The Infinite Zenith

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Battlefield V: Reflections After One Year of Service

“The basic objectives and principles of war do not change.” –Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Coming out of the shadows of a botched launch marketing campaign, and then cursed by the most unfortunate combination of bad gameplay, poor mechanical decisions and a lack of launch content, the Battlefield V of a year ago handled dramatically differently. I picked Battlefield V up a short ways after its original launch, undeterred by the marketing campaign; having been thoroughly impressed with the gunplay seen during the alpha and beta testing, I entered the game with an open mind. After putting in twelve hours over the space of two weeks, I gained a satisfactory measure of the game: the gunplay had indeed felt excellent, consistent and satisfying. However, good shooting alone does not make a game, and right from the start, I was plagued with visibility issues where cowardly players would exploit the visual aspects of the game to blend in to rubble and foliage to score easy kills. The apparent time-to-death was far too short. There were only eight maps, and not all of these were always enjoyable to play on. The progression system was limiting and limited, offering very little for players to unlock and forcing players to go out of their way to complete, which came at the expense of team play. DICE did not instil confidence in the months that followed: the TTK was modified to the detriment of gameplay, making a responsive and rewarding shooting system feel weak, and only a single map was released. DICE would subsequently release content at a snail’s pace, and bugs negatively impacting performance soon cropped up, making the game quite unplayable for some. Battlefield V was in dire straits, and desperately needed a miracle to rectify. A year later, and with the introduction of the Pacific Theatre, DICE appears to have pulled off the impossible, having put out consistently good patches to improve the game. However, it’s not been all smooth sailing: DICE has also clearly not listened to community feedback, and their latest patch renders weapons ineffectual to the point of changing the fundamental core of gameplay.

During the course of this past year, the Tides of War challenges were ultimately what compelled me to return weekly and complete each assignment despite the difficulties Battlefield V have presented. That I’ve returned in spite of bad TTK, poor visibility and a relatively weak set of maps attests to what compels me to play Battlefield; with Battlefield 1, the Road to Battlefield community missions encouraged me to experience the game more often, and having constant, weekly assignments was something that I returned to DICE as feedback. This is something that I greatly enjoy about Battlefield V; I’ve put in around 185 hours into Battlefield V over the past year, which is an incredible amount of time that reflects my enjoyment of the game despite its issues. In this time span, I’ve done far better than I have in any previous Battlefield title after a year. Hours spent on the maps means that in spite of visibility issues, I know where my opponents will be coming from or hiding, and weapon changes are things I can adjust to readily. This knowledge of the game mechanics, while perhaps not as profound and deep as that of those who have more time to direct towards Battlefield V, is nonetheless sufficient for me to not only hold my own against those who are dishonourably capitalising on the lack of a good anti-cheat, but even gain enough of an upper hand on them for me to overcome them. I’ve had matches where understanding of the game and its features have allowed me to continue finding ways to have fun even when cheaters are present, and some of my favourite moments come from smiting my foes from pure skill alone. Regarding the latest TTK updates, I have found them very unwieldy: weaker weapons decrease my confidence in a firefight, and while I might adapt over time, this change does go against the principles of Battlefield V. I expect that DICE will likely revert these changes, but until then, this puts a major dampener on what was otherwise a steady stream of improvements to a game that needed them.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • A year since my journey into Battlefield V started, the game’s undergone many changes, some of which improved the game, while others came as the consequence of inadequate testing and negatively impacted performance. For the most part, the Battlefield V of the present is a stable and functional game. The title has definitely seen its share of shakier moments that challenged the core player-base to stick around over the past year, though, and the game is by no means perfect in spite of the improvements made, even taking a few steps back after the latest update. I realise its been eight days since my last post, and I figured I’d kick off December with another Battlefield V post; after finishing a full morning of volunteering for my karate club’s kata tournament to clear my head and gather my thoughts on where Battlefield V is after a year, it’s time to get this party started.

  • The biggest gripe I have about Battlefield V is the poorly implemented assignment system, which is both unintuitive and cumbersome. Assignments must be manually selected in a dedicated menu, only track if they are selected, and more often than not, have requirements that may force players to adopt play-styles that are counterproductive towards good team play. DICE had the perfect implementation in Battlefield 3 and 4, where assignments would always be tracking once unlocked, and involved tasks that could be completed over the course of normal play.

  • The other aspect I miss from earlier Battlefield titles is the ribbon system, which were awarded for completing milestones in matches (such as scoring a certain number of kills with rifles, reviving a number of teammates, etc). In Battlefield 1, they were noticeably absent from earlier builds but were added back in later on. In Battlefield V, ribbons were ostensibly present in the game, but were bugged and never displayed properly. They’ve since become absent entirely, and my guess is that DICE removed the feature entirely. Conversely, the medal system is quite robust and handles as the medals used to, but the number of medals one can collect is limited.

  • Another problem in Battlefield V is that visibility remains a problem even after DICE made an effort to improve it in patches: while somewhat effective, a prone player with the right uniform colours can still blend in seamlessly in rubble or foliage and wait for unsuspecting players to pass by. I’m probably one of the few players longing for a return to the old 3D spotting of earlier titles, where the knowledge that one could be spotted would force one to adopt a much more mobile strategy to stay alive.

  • Finally, the cheater problem in Battlefield V is out of control: with seemingly no cheat detection measures and the options to kick suspected cheaters, players employing cheats ranging from subtle one like automatic 3D spotting and recoil elimination to outright aimbots and wallhacks have run rampant in matches, diminishing the experience in some cases. While I’m not a stellar player by any stretch, I’ve seen enough to know when a player bested me by skill alone, and when they used cheats: in matches where cheaters are absent, I tend to do modestly well.

  • Assignments, ribbons, visibility and cheats aside, Battlefield V has definitely come a long way in capturing the Only in Battlefield moments of older titles with its latest updates, and by this point in time, the Pacific has contributed to this sense of return, alongside the Operation Underground map. Here, I’ve unlocked all the specialisations for my Type 97 tank: by replacing the primary 57 mm gun with the Type 3 75 mm gun, I’ve been able to run Anteater Team’s Type 3 Chi-nu from Girls und Panzer. Together with AP rounds and extended capacity, the Type 97 becomes a highly effective and capable tank.

  • The LVT was originally designed as an amphibious vehicle for cargo deliveries, but found usage during the Pacific campaign as a troop transport. The Battlefield V variant starts its journey with a 37 mm main cannon and a coaxial M1919 .30-Calibre machine gun, but can be upgraded to use a heavier M6 75mm gun for improved performance against vehicles. Conversely, the LVT can also be outfitted with a pair of M2 Brownings for anti-air combat.

