Friday, June 19, 2015

Q Attack, Round 14 - Are eSports Better Viewed Live and in Person?
Tiger and Rabbit were spectators for the Arc System Works tournament finals hosted at Sakura-Con 2015 in Seattle, Washington. They talk about what it’s like to watch fighting game matches live and contemplate whether the Evolution Championship Series should be their next destination.


Rabbit: We’re here today to discuss part four and our final entry in the “milk our Sakura-Con 2015 weekend for all it’s worth” series! So, what’s on our agenda this time?

Tiger: The BlazBlue Experience with special guests Mori Toshimichi, the Designer for the BlazBlue series; Ueda Kana, voice of Rachel Alucard; and Kondoh Kanako, voice of Noel Vermillion.

Rabbit: They showed a lot of stuff at this event, and we didn’t even stay for the whole thing!

Tiger: Yeah, they started about an hour late, it was around 10:00pm on Saturday, April 4th, when things got underway and it was supposed to be a three hour panel. We left around midnight; I was too tired to stay for all of it.

Rabbit: What we did see was pretty cool though. They previewed the anime BlazBlue: Alter Memory which is directed by Tachibana Hideki and produced by Hoods Entertainment.

Tiger: Admittedly it seemed like a crazy mess of a story from what we saw.

Rabbit: Who buys a fighting game for its story anyway?

Tiger: Uh… I got Persona 4 Arena for its story mode.

Rabbit: You’re terrible. I’m the one that’s supposed to be the story hound, not you.

Tiger: I also got it to play as a fighting game; I know you aren’t into fighting games at all.

Rabbit: They take too much practice and I usually get bored with them pretty quickly. When we had lots of people to play with, they were fun, because you could do your own mini tournaments. It’s not as fun when you don’t have the numbers playing.

Tiger: They also showed off the new mobile game called BlazBlue: Battle Cards.

Rabbit: They sure are expanding into everything with this brand, aren’t they?

Tiger: Didn’t they do a visual novel too?

Rabbit: XBlaze Code: Embryo was a prequel to the main BlazBlue series. It also got a sequel called XBlaze: Lost Memories, which I’m kind of surprised they didn’t mention at their booth since they were really pushing everything BlazBlue. I picked the first game up on Vita but I haven’t played it yet.

Tiger: After peddling their wares, we finally got to the main event, the BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend finals!

Rabbit: I don’t think that name is long enough.

Tiger: This game hadn’t been released in North America when Sakura-Con took place, so it was really awesome to see this in action and on the PS4 no less. Some notable participants in the tournaments were Spark, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II EVO 2011 Champion; DSMoove12 who placed 7th behind Spark; and GameClucks|Nakkiel, an officially sponsored player. They even had commentators from the local fighting game community calling the game.

Rabbit: DSMoove12 stuck with Noel Vermillion, the same character he used at EVO 2011. Though they had to restart the first match because someone had left the settings on Stylish, the 1st match up of the semi-finals finally began.

Tiger: OMG! There was one round where he literally had only a pixel of health left and his opponent was one hit away from a perfect. But DSMoove12 was able to go on the offensive and win the round!

Rabbit: You’re so excited, did you drink caffeine today?

Tiger: It was exciting!

Rabbit: It’s like we’ve switched personalities…
Tiger: Hey, watching those matches live was exhilarating. You got to see the players, watch the match, and hear the audience cheer throughout the event. It’s a great experience, almost like a real sporting event.

Rabbit: DSMoove12 was able to move onto the finals. The second semi-finals match up proved to be much more interesting.

Tiger: With Huey253 sporting his Noel Vermillion against GameClucks|Nakkiel’s Litchi Faye-Ling, the table was set. I actually like playing with Litchi when I do play BlazBlue, though Rachel is my favorite, so it was awesome to see a highly skilled player show off her abilities as a character.

Rabbit: Man, Nakkiel owned Huey throughout this match up. Every time you thought Litchi was in trouble, she would find a way out of it quickly.

Tiger: Nakkiel definitely used Litchi’s staff effectively, giving Huey’s Noel no time to make a move. I think it was the last round where Huey could only defend, it was brutal.

Rabbit: I think Nakkiel got a perfect in there too.

