Conception 2: First Impressions

conc2

So I traded in my 3DS for a Playstation Vita (aka the DM productivity killer.) I decided to go for a new RPG, and Conception 2 was the latest one out. This is an odd little game to say the least.

All around the world, things called Dusk circles exist. They are manifestations of the desires of humanity, and have a nasty habit of spilling out monsters to attack people. A multinational corporation and the Church ally to locate teens aged sixteen to eighteen who have been blessed by the Star God with power to fight them. You’re one of the recently discovered, and what’s more, you are God’s Gift; a star power user who can produce enough ether to allow people to survive inside a dusk circle. You, along with seven young women, are humanity’s best hope against the Dusk.

Then it gets a little weirder.

One of the things that you have to do is “classmate” with the young women to produce star children. The children are fairy-like creatures (think the avatars from Baka and Test) who have different jobs and aid you in battle. This is where the dating sim element comes into play. You keep your relationship up with the women so you can produce strong allies. Your children have a level cap, and when they reach it, you classmate more and release the old ones to build up your city.

Yes, you make babies. Yes, it’s awfully a lot like sex. The cutscene is brief, with the girl of your choice arching her back while in a neon silhouette, and then your fingers interlaced. Then, you fall over in the chair laughing as you hear “Congratulations! On your new arriv-al!” sung, and your kid pops out of a matryoshka-a Russian nesting doll. It doesn’t really help that you and your co-star child maker have a conversation after that has them both exhausted, glad they “conceived,” and hoping for the future. Also releasing them to become independent when they become “old” enough.

It’s pretty nuts. There’s some other innuendo, but mostly mild. Typical anime fan service. All of the girls are typical anime types. There’s the normal girl, the awkward buxom class rep, the magical girl, the class teacher (who is no more than eighteen,) the spacey girl (whose voice actor makes her really slow and annoying,)  the loli tsundere (whose voice actor makes her hilarious, and has some of the best lines,) and a possible ojou-sama. The dialogue isn’t so bad, and the supporting characters get some nice subplots too.

Gameplay…well, did you like Persona 3? Do you want a worse copy of it? It’s interesting because you can have three additional teams of Star Children besides you and your current paramour, and there’s some interesting dynamics of positioning your extended nuclear family. Most of the gameplay so far has been dull though, and the game introduces many mechanics that I outright ignore. Like there’s a chain system where you can slow bosses down by building a gauge, but most die too quickly to do so. Elemental system is there, but usually just spamming any attack in the enemy’s weak zone works. Bring a lot of mana potions, and just spam spells and special attacks. The loli’s area of effect attack is a lifesaver, especially if you are running with less than nine babies.

There’s a lot of dungeons, some main, some optional. Since you have seven girls, you often need to grind some to get them leveled up. There are fetch and kill quests for rewards, and you’ll always be rotating your crew in and out. The lack of strategy makes this a bit dull, though. Enemies are time consuming kills rather than hard ones, and there’s often four in a room. If you are okay with mindless leveling, it’s not bad, but it’s there. And then you need to constantly make new babies to replace the old babies who grow up and leave the nest, and then you get babies with new jobs…

I found it interesting that the Church so far is the good guy, and the source of the power to fight evil is a deity called the Star God. I’m a little worried that we’re going to see them become villains, but it’s different so far than the usual “Church is the enemy!” motif in RPGs. The religion hasn’t been all that deeply explained, though.

The last thing is that the writing isn’t that bad. Very anime dating sim. It’s weird because the fantasy elements feel a little light, but the relationship parts are nicely done.

So I give it a thumbs up. It’s a little risque, but not overbearing. It’s blatantly inspired by Persona, but doesn’t have that game’s depth. It’s not particularly bad though, and it’s a fun little RPG ride. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to bring the kids into the dungeon to level them up.

Spring 2014 Anime Part Three

So many series, so little time. Sorry, no links this time. They are all on Crunchyroll.com.

No Game, No Life has a NEET brother and sister mysteriously transported to a fantasy world in which violence is prohibited, and all problems are solved through games. Luckily the two of them are games masters, and they quickly get the hang of this new world. Looks like they might get involved with a princess who has absolutely no luck at games though. I liked this one, and am interested in how it develops. The two siblings are more amoral than you think.

Magica Wars is a short series about magical girls designed around certain areas of Japan. Despite being made by Gainax, it was dull. A magical girl is chasing three little fuzzy critters, but is having no luck at it. Not really bad, but I don’t have high hopes for it, and the animation was worse than you think.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure has an unusual set-up. A young man comes to live at an island devoted to schooling of all types. Unfortunately the room he rents has a ghost named Nanana as part of the deal. You see, someone killed her, and she won’t pass on. Nanana was far more of a bigshot than he realizes, and finding out who killed her can be pretty tough. Then there’s all the treasure she scattered around the island.

