Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Comments on the Baltimore riots

I don't often like to comment on politically charged events here because I try to not focus on politics, but I'm going to break my own rule to comment on the latest riots in Baltimore.

The motivation behind them was a black suspect that was detained forcibly by police for violations of the law and died in police custody due to rather obvious medical negligence. To the extent that this was a deplorable incident in which this man died due to the police not caring about his welfare and he died due to their negligence, I utterly sympathize with the outrage.

My sympathy ends at the rioting, looting, and burning of an entire city. Peaceful protest is an honored tradition protected by law, and to that end, I support protest that does not disturb civil order, but to paraphrase Justice Holmes "the right to swing your fist ends where the other person's nose begins", and this was clearly defied when the protestors turned into a bunch of criminal thugs stealing from stores, burning vehicles, and fighting police and forces from the National Guard, who were only trying to restore public order. Many innocent people were screwed over by these criminals, and given all the damage they wrought, I have no sympathy for them, merely hoping they have been arrested and punished for their crimes against the people of Baltimore.

These riots, lootings, and burning of public and private property were no more justified in this case than they were after the Micheal Brown verdict, where more criminals used the fact they weren't happy with the verdict as a shitty excuse to commit crimes against the law abiding citizens of Ferguson as revenge for the legal system not giving them Darren Wilson's head on a platter.

In both cases, both riots were triggered by anger over apparent police misbehavior, and while I support the right to picket and protest such apparent abuse of police power, I condemn stepping over that line like the criminals in Baltimore and Ferguson did, and merely hope that those criminals were dealt with as criminals should be.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cross Ange: A Series Retrospective

Cross Ange is an anime I decided to watch to completion partially because of a masochistic desire to see just how far I could make it before I gave up on it in disgust (assuming it got worse after the first few episodes), and partially because I wanted to see if Mitsuo Fukuda was going to make something worse than the abortion that was Gundam Seed Destiny (I still prefer the SRWZ version of that show as depicted via Youtube, in which I agree with Shinn Asuka's seiyuu about that being the "true version of Gundam Seed Destiny") .

To my surprise, Cross Ange started off horribly, but it got better over time, and while I wouldn't call it awesome, it turns out above average, if only barely.

In fact, I'd rate it a 7.2/10.

As for why I give it that score, let's examine what they did wrong first.

* Pacing - Initially, this was BAD. The first episode has a hurried tone to it, and while getting us to the actual action is nice, I really wish they had drawn it out more first, since they just barely cover the absolute basics before the main character is disgraced. It later displayed in retrospect Ange was basically horribly naive and sheltered and not nearly as much of an unlikeable asshole as her initial appearance indicated, but they could have taken a lot more time to hint at this before her disgrace so the audience didn't spend the first three episodes wondering why the hell we needed to pity her at all. They also could have made the drama bomb more poignant by not hitting the audience over the head with Ange's disgrace and later prison violation as fast as they had, as the version we got forced them to have to retroactively fill in a lot more blanks they could have used that time to advance other parts of the plot. The next episode and a half have more clumsy pacing, and while later episodes give context as the time that passed, they compressed a metric ton of offscreen activity into a few implied scenes in the first two episodes, forcing more flashbacks and retroactive fixing in later episodes, which to their credit they did reasonably well (without clip show bullshit, amazingly enough), but it still could have been avoided in hindsight. They found their footing a few more episodes in and the rest of the show was reasonably paced, but it hobbled out the gate pretty badly and took a while to run properly.

* Bad Use of Fanservice - Again, early on they hit us over the head with a downright tacky amount of lesbian cheesecake. Now, I'm male and heterosexual, but I find it hard to enjoy lesbian rape scenes that could have had most of their details excised without losing their impact when it's obvious the circumstances should not be played for arousal. Thankfully, this only lasted for the first few episodes, and while they interspersed more lesbian cheesecake through the rest of the show, it was in more manageable and less tacky doses as time went on. As for the actual motive behind it, they had a good one (high female to male cast, prison like circumstances, etc.), but the timing they chose was horrible and most of the time the scenes were gratuitous filler early on, only starting to gain some relevance later on.

* Poor likeability of the protagonist: Kamille Bidan was an angsty hothead at the beginning of Zeta Gundam, and while he has his own world torn asunder and forced to fight in circumstances bigger than they initially appeared, but he was still likeable and relatable because he really was screwed over epically, and he eventually grew a pair in short order and decided to deal with it.

