Aho Girl

Aho Girl is about a girl who is totally fucking retarded. The show is totally fucking retarded. Yet I can’t stop watching it. What am I doing with my life.

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Aho Girl is a short anime (I think every episode is like 15 minutes). It’s a collection of short little stories (5-10 minutes apiece) and they’re all dumb. The characters are all degenerates (except Sayaka, you’re an angel).

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Akutsu is a violent domestic abuser in his early years thanks to his experiences with Yoshiko. Yoshiko (‘Aho girl’) is a retard with a magical ability to make everything around her get dumber. Sayaka is a pure angel that has no reason to be in this anime. Yoshiko’s mother is a degenerate who (on screen!?!?!!!) admitted to effectively raping Yoshiko’s father. Oppai Incho (yeah, who remembers her name anyway?) is a delusional stalker. There’s some delinquent that also suffers from stupidity. Oh, and I guess Akutsu’s sister also has that curse. And there’s a dog that is pretty much a bro? Dog’s cool I guess. His name actually is Dog. Guess whose pet he is.

There isn’t an overarching story. It’s just the lives of these people. This anime being short is actually a point in its favour because it’s so bad that you can’t get attached to characters (except Sayaka, and she only sticks out because she’s normal) but it’s also so bad that you have to watch it. Also, the opening theme is extremely catchy. It’s like this rap that at one point goes all opera and then becomes a rap again.

I guess this anime subscribes to the ‘Family Guy’ approach to comedy. Hit the audience with something mildly amusing, and then move the attention to something else mildly amusing. Since you never have too much time to stew on how stupid what you’re laughing at is, it’s good enough to keep you amused for the 15 minutes.

Overall, I’d say watch it. It’s so bad it’s good. Thanks for reading.

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Aho Girl

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

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I wanted to love this movie. I did, truly. I guess you already know how the rest of this review goes but do try to stay with me here, I’m not just a crying fanboy. While I drafted this with minimal spoilers, there still are spoilers ahead so consider this your spoiler warning.

So Ghost in the Shell is a manga from the late eighties, a movie from the mid-nineties, and an anime from the early 2000’s. This franchise has been through a lot, and I’ve been a fan of it for a very long time. The 1995 movie, while slow-paced, is an excellent work of art that conveys the messages that it wants to convey quite clearly. The Major, Batou, and Aramaki are some of my favourite characters from manga. The Major has this playful nature, Batou… is the butt(ou) of several jokes, and Aramaki is a sly fox that you can’t help but admire. Togusa representing the stubborn, older generation. Most of the other members had augmentations that made their job easier (Saitou’s vision, for example). Others augment themselves for fun (Borma’s liver augmentation). I guess the point that I’m trying to get across is that Ghost in the Shell represented a crossroads in our future where all of these types of people coexisted. We weren’t all cyborgs and we aren’t all humans. And the characters are all so relatable, it’s hard for me to pick ones that I don’t like. Even in the older movie, it was incredibly difficult for me to dislike the Puppetmaster, rather I disliked some of his actions (the poor man with false memories).

Maybe this one was a little close to home, and I shouldn’t have gone in because of that. Let’s talk about what I liked about the movie first.

The movie is visually appealing. I can almost see the future with holographic advertisements the size of skyscrapers already. While I see the payphones on the side of the street disappearing (sorry 1995) I can see the idea of more robots in the service industry. Hell, Japan, in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics is already constructing hotels run by robots dinosaurs. ROBOT DINOSAURS! Come on man! ROBOT FRICKIN DINOSAURS! There are some great special effects, however I believe the movie failed to capitalize on the 3D. Especially the scenes where The Major is getting painted back to normal, mesmerized me every time.

The acting is fantastic. ScarJo knows how to play her character (most of the time) and there were some great scenes where you could really see how her movements felt robotic, like it wasn’t a natural human body. In the source material The Major is a little more playful, which is what I liked about it, but eh, new adaptation, different direction. I’m not terribly bothered because what ScarJo did do, she did well.

