rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
After I first watched ERASED, back in 2016, I said I wasn't sure I'd ever watch it again. I really enjoyed it, but it was so intense I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle a rewatch.

I'm glad I came back to it. It is very intense, but it's also very good. And it's only twelve episodes, so it kicks you in the gut with DRAMA and EMOTIONS and then politely leaves to let you patch yourself up, rather than continually kicking you in the gut.

If I had to recommend an anime series to someone who'd never seen one before, I think ERASED would probably be the one I'd choose, with the caveat that it deals heavily with child abuse.

Full-series spoilers for ERASED. )

I think ERASED has my favourite opening sequence of all time. Not just because of the part where the protagonist is clutching his head and writhing in emotional agony under a bridge, although that is very good.

I've been thinking fondly recently about Higurashi and how much I love watching Keiichi slowly losing his mind with terror. So I ordered the two-volume manga of the first arc (Onikakushi, called the Abducted by Demons arc in the manga).

I think this is the first time I've read a manga that's an adaptation, so I didn't entirely know what to expect. Fullmetal Alchemist, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Death Note, DN Angel, Full Moon o Sagashite, they were all manga to begin with. But Higurashi started out as a visual novel. Would the manga adaptation be good? Would it feel too compressed?

My reservations turned out to be unfounded. I enjoyed the Higurashi manga a lot! Even if it suffers slightly from going TITS TITS TITS too much before getting down to the business of psychologically pulling its characters apart. (The manga changes the early scene where Mion and Keiichi are playing 'hey, Keiichi, show me your dick' chicken to be about Mion's breasts instead! Outrageous.)

When the manga does start ripping Keiichi to shreds, it does it very effectively, although of course I can't say how it would have impacted me if I'd read the manga before the visual novel. In some ways the visual novel portrays the horror more effectively by having less to work with visually and more to work with in terms of sound, and by having more time to really dig into Keiichi's mind, but it was still really cool to see the characters having more expressions. And to see Keiichi's face!

(Keiichi's increasingly petrified, sleep-deprived, conflicted face. These poor kids.)

Reading the manga when I've played up to Tsumihoroboshi, and therefore have slightly more of an idea of what's going on, absolutely ripped me apart. Everything is agonising!

Spoilers for the Onikakushi/Abducted by Demons arc of Higurashi: When They Cry. )

This has prodded me into beginning a replay of Higurashi. I'm doing some sprite editing this time around, though, because a few of the Steam sprites bother me; I wasn't a fan of Rena's embarrassed/anxious expression, for example, so I've changed it from this to this. I was going 'I wish I could play a version with a few of the sprites altered' and then 'wait, I have access to the game files! I have the power to do this!'
rionaleonhart: umineko: battler smiles nervously because what the fuck else is he supposed to do (i have no idea what's going on)
Time to round up some commentfic bits and pieces I've written here and there!

Higurashi, 150 words, prompt: first kisses. )

Until Dawn, 300 words, prompt: getting along with someone in your friend group that you don't particularly like. )

Zanki Zero, 100 words, prompt: no going back. )

Zanki Zero, 250 words, prompt: bondage. )

I really want to write a full Higurashi fic about Keiichi being haunted by memories from other timelines, but for some reason it's not taking root. It's one of my favourite types of fic, and it's such a good canon for it!

(I'd also love to write a full Zanki Zero tentacle bondage fic, but I doubt I'd be able to do the concept justice.)
rionaleonhart: kingdom hearts: riku, blindfolded and smiling slightly. (we'll be the darkness)
I found a copy of The Sexy Brutale for £5, so I picked it up. Interesting game! The title is terrible and gives absolutely no impression of what the game's actually about. (You're at a time-looping party where all the guests keep getting murdered, and you have to try to save their lives.)

I was going 'this is diverting enough, but I'm not especially emotionally invested' for most of The Sexy Brutale, and then startled myself by getting tearful at the ending, which was extremely up my street. It makes me like the entire game more in retrospect.

Spoilers under the cut:

Spoilers for The Sexy Brutale. )

Always good to make an addition to my Time Loops and Murder videogame collection.

