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Alzrius's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 2,136 posts. 70 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.


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Hafta use gate cuz plane shift can't handle my familiar, cohort, followers, constructs, animated undead, and party members. #level20problems


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DungeonmasterCal wrote:
I absolutely don't get folks' love for kitsune or any other anthropomorphized race. But that's just me.

Oh yeah? Well I don't get why I keep reading your name as "DungeonmasterSoCal," so there!


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So I did some checking, and I can now confirm:

Spoiler:
This blog entry has the correct number of "na's" in the title.


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Krensky wrote:
Both of you compleyely missed the point.

I don't believe I did, but if you disagree then I'm interested in hearing your opinion on the anime under discussion. What do you think the point of it was?


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thejeff wrote:
Alzrius: The proper response here to moderation issues is to contact the moderators and ask. They have restored deleted posts on occasion.

That's what I did. Or did you mean privately?

I've seen public responses to moderation here before, and can't recall any particular admonishments that such responses should be done privately, so I didn't take that to be an issue.

Quote:

Just reposting a removed post (and continuing the deleted back and forth - or was the previous post also a repost?) is just asking for trouble.

Flagged.

Neither of those were reposts; I rewrote my initial response to Aranna's points in a way that was designed to be less confrontative while still speaking to the points under debate; given that Liz had seen fit to leave that particular response of Aranna's up (as well as one of mine before it), it seemed self-evident that the debate itself was permissible.

Likewise, the second post was a complete rewrite (and I stated upfront that it was a rewrite) of my thoughts on the series in question, rather than a word-for-word repost.


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So for no reason that I can fathom, my previous review of Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne ("Rinne no Lagrange") was deleted. I'm going to presume that this was some sort of mistake, since there's no way that it violated any of the forum rules, and do my best to rewrite it.

I'm of the opinion that reviewing something is a process of asking the following questions about a particular work: 1) What goals did it set for itself? 2) Did it succeed at meeting those goals? and 3) If so, how artfully did it achieve them? If not, then why not?

To my mind, Lagrange was a coming-of-age story that wanted to focus on themes of (deep and meaningful) friendships and self-affirmation as one enters the world. However, I'm of the opinion that it failed to meet those goals, largely as a result of how it utilized external opposition to try and represent internal tribulations. I say "how" there because the idea of having external circumstance be reflective of personal growth is far from a new idea. Rather, the issue was that Lagrange simply didn't do this very well, to my mind.

A twenty-four episode series, Lagrange is the story of a high school girl named Madoka. When she's suddenly tasked with piloting a mecha - and use it to defend against two galactic kingdoms whose war has just arrived at the Earth - she eventually becomes friends with the princess from each kingdom (who themselves break away from their homelands), using their mecha to bring an end to the war while trying to also navigate their everyday lives.

The setup here is presented rather well; the initial episodes make it clear that while Madoka, Lan, and Muginami are all initially well-adjusted teenage girls, as their circumstances suddenly change each of them has a personal crisis that needs to be overcome. For Lan and Muginami, this is based around separation from their family up until that point, forcing them to figure out who they are apart from their extended social network. More notable is Madoka, who goes through this transition without any sudden transition, and as a consequence needs longer to figure things out.

This is where the story of "adolescence-turned-adulthood" tries to tie into themes of friendship. All three girls are fundamentally alone at the beginning of the series; while this is highlighted when Lan and Muginami are separated from their respective kingdoms, Madoka's isolation comes into focus in a way that more directly connects to the show's main theme of growing up: for her, the realization is that she's been acting the part that her older cousin invented for her as a coping mechanism to deal with her (Madoka's) mother's death. It's in realizing that she can't maintain this identity after high school ends, since it's not her own, that Madoka's pathos comes from.

The reason I don't think that the series is very good, however, is that it tries too hard to telegraph its message. For Madoka, the answer to this problem is not so much to create a new sense of self (the way that Muginami and Lan do), but rather to come to own the identity that she's had up until now. Rather than act as a member of the "Jersey Club" - the single-member school club that she's in whose activities are to go around doing good deeds - because that's how she was taught to act, Madoka makes the conscious and deliberate decision to do so because that's who she wants to be.

This determination is presented in terms of her being essentially unstoppable - not just on the battlefield - but in the face of almost every problem she faces. While we do see instances of her having self-doubt, these are comparatively few and far between. Instead, most of what we see is Madoka blazing a way through any and all opposition.

By itself, that's not a problem; there are lots of shows that use pesonal determination as fuel for overcoming an external situation. The problem comes in the form of the show throwing Madoka against problems that shouldn't be able to be solved via simply being headstrong...and then she solves them anyway. The most egregious example of this is that she manages to single-handedly end the war between two galactic-scale civilizations by indignantly declaring that their leaders should...not so much sit down to talk, but open their hearts and share their feelings with each other (or she'll beat them up).

This, for me, was the single greatest failing of the series. War, especially at that scale, shouldn't be something that can be ended (let alone instantaneously ended) by just making their leaders hug it out. Moreover, the idea that only the pure-hearted determination of a teenage girl can see that, let alone make it happen, was more than my suspension of disbelief could handle.

The end result was to make Lagrange into a show where everything revolved around its main cast to a degree that the narrative didn't seem to adequately support. Ultimately, Madoka seemed to triumph over her foes not so much because she had an ultimate mecha at her disposal, or even because she had determination that became a source of power for that mecha, but simply because she wanted it more than anyone else...whether it was combat or emotional virtue. The former is plausible, whereas the latter is not (at least to me).

Ultimately, this was the series single greatest failing, and why I wouldn't recommend it. When the main character can bring an end to macro-scale sociopolitical problems because she can emotionally-overbear the opposition, the show isn't one that I think is worthwhile.


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Aranna wrote:
It isn't that I ignored your explanation it's that I reject it. Only people with deep close friendships aren't loners?! Huh? That makes no sense.

It makes perfect sense; you can be alone in a crowd of people, and be a loner even if you have numerous acquaintances. That is to say, you misunderstood what I said; see below.

Quote:
A loner is "a person who prefers not to associate with others." to quote the dictionary. They all associate with others freely and clearly enjoy it.

The dictionaries that I looked in both included that a "loner" can be someone who is alone - regardless of reasons - and not just someone who wants to be alone.

In the case of Lagrange, that very clearly applies to Madoka, Lan, and Muginami, as they are alone in the sense of having no close friends before they find each other. They have casual acquaintances, sure, but that's quite clearly not enough.

Quote:
Also I begin to see what you clearly missed that gave you the impression about talking about it working.

I didn't miss what you indicated; rather, I don't think it carries the same significance that you seem to be assigning it.

Quote:
Spoiler:
In the dialogs between the Kings and Moid at various points you can piece together that the only reason he stopped the war with De Mitrio is because he thought he had lost... NOT because he feared Madoka punching him... the whole punch thing was just for humor. So in essence Madoka's efforts just gave him the way out from having all the various factions attack him after his plot was revealed. But that changed when Moid gave him a way to open the portal without the girls. And he immediately attacked again.

Spoiler:
The issue with the "punch thing" is not just for humor. It's the summation of the fact that Madoka and her friends have gained greater military strength, and are threatening to use it unless Dizelmine and Villagulio make up with each other personally.

Now, it's true that Moid convinced Dizelmine to go back on his word, but that ended up concluding in exactly the same way. Madoka went in, battered her way through the situation (albeit this time via Yurikano), and forced her will on the situation, which was "everyone WILL be friends with each other...or else!"

