The-Excel 's blog

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For April Fools, Adult Swim decided to be especially cruel by digging Toonami out of its grave so people can look back on a very good time to be a tween and blindly wish for those days again. I missed it since I was out of town at the time and didn't have television, so I was blissfully unaware of this painful gag until it was all over Twitter. What none of the people who did see it realize is that those days are dead and buried. None of them have let go. But they will once they stop watching it a few months after its eventual revival, just like Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

Toonami is a time capsule. A product solely of its day that has made its mark on the world and left with a bang just in time (look at that thing!). If you are one of those who voted to have it return, consider your daily schedule. You watch different shows and you have a lot more stuff to get done per day than you did five years ago. You probably don't come home from school at 4 P.M. anymore and you certainly don't think that TV-G and TV-Y7 shows have a place past the watershed alongside the shows that air there now. The argument is commonly made that the children today need to be educated on the classics and I wholeheartedly agree. In order for that to work, it needs to air in the afternoon, but Cartoon Network asked the people who watch late at night. You could also argue that parents are making the choice regarding what their kids can watch and Tom could be a great tool in helping the kids accept the old shows. In that case, Toonami would be in direct competition with the shows that air in that timeslot now. I don't pay much attention to it myself, but it's an unfair contest given that parents have more clout and will definitely favor the shows of their time over what the kids like now. Is there room for both? Consider what Toonami was compared to what its equivalent today would be if it existed.

Toonami was defined by the mid-90s and 2000s cartoons that probably wouldn't get much fanfare if aired today, so bringing back Toonami only for its own sake would not result in increased ratings for long after its debut. Compare Toonami's programming in its prime in the early 2000s to what it had at the end. I predict the exact same thing will happen and everyone will get bummed that Toonami was allowed to decay just like last time. There's also those other segments like those freaky music videos that aired once in a while, which I don't think the network has much time for these days. I could be wrong about all of these, but I view this revival as the same sort of revival for regular series. More often than not, they get praised for a short while, but the circumstances and cultural environment that allowed them to thrive in their heyday have evaporated, and the new product that forms under today's ecosystem will not be quite the same, defeating the purpose of reviving it. And once it does run out of steam, it will likely not get the same retirement ceremony it did last time.

That said, if they really are going to revive it, they need to either bring back Moltar with it or not at all. Once in a great while like this is enough, but its time has long since past. If they absolutely have to, its best chance at a long-term resurrection would be on Boomerang, which has its own obvious problems.

Just let it go. It's served its purpose long ago. The old must die so the new can live, whether we like it or not.

It sucks being in the minority sometimes. I have high standards for just about everything I invest any interest in, and animated pornography is no exception. In particular, I have very specific demands of my cartoon smut in what it cannot contain. I will reject anything with dudes, excessiveness of any kind, physical abnormalities (such as penises being where they don't belong), supernatural elements, harems, BDSM, disgusting camera angles, anal, and so many other things with followings I will never comprehend. Since I exclude male presence, this limits all of my choices to yuri. And since that genre is so narrow already, my choices are even fewer by virtue of every other turnoff I listed above. Just about all of them that dealt in only the explicit ends of the spectrum tend to be as extreme as possible as if to stand out. I had fantasized for years about a yuri series that deals only being as sensual and non-gross as possible. In 2009, thanks to someone I know who's into stranger things than me, I found my answer: Fuguriya's Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo series of eroge. I was delighted to find that it passed all of the above criteria and still manage to be pretty good. It's hard to explain how it's hardcore, yet not. It's definitely not safe for work, but it's not disgusting either (mostly anyway, as I'll discuss below). It's just two girls expressing their purest sexual desires upon one another without letting anyone or anything get in the way. It's a proverbial gold nugget and it deserves to be recognized for standing against the norm of basketball-size breasts and foreign objects rammed in frankly uncalled-for positions.

Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo (or A Kiss For The Petals as it seems to be known as in English now) follows five female/female couples in St. Michael's School For Girls. All of these couples are monogamous, doing away with the harem aspect I mentioned earlier. St. Michael's is ostensibly a school where well-to-do girls train for service under God, but that's completely forgotten the instant the protagonist gets their first kiss, usually in front of the class. From this point on, the eroge can be described as "two girls doing each other over and over". Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, given what it is. The stories are always light and upbeat, never dramatic to any major degree. The plots are actually interesting, but not too complex that they get in the way of what you came for. There's only one ending, and it's frequently immediately after the highest point of emotion. The eroge are all short, but the excellent artwork courtesy of Peko makes it feel much more fulfilling. Until another yuri series like Sono Hana is released, this is the only hentai I will ever endorse. Deal with it.

Back in August 2010, I wrote a review of a hentai OVA based on the most popular eroge in the series. It was my attempt to get this site to see that not all hentai has to be physically impossible to be any good. The OVA had its flaws, but they were inherited from the source material. Suffice to say it's the big break for the series that fans have been waiting for, but there has yet to be any kind of followup announced for it. When I first posted the review, I got only three comments. I had figured that since there is a header for hentai stories, there should be more interest for it, but at the time there wasn't. Now that my most detailed writeup to date has been given a chance (to my surprise) and more people have shown interest in it, I'd be remiss not to discuss the prolific series that birthed it. What I think makes this series special is that some thought went into the cast. That there are actually stories with emotional weight keeps this series from being a string of mindless sex scenes. The characters of Sono Hana fill a large variety of yuri archetypes, some more popular than others. I will briefly describe the nature of each couple with the protagonist named first and what I think people like and hate them for, because I don't want to go on about the sexual content for too long. This post does not contain spoilers, for whatever that's worth.

The first couple is Nanami Oda (right) and Yuuna Matsubara (left). Nanami is, by her own admission, a very average girl in the midst of high-class ladies in the prestigious St. Michael's School for Girls. She catches the attention of the most revered of these young women, Yuuna, a very proper and elegant girl from a rich family. Nanami's tenacity gets her a position in the school environmental council, earning her the right to be with Yuuna, the council's president, much more often than the rest of her class. Nanami, like virtually everyone else in the school, is taken by Yuuna's charms, so she feels especially lucky that Yuuna feels this way about her. This attention comes with a price: Nanami discovers Yuuna's feelings as she walks in on Yuuna touching herself whilst calling her name, in shocking contrast to her image as a highly refined young lady. Yuuna then decides to have the real thing now that Nanami has discovered how perverted she really is. This could be construed as rape, but their feelings for each other were made plain just before and nothing unfortunate is ever mentioned of it. It's glossed over almost immediately and a real relationship forms when Yuuna asks Nanami to call her "onee-sama" whenever they're alone.

If the first part of this setup sounds just a little familiar, it's because they represent the first product Fuguriya ever released and thus have some obvious parallels to popular yuri series. Consequently, this couple is often praised for adding a twist to the traditional rich/poor pairing and criticized as much for being too straightforward and boring. The fact that the first eroge is also the least interesting storywise doesn't help; about half of the narrative is there to remind us just how wonderful and ladylike Yuuna is. While most fans enjoy watching Nanami struggle to assert herself against the manipulative Yuuna's charms, some are put off for the same reason. However, where the similarity to contemporary yuri series ends is the subtext; that is, there is none. The actual relationships start about fifteen minutes after the eroge starts. None of the other pairs have such forceful beginnings, but they all top the first one in other ways. The first eroge in this series has been translated into English in February 2010. Their story continues in the sixth eroge, Kuchibiru to Kisu de Tsubayaite, where things get sufficiently complex enough to actually develop their characters.

The second couple is Kaede (right) and Sara (left) Kitajima. They're cousins who once lived near each other and got separated at a young age. Kaede is an introverted overachiever who was nominated to class representative twice, despite her dislike for social interaction. (Kinda reminds me of someone.) In the time they've been apart, Sara has changed from an overdependent crybaby to a very successful and outgoing model. Kaede's world is turned upside-down when Sara suddenly appears at St. Michael's and spares no time letting Kaede know how much she missed her. Kaede, wanting nothing to do with others, is forced to put up with the most gregarious person in the entire cast.

