As Inuyashiki’s antagonist was busy massacring an entire police
precinct, midway through the show’s eighth episode, I realized why the
series had been giving me an incredible sense of déjà vu. The arc of
events was basically indistinguishable from a player’s boredom-induced
wanton murder streak in Grand Theft Auto. On a lark, the killer offs a
couple of random bystanders. When the cops get involved, they find
themselves no match for the killer’s walking munitions depot. Maybe a
couple of cheat codes get deployed. Hundreds of nameless, faceless
extras die in the carnage. It’s less a story than a fill-in-the-blank
exercise: “Unstoppable, remorseless murderer claims ______ lives
in latest spree,” with the numbers going up exponentially each time
until the killer loses interest and quits.
To reach these tedious depths, Inuyashiki has to thoroughly squander
an actually intriguing premise. The title character, a late-fifties
salaryman who goes unappreciated by everyone in his life except his pet
dog, is out for an evening walk when an errant alien spaceship crashes
nearby, killing him. As a mea culpa, the E.T.s build Mr. Inuyashiki a
new, cosmetically identical mechanical body before hurriedly going on
their merry way. It turns out that the new skin has a couple more
features than the old one, like flight, bullet-proofing, and an
autonomous missile defense system. Mr. Inuyashiki, a kind soul at heart,
quickly sets out to use his newfound powers for good. The catch? Someone
else also got upgraded in the accident, and contrary to his name “Hiro,”
this one is a nihilistic teenager who cares little for innocent lives.
It all seems like the perfect setup for a titanic clash of wills,
underpinned by some rumination on what it means to be human. A bit of a
cliché, sure, but Mr. Inuyashiki is in a refreshingly different stage of
life from the typical inadvertent superhero, or even anime protagonist.
And Hiro, his foil, takes his sociopathic mantle in a chilling
ten-minute sequence where he breaks into a Tokyo family’s home and
methodically disposes of its members one by one. He is so unbothered by
what he’s doing that he can casually ask one of his terrified victims
who her favorite One Piece character is, seconds before killing her.
Before long, however, the script loses interest in developing either
hero or villain. Inuyashiki’s middle section is little more than a
river of blood, as the plot gives Hiro progressively flimsier reasons to
escalate his rampage until all of Japan lies in his sights. (Like Grand
Theft Auto, though, the show ultimately pulls its punches when children
are the ones in danger.) Mr. Inuyashiki himself, meanwhile, gets
essentially written out of his own series, leaving us to wonder what the
hell he’s doing while Hiro’s genocidal acts blanket the news. The two
don’t get around to sparring until the penultimate episode, just in time
for a deus ex machina conclusion that renders moot what little
advancement we see in either character.
The animation, while not nearly as bad as the plot, can’t fully decide
what it wants to be. Early episodes use 3D heavily for Hiro and Mr.
Inuyashiki’s machine forms, a nice hint that they’re a little different
from everyone else, but this doesn’t remain totally consistent through
the rest of the series, and the models don’t have the detail they need
to hold up in high action scenes. The 2D work on some of the side
characters, too, is sketchy enough that I found myself wondering what
they were intended to look like. But how much would improving the
visuals really have helped? After all, if video game graphics suffer
from diminishing returns, it’s hard to see how Inuyashiki, with all of
its resemblance to a mediocre gaming stream, would benefit that much
A quantitative reckoning of Koyomi Araragi’s effectiveness as a
protagonist, by ‘Monogatari Series’ arc
So one day I was sitting around, thinking that Monogatari Series seems
to have one of the most useless main characters, well, ever. In terms of
making his friends’ lives better, at least, even if he is a premier
source of banter and horrifying losses of bodily integrity. In fact,
Araragi seems to be the source of his friends’ troubles more often
Well, what better way to test this hypothesis than with numbers? We’ll
give Araragi one point for every arc where the solution wouldn’t have
happened without him, and take one away in each case where the problem
et cetera as above. I’ll go in anime order.
