rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
Here is a video of Uncharted characters dancing to Boney M's 'Rasputin'. It is the best video on the entire Internet. Rafe never particularly struck me as a character, but he is dancing his heart out, and I can respect that. I've watched this every time I've needed a bit of cheering up this week.


THE BOOKENING TITLE #13: The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle #2)

Apart from ruining the Gray Man's life, the Gray Man's plan had been going exceptionally well.

I got this for Christmas, and I've been reading it in an odd on-and-off way for several months, so it's difficult to say anything particularly intelligent about it; you can't get a good idea of the pacing or of how well the plot holds together if you read a book very slowly. So, in lieu of anything intelligent, here is the urgent e-mail I sent to [livejournal.com profile] th_esaurus while Ronan and Kavinsky were having their dreamathon:

Are Ronan and Kavinsky going to fuck? If they're not, I'm going to stop reading.

They did not, and I was unimpressed. But the book did seem perhaps to hint at some desire on one or both sides, and that's something!

I'm puzzled by my reaction to Ronan and Kavinsky. Individually, I don't care much about either of them. Together, though, they formed one of the most interesting aspects of this book for me. (Ronan's love for Matthew also helped me care a bit about him.)

I enjoyed the Gray Man. To my concern, I sliiiiightly found myself 'shipping him with Blue on their first meeting. Sorry about that.

Speaking of pairings with Blue: Blue and Gansey had some very sweet moments, and I loved the 'complicated tug' line, but I was mildly disappointed by the 'she accepted that she was in love with Gansey and therefore she wasn't in love with Adam' bit. I don't like love triangles with neat 'oh, actually I'm only in love with one of these guys' resolutions; if you have to have a love triangle, I want it to be a horrible mess where Blue is in love with Adam and Gansey simultaneously, and also Ronan, and Noah, and the Gray Man, and Captain Jack Harkness.

That probably isn't technically a triangle.

Stiefvater's writing style is still my favourite part of these books. If this series had been written by a different person, with the same plot, I suspect it would never really have caught my interest. It's such a lovely, warm, poetic style, but I just find ley lines so dull! The Dream Thieves is at least slightly less leyliney than The Raven Boys, but the tradeoff is that it focuses a lot on Ronan, whereas I'm more interested in Blue, Gansey and Adam.

That said, as mentioned, I was fascinated by Ronan's relationship with Kavinsky. Between Kavinsky and the Gray Man, this book has far more compelling antagonistic figures than The Raven Boys, and I think it's stronger for it.
rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
I've hugely enjoyed the last couple of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episodes ('Will Scarsdale Like Josh's Shayna Punim?' and 'Josh Is the Man of My Dreams, Right?'). In particular, I'm loving the Nathaniel storyline. He could be Jeff Winger's evil (well, more evil) brother; there's a definite physical resemblance, and half his lines sound like they could easily be coming out of Jeff's mouth. They're also both lawyers with father issues, come to think of it. (Plus, hey, Jeff canonically has an evil double.)

I don't love Nathaniel half as much as I love Jeff Winger, but he's fun. He also had a pretty incredible song in 'Josh Is the Man of My Dreams, Right?' (warning for weight-shaming, because Nathaniel is the worst).

I'm horrendously predictable when it comes to this character type.

Fiction: Hey, this guy's an arsehole!
Riona: Wow, what an arsehole!
Fiction: He occasionally shows glimpses of having feelings, though.
Riona: Uh-oh.
Fiction: What's this? Is he attracted to a young woman who he thinks of as off-limits?
Riona: Don't do this to me.
Fiction: He tries to resist! But he can't stop glancing over at her!
Riona: GOD, FINE.

I wouldn't say I 'ship him with Rebecca, exactly. I definitely don't want them to be together. (I don't really want Rebecca to be in a romantic relationship with anyone; romantic relationships aren't good for her.) But I do want them to have lots of uncomfortable sexual tension and possibly make out sometimes.


Given Life Is Strange, Until Dawn and now Oxenfree, I seem to have fallen heavily into the Bad Teen Decisions Simulator genre of videogame. (Come to think of it, Dangan Ronpa is also a series of games about bad teen decisions, although it doesn't let you make those bad decisions yourself.)

This is a great genre because it lends itself so well to one of my favourite fanfiction themes: characters undergo traumatic experiences, and then the story focuses on them talking about them, or refusing to talk about them, or not having anyone to talk about them with. The entire concept of these games is 'a handful of people go through horrendous experiences that nobody else will ever understand or believe'. They're perfect.

I didn't actually realise I had such a fondness for this until I looked back at all the one-shots I posted in 2016. There are fifteen, and this theme crops up in no fewer than seven of them. Whoops.

At one point in Oxenfree, I accidentally chose a dialogue option that made Alex say she exercised a lot every morning. I was very annoyed with myself. No, I've made it canon that she's disciplined and she exercises and now I can't relate to her any more! (Alex is still great.)


I've suddenly remembered one of my all-time favourite YouTube videos, and I thought I'd link to it in case anyone hasn't seen it yet. It's two men dancing to Moulin Rouge's 'El Tango de Roxanne' in the street. The video itself is low-quality, sadly, but the intensity of the dance comes through so clearly that it barely matters (and the intensity of the song doesn't hurt). You can watch it over here!
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
I played a couple of hours of Oxenfree last night! It's very pretty and colourful, which is an interesting design choice for a horror game. All the landscapes sort of look like they've been made out of coloured paper.

You have to make decisions within a few seconds in Oxenfree, which I find very stressful, even when most of the decisions are just 'what do you want to say now?' (I feel a bit spoiled by Life Is Strange, which not only gives you as much time as you like to choose your response but allows you to rewind and redo things if you change your mind.)

At the very beginning of the game, just after you get off the boat, I refused to speak alone with Jonas because my mind was working by Until Dawn rules: DON'T SEPARATE, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN. [livejournal.com profile] th_esaurus pointed out that this was very early in the game, nothing bad had happened yet, and a brief conversation with my stepbrother was unlikely to get anyone killed. I felt so bad for turning Jonas down that I restarted.

At this point I set the first and most important of several goals that would help me make decisions in the future: I want to get along with my stepbrother.

Later, after panicking during the 'who do you meet up with first?' decision at the radio tower, I came up with my second goal: I want to improve my relationship with Clarissa.