The current Time Loops and Murder collection, in case anyone else is a fan of this oddly specific genre: Ghost Trick, Higurashi, The Sexy Brutale, Umineko, Zero Escape. Life Is Strange and Oxenfree might also qualify, although they're a bit less about murder than the others. I suppose NieR Automata might fit, but frankly I was a bit too confused by that game to say so with confidence. (Some of these games deal more in alternate timelines or short-jump time travel than actual time loops, but the spirit is similar.)
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xv: prompto, the best character, with a touch of swagger. (looking ahead)
Watching a Let's Play of Zanki Zero, I was astounded that it kept getting more and more tailored to my interests. A group of strangers are thrown together and forced to bond by shared adversity! Haruto and Mamoru discuss the nature of love and Haruto concludes, blushing furiously, 'I think... I love everyone here,' in an outright invitation for me to write the character/everyone fic I write in every fandom! Tentacles! Who the hell filled this game with things I love and then gave it gameplay I hate? I'm so frustrated!

I thought at first that Mamoru would be my favourite character, but I think my top three are actually Ryo, Minamo and Haruto. I'm fond of everyone in this cast of traumatised bisexual clones, though (even Zen, who I initially wasn't expecting to care about at all). I ship everyone in a big poly mess, and I feel the game supports me enthusiastically in this.

Ryo sort of reminds me of Prompto from Final Fantasy XV: passionate and friendly and fun, bit of a cowardly streak, enjoys photography, wears his heart on his sleeve, slightly in love with everyone. (If Prompto were in the same situation, he would definitely also be taking imaginary photographs with his inoperable camera.) Both Ryo and Prompto took me by surprise; I wasn't expecting them to be my respective favourite characters in their games, but they're great. Plus Ryo easily has the best hilariously sparkly pin-up CG of the Zanki Zero cast. (NB: the image linked to, although it's not graphic, is not very safe for work. Also, I promise there's a good reason he has a D-pad on his stomach.)

I can't explain my fondness for Haruto. My weakness for bland Spike Chunsoft protagonists strikes again! But characters like Haruto and the various Danganronpa protagonists do have just enough character to distinguish them and make me feel they're not just a blank slate. Haruto's pretty reserved; he cares, but he gets embarrassed if things get too intimate or sincere. He's interested in the world; he wants to understand everything he encounters; he likes to listen to people talking about things they're knowledgeable or passionate about. They're not very flashy traits, but they're enough to make me feel there's a person to get to know there.

In this fucked-up situation - one of the last eight survivors of humanity, short on food, trapped in a cycle of endlessly dying - I think Haruto is happier and more at ease than he ever was in his regular life, and that sort of breaks my heart.

Zanki Zero is flawed, even if you disregard the gameplay. It's very backstory-heavy, but a lot of the backstory bits don't really feel like they have much impact on the plot, making the story feel a bit unfocused. But I really just wanted a bunch of characters suffering and struggling and coming to love each other, and it more than delivered on that. I hope it gets a fandom.

The biggest way this game let me down: I can't believe one of the characters of Zanki Zero is a bondage artist who can manifest tentacles and yet never ties anyone up with his tentacles. This is an outrage.
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)

I mean, it's sort of understandable in this case, because Zanki Zero isn't officially out in English-speaking regions until tomorrow. Apparently the English version was released a few weeks ago in Asia, though, so a Let's Play already exists, and I have fallen head-first into this weird game about love and friendship and human cloning.

Someone's got to kick off this fandom, and it's going to be me.

Title: Falling Down
Fandom: Zanki Zero: Last Beginning
Rating: somewhere on the PG-13/R border
Wordcount: 1,200
Summary: It isn't easy to overwrite the data on an X Key. Sometimes, something stays behind.
Warnings: Late-game spoilers (up to the end of stage 07), violence, strong references to suicide.

Falling Down )
rionaleonhart: umineko: battler smiles nervously because what the fuck else is he supposed to do (i have no idea what's going on)
[personal profile] keltena has made me aware of the Umineko Gold project to create an English audiobook of Umineko, and I desperately need this to happen for two reasons.

Reason one (the practical one): a lot of people aren't into visual novels, so it'd be really cool to have Umineko available in a more accessible format.