Tiger: Nakkiel did go on to face DSMoove12 in the finals.

Rabbit: I was really wondering how it would turn out. DSMoove’s Noel dominated his opponent but Nakkiel’s Litchi seemed to have that character all figured out. Who would reign supreme as the Sakura-Con 2015 BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend Champion?!

Tiger: It was a back and forth battle, with Nakkiel and DSMoove splitting the first two rounds.

Rabbit: It was do or die time.

Tiger: DSMoove went on the offensive right off the start and was able to pin Nakkiel’s Litchi in the corner without her staff. Noel kept chipping away at Lichi’s health but then suddenly…

Rabbit: Litchi was able to break free and tried to use her special when…

Tiger: Noel dodged it and unleashed her own special, winning the round and the match! DSMoove12 beat GameClucks|Nakkiel and was crowned champion!

Rabbit: It was definitely an exciting match to watch and the crowd went wild when he dodged Nakkiel’s special.

Tiger: It was an awesome match up and I was glad that DSMoove12 won. I thought he did a nice job adjusting to Nakkiel’s Litchi. He was definitely less defensive than Huey’s Noel and went on the offensive right away.

Rabbit: They do say that the best defense is a good offense. Don’t feel bad for Nakkiel though, he won the BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma finals beating fwVista.

Tiger: It was nice to see Mori, Ueda, and Kondoh all congratulate the winners as well.

Rabbit: After the awards were presented, we got to hear a bit from the special guests before moving onto the Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN- finals.

Tiger: We don’t play Guilty Gear which made watching the matches a little harder and in all honesty, there really wasn’t a question of who was going to win this.

Rabbit: The only close match up was Sytha’s Zato-1 against See Me In +R’s Ky Kiske.

Tiger: Ky Kiske took the first round by a very slim margin and then was dominated by Sytha’s Zato-1.

Rabbit: Veteru’s Sol Badguy had no trouble at all winning against his opponents, even pulling out a couple of perfects. He easily won the title of GG champion.

Tiger: I was impressed with how easily he dodged everyone’s special attack too. I don’t think he got hit once by those moves.

Rabbit: After all that excitement, the awards were presented and then Kondoh Kanako gave a performance. We left shortly after that.

Tiger: I love how ecstatic she was that the character she voices won the tournament.

Rabbit: It was fun seeing Noel Vermillion herself congratulating DSMoove12.

Tiger: I still hate Noel though. Man, that character is a pain to fight against.

Rabbit: I felt bad for Ueda Kana because no one used Rachel Alucard.

Tiger: Well, she did remedy that eventually. Man, was she ever popular. There was a huge turnout of Fate/Stay fans, and if you didn’t know, she’s the voice of Tōsaka Rin.

Rabbit: Lots of love for all the special guests that night.

Tiger: *sighs*

Rabbit: What’s the matter?

Tiger: I’m just glad we’re almost done with these posts from Sakura-Con.

Rabbit: Why?

Tiger: Because they contain so many freaking macrons. I’m getting tired of them.

Rabbit: But I love macrons, they go well with coffee.
Tiger: *shakes fists* Macrons, not macaroons. Anyway, did you enjoy watching the matches live? Do you think it was more enjoyable than watching it online like we do for EVO?

Rabbit: I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it more, yeah it was fun but probably about the same for me as it is when we stream EVO’s content. I mean, I’m not really into watching eSports, I just don’t get them. For one, I’m not sure if they are even truly sports. Yes, they train and compete, and yes they are quite talented but I wouldn’t drop a couple hundred on tickets just to see them play like I would for an actually sport such as hockey. I don’t know, it’s strange watching someone play a game when you can just play it yourself. Out of all the games we do watch online, fighting games are the most entertaining because I know I will never get to that level, so it’s fun to see those highly skilled players duke it out but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to attend an event like this.

Tiger: I can see your point that if you aren’t interested in the game, it would be hard to watch people playing it. I know the Dota championships are held in Seattle also, which would be easy for us to attend, but since we don’t have an interest in the game it’s not worth spending the money to go see. However, fighting games are a totally different genre that was built around the rich history of martial arts and competitive boxing. How could you say that it’s not a sport?! No, those who train to become competitive fighting game players are at the apex of gaming’s echelon. They are the best of the best and represent the true abilities all gamers seek to hone. Their championships are sought by many but achieved by few. It’s exhilarating to witness and makes me want to strive for that level of commitment in all the games I play.

