Apr. 14th, 2014 @ 09:56 pm New anime
Current Mood: tiredtired
We're nearing the end...

Abarenbou Rikishi!! Matsutarou: Matsutarou is a lumbering hulk of a boy, who has a thing for one of the teachers at his school. For the rest, he doesn't care about anyone or anything but himself -- he'd even take candy from his baby brother if he feels like it.
It started out interesting: not many series have the opening animation be a karaoke song by the main character. But Matsutarou is a total sociopath, and I could not find any redeeming qualities in him.

Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi: Escha lives in a small frontier town and has been training as an alchemist. On the day she joins the R&D department of the alchemical centre, she is joined by Logy, a young alchemist from Central City. Together, they have to gather the ingredients to synthesize things to help the inhabitants of the town.
It's based on the various 'Atelier' games. The first episode doesn't have any action in it: it's just young people doing calm and cute things. The designs are cute, the pace is slow and the atmosphere is definately relaxing. Some dungeon crawling is being foreshadowed, but so far it's all very laid-back.

No Game, No Life: A NEET brother and sister are expert gamers. Working under the name of 'Blank', they take the top spot in any game they play, defeating even cheaters. But they are holed up in their room, unable to deal with life outside of games. Then they are invited by a god to a world that is ruled by games: conflicts are determined by games and the rules are apparent immediately. This seems like a good environment for the siblings to thrive!
Every NEETs dream: a world that's structured and clear, with the rules laid out explicitly. And if you're such a genius game-player as these two, you can create your own niche quite easily. I like the set-up, and I really like the designs and colour palette. It also helps that the two seem to care deeply for each other: they're really a team.

Isshuukan Friends: Kaori keeps to herself in class and seems cold and distant. Yuki is interested in her, and he manages to sort-of befriend her after some initial struggles. But then Kaori tells him that she loses all her good memories every Monday, so she simply forgets her friends after one week. Yuki is determined not to let that stop him from becoming her friend.
Slowmance with a twist! This twist is kinda bizarre, but I like Yuki's sincerity -- and it's a known fact that I have a soft spot for slowmance. The character designs are quite distinct as well, a style that I like a lot.

Oreca Battle: Another card battle anime aimed at young kids! With a plucky hero whose hair looks like he has cat ears! And of course they get transported to the world of the cards! And of course they must fight some bad guys with the monsters from their cards, which get turned into 'real' fighters!
And it is shouty! And stupid! And light on plot and explanation! And I wonder how much pocket money goes into these kinds of games that they apparently can support multiple series about these games!

Ping Pong: Two friends join the high school tabletennis club. They're so good that several seniors lose their regular spots for tournaments. Makoto is nicknamed 'Smile' because he never smiles -- he doesn't want to exert too much effort in anything. Yukata is nicknamed 'Peco' (for reasons unknown) -- he is a brash loudmouth. A rival school manages to get a player form China as a transfer student, and the two go there to spy on him -- he easily beats Peco in a duel...
It's about sports, but it is not a sports anime. Why not? Because it is too character driven, and the two protagonists are already very, very good: easily beating others. Sure, the Chinese player adds a challenge to overcome, but it's all very toned down, and not the shouty passion and baseless bragging you get with 'real' sports anime. It's done in a semi-realistic 'flat' style. Also, it runs in the Noitamina slot, so you know it's going to be good.

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizokin: Jugo has come to the 'academic island' of Nanae. He can only afford a simple room, and he has to pay one year in advance -- no refunds. It turns out that his room is occupied by the ghost of Nanana Ryugajo who got killed in that room. She is one of the seven kids who built the island. Jugo has no choice but to share his room with her, because he is too poor to move somewhere else. He does find a hidden 'Nanana manual', which speaks of the hidden riches hidden by Nanana before she was killed -- somewhere on the island, curious artifacts can be found!
This seems like a much more light-hearted version of Magical Index/Scientific Railgun: same type of environment, with hidden things underneath. But instead of coldhearted killers and ruthless scientists, this series promises lots of adventure in order to find the secret treasures that Nanana hid.