Reason two (the horrible one): they've released a trailer for the audiobook, which contains Battler's breakdown at the first twilight of the first episode (running from around the nine-minute mark to 14min 30sec - the link should lead to the right point), and holy crap, his voice acting is perfect. I was a little unsure earlier in the extract, when I first heard his regular speaking voice, but I was sold the second things got fucked up. I'm very fond of Battler, which of course means my favourite parts of Umineko are the parts where he's completely psychologically collapsing. It's possible that I'm Beatrice. Jessica is great as well. (Warning: they're reacting to the aftermath of horrific murders - said aftermath is not actually displayed on the screen but is described in some detail.)

I'm just really excited to hear more of Battler sobbing and hyperventilating. Please let this happen.

I thought I might as well check out the demo for Zanki Zero: Last Beginning, the latest from Spike Chunsoft. (The bizarrely long demo. It took me four hours to complete. I was half-wondering whether they'd accidentally put the whole game in there.)

- concept seems interesting
- apparently you can make the characters bang in any combination in optional side scenes, i.e. exactly what I want from every videogame
- the characters say 'ow' whenever I accidentally walk them into walls, which I do constantly, and it's pretty funny
- pleasingly guilt-ridden cast
- the line 'I can't breathe with all the blood in my throat'

- I hate the gameplay! There is not a single aspect of the gameplay that appeals to me. I don't want to worry about every character's hunger and thirst and age and stamina and bladder capacity; those are concerns for real life!

This is a real problem with videogames. It's possible for a game to have a story and characters you're interested in, and yet be completely unbearable to play. I suppose the equivalent for a book would be 'I like this concept, but I can't stand the writing style.' Maybe I'll check out a Let's Play, but I really don't think I can play this myself.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy xiii: lightning pays intense attention to you. (speak carefully)
Here are some notes on the early third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! I'm up to 'Revelations'.

Faith: Isn't it crazy how slaying always makes you hungry and horny?

I really liked Buffy's counsellor in 'Beauty and the Beasts' and I was very unhappy that he only survived for one scene. What a waste of a good character!

I'm also very annoyed that the 'werewolf' is clearly some sort of were-monkey. I'm so often let down by werewolf designs. The Harry Potter films, Supernatural, Buffy: all disappointments in this regard. Say what you will about Twilight, but at least the werewolves in the films looked like wolves. That's all I ask!

Angel is so bad at wearing shirts.

Before I started watching Buffy, I really wasn't expecting this protracted will-they-won't-they-turned-infidelity plotline between Willow and Xander. I'll be honest: it doesn't really work. If you're going to have an ~oh no, we shouldn't be kissing~ scene in a work of fiction and you want viewers to feel guiltily in favour, chemistry is really important. Willow has considerably more chemistry with her actual boyfriend than she does with the guy she's kissing instead, so this was never going to work.

I can't look at the cowboy vampire without thinking of the screaming cowboy song.

When was the last time Angel wore a shirt? Has he ever worn a shirt? Was he tortured by a shirt in Hell?

I keep forgetting this Willow/Xander plotline is happening and going 'WHY' afresh every time I'm reminded.

I was thinking Mrs Post had Mary Poppins' mannerisms right before Faith called her Mary Poppins. (Gwendolyn Post was also a character who had potential and was instead killed off immediately! Stop that, Buffy.)

You'll be able to deduce I wasn't a fan of the 'Willow and Xander kiss in the library' scene, but it did give us Giles holding his glasses in his mouth, which was endearing.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
Finishing Umineko inspired me to do the final touch-ups to this painting, which was not actually intended to be Rokkenjima (I was working from this picture, the source of which I unfortunately can't find) but is, now that I stand back and look at it, totally Rokkenjima.

I'm so restless now that I've finished Umineko. I can't play or read or watch anything else because I just get frustrated with it for not being Umineko! What do I do?

I usually deal with 'I've finished a canon I loved; what now?' by writing fic, but I don't have any ideas, alas. And I struggle to write for unvoiced canons, in any case; it's a lot easier for me to capture a character's voice if I've heard them speaking.

