Weekly Ramblings 5 – Aselia the Eternal, .Hack and Disagreeing With Popular Opinion

Hey folks! This week i’m having some trouble thinking of things to write about, so I guess i’ll start spreading the word about some of the GSNs (games, series or novels) that I liked but don’t plan on reviewing. There’s also a bit about reviewing things down the bottom that you may be interested in.

Aselia the Eternal Eien no Spirit Blue Visual Novel Wallpaper

Aselia the Eternal (AKA: Eien no Aselia) is a Visual Novel with gameplay elements developed by Xuse and localized by JAST. Technically it’s the first VN I ever played, but at the time I didn’t even realize that they existed. The story focuses on a teenage guy called Yuuto (I think…i’m doing this from memory) who, along with his sister and some friends, gets transported to an alternate world where beings known as Spirits with amazing powers are used to wage war. Yuuto of course becomes caught up in the conflict despite knowing nothing about his new home, and sets off with the goal of finding the people who were dragged along with him. Of course, before he can do anything useful he needs to learn the language and come to terms with what has happened to him.

The gameplay consists of pitting your teams of spirits against enemy spirits in order to capture towns and other objectives. The catch is that each spirit plays a different role depending on where they are in your formation, with each type of spirit (there are 4) having a different skill for each role. Both the gameplay and story were excellent and I implore you to give them a shot – especially since each new difficulty level you attempt unlocks new story content. It may have been the first VN I played, but it’s not just nostalgia that makes me recommend Aselia.

.Hack Video Game PS2 Anime Wallpaper kite blackroseVirtual Reality is something that will always fascinate me, though it’s questionable whether i’ll be able to experience a complete version of it in my lifetime (something that will always haunt me). If it did exist though, then .Hack’s The World is the exact kind of game i’d play. The .Hack series comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with seven Video Games (that I know of) and at least three Anime Series. What they all have in common, though, is that they revolve around a Virtual Reality MMORPG called The World, which pretty much everyone plays. The other common feature between all of the .Hack titles is that something isn’t quite right about the game: players that fall into comas after playing, a seemingly self-aware computer system, and secrets from the past locked away within the code.

If you’re an Anime fan, you’ll want to check out .Hack//SIGN. It’s about a player that is unable to log out of the game, even after his real body has been rushed to hospital. His consciousness remains logged in, with no apparent way out. There’s more to it of course, but you should give it a go for yourselves!

Video Game enthusiasts should look up the quadrilogy of .Hack PS2 games starting with .Hack//INFECTION and following up with MUTATION, OUTBREAK and QUARANTINE (maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a common theme to those titles). You may not have considered it before, but playing a game within a game is actually pretty fun. I haven’t finished the series myself, but that hasn’t got anything to do with its quality; I would definitely recommend trying it out.

[Edit: A recent replay of this series has led to me withdrawing my recommendation from the PS2 games.]

.Hack//SIGN Tsukasa Mimiru Bear The World Anime

Anyone who writes reviews is inevitably going to disagree with someone, but in some of the reviews i’ve got coming up you’ll see that I disagree with, well, most people. It’s not that i’m contrary by nature or that i’m tougher than other reviewers (though the latter may be a little true in some cases), it’s just that I didn’t quite like whatever it is as much as other people. In those cases it’s all well and good to discuss the pros and cons of a GSN, but as often as not there isn’t a solid reason for why you feel that way about it – you just do. I do my best to justify my own feelings, but sometimes you just have to accept that your opinion and your likes and dislikes are different from others’.

The curious thing about disagreeing with popular opinion is that it sort of forces you to re-evaluate how you feel about something. That doesn’t mean that I change my opinion just because it’s different from everyone else’s, more that I can’t help but wonder if I missed out on some aspect of the experience that made others enjoy it. There’s also the worry of having to fend off rabid fans but for me it’s more about solidifying my opinion – once i’ve done that I haven’t got any problem with posting views that may be unpopular. As long as the discussions don’t get personal I actually enjoy talking about why I did or didn’t like something…which, now that I think about it, is kind of necessary for a reviewer.

I know i’ve got a few other bloggers that deal with reviews as followers, so do you have any thoughts on this topic? Do you find that you disagree with popular opinion often, or that you feel that same as others for the most part?

Argument Anime oreimo kuroneko goko ruri kirino kousaka

Ugh, i’m gonna start running out of quotes. Rewrite just isn’t giving me any!

“It is better to be alone in a desolate place than in a place with many people” – Ef, A Fairy Tale of the Two (Chihiro Shindou)

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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13 Responses to Weekly Ramblings 5 – Aselia the Eternal, .Hack and Disagreeing With Popular Opinion

  1. joshspeagle says:

    Do you find that you disagree with popular opinion often, or that you feel that same as others for the most part?

