chinese forces in the Second Sino-Japanese war, the Type 97 proved less effective against the M4 Sherman and even American Bazookas.

  • With up to 177.8 mm of armour at maximum and carrying the 75 mm tank gun, the M4 Sherman could penetrate 75 mm of armour on average at a range of 1000 metres. In the Pacific Theatre, M4 Shermans found that their armour-piercing rounds would actually punch right through the thinly-armoured Japanese tanks and keep going; operators would switch over to HE rounds instead. Battlefield V‘s update, in bringing both Saunders Academy and Chi-ha Tan’s armour into the game, means that armoured warfare in Battlefield V becomes much more nuanced and fun, being simultaneously engaging in forcing players to play smart without being anywhere nearly as unforgiving as World of Tanks is for non-premium players.

  • Here, I call in a Sherman T34E1 Calliope, armed with a distinctive multiple rocket launcher that fired a maximum of 64 4.5 inch M8 rockets out to a maximum range of five kilometres. The Calliope in Battlefield V has a smaller range, and as a reinforcement vehicle, can deliver a considerable amount of firepower onto an area rivalling the devastation an artillery barrage offers. Unlike the existing Sturmtiger and Churchill Crocodile, both the Calliope and its Japanese counterpart are fully-fledged tanks that have the rocket artillery added, making them considerably more useful all around. I rarely had the incentive to use the Sturmtiger since it was really only an anti-infantry platform, and the Crocodile was a slow tank prone to being destroyed.

  • By comparison, the Calliope has 64 rockets on top of its main cannon and coaxial machine gun, making it useful for conventional anti-armour engagements and dealing with infantry using direct fire on top of longer-range bombardments with its rockets. The Calliope had first appeared in the campaign mission “The Last Tiger” as enemies the player must defeat, and a shade under a year, it’s now finally possible to get behind the wheel of these vehicles and try it out.

  • While for the most part, the Battlefield V community is interested in playing the game and ranking their gear up, there are the occasional players who exist to shout obscenities and memes into the text chat. It is especially satisfying to get these players back, such as one “NeObliviscaris12” here: while more immature players are fixated on maintaining a high KDR, I care more about the team as a whole, and consistently doing things to help my team win is much more important that camping from afar for kills.

  • The Japanese equivalent of the Calliope is the GS, a modified Type 97 tank with rocket pods attached to it. Referred to in-game as the Hachi, the Type 97 GS carries Bangalore rocket launchers on its body. Battlefield V chooses to depict the GS as carrying the launchers on its turret so they can be aimed. Overall, this is a fun reinforcement to call in, and I feel that like the Type 97, the GS is a much more covert tank that isn’t as visually distinct as the Calliope, meaning that enemies are less likely to identify it as a greater priority to destroy.

  • The amount of vehicles and their variants in Battlefield V means that DICE should have no shortage of vehicles to work with when it comes to designing counterparts of vehicles found on one side, and the GS is an excellent example of this, being as effective with its rockets as the Calliope. I used it to score a double kill towards the end of one one-sided conquest match on Pacific Storm.

  • While the first week’s focus was on the Breakthrough game mode, I found myself gravitating back to Conquest in order to level up my weapons and vehicles: Breakthrough is very much about playing the objective and directly contributing to the team effort, but because both teams are so focused on smaller areas, it can be difficult to survive when rolling tanks to a capture point. By comparison, the more open environment of Conquest means that I can park a tank on an unoccupied capture point and then accumulate score without several Panzerfausts trained on me.

  • Here, I score a pair of kills in succession using Mio Sakamoto’s reppumaru while attempting to capture the point. Adding the Japanese faction to Battlefield V has essentially meant I’m now experiencing Battlefield: The Anime, and it is not lost on me that my Japanese is of a sufficient level so I can resolve phrases like 猛虎を守る (Hepburn mokō o mamoru, “Protect the objective!”) 軍曹、命令はどう? (Hepburn gunsō, meirei ha dō, “Your orders, Sergeant?”), もう大丈夫 (Hepburn mō daijōbu, “It’s alright now”) and 衛生兵, 助けて! (Hepburn eisei hei, tasukete, “Help, medic!) without too much trouble.

  • Overall, I’m definitely having a great time with the Pacific content, and this sentiment is widely shared within the community, with many regarding this as a true turning point for the game. Besides improving basic performance and functionality, the Pacific Theatre update also shows that DICE is still committed to the game, and that there is definitely potential for iconic battles to be brought back into the game after the title launched with obscure, relatively unknown battles. The experiences I’d love to see most in Battlefield V in future chapters will be the Eastern Front (Stalingrad for urban warfare, Kursk for vehicles), the Allied Invasion of Europe (Normandy, Battle of the Bulge, Liberation of Paris), the Sicily campaign, and the fall of Nazi Germany (especially the Battle of Berlin).

  • These are probably going to be the biggest updates, since it would involve implementing the Italian and French factions, plus the Soviets and possibly the Finns. Of course, in between the major game-changers like the Pacific update, I would not mind slower updates dealing with more obscure battles of World War Two. While there is a lot of turf to be covered, DICE recently announced that Battlefield 6 will be coming in fiscal year 2022, meaning that the earliest we could see Battlefield 6 would be Fall 2021. This leaves plenty of time to improve Battlefield V and make it a true WWII shooter with all of the most iconic experiences.

