Visual Novels: A unique way to tell a compelling story


As many of you Anime fans might have heard–hopefully from my blogs–The Clannad Visual Novel was released on Steam last Fall. It was an important moment for Visual Novels being released in North America as Clannad had name recognition thanks to the anime, which itself is based on the Visual Novel. Western fans could now enjoy Clannad in its original form. That said, Clannad wasn’t the first VN to get a Western release and likely won’t be the last. Even though its Western release comes over 10 years after its original release in Japan and 8 years after the release of the Anime, the Clannad VN coming to Steam is a big step forward for the medium known as Visual Novels (VN short).

Predominantly used in Japan, Visual Novels are exactly what the name implies: A story told with pictures and music. Most VNs have choice points to make the VN interactive, in many cases meaning branching storylines and multiple endings. This adds a layer of replay value to the VN, which is technically considered a video game. Almost all VNs are on the PC though in recent years VNs have been getting released on or ported to consoles, making them far more accessible than they were in their early years in Japan.

While VNs are technically video games, they appeal to the non-gaming crowd more because of how simple and easy to get into they tend to be. While most gamers in both sides of the Pacific think of sexually explicit content in VNs, this is only part of the format. Like Anime and Manga, VNs are a format and not a genre. This is why I made the clear distinction between the Anime and VN versions of Clannad. The story is mostly unchanged but there are two different formats.

I posted this not just to talk about VNs but because I’ve decided to cover VNs on both this blog and my Video Game blog. This is something I’d been thinking about since I got the Clannad VN last year. So I’ve decided If a VN is released on a console but doesn’t have an Anime and/or Manga, I will cover it here. If it’s released on the PC including Steam or has a Manga and/or Anime, I will cover it on my Anime blog. I do want to say I will NOT cover Sexually Explicit VNs on my blog. That’s not my thing anyway. If there are suggestive moments that’s one thing but nothing beyond that.

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Looks like this may be a reboot of the Pokemon Series

 

If the Coro Coro leak is to be believed, The Pokemon Anime series is going to undergo its biggest shift since the Sinnoh League. Those old enough to remember will recall that was the first time Ash journeyed to a new region on his own and with just Pikachu (he had all of his prior Pokemon when he went to Johto). He met up with May but was later joined by Ash. According to the  Coro Coro leak, Ash is going to school and is “going graduate like never before”.

This could mean one of several things, the two strongest being:

  1. This will the anime series’ final season with Ash as the main protagonist (strong arguement for that so far).
  2. Ash is being rebranded for a new generation of viewers (most likely).

Ash looks completely different compared to his previous iterations, all of which simply changed his clothes. The artwork is clearly different and judging from his and Pikachu’s poses and the Z-Ring on his wrist, he will have access to Z-Moves off the bat. The Kalos Saga is in its final few episodes so we will likely be clued in there. Ash lost in the final match of the Kalos League two episodes back. Right afterward, Team Flare launched its attack on Luminose City.

Ash and Alain–the trainer he lost to and a powerful Mega Evolution Trainer whose story was built during the course of the Kalos Saga–personally confront Lysandre, the leader of Team Flare.. I’m speculating here but something happens during their exchange with Lysandre that leads Ash to decide to table his dream of becoming a Pokemon Master and instead focusing on educating himself. The “something” is the big mystery…for now.

As you can see from the screenshot we know Team Rocket follows Ash to the Alola Region. The Charizard in that picture is likely Alain’s but if it isn’t, it’s probably Ash’s. Ash is also shown wearing the Z-Ring, which when combined with Z-Crystals will allow a Pokemon to use a powered up version of one of their moves. Ash has two of the so far revealed Pokemon who can use a Z-Move: Pikachu and Snorlax.  This is a relief as instead of using Ash, Alain was used to showcase Mega Evolution. I always found that a strange since Ash has three Pokemon that can Mega Evolve: Sceptile, Heracross and Charizard. Fortunately Alain appears to be featured in the Alola region, too.

The Pokemon Sun & Moon series premieres in Japan sometime in November. It will likely start airing in the U.S. in January 2017. The Sun and Moon video games will be released on November 18 worldwide.