Before I move on, I do want to take a moment to address the whitewashing controversy. Anyone that complains about it doesn’t understand the source material. The Major’s origins are notoriously mysterious (within source material, which this movie dodged for the most part). And I think that anyone that complains about the whitewashing doesn’t quite get the point. See, the major is effectively a human inside a machine and (I believe) the point that Shirow was trying to make with the character of The Major was that none of the external features really matter (and this is very effectively demonstrated in the 1995 movie). Quite simply, there’s nothing in the source material (that I recall) that makes The Major “Motoko”. In fact, there’s nothing that really makes The Major female. Sure, the exoskeleton appears female, but it could have easily been male. The Major itself could easily be ‘male’ (if we’re going by original personality) but again, that doesn’t matter. That’s the point of The Major.

I don’t know where they found Batou (Pilou Asbaek) but he was perfect. I don’t think they could have picked a better Batou. Christ I loved his Batou. He just seemed so buff! Kuze (Michael Pitt) exaggerated the little robotic flairs of The Major. I’m not sure how much of that was CG, but the line delivery was spot on. He really played himself off as the villain we could all sympathize with even if corporates didn’t turn into assholes.

There are some notable exceptions to the excellent acting. Togusa’s character (Chin Han) had like two lines the entire movie and they were delivered in such a way that I felt like it detracted from how naive the Togusa of old seemed to be. But this isn’t just nostalgia bait, he gave the line so quickly and so flatly “I am a human, and I will always be 100% human” that I felt like the line was wasted. I also don’t like exposition that way, especially when that line served no purpose for the entire movie.

I do wonder why Aramaki spoke Japanese for the entire movie. He clearly understood English, as everyone else spoke in English and the others clearly understood Japanese (maybe they had a translator in their ear or something). But with what little screen-time he had, he did exude badass. And while we’re on the topic of Japanese, why was Hanka always pronounced as hay-n-ka? Should’ve been pronounced Ha-n-ka and every time they pronounced it incorrectly I would cringe. Sounds weird when you read and hear Japanese most of the time.

Okay, let’s talk about what I didn’t like. Everything else.

I don’t think this is really “Ghost in the Shell”. The original Ghost in the Shell discussed several existential themes regarding humanity and what it means as we merge man and machine. It also addressed how these things would impact our day-to-day lives, and how these things could be abused by corporations and governments. It’s not like the source material lacked things to really discuss. And I don’t feel like I got much of that out of this movie. I feel like it was sorta just mentioned, and then we moved on so we could get to the action scenes. The action scenes weren’t terrible, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not really what I paid for. Other scenes didn’t seem to connect too well if you ask me. I feel like we may have been shown a series of loosely connected stories, which is kind of what the manga did… but I don’t think that a movie should be doing that sort of thing.

The language (Ghost, Shell) seemed very forced every time they were used, to the point where I feel like it would’ve been more natural to use ‘soul’ instead of ‘ghost’ every time they mentioned it. But this is due to line delivery, in the source material ghost is used so matter-of-factly that it doesn’t really leave an impact. But the doctor says “But the important part of you, your humanity, your ghost, is still there” is practically romantic so the language doesn’t seem to fit the line.

They ripped a scene straight out of I, Robot (a beloved favourite of mine), and I, Robot did it better.

My biggest complaint might be the Motoko subplot. It gets introduced about twenty minutes before the end of the movie and is resolved like five minutes after it’s introduced. And quite honestly, I don’t mind its inclusion at all. I have several problems about how it was included. First – why is the effective introduction of the subplot at the END of the movie, rather than towards the beginning? I feel like it would’ve been more effective had it been placed much earlier, perhaps right before the bar scene. And the extra irony about that scene is despite everyone complaining that ScarJo isn’t Japanese, the way they characterized Motoko’s mother looked distinctly Chinese. Just saiyan. The second thing is how very little we have to go on. There’s a glitch that The Major continues to see and it’s really the only thing she has to go on and The Major sort of just accepts that she’s Motoko but I personally don’t feel that the audience has enough information to come to that conclusion. The pieces of evidence she has are the memories of the burning building, watching her allies get kidnapped, and the name she was told by the Chinese lady. Sure, it’s “confirmed” by Kuze but I don’t think he should’ve had the information to make that conclusion either.