  • Having now gotten the M1919 A6 to maximum rank and reset the weapon to optimise its performance at long ranges, this medium machine gun became a beast to use, firing bullets with a faster muzzle velocity than any other gun in the game with pinpoint accuracy. While unable to mount a set of high-magnification optics for balance reasons, the M1919 A6 can still be used to great effect at range, handily suppressing and tearing through opponents downrange prior to the new patch.

  • MMG bipod campers are a breed of player that is most reviled in Battlefield V, and for good reason: staying in one spot with a high-accuracy, high-volume-of-fire weapon takes no skill, and while such players can be picked off by snipers, they still deal a massive amount of damage (and attendant frustration) to the enemy team. The proper, team-oriented use of an MMG is to lock down a choke point, then accompany teammates to the next target and help with defense.

  • A fully-upgraded M4 Sherman in Battlefield V becomes the A3E8 variant, sporting the M1A1 76 mm tank gun that makes it more lethal against vehicles. The choice of gun means that the M4 cannot be configured as a Sherman Firefly, which was Naomi’s tank of choice in Girls und Panzer; while the choice to fit a British 17-pounder to the tank was intended to give it more firepower against German armour, in practise, the cartridge of the Firefly filled the crew compartment with smoke when it fired and while effective, did not offer any substantial performance over the M1A1 76 mm gun.

  • For one of the Tides of War weekly assignments, one of the tasks was to earn score using aircraft. As previously noted, I’m not terribly effective with planes, and it was therefore a bit fo a surprise when I managed to shoot down another plane during a dogfight, which earned me enough points to finish the assignment. The upgraded planes have some interesting specialisations to equip, but for me, the difficult flight controls mean that I’m never too effective with planes.

  • Instead, I’d much rather be on the ground dealing with planes: the addition of the Fliegerfaust to Battlefield V during October completely changed the dynamic between ground and air, finally giving infantry an effective anti-air weapon. Firing three salvos of three rockets for a total of nine unguided rounds, the Fliegerfaust can destroy any plane in a single hit if aimed correctly, and while infantry players are generally happy with the addition, pilots are quite displeased that they can now be removed from the air by a single infantry. The latest patch fixes the Fliegerfaust by having it fire two salvos of three rockets, and damage properties are modified so one needs to be a lot more accurate with their shots to be effective.

  • Now that I’ve gotten my hands on it a bit more often, I can say that the M2 flamethrower is a proper battle pickup: while immensely powerful at close range, the weapon leaves players vulnerable at range. Battlefield 1‘s flametrooper class was far more effective, and even sported a Wex carrying unlimited ammunition. By comparison, the M2 carries 450 units of fuel, and fires 150 before the ignition cylinder needs to be replaced. The weapon will also overheat if fired continuously for 75 units. Becoming a situational weapon, the M2 has been balanced well, and while fun to use, is generally not too practical.

  • Besides levelling up the LVT to unlock the Twin M2 Brownings, I’ve been attempting to get more familiar with the Ka-Mi, the Japanese equivalent of the LVT. Here, I managed to destroy a vehicle and earn another medal during a match of squad conquest. This smaller conquest mode replaces domination and is fun in its own right, offering a close quarters experience that can be quite hectic. On squad conquest, I find that I’m usually near-invincible if given a vehicle unless the enemy team coordinates to take me out.

  • During one match of squad conquest, I did end up losing my tank, having chosen the Ka-Mi to try and level it up so I could unlock the twin 13mm Type 93 machine guns, which function similarly to the 50-cal guns on the LVT. I ended up returning to the capture point with the aim of getting back the guy who ruined my tank run, ended up picking up a katana and then went on a 5-streak with it. I’ve heard that the katana is capable of performing a lunge; while not as pronounced as the sword lunges of Halo, it does allow one to close the distance more quickly.

  • Thanks in part to my general pwnage on squad conquest, my team did very well this match, and here, I scored a kill with the iron sights M1 Garand: in my previous post, I had the 3x optics equipped, but the truth is that the iron sights are very usable. I typically run with the heavy load specialisation on the M1 Garand, but in iron sight range, it suddenly feels that there could be merit in running the rifle grenades, as well. I’ve heard rumours that the M1 Garand could be getting a bayonet, as well.

  • If and when I’m asked as to just how good I am at Battlefield V, my reply is that I’m good enough to have fun with the game. I’m certainly not the Halo 2 legend that I was back in the day, where I could go for entire matches without dying once and accomplished the Killimanjaro medal twice, which is the highest multi-kill Halo 2 had. Halo has now returned to PC in a big way with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and with Halo Reach out now, I am going to be returning to the world of Halo very soon.

  • In Strike Witches, Sanya Litvyak wields a modified Fliegerfaust known as the Fliegerhammer, which has been given extensive upgrades to make it more effective against the Neuroi. For obvious balance reasons, running her loadout in Battlefield V means to dedicate one to an anti-air role: the rockets deal no damage to armour and pitiful damage to infantry. Thanks to pilots’ reception to the Fliegerfaust, DICE had reduced the performance of the Fliegerfaust slightly, so prior to the changes made to the gadget, I made extensive use of the Fliegerfaust to express my distaste for pilots.

  • The guy I blasted here definitely lived up to his name, spending all match running around with a shotgun. Shotguns are a bit of a mixed bag for me: while they’re fun to use in close quarters situations, they’re ineffectual at the ranges that most Battlefield V firefights occur at. Telemetry indicates that most firefights happen at around 22 metres, up from the 15 or so of earlier titles, and so, from a statistics perspective, it means that fewer engagements happen at ranges where shotguns are at their best. This is probably why I’ve not found the same fun from using shotguns as I did in earlier titles.

  • I’ve heard that the incendiary bombs for the Corsair F4U-1A and Zero A6M2 are devastatingly effective against infantry: this is what I primarily use aircraft for in the minutes that I spend piloting them, as I’ve never been too skillful with dogfights in Battlefield. Of course, being a poor pilot overall means that reaching rank four with aircraft is a bit beyond my ability and patience for the present: I’ve not figured out how to improve my banking angles and tighten my turn radius to be effective as a pilot.

