Just Rambling: Mahoutsukai no Yome and Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Normally, I’d do a write up of Mahoutsukai no Yome, but I couldn’t finish the latest episode. The show just feels so repetitive. Every week, someone tells Chise that she’s too dependent on Elias. She then gives the same basic response: my childhood sucks, my family didn’t want me, boo hoo, Elias wants me, so I don’t mind being complacent. Well, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the anime’s characters and setting. We never learn anything new about her or her past. The girl just isn’t developing fast enough for my tastes. To compound matters, the setting doesn’t capture me. You can’t just slap a slow piano track onto a scene and call it atmospheric. People will disagree with me vehemently about this, but so be it. I’ve given the anime ten weeks, and I have yet to see anything that takes my breath away. To sum it all up, I don’t enjoy writing about the show, and those posts never get a lot of views, so why not move on?

I finally got my copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 last Friday, and I’ve already put in about… 30 hours? Gameplay-wise, I’m enjoying it a lot. The battle system is a little slow, but I like the comboing, the position requirements, the button-timing a la Super Mario RPG. I haven’t run into any boss encounters that are too difficult to handle, but hopefully, it just means I haven’t gotten far enough into the game yet. Still, the overworld is massive, so I’ve been wasting a lot of time just running around, sightseeing, and collecting materials. Materials for what? Crafting, I guess. I’m not sure. There’s a bunch of gameplay mechanics I still haven’t really dove into earnestly. I just unlocked some mercenary group where I have to assign people to missions all across the world. There’s just so much to do.

Storywise, hoo boy, the game is definitely no Xenogears. One of the things I hated the most about Trails of Cold Steel 1 & 2 was how often I’d beat a boss, then in the post-battle cutscene, I’d see my characters getting their asses handed to them by said boss. My team is panting; they’ve been driven to their limits. Meanwhile, the typical JRPG boss tosses his hair all cool-like. Heh, didn’t even break a sweat, kid! Ooooh, it turns out the boss was just using a fraction of their powers. Well, unfortunately, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is full of this nonsense. I don’t mind unwinnable battles. I do mind, however, this sort of bait-and-switch. It’s just so jarring to go from a dominant victory to getting my ass kicked. I understand that at this point in the story, my party is too weak to really stand up to the bad guys… so let them kick my ass from the get-go!

The dubbing is a mix bag. I hate Rex’s voice, but I like Pyra’s voice. The whole adult woman thing is a whole lot better than what she sounds like in Japanese. In the Japanese voice track, she just has that generic, canon priestess waifu voice if you know what I mean. Even though she conjures up face-melting flame and can do spins in the air with a sword, she sounds like someone who couldn’t hurt a fly. Speaking of which, your party feels like a big waifu zoo. You got the default waifu who also doubles as the girl with a mysterious past. Of course, she’s an expert at cooking. You then have the obligatory catgirl waifu, who might also be a bit tsundere for the main character. Then you meet the cute JRPG mascot character — no, the other cute JRPG mascot character — who then builds you a robot waifu that can double as a maid! There’s even a cutscene where robot waifu teaches your priestess waifu how to be moe, but it’s translated to “blushy-crushy.” Anyway, I’m not sure if Morag will join my party later, but there’s the stern, semi-reverse trap military waifu. Bring on all the goddamn waifus.

What they do with the translation is just weird. I don’t want to spend all day talking about it. It’s just something that sticks out like a sore thumb. The subs say Pyra, but the Japanese voice track has Rex referring to his partner as Homura. But whatever. She has fire powers, so pyro… pyra… yeah, sure. But Mythra is really Hikari. Where on earth did you get Mythra? They don’t even have similar meanings. Poppi is really Hana, but I guess poppies are at least flowers. Still, why keep Tora then? Why not call him Tiger? But then you have Ahkos, who is really Yoshitsune. I really have no idea why they bothered to change these names. Tora refers to Rex as aniki in the Japanese voice track, but they just stick with Rex in the subs. I guess big bro doesn’t quite have the same context? But it does, doesn’t it?

