Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Anime of 2013

Yamada's being....a little silly at the moment.

I got the idea from some other bloggers, and decided to make my own list. I'd like to say that I really enjoyed the 2013 anime year. I usually don't keep up with the newest anime, and most of the ones I know are older and long gone.

Just a quick warning, these are based on my own opinion and tastes. You may disagree with me, or you may not. I don't rate series on the quality of the artwork, story, or such. I judge them based on whether I enjoyed them or not. Also, this list is in no order.

Suisei no Gargantia

Possibly my favorite out of all the anime I watched this year. I loved this anime, as the story kept me on my toes with it's constant twists and turns. One second everything about the story seems clear, and the next it's swapped. This anime also teaches a good lesson about things not being what they seem. This may seem like a generic moral, but it's one that is commonly forgotten.

Suisei no Gargantia also features fantastic character design. We have Amy and Ledo, who are near total opposites; a cheerful girl from the sea and a mindless warrior from the stars. Their physical appearance and personalities represent each of the respective environments, and personify a clash between the two. However, as different as they may be, they both warm up to each other and learn to support one another.

With it's spectacular story and character design, the beautiful animation is just the icing on the cake. I'm looking forward to season two!

Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!

Yeah, this anime may seem like an excuse for fanservice, but it's much more than that. Outside of that fact, I also enjoyed this series? Why? Well, simply because it got me interested in a new type of sport, wrestling. Allow me to explain.

When one thinks of wrestling, we remember people jumping from large heights, fake fights, and poor acting. It seems like  a sport completely for dummies. However, this anime shows us that there's more to wrestling than that. We see numerous tactics, the intense training, the mind games between the two opponents, and the struggles the competitors face. This is how REAL wrestling is done. Not the fake acting you see on TV. 

Aside from breaking the wrestling stereotype, Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai makes a huge statement. You can be kawaii and strong! Yes, that may sound like a mediocre moral, but it's true. When we look at people like pop idols, some may think they're brainless airheads that only dance around. Following Suisei no Gargantia, this anime shows that you shouldn't count out someone based on their occupation or looks. They may in fact become the strongest in the world. 

Kill la Kill

A female main character? One that grows stronger by the use of fanservice? What is this? One of the reasons why I enjoyed Kill la Kill so much is due to Ryuuko. In my opinion she's quite an amazing character differing from the normal female stereotypes such as: weak, healer, and damsel in distress. She doesn't take any garbage from anyone and actually fights on the frontlines while holding her own. Not to say that a more feminine character is any less, but it's pretty nice to see one that isn't.

What else can I say about the anime? The comedy is alright, but it's not my type of humor. I like the action in the anime, as in it's extremely over the top so you won't get bored. The biggest plus I can think of is the fact that the story doesn't drag or slow down at any point. Each episode gets straight to the point, moving from one scene to the next. That's a rare find nowadays.

Golden Time

Can anyone keep up with this girl? No one, except Tada Banri. 

For the last of my favorites, Golden Time. I was instantly drawn to this anime, because it was one of the first ones I've seen focused on college students. However, when I started watching, it didn't turn out how I expected. On Koko's first appearance in the anime, I was almost turned off. I figured she was going to be another one of those annoying anime girls who would ruin the series for me. However, as I kept watching I grew to like her. While she may not seem like it, she's actually a pretty deep character.

Aside from her, the anime was pretty nice and accurate representation of college life...or so I thought. Throughout the anime there is almost no work or class shown, just miscellaneous events and clubs thrown throughout the show. I'm not quite sure if college is this way in Japan, or if they refused to include that portion of  life due to dullness. Especially since they're law school students.

Still, the lack of an accurate representation doesn't make the anime less interesting. It displays real life situations that come up in college. Meeting old friends from other schools, past memories emerging, new love, risks and dangers, and more. All of these are examples of real life situations that are very common. I'm looking forward to the end of this anime.

All in all, 2013 was a great year in terms of anime. I watched a few others, but these were my favorite. Hopefully you all enjoyed the anime this year as well!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Blogging: New Year Resolutions

It's December 30th, and we're finally reaching the end of the year. I have to say that this year has been quite hectic, at some points I didn't even know what to expect next. However, that didn't stop me. I made it through this year, and there's a lot to look back on.

2013 holds quite a lot for me, as this is the year I started running this blog. I'm up to almost 50 posts, and it seems pretty crazy thinking that I started blogging just a couple of months ago. I have to admit that I've come very far, but I want to take it even further. To do that I'll need the help of my readers.

I just have a few New Year Resolutions for my blog and myself; things that I wasn't able to accomplish this year that I can in the future.

