Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Nazo no Tenkousei is a Shunji Iwai produced jdorama that's stuck between a high school quadrangle love story and a science fiction story about being human and different worlds. Yes, the famous director of Love Letter and Lily Chou. It starts off as a well shot, whimsical high school childhood friend dorama and then a mysterious transfer student Norio appears and thing get exciting in the middle when it becomes a full blown science fiction story culminating in an uneven finish.
WHAT I LIKED
- Beautifully shot by Nagasawa Mashiko. (Thirteen Steps, Sotsugyou, Way of Blue Sky) Like Sono Sion, this guy knows how to make a low budget midnight dorama look like a million bucks. His 2013 movie So Far So Close has been sitting in my HD for sometime and I definitely need to watch it. We need more movie directors doing doramas (Sono Sion, Koreeda) cause they bring that cinematic look to the small screen.
- They really maximized the special effects with what little budget they had.
- It gets exciting in episode 4 when we start learning about Norio's purpose.
- Sakurai Minami who plays Koichi's childhood friend, Midori is not unpleasant to look at (as can be seen from all my screencaps) and reminds me of a poor man's Yoshitaka Yuriko.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- Sakurai Minami is like a poor man's Yoshitaka Yuriko. I have no idea whether its because of the director but there are scenes where she severely underacts. Hhmm, guess what, she's also a singer which might explain the acting.
- Nazo no Tenkousei suffers from an uneven narrative. Sakurai Minami's Midori kind of disappears in the middle and before finally getting something to do in the end but by then, its too late. The romance quadrangle stuff feels so undercooked yet at the same time I feel like they could have done more with the sci-fi setting. The script and pacing could have been a lot tighter but then it would lose a bit of that whimsical feeling.
- Koichi doesn't really have an interesting character arc.
Nazo no Tenkousei is a sci-fi jdorama that looks awesome but all the pieces didn't fit together well for me. Its an ambitious jdorama that needed a bit more polish. If you want something different, its worth a look at. Thanks to Shane for recommending Nazo no Tenkousei.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Thursday, December 25, 2014
The last episode deals with how Edawakare became the taxi driver and its pretty amusing, especially to see that his character traits were not the result of his job. I always thought his indecisiveness was due to his job. We also get Shirushi-san's true identity. That said, there were plenty of hints dropped throughout the series especially as to how Shirushi and the cafe people knew about his job.
Generally, Suteki na Sen Taxi is a smartly written series but I am unable to give it a must watch because it didn't have enough must watch episodes for me (episodes 3, 5 and 7). There are no bad episodes though so Suteki na Sen Taxi is stuck in pretty good but not that good limbo. Same thing with River's Edge.
The ending leaves room open for a sequel but I'm not sure I want to see this continue. The writer Bakarythm did a very good job but its going to be harder to maintain the quality for season 2 and not repeat himself. That being said, I highly recommend Suteki na Sen Taxi. Please give it up to episode 3 cause that's when it really got going for me.
THINKING ABOUT BUYING LEGEND OF LEGACY
I will never buy another Furyu game because they are one of those gimmick game publisher (see the ToLoveRu game) but the gimmick of Legend of Legacy is that they've a lot former Square people uncluding the writer of Chrono Trigger to work on it. Question is whether they were given enough time and resources to complete the game. Most likely it has the budget of a smartphone game.
However, its old school turn based, the characters aren't a bunch of emo teenagers, its not one of those RPGs where everyone can be a fighter/mage/healer and its got a frog! Better to support a low budget RPG where the right people got hired than a low budget, souless moe one. I've got one more month to make up my mind.
3 1/2 MONTHS TO RYU GA GOTOKU ZERO!!!!
Watching these two gameplay videos is so fun but so torturous because the game is so close but so far away. If you are a sukebe, you must watch the gameplay video below. Ryu ga Gotoku 0 is my most anticipated game of 2015.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
So I'm 100 or so hours into Sen no Kiseki 2. I'm near the end and its the night before the big battle, I had to decide which of the boring, generic female characters I want to hang out with when I just got so sick of this stupid boring eroge posing as an RPG game that I could not physically finish the game. I had reached my absolute limit in putting up with such a crappy game. I should have quit the series when they had that stupid concert at the end of the first game.
