Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 447: A Lot Changes In Ten Years. Like Getting A Promotion... Maybe - Synopsis and Review

Synopsis: The Hakuo baka-trio (Izumi, Risa, Miki) are arguing over their little video koushien thing (Hata does not forget even the silliest plot threads) and Risa and Miki use it as an opportunity to harass Izumi saying that there’ll be a “flesh-colored punishment” awaiting the loser. Izumi is all confident that both of them didn’t make any noteworthy videos anyway, but she is surprised when both of them turn up with award-winning documentaries coz y’know, they’re filthy rich and are willing to put in a whole lot of effort just to harass Izumi.

Athena: I'm like sooo ready to confront a murderer.
Izumi’s in a pinch so she comes up with this idea of filming footage of a fish in an aquarium using a fixed camera and watching it grow every day. Kotetsu points out that it won’t work out because fish don’t grow that easily and she’ll need to put some real effort into taking care of it. Somehow the conversation moves to equating growing fast with “promotions,” so Izumi asks her father to give her something for promotions and she returns with a bottle of Remy Martin, for whatever that’s worth. She then feeds it to the fish – who starts growing human arms. She and Kotetsu are freaked out at first, but she decides that this will make an excellent film, so she feeds it some more until it suddenly climbs out of the tank with human arms and legs and some kind of face inside its mouth. It grabs her and tells her that it can’t take any more of that food before running away.
Athena: Yikes! But not a pedo!
Back to Athena… or little Alice if you prefer, who is still all smug thinking Mr. Murderer has finally come and she’s all ready to confront him. But when she turns to face him, it’s actually the fish monster that Izumi had created and she goes all “who the **** are you?” To which, the fish monster responds quite appropriately with “I dunno, but I like little girls!” Good job, Fish… from now on, your new name is Pedofish.
Pedofish: Welcome to MY world.
Athena freaks out at pedofish but Ikusa arrives in the nick of time and effortlessly knocks Pedofish to the moon. He then goes, “I’m too cool for a name.” Athena then clicks on her battery meter thing and says that it’s been ten years since she last heard that line.

Review: Looks like Hata’s decided to finish up some plot threads from the doujinshi arc this time and connect it with the new arc by wrapping up this video koushien thing quickly. Is this a sign that the end is near? I guess it could be, eh?
Just to remind you that these three are still mildly relevant
I was pretty amused when Athena’s smug demeanor was broken with the revelation of Pedofish, who wasn’t who she was expecting him to be. She’s all ready to confront a murderer, but not a fish monster who happens to like little girls. LOL!
Ikusa: Even the back of my head is too cool for you!
Well anyway, one has to sorta wonder how the fish got to that particular island in the first place. Given how often convenient coincidences happen in Hayate however, it’s pretty likely that it just swam all the way up there since it is a fish and it just happened to conveniently encounter mini-Athena at just that particular moment… so Ikusa can swoop in and save the day. Speaking of Ikusa…

Speculation Corner: Yeah, I’m gonna say it: Athena x Ikusa FTW! Seriously, it would be quite congruent with the overarching plot of Hayate to make these two end up together with each other. Remember that Hayate “failed” Athena in the past (in contrast to how he didn’t fail someone else whether it’s in the past or the present… hohoho! Man, ain’t I obnoxious?) and Ikusa was the one who came in at the last moment and basically risked his life to save her. They have a connection from the past that presumably, isn’t marred by bad memories like with Athena and Hayate. Also, the chapter title even implies as much saying that “a lot can change in ten years.”

Furthermore, there’s that scene with Wataru and Saki wherein Wataru finally gives up on Isumi and makes it a point to say “I loved you” in a parallelism to Hayate’s “I loved you” at the end of Athena’s arc. Feelings, schmeelings, Hayate and Athena parted ways at the end of Golden Week and Athena entrusted Hayate to Nagi. Meanwhile, Hayate’s still too emotionally evasive to come to terms with his own feelings so I won’t pretend to know how he really feels. In any case, why cling on to that little addendum (I might not return it next time) that seemed more like an afterthought? Sorry guys, but as far as this biased blogger is concerned, all roads point to Ikusa x Athena. Of course, you can always cling to the "age-gap clause," but really, how old is Athena, really? She sure acted pretty mature for a toddler back then and Hata doesn't seem like the type of Author to care for age-based biases... or at least knows how to manage workarounds to it.