Since they live in the same house, naturally they get the most time together. Sara spends much of her effort reshaping Kaede into the prince that rescued her countless times in childhood. This makes more sense in context; Sara likens herself to a princess in need of rescue, and Kaede was always there when she needed her. It was in the second eroge, Watashi no Ouji-sama (translated into English as My Dear Prince), that storylines became apparent in this series. This eroge is often cited as the point where the series earned its legitimacy. That said, this couple isn't as popular for several reasons. The most common I see are that people are either put off by how apprehensive Kaede is or how inconsiderate Sara can be about Kaede's feelings. A small amount of controversy comes from the first sex scene in which a desperate Sara leads Kaede to the nurse's office and resorts to make her feel good (read: against her will) to get her to understand just how much she missed her. To Fuguriya's credit, the incestuous nature of this relationship isn't emphasized any more than it has to be. The second eroge has been translated in January 2011. The fourth eroge, Itoshisa no Photograph, takes place immediately after the end of the second.

Mai Sawaguchi (right) and Reo Kawamura (left) are arguably the most popular couple in the series, enough so to have the third eroge adapted into an OVA. Mai is seen by everyone around her as a very down-to-earth and dependable person, enough so that she is recommended to the student council by Yuuna herself. By contrast, Reo is a spoiled rich girl with a childish personality who constantly clashes with Mai over trivial things since they first met. At the start of Anata to Koibito Tsunagi, Mai is asked to roam the halls looking for new students who might have gotten lost. She finds Reo and offers to escort her to the entrance ceremony, but Reo, the traditional tsundere that she is, screams that she's actually a second-year student and storms off. Their relationship doesn't get any better until Mai misses school due to sickness. Reo shows up at her house and leaves her medicine, angrily reminding her that she can't get anything done without Mai's help. Soon after returning to school, Mai seeks to return the favor.

This couple is arguably the most popular, having been expanded well beyond the eroge medium. Fuguriya always pitched Sono Hana as "yuri comedy", and it was in the third eroge that this concept finally made a real showing. The amusing conflicts between the aloof Mai and the hot-headed Reo put them in a lot of situations that give them many opportunities to show their characters, setting a standard for all of the eroge afterward to follow. While other characters in the series act like cool older sisters, Mai actually is one, having taken care of her little brother and sister while her parents were out. Reo is a stereotypical tsundere and has as many fans as she does haters, as most tsunderes do. The third eroge, Anata to Koibito Tsunagi, was so popular that it got a revised edition with the music and scenery of the eroge that came after it, alongside the OVA. A mini-drama series, "Reo/Mai Diaries" (five out of ten of which have been translated as of this post) was posted on YouTube in celebration of the OVA's release, although it's unrelated to it. It follows the effects of relaxed restrictions on cell phones at St. Michael's out of personal safety concerns. I've mentioned it before, but the YouTube series is both safe for work and introduces their characters better than the OVA, which doesn't care to gently introduce much of anything. Their story continues on in the fifth eroge, Anata wo Suki na Shiawase.

The story of Takako Suminoe (right) and Runa Houraisen (left) actually started in 2007, a year after the first eroge, with an internet-published novel of sorts entitled Amakute Hoshikute Torokeru Chuu, although the first eroge starring them (the seventh, named after the web novel) was released two years later and continues where the web story leaves off. Takako, an alumni of St. Michael's, decided to teach in its elementary division after graduating from college. One of her students, Runa, reminded her of someone she once knew from college. Runa's mature and highly assertive personality puts the entire class in the palm of her hand, including Takako. During her self-introduction, Runa asks Takako to kneel down, and before Takako knows it, Runa gives her her first kiss and announces that she now belongs to her. It is later revealed that Runa knows Takako through her older sister, whom Takako had known in college.

The internet serial telling the story of the hyper-charismatic Runa, who may or may not be a facsimile of some other domineering loli or two, and her apprehensive teacher Takako was published on Fuguriya's website from 2007 to 2009 and lacked the sexual content that the eroge are known for. It came as a shock to some fans when their first eroge was released in late 2009 and didn't hold back in terms of sauciness. It goes without saying that this couple is the most controversial. Takako is a pushover, often completely vulnerable to Runa's advances, just as she was to Runa's older sister, with whom she had a platonic relationship in college. Runa is both bossy and worryingly knowledgeable about sex, much more than Takako is. However, Runa's family is nowhere to be seen, so Takako is the only close person she has. Through the course of their eroge, their characters see radical reversals as Takako learns to take her responsibilities as a teacher more seriously now that she has one of her students living with her and Runa faces some angst about being younger than she wants to be. This is a very polarizing couple and although I personally don't fully approve of it, I applaud Fuguriya for not only handling their story tactfully, but for choosing to push this story to the degree they have. The Nonexistent Youth bill passed only a few days before the release of their second eroge, Amakute Otona no Torokeru Chuu, which is even more sexually charged than the one before. Amakute Hoshikute Torokeru Chuu has a translation patch in progress (Not work-safe).

