NISA Announces NIS Classics Vol. 2 (ZHP and Makai Kingdom)

Nippon Ichi Software America (NISA) has just announced NIS Classics Vol. 2 for Nintendo Switch and PC, as shown in the following video:

Like the previous installment, which contained Soul Nomad and Phantom Brave, the second volume of this series contains two classic Nippon Ichi games, this time the two being Makai Kingdom and ZHP. This is great for those just discovering NIS games, and may want to catch up with some classics that they missed.

Of the two shown in the trailer above, I’m more excited for Zettai Hero Project (ZHP), an obscure dungeon crawler that a lot of players overlooked when it first launched. Considering how much more relevant superheros have become (thanks in no small part to My Hero Academia), ZHP may have a broader appeal, as the game focuses heavily on developing and hyper-customizing a superhero.

I’m interested in knowing whether the Dengeki Daioh collab content will be in this reissue of ZHP, since that added a lot of content to the game. This content featured costumes of characters in popular manga such as Shakugan no Shana, which does a lot for character customizability. This content was initially an add-on for the Japanese release, but was included in the North American release, as part of the game.

Makai Kingdom is a strategy RPG that features the bombastic overlord Zetta. Because the character Petta is going to be featured in a side-story, it seems like this iteration will include content from a previous remake of Makai Kingdom.

Like with the previous installment of NIS Classics, it seems like not much is going to be done to update the visuals. For those playing this on their Switch OLED, the aliasing is going to be hard to ignore. Even looking at these caps, I feel somewhat like taking a microfiber cloth to my computer screen.

But don’t let that stop you from appreciating these classics for what they are. The gameplay is likely to remain intact, and what’s more, the hardware the games are running on is going to be a lot more stable. If your handheld’s power crapped out or even flickered while playing a dungeon crawler, you’d know why this is important.

NIS Classics Vol. 2 is scheduled to drop in Spring 2022, which is still a while away, but at least we’ll have plenty to play until then.

Niantic Responds to Community, PokéStop Interaction Distance Changed to 80 Meters

Earlier on, I expressed doubts that Niantic would respond to fans by backing down from their decision to revert PokéStop and Gym interaction distance to 40 meters, which is where it was before safety measures were put in place on a widespread basis in light of the COVID epidemic.

Now, Niantic has announced that they are going to change the distance to 80 meters again, globally, and keep it that way.

Okay, that’s sweet. They responded to fan concerns. Now, are we grateful?

No game is perfect, and Pokémon Go has had its problems. It’s been my opinion that increasing the distance to interact with Gyms and PokéStops would have been a great improvement, so I was delighted to see it actually happen. Pity the circumstances, though.

Still, I didn’t have much expectation that the change would be permanent. After all, the lockdowns weren’t supposed to be permanent. So, when the distance was reverted, that was easy for me to accept.

But Niantic went and brought back the increased distance for interacting with PokéStops and Gyms? As I see it, that’s pretty cool of them, even if it wasn’t strictly necessary.

Thank you, Niantic.

Oh hey, while we’re talking about improvements, does the stardust cost for special trades have to be quite so high? I wanted to trade a shiny Mudkip to someone who missed out on a community day, but the stardust cost was high. Should it be so expensive for a less-active player to benefit from a gift from another player?

Jerry Ordway of DC Comics is Totes Jelly of ComicsGate

Jerry Ordway, an artist for DC comics, has stated his belief that ComicsGate supporters are being “fleeced for hundreds of millions”.

Which, by the way, is an immensely impressive number which goes to show just how enthusiastically people will get behind independent creators, in the face of established media companies.

This tweet is archived. Source

Or, to put it another way: “Boo-hoo, people are spending more money on comics they’d rather be reading than on ours.”

If anyone had cared for a “woke, liberal, progressive comic”, they’d buy one of those old-fashioned comic books that’s still being published through print.

But rather than learn the obvious lesson to be had from the fact that comic enthusiasts are willing to spend hundreds of millions on alternatives, Ordway instead complains that it’s the fans who are wrong.

