On Mavar Nendaiki

The cover.

Right now, when I google “Mavar Nendaiki” (not マヴァール年代記), I get exactly *two* results. Looks like a task for Bednorz and his Weeablogue.

Mavar Nendaiki (The Annals of Mavar) is a historical novel set in a fictional land (kakuu rekishi shousetsu) by Tanaka Yoshiki. It originally was a series of three volumes, later gathered into a single book – only the first edition (started in 1988) consisted of separate volumes. You might have heard about Arslan or some other less known works by Tanaka-sensei, the creator of LoGH. But probably not this one. It’s rather obscure. How obscure? You see, my original intention was to pirate it. Except, I only was able to obtain the second and third volume. I found a way around it, however. I also found the “Mavar Nendaiki cassette-book” uploaded on Niconico. What is a “cassette-book”, you ask? It’s a strange hybrid of an audiobook and an audiodrama, with major voice actors of the late eighties reading out a little play summarizing the novel, available on tape. So, the plan was to consume the first volume in the form of this strange radio play thingy and to read the rest in form of pirated ebooks. But then, I listened through the cassette-book and said… Aah, screw it. I’ll just buy the damn thing. And so I did – I used a proxy service to buy a used copy off Yahoo Auctions. The book itself cost me 200 JPY – much less than expected. If you wanna win, you gotta play it smart. Since Tanaka-sensei prefers basing his fictional worlds off real ones, the Empire of Mavar is based on medieval Hungary. If “Mavar” brings “Magyar” to your mind… yes, it should. Or at least the proper nouns are based on Hungary. Tanaka-sensei seems to think he’s adding “local flavor” to his fantasy novels, but I’m afraid that’s not enough for Mavar Nendaiki to feel “Hungarian”. It has next to nothing to do with Hungary, which is kind of a missed opportunity. Anyway, “Magyarorszag” is the only Hungarian word I know. Or wait, I know “Lengyelorszag” too.

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On Genocidal Organ

The cover.

The first time I heard about this novel I was like “is it about a dude whose kidney popped out of him and started killing people?”. Genocidal Organ (Gyakusatsu Kikan) by Itou Keikaku, an award-winning SF writer. It was his literary debut, published in 2007, made into an animated film ten years later – one of a whole trilogy of Itou adaptations, alongside Harmony and Shisha no Teikoku. It was published in English in 2012 by everybody’s favorite label dedicated to nerdy Japanese fiction, Haikasoru.

Itou Keikaku is a bit of a big deal. He was honored with the Seiun award for his Harmony in 2009 and his career could have become more impressive if he didn’t die of cancer at the young age of 34. He was writing to the very end – he left behind an unfinished novel titled Shisha no Teikoku, which was then finished by Enjou Tou. In 2014, when the film trilogy was announced (which already speaks volumes about his importance), he was being presented as a genius. But is he really a genius? What if it’s a case of people claiming he’s one just because he died a sad death? That’s not unheard of. Maybe it’s only marketing? Guess we’ll find out. My first contact with the story was the film, in October 2017, but I’ve also read the novel twice, so I feel like the adaptation doesn’t really color my perception of the book in any way anymore. I got through the novel for the first time in March 2019 and then decided that writing something about it wouldn’t be a bad idea, and so, several days ago I started a reread of Genocidal Organ with writing this post in mind.

If I were to summarize this 300 pages-long novel, it goes like this. Near future, an unspecified year. Clavis Shepherd, an erudite and a near-future supersoldier is chasing a person called John Paul around the world. John Paul is a PR specialist with a secret – wherever he appears, civil wars break out. Genocidal Organ is a bit of a puzzle of a novel. Not in the usual murder mystery kind of way, though. It’s about figuring out what’s happening and for what purpose.