  • The last weapon that was added with the Pacific Theatre update is the M1919A6, a portable version of the M1919 Browning Machine Gun, which fired 30-calibre rounds. The A6 is presented as a medium machine gun in Battlefield V, requiring a bipod to be deployed in order for the weapon to be effective, and while attacking one of the capture points here, I manage a kill on “LabbieGurl”, who appears to be somewhat of a prolific Battlefield V player who’s also got a presence in Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. I can’t help but shake the feeling I’ve seen this player before, and while they were going to town on my team, I managed to stop them here with a lucky shot from the M1919A6, which has proven to be quite the asset for defending.

  • During on match of conquest on Iwo Jima, I was able to call in the Ki-147 rocket on capture point foxtrot on the map’s eastern end, and got a triple kill for my troubles. The Ki-147 I-Go Type 1 radio-guided air-to-surface missile with a maximum range of 11 kilometres and carried an 800 kilogram warhead. Despite carrying a smaller warhead than the JB-2 and having a considerably shorter range, the Ki-147 is functionally identical in-game, being highly useful for clearing out entire capture points. I generally avoid contested capture points towards the end of a match for this reason: as squad leaders acquire more requisition points, the number of rocket strikes increases. Friendly strikes still knock players onto their back, which can be enough of a distraction to be killed by the other team’s players.

  • Here, I score another kill on a player calling themselves “KickinSticks” that had been maligning me from an earlier match. I’m not sure what the story is with players who think they’re “gud”, but it is immensely satisfying to get the drop on them and best them in a purely skill-based manner more times than they can get me. At the time, I was purely focused on levelling up my M1919A6: while it is a fairly standard MMG, its specialisations allow it to act as probably the most lethal long-range weapon in the game. At level four, the M1919A6 gets access to high velocity bullets that bump the muzzle velocity to 900 m/s, beating out many of the bolt-action rifles.

  • If one were to go down the right specialisation tree, they would have a machine gun of unparalleled accuracy for long range engagements, making this a weapon suited for maps with open areas and pushing the likes of the MG-42 to maps with narrower passageways. While experimenting with the M1919A6, however, I locked the weapon down a tree that made it less effective at extreme ranges; I’ve heard that getting the weapon up to level five will allow me to reset it, as there’s a bug preventing it from being reset at level four, and while I’m not too far out, I hope DICE will address this particular issue soon.

  • While each of the classes immediately gains a new weapon, the Chapter Rewards also provides players with the Jungle Carbine. This weapon is the Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 5 Mk I,  a cut-down version of the No. 4 rifle that was shorter and lighter. In Battlefield V, the Jungle Carbine is given to the medics, and this is probably the best carbine medics can use at the time of writing. While it has a slower rate of fire than the other carbines, the Jungle Carbine’s damage model allows it to reliably two-shot almost all enemies within 100 metres. Its large capacity and extended damage drop-off means that it is a powerful weapon for more open areas.

  • Getting headshots with the Jungle Carbine is immensely satisfying, and the weapon can be upgraded for either improved ranged combat or general accuracy. In Battlefield V, I’ve found that weapons like the medic’s carbines and the scout’s pistol carbines fundamentally change the range that the classes are effective at, in turn providing them with usefulness across different maps and different sections on a map – with a selection of carbines, the medic can reasonably be useful in wide open spaces, and then one can switch back over to submachine guns in close quarters. Similarly, scouts now have access to viable close-quarters options beyond the bolt-action and self-loading rifles, making it possible for them to stick close to a squad and play the objectives.

  • The beautiful weather in Pacific Storm stands in stark contrast with the weather in my area: whereas azure skies, beautiful beaches and clear waters are the terrain of Pacific Storm, snow and cold is inevitably creeping into this side of the world. After a harrowing few days of November where I lacked proper winter shoes, I’ve finally picked up a new pair to replace an aging pair I had tossed the previous winter. The timing couldn’t be better, and after a cold and foggy day spent at the local mall to browse for a suitable pair of shoes, the snow began falling. Fortunately, a warm and delicious rice vermicelli with prawns, Satay beef, grilled chicken and spring rolls was the perfect countermeasure against the return of winter.

  • I know that I had originally planned on writing about Hibike! Euphonium: Chikai no Finale, but the turbulent and unpredictable nature of Japanese releases means the original date for the BD release, November 5, has now been pushed back to February 26, just one day before Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second act gets its home release. This means one fewer series for me to imminently review. I’ve heard rather outrageous claims that the unfortunate arson at one of Kyoto Animation’s offices is the cause, but this is a disingenuous claim that involves massive subjective leaps in reasoning. I won’t speculate on what’s happening here and instead, only note that I will be writing about this movie once it becomes available.

  • For the time being, Aobuta‘s movie still appears to be on target, so for the present, I’ll focus on completing the Battlefield V‘s weekly challenges. So far, it’s been cosmetics, and the lunge mine is set to be the prize early in December, followed with Charlotte Yeager’s BAR M1918A2. In January, the Namby Type 2A, Type 97 MG and M3 Grease Gun will be released. With this, every loadout that can be run in Strike Witches will be possible save Yoshika Miyafuji’s: Yoshika rolls with a customised Type 99 cannon chambered for the 12.7 mm round. The original Type 99 fired 20 mm rounds, but even with the modifications, Yoshika’s weapon is equivalent to a mounted machine gun firing 50-calibre rounds, which is far too cumbersome to be carried even in the realm of Battlefield V.