  • There have been precious few opportunities to get behind the wheel of a T34 Calliope, so I’ve not had too much opportunity to see what the tank is capable of. The vehicle’s high profile makes it a visible target that enemy players immediately go after, and I’ve never particularly lasted too long while operating a Calliope, which has similar durability to an M4 Sherman specialised with upgraded armour parts. With this being said, when things do connect, the Calliope is a powerful force on the battlefield; its rockets can shred enemy vehicles quickly, and here, I land a triple kill while attempting to take back an island capture point towards the end of a match.

  • Conversely, the HaChi is a tank I’ve managed to get behind the wheel of and stay in for long periods because of its more unobtrusive design. In one thrilling match of Breakthrough on Iwo Jima, I went on a Running Riot (15-streak) with the HaChi, melting anyone who’d stepped too close to the capture point. Unlike the Calliope, which has a pool of sixty rockets to work with, the Hachi must reload its rockets once six are fired. In spite of this limitation, the rockets remain effective, with three salvos being sufficient to destroy any tank. For anti-infantry roles, the machine gun works wonders, and the HaChi is more than capable of being a regular tank, with a 75mm main cannon that can hold its own at range.

  • At the top of Mount Suribachi, where the enemy had no vehicles, the rockets and machine gun were more than enough for me to hold the attackers off while my team regrouped. I had been doing very poorly this match, but getting into the Hachi completely changed all this: I exited the match KD positive, and here, got a triple-kill on one of the players who had been maligning throughout the match. Of course, my Running Riot inevitably came to an end when half their team trained their Panzerfausts on me, but I managed to exit my doomed Hachi and stayed alive long enough to get a double kill with the Sten, extending my streak to seventeen.

  • The latest TTK update renders many weapons left feeling like a peashooter, which is contrary to the solid, consistent damage that all weapons had the potential to deal in earlier iterations of Battlefield V. DICE has argued that this was to enforce the idea that certain weapons would be effective only in certain ranges, and claimed that damage drop-off models would be the only thing that changed, but in practise, this completely changes the way most weapons handle, requiring one to reacquaint themselves with how things work.

  • I admit that I don’t wield the PIAT often: the PIAT deals less impact damage and has a greater drop than the Panzerfaust, and while it deals greater explosive damage, it’s not a weapon of choice for me. I’ve heard it can act as a pocket mortar of sorts, which is pretty cool, and in a pinch, the weapon can be effective. Here, I scored a completely lucky double kill with one on a tank that should not have died in two shots with a PIAT: the folks at the receiving end wondered about this in the chat and I replied that I was not expecting such an outcome, either.

  • Overall, the new TTK patch seems to hit medics and their submachine guns the hardest, with my go-to guns like the MP-40 and Sten being quite undesirable now. The Jungle Carbine seems quite unaffected, and I nailed consecutive headshots with it after getting on a particularly good flank. The Thompson feels about as effective as it did in close quarters, and the M1 Garand is thankfully still usable for the most part. In short, most of the weapons I stick to don’t feel as reliable as they once did, rendering most weapons quite strange in performance.

  • My favourite part about the new update is that it brings improved spotting into Battlefield V – I’m probably in the minority who feels spotting is the way to counter bad visibility, but the reality is that Battlefield V is a highly mobile experience. Camping in one spot does one’s team no favours, and so, alerting players to when they are spotted, as well as improved minimap mechanics and automatic 3D spotting now deters one from camping: while players are rewarded for a good flanking route, they will not be punished to the same extent as someone who has set up shop in a dark corner of a room, and knowing when one is spotted encourages one to play smarter.

  • There’s also been a subtle, but noticeable addition to Battlefield V: kills now register the same sound as they did in Battlefield 1, making each kill feel satisfying. Overall, this patch has made nontrivial changes to Battlefield V: with the TTK changes dramatically decreasing my confidence in a weapon, I can’t say I’m terribly pleased with the changes. I’ll probably adjust over time, and in the past few matches I’ve played, I have been KD positive, but if community reception causes it to be reverted or improved, this will be the preferred outcome, since it would restore my confidence in having a good time in firefights.

  • Overall, the latest patch does introduce some interesting and valuable additions to Battlefield V, although it is clear that the new patch needs much more work: conceptually, a slightly higher TTK means rewarding skilled players for maintaining accurate fire over longer durations and giving skilled players a chance to extricate themselves from a bad situation: if the weapons can remain balanced and more versatile than they are post-patch, then this is about all one could ask for. I also realise that Wake Island is coming out in a mere four days, but I wanted to time this post to match my initial impressions post a year ago.

  • Battlefield V is going to have some serious competition in the near future: between a bad TTK update and the fact that Halo: The Master Chief Collection released for PC a few days ago, I’m waiting for the Steam Winter Sale to buy it and capitalise on whatever the perks for buying stuff during a Winter Sale are, which will almost certainly take time away from Battlefield V. Halo Reach is finally on PC after nearly a decade, and I am looking forwards to finally experiencing the entire classic Halo experience from Reach onwards. I know I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front since last month’s Jon’s Creator Showcase cost: I’ve wanted a bit of a break from things, but as we move further into December, I am going to be writing about Kandagawa Jet Girls as we move into the show’s third and final quarter, as well as Seishun Buta Yarou‘s movie.

While Battlefield V of a year ago had yet to undergo the changes that would challenge the community’s faith in DICE and their enjoyment of the game, the biggest limitation it faced had been a lack of content. Fast forward a year, and the game’s in a completely different state: Battlefield V may still lack the sheer number of maps that its predecessors had a year into their lifecycles, but the implementation and delivery of both Operation Underground and the Pacific have revived the game. The introduction of the latest content into Battlefield V makes one point abundantly clear, that Battlefield is at its best when it creates iconic experiences for players to enjoy. Operation Underground was a return to classic Battlefield 3 gameplay with improvements, and Iwo Jima shows what Battlefield can look like at its finest, with large-scale battles between infantry and vehicles. It is no joke when I say that I’ve gotten more out of Battlefield V since Operation Underground released than I had between December of last year to when Operation Underground released. Battlefield V has passed through a long and difficult year, and although the title’s had its share of troubles, the game is in a passable state overall as we enter the winter season. There are two more maps for the Pacific theatre (Wake Island and Solomon Islands), and once the Pacific wraps up, having seen what DICE can do in large updates that introduce new factions, I remain very optimistic that the Eastern Front, Normandy Invasion and Fall of Berlin could become a part of Battlefield V, which would make the title the best World War Two shooter in recent memory and also allow me to run with the loadouts of both Girls und Panzer and Strike Witches. Of course, if DICE were to revert the TTK changes, then we’d have a very solid game, but present evidence suggests this would be being optimistic to the point of foolishness.