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On Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

got nothing witty to write here

April 2004. Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki, the Gamecube game now know as FE: Path of Radiance in the West, was announced. But, it wasn’t Ike and His Merry Mercenary Friends that was remembered by history as “Fire Emblem 8”. Between the first news about the game and its proper release, Intelligent Systems managed to crank out one more title. In October 2004, FE: Seima no Kouseki came out, the GBA game later (May 2005) published in the West under the subtitle The Sacred Stones. I guess that introduced some confusion in the numeration of the games. I remember seeing Japanese calling Seisen no Keifu “FE3”, claiming that FE Gaiden doesn’t count as “FE2”, cause it’s a “gaiden”, too. Anyway, I had followed the entire story of the game’s release together with my fellow FESSers centuries ago, in my busy middle school days. Beginning with that first scan from Shounen Jump. Then I played FE8 in Japanese upon release, with the help of my meager knowledge of most of kana, several kanji and amateur translations written by fellow FE nerds. Ah the nostalgia. Imagine that exhilaration of doing something nobody else was doing. And then The Sacred Stones came out in English and our little exciting boom in which a whole forum played one game at the same time… turned global. It wasn’t as fun anymore. But I still went through the game for the second time, of course.

And so it turned out that I spent Christmas 2019 playing another Fire Emblem game. Another replay of a game I’d spent a lot of time with in my Youth. Let’s see how it holds up, after over a decade.

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My Grand Fire Emblem 7 Post PART2

Limstella being a cutie π

(continued from HERE)

Gameplay or Seven Paragraphs of Nitpicking

・ Time to get to the good stuff: gameplay. Fire Emblem is sometimes described as an SRPG – a fusion of a roleplaying game and a turn-based strategy. If “RPG” means grinding and “TBS” is logical thinking, the latter element prevails in this duality (thank goodness it does). It’s more of a strategy in a fantasy setting, really. There’s this sort of games I absolutely love and play passionately, by which I mean the opposite of “action games”. Titles like Pokemon, JRPGs, Advance Wars, and before anything else – Fire Emblem. The kind that requires no manual skill or nimbleness from the player. They’re usually menu based and require only the bare minimum number of buttons on the gamepad. The d-pad, the OK button, the Cancel button. I suck at action games, you see. Of all those titles mentioned above, it can’t be a coincidence that two were made by Intelligent Systems. I guess they’re my favorite game devs.

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My Grand Fire Emblem 7 Post PART1

the resolution could be higher, could it not

Year 2003 – I was somewhere around 14. A lot of important stuff happened that year, but for me personally, stumbling upon *this* GBA game was one of the highlights of that time period. The seventh game in its series, called just “Fire Emblem” in the West, is what came out. Originally, its title was “Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken”, but I’ll refer to it as “FE7” from now on. Back then, I would play GBA games under an emulator, like the poor wannabe nerd from the Third World that I was. I was living from one hotly anticipated game release to another, and every next awesome game would feel like a milestone in my middle school life. I could have been marking these milestones in a calendar if I had my shit together enough to actually keep a calendar. Alas, those fun times shall not return… Anyway, this “Fire Emblem” game had just come out, the title rang a bell and I’ve seen positive comments about FE at a certain rom site. How the hell did Polish people know about old Fire Emblems in 2003, though? I wish I knew any of you nerds in real life. I tried it out and fell in love. It was the series’ first venture beyond Japan, and boy, was that an impressive introduction. Impressive enough to start my long and exciting adventure with Fire Emblem games, which lasts to this day. I played this so much I can’t help but wonder if FE7 influenced me as a person. For a few years, I lurked at a now-defunct forum about the games called FESS, too. Or wait, I hear there were FE characters in Smash even before the proper games’ debut. Oh well, if it got people to play Fire Emblem, I guess even Smash proved to be useful for something.

I absolutely had to write a post on FE7 at some point and looks like the time has come. To make sure this writeup is as good as it can be, I got through the game recently, for the eighth time, after over a decade since my most FE-obsessed days. Note that I’ve never played it in Japanese, mostly because I’ve heard the English version is superior – it supposedly has some goodies that weren’t present in the Japanese release. Also, I do not mind reading through this game for the eighth time in English, because that’s how good that localization was. Anyway, I effin’ love this game and here’s several thousand words explaining why.

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