  • In keeping with the spirit of trying everything out, I wield the M2 Flamethrower here – flamethrowers were used to great (and horrific) effects in the Pacific Theatre, burning through vegetation and sucking the oxygen out of the air, leading victims to suffocate. As a Battle Pickup, the M2 is highly effective at close quarters, and unlike Battlefield 1, picking up the flamethrower offers no damage resistance, balancing the weapon out more effectively than Battlefield 1‘s Elite Kits. It should now be apparent as to why I’ve not posted at all this month so far, and I’m going to capitalise on the time remaining in this long weekend to wrap up a talk on Hensuki, as well as make some headway into the posts I’m supposed to be reviewing for Jon’s Creator Showcase.

The introduction of the Japanese faction in Battlefield V is perhaps one of the most well-handed aspects I’ve seen to date in a Battlefield game: upon the announcement, some Japanese fans of Battlefield expressed concern as to whether or not certain aspects of the Imperial Japanese Army would be present in the game, and a few noted that it would be quite insulting if the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka, a rocket-propelled manned aircraft intended for suicide attacks, were to be utilised for the Japanese equivalent of the JB-2 Rocket. DICE’s developers swiftly stepped in to say the Ohka would not be used, and instead, the Ki-147 Rocket was used in the final game. The portrayal of Japanese soldiers in Battlefield V ultimately is respectful and authentic: they are, after all, simply a playable faction in the game, and while the historical IJA carried out some of the worst atrocities of World War Two, Battlefield V has allowed none of the politics and past controversies to make it into the finished product. Japanese soldiers have been given solid voice acting to match the other factions in the game, and their base cosmetics are appropriately chosen. The end result is that the Japanese faction is fun to play without driving discussion towards more debated topics surrounding the Second World War, and players can therefore focus on maximising their enjoyment of the gameplay in Battlefield V. The quality of both the American and Japanese factions mean that any factions introduced in the future will likely be of a similar standard, which will be exciting should the Soviets be introduced. Overall, Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre update has brought back much of what makes Battlefield a superb experience, and the fact that Iwo Jima handles so well means that if DICE should choose to implement iconic World War Two battles, those will likely be immensely enjoyable, as well.

Jon’s Creator Showcase: Happy Halloween, and Entering 2019’s Penultimate Month

“Life is a bit hard sometimes, and sometimes you have to step up and fight fights that you never signed up for.” –Joel Spolsky

To my esteemed readers, Happy Halloween! After a year long wait, I go into details surrounding the latest instalment to GochiUsa, which follows Chino as she prepares for her solo performance in her school’s concert. In this post, I touch on a variety of themes and more subtle elements that contribute to the enjoyment factor. It’s a bit of a longer post, but GochiUsa has consistently impressed with being able presents so much depth, far beyond what one might expect from a show of its genre. Despite the OVA’s conventional ringtone, it ended up being a wonderful experience that brought back what has made the TV series so enjoyable, which in turn sets the tone for the upcoming season three. I’ve peered ahead into the manga to see the outcomes of the coming season and find myself immensely excited for what viewers can expect. At least, this is what one can reasonably expect from me if they choose to participate in the Jon’s Creator Showcase: I’ve (rather gratuitously) used my favourite post for October as an example of what is to happen for this blogging event. I accept the torch from Ayano of Kawaii PaperPandas, and to refresh readers briefly on Jon’s Creator Showcase, this is a programme that began with Jon Spencer Reviews nearly two years ago. The goal of this project is to allow bloggers to submit their favourite works and share them amongst the community. All submissions will be for the month of October, and I’ll be accepting submissions from folks on Twitter (please use #TheJCS or DM me), as well as through the comments section for this post. Once the month has concluded, I will return on the first of December with a full showcase of each and every submission, as well as handing the torch to the next host.

I encourage everyone to submit something: blog posts the usual format, although any submission that takes the form of a video, fan-art or software will also be accepted. That is to say, if you have an app in the App Store, that is a valid submission. While I am open to different kinds of submissions, the usual rules apply. Anything illegal, hateful or disturbing will be rejected, as will any submissions that are untruthful or harmful. With the formalities out of the way, I remark that this is the second time that I am hosting the Jon’s Creator Showcase: the original host for this month was unable to participate and as such, I opted to step in and help out where I can. Like last time, I will be looking forwards to seeing what submissions are put forth: the blogging community is one I am proud to be a part of; there is a defined sense of authenticity, sincerity and community amongst the folk that participate. I feel that the Jon’s Creator Showcase is an excellent means of showing off the very best of content people have created. While this admittedly comes quite suddenly, and amidst the release of Battlefield V‘s fifth Tides of War chapter, I’ll definitely be making an effort to give each and every submission proper attention even as I strive to balance time spent reviewing all of the excellent entries with unlocking the Tides of War content so that I can finally run a full Strike Witches loadout and see just how well the 501st’s equipment handles in the Frostbite Engine. On the flip-side, November is looking fairly quiet, since I’m only going to write about Kandagawa Jet Girls, so I should have adequate time to do more than a one-liner on what I make of submissions.

Terrible Anime Challenge: An Etymological Examination of Style in Blend S

“What’s your shtoyle?”
“My style? You could call it the art of fighting without fighting.”

