Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya Impressions

As a Type Moon and Fate/Stay Night fan, I approached Fate/kaleid with much trepidation.  Initially, I tried reading the manga years ago, but it didn't quite grab me, so I stopped after a couple of issues.  I recall trying to read it shortly after finishing Fate/Hallow Ataraxia, and I had a huge Fate/Void in my soul that needed to be filled and Fate/Kaleid didn't quite do it for me.

I'm also not a big fan of Magical Girl animes unless it is Cutey Honey. Of course, had I stuck with Fate/Kaleid a little longer, I would have realized it was a decent deconstruction of the Magical Genre.

I say decent deconstruction, because it reinforces the tropes more than it deconstructs them.  The main character, Illya, is a fan of Magical Girl anime, but when she is presented with the chance of becoming a Magical Girl herself, she is strictly against the idea, and is suspicious of anyone trying to forge a pact with her.

Even after becoming a Magical Girl, she is very reluctant of the idea, and feels silly and foolish when she has to change her clothes into ridiculous outfits in public.

At the same time, she uses the power of imagination, and can magically power up when in trouble whenever she needs to, as you've seen in a dozen shows of this type.  Fights can also last two or three episodes, ending with a character's typical, "This isn't even my Final Form!" type moments.

Still, it is self aware enough, without breaking the fourth wall, to make these moments enjoyable.

Ultimately, however, the show is all about fan service.  And I don't mean panty shots and jiggly breasts, which it has plenty of (or at least one pair of jiggly breasts).  I'm talking Type Moon fanservice.  To the point, I think this show would only be enjoyable to someone familiar with Fate/Stay Night.

There are cameos abound in the form of the Servants she has to fight, and about seven episodes in, Illya receives her true power, her ability to take the form of different Servants.  It was a cool scene that had me yelling at my screen saying, "Say it!  Say, 'I am the bone of me sword.....".

She didn't, and I was disappointed, but it was still an enjoyable scene to be sure, but again, only if you have any idea who Archer from Fate/Stay Night is.  In this regard, sometimes I feel like I'm watching a spin off of Carnival Phantasm, more than an actual Fate/ anime.  It feels like Pinky and the Brain to Carnival Phantasm's Animaniacs.

Also, I'm not certain how I feel about Illya's characterization.  She's cute and mellow, and she is likable to be sure.  It's nice that she isn't like most Magical Girl leads, being overly naive or optimistic. But she doesn't feel like Illya from F/SN, even a little bit.

In the original F/SN, Illya gets the worst of it in all three routes due to the nature of what she is.  In the original visual novel she was supposed to get her own Route, but it was cut.  So there was a large part of me, that wanted this to be the Illya route.  But sadly, it can't really be considered that, even if she looks like Illya from F/SN, she is not the same Illya.

Tohsaka Rin, however, Illya's mentor and master of sorts, is exactly like her F/SN version.  It's nice to have her familiar presence involved in the story in a more major way than I expected.

The first season ran last year, and a second season has been green lit, and will start in July.  I find it strange this series will be the filler now between Fate/Zero and the new Fate/Stay Night anime that begins in the fall.  It would seem better to space out some of these Fate/ series, as they cover a lot of the same ground as far as the Servant fights go. Perhaps they didn't expect a new F/SN to be made so soon.

In the end, this is a good solid series, that fits within the Type Moon multiverse quite nicely.  It's also nice to have a series with the Fate/ characters with a more fun and lighthearted feel, without all the tragedy and heartache that comes from the more official branches of the universe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Return of the Miku Miku

It has been nearly 2 years since my last post, but we are back, baby, and what better way to signal our rebirth than with one of my personal favorite topics: Hatsune Miku!

Just when I think I'm off the Vocaloid hype train something happens that pulls me back in.  This time it comes in the form of a localization that I never thought would happen.  That of course, is the Project Diva games hitting American shores at long last.

Having played the previous installments on PSP, and mastering every song on Hard, getting the PS3 version of Project Diva F, seemed like a no-brainer.  That is until I played the Demo back in August 2013.  For whatever reason I couldn't even get past normal mode on a song.  What happened to me?  I threw the controller in disgust and swore my love affair with Hatsune Miku was over.  I boxed up her Figmas, put her CDs in a drawer and turned away with a tear in my eye.

Okay.  Maybe it wasn't that dramatic, but it did cool me on the whole Vocaloid thing for a while.  That was until one week ago, when the Vita version of the same game got released.

Now I'm back on board, getting Excellent rankings on all songs, and not really sure what happened in between the two releases that made my rhythm improve.  Some say there is a slight input delay on the PS3 due to HDMI cables.  I can't confirm or deny that.  I was probably just having a bad rhythm day.  I think it also helps to play the game with headphones on so you can really hear the notes you need to hit in time with the beat.

Regardless I'm loving the Vita version and it will probably force my hand to try the console version again shortly.

All that was just a long pointless preamble so that I can post my new favorite Hatsune Miku song: World's End Dancehall. It features both of my favorite Vocaloid's Megurine Luka and Miku.

The song is arranged and created by wowaka who came onto the Vocaloid scene in 2009.  He has since gone on to form his own band, devoid of any Vocaloids.

The above video is from the PS3 version of the game, which is the same as the Vita version, and below is from the Arcade Version:

And finally, the original video, done by wowaka himself: