The Infinite Zenith

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Insights in Character Songs from Glasslip: A Refrain to Sachi Nagamiya (Kimi e to Refrain Lyrics)

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” —Confucius

Released late in October, the Glasslip character song album, Utagoe no Kakera (Fragments of Singing Voice) featured performances from each of the characters in Glasslip; while Glasslip itself proved to be a disappointment on multiple fronts, from an inconsistent narrative to misleading symbols and unclear character goals, the anime’s audio and visual aspects were particularly strong. Glasslip‘s musical score served to project a particular atmosphere and mood where character dialogue and actions were inadequate; the soundtrack’s combination of classical pieces with incidental tracks work in conjunction to convey a sense of wistfulness and confusion that invariably accompanies love. As a character song album, none of the vocal tracks in Fragments of Singing Voice would have made it into Glasslip proper, but each song serves to do what the anime could not: they provide more insight into each of the characters and their personalities, beliefs and desires. Of the tracks on Fragments of Singing Voice, the one that stood out most was Sachi Nagamiya’s Kimi e to Refrain (君へとRefrain, “A Refrain To You”), performed by Risa Taneda. In contrast with Sachi’s characterisation as a quiet individual fond of books, Taneda’s delivery of Kimi e to Refrain is spirited, upbeat and sexy, giving another perspective of one of Glasslip‘s least explored characters. It is easily my favourite song on the Fragments of Singing Voice album, and curiosity led me to translate the lyrics, which yield a considerable amount of insight into Sachi’s character well beyond what viewers saw in Glasslip.

Japanese Lyrics

  • Whenever Kimi e to Refrain plays, I think about long summer days, endless blue skies and a sort of excitement associated with the prospects of a full day to myself. The rhythm and composition of this song also brings to mind the atmosphere surrounding high school as the weather warms. Curiosity about what this song entailed led me to talk to some of my friends, and with their help, we transcribed the lyrics and worked out what the song was about. It turns out that this is indeed a song evocative of summer, a season I feel to be most appropriate for discovering new love. Here’s a copy of the song for all interested readers’ listening enjoyment.

Kanji

​紡がれた言葉に閉じ込めた気持ちを
読み取るように今日もまた

行く当ても分からず心は旅に出る
いつかはたどり着くのかな
決めるのはいつだって自分なんだって
眩しさに歪む明日へと迷わずに行きたくて

変わらない笑顔とやだしさに包まれ
何かが変わって行く子に季節を越えて
抱えきれない思いのかけらキラキラ君へとリフレイン

不確かでもいい素直なままで心逸らさないで先へ

線香花火から落ちた赤い雫
熱く儚く弾けた

どうしても見つからない場所があった
君の名を呼ぶその度に吹き抜ける風がいた

些細なざわめきに心は揺れ動き
もどかしさを抱え理由を探してた
忘れたくないこの瞬間がいつか答えになるんだと
今は先へと進んでみよう君の隣で笑ってたい

見上げれば幾千の星のストーリー
約束の場所から明日へと迷わずに行けるから

変わらない笑顔とやだしさに包まれ
何かが変わってく子に季節を越えて
抱えきれない想いのかけらキラキラ君へとリフレイン

不確かでもいい素直なままで心逸らさないで先

君の (君の) 側で (側で)

Romaji

​Tsumugareta kotoba ni tojikometa kimochi wo
Yomitoku you ni kyou mo mata

Yukuate mo wakarazu kokoro wa tabi ni deru
Itsuka wa tadoritsuku no kana
Kimeru no wa itsudatte jibun nan datte
Mabushisa ni yugamu asu e to mayowazu ni yukitakute

Kawaranai egao to yasashisa ni tsutsumare
Nanika ga kawatte iku kono kisetsu wo koete
Kakaekirenai omoi no kakera kirakira kimi e to refrain

Futashika demo ii sunao na mama de kokoro sorasanai de saki e

Senkouhanabi kara ochita akai shizuku
Atsuku hakanaku hajiketa

Doushitemo mitsukaranai basho ga atta
Kimi no na wo yobu sono tabi ni fukinukeru kaze ga ita

Sasaina zawameki ni kokoro wa yure ugoki
Modokashisa wo kakae riyuu wo sagashiteta
Wasuretakunai kono shunkan ga itsuka kotae ni narundato
Ima wa saki e to susunde miyou kimi no tonari de warattetai

Miagereba ikusen no hoshi no story
Yakusoku no basho kara asu e to mayowazu ni yukeru kara

Kawaranai egao to yasashisa ni tsutsumare
Nanika ga kawatteku kono kisetsu wo koete
Kakaekirenai omoi no kakera kirakira kimi e to refrain

Futashika demo ii sunao na mama de kokoro sorasanai de saki e

Kimi no (kimi no) soba de (soba de)

English Translation

  • During the translation process, I’ve done my best to choose words that are able to flow with the rhythm of Kimi e to Refrain, and as I’m no songwriter, what we’ve got here is an approximation at best. While I’ve modified some of the phrasings and word order to make the lyrics sound more natural in English, I think that the meaning from the original Japanese lyrics are largely retained despite these changes. Doing this post has also led me to learn that the reason why Cantonese songs can be readily covered from Japanese is because Cantonese is mono-syllabic. Consider just how well Seiko Matsuda’s 大切なあなた (Romaji “Taisetsu na Anata“, “Precious You”) is performed by Vivian Lai in the Cantonese equivalent, 陽光路上 (Jyutping “joeng4 gwong1 lou6 soeng5”, “Sunshine Road”).

