Visual Novel Reviews and Round-up: Dengeki Striker and School Days HQ

Well then, against all odds, it seems VN reviews will continue on! I had almost given up on it after playing several sub-par games in a row; while raging out can be fun from time to time, I wasn’t really crazy about spewing bile for an entire article. Thankfully I was saved by an extremely enjoyable game that I hadn’t expected in the least.

So this time round we’ll be covering Dengeki Striker and School Days HQ. I’ll also do a small section at the end and cover the various other English visual novels that have been released since the last review. First up will be Dengeki!


Otakon, prepare for disaster.

Alright bumbos, as those of you following me on the Twatters know, I’ll be attending Otakon in Baltimore from July 26-29, which is a week from now! I know there’s around 70-80 unfortunate souls subscribed to Hobby Hovel’s RSS feed, and I’m betting at least a few of you are also attending the second largest anime convention in North America. Since conventions are all about diving head-first into a sea of like-minded freaks and weirdos, I propose this question: does anyone want to meet up sometime over the weekend, possibly over lunch/dinner/anything?

Remember Otakon-goers: only you can prevent me from looking like a total loser on my own blog with whom nobody wants to hang out with. My very self-esteem hangs in the balance! Order Reply today!

One of these days I’ll realize that posting my own mug all over my creepy toy website is a bad idea. Then I’d wish I were sensible like Hamstercorp here.

Now, I know your common sense is warning you about meeting strangers from the internet, but as Hamstercorp (who will be my guide in this weekend of swirling madness) would attest, I am not a bear or a shark dressed up in a human suit, so you are relatively safe from the possibility of being mauled and/or cannibalized. So asides from emotional trauma that time cannot erase, what do you have you to lose?

Anyway, the business of meeting up aside, I’m pretty pumped about Otakon. Not only is this my first major anime convention aside from Anime North, it’s also my first time traveling solo! In any case, I’m sure this trip will yield some fun stories one way or the other. Either I’ll have a fun time, or you’ll have a fun time reading about some form of psychological scarring that I’ll detail in the inevitable blog post. Yep, even if you can’t make it COUGHAshlotteMietteExileheroCOUGH, you’ll hear all about it! Unless you don’t hear from me ever again, in which case Hamstercorp has probably sold my vital organs on the black market, and you’ll have learned to know better than to meet up with strangers on the internet…erm, I mean, hope to see you there! ;D

Figure Review

Review: 1/10 Beach Queens Ika Musume

Well then, it feels like it’s been quite some time since I last did a review (Chag: actually, to everyone else who’s reading the blog, it’s only been 2 weeks =P)  I guess that’s what happens when the few things you actually like are all delayed…But now I can finally break this long dry spell with the finally arrived Ika Musume!

Ika Musume is…errr…Ok noone is quite sure what she is actually. She claims to be a genuine squid (ika) given human form to protect the oceans, and her various abilities seem to support this claim, but even the person in question herself is unsure of how she went from a lowly squid to a full fledged squid girl.

Even with this identity crisis, she is hell-bent on “invading” humanity for its mistreatment of the world’s oceans. For better or worse, this rather serious sounding premise gives way quickly to a heartwarming comedy show that sees any attempt Ika makes at actually invading failing miserably and instead slowly integrating herself in with humanity (although she still does diligently clean up the trash along the beach and will occasionally remember she wants to conquer humanity.).

I had originally planned to cancel Ika here because I just haven’t been terribly impressed with Wave’s quality as it where, but as misfortune would have it, Hobby Search pulled a fast one on me changing their cancellation policy and thus I was suddenly stuck with her. Ironically, in that space of time Kotobukiya has also released their own Ika Musume, but for me I still liked this one better for her face and pose which played up her arrogant side more than the cutesy look Kotobukiya chose, so perhaps not being able to cancel this figure was a blessing in disguise? Let’s find out, shall we?

Figure Review

Review: 1/7 Soryu Asuka Langley (Plug Suit Style ver.)

Alright people, in case you don’t already know, I fuckin’ love Neon Genesis Evangelion, so much so that I don’t even know where to begin. After I first watched the VCR rips off of a friend’s collection of 13 burned CDs back in high school, I spent a couple of months lurking around on Evangleion forums and imageboards looking for answers. The series is a undoubtedly flawed, especially from a storytelling point of view, yet there’s just something so compelling about it that I willingly dug through the most obscure and bullshit retconned information in order to piece together some semblance of coherence into the plot. Of course, all of that religious symbolism and convoluted sci-fi clusterfuck is simply fluff, as what makes Evangelion an enduring classic are the characters and the beautiful ways they crash into each other.

My favourite of the cast is Soryu Asuka Langley. Her relationship with Shinji encapsulates the Hedgehog’s dilemma — the rifts between individuals  in which the pains of intimacy and isolation swirl about.  Through the course of the series, their relationship ebbs and flows. From jealousy and rivalry sprouted the seed of cooperation, trust and perhaps even attraction, yet their unfortunate circumstances ultimately drives both of them into the lowest points of their young lives. I understand why people like Rei, and I’ve always preferred her in the looks department, but to me, Asuka is a lot more integral to Evangelion‘s story, and thus she’ll always be #1.

By the way, I really don’t care for Asuka in Rebuild 2.0 — due to the reduced screen time, her character development was taken to the back shed by an axe murderer and reduced to a pile of misaligned chunks. I hated how the gradual revelation of her inner psyche was replaced by shoehorned scenes and plot developments like her retarded hand puppet and her rivalry against Rei for Shinji’s attention. Both of these could have worked if she was given more time to develop, but when she’s in a three-way deathmatch against two other female protagonists, it just came off as flat and ineffective in the eyes of this Asuka fanboy.

I had wanted a figure of Asuka for a very long time, but even though the character has received a lot of figures, there really hasn’t been a PVC scaled figure that I really liked. They’re either hilariously out-of-character, ridiculously overpriced, and/or of underwhelming quality. I thought the Rebuild films would usher in a new wave of Asuka figures, but much to my irritation, most of the attention has been diverted to the shiny new test plug suit. Both Alter and Max Factory decided to go down that route, leaving me with a serious case of figure blue balls.

When I first saw the Plug Suit Style version of Asuka from Kotobukiya, I was a little disappointed. I really liked the Plug Suit Style Rei, which does a very good job at capturing the character’s distant air. On the other hand, the sight of Asuka smiling sweetly on the ground seems a lot less fitting. Asuka does have a mischievous side, sure, but it’s melancholic and determined sides of her personality that makes her special to me. As I was hurting for money at the time, I skipped on the pre-order.

Fast-forward to a year later: Hamstercorp decided to buy something off Timelords, and since he was going to visit my place in May, he asked me if I wanted anything to combine shipping. A quick scroll through their inventory revealed a “second-hand” Plug Suit Style Asuka for ¥3,000 and I thought to myself “meh, why not?” It was a textbook impulse buy, and I have to admit that I did not have as much anticipation for her arrival as most other purchases. Does this mean I regret getting her? Read on!