Ange was slightly different, having been disgraced from royalty to rags due to the series undercurrent of artificially inflated racism against Norma, so while her denial of reality was initially understandable, they took so little time fleshing out how spoiled and naive she had been prior to that disgrace she came off as hardly likable because gave us so little reason to understand her reluctance to accept her new reality, so for the first few episodes, unlike Kamille, it was very hard to like her character.

They fixed this over time and by the end of the series she matured as a person rather well and fully deserves to be considered a heroic figure by series end, but they could have taken more time to establish why she was so sheltered so her reactions to her cushy life going bye bye were less infuriating for the audience to witness.


....all the above black marks marred the series early on, and while most of the scars faded by the high water mark of Episodes 12-13, these issues made the early episodes very hard to watch.


Now for what the series did right:


* They handled racism slightly better than Gundam - Gundam had racism of Newtypes by Oldtypes and Coordinators by Naturals, but both were rather fantastical and relied on the conceit the differences were really that big a deal. In the former instance, all they had were quasi-psychic powers, and the latter was basically a difference between genetic engineering people versus letting them be born naturally , and in both cases, there was no really profound reason why there should be any racism on any widespread level.

Cross Ange not only included far more tangible reasons for why the racism was plausible, they made the ignorance, fear, and bigotry that racism caused much more plausibly displayed, and the reasons why that racism was utter bullshit in hindsight was also better displayed by the end of the series.

Granted, it was still based on a fantastical premise, but to their credit, they acknowledged this in story and that very artificialness was even a plot point.

* The mecha weren't god moding badasses: Gundam has the nasty habit of allowing it's titular units to have plot armor until no longer required, and while the Vilkiss was one of the few units in series to enjoy such plot armor most of the time, the series at least had the decency to justify it most of the time. Otherwise, Paramail and Ragnamail were fairly realistic in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

* The villain was fairly well written: Embryo wasn't a bad villain IMO. Up until the last couple of episodes, you could make an argument his motives were well intentioned extremist in scope and that he had something resembling ethical standards , but by the end it was obvious this was a clever disguise for the fact he had a god complex (without calling it such), was an unrepentant rapist, and was a manipulator first and foremost. In Gundam terms, he's what happens when you take Paptimus Scirroco's mind hax and way with the ladies, marry it to Alejandro Corner's bullshiting skills, throw in a little of Ribbons Almark's belief in him being the focal point of human evolution, graft on some of Evangelion's Gendo Ikari in terms of Machiavellian scheming, and have it all be a very clever mask for a Disney's Aladdin Jafar style manipulative rapist with severe control delusions.

He's not the most original villain, granted, but he did serve as a effective catalyst for the character development of most of the other cast, and at worst, he did an effective job of being a series antagonist.

* It had a very effective twin theme of how bad communication and betrayal create a vicious cycle:

Most to all of the plot revolves around the premise that poor communication leads to conflict, and backstabbing someone today will lead to them wanting to return the favor the next, and given how these twin themes influence the main plot and most of the subplots, I have to credit the creators with finding these two themes to base their writing around, as they were simple and effective, and given how all the sub and main plots dovetailed into each other, it gave the series a sense of plotline continuity and consistency, which only became more and more apparent as the artifacts of it's horrible bad start wore off.


Overall: For a mecha show, I don't regret watching it in full, but going back to the early episodes is not a fun prospect. It was less badly plotted than Gundam Seed Destiny and made far fewer mistakes on average, and if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to watch this or GSD again I'd pick this in a heartbeat. However, it's bad early episodes crippled it from the get go, and while it eventually recovered and finished on a good enough note, the series would have gotten a bare minimum 8.5/10 from me had the beginning been as much fun to watch as the middle and especially the end were.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In which I rant about why I hate SJWs and anti-Gamergate

WARNING: ANGRY RANT BELOW, WILL PISS YOU OFF IF YOU'RE AN EASILY OFFENDED SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR.

Before this article is published, I want to make clear this is my own personal opinion: Neither Orain (where I serve as staff member) nor All The Tropes (which I co founded) are involved or take any ideological stance on the issue and are professionally neutral, so for the SJW Twitter harpies of the anti-GamerGate crowd, direct your angry comments and triggered tweets at me personally, they have nothing to do with the following.