Long story short, I believe the movie failed to deliver on its source material, and just became another Hollywood action movie. Which I find depressing because of my attachment to the source material, but that’s fine. I would not recommend this movie. The pacing seems poor and the scenes incoherent. While there is some beautiful imagery, I don’t think that there’s enough of a movie here, let alone Ghost in the Shell. Thanks for reading

Artemis Hunt

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Super Impossible Road

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Steam Page

I write this review as the game is still in Early Access. I say that not because I plan to go easy on the game or something, just as a heads up to those that will consider buying the game. I’ve always maintained that “Early Access” is not an excuse for how good or bad a game is. Once you put it on the marketplace, you’re fair game… in my opinion.

Super Impossible Road is a racing game. There’s really not much to say about racing games in general. You control a ball. You can modify your ball to have the stats that you want it to have but let’s be real here, does anyone ever care enough to min-max perfectly? If you do, please send me a message, I need to know what’s going on in your head.

The tracks have gates on them which fill up your boost bar. Using boost makes your ball go a little faster (obviously). Where this game differs from other racing games that I’ve played is that you can jump off the track to “cheat” your way to finish line faster. That’s why the game’s tagline “Winning is cheating”. Now you can’t just jump off the track and free fall to the finish line for victory. The game would be too easy in that case. Upon leaving the track, you have five seconds to return to the track. If you fail to touch the track in that time, you will automatically respawn at the last boost gate you touched. Which means that you have to be really careful about deciding when to ‘cheat’. Otherwise you may waste up to five seconds. If you see the writing on the wall that you’re not going to make it, you can force respawn early.

The tracks can be fairly complex. At this time, while there are only three ‘tracks’, the tracks are procedurally generated so it’s like having an infinite number of tracks? There’s also a daily track where you can compete with people across the world for the top score.

The game is aesthetically appealing (to me) with that ‘Tron’ feel. I’m not the biggest fan of EDM so there’s only one or two soundtracks that I like but it definitely matches the feel of the game. Excellent job.

While the game does have multiplayer, it seems it only has local multiplayer. Perhaps they will change that as it is still in early access. You can still have CPU racers and you can even race against your ghost. So it has some rudimentary tools.

Anyway, at the time of writing, the game is priced at $12. While I do like the game for what it does, I don’t think it’s worth $12 yet. Do it if you want to support the creators but other than that, I’d wait for it to go on sale or something for $5 or $6. I’m not the biggest fan of racing games so I won’t dump too many hours into it, but in my opinion, it does look promising. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Super Impossible Road

Re: Zero

This one has been in the queue for a while because I’m always late to the party but really because it has impressive plot. I mean, look at that plot.

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No, not everything I do can be motivated by cute anime girls, gimme a break (Seriously though, Rem best girl).

A lot of people have hyped this one and I figured with cute battle maids, it can’t be all that bad, right? Right.

So Re: Zero tells the story of a useless idiot that for some reason is called to a fantasy world. He expects the whole protagonist thing where you’re ‘The chosen one’ but finds out that he’s totally fucking useless. His only power seems to be to return to a very specific point in time every time he dies with all of the knowledge of the life he had before. I know there’s source material that I haven’t read, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that his power is to rewind time but rather to send his consciousness back in time. It is through repeatedly dying that Subaru solves the various problems that come his way.

Subaru is the inversion (yep, gonna have to use that word again) of the typical video game (not saying that this is a game) protagonist. Comparing Subaru to SAO’s Kirito or Log Horizon’s Shiroe, he’s useless. He’s closer to Kazuma from my recent KonoSuba review. His only talent (and it’s a damn good one to be quite frank) is his ability to send his consciousness back in time (I swear that has to be his real ability despite openings suggesting otherwise). Because it allows him to navigate ‘Dead Ends’ similar to the quickload function in my visual novels.

