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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? January 2015

February 2, 2015

(This article will be spoiler-free!)

おっす! It’s cold out there! In here! It’s cold everywhere!
Recently, Dengeki Bunko’s 2D fighting game, Fighting Climax, was announced to be released in the West this year.
This was surprising, and not only because it seems like exactly the niche sort of game that would never be released here just out of concern of popularity, you can’t sell copies of a game with no target audience, but also because there are a number of well-known voice actors and actresses lending their voices to their respective characters in the game.
If I understand correctly, the reason many games don’t see Western releases is because the voice talent involved are contracted by their respective talent agencies, and international release would mean re-negotiating contracts with said talent agencies.
Common sense would assume a developer’s choices in localizing a game for overseas sale would be to either go through the headache of discussing new contracts with a handful of talent agencies who may turn down a contract for a game which won’t succeed in sales, or to dub the voices, which comes with it its own cost, which again, may not be worth it if the game isn’t successful enough to warrant the effort.
Then there’s localizing the game’s text and dialogue, which depending on the team doing the work, might result in something akin to the glory that was Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment’s head-scratchingly awful translation job.
All of this may make perfect sense to muddle through for a series as popular as Persona (“popular” used comparatively) , but for a fighting game featuring characters from a specific publisher’s light novel series, many of which gamers in the West may not recognize, it’s easy to picture why localizing a game for worldwide release may not make sense 100% of the time. Fan service only works where you have fans.
I’m just rambling incoherently though. I’m happy Fighting Climax is headed our way, regardless of what form it reaches us in.
January was a thin month for backlog, but here’s what I finished up:

 

Yama-no-Susume1Yama no Susume Second Season:
Still chasing to repeat the special moment shared with her friend Yukimura Aoi, Kuraue Hinata and their new friends tackle one local mountain at a time, building their courage as well as their climbing muscles as they reach for their goal.

What I thought:
“Twice the arduous
climbing, and twice the endearing antics.”
The episodes run at roughly ten minutes each, which give them just enough time for a trickling of plot and a handful of character investment.
In some ways, this second season feels like an advertisement for mountain climbing in Japan, with detailed descriptions of many of the mountains as well as helpful tips for the process of climbing and descriptions for the sorts of gear you might want to check out for it. It’s somewhat effective, too, because it does a good job at showing the ups and downs of the activity, and the both fulfilling and taxing experience it likely is for those participating. If it was intended to lure more people into thinking about mountain climbing, it does a great job.
The characters have more room to breathe in this second season, also. More time is spent on Aoi and her friends navigating their route up several mountains, and this series does a good job at making the activity seem pretty physically rough. It isn’t all mountain climbing all the time though, as some episodes offer brief character-specific stories of their own.
The production is absolutely wonderful, with nicely detailed environments, nice animation, and terrific music and ambient sounds as well. The second season also has easily one of the best OP sequences I’ve encountered.
It’s quite impressive the amount of character they manage to cram into such short episodes. This series was an utter pleasure to watch, from top to bottom, and I can’t recommend it enough to those looking for something to brighten their mood.
Twice the cheer, twice the run-time, and magnitudes more mountain climbing achievement are the things you can expect from this second helping of Yama no Susume.

 

saki-achiga-henSaki: Achiga-hen:
One day, elementary student and Mahjong fan Takakamo Shizuno meets a dainty young girl named Haramura Nodoka, who Shizuno is surprised and excited to hear also has an interest in the game.
It isn’t until she invites her to her Mahjong club to play a few hands that she discovers Nodoka’s remarkable potential in the game.
As the time comes to transfer into middle school, the two part ways, but Shizuno has a firm desire to meet Haramura Nodoka in the future, and to play Mahjong with her once again.

What I thought: “Doesn’t quite hit the same highs of the first season.”
It’s sort of difficult to pin what made Achiga-hen a lesser series than that which preceded it. Actually, on paper, considering the improved production and all of the great voice talent involved here, this series should have easily surpassed Saki proper, but for some reason it just didn’t spark the same enjoyment which the first series offered.
Fun things are done with referencing and interacting with the characters found in the previous series, and Achiga-hen provides a huge cast of new faces, but perhaps its their personalities and interactions which turn each episode into a yawn-fest.
There are some good character designs in there, and some lack-luster ones, and I was stunned at how many of my favorite voice actors were behind these characters, but their Mahjong “powers” weren’t as interesting as the original bunch, nor were their individual motivations, and this series seemed to handle the actual act of playing Mahjong as a necessity to move along the plot more so than to offer the tension or excitement they brought with them in Saki proper.
I suppose if you absolutely need to have more Saki, there’s enough going on in Achiga-hen to make it worth the time, but this one isn’t nearly as good as the original, and I hope they can bring back what made that one so successful for the second season.
 It’s perhaps asking a bit much to hold a side-story to the standard set by the series it was based off of, but Saki Achiga-hen’s cast of characters went for quantity over quality, and as such, failed to offer the investment which the original series brought to the proverbial table.

 

The Winter anime season is trucking along. One of my currently airing favorites is quickly becoming Koufuku Graffiti, which is quite possibly the most “Shaft” Shaft production I have seen yet.
January also brought back Aldnoah Zero, which has met my expectations in typical Urobuchi Gen fashion, pulling the rug out from under my assumptions. Between it and the continuing Parasyte, which hasn’t offered up a single lackluster episode yet, the Winter season is looking to be one to remember.
If only it would warm up a little bit.
次回まで、ね。
(Keep those stories unspoiled.)

From → Anime

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  1. Spitz’s Year End Wrap Up 2015 | Spitz's Soapbox

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