That said, while I personally remain apathetic to the main core of Gamergate (ethics in game journalism), I guess that, while I'm not an official member of Gamergate nor intend to be, I kinda don't hate them as much as I hate the anti-GG side, mostly because they have the highest ratio of assholes who are fucking with gaming, something I do for fun.


That said, let me throw a few things out there:


1. ANITA SARKEESIAN IS A SHALLOW HACK WHO WHORES FOR ATTENTION AND PRODUCES NOTHING WORTH ANYONE'S TIME:



I very briefly flirted with SJWism (now I oppose it with all my being) and even thought some of her videos might have had a valid point, so I waited to see if she could produce anymore content, like solutions for bad tropes in gaming and how to better use them in a way to better represent female characters in games.


While I waited, I saw she spent a lot of time whoring for money and attention, and she just kept whining about how women are treated like pieces of meat in games and bringing up every vaguely sexist thing in gaming whether that was the context intended or not.


In short, I quickly grew tired of her circular bullshit and decided she sounded initially sensible, but had no solutions and was just using the topic to attention whore.


I don't hate her personally. As I said, I don't give a fuck about Gamergate, I just want to play games, dammit, but her whiny bullshit is just stirring the pot without adding anything to the soup that is gaming culture, and I just wish she'd shut up since she's not actually presenting solutions, she just an attention whore.


2. ZOE QUINN'S GAME WASN'T EVEN A GAME AND I DON'T LIKE HER SHIT AT ALL


I played Depression Quest, and while I appreciate the point behind it, as I think helping spread awareness of depression is a worthy goal, it was barely interactive visual novel that was quick, easy to beat, and was fucking boring in a gaming sense.

However, my real aggravation with her is the fact her bullshit set off this circlejerk that engulfed the vidya industry, and now I can't even look up any gaming site for info on the latest releases without encountering some aspect of the bullshit she initiated.

Thanks Zoe.


3. BRIANNA WU WAS BORN JOHN FLYNT, QUIT FUCKING DENYING IT. ALSO, REVOLUTION 60 FUCKING SUCKS


One of the biggest assholes of this whole mess is self hating transsexual Brianna Wu, who seems adamant about denying they were born male and insist they are as legit a woman as one born with ovaries.


Even if that were true, and it's not, it wouldn't change the fact Brianna Wu is a loudmouthed jackass who has bullshitted and false flagged about oppression on Twitter and Steam so much Wu comes off as a lying asshole no matter what gender he was born with.


As for Revolution 60, I've seen that piece of shit, like hell if anyone thinks I'd get near that boring, poorly textured excuse for a game. I'm also not whoring $5 bucks for the book about the lore (i read it for free, it's not worth the money) because the game itself is fucking terrible, and I say that as someone who modded games and is even designing one in RPGMaker at the time of this writing.


On that note, hot flash, Wu: I might be male, but that doesn't give me an edge as a game designer. If anything, I SUCK at coding in Ruby and I still make mistakes with a program that does a lot of hand holding, but difference is, I don't deny it.


If anything, I have the humility to ask for help and not shout down every male who might try to help you as "mansplaining". Hell, I don't even use Twitter at all, because working on this project is time consuming when I don't have other IRL matters to deal with, and maybe if you quit pissing away time on Twitter and spent more time taking remedial coding, maybe R60 might be a competent product, because as it is, it looks like an overpriced abortion you couldn't give me to play for free.

Of course, I don't expect Wu will ever see this, but in the event Wu does, just trying to help, no "mansplaining" here.



4. OVERALL

I'd like to hand out a massive "fuck you" to everyone involved in shitting up games involved with the anti-gg side.

Fuck you Josh Sawyer for being the SJW mouthpiece trying to shit up Pillars of Eternity. And to think I liked you for working on Fallout New Vegas. I could have even overlooked you were a member of Something Awful, one of the biggest hives of SJW fuckheads on the planet, had it not been for the fact you have no apparent shame for prostituting yourself for SJW assholes.

Fuck you, Bioware, for going full retard and making Dragon Age: Inquistion an SJW pandering vehicle. I thought the first game was great, the second not so much, but like hell I'm giving you faggots a dime for that piece of shit.

A blanket fuck you goes out to every gaming site that has ever toed the SJW party line, mostly because I don't give a shit. I just want to know when the latest games are coming out, not why you're shitting blood over the sight of tits and being triggered by off color fictional racism.