My third goal, after telling Ren there were other fish in the sea and TOO LATE realising that the game might think I want to be his fish: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES can I end up in a romantic relationship with Ren.

('The game won't let you romance your stepbrother,' [livejournal.com profile] th_esaurus said, with deeply felt sadness. I laughed at her.)

I feel a lot more comfortable making quick decisions now that I know what I'm aiming for. Even if I still miss Life Is Strange. (The soft colours and loading-screen Polaroids really remind me of Life Is Strange, actually. Although I'm puzzled by the fact that Jonas took a picture on his phone and it appeared on the loading screen as a Polaroid.)

I'm playing this game at [livejournal.com profile] th_esaurus's flat, so I don't know exactly when I'll be able to pick it up again, but I hope it'll be soon! There's a lot of intriguing mystery. And I like Alex, which is unusual; I usually have trouble warming to characters who communicate entirely through dialogue choices, because they can end up feeling like an empty vessel for the player rather than a character in their own right, but a lot of personality comes through in everything she says.


Here are a handful of things I experienced in 2016 but didn't post full entries on:

- I watched the anime ERASED (it's available legally on Crunchyroll here), which is about a man who goes back to his childhood and tries to prevent the abduction and murder of a classmate. It was very good and very gripping, but I don't know whether I'll ever watch it again; it might be a bit too bleak and serious without the 'but what happens next??' drive to keep going. Still, I loved that it told a very compact, intense story in just twelve episodes. It also has one of the coolest opening sequences I've ever seen. The shots of the empty school give me chills.

- I saw Your Name in the cinema and loved it. The basic concept (two strangers keep swapping bodies across a great distance and can only communicate with each other by leaving notes) is exactly the sort of idea I find irresistible: people being drawn together by weird experiences, unable to talk about them with anyone but each other! Inevitably, I'm now wondering whether it could be employed in fanfiction for other works.

- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a much, much better show than you'd think from the title. A couple of my favourite songs:

I've kind of got a girl crush on you, by which I mean I wanna kill you and wear your skin like a dress.
FACE YOUR FEARS. RUN WITH SCISSORS.

- The second series of How to Get Away with Murder is, I'm delighted to report, just as stupid as the first. The scene in 'Meet Bonnie' where the students were going 'pfft, we've screwed up our lives, might as well have an orgy' inevitably delighted me. Has anyone written the fic where they follow through? I'm going to be so disappointed in fandom if nobody's written that fic.


Inevitably, the combination of fandoms in this entry is making me ponder a How to Get Away with Murder scenario in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in which Rebecca somehow ends up killing someone and has to try not to get caught. It's actually a worryingly plausible scenario.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
I didn't do any of the optional hacking in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag until after the end of the game. I wasn't expecting all this great worldbuilding!

I think my favourite hacking reward is this audio interview with a man who's been reliving the memories of a female ancestor (Aveline de Grandpré, specifically). He's surprised by the ways she does and doesn't match his idea of femininity, and by the ways her gender and race shape her experiences. I get the impression that he's feeling some attraction himself to the men she finds attractive, and that he's a little uncomfortable with it. There's a strange sad intimacy to it; he's coming to know her so well, but they'll never meet. She died long before he was born.

(Listening to it again, I notice you can hear little creaking noises, like the subject is fidgeting in his seat. That's a pretty cool little detail.)

I've also been playing Assassin's Creed: Rogue. It recycles a lot from Black Flag, so I thought at first that perhaps it was a game that not much effort had been put into. I was surprised to realise it actually has some of the best level design of the series. Freerunning is fun again! The plot and characters aren't grabbing me in the way III and Black Flag's did, but the actual experience of playing it is great.

Also pretty great: there was a point where an Assassin yelled 'SURPRISE' and then fell on my head and stabbed me. The Stalker mechanics can occasionally be frustrating (and unsettling - the creepy whispering!), but it is quite cool to have your own techniques turned against you. The 'sneak up quietly until you're directly above the enemy and then LEAP WILDLY OFF THE BUILDING AND KNIFE EVERYONE IN THE FACE' technique is one of my personal favourites. I only have the patience to be stealthy up to a point.

I've been thinking recently about the Ender's Game scene in which Ender, offered a choice of two drinks by a giant in a videogame, instead kicks over both glasses and then climbs up the giant's face and hacks at his eye. When I first read Ender's Game as a child, I could not conceive of that level of freedom in a videogame. I just couldn't imagine it. The consoles I knew were the Game Boy and the Master System. VIDEOGAMES ONLY HAVE TWO BUTTONS. ONE OF THEM IS THE JUMP BUTTON AND THE OTHER ONE IS THE EVERYTHING ELSE BUTTON. OR ONE IS CONFIRM AND ONE IS CANCEL. YOU CAN'T JUST DO THINGS LIKE THAT.

I love that I've been able to watch this medium evolve.


Speaking of strange, sad, one-sided intimacy (although I'll admit that was a few paragraphs ago), I saw Pixar's Inside Out over the weekend! I found it a little tragic that the emotions love Riley so much and yet she doesn't know they exist. There's a part of me that wants to write fanfiction in which they meet or at least communicate directly somehow (perhaps through her dreams?). I don't imagine I will write it, but, well, that's something I've said many times before.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
Look, self, I know you've been feeling a bit fandomless lately and, don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're becoming enthusiastic about something. But did it really have to be Final Fantasy XV? It's for a console you don't own. It isn't even out yet. The release date hasn't even been announced. We've been waiting for a release date to be announced for nine years. Can't you get enthusiastic about something that's actually, you know, available?

I suppose my only consolation is that, judging from the frankly bizarre amount of fanfiction for this unreleased game, I'm not the only one getting weirdly invested in it. (There are over a thousand works of fanfiction for this unreleased game. I find this absolutely hilarious. If I start trying to write fanfiction for it before it comes out, somebody please stop me.)

The really odd thing is that I can't place why I'm so fascinated. None of the characters have particularly caught my interest yet. I know nothing about the plot. I know the relationship between two of the party members has the potential to intrigue me (Ignis was raised from childhood to be Noctis's bodyguard, as far as I can tell, which could make for all sorts of fascinatingly weird dynamics), but surely that can't be the only reason I'm so caught up in this game.