Sen no Kiseki 2 is my fourth and my last game in the Legend of Heroes series. For a series that has always won the Playstation User Choice award every year and been spoken in glowing terms by fans, the writing is crappy and boring I'd rather a straightforward farm boy is chosen one who has to save the world storyline. I was so happy when I found out Grandia 2 is now available for PS3 cause I need a JRPG that doesn't suck. I've been playing Japanese RPGs for so long but I am so scared to play any new titles now.
So, what the hell happened to Japanese RPGs?
DRAGON QUEST AND FINAL FANTASY IS NOT SELLING AS MUCH
JRPs used to follow Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy's lead. Companies like Sega saw the success of these RPGs and did their own spin on them with games like Phantasy Star and Sakura Wars. Sony saw the success FFVII and said "Lets spend a lot of money and do a similar RPG", and they created The Legend of Dragoon which while generic has more personality than any Falcom game. Nowadays, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are not selling like Monster Hunter.
ITS ALL POKEMON AND MONSTER HUNTER'S FAULT
RPGs are still popular in the Japanese market, its just its not in the form of old school RPGs aka storyline party turn based games. The most popular game right now is Yokai Watch which is Pokemon with ghosts. Every Japanese person with a 3DS I street passed is playing either Yokai Watch or Monster Hunter. Kids today want either a game where they collect monsters/ghosts or an action game where they can gang up on big bosses.
So your Japanese executives look at their market and knew that the lowest risk was to make Pokemon and Monster Hunter clones. *cough* FFXIII-2 *cough* (if only reviews had said it was FF Pokemon, I would not have bought it) No one wants to green light a story based game where a bunch of people (usually from different places) get together and save the world. This leads to......
MOST JRPGS HAVING NO BUDGET
So you're a producer at a Japanese video game company trying to make an RPG. You can't get a AA budget unless you're making a Pokemon or Monster Hunter game. You can maybe secure a mid to low budget if you can convince the top brass that you will definitely make a profit.
So someone at Sega decides to use the once great 'Shining' name and marry it with Tony Taka artwork. Problem is, once they finish with the artwork and modelling the female characters, there is no money or bad guys or gameplay. I have all 3 Shining games on PSP and they are crap although I did finish 2 of them but part of the reason is to practice my reading.
Camelot Software Planning used to make Shining games but now, its just a stupid Tony Taka with crappy gameplay series. They copied the gameplay of the one good RPG Sega did last gen and they couldn't even bother to balance it properly. There's no way to lose in Shining Ark. They might as well have an auto win button. So not having any budget means that.....
RPGs HAVE TO USE GIMMICKS TO SELL AND CATER TO THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR
Shining Resonance which came out last year has Tony Taka, dragons, weapons which double as musical instruments, lots of changing female clothing and I'm pretty sure dating sim elements as well. Game director goes to boss and says with these moe elements, we are going to sell X amount of copies. Who cares about story and gameplay or enemies?If we can make the girls idols it would sell even better! Let's not forgot rubbing games like Moero Chronicle.
Another example is the RPG, Exstetra. Its got Tony Taka artwork but no freaking money or bad guys, dungeons or special moves. All the dungeons look the same and there are so many similar monsters with different colours. All the money went into the artwork and voice acting which is basically all any RPG needs to promote itself which leads me to my final point.....
JRPGS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED BY ANIME CLICHES
With all that effort into gimmicks to market games, there is no vision for RPGs.So what do they do? Fill it with your typical anime template. Turn every single freaking RPG into a harem with your boring generic blank slate main character and his typical collection of girls or worse, RPGs where its just a bunch of girls talking meaningless K-ON dialogue.
Final Fantasy Tactics never gets made today. No company would spend a lot of money on a dark strategy RPG about religion, ambition and a brother who just wants to save his sister. Ramza would have a harem, the ending would be happy and there would be an idol performance in the middle. Shining Force 2 would never be greenlit today. You want a straightforward strategy RPG about a rat who releases this great evil and you're selling point is the gameplay?
Now its all moe RPGs like Omega Quintet or Neptunia. All the money spent modelling your cliche female characters, have them fight boring baddies and try to fit whatever story in it.
Speaking of anime cliches, the worst thing about the Legend of Heroes series is the...