Also, it would be fair to speculate that Ikusa might not have lost his memories after all, but has some other “epically heroic” reason for not disclosing this to Hayate and company.
Anyway, the baka-trio’s antics were pretty funny, but all felt like filler material for me. The real juicy stuff would be:

·        The identity of A-tan’s murderer-san
·        A-tan’s temporary return to her true form
·        Hina’s confession – or lack thereof
·        Hayate’s answer to Hina’s confession – and lack thereof (it’s a sure thing with our oblivious butler)
·        Hayate finally coming to terms with his feelings and getting some damn character development instead of being vague and evasive 100% of the time

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hayate The Combat Butler Extra Chapter: Investor Y - Synopsis and Review

I wonder how Hata draws those backgrounds
Synopsis: Yukiji spends her million yen summer bonus on lottery tickets and got absolutely nothing for it. We flash back to a scene where Yukiji is asking Aika for advice on how to get rich inside the Hakuo student council room. Aika explains that the very basics of economics is that “you lose the money that you spend.” Anywayz, Yukiji says that she’ll find the richest man in the world and ask him instead. Aika tells her that it’s someone named Warren Buffett, the world’s #1 investor who’s written a whole lot of books. We get a little trivia on him courtesy of Aika. At the end of the little autobiographical economics lesson, Yukiji decides that she’ll be an investor. She pulls out some kind of book on Security Analysis and proclaims that she’ll learn how to get rich by reading it, but it turns out it’s too complicated and she doesn’t understand a thing. She decides that the book is too hard for her to tackle and pulls up some kind of cockamamie Buffet quote that justifies her actions. She then realizes she has no money to start investing and pulls up another Buffet quote and decides to call Hina to borrow some money, but apparently, she was amazingly angry. Yukiji tries calling Hina again and somehow, she blurts out that Aika told her that she could get rich with stocks – which ends with Hina getting angry at Aika too.

Left with no choice to start her investment scheme, Yukiji decides to get an advance on her salary and bonuses. So anyway, one more Buffet quote and she’s got some kind of get-rich plan going. So she looks for something that everyone will still want in 50 years… and this is how she ends up buying the lottery tickets… because everyone will still want to get rich even in 50 years time – brilliant!

Review: Well… this chapter made me chuckle, but it obviously had nothing to do with the main plot. After all, this is the kind of manga you (we) are reading… nuff said.

Speculation corner: Hayate will eventually end up with Nagi and if I had to give a reason, it would be because…

By the way... why do Yukiji and Ikusa have that same chakra thingy on their foreheads?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Hatsune Miku Blog Post

Awright, so I’ve been meaning to write a Hatsune Miku post for the uninitiated for quite some time now, but I just really haven’t had a whole lot of free time to put my thoughts into words – until today that is.

In hindsight, I’m also questioning why I’m even writing this since if you’re reading my blog, then you’re probably not uninitiated into the different aspects of the otaku fandom… oh well, let’s continue

Now even if you are totally unfamiliar with Hatsune Miku, I’m sure you are at least aware of her image/appearance. Y’know, she’s that blue-green (teal or aqua, actually) haired anime girl with gigantic twin-tails who looks somewhere between 14-16 (16 officially). Miku’s fandom and popularity have expanded exponentially over the years since her initial release and she’s received at least 7 official dedicated handheld games along with several iOS/Android spin-offs. Furthermore, just type in “Hatsune Miku” on either Youtube or Google and you’re bound to come up with millions of results… no, really. I did it just now and got 38,300,000 on Google. Not bad for a non-sentient virtual singer