Rabbit: ^shakes head^ I take it you like watching fighting game tournaments in person? You sure did yell enough during those matches.

Tiger: Of course! I think we should try to go to EVO 2016. Tickets aren’t expensive, the only thing that will be pricy is the airfare and I’m sure we could make it work.

Rabbit: Why would I want to go to that?

Tiger: To see the best players in the world compete against each other in games like Ultra Street Fighter IV, Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN-, Super Smash Bros., Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat X, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Tekken 7, and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax!

Rabbit: Wait, Smash got two slots at EVO this year?

Tiger: Yeah, you should have heard Anthony and shidoshi from A Generic Video Game Podcast talk about that, they weren’t too pleased with the decision.

Rabbit: That’s a lot of money to go see other people play video games; I mean why not just spend it on ourselves?

Tiger: You know EVO is held in Vegas right?

Rabbit: ^shocked face^ Why aren’t we going this year?!

Are eSports Better Viewed Live and in Person?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

Random Happy Time, 20 O’Clock - George the Thirteenth!
There’s still more to discuss from The BlazBlue: Experience at Sakura-Con 2015. Tiger and Rabbit share their thoughts on a special match up and voice their concerns over the fate of Rachel Alucard in this issue of Random Happy Time!


Tiger: There’s still more from The BlazBlue: Experience that we didn’t get a chance to talk about yet. 〜(^∇^〜)

Rabbit: Huzzah! Like why the controls were originally set to Stylish and who ended up playing as Rachel Alucard.

Tiger: So before the Chrono Phantasma Extend finals started, the audience was treated to a head-to-head battle featuring none other than Ueda Kana, voice of Rachel Alucard, and Mori Toshimichi, the game’s designer.

Rabbit: (*^^*) This was a funny section of the event. Ueda apologized to DSMoove12 for leaving the game set to Stylish, she was practicing for her match again Mori.

Tiger: Of course Ueda picked Rachel but no one knew who Mori was going to pick. He ended up picking random and was stuck with V-No.13- aka Nu-13.

Rabbit: (*゚ロ゚) Mori’s Nu was really impressive, leaving Ueda’s Rachel with no chance to attack. Ueda used George the Thirteenth and was able to chip away at Nu’s health but unfortunately, Nu was able to overpower Rachel and win the first round.

Tiger: The second round was more of the same with Nu going on the offensive and Rachel forced to dodge the turret attacks. But some sneaky work by George helped to tip the table in Rachel’s favor leaving it tied one-to-one.

Rabbit: The final round commenced and Rachel went all out, pinning Nu against the left side and unleashing some killer combos. Finally, she finished off Nu with her special attack. O(≧▽≦)O

Tiger: ヽ(^。^)丿 Congrats to Ueda-san!

Rabbit: I gotta wonder if Mori threw the match. He did create this game; he should know literally everything about this game and to lose to a voice actor.

Tiger: Ueda is a big gamer so it’s not like she doesn’t play at all but I get where you’re coming from. Only time will tell.

Rabbit: How so?

Tiger: If Rachel sucks in the next game, we’ll know that Mori didn’t throw the match.

Rabbit: ^laughs^ He wouldn’t do that, would he? ( •᷄⌓•᷅ )

Tiger: *smirks* I know I would. (◣_◢)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Q Attack, Round 13 - Does Understanding Lyrics Matter?
Tiger and Rabbit were in Seattle and saw the featured musical guests of Sakura-Con 2015. They got to see popular performers who came straight from Japan and rock out to their music. This got the pair of cute mammals thinking, is language truly a barrier or can music reach out to anyone?


Rabbit: Righto! It’s part three of the “milk Sakura-Con for all it’s worth” series! This time we’ll be chatting about the concert with featured musical guests Itō Kanako and GARNiDELiA of Sakura-Con 2015!

Tiger: The concert was held on Saturday, April 4th, in front of a rocking crowd. We got some pretty good seats too.

Rabbit: I’m not one for mosh pits, too many people and the music is way too loud to be up front like that.

