New Year: Blank Slate

With the new clone 2019 shoving the old clone 2018 into an incinerator we are now officially ready to start off the New Year right! And it seems we have a lot of things packed within these first few months alone. I’m personally looking forward to a few things:

  • Kakegurui Season 2- I just want to see gambling games.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3- Nomura owes us an explanation for all these games! And I ordered the Deluxe Edition!
  • 7 Seeds (anime)- A straight up depressing manga. Now I have to re-read it before the release.
  • Boku no Hero Academia Season 4- (I gotta catch up with the manga first!)
  • Fruits Basket (reboot)- Finally we get to see Rin!
  • My first Colossalcon- Will make a full post detailing my cosplays and people I’ve met!
  • 28 Days of Black Cosplay- You already know that this is about!

Meanwhile I’ll continue trying to find a focus for this blog. I hate that I have so few articles up and I’ve purchased this domain myself! *cries* I’m certainly sure things will get more interesting from here on out.

2018 Highlights

  • Playing Final Fantasy XV
  • Watching Laputa: Castle in the Sky
  • Playing/Beating Bayonetta 2
  • Playing Smash Bros Ultimate (when I haven’t touched anything SSB related since Brawl)
  • Watching Castlevania

I honestly wish I had written about all of the above when I had the chance but I didn’t. I’ll make it my personal responsibility to finish what I’ve started.

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“Dere” to Believe: An honest look at popular anime personalities

Anime tropes are popular, no bones about it. You’ll often hear your local weeaboo tossing about terms they’ve learned from their favorite series one way or another. These tropes don’t just appear in anime but are standard for fiction writers around  the globe. That said, who wants to take a look at popular personality tropes and watch me deconstruct them haphazardly?

No?

I’m so glad you asked!

These tropes are usually represented by female characters, although they are perfectly fine for any and all characters regardless of gender or presentation. For the sake of simplicity we are going to use the pronouns she/her/they if that’s alright with you guys.

shuffles papers and notecards

There are four common “dere” personalities

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Clearly not my personal work. Give credit where it’s due.

 

As you can see; the suffix ‘deredere’(でれでれ) simply means to be loving or sweet towards someone. The prefixes just so happen to describe what kind of love that person encompasses. While on the surface as a flat archetype these descriptors are just regular categories to drop your characters into—which is harmless. They’re just characters.

 

But what happens when you translate them to real life?

I’m under the impression that people have trouble dividing fantasy and reality because I hear people talking about their favorite personality types (particularly when referring to their favorite characters) and how they’d just LOVEto be with a kuudere. I can’t help but wonder if they’ve really thought it through because these character traits are…concerning to say the least.

 

Tsundere

(harsh on the outside, sweet on the inside)

The Good

At first glance a hot/cold character seems like an almost ideal type. Harsh until you get to know them—not a bad thing, especially if you start off on the wrong foot. I very well could give this a pass and chalk it up to getting to know someone better over time.

 

The Bad

Ever notice how tsundere characters tend to get violent with the objects of their affections? Whether it’s full blown arguments or megaton moe punches, the poor person gets their noggins knocked. Then there’s the verbal lashings that border on abuse. I’m usually able to give passes on affectionate nicknames or occasional name-calling but the way Asuka treats Shinji is really unsettling. Since she spends the entire series unable to spit out her feelings and Shinji can’t read minds—it leads to a lot of confusion (the end of Evangelion notwithstanding).

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The view is captivating.

 

The Ugly

Well, as we all know (or should know), tsundere tropes are usually exaggerated and played (mostly) for laughs because *we all know that kind of erratic behavior is actually abusive and you won’t find love that way*. Right everyone? Of course nobody would ever think such hot and cold behavior would actually be attributed to feelings of love and affection (Italics for sarcasm and emphasis).

I’ve got some bad news for you all…People really think this works!

In real life I see this pop up in a lot of relationships where the idea of being hot/cold is seen as a good thing and is an appropriate way to show you’re interested in someone. Katy Perry songs aside, this hot/cold dynamic sends mixed signals and it’s a GREAT way to cause problems early on and ruin your chances later.

The truth is: tsundere characters treat their love interests like crap and are sending mixed signals that can in no way be interpreted as romantic interest. I’ve got nothing.

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Where the hell have I been?

It turns out I’ve been absent for a little while.

*pauses to gauge audience reaction*

Okay, a long while.

*pause*

Okay, I’ve been absent for an extended period of time. A VERY extended period of time at that. And in my time off I can’t say that I’ve learned anything new or gained any insight to the Geek world. Life comes at you fast and sometimes it takes the fun out of things you love. And I’m sorry to say that I just spent my time off working.

