Tag: Japan

Art vs. The Artist

Art vs. The Artist

A few weeks ago, I quoted the YouTuber ProJared in my Gaming in American Culture essay.

The crux of my research has been the effects of Japanese Role-Playing Games on the West. In his Final Fantasy Mystic Quest video, ProJared argues that Japanese developers questioned the competence of the outside world, which led to fewer localizations.

It was a valuable insight for my piece, and I was proud to include his video alongside The Geek Critique in my research material.

YouTube has been a huge part of my life, and I try to promote creators. They don’t have near the notoriety of television and movie stars, yet there is great content worth sharing.

After The Completionist, ProJared has been my favorite part of the “NormalBoots crew” for some time. I enjoyed his style, as well as his opinions on video and tabletop games.

I even recently talked about him pulling me back to the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

It’s a parasocial interaction at heart. I wouldn’t say I idolized him or any other YouTuber in an unhealthy way, but the respect and support I show toward those pseudo-celebrities help inspire me to create, and keep the often dreary day-to-day bearable.

This is all to say that I started from an inherently biased position in this conversation.

If you’ve been on Twitter, you already know about how ProJared’s life imploded in a matter of hours. It’s been the #1 trending topic for almost a full day.

If you’re reading this in the future, you can catch up with this Kotaku article.

In spite of how public the issue has become thanks to the people involved, it’s a very private affair that I honestly have no right involving myself with.

The only place I can speak from is that of a former fan whose respect for an online figure has evaporated in an unexpected instant.

A philosophical concern has been weighing heavy on me since late last night:

How much joy are you able to retain from a figure you used to respect — and followed for years — in the time before their skeletons were out of the closet?

This issues with parasocial interactions aren’t new. Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson are two relatively recent examples of celebrities whose actions have begged the question, “how much we should separate the artist from their art?”

But YouTubers are more prominent for me, and tend to be “famous” in smaller communities that they interact with more to create relationships.

I’ve grappled with the recent downfalls of a few people I followed actively.

Just a month before ProJared, TheKingNappy (a Pokémon YouTuber of some acclaim) also received accusations that dampened my enthusiastic support and led to his disappearance from the Internet.

In each of those cases, I’m plenty willing to move on and continue supporting other wonderful creators. But that doesn’t mean their removal is painless.

My immediate reaction to each scandal was almost exactly the same:

  • “What will happen to Nappy’s current Soul Link with ShadyPenguinn?”

Followed by…

  • “There goes the rest of Jared’s Super Metroid/Link to the Past randomizer.”

The thoughts of a spurred fan seem uncalled for, even selfish considering the people who have been genuinely hurt in real life.

And I by no means hope to disparage the victims in these stories because “they took my favorite YouTubers away.”

Yet I believe the reason these thoughts spring to mind are important.

I have given years to some of these personalities, and their current endeavors thrive because of the respect and trust they’ve engendered in this parasocial interaction.

ProJared’s videos have meant enough to me that I thought to quote him in an academic capacity. Plus, he’s also one of the main reasons I started playing Monster Hunter.

TheKingNappy, in a similar vein, introduced me to a community that has foster further love for my favorite series of video games. He’s why I’ve played Pokémon Conquest and the GameBoy TCG title.

All of the times I’ve enjoyed their work and respected their opinions are still there. But now, they seem tainted — it’s hard to come to terms with that.

How much can I still appreciate the time invested in retrospect?

How much can one separate the art from the artist in light of new, changed opinions?

I don’t have an answer to this question. But I think it’s worth posing, because my mindset has honestly contributed to the stressful situation of my last semester at college.

If anyone out there has any insight into this dilemma, I’d love to field some ideas.

Webcomics worth a watchful eye

Webcomics worth a watchful eye

Oh boy, this is a topic I’ve wanted to dive into for some time!

I consume a lot of media. Movies. Books. Video games. Podcasts. YouTube videos.

But also webcomics, which is a subject I haven’t had too many occasions to touch on despite it being one of my favorites.

The closest I’ve gotten was briefly mentioning my time with Homestuck the day it ended.

That particular comic was a different experience, however. My time with it was more concentrated to high school where updates were exciting events. It was much more of a social, community-driven interest for me.

I spent a good amount of time reading fan theories on Tumblr (recently in the news) and fan fictions on Wattpad (which I was surprised to find out still exists).