–Parsons and Lee, Enter The Dragon

In order to provide funds for her desire of studying abroad, Maika Sakuranomiya decides to take on a part time job. She is turned away from several places owing to her sadistic-looking smile, but a chance encounter with Dino, an Italian fellow who runs Café Stile, results in her working at this unique café whose staff take on character archetypes from anime. Here, she meets Kaho Hinata, a bubbly and friendly waitress who is fond of video games and has a tsundere role, Mafuyu Hoshikawa, whose role as an energetic younger sister conceals a stoic personality, and chef Kōyō Akizuki. While Maika initially has trouble adjusting to customer service and consciously strives improves her smile, her unintentional lapses into sadism is a hit with customers. All the while, Dino deals with his crush on Maika, who is blissfully unaware of his feelings for her, and his attempts to get closer to Maika usually end up backfiring. Together, Blend S presents a wonderfully light-hearted, hilarious story of life at Café Stile and Maika’s becoming closer to the team there as she is joined by doujin writer and older sister figure Miu Amano, as well as the cross-dressing Hideri Kanzaki, who aspires to be an idol. Being outwardly an amalgamation of key moments in Maika’s time at Café Stile, Blend S shows that there is a place for everyone, and that in the right company, one can nonetheless find acceptance and worth. Maika might unintentionally be sadistic in appearance, but her heart is genuine and kind, so being able to show her true self at Café Stile helps her grow and, while working towards her dreams of studying abroad, also experience a different sort of journey that broadens her worldview.

While Blend S might be a Manga Time Kirara adaptation, its premise and employment of darker humour led some to folks to decide that a better understanding of Machiavellianism (a personality trait that gauges one’s willingness to manipulate others, be emotionally cold and indifferent to others) was mandatory towards understanding the series. Maika’s unique personality left some wondering whether or not her actions were deliberate or accidental. Maika’s treatment of Café Stile’s customers ventures into realm of torture: she verbally denigrates those who visit, and even waterboards a customer, and so, it seemed logical to delve into personality psychology to figure out how Maika fit into things. As it turns out, Maika’s actions, and those of Café Stile’s other staff, are simply optimised for humour. Maika is merely a naïveté in the ways of the world, and her well-meaning intentions to helping improve customer experience backfires in her eyes whenever she makes a mistake. While Maika may be disheartened, her customers appear to enjoy her service the point of returning to Café Stile for the experience. Consequently, because Maika is intrinsically kind and wants to be effective in her role, Maika would likely score low on the Mach IV survey (which gauges Machiavellianism) – her sadism traits are purely intended for humour rather than for harm, and as such, discussions on Machiavellianism do not particularly apply to Blend S, where the humour and setup is consistent with that of a Manga Time Kirara series, through and through; this allows one to enjoy Blend S as one would something like GochiUsa or Kiniro Mosaic.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As long as there are anime that I procrastinate in watching, there will be material for the Terrible Anime Challenge series: Blend S originally aired two years ago alongside Kino no Tabi and Girls’ Last TourYūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter and Wake Up Girls! Shin Shou. I was already flooded with shows at the time and while Blend S looked up my alley, I never got around to watching the series. When the fall season ended, Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start kicked in. It was only when I gave Yuri Kuma Arashi a whirl that I found the time to pick up Blend S, and here we are.

  • On the categorisation of Terrible Anime Challenge shows, Blend S is a series that meets expectations of being an enjoyable slice-of-life series. Neither great nor terrible, Blend S‘ strength lies in the contrasting personalities amongst the characters, both between one another and the differences between their role at Café Stile and their usual selves. It’s a series that I can recommend to Manga Time Kirara and comedy fans. Conversely, Blend S is not for folks who prefer clearly defined stories, and I further remark that anyone looking for an intellectual journey would be disappointed.

  • One of the comedic aspects of Blend S comes from Maika’s unintentional mistreatment of customers despite her efforts to give them a good experience. Far from dissuading them from returning, some customers have become fond of the sadism that Maika brings to the table. Over time, Maika becomes acclimatised to her role, and it turns out that the level of sadism from Maika we’ve normally seen can actually be ramped up several notches, resulting in server who’d likely be bad for business.

  • When a customer drops an R-rated doujin, the staff struggle to find its owner and learn that it belongs to Miu, an older patron who resembles GochiUsa‘s Blue Mountain in manner and style. Kaho becomes deeply embarrassed when reading it and reacts strongly to the ideas that Miu has. Kaho herself is an amalgamation of GochiUsa‘s Rize and Himouto‘s Umaru, being very fond of games while at once retaining a cheerful personality. Mafuyu reminds me of Sansha San’yō‘s Shino Sonobe. With its colourful cast, there are no dull moments in Blend S, a series that further has the distinction of two male leads.

  • The page quote comes from Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon, when a man decides to bully the others on board a ship. When he faces off against Lee, Lee manages to win the fight without lifting a finger, citing his style as “fighting without fighting”. It is a play on Sun Tzu’s remark that the greatest victory is achieved without fighting – by outwitting the man, Lee shows that martial arts is about more than just fists, it is a matter of discipline and creative thinking. Café Stile certainly has no shortage of shtoyle, and while Stile itself refers to a small passage consisting of steps, I imagine that Café Stile itself is merely a deliberate misspelling of style for shtoyle points.