​Feelings that were trapped in woven words
I’ll try to decipher them again today

My heart goes on a journey with no destination
I wonder if it’ll arrive someday
The one who decides that is always me
I want to enter without hesitation into a tomorrow distorted by the brilliance

Surrounded by an unchanging smile and kindness
Something starts to change beyond this season
An emotion I can’t contain, a sparkling refrain from you

Be straightforward, it’s fine if it’s uncertain, my heart won’t waver as it moves forward

Red sparks that fall from the sparkler
Burst with warmth fleetingly

A place I couldn’t find no matter what
There was a wind that blew whenever I called your name

A trivial rumour sways and moves my heart
Finding the reasons for my frustration and embracing it
I don’t want to forget, this moment will become the answer
I want to move forward, I want to laugh beside you

If we look up, there are thousands of stars with stories
We can move from the promised place to tomorrow without hesitation

Surrounded by an unchanging smile and kindness
Something starts to change beyond this season
An emotion I can’t contain, a sparkling refrain from you

Be straightforward, it’s fine if it’s uncertain, my heart won’t waver as it moves forward

By your (by your) side (side)

Kimi e to Refrain speaks of Sachi’s worldview: fond of reading and quiet environments, Sachi feels that she has troubles understanding how she feels about those around her. Tempted by her desire to move into the future but also being tempered by her doubts about the unknowns, Kimi e to Refrain juxtaposes these conflicting feelings, and the lyrics shows that Sachi is the sort of person who ultimately can move forwards as long as she is with someone to support her. In Glasslip, Sachi frequently leans on Tōko for emotional support until Tōko dissolved a promise where their group of friends would remain such. Subsequently, Hiro begins spending more time with Sachi, acting on his feelings. Kimi e to Refrain is seemingly ambiguous as to whether or not the person Sachi most wishes to spend her future with is Tōko or Hiro; the lyrics have a certain degree of romance to them. In the song, Sachi expresses that these feelings are as beautiful and transient as fireworks, and that as others have undoubtedly shared this experience previously, she’s willing to seize the moment and make the most of things. In describing the romantic and transient nature of her feelings, Sachi is likely referring to the moment in Glasslip‘s tenth episode when she expresses her feelings for Tōko and Hiro. Despite having long felt protective of Tōko and hating Kakeru for disrupting the status quo, Kakeru’s actions indirectly result in Hiro acting on his feelings for Sachi, beginning the start of a hitherto unexplored dynamic between the two.

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve done anything related to Glasslip, and this post deals predominantly with Sachi. Folks continue to believe that Sachi and Tōko were more than friends, but after taking a look at Kimi e to Refrain, it becomes clear that while Sachi greatly treasures her friendship with Tōko, she is also willing to step into a world of uncertainties. Throughout Glasslip, Sachi’s propensity for few words means that her feelings aren’t always made known to viewers.

  • Quiet and studious, Sachi’s favourite pastime is reading – she spends her free time by the window with a book in hand. Her interests are the most similar to my own of anyone in the cast, and she’s my favourite of the characters in Glasslip. I recall a ways back, I did a thought experiment on what my ideal first date would look like – with Sachi, taking her to a bookstore would likely be a fantastic starting point. The larger bookstores from my part of the world usually are close to a coffee shop, and back during the summer, I fondly recall an afternoon where I spent an afternoon at the bookstore, browsing through their vast inventory, before sitting down for a caffè mocha.

  • I’ve not thought about it, but it looks like that doing this sort of thing constitutes as ‘taking myself on  a date’. Admittedly, it is fun to sip a caffè mocha and watch as the world proceeds with their business: when I think about it, a bookstore-coffee shop combination is actually not a bad place for a date. Of course, this is just me, and I imagine the odds of finding someone who shares this particular perspective will be a nontrivial task.

  • Sachi seems to be a bit more on the frail side: midway into Glasslip, she is admitted to hospital. Whatever other faults Glasslip may have had, the visuals within the anime were top-tier, matching those seen in Tari Tari. Whether it be the play of light in glass beads, warm colours of a summer afternoon or the details in the town, everything in Glasslip was stunning to behold; this is one of the reasons why I persisted through the anime.

  • I watched Glasslip the same summer that I watched GochiUsa, and speaking to her skill, it’s not immediately apparent that Rise Taneda voices Sachi, so different is her delivery of Sachi’s lines in Glasslip against her presentation of GochiUsa‘s Rize Tedeza. Most know Taneda best for her performance as Your Lie In April‘s Kaori Miyazono. However, in Kimi e to Refrain, Taneda’s singing voice is most similar to how she performs Rize’s character songs.

  • Over the course of Glasslip, Sachi and Hiro begin spending more time together, both during awkward moments where Hiro must escape before Tōko discovers what’s going on, and later, once things settle down, the two go on a few dates with one another. The pairing in Glasslip that left viewers with the strongest negative impression was Yanagi and Yukinari; Yukinari has feelings for Tōko, while Yanagi has feelings for Yukinari. She makes his feelings known to him, and while the two remain on cordial terms for the remainder of Glasslip after he turns her down, Yanagi takes up running herself and from my perspective, exudes a sense of melancholy despite doing her best to stay positive.

  • Glasslip wraps up at the end of summer vacation, with everyone returning to classes. Looking back, Glasslip is something that likely would have been more clear with its symbols and motifs had it a bit more time to flesh these elements out. Additional time would have also given opportunity to explore the growing closeness between Sachi and Hiro, while also showing how Yanagi and Yukinari move on in their own ways. However, given the overwhelmingly negative reception directed at Glasslip, reflected through the fact that Glasslip had the lowest BD sales of any PA Works anime, it is unlikely that Glasslip will receive any sort of continuation or expansion.