YuruYuri Ten: Tenth Anniversary OVA Review and Reflection

“Real love stories never have endings.” –Richard Bach

To commemorate YuruYuri‘s tenth anniversary for the manga’s release, Akari, Chinatsu, Yui and Kyōko of the Amusement Club decide to reminisce on events of the past ten years, but inadvertently end up including the prehistoric era. When Ayano and Chitose arrive, they decide to host a party celebrating ten years worth of manga. They decide to help set up decorations for the party, and Himawari decides to help Chinatsu bake some cookies for the party. Meanwhile, Akari and Chitose continue with the decorations after everyone’s left. The next day, the girls kick off celebrations, and play a variety of games. When Akari loses in a rock-paper-scissors variant several times in a row, she ends up passing out from exhaustion after being made to partake in the penalty. She dreams of the encouragement and support her friends have offered her, and after waking up, it turns out that they’d planned a second surprise: the tenth anniversary of YuruYuri happens to coincide with Akari’s birthday, and they’d planned this out for her, as well. In the post-credits scene, Akari wonders how Yui and Kyōko got the photos of her for the birthday slideshow, but Kyōko remarks it’s better not to know. With its combination of comedy and yuri situations, YuruYuri has remained quite consistent in providing good laughs for readers since it began running in 2008. The anime’s first season aired in 2011, and since then, there have been three seasons, plus a special OVA and a web mini-series. Following the life of Akari Akaza and the everyday antics at the Amusement Club, YuruYuri opens as a pure comedy, using its characters purely to drive moments that elicit a smile. However, as the seasons wore on, the series did begin showing a subtle shift as the characters matured. Rather than purely focusing on gags (often at Akari’s expense), YuruYuri began showing a more genuine, tender dynamic between everyone as they come to treasure the time spent together as students. Ayano slowly begins to take the initiative to spend more time with Kyōko. Sakurako demonstrates a more mature side to her personality. Akari becomes less prone to random ills. The sum of this showed that even when character dynamics in YuruYuri began shifting, the series lost none of its edge, and continued to entertain viwers while at once, adding new depth to the characters

By the time of YuruYuri Ten, the series has struck a masterful balance between the heart-warming moments and the hilarious moments. The OVA opens with an unexpected insertion into the prehistoric era, which sees the girls gather fish and wild edibles without any dialogue. This sudden shift in the environment reinforces the sense that YuruYuri is still able to create ludicrous moments for the characters to drive humour. The OVA shifts between more gentle moments where the characters spend time together in preparation for the coming party, whether it be Chinatsu learning to bake under Himawari’s watch (and somehow managing to create a monstrosity that isn’t fit for human eyes), or Akari and Chitose boosting the club room’s decorations. During the party, YuruYuri Ten appears to relapse into the series’ old ways when Akari constantly loses at rock-paper-scissors, but this segues smoothly into a dialogue about what Akari means to everyone. While the OVA could have performed a cruel joke on her in its ending, it concludes in a meaningful manner; per Kyōko’s promise, the OVA did indeed give Akari the focus that she was often denied in the series, showing that over time, people mature and learn as a result of their experiences and time spent together. This is the theme in YuruYuri, and while it is not apparent during the earlier seasons, over time, subtle differences in the characters show that viewers have been watching a very dynamic and changing cast whose adventures become worth following because they show that one’s present situation won’t necessarily always be thus, especially if it is unfavourable, and over time, it is encouraging to see everyone make the most of their time as students while improving their circumstances.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Ten years is a lot of time, and a lot has happened in the past decade. In fact, when YuruYuri first began running as a manga, I was still a secondary student, just getting into anime. When the anime began airing, I was an undergraduate student. That YuruYuri has found a way to keep the party going after all this time is nothing short of impressive, and while the anime might have slowed, the manga is still ongoing.

  • While many things have changed, some things also never change: YuruYuri Ten opens with the same hajimaru yo~! that the first and second seasons utilised. On the other hand, season three employed a much more conventional setup, starting each episode with the opening song. Seeing this introduction come back, together with Akari being interrupted, immediately sets the tone for the rest of the OVA.

  • The Palaeolithic segment of YuruYuri Ten brings to mind the antics of B.C. SpongeBob, which placed familiar characters in a prehistoric setting and similarly reduced the characters to short vocalisations. While B.C. SpongeBob was outright hilarious (it was made before the series degraded into the unintelligible drivel of the present), the YuruYuri Ten version is short, succint and adorable, showing the Amusement Club’s members working together to start a fire and prepare a meal.

  • The prehistoric segment draws to an end once Ayano and Chitose appear. While Kyōko and Akari are quite happy to see them, Chinatsu and Yui are embarassed to have been seen doing this sort of thing. The girls sit down to discuss what to do for the tenth anniversary of YuruYuri, and ultimately decide on a party. Ayano’s tsundere mannerisms have been dialed back during the OVA, but her uncommon talent for making bad puns remains, and she is one of the few people who can consistently make Yui laugh with said puns.

  • It’s quite rare that Himawari and Chinatsu spend time together: ever-driven to impress Yui and win her affections, Chinatsu decides to try her hand at baking cookies, but ends up creating a concotion not dissimilar to Bender’s cooking from Futurama. So appalling is this creation that the contents are blurred out, and from what is seen, Chinatsu’s cookies appear to contain swarms of things. Chinatsu asks Sakurako to try one, and it’s an indicator of how terrifying it is when even Himawari is worried about what will happen to Sakurako after.

  • While Sakurako may be more mature than she was at the start of YuruYuri, she’s still envious of Himawari’s bust and will not hesitate to make her displeasure known whenever something is against her favour. This reminds me somewhat of GochiUsa‘s second season, when an irate Sharo chases Chiya around after Chiya tries on her Fleur de Lapin costume and causes a button to pop off. Himawari’s look of embarrassment is priceless.

  • Subtly has never been YuruYuri‘s strong suit, and Chitose is fond of imagining her friends in various raunchy situations with one another. The dynamic between Ayano and Kyōko has been one that dates back all the way to the series’ beginning, and while Ayano is tsundere in these situations, Kyōko is blissfully unaware of Ayano’s feelings for her: she does all sorts of things that fluster Ayano in the series. YuruYuri Ten makes a call-back to this when Kyōko, seeing Ayano struggling to inflate a balloon, takes the same balloon and inflates it. Ayano blushes because of the implied kiss, but Kyōko is completely unaware of this.

