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Late last year, we took a look at Accel World, the sister series to Sword Art Online. But not all the episodes of the series aired on TV. Rather, two extra episodes were released as part of the collector's editions of the two Accel World games: Accel World: Awakening of the Silver Wings and Accel World: The Peak of Acceleration. And while they do little to forward the main plot, both are enjoyable, lighthearted filler—for the most part. [*Note: Moderate plot spoilers of both these episodes and the series in general to follow.]
The first of these episodes is Reverberation, which starts out as basically a pseudo episode of Scooby Doo. Recently, there have been some strange happenings late at night on the school network involving a ghost with a pumpkin head knocking out and stripping his victims. So the gang plans to set a trap—complete with a pig dual-wielding submachine guns—to catch and unmask whoever is responsible. What they find, however, is the last player of the precursor to Brain Burst who is looking for one final battle to go out in a blaze of glory.
The point of this episode is largely fanservice—though not necessarily the sexual kind. The side effect of entering this half Brain Burst game is that the main characters' avatars become half their school avatars and half their Brain Burst ones—which ends up looking either cool or hilarious.
There are some memorable gags, like the orgasmic cries Taku lets out when Chiyuri plunges her fist into his half pile-driver body. On the visual side, both major fight scenes in this episode look great.
But while the comedy and animation are enjoyable enough, this episode suffers in the drama department. Like many episodes before it, it deals with Haruyuki's inability to believe that he is any more to Snow Black than a tool to be used by her—a role he is quite happy with. The problem with this conflict is that it has been largely overcome in the preceding 18 or so episodes, with Haruyuki constantly striving to be worthy of her. And frankly, when someone makes the conscious, reasoned choice to get hit by a car to save your life, it's impossible to believe they don't feel something for you. In other words, this story feels like a huge step back character development-wise.
The second episode, Vacation; Onsen has a bit more going for it. The plot centers around the upcoming school physical. Unless Haruyuki drops a few pounds, he will be labeled as unhealthily overweight. This in turn will cause him to be forced into a special gym class during the time when he and the others are supposed to be protecting their virtual territory. And after conventional weight loss techniques fail (i.e., exercise and dieting), they all go to a hot springs resort (which is famous for making people lose weight) instead.
Unlike the typical fanservice-filled "hot springs episodes" we usually get in anime, this episode has fun deconstructing the cliché. Instead of bathing in the hot spring in the real world, for example, they do it in the virtual world where they are all their normal armor-clad avatars—no fanservice there. That's not to say there are no "hot springs episode" tropes (like the ever popular "boy and girl accidentally getting into the bath at the same time"), but they are generally tame or played for laughs.
But it isn't the comedy that makes this side story so enjoyable, it's the dramatic aspect. In Vacation; Onsen, we learn why Haruyuki is overweight as well as some of the back story about him and his family.
And rather than focusing on Haruyuki's insecurities when it comes to love, this episode takes a look inside the head of Snow Black to see her insecurities when it comes to their relationship. This is an excellent piece of role reversal that adds depth to her typically stoic and aloof character.
In the end, while both episodes are filler, neither are terrible. Though the drama in Reverberation really feels like the recycling of an old conflict, the rest of the episode is enjoyable enough. And while Vacation; Onsen could have easily been your standard "hot springs episode"—existing for nothing but the sake of pandering to male viewers—it instead serves as good character development for both of the lead characters. So if you are a fan of Accel World, both of these are worth a watch.
Accel World: Reverberation was released in Japan as part of the collector's edition of Accel World: Awakening of the Silver Wings on September 13, 2012. Accel World: Vacation; Onsen was released in Japan as part of the collector's edition of Accel World: The Peak of Acceleration on January 31, 2013. There is currently no word on a western release.
Think your graduation was cool? Maybe it was. Maybe it was totally gnarly. But, I'll tell you what, I'm pretty damn sure Sailor Moon didn't roll in and a red Pikmin didn't stroll up on stage. Oh, and there probably wasn't a large Wii Remote, nor was there a large Xperia phone. Call it a hunch.
If that did happen, I apologize. Your graduation was epic—as good as what just happened today at the Kanazawa College of Art's graduation ceremony. Each year, new grads dress up in costumes as they take to the stage and receive their degrees.
The graduation's cosplay was such a big deal that there was even media coverage... of the outfits!
Fun fact: One of the university's most famous grads is Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto. Suddenly, you might think, the Pikmin and the Wii Remote cosplay make more sense.
今年もすごかった金沢美大の卒業式 2013 【金沢美術工芸大学】 [Naver]
The Professor Layton games follow the titular Professor Hershel Layton, a professor of archaeology based in London who—like famed Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.—spends far more time solving ancient mysteries and discovering mystical artifacts than teaching at a college campus. And after six games (ten, if you count crossovers and spin-offs), three books, a movie, and a manga, only one mystery remains: When, exactly, does it take place?