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Those gosh darned r-r-r-rules you know?

Now that I’m back I haven’t fully decided which direction I’m going with all of this. Shocking, I know. I spent all this money for a domain and I don’t know what to type. In spite of my doubts I will still continue to write about my adventures in the Geekdom and hopefully include more pics/gifs of my cat Stinkbutt Sombra.

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Photo for reference. She’s not interested in anything.

I was, however, able to watch a few new anime in my time off. Namely Boku no Hero Academia, Golden Girls, Brooklyn 99, and Devilment Crybaby. Will I write a review on these? Probably not. Did I find them extremely entertaining? Yes…well just about as much as anything that can hold my interest for more than 30 minutes. I have a short attention span and I get bored easily.

I won’t let my boredom get the better of me.

I’m not going to smash my keyboard….yet.

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Rate my setup. x/10

Guys and Dolls: A Fear of Intimacy

As humans we are no strangers to the complexity of relationships. They’re complicated, they’re scary, and they’re (very) disappointing. So when it comes to issues such as miscommunication, pride, and fear…it’s no surprise when things fall apart and sometimes don’t come back together.

What does the above paragraph have to do with artificial intelligence I talked about in my earlier post? Read on:

Instant AI (愛)

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in media (namely anime) when it comes to guys interacting with AI and computer programs it’s that…the interactions with them come across as strange. The AI in question are usually female and the protagonist is male and when they meet, the trope Born Sexy Yesterday comes into play.

The woman (AI, robot, doll, alien) in question is usually fully grown, naive, attractive, but skilled. The man is usually ordinary, sometimes unlucky in life or love or both. And interestingly enough…he’s almost always white* (when portrayed in American media). And the woman in question almost always seems to love him in the end. The trope can be explored more in this video by Pop Culture Detective:

If you don’t wish to go through the 18 minutes of in-depth talk I can give my abridged version:

  • Born Sexy Yesterday absolves men from doing emotional labor in relationships.
  • The idea of taking advantage of someone who is naive and vulnerable is inherently predatory.
  • Unfortunate implications abound when this trope can also be seen as a basis for abusive relationships.
  • This trope is used as a romantic subplot and almost always only shows the man’s perspective without giving characterization to the female character. If character is given, it’s known that she serves to be the love interest.
  • The woman in question seems to already love the man without any explanation as to why.

The reversal sometimes shows up in media. Comics and manga like Eggnoid, Absolute Boyfriend, and movies like George of the Jungle do exist but are rarely seen as the norm. I suspect the reasoning behind this is that women who are sexually skilled and knowledgeable of the ways of the world are seen as intimidating, maybe

So the gist I’ve gotten is that being able to be someone’s first and teach them everything without having to develop yourself or consider the other person’s feelings or autonomy is what’s passing for love these days. And people seem to be wanting an AI that is programed to love them and only them without putting in any effort to be better versions of themselves. Do people even know what love is?

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Baby don’t hurt me.

Relationships Are Complex

I’m not going to go through the whole trouble of explaining what makes relationships work because everyone’s seen the Facebook drivel that oozes saccharine sentiments on just how you should love another person. So, in order to not insult the intellect of the masses I’ll reduce it to a few fine points:

  • Respect: relationships can only be built if you genuinely respect another person as another person. They’re autonomous beings outside of you and don’t exist for your benefit.
  • Honesty: While respecting another’s privacy is important, a certain amount of transparency and openness is required.
  • Communication: Actively listening and working on your communication skills are crucial to maintaining relationships, you can’t ignore this.
  • Vulnerability and Emotional Labor: Close relationships require vulnerability and emotional labor to be expended on all parties involved. Taking another’s feelings into consideration and

People are Afraid of Intimacy?

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Honestly, the idea of falling in love with a program that caters to your needs is downright uncanny because I know that real relationships with flesh and blood human beings is nowhere near as simple or easy. Relationships take time to develop and there are no shortcuts to earning trust. You cannot cheat your way out of emotional labor and expect to have a healthy and happy relationship with another person.

The downside to all of this hard work is that it can easily be all for naught. Relationships change over time, failure happens, and rejection is an ever present reality. It takes a lot to trust in someone else because vulnerability can easily be taken advantage of, and nobody wants that. It’s because of this that fear of intimacy is understandable: we simply live in a society where people don’t trust each other.

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A simple Google search reveals plenty.

So, what now?