Because notions of journeys, heading into the future and moving forwards are so prominently mentioned in Sachi’s Kimi e to Refrain, the song strongly suggests that this person she wishes to rely on, to walk the future with, is Hiro. Things began changing under the fireworks for the pair, and rumours of a romance between Hiro and Sachi definitely circulate, which Kimi e to Refrain references; because Tōko’s friendship with Sachi is an older one, Kimi e to Refrain is not likely referring to her. Instead, it is these newfound feelings that prompts Sachi to want to seize the future with more confidence even as she hesitates, owing to her old friendship, and Kimi e to Refrain‘s final stanza suggest that the brilliance of these emotions that lead her to want to move on. Consequently, through Kimi e to Refrain, it becomes clear that Sachi is able to let go of her reliance on Tōko and wholeheartedly pursue her relationship with Hiro, whereas previously, she was struggling to understand how she felt about both Hiro and Tōko. This is evident in the progression of events in Glasslip, where Sachi begins spending more time with Hiro, pursing the future that she’s so uncertain about. While existing perspectives remain adamant that Sachi has feelings for Tōko, Kimi e to Refrain clears up one of the elements that Glasslip began exploring, and it is quite apparent that Glasslip could have succeeded in illustrating the turbulent nature of relationships as youth begin exploring them had the anime chosen to focus on these aspects sans any supernatural, Newtype-like phenomenon.

iOS 11 is True Level

 

“Wow, it’s so…oh my God!”
“Yeah, True Level, bitch.”
“Everything’s crooked! Reality is poison! I wanna go back!”

–Morty and Rick, Rick and Morty

While it’s not the Mid-Autumn Festival, iOS 11 released earlier today, bringing with it a host of powerful new features to Apple’s mobile operating system platform. This year, I’ve been running with iOS 11 on my iPhone since late August as a result of requiring the operating system for compatibility testing at work, and back in June, I tested iOS 11 with my iPad. While an impressive operating system, iOS 11 also rendered my iPad incapable of publishing WordPress posts, so I reverted to iOS 10 to ensure that I could quickly publish my Kimi no na wa talk on short order if needed. However, in the time that’s passed, Apple has refined and polished iOS 11 significantly – it’s as responsive as iOS 10, and all of my apps are operational this time around. The differences between iOS 10 and iOS 11 on an iPhone are largely under-the-hood: there’s a new Control Centre that offers customisation, and a new file system app, but beyond this, iOS 11 remains quite similar to iOS 10. Having spent a half-hour exploring iOS 11 on an iPad, the differences become much more pronounced. Multi-tasking is much more powerful, and after mastering the new gestures to being up the Control Centre, I am given an immediate overview of all open apps. The beta did not allow apps to be closed with a swipe, but the release version returns this feature. It’s easier to place apps side-by-side, and there’s a powerful new drag-and-drop feature that allows me to pull image and text from one app and place them into another. The new dock makes the iPad feel more like Mac OS X than ever before, giving my iPad Air 2 a rejuvenated feel to it.

  • The most noticeable change on the iPad’s home screen between iOS 10 and iOS 11 is the presence of a Mac OS X-like dock. Fresh after installation, I have no previously used apps here, and while simple, the inclusion of an option to immediately return to my three most recent apps was one of my favourite features of iOS 11 when I tested it in the beta, allowing me to access very quickly recent apps without needing to open a folder.

  • I admit that opening Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will take some getting used to now that it’s been moved to the right from the bottom, but the new Control Centre has a distinctly iOS feel to it now, compared to the more Android-like multi-tasking interface seen in earlier incarnations of iOS. One feature noticeably absent from iOS 11 is the fact that I cannot hold down on the Wi-Fi icon and select a network to connect to (or do the same for BlueTooth).

  • The dock can be accessed from any app, making it possible to now jump to one’s favourite apps or more recently used app much more quickly than previously possible. The changes to Safari, the default browser in iOS, are subtle: corners of the URL bar are now rounded, in keeping with Apple’s latest themes, which are inspired by magazines. I’ve never been too big of a fan of this format, but the theme feel a lot more unified now in iOS 11, since the App Store also makes use of the layout, and the larger text size does make things pop a little more.

  • Once I mastered the gestures for multi-tasking, I was able to read about and watch GochiUsa simultaneously without any difficulties. Familiar and novel at the same time, iOS 11’s improvements are most noticeable on an iPad: only the iPad Air and later will be able to upgrade to iOS 11. With iOS 11, however, Apple drops support for 32-bit apps. While they’ve been phasing this out and have encouraged developers to submit 64-bit builds since iOS 9, iOS 11 marks a point where there’s a hard cutoff. Users with 32-bit apps will find that they no longer open.

  • This is Apple’s file system on iOS 11: it’s modelled after Mac OS X’s Finder, and while it does not provide access to an iOS device’s local file system, it is quite functional, working with iCloud. I foresee storing some of my documents here in the future to make use of the system, even if I’ve previously been not so big with iCloud. It typifies Apple’s tendency to only provide features once they’re fully fledged, and once added, iOS users find the features immensely useful. This prompts the choice of the page quote, which comes from Rick and Morty‘s third season: once one experiences something of a high standard, it’s hard to go back.

Other features added with iOS 11 include an improved file system, which has allowed me to free up upwards of 4 GB of space on my 16 GB iPhone 6 (this is something I was most pleased with), a new image compression format that allows images taken from the camera to take up a little less space, and upgraded Siri, which feels more powerful than it has previously. The keybaord on the iPad has been improved so one no longer has to hit another button to access some numbers and symbols, which could be useful for conversations and writing passages that are rich with symbols and numbers. On the developer side, I’ve also got access to Xcode 9, which adds the long awaited Swift refactoring capability and an upgraded error system that makes it easier to find and correct errors in code. AR Kit and Core ML are exciting new additions, as well, and while I don’t foresee a use for these APIs in the near future, there is no doubt that these powerful new libraries could allow developers to make apps of a much greater utility and immersion than before. This year, the upgrade paths for both Xcode 9 and iOS 11 proved remarkably smooth: I still vividly recall the year where a botched update forced me to restore my iPad. On the other hand, things this time around were as simple as hitting the “Update” button and entering a password. I’m curious to see how I’ll make use of the new features in iOS 11, especially for the iPad, in the days upcoming. One thing is certain, though: iOS 11 is a very welcome update, and explaining the title of this post, “True Level” is sourced from the latest episode of Rick and Morty. In this context, something that is “True Level” is sublime, and of an incredible quality, rather than referring to a hypothetical surface where every possible point is perpendicular to the plumb line.