Those alternatives aren’t just independent creators, either. Manga is completely crushing it in sales, with just one manga alone, Demon Slayer, outselling Marvel and DC combined. The fact is, comic fans aren’t reading legacy superhero comics printed on paper anymore, they’re reading manga on their tablets.

Those independent creators aren’t just crowdfunding, they’re also making free webcomics. Ordinary people can just order a Wacom tablet online and proceed to make their own comics to share with the world. Or they can use software like ibisPaint X on their tablets.

One webcomic that might be worth checking out is Dark Science by Dresden Codak. From what I’ve read so far, it’s excellent.

As Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) was getting out of comics, he pointed out that comics would become abundant and free on the internet. While this would naturally make matters more challenging for syndication, as far as consumers are concerned, it’s a comics Renaissance.

And would you look at who is resisting the comics Renaissance, it’s Jerry Ordway, of the corporate legacy comics industry, who resents that consumers have alternatives to turn to, and are deciding against his employer.

One thing that Ordway can be credited with is strength of conviction. He’s so sincere in his professed beliefs that he’s willing to remain in less-favorable circumstances by reason of them. Unless he’s really unable to compete with the more talented indie artists, in which case, he’d be better off hanging on to what he has for as long as he can manage.

It seems he has chosen the hill that he’s willing to figuratively die on, and at this rate, he certainly will.

Anime Sales in Decline in 2020, First Decline in Decade, Says Report

Anime industry sales have went down for the first time in a decade in the year 2020. The decline was from 255.7 billion yen in 2019 to 251.1 billion yen in 2020, a decline of about 1.8%.

This decline occurred in spite of the surging popularity of manga, with manga outperforming Marvel and DC by three times. What’s more, just one manga series (Demon Slayer) single-handedly outperformed the entirety of the western comic book industry. Much of this was owed to digital manga sales.

The slight decline was predictable, what with global government-imposed lockdowns slowing down the industry somewhat in 2020.

However, Chinese animation companies are becoming competitive, and there’s a threat that the Japanese industry may lose talent to the Chinese, as they can pay Japanese talent better.

Does anyone else appreciate the irony of that? As much as the CCP bloviates about communism and how it works for them, any time they’ve ever succeeded at anything, they did so by being capitalistic. If you want to employ talented workers, you offer them competitive wages, or you risk losing them to someone who would.

Now, if anything can slow down the Chinese growth in anime more than anything else, it would be their own raging authoritarianism holding back creative expression. Even now, Disney is turning cold to the Chinese market, as the Chinese aren’t receiving Disney’s creative properties well, even as Disney follows the CCP’s guidelines on how to make a product acceptable according to the standards of the Chinese ruling party.

By the CCP’s sensibilities, if a media company is told to do something, it must do as it’s told. The CCP is so accustomed to this that it doesn’t even occur to them that if they’re going to issue demands, there must be an incentive to follow the demands. As you could probably imagine, Disney is not all that fond of the idea of having piles of demands on how to express themselves creatively placed upon them, then having nothing to show for it.

Notice that there’s a whole lot of learning going on? Disney is figuring out that having piles of restrictions placed on their creative liberties is terrible for the business of a creative company, so they’re turning their backs on authoritarians and slowly coming around to appealing to less restrictive western audiences. Not only that, China is getting competitive in animation by offering competitive wages. It’s almost as though capitalism, in spite of it’s flaws, is a product of evolutionary inevitability.

Because communism collapses if given sufficient time, one might wonder why one would bother opposing it. The problem is that it takes a really long time to fall, largely because the ruling class scores piles of fuck-you money, and couldn’t care what happens to everyone else. Also, there’s the rampant mass murder and genocide that happens to bring it about. There’s that.

Another point to bring up is that western media companies are interested in making anime, to the point of hiring Japanese animators to bring their creative visions to life. That’s not likely to have a significant impact on the amine that we already like. More likely, it would result in piles of trash anime for us to make fun of. It’s likely that much of this trash was born in marketing meetings from greedy execs who couldn’t ignore that anime is outperforming western stuff any longer, but they are so out of touch that they think it’s mainly the style that people like, and that they can sell it by using it to sell the same rubbish they’ve been writing.