Black Bullet: Gastrea is a viral infection that turns people into insectoid (or arachnid) monsters, with super strength and regenerative abilities. The only thing that works against them is the metal Varanium, and the power of other Gastrea. Rentarou is equiped with the Varanium bullets, and together with a young girl who can control her Gastrea infection, they fight the monsters to save mankind.
Blood splatters everywhere, and people get killed in pretty gruesome ways. And then there is the mysterious stranger who knows more about it all. And the young girl has inappropriate feelings for Rentarou. It's all been done before, and I don't need to see it again. There's too little innovation in the series' concept to grab me.

Kamigami no Asobi: Zeus has started a high school for (male) gods, and has added Yui, a human girl, to the mix in order to strengthen the bonds between the gods and humans.
I'm trying to find something that I can add to the description, but there is not much more to it than I've written here. It's a reverse-harem series (complete with the ending theme sung by all the boys) with a rather bizarre set-up. Yui seems to be devoid of any sort of personality, which doesn't help either.

Disk Wars: Avengers: Suppose you found out your father worked for Tony Stark, and created something called a 'DISK'? Suppose it's something like the ghost traps from Ghostbusters, in that it can seal a supervillain away safely? Suppose that you got invited to join your father during the unveiling? And suppose that Loki got his hands on some of these DISKs and unleashes some of these supervillains?
Yet another marketing vehicle, this time tied to Marvel superheroes. It's light on plot and full of fanboy-ery. Name-dropping and cameos ahoy, and nothing of substance.
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net zombie!
Apr. 13th, 2014 @ 03:35 pm Sort-of-review: Fate Core
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
I'm a big fan of the Bundle of Holding: PDF versions of roleplaying books, pay-what-you-want (with bonus books added in if you break a calculated threshold) with the proceeds going to charity. Instant gratification while doing a good deed -- what's not to like? If the bundle is interesting (and not all of them are of interest to me!) then I'll chip in about USD 15 and get the full bundle.
The last one I bought was the Bundle of Fate: lots of RPGs that use Fate Core as the underlying rule system. I've had heard of Fate Core before (many a Kickstarter setting book or RPG uses it as the rule system), but I've never had reason to research it. But when the bundle came around my interest was piqued, especially because the RPGs were so diverse. Apparently Fate Core is very versatile, and I wanted to see what the deal was. It also helps that the rulebook of Fate Core itself is available as a pay-what-you-want download over at the website.

Wall of textCollapse )

Stuff I like:
- Players have (limited) authorial control over the world and can add their own aspects to the people and places in the setting;
- Fate points allows the player to conserve their energy to be used when they want their character to be extra awesome;
- Aspects and compels are a mechanic for offering bonuses -- in a story-driven way;
- Fate/Fudge dice give a bell-curve of possible outcomes instead of a flat, linear probability.
Stuff I would have liked to see different:
- I would have liked to see more skills, but perhaps that's just because I have gotten used to Rolemaster's gazillion of skills and not because they are all needed;
- I would have liked to see a bit more discussion about things like magic or special technology. It seems to me that making it a stunt or aspect is unnecessarily limiting. Or perhaps I'm thinking about this the wrong way around -- I'll read a few more Fate settings to see how they solve these things.

TL;DR: I'm very impressed with Fate Core. The Streamdales campaign is already firmly established in the Rolemaster ruleset (simply because that's the thing I'm familiar with), but if I had to re-do it, I would be sorely tempted to use Fate Core. It's been a long time since I was this enthousiastic about an RPG ruleset.
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Apr. 12th, 2014 @ 04:49 pm New anime
Current Mood: okayokay
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?: Cocoa travels to another city for a homestay. Her hosts turn out to be the proprietors of the 'Rabbit House': café during the day, a bar at night. And whatever the time of day, there is a fluffy rabbit (with an old man's voice) sitting on the head of the main server. Even though it's not strictly necessary, Cocoa insists on helping out at the café. It takes the daughter of the house, Chino, a bit of time to appreciate Cocoa's bubbly personality.
A pure-bred bishoujo series: cute girls doing cute stuff that is of no importance what-so-ever, in a cute manner. There might be some sort of plot later (what's up with the rabbit, anyway?) but that's certainly not the point of the series. I loved this one.