  • With respect to Blend S, I have definitely been fighting without fighting – while the folks who believe themselves to be more intellectual have pored hours into trying to figure out whether or not Blend S possesses the characteristics of a Manga Time Kirara series, I came in much later with the goal of merely enjoying the series as it was. Rather than arguing with individuals who intend to lecture rather than learn, I’d rather wait them out and then counter their points once a series has concluded, when I have the big picture. It should therefore be no surprise that after finishing the series, Jungian archetypes and Machiavellianism do not figure at all in my discussions beyond me doing a beat-down on why it shouldn’t figure in discussions.

  • I have stated this previously, but my main reason for not involving psychology and philosophy in anime is because most of the principles that fans gravitate towards have in fact, been discredited or else have not been properly applied to the series. A work that requires functional knowledge of these elements must have a good reason for incorporating them, and while a series with a particular theme or story may find these more complex elements useful, they invariably have little relevance in slice-of-life series, where the goal is simply to share a few laughs and watch characters develop.

  • Instead, more nuanced and enjoyable discussion on slice-of-life series stems from understanding what different characters get out of their experiences, and then relating these to one’s own experiences and values are. The successful slice-of-life anime will allow a viewer to reflect on their prior knowledge, and even add additional perspectives on how one may approach life. My thoughts are likely considered heretical by some: I find that those who attempt to inject philosophy, psychology or politics into something as simple and harmless as Blend S usually are those who reject life’s lessons.

  • While Blend S might deal with Maika’s life at Café Stile, the team is shown in settings commonly seen in other slice-of-life series set in a high school environment. When the summer rolls around, after Dino takes Maika shopping for a new swimsuit, the staff decide to host a river-side barbeque and then visit the beach. It is here that Kōichi’s embarrassment whenever gazing upon Kaho’s ample bust becomes apparent, and he later develops a pronounced overreaction whenever Kaho is around.

  • If I had to single out one moment in Blend S that made the series worthwhile, it would be when Dino decides to transform the entire café into a jungle setting. The foliage is so dense that Maika gets lost in here, and Mafuyu takes on the roll of an energetic imouto dressed as a monkey. The visual humour is top-notch and hilarious, but also remarkably well-balanced. When the staff begin experiencing challenges with the artificial jungle, Dino decides to restore the café to its former glory.

  • For some, the most controversial moment of Blend S involves Hideri, a new hire who fulfils the idol archetype. Despite dressing like a lady, Hideri is actually a guy, leading to endless, cyclic speculation on his orientation and whatnot. Because Blend S doesn’t focus on the other characters’ acceptance of him, this is shown to be a given, leaving the series to instead portray the humour that accompanies such a character. I’ve never gotten the whole fuss with such characters: if they are well-written into and contribute to a series as Hideri does, I have no issues. I similarly have no qualms about individuals of all sorts in real life: I judge and respect people based on not who they are, but what they do.

  • Maika has an older sister and older brother, both of whom dote on Maika and worry that she’s got no friends. When they learn that Maika’s working at Café Stile, Maika’s older sister decides to swing by for a visit. While her older siblings can be somewhat intimidating, Maika herself can frighten them into standing down. Such setups in reality would not be accepted as normal, but the realm of fiction allows for outrageous situations to be presented in a lighter fashion.

  • Once Maika’s settled into her position at Café Stile and becomes more comfortable with serving customers, Blend S takes time to explore the other characters’ interactions. Kaho and Mafuyu is one such combination: when Kaho fails an exam, Mafuyu agrees to tutor her, and over the course of an episode, Kaho manages to learn the ropes and succeeds on her replacement exam. All of the characters in Blend S are likeable, and while I had entered the series wondering if this was going to be untrue, this was, to my pleasure, not a problem at all.

  • One wonders what my beef with Jungian and Freudian principles are: I have no issue with studying derelict or discredited theories, since they are the stepping stones towards contemporary knowledge. The theory of spontaneous generation and a geocentric model of the universe are such examples, and I have no qualms with the origins of their theories. The problem lies in the application of such theories within trying to enjoy fiction, and when folks telling others that characters and their interactions should be interpreted a certain way using an outdated theory that sounds intimidating, I cannot say I am fond of this behaviour.

  • Towards the end of the series, the relationship between Dino and Maika are explored in more depth: having long been shown to be head-over-heels for Maika, Dino’s efforts to be closer to her inevitably end up in failure, partially a consequence of his own ineptitude and thanks to intervention from Mafuyu. When the two are permitted a moment to themselves, they get along swimmingly: when visiting a dog park with owner (a dog that Dino ends up adopting), others assume Maika and Dino to be a couple.

  • Because this is a Terrible Anime Challenge post, it means I get a bit of liberty with respect to choosing what screenshots I feature, and I think by this point in time, even though I’d not mentioned it explicitly, Kaho is my favourite character for many reasons. Readers who’ve seen my earlier Terrible Anime Challenge posts may have noticed that all posts in this series have rather long or unusual titles. For Blend S, the title comes from one individual who demanded an etymological examination of whether or not we should refer to Blend S (originally ブレンド・S in katakana) with a hyphen simply because Crunchyroll did so.

  • Focusing on these details is foolish to the point of hilarity, and talking about this sort of thing is unproductive: arguing about pointless semantics detracts from one’s enjoyment of a given show. Similarly, I don’t particularly care that Blend S is etymologically derived from the pun between a brand of coffee some shops blend and “Do-S” (which supposedly means DoSadism): knowing that adds nothing of value to one’s enjoyment of the show, and yields no insight about the themes of Blend S. Good discussion is about being inclusive, not about dropping random details to show the depth of one’s knowledge.

