Pick of the Month: Mado Kara Madoka-chan

This manga is this perfect little cap off to the day for me.  Mado Kara Madoka-chan is a cute little series about a office worker who walks the same path to work every day outside of a woman’s house, who loves to play games and roleplay with him as he passes by.  Every time that our protagonist comes by, Madoka-chan begins a different kind of game with him to keep both of their lives fun, dramatically changing the layout and look of her home.

Each chapter is a different strange experience with the eccentric Madoka-chan  as she performs something within her four walls either for the salaryman passing by, or seemingly to entertain herself. However, her eccentric nature and the dramatic transformations of her place, sometimes in a matter of minutes, makes me feel as if there’s a hint of Magical Realism in this series. Like, there are some chapters where she closes her shutters and not five seconds later, they slam back open to reveal a restaurant. It’s insane but also always fun, especially because as magical as she may seem, Madoka-chan doesn’t always get everything right and so interactions between the two characters can become dynamic and sometimes downright hilarious.

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[Season Sampler] Megalo Box 1+2 – I Know the Ride, but it’s Still Fun

If there’s nothing else that should be taken from this article, the tl;dr of all of this is:

Just because I know the destination and can name all the stops along the way doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the ride, especially when the train is this freaking jazzed up.

Megalo Box is a reimagining Ashita no Joe, taking its classic story of the underdog boxer and setting it in a near future version of Japan where the rich live in a beautiful utopia while the poor exist in sprawling slums outside the city and aren’t even considered citizens.  Junk Dog, our Joe of this series, makes a living convincingly losing matches to payback his coach’s debts to a crime lord. We see him battered and bruised, sick of this life but stuck without a way to make things better, especially given that as part of the poor class, he’s unable to get a citizen’s license, meaning he’s not even considered a citizen of this world.  He spends his days recklessly driving until he accidentally almost runs over the head of a large corporation who is in charge of a new league of boxing sport called Megalonia. Junk Dog, due to his love of old fashioned Megalo Boxing, hates the ideas behind Megalonia and tells off this business woman, causing her prized boxer and devotee, Yuuri, to almost fight him before he is called off.  Because Yuuri is still upset about this, he later gets a match with Junk Dog in the illegal boxing ring Dog calls home and defeats him brutally. Junk Dog wants a rematch immediately but Yuuri says he will only fight him again if he can fight him in his own Megalonia ring. This kickstarts the journey of Junk Dog to get into Megalonia and get his revenge on Yuuri.

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The Art of Peace in War: Emergent friendship in player versus player games

In just a few weeks, Sea of Thieves releases, a zany and fun pirate game filled with magic, mystery, and majestic ocean views.  The world of Sea of Thieves is a dangerous place with no safe zones for players (full pvp) and tons of incentives to attack other crews with your best buds.  Excitement and action abound!  However, one of my favorite things about this game that has me so excited outside of the amazing ship battles, interesting treasure riddles to solve, beautiful rendering of the ocean waves, and amazing weather simulations… are the musical instruments.

From the start, each player is given in their inventory an accordion and an odd stringed instrument called a hurdy gurdy.  Rare, the developer, is no stranger to fun within games and these instruments are very cleverly implemented.  If someone starts to play a song, anyone can join in, with the game syncing up the playing so that it sounds like anyone else just jumped into the tune, automatically assigning melody, harmony, and bass parts to other players.  Because of this, there’s this sensation of unity and fun as a crew performs together using items that would otherwise be a simple addition to the game and wouldn’t really have another purpose.

But it’s the fact the game designers put music that the players can play together into the game that I find so fascinating and important.  In a world filled with cannonballs and cutlasses, Rare dropped an element into the game that has no aggressive action to it (besides maybe playing Flight of the Valkyries as people charge into battle).  In fact, as the saying of soothing a savage beast would indicate, this element of gameplay is really an antithesis of what most games are about.

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Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – The Morality of the Fae

You know who the biggest assholes in myth are?  Fairies.  I mean, sure, the Greek pantheons were pretty bad, but what they typically did was monumental in scale, making them seem more malevolent or dispassionate towards humans rather than just plain trolling.  Let’s say here I am, walking through the cliff sides, when I suddenly see a beautiful woman blocking my path and dancing to a haunting tune.  She asks me to dance.  If I don’t, I get thrown into the nearby thistles to hurt for the rest of the week.  If I do, she may let me pass or I’ll just end up in the bushes anyways.  Not to mention that given my skills in the art of dance, I’ll probably be in the thistles either way.

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This example is actually from French folklore of the Dames blanches or “White Ladies”, a
particularly nice fae compared to a lot of others.  See, even when fairies are nice to humans, they’ll still find some way to dick you over, or, in the case of this fae, have you pulling thistles out of yourself for weeks.  In fact, throughout most European mythology, fairies are notorious for messing with humans because 1.) they can, 2.) it’s fun killing humans for sport, torturing humans for decades and what not, and 3.) because it’s all some power play to keep us down, like we’re a group of beatniks oppressed by the Bourgeoisie.  The worst part is that sometimes they may help a human out on a whim, making it confusing as hell to figure out what they’re up to.  It’s like meeting the Joker on a good day.  I think the Fae took Cyndi Lauper to heart because, particularly at our expense, fairies “just wanna have fun.”

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Pictured above:  Cyndi Lauper being accosted in the woods about her peculiar dance moves.

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