Posted by ericmikols
I’ve been streaming The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky and a friend of mine and I have been chatting about Japanese role-playing games and our history with them. One thing that came up is that JRPGs have put us to sleep. I’ve fallen asleep playing them, my friend has fallen asleep playing them and we’ve both fallen asleep watching the other one play them.
Does this mean I find JRPGs to be boring? Not at all! The Final Fantasy series is one of my favorites, with Final Fantasy VI being one my favorite stories of all time. That’s to say nothing of Xenosaga, which had cut-scenes that could last almost an hour long and still held my attention. If Persona 5 was on the PC, I’d be playing it NOW. I love that genre of video games.
But, how many other games could I say put me to sleep. It doesn’t happen when I’m in a computer chair, but that’s because I only play JRPG’s on a couch. They’re long commitments and I need to be comfortable. With a pillow. Low lighting. Oh, I get it now.
I think JRPGs tend to feel like books. This is especially true with older games that don’t have voice acting and require a huge amount of reading. But, because of the pacing of the conversations, they don’t feel like thrillers or action-packed books. Instead, I might say, they’re more like a dense fantasy book with lots of world building. A book that, if read too long, will start to make my eyes close, even though I’m invested in everything on the page (or screen).
They’re comfortable. Cozy, even. Something like The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a pleasant game, that’s fun and exciting at times, but for the most part, feels like the video game equivalent of a quilt. It’s the town music of these games, these gentle tunes that make you feel at home, sleeping under a sunbeam. It’s the ridiculously superfluous mini-games like playing cards or fishing.
It’s the turn based fighting. You can be in the middle of a fight with a gross looking monster, but it doesn’t move forward until you issue a command. And while most battle music tries to be exciting or intense, there’s always that one track that’s a bit more relaxing than the rest. No, I’m not going to fall asleep during a boss battle or fight for my life, but a few mutated rats that just need one fireball? Yeah, I might be dozing off for a minute.
None of this is a complaint. I actually think it’s a great example of why so many people like JRPGs. They can be exciting but still are slowed down. No matter how busy the world is, or your work day, Final Fantasy IX is going to move at a relaxing pace. These aren’t action games that require every mental facet to be focused and alert. They’re photo albums or puzzles that you’re putting together as your head gets heavy.
Of course, this isn’t true for every game. As I said, voice acting changes the dynamic from book to movie (or anime) and some games are “louder” than others, such as Persona 5. But, they still have peaceful moments, long sessions of silence. I like it. In the book world, you might hear the term “cozy mysteries” and I think JRPGs are the “cozy” genre of gaming. It makes me excited to get back into those types of games, because I wouldn’t mind things moving a bit slower in my life.
You can watch me play cozy and slightly less-cozy games live at my Twitch channel!
Tags: comfort gaming, cozy, cozy mysteries, final fantasy, final fantasy ix, final fantasy vi, Japanese role playing game, jrpg, legend of heroes, persona, role playing, roleplaying, rpg, sleeping, slowing down, streamer, streaming, trails in the sky, twitch, Video game, video game music, xenosaga
Posted by ericmikols
I realize that by reviewing Attack on Titan, I put myself up as someone who could review anime but I showed no evidence for it! So I’m just going to list and summarize the anime series (not movies) I have watched to establish some sort of background when I review something else. Also, you might notice that I owe a lot to the early days of Adult Swim.
Whether or not I should be embarrassed to admit this, the fact is Inuyasha was the first anime I ever watched. It was back when I was staying up later and later and starting giving Adult Swim a try. It would be the first anime that would come on during the block and I would just leave the channel on and passively watch the show while doing other stuff. But then I started giving the show more attention and found myself really liking it. For a while, this is what I thought all anime was, j-pop fulled intros and outtros, feudal japan fantasy, white haired villains and skirt wearing heroins. I still haven’t watched the whole series but it has a warm place in my heart for introducing me to the medium and it’s not as bad as some of my manly friends say it is.
This was the second anime I started watching and I had no idea what to make of it. It seemed so cool and mature to my closed off teenage mindset. It was space, it was jazz, it was episodic, it was retro and forward thinking. It was the first anime series I ever bought I loved it so much. Spike was the coolest character I had ever seen at the time and I loved how gritty the series was and how dirty the future had become. Inuyasha introduced me to anime, but Cowboy Bebop brought me to a strange existential point in my life. When I went looking for this anime online, I discovered fan-made anime music videos. All of a sudden, I realized I could do that to and it started me off on what would become a very defining path in my life. If I hadn’t started watching Cowboy Bebop, I might never had been introduced to video editing and who knows where I would have headed in life?