Another blanket fuck you goes out to Reddit and large chunks of Twitter for enabling these gender politics obsessed assholes. 4chan became a fucking joke thanks to these bastards, and I totally hope everything SJWs manage to seize power over withers and dies on them, because them and the anti-GG bullshit they brought with them have annoy the shit out of me, who has only one simple request:

Can't you all just shut the fuck up about why video games are so offensive and let me play them without your trying to eliminate them because you faggots can't stand not being able to thought police them into oblivion?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cross Ange Episode 25

And so, we begin the finale of Cross Ange.

Engine repairs to the Aurora are complete, but it seems Alektra has been gravely wounded, and even though Maggy wants to get her on a stretcher, she's like, "I'm already dead, just get me a smoke".

Later, as she dies Socrates style (chilling surrounded by friends as life slowly leaves her body), she admits her attempt to screw over Embryo failed, and Salia apologizes for the shit she pulled, and by the time Jill finally dies (well, I guess the show did have the guts to kill her off), she's forgiven Salia for almost becoming her successor in almost every way.

However, they don't have time to mourn as Riza reports the merging is at 98.5%, but as Jasmine tells everyone not to give up, the merger suddenly freezes at 99.02%, and a voice Sala confirms as Aura tells everyone Embryo is basically in the Cross Ange equivalent to the Final Fantasy V N-Zone/Cleft of Dimension.

Cue intro credits.

As we resume, Ange wakes up in the same love hotel like room we found Alektra in in that flashback with Embryo (with clothes on, thankfully, namely her princess getup), and as she runs through a hallway eerily similar to the palace, she exits to a graveyard on a floating island in space, which Embryo (in his Ragnamail) confirms is Arzenal, namely the first Earth's Arzenal, which was the original point of divergence between the two worlds (explains why the DRAGONs kept attacking around there, they naturally assumed Aura was held there), and they he offers she join him in premium box office seats as they watch the remaining merger together. Ange is obviously not down with that, but he lands, tells her running is pointless since this isn't the Arzenal she knows, then segues into a monologue about the original Arzenal.

Basically, it was a particle research lab where, back in his scientist days he discovered how to make space-time his bitch, and we also learned the original purpose of the Ragnamail was to use them as mecha versions of Stargates from the series of the same name, but shit went pearshaped and the original Arzenal was caught in-between space-time.

For him, it was a good thing, because time froze there, so he had all the time in the world to work on things while being functionally immortal, and thus ended the first Earth with the Ragnamails and recreated humanity based on his continued research.

Essentially, he discovered to not age and how he could could alter reality and went on a power trip, essentially making himself a god figure even if he preferred to be called a "Tuner".

As he finishes that part of his monologue, he's sitting across from Ange drinking tea, when he explains the Mana based society went to hell, then pours on the Paptimus Scirroco treatment again and tries to get her to join him yet again. She tries to punch him, but he slaps her and pours on the rapist vibes.

We cut back to the Aurura, where Aura reveals the Vilkiss has one of the few engines with the ability to access Embryo's dimensional hidey hole, and as Aura is barely keeping the Aurora and those inside from being consumed by the dimensional rift, and Aura says anyone can will the Vilkiss to reach that place if their will is strong enough, so Hilda concedes defeat to Tusk and tells him to do it.

Back with Embryo, Ange realizes the Vilkiss is beyond her reach, and when tries to attack Embryo, he makes her clothes disintegrate to induce defeat by modesty, and he goes all domestic abuser and slaps the shit out of her because Tusk took her v-card first, and then the rapist vibes go off the charts as he basically tells her he's going to "purify her", then summons vines to splay her out to make his job easier.

As Tusk tries to get the Vilkiss to give a shit, Ange is calling Embryo out as a rapist, and he responds by showing her how Aura is starting to lose the fight against the world merger, and as Tusk is utterly frantic now, Embryo's about the do the deed against Ange's will.

Ange then sings the Eternity song, and as Embryo's about to begin, this manages to pierce the dimensional divide and activate the ring controlling the Vilkiss, which changes color to fit Tusk's outfit, and that's when everyone else decides to follow Tusk's lead. Chris offers Hilda her Ragnamail, and Ersha and Vivian tell Salia not to die on them as the Vilkiss teleports Sala, Tusk, Hilda, and Salia to Embryo.

As they go through the dimensional tunnel to him, Sala starts singing herself, which prompt Ange to join in, making Embryo disengage himself as he realizes what's going on.