So, we have all this knowledge, what do we do with it? We know AI are no real substitute for humans (please hold all Blade Runner comments). We also know that relationships are complex, full of complex factors (anxiety, abuse, isolation, ect), and are generally messy with no perfect or satisfying answers that every single person. Is it worth it to try and connect with another human being?

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Artists certainly think so,

While we have little control over the things that happen in our lives, we still have the ability to control our reactions to what is thrown at us. We can’t control people or how they initially respond to us. All we can do is take our experiences—both positive and negative—and use what we’ve learned in order to better ourselves. Your personal growth as a human being is important because one cannot understand others without first understanding oneself.

TL;DR: Artificial Intelligence is no substitute for human interaction and relationships and you are encouraged to seek out relationships and to better yourself.

Ecchi Review: Velvet Kiss

Romance, ecchi, hentai, smut, you name it, I’m all over it. The intrigue of romance and sex always makes for a good read. That previous sentence is an eloquent way of saying “I like porn with plot and plot with porn.” I’ll make it a note to share and review my favorites from now on because why not?

I discovered Velvet Kiss a few years back when I was going through Mangafox. I personally don’t recommend Mangafox as a reader because of the ads that keep popping up and ruining my reading experience. Now it’s available to purchase through various retailers, and I actually have the first volume…in German.

 

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I really need to read the product description before I purchase.

This story is one of my favorites to revisit because I enjoy the artwork, and some of the sex scenes are pretty hot. While no genitalia is drawn, the scenes still manage to be quite erotic. The character’s emotions are conveyed pretty well and seem most realistic, or at the very least interesting.

 

The Plot:

The story revolves around Shin Nitta who has suddenly found himself with an 80 million yen debt. In order to “pay it off” or at least stave off payments, he has to keep a wealthy young woman named Kano company. And by keeping her company we mean: be her errand boy and sex friend. No joke, the first day they meet she requests to have sex with him and he complies.

 

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The rest can be read here.

He also does various other errands such as: calling him in the middle of work to come see her, buying her and her friends snacks, picking up her laundry, and keeping her company. Between fetch quests and trying to keep up with her while also covering his tracks and making excuses for not being at work, there’s this underlying story about the Kuchiya’s–Kano’s family–and how they have been covering up some pretty shady business.

Over time, the two form an…interesting relationship as Nitta begins to genuinely care for Kano and in turn, Kano begins to defrost. Do they come to love each other? That sort of happens–but they realize there’s a distance between them and that might not be possible to overcome. The ending is fairly satisfying and I don’t think any more volumes need to be made.

 

The Problems:

Consent seems to be a bit of an issue here. The relationship between Nitta and Kano is woefully unbalanced. Kano is a rich woman who uses her status to get what she wants from him. Nitta is bending to her because he doesn’t want to be in debt. Their relationship is coercive, even if he enjoys being able to bang Kano on the regular.

I was also wondering about Kano’s age that never gets addressed in-story. I had managed to gather that she had at least finished high school and hadn’t started any university. This put her at around 18-19 or possibly 20 years old. Her twintail hairstyle seemed like a childish choice but I think it highlighted her immaturity or unwillingness to grow up and take responsibility for herself. When she gets serious she changes her hair to a more mature style.

 

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Which saves us the problem of age.

 

 

 

A few subplots go nowhere and one villain goes free. We never find out what happens to Kano’s former flame Yuki and his aspirations. No talk of Nitta’s brother or the journalist either. We don’t know what happens to the rest of Kano’s friends once she ditches them. Maybe it’s for the better, who knows? The story kind of just ends and leaves the rest to our imagination.

 

What Do I Think?

While this is one of my personal favorites I will admit that it’s kind of a cheap thrill. It’s not the worst kind of smut out there. I’ve read much, much, MUCH worse than this and if you read shojou, hentai, or smut on the regular you will understand.

The sex scenes are pretty awesome. Exhibitionism seems to be a running kink in this story because Nitta and Kano; as well as a few other characters, get it on while risking getting caught in public and semi-public places. There’s also sex used as a bartering tool for information and sex used as recreation at parties.

I think the artist does a fair job trying to paint sex in different lights. Sex between Kano and Nitta is painted as antagonistic and uneven before finally becoming loving. Sex between villainous or amoral characters is seen as creepy and controlling. On the other hand, sex with the journalist and Nitta’s brother is painted as comedic and lighthearted.