The first episode had me in stitches and I kept watching happily, thinking Vash was the most interesting person in the world (so much so I once considered it for a my future son’s name). Then the series started becoming darker and introduced Wolfwood and I was glued. This is another series that I own, because I find it completely rewatchable and entertaining and it changes gears so well throughout the course of the series that it doesn’t lose any appeal during all twenty-six episodes. I actually just watched the movie on Netflix and made me miss this series all over again.
What a weird show this was. My sister and I got into this slightly passively, only watching when we weren’t doing anything else. But near the end, I became hooked and didn’t miss any of the last few episodes. It was so strange to me at the time, like a dark Megaman. The last battles still stick with me today and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to create something as interesting as this one.
Dragon Ball Z
While all my friends were watching this show, I was basically ignoring it. I did read the manga for both the original and second series, and I did start watching attentively during the Buu Saga. It’s a fun show and I can see why people love it as an entry piece, but it’s only something I slightly enjoyed and I have to admit I still have never seen the Cell Saga.
Okay, I suppose I shouldn’t have claimed Kakaider was weird if I knew this was coming. I had zero idea what to make of this show, but I knew after the first episode that I loved it. It had a robot with a TV head, rock music, a cat girl with a guitar and it actually had a lot of heart. The last episode is particularity good for a final and made me excited to have experienced the show.
Witch Hunter Robin
This was a show that actually lost me for a while. I was interested in the beginning but it just became to slow and introspective for me to keep watching. But, again, near the end of the series I was more into the show and it always struck me as a show that I wanted to like. The concept and animation were cool but I could never fully get past the poor pacing.
Now here’s a show that I would own if it wasn’t for the poor second season. During the first thirteen episodes, this show was as cool as Bebop, it had that Batman feel, likable characters, giant robots and one heck of a great soundtrack. But the second season seemed so lazy compared to the original. The show went from episodic to arch based and it wasn’t for the better. The last episode is decent, but a letdown compared to everything that came before. Still, it’s a show I’ll rewatch again just for Roger and Annie.
Neon Genesis Evagelion
This show was one I watched like a madman with my friend. We couldn’t watch this show in anything less than huge chunks. Every episode seemed to offer new information while posing twice as many question. The action was brutal and on an epic scale, but I remember grimacing at some of the dark corners this show went and still feel slightly disturbed for having watched the whole thing. The last two episodes are as bad as their reputation states but the movie that came after was much better and helped clear up a lot of questions for me. Until the last five seconds.
I don’t have a lot to say about this show other than I gave it my whole attention for thirteen episodes and it was boring the whole time. Maybe I missed the real draw since I didn’t play the video games but I felt very disappointed by the show.
I had a very strange relationship with this show. Sometimes it was brilliant and as good as Bebop. Other times, it was lacking and left me ready for bed. I still think the show was unbalanced with character focus and development, which is too bad since there are only three characters. But it’s still an extremely cool show with some superb episodes. I’d watch anything by the director after this.
I wanted to like this show, I really did. It just never worked for me. It was too weird and grouchy and the ending was so far from the meter I couldn’t invest enough in the outcome. I don’t think any of the characters ever clicked for me and I have a hard time recalling anything I really cared about in this show. I know some people love it, but Outlaw star never worked for me.
It felt like forever since I had watched my last anime before I started this series but it was on Netflix Instant Watch when I started my subscription. It had been on my radar for a while too. Luckily, the show was great. I liked all the characters and style and I thought it was cool that the story went beyond Seven Samurai‘s ending. I haven’t rewatched it yet, though I should. It really is one of the best series I’ve seen and the final assault on the Emperor is visually and emotionally effective.
Fullmetal Alchemest: Brotherhood
I’m not going to get into how long it took me to finish this series, but it’s one of my favorites. I own the series and can’t wait to rewatch it again. I remember dropping my jaw every other episode and waiting every week for a new episode felt like torture. The Alchemy in the show is great and the characters are all so likable it’s amazing. Even during the show’s downtime, I was hooked and all the locations felt real. While the twists (and what twists they were!) kept me craving more, it’s the pure story of two brothers that will keep me rewatching.
Man, this show was boring. I played the video game and this felt like a bad attempt at clip notes. I’m not sure how the screwed this up but show really is compelling. Somehow, I was able to put eighty plus hours into the PS2 game but couldn’t be bothered to put six into the show.
Attack on Titan
See my review here!
I think I remembered everything. It’s been a while since I started watching anime. I still haven’t gotten around to seeing Hellsing, Excel Saga, Blue Gender, Berserk, Noir or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Right now, the wife and I are watching Eden of the East and Hetalia: Axis Powers, with Gundam Seed up after those. I’m sure I’ll review those as we finish them but if you have any suggestions, please, let me know in the comments. I could always use some direction when looking for shows!