  • Acquire a more diverse audience so my writing can reach large amounts of people.
  • Improve myself as a writer and a blogger.
  • Watch more anime! (Why wouldn't I?)
  • Possibly finish my light novel.
  • Become more involved in the anime community.
  • Acquire the software/technology to begin recording gameplay footage, visual novels, etc.
  • Start up my YouTube channel and get things rolling. 
  • Add something new and unique to my blog.
That's pretty much the master list of things I'd like to accomplish in 2014. Most of them I'm sure I can at least start, but perfecting is a different story.

 The most challenging I think is adding something new and unique. Right now I focus on Japanese music spotlights, a midst writing editorials on anime. I also throw in a few reviews every now and then, but everyone can do things like that. The goal of my blog is to be unique. So I need to find something that not everyone else does, but still something that would be interesting to others. If anyone has any ideas on this matter please let me know!

Also I need your help. Yes, my readers. If you can offer any constructive criticism that may be beneficial, please do so.

I think that pretty much wraps this up. You can look forward to more anime editorials, gaming, news updates, visual novels, and more in the future. Like it's namesake, Shooting Star Dreamer is shooting for the stars! Thank you for staying with me for this long, and please continue to do so.

Have a happy new year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Visual Novel: Katawa Shoujo (Disability Girls)

Recently, I've become engrossed in an interesting visual novel by the name of Katawa Shoujo. (Also known as Disability Girls.) Unlike other visual novels, this one features girls who are all disabled in some way. ranging from somewhat common conditions, such as deafness or blindness; to other physical disabilities like lack of arms and legs, or skin disfigurations.

Coming from my background, I've never really had much experience with visual novels; only delving in simple ones such as Phantom Seeds. However, I decided to pick this one up as a starting point. For those who aren't familiar with the series, here's a quick summary of the characters.

Hisao Nakai (Above) - The main character, also known as you. He's the generic average guy until his heart problem changes his life. He's forced to attend Yamaku High School due to his condition.

From left to right, Lilly Satou, Hanako Ikezawa, Rin Tezuka,  Shizune Hakamichi, Emi Ibarazaki

Emi Ibarazaki - A short statured, cheerful girl who has prosthetic legs. Is very athletic, and is always running around. Friends with Rin.

Shizune Hakamichi - Class representative, and deaf/mute. Also part of the student council. Speaks with sign language, with the help of Misha.

Rin Tezuka - The "oddball." Has no arms, therefore wears a boys uniform and uses her feet to perform tasks.

Hanako Ikezawa - Shy and a bookworm. Burn victim, uses her hair to hide some of her scaring. Friends with Lilly.

Lilly Satou - Blind, and class representative for the blind/troubled vision class. Tall and ladylike, giving off motherly vibes.

Through the main character's interaction with these girls, he learns to become more comfortable with his  unfamiliar surroundings. As the story progresses the disabilities become a thing of the past, and relationships emerge.

My Thoughts

As I began to play, this visual novel became one of my favorites. I love the fact that the characters are so diverse, and differ from the norm. Anime characters are usually drawn to be perfect in a sense, so seeing characters that are blind, deaf, and missing limbs is quite the rare sight. One would think that such a disability would take away from the character, making development limited or lackluster. However, each character shines in such a way that one could completely disregard their disabilities. In fact, the characters grow by examining their own flaws, and making up for them in unorthodox ways.

The artwork may not seem as defined as anime, but it is very high quality for a free visual novel. The series features fully animated cutscenes as well as beautiful images illustrating the most important events in full form. The helpful screenshot button allows anyone to make their own screencaps of their favorite moments.

While there is no form of voice of the characters, this can either be seen as a hit or a miss. If you're an auditory person you may find it up to keep yourself involved in the story, as reading may become tiresome. Experiencing Katawa Shoujo without the mere voice can also be an added benefit, as voices may not always fit as well as they should. For light readers or those who do not have an English first language, the game is available in others such as French, German, and Japanese.

The story itself is well written, allowing a decent amount of input from the player in order to determine the turn of events. However, I feel that in some parts of the story, putting the decision making in the hand of the player would've been more beneficial, yet this is just a minor complaint.

The story also features healthy doses of comedy, which help lighten the mood despite the health conditions present, ranging from Emi's constant clumsiness, Kenji's rants on feminism (Hisao's neighbor.), to Lilly's impishness.

The game also leaves the player with a good message, as the viewer soon sees each character's disabilities as something that could be considered "normal." I feel this is important in today's society, as disabilities shown in the game exist, and people who are disabled should not be mocked or disrespected. Instead, they should be treated like the rest of us as human beings. Katawa Shoujo seems to push this message to the audience.