In both cases, Madoka used force to demand - not peace between the two factions - but a state of personal friendship between their leaders.


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I talked about this a little over in the "What are you currently binge watching?" thread, but I'll go ahead and expand on my review here.

One of my perennial issues with single-cour anime series is that it can be difficult to fit everything into only twelve or thirteen episodes, particularly if it's an adaptation of an existing work. In that case, the show will either need to resign itself to telling just a fragment of the whole story, or compress things down to where it can all fit into the episodes that it's been allocated. In the case of Beyond the Boundary ("Kyokai no Kanata"), it honestly feels like they tried to split the difference, and in the end satisfyingly accomplished neither.

A twelve-episode series, Kyokai is set in the modern day, where creatures called youmu - invisible to normal people - bedevil the population, and are hunted by Spirit World Warriors, people with supernatural powers that fight them. The story revolves around Akihito Kanbara - a half-human/youmu who is immortal - and Mirai Kuriyama, a Spirit World Warrior who is exceptionally powerful, but is both insecure and an outcast.

I won't go too deep into the details of the plot, as it's a fairly tight narrative that's built around a series of events happening with the local youmu even as Mirai - a newcomer to the local area - gets to know Akihito and his friends.

I do have to give the show credit, as it does a surprisingly good job at juggling disparate elements, both in terms of tone and presentation. Where the former is concerned, the show deals with some fairly heavy drama, and yet is able to also deliver humor adroitly, which I attribute to the fact that it knows to keep the two separate. For example, when a revenge-driven girl from Mirai's past shows up, out for blood, the show doesn't try to break that up with comedic antics, letting the drama play out without undercutting its seriousness. Instead, it segregates the comedy for when, as an example, the group tries to confront a youmu with a skunk-like defense by...singing and dancing at it.

Moreover, the presentation works because the show deftly flips back and forth between characterization and plot advancement. The main thrust of the show is the relationship between Akihito and Mirai, and it pushes this forward both by giving them plenty of interaction - both with each other and other people - but also by pushing forward a web of intrigue that undergirds the serious situations in which they find themselves on more than one occasion.

(In fact, the show even goes so far as to give them signatures, with Akihito unfailingly going ga-ga over girls in glasses, while Mirai has a catchphrase: "How unpleasant!" ("Fuyukai desu!").)

All of this makes it a shame that the show quite clearly can't do everything it wants to. Ultimately, the background events that set the plot in motion are only ever hinted at, with no clear answers forthcoming. While this doesn't hurt the impact of the show's resolution, there is a sense that it could have been a lot more enjoyable if we'd been given a greater peek behind the plot's curtain. Given that there's a few OVAs and a movie or two for this series - none of which were on Crunchyroll - I suspect that these at least try to fix this.

Overall, Beyond the Boundary is a good show that's straining at the edges of what it wants to do. It's a shame that the anime - based on a light novel series that only had three volumes - couldn't quite manage to pull off the landing, when everything else about it was nicely polished. Still, it's one of the better shows out there, and it's worth a watch.


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Aranna wrote:
- Also once the girls start meeting people at the school it's made very clear all three are very popular. So I again have no idea how Alzrius got "loners" out of the show at all?

You seem to have deliberately ignored my previous explanation here, which is that I was using that as a shorthand for "lacking in any deep friendships prior to having met each other." That they're "popular" has nothing to do with that.

Indeed, one of the driving themes of the show is that all three girls feel isolated from others because they're letting themselves be defined by the roles that other people have constructed for them. As with most "coming of age" stories, the show is about them breaking free from that so that they can define themselves, and in doing so form strong bonds with others of their own volition.

Quote:
- Last correction is again confusion over Alzrius's statement that everything is resolved by forcing people to talk it out. In fact the ONLY thing ever resolved by such action is the relationship between the girls themselves. Ultimately such an attempt ended in complete failure.

I don't believe that this is correct. Quite the contrary, Madoka ends the war between La Garite and De Mitrio by essentially forcing Villagulio and Dizelmine to sit down and work out the issues that they have with each other because of their personal histories, threatening to beat them up if they don't. Moreover, this attempt is a complete success

Spoiler:
even when Dizelmine backslides on his agreement, Madoka is able to make him recant afterwards. Things only escalate after that due to Moid's betrayal.

Beyond that, I disagree with virtually everything you've said about the show, as the characters are two-dimensional and everyone falls in line with the Mary Sue (to use a loaded term) protagonists. It's a frustrating watch that, in my opinion, leaves its viewers with only a sense of irritation to break up the boredom. Obviously, your mileage varied, but I wouldn't recommend this series to anyone.


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How come I can't get no Tang around here?


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So, in an effort to move things along...

I've long held that how adroitly a story is told is far and away more important than any question of how innovative it is. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that there's nothing new under the sun, I do think that originality is overrated, compared to the quality of its presentation. Hence why I found myself enjoying Golden Time, a twenty-four episode romantic comedy/drama.

The cliché element to Golden Time is found with its main character, Banri Tada; specifically, that he's an amnesiac. Having experienced a traumatic brain injury just after graduating high school, he spent a year in the hospital having lost all of his memories from prior to his accident. Having left recovery, and feeling no connection to friends and family that he doesn't remember, the story begins with him enrolling in the college that he was accepted to just before graduating.

The other half of the story is the girl he meets there, Koko Kaga. An effervescent blonde, Koko is initially stuck on her childhood friend (who, in an amusing inversion of the classic trope, is not only sick to death of her romantic overtures, but has no second thoughts about her later on) before Banri manages to start a relationship with her, with the show being about their story.

On a surface level, it's easy to compare this series to Friends, in that there's a core group of six characters, three guys and three girls, with the largest drama being around one particular pair of them trying to make it work as a couple. Of course, that comparison is only skin deep, as Golden Time sets up mini-arcs within the main overall narrative of Banri and Koko's awkward romance (and make no mistake, it is awkward - for example, the two of them have the most hilariously-bad attempt at a "first time" since Yamada tried it...see what I did there?).

These mini-arcs, however, are what make the show so enjoyable. If it had become stuck on a single major theme (e.g. "will Banri ever get his memories back?" or "If he does, what will that do to his relationship with Koko?"), then it would have been far more boring than it was. Instead, the plot feels like it moves forward at a brisk pace, as the group tries to deal with immediate issues while still moving forward with their lives.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is the (slightly dissonant) supernatural element that pervades the middle of the series. In this, we see that Banri is "haunted" by the ghost of who he was before his accident. There's a vague implication that the accident was so severe that it caused his soul to leave his body, and that the memory loss is merely a side effect of this, but it's never clarified. This angle, which fades away (for a reason that is thankfully made plain fairly quickly) as the show moves on, could have been more odd if the supernatural angle was played up more heavily. But instead, it's used almost as a metaphor for the issue of Banri's past refusing to stay buried, even when he wants nothing to do with it.

The show isn't without its imperfections, of course. The most egregious of these is that the other supporting cast members can sometimes feel superfluous. That is, they can sometimes come off as being exactly what they are: vehicles to move things along for Banri and Koko. What highlights this isn't so much that they play too hefty a role in helping the errant duo, but that the sections that focus on their own lives can come across as somewhat disjointed and incomplete in comparison, as though the show were trying to hard to say "see? These guys are fully-fleshed out characters with their own lives too!"