Oh, no, I've just realised why this has happened to me. Out of curiosity, I looked up the cutscenes in the recently-released Final Fantasy XV demo (called Episode Duscae, because evidently the release of this demo was so momentous an event that it needed its own name). The demo's opening cutscene was just the party waking up and gently ribbing Noctis, who is apparently terrible at mornings. No plot, nothing particularly significant, just some teasing amongst a group of friends who obviously know each other well. That's what got me. In that moment, I was lost.

I'm very interested to see how the small party affects the feel of Final Fantasy XV. Final Fantasy XIII-2 suffered for its two-person party; it was hard to get a good sense of Serah and Noel's personalities when they only had each other to interact with. Final Fantasy XV has four party members, and I think that could work rather well; it's small and intimate, but there's enough room for a good few different dynamics in there. We'll see!

The one thing I can say with certainty before this game is released: the characters' names are ridiculous. So, so ridiculous. One of them is called Ignis Stupeo Scientia, and all the other names are equally stupeo.


On the subject of games that actually are out, I've been playing Assassin's Creed! The plot is far weirder than I anticipated. I was expecting 'you're a historical assassin; do some assassinating!' rather than 'you're a modern-day guy who's been kidnapped and forced to relive his ancestor's memories; do some assassinating!'

So far, I think my favourite thing is the way you can hear passers-by going '??? what the hell is that guy doing?' whilst you throw yourself up the sides of buildings with wild abandon.

I also enjoyed how intimate it was when Tamir was dying in my arms after I stabbed him up. Weirdly romantic murders are my favourite sort of murder.

(Er. In - in videogames.)
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
Recently, I've been working on and off on two works of fanfiction: a Neon Genesis Evangelion AU for Kingdom Hearts, and an Animorphs AU for The Last of Us. I've only just realised that this means I'm crossing over four different canons about fourteen-year-olds being horribly traumatised. Why do so many things I love feature fourteen-year-olds being horribly traumatised?

(I cannot guarantee that either of these ill-advised fics will actually be finished, but we'll see!)


In the absence of a PSP, I've spent the past few days watching the story of Crisis Core, the prequel to Final Fantasy VII. Some kind soul has compiled all the cutscenes into a three-hour film over here. It's well worth watching! (Or playing, I assume, if you have the console.)

I was slightly startled by how quickly everything in Crisis Core became heartbreaking. In retrospect, I feel a little silly. Was I really expecting a Final Fantasy VII prequel about Zack Fair to be relentlessly cheerful?

Although the sheer ridiculousness of the new-to-Crisis-Core plot (which, as far as I can tell, is 'hundreds of Gackt clones are terrorising the world') helps to dull the blade a little.*

Zack himself is awfully endearing. I love his expressions.

There's a strange thrill in seeing familiar locations from Final Fantasy VII rendered in glorious PSP graphics. I'm still thoroughly fed up with the people who comment on every Square-related article to say 'EVERYTHING SQUARE HAS DONE FOR THE LAST EIGHTEEN YEARS IS CRAP, REMAKE FFVII', but a remake would be pretty cool. Although there's no possible way it would appease the complainers. I am absolutely convinced that, if they actually did remake VII, with updated graphics and remastered music and voice-acting and a better translation, ninety per cent of the people baying for an HD version would hate it.

Beneath the cut are some spoilery notes on Crisis Core. They only spoil things that are revealed in Final Fantasy VII's backstory, though, so you may be able to read them safely even if you haven't played Crisis Core itself.


Further notes on Crisis Core. )


I'm so glad I can enjoy the Final Fantasy VII universe now. I've finally managed to look past the worst parts of the fanbase and appreciate the source material, and it feels great.

Watching Crisis Core has actually sort of made me want to replay Final Fantasy VII. But I played it so recently! Well, a year and a bit ago, but that's relatively recent.

I suppose what I need is a remake, so I can re-experience the game in a fresh way.

BYE; I'M OFF TO BECOME ONE OF THE TERRIBLE VII FANS IN THE COMMENTS OF EVERY SQUARE-RELATED ARTICLE.


* My attempt to explain this game to [livejournal.com profile] th_esaurus:

Riona: So there's this guy who looks like Gackt, and he's always quoting from a ridiculous play called Loveless, which I think is also the name of some sort of catboy manga, so clearly he should be quoting that instead. And he has a wing - just one wing - and there are a load of clones of him running around. At one point they jump out of the sea, wearing scuba gear, and attack our hero Zack while he's shirtless at the beach on holiday. And he has to grab an umbrella to fight them.
(pause)
Riona: This game is really depressing.
RD: Why does Final Fantasy exist?
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
On an idle vanity search (look, I'm only human), I just came across this 2009 tweet from Faith Erin Hicks and freaked out. FAITH ERIN HICKS.

Faith Erin Hicks, if you are unaware, created the character Riley from AMAZING VIDEOGAME The Last of Us. She co-wrote and illustrated AMAZING LAST OF US PREQUEL COMIC American Dreams.

Faith Erin Hicks read and recommended my incredibly stupid Supernatural fanfiction.

I will never achieve anything greater than this.


Atlantis is back, and as silly as ever! (Although this series is making much better use of Ariadne, which is nice.) I like that the first episode of the new series showed that our noble heroes will refuse to kill an unarmed man (where 'unarmed' here means 'with his sword lying about a foot away from his hand') and yet have no qualms about murdering people by stealth.

(The official BBC Twitter account for Atlantis cracks me up. It's nice to know they're not taking it any more seriously than we are.)

I'm fascinated by the fact that they've introduced Medea. If our hero Jason is indeed Jason of the Argonauts, this could end up going in some horrifying directions.

The more I think about the premise of Atlantis, the more hilariously absurd it becomes. A guy goes back in time (although the writers seem to have forgotten entirely that he's supposed to be from the modern day) and moves in with Pythagoras and Hercules. Actual mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras. Mythological hero Hercules. People on my flist have written Pythagoras/Hercules fanfiction. They have a strong canonical basis for it.

When I first heard about Atlantis, before I started watching it, I assumed that 'Pythagoras' was a character who merely happened to be named Pythagoras, with no connection to the historical figure. But no; he is supposed to be the actual historical Pythagoras. Pythagoras. Looking after baby Oedipus. Hanging out with Hercules and Medusa. I'm never getting over this.