While the series being oddly unique may turn away people, it is worth a chance. It's free to download and can be found at it's official website.

I encourage anyone reading to give it a try!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Few Blog Updates, Content Stolen

Hello everyone, I've working under the hood with the blog again, and I've made a few noticeable changes. Hopefully, this makes the blog a bit more easy to navigate, as well as making the experience better for my viewers.

Taking a look at the right sidebar, I've added a button to make it more convenient to follow me. I'm surprised that this went unnoticed for a while, but I've taken care of the problem. 
First button at the top to follow.
Another change I've made is to the comment system. I had no clue that comments required a verification code to comment. I think this is kind of silly, so it's removed for the time being. Anyone who wants to comment can do so now. On top of this I've cleaned up the title bar, by removing links that aren't really relevant anymore.

As you can also tell from the picture above, the scroll bar has been fixed. The sidebar should not conflict with the scroll bar anymore. You can freely read posts without the annoying pop up.  

Now for a somewhat negative update....it seems that someone has taken my blog content. A website known as feedspot.com. I never requested for my blog to be posted on their website and they have taken all of posts; pictures included. 

I would just like anyone who is following my blog on feedspot to please don't. Their website is not promoting my blog in any way, but only making money for them. If you're reading this via feedspot, please click this link shootingstardeamer.blogspot.com. Please follow my real blog! Also, I'm not sure what's being shown and what's not on feedspot. So I'm posting my name here: Rekari Ryuusei. 

I repeat, feedspot, never received in permission from me in regards to posting my content. If you are following me on that website please come to my own, shootingstardreamer.blogspot.com, you can find me by my writing name Rekari Ryuusei. 

Thank you!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tips for Anime/Manga/Light Novel Writers Who Cannot Draw

As you may or may not know, I don't just run a blog, but I also write fiction in the form of light novels. Throughout my endeavors, I ran into a major problem. I have so many great character designs, but no artistic ability. So what to do if I want to put these ideas into concrete images? Well, there's a couple of options, some free, some not. I'll give you a quick list of the resources I use.

Soul Calibur IV/V - Character Creation ~ About 20 dollars or less to buy

It's not this in-depth, but you can even plan out concept art like this with pre-designed features in game.
Sorry guys, no pictures of my customs for now. (PS3 is currently dead.) This is my main platform for visualizing my characters. I didn't buy either game for the purpose of doing it, but the great system is something that led to numerous characters. Although great, it's not without flaws.

There were a few things that irked me when it came to customization. First, I'll start with Soul Calibur IV. I like Soul Calibur IV's system, because it has good qualities that were removed with the sequel. The first I can think of is the voice system. When creating a custom character, you select voices from a list to accommodate your character. By adjusting a slider you can make the chosen voice higher and lower. This was done very well in IV as despite the highness or lowness of the voice, as it still sounded natural. While you could not do as much with the character's body in the game, the other features: weapon availability, outfits, numerous colours; prove to be useful.

However in Soul Calibur V the voice system was changed. Now voices can be customized by both pitch and tone, as well as malfestation for that freaky monster voice. Sounds like it was a great idea right? Well, it wasn't. The voices end up being robotic sounding depending on how high or low you set them. So while the amount of customization you could do to your character's appearance increased, the icing on the cake slipped through the cracks. However, SCV is still a good game for character creation.

Phantasy Star Online 2 ~ Free, but somewhat troublesome

Phantasy Star Online 2 offers beautiful graphics and vast worlds for combat and exploration. The perfect setting for a writer. One problem, the game doesn't have an english release yet. However, there's no worry. You can download an english patch easily, but the whole setup and updating might be confusing for those who aren't that tech savvy.

Still there is an alternative. PSO2 has it's own character creator separate from the game. You can download it here.

The character creation system let's the player customize nearly everything about their character. From ears, to eyes, to lip shape, you can make your ideal image. For an indepth guide, click here.

Deviant ~ Free or Not

Last but not least, deviantart. Deviantart has a pretty large database of character creators, which are pretty nice if you want to play around. However, some aren't very good and others you'll find are a bit limited. Still, it's better than nothing.

If character creators aren't really your thing, you can always contact artists that draw in a style that suits your fancy. They will usually requests a form of pay for creating your character, but nothing outrageous. 

What happens if you don't want to take either route? Well, you can always learn how to create characters yourself through artwork and online programs. Deviantart is not only a great place for displaying artwork, but a good medium for learning. 

Hopefully these tips are helpful for aspiring writers!