    I find I tend to fall a little bit into both. Since I still enjoy a lot of anime that many people (I should say bloggers) don’t consider “good” (e.g. Date A Live), I find myself a little bit at odds trying to defend myself. So in that sense I’m both part of the “majority” in RL but the minority online. But even then, I’m not totally in line with much of public opinion either and tend to agree with most other peoples’ points when I look at things from their perspective. So a mixed bag for me.

    So you give the .Hack games a high recommendation? I might have to look into playing them at some point then, since I loved the anime back when it was airing in the US!

  2. Silvachief says:

    Yeah, the .Hack games were a lot of fun to play, though I have to admit I only made it to the third one. Think MMORPG simulator with a story and that’s exactly what they deliver – you’ll even find yourself logging into your laptop and posting on forums within the game. There’s a little bit of grinding involved, but much less than in most older JRPGs.

  3. Annalyn says:

    Okay, this is the second time you’ve mentioned .Hack//Sign. Now I really, really want to watch it… I bet I’ll like it better than the more recent Sword Art Online, which has a couple of similar elements in its premise.

    I haven’t done many real reviews. When I did, I seemed to generally agree with other reviews I read, and with the informally stated opinions I saw floating around. I do remember that with one anime, some reviewers said that the only thing that they really liked about it was the art/animation, and I did not agree with them on that front. At all. Still, my end score was similar to theirs. In non-review formats, when it’s more about the entertainment factor, it usually boils down to taste in genre and content… and how patient I can be with pacing. I’m a little better now, but in the past, I’ve written off some really popular, highly rated shows as “boring.”

    • Silvachief says:

      .Hack is really good, but i’ve also heard very good things about SAO and plan on watching it soon.

      I think the reason I write reviews as opposed to just stating opinions is that, if people don’t want to read a wall of text, they can just scroll down to the bottom and satisfy their curiosity as to whether whatever it is was good or not. I’ve said it a few times before, but I like sharing the things I enjoy with others and reviews just make it easier to do that =)

  4. lifesongsoa says:

    I am hardly an expert at writing reviews, but I can share a bit on what I’ve learned from my own experience.

    When I do a review I try to focus on giving information first. My goal is to let people know what to expect regardless of my own enjoyment. I will share my opinion as well, but what I really hope to do is express what can be expected from reading/watching/playing whatever it is I am reviewing. In my opinion, a good review is one where I come out knowing what to expect from a thing even if the opinions of the reviewer are completely different from my own.

    I think it’s important to try and develop a critical eye that goes beyond personal taste. I see a lot of anime fans who consider themselves a critic because of how easy it is to get on the internet and start writing, but many of those reviews are really just opinion pieces. Even popular anime reviewers are often guilty of this. Such and such is bad because (insert political or moral agenda here) or such and such is good because I liked it. Neither of those make for good reviews and a lot of the flaming that reviews see is because of this in my opinion.

    The only other advice I can give is to keep it about the thing you are reviewing. This may seem obvious, but If you don’t want to piss off the fans then avoid saying things like “the fans ruined this anime” or “only assholes enjoy so and so.” It’s important to be both expressive and specific, especially with negative opinions. I’ve found that I rarely get flamed so long as I follow those rules. It also simply makes for a poor review when the reason for loving/hating something is because of it’s fans or it’s creator etc etc. A piece of fiction will speak for itself so it’s important to focus on the fiction when you review. If I can keep it about the fiction, I’ve found that I can get away with being honest with just about anything.

    Also, I often disagree with everyone else or feel like something isn’t being expressed as well as it could be. Even on my own blog, it’s a cold day in hell when we all agree on something. Put of bunch of nerds in a skype chat and you will get twice as many opinions as you have nerds. The good news is that it makes for interesting reading when you can properly express your difference of opinion.

    • Silvachief says:

      I completely agree that getting across information is the most important part of a review; there have been plenty of times where, despite something getting an average score, a review has led to me trying something out just because the description was interesting. However, I try to avoid sharing actual details about the story as much as possible…even if it’s not a spoiler i’m still careful about what I choose to talk about.

      I suppose that while I do write reviews i’m not quite sure I would call myself a critic. When it comes down to it i’m definitely trying to convey my opinion in a review, but despite that I do my best to look at things objectively as well. Even if I didn’t like a GSN’s story that won’t stop me from praising its character design, visuals or audio components. There are a quite a few titles that I haven’t liked even though they were technically getting a lot of things right (Red Dead Redemption comes to mind), which is why I think personal opinion is probably the most important component of a review. Still, if my opinion differs from most others then I will be sure to mention it – those people have liked whatever it is for a reason and whoever is reading may be more like them than me.

