September 12th, 2005

Bishoujo squad!

Finished series: Peach Girl

We've finished watching Peach Girl. My first episode review is here.

Adachi Momo ('Momo' means 'Peach', which explains the title) has been on the swimming team for a long time. She has a dark tan and her hair has been bleached, giving her the image of a playgirl -- which she is absolutely not. She has a secret crush on Touji, but she is afraid to confess her love to him because she was told he doesn't like dark-skinned girls.
Her 'friend' Kasihawa Sae is a bit of a manipulative copy-cat, stealing away every good idea Momo has. So when Sae asks Momo whether there is a boy she likes, Momo points at Okayasu Kairi, a playboy who has lots of girls trailing him -- because she fears that Sae would go after Touji if she told the truth.
But Kairi has picked up on this, and starts spreading a rumour about he and Momo kissing, which gets Momo into trouble with three of Kairi's 'groupies'... Momo gets mad at him, and she tells him that she is really in love with Touji -- just when both Sae and Touji are walking by behind the hedge!

This all happens in the first episode. The series has 25 episodes. There is a lot of relationship drama here!

In most relationship drama anime (like Marmalade Boy), the cast tends to 'explode' over time: just as the show's main couple have managed to get their immediate troubles worked out, a supporting character gets into relationship trouble, etc etc. Not so with Peach Girl: over time, a few characters are added to the cast, but most of the dealings don't require the introduction of a new character.
The other thing is the speed at which it all happens. It's not that things are glossed over, but we don't get endless scenes of the heroine doubting herself and her lover spread out over multiple episodes (like in Fushigi Yuugi). No, things are happening, and most plots are resolved within two or three episodes. This fast pacing keeps your attention, and keeps the series interesting.

Visually, the series isn't that great. The character designs are OK (though 'flat Sae' is really bizarre!), the animation is passable but not great. But then again, this series doesn't rely on the animation.
Music is merely OK, but the voice acting is pretty good. The emotions are conveyed very well, without sounding too corny or contrived.

All in all, I had a good time watching this. The ending gives a satisfying conclusion to Momo's Search For Love.

Whenever I watch an anime like that, I am left to wonder just how representative this is for the life of the average Japanese teenager. Are they really that bad about communicating with eachother? (About 75% of the romantic mishaps could have been avoided if they would just say to eachother just what was up.) Is the 'first kiss' really that big of a thing?
I am aware that it is an over-dramatisation of reality, but it leaves me wondering just what is the kernel of reality and what is the added drama.
I'm just glad I didn't have a high-school life like that, though. :)

Good points:
- Good voice acting;
- Fast-paced storytelling without glossing over the plot;
- Good ending.
Bad points:
- Oh, the DRAMA!

I prefer Peach Girl over slow-paced shoujo anime. I had a good time watching it -- and I'm not a fan of soap opera. If you're allergic to shoujo love drama, stay clear, because this is it in it's purest form. Otherwise, check it out! I give it an 8.

Paranoia XP

I've finished reading through the Paranoia XP rulebook. I already owned the second edition of the traitorously fun RPG, but I did not hesitate that long before buying this updated version.

At its core, it is still the same: you're a Troubleshooter in Alpha Complex, a Utopia ruled by a benevolent (but paranoid) Computer. The Computer is afraid of evil commies, and of mutants, and of members of secret societies -- those traitors are everywhere! The Troubleshooters are sent on perfectly safe and fun missions to eradicate traitors -- but they're secretly all mutants and members of secret societies too! The best tactic of survival is to ensure your fellow Troubleshooters don't survive -- but because false accusations of treason are themselves treason, there is a frantic rush to prove the treason of others. And all this while trying to survive the other dangers of Alpha Complex... Luckily, each Troubleshooter has six identical clones at their disposal -- so death need not be the end!

The new version does add quite a few nifty things. The differentiation of the three play styles (Classic, Straight and Zap) allows GMs to tailor their scenarios to their desired style of play.
Also, with the addition of PDCs (Personal Digital Companion), Paranoia has entered the Brave New World of ubiquitous computing -- with spam, viruses, adware and malware to torture your players with! The sample scenario, "Mr. Bubbles" uses these elements in a wonderful way to create slightly more 'up-to-date' Fear and Ignorance.
And the idea of adding an economy is brilliant: the Service Firms add another layer of strife, the Service Services leave GMs a handy way out of the trusted-but-a-little-tired R&D testing runs, and credits allow for a huge clandestine market which allows the Troubleshooters to buy an extra advantage against their fellows.
And the Perversity Points are a nice touch too -- encouraging the players to screw around with their peers even more!

The only thing I'm not too sure of, is MemoMax. This technology would transfer memories from one clone to the next in real time. This puts a large burden on sneaky and back-handed attacks: you don't want your victim to see who fires the deadly shot, or their next clone will have proof of your treason!
Of course, the players know who killed them and why, but it is just the fact that the next clone enters the fray as a relatively clean slate that makes it amusing. A rivalry between players is to be expected (and even encouraged, up to a certain level), but you want to preserve the Fear and Ignorance! Maybe I should ask around on Paranoia XP fora how GMs handle that.

Also, the Mandatory Card Game looks like fun...

Also also, sometimes when people ask me to do something, I answer with: "At your service, citizen!" Most people think I make a feeble attempt of channeling Pim Fortuyn -- but nothing could be further from the truth! I just want them to answer with "Thank you, Friend Computer!", but no-one ever does. I need more RPG-geeks as colleagues.
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Bishoujo squad!

Teasing the cat

Chibi still hasn't grasped the concept of the milkglass sliding doors. There's one separating the living and the hallway, and a double one separating the living and the office.

klik has spent the past ten minutes closing the doors, running to the other side and then walking out of the doors there -- completely confusing the cat who had trouble mentally keeping up with her.
It was very cute. :)
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