  • After a day’s of work, the Amusement Club’s main room is properly decorated. If memory serves, Ayano met Kyōko while she’d been on a mission to eliminate the Amusement Club as a part of her student council president duties, but over time, came to tolerate and accept the club’s existence. At present, the Amusement Club is no longer a thorn in her side, and she participates with the aim of getting to know Kyōko better, planning to one day make a kokuhaku.

  • The next day, the Amusement Club’s party is under way, and opens with everyone sitting down to food. Chinatsu’s cookies end up scaring Yui, but beyond this, have no long-lasting impact on her health, suggesting they look much scarier than they taste. It is fortunate that such constructs are absent in reality: on top of providing sustenance, food exists to be enjoyed, and I’m always fond of a good meal. Yesterday, I returned to a Chinese bistro that’d I’d not visited in some years for their evening special, which is both tasty and inexpensive. On Saturdays, it’s a flank steak with Russian-style sauce on spaghetti, garnished with pumpkin and carrots.

  • Having seen the club room with the basic decorations, the special decorations Akari adds to it make things even flashier than before. The party starts out fairly relaxed, with much food and conversation, but this would admittedly make for a duller OVA. Once the last of the food is enjoyed and cleared away, the fun and games come out. This is where YuruYuri Ten gets knocked into twelfth gear. The wild antics of YuruYuri match those seen in Rick and Morty at times, and in fact, despite radically different premises and characters, Rick and Morty shares a great deal in common with YuruYuri, striking a balance between storytelling to drive home a certain message and providing no-holds-barred comedy.

  • To the uninitiated, there are two Yuis in this scene: Kyōko’s brought wigs for everyone and passes them out, allowing everyone to take on different appearances. This is a visual gag that is only possible because unlike a live-action work, the fact that hair only has one texture means that palette-swapping is trivially easy to accomplish. For the remainder of the OVA, I’ll only be showing some moments off, as they are best enjoyed in their original form.

  • I don’t recall Yui being quite so touchy about Kyōko’s antics in the original series: after the girls begin playing an imitation game, Yui grows angry and spins Kyōko round (like a record). Yui’s long been presented as the most level-headed of the bunch, and is usually the one who counteracts Kyōko’s wild personality. All of the characters in YuruYuri are likeable, but for me, Yui stands out from everyone for providing insight into how ordinary folk might react to the sorts of things in the series.

  • While soft-spoken and gentle for the most part, YuruYuri Ten also shows Chitose as becoming rather displeased with Kyōko during the imitation game. There’s actually a scene here that involves her overactive imagination painting an image of Kyōko looking after Ayano as a doctor: even in its shorter run, YuruYuri Ten manages to bring back many of the things that made YuruYuri particularly memorable, and while it’s been four years since I’ve watched YuruYuri‘s third season, my recollections of what made this series so hilarious came flooding back upon seeing the OVA.

  • Having taken a look around, I can say with confidence that this is the only complete discussion for YuruYuri Ten that exists on the internet that comes with screenshots. There aren’t any more substantial talks beyond reactions, and to the best of my knowledge, reception to YuruYuri Ten has been quite positive, being a trip down memory lane for most. I have also seen YuruYuri Ten being stylised as YuruYuri、. This is a pun on the fact that the enumeration comma (頓號, jyutping deon6 hou6, literally “pause mark”) in Japanese is pronounced ten.

  • It just wouldn’t be YuruYuri if Akari wasn’t made to suffer at least once: the rock-paper-scissors game that Kyōko suggests has losers act in a much more upbeat, high-energy level with each successive loss. The setup reminds me a little of the Tension Meter seen in Angel Beats!‘ OVA, and because Akari is intrinsically kind, she gets into the spirits and attempts to amp up the tension.

  • While it’s all fun and games initially, the others eventually grow nervous when Akari sustains several losses in a row. Something like this cannot be attributed to pure chance anymore, and as Akari’s efforts eventually has even Kyōko wondering when Akari will snap from being pushed too far. Eventually, Akari seemingly outputs enough energy to create a singularity and ends up in the void. Frightened and alone, she bursts into tears, but the spirit of her friends soon join her.

  • After ten years, YuruYuri has found its feet in being able to turn Akari’s suffering into something heartwarming. In the void, her friends remind her of all of the good she’s done and precious memories they’ve created during their time together. They wish her a happy birthday before Akari wakes up back in the club room. Rather than any Akira-level explanations, it is more plausible to suppose that as a result of having to become increasingly high tension, Akari passed out from exhaustion.

  • In the time that Akari is out, the other members of the Amusement Club prepare a cake and slide show to celebrate Akari’s birthday, as well as her contributions to everyone’s experiences despite being relegated into nonexistence in some cases. It was a bit of an unexpected but welcome twist: Akari’s birthday is given as July 24, which is when YuruYuri Reset began running, and the summer weather does seem to corroborate this, but this also creates a bit of an inconsistency in things, since YuruYuri‘s manga started its journey on June 18, 2008.

  • Of course, it is not my objective to pick apart minor inconsistencies like these, and I’ll let it slide since viewers ultimately end up with a fun return to YuruYuri. The OVA does everything well, capturing the full spirit of the original TV series over the course of its runtime, and as a result, I have no problem recommending this to anyone who enjoyed YuruYuri. 

  • In the post-credits, it turns out that the slideshow was made from photographs that Akari’s older sister, Akane had. Akane’s tendencies are questionable, and Kyōko worries about Akari finding out, so she simply opts not to tell Akari how they’d come to get the photographs. The Amusement Club then decides to figure out what their next activity should be, bringing the OVA to a close. This also brings my discussion to a close: we’re now nearing the end of November, and the only post on the plate is for Jon’s Creator Showcase.

Because the YuruYuri manga began its journey in 2008, 2019 technically is not the ten-year anniversary, and the OVA (along with this post) would be more appropriately labelled as being the eleventh anniversary. However, since the OVA was announced in 2018 as a celebratory project, the ten-year designation can be said to hold true. From what I’ve seen, production on YuruYuri Ten was delayed, and this is why the tenth anniversary special came to be a year later. Eleven years after the manga’s beginnings, and eight years since the anime adaptation first began running, YuruYuri has become a bit of a forgotten title: while reception to the series was quite positive, the reality is that the last YuruYuri finished running in 2015 with season three. Thus, the fact that YuruYuri received an OVA to celebrate its tenth anniversary at all is nothing short of miraculous, showing both the creators’ commitment to the series, as well as the fan’s dedication: the OVA was funded by a crowd-funding project that met its objectives in February 2019, and it was a few weeks ago when YuruYuri Ten released. Despite being produced by a different studio (Lay-duce handled this, whereas TYO Animations had done the earlier seasons), YuruYuri Ten retains all of the pacing, character designs and stylistic choices present in the series. Overall, the OVA is a welcome addition to the series, providing a reminder of a series that has done an excellent job of striking a balance between gag humour and meaningful character growth amongst the cast. YuruYuri Ten is therefore quite worth watching, bringing back many of the elements that made the TV series so enjoyable while simultaneously celebrating a well-deserved tenth anniversary.