I went as Dave Strider to Anime Expo one year.

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Had to dig through the dark bowels of my early Facebook posts to find this…

I even started planning out this big Dungeons and Dragons-esque fan roleplay with my friend Sam.

Found the planning sheet for that when I was cleaning out my old Mac, and I think her reaction to it says everything:

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All that doesn’t take away from how excellent the webcomic itself was. Even before it was finished, there were some great think pieces about it — my favorite being from PBS Idea Channel.

Finding out that video is almost seven years old hurt my soul… So let’s move into contemporary subjects.

More of the webcomics I read today are quiet, personal experiences. Super fun and often passionate projects from individual creators and small teams that haven’t reached the scope of something like Homestuck.

The most recent of which, Kid Midnight, being my spark to finally talk about them.

It all started yesterday when I was catching up on a few episodes of the podcast Still Untitled (most notably starring Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame). The usual suspects were discussing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Ben Acker, who plugged his recent venture with the artist Natalie Nourigat.

His pitch was that the comic is an autobiographical story being drawn by a facsimile of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, as he tries to decide whether he’ll be a superhero or go to art school.

That was enough to sell me, but after reading through the seven current ‘episodes,’ I feel it sells the project short.

Kid Midnight is all about that sidekick dealing with not just career goals, but also the other trappings of adolescence. Love one is too scared to admit, popularity, imposter syndrome…

All guised in an incredibly charming, funny and beautiful comic.

Just go read it. I promise it’s worth the time, and you can bang out what’s there in a half hour tops. When I write this, anyway.

Next on my docket of favorite webcomics to suggest is Erma, by Brandon Santiago.

The elevator pitch for this comic is simple: Imagine if the monster from The Ring was actually a lovely, sociable woman who married a human that writes horror novels.

The comic centers around their young daughter — Erma — as she goes to school, spends time with her friends and does supernatural stuff.

It’s honestly one of the most adorable things I’ve ever read. You get a brilliant contrast between horror tropes and “scary” images that are followed by Erma watching Warrior Unicorn Princess with her babysitter.

The comic begins with one-off stories like you might see on the funny pages. But eventually there are sprawling story arcs — the current one about Erma and her family going to a Yokai village in Japan to meet her Yakuza-esque grandfather.

It’s wonderful to see the passionate community blossom over time, and the author has recently announced plans for spin-off comics being drawn by other artists and a phone app. There’s a lot to love!

For the final stop on my tour, I’m going to go in a bit more of an obtuse direction.

Tales of Elysium is another long-running comic from a team called Sleepless Skink Productions that presents a vision of Pokémon similar to the Mystery Dungeon series.

Except with a far darker tone and narrative.

The story centers around a Riolu named Leon and a Totodile named Vagus as they get sucked into conflict with a demented band of Pokémon and their feral underlings who hope to… Well we don’t totally know yet.

Presumably destroy all of the surviving members of an ancient civilization so they can take over the world.

We just haven’t gotten the full backstory at this point.

The story is quite long with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and there are just as many quiet, enthralling character moments as there are swashbuckling Pokémon battles in a gruesome, more realistic style than you’ve probably ever seen.

I would argue the art direction of Tales of Elysium is its strongest selling point. Every single panel is immaculate — almost TOO good for a project focusing on Pokémon.

Though I wouldn’t say that because I adore Pokémon.

Also because the story and characters that have been created for that world more than justify a beautifully dramatic art style.

So there you are. Three different flavors of comics for your viewing pleasure.

Though I’m still fresh to Kid Midnight, I would definitely say it fits into my pantheon of weekly reads alongside Erma and Tales of Elysium. Catching up on my comics each Friday has become a favorite wind-down activity for me.

However, I’m always looking out for more!

If there are any webcomics out there that you love, please don’t hesitate to let me know about them. I’d love to expand my scope even further.

Dancing right into Version 2.8.0

Dancing right into Version 2.8.0

Today we got a brand new bunch of dancin’ fools in Fire Emblem Heroes on top of the ramifications of the latest version update that came yesterday.

That’s a lot of ground to cover, so I’m not going to waste your time with a flashy intro.

Let’s just see who’s new and what they can do!


