Just a vent post about recent events. You know the ones.

A lot has happened recently and I have a lot of thoughts so I just thought I’d get them all out because this is a blog after all. That’s what we do in blogs right?

First, some mildly personal details. I am a millennial. I went to a liberal arts college for a degree in a physical science. I have a lot of millennial friends (predictably). Statistically, most of them will be left or left-leaning. I think Pew Research has my generation as being like 80% left-leaning. This isn’t a research post or anything so I’m not going to bother with sources here. If I’m wrong with the numbers, so be it. It’s not the point. Anyway, most of my friends are left-leaning. Shoot, I once dated a chick I think is an anarchist today. She might’ve been an anarchist back then too. She said some… troubling things to put mildly. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with being left-leaning or anarchist in it of itself. I’m just noting a trend here.

Oh yeah. Before we get into the main article, I should make my position known. I’m socially liberal and economically conservative. Weed lmao and lower taxes amirite?

Fast forward to today and I’m still friends with them on Facebook. We’ve all been very vocal about the protests and riots because the whole country has been very vocal about the protests and riots. My position is fairly simple. What happened to George Floyd was an avoidable horror. I hope the officers responsible for it go to jail for a very long time. There are a list of reforms that I think would be beneficial for the police. Rioting and looting is wrong. Throwing explosives into cop cars doesn’t result in meaningful change. However, I seem to have found myself on the opposite side to that of my friends. Sorta, they’ve flipped a few times. Let me explain:

First, my friends said that the riots were justified. I tried to explain to my friends that rioting isn’t helpful. They said that the riots were an expression of grief, the “voice of the unheard”, and the means to an end. I disagreed and I disagreed with the justification. Then some word gets out that the riots may have been instigated by undercover cops or far-right individuals. So now my friends have flipped their script! Now the riots are bad. They have nothing to do with the protests. They’re just the results of right wingers trying to undermine the movement. It’s black propaganda now. But my friends don’t want to walk back their prior comments. So they still maintain their prior justification. The riots aren’t wrong because rioting is wrong, the riots are wrong because the wrong people are doing them. I don’t see why we can’t all agree that rioting is bad no matter who does it.

Second: The police. One more full disclosure here: my father is a police officer, so I may be a little biased. That said, I don’t think my position has any bias in it. So the riots have spread over the country and even over some continents. We live in the age of the smartphone camera. So all of these protests are being filmed. They’re being filmed from multiple angles with multiple cameras. And yes, there has been some very terrible footage to come out of these protests and riots. Now I am a skeptical person by nature. I am usually willing to entertain even some of the more unusual ideas. So when I see stories like “someone did this” I usually ask the question “what came before”. My skepticism is probably even more intense nowadays due to the polarized state of the United States. The left-right divide is so big I have to exercise more caution than usual and cross reference more than I feel should be necessary.

So one of my friends posts a short, maybe 10 second clip of the protests. It’s not their post, they shared it from someone else. The caption said something like “The police officer was fearing for his life, right?” In this video we see what is presumably a police officer and four or five people. Three people are on their knees, the others are standing with signs. In this clip, the person we assume to be the cop attempts to spray something right in the faces of the three people on their knees. The obvious conclusion the OP wants you to come to is that the cops are macing people for no reason. I had a few questions about the clip and I proposed an alternative hypothesis. Maybe the presumed cop was actually spraying water or some counteragent to a riot control agent to help the afflicted individuals. I never claimed to know what happened. I wasn’t there and neither was the person who filmed it (it was filmed from like a fourth-floor apartment). I just think that in these times people are very quick to come to a conclusion and asking a few questions just to make sure we’re not jumping too fast is healthy to public discourse. The reaction I got was… mixed. The friend who posted it was willing to entertain my hypothesis and that’s great, that’s why I posted it in the first place. Naturally others posted their opinions, some got a bit more into the ACAP territory but you get what you get I suppose. My concern here is that I find my friends are so willing to believe a video and a caption. I think that that’s dangerous and I think my friends have been caught up. I think they’ve been swept up in their emotions and their political leanings that they’re not always willing to hear a different perspective. I appreciate the main friend here because they really were engaging with me honestly. But most of my friends don’t seem willing to offer such a courtesy.

Last one here for this post: #DefundThePolice. So this was another interesting one that I saw play out in real time in front of me. This is going to be a bit more in line with that first anecdote I shared. When #DefundThePolice was trending, many of my friends were quite onboard with it and many of them still are. I’m not going to use the slogan but as I mentioned earlier, there probably is some argument in that funds designated for police use may not be being used efficiently. Maybe that money could be better spent elsewhere. Maybe where that money goes in the police could be shifted around for better results. Again, from the outset I was willing to entertain reducing the amount of funds the police have but I was worried that #DefundThePolice really meant #AbolishThePolice. We saw #AbolishICE earlier from a similar crowd of individuals. They didn’t walk that one back, #JustSaiyan. I raised my concerns of course and my friends assured me “no, no. Not abolish the police. We want to move funds to things like schools and hospitals”. Again, I don’t do slogans so I wasn’t down with it. This is where things get somewhat funny. The other day my friends started posting that we need to stop using #DefundThePolice. Why? Because it really did mean #AbolishThePolice and they wanted to change the slogan. Turns out most people thought #DefundThePolice meant #AbolishThePolice and that wasn’t polling well. So now we need to change the slogan.

As always, I think they could have avoided having a week of posts about #DefundThePolice that they now have to delete (or just leave up I guess) had they just exercised a little bit of skepticism. What does #DefundThePolice really mean. Who is pushing it. Why are they pushing it. But this is why the slogans are dumb. The labels are dumb. But the labels are also powerful. This is why it’s hard to get people to realize that you can oppose BLM because they promote things you disagree with but you can still be perfectly fine with black people. You can oppose BLM and not be a racist.

I don’t do the slacktivism thing. It’s June. My pfp is still me in a suit. No I’m not changing it. No I don’t have any problems with gay people. Yes I have allegedly gay friends but I’ve never thought of them as “My gay friends”.

Can I get tinfoil for a moment? Tinfoil time: I think slacktivism, or at least as it’s being used in the western world is a headcount. I don’t think that by doing slacktivism that you’re on a particular team. I think there are political actors that are using slacktivism to sort of gauge where people stand. It’s not that by doing slacktivism you’re on the team, rather than you’re showing your sympathies for a team. And when SHTF, prior slacktivism may indicate where you might side. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with slacktivism itself, I’m not going to do it. I don’t care if you do it. And a cynical side of me thinks that it’s being used for nefarious ends.