We know how this will end up: with some boomer salesman pointing to some social justice anime as evidence of how hip and street they are. Then they’ll have no idea why the kids are rolling their eyes.

Personally, I think anime is going to be just fine. The reason that Americans and the Chinese are trying to get in on it is because they perceive value to it. But they aren’t going to get very far unless they can figure out the reason for its appeal, and avoid the temptation to make what people have been turning to anime and manga to avoid.

My Opinions of the Pokémon Direct (18 Aug 2021)

I know it’s not standard procedure to start with a TL;DR, but it comes down to this: I’m ready to buy some new games.

The presentation started with Tatako Utsunomiya from The Pokémon Company, and my impression is that he has the appearance of a true Japanese professional. He looks like he could use some sleep. And after this presentation, he’s certainly earned it.

Here’s the presentation, in case you haven’t seen it yet:

The first things showcased are various mobile games, which goes to show that Nintendo is nowhere close to abandoning mobile. Pokémon Unite was up first, though that’s one game I’m not jazzed about. But hey, that Pikachu in the festival outfit is adorable. Maybe I’ll check it out just for the opportunity to score a special character. If I were to change my mind and decide that I want to play the game, I might be happy to have him.

I suspect that that’s one of the ways that they try to hook us.

A character with outlines. Paying attention, ILCA?

Pokémon Café Mix was a game I gave a try on my tablet at around the time it came out. I liked it for the simple, frantic mechanics at first, but it got way more complicated by the later stages. The game was stylish, but it didn’t hold my attention for long. However, there are plans to give it a huge update, and the name Pokémon Café Remix. That might be cool for those who still haven’t given it a try, but as for me, I don’t much care.

However, Pokémon Masters EX is one game I’ve been playing. It’s a gatcha game that focuses on the trainers, not just the pokémon. That’s appealing, considering that in Pokémon games, the trainers are a huge part of it.

There were a few announcements, such as the addition of a couple characters we already have access to, and a special new character to be introduced as part of the second anniversary celebration, N and Reshiram. Another new character is coming, but we don’t yet know who. There shall be a new upcoming story centered around Giovanni, which for the flow of the game likely means there will be lots and lots of (skippable) dialogue, interspersed by RPG battles that seem like they end too quickly. Oh yeah, and a 3000 gem bonus that’s available to claim as of the time of the broadcast. I picked it up, and that might help when I decide to attempt for a special character.

The production values of the Pokémon Go part of the announcement were phenomenal, but when it comes down to it, how much of it is actually news to those who were already following the in-game announcements? We knew that Zacian, Zamazenta, and Hoopa were coming, so the Pokémon Go feature was little more than impressive-looking.

Normally, when a student wins the prize for “most improved”, it’s something to make them feel better, even though they still aren’t doing exceptionally well, overall. But when that same student ties for “Best in Show”, you know that something really special happened.

And so it was for Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. After having seen this trailer, I was so ready to play one of the two.

Most of what was shown wasn’t much of a surprise to those familiar with the Nintendo DS originals, putting aside the fact that ILCA was intent on expressing them with more than just a fresh coat of paint. The graphical updates are clear and obvious, to the point that I’m starting to feel a little greedy for wanting to see the games with outlines. Sure, there’s still room for improvement, but it seems that ILCA has been spending their time giving the Pokémon remakes the respect that they deserve.

I liked the underground area in the originals, which was much better with friends. I remember that one friend I had was particularly gullible with the traps I set, which did a lot to add to the fun. The Union Room is back, as are Pokémon Contests. You’d have a hard time finding fans that cared more about contests than battling, but it was still a fun diversion in the originals.

But hold on, there are new areas in the underground where you can find wild pokémon? That’s a cool addition. What’s more, following pokémon are back.