No concrete date for when the series takes place has been given in any of the games so far. As for the official word from Akihiro Hino, the creator of the series, a Level 5 spokesperson told Kotaku:
"As far as a time/year goes for the main Layton series, Hino-san has expressed sentiments before that, to paraphrase, the Layton series is a fantasy with realistic elements, not a grounded tale that you could pin a year onto. To my personal knowledge, no years, nor even a timespan has ever been made public, or have been necessary to enjoy Layton's very fictional version of London."
So really, we could just leave it at that and forget about the issue entirely.
But where would the fun be in that? Layton wouldn't give up on the mystery so easily and neither will I. [*Note: Minor Layton and Ace Attorney spoilers to follow.]
While finding an exact date is likely impossible, we can at least put together a time frame for the story by looking at the objects that make up the games' world. After all, the series takes place in a world at least based on our world, as we can see by Layton living in the very real city of London.
We can move the potential starting date ahead even further thanks to one of modern London's most recognizable features, the red Routemaster double-decker bus. These first entered service in 1956 and continue in a limited capacity to this day—which puts the games sometime after that.
If we choose to include Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney—which as a side story may or may not be in continuity with the other Layton games—we can move our possible starting date up to at least 1970 as Phoenix and Maya fly into London on what appears to be a 747 which entered service that year.
Of course, if we want to get into the real nitty-gritty of Ace Attorney lore and use that series' time line, then Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney would have to take place between the time Maya becomes Phoenix's assistant in 2016 and his disbarment in 2019—setting Professor Layton series in the same basic span of years.
[Note: We have contacted Level 5 here in Japan asking about the continuity between Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney and the other Layton games but haven't heard back yet. We will update this story if and when we get a response.]
But even setting aside Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney and its dubious continuity for the moment, the puzzles themselves in the Layton games give hints to the possible time frame of the series.
Puzzle 005 of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, for example, is centered around digital electronic clocks—which became widespread in the 1970s and 80s. Puzzle 067 of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, on the other hand, mentions text messaging between two people in the story behind the puzzle. Cell phone to cell phone texting wasn't available until 1994 and didn't really catch on till about a decade later.
So there you have it. Based on the core Professor Layton games alone, the series would take place sometime after 1994. Though if you, like me, are willing to take Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney and the entire Ace Attorney timeline as canon, then the events of the Layton games have not even happened yet. So in the end, maybe Layton isn't set in the past, but in an awesome future where 1950s-retro meets steampunk—clearly, the best possible of all worlds.
Over the years, Japanese schoolgirls have spearheaded an array of trends. They've set the agenda. From tech to fashion, they've been innovators, dictating to the nation what's cool and what's not.
This latest trend is anything but cool. Disgusting? Perhaps. Wasteful? Definitely. Yummy? Well, it does involve cream puffs.
In Japanese, cream puffs are called "chou cream" ("shuukuriimu" or シュークリーム). Generally speaking, most people in Japan dig 'em. Generally speaking, most people everywhere dig 'em. They are tasty!
As LiveDoor News pointed out this week, a new trend is spreading among Japanese schoolgirls. It's called "cream puff face" ("ganmen shuukuriimu" or 顔面シュークリーム). And, you guessed it, it involves smushing a cream puff in someone's face.
This isn't exactly a new trend, as it's possible to find examples of cream puff faces as early as 2007 and 2008. And, yes, this is a spin on the old fashioned pie in the face gag. But in Japan, the trend really started to take off with schoolgirls in 2011. The Japanese mainstream is just catching on now.
Typically, a cream puff face is done on someone's birthday or another event as a surprise. Some kids even prepare trash bags to cover the person who's going to get puffed, so as not to ruin anyone's clothes. How courteous!
As you can see above, it's not only schoolgirls getting puffed, but schoolboys, too.
And then, there's this dude.
While writing this piece, I decided to blur out the teens' eyes that hadn't already been blurred. They're kids. This is stupid. Kids do dumb shit. But, of course, there are those who are looking at this trend and seeing an obvious sexual connotation.
There are those who think the whole trend is wasteful—a similar criticism leveled at the "potato parties" sweeping Japanese McDonald's late last year. In Japan, parents harp on their children to clean their plates and wasting food like this is seen as incredibly disrespectful.
Online in Japan, some commenters are saying the cream puff face is a form of bullying. The whole thing does seem rather humiliating.
But, there are numerous teens who have gotten a cream puff to the face and seem more than happy about the whole experience. On Twitter, one schoolgirl wrote, "Thanks too for the cream puff face. Ditto for the towel. It was a very happy birthday." Another wrote, "I want to do it again," while yet another chimed in, "That was a great memory."
Besides cream puffs, there are also those who use tofu or fermented beans (nattou). Now that sounds like a horrible memory.
女子高生を中心に流行中の「顔面シュークリーム」が話題 [LiveDoor News]
Someone at Namco Bandai had one job to do! Only one! At least they got "Shippuden" right. And "Powerful," for that matter.
Namco is aware of the issue, and told Nintendo Everything that the error will be corrected in future printings. You can also download a replacement label.