This one is intriguing. It could go many different ways from the first episode, and has a nice vibe to it that reminds me of Love Hina some.

Mekakucity Actors. This one, I don’t know.

A shut-in goes out one day at the whim of his virtual partner. He gets caught up in a terrorist attack, and meets two other boys who give him the opportunity to stop it. There’s also a girl who claims to know him, who is telling the story of how they met.

It’s Shaft, so the animation is its usual trippy self. However, it doesn’t really add to the story much. Very little actually happens in the episode, with a lot of talking heads and still shots while the background moves in distorted ways. The best part is the bratty virtual Hatsune Miku clone as she cajoles, berates, and pleads with her “master,” forcing him out of the house to get a new keyboard. It probably won’t live up to its rep.

Is the Order a Rabbit? I don’t think I’ll watch it. Cute girl finds Rabbit Cafe, (where the only rabbit is this weird round cat with a man’s voice) meets token loli, hijinks ensue. Not a good sign when I get  bored ten minutes into it. Feels like it wants to be a mashup of Kirino Mosaic and other anime.

Chaika the Coffin Princess was pretty good. A decent magic system and adversaries in this tale about another loli trying to steal a bunch of artifacts to possibly resurrect a dark emperor. Done by the same people who did Scrapped Princess, so expect similarities. Chiaka has an unusual, clipped way of speaking and a big, big magical sniper rifle.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san was a cute short about a girl who likes cats (but is very doglike) who meets a girl who likes dogs (but is very catlike.)  Yuri hijinks abound, and the best part is their third friend, who seems disgusted by the whole thing. If you can deal with the yuri, it’s pretty funny and works well for its length.

Dai-shogun: Great Revolution is absolutely horrible. A street thug who manages to beat up everyone in Japan gets confused with someone murdering young men. He then is told that he is a Tokugawa, and since he’s a virgin, he can pilot a giant robot to fight the giant robot of someone trying to kill him. Add a lot of bawdy sex jokes and some of the worst facial expressions and animations ever:

durrrr

Highlights include a femme fatale taking off her skimpy kimono and revealing that underneath she wears a full bodysuit with ninja armor, and the ridiculous hair of the main character’s sidekick. It’s so bad that it deserves a watch just for the lolz.

La Corda D’oro-Blue Sky is another reverse harem series. A female violin prodigy and her childhood friend attend a recital, and get swept up into a national competition for the best ensemble by the childhood friend they came to visit. Notable for having a ridiculous amount of love interests: about thirteen men total. It’s not that bad,actually.

***

There are more series that I haven’t yet gotten to. Unfortunately I don’t watch any that Funimation has the rights to because their streaming service is horrible, and I dislike paying premium for Hulu and sitting through so many commercials. I’ll probably suffer through Hulu for Date A Live II. There are so many shows that I’m wondering how I’ll keep up, honestly. What are your favorites so far?

Adventures In Masculine Christianity: Knee To The Face Edition

MMA fighting pastors tell all in a new documentary.

Some choice quotes from the link:

“Can you love your neighbor as yourself,” the movie’s trailer asks, “and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?”

Also:

“We’ll just be a couple of God-fearing men punching each other in the face,” one fighting pastor explains in the trailer, which also depicts kids putting on the gloves and headgear and going at it.

“Jesus never tapped out,” another pastor says. “He came to finish what he needed to do.”

To its credit, the documentary includes a priest who finds the whole thing wrong.

Look, I’m a fan of the church becoming more masculine. But there’s smart masculine, and there is stupid masculine, and MMA is one of the stupidest things that men have embraced in recent years. One of the things that feminists often never think of when they talk about male privilege is the cultural idea that men destroying other men’s bodies in the name of sport is entertaining. Even when it’s a pure performance like in wrestling or a sport like football, men have been conditioned to find engaging in physically damaging sports as a sign of manhood. Having men strike and injure each other until one can’t continue is stupid, and leads often to physical damage or even death.

Christians should seriously think about how much we embrace a Spartan ethos of male self-destruction in the name of sport. This is a particularly ridiculous example, but this mindset pervades even believers to a level that isn’t acceptable. A masculine Christianity should not be a self-damaging Christianity, let alone one that participates in acts designed to physically harm others in the name of sport.

Adventures In Feminine Christianity: Song Edition

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an sloppy wet*unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us…
Oh, how He loves us…
Oh, how He loves us.