The trailer doesn’t mention as much, but there’s a limited-time offer running after the game launches that gifts players with a Manaphy egg. This was available in the originals through the Pokémon Ranger game, but they’re not remaking Pokémon Ranger. That’s a great opportunity for players for whom Manaphy was a valuable part of their experience playing Pokémon Diamond or Pearl. The distinct appearance of this egg is part of what makes it special.

After the trailer, a narrator did a rundown on what we just saw. Did she really have to speak to us as though she were speaking to children? It’s been nearly 15 years since the originals were released, so who would she be speaking to like that?

Oh yeah, we got a look at Nendoroid Cynthia:

Not that that’s the first we saw her like this.

My opinions of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have improved massively since the first time I saw them. ILCA has been hard at work since then, and it shows.

The next game shown was Pokemon Legends: Arceus. The namesake of the game wasn’t shown this time around, but we got to see plenty of gameplay and new pokémon in this stunning-looking game. Not only that, there was plenty more motion for the various pokémon shown, and new human characters that bear a striking resemblance to characters we saw in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.

The new pokémon featured are evolved forms of familiar pokemon, such as Wyrdeer, which evolved from Stantler, and Basculegion (pictured above), which is evolved from Basculin. Basculegion has an awesome backstory. It seems as though not every Basculin survives the region’s challenges, and Basculegion is strengthened by it’s compatriots who didn’t quite make it.

These are some of the manliest pokémon designs I’ve seen yet, and would fit in well with the likes of Garchomp and Tyranitar.

It seems as though the Sinnoh region was once called “Hisui”. Not only that, it was home to its own regional variants of pokemon like Braviary and Growlithe. Of these, the Hisuian Braviary looks like a real winner.

As the trailer pointed out, it’s possible for the human character to be attacked, which gives the pokémon of Hisui a connotation of danger. However, some pokémon would react to the main character differently than others. If the main character takes enough damage, the main character blacks out!

The Pokémon Direct winds down by pointing out that these new games will have connectivity with Pokémon Home. Ranked Battles will continue in Pokémon Sword and Shield, so whether these games have an effect on Ranked Battles depends largely on what new pokémon can be transferred over.

Out of everything shown, I’m looking forward to Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl the most. That stands to reason, considering that it’s the one of the major video games that’s coming the soonest. Not only that, the Sinnoh remakes have shown tremendous improvement since their initial reveal.

Considering the Switch games we’ve seen in this Direct, as well as the upcoming Metroid Dread and the BotW sequel, there’s a lot on Switch to be enthusiastic about.

This was a major win for Team Pokémon.

Cartoon Network Wants to Make Original Anime, and They’re Welcome to Try

Cartoon Network wants to team up with Warner Bros. to make their own original anime. While the idea of a couple American companies wanting to make anime has quite a number of anime enthusiasts skeptical, as I see it, they’re certainly welcome to try.

Here’s why I think so: For one thing, what we call “anime” is a style, and a style in art is pretty much how something is drawn. When Cartoon Network says that they want to make their own anime, the way I’m hearing it is that they want to have some of their cartoons drawn in the anime style.

In fact, the anime style isn’t as Japanese as we might think it is. It’s not really a surprising revelation anymore that the anime style originally came about as a result of appropriation of Disney’s style on the part of the Japanese. Yet, this doesn’t mean that anyone in particular owes anyone else anything, as it’s a natural consequence of the exchange of cultures, in a similar sense to how feudal Japanese art was the inspiration for Europe’s impressionist art movement.

The art community knows this pretty well: one’s style is the way that they draw things. Emulation of the style of another is considered “the sincerest form of flattery”, especially considering that one doesn’t choose to emulate what they consider to be inferior.

Another point to consider is that an adoption of the anime style doesn’t necessarily mean a change in the way Cartoon Network conducts business, though whether that’s for better or worse depends on one’s position on Cartoon Network’s policies. The fact is, American studios have already outsourced the production of animation frames to Asia, and this has been going on for decades. The prevalence of the internet expedited this, as today’s connected world means there’s no need to send frames on some shipping container across the Pacific.