Araragi introduces Senjougahara to Oshino. Let’s give him some credit.
None of the arc would happen without Araragi skulking around the park
trying to avoid his family, and Hachikuji finally gets home and stops
being so angry. Yes, Araragi isn’t very helpful when it comes to
actually finding the place, but let’s not nitpick.
Not only would there be no problem in the first place but for Araragi,
but his new girlfriend also has to save him from literal disembowelment.
You could loosely argue that Nadeko’s infatuation with Araragi is an
indirect cause of the conflict, but it’s not essential.
See Suruga Monkey, above, except replace “new girlfriend” with “new
vampire shadow familiar.”
Araragi doesn’t do much here.
Eh, well, Araragi kind of solves the problem with his sword fuckery.
Jealousy again, but at least Araragi shuts this one down hard.
Fucks up the world, then unfucks it.
Definitely number one on the list of Araragi fuckups.
Araragi’s basically the sole reason Hachikuji sticks around for so long,
and he refuses to let her pass on until the very end. Big minus.
This arc is just the tail end of Nadeko Medusa. Though it’s tempting,
it’s not really fair to penalize Araragi for the same thing twice.
No, Araragi’s little pep talk in the middle doesn’t count as essential.
I barely even remember what happens in this arc, but I do know it’s
I guess Araragi could have spoken up, but why put that responsibility
solely on him?
You were supposed to notice sad Oikura in the corner!
Araragi doesn’t solve the problem. Really, nothing gets solved. This is
a pretty tragic, difficult arc.
Jealousy yet again! Araragi really knows how to step on some toes, but
at least he’s learning how to fix things.
This arc is a pretty clear victory for Araragi. Well, if you ignore
Hanekawa getting kidnapped, which he solves, so let’s call that part a
Hm. Uh… well, guess I was right.
The back-end theory
Video games have more than their share of, let’s say, unrealistically
well-endowed female characters. The common refrain invoked in defense of
these character designs is that the depictions of men as tall, trim, and
muscled are no closer to the truth. Usually, the counterargument then
proceeds to how the physical traits given to male characters are
reasonable in most settings, while those given to females are have no
such justification and can only be explained by sexual objectification,
and so on.
I’d like to present Keijo!!!!!!!! as a different sort of rebuttal. It
takes the “T&A is just the feminine version of buff” line of thought to
its logical conclusion, by putting on shounen calling-your-attacks
fights that exclusively use those breasts and buttocks. In this world, a
woman can launch an opponent dozens of meters in the air with just her
butt and the right training. This is, however, clearly not the case in
reality. It follows that the aforementioned depictions of men and women
are not unrealistic in the same way, at least not in the world we as the
viewers live in.
So, yeah, QED or whatever.
Japan Statistics Bureau: Nearly 100% of Anime Voice Actors Without Obviously Accented English Remain Jobless
CHIYODA, Tokyo, Japan — Employment opportunities for anime voice actors
with native-sounding English continued to hover near zero in the month
of October, according to figures released Friday by the Ministry of
Internal Affairs and Communications. Jobs numbers remained stubbornly
low in spite of government initiatives targeted at the hiring of
competent English speakers, including the addition of characters who
“basically screamed for someone with better English than a potato,”
according to an anonymous source inside the Ministry of Economy, Trade,
In one prominent failure, the role of Kouki Saiki, a Japanese returnee
from an English-speaking country in this season’s WWW.Working!!, ended
up going to voice actor Yoshimasa Hosoya, whose English has a distinctly
Japanese flavor. “For this to happen when Saiki’s native language was
explicitly changed to English, from the Web manga’s original Korean, is
nothing short of a complete repudiation of the program. It’s as if no
one in the industry cares,” said Kenzou Takamiya, professor of labor
studies at Tokyo University.