      While it’s very easy to get caught up talking about non-review topics while you’re reviewing something, you can’t let that sort of thing dilute your review. If I encounter a topic that I really want to write about then that’s where editorials and even my rambling Friday posts come in. Your other point about avoiding pissing off fans is kind of like one of the unwritten rules of debating: you are disagreeing with a person’s argument or opinion and not the person themselves. Very passionate fans can’t help but take offense if the subject of their adoration is talked about negatively though, so sometimes it can’t be avoided >.<

      I like that Skype chat quote you have there and I think it's very true. As long as you can back up your opinion with why you feel that way and can avoid trampling on the opinions of others you can have some great discussions with people even if you like completely different things.

  5. t0moko says:

    “Popular opinion”? What’s that? The MAL or ANN or VNDB ranking? The opinions of bloggers you follow, out of the hundreds out there? Sales statistics? Japan or the English-speaking fandom or worldwide? Whenever people reference this mythical “popular opinion” or “most everybody,” I pause skeptically, then read on with a SHAFT head tilt. The world (and the Internet) is big enough that you can find a sizable group of people to agree or disagree with any opinion of yours, if you know where to look. So forget about framing your posts as the “unpopular opinion” (unless you derive some kind of enjoyment in doing so) and just make your points.

    • Silvachief says:

      When I say popular opinion I mean the opinion that seems to predominate among the relevant fans. While I realize that there are going to be a whole range of feelings about a given title there is generally one that is expressed more often than the others. Because I can’t possibly know how everyone feels about something, my idea of what the popular opinion is just comes from what i’ve seen floating around the web. If there haven’t been a large number of opinions either way, I won’t bother talking about it.
      While i’m sure I could find a sizable group of people that agree or disagree with my opinion, it will inevitably be larger or smaller than the other groups – no one’s opinion is right or wrong, so when I talk about popular opinion it’s really just about the numbers.

      Framing my posts as featuring an “unpopular opinion” is not something i’m trying to do. If I ever give the idea that my opinion doesn’t agree with the “popular” one it’s because I recognize that there’s a decent chance that whoever is reading my review might be one of those people that would feel the other way if they had actually experienced the GSN already. Because those other people have a valid and important reason for having a different opinion I feel the need to alert my readers to the fact that a significant amount of people have a different opinion to mine and that they need to take that into account when reading my review. Just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean that my readers should avoid it.

      In any case, the reason I talked about the idea in this article wasn’t to try to differentiate myself from other reviewers (I mean, many of my opinions will line up with the “popular” one…that’s just how it works), I was just interested in how other people felt about differing opinions and whether they take them into account when writing up their own.

      • t0moko says:

        Just to clarify, I think mentioning and discussing differing opinions is great, fantastic even. Now, it’s just as you said, popularity is really just about the numbers, except, those numbers aren’t just floating around for people to refer to. Nobody’s gonna scan every nook and cranny of the internet and tally up who liked GSN X and who didn’t. Instead, we measure the trends based on the circles we frequent. Perhaps I am just stating the obvious, that every unqualified mention of popularity is followed by an implied “based solely on what my personal reading and discussion experience.” It’s just that I sometimes wonder about GSN that get a supposed reputation, like Sword Art Online, and wonder if it was ever actually overrated, or overhated, or if it was just the result of some people’s unqualified generalizations that got bandied about until the generalizations themselves became more popular than real, individual opinions (whoops, am I contradicting myself here?). So in conclusion, qualify your generalizations when you can (if you make any), refer to specific people who hold those differing opinions (it’s a discussion after all), and then focus on conveying your own personal viewpoints and insights (that’s what I read people’s blogs for, right?).

  6. That .Hack//SIGN sounds really interesting! I hope to give it a try when I find the time (:

  7. Kai says:

    Aselia the Eternal seems like a great visual novel, but I’m worried about the extremely lengthy game time, lol. Perhaps one of these days when I’m more free…

    Hack is a great series, man, probably one of my favorite RPG games in PS2. After you finished the first four Hack series, you can check out Hack GU too – basically a “second season” of sort with different main characters, though old characters appear too, in supremely shocking ways which I wouldn’t bother spoiling.. ;p

    • Silvachief says:

      It may be >50 hours on VNDB but it certainly didn’t feel that long when I played it…I practically devoured that game, spending all my free time on it till it was finished. It was my first VN, so it’s possible that I would feel differently now that I have others to compare it to, but I had a really good time playing it and definitely think it’s worth those 50+ hours.

      Unfortunately the .Hack//GU games are out of my reach until I find a decent PS2 emulator (as they were never released in PAL format). I’ll probably look into that during my next break =)

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