(And God help you if you play a drinking game with people saying Banri's full name. I have no idea why, but it seemed like people kept saying that a lot!)

Overall, Golden Time was a fun little rom-com with interesting (main) characters and a smart sense of pacing. If you like love stories with a nice dose of drama, you could do a lot worse than this show.


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Lemmy wrote:

Wait... Was that... A 2nd episode of Re:Zero that doesn't make me feel miserable every step of the way?!

I almost can't believe it!

Now... If only Subaru could see that Rem is best grill... All would be perfect.

I thought that episode eighteen was incredibly powerful. The sheer humanity of that episode, as Subaru finally hit rock-bottom, and finally began to climb back up, was awe-inspiring. It really cemented what I already knew: that this show is one of the greats, at least for me.

But yeah, I called complete BS on him not declaring his love for Rem right there. At this point, she should mean far and away more to him than Emilia ever did.


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Nicos wrote:
So?, you don't need to be of Japanese culture to create an Anime-style cartoon.

This presumes that anime is a "style," which I don't agree with. Just because you create an animated work that bears superficial resemblance to the common perception of the majority of Japanese animation does not, unto itself, make it an anime.

Quote:

Or to be a black guy from brooklyn/harlem to create hip hop.

Would you insist that only black people from brooklyn or harlem can create hip hop?. Because an statement like that is of the same style as saying that only japanese people can create anime.

I'm not sure why you're leaving the Bronx out of this, as hip-hop has very strong roots there, but that aside, I believe that your analogy is fundamentally flawed for the same reasons as I mentioned above. That's because "hip-hop" is a genre - a category of art based on stylistic criteria - whereas "anime" is not. Indeed, the fact that there are so many anime out there of various genres, ranging from action to comedy to horror to erotica and so many others, makes it self-evidently futile to use that as the basis for coming up with an all-encompassing definition of what "anime" is.


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NenkotaMoon wrote:
This thread is the work of an enemy Stand user.

ORAORAOROAORAORAORA!!!


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Lemmy wrote:
Sure, you can take that position... I just vehemently disagree with it. It seems pointless and xenophobic to me.

It's only xenophobic if you label it with bigoted sentiment like "one of the inherent characteristics of anime is casual sexism." That's not the same as noting the particularities of a culture that are reflected in their popular works.

Quote:

Sailor Moon wouldn't bee any less anime if it had been written and produced by a French author/company... Naruto would still be anime if it had been produced by a Brazilian author/company... And the same goes for One Piece, Death Note, Dragon Ball, etc.

Just because certain themes aren't as popular in a certain region/culture as they are in others doesn't mean those themes couldn't be used somewhere else.

I don't believe it's a question of "themes," per se. Rather, it's a recognition of the fact that cultures, like individuals, are a unique gestalt of their history, values, characteristics, and myriad other factors, and that this is reflected to some degree in the art that they produce. When the country in question is Japan - and the medium in question is animated work - we use the shorthand term "anime" for that.

The idea that the uniqueness that comes from this is something bad is a view I personally reject. Yes, those differences can be used as a point of hatred and divisiveness, but that's a perversion of their strengths, rather than being an inherent quality of them. By that same token, suggesting that that uniqueness is false (e.g. thinking that any recognition of differences between groups is inherently bigoted and needs to stop) and should be torn down does a disservice as well, since it throws away something special just because it could possibly be corrupted to a bad end.

Hence why I believe that "anime" is a term that applies only to works of animation made by and for Japan, and that's okay.


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Alternate title for Re:Zero episode 17:

"Yes, It Can Still Get Even Worse"


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There's a famous quote by Dorothy Parker that I'm fond of (originally made in reference to Katherine Hepburn's acting): "a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B." Now replace "emotions" with "plot-progression," and you'd perfectly summarize my feelings about Isuca, a ten-episode urban fantasy series (there's also an OVA, but as it's not on Crunchyroll, I haven't seen it).

Isuca is the story of Shinichirou Asano, a high school student who falls in with a petite blonde monster-hunter named Sakuya Shimazu, after she saves him from being eaten by a yoma (which the subtitles call "specters"). After an initial misadventure where Sakuya realizes that Shinichirou is overflowing with spiritual energy - and, moreover, can somehow infer the true names of yoma, making them easily bound - the two of them work together (along with a small cadre of others) to try and figure out who's summoning yoma and why.

Right from the get-go, this show seems to be somewhat cognizant of how generic it is, and so wastes absolutely no time in establishing its two main draws. The first is that there's slightly more blood and gore here than you'd expect; this never ventures into - or even comes close to - guro ("grotesque") territory, but rather that we get the occasional arterial spray when a background character becomes food for a monster.

That's a minor point compared to the series' second go-to, which is that the girls in Isuca get naked, as well as end up in compromising positions, with notable regularity. Sakuya's clothes get shredded in battle several times, for example, and Tamako (being a nekomata; that is, a two-tailed cat yoma) simply prefers to go around naked even when she's in human form. (As if to drive the point home, the ending sequence is both of these girls completely naked - save for Sakuya's stockings - in various positions that just barely manage to cover their naughty bits while still showing their bodies off.

Of course, this last point is somewhat hindered by the censoring, which makes sure to block out any instances of bare breasts, but is also very hesitant to even allow for a panty-shot. Worse, it's often hideously unsubtle about this, often simply putting floating patches of darkness over the offending nudity. I haven't seen censoring that nakedly obtrusive (see what I did there?) since the broadcast version of Kodomo no Jikan.

All of that is a shame, because this show desperately needs the naked girls to help distract from just how full of holes the plot is. It's one thing to not resolve the main plot line - while not ideal, leaving things with a "we've won...for now" cliffhanger is acceptable - but it's another thing to toss out several particular threads and then ignore them.

For example, when Shinichirou speaks Sakuya's true name, we're told that that means that he's become her master, with the implication being that if he directly orders her to do something, she literally can't disobey...and yet, that's never touched on after its initial presentation. Why does the main villain want to hurt Sakuya so badly? She says her reason, but never provides the context necessary to have her answer actually make sense. What exactly is Sakuya's grandmother? That last scene of her questions that are never answered. And why oh why does one of the supporting characters wait until the series is three-fourths of the way through before saying "oh hey, that villain we've been fighting? The one whose identity is a complete mystery? Do you think the fact that her magic is identical to our clan's centuries-old rival clan, who's heretofore never been mentioned, is significant at all?" I won't even get started on that whole "yoma drain life-force, which causes extreme pleasure as a side-effect" schtick that's used in the first few episodes and then never mentioned again.

I could go on (e.g. if Shinichirou can share his spiritual energy with the girls via kisses, super-charging their powers at no danger to himself, then why doesn't he kiss all of the girls during the extremely-difficult final battle?), but at this point I think I've made it abundantly clear how weak of a show this is. Ironically, the actual execution isn't half-bad; the characters are likable enough and the plot is actually rather brave in its dogged determination to ignore its own internal inconsistencies. Oh and hey, the (censored) boobs.

Ultimately, Isuca is a show that's undone if you pay attention to details. It knows this, but takes a "don't sweat the details" attitude, instead being content with having its female cast members nip-slip and panty-shot their way to the finish line, along with a few wannabe-edgy bits of violence. It's earnest, if not very talented, and makes for an okay distraction when you want a series that's as pointless as it is short.