Ok, so let’s get down to the basics of Hatsune Miku. Most people have this misconception that Miku came from the Project Diva games for the PSP, which is a reasonable assumption (especially in the Philippines) since the PSP was and still is super popular here… but that’s wrong. See, Vocaloid 01 Hatsune Miku is simply the name for one of Yamaha’s voice synthesizer software from the vocaloid line. The Project Diva games on the PSP are simply spin-offs of the actual vocaloid software; people have been making songs with Hatsune Miku and other existing vocaloids long before the Project Diva games ever came into existence. You can wiki the more nitty-gritty details about Miku or read an explanation about her from a more musical perspective on this blog, but basically, what you need to know is that Miku originated from a type of music software developed by Yamaha that synthesizes voice. Her voice is not completely artificial since it is still generated using actual voice samples from the Japanese voice actress/singer, Saki Fujita (who doesn’t really sound like Miku when she sings). Think of Miku as something like a software-based keyboard synthesizer, except that you can make her sing virtually any lyrics that you want with vocal ranges that no human voice could ever compete with. Miku’s official character art is that of a cute girl with aqua eyes, gigantic twin tails and her signature black/grey/teal costume consisting of two futuristic floating hair ribbons, two arm warmers with synthesizer buttons on them, glowing headphones with a microphone, a necktie with two clasps, a short pleated skirt, and thigh-high boots. Miku’s voice library has also been upgraded quite a few times since her initial release and with the right tuning, producers such as Mitchi-M can now make her sound almost indistinguishable from an actual human singer.

Now the great thing about Hatsune Miku is that there are no “official” Hatsune Miku songs because anyone who has the vocaloid software can make Miku songs, and a Miku song by “Juan De La Cruz” (or John Doe, if you prefer) is just as legitimate as one made by the more popular vocaloid producers such as 40mP, Supercell, Doriko, or KZ Livetune for example. Thus, you can find Miku songs from almost any genre of music. The more recognized producers have developed signature tuning styles for Miku’s voice that suit their songs and the genre of music that they create, but there are thousands of vocaloid songs being produced in and outside of Japan, and even covers for popular songs such as the Japanese version of Frozen’s “Let It Go.”

So why is Miku the most popular one if there are other vocaloids as well? Well, the truth is that it’s because she was the one of the first to be packaged with an “image” so to speak and then some people from Japan’s answer to youtube, Nico Nico Douga took notice of her, and started making anime cover songs, original songs, artwork and promotional videos. This marked the start of the whole vocaloid phenomenon and before you know it, she’s appearing in Toyota commercials, her own video games, several collectible figures, posters, bags, and even doing sold out live concerts.

Thus, more than just a virtual synthesizer, Hatsune Miku has become a true virtual idol – an ongoing musical phenomenon, who – although she may not be literally “alive,” lives in the hearts and souls of everyone who cosplays her, creates and/or listens to her music, or participates in the fandom in one way or another. I believe this song by KZ Livetune best summarizes just what Miku has become for her fans.

With that said, let's go to my favorite Miku/vocaloid songs:

Odds & Ends
The opening theme of the PS Vita game, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f composed by Ryo. If someone ever claims that vocaloid songs lack emotion, then this is the song to show them - enough said. 

While the song itself sounds pretty ok as is, it’s simply beautiful when paired with the amazing video created specifically for it. A real tear-jerker in a good way.

Cascade of Words
The movie made for this song is all about childhood sweethearts who are forcefully separated by circumstances but are happily reunited. Basically a sappy love story in a music video done right. It’s like the happy ending to 5 Centimeters Per Second, if you’ve ever seen that movie.

Real Life Stupid Game
This song has a nice, catchy beat with a tune reminiscent of 16-bit videeo games. It depicts Miku and the other vocaloids going through a frustratingly hard rpg called Real Life using cute, 16-bit graphics. I like how the song tells a positive message about life: despite all the rpg-esque frustrations that we have to go through on a daily basis - somehow, everything is still worth it as long as you don't give up and keep on moving towards your own happy ending.

Once Upon a Me
I really like the instrumentals in this particular song even though the use of Miku's voice isn't that stellar. The graphics are probably done in flash and thus, they look quite crisp and cartoony when compared to Real Life Stupid Game. Miku has a perpetually angry face plastered on in this PV. The message of the song is pretty similar to the previous one, although a bit more vague. My favorite part of this PV is when Miku throws a hardball at Kaito with a satisfied evil grin on her face.

