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First Impressions: Fate/Grand Order

Thursday, February 23, 2017 / No Comments

I've finally picked up Fate/Grand Order, after months of dilly-dallying and browsing through quick-start and installation guides. Hours spent playing Love Live! School Idol Festival, watching anime, reading manga and putting my new PlayStation 4 Slim through the ringer certainly didn't help me procrastinate any less. 

On hindsight, however, maybe I should've spent more time deciding instead because the game is threatening to take over every minute of free time I have. Being a huge fan of Fate/Stay Night and its many spinoffs does not help my cause one bit. Not to mention the generous amounts of experience points that quests give. I'm starting to understand why this game lords over the rest in the Japanese iTunes store's Top Grossing list.

It has only been just over two weeks since I started playing Fate/Grand Order but I've already reached level 71, with a current cap of 130; a testament to how easy it is to level-up. More good...or bad news awaits as a game update tomorrow raises the level cap to 140 and a new chapter in Grand Order's story mode is added, or 'Singularity', as the game calls it. 

For those of you wondering why I've been hesitating for so long, it's due to my less than fluent Japanese. Not being able to understand the text in the game's story mode or the various error codes was a nightmare to me. Fortunately, the guides from the Fate/Grand Order community on Reddit and 4chan along with the game's judicious use of English throughout the different menus made the learning curve gentler.

To stay I don't regret picking Fate/Grand Order up would be a gross understatement. The combat system is unique and it's rewarding to ponder for several seconds before tapping on the different 'attack' cards instead of other combat-oriented mobile games that offer an 'Auto' option. I simply don't see the point of a game if you're watching and not playing. Like any other mobile game, what lines the pockets of developers Delight Works is the gachapon system utilising Saint Quartz, the game's premium currency. 

In Love Live! School Idol Festival, you 'scout' for the 18 girls from the two groups. In Fate/Grand Order, you summon Servants (the 'idols' in this case) and Craft Essences; cards that you equip to your Servants and provide HP and/or Attack bonuses along with useful passive skills.

3 Saint Quartz nets you one 3-star or above Servant or Craft Essence and 30 will let you summon 10 at one go. What sweetens the deal is that you're guaranteed a 4-star or above Servant or Craft Essence along with a guaranteed 3-star or above Servant. It's obvious which option is better but I'm sure no one is able to resist the lure of potentially summoning a 5-star Servant or Craft Essence with just 3 Saint Quartz.

Fortunately or otherwise, I'm not planning to spend a single dollar on the game, partly because of the hoops I need to jump through just to buy Saint Quartz and partly due to the game's generosity. Beginners are rewarded for the first seven days and veterans aren't forgotten either, being rewarded for logging in for a consecutive number of days. Don't forget the free Saint Quartz being handed out just because the game undergoes maintenance to patch in new 'Singularities' and events.

If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned any in-game events that are a staple in mobile games, it's because I started while the Valentine's Day was ongoing. By the time I understood the format of the event and reached a level where I could complete the stages comfortably, I was only left with 3-4 days, hardly worth the effort in my books. However, I do plan to participate in the next event and the experience will be included in my full review of Fate/Grand Order in time to come.

(Common across all mobile games)

Keep a look out for my full review of the game in the coming weeks and considering this post is only about my first impressions, expect the coming one to be much more detailed. Till then, I'll be sacrificing my sleep and free time clearing these pesky enemies so I can roll the gacha over and over.

Written by ET

Nanoblock: Gaara + Kakashi

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 / No Comments

Welcome back fellas!!

I'm back (finally) with another nanoblock post, this time featuring Gaara and Kakashi~~

Between Gaara and Kakashi, Gaara was a pain to build. He wasn't as stable, and out of the entire series, he is the only one that requires a base. Kakashi and Gaara both came prepacked with bases, but Gaara will not be able to stand without the base. Why? Notice his toes? They're not attached to the rest of his feet + sandals, so unless you want his toes running around during display, you gotta base them down.

Considering I'm the sort that, if one of them has no base, the rest should follow suit, I was quite peeved about the fact that Gaara needs the support. However, given that his base is brown, I can close an eye and take it as a 'ground/sand' prop, since he has the gourd as well.

Since his feet are attached and won't move around, you can very easily build him up. The problem only starts at his face, where the blocks don't intersect much. Most of his pieces are only attached to one 'bump' which is a pain when I'm trying to stack more blocks up tightly.

In the process of fixing him up I pressed down too hard on one side and somehow managed to destroy half his face LOL. Lucky his face didn't fly too far and I was able to get all the pieces back. Also, after a while I realised that his red blocks differed slightly in shade. It's not obvious on camera + you really gotta stare at it up close to notice.

Overall, 8/10. Nice when completed, pain to build from head up. Plus let's not forget that base.

Moving on to Kakashi, he's a dream to build.

Everything clicked really well, there were minimal tricky parts, and overall Kakashi held together quite tightly. Plus I like how they kept to the details and made his mask instead of conveniently using his hair to conceal the eye.

With modular blocks, there is a limit to how you can manage a design, but I think they nailed it!! Look at this spiky hair!! A++

I only wished they had an anbu version of Kakashi, or say if they came out with an Itachi design instead?!!

But alas, there are only four so far. At least I did manage to do my otp hehee. Well, I shall leave you the rest of the photos now~~

Nerd out!

Written by: ninetylives

Shogakukan Asia to publish BanG Dream! Manga in English

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 / No Comments

Shogakukan Asia to publish BanG Dream! manga in English
Volume 1 of the BanG Dream! English manga arrives in bookstores in Southeast Asia end March 2017; Shogakukan Asia exploring further opportunities for a release in other territories.

Singapore, February 17, 2017 -- Shogakukan Asia Pte Ltd (Shogakukan Asia), a manga and educational books publisher, has announced its acquisition of the English-language publishing rights to Bushiroad Media's highly popular BanG Dream! manga series.
Written and illustrated by Mami Kashiwabara, BanG Dream! tells the story of 1st year high school student Kasumi Toyama, who endeavours to form a band after a series of chance encounters reunites her with the "beat of the stars" sensation she first experienced as a kid.
While the BanG Dream! manga shares the same premise with the hit television anime series currently airing in Japan, the manga provides more comprehensive details to each character and features additional scenes not seen in the anime.
Volume 1 of the BanG Dream! English manga is slated for an end March release, and is expected to go on sale in bookstores in the following six countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand and The Philippines. Shogakukan Asia is also exploring opportunities with overseas partners to release the manga in other territories beyond Southeast Asia.

About BanG Dream! The newest title from Bushiroad Inc -- the entertainment company behind Cardfight!! Vanguard, Future Card Buddyfight, Detective Milky Holmes, Weiss Schwarz and other titles – BanG Dream! is a media mix project featuring animated music videos, comics, song releases and much more. What’s more, the voice cast for the characters of BanG Dream! also perform in concerts in real-life as the girls’ band “Poppin’Party”.
BanG Dream! Volume 1 synopsis Kasumi Toyama has always been captivated by the "beat of the stars". Since then, she's been searching for something... a spark that'll excite and thrill her! Following a trail of star-shaped stickers, she soon stumbles upon a Random Star guitar at her school mate's house! Could this mark the start of something amazing? A sparkling, heart-racing high school life begins for Kasumi as she decides to form a band!
About Shogakukan Asia Pte Ltd Shogakukan Asia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shogakukan Inc in Japan, which was first established on 8 August 1922 as a publishing house that specialises in educational magazines for elementary school children and teachers in Japan. Over the years, Shogakukan gradually expanded both its scale and its range of publications in order to cater to the various needs of its readers from different age groups and demographics.

Established in Singapore on September 2013, Shogakukan Asia was set up to lead the Japanese publisher's business expansion into Asia, especially Southeast Asia. Based in Singapore but with Asia in its vision, Shogakukan Asia adopts the direct publishing model, leveraging the rich experience and know-how in overseas licensing and publication of educational materials.
Since September 2013, Shogakukan Asia has published 95 manga titles and 20 children's educational titles. Its best-selling manga titles include Detective Conan, Silver Spoon, Doraemon, Future Card Buddyfight and Pokémon.

For more information, please visit :
Official Shogakukan Website

Shogakukan Asia Facebook Page

Written by Max

Yuri!!! On Ice

Monday, February 20, 2017 / No Comments
The universe is forever brimming with new and newer things, many of which are quietly manifesting somewhere, and whether or not the person intended realises their existence depends on how strong the radar within reacts. Mostly, the reaction is rather immediate. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my case. I would wonder how certain titles could pass me by for the longest time. Anyway, here is one of those...

Ice-skating. I have always wanted to ice-skate, but surprisingly after so many years of wanting to do that, I am still nowhere near an ice-skating rink. I would watch the crowd whiz past one another from a few floors above (the rink is usually at the basement of the shopping mall), and wonder how I would look like on the same spot. Unfortunately, ice-skating is extremely expensive to even try for fun.