Finally: I've never seen Smallville, but this Smallville fanvid is a truly extraordinary work of art. Please watch it; it will change your life.
rionaleonhart: harry potter: extremely poorly-drawn dumbledore fleeing and yelling NOOOOOOOOO. (NOOOOOOOOO)
I've discovered a new appreciation for Chuck on this Supernatural rewatch. He never really struck me before, but he's delightful in 'The Real Ghostbusters'. His awkward interactions with Becky, in particular, really make me smile.

I love that Supernatural introduced a ridiculous, exaggerated character representing its creator and a ridiculous, exaggerated character representing its fandom, and then paired them up. Supernatural 'ships itself with us. I think that's sort of wonderful, if unsettling.

(If you want some ridiculous, meta-filled Chuck/Becky fanfiction, incidentally, I laughed all the way through If on a winter's night a fangirl by [livejournal.com profile] trinityofone.)

Of course, the ridiculous 'Sam and Dean attend a Supernatural convention' episode is immediately followed by 'Abandon All Hope', the most emotionally devastating episode in the entirety of Supernatural. When I'd finished the episode, I turned off the television and then stared unhappily at the blank screen for a while. Quite a weird comedown from all the 'Real Ghostbusters' giggling.


I don't have the nerve or the video equipment to compete myself, but sign-ups are currently open for GISHWHES, Misha Collins's huge ridiculous scavenger hunt, if you fancy spending a week at the mercy of Collins's twisted imagination. Past items to scavenge have included 'an orchestra playing Carry On Wayward Son' and 'a photograph of a fireman dressed entirely in kale'.

Oh, Misha Collins. I have to admire anyone who, upon gaining a devoted fanbase, has the following thought process:

You know, I actually have a lot of power over these people.

Power I could potentially abuse.

I'm going to make them build dinosaurs out of sanitary towels.


(He's also made people design romance novel covers depicting him and the Queen. At the risk of being arrested for treason, here are a couple of my favourites: one, two.)

Here, because it amused me, is Jensen Ackles telling the tale of how he found out about GISHWHES (it involves a portrait made out of Skittles) and the accompanying photograph.


Incidentally, whilst looking for GISHWHES item examples, I stumbled across this tweet from Collins:

Breaking News... Season 8 is official! Fun fact: If Jensen got Jared pregnant when they first met, they would have a 7 year-old.

MISHA.
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
Videos I didn't realise were essential to my life until I discovered they existed: Jensen Ackles holding a tiny pig. I love that you can see him steadily becoming more and more fond of it.


I'd forgotten how much I 'shipped Dean Winchester with both of his parents in 'In the Beginning'. That's, er, that's unfortunate. (To my mild surprise, the only Supernatural fic idea that's really struck me since I started this rewatch is one about Dean teaming up with his mother to hunt in 1973. JUST TEAMING UP, I PROMISE; IT'S NOT ANYTHING CREEPY. I was expecting something about the brothers, but I'll take whatever inspiration I can get. I'm also half-tempted to write something about Dean and Bela meeting again in the space between the third and fourth seasons; they infuriate each other, but in a weird way they also help each other cope.)

Dean twitching on the hotel bed during his nightmare in 'Wishful Thinking' really got to me. He looked so young and vulnerable and I really, really wanted to give him a hug. To be honest, I want to hug Dean fairly frequently whilst watching Supernatural.

'Heaven and Hell' is an interesting episode; it contains a fair few things that don't quite work for me (lengthy awkward sex scene with very little chemistry, too much focus on Hell as a place of physical rather than psychological torture, Dean's awestruck and improbable 'It's beautiful' upon seeing a tree), but it also contains a lot of things I adore. In particular, I love that Sam, Dean and Ruby spend the entire episode working together. They make an amazing, amazing trio and I wish we could have so many more episodes of them working as a team. And Dean comes to respect and trust Ruby!

'Heaven and Hell' is also the episode that convinced me Castiel had a great big crush on Dean, incidentally, and the episode in which I wholly embraced Genevieve Cortese as Ruby. And, if I recall correctly, it's the first episode in which Sam refers to the Impala as 'she', which makes me smile so much. It's an imperfect episode, but in many ways it's a good one.


A few nights ago, I dreamt that I was Annie Edison of Community, and I teamed up with Dean Winchester and Jeremy Clarkson to fight our evil doppelgangers. Dean ended up kissing my double, for some reason. Much affronted, I demanded that he kiss me as well. He did. I woke confused but intrigued.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
Community has been cancelled, and I am immensely distressed. This is the first time a cancellation has really hit me. The British shows I watch generally end on their own terms; the American shows I watch generally go on and on until I lose interest. Community's cancellation particularly stings because it was so close to ending on its own terms. They only wanted six seasons! Why would you cut them off after five?

Still, I suppose I'll always have the first season. I love the later seasons as well, but the first season of Community is as close to perfect as I think it's possible for a series of television to be. There are later episodes that stand out as better than anything in the first season ('Remedial Chaos Theory'!), but as a complete experience I can't think of any series of television that beats it. Which is an impressive achievement, especially considering my dislike of Pierce. If I want to feel closure for Community, I suppose I just have to rewatch the first season and pretend it ends at the finale.

(Subtext: everyone watch the first season of Community. And the rest, if you like, but definitely at least the first season. And then write Jeff/everyone fanfiction for me.)

While I'm talking about individual seasons: I was a bit nervous about getting up to the fourth season, because the Internet seems to unanimously loathe it, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised. It does have some weak episodes ('Alternative History of the German Invasion' is the low point), and of course every weak episode is a particular shame when the season is much shorter than the ones preceding it, but I still enjoyed it a lot. In particular, I really like 'Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations' and 'Intro to Knots', and 'Basic Human Anatomy' is a ridiculous delight from start to finish.

Seriously, why would you cancel a show that is so great even in what's generally considered its weakest series? I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU, NBC. I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU AT ALL.

I haven't seen the fifth season yet, so I still have that to look forward to, at least. And maybe some other broadcaster will pick it up? Please pick it up, some other broadcaster.

In the meantime, I'd quite like to write more Community fanfiction, but sadly I seem to be out of ideas. I've written Jeff/everyone, I've written Jeff/himself, and apparently that's all my mind is going to allow. I will 'ship Jeff/Annie until the world ends, but I can't really motivate myself to write for pairings when scads of fanfiction exist for them already. I'd expect myself to be considering a Pokémon or Silent Hill crossover by now, but for some reason I'm not feeling the spark of inspiration for either. Hmm.