So where are we now. I don’t know. I’m still worried about my friends. I think that this tribalism issue we have in the United States is severe. A solution of course is for me to silently do nothing. To not voice my opinions when I have problems with my friends supporting things like violent riots. I don’t think this is a good solution. I don’t think I should bite my tongue because my friends are doing something I think is wrong. And I think it is a bad friend or even someone who is not a friend to be silent when your friends are doing what you think is a sin. I think my friends are being swept up in some emotional movement. I think my friends are signing up for more than what they think they’re signing up for. I think they should use a little more skepticism when someone comes to them with things like this. If my friends are signing up for it and they know it’s that’s OK. I don’t particularly mind nor care what political affiliation my friends have. I said before that I have very few if any friends who are not left or left-leaning despite my views probably being more of a libertarian-right individual. I think that despite disagreements we can enjoy the company of each other, enjoy the same hobbies, talk with each other and just be good friends. I like to think that I chose my friends because they’re good people and not because we both liked former President Obama. And I like to think that my friends feel the same way. I like to think that they wouldn’t be willing to terminate a friendship over disagreements like this. And I’ve been wrong a few times. Several times. This is exceptionally bad because it reminds me of cult behavior. When you’re in a cult you have to either convert or excise the outsider. And I can’t help but feel this emotional movement they’re possibly being swept up in is a cult. And I think it’s a large cult that can really affect the trajectory of the United States.

I don’t make friends very quickly. I’m quite the introvert. Every friend I lose, every friend that breaks it off with me I feel more intensely than I would probably like. And I guess my last worry here is for myself of course but I’ll say it anyway. I need to get my words out. Sometimes I worry that because I’m libertarian that the Overton window will shift past me and that my left and left-leaning friends will abandon me. Because I’m the outsider, right? And this is like 90-95% of my very few friends. I’m not going to join beliefs I don’t agree with because then I’ve killed myself. I’ve killed Artemis Hunt. I’m not going to be silent either because I think my friends are better than this. And I’m not going to stop talking to my friends because I believe that discussion is the way to change minds and rescue people. So what do I do?

I think I’m done here. If you made it this far, thank you. If you came from Twitter, I don’t have access to my Twitter account anymore due to not having the phone number I used to make it anymore. If you want to contact me, you can comment or email me. I guess that’s it. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Just a vent post about recent events. You know the ones.

Parsee Mizuhashi: A Tragedy of a Lonely Heart

About a year or two ago I really go into Touhou. I think it started when I was speedrunning a game called Touhou Luna Nights. It’s a fun game, a fangame, and it’s a “search action game”. I like it, you should buy it, maybe speedrun it with the rest of us. We were in AGDQ 2020. None of that’s really important for the topic for today, just my musings on where it all began for me. Anyway, I dug into Touhou a bit. The music’s really bangin and I was already aware of a few tunes, even if I didn’t know that they were Touhou. One example is Phantom Ensemble.

Many of the characters are quirky and fun so everyone has to have at least one 2hu waifu. Mine is Parsee Mizuhashi (and yes we’re gonna use ZUN art)

Parsee Mizuhashi is a hashihime, a bridge guardian. Ain’t she the cutest thing? She guards the bridge between the surface and the underworld. Simple enough. Without going too deeply into lore, 2hus have some kind of magic power. Let’s see if you can guess what Parsee’s power is by seeing the names of some of her spellcards.

  1. Green-Eyed Monster
  2. Grandpa Hanasaka
  3. Tongue-Cut Sparrow

So, if you’re not familiar with Japanese fairy tales you probably won’t get it from either of the last two. Basically, these spellcards’s names reference jealousy. Grandpa Hanasaka is about a guy who kills his neighbor’s dog for jealousy, Tongue-Cut Sparrow is about a sparrow whose tongue is cut by a man’s wife because she felt that her husband was spending too much time with the sparrow. Presumably, you know that the color of envy is green so in English we say that you have “Green eyes” if you’re jealous of something or someone. Her power is to control the jealousy in others.

How did we get here though? Well, she guards the bridge. Her job is to remain stationary while she watches others pass through. This is a pretty understandable feeling for anyone whose seen their friend succeed while you feel like you’re not progressing at all. Over time these feelings turned to resentment.

Her stage music is called ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross‘. Why they no longer cross it I do not know and I didn’t find anything in the Touhou wiki telling me why so I choose to believe she may not being the best job (or an exceptionally good job) in guarding the bridge. But the only thing we need here is that she’s guarding a bridge that no one crosses. In short, she’s lonely.

The pieces are now coming together, now we need to get to what I feel from her boss music. This boss music is crucial. It tells the story of her descent into madness. Now the music is designed to sorta loop so we’ll have to take this on a piece-by-piece basis.

The first bit is until the drums really come in (not what I think are snares that are consistently playing, the bigger ones that play on off beats). Basically, the melodic introduction. It sounds sad to me. It’s utilizing alberti bass (utilizing six 8th notes) to complement the piece, which is why I choose to interpret this as 3/4 since I feel like if it were in 6/8 it’d try to emphasize the 4th beat more. I also feel it as a one-two-three a lot harder through the half-quarter and quarter-quarter-quarter patterns that are prevalent.

Once the drums come in, it’s weird. I don’t think the drums are playing in the same rhythm structure as the melody. The drums are playing on the off beats AND they’re playing in 2 rather than three. In music, this is called polyrhythm. Through some kind of melodic magic ZUN gets all of this to come together in the bridge (heh). I interpret this as an attempt to connect to others. I play by the beat of my own drum and you yours, but we still manage to connect on one level or another, ya know? But it can be difficult at times, which brings us to the part that comes right after the bridge (heh).

So the melody repeats, faster this time. And now there’s a frantic undercurrent of sixteenth notes. Rather than moving onto a second section or “B” section, we return to the A section. The sixteenth notes rise and fall very rapidly. I feel a series of highs and lows but we’re still holding onto the main melody. This is what I consider the descent into madness.

Then we’re back to the beginning because 2hu boss fights are usually pretty short so ZUN probably didn’t compose too much.

So what I get is someone who is sad, tries to fit in with others for a brief moment, but then through a series of high and low energy moments being fill with hate or sadness becomes what they are today.

Now all of this is beautifully put to video in Neteminity Theatre 666. In their case they use ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross’ but they capture the feelings in a similar way. But they manage to go a little bit further in their video. In the video Parsee Mizuhashi is performing on a stage. She performs her curse killing those around her, including the audience. While she seems to be cheerful as she performs the curse, at the end she cries realizing what she’s done.

If you read the YouTube comments it’s pretty clear people can appreciate the sadness of her story (they also seem to appreciate her tongue-click which is like swearing under your breath in Japan). But let’s explain what’s going on here.

The lyrics are actually quite clever (at least if the translation is to be trusted). Parsee tries to fit in with others but can’t quite get it right. She’s awkward. She says, “The withered flower falls” as she stands in the shade. Parsee is the flower. Why is she withered? No real friends, no attention, no love. Her heart is the thing that’s falling. Her heart is being corrupted. The tempo speeds up and honestly this is my favorite part. Now she is actively rejecting others. When given advice, she outright rejects it because she feels like she has to actively change herself or try to communicate with others while other people have this sorta ‘built-in’.

Now we hit the climax. Instead of trying something else or finding something or someone else she accepts her feelings of jealousy and resentment. Rather than fight it as she may have in the first act, she ‘bathes her heart in it’. She then performs the curse and wipes everyone out. But let’s take a moment to talk about the curse.