XanderDancing Knight

Skill Set:

  • Dusk Uchiwa (Might = 12 / Range = 2)
    • Effective against cavalry foes. Disables unit’s and foe’s skills that change attack priority. After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on target and foes within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Dance (Range = 1)
    • Grants another action to target ally (cannot target an ally with Sing or Dance).
  • Close Counter (A Skill)
    • Unit can counterattack regardless of foe’s range.
  • Quick Riposte (B Skill)
    • If unit’s Health ≥ 70 percent and foe initiates combat, unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack.
  • Odd Defense Wave (C Skill)
    • At start of odd-numbered turns, grants Defense +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus granted to unit even if no allies are adjacent).

Analysis:

If I’m just being honest, the most important thing about this Performing Arts Xander is his dance.

Like. I don’t know how Intelligent Systems did it. But they created literal perfection.

Outside of that dance animation, however, he still seems to be one of the most worthwhile heroes on this banner to summon. Like every hero here, his weapon disables priority-changing skills on top of being effective against a specific kind of unit.

Plus he comes with three passive skills, again like every unit here. I don’t know why IS decided to make these dancers so stacked, but I’m not complaining.

Xander is obviously built to be an interesting defensive dancing dagger user. His close combat lets him hit from one space away, where his Wave and Quick Riposte can help him survive an attack and hit back twice.

If his stat line is any good, he’ll be an interesting character to throw onto a team.

Mainly because of that dance, though.


ElinciaEstival Princess

Skill Set:

  • Cloud Maiougi (Might = 12 / Range = 2)
    • Effective against dragon foes. Disables unit’s and foe’s skills that change attack priority. After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on target and foes within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Dance (Range = 1)
    • Grants another action to target ally (cannot target an ally with Sing or Dance).
  • Attack/Speed Push (A Skill)
    • At start of combat, if unit’s Health = 100 percent, grants Attack and Speed +5, but if unit attacked, deals one damage to unit after combat.
  • Rockslide Dance (B Skill)
    • If Sing or Dance is used, grants Speed +3 and Defense +4 to target.
  • Drive Resistance (C Skill)
    • Grants Resistance +3 to allies within two spaces during combat.

Analysis:

Elincia holds the distinction of being the very first colored dagger unit in Fire Emblem Heroes. Hurray! Congratulations on your accomplishments girl, you’re doing the Radiant games proud.

Now I already have a pretty strong tie to Elincia as a unit in FEH because she’s such a powerful staple on my flying team. One that I happened to summon when I was in the hospital.

Unlike Xander, her skills are a little more spread around and don’t fit one play style in particular. But they leave her more readily available to fill a variety of niches.

She can be a solid blue dragon killer with that dagger of hers and the Attack/Speed Push. Probably combined with a healing skill.

Or she can be focused purely on buffing dances through that double stat improving Rockslide, improved further by her ability to grant Resistance buffs to nearby allies during combat.

There’s just a lot of potential with her, and I’d be excited to summon Elincia as well.


RyomaDancing Samurai

Skill Set:

  • Sky Maiougi (Might = 12 / Range = 2)
    • Effective against armored foes. Disables unit’s and foe’s skills that change attack priority. After combat, if unit attacked, inflicts Defense and Resistance -7 on target and foes within two spaces of target through their next actions.
  • Dance (Range = 1)
    • Grants another action to target ally (cannot target an ally with Sing or Dance).
  • Triangle Adept (A Skill)
    • If unit has weapon-triangle advantage, boosts Attack by 20 percent. If unit has weapon-triangle disadvantage, reduces Attack by 20 percent.
  • Chill Defense (B Skill)
    • At start of turn, inflicts Defense -7 on foe on the enemy team with the highest Defense through its next action.
  • Spur Speed/Resistance (C Skill)
    • Grants Speed and Resistance +3 to adjacent allies during combat.

Analysis:

Ohh, so sorry Ryoma. If only you were one reveal ahead, you could have been our first colored dagger unit.

Luckily we have a consolation prize in the form of a very special niche for you to fill as a red armor killer.

Yeah, oddly enough this unarmored lobster seems built to kill powerful red armor units like the Black Knight or Zelgius. He has color priority on a ranged weapon that’s boosted by Triangle Adept and effective against armor units specifically. Plus, he inflicts a hell of a defense debuff at the beginning of each turn.