 

20 Years Later, The Pokemon series needs a Reboot

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Or at the very least, Ash Ketchum is long overdue to be aged up into adulthood. It’s at the point it’s no longer pheasable to overlook the fact hasn’t aged at all since the Pokemon TV series premiered in 1996 (1997 in the U.S.). His design has changed but he hasn’t actually aged despite the fact seven years have passed since he first became a Pokemon Trainer: He was 10 when his story began and spent a year in each region he visited so he’d be 17 now.

This is actually a bit unusual for an Anime series that has run for so long even though it’s marketed to kids: Naruto was marketed to kids, too but those same kids who grew up watching Naruto continued on when Naruto grew up as well in the followup series Naruto Shippuden. Same with Goku in Dragonball and Dragonball Z.

It’s become pretty clear with certain plot choices as of late The Pokemon Company is running out of ideas to keep the attention away from the fact Ash has never aged: A possible Ash x Serena pairing that until now was strictly fanon (just like Ash/Misty, Ash/May, Ash/Dawn and Ash/Iris) was teased in the epissode that aired two weeks back in Japan: In the episode, Ash gets sick and faints in Serena’s arms, causing her to blush. While Celmont and Bonnie leave to find medicine for Ash, Serene takes care of him. She even steps in for him when a Pikachu trainer comes looking to battle Ash. At the end of the episode the impression is made there might be some feelings of more than friendship between them. This episode had alot of people talking because of the implications for Ash and Serena. Of course, I digress: Unless it is revisited, it will have to be dismissed for now.

Anyway back to the main topic. The biggest thing is his age is never brought up and hasn’t since the first season. As for how they could do it now, it would be a two-step process. First, there’d be a movie involving a much older Ash meeting up with all the friends he met over the years reminiscing about all the stuff they did as kids.

For the series, it would be a two-part episode that would take place at the end of the Kalos League: Ash returns home feeling a little burnt out. Delia (his mother) tells him she has tickets for a trip around the world and would like him to go with her. Ash almost says yes but then declines, saying he’s gonna prepare for the next league.

That’s when Professor Oak, Gary and Tracey (remember HIM?) walk in and say they confirmed “everyone” will be able to make it in two days’ time. Ash asks what’s going on and Delia explains she got enough tickets for all of the friends Ash made on his travels over the years. Not only that, it sounds like all of them will be able to make it to Pallet Town so they can leave together. The only person who is unconfirmed is Ash. That’s when Gary drops one more bombshell: Brock and Misty are already in town.

Ash meets up with his longtime friends and they catch up on old times. Brock asks Ash if he’s excited about the trip they’re going on and he admits he’s still undecided. Misty tells him after all the hard work his mom, Professor Oak and even Gary put into getting everyone together, the least he should do is consider their feelings. Ash says he’ll announce his decision in the morning and heads home. Unable to sleep, Ash wakes up and goes outside to get some fresh air. While walking around he runs into Gary, who heard from Brock Ash hasn’t made up his mind yet. Gary’s annoyed given how much work went into their travel arrangements. He then challenges Ash to a Pokemon Battle. One Pokemon each. Ash is about to accept when he realizes he left all of his Pokemon at home. As luck would have it, Ash’s Charizard suddenly arrives from Johto. Part 1 ends here.

In Part 2, Gary sends out Blastoise and the battle is set. Ash’s Charizard has the upper hand due to its training and dominates Gary’s Blastoise despite the type disadvantage. That’s when Gary announces he has a trump card and Blastoise mega evolves. Charizard isn’t fazed at all. When Ash notices his Mega Bracelet reacting, he realizes why. Charizard then mega evolves into Mega Charizard Y and takes out Mega Blastoise, but just barely. Gary is impressed, saying Ash has drastically improved as a trainer.

