I still haven’t decided whether or not I really want to commit to watching older series, so I took a look at this week’s episode of Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi. For some reason, it decides to now give us one long, extended look into Orphen’s past. We get to see how he and Azalie liked to spar all the time. We get to see how he was seen as the successor’s of Razor’s Edge, but of course, we have no idea what that means because this adaptation likes to explain nothing. We even get a flashback within a flashback when he thought back to their days at the orphanage. Last but not least, we saw how he bested Azalie when she tried to mess with him. This came as quite a shock to her, since she almost always came out on top in their previous bouts. But earlier, he claimed that he was just letting Azalie win in order to avoid her bad moods. I guess he wasn’t just being a sore loser and making excuses. And maybe this played a small part in Azalie becoming obsessed with her dangerous research. Like she felt she has to prove herself as the best prodigy in order to catch Childman’s attention. But who knows, because it’s all in the past.
I still don’t know why we’re getting all of this info now, though. We don’t always have to start at the beginning when we tell a story, but it is generally still a good idea to do so. I’m just saying you don’t always have to buck tradition just for the sake of doing so. None of the events in the previous three episodes had any emotional impact on me because I barely knew these characters. Orphen’s desperation to save Azalie didn’t mean anything to me. The sudden twist where he had to cut her down wasn’t impactful either. Then once this conflict was firmly in the rear view mirror, the adaptation now decides to tell us more about these two characters. It’s silly. But maybe now, the story can move onto something else. Hell, anything else. Orphen is on a trip, and these two weirdos have decided to tag along. Why? Well, the guy still wants to be trained by Orphen in the way of sorcery. As for Claiomh, she just wants to see the world, and she thinks traveling with some dude she barely knows is a good idea. Shrug. I still expect Azalie to rear her ugly mug at some point just to make trouble for Orphen.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Anyways, I guess I’ll use this space to talk a bit about Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. This is the first time in any JRPG where I would just straight up skip cutscenes. See, when you complete one of the side stories, there’s a good chance that your allies will do a song and dance. After all, they’re idols, and singing and dancing is what to do. And good lord do these songs all suck. Of course, this is all subjective, and I’ve always been upfront about my dislike for idols and the idol industry. But this game epitomizes why I detest these stories so much: they are completely and utterly one-dimensional. Fine, I don’t like the music, but there’s more to being an idol than that, right? You can at least give me the human side of the struggle. We’ve all heard stories about the entertainment industry — some really dark stories. We’ve heard how some producers will literally pimp their young artists out to executives. It’s okay if Tokyo Mirage Sessions doesn’t want to go there. I don’t necessarily need a dark and depressing game. I don’t need to see teenagers get victimized even if it does actually happen in the real world. The real problem is that the story isn’t content to do anything but kiss the industry’s ass.
I’ll get bullshit side stories like… uguu, I have to act cute, but I’m too embarrassed to openly like cute stuff. So you know what I’ll do? I’ll just slay cute monsters in a dungeon until I accept that I truly like cute stuff! Seriously? Then there’s another side story about how one idol’s acting isn’t “suggestive” enough, so what does she do? She goes and studies a stray cat. Like you have the potential to discuss how a young girl — a high schooler, mind you — might not feel comfortable flaunting her sex appeal in order to do a commercial, but the story completely wusses out. Over and over again, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is just full of these dumbass fluff stories. Nothing about how it isn’t all sunshine and roses in the entertainment industry. Nothing about how only a small percentage of these artists actually hit it big (surprise, surprise, everyone here is massively successful). Nothing about juggling schoolwork, being an idol, and still maintaining their personal lives. Nothing about dealing with creeps and stalkers. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is decidedly one-note, and it suffers massively for it. For the first time, I literally just mute the game and watch something on the side because it is honestly that boring.
Luckily, the game is also quite short. I’m about 75% done with the game, and I’ve only clocked in 20 hours of gameplay. And gameplay-wise, it’s fine. Atlus’s turn-based battle system hasn’t fundamentally changed in decades. It’s mostly stuff you’ve seen before with a few small tweaks. Keep buffs up? Gotcha. Debuff the enemies? Alright. Target weaknesses? Way ahead of ya. Rinse and repeat. I still enjoy it, though. After all, it’s slightly more challenging than Persona 5, which was a cakewalk from start to finish. Even the puzzles here are slightly harder than the ones in P5. Anyways, I’ll probably be done with the game by tonight, then I can put it away forever. I’m just disappointed that none of the Switch JRPGs have yet to hit it out of the park. I guess I’ll just have to keep pining for Shin Megami Tensei V… wherever the hell it is.