On Ankoku Joshi

ankoku
The cover.

Ankoku Joshi (The Dark Maidens) is a bit of deductive storytelling written in 2013 by Akiyoshi Rikako, a mystery novelist with some stellar educational history. I stumbled upon its film adaptation directed by Yakumo Saiji, with a screenplay by Okada Mari (that’s how I found out about it) in October last year and randomly gave it a spin, to some amazing results. I had absolutely no idea what I’m getting into. I’d been wanting to read the original novel since that time, and finally decided I should quit putting that plan off when Vertical announced they would publish its English translation. It came out very recently, so go buy it. I, however, opted to buy the original Japanese novel instead. Which means I missed the cute illustrations. Oh well.

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On Yume Nikki


Madotsuki going down some stairs, nothing to see here.

Year 2004. A person hiding under the name “Kikiyama” makes Yume Nikki (Dream Diary), a rather unique RPG Maker game which would steadily gather more and more fans throughout the years. It recently landed on Steam too. Have you ever played with RPG Maker 2000? I did a lot of that in middle school and would recommend you trying it out too. The app gives you rather limited possibilities – a typical first generation JRPG battle system, 320×240 as the maximum resolution, and the most basic tools a proper game programmer would have. But, if you were a serious type, after fucking around with the program for a while, you’d ask yourself the question: “Could I make a genuinely good game with that?” It seems to me that Kikiyama had that thought too. One way you could go about trying to make a valid game in RPG Maker looks like this: you give up using the default RPG-making tools the app gives you and make your own game rules from the ground up. You try to make a game of a different genre. The interactivity offered by this environment is extremely limited – the player can only use the four arrow keys, Enter and Escape. So, you could try to throw the option of appealing to your audience with gameplay out the window and focus on impressing them only with the game’s aesthetics…

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On The Autobiography of Fukuzawa Yukichi


A portrait of Fukuzawa Yukichi.

Somewhere around 2013, I was reading a certain book on world history which referenced Fukuzawa Yukichi and his autobiography, originally titled Fukuou Jiden. Back then I didn’t even know much about who Fukuzawa was, apart from him being an important political person from early-modern Japan. But I kept the book in memory and eventually bought a used copy and finished reading it in August 2017. What I expected was an account of the enormous changes of the Meiji era, but the book isn’t really about that – first and foremost, as the title suggests, it’s a biography. Anyway, I decided to reread it and write a bit on the book, since now that I’m done with it, I think it deserves a blogpost.

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On Rokka no Yuusha v4


The cover.

Hi. The time has come to read the recently released fourth volume of the Rokka no Yuusha series. At this point, the question every reader following the story should ask is: will this volume follow the ruleset established by all the previous books? Will it be the same as always? The answer is: partially, yes. You can count on Yamagata Ishio to mix things up at least a little bit, though. So as to make things less predictable and boring.

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On “Bishoujo wo Kirai na Kore Dake no Riyuu”


The cover.

June 2012, the time when the first volume of the Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku series came out wasn’t the first time Endou Asari had the attention of light novel readers in Japan. In September 2011, his debut novel was released. Titled Bishoujo wo Kirai na Kore Dake no Riyuu, or My Slight Reason For Hating Pretty Girls, it was one of the winners of KonoRano Bunko’s yearly newcomer prize. One of the judges was Kuriyama Chiaki and the novel received a prize named after her. I learned about it at Maijar Suishin Iinkai while googling for MahoIku-related trivia and since Endou Asari’s series of novels about deathgames with magical girls are some of the most memorable stories out of what I’ve been reading in recent memory, I decided to give it a go not long ago to see what it’s like. Especially since I haven’t read any books in Japanese for a while.

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