Right. I don't imagine an entry consisting solely of sobbing over Community is going to be terribly interesting, so let's see what else I can offer.

You know what's amazing? The hilariously dramatic Sonic Underground opening sequence. That's what's amazing. I think I saw it maybe once when I was a child, but it's always stayed with me. BIDE YOUR TIME, LIE IN WAIT.

Also amazing: someone on the Internet has made a deeply weird number of fanvids pairing Nathan Drake of Uncharted with Ratchet of Ratchet and Clank. Even one Nate/Ratchet video would be a weird number, but this person has made more than ten. Here is the playlist of videos, every one of which made me laugh until my throat hurt. If you're intimidated by the full playlist, here is just one of the videos, which is a mere fourteen seconds long but manages to pack in plenty of emotion. (The music's quite loud, so you might want to make sure your volume's not up too high before clicking.)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
If you've played The Last of Us and you haven't yet watched this video of the motion capture for an alternative ending, you absolutely must. I found it very moving.


It's very strange to go back to the Uncharted games after playing The Last of Us. The games share many elements, but they're utterly different in tone. In The Last of Us, killing people makes sense given the context and the character you're playing, and it's treated as brutal and horrific but unavoidable to survive. In the Uncharted games, you're loveable, good-hearted treasure hunter Nathan Drake and the fact that you kill thousands of mercenaries is cheerfully ignored.

(It's also bizarre that picking up twenty bullets at a time is a common occurrence in Uncharted. In The Last of Us, it's Christmas if you manage to find three.)

I suppose 'ha ha, Nate is such a charming dork, TIME TO KILL ANOTHER HUNDRED MERCENARIES' is the problem with trying to tell stories in a videogame. I'm a fierce believer in the narrative potential of games, but games do typically require some sort of gameplay, and sometimes that gameplay is at odds with the story being told. In lighthearted games like the Uncharted series, I suppose you sort of have to ignore the ridiculous amounts of murder you end up committing; it'll completely undermine the way the characters are presented if you think about it for too long. ALL THIS SHOOTING IS A METAPHOR FOR TRAVERSING TRICKY TERRAIN.

This is something that occasionally bothers me in Final Fantasy games, too; most of the games involve human enemies, usually soldiers of some sort, and it rarely seems appropriate for the characters to cut them down without a qualm. It's always a bit odd to think, Hang on, Snow Villiers seems like a really nice guy, but I just made him punch someone to death.

I'm sure there's a term for this clash between gameplay and tone/story/characterisation. Hang on while I look it up. Ludonarrative dissonance! That's it. Uncharted is ludonarratively dissonancing all over the place.

It's a tricky problem to solve. Not every game in which you fight people can be The Last of Us; The Last of Us is a wonderful game, but I wouldn't be able to cope with that level of bleakness in everything. So I suppose for the moment I'll just accept the fact that loveable treasure hunter Nathan Drake can punch some guys on a train to death and then quip, 'All right, boys, just needed to punch your tickets,' and I'll laugh and say 'Nate, you dork' rather than 'Oh, my God, what's wrong with you?'


After writing the above, I went off and finished my replay of Uncharted 2. I had forgotten how much I love the ending of that game! Nate/Elena continues to be one of my favourite pairings of all time, and their interactions continue to make me make absurd chirping noises. I also really like the friendship that develops between Elena and Chloe; I remember I worried when they first met that their dynamic would be rooted solely in romantic jealousy, so I was surprised and delighted that they ended up getting along extremely well as co-founders of the 'Nathan Drake Ruined Our Lives' club.

LET'S IGNORE ALL THE MERCENARIES THESE GUYS HAVE KILLED AND FOCUS ON HOW MUCH THEY DELIGHT ME.

(I had also forgotten how hot it is when Nate is stumbling around in the Himalayas, slowly bleeding to death. I'm an awful, awful person.)
rionaleonhart: friendship is magic: rarity looks horrified. (oh no no no)
I have now seen My Little Pony: Equestria Girls twice, which is probably two more times than any self-respecting adult should see it. For those unfamiliar with the premise of Equestria Girls: it is a film about Twilight Sparkle, the main character of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (who is, as you may have suspected, a pony), travelling through a portal to another world. In which she is a human. In high school. And meets human versions of all her pony friends. And there's a shoehorned-in light romance plotline, involving an alternate-world teenage boy and Twilight Sparkle. Who, I might remind you, is a pony.

It is astonishingly stupid.

Perhaps inevitably, I love it.

No, you don't understand how severe this is. I even find the romantic subplot genuinely cute. Developing a crush on a human when you are secretly a pony seems (a) a bit weird and (b) ill-advised, but apparently I don't care.

I've had this song from the film stuck in my head all day. I find cheerful, catchy songs about friendship impossible to resist, which is probably part of the reason Friendship is Magic has me so thoroughly in its clutches. Oh, dear.


I've had a rocky relationship with Doctor Who for... more or less the last seven years, but the fiftieth-anniversary special was a lot of fun! More than just being a fun hour or so, it reminded me of two things: firstly, that Doctor Who was once something I really enjoyed, and secondly, that I really miss Nine (I was pretty heartbroken that Ten and Eleven were hanging out and Nine was nowhere to be seen).

Therefore, in the ongoing bizarre nostalgia explosion that my adulthood is turning out to be, I've rewatched the first two episodes of the Ninth Doctor's series! And oh, I still love the Ninth Doctor. He's just fantastic. And also quite a bit scarier than I remember. That thing he did to Cassandra in 'The End of the World': wow. (That thing he did to Rose, too; it never really hit me before, but he comes back from the Time War and finds a companion and the first thing he does is show her the destruction of her planet.)

I also seem to be falling in love with Nine/Rose all over again, which I wasn't expecting! There had been pairings I'd enjoyed before I saw the 2005 Doctor Who series (Squall/Zell, Satoshi/Daisuke), but the Doctor/Rose was the first pairing I fell in love with in a MASSIVE EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT, READ ALL THE FANFICTION, WRITE ALL THE FANFICTION sort of way. No, hang on, I've just remembered all the slightly worrying James Sunderland/Mary Shepherd-Sunderland fanfiction I wrote. But I do think I 'shipped the Doctor/Rose quite a lot harder than anything preceding it.