Maybe I should just replay the first six episodes of Higurashi in preparation for the final two to come out on Steam. Or, given that I love Umineko, Higurashi, Danganronpa and, to a lesser extent, Zero Escape, I could hunt down more canons in the 'murder! mystery! despair! plot twists! guilt! struggling against hopeless situations! possibly time loops! also warmth and friendship and love and a general refusal to take itself too seriously' genre.
rionaleonhart: umineko: battler smiles nervously because what the fuck else is he supposed to do (i have no idea what's going on)
(I wanted this entry's title to be the Peep Show quote 'Shakespeare basically said something about how there are more things there than there are actual things you can see with your eyes', but alas it wouldn't fit.)

I've finished the eighth and final instalment of Umineko: When They Cry!

Thoughts on the final instalment of Umineko: When They Cry. )

And that's the end of Umineko: When They Cry!

What a strange, intense, beautiful, bewildering experience this has been. I can't believe I only started reading this in November. And I took a two-month break in the middle, so I read all over-a-million-words of it in the space of two months. I have lived a thousand years in that time. I have learnt so much about magic. I have accepted the terrible Ushiromiya family thoroughly into my heart.

Especially Battler, this goddamn idiot.

It's so strange to be finished! What am I going to do now? (Wait impatiently for chapter seven of Higurashi, I suppose.)
rionaleonhart: red dead redemption: john marston reloads sexily (debatable). (just gonna reload while talkin' to you)
I wrote a snippet of a Hunger Games AU for Animorphs back in 2015, and, to my surprise, I've now expanded it into an actual fic!

(I'm excited to have written some actual fanfiction about the Animorphs characters at last! Animorphs was the first work of fiction I ever really intensely loved, and it had a very big impact on my writing style and my taste in fiction.)

Title: The Spoils
Fandom: Animorphs/The Hunger Games
Rating: somewhere on the PG-13/R border
Wordcount: 2,900
Summary: Scenes from a world where the Animorphs are victors of the Hunger Games. Well, most of them are victors.
Warnings: Violence, character death, allusions to forced prostitution.

The Spoils )
rionaleonhart: umineko: battler smiles nervously because what the fuck else is he supposed to do (i have no idea what's going on)
I've now finished playing the seventh instalment of Umineko: When They Cry, which lulled me into a false sense of security by focusing on backstory and clearing things up, and then got wild as hell in the tea party. (Also, I possibly actually managed to deduce some things at the last minute!)

Thoughts on the seventh instalment of Umineko: When They Cry. )

One instalment to go! It's going to be strange to finish this huge, ridiculous tale of magic and murder.
rionaleonhart: umineko: battler smiles nervously because what the fuck else is he supposed to do (i have no idea what's going on)
I've now finished the sixth instalment of Umineko: When They Cry!

Thoughts on the sixth instalment of Umineko: When They Cry. )

I've been playing Baba Is You, and, honestly, these impossible Umineko murder puzzles seem like nothing compared to some of the levels in that stupid game. It's such a good puzzle game, but I'm so bad at it!
rionaleonhart: final fantasy viii: found a draw point! no one can draw... (you're a terrible artist)
THE BOOKENING TITLE #18: Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman.

A non-fiction book, for once!

This is about how our brains make decisions, the shortcuts they take, the pitfalls they're prone to, and it's probably the most interesting book I've ever read. I've always been interested in logical fallacies, heuristics and so on, but I think this is the best work I've encountered on the subject.

A few points I found particularly interesting:

- pp.117-118: on account of research showing that a disproportionate number of the best-performing schools are small, a lot of money and effort has gone into creating small schools or splitting up larger schools in the US. As it happens, a disproportionate number of the worst-performing schools are also small. Small schools aren't inherently better; their performance is just more likely to skew away from the average, because there are fewer data points involved. If you flip a coin four times, you're way more likely to get 100% or 75% heads than if you flip it fifty times.