More broadly, the story is currently very light and breezy, so it isn’t all that compelling yet. I keep playing because the gameplay is addictive, but the end goal — reaching Elysium to prevent all wars — isn’t emotionally resonant to me. The story doesn’t do a great job of driving home the fact that people are running out of space to live. The characters keep referring to the fact that the nations are on the brink of war, but this is poorly conveyed to the audience outside of maybe one or two scenes of soldiers being mobilized. Hopefully, things get a lot more serious and a lot more interesting from here on out, but so far, I’m pretty much just sleepwalking through the cutscenes. The characters aren’t interesting themselves either. Rex is the type of generic JRPG asshole who unironically says nonsense like “We’ll win with the power of our friendship!” Or maybe it is ironic. The distinction begins to blur after the hundredth time you’ve heard the same battle lines over and over. At one point, I thought to myself, “Okay, someone needs to die to lend this story some gravitas.” Naturally, they kill off the only non-cutesy character. Can’t kill off my waifus.

Oops, I didn’t mean for this post to primarily focus on Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but I guess I don’t have much else to talk about. I still haven’t gotten around to watching Children of the Whales nor have I really gotten the chance to marathon an older anime series. My usual routine is work, watch anime, watch movies, sleep. I have been watching a ton of movies, but I’ll talk about them in an end-of-the-year post. That way, I’ll also be able to cover the new Star Wars movie. I can also finally get around to detailing my thoughts on Blade Runner 2049, which I’ve now seen three times.  But I know you guys would rather hear me rant about A Bad Moms Christmas, huh?

Anyway, you’ll see more of these posts from here on out. From time to time, I want to step back from the episodic write ups and just ramble a bit about everything and nothing.

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13 Replies to “Just Rambling: Mahoutsukai no Yome and Xenoblade Chronicles 2”

  1. Mahoutsukai No Yome: I did told you that this anime isn’t going to be your cup of tea. Unless you have an interest in British/Celtic folklore, this anime/manga is meh. Chise and Elias are just so f*cking boring. There are times I wish Elias is a sociopathic, megalomaniac villain just because I think it would make the story more exciting or tense.

    Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Gameplay-wise, this game is fine (except the parts that emulate gacha), but nowadays I prefer to play games, especially RPG, for the story than gameplay. No matter how interesting or awesome the gameplay is, it’ll become repetitive after a few days, especially RPG. Even games like Stellaris or Civilization will suffer that, too, given enough time, but RPG suffers from it the worse. And the story for this game is ugh… I’ll just let these wise words from you speak for me.

    “Storywise, hoo boy, the game is definitely no Xenogears.”

    Damn straight. The story of the Xeno franchise just keep getting worse and worse with each installment. The story of the Xenosaga series and Xenoblade 1 isn’t as good as Xenogears, but they aren’t this bad. Holy shit.

    None of the characters even seem like a character from a game from the Xeno franchise. Their designs and characters are just shit. Goddammit, this game is more like a fan fiction of the series that is written by some waifu-obsessed weeb than a proper game of the series. The parts of the game that emulate gacha and all the guest illustrators not only remind me of those shitty mobile game like Kancolle or Fate Grand Order, but also make the artistic direction of this game into a mess. The world is still beautiful to look at, but the rest is just ugh… What the f*ck happen during the creative process of this game?

    How can the creators go from creating Xenoblade 1 to creating this farce?

    “From time to time, I want to step back from the episodic write ups and just ramble a bit about everything and nothing.”

    That is cool. Not to mention, most of the anime today isn’t meaty enough to be analyzed. They are just there to be forgotten after they aired.

  2. The combat in xenoblade 2 is actually pretty fast paced but it requires that you have full competency with the game mechanics. Trust, once you do the pace of battle will feel snappy

    1. Oh and regards to pyra’s jap vs eng voice, i agree that the older sounding tone is more pleasing but the actress’ line delivery needs work in areas. Sometimes she’s good and sometimes not so much, but i blame that more on poor voice direction. At the end of the day, the person who captures the character best will win my favor and that goes to Pyra’s JP Va. Besides, her being super powerful but sounding like she wouldnt hurt a fly is kind of the point. Those two traits of hers being diametrically opposed is supposed to make her contrast to Mythra that much more salient.