A Date With Nagisa Furukawa of CLANNAD as a Thought Experiment

“According to the Myers Briggs test apparently only 4% of the population got my result. Making it harder to find people I can “let inside” or truly feel connected with. It’s just a test but it often feels that way…” —Ab imo pectore

Having taken a look at the distributions, my personality type stands as one of the most common, with an estimated thirteen percent of all folks having it. The story behind my Meyers-Briggs test is simple enough: I was asked to do it as a part of a team-building exercise for work, and unsurprisingly, ended up with ISTJ. Known as the “Guardian”, individuals of this personality type are fiercely adherent to facts and rules, working hard to complete tasks delegated to them. Honest, direct and dutiful, ISTJs also tend to have a talent stack, excelling at nothing in particular, but possess reasonable competence in a range of different areas. They also can be unyielding and blunt, as well as less willing to deal with spontaneity than people with a different personality type. That captures my essence very succinctly, and it also leads me to wonder how I am projected to get along with different personality types, especially considering that in practise, I generally get along with most people in a professional sense. Describing my professional interactions would be too dull to warrant a post, but what if we added some flair to things? For this discussion, then, I will take a look at aspects of my own personality and use those facets to determine just how well I would get along with someone like Nagisa Furukawa, whose personality is considered either ISFJ or INFP.

  • While I cannot truthfully say that Valentine’s Day is my favourite holiday of the year (that belongs to Thanksgiving and Christmas), I remain largely neutral about the event. Consider this: it is a bit disheartening to have no one special to celebrate it with (-1), but on the other hand, it means I can save a small amount of money and direct it to either my savings or spend it on something for myself (+1). With that being said, for those of my readers who are in a relationship, I wish for you a Happy Valentines’ Day, and for the readers like myself, I offer a Happy Singles Awareness Day!

The “Defender”, ISFJs are supportive, reliable and loyal (incidentally, the same things I would look for in a relationship), but can also be rather shy, find it tricky to express how they feel and can overburden themselves with challenges as they try to help those around them. These attributes describe Nagisa well, but she also has some elements of the INFP personality type: she’s driven by her sense of optimism, making the most of every situation, values harmony and holds a strong sense of creativity that allows her to resurrect the drama club and bring her dreams to life with a performance of Girl in the Illusionary World. Similarly, she does take some things personally, blaming herself for causing her parents to give up their dreams of being in theatre. For this discussion, we assume that Nagisa is an INFP: her creativeness in expressing herself in the play she likes and the Great Dango Family, coupled with her general desire to wish for everyone’s happiness and her response to learning about her parents’ past means that she can fit into this category. In general, an ISTJ and INFP relationship could function with effort and some compromise, although some folks say that such a relationship would be remarkably difficult, so this post aims to put that to the test, using the personalities as a starting point, and then determining whether or not someone with traits similar Nagisa’s is someone that I can appreciate as time passes, and we know one another better.

We suppose that Nagisa is an INFP, a personality type with a four percent frequency: the ISFJ personality, while one I am fond of, would not offer much in the way of interesting discussion. My ISTJ and Nagisa’s INFP means only one of our traits overlap: we’re both introverted — we would understand and appreciate the value of quiet time and share moments with a small group of close friends. I can hold interesting conversations about different topics, so if the right topics are available, fun conversations can be had. However, there’s always the possibility that there isn’t enough communications between the two. I’m not very good with subtle hints (scuttlebutt has it that I accidentally rejected some people without saying a word because I missed their messages) and typically, need to be hit over the head, as it were, to know how someone is feeling. My sensing component will find newfound perspective from Nagisa’s imaginative thinking, and at the same time, my practicality balances her tendency to go off into her own world. While projected to offer some challenges in conversation, I am a touch more imaginative than the average ISTJ, so I could follow her flights of fancy in a conversation.

Next up is my thinking to her feeling: warm and compassionate, one of the things that stand out about Nagisa was this side of her personality. She genuinely cares about those around her and supports them as best as she can, standing against my usual no-nonsense “let’s get it done” approach. These two opposite traits complement one another nicely, allowing for decisions to be made with a balance between compassion and reason. However, my way of speaking is very blunt: I call things as I see them, and could inadvertently hurt Nagisa, while she’s unlikely to speak her mind. I’m not good with subtleties, so miscommunications could arise. To make things work, I’ll need to be more sensitive, be more attuned to things and pick things up on my own, while Nagisa would find it useful to be a little more direct. The most interesting set of attributes to consider will be judging-perceiving: I’m very fond of schedules and well-designed plans, allowing for freedom and the unexpected only if some semblance of a plan exists. Spontaneity does not typically fly with me: I’ll turn down hanging out with friends if informed about it less than a day in advance, for instance, since that time was blocked off for something else. Similarly, my penchant to be organised can come across as overbearing for INFPs. Fortunately, while coming across as rigid, I am more adaptive than the typical ISTJ; I appreciate spontaneity if it falls within a plan. With an open mind, judges and perceivers can get along — the perceivers can bring a breath of fresh air into the judge’s life, while the judge can help a perceiver become more organised. On the whole, while the personality differences between a ISTJ and INFP would initially cause some conflicts, over time, I imagine that they could reach a compromise and find themselves in a happy relationship, truly connecting with one another.

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  • I have a special announcement to make with this post: CLANNAD is nearing its ten-year anniversary, and so, I will be doing posts on CLANNAD once the ten-year mark passes. Because there are a large number of episodes in CLANNAD, doing episodic reviews will be impractical. Instead, I will drop by on the date where an arc ends to take a look at the events and contributions of that particular arc in the context of the whole story.