- pp.43-44, on a study of eight parole judges in Israel: They spend entire days reviewing applications for parole. The cases are presented in random order, and the judges spend little time on each one, an average of 6 minutes. (The default decision is denial of parole; only 35% of requests are approved.) ... The authors of the study plotted the proportion of approved requests against the time since the last food break. The proportion spikes after each meal, when about 65% of requests are granted. During the two hours or so until the judges' next feeding, the approval rate drops steadily, to about zero just before the meal. As you might expect, this is an unwelcome result and the authors carefully checked many alternative explanations. The best possible account of the data provides bad news: tired and hungry judges tend to fall back on the easier default position of denying requests for parole.

- pp.125-126, on how we'll be influenced by any number that comes to mind when making estimates or other numerical decisions: The power of random anchors has been demonstrated in some unsettling ways. German judges with an average of more than fifteen years of experience on the bench first read a description of a woman who had been caught shoplifting, then rolled a pair of dice that were loaded so every roll resulted in either a 3 or a 9. As soon as the dice came to a stop, the judges were asked whether they would sentence the woman to a term in prison greater or lesser, in months, than the number showing on the dice. Finally, the judges were instructed to specify the exact prison sentence they would give to the shoplifter. On average, those who had rolled a 9 said they would sentence her to 8 months; those who rolled a 3 said they would sentence her to 5 months.

(This isn't terribly important, but I cannot get my head around how a pair of dice, assuming they're six-sided, can be loaded so every roll will result in either a three or a nine. Three or eight would be possible: you rig them so one always lands on two and the other can land on either one or six. Three or nine, though? I don't think it can be done. Maybe there were multiple pairs?)

- pp.175-176, on regression to the mean: the author once gave a talk to some air force flight instructors on how reward was more effective than punishment. One instructor objected, saying that cadets generally performed worse after he praised them and better after he screamed at them. But their performance would probably have changed regardless: Naturally, he praised only a cadet whose performance was far better than average. But the cadet was probably just lucky on that particular attempt and therefore likely to deteriorate regardless of whether or not he was praised. Similarly, the instructor would shout into a cadet's earphones only when the cadet's performance was unusually bad and therefore likely to improve regardless of what the instructor did.

- p.329, on the tendency to look at numbers alone and ignore what they're relative to: In one study, people who saw information about 'a disease that kills 1,286 people out of every 10,000' judged it as more dangerous than people who were told about 'a disease that kills 24.14% of the population.' The first disease appears more threatening than the second, although the former risk is only half as large as the latter! In an even more direct demonstration of denominator neglect, 'a disease that kills 1,286 people out of every 10,000' was judged more dangerous than a disease that 'kills 24.4 out of 100.'

I enjoyed this book a lot, and it's worth checking out if you're interested in the weirdness of the human brain.
rionaleonhart: final fantasy x-2: the sun is rising, yuna looks to the future. (hope is all we have)
I've been thinking about magic, and it's Umineko's fault.

Magic isn't a real thing, but that's only because 'magic' basically means 'something that isn't possible in our world'. If magic becomes possible, it ceases to be magic. Over the Internet, or by telephone, I can communicate instantly with someone thousands of miles away. That's incredible; someone who lived a few generations ago might call it magical. We don't consider it magic, because we know it's possible.

If you experience something you didn't realise was possible, or if you learn about something you didn't know was real, could you say that you're experiencing magic?

I sometimes feel the magic has gone out of the world as I've grown up, which I suppose makes sense. As you become older, you come to understand more about what is possible and what isn't. But you can still be surprised. I had no idea feral parakeets would be willing to sit on my hand until I experienced it in Kensington Gardens. Something that had previously been impossible, in my world, suddenly became possible. Perhaps you could argue that that was a form of magic.

I have no idea what I'm trying to say here. I suppose Umineko's just reminded me that the world is a pretty cool place, and I shouldn't forget that things are cool just because I'm used to them. I can mix flour and egg and water and milk and salt, and then put the mixture in the oven, and it transforms into delicious Yorkshire puddings! How is that not magical?

In conclusion, witches are real and I'm going to murder everyone with magical flying stakes.
rionaleonhart: umineko: battler smiles nervously because what the fuck else is he supposed to do (i have no idea what's going on)
I've just finished the fifth instalment of Umineko: When They Cry: the first of the answer arcs.