This sort of power is kind of a mess to deal with because it’s so easy to make it seem like a deus ex machina device and in reality it kind of is. What I like about the way it’s executed here is that Subaru has to die first. And it might seem terrible but I think that’s the most important part. In other series this power might be activated like a ‘Get out of jail free card’ but Subaru actually has to experience the full death in order for this power to activate. Which can be excruciating because it can take a while to die.

Unfortunately when your character can return to a save point, it can make relationships between characters difficult to effectively establish because you’re playing with cause and effect. What this means is that you have to rely more on character interaction itself.Not saying that it’s a bad thing, just that it’s something to consider and all things considered I believe Re: Zero effectively executes this. And I do like how the various tragedies that happen to Subaru turn him from this otaku that was happy to find himself in the magical world into this man that has died several times and quite frankly doesn’t want to deal with this bullshit anymore. And the transformation is effectively communicated because you can easily see the intermediate steps, very well done.

My main complaint with the show is motivation and plot. Quite frankly, there isn’t any. At the end of the second season I find myself asking ‘What was the point of all that. What have I learned’. And I don’t think I’ve learned anything. So it feels like everything was pointless. Now you could point to the Royal selection process and say ‘Aha! That was the plot you nimwit’ to which I’m going to have to say ‘No, no it is not’. You are confusing ‘backdrop’ with ‘plot’ Understandable, yes, but they’re not the same thing. The backdrop is something that may set things in motion and continuously acts from behind the scenes. The plot is our reason for moving forward and quite frankly, there isn’t anything. Nothing feels natural.Most of all, Subaru’s feelings for not-best-girl. Subaru says he’s motivated by Emilia’s smile and whatnot but something weird happens and it gets to the point where what was once sweet and charming becomes downright deluded and creepy. And there are things he says that make me cringe. Jesus Christ dude.

Okay, maybe I’m being unfair to Emilia because Rem is just everything I need in a woman and also because her character is probably the most fleshed out one of the main cast post-resets. But the amount of character in the characters is remarkably tiny. We only really get development of Rem. I’ll also remind you that Rem probably has one of the most beautiful, heartfelt confessions in anime history and her character is also great and Subaru still turns her down. SUBARU. WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING.

Overall, a very beautiful anime with some epic music. While the anime wasn’t as great as I was led to believe, I definitely enjoyed watching it even if it didn’t really make any sense. If another season comes out, I’ll probably watch it. Those are my thoughts, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Re: Zero

My Review Process

If you’ve been following this blog for a few months, you’ll no doubt realize that while I tend to write about whatever I want to write about, I generally write reviews of… stuff. Usually games and I’d like to expand it to movies but I’m not really sure I know how to evaluate a medium that I spend so little time in. I spend my life absorbed in manga, anime, and video games, so I know those quite well. If I did eventually start reviewing movies, I would probably review them like I do anime, but that’s a topic for another day. Today I wanted to talk about my review process – particularly for games.

So what is it that makes a game good? Simple – is it fun? That’s probably it. Time to go home folks!

Nah, there’s more. So I look for a myriad of things in games. The first thing I look for (other than whether or not it’s fun) usually depends on the game and what it’s marketed as. See, it’d be unfair for me to evaluate a roguelike as an RPG because they’re two totally different types of games. In a roguelike, the gameplay is usually designed to be endlessly playable, and it’s almost arcade-like in ‘How far can I go’ in nature. While an RPG is designed as a wish fulfillment game, in which you either choose or are given a ROLE to PLAY in this GAME. Since you’re filling a role, there’s usually a role to fill, which means a criticism I often offer in RPGs such as character consistency/motivation is valid there. It would be silly and (as I said earlier) unfair to use such a method of evaluation on a roguelike because that’s not the point of a roguelike. Now this is not to say that RPGs cannot offer roguelike elements and indeed many no doubt do. Long story short – I have different criterion for different types of games.