Another reason I think Cartoon Network is welcome to try is because of who they’re getting on it: Jason DeMarco. Jason is an executive at Adult Swim, and the co-creator of the Toonami programming block. As such, the guy has a lot of experience with anime, and it stands to reason that he’d know a few things about it.

Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin

For many of us, our introduction to anime was through Toonami. Toonami was how many of us were introduced to the likes of Yuyu Hakusho, Tenchi Muyo, Cowboy Bebop, and Rurouni Kenshin. Many of our fondest early memories of anime were through Toonami and its robotic host, TOM.

It’s because of all this that if anyone at Cartoon Network can be involved in a great anime, Jason DeMarco would be the obvious choice.

One thing to watch out for, however, is the tendency of American media companies to use their products as a vehicle to express their own political positions. A prominent example of this is Crunchyroll’s still-unreleased High Guardian Spice, whose initial trailer made a point of showing that it would be primarily be women who would be working on it, which ideally has no bearing on the quality of the final product. As many, many commentators have pointed out, there’s nothing to be gained from sharing as much except to virtue signal.

Does Cartoon Network have a problem with virtue signaling? Undeniable emphatic yes. See for yourself (cringe goggles strongly recommended):

Just because you don’t see a problem yourself doesn’t mean you can’t join someone’s cult to fight it, anyway. It’s obvious child-recruiting, but most children wouldn’t have yet developed the intellectual defenses to recognize that something’s wrong, especially when it’s presented to them with a colorful cartoon exterior.

So, it’s understandable that a person might be skeptical, but one great thing about anime is that it’s one of the few entertainment mediums today that focuses more on being entertaining than attempting to virtue signal. Anime’s success is owed to merit, and it’s because of this that if Cartoon Network were to attempt an anime and a few political-minded people subvert the project, any attempt on Cartoon Network’s part at anime would fail, and their potential audience will still have libraries of shows that they’d rather watch.

Thus, if Cartoon Network wants to make an anime, they’re welcome to try. They’ve got someone on it with plenty of experience working with anime, which looks great for them. And if they somehow botch it, anime as a whole won’t suffer for it, because we can just watch what we prefer, anyway.

If someone is intent on succeeding for the wrong reasons, sometimes, it’s better to give them the opportunity to fail so they’ll learn their lesson.

But if a great anime can come about in spite of the corporate environment it originated from, that should be appreciated as the unlikely win that it would be. And that victory would present a potential for learning for the corporate environment, itself. Unlikely as any of that would be.

Manga Review: Touhou Suichouka: The Lotus Eaters, Drunk and Sober (Chapter 1)

Author: ZUN (writer), Mizutaki (art)
Status: Ongoing
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: Kadokawa
Rating: Unrated
Available to read online on BookWalker, fees may apply.

Did you see this coming, or what?

Touhou Suichouka: The Lotus Eaters, Drunk and Sober is one of the first manga to benefit from Kadokawa’s in-house localization and similpub program, and personally, I’m glad to have it. And because it’s one of seven manga offering its first three chapters for free until September 1, 2021, as of this posting, there’s no cost just to check it out.

Like many introductory chapters to manga, The Lotus Eaters features an extended first chapter, featuring 49 pages, the first few of which are in color, such as the following example:

The color pages are stunning. Are they really okay with giving this away?

The Lotus Eaters was authored by ZUN, the man who created the Touhou series of games that the characters featured in this manga originated from. For those still unfamiliar with Touhou, its setting is the fictional realm of Gensokyo, which would be somewhere in Japan. There are many unusual occurrences in Gensokyo, which a shrine maiden, Reimu Hakurei, investigates. Behind the occurrences are usually yokai, which is an encompassing term that refers to any humanoid with exceptional or supernatural qualities. While many of the antagonists in Touhou are dangerous in theory, their activities are usually varying degrees of benign, and the antagonists usually make peace by the conclusion of their respective games.