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Alzrius wrote:
Lemmy wrote:
Man... Re:Zero can get really freaking dark sometimes... I enjoy the series, but the latest episode was... emotionally exhausting. X(
Very much so. When I first started watching the series (mistakenly thinking that it only had one cour), I binged on the first thirteen episodes. In hindsight that was a mistake, because the series puts so much punch into its plot and characterization that it works better if you take it a few episodes at a time to let what happens digest.

So Crunchyroll is now streaming Re:Zero Breaktime, a series of three-minute shorts with chibi (super-deformed) versions of the characters (much like the Pure Pure Pleiades shorts from Overlord). These are openly being presented as lighthearted breaks from the main series' heavy presentation, though so far they seem more "cute" than "funny."

Eleven are up so far; I have no idea if there's more to come or not.


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Krensky wrote:
If it's Genimar, well, that has something to do with the water near the Masaki shrine and the hero being related to 'gods'. Or something. It's a Tenchi show, don't think too hard about the relationships and how everyone is related.

Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari (I can't call it by that awful "War on Geminar" name) was where the Tenchi Muyo! OVA series lost its luster for me.

The Tenchi series - or at least that continuity - primarily works based on the strength of its cast, which is absolutely required because the plot is typically thin-to-nonexistent. As such, going with an entirely new cast is a serious risk, one that Seikishi Monogatari wasn't able to capitalize on; its characters felt like a collection of tropes more than unique, interesting individuals.

(GXP pulled this off because director Shinichi Watanabe - the famous "NabeShin" - knows how to make a credible comedy series, and that held things together while we got used to the new cast, who were actually rather fun to watch; ironically, this ticked off series creator Masaki Kajishima enough that he's rewriting GXP in a series of novels.)


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Lemmy wrote:
Man... Re:Zero can get really freaking dark sometimes... I enjoy the series, but the latest episode was... emotionally exhausting. X(

Very much so. When I first started watching the series (mistakenly thinking that it only had one cour), I binged on the first thirteen episodes. In hindsight that was a mistake, because the series puts so much punch into its plot and characterization that it works better if you take it a few episodes at a time to let what happens digest.


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Aranna wrote:
Torturing yourself for credibility? Are you a professional?

Quite so; the name's 13. Golgo 13.


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Lemmy wrote:
Alzrius wrote:
When I finished watching Aethetica of a Rogue Hero - which I did purely because of the two-minute crossover omake it had with Queen's Blade Rebellion - I found myself wanting to know whom to call to demand back the five hours of my life that I'd wasted.
Let's be fair... If after 1~2 hours you still didn't know it was a waste of time, it's your own fault for watching the next 3~4! XD

Oh, I knew. But I do my damnedest to always finish what I start, if for no other reason so that I can assert that I know what I'm talking about when I tear it a new one later.


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Grey Lensman wrote:
The Testament of Sister New Devil shouldn't have been a surprise - it's by the same manga writer as Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, which was another anime with gratuitous fanservice shots. Also featuring a 'daughter of overlord' magical boom powered girl with twin tailed hair.

When I finished watching Aethetica of a Rogue Hero - which I did purely because of the two-minute crossover omake it had with Queen's Blade Rebellion - I found myself wanting to know whom to call to demand back the five hours of my life that I'd wasted.

By contrast, Testament of Sister New Devil was...okay. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "very good" or anything, but it was certainly a not-unenjoyable piece of ero-filled fluff.


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Re: Zero episode 15.

...damn, Subaru can't catch a break!


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On a semi-tangential note, here's a fun thought-activity with regards to population breakdown in a given country/region/area using the 3.X demographics tables.

Basically, what if the percentages given for each type of settlement were taken as the distribution for how the population was spread out throughout a country?

That means that, if we look at table 5-2 on page 137 of the 3.5 DMG (table 4-40 on page 137 of the 3.0 DMG), we can see that on a d% roll, a 1-10 is a thorp, an 11-30 is a hamlet, etc. So under this idea, 10% of a kingdom's population lives in thorps while 20% lives in hamlets, etc.

If we also utilize the population-per-settlement column on that table (that is, we pick a number within that population range that divides evenly into the total population for that settlement type) then we can calculate some quick averages for both how many of a settlements of a given type there are, and how many people live in each one.

For example, the Generic Kingdom has a population of 5 million people:

  • 10% of the population (500,000 people) live in thorps. Presuming about 50 people to a thorp, then the kingdom has 10,000 thorps within its borders.

  • 20% of the population (1,000,000 people) live in hamlets. Presuming about 250 people to a hamlet, then the kingdom has 4,000 hamlets.

  • 20% of the population (1,000,000 people) live in villages. Presuming about 800 people to a village, there are 1,250 villages in the kingdom.

  • 20% of the population (1,000,000 people) live in small towns. Presuming about 1,600 people to a small town, then the kingdom has 625 small towns.

  • 15% of the population (750,000 people) live in large towns. Presuming about 3,500 people to a large town, then there are 250 large towns within the kingdom.

  • 10% of the population (500,000 people) live in small cities. Presuming about 10,000 people to a small city, then the kingdom has 50 small cities.

  • 4% of the population (200,000 people) live in large cities. Presuming about 20,000 people to a large city, then there are 10 large cities within the kingdom.

  • 1% of the population (50,000 people) live in a metropolis. Since there's no upper limit on the population of a metropolis (minimum 25,001 people), it's easiest to say that this will give us a single metropolis of 50,000 people.

Altogether, the Generic Kingdom has 16,186 population centers of various sizes, with an average of just over 300 people per population center.

Of course, this won't work for regions with a total population of 2,500,000 or less, because at that point 1% of your population no longer meets the minimum number of people necessary for a metropolis. In that case, just divide the remainder among the next largest settlements (e.g. if you had a kingdom of 1,000,000 people, the 1% set aside for a metropolis would only be 10,000 people, which isn't enough for a settlement that size. In that case, you'd simply add an additional 10,000 people to the 40,000 that you've already allocated among your large cities).

At that point, you can start plugging in the numbers regarding what classed NPCs of what levels live in a given community as you need to, and voila! You have an easy-to-make kingdom!

(Fun fact: Notwithstanding their organization, the community-generation tables in the 3.0 and 3.5 DMGs are identical. However, most people don't know that the Epic Level Handbook introduced alternate versions of a few of these tables (pg. 113-114), stated to be used to retcon in modifiers to make the game world more epic.

The major changes for these are that they vastly increase the GP limit in communities and inflate community modifiers for each settlement listing (and how many times you roll for the larger communities). They also introduce a new size of settlement above metropolis: the planar metropolis, population 100,000+. It doesn't have a percent listing, despite appearing on the random community table; it's listing is given as "special.")


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Vutava wrote:
Wait, Alzrius? You wouldn't happen to be this Alzrius, would you?

Yep, that's me. :)

Hi Vutava!


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So one of the guys in my weekly group decided that he wanted to run a brief mini-campaign. The hook was that it was for 18th-level characters; naturally, we were all quite excited, as the highest this group has ever gotten has been about 12th level.

Some necessary background here: the GM for this is a fellow who has only run a game twice before, both of which were short campaigns that got mixed reviews from us. He has a good grasp of the rules, but (like most of the group) treats gaming as a pastime rather than a hobby, which meant that he had only passing familiarity with some of the game-breaking shenanigans that can happen at high-level play.