Thoughts on the fifth instalment of Umineko: When They Cry. )

Umineko is so interesting! It has such cool ideas! I wasn't expecting to get so into it, even though I also love Higurashi.
rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
I'm feeling pretty rusty on these characters, but here's the spiritual successor to Nagito Komaeda Makes Everyone Uncomfortable and Possibly Sleeps With Them All. That fic was Komaeda/everyone in the second game; this one is Komaeda/everyone in the first game. Maybe at some point I'll pair him up with the Danganronpa V3 cast.

Title: Nagito Komaeda Gets Under Everyone's Skin and/or Clothes
Fandom: Dangan Ronpa/Super Dangan Ronpa 2
Rating: R
Pairing: Komaeda/everyone
Wordcount: 5,100
Summary: Komaeda gets locked up in Hope's Peak with the first game's cast. He gets weirdly intimate with a lot of them.

Nagito Komaeda Gets Under Everyone's Skin and/or Clothes. )
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
[personal profile] keltena has brought it to my attention that there is a Valentine's Day Umineko special, and a follow-up White Day one, released after chapter four of Umineko. (It's very weird to see the 'did a child draw this?' original art when I'm used to the 'the art is generally competent but the tits are ludicrous' Steam sprites.)

Notes on the Umineko Valentine's Day/White Day specials. )

This is a very serious series about murder.
rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
I've now finished the second season of Buffy! When my housemates and I were about to start the two-part finale:

Rei: Riona, you might find this upsetting.
Ginger: No, Riona is going to really enjoy it.
Rei: Oh, right. I forgot about Riona.

Here are my notes on 'Becoming'. I'll spoiler-cut this, as it's a major episode.

Notes on 'Becoming', the second-season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. )

I'm interested to see where this goes!
rionaleonhart: okami: amaterasu is startled. (NOT SO FAST)
I've now finished the fourth instalment of Umineko: When They Cry: the last of the question arcs.

Thoughts on the fourth instalment of Umineko: When They Cry. )

And that's the end of the first half of Umineko! It has taken fifty-five hours, and it has been a deeply weird experience. I look forward to things presumably getting even weirder.
rionaleonhart: twewy: joshua kiryu is being fabulously obnoxious and he knows it. (is that so?)
I'm coming up to the end of the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. More episode notes!

'Killed by Death':

All of Buffy's friends jumping on Angel to protect her when she's too ill to fight at full capacity!

That was a nice little exchange between Joyce and Giles in the hospital. This show has a lot of awkward conversations, and I tend to enjoy them a lot. (Having caught a bit of a later episode, I already know that there will be some degree of Giles/Joyce, which is a slightly weird thought in a way I enjoy.)

I bet that one scene where Angel gets right up in Xander's face spawned a lot of fanfiction.

Cordelia is capable of being surprisingly insightful, it turns out! (Also surprisingly eager to learn. Giles was getting frustrated with her questions about what various beasties did, but, hey, at least she's interested!)

'I Only Have Eyes For You':

Willow feels like she's gained a bit of confidence. Perhaps through teaching? Perhaps through beginning to develop an interest in magic?

I'm increasingly annoyed with every Angel-Drusilla-Spike scene in which they fail to have a threesome, although to be fair to them they do seem to be having a solid crack at it. Angel and Drusilla have absolutely, no-question banged in front of Spike and I want to see the fanfiction about it.

Interesting that Evil Angel's response, on coming back to himself and finding himself kissing Buffy on account of ghostly possession, is to snarl and run, not to attack. I also like that he has a shower immediately afterwards in a desperate effort to scrub away all these feelings.

'Go Fish':

This is one of the very few Buffy episodes I'd previously seen, as I was curious about Wentworth Earl Miller III's role in it. It's... a weird episode.

It's still extremely surreal to hear Michael Scofield saying, 'Dude, what is that foulness?' I might be able to handle it if he didn't have the prison haircut! (And those unmistakable, very intense eyes. Look, Wentworth Miller, is it really so much to ask that you perform all non-Prison Break roles with your eyes closed? In... including the roles you played before actually working on Prison Break?)

I can't believe Michael Scofield is interacting with Buffy! Getting bitten by Angel! Asking Buffy to walk him home! There should be crossover fanfiction in which Buffy meets Actual Michael Scofield.