The story of The Lotus Eaters begins with a rumor that’s circulating about a man who went missing after drinking, who was supposedly abducted by a ghoul. Reimu gets wind of this rumor, and decides to go on an investigation. The first person who’s implicated is Suika, a known drunk, but she claims innocence (to a point of departure, since Suika isn’t known for her innocence).

However, the picnic is interrupted by a giant boar, and Reimu begins to fend it off. The fantastic elements involved make it clear that the fight was either a hallucination or a dream.

That’s not Calamity Ganon.

The story is written in such a way that it’s easy to blame the sake that Reimu was drinking for what was going on, but I suspect that something else was up. It gets spoilery from that point on, and I prefer that you read the manga for yourself if you want to know how the chapter concludes.

If I may speculate, I suspect that something was in the stew that Reimu was eating, which resulted in her hallucinating. If narcotics were involved, this would make the story darker than what we usually see out of Touhou, whose conflicts are usually much ado about nothing.

It’s plain to see that the art is exceptional. I could be mistaken, but the line art appears to be hand-drawn with a black ink, which I understand can be quite a painstaking endeavor. Then, image editing software seems to have been used to add various shading and gradient effects, which is pretty standard in manga. Still, it’s plain to see that a lot of heart is put into this, and in this regard, The Lotus Eaters has caught my attention.

By the way, notice the lotus root in the dish above? Could that be a mere arbitrary namesake, or is there something else going on concerning it?

From what I’ve seen so far, The Lotus Eaters is recommended. The art and storytelling are top-tier, and if the duo of ZUN and Mizutaki keep this up, The Lotus Eaters is going to be a real winner.

Who else is up for some lotus stew?

Let’s Be Honest About Niantic and Pokémon Go.

Recently, Niantic caused a stir among the Pokémon Go community by announcing that they’d be making a change to the game that would cause it to, in a respect, function as it did prior to the lockdowns. Specifically, it had to do with reverting the distance to interact with Pokéstops and gyms to 40 meters, down from the 80 meter distance that players have been enjoying.

Since then, Niantic has reverted the distance, but fans have spoken up about their displeasure with this development, and have brought up some pretty compelling reasons as to why the interaction distance should have remained 80 meters, which they outlined in an open letter to Niantic.

Personally, I enjoyed the additional distance, even if just for the slight convenience involved. It was one of the best changes that they’ve implemented into the game, as I see it.

But let’s be honest, here. When Niantic made the choice to begin reverting some of the game’s changes, they were likely aware that they’d face resistance from the fans, who would express displeasure at the game company. And if they had such anticipation in something which could have predictably occurred, they were likely set in their decision before it was even implemented, and therefore, they would likely have been ready to dig their heels in and stand firm in their decision.

There are many, many changes that could be made to Pokémon Go that would have improved the game for the better. If they were aware that these are changes that they could implement, then they are not implementing them, by reason of not caring enough to do so. And if they were not aware, then they are painfully out-of-touch with their own fans. Either way, it looks bad.

When it comes to “free-to-play” mobile games, it’s sadly often the case that money talks. When there’s a major issue, the game makers tend to defer to the whales, as they’re the ones who are making the game profitable. But it stands to reason that the whales would have less issue with how the game is managed, considering that they can justify spending thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of dollars on a mobile game. One mobile game in particular, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, has actually granted whales direct lines of communication with the developers. While it depends on the developer, oftentimes, it’s the whales who have more say with the developers than the free-to-play players.

Most game developers want to make a product that’s profitable, at least enough to stay in business. This isn’t accomplished by giving the free-to-play players everything they want, this is accomplished by creating a game that has a system of value wherein certain in-game assets are considered more valuable by reason of their scarcity, to the point that certain players can justify spending real-life money on these in-game assets.

I’m not saying we should be angry at these whales. If anything, we should be concerned for them, as many of them have a problem that results in them parting with great sums of money. But the fact is, these whales do accomplish something for the rest of us: they help keep the games profitable so that those of use who are free-to-play (or close to it) still have a game to play. In a weird sense, we have something to thank them for.