Classic story here kinda similar to an old movie called Mannequin. Apparently, the guy's name is Stargazer. Uses the high range of Miku's voice. The song itself doesn't sound too special when you listen to it without the PV, but it's really quite a different experience when you put them together. The PV is somewhat crudely drawn and uses stop motion pseudo-animation at a very low framerate - which actually gives it a certain amateurish charm. This is one of the more popular Miku songs in my list. This song was even featured in a Project Diva 2nd DLC and subsequently in Project Diva: Extend

This PV makes use of MMD (Miku Miku Dance) and uses the Lat Miku model. This is one PV that's not really worth mincing words on because quite simply, it's beautiful. Watch it now if you haven't seen this before - this is how MMD should be used. It's also a plus that the song is composed by one of my favorite Miku artists 40mP. He makes the best use of Miku's voice even before the Miku append versions were released.

This song has a nice, gentle melody that fits in quite well with the cute, pastelly artwork used in the PV. It tells of a girl who forgot to say "thank you" to an older woman who always used to be there for her. Now that the older woman is gone, her only souvenir is her bittersweet tears of regret or somethin to that effect. Really lovely song that makes use of the low as well as high range of Miku's voice.

Letter Song
A really uplifting Miku song by my other favorite Miku composer, Doriko. Nothing to see in the PV, really, but the song itself more than makes up for it. The lyrics kinda remind me of a really great short stoy called "Calling You" published in a light novel of the same name by Tokyopop.

Yuuhi Zaka
Another lovely song by Doriko. Tells the story of a young girl who is remniscing about her high school sweetheart who is no longer with her.

A nice song in its own right, but it's pretty forgettable without the awesome custom PV that comes with it for Project Diva Extend. Some fans claim that this story is a continuation of from Y to Y. This comes from the same composer as Reboot. Worth a watch if you like tragic stories to go with your Miku songs. Reminds me a bit of Macross.

Hello Planet
This is another one of the more popular songs on my personal playlist. The song along with the PV look quite cute together, but it actually has a bittersweet ending. It tells a tale of Miku, who is an android traveling all throughout a dystopian world all alone in order to meet with her master or something to that effect.
But... don't let me do all the talking. If you're fan of Miku and vocaloids in general, feel free to share your favorite songs with me in the comments.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Farewell To The Radical Dreamers 2002 Archives

I've been thinking of getting rid of my blog that archives all of the visual novels as well as other creative works that I've done through the years for quite a while now. 

I'd been trying to think of some deep pseudo-philosophical reason behind my motivations for doing so, but in the end, nothing really came to mind. Thus, I can say with all honesty that this was a purely selfish decision on my part -- just as it has always been with me and visual novel development in general. 

I'm getting rid of the blog because every time I see it, I am flooded with 
bitter memories of all the time that I wasted in the world of English Visual Novel Development or OELVN, if those active in the community must insist on forcing their self-made conventions upon everyone. That's the long and short of it. Nothing more; nothing less.

As for my VNs, while I believe that they were ultimately worthless, I must admit that I still cling to some degree of vanity (if I am allowed even that much) and will try to preserve them if only for old time's sake and nothing else. Thus, I've decided to make it my little side project to slowly create voiced "Let's Play" versions of them for personal video archival purposes, which will all be uploaded on my youtube channel as they are completed. For now, I have made private only to myself. Once I am satisfied that I'm done with making these LP videos as well, the blog will silently deleted.

So anywayz, I'm long past the point where I feel the need to say something sappy and/or sentimental because quite honestly, the only feeling I harbor for OELVN in general is a bitter, unquenchable thirst for retribution. 

As a parting message, for all those who've read my works, who've pretended to be touched by them, who've made nit-picky blog posts about them for no apparent reason, and for those who'll poke fun at this post and call me a drama queen, fag or (insert derogatory label of your choice here) thanks for nothing and If you want to give me a punch in the nose for something you think I did to one of your lovely little online friends, please come here to the Philippines and try -- do try.

