My initial plan was to watch The Souvenir in the afternoon, then come back and blog about Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi. I ended up not feeling too great, so I stayed home and watched the boring anime instead. What can I say about Orphen? At the moment, not all that much. Cursory research tells me that this is a remake of something I never even knew existed, and true to form, the 2020 adaptation does feel like a bit of a time warp. There’s just this look that protagonists from the late 90s all share, and Orphen has it:
They all kinda have the same brash, cocky attitude as well. I think I might have talked about this briefly when I tried to cover Outlaw Star, but alas, I shelved that project and never looked back. Anyways, let me just say outright that this opening episode misses the mark in terms of getting me interesting to see what happens next. The story first begins five years ago when Orphen sees his childhood friend Azalie turn into an ugly ass dragon. Despite her newly monstrous form, he protects her from his fellow sorcerers and… well, that’s it. Roll the OP. Fast forward to the present day, and it’s obvious that Orphen has severed ties with his colleagues. I guess hounding a bunch of child-like dwarves around for money is a better life. Actually, he mentions later that he has been trying to locate Azalie, but as one might expect, the lost only turns up when they want to be found.
Azalie has returned for reasons unknown as of now, and she’s after the same sword that was last seen by her side five years ago. And again, Orphen has to stand between her and those same sorcerous sorcerers shooting their saucy sorcery beams. My problem is that this is where the first episode ends. The first episode wastes so much time on the hijinks between Orphen and the two dwarves that by the time we get to something remotely interesting, I have to wait another week to see what happens next. To add insult to injury, I’m not even all that hooked on the whole bae is now a dragon storyline. In reality, this plot is just the only thing worth chewing on a plate full of inedible garnishes. To be fair, we also get introduced to Claiomh (a name I would have no hope of pronouncing on my own)… barely. Plus, I wouldn’t even have known that she’s an important character had I not watched the OP. Oh well, enough about this show. I’ll watch another episode at the very least, but for a remake twenty years after the fact, the animation doesn’t even seem solid. That’s Studio Deen for ya.
So… uh, what else to talk about… um… well, I could bitch about The Rise of Skywalker. In all honesty, I don’t want to spend too much time on the film. I’m just kinda surprised that all of my coworkers seem to think that the movie is only bad because it had to correct The Last Jedi’s missteps. And don’t get me wrong, ’cause I also hated The Last Jedi. Nevertheless, I don’t see how The Last Jedi forced Abrams to bring back Palpatine. Like really, if we can’t have Snoke, we just gotta drag Palpatine’s rotting ass corpse back from the dead? Reeeeeeeally? I don’t see how The Last Jedi forced Abrams to turn Star Wars into a video gamey plot where you have to find the magical dagger on video game location A to locate the magical Sith artifact at video game location B that will lead you to the final boss’s lair full of menacing lightning and dark clouds at final video game location C. Be sure to talk to the NPCs along the way! And of course, the dagger totally points towards the exact location like some goddamn plot device from an Indiana Jones movie. Finally, I don’t think The Last Jedi forced Abrams to squeeze in an awkward kiss between two characters with no romantic development and chemistry whatsoever, then hilariously and immediately cut away as if Kylo Ren’s death has no emotional weight. Even Luke bothered to give his father a proper viking funeral. But that’s the thing about The Rise of Skywalker. It can’t afford to linger in one place, because it’s so devoid of actual substance. It so badly wants to be the Endgame for the sequel trilogy, but it fails to even pull that off. At least the Marvel universe had the huevos to write consequences into its stories. Shocker: people actually die in conflicts! They don’t just get revived over and over. The only person who bit the dust was the mass murderer. Hilarious. And y’know what, maybe The Last Jedi sucked because The Force Awakens was so disgustingly derivative. Ultimately, it’s best to just move on. Sometimes, you just have to let your loved ones go, and Star Wars is one of them.
I saw Little Women and that was good.
Can I talk about the games I’ve played? Unfortunately, I’m into a bunch of niche JRPG series that aren’t very accessible. Like physically accessible. The problem with Trails of Cold Steel 3 is that it’s part 8 of one continuous story. So on the one hand, I wanna tell people to get the Switch port that’s coming out later this year if they haven’t already played the game on the PS4. But on the other hand, none of the previous seven games can be found on the Switch. None. Fine, you don’t need to play the first five games. You can just jump in at Cold Steel 1… but you can’t even do that. I get it. It takes manpower to port a game from one platform to another, and it doesn’t seem like Falcom really has all that many resources to spare. It’s just funny that a developer like Gust can find a publisher in Koei Tecmo to really take the bull by the horns when it comes to being multiplaform, but the Atelier series aren’t even close to being as well made as the Legend of Heroes series. They’re addicting, but that doesn’t really correlate to quality. After all, gacha games are addictive. Nevertheless, not only do the Atelier games launch on the PS4, Switch and PC, they’re also porting older games to the latest console. I will more than likely grab the Atelier Dusk trilogy for the PS4 when it goes live in the west in about a week or so. Meanwhile, if you’re a Switch owner interested in trying the rest of the Legend of Heroes series, I hope you have a PC. Yep, can’t even rely on the PS4 because five of the games aren’t on the it. Ah well.
AI: The Somnium Files was really enjoyable despite all of its flaws and genre trappings. I liked it so much that it made me want to try other visual novels. But we all know that the experience won’t quite be the same. Every so often, you get a 3rd person exploration segment in AI: The Somnium Files. This helps to break up the monotony of just reading a barrage of dialogue between static talking heads. Could I enjoy something like Chaos;Child as much as AI: The Somnium Files? Maybe, but I’m not quite willing to bet 50 bucks on it, which is basically how much the PS4 game currently costs on Amazon. If I’m going to try anything new, it’ll probably be Utawarerumono series because I’m told that it has some SRPG elements. But since Prelude to the Fallen is coming out in March, I may as well wait for it.
Other than that, I beat Death Stranding. Typical Kojima storytelling where everything is wacky initially, but once he dumps 90% of the exposition on you in the final two hours, it’s really not that crazy. On the other side of the coin, the gameplay wasn’t really my cup of tea; it was only fun for like five hours. After that, I dragged myself through the rest of the game just to see how the story unfolds. I never want to deliver a fucking pizza ever again.
At the moment, I’m just sitting tight and waiting for the big hitters looming on the horizon. Obviously, I’m going to play the FF7 remake as well as Persona 5 Royal. I’ll keep myself busy with Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore and the Yakuza Remastered Collection until then. If Elden Ring comes out later this year, all the better, but Sekiro has blunted my excitement for future Fromsoft just a tiny bit. I like Sekiro, but it didn’t capture my imagination like Dark Souls or Bloodborne. It simply came and went. I can’t help but wonder if Elden Ring will be the same. Then there’s also Cyberpunk 2077. I’m one of the few gamers who didn’t enjoy the Witcher series. I chased after some dead fetus in Witcher 3, broke my weapon, then sold the game for Dark Souls 3 the very next day. It just wasn’t working for me. But because Cyberpunk is cyberpunk, I’m willing to give it a shot. I just love the genre and the topics it explores. I love the idea of transhumanism and corporate nightmare run amok. Anyways, I hope that Cold Steel 4 comes to the West before 2021. Last but not least, the PS5 will drop by the end of the year, but unless there’s a surprise Demon’s Souls remake, I’m only buying it to play more of my weeb games. Honestly, when was the last time that Sony had awesome launch games?
Okay, I’ve rambled on long enough.