The Statistics Bureau expects the hiring of VAs who don’t need a
katakana reference for English text to remain low in the coming months,
especially given the now-likely demise of the multilateral Trans-Pacific
Partnership trade agreement, or TPP. Provisions in the TPP would have
lowered barriers to work visas for Japanese Americans seeking voice
roles in anime, but the election of the staunchly anti-trade Donald
Trump as president of the United States has effectively closed the
possibility of the deal’s ratification.
Reaction from English-speaking anime fans has been muted, with some
expressing disbelief that voice actors’ Japanglish was ever a concern.
“I don’t think I’ve ever noticed,” said 33-year-old Kent Wentworth of
Toledo, Ohio. “I mean, it all sounds like Japanese to me. I’m too busy
reading the subtitles to really pay attention to their voices anyway.”
Some notes on the Windows version of ‘Zero Time Dilemma’
As you might imagine, given that the game was primarily developed
for the 3DS and Vita, the system requirements listed on
Steam are overkill. I
mean, 8 GB RAM? A GTX 650 or HD 7700 with 1 GB VRAM at minimum? It
was almost playable in a VirtualBox instance that requires software
emulation of DirectX 11! I’d guess most any computer released in the
past three years, and even some older ones, should be able to run
Zero Time Dilemma with few issues. Just turn down the resolution
and antialiasing if you run into problems.
Speaking of settings, the game’s launcher is a Node.js app using the
Electron framework. Seems like overkill for something that’ll only
ever run on Windows, doesn’t it? Hmm.
There are a few UI artifacts indicating the game’s origin as a
handheld console port, most visibly the mentions of hardware buttons
on the menu screens. Since the 3DS supports stylus input, which
translates well to a mouse, the mildly lazy conversion doesn’t hurt
gameplay that much. It’s a little irritating to have to use the
on-screen keyboard for puzzles that require text input, though.
Much hay has been made of Zero Time Dilemma’s introduction of
random elements to the typical visual novel choice system, but I
suspect that they’re not in fact all that random. I’d love to hear
from anyone who doesn’t get the dice roll in exactly three attempts,
for instance. Yeah, when you know what the odds would actually be,
they sure feel awfully hopeless, but it’d be pretty stupid for the
game to insist on adhering to them.
Did somebody say something about Miyuki Sawashiro? No? Oh. I just
thought… well. Another time, maybe. clears throat
Really, the most jarring thing about Zero Time Dilemma, coming
from the first two games in the Zero Escape series, is the shift
to fully-3D cutscenes. It’s a far more demanding mode of
presentation than the models of Virtue’s Last Reward, which
animated a small palette of gestures and nothing else, let alone the
visual novel–style 2D sprites from Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine
Doors. Unfortunately, Zero Time Dilemma’s visuals hint that the
budget wasn’t increased to match. This is especially noticeable in
the PC version, where the low-resolution textures and plasticky
character animations stick out like a sore thumb.
Which is a real shame, because Rui Tomono did a great job with
reinterpreting the character designs for this final game in the
trilogy. They do lose the more baroque fluorishes of Kinu
Nishimura’s work from the first two installments, but that’s in
keeping with the generally more subdued mood of Zero Time Dilemma.
Gone are the moments of calm that housed comedic bits like Junpei’s
cat-related verbal tic. It shows that Koutarou Uchikoshi has learned
how to preserve the sense of urgency throughout a story. Contrast
this with the interludes of chicken sandwiches and kick-the-can
games in Ever17 — though the newfound seriousness can occasionally
get rather suffocating.
Between the replacement of visual novel narration with cutscenes and
the leaner plot, Zero Time Dilemma cuts a third to a half off the
playtime of Virtue’s Last Reward. It’s hard not to feel a little
disappointed by how the game pulls back on throwing revelations out
of left field, even though it makes sense for the last game in a
series like this one — especially this one — to try and wrap up
all of the loose ends it’s introduced. Still, the basic framework of
an Uchikoshi story hasn’t changed: you get yourself very confused,
and in doing so you manage to save the lives of all of the main
characters. It doesn’t even merit a spoiler warning at this point,
but I’m fine with that. The journey is what counts.