So, supposing that both partners open-minded enough to make things work, the final realm that this discussion will explore what kind of first date might be suitable for an ISTJ-INFP couple: without it, this post simply wouldn’t live up to its title. Before we begin, I profess that I am not nearly familiar enough with Japan to properly consider organising anything resembling a date there, so we will suppose that I’m running home field advantage. Further, we suppose that language barriers are not a concern. Looking off the idea that Nagisa and I are both introverts, I think that Calgary’s Shakespeare in the Park at Prince’s Island park would be a good first date considering her interest in drama. A twenty hectare park on an island, it is located right at the heart of the city and offers an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the core, featuring flower gardens and paths set right underneath the cityscape of Calgary’s central financial district. The choice of something like Shakespeare in the Park is motivated by Nagisa’s love for the stage and drama. To be able to visit a performance of an old classic under the summer sun would provide a calm setting for enjoying a Shakespearean play and consider different perspectives on what things like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet entail. Such a conversation might be shared following the play’s conclusion at the nearby Café Blanca over a cup of coffee (or tea, since I don’t do well with coffee). This is, of course, just one possibility; ideas for good dates are limitless. I would certainly enjoy an experience like this, but there is a reason why this post is dubbed a thought experiment — it is not actually possible to perform this particular experiment in reality.

Nothing Is Written: Reflections on the Battlefield 1 Campaign

“Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression.” —T.E. Lawrence

Bedouin rebel Zara Ghufran is working directly in the employ of legend Thomas Edward Lawrence, fighting to undermine the Ottoman Empire and their occupation of the Arabian Peninsula. Ghufran sneaks into the heavily-defended wreckage of a derailed train to retrieve a manual containing Ottoman communication protocols, and is caught by Tilkici. At the last moment, she is rescued by Lawrence, learning from Tilkici during interrogation how to summon the armoured train, the Ottoman Empire’s secret weapon. Ghufran sets out to send three messages and infiltrates Ottoman territory to do so, but before she can send the final message, she is captured again by Tilkici, who had escaped from Lawrence. Before he can execute her, she manages to kill him and returns to Lawrence; they decide to mount an assault on the armoured train. Ghufran destroys the railway to slow the train down, and together with other rebels, they manage to defeat the train in a titanic battle. In the aftermath, Lawrence has set his sights on targets in the Suez area, and feeling that Ghufran had fulfilled her revenge, invites her to participate. The last of the campaign missions in Battlefield 1, “Nothing is Written” shows daring in the face of overwhelming danger: it’s the classic David versus Goliath story as the rebels take on a seemingly invincible leviathan, and functionally, serves to show players that, while the behemoths in Battlefield 1 are titans to be reckoned with, they’re certainly not invincible — sufficient teamwork and firepower are often enough to deal with behemoths.

The final campaign mission in Battlefield 1 is perhaps the most open in terms of its gameplay, and its second act greatly resembles Battlefield: Bad Company 2‘s “Sangre del Toro” mission similarly featured three distinct waypoints to visit and gave player full choice with respect to which destination to complete first. Set in a large open area, efficient traversal becomes necessary unless one wishes to walk, and so, it becomes imperative to make good use of vehicles to get around. Both missions stand out as being set in wide expanses of desert where players are free to explore to some extent, setting the missions apart from the more linear progressions the Battlefield campaigns are wont to present. Besides bringing back memories of “Sangre del Toro”, “Nothing is Written” also gives players an incredible experience in its final act: the goal is to take out the armoured train after clearing out a village of hostile forces. While seemingly difficult to do so on account of superior enemy numbers, a suppressed bolt action rifle suddenly made the mission much more straightforwards, allowing Ghufran to silently dispatch the entire camp without being noticed. The game subsequently recommends the use of the field gun emplacements to damage the armoured train; the train’s heavy bombardment notwithstanding, I managed to disable most of its anti-personnel weapons, then ran up to the train and destroyed it using dynamite. It was a highly engaging mission that acts as an exciting end to the Battlefield 1 campaign, and with “Nothing is Written” now in the books, I will focus my attention towards the multiplayer.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There’s a certain mystique about movies set in deserts made during the 1960s and 1970s (Lawrence of Arabia and The Spy Who Loved Me come to mind): beyond these movies, deserts also remind me of Break Blade and Sora no Woto, the latter of which was a particularly enjoyable anime that I have plans to revisit in the near future. However, this is not a reminiscence post about things like Sora no Woto and so, I’ll be going back on mission to discuss Battlefield 1‘s final mission.

  • With the expertise that DICE has gained in rendering environments like Tatooine in Star Wars: Battlefront, it is not particularly surprising that even the desolate dunes and cliffs of the Arabian desert look highly detailed. However, here, there are no Imperial Stormtroopers or AT-STs to engage: instead, Ghufran’s goal in the first act of “Nothing is Written” is to reach the marked train car.

  • Ghufran is outnumbered and out-gunned, but as Lawrence narrates, attacking as one allows for stealth to be utilised. I imagine that it is possible to complete this first section using a purely stealth driven approach, and initially, I was successful. After carefully making my way behind the train and acquiring a suppressed M1911, I carefully took out nearby soldiers. However, owing to the density of the enemies, I was eventually spotted.

  • While I was equipped with a Gewehr 98 and M911, I managed to find a Lewis gun. This made it easier to go loud, and so began a very familiar procedure of attempting to be stealthy, then having my cover blown and being forced to  shoot everything up. While the infantry are not too difficult to engage, several soldiers will make a beeline for the mounted MGs. These can lay down quite a bit of fire and damage Ghufran quickly, but dealing with them clears out the entire area, leaving Ghufran free to retrieve the code manual.

  • The multiplayer, while offering dynamic weather in its maps, do not provide night as a time of day to play under. This makes sense from a gameplay perspective: lacking FLIR and IRNV technologies means that engaging other players could prove quite chaotic. In the campaign, however, this is less of a concern and adds to the challenge of a mission. Consequently, it was quite enjoyable to fight through the night sections of the different war stories.

  • The second and third acts of “Nothing is Written” both look like they utilise a similar, if not the same, map as the multiplayer’s Sinai Desert. Games reusing assets for their single player and multiplayer components are not uncommon: 007 Nightfire is a fine example of this, where most of the maps from the campaign were modified to work as multiplayer maps. However, in the case of something like Battlefield 1, powerful engines like Frostbite mean that, by fine-tuning lighting and other subtle details, the dynamic of a map changes completely to suit the atmosphere required, whether it be a lone wolf sneaking about or a squad of soldiers fighting to control flags on the map.