(Sudden revelation: all the het I 'ship is really messed up. If they're the same species (see Doctor/Rose, Mitsuki/Takuto, TWILIGHT SPARKLE/FLASH SENTRY I HATE MYSELF) and there's no massive age gap (er, Doctor/Rose and Mitsuki/Takuto again, plus Jeff/Annie, Rogue/Logan and Katniss/Haymitch), I'm not interested, unless it's something like James/Mary or Naegi/Ikusaba, which have a whole host of alarming issues surrounding them. I'm surprised I love Nate/Elena so much; it's so much healthier than most of my 'ships!)

Anyway! Let's push my worrying taste aside for a moment. My interest in Doctor/Rose absolutely plummeted after the Ninth Doctor regenerated; I felt that the Tenth Doctor's dynamic with Rose was very different, and the new dynamic didn't really appeal to me. And I'd assumed that I wouldn't really care about Doctor/Rose on this rewatch, whether because I'd moved on or because my dislike of Ten/Rose would have somehow tainted Nine/Rose for me. I'm delighted to discover that I'm wrong!

When I think about it, maybe it's for the best that Eccleston didn't come back for the fiftieth anniversary. We may only have had thirteen episodes with the Ninth Doctor, but they were, for the most part, a pretty great thirteen episodes. I don't know if he'd ever be able to make a return that would match my expectations.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy viii: found a draw point! no one can draw... (you're a terrible artist)
This video, in which two old men re-enact a YouTube argument about One Direction, is probably the only good thing ever to be spawned by the hell that is the YouTube comments section. I laughed extremely hard.

It also, although I didn't realise this at first on account of being terrible with faces, features one of the actors from my mother's play, which is on in Hammersmith until this Saturday! SO I SUPPOSE YOU KNOW WHICH PLAY YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SEE IF YOU WANT TO GET HIS AUTOGRAPH.


There is a strong possibility that I have played Final Fantasy VIII too many times. I started it after completing Final Fantasy VII (at last! I thought I was doomed never to finish that game, what with malfunctioning memory cards ruining my first playthrough and my own malfunctioning memory meaning I completely forgot where I was supposed to be going on my second, but it finally happened), because it seemed a logical next step, and I was quite unsettled to realise that I knew every event of the first few hours in advance. I knew the gist of every conversation in advance. I knew the name of every monster on the island of Balamb, taking the Fire Cavern and Training Centre into account, and I can probably name quite a large percentage of the monsters in the wider world as well. (For context: I've just finished Final Fantasy VII, and the only non-boss enemies in that game I can name are 'Jumping' and 'Soldier (2nd Class)'.)

Final Fantasy VIII isn't my favourite game. It's not even my favourite Final Fantasy. But it has had an immense impact on my life; I think Pokémon is the only other work of fiction that's had a comparable effect. I have no idea who or where I'd be without it.

That isn't an exaggeration. This game helped me learn to empathise with other people; by presenting me with Squall, a character whose thoughts and feelings I could understand, it helped me realise that the thoughts and feelings of other people didn't have to be an impenetrable mystery. It's also indirectly the reason I started keeping a blog, and I currently live with a friend I made through Livejournal. Goodness knows what's going on in the parallel universe in which I never played it. I'm probably on my third Nobel Prize by now, considering all the time I haven't been wasting on things like blogging and videogames and friendship.

I love Zell's anxiety when it looks like you're about to take Selphie's shortcut in the field exam. 'Squall... You're not gonna... It's a cliff, man...' Bless him. He may not always think things through, but he can be surprisingly sensible sometimes, and his moments of concern always make me smile. I want to be friends with him.


To jump ahead in the game a bit: I think my very favourite dialogue option in Final Fantasy VIII is one that comes up when Squall and Rinoa are reunited, if you sent Rinoa to the missile base (I don't usually send her there, as you miss out on some scenes if you do, so - tragically - I don't often get the opportunity to see this):

Rinoa: I miss'd ya. ...You know, I thought I was gonna die at the missile base. ...That's when I really missed you.
Squall: .........
Squall: Why?

SQUALL.
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
A few nights ago, I had a dream that I watched Atlantis, the BBC's latest Saturday-night fantasy drama series. Having woken, I decided that this was obviously a sign and I should give Atlantis a try. (It's probably not a great idea to take advice from my dreams. Somebody stop me if I try to re-enact the one in which I piss Hitler off at a fancy dinner party.)

About a third of the way into the first episode of Atlantis, I had to pause and fire off a distressed e-mail to [livejournal.com profile] th_esaurus:


NO

ATLANTIS IS MERLIN IN ANCIENT GREECE WITH TIME TRAVEL

(THE MAIN CHARACTER LOSES HIS SHIRT FOUR MINUTES IN, IT IS DEFINITELY MERLIN)

I'M NOT EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH THE FIRST EPISODE

I LOVE IT ALREADY

I'M EVEN 'SHIPPING SOMETHING

NO

THIS IS A DISASTER



Then I finished the episode and spent half an hour looking through Atlantis GIFs on Tumblr and shouting 'NO' at myself.

There's only been one episode, so I suppose things could change, but I can say this much for now: if you liked Merlin, you will probably like Atlantis. If you hated Merlin but nevertheless derived a strange sense of enjoyment from watching it, you will probably hate-love Atlantis as well.

If you haven't watched Merlin and therefore can't use that as a basis, here's a second 'Is Atlantis For Me?' test: if you are looking for high-quality drama, stay away. If you're looking for something ridiculous about a modern-day young man being thrown into Ancient Greece (a turn of events he inexplicably accepts within about five seconds) and developing a gratuitously homoerotic friendship with Pythagoras, I don't know why you're not watching it right now. It's available on BBC iPlayer if you're in the UK.

I think it has very strong potential to be the next big fandom thing.
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
Sometimes, when the screen goes dark between scenes in Attack on Titan, I catch sight of my reflection watching it.

I invariably look really distressed.

I've typed up some thoughts on Attack on Titan in the course of watching, but I can't post them because I don't want to spoil anyone! This isn't just a case of 'well, put it under a cut, then'; people who haven't watched it might still click on the cut! How am I supposed to stop them? I went in knowing nothing beyond the bare bones of the premise (it's an anime! there are giant monsters! they eat people! oh dear!) and the fact that it's a lot less cheerful than Free!, and it's an experience I highly recommend.