This is the curse. Basically, you dress up in white and wear an iron ring on your head with three lit candles and head to your favorite sacred tree. Then you hammer nails through a straw effigy representing your target. Do this for seven days and your target will be cursed. Here’s the most interesting part. If you are spotted at any point performing the curse, it won’t work. What an interesting condition. If someone sees you performing the curse, it doesn’t work. How does this conditional play in to Parsee? Well, remember she’s a withered flower. There’s no one to notice her, no one who would notice her. I feel like if someone did, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

She feels great during the curse but afterwards she feels great regret. I think in the end, Parsee actually wanted to like the other people and be liked by them in turn. This feeling wasn’t strong enough to prevent her from performing the curse and by the end she wishes she hadn’t done it. Because while before she maybe was just unsuccessful in making friends, she always had a chance to do it the next time if she were so inclined. But now? That’s gone. Now she can’t make those friends. In time she will likely convince herself that she was right and go through this loop again and again with others that she meets.

Honestly the video is just so perfect and really encapsulates what I think Parsee is.

Remember that Parsee’s power is to control jealousy. Let’s take a moment to look at the seven deadly sins which we can all remember because we’ve all seen Fullmetal Alchemist

  1. Lust
  2. Gluttony
  3. Greed
  4. Sloth
  5. Wrath
  6. Envy
  7. Pride

I tend to think of these sins like this:

Internally motivatedExternally motivated
Internal effectPride, SlothEnvy
External effectGreed, GluttonyLust, Wrath

Basically, I think of the sins in terms of what motivates what I think are actions representing the sins and what they impact. To briefly explain my thoughts on all but Envy:

Pride is internally motivated. You don’t become excessively proud because of someone else, but you also don’t actively “inflict” your pride on someone else either so it has an internal effect.

Sloth is also internally motivated. Sloth I think of as apathy, and I don’t think something causes you to become apathetic. Basically the task to undo sloth is to find an external motivation to move forward. The sin of sloth at worst will probably just create work for others but the intent isn’t to “inflict” sloth on someone.

Greed and Gluttony are basically the same sin with Gluttony having an extra step of consumption to it. They revolve around this idea of hoarding (and then consuming) objects. I interpret these as having internal motivators because in my mind they originate from desiring something normal like food or money and then taking it to excess. They have an external effect because they manifest and impact the world around you. Greed results in hoarding or preventing people from having something they may need (like food in a famine).

Lust and wrath are typically considered sins of passion and basically they’re responses to external stimuli and the sins could result in property destruction or rape (also external).

Envy is the odd one out because it’s in a box all alone. Envy isn’t just a desire for something else (which would put it closer to greed or gluttony) but a desire for something else… that someone else has. The motivation is explicitly external. The sin of envy is held in one’s heart though.

I don’t know where I was going with that, maybe a reader can help me figure it out in a comment. Bringing us back to topic though:

I think the reason I appreciate Parsee so much is I see Parsee as what I could’ve been had I gone down the other path. When I was young I was bullied mercilessly. Why? Because I was a nerd. I liked Pokemon, I liked video games, and I was very smart. I was a bit of a teacher’s pet. I’ve come around to accepting bullying as a natural part of human nature, as a tool to create conformity. But I was also very proud, so I would not conform. This continued all the way throughout high school. I’ve never felt like I fit in. When I see Parsee’s story, I wonder how much would I curse the world had I been alone even to this day. I feel a genuine connection to Parsee and her feelings because I think I’ve tasted her feelings. And because I think I know what she feels because I’ve felt it, I also think I know what she needs, because I know what I need. Affection, appreciation, love. So I guess in a way, I can love Parsee because I am trying to love myself. That wasn’t meant to sound egotistical but I think it does.

I guess in a roundabout way I made this blogpost about me instead of Parsee. That’s not my intent but I guess Parsee is an example of the core idea that I’m trying to convey.

Anyway, I’m done rambling. Glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Parsee Mizuhashi: A Tragedy of a Lonely Heart

How Isekai Gets It Wrong

I wanna do this while this is still fresh on my mind before I procrastinate this into obscurity.

Being a proper adult with a real adult job and whatnot, I haven’t really kept up too much with the seasonal anime. That said, being a regular on /a/, I’m aware of what’s going on with the seasonal anime. One of the trends I noticed has been this abundance of isekai anime. I’ve watched a few of these or a few episodes of these and I didn’t see the appeal. I’ve been puzzling over it though. Isekai anime are clearly popular, but why don’t I like them?

This post has very likely been a few years in the making because I’ve found that I haven’t liked any isekai. I’ve found a few I’ve been OK with but I could never invest myself in any to watch them to completion. Konosuba is one of the only few that I think do isekai right. Why is that? What is special about Konosuba? What does Konosuba have that other isekai don’t? Well, enough stalling, let’s get to it.

Defining Isekai

What is an isekai? The kanji for isekai are 異世界 which loosely translates to ‘strange’, ‘different’, or ‘wonderful’ world. The main setup of an isekai is that the protagonist through some means or another is transported to a ‘world’ completely different to their ‘world’. The protagonist then has to struggle to come to terms with their new place (or lack thereof) in their new life.

Let’s make sure we also classify what isn’t an isekai. A lot of people like to point to Sword Art Online as an isekai. It isn’t. Part of the isekai genre is an inability to ‘escape’ the new world to return to the old. Even in SAO, the ‘new world’ wasn’t a new world, it was just a game. And it has gotten even less restrictive. SAO has its own problems but I’ve already made a post about it.

For the sake of ease of reading I will be referring to the world the protagonist comes from as “Old World” and the world the protagonist is transported to as “New World”.

What Do Isekai Anime Get Wrong?

To answer this question, we have to remember what an isekai is. It seems most isekai forget it almost immediately. An isekai is what you get when you take someone from one world and drop them in a new one. This has some pretty natural implications which are very rarely acted upon.

Picture this: You come from the United States. You are transported to a world where slavery (true slavery, not indentured servitude) exists. You would expect such a person to promptly cry out against the slavery because it clashes severely with our western morality. In the case of Shield Hero he embraces it (which imo was justified) or there will be some revolution in the making. Of course, I know why authors do this. They want the protagonist to be the key feature in revolution. Who wouldn’t want to be the guy who legally ended slavery? However, due to this, they’ve created one or two problems.

The Palette Swap

Let’s first consider the case in which the western morality is secretly adopted in the new world but has yet to been realized. What you’ve done is move the protagonist from the old world to the old world with a palette swap. This is lazy writing. It comes from being unable or unwilling to create a new world so you simply recolor the old world, thus “palette swap”. This alone isn’t bad. Naturally, there are three cases of this. So let’s examine the three cases.