Hero Bank: Fifth grader Kaito plays a game called 'Hero Bank': a cyberspace game where you hire 'hero suits' to do battle. The more viewers you have, the more money you have to power your attacks. Though a mishap, Kaito gets roped into a loan shark contract, and now he has to pay it off as well...
Kaito and his friends are like a yakuza gang -- without the crime or strong-arming, but with 'volunteer work'... The rest of the series has an equally weird mix of stuff aimed at young kids (with the associated shouty-ness) and adult concepts, like loan shark contracts. And I disliked the focus on money, money, money -- little kids shouldn't be too concerned with stuff like that.

Hitsugi no Chaika: Chaika is a wizard: she uses some sort of anti-tank gun to create her magical effects (which she stores in a coffin...). However, it's kind of slow, so she needs capable henchmen to cover for her while she prepares. She hires two 'saboteurs': good-for-nothing Tohru and his dependable sister Akari to break into the mansion of a baron who was involved in slaying the evil emperor a few years ago, to steal some sort of magic item...
It's a plot-driven action-fantasy series, but it does not neglect the character aspects. And while I strongly suspect that all sorts of disaster will strike when Chaika would complete her mission, it's hard not to root for her. An interesting series with more to it than meets the eye.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san: Inugami's surname starts with 'inu' (=dog), and she is a bit like an excitable puppy herself -- but she likes cats. Nekoyama's surname starts with 'neko' (=cat), and she is a bit like a cat herself -- but she likes dogs. And Inugami likes Nekoyama, but maybe that's not the other way around.
It's based on a short gag manga, and it shows. Rapid-fire word jokes and one schoolgirl hugging another unwilling schoolgirl just a tad too tight... Only five minutes, but by the end we were already done with it.

Mahou Shoujo Taisen: Every prefecture has their own magical girl who protects the peace -- but crossing the street when the light is red is still right out, even when there are magical monsters causing trouble.
It's by Gainax, which means a lot of attention has been paid to the character designs. That's just about the only thing this series has going for it, though. Thankfully, the episodes are only four minutes long.

Majin Bone: A high school boy hears weird noises during the day, and it seems like they're coming from a stone in his friends' back yard. When her dog is also scared of the stone, he touches it and it explodes! Out comes an armoured warrior who attacks him, but when he touches a stone tablet that was left when the stone exploded, he turns into an armour-clad warrior himself!
If that didn't make sense to you, be assured that it didn't make much sense to us either. The warriors are all in cell-shaded CGI, with the difference between CGI and cell-style animation quite jarringly clear. And the character designs seemed dated as well. And it didn't make much sense...

Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to: Life's not easy for a manga artist. What to do if you draw full-view panty-shots, but the audience's preference moves to only slight reveals? What if you need to draw a breast-groping scene, but you have never touched a breast yourself? What if you're surrounded by female assistants, and your editor is also a woman?
It's ecchi fluff, and it's another one of those 'lecherous man surrounded by beautiful women'-things. Still, I thought it was funny: of course the manga artist has to go shopping for women's underwear for research...
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Maid dance
Apr. 11th, 2014 @ 10:17 pm More new anime
Current Mood: tiredtired
I had the day off today, so we had more time to spend watching new anime!

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii: Nike is the fourth princess of a small, poor country. In return for the protection of the Sun King, who has conquered most of the known world, she has to marry him. But Nike is a strong-willed young woman (who turns out to be an air magician to boot) and she decides to travel alone -- unknowingly avoiding the machinations of the imperial servants who seem to have their own designs for her...
It's nice to see a fantasy series that spent some time thinking up the background and scenery. And Nike is a likable character who is optimistic and trusting but is competent enough to defend herself and others if the need arises. She's in for a culture shock in her new life, but I'm pretty sure she'll manage to stay true to herself.

Baby Steps: Eiichiro is an autistic nerd: he has fixed orders to do things, his notes are thorough and systematic and he has a fixed order to eat his lunch. But he has nothing to be passionate about: he simply does the things he does because he feels he needs to prepare for some nebulous 'future'. Then he meets Natsu, the prettiest girl in his grade. She plays tennis, and Ei-kun is thinking of picking up an activity to keep in shape, so why not tennis? The flash-forward at the start of the episode shows that he will apply his methodological way of doing things to tennis as well.
It's a sports anime, but one with a very non-traditional protagonist. At least Ei-kun is not a natural talent: he needs time to process new information and discover the patterns -- not some Prodigy with a Burning Passion. The character designs are kinda weird though, and despite the twist it did not appeal to us all that much.