So, if we really want to make a difference, it’s the whales that we appeal to, right? After all, it stands to reason that Niantic would listen to those who do more to keep their game profitable. Except, we can’t really tell who’s a whale and who isn’t, unless they identify as such. And what’s more, another player’s spending habits are none of our business.

Considering this, I think it’s unlikely that Niantic is going to bend on this issue. I know that the community makes some solid points, and I especially agree with the point that the increased interaction distances increases the safety involved with playing Pokémon Go, and the accessibility for those who are disabled.

Still, I suspect that Niantic is digging their heels in. But if you still want to reach out to them, that might help to make Pokémon Go a better game. Just don’t be surprised if your effort doesn’t get anywhere.

The Disgaea 6 DLC Package is Now Complete (so why doesn’t it seem that way?)

As of yesterday afternoon, the Disgaea 6 DLC saw the addition of the characters of Killia and Usalia. What’s more, those who purchased the DLC season pass got its completion bonus: extra color palettes to customize the characters of Asagi, Pleinair, and Usalia.

The DLC package is now complete. So, why doesn’t it seem that way?

I don’t know, but it might be the case that it’s actually not. One thing that’s easy to notice about the current Disgaea 6 DLC package is that it has a heavy emphasis on characters that played a starring role in the Disgaea series, such as Mao and Killia.

Missing from the package are characters from other Nippon Ichi games that usually make cameo appearances in Disgaea games, such as Zetta, Priere, Pram, and Marona.

I suspect that one of the reasons for their absence is because Disgaea, like other long-running game franchises, has become difficult to develop in such a way that meets all of the expectations of the fans. A prime example of this is Pokémon, whose Sword and Shield installments omitted features such as mega evolution, Z-moves, and many of the pokémon characters themselves (some of which were brought on with expansions).

One of the features we don’t see in Disgaea 6 is magi-change, which has been a series mainstay since Disgaea 3, and multi-character skills, which we saw in Disgaea 5. I might have missed magi-change, but I seldom used it. The only time I remember using it in Disgaea 5 was to have Usalia help another character level up.

Perhaps omitting a large number of characters was a concession to make developing Disgaea 6 reasonable with its use of 3D character models. But I’m suspicious that that might not actually be the case.

I suspect that a large number of characters were intentionally withheld for use in a future season of DLC releases, to be purchased with another season pass. If this were the case, it would mean that a player that purchased Disgaea 6 with the first DLC season pass wouldn’t actually have the complete experience, whatever their expectations may have originally been.

Nippon Ichi’s DLC practices have been somewhat questionable in the past. Considering that it can be easily assumed that many of these DLC characters would be implemented anyway, it seems suspiciously as though they are being intentionally withheld to fill up a DLC package.

Having said that, here’s my opinion of the DLC package we currently have: Do I feel like I got my money’s worth? Not entirely, but it’s not all bad. Whoever wrote the stories did a mostly excellent job. The characters were very well in character, and their lines were easy to read in their tone. Also, they provided more lines with Zed, and I can appreciate his determination combined with his lack of filter. Then there’s Pleinair; that may have been the most background we got on this mysterious character at a time.

Here are the DLC winners:

The character from the DLC I like most would be Pleinair. Not just from a game mechanics perspective, but also as a matter of preference. Perhaps there’s something to be said about a character that’s so understated that you don’t get the chance to get tired of her.

Valvatorez might have the most utility, thanks to an evility available to him that increases the effect of the Juice Bar in a huge way.

PolPol is the most broken, but in a way available to the generic class her character is based on. She’s a part of the free V-tuber package, so why not go for her?

Usalia gets an honorable mention. Much of her utility in Disgaea 5 was due to mechanics available in that game. But she’s such a fan favorite that it’s great just to have her around.

If there is going to be another DLC season, how much do they want for it?

My Opinion of Sony’s Crunchyroll Purchase

Sony just completed its purchase of Crunchyroll from AT&T, with approval from the US Justice Department to complete the $1.175 billion purchase.