  • Present to Past
    • Moving the protagonist to a parallel past new world allows the author to examine the values of the past through a modern lens. We do this all the time whether we realize it or not. Fundamentally, it’s what a progressive individual is doing. They imagine themselves from the future and they are stuck living in the past. Alternatively, you can use this to examine the values of the present through an idealized past. By making the people of the past out to be happy, you can examine why people are unhappy in the present
  • Present to Present
    • Moving the protagonist to a parallel present time is the ‘What If’ scenario. ‘What if the Nazis won WWII’, ‘What if WWII never happened’, ‘What if FDR never won re-election’, or ‘What if the U.S.S.R. never fell’. Using this, the important thing (and I cannot stress this enough) is to make sure it’s sufficiently different from the old world. If the alternative history is only marginally different from the real history, then you’re wasting my time. Too many isekai waste my time with this, creating a world with different species but not using these tools for anything.
  • Present to Future
    • I hesitate to call this a ‘parallel future’ because no one knows what the future may contain. This is the appeal of this usage. It allows us to imagine how drastically our lives may change. DO NOT USE THIS FOR SCIENCE FANTASY. Only use this for science fiction. The emphasis should be on how what is extraordinary today becomes mundane in the future.

Again, you want to make sure you’re using the world to its strength. If you don’t sufficiently differentiate the new world from the old world, we have to ask the question: Why are we here? I mean we’re going to ask the question either way but if you’ve insufficiently differentiated the new world, its answer is all the more important. And the answer is naturally the protagonist. Which brings us nicely to the next section.

The Man Out of His Time

Fundamentally, you should get the man out of his time no matter what you do. What is ‘the man out of his time’? The man out of his time (or the fish out of water) is a person who is in a completely foreign environment. They don’t match the environment and the environment doesn’t match them. They bring with them their values and ideas from the old world into the new world. This is the modern United States citizen with their child labor laws being sent to industrial revolution London. They are the avatar of the audience and they are the vehicle which allows the audience to contrast their world with what could be, what would be, or what should be.

If you’ve properly differentiated your new world, using this character you can inject modern values into the new world or even examine the new values in contrast with the old ones. If the author uses this character well, the modern audience viewer may disagree with the past but at least understand where they’re coming from.

If you haven’t sufficiently differentiated your new world from your old world, the audience will then have to examine the protagonist. Which means you have to make them extremely jarring to the old world. If you’ve done a parallel present transition, you need to then make them jarring in the old world as well. I think Tanya the Evil does this well. You’re not really supposed to root for Tanya (She’s evil) but you are supposed to examine her and imagine yourself in her shoes. What would you have done differently. (I will have to do a Tanya the Evil review later but I haven’t quite finished it yet)

Ironically, if you make a completely different world, a good goal may be to turn the new world into an anti-villain while if you make a relatively similar world, the goal will then be to turn the protagonist into an anti-hero. In other words, you won’t play a villain or hero straight. If you do play a villain or hero straight you often invalidate your setup. Because again, I have to ask the question, “Why are we here?” And if you can’t justify the existence of the old world I have to ask ‘Why even bother with the isekai’?

Which is the fundamental issue with most isekai. They more often than not invalidate their initial premise turning themselves into weak shounen (which is fundamentally a wish-fulfillment genre).

Conclusion

So the general answer to the question of why I don’t like isekai is that they’re often written poorly. The reason I believe they’re written poorly is because they’re not making use of their tropes correctly. A good isekai will properly contrast the new world with the old one. It can do this either with the world directly or with the protagonist. What happens too often is that the new world is too similar to the old world and the protagonist is too blank to draw such contrasts. If you must make the new world exceedingly similar to the old world, you must, must, MUST make the protagonist jarring by the new world standards in some way (this is what I think ‘Tanya the Evil’ does well)

Anyway, that’ll be it from me today. Thanks for reading

Artemis Hunt

How Isekai Gets It Wrong

The Metric System isn’t that special

Alright. Time to rustle some jimmies. I’m supposed to be studying Japanese but fuck it. This as to be done

I studied physics in undergrad and graduate school. I know many engineers and engineering students. And of course in today’s connected world, I talk to many Europeans and… let’s just say I talk to non-Americans. I see this all the time. “The metric system is superior to all other systems of measurement”. As someone who studied sciences and who knows the equations and constants mostly in their metric units and knows the nice conversions between these units I can understand why someone might believe this. However, I personally disagree with the statement. While I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about the metric system, I also don’t think there’s anything particularly bad about it.

In this blog post I am going to run counter to the common arguments and demonstrate why they don’t really hold up and they certainly don’t hold up in today’s society.

“It has very accurate definitions”

The common example I see with this is with the meter. Today, the meter is defined as the length light travels in (and I am not joking) 1/299,792,458 of a second. In other words, we know light travels at a constant speed. Take that speed, take a specific time, we can easily calculate how far light has traveled in that time.

“Oho, Artemis. See how nice that is? We can define the meter very accurately no matter what using this definition”. Well, yes. But I do take issues with it.

  1. This definition kind of reeks of being “hacked together” because there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly special about the number 299,792,458 other than if you divide 1 by it you get how long of a second passes before light travels one meter. The reason for this of course is because the meter was defined before this standard was used so to keep everything the same conversions had to be made.
  2. We can also define literally any distance using this definition. It’s why units like light-second and light-year exist and are used despite not really being metric definitions.

Being able to reproduce a measurement is very important especially when you want to build structures that don’t collapse on people so I can see why these standards have been adopted and updated throughout history. But since we can define any distance quite easily by modifying the time, there’s nothing particularly special about the meter. In fact, using similar methods for other measurements, we can pretty much ape the definition method for everything else and just fiddle with the values. And before you get upset with, just remember that the kilogram was defined to be how much 1/1000 of a cubic meter of the stuff weighed. So the “nice Base-10” factor is just one of construction, and theoretically we can use any atom or molecule we like. and produce any ratio we like.

And now that I’ve mentioned it, let’s get to that. Let’s get to divisibility.

“It’s all in Base-10”

This is very likely the most popular argument in favor of the metric system and again I’m not trying to say that the metric system is bad, rather than it’s not particularly special.

Big controversial opinion incoming: There’s nothing special about Base-10. Yes. By nature, humans have 10 fingers and 10 toes. But those are really the extent when it comes to “10” on the human body. If I were to ask a kid to tell me about parts of the human body, their answer would probably be something like this:

  • 1 head
  • 2 eyes
  • 2 ears
  • 1 nose
  • 1 mouth
  • 2 arms
  • 2 hands
  • 5 fingers on each hand
  • 10 fingers
  • 2 legs
  • 2 feet
  • 5 toes on each foot
  • 10 toes

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a lot of 2 there, not a whole lot of 10. But let’s examine things a little closer. The metric users like to focus a lot on the 10 fingers. While we do have 10 fingers, if you discount the thumb we have 12 joints. A little kid could learn to count to twelve quite easily on their fingers if they counted the little ‘boxes’ on your fingers leading to the fingertip. Some societies may have not believed that the thumb was worth counting, leading to using Base-8 rather than Base-10 for fingers. Today we use Base-2 (binary) and Base-16 (hexadecimal) when working with computers.