Kandagawa Jet Girls: Review and Reflection At the Halfway Point

“If you take out the ‘team’ in teamwork, it’s just work. Now, who wants that?” –Matthew Woodring Stover

While Emily Orange and Jennifer Peach take an early lead in the race, Rin and Misa begin catching up, taking advantage of the Orcano’s handling to put Misa in a spot where she can snipe the Cuisine 2 at a critical juncture. Depriving Emily and Jennifer of their speed, Misa and Rin manage to win, and honouring the terms of their competition, Jennifer yields the yellow dolphin keychain to Misa, thanking them for an exhilarating race. Later, Rin and Misa begin training on their simulator, but the simulator malfunctions. Ruca decides it’s time to pick up new parts, and heads into town with Misa and Rin. Misa and Rin explore around, stopping at an idol café along the way. The next day, Misa struggles to ask for Rin’s phone number, and Rin accompanies Emily and Jennifer to a concert. After making a reservation for a slot to practise, Rin and Misa learn that they are to forfeit their slot to Hell’s Kitchen, a team from CS Production School known for their involvement in idol activities. Tsui and Tina Pan, of Hell’s Kitchen, anger Rin with their casual remarks about Misa’s skills, prompting her to challenge the pair to a showdown. However, Rin and Misa are soundly beaten. Later, Misa decides to take Rin to a different part of Asukasa, since their previous outing had been disrupted, and here, they run into Shinjuku Takadanobaba Girls School’s Manatsu Shiraishi and Yuzu Midorikawa. After the two mention Rin and Misa’s spanking at Hell’s Kitchen’s hands, Misa takes up a variety of challenges where they both get defeated. Emily and Jennifer appear later in the day and, after watching the final challenge, point out that Rin and Misa’s weakness is their lack of communication. Realising this, Misa and Rin finally exchange phone numbers and spend the remainder of an evening marveling in being able to text one another effortlessly.

Kandagawa Jet Girls might prima facie be counted as frivolous, an excuse to shamelessly promote the upcoming game of the same name and offer an unparalleled opportunity to show some skin, but beyond this is an unexpectedly coherent story. After Rin and Misa’s win over Unkai establishes the implicit strength of their friendship, the story turns towards showing that an implicit understanding and trust of one another won’t get them very far. This is hinted at in Misa’s inability to summon up the courage to ask for Rin’s number. While seemingly a trivial detail for comedy’s sake, this actually serves to show that even as far as fundamentals go, Misa is still too shy to speak with Rin. The race with Hell’s Kitchen establishes that the successful team is coordinated and synchronised with one another, able to act as a cohesive unit while on the water. While Rin demonstrates an innate talent for racing, and Misa has experience in shooting, their individual skills aren’t enough to win races. The introduction of Manatsu and Yuzu then reinforces that this lack of communication is what is holding Rin and Misa back as racers; even in trivial activities involving teams, Misa and Rin struggle because of the absence of teamwork. Jennifer and Emily note that the first step to establishing teamwork is communication of intent. Misa does end up realising this, and symbolically, takes the first step towards improvement by asking Rin for her number. It’s a subtle gesture, but by resolving this issue at the halfway point shows viewers that Rin and Misa are ready to move into their next steps as a racing team.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Six episodes into Kandagawa Jet Girls, I am finding this series far more enjoyable than initially anticipated. Its game-like setting becomes very apparent, and this is probably one of the reasons I find no shortage of things to talk about. Having dabbled in game design and development for my Master’s thesis, I am mindful of things like collision physics, mechanics, balance and interactivity: while Kandagawa Jet Girls is heavy on the T & A, my interest in games means I’m able to keep the conversation going.

  • My predictions turned out to be accurate: Emily’s preference for a shoulder-fired rocket favours destruction and area effects over precision. Emily and Jennifer are very much about style and flash, and their choice of area-of-effect munitions weapon coupled with a fast jet ski means they’re able to deal damage to unsuspecting teams very quickly. The tradeoff is that the Cuisine 2 seems less agile, and a heavy weapon means Emily has fewer shots to work with.

  • Rin’s apprehension soon turns to excitement once the race kicks in, and while she mistakenly activates her boost on a turn, costing them precious moments, Misa reassures Rin not to worry and focus. Misa’s ability to communicate with Rin during a race is rudimentary, to a much lesser extent than more experienced teams, but early on, it is enough to get Rin focused back on the race.

  • Tsui and Tina are seen watching the Kandagawa Jet Girls with interest during a break between their work as idols and sit rather closely together. I’ve heard that yuri elements are supposed to be a factor in Kandagawa Jet Girls, although insofar, I’ve felt that focusing on yuri itself in the series is secondary to understanding how that elements impacts the teams and their ability to work together. In other words, yuri is going to be solidly present, rather than being a “will they?” question – meaningful discussion thus assumes this to be a given and then focuses on the “so what?”.

  • In Kandagawa Jet Girls, the “so what?” of why yuri is present is simply how it impacts each team’s ability to perform. As the race between Unkai and the Kandagawa Jet Girls progresses, the former begin increasing their lead with skillful piloting and well-placed shots from their rocket. Jennifer and Emily had earlier requested a tunnel segment in their race to make things more fun, and while they have little trouble negotiating the turns of the tunnel, Rin is able to keep up with a combination of the Orcano’s manoeuvrability and her own talent.

  • Yuzu’s innuendo manages to embarrass Manatsu, as the two discuss the race between the Kandagawa Jet Girls and Unkai. While I’ve been focusing on character development and the relevance of game mechanics in driving the story, other writers have chosen to superciliously focus on (nonexistent) philosophical matters surrounding Kandagawa Jet Girls. Choya of Random Curiosity argues that Lacanian psychoanalysis is required to “get” Kandagawa Jet Girls, specifically, positing that the lack of males in the series, coupled with yuri relationships and various camera angles representing Lacan’s “gaze” means that the show’s values are rooted in psychology rather than story, pertaining to how the series should differ itself from other works of its genre.

