Character Building Exercises

I would like to proudly announce that recently I finished off two video games in one day. Although I started them on different days  coincidence made it so I finished Galaxy Angel and Radiant Historia at the same time. Finishing both games back to back made me realize one thing. I would easily recommend both games so the next statement comes from someone who was thoroughly satisfied with his gaming experience (although if the last mission of Galaxy Angel were not an escort mission I would be happier.) Both games are sort of thin when it comes to their characters. They were enjoyable but in realized that had these character been from an anime or manga I would have considered them much weaker.  We simply accept a smaller amount of characterization in video games than we do from any other medium of entertainment.

We all know that video games have changed and evolved quite a bit over the years, but its been in many different directions. Even excluding the change in graphics capability and the potential length of games, plenty of growth in how people perceive games and how the creators make them has happened. They are a new and special type of storytelling, they are art to some and entertainment to many, and by any standard they have become integrated into the fabric of people’s lives on some level. But let’s go back to the storytelling element, certainly there have always been goals and structures for games, but we’ve seen epic stories come to life, too. And things just seem to grow more complex, with bigger ideas, and greater casts. But how characters develop in the story and through the player is still another idea all together.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #118

I finally finished up Part 1 of Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas thanks to Crunchyroll. The destined for tragedy friendship between Tenma, Alone, and Sasha and the fate of not just the world of Gods but also man maintains its level of melodrama very well. And the violence and battles that the series is so well known for is here at an enjoyable rate. It doesn’t come off like Saint Seiya for the modern viewer, it is just another line in the Saint Seiya world which is fine by me. However, this doesn’t make it very new viewer friendly as the series is filled with the familiar faces of the Gold Saints with little explanation. New additions though get a good amount of screen time like the amusing Yato, totally cool Yuzuriha, and of course head strong Tenma. These three are a lot of fun as a team, though nearing the later half of the series we don’t see them as much. However, the final episode promises excellent moments to come. Part 1 ends at a turning point, but by no means has any closure. I’m looking forward to Part 2 which has recently started up.

One of the main purposes of Ongoing Investigations is to talk about things that might not warrant a whole article but show what Narutaki and I read and watch outside the articles we write. It is also where we talk about things we utterly hate. And so I talk about Vampire Cheerleaders which has to be one of the worst thing I have read in recent memory. It is actually two stories in one with the first part being the titular Vampire Cheerleaders who are a squad of catty blood sucking mean girls who take a shy goody two-shoes girl and turn her into an undead ho to fill a hole in their squad. For an OEL manga it is remarkably like its Japanese counterparts in the sad fact that it is one of those racy comedies that it is smutty enough that it feels it does not need a good plot but never quite racy enough to be good as pornography. So you are inundated with cheap fan service strung together with lame jokes that never goes all the way. One of the characters actually uses the phrase “riding the meal missile to Mars” as a euphemism for losing your virginity. Theoretically none of this has to be this bad. I always thought that Exploitation Now did this formula right but I found every one of the jokes in Vampire Cheerleaders fell flat due to annoying characters and tepid delivery. After the main feature and the threat of a sequel there is the bonus story called the Paranormal Mystery Squad. While this was not as bad as Vampire Cheerleaders it is still light years away from good. The Paranormal Mystery Squad starts of as all girl squad mostly so they can be the PMS girls which is a joke I thankfully missed at first but the comic helpfully beat me over the head with. The PMS is a monster slaying service that is hounded by a PETA analog (cleverly named PETM) with a nerdy overseer who wants them to capture monsters alive. One of the girls fails to heed the words of Friedrich Nietzsche and winds up becoming a werewolf. This causes conflict in the group and leads to the stories’ oh so charming title that I will not torture you with besides saying it is quite awful. In fact the whole thing is quite awful. The art in Paranormal Mystery Squad was slightly more detailed but the character designs were less attractive. It is very obviously try to sell itself as manga as it reads right to left despite its American origin. But in the end it does not really matter if it is a bad manga or a bad comic; all you have to know is that it is just bad.

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