Gokukoku no Brynhildr: Ten years ago, Ryota had a girlfriend, but she died when they got into an accident. But then he gets a new classmate with a similar name and who looks just like her -- only ten years older! In the evening, she warns Ryota not to take the bus and stay indoors: she can predict people's deaths. And she is oddly powerful physically as well... It turns out that she is a witch, created by technology...
The build-up is kinda slow, but I liked that: it establishes the characters more firmly before we get into the weirdness that will drive the series. It's not a fluffy series though: there's quite a bit of blood splattered around, and the opening sequence promises a lot of hidden/magical conflict as well.

Dragon Collection: Hiro gets transferred into the world of Dragon Collection, a card-collection game about... collecting dragon cards and battling them against each other. The cards are powered by 'guts', and Hiro won't lose to anyone in that department!
It's a straight-up marketing vehicle to get young kids to spend their allowance on cards. Being aimed at young boys, it is also incredibly shouty -- but luckily the episode lasted only 12 minutes.

Fuun Ishin Dai Shogun: Set in Nagasaki, in the Edo period. Keiichiro is a punk who has conquered all of the other hoodlums in Nagasaki, and now he's bored. But when there is a string of mysterious murders, he gets involved with a woman who seems to be after all the male virgins in the city. It turns out that Keiichiro is actually a descendant of the shogun, who recently died -- and the big steam-powered mecha that can only be piloted by virgins from the Tokugawa clan is hidden under the bathhouse where he lived all his life. With that machine, he repels an attack by ninja who are after his life!
If you like cheap boob jokes, macho men with pompadour quiffs and lots of shouting, then this is for you. It's like a medieval version of Daimidaler, which should tell you enough.
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net zombie!
Apr. 11th, 2014 @ 08:44 am (no subject)
Current Mood: happyfestive
Happy birthday, cissa!
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Apr. 11th, 2014 @ 08:44 am (no subject)
Current Mood: happyfestive
Happy birthday, coronanl!
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Apr. 10th, 2014 @ 09:47 pm New anime
Current Mood: tiredtired
Got some catching up to do!

Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara: Sota can see 'flags' on top of people's heads (as in: the flags that are set by your conversation choices in dating sims), and knows how to 'break' them. He has it in his head that he brings bad luck to the people around him, so he takes care to break any friendship or love flags that are directed at him. However, he meets two girls in his new class that defeat his power: one who doesn't have any flags whatsoever, and another who simply creates a new flag whenever he breaks one...
How different Sota is from Keima (from The World God Only Knows): he actually cares for the people he talks to. (He even broke a death flag from someone he met on the street.) It promises to become a harem anime before long, but the characters are interesting (as in: not following their stereotype by the letter), and Sota is refreshinly un-cynical.

Haikyuu!!: Shoyo loves volleyball, but at his middle school, there is no boy's volleyball club, so he always practices alone. In his senior year, he manages to cajole and convince enough of his friends to join up with him to form a team so they can compete in a tournament. Their first opponent is a team from a reknowned volleyball school -- and of course they get steamrollered. But Shoyo's fighting spirit strikes a chord with the other team's captain. Shoyo declares himself his rival -- but then they meet in high school, at the volleyball club!
It's a sports anime about volleyball. But instead of focussing on the almost-magical powers of the players, it focuses on their spirit: you haven't lost until the game is over. That's kinda refreshing, compared to, say, Kuroko's Basketball. And there are some funny moments too. Might be worth to check out another episode.
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Counting (Shuffle)
Apr. 8th, 2014 @ 08:14 pm One new series
Current Mood: mellowmellow
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei: 100 years into the future, the race is on to produce the most powerful magicians -- you need those to defend yourself in the global war/struggle for resources. Tatsuya and Miyuki, brother and sister, have magic talent and are admitted to the most prestigious magic high school. However, Miyuki is better at practical spell-slinging and thus gets admitted to the top program (the 'Bloom') while Tatsuya is a 'reserve' (the 'Weed'). Of couse, the two groups don't really get along. And Tatsuya seems to hide a secret ambition as well...
It seems things are largely the same in 2100 as they are now -- a failure of imagination on the part of the writers. On the other hand, it keeps things relatable, and you can watch it as a normal high school action drama -- which is what we chose to do. It looks gorgeous, there's a likable cast of characters and there are promises of a deep plot.
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Glowing LED
Apr. 6th, 2014 @ 09:27 pm More new anime
Current Mood: okayokay
Catching up and moving on:

Captain Earth: Daichi's father was an astronaut, but he died in an accident. Then Daichi sees a mysterious rainbow on the TV -- it appeared above the island where he used to live. He has seen it before: a boy he met at a mysterious facility produced it. When he visits there again, he enters the facility and learns that something is moving towards Earth -- someone has to stop it! A former associate of his father lets him enter a space capsule and launches him towards the object to stop it...
A mecha show, but unlike most, the first episode spends a lot of time showing our protagonist and his motivations, as well as the machinations of the secret organisation that protects the Earth from these objects (and somehow, they can keep rocket launches from an island in the Seto inland sea a total secret...). This makes the characters feel three-dimensional (as opposed to more shouty mecha shows that totally focus on the robot first: the plucky teenage boy is only there to spout nonsense about being an ally of justice or something like that), which I appreciated. The animation is pretty nice too: pay attention to the infographics on the screens as well!

Lady Jewelpet: Momona is a bit jealous of the bride of her older cousin, but she turns out to be a lovely lady. And then she is transported to some sort of castle where she is given a 'Magical Letter Pen', because a Jewelpet has chosen her as their Lady Jewel candidate! Momona now has to live in the castle and, mentored by the Jewelpet (a red-eyed rabbit on a floating glass marble), learn how to be a real Lady. When her class graduates, one of them will be chosen to become the new Lady Jewel, the queen of the land!
I'm not sure what message this series sends to young girls... There's lots of stuff that a lady supposedly needs: no doubt to drive the marketing campaign of the series of toys. It seems like a typical story of the outsider setting out to accoplish something that seems out of reach for them. And if you're over 12, you fall outside of the target audience!

Daimidaler: Kouichi is a total perv. To give you an example: he seeks out the best spots under the stairs to peek under the skirts of passing girls... But it turns out he can also emit Hi-ERo particles -- and that makes him a target for both the Emperor Penguin group (who proudly display their 'front tails'....) and a mysterious human organisation. You see, the Penguin guys have been launching giant robots and causing all sorts of trouble. Daimidaler, the robot built by the humans can defend the world, but it needs Hi-ERo particles to move. But Daichi can only generate them when he fondles the breasts of the (busty) lady sent out to recruit him!
Everything about this series is stupid. I'm not sure if I need to say anything more about this.

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R: Hajime is the grandson of a famous detective, and he is pretty sharp himself (though you wouldn't think so, seeing his grades). His friend Miyuki is approached by a talent scout to ask if she can stand in for a model. The model herself dissapeared, and the friend looks just like her. The show is in Hong Kong, too! There, she and Hajime meet up with a friend of theirs (who just happened to visit the city... He is a 'typical Japanese tourist', with a video camera perpetually glued in his hand). But then Miyuki gets kidnapped and they meet the original model -- apparently there's something to do with a big diamond and a tattoo on her back...
It's a typical boy's book, filled with coincidences and kids simply walking into places where they never would be allowed. Everybody coincidentally speaks Japanese as well. There is a mystery plot, but it's kinda obvious. And since this is a continuation of an older series, the designs seem outdated as well. If you like whodunnits, then it might be of interest to you.

La Corda d'Oro Blue Sky: Another incarnation of a reverse harem anime, focussed on classical music. This time, our protagonist already knows how to play the violin. While she was a child prodigy, she didn't get much better since. But all that is about to change: her friend's older brother forces her to transfer to his school and join the orchestra club at his school: there will be a concours in a few months' time to determine the top school for classical music, and everybody wants to win! Of course, she gets selected to join, and of course there will be lots of hot guys (each with their own personality) surrounding her.
You can see it coming from miles away. We've seen the first series of this franchise, and while that was fun, this series seems to follow much of the same patterns the previous one did...