  • This is quite untrue: Lacan’s style was to present his theories in a way as to make them unfalsifiable, and contemporaries regarded him as a “amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatan” whose work amounted to nothing more than an “incoherent system of pseudo-scientific gibberish”. In the case of Kandagawa Jet Girls, Choya does readers no favours by referencing Lacan, and adds little to the discussion besides perhaps demonstrating a lack of understanding of psychology. The yuri elements are not the core focus of either the game or the anime, but instead, serve to reinforce the idea that the pilot and gunner work closely as a team to the point where they can be seen as a romantic couple.

  • In the realm of shows like Kandagawa Jet Girls, it is quite unnecessary to claim that one is watching it to see if it “[provides] some valuable enough content to fuel this conversation deeper to explore what about [this series] makes it both transformative and derivative of its contemporaries in the ecchi genre”. Shows of this sort do not invite discussions on philosophy or psychology, least of all those from methods that have been decisively demonstrated to be false. This is why I choose to focus on the characters’ growth and interactions within their setting; applying discredited philosophical theories does little to help others understand the characters’ beliefs, desires and intents.

  • Of late, the quality Random Curiosity’s articles surrounding the series that I end up writing about have declined, and I occasionally wonder if some of their writers’ hearts are really in the game to be writing about anything with a substantial slice-of-life or ecchi component in it. Back in Kandagawa Jet Girls, Rin collapses in exhaustion after the race concludes. A well-placed shot from Misa while the Cuisine 2 is airborne impacts it, dealing enough damage to cause it to power down. This leaves Rin and Misa free to win their race. This outcome was visible from a klick away; while Rin and Misa are still novices as a team, they had to win this race simply to show that victory is possible and allow Misa to win the yellow dolphin keychain that evidently signifies her commitment to Rin.

  • In the aftermath, Emily and Jennifer accept their loss and the other keychains Rin had gotten them. Despite losing, they are thrilled to have had fun racing Rin and Misa; good sportsmanship is an integral part of any anime featuring sports, and one aspect of Kandagawa Jet Girls that I will be keeping an eye on is how Rin and Misa deal with other racers in the aftermath of a given race. Such series typically emphasise sportsmanship and the development of friendships amongst rivals, which are more professional than personal in nature. This was actually what made Girls und Panzer and Harukana Receive worth watching, and this season’s Rifle is Beautiful is also doing a solid job of incorporating sportsmanship into things.

  • Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ fifth episode was actually delayed in production. On the first Tuesday of November, when my area was hit with a major snowstorm that tangled up traffic, I slogged through six inches of snow while hoofing it back home after work. Upon arriving home, I learnt that there was no Kandagawa Jet Girls episode to watch. This ended up being a blessing, as used the extra time to work on my post for Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre. Kandagawa Jet Girls is now a week later, and while this will push back my finale post into 2020, the impact on my schedule is otherwise minimal. I think Azur Lane suffered from a similar delay and is a week behind, as well.

  • Rin’s enjoyment of the arts is apparent, and she is quick to design a new logo for the Orcano, sharing it with the other club members during a meeting. For Fumika and Hina, as well as Yamada, the drawing is tantamount to a kokuhaku, although for me, this is a bit of a stretch: Rin’s drawing is merely of her and Misa as the logo. Try as I might, I can’t find any symbols in the drawing itself that might imply a declaration of love.

  • When the training rig breaks down, Ruca notes that the age of the hardware means that a trip to town is needed in order to secure the replacement parts. Ruca reminds me somewhat of Girls und Panzer‘s Alisa in appearance, and while seemingly cold and distant, Ruca is at her best when working on mechanical projects. Anything involving repairs puts a smile on her face, and on the whole, having Ruca in their corner means that audiences can be assured that Misa and Rin’s vehicle will always be in excellent shape, leaving the outcome of a race purely to them.

  • While Ruca searches for the appropriate components, she suggests that Misa and Rin take some time to relax. One recurring joke is that each and every one of Misa’s attempts to spend time alone with Rin is inexplicably ruined whenever others show up to the party. Jennifer and Emily appear shortly after when Rin stops to check out a café with idols, much to Misa’s annoyance. Misa is not particularly vocal about this, but expresses her irritation by playing with her hair.

  • I’ve heard that some folks express different tics when whenever faced with stress, anger, annoyance or boredom. Mine is picking at loose skin on my fingers whenever I’m nervous. It is here that Rin and Misa learn of Hell’s Kitchen, a team of two idols whose appearances belie uncommon skill at jet ski racing. With Rin clearly interested in checking out idols more closely, Jennifer and Emily invite her out to a concert the next day.

  • Misa wonders why it’s so hard for her to talk to Rin about getting her phone number, and when Rin leaves for said concert, she retreats to the balcony and sulks about here. Most viewers appear to have marked Misa’s hesitation as a relatively minor point with seemingly no significance beyond comedy, but the persistence of this particular topic and how it ties into the sixth episode shows that there’s actually a bit more depth than people give Kandagawa Jet Girls credit for.

  • I think every episode of Kandagawa Jet Girls features at least one such moment, and therefore, in the spirit of the anime, I will make it a point to feature at least a handful of these screenshots purely for the sake of consistency. I know readers don’t come here for that sort of thing, but it’s still fun to mix things up a little from time to time. Considering just how limited the discussion out there for Kandagawa Jet Girls is owing to folks dismissing the anime as being little more than fanservice with a weak narrative, this leaves the floor open for me to talk about whatever I choose with the series and perhaps even set the precedence for how one might go about talking about anime with a nontrivial fanservice component without resorting to psychoanalysis to keep their discussions engaging.

  • Prior to their first scheduled practise on the river, Rin remarks that she’s still going to push for a new logo on the Orcano, which currently is adjourned with Rin’s face as decoration. However, their discussion is interrupted when Misa’s phone rings; despite having a reservation, it turns out the two have been removed from their allocated time.

  • Having seen Tina and Tsui in the passing, having them interact with Misa and Rin for the first time does not leave viewers with a positive first impression of the pair: haughty and arrogant, they are quick to put down Misa and Rin as having won by sheer luck earlier against Unkai. The pair, known as Hell’s Kitchen, are probably Chinese in origin: the surname Pan (Poon in Cantonese) is rendered as 潘 and is the 37th most common family name in China. Tsui and Tina are mentioned to be strong racers who use their influence to gain the upper hand for training, and they manage to override Rin and Misa’s booking of the course.