The newest couple, Shizuku Kirishima (left) and Erisu Shitogi (right), are also the only ones to not have a second eroge as of this writing. They debuted before the header image above was finished, which is the only one I could find with the most characters in it. Shizuku is adored by the entire third-year class for epitomizing the yamato nadeshiko lifestyle. She keeps to herself and exudes traditional ladylike grace and refinement in a very different way than Yuuna. Erisu Shitogi, a half-Japanese, half-Western transfer student, commands an equal amount of admiration the moment she arrives. Erisu is taken with Shizuku, more so than the rest of the class, and she's not afraid to show it...

This is arguably the second most popular pairing, and my couple of choice. Both characters are third-year students, so they give off a mature vibe that the other characters cannot match. Their dynamic can be seen as an inverse to that of Mai and Reo. Shizuku is a tsundere, but unlike Reo, she is only confrontational when Erisu gets too close, and not before. Those who dislike how easily manipulable Reo is commonly like Shizuku instead for being the polar opposite. Erisu's playful and happy demeanor, combined with her inability to keep her hands off Shizuku, puts up an amusing contrast to Shizuku's overly proper upbringing and brings out the tsundere in her, as opposed to playing against a typical natural angry tsundere personality. What I like most is the East meets West theme. The clash between the traditional Japanese culture and the naive foreigner's curiosity for it is a refreshing motif for the series. Sadly, a second eroge for them has yet to be announced. Tenshi no Hanabira Some, currently their only eroge, also has a translation patch in the works.

I don't have a frame of reference for normal hentai, but the sex is as straightforward as it gets. It brings emotion and tenderness in spades; there's never any roughness involved, but it doesn't get overly sentimental until it needs to be. One could argue that since no one uses toys or any devices, the cast are more skilled at sex than those yuri characters that do. There's very little to be angst to be found as well. It's my understanding that more mature yuri stories tend to make at least one party involved seriously doubt the nature of their relationship and introduce some kind of drama to induce guilt. You'll find none of that in this series; it would get in the way of what you came for. You don't even see any male faces or hear any male voices, even though there are minor male characters. Additionally, some suspension of disbelief is needed to reconcile the fact that they will do it just about anywhere, mostly in the school itself. The infirmary and the garden in the back are the most common places for scenes to occur, yet there's never any danger that someone will walk in and cause trouble. That's how pure this series is. Absolutely anything that would taint the yuri goodness is kept to an absolute minimum, as if Fuguriya read my mind before they even knew who I was. As is the standard for nukige like this, there is a menu that allows you to replay any significant events to your heart's content. The sex scenes actually serve to advance the plot, but you could just get a completed save file and enjoy them individually without ever knowing about the story if you really wanted to. The scenes may just be static images with voices playing over them, but somehow, they never get old.

That said, these eroge have their issues. The regular trappings of visual novels are all present, with limited animation and necessarily weak timing hampering some of the series' more poignant moments. Those looking for any kind of depth will likely be disappointed to learn that there are no branches; there are a few choices to be made, but they have zero long-term effects and the only consequence of getting them wrong is that you won't see the ending. The right answers are so obvious that may as well not even be there. And yet you're given 50 save slots when you'll probably never use more than 10. Most infamously, there are some moments that will likely piss you off, if you get my drift. Thankfully, this is as extreme as the series gets and they're few and far between, and they're usually not shown explicitly, only described in text. All of the constraints that Fuguriya imposes on themselves naturally limits the positions and types of sex that the girls engage in, so repetition is inevitable. The scenes themselves can seem to drag on in some points as some kind of confession or explanation of a past event takes place in the middle of one. Some players even find them too frequent; sex is used as a means to an end a few times, which can be off-putting to some. Your mileage may vary on the voices as well. The voicework is mostly on par, but some people report that the sex scenes are a different story. The first eroge in particular has volume issues with the voices that doesn't appear in later titles. I also have a suspicion that the extras are voiced by the same actresses as the main characters at a higher pitch. The engine itself is also slightly broken; using auto-advance on any novel past the fourth can cause the lines to disappear randomly before the voice clip finishes playing. I can only imagine this will make playing the eventual translations difficult. Also of note is the music, which is decidedly adequate. The first eroge had only five music tracks, one of which is the title music which is used for every single one. The latest has 21, and as the revised version of Anata to Koibito Tsunagi shows, the right music in the right places makes all the difference. This can make going back and forth between eroge or even the OVA (which had completely new orchestral music) a little jarring. Most of the early music tracks are upbeat, which creates dissonance when the mood is supposed to be melancholy. The fourth one onward has more appropriate music, but the series really could use a remix of the main theme by now.