As such, while I was eager to make a level 18 wizard, I was also nervous about the impact such a character would have. This was especially true since he said we could use all first-party materials, buy ability scores with a 25-point buy, could spend our WBL on any item we wanted (including custom items), and had 11 RP to build a custom race if we wanted.

I voiced my concerns, and this prompted a long discussion within our group about what should and shouldn't be allowed. In the end, he chose to ban a few things (e.g. no use of blood money, no adjusting wealth by level if you have item creation feats, etc.), but for the most part said that he was very confident he could handle whatever we came up with.

The major limitation he invoked on my character, and that I was fine with, was that I couldn't use more than one instance of planar binding, though he was fine with my using other spells that brought in outside help. However, he was fine with my taking Leadership and having my cohort be an intelligent magic item, which I made a level 16 psychic. I also decided that I wasn't going to try and exploit every loophole that I possibly could (e.g. no carrying around a 5-foot section of wall with a permanent shrink item on it that was covered in permanent symbol spells).

We spent a few weeks making characters (if that sounds like a long time, it was because a lot of the group only did work on their characters during our weekly get-togethers). In the end our group looked like so:

  • Three players made level 18 antipaladins (this caught me by surprise; apparently it was in partially in protest to the fact that the GM wanted to include a GMPC with our party. He capitulated when he heard about this, but the other players kept their antipaladins anyway). They mentioned all having glabrezu companions, though only one person actually had that on the board.
  • A level 18 cleric with a necromantic focus (he wanted to make full use of animated dead for minions, but by the time we started had only made a single pit fiend bloody skeleton).
  • A sorcerer 8/dragon disciple 10 (built with a focus on getting into melee).
  • My wizard (conjurer) 18...and company.

More specifically, I sat down at the table with my wizard, his intelligent item psychic cohort (my followers from Leadership were back in my private demiplane where I was astral projecting from...and in my other private demiplane tending to my clone), the solar angel that I'd called via greater planar binding (utilizing Augmented Calling and Spell Perfection), a bythos aeon that my cohort had brought via greater planar ally (via the Faith psychic discipline), and a Gargantuan animated object (animated and made permanent by the solar angel). This rose to eight characters when I had my psychic cohort use monster summoning VII to bring in three (I rolled high) celestial triceratops in the first round of our first combat. (I should note that I'd mentioned all of these to the GM before we sat down to play, and he signed off on all of them.)

Our first combat lasted two rounds, and took us an hour to get through. What caught me by surprise was that, at the end of it, the entire group was upset...at me.

I don't just mean that they were a little ticked off; they were pissed, to the point where two guys said that if I sat down with this character next week, they weren't going to bother showing up. When I asked what was going on, they made it clear that they had two complaints:

1) I was taking too much time. Each turn it was taking me about 8-10 minutes to resolve what all of my characters were doing. This wasn't because I was looking stuff up (I knew to do that during everyone else's turns), but simply because it took that long to move minis around, roll attacks, damage, saves, spell penetration, etc. Still, this one struck me as a legitimate complaint, even if there was little that I could do about it.

2) I was overshadowing everyone else. They made it clear that they felt completely superfluous compared to what was essentially my own adventuring party.

It culminated with the GM pulling me aside and telling me that I had to make a new character by next week, because my current one was too disruptive. I tried to point out that he'd given me the okay for everything that I was doing, and he admitted that he hadn't realized just what effect all of that would have. I likewise pointed out that, with only 95 hit points (I'd had some bad Hit Dice rolls) and an AC that was in the mid-20's, that I'd essentially need to redo my entire character, since just getting into direct combat would pretty much be the end of my character.

His reply went something along the lines of, "I feel like I have a worthwhile story to tell, and your character's distracting from that."

Needless to say, the entire thing has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I quite like my character, and want to keep running him, but at the same time I'm quite ticked at having had the gauntlet thrown down. I have no idea what to do before next week's game, and time is running out...


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Because it's the perfect size when your character...is a munchkin.

*puts on sunglasses*

YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!


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MeanMutton wrote:
Pathfinder has done quite a few things to make magic more readily available than it was in D&D 3.5 - all wizards get Scribe Scroll

That was in 3.5.


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thejeff wrote:
Comrade Anklebiter wrote:
An excellent follow-up question would be: why are white people called "white"?
Shouldn't that be "Why are pinkskins called 'white'?"

Because we're trying not to appropriate Andorian culture.


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Sundakan wrote:
2.) Naruto retains some very good moments and SPECTACLE in their fights. The sheer scale of the battles is enough to be engaging. But there is quite a lack of strategy in much of the latter half, and the plot meanders a lot. ESPECIALLY the bits with Sasuke and Naruto's obsession with saving him.

With regard to the meandering plot and lack of strategy, this is definitely the case insofar as the filler material goes - that's unsurprising, as filler is handicapped right from the get-go - but I don't think that that's true with regard to the main post-timeskip plot. It might be a little bit slow to ramp up, but once it does it really takes off.

Naruto's obsession with saving Sasuke is somewhat eye-rolling, but... (I'll spoiler this next part just to be safe):

Spoiler:
...it gets better because we see Naruto slowly growing out of this. It's never expressly stated as him giving up on that goal, but we do see him maturing away from it as the series goes on, largely when his repeated attempts to save Sasuke end in failure every time. This culminates in some personal losses for him, and he slowly comes to realize that 1) he can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved, and 2) it's not just about Sasuke, it's about everyone who loses someone they care about.

This eventually turns him into a much more palatable character, although it takes quite some time for him to get there. (Even better is that Sasuke's character arc goes through a number of very believable changes which, rather gratifyingly, have almost nothing to do with Naruto at all.)


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Sundakan wrote:
I agree it was a somewhat jarring shift, but very much to the benefit of the manga.

You and I are really going to need to agree to disagree here. :D

That said, I think you're explaining your points very well; I'm replying mostly because I'm quite enjoying the conversation.

Quote:
Harem shows, on the whole, are obnoxious and generally pointless (none more so than Love Hina).

I'll admit that the harem genre seems to have more than its fair share of sub-par shows, but I attribute this to those shows repeatedly making the mistake of pinning everything on fan-service while ignoring things like characterization and plot-development. Fan-service, in my opinion, works best as a layer of frosting, rather than a foundation upon which a show is built.

Quote:
Crafting a situation where the existence of the harem makes sense (such as they being part of a very large adventuring company) is something more should do.

I would have agreed with this a lot more a few years back. I used to be of the opinion that establishing plausibility for how a situation like that could develop was the most important thing (e.g. buy the premise, buy the bit).

Now, though, while I still think that's important, I see that as being more of an aspect of each individual character than something situational. It's not so much a question of circumstances as it is why the characters involved reacted to their circumstances in the way that they did.

Quote:

It also avoided the main problem that Love Hina had: why is this group of girls so hot for a worthless loser like Keitarou?

Negi at least has many admirable qualities. Bordering on Mary Sue territory sometimes, but you can see why girls fall for even a creepily young person who is intelligent, focused, determined, and powerful.

Also a fair point; the whole idea of a main character who is "ineffectual but kind...and that's enough," is one that I do think is overrated (though going too far in the other direction is just as bad).

That said, I think there's a salient point to be made in that these qualities - that is, being focused and determined, etc. - is only applied to areas of problem-solving, and not to romantic relationships. In Negi's case, this is lampshaded by his being too young to fall in love, but the end result is the same: the center of the harem is entirely passive with regards to the girls around him, and they in turn seem to remain doggedly in love with him despite their feelings being continually unrequited. I find that that grows stale very fast.