There are eighteen episodes currently available. I charged through the lot in about five days. I'd probably have finished faster if we hadn't suffered a power cut in the middle, and if there hadn't been a moment or two that hit me so hard I needed several hours to recover.

If you have the time and the inclination, give it a try! It's pretty depressing and occasionally bloody, I should warn you, so stay away if you think it might distress you, but it really is extremely worth watching. It's available legally here on Crunchyroll (in the UK, even! Legal anime websites are never available in the UK! If you're in neither the UK nor the US, I don't know whether you'll be able to watch it, but you can give it a shot). Try the first few episodes and see if it catches your interest.

I know I love a lot of terrible things, but Attack on Titan is genuinely excellent. And I repeat: you can watch it online, and it's completely free and completely legal. Although I can't guarantee that it won't make you watch the same Argos advertisement six times if you don't have an ad blocker. IT DOESN'T MATTER; ATTACK ON TITAN IS GREAT.

(If you'd like to know at least slightly more before you go in, [livejournal.com profile] futuresoon has made an informative post on Tumblr (which is actually what got me to start watching). She's also made a more detailed version of the same post on Livejournal, but I'd recommend using the Tumblr one to make your decision and only checking out the Livejournal one if you're still not sure; as I've said, the less you know, the better.)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
The Giedroyc-O'Leary-Dawson-Widdicombe episode of Would I Lie to You? just aired! It's a great episode; do watch it if you haven't yet (here, for people in the UK, is the iPlayer link). I attended the recording of this, and I now have a little more to say about it.


On a claim that was curiously absent from my original recording recap. )


I have no idea how to end this entry. Erm. Have a cool animated fight scene? It's a trailer for something called RWBY, animated by Monty Oum, the guy who made the Dead Fantasy series of Final Fantasy/Dead or Alive crossover videos. 'Cool animated fight scenes' seem to be very much his thing. I don't usually much care for fight scenes, but I've watched the entirety of Dead Fantasy to date, and that's over half an hour of fighting. (The RWBY trailer is a much more manageable three-and-a-half minutes.)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy x-2: the sun is rising, yuna looks to the future. (hope is all we have)
ATTENTION: the paywall on the Something Awful Let's Play forums has now been lifted, so people without forum accounts can now access the Dangan Ronpa translation again! And the Let's Play was actually completed whilst the paywall was up, so you can now discover the conclusion of this delightful tale about friendship and murder.

I gave in and purchased an account about three days after the paywall went up, I'll confess. I JUST HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.

To my considerable surprise, Naegi ended up being my favourite character in Dangan Ronpa. Not that I've ever disliked him, but - he's so bland! In a cast full of colourful characters, he was specifically designed to lack individuality! And yet he's so endearing!

His excellent voice acting may have played a role in making me love him so much. You can hear, during some of the later trial segments, that he's on the verge of hyperventilating. And yet he never gives up, bless him.

I get oddly maternal about Naegi sometimes.

Dangan Ronpa is quite a distressing game (unsurprisingly, given the premise), but I've enjoyed it immensely. And the Let's Player is planning to translate the sequel as well! I cannot wait. (I actually personally know the guy who's been chosen to help edit the translation for the sequel - he was the person who introduced me to Dangan Ronpa in the first place - so it will be well within my power to go over and kick down his door if updates are overdue.

Well. Perhaps not well within my power. It takes quite a lot of effort to kick down a door.)


Finally and unrelatedly, here is a gorgeous Puella Magi Madoka Magica fanvid. Given the view count, I may well be the last Madoka Magica fan to see it, but I'm going to link to it anyway. It made me cry and then order the complete-series DVD, which is pretty good work for a fanvid. Massive spoilers for Puella Magi Madoka Magica in its entirety.
rionaleonhart: kingdom hearts: sora, riku and kairi having a friendly chat. (and they returned home)
I saw Skyfall yesterday. It was the first James Bond film I had ever seen and I was deeply, deeply confused by the title sequence. I exclaimed 'What?' aloud when the giant hand pulled Bond down. I'd assumed that when things happened on the screen in a Bond film I could trust that they were actually happening in the Bond universe! I wasn't expecting a high-definition Terry Gilliam sequence!

I also slightly wanted Bond and M to make out at points, I have to confess.

Prior to entering the cinema, I'd gathered that Bond walked sexily out of the ocean in every film and possibly every scene. I was rather disappointed to find that this was not the case.


Wow, I did not remember the bit in Kingdom Hearts where a gorilla leaves a shiny red poo behind and you pick it up and install it on your spaceship.

I have occasionally wondered why the Tarzan world never appeared in any Kingdom Hearts games beyond the first. On this replay, I have realised the reason is that Deep Jungle is a terrible world and the developers should be ashamed of themselves. Stupid vines.

Kingdom Hearts is a harder game than I remember. I must have blanked out all the level grinding in my fond memories of it, along with how tricky precise jumping is. I also don't remember it giving me such bad motion sickness. I love you, Kingdom Hearts; please stop making me suffer.

I've finally located the origin of my intense dislike for Kingdom Hearts Hercules! After you pour a huge amount of effort into defeating Cerberus, who's a hell of a boss to spring on you so early in the game, Hercules leans down and mutters to Phil, 'Just between us, I'd already worn Cerberus down by the time the little guy jumped in.' Screw you, Hercules. Although this is the first time it's occurred to me that he might actually not have been lying. I always assumed he was just trying to take the credit. DON'T THINK THIS MEANS I'VE FORGIVEN YOU, HERCULES.

I'd completely forgotten that you meet Riku in Traverse Town! I'm always so pleased to see him. Well, as I recall there's a nightmarish boss fight against him in Hollow Bastion, so I probably won't be terribly pleased to see him there, but for now his appearances delight me (even though the Traverse Town visit is quite distressing, because it leaves Riku thinking Sora's replaced him with a duck).

I love Riku. I love redemption as a theme, and Riku is made of redemption (you know, after he does all the things he actually needs to redeem himself for). Seeing him in Dream Drop Distance really warmed my heart. He's matured so much! He feels so indebted to Sora!