  • As such, when such serious discussions were conducted surrounding Blend S, I wondered if I would enjoy this series, since my own knowledge on Japanese products and colloquialisms are certainly not that extensive: I can tell the difference between genuine maple syrup and normal pancake syrup, as well as different varieties of TimBits, but I am not familiar with things in Japan to the same extent. Time and time again, the answer I get from simply watching a show is clear: the sciolists don’t possess more knowledge that are necessary to enjoying a show.

  • Towards the end of Blend S, the Café Stile crew go on a team vacation to the mountains for skiing. Here, Dino attempts a kokuhaku on Maika while teaching her to ski, but ends up failing in a hilarious manner. While anime is often filled with implausibility, challenging these elements results in disappointment: the whole point of fiction is to abstract out systems and removing some constraints of the real world so specific ideas can be explored. Blend S is no exception, and while not particularly noteworthy, good comedy carries the series through from a strong start to a satisfying finish.

  • Overall, Blend S scores a solid B+ from me (3.3 of 4.0, or 8 out of 10) for being able to consistently create humour with its unique setup. With Blend S now in the books, I’m just in time for the entry into November. While I am officially supposed to hold the announcement, the release of Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre content has prompted me to move my schedule up. My announcement is that I am going to be hosting Jon’s Creator Showcase for the month of November. I’ll have more details on this come the first, and in the meantime, I will be enjoying Iwo Jima and Pacific Storm thoroughly.

Having established that a working knowledge of personality psychology is not required to optimally enjoy Blend S, the next item to attend to is what makes Blend S so enjoyable. At the heart of Blend S lies a cast of characters whose job at a cosplay café requires they adapt a different personality than their usual selves, and this aspect is deployed in a spectacular manner to create humour. Maika might be sweet and kindhearted, but as a server, her sadistic tendencies rivals those of outlandish villains seen in other series. Kaho is excellent with the tsundere personality, but beyond this is a cheerful and approachable manner. Mafuyu’s imouto personality fits her appearance more so than her usual mien, that of a jaded and quiet college student. Hideri might be an idol concerned with all things cute, but when flustered, he reverts to a boyish mindset. Despite conveying the air of an older sister while working, Miu makes Blue Mountain look like a rank amateur when it comes to lewding characters for story ideas. The sum of these dynamics means that Blend S never has a dull moment, and all of this is in conjunction with Dino’s genuine, but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to court Maika. Blend S consistently maintains its comedy, resulting in a show that is sure to amuse. While Blend S may lack a single theme that drives its events, and is average from an audio-visual perspective, the setup at Café Stile means that the characters and their interactions are the series’ biggest draw. One only need to sit back while everyone bounces off one another to enjoy Blend S, and so, for the folks who figured that a more serious discussion involving psychology was needed to get the most out of things, I take a leaf from Bruce Lee’s playbook and suggest that that they don’t waste themselves.

Rifle is Beautiful, or The Chidori RSC: Review and Reflection After Three

“Bolt actions speak louder than words.” –Craig Roberts

Having participated in target shooting since primary school, Hikari Kokura enrolls at Chidori High School when she learns that there was a shooting club, but to her surprise, a lack of members means that the club was disbanded. She decides to recruit new members of restarting the club, including her best friend Izumi Shibusawa, the competitive and dedicated Erika Meinohama, and Yukio Igarashi, a quiet but studious girl. Erika is dismayed to learn that the scatter-brained Hikari was the one who bested her the previous year in a shooting competition, and initially joins to get her revenge, but after seeing Hikari’s determination to reach national-level competitions, the girls decide to pick up the sport. It turns out that Hikari had no uniform, and they visit Erika’s place, where she has a few spare uniforms. The girls later set about practising, and when Hikari fails her exams, Izumi helps her study so that she might pass. Between club activities, Erika and Yukio develop a bit of a competitive streak – Yukio had scored higher than Erika on exams, and the latter seeks to even things out, beating Yukio in softball. In order to help Hikari and Izumi improve, Erika arranges for a practise competition with Asaka High School, which has a strong target shooting team. This is Rifle is Beautiful, which is referred to as Chidori RSC (Rifle Shooting Club) in some places, a rather quiet and benign series about Hikari’s desire to become more consistent as a shooter as she becomes closer with the RSC’s club members. Unremarkable but gentle in its execution, Rifle is Beautiful is a simple and straightforward series that uses the premise of the 10 metre air rifle Olympic Event at its core: with the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics fast approaching, it is natural that an interest in the Olympics is ramping up, and although Hikari is unlikely to reach such a level of proficiency, Rifle is Beautiful nonetheless stands to be this season’s show to relax to.