Seikoku no Dragonar: Ash is a student at the dragon-rider academy. His dragon partner hasn't appeared yet, but Ash can ride the dragons of other people, which is unusual. He has a reputation of being trouble, and this gets him into trouble with another student, a princess. They agree on a race during the school festival, which Ash enjoys a lot. And then his tattoo activates, which means his dragon partner emerges!
A fantasy school series, with a few hints of a larger geopolitical landscape, so it probably won't focus solely on school life. The protagonist is an outsider, and it will be interested to see what he will do to gain the respect of his peers. I thought it was a very enjoyable fantasy romp.
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Counting (Shuffle)
Apr. 5th, 2014 @ 11:15 am More new anime
Current Mood: melancholymelancholy
Three more:

Selector Infected Wixoss: Wixoss is a card game. Ruko gets a started set from her brother, so that she can make friends at school through the game -- it worries their grandmother that Ruko doesn't have any friends. And then it turns out that Ruko is a so-called 'Selector', who can see the characters on the cards move and hear them talk. Win enough battles, and you can make wishes come true! But there seems to be some weird, dark secret underneath too...
At first it's like Angelic Layer (remember that one?), but the dark dream-like sequences hint of a Madoka-like system underpinning the wish-granting... It might be fun, but it might get repetitive too. We'll give this one another episode before we make our decision.

Akuma no Riddle: Tokaku is an assassin, of the cool-and-competent type. She gets sent to a boarding school where she will be attending the 'Black Class'. Her mission: all of her classmates will be assassins, except for one. That one is the target, and the director of the school board needs her dead. It becomes immediately apparent that Haru is the only non-assassin, and she turns out to be Tokaku's roommate. There's more to her than only her bubbly personality, she seems to hide a dark secret from her past.
I don't understand the convoluted set-up. And the 'closed group filled with paranoia'-thing has been done more often -- and often better. It also doesn't help that Tokaku is devoid of any personality and the other assassins are not sympathetic.

Mushishi: Zoku-Shou: More Mushishi! The first series was on our must-see list of anime (as you can read here). The special that was broadcast some time ago got us right into the mood for more -- and the special was there to announce a new series!
Ten seconds into this episode, we were right back in the atmosphere of the series. It's, once again, a beautiful 'small' story of a 'normal' person crossing paths with mushi, and Ginko passing by and making some suggestions. What's interesting about this episode is that we see some sort of 'mushishi convention', where the mushishi gather for some sort of ritual and trade stuff with each other.
I can't recommend this enough.
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Apr. 4th, 2014 @ 09:52 pm New anime
Current Mood: okayokay
It's the new season! I'll try to keep up with the new anime as we watch it, but who knows?

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou: Usa is determined to make his high school life more pleasurable than his period in middle school. It all starts off good: he will start living on his own in a boarding house (because of course his parents were transferred), and he spots a cute and intellectual girl in the library! And then he finds out his roommate is a masochistic pervert, the cute girl lives in the same house but doesn't seem to like his very much. And then they add the volatile college student who drinks too much because she was dumped by her boyfriend to the mix too.
It's a set-up we have seen before -- many, many times. But it's fun, and I think the slowmance between Usa and Ritsu could be sweet too.

Blade & Soul: Alka is a ninja, and she is on the run from the Empire -- though she is quite capable of dealing with the forces the Empire send after her. She ends up in a small village that the Empire wants to acquire for it's fertile soil, but the inhabitants don't want to move. Of course, the Empire doesn't take kindly to being refused...
OK, so it's fantasy, but it also has guns and performance enhancing drugs. The scenery is gorgeous, but the characters seem devoid of any emotion. Alka especially is a true example of the 'capable emotionless killer', which doesn't really do anything to forge some sort of connection to her fate. In the end, it didn't capture us despite the lush visuals and richly detailed world.
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Apr. 3rd, 2014 @ 06:54 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: happyfestive
Happy birthday, starkodama!
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Mar. 27th, 2014 @ 09:18 pm New phone
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
I got annoyed with the bad battery life I had on my Samsung Galaxy S2 -- it's now over 2.5 years old, and even the new battery I got is giving out -- or perhaps I run an app that drains the battery too fast or something like that. After 24 hours, the phone is dead and refuses to start up again until I put it on the charger. While I don't use my phone that often, I do want it to be available when I want to!