How He Loves Me, The David Crowder Band

* no, seriously. The original lyrics had “sloppy wet kiss” instead of unforeseen kiss. DC changed it, but he didn’t seem to get why it was such a horrid phrase. The original lyricist does, but meant a “Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd” kind of kiss. Like that’s any better, because Bugs was a jerk to Elmer.

So, yeah, this is one male-dominated church here, that we sing such martial songs.

*deep breath*

I DON’T WANT GOD KISSING ME.

I DON’T WANT UNFORESEEN KISSES.

I AM NOT ENTRANCED BY JESUS’S EYES. I DON’T STARE INTO THEM FREQUENTLY.

DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE HURRICANE METAPHOR. A HURRICANE DOES NOT LOVE A TREE, IT UPROOTS IT, FLINGS IT AROUND, AND OFTEN DEMOLISHES IT.

*sighs*

You think I’m being silly, but this stuff is everywhere.

 

Spring Anime Season 2014: Part Two

The new season continues, and with it come so many series that a fan can be overwhelmed by all the choices.

Oreca Battle/Dragon Collection/HeroBank are three different series each focusing on a card game, and each for very young children. No seriously, they make Majin Bone seem grown up. Only Hero Bank is 22 minutes; the other two are eleven. Out of the three I’d say Hero Bank has the most interesting concept, but it has the poorest character design and an unhealthy focus on money for a kid’s show. The other two are bland and forgettable. If you want your young boys to watch anime, these are decent choices. Oreca Battle in particular is notably awful though, with the oddest hair on a protagonist ever.

Brynhildr in the Darkness has potential. A young man regrets the accident in which his friend died in. Fast-forwards to high school, when a girl suspiciously like her transfers in, and becomes involved with him in order to save his life. She somehow can predict which two people are destined to die in a single day, and she seems to have been modified…

It’s decent, with a particularly morbid opening. It depends how it develops further, as it currently reminds me of a less violent Another.

Black Bullet is cool, but with a big caveat. In the future, a virus creates Gastrea; giant bugs with the ability to infect others and make more Gastrea out of them. A young man and a young girl team up as part of a private security agency in order to deal with them, only to encounter a malevolent masked man with a plot to destroy the world.

The premise is cool, but the lolicon edge to it and the shift from serious to comic doesn’t really help. You go from a blood-drenched scene to the hero rushing to make a special sale on bean sprouts, because he’s dirt poor. Also his partner is maybe all of ten years old, and hits on him constantly. Whether or not it rises above this remains to be seen.

Mushi-shi season two starts out slightly weaker than you’d expect. In this episode, a sake brewer gets entangled with a group of Mushi-shi in the same way his father did long ago. It’s not the best episode because it’s more about the Mushi-shi and less the Mushi themselves, and there’s a lot of talking for a season opener. Also, the indiegrrl opening sucks; the girl’s voice is far too cliched compared to the first season’s song. It’ll get better, I hope.

Haikyu!!….eh, it’s a sports anime. Based on Volleyball. With a weird, sketchy art style and all of the cliches of the genre. You have to love the main rival’s serial-killer style frowny face though. Young boy makes a volleyball tournment with five other unprepared teammates, gets trounced, shows his mad skills, and vows revenge only to get surprised at the end of the episode.

Baby Steps has a lot of buzz as “the non-cliched sports anime.” An honor student so diligent that his notes have notes meets a young woman who introduces him to tennis. Can he use his near-autistic level of studying to reach the pro level? Might be decent, but the MC is kind of meh. At least no killing the dinosaurs in this episode.

Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsuro is yet another sports anime, this time about sumo. In twenty-two minutes, watch the life of an utter jerk as he abuses kids, crashes a car, pees on things, threatens people, and indirectly shows how he might make a badass sumo one day. If you can get past the enka opening and that, and like old school anime, it might get good.

The Irregular at Magic High SchoolBlack Bullet, but instead of unneccesary lolicon, we’ve got some quasi-incest going on. I’m sorry, a brother and sister do not touch each other like that; they don’t cup each other’s cheek, or feel like husband and wife rather than siblings. Same issue with Black Bullet; the idea of a world using magic as a weaponized science isn’t bad, but dunno if you want to put up with the emotional incest in it for the long run.

The Kawai Guide to Manors and Complex Behavior is surprisingly good. An uptight student notices a girl in the library who is just his type, but when he goes home to his new apartment, he finds she lives there too. As well as a drunken office lady, a masochistic pervert, a sweet granny who referees everything, and a few other potentially dysfunctional live-ins. Imagine Love Hina with less violence, more male characters, and a borderline unlikable MC. The masochistic guy is often hilarious, and you wonder what will happen next.