Anyway, I can't believe that Yuri!!! On Ice has passed me by for the longest time. Recently, I came across one of the magazines (sorry I can't remember the title) featuring the main characters. I was rather drawn to the illustration style, but I didn't think that it would be a competitive sports-themed anime. If you were to ask me what I thought Yuri!!! On Ice would most likely be, [remark censored for general unsuitability]...

Then again, almost anything could be some adrenaline-pumping, highly competitive entity these days. Maybe the world is more desperately in need of a bigger, better change. With sports that symbolise and highlight deeper essentials beyond the usual entertainment, I suppose that it isn't any surprising how even a noob like myself could find pleasure in some of the titles. In some sense, it beats appreciating the actual sport. Okay, I am just not athletic...

Ice-skating feels like immersing into some unknown universe, full of uncertainties and challenges ahead, yet the intensity of the skates whizzing across the rink assures that the journey would come a full circle. Of course, if you tumble and hit yourself hard, reality beckons nonchalantly. But for the adventurous, it is just the beginning. I don't think I would ever step inside, but the thrill doesn't cut short for me either.

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

A Shinkai Makoto tribute: Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) Official Guidebook

Sunday, February 19, 2017 / No Comments
Kimi no Na wa must be one of the most popular titles in the industry now. Being a Shinkai Makoto fan, I was so eager to jump onto the bandwagon and definitely wasn't disappointed. This title not only brought about a refreshing concept of time-travel but also challenged gender roles in Japanese society through the gender-switching.
As with my other book reviews, I will not be showcasing every single page in this book but will be using several pages as examples for the different sections in the book. For starters, let's start with the book cover.

The front and back covers of the book covers. They take the official illustrations for both covers which also illustrates the main characters Taki and Mitsuha. While there's that, I wished they used the adult Mitsuha at the back of the book instead since I like the design of Adult Mitsuka!
The cover of the main book is printed in blue and gives a very calming feel to the series as well.
Opening to the first page gives us the title in both Japanese and English and the title of "Official Visual Guide". I call it a guidebook instead as there's also interviews and quite a bit of words in addition to the gorgeous pictures.

I find the screencaps chosen very appropriate such as the one on this page which is a very nice moment in the movie and very memorable as well.
A two-page illustration of the comet for the content page. Anyone who watched the movie probably remembers this from Taki's scene.
A few more screencaps to show how pretty and detailed each frame is. I really love the details and calming feel of the backgrounds in Shinkai's films so I tend to buy all the visual guidebooks and artbooks available. This is by far the first series that has such a huge volume of goods available for choosing!
We have sketches as well and these act as dividers for the different sections. There is also beauty in using these since are very different from the carefully drawn, colored and perfected background illustrations. With these sketches, it feels like we are given a chance to feel the series at its rudimentary stages.
 A brief overlook of the series with several screencaps. There are also several taglines featured too.

This is the start of the next section and we have the gender-switched couple to remind us of the whole plot of the series once again.
This next section is on the voice actors of the main cast and I am a very huge fan of Taki's seiyuu -- Kamiki Ryuunosuke. Kamiki is quite a popular actor and isn't actually considered a Seiyuu. Perhaps it is because of this that their not-so polished voices make the characters more natural and endearing?
Next is an interview with everyone's favorite Shinkai Makoto! If you are a fan of him like myself, it really pays to have this book~
Of course, we have no lack of interview pages as well~

Next up are genga sketches of several scenes in the movie. Like I said before, this brings us back to the preparation of the movie in its rudimentary stages which brings us fans much closer to the series.

Also , we finally have very detailed background. The lighting for the scenes are so pretty ~
And last but not the least, we shall end off with the character guide. I'll be using Mitsuha as an example. She has about 5 full pages to showcase her different outfits, expressions and hairstyles. Taki has almost the same number of pages while the other characters have, obviously, less pages.

 We also have sketches of the layout of the town Mitsuha was in and some iconic buildings too.
This iconic object also deserves its own place in the book. We not only get how it looks on its own but also on Taki.
 We have some motions in the show and there are examples of how it works and gets processed and changed into the 2D form. Here's to Taki sketching the town!
Finally, I'll like to bring this image up where the different strings are slowly weaved together. The different patterns on each actually bring each other very well together as complements and the amount of colors actually brings the image and actual scene to life. In the series itself, you can even see the texture of the string in that simple scene! 
Would you recommend this book?
Of course! If you are a fan of the movie, this is the perfect item to get to keep a piece of the movie by your side. By flipping through the book, all the appropriate screencaps will punch you through the gut with feels. This is definitely one of the impulse buys that I'm proud of getting!

~ Reina-rin