When Rifle is Beautiful first began airing, viewers were introduced to the use of electronic rifles and targets: 10 metre air rifle shooting is typically done with a 4.5mm air rifle and paper targets, but for safety and cost effectiveness, specialised electronic rifles are becoming more widespread. These work on the same principles as light guns and simulate the air rifles being used in competitions. Other aspects of the sport, from scoring rules to the special clothing that participants are outfitted with to improve stability and reduce the prevalence of lower back injuries from the shooting position. With the sport being well-established, Rifle is Beautiful spends time between the girls’ club activities and their everyday lives. Having been around the block for slice-of-life series, Rifle is Beautiful offers nothing particularly novel or exciting with its setup; even rifle shooting appears a little dull. Instead, it appears that the series’ main draw really is watching the characters bounce off one another and grow as they spend more time together. The fiery Erika and her love of competing with everyone offers consistent comedy, while Yukio is more or less Rifle is Beautiful‘s incarnation of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan‘s Yuki Nagato, retaining the same taciturn but mischievous personality. Izumi’s gentle and soft-spoken nature makes her a grounding implement for the other characters’ eccentricities. With character archetypes that are quite unlike those I’ve come to see in numerous other slice-of-life anime, Rifle is Beautiful provides a different sort of humour that is refreshing in its own manner.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Rifle is Beautiful has very little in the way of discussion: forums are quiet about this one, and blogs have nothing to say, either. I was actually originally set to write about Rifle is Beautiful after its first episode aired, but found that I didn’t have enough thoughts on things to write a reasonable post. After three episodes, there’s enough for me to write about, and I am enjoying this series, although the community’s lack of enthusiasm for the series has persisted.

  • While Hikari and Izumi are thrilled to have secured the requisite number of members for their shooting club, Erika and Yukio stare one another done. The closest equivalent in personalities I can think of is The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi‘s Haruhi, and the incarnation of Yuki Nagato from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-chan, who is rather more sardonic and expressive then her normal counterpart. This dynamic adds a bit of hilarity to Rifle is Beautiful.

  • While Hikari may not look it, she’s actually better-endowed than most everyone in the rifle shooting club: this leads to much rage from Yukio, who’d figured that she and Hikari shared a similar figure. Erika’s jealousy of her comes from Hikari having bested her previously in a shooting competition, and while Hikari may have had experience in shooting, her air-headed tendencies means that during practise, she tends to perform quite poorly.

  • The first episode’s pacing was quite unusual: most anime tend to space out the club’s development over two episodes, but Hikari manages to secure the number of members in no time at all. The remainder of the episode is given to introducing the sport of 10 metre rifle shooting, which is one of the few shooting sports that the Olympics recognises. Right off the bat, viewers are immediately familarised with what the sport entails and with it, have a clear idea of what Hikari is getting into.

  • A quick glance through the rules and regulations of 10 metre air rifle shooting shows that Rifle is Beautiful is very faithful to the real sport, meaning that more experienced shooters like Erika will be able to provide viewers with a good picture of things like scoring and equipment. While the real sport uses air rifles that fire a specialised wadcutter (flat-head) pellet, the club at Chidori uses “beam” rifles that emit an infrared beam for a sensor to detect. Depending on where the photons land, a computer then computes a score. The girls remind viewers that these aren’t the beam rifles mobile suits from Gundam series wield.

  • Yukio enjoys rifle shooting greatly, and right away, smiles warmly. In The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Yuki never smiled, and it was only in The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi that a smile was seen, leading to a major reaction from the community. It suddenly strikes me that I’ve not actually written about either the TV series or the movie here; while the TV series did not live up to the hype the community created by putting it onto a pedestal, the movie far exceeded my expectations.

  • While Yukio resembles Yuki, Erika is a tsundere and is more similar to Haruhi in mannerisms: she is quicker to anger and grows frustrated with the other club members’ lack of drive. However, beyond this is a side of her that cares for the others, as well: when Hikari reveals that she doesn’t have a suit, Erika decides to invite everyone over to her place and lets Hikari pick her suit of choice.

  • When Hikari begins to smell the Erika’s old suit, she causes Erika to quickly become embarrassed. Once Hikari’spicked out a suit that she likes, the girls step out to a convenience store, where the closeness between Hikari and Izumi becomes apparent, and Erika begins to yearn for friendship of a similar calibre. This aspect will likely be a part of Rifle is Beautiful as each of Erika, Yukio, Hikari and Izumi become closer as a result of their sport: while treading on a well-worn road, the themes of Rifle is Beautiful will nonetheless offer a relaxing experience even if the setting and world-building is very conventional.

  • The rifles used in Rifle is Beautiful are of a make I’m not familiar with. Whereas the manga shows each of Yukio, Erika, Hikari and Izumi sporting different rifles, the anime has everyone using the same training rifles for their club. Compared to the shooting I’ve seen elsewhere, 10 metre rifle shooting involves hitting a very small target very precisely, and only allows participants to shoot standing up. In competitive shooting, shooters pin their non-dominant elbow against their body to reduce sway, but rather than using an open hand, some shooters may form a fist and use their other hand as a platform for holding the rifle steady.

  • This is a marked departure from the combat stances I’m more familiar with: unlike the military, where mobility also comes into play, competitors in a 10 metre rifle shooting match are only concerned with hitting their targets with precision. On the flip-side, rifle shooting as a sport means Rifle is Beautiful is much more laid-back in nature compared to a series where real firearms are used and also side-steps the rather dodgy issue of firearms violence elsewhere in the world.

  • Some folks insistently refer to Rifle is Beautiful as Chidori RSC, which is an alternative name based on Chidori high school’s rifle shooting club. The new title has absolutely nothing to do with Ribeyrolles, Sutter and Chaucha, who designed the semi-automatic RSC M1917 rifle, which was one of the first semi-automatic rifles introduced into service. The RSC M1917 featured in Battlefield 1 as a semi-automatic weapon for the medic class and had high damage to offset its small magazine, while in Battlefield V, the RSC returns as a weapon for the recon class and exchanges reduced muzzle velocity for being able to leave an extra round in the chamber, making it able to theoretically drop three enemies before requiring a reload.