So I decided to invest a part of my stake in the profit-sharing at TNJ in a new phone. I wanted a modern one, with the newest version of Android on it, but I did not want to spend a fortune on it. I think I'm done with premium phones like the Galaxy series: yes, it's an impressive piece of machinery, but I'm not going to get my money's worth out of it with prices like that. So I decided to get a Motorola Moto G -- the 16 GB variant.
It's only slightly larger than the SGS2, so I can re-use the sock that klik knit for me, which is a definate bonus. Only drawback is that it doesn't have a micro SD slot, so I have to make do with the 16 GB that's on the phone. So far, it seems like I'll manage fine.

Migrating is a breeze. I connected the new phone to my Google account, and all the apps I had installed on the SGS2 were downloaded and installed automatically. There was even an update for the OS ready, so that's nice -- I'm really running the latest Android version now.
The screen is roughly the same size as on the SGS2, but it has a HD resolution, which makes it very, very crisp. Video plays smoothly too, so that might be something to do for long train rides and the like. Battery life is excellent too, as advertised. Getting all my photos and stuff transferred was, again, a breeze with the Motorola Migrate app.

So far, I'm really pleased with my new phone!
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Mar. 23rd, 2014 @ 10:08 pm Frog sighting
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
The first frog of the year has been sighted in our pond!

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Mar. 22nd, 2014 @ 03:19 pm Streamdales session
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Tags: ,
Last Wednesday, there was another Streamdales session. This time, the characters reached the temple at Irmen, on the shores of the lake that feeds the river Bricrun. The preparations for the festival were in full swing. The group were shown into the temple and given the use of a room in the back (with a view over the lake!) as their sleeping quarters.
Torres, the shaman they had encountered earlier in Barwin, who is the head priest of this temple (arguably the most important one in the whole Bricrun valley), welcomed them and explained the reason for the festival to them.

Their mission...Collapse )

My thoughts on this sessionCollapse )
Next session, we'll have the festival with the race. Then we'll know who the representatives will be, and we'll see the group off on their mission into the darkest corners of the Dales...
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Mar. 22nd, 2014 @ 11:45 am Current season reviews
Current Mood: calmcalm
The winter season lasts only one more week -- and I haven't even reviewed everything yet! Time to get crackin'!

Onee-chan ga Kita!: Tomoya's father re-marries. Tomoya gets step-sister out of the deal, who is four years older than he. She does all sorts of unexpected things.
The episodes are very short (only three minutes) because there is nothing original to write about such a set-up...

Nourin: Hata is the biggest fan of teenage idol Yuka, but she lives in the big city and he is stuck attending an agricultural highschool. Then Yuka announces her retirement from the entertainment business, and Hata is heartbroken -- but the next day, Yuka shows up at his school, attending as a transfer student!
This is what you'd get if you decided that Silver Spoon wasn't moe enough. If you missed that, then this is for you.

Mahou Sensou: Takeshi is a normal student, but then one day he meets Miu, who is pursued by a gang of tough-looking guys. They all turn out to be magicians. The rules are that magicians may attack other magicians, but not 'normals' -- if they do, they will be automatically (magically?) stripped of their powers. It turns out that Takeshi has some magical powers of his own, and Miu takes him into her world.
The first episode is certainly action-packed! I also liked the rule that magicians can only use their powers on other magicians -- that makes for a nice balance. Something tells me that the wizarding world of this series is quite unlike Harry Potter...!

Sekai Seifuku ~ Bouryaku no Zvezda: High school student gets kicked out of the house, with only the clothes on his back. He meets a little girl who steals his last food, claiming to be the master of a conspiracy to conquer the world. He dismisses it as just little kids' talk, but before the evening is through, he gets attacked by tanks and gets saved by the girls' minions! She offers him to join her organisation...
All sorts of random things happen, but I have the feeling that it's all internally consistent. The minions are a colourful cast of characters, and no doubt the highschool student we're supposed to identify with will act as the straight man for a conspiracy so absurd that it just might actually work.

Sakura Trick: Haruka and Yuu have been friends since middle school, and they go to the same highschool -- but while they are in the same class, they sit on opposite ends of the classroom. Because of this separation, they discover their true feelings for each other...
OK, so it's yuri. But it's bumbling and not very sincere in the portrayal of the characters. It's more played off for comedy, and that put me off.