As the two choruses become one, Embryo's location appears right in front of them.

Cue intermission.

Embryo decides to speed up getting himself properly mounted on Ange, but is thankfully interrupted by Tusk, and as Embryo retreats, he cuts her free and snags her into the Vilkiss (getting a face full of her crotch AGAIN), but Ange isn't in the slap happy mood since he just prevented her rape. As they land, he hands her back her panties, ring, and a spare suit in the bucket seat, then jumps out to give Embryo a piece of his mind.

As Embryo and Tusk go sword to combat knife, Sala even the odds by tossing Tusk a katana, and as Ange reactivates the Vilkiss, it gives her her outfit back, and in a nice touch, gives the Vilkiss a combined original/Tusk themed paintjob (symbolizing how the two of them are now acknowledged to be it's twin masters), and as she takes flight, she tells everyone Embryo's Achilles heel is his Ragnamail, and as Tusk puts it, both the Ragnamail and Embryo himself must be stopped to permanently defeat him.

Before I go on, a little explanation:

When Embryo's original research sent him to the dimensional rift, it apparently split Embryo and the Ragnamail into two dimensional halves of the same whole, so both are connected, and as long as one exists, the other cannot die, as they are two halves of the same "fact" of Embryo's existence.

Anyway, he decides to even his odds in the air by summoning doppelganger Ragnamail to aid him, but Ange and crew don't even flinch as Tusk and Embryo continue dueling below and Tusk manages to put a nasty gash in Embryo's shoulder, and since Embryo isn't switching his current body for a healed version, that means he can't do his dimensional revival trick anymore.

Embryo is pissed and starts shifting around, trying to shoot Tusk since he lost the sword part of the fight, and one of his doppelgangers is currently trying to hijack Salia's Ragnamail to shoot down the others. In fact, he's pulling that stunt on all of them.

Meanwhile, Embryo has gone back to using a sword as he gives Tusk an earful about how he's pissed Tusk did it with HIS woman (what a deluded sack of shit......), manages to catch Tusk in the shoulder with his blade, but Tusk gives him a bloody backstab to the gut in response.

Meanwhile, as his Ragnamail tangles with Ange, Sala is calling him out on being a rapist shithead,, and as she  tackles him retarded, Hilda chimes in with her own version of how shitty the bastard is, and as Ange asserts she's not being controlled by anyone anymore, Salia realizes the Ragnamail can all choose the master with the strongest will, and succeeds in making hers give her full control, as does, Hilda, so both immediately shift to Salia and Hilda's color schemes to let Embryo know he can't control them anymore, and the two then own the hell out of Embryo's doppelgangers.

Meanwhile, Embryo is having an epic meltdown as he demands to know why Ange won't let him control her, and as Ange pwns the fuck out of his Ragnamail, she basically tells him she's everything ascribed to Norma (anti-authoritarian misfits), only now she asserts this with pride.

Meanwhile, Sala realizes Norma were born on purpose: in short, Embryo's attempt to make a species that would be shaped to his will failed because not everyone could be forced to bend to his will.

At this point, Embryo is bleeding profusely from the gut in human form and is finally realizing Ange just won't fucking break, so he basically decides to kill her with his Ragnamail, but Ange pours on the juice and blows his Ragnamail the fuck up (leaving behind just the head area), leaving his human form in utter shock, and Tusk then vivisects Embryo in twain in human form while Ange finishes destroying what's left of Embryo's Ragnamail.

This causes a massive dimensional rift , and as they exit it, they discover the Aurora is fine, and apparently, the original Arzenal has been returned to what is presumably the original Earth, which Vivian and later Aura (who managed to survive as well) confirm.

Ange is asked by Sala what they are going to do now, and Ange decides to found her nation since Libertus had been accomplished, and Momoka brings up the good point: "uh, what happens to the other Earth?"

We cut to Earth 2, and as Ange cites that's not her problem, we see Sylvia finally grew a fucking spine and decided to follow Ange's example in being a self reliant badass in what is now Fallout style post apocalyptia world. Meanwhile, we end with Ange decided to get to work on making the world she's in work, and everyone else chimes their support.

Cue end credits.

We get to see all the loose end get tied up, Sala and Ange go at it in karaoke, Cafe Ange opens for business, and we get to see Ange and crew basically building a life for themselves in the DRAGON world.

All in all, a good ending, though I'll save my thoughts on the series as a whole for another post.