  • The second act in “Nothing is Written” can be completed in six different ways, although on my playthrough, I opted to go with the one that involves the shortest distances. At the end of each campaign level, there’s a post-game report that indicates how many field manuals, challenges and difficulty points were collected, and generally, I completed the odd challenge or two for each of the acts in the campaign.

  • I may go back to play through the campaign again in the future on maximum difficulty while trying to collect everything at some point in the future, but for now, my attention rests solely on the multiplayer. In recollection, I think that I’ve said that I’d replay several games to complete their campaigns more wholly, including that of Wolfenstein: The New Order and Valkyria Chronicles.

  • It’s a full moon as I sneak around the different Ottoman-held installations; the last full moon a month ago was a supermoon, and the next full moon is a week from now. A few nights ago, I dreamt that we could see the dark side of the moon, but scientific knowledge states that it’s not likely, given that the moon is tidally locked with the Earth. That is to say that the moon’s rotational period is the same length as its orbital period; this arose owing to gravitational interactions between the moon and Earth.

  • This is the last time I will have an image of Ghufran riding a horse to move swiftly between the different outposts, and with the moon behind me, this is the darkest screenshot I’ve got for the entire post. While a little unwieldy at times, the horse is the best way of moving to destinations. Even if one loses their horse to enemy fire, there are a few saddled-up horses at each point, making transportation reasonably straightforwards. I wonder if anyone has tried to walk the distance between each of the bases.

  • I would have loved to have a proper scoped bolt action rifle, plus some explosives at the ancient ruins, since there are a handful of snipers hanging about, plus some armour. At the weapons depot and the village, any weapon will do the trick: the goal is to take out the commander and obtain a satchel from them containing the message. This is the only other place in the campaign where pigeons are used for communications, and I note that I’ve yet to play the war pigeon game mode of the multiplayer.

  • Regardless of the order that Ghufran completes the objectives in, Tilkici will appear and knock her out. She manages to kill him in the middle of the desert, but by this point, the armoured train has already begun routing allied forces. Such vehicles were not historically used by the Ottoman Empire or their allies, but Austria-Hungary, Russia and Great Britian had trains of their own: the Austrian-Hungary armed forces deployed theirs against the Italians, while the British trains saw combat at the First Battle of Ypres in 1914. Later British trains were constructed to defend Great Britian.

  • Camped out over an Ottoman outpost with a suppressed bolt action rifle, I managed to take out all of the guards without attracting any attention to myself, and dealt with the sentry using anti-tank grenades. The trick here is to take one guard out while the other isn’t looking, just as Captain MacMillian suggests to Lieutenant Price in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. A bit of patience and steady aim is the way to go for this mission, as my first attempts to go loud ended in death.

  • Here’s a curious bit of trivia concerning armoured trains: the Canadian armed forces had their own armoured train during the Second World War. Designed to defend against a possible Japanese invasion, the train, dubbed the No. 1 Armoured Train, was equipped with a 75 mm gun, two Bofors 40 mm guns, and could accommodate a full infantry company. It was deployed in 1942 and decommissioned in 1943.

  • In order to facilitate a successful assault, Ottoman artillery trucks must first be destroyed. The fastest way to do so is to acquire some dynamite, plant a charge by the vehicle and then detonate it. Doing so while under fire is ill-advised, and during my playthrough, I chose to eliminate the enemies first so that there air would not be filled with hot lead while I was trying to complete the objective.

  • Once all three vehicles are smoldering wrecks, the armoured train itself will appear. Armed with a mortar and a variety of weapons, the train is impervious to most forms of attack. There are several field guns strategically placed around the camp, and making quick tracks to the appropriate one can allow Ghufran to get off several shots before the train gets its mortar online. Each shot on normal takes away around a twelfth of the train’s health, but once fired on, the train will target the player’s current position.

  • In the chaos of battle, allied rebels will support the player, although being only equipped with small arms, they won’t be of much help against the train or Ottoman aircraft supporting the train. Once enough damage is done to the train, it becomes immobilised, and by this point, I would recommend having anti-armour equipment of some sort, since the train will have either eliminated the field guns in the right position to deal the finishing blow, or else the train is in a position not reachable by the remaining field guns.

  • The option that I took was the use of dynamite: hiding in a crater left from a mortar round, I waited for a gap in the weapons’ firing, then ran up to the train and put down the remaining dynamite I had. It was a mad scramble to get out of the blast radius, and at last, I was in a position to finish the train off. I hit the detonator…

  • …and the train detonated spectacularly. The amount of firepower the armoured train brings to the table is staggering, making this mission one of the most difficult ones to finish, but it was superbly rewarding to complete, showing that persistence and quick thinking allows for even a behemoth to be overcome. In the multiplayer, the addition of teamwork means that behemoths definitely are not overpowered, and while they can close the score gap between the losing team and winning team, by the time they appear, most folks focus on eliminating the behemoth.

  • Totalling some five-decimal-five hours, the Battlefield 1 campaign is short but immensely enjoyable. I remark that I would have liked to try Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s campaign out, as well, but given that I’m unlikely to ever consider playing multiplayer in Call of Duty even if it is designed for my preferred run-and-gun style of play. There are numerous reasons for this, but that is a topic for another time. With Battlefield 1‘s campaign now complete, all I have left is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s campaign to finish, and marking the first time I’ve completed not one, but three titles the year they came out. All told, 2016 has been an excellent year for games, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to play through the biggest titles within the realm of my interests.

It took on average around an hour to play through each of the campaign missions (some missions were longer and took upwards of eighty minutes, while the shorter ones only took forty), so after around five-and-a-half hours in the campaign, I’ve finished all of the war stories that Battlefield 1 has to offer. The campaign ultimately resembles a war anthology in its presentation, showing glimpses of the battles and the characters that fought them, ranging from new soldiers to swindlers and everything in between. Overall, Battlefield 1‘s campaign aimed to show that, as per the game’s tagline, there is indeed a human being behind every weapon and bullet in warfare, and that everyone who fought in the Great War had their own stories to tell. With an estimated 17.7 million casualties, the number of dead or wounded was staggering, resulting in the loss of a whole generation: the impact the Great War had on the period was immense, and reshaped the world. Battlefield 1‘s campaign, though a fictional representation of this war, nonetheless succeeds in suggesting that the human cost of warfare in general is unacceptably high. It marks a departure from previous Battlefield games, which were purely for entertainment, and in choosing to step in this direction, DICE manages to paint a compelling perspective of the dawn of contemporary warfare.