I leave ya with a tangentially related Miku song.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 446: A Love Comedy Without The Comedy - Synopsis and Review

Synopsis:  Mini Athena seems unperturbed at all by what has just happened and remains totally calm as some kind of ghost seems to be approaching her. She’s also fairly certain that nothing can put Hayate and Hinagiku in any real danger.
This line seems like it belongs in some h-doujin... no, really.

Back to Hayate and Hina who’d just fallen into some kind of wormhole in the sand, they deduce that it must have been a trap set by the ghost of the murderer. As they’re trying to find their way out, Hayate falls into a second wormhole leaving Hina all alone. She encounters the ghost of one of the murderer’s victims and gets totally freaked out when it turns around to reveal a skull instead of a face. Suddenly, something grabs her leg from behind. She’s about to scream, but then is relieved to discover that it was Hayate who had managed to climb out of the hole. She clings onto Hayate and claims that she got so scared that she can’t walk anymore. Hayate gives her a piggyback ride and they continue searching for a way out.
Seems Hina and Nagi have the same taste in footwear.
Hayate uses this moment to tell Hina that he thinks she looked cute when she was scared. Finally, what Chiharu had told her about using this opportunity to go on the offensive clicks with her. She holds on tight to Hayate and appears to be set for a confession… but, I guess we’ll find out where that goes next week.
Hyper Gigolo powers activated
Meanwhile , mini-Athena says hello the ghost of Mr. Murderer, but we don’t actually see said ghost yet – that is, if ghosts can be seen
Reminds me of Corpse Party
Review: Hmm… what can I say except that this felt like nothing more than a transition chapter. Seems like the really juicy stuff will happen next week.
Shipteasing moment
For the Hina fans at least, this chapter was filled with several shipteasing moments, but what all that will ultimately come down to hasn’t even been revealed yet.

Also, for those still waiting for big A-tan, not quite yet this week, people. At least you get to see her on the cover eh?
Athena: Lookit the number of *bleep* I give
No speculation corner this week. Can’t think of a thing. In fact, I have very little to say about this chapter in general. Oh well, let’s just wait and see what happens.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 445: We Still Don’t Know The Name Of The Flower We Ate That Day - Synopsis and Review

Synopsis: Btw, I got the chapter title totally wrong for the previous chapter review. Anyway, this chapter looks like an obvious allusion to Ano Hana. I oughta watch that anime someday. I’ve heard good things about it. I'd put in Hina's cover up there, but you know what... I dun like Hata's cover art this time around - and it has nothing to do with Hina as a character, btw.
Not good enough just yet, Hayate

So like, Hinagiku is somewhere inside some kind of locker room complaining about Hayate’s behavior while still dressed in the bunny girl outfit from the previous chapter. Finally, the “LIFE” building is fully restored by Kotetsu and as thanks, Hayate gives him a ticket (looks like a train ticket) and tells him to use it to leave immediately while calling him an idiot.

Even Maria (still in bunny girl outfit) complains that Hayate is being a little too dirty, but Hayate counters that he needs to use every available option and fast because seaside restaurants don’t get customers during the night. Maria sees his point since according to her, only “wildlife” in the form of nocturnal delinquents with fireworks come out to the beach at night. Thus, Hayate convinces her to keep helping out because there’s really not a lot of time to win this bet with Ikusa.
Sounds legit. Do it, Hayate!
Night falls on the first day and LIFE has made about 200 thousand yen, which according to Chiharu, is an amazing amount, but Kayura points out that it’s nowhere near the 8.9 million yen goal.

Everyone starts pitching in relatively useless ideas as to how to increase sales. Suddenly, Alice (who now probably has all of Athena’s memories) suggests making delicious curry because curry and ramen are standards for seaside restaurants. Hayate asks why she chose curry if Ramen is standard too and she bluntly says that it’s because she likes curry (good one, A-tan).

So now Hayate poses the question: how does one make delicious curry? As usual, Nagi is quick to interject with an obscure manga reference and suggests making “black curry.” Unfortunately, Hayate says it’s illegal because apparently, Black Curry uses drugs in the spices.