(Incidentally, you should check out the Magika no Kenshi light novel series I mentioned a little while ago, as it has both very smart circumstances and a more proactive main character.)

Quote:
I think the source material is pretty solid, at worst par for the course for shonen action shows, and does IMO have one of the best ways of handling the "dangerous forbidden technique" I've seen and quite a few fights involve the protagonist actually OUTSMARTING the opponent instead of overpowering them. It's closer to Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter (though not as good) in the way it handles its fights than Dragonball Z and post-timeskip Naruto.

It's been forever since I read the Negima manga (and I stopped at vol. 30), but I found the tactical aspects of the fights to be less about outsmarting and more along the lines of the story making up new rules mid-fight for the heroes to use to win. While I've only seen a few movies for YYH and nothing of HxH, I think that post-timeskip Naruto did have some very intelligent fights (albeit virtually all of those were ones that didn't involve Naruto himself).

Quote:
The fanservice elements are pretty cringey on the whole, but the same could be said for 90% of fanservice in ANY series, most of which somehow manage to pull it off even worse.

I don't think most of them were worse than Negima. Quite the contrary, Negima seemed to be quite keen on the "quantity, not quality" philosophy in that area, which I feel is exactly the wrong tact to take (though again, that's apparently a common mistake where fan-service is concerned).

Quote:
It would NOT be at all hard to adapt it into a successful anime series, particularly if they skipped or trimmed down chapters 4-~40 and just started with Negi's introduction and went straight to some of the more action-y parts of the early chapters (exploring the insane library, the school trip, etc.), leveling out the curve from "Harem comedy" - "S$@! just got real in .25 seconds flat" to "Light-hearted action series" - "S@#& got real-er". - "Now it's really real for real".

If it got its head on straight about keeping one vision for what it wanted to be, and stuck with that from beginning to end, then that would definitely be an improvement. But I question how much I'd like it even then, because it's very clear how much the series favors its heroes in terms of handing them superior numbers, easily-acquired powers, and moral certitude (or at least a lack of any serious bevy of doubts) all as a package.

Quote:
It's a series that as an action show is IMO at least as good as Naruto or Bleach, and I'd say better than their latter halves. It's kind of weird that it's not more popular even disregarding quality since for a lot of otaku it's two great tastes that taste great together.

There's much to indict Bleach on, but I think that Naruto gets a worse rap than it deserves. If you cut out the filler material, the post-timeskip stuff is actually better than the preceding material, to my mind (certainly the main character becomes more likeable, to my mind).

Quote:
You can't tell me that in a world where shows like High School of the Dead were intensely popular, an adaptation of this series could never make it.

And yet that's the world we're living in.


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Sundakan wrote:
As a tangent, given the overwhelming popularity of both Shonen action and fanservice Harem series', WHY by all that is holy is there not a good adaptation of Negima! Magister Negi Magi?

I agree with Bjorn that the source material isn't very good, but I disagree as to why.

Negima initially portrayed itself as the spiritual successor to Love Hina (and given a few easter eggs, that might have been more than just spiritual). Love Hina itself was less than perfect - to me, its cast became the embodiments of various tropes to such an extent that it inhibited showcasing who they were as characters - but it still managed to become an archetype among harem shows.

Negima initially posited itself as being the same but taken to a whole other level, what with having a harem of over thirty girls. But then something happened...the series underwent a genre shift. It became less and less romantic/sexy hijinks and more and more shonen action/adventure. This, at least to me, was a deal-breaker.

They key here (again, to me) wasn't due to what it started as, nor what it became. I like harem shows, and I like shonen action/adventure shows (for the most part). The problem was that it tried to change its tone; this is something that as a rule is extremely difficult to pull off, because once your audience has bought the initial premise, changing that underlying premise is essentially you pulling the rug out from under them. The show is no longer what they signed on for, and now you have to sell them on why they should stick with you even after you snatched back what you initially sold them.

I've seen shows that have been able to do this. Negima wasn't one of them.

EDIT: I also hated the fact that the series kept portraying the good guys as being the opposite of underdogs; "overdogs," if you will. If you have the heroes being consistently more numerous, more powerful (to be fair, Negima usually split the difference on this one), and receiving more popular support than the villains, then I find it incredibly hard to root for them. Heroes feel heroic when they're struggling against unfavorable odds, and yet Negima just kept giving advantage after advantage after advantage to its ever-expanding cast of good guys. It was boring at best, irritating at worst (since it meant we had to listen to the heroes bemoaning their situation despite having virtually everything in their favor).

Again, some shows can get away with having the protagonist be far and away greater than all of their opposition, but Negima wasn't one of them.


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Freehold DM wrote:
I f&*!ing love koihime musou. But that's because I play the game.

Yeah, the game is undeniably better than the show.


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Adapting a work from one medium to another often entails having to make alterations to the presentation. Sometimes the reasons for these changes are self-evident, and other times they leave you scratching your head in confusion over why they did what they did. In the case of Koihime Musou ("Love Princess Unmatched"), it had elements of both, but leaned quite a bit more towards the latter.

The anime version of the eroge of the same name, Koihime Musou is a thirty-six-episode anime divided into three cours of twelve episodes each. My experience with the original games is limited, but from what I can tell each cour is loosely adapted from the three versions of the game (from what I can tell, the subsequent games in the series are expansions to the original, rather than sequels).

I use the word "loosely" here for a reason; while the anime keeps the setting and characters from the source material, it jettisons almost all of the plot elements, only to find that it has very little with which to fill in the gaps. That's the major reason that I've spent the last few paragraphs harping on how the anime isn't the game; in firmly deciding what not to be, the show struggles to define itself.

The basic outline of the show is that it's the story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms (e.g. set during the turbulent times of China in the late second century), with all of the major characters being presented as beautiful girls. To this end, the show puts most of its emphasis on Kan'u, showing her early travels through the countryside as she tries to figure out how she can make a difference for the better. During these wanderings, she falls in with Chouhi, Koumei, Chouun, and pretty much everyone you'd expect from the "Shoku" faction of the novel, as well as having meetings with almost every other major player from the original Romance story. Later episodes take more latitude in spotlighting other characters.

Unfortunately, this large cast comes at the cost of any actual plot or character development. Kan'u and her sworn-sisters never actually engage in the large-scale fighting that was the subject of the original Chinese novel. The warring that the titular three kingdoms are supposed to be engaged in has been pushed so far into the background that it's only referenced obliquely, with the characters making reference to "these turbulent times" more than once. (Naturally, this completely precludes the game's meta-plot about time-travel and parallel universes.)

So given everything that the show isn't, what is it actually about? Well...not very much. In terms of genre, the show is essentially a low-grade comedy series. The gags are fairly nonstop, and usually of middling quality at best (e.g. the running joke about people saying to Kan'u, "Wait, you're the famous 'Black-Haired Bounty Hunter?' But I thought the rumors said that she was supposed to be a real beauty!") What fight scenes there are make absolutely no attempt to create any kind of dramatic tension, nor visually impress. Instead, we're just supposed to laugh over things like the recurring thugs who get continually launched into the air Team Rocket-style, or Chouun's obsession with menma (pickled bamboo shoots), or Enshou's combination of complete incompetence and unwarranted arrogance, etc.