  • While Rin is typically cheerful and easygoing, it seems that making fun of those around Rin is a quick way to get on her bad side, and Rin immediately challenges the two to a race with the intent of settling things. It marks the first time we’ve seen Rin angry, and this adds a more human side to her character: in fiction, individuals might be defined by their usual mannerisms, but watching them act in ways contrary to their typical personality and potentially learn from the resulting mistakes serves to make everyone more plausible.

  • Tsui and Tina’s preferred uniforms for racing have a distinctly Chinese style, further reinforcing their possible origins as being Chinese. Their craft, Les Soeurs SL, is a highly lightweight craft with superior manoeuvrability and acceleration compared to the Orcano. In exchange, it lacks the engine power for sustaining a high maximum speed. Tsui is the pilot, and Tina is the gunner: the latter wields a pair of pistols as her preferred weapon.

  • Dual pistols are impractical in a real setting, since they prevent one from aiming down sights and also slows down the reload time. In fiction, however, the approach is favoured for the cool factor, and dual weapons are typically used in martial arts: sai, tonfa and kama are weapons I’ve trained with in pairs. Typically, the choice to dual wield shows an inclination towards speed and agility over precision: dual pistols effectively double one’s rate of fire at the expense of accuracy, showing that Hell’s Kitchen is about picking up speed. I’m noticing a stylistic trend in Kandagawa Jet Girls where the pilots race with their mouths open in a smile. This has no impact on the narrative, but now that I’ve seen it, I doubt I’ll be able to un-see it.

  • While normally composed and emotionless, CS Production’s Shōko expresses warmth and admiration when describing Hell’s Kitchen: she and Aqua Manjō are the commentators who provide viewers with a running commentary of every race. Aqua is normally the bubbly and bright speaker, explaining the different techniques racers use, while Shōko is more of a quiet speaker and fills the audience in on the mechanical aspects of the race. Together, they act as a narrator to help viewers follow along during races.

  • Unlike previous races, Tsui and Tina offer no quarter – Rin and Misa are decimated during their race without much effort; the sixth episode deals almost entirely with what the Kandagawa Jet Girls lack compared to more experienced teams, with notions of synchronisation and team play being at the forefront of all discussion. Kandagawa Jet Girls thus pushes the idea that until Rin and Misa work out how to work together, they’ve got no chance of winning races whatsoever.

  • While Kandagawa Jet Girls places a great deal of emphasis on team work for its theme (hence the page quote), I wager that the game, once it’s launched, will have players controlling both the piloting and shooting aspects of the race, rather like how in almost all games, players can simultaneously drive a tank and fire its ordinance. In the game, then, teamwork goes out the window as players would be able to dominate races on sheer virtue of über-micro.

  • To take Rin’s mind off the race, Misa proposes that they visit Asakusa again. When they pass a spot where Rin had taken photos with others, she recalls the moment and decides to take a self-shot with Misa. Before they can complete the shot, the same girls who’d shown up in the first episode return, ruining Misa’s photo. It turns out they’re Manatsu and Yuzu of MKHU, Shinjuku Takadanobaba Girls School’s racing team. Misa takes offense to their presence, more irate that yet another chance to spend time with Rin was interrupted, and challenges them off to a showdown.

  • However, Manatsu and Yuzu have other ideas in mind: their idea of competition is various activities at a local water park. Their decision to not race is indicative of their personalities – despite their outward appearance, like Emily and Jennifer, Yuzu and Manatsu are friendly and quick to get along with others. From a narrative perspective, watching Rin and Misa be defeated in random trivial activities further reinforces that the two are most certainly not ready to race yet – if they cannot cooperate on even minor tasks to succeed, their odds of winning a race would be quite poor indeed.

  • Halfway into the season, Kandagawa Jet Girls has done a fine job of establishing jet ski racing, the major players and what the anime’s objectives are. However, Rin and Misa are nowhere near ready to take on Kaguya and Kuromaru yet, and with six episodes remaining, I imagine that now that Rin and Misa’s weaknesses have been defined, the series must show the two training together to master the fundamentals, and in the process, take on another team or two. Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ outcomes can come across as predictable, but overall, I’ve found this not to be a problem – the journey matters rather more than the destination.

  • Jennifer and Emily point out what has been increasingly apparent: without cooperation and communication, even something like a simple ball game sees the two falling. After the day comes to a close and the two leave the water park, Misa comforts Rin and then manages to ask for her phone number, signifying a first step towards improvement in communications. I expect that given the timing, the progress Rin and Misa make will probably be off-screen, implicit: with only six episodes left, including MKHU, there are three more teams to race against.

  • I have no qualms about saying that I am enjoying Kandagawa Jet Girls, and I’m interested in seeing where this series goes. I understand that this month, I’ve been much slower about blog posts: the next post I have lined up is Yuru Yuri Ten, a special OVA commemorating the series’ tenth anniversary, and then the remainder of my time this month will be split between making sure I do a passable job for hosting Jon’s Creator Showcase, as well as experiencing Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre content. Conversely, December does look like a month where I’ll have more blog posts lined up: besides doing posts for Kandagawa Jet GirlsAzur Lane and Rifle is Beautiful, I also have plans to write about Aobuta: The Movie, plus publish two special posts.

Like Harukana Receive, Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ focus on a sport driven by teams of two means that there is plenty of space to delve into teams at their most fundamental unit, and while Harukana Receive was rather more direct about the idea of pairs being synonymous with lovers, Kandagawa Jet Girls seems to be aiming for a similar setup through the other teams. In particular, Tsui and Tina are portrayed as being intimately close. Manatsu and Yuzu likewise regard one another as lovers might, with Yuzu’s innuendo-laden commentary embarassing even Manatsu at one point. Like any good relationship, communication is the first hurdle that Rin and Misa must overcome. By the series’ halfway point, issues affecting Rin and Misa are openly being addressed, and moreover, resolved at a smart pace to keep things engaging. Rin and Misa have the beginnings of a friendship, but there is still a distance that separates them despite Misa’s desire to be closer. Watching this distance close over time, and seeing the changes reflected in the pair’s racing as they encounter more teams en route to the goal of facing off against Kaguya and Kuromaru on the waters of the Kandagawa. Kandagawa Jet Girls‘ fanservice component has, surprisingly, not detracted from the overarching narrative, and this is a rather impressive feat considering that most stories of this nature appear to be held together by little more than duct tape and spirit: with incentive to root for Rin and Misa as they improve, I look forwards to seeing where the next quarter goes.

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.

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.