Actually I don’t want to assign any more numbers because it’s not like I’m going through the game checking off a list. I’m just experiencing the game and these are the things I notice. So no more numbers, just observations.

There are few things that will kill my interest faster than playability. A game needs to be easy to pick up and play or I’ll just leave. I often bring this issue up when it comes to games with difficult to use controls. I shouldn’t need a Ph.D. in Euclidean Geometry to use the ‘Jump’ button. While some developers seem to think that complexity makes a combat system better, I’m going to have to rain on that parade and inform you that it doesn’t. If your game’s controls are so difficult that you need to spend a good 30 minutes to an hour inside a tutorial room, maybe think about your controls again.

The complexity of a gameplay should serve the player in allowing multiple styles of play. This is also a double-edged sword because players are lazy bastards. And what the developers might have intended as giving you options might turn into an effort in futility because the players will always find the easiest way to do a job. So in my mind, a well-done gameplay system will permit many styles of play, but again – we need to keep the type of game in mind. A game like Dark Souls permits the use of many weapon styles and doesn’t have ‘one’ way to complete the game which opens up the game to many different styles of play (though good luck doing the catacombs first). Meanwhile, (and I’m gonna step on a few toes here) a game like Pokemon Red doesn’t really permit too much in the way of variability. You’re all but trapped into using whatever the enemy is weak against or being overleveled compared to the enemy. The later games fix this by adding natures/abilities/move variability. (Though dragon types were super meta for waaaaaay too long)

Part of all games is the atmosphere and one thing that can really make or break an atmosphere is music. Music allows the developer to manipulate the player into feeling a certain way. I’ve recently watched Wolf Children (several times) and I love the movie. Some scenes are great by themselves, such as the snow scene where Hana, Ame, and Yuki are playing. Beautiful. Try watching it without music and then try watching it with music. What you should find is that the music just adds this sheer euphoric delight and turns what would be a great scene into a phenomenal scene. I have no doubt that you could also play with the lighting and music to turn that joyous scene into the prelude of something terrible. Managing the audio in your game to enhance the atmosphere and experience is pretty important to crafting a good game, and is something that I think can ‘rescue’ poor games.

I like to rag on this when it comes to games (especially RPG Maker games because they’re the worst offenders that I see) but the art style has to be CONSISTENT. Art that looks out of place is very jarring to the gaze and I’m going to be spending quite a few hours in this world that you’ve crafted. If I have an eyesore in my line of sight for most of that time I’m going to be saying “Great, I have to go through this town AGAIN” quite a few times, which may make me quit the game.

So I don’t generally don’t review games until I’ve finished them. I’ll make exceptions (game is too long, game is shit, game does not appear to have an ending) but I usually want to play to the credits. This can often be ‘inconvenient’ to a review release schedule but it does give me one additional tool: my feelings. If at any point I find myself saying “Christ, is this game almost over” it signals to me that I’m not enjoying this game. And remember – first and foremost a game should be fun. That’s not to say that bad games can’t be fun, they certainly can and I think that’s where we run into the playerbase creating their fun within the game. There’s nothing wrong with this, though it may make it more difficult for me to rate a game positively.

I do add caveats in my reviews, recognizing that not all games are for everyone. Now if you remember I wrote a post a while ago on how people review things (1-10) incorrectly. Well, I don’t use 1-10 incorrectly. So my bar for reviewing a game as positive is average or better. I know, it means that I will say you should buy most games, but that’s why you should take the rest of the review in context to see if that’s something you actually want to spend money on. Think of my reviews as a brief insight into the game that you can consider before buying them, rather than as a ‘Yes = buy, No = don’t buy’.

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

Artemis Hunt

My Review Process

JumpJet Rex

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Steam Page

I regret to inform you that I write this review without having finished the game. Not for lack effort, but because it’s just not feasible. I’ll go into why later in the review.