Tiger: We have musician style earplugs that we use for concerts like this.

Rabbit: They definitely come in handy if you want to keep your hearing for as long as possible.

Tiger: Yeah the music was super loud. They had songs playing before the performance started and you could hear it all the way in the queue room.

Rabbit: They played Under the Sea in Japanese! That was so cool sounding.

Tiger: It was more like “Unda da Shii.”

Rabbit: First up was Itō Kanako. She hails from Utsunomiya, Tochigi and is known for singing a lot of video game and anime theme songs.

Tiger: I know she got pretty popular for her work for the video game School Days as well as the anime and drama CD adaptations.

Rabbit: She also sung the songs for Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, and Robotics;Notes.

Tiger: That’s a lot of semicolons there.

Rabbit: She’s been to the U.S. before, making her debut at Anime Boston in 2012.

Tiger: Now it’s time to talk about the setlist she sang…

Rabbit: ^scratches head^ Right… so here’s the thing, since we don’t know Japanese, I have no idea which songs she actually sang.

Tiger: I know she sang Skyclad no Kansokusha from Steins;Gate and I’m pretty sure she sang Hacking to The Gate from the Steins;Gate anime. Those are the only songs I really know from her though.

Rabbit: Her music was catchy. She liked talking to the crowd quite a bit too.

Tiger: I was surprised at how much we were able to understand since again, we don’t speak Japanese. I pretty much got all of her jokes though which shocked me.

Rabbit: All that time watching anime has paid off!

Tiger: That’s actually kind of sad, if you think about it.

Rabbit: I thought it was cool that she did an encore too after the audience chanted for her to come back.

Tiger: Yeah, they really liked her.
Rabbit: Next up was-

Tiger: GARNiDELiA!!!!

Rabbit: You’re a fan, I take it?

Tiger: I love MARiA so of course I’m a fan. Founded in 2010, GARNiDELiA consists of vocalist Mizuhashi Mai, aka MARiA, and producer Abe Yoshinori, aka Toku. Together, they’ve created some of the catchiest anime theme songs of recent years.

Rabbit: Their name came from a French phrase, “Le Palais Garnier de Maria” which means Maria's Opera and the moon Cordelia, which was discovered the same year Toku was born, 1978.

Tiger: They made their debut with Ambiguous, the second opening theme for Kill la Kill and have songs for Mekakucity Actors, The Irregular at Magic High School, Gundam Reconguista in G, and Gunslinger Stratos.

Rabbit: And we actually recognized all the songs they sang too!

Tiger: Yes, in addition to performing Ambiguous, they also did Grilletto, Blazing, and others from their album Linkage Ring. I’m still impressed with how powerful a singer MARiA is.

Rabbit: And Toku’s music fits her so well. It’s a great pairing.

Tiger: I think this was the first time either one of them has been Stateside too. So it was awesome to be able to see them.

Rabbit: Did you have a favorite song?

Tiger: I’d have to say Blazing.

Rabbit: Ever the Gundam fan. Mine was Grilletto, it’s just a great song.

Tiger: We also saw Kondoh Kanako sing too. While she wasn’t a part of the concert, she did sing at The BlazBlue Experience right after the concert was over.

Rabbit: She is the voice of Noel Vermillion and also sings the theme songs Love So Blue: Ao no Kodō from BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger and Pandora Tears for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.

Tiger: We also bought her two albums while at Sakura-Con.

Rabbit: I think the concerts are my favorite thing about Sakura-Con. Last time we went in 2012 we got to see garage rock band Stereopony, visual kei gothic metal band Moi dix Mois, and baroque pop singer and cellist Wakeshima Kanon. This time it was Itō Kanako, GARNiDELiA, and Kondoh Kanako. We’ve gotten quite spoiled I think.

Tiger: It is a great opportunity to see and hear musicians we would never otherwise be able to.

Rabbit: I just wish we could understand what they are singing about.

Tiger: It’s not like it really matters a great deal. I think you can convey your thoughts through music alone. Plus, you could always look up a translation on the internet.
Rabbit: You could if you could remember the song’s name… but really, you don’t think lyrics matter?