The next morning, Ash announces he’ll go with everyone. The trip around the world takes longer than expected: It lasts 3 years. When he returns to Pallet Town, Ash is now 17 years old (he’s 14 when he left). While Ash was away, Jessie and James were summoned by Giovanni back to the Rocket HQ to undergo training for their new role: Capturing Legendary Pokemon. Thanks to the years they spent traveling the world chasing Ash, Team Rocket was able to pinpoint the locations of several Legendary Pokemon. The pair gain several new Pokemon due to their new training and for the first time, Jessie and James both have six Pokemon.

I would call the new series Pokemon Champions. Pokemon Battles took a backseat during Ash’s 3 years away. In the 2-part pilot episode, Jessie and James attack Professor Oak’s lab hoping to get intel on location of the Legendary Birds. Ash is at a disadvantage and gets floored as Jessie and James have vastly improved as trainers. Thanks to the timely arrival of his friends, Team Rocket is forced to retreat. Ash laments, saying he can’t believe his skills have rusted this much during the last three years to have lost to Jessie and James. Professor Oak tries to console him, saying it’s clear Team Rocket have simply improved as trainers during his absence. He then suggests if Ash feels like he needs to brush up on the basics, he should enter the Indigo League again.

Ash agrees, deciding to set off in a day or two for Viridian City. Ash asks Brock and Misty if they’d like to accompany him for old times’ sake and they both decline, saying they want to get themselves ready for their rematch with him at their respective gyms. Clemont says he wants to get back to Luminose City and check on the Gym. Bonnie tells her brother she wants to travel with Ash now that she’s old enough to become a Pokemon Trainer and have her own Pokemon. Clemont is a little surprised but agrees it will be a good experience for her. Max chimes in, saying he got his first Pokemon before they left and he’d like to travel with Ash, too. Ash agrees, asking if anyone else wanted to come. To everyone’s surprise, Gary Oak says he would like to go with Ash.

In Part 2 of the pilot, Gary explains he was reminded of something important when they battled 3 years ago. He was reminded that even though he had the advantage of having the #1 authority on all things Pokemon as his grandfather, it was nothing compared to the determination and commitment Ash had to keep trying no matter how many times he failed. This was part of the reason he decided to change professions to research: He knew Ash would one day achieve his dream of becoming a Pokemon Master. Now, he wants to be there to help him do it. Professor Oak is impressed given they were fierce rivals back in the day but feels it might also be helpful to have an expert travel with Ash to help Max and Bonnie. He then asks Ash, Bonne and Max to come to his lab the following morning.

The next day, Oak and Gary are there to give Bonnie and Max a Pokemon to start their adventures with. Bonnie picks Bulbasaur while Max Picks Charmander. Gary asks Ash if he’s going it alone with Pikachu as usual or if he’ll take other Pokemon. Ash decides to take 5 other Pokemon in addition to Pikachu: Totodile, Snivy, Bulbasaur, Oshawott and Quilava. They’re starter Pokemon spanning four regions and he’s decided to give a shot at evolving them. in Kanto. It already helps Bulbasaur can evolve at any time. Gary comments the Fushcia City Gym has a new leader and the Cinnabar Gym was moved to Seafoam Island after it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. When Ash asks about the Viridian City Gym, he says he forgot there’s a new leader of that Gym too but they will only battle someone who collected the other badges first.

…Whoops, looks like I let my imagination take over there. I’ll just convert my head canon into a Fanfic at some point. LOL XD

Anyways, Ash has certainly matured as a trainer especially since the Sinnoh League. The time to reboot the anime series is after the Kanto League.

I am now Registered for Anime Boston 2016!

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I registered online a short time ago. It’s now official. I will be at Anime Boston 2016. Aside from that, being a panelist and possibly being unemployed during that time, nothing else is certain for me between now and then. This will be the first time I will be going to the convention without spending money to cover expenses.

I will create a Go Fund Me page sometime next month to collect donations. The goal is to raise $3,000. That would cover 4 days and 3 nights in a nearby hotel (Thursday to Sunday), transportation, meals, prizes for some of my panels and spending money. Said hotel would be within walking distance of the convention, likely the Midtown Hotel or the Sheraton. Anime Boston has become my vacation every year. I tried to get a hotel room the year before but that ended up not working out for various reasons (LOL). I am also looking to secure a hotel room by the end of January ahead of the big rush in February.