For anime fans outside of Japan, this isn’t a small deal, as this means that Sony now has both Crunchyroll and Funimation, giving them huge control of the anime industry outside of Japan. This can be concerning, as Sony’s recent move of their Computer Entertainment (SCE) division to California has resulted in concerns that Sony might start adopting more “politically correct” values, similar to other tech giants being headquartered in the same state. The PlayStation brand’s decline in popularity in Japan can be attributed to the Japanese feeling alienated by SCE’s decision to move abroad.

The completion of Sony’s purchase of Crunchyroll comes on the heels of the news that Kadokawa would be adopting a direct-to-consumer model, which involves translating their manga in-house, bypassing western localization. This signals hope for the Japanese entertainment industry abroad, considering that if the anime industry adopted a similar model, there wouldn’t be any need for what’s developed outside of Sony to pass through Sony to get to the United States, or to Europe.

There are those who have expressed concern that this merger somehow legitimizes High Guardian Spice, the Crunchyroll original written by western authors with a sad attempt at the Japanese anime style. For one thing, the only thing we know about High Guardian Spice is that it looks terrible, as though the Steven Universe style was done with anime eyes, and then arbitrarily called an anime. That’s undoubtedly a bad sign for the final product, but at this point, we still don’t know anything about the writing.

High Guardian Spice looks terrible.

Another thing about High Guardian Spice is that Sony isn’t the entity that legitimizes it, we are. At this point, much of the interest in High Guardian Spice comes in the form of the ridicule it receives for its attempt at the anime style. But on Crunchyroll’s end, they wouldn’t tell the difference between a person who hate-watches it from someone who is a sincere fan, if that person were to watch every episode. Right now, Crunchyroll might be interpreting the publicity its getting as a positive sign, looking at it in terms of the engagement that it’s getting as meaning it has a huge potential viewership.

What people seem to be overlooking is that the acquisition of Crunchyroll by Sony might be bad news for High Guardian Spice, as after corporate buyouts, it’s usually the behavior of the buyer to scour their new acquisition for jetsam and flotsam that may have only been retained up until that point as a matter of pride and position. High Guardian Spice, as with any other Crunchyroll project, is going to have to work extra hard to justify its existence, because it’s in danger of getting the axe if all the engagement it gets is from internet ridicule.

Yeah, I know that my opinion of the purchase of Crunchyroll has just been heavily dominated by High Guardian Spice. I’ve been sitting on my opinion of it for quite a while, but it keeps coming up, so it’s becoming hard to ignore, and it makes less of a difference whether I give it more publicity. What people need to realize is that, like with Teen Titans Go, something can owe a lot of its success just to the engagement that it gets, even if negative. The ones that make it a big deal is you.

Funimation has been a bad localization company, even if not as bad as the disaster that was 4Kids (but if I were to get into that, this topic would easily get derailed again). Crunchyroll is another western localization company, with values that are similar to Funimation. If the two were to merge under the banner of Sony, there’d be a consolidation of power in anime localization, which has the potential to be be bad for competition in the industry.

Both companies have historically felt the need to make things more “safe” for the “trigger-sensitive” who have never seen a real conflict in real life. This has been a point of contention for the more devoted anime fan, who generally prefers that their localizations be as in-line with the intentions of the Japanese originals as can be reasonably managed. If there’s no longer competition between Crunchyroll and Funimation, there’d be less incentive for either of the two companies to change, and thus woke politics may continue to play a part in the product that makes it into the hands of western audiences.

In spite of their recent compromises, Sony is still a Japanese company, and characteristic of Japanese companies, pride tends to factor less into their decision-making, and they are in a better position to resist the politics of California’s tech climate. If they learn the lessons of their recent past, which includes the decline in the popularity of the PlayStation brand, anime localization may have brighter days ahead.

Otherwise, anime fans might find themselves hoping for Japanese anime companies adopting a more in-house localization approach. Because the Japanese entertainment industry is warming up to that, it’s easy to be optimistic that that will be happening, in any case.