Between you and me, I actually like Base-12 more than Base-10. I’ll tell you why too. Base-12 (in my view) is a lot more flexible than Base-10 because it has better factors within it. 10 is divisible into only 1, 2, 5, and 10. 12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. You get 2 extra factors which can be convenient when you’re creating your ruler.

That said, the thing I find most astounding is while people are so quick to tout the superiority of Base-10 yet they seem hesitant to change the way we do time. I do think that if we mucked around with the way we think of time it would be disastrous but let’s go ahead and take a look at time.

There are 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. I don’t see a whole lot of 10. Sure, it goes into 60 six times but… that’s kind of weird. And it doesn’t go into 24 evenly at all. What’s up with that?

The reason of course comes down to how people kept track of time in the past. They used sundials which split were divided into twelve. Why twelve? Well it just so happens that the Base-10 users got beat to the punch when it came to setting up time measurement in the west. Rather than using the ten fingers, it seems that the people of old favored the twelve joints of the hand (excluding the thumb). Probably because the number 12 has more factors.

“The numbers, Mason. What do they mean?”

Bear with me here because it might seem incredible but when you go from a meter to a kilometer you’re not changing the unit. You’re just stretching one unit out. This contrasts with the darned Imperial System with feet and inches and yards and yadda yadda. So what’s the deal with it. Why is it so wonky?

The problem is you guys are looking at the system like a ruler, and not as a series of proportions. Stop thinking of that silly stick you call a ruler and start thinking of this:

“To use the ruler, you must first become the ruler”

“OK but the numbers Mason. What do the numbers mean?” The numbers are the proportions of a human body part to another human body part. But you can probably guess how it goes. “4 fingers to a palm, 4 palms to a foot, 6 feet to a man.” Lots of fours. “But what if a man grows? If you build a house over a year while you’re still a teenager, your foot will grow and the proportions will be all wrong all over the house”. Luckily that’s not as big of a problem because the foot we’re using is actually previously defined by the Romans. They took the length of the foot of their Emperor, called it a foot, and based everything off of that. All they needed to do was cast the foot, make a statue, you now have your standard. And before you say that seems pretty silly, remember that the French used to use a platinum rod to define the meter which would also be subject to change. That’s why new standards are created. That’s why we use the distance light travels today and not a platinum or titanium rod from the past.

Everyday Use

I think food will be the simplest way to convey this one. When you go to the store, I want you to ask yourself: am I buying a can of soda or am I buying 356 mL of soda? Do you buy a bottle of beer or do you buy 650 mL of beer? Broadly speaking, most people aren’t concerned too much with the volume of something because they’re not thinking of it in divided volumes, rather the unit itself. When I buy cereal, I’m not buying 576g of cereal. I’m buying a box of cereal. Even in your day-to-day life you’re probably not consuming things thinking “I drank 300 mL of water, I need to drink 900 mL more before bedtime”. You’re probably thinking, “I drank a glass of water earlier today, I should drink 2 more glasses before bedtime”. You don’t eat “150g of cereal” you eat a bowl of cereal. If you’re having a dinner party and you’re trying to decide how much meat to give your guest, you’re giving them some arbitrary slice of meat, not 242g of meat.

In short, most people are using a “container” rather than the mass or volume measurements themselves.

Conclusion

I think the important thing to remember is that the measurement system you use itself isn’t terribly important. You can come up with whatever justifications you want to define units and convert units. What’s important is that everyone agrees to these definitions and knows how to communicate these units. Your measurement system is just as arbitrary as mine. We can compare standards and go back and forth between the two.

People think the metric system is so special but it wasn’t invented until the 18th century. Imagine the most famous monuments of the world. Pyramids? Metric system not necessary. Roman civilization? No metric system necessary. The Parthenon? No metric system necessary. Notre Dame? No metric system necessary. We’ve been building stuff for millennia so no matter how “difficult” you want to say other measurement systems are, it certainly didn’t stop humanity from building some of the most recognizable structures in the world.

Anyway, that’ll be it from me. Hopefully this will help people chill and stop giving the Americans and the Imperial System so much shit. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

The Metric System isn’t that special

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

I had been waiting for this one since I saw the preview before Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It looked like it was going to be amazing and they made the lead robot chick super adorbs and gave her an excellent lead voice. Well-known hint: You put anything remotely like fighting robots in your movie and I will watch it. Except transformers, those are trash. Screw you Michael Bay.

Let me preface the rest of this review by saying that I never read the manga Alita: Battle Angel is based on. I will, after I finish this review. I don’t want to soil this review with “Muh source material”. Oh. Spoiler warning I guess.

Alita: Battle Angel is about an android discovered in a scrap heap that gets reconstructed. Surprisingly, the android’s brain is “perfectly maintained” or something. Despite being in the middle of a scrap heap for what later discover could be as many as 300 years. This winds up being a niggling plot hole for me later.

When the android (Alita) is restored, the mechanic, professor, whatever you want to call him says she should eat (real food) to maintain her human brain. Well hold on doc. That brain is centuries old. Likely went an extended period of time without any nourishment. Her human brain should be dead by now. But whatever, we let it slide.

Here, the professor begins to play overprotective father. Normally I would dislike this but it’s worked in well enough that it’s not unbearable. There are only like 3 references to it and it’s sort-of left alone. And it’s understandable because Alita is reconstructed with the body he built for his own daughter. They could’ve worked this in a lot better than they did and really made the professor a good character. Instead he just sorta gets relegated to plot device.

Then there’s the romance which I’ll say right now – ruined this movie. It’s weird too because normally romance is sprinkled throughout culminating before the final scene but in this case they like sprinkle it in at the start and then WHOOPS dropped the whole $#@!ing can in right at the end. It winds up easily destroying a third to a half of the movie for me. It doesn’t make sense and as good as Rosa Salazar is at delivering most of her other lines, she’s horrible at delivering the romantic lines. That might be part of what killed it for me too. She sounds insincere. Like she learned how to deliver these lines from a children’s cartoon or something.

Alright, where does the movie shine. Luckily enough, the action scenes here feel really good. We’re talking B quality work here, occasionally A quality. They blew their load on the midfight though, and then things just went downhill from there. Like, any time Alita was battle angeling, I was all in. Give me more. The environment is cool enough to make me want to read the source material which I probably will after I’m done here.

Unfortunately, that’s probably the best praise I can offer for the movie because the rest of it is rather lame. The actual villain in the movie? Just a puppet. They end the movie with sequel bait. Disgusting. You give me 50% of a movie with at most 50% of that movie being decent? Just cut out the romance and take us to the real boss.

If the movie ended halfway through I’d give it a solid 4 out of 5. Really, the movie is only good when Alita is beating the $#@! out of something. There’s a scene where she practically plays the black knight from Monty Python… but wins. Honestly, best scene of the movie right there. The sportsball scene that came right afterward was meh. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I really wanted her boyfriend to sell her out. Glad the chump died.