Finally, One Week Friends…eh. Everyone wears a blush, the plot takes forever to get anywhere in a single episode, and even by shoujo standards I was losing interest half-way through the episode. Boy befriends girl who gets amnesia and can’t remember him weekly. I don’t mind moe nor shows that pull on the heartstrings, but this felt way too slow and contrived even granting it was setting up things.

***

And I’m still not done. Part three, coming soon.

Spring Season 2014 Anime Floods In

The Spring 2014 season has finally begun.

Majin Bone is about your everyday teen chosen by a mysterious rock and given animal-themed power armor to fight bug themed enemies.  There’s more to the story I’m sure. However, it has a very “afternoon cartoon” feel to it, with bright colors, a simplistic plot, and themed enemies. More like Tenkai Knights than anything. The first episode wasn’t bad, but wasn’t all that remarkable either.

Blade and Soul is an anime based on an MMORPG that never made it here to the states. Think along the lines of Aion or TERA, but with more of a Chinese feel to it. The anime is made by Gonzo, and it concerns one member of the Sword Clan and her revenge against a shadowy nation.

It has some stunning backgrounds, but the main character is emotionless, and the story in the first episode isn’t all that complex or thrilling. It is notable for being a realistically styled anime not afraid to show some blood, so take that as you will.

Kamigami no Asobu is a reverse harem series in which a serious young kendo student finds herself transferred to an academy of the gods by Zeus in order to help them connect with humans better. It’s odd because when they mean reverse harem, they really mean reverse harem; they take a lot of female harem show tropes like the nearly nude transformation sequence, the clumsy ditz, and the female cast singing at the end and just put males in. However it seems a little more accessible than others of that type, and the setup isn’t that bad either. The female lead is attractive too.

The Files of Young Kindachi Returns is the continuation of “The Case Files of Young Kindachi,” in which a Japanese high schooler solves various mysteries. Keep in mind, these types of shows are for a far younger audience than you’d expect, so that means the plot and situations aren’t particularly realistic or all that deep. The first episode is about Kindachi’s classmate standing in for a famous Hong Kong model and getting herself kidnapped. Not bad, but you’re either a fan of this genre or not, and it won’t do anything to convert you with its melodramatic music.

Captain Earth is the first mecha series on the list, and while it hits all the right notes for me, it also has a lot of the bad things mecha anime can have. A young boy whose father died long ago sees a brilliant, rainbow-like phenomenon that reminds him of the friend he once had. When he returns to the place where he met that friend, he is awakened to his destiny as a defender of earth.

It’s very well animated, and the sign of a good mecha anime is how often it can give you shivers of joy. I like the way they simply just cut to the thoughts and memories of someone when they need to explain things, as it compresses the information we need to receive in a way that makes sense.

However, there’s still the same silliness you get in mecha shows. There’s a transformation sequence that’s so over the top, it makes no sense. Of course, our young pilot will be able to operate a huge mecha (in space, no less) with no formal training nor even a space suit to wear. There’s a lot of technobabble, and some weird penetration imagery when it comes to forming the mecha both enemy and human. Tropes are tropes, yes, but they shouldn’t draw attention to themselves as much as they do here.

The World is Still Beautiful is one unusual anime, and might well be a sleeper hit. Princess Nike of the Rain Kingdom has come to a remote land to marry the Sun King as part of a diplomatic deal. However coming alone and clandestinely checking out his realm might have more issues than you think…

It’s unusual in that it breaks the fourth wall some, and it’s also has a weird style to it. It’s not something serious, but a light, positive tale that’s silly in some respects, but compelling in others. I’d compare it to Engaged to the Unidentified in a way.

***

There are so many anime releasing that I’ll have to split this into multiple parts. None of the anime in this post are bad, per se. At best they’d be average, or not compelling. So far, there isn’t a trainwreck series like Recently My Sister is Unusual, but the ones I didn’t care for reminded me of Nobunaga the Fool-not poorly done, but with no spark to them. These are the first released though, and we’ll get into the meat of the Spring Season later.

Wolf Children

I review Wolf Children at Speculative Faith here. I comment about how Ame and Yuki’s story has parallels to the Christian’s dilemma of being in the world yet not of it. I’m thinking of submitting anime reviews to them on a regular basis now that they accept secular works.

Speculative faith is looking for reviews of all types of speculative works, so if you have a favorite novel, movie, game, or graphic novel and review from a Christian perspective, give them a try.

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