All of that said, it's still impressive how a doujin company of two is able to put out so many products in only four years. Aside from the nine eroge, there are also ten light novels and four drama CDs that expand on the canon (to use the term lightly) set in the eroge. They're mostly incidental stories that prove that Fuguriya doesn't need many pictures to be as satisfying as ever. One would think they're more accessible than the eroge since they can be read or listened to whenever you want, but to my knowledge, only two of the light novels have been translated and none of the drama CDs have any translations. It's especially a shame for the drama CDs since those don't have the pacing problems symptomatic of the eroge format. If I knew any more about them, I would expand on them, but that just isn't the case at the moment. Such is life.

I don't think I can stress enough how grateful I am that this series exists. As flawed as it is, the good stuff is so good that I can overlook whatever problems it has. I've come to like every member of the cast, and even though a few of the sex scenes fall flat, the actual characterization makes up for it. I'm not saying it's incredibly deep or complex, but the fact that I think about the story in my idle time means that they're doing something right. As proof, I just spent half this page talking about characters in a hentai series at length. If you want your animated sex to be outrageous, hilarious, and/or contain dicks, this series isn't for you. If you're wondering if there's a hentai that eschews tentacle anything that anyone pays attention to, then look no further. As far as hentai with plot goes, there are better stories out there, but this one knows where its priorities are. Since the release of their first eroge, Fuguriya has become synonymous with purity and wholesomeness in yuri circles and has vowed multiple times to stay that way. They have promised that their hentai would never have any of the most popular hentai staples. I wouldn't take my digital smut any other way.

Actually, there is one more eroge in this series that isn't hentai in the slightest, but still bears mentioning. In 2010, Fuguriya found that they had female fans who not only enjoyed their products, but also the actual storylines that come before and after the ero material. The Reo/Mai Diaries, which are devoid of objectionable content, got a total of approximately 130000 views on Fuguriya's channel as of this post. A portion of the fanbase had apparently been asking for an eroge they can play openly for some time. Fuguriya chose to answer the demand by opening a work-safe branch with the spinoff Hanahira! as its flagship title. It also takes place at St. Michael's, but in the junior high division where, apparently, very limited sexual desire exists (possibly due to their ages). Two pairs of two are shown here in a setup not unlike an anime with a very moe character design pattern. Notably, Hanahira! is composed entirely of dialogue with minimal pauses between each line, similar to the Reo/Mai Diaries.

Kaori Hanemura (top-center) and Amane Yuuki (left) are the main pairing of this story, with Koharu Uozumi (bottom) and Makoto Toudou (right) as a supporting pair. The pairings are more conventional: Kaori and Amane are tsundere and ditzy respectively, and Koharu and Makoto are girly girl and tomboy. As mentioned before, there is no sexual content, so the focus is entirely on the kind of antics that happen between close quirky friends. I wouldn't call it family-friendly since the lesbian overtones are still present, but you shouldn't get in any trouble for trying it. This eroge also got a light novel released alongside it, but little is known about it since no one outside Japan has gotten their hands on it. It remains to be seen how far this series goes.
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If there's one thing I hate, it's incessant repetition. (Yes, I'm aware of the hypocrisy.) If there's a second thing I hate, it's having to repeat myself. I heard that in societies of intelligent people like Mensa, no one ever has to repeat themselves. I fantasize what that's like, always being heard the first time and never being drowned out by your loudmouth siblings who answer questions they weren't asked in front of their parents. I tell a joke multiple times and it just feels awkward only hearing a response the third time I say it because no one heard it the first two times. For years I've been trying to find out why this is, and the best answer I can think of is that I haven't yet found the golden mean between my indoor voice and my outdoor voice, so people either think of me as too quiet or too loud.