And this is a minor complaint but they had a golden opportunity to do ‘[X] hits jukebox to start the music for a barfight’ scene and threw it away. Just threw it away. Come on, we all wanted it. You show me someone who says they didn’t and I’ll show you a goddamn liar.

So, the short version: The movie is excellent when it’s being what its source material probably is: action. Cyberpunk fighting robots. More please. The movie is terrible when it’s trying to be something it probably isn’t. It’s not a romance film. They don’t utilize plot threads properly. So many scenes would go purely to waste if the scenery itself didn’t salvage it. Ending on sequel bait is cruel, especially when you don’t place a peak right before it. I do not recommend this movie. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

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Steam

I believe some time ago I reviewed Owell: Keeping an Eye on You. It was an interesting game where you play as Morgan Freeman in The Dark Knight. You would listen in on people’s conversations, you would steal their information, access their calls, etc. And you would be a total establishment shill. Until the end where I messed up by trying to go against the system and shut it down but it was all an elaborate trap laid by my superiors. Very well-crafted game. Indeed.

Anyway, Orwell: Ignorance is Strength is not so much a sequel as much as it is another one. It runs concurrently with the uhh… other game. The game that was published first. Like the other game, you spy in on calls, access files, read the news, and be a total snoop. Typical day at the office of the NSA. Your job opens with an investigation into a suspected murder but slowly turns into a battle of controlling media narrative. Which over my several playthroughs, I never found a way to ‘win’, that is, prevent the people from rioting. This may have something to do with the canon of the first game, but I don’t remember and I can’t be bothered to play through the first one again.

Finding the information is fun and they’ve trimmed down the news articles somewhat, making the ‘side stories’ a bit less of a pain to tread through. Where I think this game loses me is in its lack of story. The game itself is only 3 episodes near as I can tell. I don’t know if it’s because it’s so short or because it feels so meaningless but I wasn’t sold on the story. The other game had a much larger impact on me, this one feels so meh.

I think what really lost me was that I didn’t find the characters interesting. Even now I can remember the characters of the first game as being a teacher, a soldier, a blue-hair, her lawyer boyfriend, and a freelancer. I remember their personalities, a teacher that just wanted to speak beyond the system. A soldier battling with her troubled past and providing for her child. A blue-hair looking for a cause to fight. A lawyer… being bland. And a freelancer that hated life. These characters are forgettable. A blogger in a wheelchair, his wife/therapist, and his brother.

Another thing is I think they sorta baby-proofed the game somewhat. I remember really thinking “Holy smokes, updating this stuff is permanent. Better make sure of every single thing I post”. In this game, (and this may be faulty memory) but I feel like there are fewer boo-boos you can make

Unfortunately, because this game is second to be published, it will ultimately be compared to its first. Did it keep the things that made the first one good? Yes. Did it introduce something new and interesting? Yes. Did it use these tools effectively? I think not. And unfortunately, for those reasons, I have to give it a thumbs down. Standalone, I might consider giving it a maybe, around a 5. But if you liked Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You and you wanted more? Just play the first one again. But that’s it from me. Thank you for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

“Capitalism is Feudalism with extra steps”

I browse reddit every now and again and I’ve seen the people that post that “Capitalism is slavery with extra steps”. Now this never made sense to me but I suppose it might make sense to someone that has seen or read “The Great Money Trick“. I’m not here to discuss “The Great Money Trick” and quite frankly, it’s old. I’m sure that there are many criticisms and critiques of the essay elsewhere.

As far as I know, the quote is a reference to a Rick and Morty episode regarding alien beings producing a great deal of energy for Rick for free. When Rick and Morty visit the aliens, Morty says “That’s just slavery with extra steps” as a criticism of Rick’s attitude regarding the tiny alien race. I don’t watch Rick and Morty though, so don’t sass me bro.

For the purposes of this post, we will assert that the world is more capitalist and less feudal today than it was in the past. 

In order to compare capitalism and feudalism, we must first understand what capitalism and feudalism are.

Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.

In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets. – Wikipedia

This definition is a little lengthy but it is adequate for our purposes. I’ve bolded some of the more important phrases in the definition. The important bits are:

  1. You own private property
  2. All exchanges are voluntary
  3. Markets are competitive

The other bits are either unimportant or unnecessary. For example, you do not need wage labor to have a capitalist economic system. Suppose I own some land and I grow an apple tree. You own some land and grow an orange tree. You and I decide to trade an apple for an orange. No wage labor needed.

Now let’s take a look at feudalism:

Feudalism was a combination of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Wikipedia

This definition is pretty loose. The page mentions that the definition is still debated by scholars. Now we do see why Feudalism can’t be Capitalism with extra steps: Feudalism is a combination of legal and military customs. Capitalism is an economic system. Ne’er the two shall meet.

But we know what you meant, so I’ll do this a bit more honestly. Let’s say we are going to try to compare the economic consequences of Feudalism to Capitalism and see if we can reach Capitalism.

One thing most people do recognize is the concept of serfdom, a system in which individuals called ‘serfs’ are attached to the land. While we do recognize it in medieval Europe, we see it elsewhere such as in Japan after Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s “Hito barai rei” in 1591 {1}. The serfs are, like land, property. Similar to slaves but with the caveat that they had some more rights. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because if we consider serfs to be part of the land, we can now consider the whole property of an actor in Feudalism.

When these individuals are making a comparison to Feudalism, we need to figure out where everyone lines up:

So I think that the fairest way to view the working poor is peasants. There are no slaves in our capitalist system because we’re going to adhere to that rule before where you own your private property and you are your own private property. There are no serfs, because employees are always welcome to quit and move to another company if they so desire.

The lord of the manor is likely the business owner. They own the land and they have the responsibilities that come with owning the land. But that guy is just a vassal to a king. So from whom do the business owners receive their lands? Well, they buy it. From someone else, another vassal. Hold on, we’re running into a problem here. See, there is no ‘monarch’ analogue in capitalism. Quite frankly, there is no peasant analogue either. Everyone is a vassal with their own plot of land and the rights over what may be done with it. But since we don’t have a monarch, everyone mas as well be their own monarch. The system breaks down. Saying capitalism is like feudalism with extra steps is like saying that Feudalism consists of potentially infinite monarchs when in real feudalism there is only one.

Now, the anti-capitalists are going to maintain that the working poor are still slaves, serfs, or peasants. That’s what those ‘extra steps’ are for. So now we have to try to figure out what extra steps make you one of these individuals.

We can completely disregard slavery. Again, slavery is against the principles of capitalism because we maintain that the individual owns themselves. Serfs, huh. Well, you might have a little bit of a case. If a company is sold to another individual, the employees of that company may remain as companies for the company under the new management. That could be considered a ‘transfer of a serf’ as part of a land purchase. However, there’s nothing systemically preventing the ‘serf’ from quitting their job and seeking gainful employment elsewhere. So again, we arrive at the only possibility being peasants. Now is there a way for peasants to climb the social hierarchy? Yes. There were a few. They could become a knight, clergy, or trade. Peasants were unlikely to have the skills necessary to do so, but as Toyotomi Hideyoshi could do, so too could peasants.