Speaking of the friendship between Sora and Riku in Dream Drop Distance, there's a ridiculously adorable scene between them towards the end; it starts at the 8.30 mark in this video (the link should take you to the correct time) and lasts about a minute (up to Sora's 'Thanks, everybody'). Bless you, Sora. I wish you were my friend. You probably would be if we met for more than half a second, because everybody is your friend.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy viii: found a draw point! no one can draw... (you're a terrible artist)
Derren Brown's most recent touring show, Svengali, was on Channel 4 on Tuesday evening! As always, it was a strange mixture of Derren Brown being terrifying (in particular when he had a creepy doll 'possess' a man from the audience; the poor guy looked as if he wanted to bolt off the stage) and Derren Brown being all giggly and adorable and climbing the set.

My favourite 'Derren being adorable' moment from the show: he opened it with a game called 'Derren, Please Tell Me Where I Might Find Your Other Shoe', in which he hid his shoe in one of three boxes and audience members had to guess which box it was in. Because he is Derren Brown, he had recorded two ridiculous jingles for this game, to be played during the shoe-hiding process. Here are those jingles.

Speaking of Derren Brown, I was reminded recently of something that struck me when I read his memoir Confessions of a Conjuror. I'm not a huge fan of Confessions of a Conjuror - I far prefer Tricks of the Mind - but I did like the description of his thought process the first time a partner said 'I love you' to him:

1. X loves me. Do I love X in return?
2. What does it mean to love X?
3. I sometimes think I might love X. Is that enough?
4. X has declared a binary position: love or not love. I am to take a clear position on one side.
5. If I do not state that I do love X, some time soon, then my position will be taken as not loving X.
6. Now I am going to have to say I love X in order not to cause this relationship to become very tricky by X feeling unloved.
7. Instead we will progress with X loving me and me uncertain about loving X but certainly pretending to do so.
8. What a terrible thing for X to say.



On a completely different note: after everyone in the world recommended the Phoenix Wright series to me, I purchased Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the first game in the series! I am currently somewhere in the middle of the third case.

Phoenix Wright, are you really an 'ace attorney'? You're endearing, certainly, but are you actually good at this being-a-lawyer thing? Are you supposed to make statements like 'Therefore, this witness is a big fat liar'?

Of course, Wright's supposed aceness is not terribly well supported by the fact that I am controlling him. At the beginning of the second Turnabout Samurai trial segment, I promptly got four penalties on a single testimony (two of which were for presenting the same piece of irrelevant evidence) and had to struggle through the rest of the trial knowing that one more mistake would net me a game over. It certainly upped the tension, I suppose!

I do prefer Ghost Trick, I have to say (er, the two games share a creator, so this isn't a completely arbitrary comparison); Phoenix Wright is a bit wordy for my videogame tastes (and I'm a Final Fantasy fan!), and so far I like Ghost Trick's characters and storyline more. I'm still having fun with Phoenix Wright, though! I particularly like the voice control, and the way Edgeworth acts as if he's been physically hit if you break through his witnesses' testimonies. And I do seem to be quite fond of Wright himself.

(Seriously, though, you're supposed to point out that April May should have noticed Maya's odd clothes? Have you seen what April May is wearing?)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xii: fran glares; tremble with fear! (don't cross me)
This Revolutionary Girl Utena AMV to 'Brick by Boring Brick' is perhaps the best fanvid I've ever seen. I'd never heard the song before, but it works so well. Major (if confusing) spoilers for the entire Utena anime. I get a bit teary every time I watch it.

(I've realised that I have a big, big weakness for female characters who belong in Gryffindor. Utena, Yuna, Korra, Lightning, Elena Fisher, Donna Noble: all favourites of mine, all - in very different ways - Gryffindors. I'm not guaranteed to adore a Gryffindor girl, but it certainly helps. Not sure what to do with that knowledge. Write a giant Hogwarts AU?)


I'd love to be able to say that this second fortnight-long posting hiatus in a row was because I was having a second lovely holiday, but in fact it's because I've done almost nothing but work since I got back. The curse of the freelancer: you never have the right amount of employment. 'Too much work' is preferable to 'no work', but surely there must be some sort of balance between the two extremes?

I did find time for something non-work-related yesterday, though: I've had a replay of Final Fantasy XII saved just before the final area on my memory card for ages, so I decided to play through the ending. (The PS3, it turns out, has ruined PS2 graphics for me. I was really aware of the pixellation at the edges of the character models. I'd never noticed that before.)

Regarding the ending itself: it made so much more sense this time! The first time I saw the ending, I had absolutely no idea where Balthier and Fran had gone or what they were trying to achieve by endangering themselves. I was aware that they were doing something awesome, but I did not know what that awesome thing was. Now that I know, it is a lot more awesome!

I've also realised that I really, really love Larsa. I wish I'd been that centred and good-hearted and intelligent when I was twelve. Frankly, I could do with being that centred and good-hearted and intelligent now.

Final Fantasy XII is fairly far down in my personal ranking of the Final Fantasy games, I have to admit, despite scoring high on actual gameplay. This is in part because the plot is even more incoherent than I generally expect from a Final Fantasy (possibly this is just because there are great swathes of gameplay between cutscenes and by the time I reach the next scene I've forgotten what happened before), but it's mostly because the party never really felt like a group to me. They were always Balthier-and-Fran, Vaan-and-Penelo, Ashe-and-Basch: three duos (or even two duos and two individuals; Ashe and Basch seemed to stand apart entirely at times), not one... sixio. Sextet. WHATEVER THE WORD IS, THEY DIDN'T FEEL LIKE ONE. At the end, Vaan says to Ashe, 'You'll make it; you've got good friends,' which struck me as odd because they never actually felt like a group of friends to me. I think that's a great shame.

The other problem with XII is that Larsa is not a permanent party member. This is simply not acceptable. I was thinking recently about what I would do if I had the power to replace any one party member from each Final Fantasy game with any one non-party member; I would definitely replace Vaan with Larsa. (I'd also swap Beatrix in on Final Fantasy IX, incidentally. Possibly in Amarant's place. What would you do?)


Oh, hey, the Olympics are almost over! Better share the best fact I've learnt in a while: during the torch relay for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, at the Sydney changeover, a student ran along the route with a fake torch consisting of a pair of flaming underpants in a plum pudding can on top of a chair leg. He managed to hand it to the mayor of Sydney and escape before the deception was noticed.