The Runner: Reflections on the Battlefield 1 Campaign

“Age is no guarantee of efficiency.”
“And youth is no guarantee of innovation.”
—Q and James Bond, Skyfall

Veteran message runner Frederick Bishop encounters Jack Foster, who claims he is Bishop’s new charge. Despite his initial doubts about Foster’s capabilities, he consents to mentor Foster on the condition that Foster does not participate in any active combat. The fifth mission begins with Bishop storming the beaches in the Gallipoli Campaign and capturing a strategic location on the hill, and the next day, Bishop volunteers to run a message in Foster’s place, learning that the British forces intend to retreat under heavy artillery fire. After returning to their headquarters, Bishop learns that Foster has participated in an attack against Ottoman forces and sets out to retrieve him. Upon finding Foster, Bishop decides to cover his and the wounded’s escape by storming a fortress; Bishop orders Foster to fire a flare to signal when they’ve suceeded in escaping. While Bishop’s one-man operation is successful, he is wounded and fails to escape the British artillery, losing his life in the process. Perhaps the greatest Ottoman campaign of the Great War, it resulted in the Allied forces withdrawing and led to the Turkish War of Independence, resulting in the birth of the modern nation of Turkey. It’s a chapter in World War One’s history that I’m not too familiar with, although like the other campaigns far removed from the Western Front, these battles had a major impact in shaping the world during the Inter-War period.

The message conveyed in Battlefield 1‘s fifth campaign mission is the idea that life and death on the battlefield occurs independently of experience and skill. Joining with the intent of experiencing glory, Foster soon learns that death is indiscriminate; the difference between him and Bishop is that the latter is well aware of this and has accepted this, whereas Foster is green and thus, grows fearful in the face of death. In their short time as mentor and student, Bishop instructs Foster in fundamentals, passing along his knowledge. As a result, Foster is able to rescue Bishop during a tense moment during the campaign, but ultimately, in spite of his own experience, Bishop is not able to survive the battle. This harsh reality is thus driven home by “The Runner” to reiterate that many men, both experienced and inexperienced, were at the mercy of events around them, bringing to light yet another darker side of conflict that far eclipses the prospect of glory. By the time of the Great War, innovations in weapons meant that there was no glory, just death. The ensuing casualty numbers were a sobering reminder of how technology allowed for more efficient slaughter of fellow humans compared to past wars, and this resulted in the First World War being dubbed “The War To End All Wars”; in retrospect, there is a degree of irony in this moniker, since World War Two became an even more widespread and devastating conflict a mere two decades later.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • “The Runner” is broken up into three acts, with the first involving a Normandy-style landing of the beaches by British forces. The invasion of Gallipoli marked the first operation that would shape later amphibious landings: such campaigns opened with sustained artillery bombardment from naval vessels, followed by the deployment of soldiers to capture and secure coastal regions, paving the way for a much larger force to be deployed.

  • As the first example of a modern amphibious landing, the Gallipoli operation involved both air and naval support. Inside the confusion, Bishop must make his way up the cliffs and capture a point. There’s a combination of close quarters and distance combat, and initially, Bishop is armed with a SMLE MKIII optical for longer range engagements. A Model 10-A is available for dealing with infantry at close quarters. Here, I use a rifle grenade to neutralise a machine gunner.

  • The Ottoman soldiers man machine guns and can be a bit bothersome to deal with, since they have implausibly good accuracy. I found that hiding in the bushes and carefully lining up a shot to pick them off is probably the best option: anything else, and Bishop will be shredded. Once all opponents are dispatched, there are no more threats, allowing Bishop to move forwards towards the capture point.

  • The Model 10-A becomes an invaluable asset, as it can one-shot anything that moves in close quarters, making it best suited for handling opponents on the capture point. However, for the occasional enemy one encounters en route to the capture point, the Model 10-A can also be relied upon in a pinch. It’s said to be the best shotgun in the multiplayer, and so far, I’ve been using it extensively in TDM for the assault class.

  • One of my readers remark that the M1903 Experimental is probably the best weapon for scouts who prefer playing in closer quarters: equipped with the Pederson Device, which replaces the bolt and allows the weapon to fire .30 caliber pistol rounds. Dealing significantly less damage than bolt-action rifles, the Pederson Device equipped M1903 has a much higher firing rate and less recoil, transforming the weapon into what is essentially a long-barreled pistol.

  • If I do pick up the scout class (which will come the day I want to unlock the Kolibri pistol), I imagine that I’ll probably be better served getting good with any one of the bolt-action rifles and sticking to it, while playing rush or other game modes where opponents are less likely to sneak up on me: I heard that the M1903 experimental’s pitiful damage means that some sidearms, like the Frommer Stop, can out-perform it at close quarters, and moreover, one would likely get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from using the weapon too much. Foliage in Battlefield 1 is on par with that of Crysis 3 in terms of detail and density, but I’m getting much better frame rates in Battlefield 1 than I did with Crysis 3.

  • In the campaign, on normal difficulty, body shots with the bolt-action rifles seem to be a one hit kill. Having a bolt-action rifle confers the most authentic World War One experience in Battlefield 1 compared with the other prototype automatic weapons; it would be quite nice if there were dedicated game modes for reproducing the sort of warfare seen in the Western Front, where each class can only equip bolt-action rifles.

  • There would have to be an all-class bolt-action rifle for such a game mode, and that could get interesting with respect to balance. Back in the campaign, the details in the bathhouse are intricate, and I found myself admiring the little details inside. The full Turkish bath experience is an intricate one that became popular in Victorian England: it involves hanging out in a warm room, moving on into a hot room, followed by a full-body wash, massage and cooling off in a cool room.