However, I think the important question would be to ask – is it easier to move up in Capitalism or Feudalism? And possibly more important – is it easier to move down? I would argue that it’s easier to move up in Capitalism, as evidenced by the great reduction of the lower classes since the 1800’s in the West. Worldwide poverty has greatly decreased no matter what people may think. The point of this post is not to argue whether or not capitalism is the thing that caused this reduction in poverty. We are only concerned with whether or not capitalism is feudalism with extra steps.

If we accept that Feudalism is what kept these people poor, and that Capitalism is Feudalism with extra steps, then we need to wonder… at what point does Capitalism make these people poor again? We’ve only seen that with the changes towards Capitalism reduce poverty. That’s the trend. At what point will the trend reverse? And if it’s taking so long to reverse, at what point can we just say, “Alright, maybe it won’t reverse”?

I would also argue that it’s harder to move down save by one’s own fault. In Feudalism, all that is required is some link in the chain of command above you strip you of your lands. In Capitalism, you have to piss away your capital and at the end you still retain the most important capital of all: your mind and body. If you fall in status due to your own decisions, I don’t find it fair to blame Capitalism for your fall in status.

Recap

Recall our three rules for Capitalism

  1. You own private property
  2. All exchanges are voluntary
  3. Markets are competitive

Let’s ask ourselves if any of these apply to Feudalism

  1. It is possible for you to have no rights regarding private property
  2. It is possible for exchanges to be involuntary
  3. Markets may or may not be competitive, we did not examine Feudal markets

So no. I don’t buy that Capitalism is Feudalism with extra steps. Of course, you are more than welcome to try to convince me otherwise. Please list the necessary steps in the comments or something and I will be more than happy to reconsider. That said, that’ll be it from me for now. I thank you for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Offline sources:

  1. Sengoku Jidai: Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu: Three Unifiers of Japan; Chaplin, Danny (Kindle Edition)

 

“Capitalism is Feudalism with extra steps”

How to Fix Sword Art Online

Alright, I got into a furious Facebook discussion on why SAO is terrible and it got me thinking, SAO is actually pretty easy to fix. So let’s take it from the top with a (relatively) short blog post.

What is Sword Art Online?

Sword Art Online is known to be a popular anime produced by A-1 studios based on the light novel of the same name by Reki Kawahara. Some people have read the light novel. I have not. So everything here will be based on the animation. And I’m doing this from memory so if some of the details are a little fuzzy, my mistake. Not going to go rewatch it. Make of that what you will.

So the animation features Kirigaya Kazuto. He is a gamer in high school. He is incredibly excited for the release of Sword Art Online (SAO). SAO is a fully virtual MMO where you really feel like you’re Batman Spiderman in the game. He is fortunate enough to receive 1 of only 10,000 copies sold. He logs in immediately like any normal person does. Meets his totally-not-homoerotic friend after which he is told by a Game Moderator that no one can log out and if you die in the game you die in real life. The only way to get the logout button back is to beat the game. Thus begins the struggle to beat the game without dying once.

What’s wrong with Sword Art Online?

Well, a lot, actually. Many people I talk to online say that things went down during the second arc (Alfheim). I disagree. I think it was wrong from the get-go. A lot of this next bit might sound familiar if you’ve literally seen any coverage of SAO but I have to put it in for completeness. Also I’m going to keep it to the Aincrad arc because I did say we’d have a relatively short one. If I do Aincrad + Alfheim you’ll be here all day reading this.

It has a pretty good starting premise and for 1-3 episodes it’s actually pretty good. However around episode 4-6 or so, it begins undercutting its premise by making Kirito (oh yeah, Kirigaya Kazuto’s IGN is Kirito) overpowered. He gets mobbed by like 10 guys and they can’t do enough damage to outpace his natural regen. What the $#@! And it only gets worse. Kirito goes through the motions of having a hard time but he always seems to come out ahead and it never feels satisfying. Feels like he got out easy most of the time. Even at the end of Aincrad he loses all of his HP and dies but somehow can break through the death and deal a killing blow to the final boss.

That’s not to say that overpowered characters are bad by design. We can take a look at Superman for a relatively overpowered character that is well done. Superman is effectively god. There’s really not a whole lot that can actually stop the guy barring Kryptonite (we’ll get back to that). So when your character is overpowered, nothing can kill them, how do you manufacture conflict? In the case of Superman, morality is used. Superman’s greatest foe is his own sense of morality and justice. His greatest enemy is his own naivete.

When your gimmick is “If you die in the game, you die in real life”, don’t make us follow a character that can’t die. Make us follow someone that actually struggles and fears for life.

 

Dying

“Hold up Artemis, there are at least 3 times he almost died and on the third time he did actually die,” I hear you say. Well, let’s actually look at those.

The first near-death for Kirito is against Gleam Eyes, or is it. No. It isn’t. This chump lets a ton of people die because he doesn’t want to show his two-handed skill for no reason. He could’ve won the fight at any time without incurring as large a loss of human life if he had not waited for everyone except tsundere-chan to die.

The second near-death for Kirito is when he’s paralyzed by poison and his assailant takes his sweet time killing him 1HP-by-1HP. Which buys Kirito enough time to pull a deus-ex-machina and have tsundere-chan arrive to save his ass. And then Kirito kills the guy even though it would have been more satisfying (from a writing perspective) to have tsundere-chan kill the creep.

The last near-death experience is at the end of Aincrad when he dies and somehow manages to magic his way through death when no one else can. It’s bullshit. Now you’ve done one step further. For 99% of this series there was no risk of death and when there actually is death, it doesn’t even matter?

Tsundere-chan

Let’s take a moment to talk about tsundere-chan. At the beginning of the series we’re introduced to tsundere-chan and she comes out strong like a total BAMF. She’s made to seem like someone who is naturally almost as good as Kirito. Bear in mind that Kirito had some 2 months or so to play the game in beta while this grill did not. So she’s been given a high initial rating. You see her 4 episodes later and she’s been totally domesticated. She’s cooking and stuff. Cowering behind Kirito from a creep she should easily be able to take out in seconds. Kawahara neutered this character. And he does it with every character. Any time you want a character to come out strong and define themselves they turn into harem bait. Even the guys. The guy from the beginning, his name is Klein. I just remembered it. I ain’t editing this after I finish writing it so if his name is still Klaus from paragraph 2 or something that’s what it’ll be when I hit publish. Anyway literally everyone becomes “X person”. “Blacksmith girl”. “Dragon girl”. “Black man shopkeeper”. “Best guy is a girl”. I think there was one more harem member but it might’ve come after the series. *Shrug*

The Writing Makes No Sense

I’d like to take this moment to point out that this game is definitely rated PG-13 at least. Probably rated whatever the highest rating is because you get naked and (probably) have sex. So now I gotta ask the question, why are there like over nine thousand 5 year-olds in it? Did Mom and Dad let drunk Uncle Rick watch the kids that day? Because after 2 years there’s still like a bajillion 5 year-olds and they’re all being watched by full-time starting town people.