The show does have one other thing going for it, that being the ecchi factor. The show treats this as largely being yet more fodder for humor, and so is fairly casual in its presentation. In this regard, the series straddles keeping these vaguely-naughty bits in-character (e.g. some of the girls needling each other about the size of their boobs or being lesbians, etc.) and meta-contextual (e.g. the many times we get scenes of the girls bathing). Of course, these latter scenes are censored with pervasive steam-clouds, which further weaken one of the show's few remaining draws.

The end result is a show that has very little going for it. A paper-thin plot combined with a wide cast of one-note characters makes for a show that's lacking in substance. To be fair, the series is eminently aware of this, but rather than taking steps to address it seems to take an attitude of "why try hard?" Ironically, this works in its favor, as it helps to lower expectations.

Overall, Koihime Musou isn't so much a bad anime as a lazy one. If you go into it expecting nothing more, then there are certainly worse shows to kill some time with.


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So I'm not sure how many people have heard about this, but on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court made a 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff.

Up until now, the "exclusionary rule" - the rule that says that evidence which the police gather illegally cannot then be used in a court prosecution - applied to instances where the police stop someone without a "reasonable articulable suspicion."

However, the new ruling says that if the police stop you even without any such suspicion, evidence that they subsequently seize could still be admissible. According to Justice Thomas, writing for the majority, this won't cause police overreach because the threat of civil suits will keep them in line.

There's a good op-ed about this over here.


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One of the characteristics of many harem shows is that they don't feature an actual harem, per se. That is, they typically feature a cast of three or more girls (having only two is a love triangle, rather than a harem) simultaneously competing for the same guy, rather than a featuring a stable polyamorous relationship between one guy and multiple girls.

Magika Swordsman and Summoner (Magika No Kenshi To Shoukan Maou) is one of the latter.

Magika is a light novel series with eleven volumes to date, and is ongoing. While there is a manga adaptation (which is receiving an official English translation), there's no anime that I'm aware of. At least, not yet. That said, the light novels have been translated into English via the fan community.

Set in the near future, Magika features a world where magic has come back, and completely changed everything. Everyone has at least some magic power, which can be used for defensive purposes, which is important because magic pretty much always trumps non-magic, making things like guns useless. Beyond mere physical enhancement, however, is summoning magic - the ability to bond with an astral entity (virtually always a god or spirit from a mythology), that allows for the use of stronger magical abilities. Only a few people have this, all of them women (since women naturally have greater magical affinity than men).

As a result of this, every country has exalted those who contract with its native mythology, becoming theocracies. The sole exception is Japan, where rather than the native mythology, the summoners contract with the spirits of the Lesser Key of Solomon.

It's against this backdrop that we meet Kazuki Hayashizaki, the only male to receive a summoning contract. Moreover, his contracted spirit isn't one that's among the seventy-two spirits that form the Pillars of Solomon.

It's not a spoiler to reveal that Kazuki's contracted spirit, Leme, is actually the incarnation of the Lemegeton (e.g. Lesser Key of Solomon) itself, as this forms the central premise of the series; Leme lets Kazuki use the powers of up to seventy-two other spirits, but his ability to do so is entirely dependent on how the girls contracted to those spirits feel about him. In essence, his power is directly tied to how many girls are in his harem, and how they feel about him.

It's this contextualization that really helps to ground the series, in terms of making everything adhere to the internal logic it presents. Kazuki, for example, is initially extremely leery of being a "harem king" - as Leme terms him - but given that summoners are needed to fight magic beasts (e.g. animals that have gained too much magic power and mutated) and rogue summoners, he quickly comes to realize that he needs to establish himself with multiple girls if he wants to have enough power to do anything.

Moreover, the eleven volumes (and counting) give the series enough room to spread this contextualization to other areas that a tighter focus would be hard-pressed to answer, such as why Japan's summoners don't use the native Japanese mythology, what mythology America's summoners use, or even what really constitutes a "mythology" in the first place and how that relates to these astral entities. There's some well-considered world-building here, even though it's doled out in small bits over the whole of the novels.

While I wouldn't go quite so far as to call the series lighthearted, it's far from being grim. The adventure portions of the series do stray into drama and tension with credible ability, for example. But the series never loses sight of the fact that it's home is in the harem genre. Even leaving aside the illustrations being focused primarily on beautiful girl after beautiful girl, the series placed a great deal of focus on Kazuki meeting new girls and increasing his "positivity level" - a handy numerical ranking that Leme gives him that lets him see what girls like him and how much - with them.

Overall, Magika is not just one of the better harem series around, but can credibly be called one of the best. Its adventure-focus means that it never gets completely lost in the sexy hijinks, while keeping said hijinks at the narrative forefront of the story and developing them as things progress (by the last couple of novels, Kazuki's relationship with the girls with the highest positivity level are very nearly pornographic). If you're a fan of harem stories, this one should definitely go in your reading list.


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Judy Bauer wrote:
Judy Bauer wrote:
I'd be interested to see whether there's been any change in the 19 years since that study was published, given how much more time people now spend reading online content, which is much more "they"-friendly.

Lo! I was just reading Stephen Pinker's The Sense of Style (tl;dr: linguist analyzing writing style advice based on linguistic data and a panel of folks who work on dictionaries), and he says

Quote:
Experiments that measure readers' reading comprehension times to the thousandth of a second have shown that singular they causes little or no delay, but generic he slows them down a lot (Foertsch & Gernsbacher, 1997; M. Liberman, "Prescriptivist Science," Language Log, 2008).

If that's the sum total of what Pinker says about this citation, then he's leaving out quite a bit of context.

The citation here is for a 2008 paper (the M. Liberman citation) that looks at the Foertsch & Gernsbacher 1997 paper and then compares it to a 2007 paper (A. J. Sanford & R. Filik, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(2) 171-178, 2007).

In his paper, Liberman relates that the Foertsch & Gernsbacher paper determined that the singular they didn't impose any extra cognitive load as compared to "stereotype-mismatched pronouns (e.g. "truck driver … she" or "nurse … he")"

Liberman then goes on to compare this to the 2007 Sanford & Filik paper, which looks at "The plural pronouns they and them are used to refer to individuals with unknown gender and when a random allocation of gender is undesirable. Despite this apparently felicitous usage, “singular they/them” should raise processing problems under the theory that pronouns seek gender- and number-matched antecedents."

Liberman notes that Sanford and Filik's data shows the following:

Quote:

For him or her with a singular antecedent, the average was 1380 milliseconds, while for them with a singular antecedent, the average total reading time was 1414 milliseconds — a 34 millisecond difference! This difference was statistically significant, at least when the times were compared segment by segment. But the time for reading all three segments was only about 2.4% slower on average.

In contrast, him or her with a plural antecedent required an average of 1521 msec to read all three segments, while them with a plural antecedent took an average of 1315 msec, or 206 msec faster. That's a difference of about 16%.