Now I can’t promise Ryoma will be defensive enough himself to tank a counterattack should his effort to kill fail, but still. Thanks to canceling out abilities like Vantage he may actually have a chance to be a super solid tech choice on teams that are weak to red armored boys.


MicaiahSummer’s Dawn

Skill Set:

  • Dawn Suzu (Might = 14 / Range = 2)
    • Effective against armored and cavalry foes. Disables unit’s and foe’s skills that change attack priority.
  • Dance (Range = 1)
    • Grants another action to target ally (cannot target an ally with Sing or Dance).
  • Attack/Resistance Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Resistance +5 during combat.
  • Fireflood Dance (B Skill)
    • If Sing or Dance is used, grants Attack +3 and Resistance +4 to target.
  • Resistance Ploy (C Skill)
    • At start of turn, inflicts Resistance -5 on foes in cardinal directions with Resistance > unit’s Resistance through their next actions.

Analysis:

Color me impressed, every single unit on this banner is actually friggen useful. Micaiah here because she carries a legendary weapon with double ranged type effectiveness that cancels out abilities like Vantage while also lowering an opponent’s resistance and boosting her own Attack and Resistance during battle.

Yeah that’s front loaded I know, but it’s really solid on paper.

Of course the Fireflood Dance is a bit more situational as it seems better fitting for a purely supportive dancer, but hey. Maybe she’ll be a great offensive and defensive dancer.

Seriously I don’t have too much to say here because she’s just a good unit. I do wish she had a red dagger just to round out a banner full of each other colored dagger… But beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.


I don’t think I can state enough how great every unit on this banner is. Seriously, if you didn’t waste too many orbs on the last Summer/Awakening/Legendary banners like I didn’t, you can have a good time stacking your roster with dancers that can fit on a variety of teams.

Personally I think Elincia and Ryoma are my favorites just based on skills alone. But I’d frankly be happy to get any of them.

In fact, for that reason I’m spending a whole bunch of my ~170 orbs on this sucker. Though probably not enough to go below 100 orbs considering all of the summoning banners coming up soon…

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But with my recent lucky streaks, I should have a good time here, right?

Actually, interestingly enough I have been rather lucky. Just… Not in the way that I’d like to be.

I’m admittedly not entirely sure where these three came from. Micaiah was sort of funny just from the novelty of her alternate skin being in this new banner, but the other two were just. Eh.

I didn’t have a five-star Shigure before, so he’s got some catalog novelty, but Sonya is unfortunately just merging fodder.

So yeah, three five-stars in about 70 orbs. Can’t necessarily complain since my friend Jonathan didn’t get anything tonight… But boy do I want to complain about only getting duplicates.

At least there’s a whole month to score some silly dancers! Plus, the story mode we got to accompany this Paralogue is as interesting in lore as it is useful for orbs.


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Unlike most Paralogues in Fire Emblem Heroes, I would argue the ‘Festival in Hoshido’ Paralogue is much cooler for the story it presents than the pretty art style.

Though that, of course, is just as pretty as ever.

We start off, as you can see, with some exposition by the great Lobster himself regarding the history of the Hoshidan festival. He’s introducing the festivities to Princess Elincia, who has been invited to partake alongside Micaiah. Also Xander. But he’s just right across the gorge so it’s a little bit less of an interesting invitation.

The stakes are raised very quickly when Loki shows up to remind the two that they’ve been put into a contract by Veronica. As they distract the Order of Heroes, who have come to protect the festivities:

Loki goes off to investigate whatever it is she has come to Hoshido seeking. Something that I’ll get into in a minute.

Already this plot is more engaging than the fifth session of Anna tries to sneak peeks at naked Heroes to raise money.

Even if Sharena doesn’t seem to be taking it too seriously.

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As the Order makes their way around, they then come across Xander giving some similar exposition to Micaiah.

While Loki arriving to put a wrench in the festivities was already an interesting point of contention, Xander adds more depth into this particular event by explaining how he’s there in more of a peaceful mission following the conclusion of Fates.

That’s actually some pretty cool world-building. Especially in a world where heroes from other realms can show up to experience the same activities.

It kind of makes up for the fact that I was upset seeing another Fates-based alternate art banner. Even with the Radiant representation, we just have way too many Awakening/Fates characters getting special treatment at this point.