Honestly Kawahara loses track of how many people are supposed to be alive in this game which also kinda takes away from the series.

About half-way through the series Kirito and girlfriend encounter a program (yes, a program) that looks like a little girl that they decide to ‘adopt’. Then, holy shit, she’s as broken as Kirito is. She can delete (yes, right click, delete) boss enemies and chooses to do so to save Kirito. Why, why does such a program exist. Why does it have that power either? It was designed as a psychology robot, being able to delete other programs should be well beyond the scope of its power. Then Kirito suddenly becomes expert hacker, familiar with the system intimately, and manages to save the program as an item. What? Where did all of that come from?

This guy has literally no struggles. The authors try to frame things as struggles but they can’t do it properly because the characters that they’re working with are broken. The source material has to be fundamentally broken by design. There’s no excuse for this.

How to Fix It

Alright, I could go on all day about how the series is bad. We see sub-plots that lead to absolutely nothing, yadda-yadda. But we’re already at 1300 words and I want to keep this relatively short.

Break things down as simply as we can, what is SAO? SAO is a shounen anime with no threat and side-stories that go nowhere. Without the struggle, there’s no point to making this a shounen series. The most enjoyable scenes of this anime were the slice-of-life scenes and the whodunnit episodes in the middle. So how do we fix SAO? Simple. We focus on what it does well and drop what it does poorly. If SAO was purely a slice-of-life anime it would actually be quite decent. The action scenes (while well-crafted) are pointless because we know Kirito will win. Every. Single. Time. Remove them. This life-or-death game isn’t life-or-death. It’s just life. And since it’s just life, just make a slice-of-life anime about a man and his waifu in a medieval world. The music is excellent. The stories are fun enough. At least this way, I’d be forced to give you a 6 for being meh rather than a 1 for being awful. Do something about your characters. We see some characters for all of one episode before they’re relegated to the harem and exist to be an extra voice in a later scene.

So yeah, that’s my fix. Make it full-on slice-of-life. Problem solved. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

 

How to Fix Sword Art Online

[Article Response] “Damaging a Franchise”

This article was pretty short so I figured I could do a quick response to it. This means that my response will only be about 3-4 times as long as the article in question rather than 20 times.

Alright, so what’s going on here? Well, it’s exactly on the tin. “[James Mangold] warns fans that backlash will to films by hacks”.

At the point when work writing & directing big franchises has become the emotionally loaded equivalent of writing a new chapter of The Bible (w/ the probable danger of being stoned & called a blasphemer), then a lot of bolder minds r gonna leave these films 2 hacks & corp boards

In my opinion, his claim isn’t unreasonable. He claims that when producers fear backlash, they will take the safe route when it comes to making films and films will be produced by committee. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but it’s not an argument that I find difficult to accept at face value.

So what’s the problem? Well, there’s one big problem

Respecting the Franchise

I think it’s important that when new writers and directors take on a film, they need to show a great deal of respect to the franchise that they are picking up. They need to recognize that fans love the established universe as it is and work with that. Yes, you are writing a new chapter of the Bible. You don’t get to claim the glory of writing Chapter VIII while flagrantly abusing Chapters I-VI.

Outside Example: Doctor Who

Doctor Who is a show about a humanoid species called “Time Lords”. Time Lords are a unique species in that they possess the ability to “regenerate” when they sustain heavy injury, affording them a new body, new personality, new everything, while retaining the experience they’ve accrued in their past lives. This power is not infinite, it can only be used twelve times. When it came to be nearing the end of the Eleventh Doctor’s run, the producers of the show were faced with a problem: the twelve regenerations (as stated in already established canon) were up. What do we do? Do we create an ending to the Doctor? Or do we cheat, and try to find a way to keep the series going now that it’s relatively popular?

The directors chose to cheat, and ass-pulled some kind of time-energy regeneration. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that Christmas special in which Eleven ends his tenure as Doctor, but it is an ass-pull and it is a disrespect to the show. And after that episode, we see the ratings drop Could the ratings drop be due to something else? Certainly. But it certainly seems suspicious that the ratings drop by 30% over the years since Eleven. Could it be the writing? Moffat, a highly-renowned writer, was a writer for the series after Eleven. He seemed to have been doing an excellent job until then. Why did the ratings go downhill after Eleven? Could it be the Doctor? Peter Capaldi has an impressive discography, extending over 40 years. To say that he is not an accomplished actor would be a bold statement to make. Perhaps Doctor Who was just a passing fad that has lived its 15 minutes in the limelight.

I recognize that we all want to see our favourite characters do the thing, but all stories must come to an end, and by disregarding previously established canon, it is my belief that the writers disrespected the series and in turn disrespected their audience as well.

Star Wars

When it came to the writing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we arrive at a story which seemed to have the intent to “Let it die, kill it if you have to”. Let [Star Wars] die, kill [Star Wars] if you have to. This was not a Star Wars movie for people that liked Star Wars. This was a Star Wars movie to disrespect people who like Star Wars while attempting to sucker in a new generation. Which may be why Solo did not sell. People simply do not trust the studio to produce Star Wars in a respectful manner anymore. Star Wars Episode IX isn’t out yet, and we may need to see how Boba Fett plays out, but at this current moment, I will not be surprised if Episode IX does not sell.

The Point

I recognize the point in that you want movies to push boundaries but there is a way to do it without taking a dump on the source material. Of course failing that, there’s no reason that an established franchise has to have a movie that pushes the boundary. Marvel has been pushing out the same movie for at least 5 years, probably more, and all of the Marvel movies I’ve seen are legitimately enjoyable movies.

The decision to toss out tons of canon is incredibly baffling to me when the new canon to be written seems to want little to nothing to do with the existing material. It might’ve been forgivable if the writing actually made sense. But it didn’t. The world of Episodes I-VI felt so much bigger compared to this. Most of this episode takes place during the slowest car chase ever in the vast emptiness of space. The Force Awakens was so much better than this. It’s almost like you don’t even like Star Wars. You just wanted to slap your name on it. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised when in your act of greed that you failed to maintain the old guard while simultaneously being unable to entice a new order.

Conclusion

So I guess in summary, it’s not the fans that are damaging the franchise, it’s the producers.

The short version is that I don’t particularly like this criticism. Fundamentally, I think it misses the mark. Excepting that which I’ve stated above, Mangold’s statement could pessimistically be taken as “Don’t criticise movies or you’ll get bland movies”. I think the question you need to ask yourself is whether or not the fan backlash is justified. Again, I believe in this case, it is, or at least a significant audience believes that it is, considering the market failure of Solo. The people have voted with their eyeballs and their dollar. Whether or not Star Wars will recover from this, I don’t know. I don’t plan to speculate. But I would hope that the writers for the next movie are watching the internet, acknowledging concerns, and making necessary adjustments. If not, we may see the death of Star Wars, rather than the end of Star Wars. Which, in my opinion, would be pretty sad. That’s my take. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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