Tiger: Overall, no I don’t. It is music; the musical lyrics matter more than the words themselves. Yes, I get that songs do have meanings that lyrics can convey but I don’t think there is any barrier that music cannot breach, especially the barrier of language. The phrasing, tonality, and tempo all work together to paint a picture for the listener and that’s done without words. Sometimes, I think it’s better not to understand what they’re singing about. I don’t want to hear about someone grinding in the kitchen.

Rabbit: ^shudders^ That’s why I don’t listen to modern American music.

Tiger: See? I’m right, sometimes it’s better not to know what the singer is saying. At least everything in Japanese sounds pretty even if we don’t know what it means.

Rabbit: I don’t know, I think that without knowing the meaning of the lyrics you are only getting half the experience. It’s like if a colorblind person looked at a painting, it’s going to be pretty but it won’t have the full impact that it would on someone who can see the colors.

Tiger: That’s a very cruel example.

Rabbit: ^shocked face^ How so?

Tiger: If you are colorblind, you don’t have a choice in how you perceive the world. In some ways, not understanding the lyrics in a different language is a choice since you could always learn the language and then be able to understand what those words are conveying.

Rabbit: Okay, so it was a bad example but you get my point. You’re missing half of the song’s essence without understanding the lyrics because if the lyrics were throwaway, why write them in the first place? So I think understanding the lyrics does matter and I like to put in the time to try and get translated lyrics for the Japanese songs I listen too. Some of them actually help the meaning of the song, like Roshin Yuukai, knowing what the lyrics state changes that song completely. While music can convey so many ideas and emotions on its own, lyrics can clarify those ideas and expand upon them. Plus, when have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head without the lyrics getting stuck too? They go hand in hand and they should.

Does Understanding Lyrics Matter?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

Random Happy Time, 19 O’Clock - Daze/Days!
With Japanese Pop and Rock music still on their minds, Tiger and Rabbit sit down to chat about their favorite anime soundtracks. From Mekakucity Actors to Lucky Star, they touch on some of the more memorable theme songs in recent history.


Rabbit: ^singing^ ai taina, ae naina, setsuna ina kono kimochi. (๑´▿`๑)♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪✧

Tiger: Stop! Please stop singing that song!

Rabbit: What? It’s a good song, a really CATCHy song.

Tiger: That’s the problem, it’s too catchy.

Rabbit: ^singing^ Hora catch you, catch you, catch me, catch me matte! ♪♪)>ш=(^。^ )

Tiger: For those who don’t know that’s Cardcaptor Sakura’s first opening song “Catch You Catch Me” by Hinata Megumi aka GUMI.

Rabbit: But not GUMI of Megpoid fame. It’s a great theme song and one of my favorites.

Tiger: I’ve currently had deizu from Jin feat. MARiA from Mekakucity Actors stuck in my head.

Rabbit: ♪(┌・。・)┌ I know you've been rocking out to GARNiDELiA's Linkage Ring album that you picked up at Sakura-Con.

Tiger: It's a really fun album, every time I think I find a favorite, I end up discovering another song on the album that's better.

Rabbit: How about we get some cherry pie?! ┌(・。・)┘♪

Tiger: Motteke! Sailor Fuku is the opening theme song for Lucky Star and is sung by the four voice actors that star in the anime.

Rabbit: I love that song.

Tiger: You know what I hate most about all the Japanese music we listen to?

Rabbit: How it always makes you hungry for pizza?

Tiger: Eh, no. How Alexa can never understand what I’m asking it to play.

Rabbit: ^laughs^ Alexa is the name of our Amazon Echo. She can stream all of our music as long as she understands what you’re asking for.

Tiger: It, Rabbit, it is not a “she.” Anyway Alexa cannot speak or read Japanese very well so it’s a pain to get it to play certain songs.

Rabbit: Like how she calls Hatsune Miku “Hat Soon Mike” or will play the song “days” instead of “daze.”

Tiger: KAITO is Cato like the Hunger Games character. Alexa pronounces IA’s name properly but when you ask it to play “songs by IA” you have to say “I.A.” for it to know what you want. It’s such a pain. ┗[© ♒ ©]┛

Rabbit: But so awesome in so many ways! One day she’ll learn enough Japanese that we won’t have this problem anymore.

Tiger: *growls* Alexa isn’t a person, Rabbit!