QuickPans II

This is a twofer. As usual I let it sit for a while waiting for more stuff to add to it and then wrote long, ranty posts about things I didn’t like and then forgot about it.

The Garden of Words
Manga

I bought this on a whim since a one-off manga didn’t seem like much of a risk and sometimes I worry I don’t branch out enough, only running on recs. The description made it seem like it was going to be about the power of literature and poetry to influence lives or something, and as we know I like words, so I sprung for it. This turned out to be a poor decision, and I will continue to rely on you people for my visual-storytelling purchases.

First of all, this was apparently an adaptation of a movie, and I’m willing to maybe, if I’m being generous, chalk up the pacing weirdness to that, but there’s no way the entire story was lost in translation.

I mean, it’s so stupid it’s hard to explain. The short of it is that a teacher is fired because some female students who hate her for being pretty (bitches, so crazy) start a rumor she’s sleeping with male students, and then she actually starts up a relationship with a male student which is somehow True Love and not creepy and rapey. Also the male student love interest is a cobbler whose dream is to go to cobbling school and make shoes. This is treated like some ridiculous pipe dream no one could ever accomplish, not least our cobbly protagonist. I don’t even know.

On the bright side, some poor sap on a bookswap web site took it off my hands, and I got The Book of Three in return.

The Last Story
Wii jRPG

I boredom-quit this one, though if anyone wants to push through the first several hours of gameplay and report back on whether a plot happens at any point go right ahead. I have so many other games I’d rather be playing that promise to have actual plots and stories that I just could not even with this.

I want to say, “The prologue sequence should be cut out,” and it should, but cut to where? The game needs to start where the story starts. Whatever Big Mission the protagonists get from the king or whatever, that needs to be the start, and then the first dungeon should be the tutorial area and where you get that stupid “attack me!” power, but there should also be some plot relevance to it. When even your characters are complaining about how stupid a dungeon is in the prologue, you should cut it and move on. The only thing that has any significance that happened is finding that girl, but even that sequence was painfully boring. Having her just show up at the dungeon would be infinitely more interesting.

It didn’t help that the characters were bad, bad over-the-top jRPG cliches. These included such lovable scamps as “Boisterous Girl Who Is Made Fun of for Being Unfeminine” and “Lecherous Man Who Sexually Harasses Female Party Members.” Needless to say I was just absolutely won over.

The gameplay was also shitty. The combat didn’t require any real input– all you has to do was run toward an enemy, and attacking was automatic. Meanwhile, it didn’t seem possible to die. If you lose all your HP, you revive after a few seconds. Maybe if all your party members go down at once it’s game over? I’m not really sure. Plus, despite the fact that you theoretically have four party members, there’s only one you really get to control.

Oh, and I almost forgot, there’s a not!fridging in the first, like, half hour of gameplay. Everyone thinks she’s dead and the protag flashes back to when other women died and it motivated him, and so then her not!death motivates him, and she lives. There were like three women fridged in the space of about 10 minutes, it was kind of impressive.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that this was neither good enough nor bad enough to be worth my time.

19 Comments

  1. Socordya says:
    The Garden of Words
    By reading the manga, you’ve missed the one thing the movie had going for it: it’s ridiculously pretty.
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    1. Reyna says:
      It’s by Makoto Shinkai. That guy’s films are absolutely pretty to the eye. Boring as hell, but very, very pretty.

      Act, his one Ghibli-esque movie, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, is actually pretty good if a little generic.

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    2. actonthat says:
      The cover, which I assume was a movie still, was super pretty, which is what first made me pick it up. It’s easy to believe the whole thing was gorgeous.
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  2. Doortothe says:
    I had a similar experience with The Last Story, although I didn’t get past the first two hours because of how boring it was. Its such a shame that the creator of the Final Fantasy series made such a thing.

    Do you think you’ll get to the other Operation Rainfall games anytime soon? I know Xenoblade Chronicles is incredibly rare, but chances are Pandora’s Tower will be a better experience than The Last Story.

    1. actonthat says:
      i honestly wouldn’t have gotten further than that either if I wasn’t attempting to do it for the blog. It was so damn boring.

      I checked out Pandora’s Tower and then noped away when I saw the costume dimorphism. Had a similar reaction when considering the XC 3DS version.

      1. Doortothe says:
        “Had a similar reaction when considering the XC 3DS version.”

        Well that’s a shame but not entirely unexpected. At least in XC you can change the costumes depending on what equipment you have, so if you have a costume you don’t like, just use equipment that don’t have that model. I’m sure there’ll be at least one costume you’ll like on most of the characters.