It always surprises me, therefore, when anyone reads anything I write on the internet outside of discussion forums. Outside of academic contexts and other times when people are required to read things you write, I always fear that I'm going to be taken the wrong way. The main problem is that overcoming one barrier leads to another: once I actually am heard, I find later that I didn't say what I meant clearly enough. I always look back on my last posts and find that I could have been more succinct or more precise in my thesis, but invariably it's too late to fix it by the time I discover the problem. I consider myself a perfectionist, but only in things I care about.

And yet for some reason, no one here seems to have a problem with that. My first thought is that my poor track record for sound argumentation is immaterial to the readers of this site and that they'll read anything posted on the community blog listing. My best guess is that it's just because there are so few posts that they can all be read in a reasonable amount of time. My second thought is that their standards are low enough that they're always willing to endure my usual raving and ranting, but when I try to do something different, the response is underwhelming. This I cannot understand. I'd like to think higher of the people who don't blow off my inner thoughts, but I should be so lucky. I'm always happy to analyze things I shouldn't be looking at, and I'm happy that people are willing to listen, even though my posts are bags of whining that my tastes are opposite to what's regularly written by this site's own staff. I look forward to any kind of response here just because I know I'll get it. At the same time, whenever I find that people actually commented on my posts, I'm actually afraid to see what they said about them. I want comments, but I fear that someone said something I won't like to have to answer. I'm never ready for something I expect.

Whenever I post something, I think of all of the potential criticisms anyone would say and prepare responses for when they're inevitably asked. In all cases, not only do those comments never come until much later, but the ones I do get first are about points I never expect to be criticized. I don't know why, since they're the reason I write in the first place, but when I read the angry comments, they're a lot more rewarding than any compliments I get. The positive comments I get tend to agree with the points I don't want people agreeing with. I try to start discussion, and it leads in all the ways I didn't want it to go. Once in a while I say something just to rile people up or even flat-out insult them and they take that the wrong way. In other words, this community's mindset is completely backwards. If it's ever happened to you, you know how infuriating it is. I have many writing classes yet to go to solve this problem. I can take my business elsewhere, but this site is the only one where I've established a name, and it frankly isn't worth the effort to expand at the moment.

Until then, I sympathize with those artists who are outraged when their audiences either don't get the message the put into their work or get the opposite message. There's nothing like saying one thing and seeing people do another. Even worse, I imagine, would be saying one thing multiple times and getting many wrong responses. It must be a nightmare for people who want to change the world when they can't control it in any way they can foresee. But is it any worse than having no power to change it?

According to Hebrews 4:13, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” In other words, God is watching you masturbate. This is the first thing that came to mind when I read about The World God Only Knows. I thought from the title and premise that it would be a satire of dating sim mechanics and a commentary of the sad otaku who are in love with the 2D world, with notes on social and moral ramifications to boot. It could have brought to light the nature of the shame these poor souls feel as to why they cannot accept real people and instead find solace in pursuing flat facsimiles of ideal women. Oh, how wrong I was…

My first thought was that someone important finally recognized that a large group of the population was just begging to be singly criticized in the medium they enjoy most. My second was, “Hang on. Japanese people have a vague understanding of Christianity at best. How did such a far-reaching metaphor find its way in the title of an anime about shame?” It turns out that it was too good to be true. The anime is about a man fond of showing off his intimate knowledge of the all of the tropes and cliches of dating sims, as if that’s something to be proud of. Conflict ensues when he’s taken to Hell and challenged by Old Scratch himself to use that trivial knowledge to save his life. What a self-important tard. I might have some of the details wrong, but if you’ve seen it, you might be surprised to find that the show’s actual premise is not too dissimilar from my prejudiced assessment of the first few episodes.