JumpJet Rex is a colourful speedrun game about a dinosaur that collects stars to save the universe. Something like that anyway. There are some 30+ delightful little worlds with each type of world (ice, desolate space base, etc.) seeming to have their own little chiptune to go with it. And these are some damn good chiptunes. I bought the game through Chrono GG so it came with the soundtrack and my god was it worth it. Definitely got some workout tunes out of it (should I ever be finish my selection of podcasts). Really, have a listen to some of them. You can also customize the appearance of your dinosaur, 4 elements. Head, skin tone, shoes, jumpjet particles. But that’s dress-up and I don’t find it particularly enjoyable.

In each level you collect rings to unlock the gate. Pass the finish line and you’ve completed it, you earn a star. You can earn up to three stars per level. One for completion, one for not dying, and one for speedrunning. You need to collect some number of stars to unlock the next few levels. Simple enough. I usually settled for completing without dying to grind stars because I only needed to be careful to progress. But some levels are easy to speedrun if you take advantage of checkpoints (and dying). So I took those too. You can also download ghosts within the game of the top players in the world or people near your skill level to see how they do things. So it provides a good improvement tool within the game, well done.

As the game goes on, and certain elements get added to the levels, I saw some SIGNIFICANT frame drops. Like, we’re talking 2 fps frame drops. The culprits seem to be certain environmental objects. Patches of thorns that disburse leaves and these globules that travel up and down. And it became a real pain on a particular boss fight called ‘Seedmour’ in which the level is full of these thorn patches so after maybe a minute of fighting the boss you’d be unable to do anything for several minutes due to the fps drop. Alt-tabbing seemed to help, but I don’t know for sure. That boss fight was a particularly annoying because after dropping the boss’s health to zero you also had to ground-pound it before it got back up and if you happened to be stuck in 2 fps time when that window presented itself… prepare yourself to have to hit it again because there’s no way you’re going to do it in time. And this is why I haven’t finished the game. Because in the later levels this becomes a constant issue and you kinda need the frames in a speedrunning game if you want it to be fun. (I suspect the issue is some kind of garbage collection or object recycling code).

Other than that though, the game is brilliant. Definitely recommend giving it a go. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

JumpJet Rex

Words for Evil

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Steam Page

I write this review without having finished the game, but since I find no indication that there is a ‘finish’, I think it’s fair.

You play as a party of adventurers completing “quests”(let’s call them that)… for some reason. In fact the quests are scarcely explained so I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing except typing random letters and seeing if LJCQUES is a word that the game will accept. As you travel from scene to scene, occasionally people will request to join your party to which you have only two responses. “Absolutely” and “No”. Quite a jarring contrast of responses.

RPG elements are introduced in the form of character classes and upgrades. Every class gets three types of attacks and each can be upgraded three times (max level of 10 for each character). You can upgrade stats at blacksmiths through purchasing equipment and equipping them to your characters. There’s no equipment screen and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many things you can equip to a character so I like to imagine my archer had like a sword (not even a bow, a sword) for every finger and was wearing 4 types of chest armor. Lord knows how he did it, but he did it.

You type words at the screen for like an hour and then you get to the end of your map. Along the way you’ll find treasure or evade traps. Then you will be presented with some text “Book Found” or something like that and you’ll be told to move to next zone or to stay in your current zone. Very immersive.

I don’t really have any complaints about execution. Everything is done quite well. The artwork is nice, and consistent. It has that old 16-bit feel. The fights are… well, typing. If you manage to screw up so much that your heroes drop to 0 HP (maybe you were alt-tabbed) you are offered a chance to keep them alive by typing a 6 or 7-letter word.

Did I phone this one in? I know it’s short but it’s really not a complex game. You type words. Kinda missing where the ‘Evil’ is. I don’t think there’s enough in this game to really extend beyond “type words until done”. I’m going to say no on this one. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Words for Evil