        1. actonthat says:
          I was briefly hopeful but nope, women’s choices are uniformly awful. Ugh. It’s like devs think, well, maybe if they don’t like being sexualized in this way, one of these ways will be okay…
          1. Doortothe says:
            Well at least Xenoblade’s designs are better than… whatever the heck this is
          2. Doortothe says:
            Sorry, still getting used to posting pictures. Better than this
            1. SpoonyViking says:
              “At least” being the operative terms – as in, “Still not good enough”.
              Reply
              1. Doortothe says:
                I wasn’t using it to defend Xenoblade’s designs, I just wanted to show how low Tales games have gone now
  3. BlackCoyote says:
    “and then she actually starts up a relationship with a male student which is somehow True Love and not creepy and rapey.”

    That actually got me wondering: what do you thing about May-December romances? In my opinion, they’re hard to pull-off, mostly because many people are uncomfortable by the idea, and it’s hard to make this kind of relationship look genuine instead of gross and unsincere.

    On the other hand, I think they can work if the couple show that the age difference is not that important and it can be ignored by having mutual respect and things in common. That is, of course, if the writer knows how to do it. I’m thinking, for example, in the romance in Back to the Future III between Doc Brown and Clara. Even though he is really old, I think the movie did a good job making them look like they respected each other and shared an interest with science. As unrealistic as it seemed because of the age gap, somehow it came up in the movie as a believable romance.

    So, do you think it’s possible to come up with that kind of story if the writer is talented enough, or do you think it’s inherently wrong to have that kind of relationship?

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    1. actonthat says:
      An adult having a relationship with a minor is never okay. A teacher having a relationship with a student who is a minor is incredibly messed up and also the kind of thing that will send you to jail and put you on a sex offender list.

      What two consenting adults with no inherent power imbalance between them do is no one’s business but their own.

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      1. BlackCoyote says:
        That’s true. I also agree that an adult shouldn’t date a minor.

        However, if it’s because of age, I think the consent age in Japan is 13 years old, and the main character was 15. As low as it seems, it looks like Japanese sexual consent laws are not as strict as in America, where the lowest age is 16 years old in some states. With that said, I’m not sure if we should judge Japanese movies with American laws, since it’s an entirely different cultural context than in the US.

        This is coming from someone who’s been shocked many times by the sexual overtones of some anime and manga (for example, the entire Neon Genesis Evangelion series), and has been calmed down by other people who have more experience in Japanese culture.

        What I want to ask is your opinion in the difference between American and Japanese movies in regards of sexuality.

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        1. actonthat says:
          Just because it’s not technically illegal to rape a child does not make it okay. I’m not into cultural relativism crap.

          Also that there even needs to be laws on the books to stop adult men from fucking small children and without that people are just like, hey, it’s all fair game, is horrifying.

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          1. Keltena says:
            I’d also like to chime in that, from what I can gather, the “13 is the age of consent in Japan” bit is actually a pretty thorough misrepresentation! I am not an expert on the subject myself, but from what I’ve been told (and what a quick bit of Googling corroborates) the actual state of things is that 13 is the age of consent given in the constitution–i.e., no prefecture can make it lower than that, but most places it’s around 16-18, which is similar to the U.S. I mean, I’m not trying to present myself as any kind of expert on Japanese law or culture here, but in my experience this is one of those claims that has a lot less to do with the maker giving a damn about respecting anyone’s culture and a lot more to do with having an excuse to shut up people who criticize the anime they like. :/
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            1. Y says:
              The way I heard it was also that even when it’s thirteen, it only applies with people around the same age, so a teenager with anyone much older than them is still illegal.

              Or I could be entirely wrong there. I don’t know and I don’t want it in my search history.

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              Reply
            2. illhousen says:
              This is consistent with what I’ve heard as well. Though I don’t remember if the nation-level age of consent is 13 or 14.

              Either way, the issue here isn’t legality. Back in the day, in tsarist Russia there were eight years old military officers because nepotism. It was perfectly legal and perfectly stupid because obviously they couldn’t do even a plausible imitation of the job. I think we can all agree that legality and morality aren’t always one and the same.

              When it comes to relationships, the problem is emotional maturity and life experience. Kids have neither and have no idea what they are getting into or what consequences could befall them, which creates a power disbalance placing control in the hands of an adult in the relationship. Well, that and there is typically little common ground between adults and teenagers, so it’s hard to form a relationship based on mutual respect, common interests and personality. Especially since the latter two are going to change fast on the side of the teenager. So, most such relationships revolve around lust.

              It’s theoretically possible to write a story about a very mature teenager who went through a lot of life-changing events and emerged as a fully formed person, but that runs into the 700 years old loli problem: it’s possible to write a romantic story about an immortal who just looks like a kid but in truth is very much an adult, which should take care of most issues inherent in such a scenario (while adding a host of new ones, but that’s another story), but why would someone do it? Fetish is typically the answer, which taints the story.

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              Reply
              1. Socordya says:
                the 700 years old loli problem
                *Nod*. What scientists call “The Negima Paradox”.
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