  • When Hikari wonders what her objective with the rifle shooting club should be, Erika immediately suggests international level skill, but Hikari loses interest once Izumi brings out apple pie to share. Hikari’s poor performance prompts Erika to get in touch with her contacts and arrange a training session. While Erika is initially reluctant to do so, she nonetheless follows through with the request and sets up a practise match with Asaka High school.

  • On the day of the practise match, Hikari and the others meet Asaka’s rifle shooting club. A dedicated, serious club with more members, Asaka’s club is more akin to what Erika was expecting from a rifle shooting club. I’ve heard that the practise was supposed to be similar to Ooarai taking on St. Glorianna in Girls und Panzer, but it becomes very clear that because of the vast difference in the sport being used, Rifle is Beautiful simply does not have the same atmospherics: the chosen sport and setup means that there is little opportunity to present more colouful settings

  • I will eventually need to learn the name of Asaka’s students, but for the time being, they’re only present for the practise round. It turns out that Erika knows Akira Shinonome, their club president, which is how they were able to arrange for the practise match, and Erika has dirt on her. One of the other club members begins to listen in, but before anything interesting is discussed, Yukio’s sharpshooting catches everyone’s attention.

  • I’ve become rather fond of Izumi: she reminds me a little of Girls und Panzer‘s Rukuriri in appearance, but unlike Rukuriri, she’s soft-spoken and supportive. Reliable and present for Hikari, Izumi’s main goal in joining the rifle shooting club is to lose weight by sweating it off: the suits the girls don to shoot don’t particularly breathe well. However, losing weight is not this simple, and naturally, Izumi finds that this goal is actually less attainable than Hikari’s aim of competing at a national level.

  • Hikari’s wildly inconsistent performance is discussed, and while she is overall a poor shot, Akira wonders if Hikari’s the sort of person who does better when they’re in the moment. Whether this will be the case or not is left as a matter for future episodes to resolve, although I’m going to hazard a guess that since Rifle is Beautiful is a slice-of-life anime, Hikari probably has a clumsy archetype that leaves her unable to perform unless the moment really calls for it, purely as a comedic device rather than anything more substantial.

  • After Hikari and Izumi finish their turns, they prepare to head home, only to be reminded that Erika actually still needs to go. Gentle moments like these are the norm in Rifle is Beautiful, and while the series is not conducive towards more interesting talks where I can quickly draw upon a multitude of subjects to keep things going, series that are much quieter have their merits, as well. I am looking forwards to spending Sunday mornings watching this after training at the dōjō.

  • Hikari connects with Karen Sakashita, a novice shooter from Asaka who similarly scored poorly during the practise run. The two immediately get along, and this, together with the fact that Erika is related to Akira means that Asaka’s club members could become recurring characters in the show.

  • Learning that Akira is a skilled marksman inspires Hikari to look on. When she picks up her rifle, Akira remarks that it’s been a while since she’s shot an electronic rifle, having grown accustomed to using air rifles. I wonder if air rifles will be introduced later in Rifle is Beautiful: while the beam rifles are fine for training basic technique, an air rifle would also allow Hikari to become familiar with recoil control and reloading techniques.

  • With the day over, Chidori’s girls find their session with Asaka a useful one, where Hikari both meets a new friend and gains inspiration to continue practising and improving. For the time being, I have no plans to write about Rifle is Beautiful until the finale, but I am looking forwards to watching this one every week: with the world a chaotic and unfriendly place, it is reassuring to know that there are small things to look forwards to each week, and in between Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre chapter, I think that Rifle is Beautiful will fill the role of helping me unwind for the remainder of the Sundays. We’re now rapidly nearing the end of October, as well, and while there are a handful of posts to look for in November (including the Hibike! Euphonium and Aobuta‘s movies) I do have one more post I’d like to roll out for Blend S before the end of the month.

This season, it is quite apparent that there is a bit of a disconnect between an anime’s enjoyment factor and my ability to write for them: like Azur Lane, I am enjoying what I’ve seen in Rifle is Beautiful thus far, and after three episodes, I will be continuing to watch this one for the relaxing atmosphere the anime exudes. However, with 10 metre air rifle shooting being a rather uninteresting sport, and the technical elements being quick to grasp, Rifle is Beautiful offers very little for me to write about. Admittedly, when Rifle is Beautiful drew my eye, I had anticipated a series involving live firearms and a fictionalised variant of the Olympic sport: as it currently is, Rifle is Beautiful‘s use of standardised electronic rifles means that things like firearm maintenance and customisation, ballistics and recoil management no longer come into play. As such, writing about Rifle is Beautiful at regular intervals will see me encountering considerable difficulty in keeping readers engaged. With this being said, I see no problem with Rifle is Beautiful as a whole, and I do look forwards to seeing the sorts of activity that the shooting club will partake in to improve their skills, as well as whether or not the progress that is made will allow the club to fulfill their goal of reaching a national-level competition before the series comes to a close. I remark that just because a series is not conducive of conversation does not necessarily mean the series is lacking in any way, and so, I will be returning once Rifle is Beautiful concludes to focus primarily on what Hikari and the others have learned through their time together, as well as seeing whether the payoff from their journey was a meaningful one.