      As for the story, I can see where you are coming from, but i appreciate the game going out of its way to do a better job contextualize the cast and their personalities much more than the previous xenoblade games. Sure the cast members arent these really layered characters (at least not all of them) but good character writing is also defined by how well the writer can accentuate the personality traits of the characters (whether they remind of of xyz or not) and XC2 does that. Not to mention that the story does have some mature things to say and that will become evident towards the last third of the game

        1. hahaha hey that’s cool if you still feel its slow; I’m sure you feel that way for good reason as there are those who still feel the combat is a smidge slow even after polishing their skills and mastering the mechanics. It just that from my experience and that of a good deal of people who have played the game, they agree that once you’ve grasped the synergistic rhythm of auto-attack canceling into arts, into canceling into other arts, into canceling by special into cancelling into other blades and using chain attacks to cause millions of damage, the pace of battle is pretty damn quick. Doing all those things just provides the player with a sense of exponential progress in battle that it feels like you are blazing through battle; but hey, that’s just one point of view

          1. I’m doing all of that. I’ve put together x30 multipliers that have completely wiped bosses off the map. It’s not like I even needed to in the first place. I’m sure there are hidden endgame bosses where those tactics are necessary, but right now, the story encounters are too easy. Moreover, I just don’t prefer these in-between battle systems. I don’t hate them, but I prefer something completely turn based like Persona or something completely action based like Nier. When games try to split the difference, it feels slow and fast at the same time.

            1. Yea i fell ya; I figured that your reception of the game’s combat speed might have been attributed to you preferring battle system that don’t essentially feel like they’re trying to have their cake and eat it too. But i digress; looking forward to your nier automata “review” once you’re satisfied with the quality of the post. I know how it feels to want to make sure something you’re passionate about is as polished as can be before publishing it

  3. After all the hype the game got in interviews about being a return to story driven after X(which I actually enjoyed a lot) I didn’t think it would basically be a tales game instead of a xenogears or even xenoblade 1 narrative. Sure it has an overabundance of waifus which can be a warning sign in jrpgs(because rarely if ever will the writers be willing to take risks with a lot of cute girls, or give them flaws etc) but I can overlook that if the story is interesting but it ain’t.

    1. I’m coming up on 50 hours, and it’s slightly better than a Tales game. Then again, the Tales series have really gone downhill in the past few entries.

  4. It’s interesting to read your thoughts on the XC2 battle system, because I’ve recently started and I’ve found that the auto-attack heavily removes me from combat. I feel more like an omniscient thing floating above Rex’ head yelling at him to use his specials and Arts than someone who’s involved in the combat. Wait until autoattack fills the bar, press the button like a QTE for bonus special meter, press special when it’s built up enough. Also, the in-fight movement is so clunky and slow; I move the stick, Rex ponderously finishes his attack, turns completely and starts moving, then when I let go he turns back towards the enemy he’s been clipping his weapon through to make numbers pop up and resumes doing that.

    That, combined with how it’s apparently nigh-impossible to evade attacks (turning and trying to run away from a boss doing a very obvious windup has the boss’ melee animation play and I still take damage even though I’m halfway across the map by the point it ‘connects’) leads to a combat system with next to no feedback.

    Maybe I’m looking for the wrong thing here, but when Pyra/Homura/whatevera had the initial dynamic swordfight with Mocas or whatever on the ship, it looked more like one of the Bayonetta games or Automata than the actual system – and I thought to myself that I’d much rather be playing that kind of game. All of the tryhard flying around, doing improbable somersaults and everything else Rex did was such a sharp contrast to the sluggish, QTE-like combat that I’m having a hard time getting into the game.

    The writing is amazingly garbage, too; normally the death of a mentor/grandfather figure at least gets milked for some cheap angst, but the big dragon turns into a cutesy mascot within five goddamn seconds – and Rex just magically gets over the trauma of having Dragon-Wan Kenobi die for his sake without even a hint of trauma or shock. Nope, straight back to being a bland hero-because-whatever jrpg lead. Hoo boy.

    1. I don’t mind the auto-attacking. Without it, we’d just be mashing some button mindlessly. And unless they give us an interesting moveset and/or comboing system, I’d rather just auto-attack. Like you, I did think I could dodge attacks in the beginning. Your combat movement speed does noticeably improve later, but that’s kind of the problem. The battle system is completely tuned for late game optional encounters where you have to actually use seals correctly, actually care about launching and smashing regularly, actually bother to stack and break more than two elemental orbs, so on and so forth. On the other hand, nothing that you’re required to fight will require you to properly utilize the battle mechanics, which is a shame. I sleep walk through every important boss fight, and I only go for trash mob anymore to fill out affinity tress. Unless, of course, you don’t do any quests whatsoever and go into the story fights completely underleveled.

      And yeah, after 100 hours, the story is still incredibly mediocre. It’s a slight step up from a Tales game, but god, I hate MCs like Rex. He’s about as intelligent and thoughtful as a sledgehammer. The villains are flaccid. I don’t like or hate them. I just don’t care. Their misguided motivations are really rather stale in this day and age.

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