I’ve heard it said that storytelling is about keeping your audiences entertained. The main method to do this is to fulfill their expectations. There are many ways to keep the audience watching other than simply giving them what they came for, but if you’re going to give them something other than what they expect, it better be worth it to them. Far too often I’m seeing a lot of new shows that I expect to be about one thing and I discover later through embarrassing conversations with fans that it’s something completely different. For example, Glee is not a reality competition show about boys’ choirs, but a sitcom about a single group trying to stay relevant. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World has nothing to do with colonial settlers facing unrealistic challenges, but instead is an embarrassing panderfest that sent the message that video gamers can’t enjoy any piece of mainstream media that isn’t saturated with icons that are meaningless to those outside the gamer culture. (I’d love to explain exactly what I mean, but that’s for another article.) My expectations are foiled in a negative way, and as a result, I have no idea what to expect. My confusion prompts my brain to label the show with my default response: It sucks until proven otherwise. Since I really want to believe that a show’s premise is what I first assume to be and refuse all other explanations, I lose before I even begin. The standard method of surprising the audience is to build their expectations slowly, wait until they have a solid idea what happens next, and then do something that subverts that idea. When this is done well before the ideas are formed, the audience is left confused. This happens to me far too often; before I have any real idea of what I can expect, it's already thrown out the window. It’s not healthy and is probably a bad way to consume media, but it’s a disease I’ve come to terms with. This entire problem is a very personal one and one that I will probably discuss at length in a later post.

With that in mind, the first major fault with this show is very similar to the Haruhi Suzumiya debacle; namely, the main character’s status as God/a god. Whenever I hear “god” as a name outside of a mythological context, I assume they’re talking about the Almighty, since there are few other gods labeled as such. Haruhi’s notoriety as God came mostly from her fanbase, who have no idea who God really is. However, that’s where the similarity ends. Keima Katsuragi is so pretentious that he calls himself a god. The important difference is that it’s not the fans who think this, but the title of the show implies he is the Christian God that I associate the word to. The fact that this isn’t a translated title makes it even worse. While it was infuriating enough hearing fans label a cartoon character as omnipotent, the authors of this show themselves commit this sin. Sure, I could just accept that fictional Gods are not necessarily benevolent supernatural arbiters of human souls that leave the physical world, but are just know-it-all human pricks with too much perceived power. But I know better not to argue theology. I don’t expect everyone to respect God the way I do, but the topic leaves little room for reconciliation.

What’s even worse is the way the show itself handles the subject. The main plot has Keima using his knowledge of dating sims to fulfill a contract with a demon. The fact that this could even be a viable way to get anything done is nothing short of shallow wish fulfillment. He’s not happy to have to put innocent lives in jeopardy, but he has exactly what he needs to do it. I hope I don’t have to tell you that dating sims are awful tools to train one’s social skills (not for lack of realism, but for the inherently limited scope), to say nothing of the implications of misogyny that using them as a plot device entails. Dating sims do have the potential to be very well-researched and comprehensive to the point that one could be used as an effective guide to wooing the opposite sex, but not enough of them exist to justify this. I usually don’t care much for topics like this, but the notion that a God of fake girls can flex his skills to save real ones is just bothersome to me for some reason.

In short, I suppose that most of my disappointment of this series comes from the wasted potential. It could have been a witty deconstruction or a reconstruction, but it’s content with showing off how well the creators are familiar with pop culture and a popular digital medium. I also want to clarify that I have nothing against dating sims aside from their technical limitations that hamper their storytelling capabilities, but the extent to which they’re celebrated here leaves me to wonder if I should even bother with them more than I already do. To put it another way:
Photo Photo

That Google Reader thing is pretty neat. If you've never used it, it's a streamlined RSS reader that collects items from all of the most important blogs based on tags you feed it and renders them in a unified post listing. It does so infinitely, making it a kind of instant StumbleUpon. When you start using it, it just gives you popular items from the most common tags. One of my first runs with it turned up a collection of photos from Tashirojima, a veritable haven of cats.

According to the article, the island, accessible by ferry, has a human population of around 100 and is comprised mostly of people over age 60. They're looking to draw in more residents through its undoubtedly thriving tourism industry. I'm not sure how well that'll turn out since it's only eight square miles big. The article has a bunch of videos of visitors doing what you would expect. It also has a Wikipedia article that I couldn't segue into smoothly.

I wonder how the residents deal with the smell.