Athena comes up with a more sensible suggestion and talks about an island with legendary spices which she happened to hear about while gathering info on Ikusa, and it’s apparently a deserted island within boating distance. Athena offers to lead him there. Chiharu says that a deserted island at night is dangerous and Hamster uses the “nocturnal delinquents with fireworks” gag just like Maria.

At this point, Hina suggests going with Hayate and Athena since she can row a boat as well as handle any “nocturnal delinquents with fireworks.” Hamster is worried for other more obvious reasons about this idea and insists on coming too, but Athena quickly puts a stop to that because with that many people on board, not even the strong-armed gorilla could row the boat there (Hina).
Athena: I'mma zing you while you ain't lookin.
So with that, everyone is set for a little night trip to the deserted island of awesome spices or what-not. The boat is some kind of swan-boat, but that aside, Chiharu uses this moment to tease Hina into making a move on Hayate, but the girl is totally oblivious and is thinking more about getting back at Hayate for the bunny-girl incident and wants to whack him (do it) when she sees an opening.) Hamster is envious about Hina and Hayate being on this deserted island at night, but Chiharu doubts that anything will happen.

The trio finally arrives at Higan island, which is totally deserted and looks like some kind of rpg dungeon. At this point, Athena thinks it’s a good time to let everyone know that there’s a horror story attached to this village (lol). Apparently, a village of 20 used to lie there, but one night, one of them murdered everyone else and then committed suicide and the spirits of the murdered villagers have been haunting the island ever since. Hina senses a ghost and immediately grabs Athena’s head like a plushie (lol) and asks what that was, to which Athena bluntly responds that it was the spirit of a murdered villager.

Next, Hina hears someone going “gyah gyah” and Athena nonchalantly states that it’s probably the voice of the murderer’s spirit. She also adds that overcoming the danger of this place is what makes the curry so delicious. At this point, Hayate automatically enters hyper-gigolo mode and takes Hina’s hand and promises to make sure that he’d… but he never finishes what he was about to say because they both fall through some kind of wormhole in the sand.

Athena finishes Hayate’s sentence and says “I hope he can protect her.”
Best reason evar, A-tan.
Review: As usual, Hata’s penchant for misdirection is showcased in this chapter. You young-uns might call it “trolling,” but I don’t like to use that term, when it’s clearly being used as a legitimate literary device all throughout this manga. It’s more of the author’s style rather than a pointless troll. Yes, I know many of you were expecting the return of full-sized Athena in this chapter, but unfortunately, you’re not gonna get it just yet for this chapter.
Gotta love the contrast in their expressions
If there’s anything that I have to say about this chapter, it’s that Athena was absolutely awesome in it. I love the comedy dynamic between her and Hina – especially when they finally set foot on Higan island. Hina just makes the best straight man/girl for Athena’s deadpan responses.
LOL! Again, the contrast.
“Nocturnal delinquents with fireworks” gag was also pretty funny. Definitely loving the comedy in this chapter.

With that said, looks like this arc is proceeding at a pretty brisk pace, which is quite a refresher from the sluggish developments in the previous doujinshi arc involving Ruka. Speaking of Ruka, I got so bored waiting for the next chapter, that I managed to finish making this fanart of her while awaiting the scanlations. The pose and outfit are based on Risa Oribe and her performance of Oath Sign.
She whose ship has been sunk.
It seems like nothing came of Athena's little talk with Hayate in the previous chapter, or it could be that Hayate's realized the error of his ways, but still needs to push through with his plans in haste anyway. He seems to be treating Maria a little bit better.

Speculation corner: I’m going to add this little section here, because I’ve noticed that I tend to make these speculations every now and then.

So for this chapter, we have some possible hints of development on the Hayate-Hina angle in the next chapter – of course, it could be a red herring again, because Hata just loves those. In any case, when Hayate and Hina’s adventures on Higan island do continue, I expect that Hina might use this opportunity to finally confess to Hayate – which would actually tie in with that seemingly pointless airplane chapter 438 wherein she promises to confess to him if she survives riding the Airplane. In fact, even the caption at the end of this chapter suggests that some kind of romance would begin… maybe. With that said, while being firmly on the dual MC ship, I strangely welcome this latest development.