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Moving on, I want to repeat the following panel will definitely be back at AB2016:

  • Clannad: The Place Where Wishes Come True (90 Minutes): Pretty obvious. This will be my 6th year doing it and my 4th year doing it with my usual team of Copanelists. Like I said at AB2015. I will keep doing the panel as long as I am physically able and the con allows it. The panel will also be made to match the theme as well.
  • Pokemon: 20 Years Later 2.0 (120 Minutes): Due to technical difficulties I ended up cutting half of what I had planned for the panel. I will be bringing it back as promised. If I get donations, there will definitely be another copy of Pokemon OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire being offered as prizes and yes, there will be Pokemon giveaways for those who bring their 3DS Pokemon games.

That’s it for returning panels. They’ll be easy, fun and are guaranteed to pack the room. The following will be new but relate to the convention’s theme:

  • Persona 4: Dancing up a Sweat (45 Minutes): I’ve actually been developing a Physical Education curriculum using select songs from the soundtrack of the video game Persona 4: Dancing All Night. I’ve been developing it for the school where I worked but since I am transitioning out of working in the classroom, I now have more time to modify it for the convention. The whole thing will be about 30 minutes but I will request 45 minutes so that I will have time for Q&A.
  • School Rumble: Past and Present (60 Minutes): I will play the entire Field Day event from the Anime series (Dubbed), which will take up about half of the panel. The of the time will be spent talking about how much the practice of Field Day has chanced over time.
  • Baseball: Made in America, Played in Japan (30 Minutes): America’s favorite past time is Japan’s national sport. I will talk about the history of baseball in Japan and touch on some Anime that feature the sport as well. If things work out, there may have a special presentation.

That’s it so far. I’m not gonna be lazy this time around and focus more on substance and less on style. Like last year, I only expect two, maybe three panels to be slotted. Several panels that made the cut last year had no business being slotted and many panels that should have been slotted were left out.

While yes, I get it Panels and Programming has to balance old and new content, I also think new panelists should be required to provide a sample of what they have planned to give Panels and Programming an idea of weather they want to slot it or not. Don’t think they’d use the idea for the sake of being fair to the process but that’s my 2-cents. Many longtime congoers were disappointed by the number of old favorites that didn’t make the cut this time around. While it’s easy attribute that to there being a new Panels and Programming head, it’s also true some folks couldn’t make the con this year for one reason or another.

I am also planning on looking into getting some musical talent to perform at my Baseball panel. I have two possible sets of talent, one of which is a family member. The other is a high-porfile band from Boston. Not naming said band as I have some things to look into. Plus I don’t want to give folks the wrong idea.

 

Stay tuned.

 

Anime Boston 2015’s Schedule Released

Anime Boston Banner

You can see it here. A new window will open.

All I can say is: AWESOME!

I’m actually planning to take it easy this year. With all the stuff I have planned I figure I might as well ^_^

Here’s what I’m looking at for Friday. You can view it as a rough draft of my itenerary if you’d like:

  • Opening Ceremony (10:30AM-12:00PM)
  • Dealers’ Room (12:00PM-1:00PM)
  • Artists’ Alley or Game Room (1:00-2:00)
  • Old School RPGS: A Spoony Bard’s Tale (1:30-2:30)
  • How to Host a Good Anime Panel (3:00-4:30)
  • Viz Media Panel (4:30-5:30)
  • Tales of Tales! (6:00-7:00)
  • Swap Meet (8:00-10:00)

…I put the start and end times for all of the events I’m looking at but I plan to leave the con at around 9:00PM for a commitment I have elswhere. I have arranged to have all the swap deals I set up taken care of in the morning. This leaves me free to do the bulk of my shopping during the block indicated above as usual. The AA/GR block is more of a break time I set aside to eat lunch and charge anything running low on juice, among other stuff.