Strange+: A detective agency who solves the case, no matter what! Even if they have to destroy the whole mansion to do so! And it's full of random stuff popping up!
It's only five minutes, and left us wonder what the hell we just saw.

Wake up, Girls!: A tiny entertainment agency is quickly failing. As a last-ditch effort, the manager decides to start up an idol group. He manages to contact a retired idol and assembles a group of hopeful amateurs. They start at rock bottom: the only way is up.
Most idol anime have the hopefuls stumble accidentally into the spotlight and attain immediate succes -- but that is not the way it goes. This series seems to portray that in an honest manner, which makes it interesting in a very unglamorous way.

Silver Spoon S2: More Silver Spoon, what's not to like?

Aaaaand that's it! Sure, there have been a few more five-minute episodes that we don't bother with, and continuations of series that we didn't watch -- so there's little point in watching the first episodes of those anyway.
I'll try to keep up with the new episodes for the next season, so that the reviews come in a bit more timely.
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Counting (Shuffle)
Mar. 20th, 2014 @ 09:00 pm Mobile app: Success!
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Tags: ,
I've managed to build the HTML5 app I needed/wanted, and I've also succeeded in packaging it in a 'native' Android app through Phonegap/Cordova. I've just sent out an e-mail to the Pathfinder players that I know -- I'd rather do a 'soft release' first.
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Glowing LED
Mar. 17th, 2014 @ 09:00 pm State of the Streamdales
Current Mood: pensivepensive
The first session of my Streamdales campaign was over a year ago (mid-Januari 2013, to be precise), and the campaign is still on-going. I let the registration for the campaign website lapse -- it didn't turn into what I had hoped it would be. But that doesn't mean there aren't interesting things to be talked about.

We've finished two scenarios, which were mainly talking and/or investigating. Everybody is having fun (one of the players is even inspired to run a Streamdales variant!), but I really need to watch for the Indiana Jones effect. Yes, the characters are not all-powerful (they are not the usual "murder-hobo's" that you get in D&D-like settings) and there are a lot of obvious and not-so-obvious systems working in and outside the view of the characters. That does not mean they are not important or can not influence where things are going.

In one year, we've had one fight. No-one is missing it, but the current scenario is a bit more action-packed. At least, when the group gets to the site of the festival where they will assist in a cleansing ritual. But it's kinda slow-going: I want to show the setting to the players, and they seem to enjoy hearing about little details -- but that keeps me in the role of travel guide instead of the gamemaster.

I might write up something about the two preceding scenarios if anybody's interested.
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net zombie!
Mar. 16th, 2014 @ 09:41 pm Ars Magica
Current Mood: okayokay
I've played two sessions of Ars Magica -- way back, as a break from the Rolemaster campaign I was running for friends then. It must have been around '99 I think. One of my friends was the GM, and unfortunately it never went anywhere due to various factors -- such as these things go.
Later, in 2003, Atlas Games released the fourth edition of Ars Magica as a free PDF and announced a fifth edition. And last week, the Bundle of Holding featured a lot of supplements for the fourth edition. Last Friday (the last day of the Bundle), I asked this friend (who is also a colleague) about his Ars Magica campaign, and he said that there was still something kicking around in the back of his head. I pointed him to the Bundle, and offered to bind anything he would print from the Bundle (like I did with the extra copy of Golden Sky Stories).

Interesting enough, he then started making excuses as to why the campaign would never take off. He would need players -- but I'm sure that can be arranged! I volunteered immediately.
Making characters and a convent is like homework -- but that's part of the charm of the game, so that wouldn't be a problem!

I really hope he finds some inspiration and the time to pull things together. I even found out I own a copy of the fifth edition rules: it must have been a part of a lot from rupertdaily's RPG book inheritance that I won at the auction.
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Mar. 10th, 2014 @ 08:53 pm Parking WTF - again
Current Mood: amusedamused
So today I visited the client in Amsterdam again. As I got near, the sign pointing out the parking garages marked 'my' garage as full. But when I looked around the corner, the sign above the entrance itself said there was still room -- and the two cars in front of me went through as well, so I thought I'd try my luck.
I was greeted at the barrier by a guy in a security vest. He told me they had a bit outage (perhaps still the same from Friday?) and we could go in and out all day for free.

So now I have three free parking tickets.
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