In other words, using "they" after having already established the presence of multiple people was faster than using a singular pronoun - whether male or female - after having established the presence of multiple people. Liberman further notes their conclusion:

Quote:

While the use of they as a genderless “singular” referential pronoun in certain contexts certainly occurs and does not seem to cause problems of felicity from the point of view of casual observation, some processing difficulties were nevertheless observed in our eye-tracking study. Earlier researchers (Foertsch & Gernsbacher, 1997) found that with neutral, apparently genderless, antecedents like someone, or a runner subsequent clauses referring to that individual by he or she, or they, revealed no reliable disadvantage in the case of using they. On the surface, this might be taken as compatible with the position that there is indeed no processing disadvantage to using they as a genderless singular. In the present experiment, we increased the sensitivity of the design in two ways. First, we used continuous eye-tracking, enabling more subtle measurement of any possible patterns of disruption. Secondly, we compared the effects of genderless referential plural antecedents with that of genderless singular referential antecedents. On total time for the pronoun region, we observed a strong, conventional, number-mismatch effect, such that plural pronouns created less processing disruption in the context of plural antecedents than in the context of genderless singular antecedents.

This result is compatible with the view that after encountering a plural pronoun (they, them), a search is initiated for a plural antecedent in the mental representation of the discourse and not for one that could be either plural or singular. So where does this leave the singular use of they/them? Since it is in common use, we suggest that although it gives rise to a mismatch, it is rapidly accommodated as an acceptable deviation. This is quite unlike the case with singular pronouns in the context of plural antecedents, because these are not in common use and, we claim, do not make sense without making an inference like “he or she refers to just one of the plurality in the antecedent”.

Most important, however, seems to be Liberman's ultimate conclusion after looking these papers over:

Quote:
But crucially, despite references to questions of usage, these papers are mainly oriented towards a debate among psycholinguists about the nature of pronoun processing, not towards a debate about pronoun usage among providers of writing advice. And as a result, the experiments don't directly address the issue that really matters in most practical cases — how should you refer to a non-referential singular indefinite antecedent ("anyone"; "a student"; etc.) when you need or want to leave sex unspecified? To be relevant to this real usage debate, experiments would need to test they against "he or she" (or "she or he", or "that person", or whatever); and would also need to check systematically for the cognitive load imposed by attempts to use he as a default pronoun.

So the idea that "singular they causes little or no delay, but generic he slows them down a lot," as Pinker notes, is eschewing a very large degree of data, to the point of not accurately representing the results...which don't really speak to the issue of wanting a non-gendered singular pronoun that isn't confusing anyway.


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I've long been of the opinion that the absence of something good in a show doesn't necessarily make it a bad show. There's a difference between an actual instance of failure, in any particular regard, and simply not doing something very well. That's the difference between a series that's genuinely bad versus those that are forgettable in their mediocrity.

This latter category is how I would categorize Linebarrels of Iron (Kurogane no Linebarrel). (I should also note that, in the English title, there really doesn't seem like there should be an "s" in "Linebarrels." That's because not only is there no such sound in the original Japanese, but the actual Linebarrel in the show is unique. But I digress.)

A twenty-four episode series, Linebarrels takes place in the extremely near future. It begins when a perpetually-bullied young man, Kouichi Hayase, is killed when a giant mech falls out of the sky and crushes him. Resurrected by the guilt-stricken (and very beautiful) female pilot, Kouichi finds that his newfound lease on life has not made him into the pilot of that mech - the eponymous Linebarrel - and in doing so dragged him into a war that's just breaking out between KATO-KIKAN (a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world) and a small group fighting against them.

While the initial premise isn't anything to write home about, it's the execution where the series really fails to deliver. I enjoyed the fact that, once Kouichi finds out how much power he's been given, it almost immediately goes to his head, resulting in him lashing out at anyone who opposes him, regardless of the collateral damage, while pontificating about justice. That struck me as more interesting than his instantly becoming an archetypal hero.

Unfortunately, the show never develops that - or really much of anything - to its full potential. Once Kouichi is made to realize the error of his ways, the show largely develops into a situational comedy with periodic action/adventure breaks. Virtually every cliché you can imagine is utilized, such as the villain who self-confidently says that everything is going according to plan no matter what setbacks he suffers, the hero unlocking new powers with his mech when he becomes utterly enraged, several female characters all pining for Kouichi in their own way (the tsundere leading lady, the spitfire female mech pilot, the warm and caring other female pilot, the childhood friend who's good at cooking, etc.), and even a beach episode with a giant octopus monster.

The worst of these is with characters dying (or about to die), only to be revealed to actually have survived/be rescued/be resurrected later on. That particular bait-and-switch is pulled on us several times over the series, to the point where it becomes more unexpected for characters to actually stay dead (which only happens rarely).

The end result is a series that feels not so much bad as simply paint-by-numbers, and so is rightly overshadowed by other series that have done it better. I read on Wikipedia that the anime for this took a large number of creative liberties from the original manga, and while I haven't read the manga, the anime doesn't seem to have benefitted from having gone so far astray from the source material.

Ultimately, Linebarrels of Iron is such a low-impact show that it's not only not very good, but isn't even very bad, either. It's just sorta there, and can be overlooked with absolutely nothing noteworthy being missed for having done so.


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You don't need to worry, the chart you're thinking of using is entirely Open Game Content; that's why it's on that site.

The link you're referring to is slightly antiquated, but still has the 3.5 SRD on it; it's now under the "d20 System Archive" link on that WotC page.

As a note, the page with the defense bonus isn't from the 3.5 SRD anyway, but rather from Unearthed Arcana, which had a lot of its text made Open Gaming Content. As such, you need to include it in your Section 15 of your publication.

To keep it simple, your publication would need to reprint all of the text on this page above the words "END OF LICENSE."


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So I have to say, after last week's episode being so incredibly mediocre, this week's turned out to be one of the best in recent memory.

Spoiler:
The fact that the show openly acknowledged that Chuck was God wasn't exactly a revelation, and the episode smartly didn't treat it like one. Instead, it wisely gave us an expose on God's character - brilliantly self-referential by having God want Metatron to edit his autobiography - and it really did a fantastic job.

The show has established for a while now that God no longer cares about his creations, and they played that one up here for all it was worth. The idea of God being sick of everything, not even in an angry way but simply so thoroughly uncaring, is such a great angle. It's not one that I've really seen before in most productions that portray God. The part where Metatron breaks down and tearfully asks God why he left them all, only for God to flatly reply, "because you disappointed me. You all disappointed me," was pure gold.

This also showed us that the character of Metatron still has a lot of depth to him. This episode made reference to him in every aspect we've seen, from his being a lover of stories to an evil God-wannabe to a pathetic human, and even showed that at his core he still cared about humanity. It was great.

This episode showed very well why I'm still excited for the show so long after people say that it's "peaked," and why I'm looking forward to future seasons.


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So it's been confirmed that Supernatural will not only have a season 12, but a season 13 as well, with Jared and Jensen both signing on for both upcoming seasons. Moreover, "The CW president even admitted that he is an avid fan of the show and will continue to renew the series as long as the lead actors will reprise their roles."

Looking forward to it! (Even if this last week's episode was utterly forgettable.)


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Aaron Whitley wrote:
Saldiven wrote:
Aaron Bitman wrote:
Um... I'll give you the sword, but the phoenix didn't fight the basilisk directly. He brought Harry the sword, and when Harry got injured and poisoned in the battle, the phoenix played cleric by saving him. But only Harry did the actual fighting, IIRC.
Fawkes blinded the Basilisk by pecking out its eyes.
Which had the added benefit of removing its ability to turn someone to stone. So at that point the basilisk is essentially a giant venomous snake.

And even then, it was still able to take Harry out (even if it was taken out in the process); he was dying before Fawkes cried on his wound. That's further grist for the "low-level characters" mill.

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