I also feel like this novel captures a sort of “wish fulfillment” fantasy. This story is meant to be a fantasy and isn’t something you should hope to experience. This point is driven home by the reality that Nitta’s ditching work eventually gets him fired. Kano has to come face to face with her trauma. The two also part ways, unlikely to see each other again. It’s a whirlwind of emotion and not all of it is dealt with. The timeskip is the only thing that gives us any sort of catharsis and it’s a bit of a punch in the gut.

The artwork is fairly nice. It’s clear that Chihiro Harumi has a preference for large breasts and great fashion. Kano and various other female characters get some pretty sweet getup. There is some fanservice but it doesn’t feel forced. For instance: having short skirts but without thigh high stockings.

This manga will always be on the top of my most wanted list for years to come. It’s always one of the first I recommend to those new to the genre of ecchi.

Final Grade: 8/10

Available for purchase on Amazon

There’s also a live-action version that I’ve never seen:

 

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Maybe I’ll get my hands on it on day?

 

Kakegurui: That’s it! I’m kinkshaming!

While the BDSM world is becoming less and less taboo and ‘kink’ is not the 4-letter word you don’t want to say around strangers; the talk of kinks and fetishes stay reserved for Happy Hour and lunch breaks. In my personal experience among my close friends kinks come up as a regular conversation topic. Keri and I even discussed the fuckability of Safer Sephiroth:

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I don’t have to explain anything.

Fetishes aren’t just limited to hentai anymore.

Enter Kakegurui (賭ケグルイ, “The Compulsive Gambler”); the manga and anime that sparked a head-tilting, eyebrow-raising, debate over whether or not there is a line to draw when it comes to crazy. However, given anime fans partiality to crazy waifus it seems that there is no actual limit. Yumeko’s compulsion to gamble and love of little else sets the stage in the anime set in a school that merely enables her to indulge to her heart’s content. Hyakkaou Academy proves to be the feast she was hoping for.

In case you thought I was kidding take a peak at the opening theme whose lyrics come from Yumeko’s point of view:

While reading the manga and watching the anime I noticed a lot of food and fish metaphors. Even the two “focus” characters Yumeko and Kirari have last names (Jabami and Momobami) with the suffix -bami which translates to “devour” respectively. And hoo boy the story does not disappoint on the devouring metaphor! 

The bottom 100 students are reduced to “housepets” and are left at the mercy of the student body—literally up for consumption. Those who don’t wish to have their debts collected must subject themselves to a Life Plan that literally plans out their whole lives including who they marry and how many children they have. I failed to mention the Student Council is the entity calling the shots and making said plans.

No such thing scares the infamous Jabami who by now has literally creamed herself at the prospect of having her life controlled by someone else. It’s every bit as bizarre as it sounds. The thrill of the gamble and the uncertainty is what makes it oh so amazing. Even once she becomes a housepet she is undaunted, declaring that such a Student Council President that invokes such rules must be the best gamble of all.

Going straight from Yumeko’s extraordinary yet palpable sense of taste and right into Midari’s all-Hell-breaks-loose insanity is an experience in and of itself. If you have to gouge out your own eye in order to feel any excitement from pain you will probably be barred from every dungeon in existence. In this universe however, such devotion earns you a spot on the student council complete with your own lackeys to work with you:

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I’m considering my options here.

Midari is a gun-wielding, pain-loving compulsive masturbator whose greatest desire is to lose her life in a gamble. Her game of choice is Russian Roulette and her entire life is driven to worship the women who she sees as her equal *coughs* it’s Jabami *coughs*. I personally found her fun to watch and read about. It’s also no surprise that a majority of my nerdy friends also found her a bangable babe. What is with nerds and yandere archetypes?

Did I mention she also rigs games so she can lose? Yumeko catches on to this and is repulsed, *not* because she carries a gun and kidnaps and forces you to gamble for your life. But *because* the game is rigged in Midari’s favor and therefore isn’t any fun to play with. Remember: Yumeko’s Code states that the uncertainty of the gamble is what makes it orgasmic. Everything else is trash. Therefore, Midari is trash.

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This gun is real btw.
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Just a regular day in the life of Midari.

 

All moral myopia and rampant hatred of mankind aside I can’t bring myself to actually hate this manga. It’s still ongoing and I’m waiting for the American release for the next few volumes that will inevitably make my pulse go through the roof and make my toes curl in anticipation of the finale. Do I recommend it? Yeah, I actually do. The anime and manga explain some pretty interesting gambling games that are fun to play at parties (as long as you don’t bet actual money that is!).

I’ll probably revisit this manga again to kinkshame it some more because it’s fun! And critiquing is my fetish.

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Maybe I’ll even find a Yumeko cosplay that actually fits!