Anyway, once the Order arrives at the final stage, Loki adds even more intrigue to her arrival at the festival.

Yeah, that’s right. Loki is after Anakos. ANAKOS of all things.

Apparently a fire dragon god isn’t good enough for the Múspell army. Now to be completely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this ultimate dragonic antagonist in Fates. Especially following Grima in Awakening, he was just sort of forgettable and weird.

But if they incorporate him into the plot of the mobile gotcha game somehow, I’m all in IS. You’ll have us good.

I agree completely.

But am also very invested in exactly where this sideplot is headed.


Normally I would just conclude my pieces here with a quick question about who you’re most interested in summoning off the banner and what you think about the suddenly interesting developments in the Paralogue story.

But this time I have a little more to jump on.

Version 2.8.0 dropped yesterday, and while it may not have added enough to warrant a full post yesterday I still wanted to dedicate some time to it. Because you know. I like cataloging this stuff.

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A lot of what was implemented here are minor adjustments to pre-existing modes. Adjustments that don’t really do a lot for me specifically.

First and foremost is a new tier being added to the Arena. Once players hit tier 20, now they can go further and become a Great Summoner. Anyone who does gets an aesthetic crown mark on top of Feh’s head on the home screen.

I’ve never made it to tier 20. So… Yeah. Doesn’t mean too much for me.

Intelligent Systems also added in the ability to have multiple skill sets for each unit. That way you could have a build if your Reinhardt is on a cavalry only team versus if your Reinhardt is on his own. For example.

There’s also some more options in the allies menu to sort different combinations of favorite characters together. But that’s another functionality I never used in the first place so… Yeah. Again.

Probably the only thing that was added which I could actually see myself using is the Order of Heroes weapon refines.

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Perhaps these three could actually be useful now! Which would be very beneficial to new players especially.

With those changes out-of-the-way, everything else is summed up as minor additions. Very cleanly summed up by this succinct list:

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Gaining extra rewards during Grand Conquests is probably the best thing just in this section alone, though I am very interested to see what it will be like to play tap battles at triple speed.

Also I would be interested in having my orbs hit quadruple digits. But that’s a different story.

That’s about all I have to say for Fire Emblem Heroes for the day.

Since I was already on track for this earlier, let me know what you think about those questions I asked in the comments! Based on the events calendar, it’ll be a couple of weeks before one of these shows up again. Considering I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who enjoys them, hopefully you all enjoy the hiatus.

A Quick Question for the Night

Alright so once again I got distracted by hanging out with my friends all afternoon and nearly forgot to write a blog post.

I’m going to try and cobble something together within twenty minutes. See how well that goes.

If I wind up having two posts on August 6th rather than one today and one tomorrow, you’ll know why.

This morning I went to the gym before I spent time with my friends (including special guest Nina, who I found out reads these dumb things sometimes while in Japan if she’s feeling homesick — Shout out to you gurl ❤️). I was going to write something related to that before the hangout began but… Obviously you can see how well that went.

More often than not, I wind up watching YouTube videos while I’m working out. I know for many people Music would fill that void, but I tend to prefer listening to something slightly more unique every time to keep it interesting.

Which is actually the same reason I prefer to listen to podcasts during my commute. Fun fact for you all.

The other day I believe I mentioned watching the Super Beard Bros a lot while exercising at Cal State Fullerton. But recently that story has been a little different in the right periods of time.

See I know I’ve also talked recently about the UCL Pokémon tournament going on between a bunch of YouTubers I watch. They post those battles on Saturday’s.

So when I’m going to the gym over the weekend, that’s been my main form of entertainment while jogging/lifting weights.

But mostly the prior because it’s a bit more dangerous to watch things while operating heavy machinery.

Thinking about all of that led to me wondering about something that I was hoping to pose to the world.

Obviously I was going to put a little more effort into framing the question, but time crunches are a thing.

If any of you out there go the gym, what’s your favorite form of entertainment while doing so?

Do you listen to music?

Watch videos like me?

Podcasts even?

Hell, I saw one person in the gym today reading a newspaper on the treadmill, so that could be an answer.

Or hey, maybe you just prefer to do nothing and just focus on your exercising. That’s also a viable answer.

Let me know somewhere on the Internet, I’d especially love to hear any sort of unique answers people might pose!