  • I frequently mention this, but it never fails to amaze me how quickly time’s flown by: it’s now December, and we’ve put up our Christmas decorations in preparation for this year’s festivities. This year, we’ve had a heavy snowfall on the day the tree went up, and while it’s made driving to the dōjō to help out with a kata tournament that much more tricky, it also means that the landscape’s become a winter wonderland.

  • After spending most of the level with the Gewehr 98 Infantry, I find a sniper variant that comes with a high magnification scope for long range shooting. With clean crosshairs and a smaller housing than the marksman, it’s probably the best version of the Gewehr 98. One of the challenges about picking which weapon to purchase in the multiplayer with war bonds would be knowing which weapon variant has which optics: I’m generally not a fan of the marksman optics on the bolt action rifles owing to their larger, more obstructive housing, but they do not cause scope glint.

  • I’m actually not too fond of running the cavalry class in the multiplayer of Battlefield 1, since their horses seem a little more unwieldy than other vehicles. Programmed with a decision tree that allow them to perform basic terrain negotiation, as well as jumping over short obstructions and refusing to move off cliff faces and into deep water, horses are rather more complex than any vehicle in earlier Battlefield games. In the fifth campaign mission, horses are an excellent way to returning to distantly-spaced objectives.

  • The final act of “The Runner” also happens to be the most combat driven, and now, starting with the Gewehr 98 Sniper, plus the Model 10-A, I’m ready to storm the fortress as a one-man army. Stealth hardly matters here, and I chose to shoot anything that moved. With that being said, it is quite possible to take a stealth approach and sneak past all the enemy forces, but now that I’m armed with cool guns, it would seem a waste not to use them.

  • Compared to the more vivid colours seen in older Battlefield titles, the saturation in Battlefield 1 is a bit more restrained. The end result of this is that enemies in both the campaign and multiplayer become a little more tricky to spot, but otherwise, serves to elevate the photorealistic quality of the graphics in the game.

  • According to the in-game documentation for the Model 10-A shotgun, the German forces protested their use as being inhumane despite making use of chemical weapons during the war themselves. In a bit of irony, players themselves have remarked on how powerful the Model 10-A is in the multiplayer: it is the perfect weapon for close quarters maps, and can down some enemies even at moderate ranges.

  • Armed with two kickass weapons, I ascent to the fortress gates and prepare for the largest battle seen yet in this war story. I remark that as of now, I’ve yet to hear anything about Kimi No Na Wa with respect to its home release. Anime News Network only discloses the box office totals for the movie, and there’s been a great deal of commotion about how the movie was selected for an Academy Awards nomination.

  • While exciting news, my main interest is on when the movie is able to come out on Blu Ray: I was able to watch it under some interesting circumstances, but it would be nice to have a copy of my own at a fantastic resolution such that I can do a proper discussion of the movie. I imagine that there’s a six-month gap between the theatrical release and home release: Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, Shinkai’s last work, released with a similar pattern and despite being a fantastic work, garnered none of the excitement of Kimi No Na Wa.

  • On that note, I’ve also been keeping an eye on Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days — it’s a special OVA dealing with the cultural festival, and strangely enough, was a theatrical release despite its short runtime of a single episode spanning thirty minutes. Most OVAs tend to see theatrical releases if there are multiple episodes (Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow and Tamayura: Graduation Photo come to mind as examples): I imagine that there could be a three-month wait for this one to be available, and a special for Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka??, unconfirmed for release somewhere in March-April 2017, might see a similar pattern.

  • Back in Battlefield 1, I’ve finally gotten to the last part of the last act and have cleared out the courtyard of most enemies. By this point, I’ve largely exhausted the Gewehr 98’s ammunition and was made to switch to a Cei Rigotti optical in one of the nearby weapon crates.

  • Clearing out the courtyard was made challenging by the fact that flame troopers will appear. Shooting them in their fuel tanks will do the most damage, although when things get hectic, I usually just unload an entire magazine into them after stopping, dropping and rolling to minimise or avoid fire damage. I’ve heard that elsewhere on the ‘net, folks are in the midst of yet another difficult Kantai Collection seasonal event, and going from their remarks, I am glad not to be them, where instead of players going “[name of ship] GET!”, they’re getting rekt, instead.

  • This is one of the reasons why I prefer playing shooters. They don’t require quite as much of an investment for casual folks like myself, and can be quite fun when one pulls off ridiculously cool stunts in either a campaign or multiplayer. For this last figure, it turns out that there’s also a 12G shotgun lying around here, but because I found it after clearing the area, I never made use of it. This brings the fifth mission’s discussion to a conclusion, and I’ll be returning soon to conclude my thoughts on the Battlefield 1 campaign. After that, it’s onwards to the multiplayer and my impressions of it, having reached rank 14 since I started playing it back in late October.

I’m now down to the last mission in Battlefield 1; the campaign has definitely felt like reading a war anthology relating different snippets and accounts of the different personae in World War One. Based wholly around infantry combat, “The Runner” comes across as being a run-of-the-mill mission in comparison to earlier missions in Battlefield 1, but nonetheless remains quite distinct and memorable in its own right for the dynamics between Bishop and Foster. This mission also marks the first time where I’ve been able to find a bolt-action rifle with mounted optics: earlier weapons only had iron sights, and while I’m growing accustomed to using iron sights for the multiplayer, it is such a nice bonus to have access to optics for longer-range engagements. The bottom line here is that exploring a level and hunting down weapon crates can give players access to more effective weapons beyond those wielded by enemy forces, and while I’ve been nominally exploring the campaign missions, I’ve not made a full effort to track down all of the field guides, or complete all the challenges in each mission. I might go back at some point in the future to complete all of these objectives, but for now, one last mission in the campaign awaits, and then it’s time to wrap up Deus Ex: Mankind Divided  to see where Adam Jensen’s story takes him.