There is something called generic anime dialogue.Its like when all the girls/harem are talking to the main character and they each take turns saying one line but it might as well have been one character talking. There are many keywords that just pissed me off when playing the Sen no Kiseki like the usual 'sasuga this character' when someone does something good. Just because a game as cliched characters doesn't mean they all have to freaking speak the cliched same way! Ultimately, it was the dialogue of Sen no Kiseki 2 that did my head in.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF JRPGS?
No one has the balls to package JRPGS in a shape that does not look like an eroge animore. We've got Bravely Default but that game was ruined in the 2nd half by the Steins Gate writer who was too enamoured with his twist that he had no idea how to write smart characters. Luckily he's not working on Bravely Second.
Is there demand for old school party turn based RPGs? Hell yeah! Bravely Default sold 1 million units worldwide despite having a stupid second half. Gamers want old school RPGs without gimmicks. Its just that no company is willing to take a punt
Legend of Legacy looks interesting because it doesn't look like an Eroge but its by Furyu which means its probably a half baked RPG.
Falcom have the dedication and resources but they cannot help but bring the worst and most boring elements of anime into their games.
Final Fantasy boyband XV? If I want an action game, I'd rather replay Bayonetta 2 and Metal Gear Revengeance.
JRPGS need to free themselves from their anime shackles or else it will only appeal to the minority otaku audience. Its hard to imagine a Japanese publisher giving a mature RPG enough budget to be so visually stunning that it can capture the public's attention. If Chrono Trigger just came out today, would good reviews and word of mouth be enough to pursuade the public at large to buy it?
I guess if I want good old school RPGs, I just have to play old games. There are plenty of old games that I have yet to play/finish, its just I'm lazy to read without the help of voice acting.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE JRPGS
Shining Force 1-3 and The Holy Ark
Final Fantasy 6,7,9 and Tactics
Samurai Spirits RPG
Super Mario RPG
Legend of Dragoon
ASIANTORRENTS OPEN FOR REGISTRATION!
On an unrelated note, better register for Asiantorrents if you haven't cause its open until end of December! Its the best place to get jmovies. Its a private tracker so remember to seed and keep your ratio up!
Saturday, December 20, 2014
WHAT I LIKED
- Lesbian undertones. :)
- I like the actresses including Tanimura Mitsuki.
- Some parts are pretty funny especially the Haru vs Yuki joke. The song that the husband sings in the bathtub is called 四季の歌.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- The 2nd half is a boring, harem finish with hardly any conflicts. They could have easily cut two episodes out. I want my tension with screaming and shouting and maybe more sex. I get what the writer wants to show but it feels so dragged out.
Way too long. Would have been better as a 6 episode series. Don't bother unless you won't mind an uneventful female friendship 2nd half. Its got its moments but its not short and sweet enough for the story Sayonara Watashi wants to tell.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Amusing episode where time travel was not used. I'm enjoying the Edawakare character and the running jokes like him being a pashiri. I liked the pay off with the hairstyle fortune of the day joke. If you think about it the part with the clock doesn't really have a purpose in the scheme of things. Edawakare just needed to get the two guys in the cafe.
It was an amusing episode that was carried by Edawakare's antics. One more episode to go and fingers crossed its a good one.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
EDIT: Just had a thought. Maybe Jigoku Sensei Nube getting greenlit has more to do with Youkai Watch than the manga. Youkai Watch which is basically Pokemon with ghosts is the biggest thing in Japan now and maybe someone just wanted a ghost fighting manga to adapt and aim towards kids.
I used to 'read' this manga a long time ago. What I mean by read is basically look for pantsu/cleavage/ecchi pictures. I decided to give the dorama a try and its basically a lot more family friendly show seeing as it was shown at 9pm. H2 dorama did not even half an pantsu shots like the manga but it turned out pretty good.
Unfortunately, the comedy part is not funny. Its like a boring tokusatsu show. Jigoku Sensei Nube should have gone bad all the way instead, ie go for low budget midnight slot so they can actually do fanservice. No need to hire B level actors. Just ham it all the way and dress it up with fanservice. There's evecandy in the show but its presented in a family friendly way. Ugh.
Don't watch it. There are no redeeming features for Jigoku Sensei Nube.