Now for Saturday, I plan to arrive at the con at around 7:00PM. As for why, I usually do the bulk of my blogging in the morning plus I try to get as much as possible since this is my 4th year in a row doing a Panel Saturday night. This year it’s 2 hours long so…yeah. I don’t want to look/feel tired when I get to the Hynes. For Saturday my plans are the Swap Meet for the first hour. Then the main event begins at 9:15PM: My Panel. By the time it ends at 11:15PM, I think only adrenaline will be keeping me on my feet (LOL).

Now for Sunday. My Clannad panel goes from 10:30AM to 11:30AM of course. After that, I’ll head to the Dealers’ Room for my annual Manga Buyout Blitz. Like last year I’m looking to buy Manga from a new series I haven’t read yet. When I’ve had my fill, then it’s off to one more panel and then closing ceremonies.

…Man, this year is going to be a great one!

I am now registered for Anime Boston 2015

 

…Just wanted to let folks know ^_^

I will now begin working on the powerpoints for the panels I plan to do. For now, I will submit applications for the following panels since the powerpoints for them are either done or will not take more than a single night to make or update.

These are the panels that, if I had to do any of them tomorrow, I’d be good to go:

  • Clannad: The Place Where Wishes Come True (90 Minutes)
  • Panels: Best Practices (60 Minutes)
  • Persona 4: Pursuing My True Self (60 Minutes)

My Pokemon Panel is about 15% done and that’s basically the demo itself (LOL!). I haven’t started the Tales of Symphonia one yet. I’m saving doing ALL of that one for Christmas Break. I’m gonna do it all in one sitting this time so I have no excuses later XD

This will also be the last time I do my Persona 4 panel. I got Persona Q: Shadow Labyrinth for the 3DS. I get the sense it was one last game for fans of Persona 3 and 4 so…yeah. Ah, well can’t be helped.

Oh, well.

As an added bonus to those who come to my Best Practices panel: I will announce the panels I plan to do at AB2016 ^_^

Online Pre-Registration for Anime Boston 2015 now Live

 

You guys know the drill by now: I preregister as soon as I’m able to so I can Preregister for Panels as well. The cost to preregister is a mere $50 per adult ($18+). Kids are $30 for the wekekend. Do the math depending on how many people wanna go.

I’m not going to make the same mistake I made last year and this time I will have the powerpoints for ALL of my panels ready before the end of 2014. Last year I procrastinated until the last minute and had to withdraw two panels after they were slotted.

I don’t want to put myself in that situation again.

 

As a refresher, these are the Panels I am planning to bring to AB2015 and the amount of time I am requesting:

  • Clannad: The Place Where Wishes Come True (90 Minutes): It will make its return for the fourth year in a row. See the recap from AB2014 for info on what I have planned for AB2015. The overview of the Anime will be much shorter as there will be more group interaction compared to the last two years. There will also be two themes, one of which is Family and what that means. The other…I’m keeping to myself until the day of the panel!
  • Pokemon: 20 Years Later (2 Hours): The stuff I have planned for this panel…people will be talking about it for years to come. That’s the plan, anyway. There WILL be giveaways for those with X,Y, OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire. Look forward to it. There will also be a few video viewings: The first and last episodes of Pokemon Origins and music from the handheld games. Nostalgia Glasses are not required but are highly reccommended.
  • Panels: Best Practices (60 Minutes): I will go over the basics of what it takes to go through the application process as well as some tips for those looking to be a panelist at Anime Boston.
  • Persons 4: Pursuing My True Self (60 Minutes): I’m planning to bring it back again next year for another hour of power. There will be more of a focus on the psychology of Persona, though.
  • Tales of Symphonia: 10 Years Later (60 Minutes): I was supposed to do this at AB2014 so…yeah. In recent years, it’s become a game many gamers are denying they ever loved. Take no shame in loving your games, people! I will also go over the Anime. Should be pretty interesting!

 

I also have a digital camera so THIS time, I can take recognizable pictures of stuff. For the first time in three years, I will also begin saving up some extra cash for AB2015. I have my PayPal Links but since no one has ever used them I’m not going to bother asking for money this time.

The next message about AB2015 I plan to make is to tell you all of my powerpoints for eacg panel is done ^_^