When it comes to shooters (and their bullet-hell cousins) I am hardly an expert, but I do enjoy a good SHMUP from time to time. Though I tend toward the side-scrolling variety like Gradius or Macross: Do You Remember Love, I did play more than a little 1942 back in the day. But hands-down my favorite shooter of the top-down sub-genre is Ikaruga—a game that only has one weak point: it ends.
The fan-made game RefleX is a lot like Ikaruga in the sense that the key to the game is your defense rather than simply shooting forward and dodging bullets. But while Ikaruga is centered around changing your ship's polarity—and thus weapon immunity—RefleX is built around your small ship's shield.
The shield is capable of stopping any enemy energy weapon in the game. However, while some energy weapons simply dissipate when they hit the shield, others—namely any and all blue lasers—reflect off your shield and destroy any hapless enemy vessels nearby. This includes everything from heat-seekers to enormous boss beam cannons.
Of course, this shield isn't without its weaknesses. Any physical object, be that a missile or another ship, can pass right through your shield to wreck your ship. Luckily, ships and missiles can be destroyed with your main guns.
But the biggest weakness is that the shield has only enough power to stay active for about five seconds. Also, while your main guns don't deplete shield energy, as long as they are firing, your shields won't replenish. And the lower your remaining shield power, the less bullets your guns fire.
Thus the whole game is centered around choosing when to shoot, when to use the shield, and when to dodge and recharge. Simply put, it's a lot of fun.
To see RefleX in action, check out the video above.
RefleX was released and originally sold for PCs at Comiket 74 in 2008. A free demo of the first four levels can be downloaded from the official site (or directly from here for those who can't read Japanese).
Tokyo seems super safe. For the most part, it is. But be careful, there are some dangerous folks out there: NHK is reporting that this week in Tokyo, a 39 year-old man accidentally bumped the arm of a fellow portable game-playing passenger while riding the Sobu train line.
That escalated into an argument, and when the man got off the train at Kinshichō Station in Tokyo, he was slashed in the back by the passenger, who apparently wielded some kind of small blade. The injury, thankfully, was not serious.
The report didn't specify what kind of portable game or device the man was playing, other than calling it a "portable type game."
Police are now checking security camera footage in hopes of catching the suspect.
Remember, video games don't make you violent. Being a violent person does.
切りつけ 携帯ゲームから口論 [NHK]
On Twitter, a FFVII diehard answered that question by applying makeup to the swordsman's face, noting that the character looked very feminine.
Male Final Fantasy protagonists looking feminine? Madness!
On Twitter, a FFVII diehard answered that question by applying makeup to the swordsman's face, noting that the character looked very feminine.
Every week, it seems like photos of someone, often little kids, crapping in public appear online in China. This usually creates all kinds of havoc, often with people criticizing the parents (or grandparents) for letting the kids do their business in a public place. But why does it keep happening?
Note: this story contains a subject matter some readers might find uncomfortable.
The vast majority of public crapping in China appears to be limited to kids, but a small number of adults also do it—though they tend to be far more discrete.
In the countryside, outhouses still exist, and the cities have made leaps and bounds in public restrooms (especially in the years leading up to the Beijing Olympics). However, many toilets in the cities can get dodgy. Below is a public toilet in Beijing with warning signs:
Historically, there has been a dearth of toilets in China. What's more, diapers have traditionally been expensive, and crotchless pants were seen as an acceptable solution.
Against this backdrop, if parents can't find a toilet in, say, Guangzhou's subway stations, they might see the subway platform, or the subway itself, as a viable alternative. But on an airplane? Which has clearly marked toilets?
Diapers are still expensive in China, so middle-class parents can purchase them for their children, but you still see crotchless pants in all manner places—from shopping malls to the Forbidden Palace. What's more, if grandparents are watching after the kid, they might be more inclined, because of the circumstances they grew up in, to let the kids go in public. Some kids, as they become teens, don't ween themselves off this way of thinking and do their business when they're out in public. It does reflect on their parents—something that people online in China are quick to point out when criticizing this behavior.
A few years ago, I interviewed a famous industrial designer for a magazine. He's Japanese—not Chinese—and we did not once talk about defecating in public. However, we did talk about this theory that humans have a natural relationship with things. For example, if you have trash in your hand, and you see a bicycle with a basket, you might pitch it in the bicycle's basket. This is littering and isn't socially acceptable, but that bicycle basket does resemble a waste paper basket, and instinctively you might use it for that. Going to the bathroom in public place, perhaps, works on a similar rationale—especially since a Guangzhou subway bin does resemble a toilet. Somewhat.
But China is changing. For people in the country's urban middle and upper classes, going to the bathroom in public is increasingly not socially acceptable as it is in more rural areas. When photos, like this recent one of a teen pooping in a trash can, hit the internet, people get upset. Eventually, these social views will continue to filter through society. Norms will continue to change, just as the country continues to change, and these public toilet displays will gradually fade away.