My Top 10 Favorite Vocaloid Songs

We needed a change of pace so I decided to expand the subject matter of my blog a little bit. This week I am going to list my top 10 favorite Vocaloid Songs. For those of you looking for a quick summary, Vocaloid is a singing voice synthesizer marketed by Yamaha. The most popular and well know Vocaloid are the Japanese released Vocaloid from the V1 and V2 software versions. It is a pretty neat software, though unless you are sound engineer odds are if you play with it the results will sound terrible at best

 

Anyhoo here we go starting from #10:

#10: Dead Line Circus – Len Kagamine, GUMI, Kamui Gakupo

Deadline CircusDead Line Circus is a dark little song with some darkly poetic lyrics written by Last Note, but a pretty nice bass line. It apparently tells the story of a circus of serial killers who kidnap members of the audience and kill them as part of the performance. I absolutely love the refrain to this one, “The pathetic scream of the bullet cries out as it flies free, and as it hits the clown it disappeared.” Honestly, this made the bottom of my top 10 though because of its use of Kamui Gakupo, honestly, it isn’t the best sounding Vocaloid, though I give last note credit because his use of Kamui is the best I have heard so far.

#9: Purple Butterfly on Your Right Shoulder – Len Kagamine

Purple Butterfly on My Left ShoulderAs far as Lyrics go, Purple Butterfly on Your Right Shoulder is a bit confusing. It seems to be a song about a guy who has gone mad with love, and possibly alcoholism after kissing a girl (or maybe guy?) at a party. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics are poetic and I dig that. However, they are still very confusing sometimes, one line seems to imply cross dressing (which I have no personal problem with for the record), so it is more of an acquired taste. It does have an awesome beat and makes a great dance song if you’re into that.

#8: Ten Thousand Stars – Hatsune Miku

Ten Thousand StarsI honestly like this song mostly for its spunky lyrics. Ten Thousand Stars is one of the few Vocaloid songs intentionally done all in English with the (then) new V3 English Voice Bank Release. This song by CircusP won the Hatsune Miku Expo 2016 Song Contest which was part of a marketing campaign to promote the V3 English software. Not only did the composer win 10,000 dollars, his song was performed live by Hatsune Miku during the touring Miku Expo. So I guess that’s kinda neat.

#7: Tsugai Kogarashi – Kaito, Meiko

Tsugai KogarashiTsugai Kogarashi (A Pair of Wintry Winds) is a really beautiful song done in the Traditional Japanese Style. It’s flowing poetry paints a story of two lovers split apart and reunited by fate. This song for me is very calming but only made #7 because the voice of Kaito and Meiko really were not utilized as well as they could have been. An example of a good Meiko song though is…………

#6: Samurai Soul – Meiko

Samurai SoulThis one is one of my favorites and is composed by Team Kamiuta (Gods Song). It is an excellent use of the Meiko voice as much of the singing emulates real emotion almost. This song seems to be about a young student who is depressed and considering suicide over the world’s hypocrisy. While considering suicide she uncovers the gift of her ancestors, the spirit of the Samurai which gives her the strength and courage to keep on living each day to correct those wrongs. It is poetic, the lyrics are powerful, and the use of imagery of famous Samurai stirs my heart every time I hear this song and watch this video.

#5: Heaven & Hell – Len Kagamine, Rin Kagamine

Heaven & Hell“This is the Story of a world after death.” And I gotta tell you, this song makes me wanna go to (Buddist) Hell. Heaven and Hell tells the story of a man who has died, and now Yama and an Angel are fighting over whether or not he will spend eternity playing the game of Heaven or Hell. The protagonist is dragged through Hell where he is forced to take part in crimes, fight, and even bungee jump with a rope around his neck for some pretty pervy reasons. He thinks he is saved when he goes to Heaven, but there he is repeatedly tormented and tortured for not being perfect enough. Now he is being made to choose again but….. Oh wait, they had the wrong person. Sayonara, see you soon though mortal!!

#4: Worlds End Dancehall – Hatsune Miku, Megurine Luka

Worlds End Dance HallThis song and its video are a real trip, a real hop, a real step. Apparently, it’s a dance battle at the very end of this world (and maybe the beginning of the new one?). As I am sure you guessed based on my other picks, I love this for its poetic lyrics. It also had a really danceable tune which I enjoy compared to a lot of similar Vocaloid Songs. And the Video, I mean that is possibly one of the best. Who doesn’t enjoy a dance battle between 2 (Triad Crimelord?) girls and their posse in casual dresses.

#3: Hachi-Hachi: Flowery Battle of Kagamine’s – Len Kagamine, Rin Kagamine

Hachi HachiSo this is basically a song about Hanafuda cards, more specifically the game of Hachi-Hachi (which is 8 8, or 88. the proper word for 88 though is Hachi-Jun Hachi). It tells the story of a gambler courting an Oiran at a gambling house. Pretty simple. The song is laced with many references to Hanafuda. For example, Five Brights (Gokou) and Boar, Deer, Butterfly (Ino, Shika, Chou) are both high point hands you can assemble in Hanafuda games like Hachi-Hachi or Koi Koi. I love this song because of the mix of traditional and modern sounds, and also the references to Hanafuda which is one of the few card games I am really enthusiastic about.

#2: Senbonzakura – Hatsune Miku

SenbonzakuraI enjoy this song a lot, Senbonzakura touches on a lot of themes from the time span between the Meiji Era and WW2 (Basically 1868 – 1945). That time was comprised of the Meiji Period, the Taisho Period, and the early parts of the Showa Period. It is almost like hearing the voices of the souls in the Yasakuni Shrine. For example, “After a bold and audacious Westernization Revolution, this is now an open and upright anti-war nation” is a mixed reference to the westernization began under the Meiji Restoration and was accelerated after WW2 accompanied by Article 9 of the post war constitution that forbade Japan to develop a functional military or engage in hostilities. And “This is a Banquet inside a steel jail cell, look down on us from your guillotine” is a reference to the post war execution of men accused of being war criminals. And “Hundreds of fights will give you the appearance of an officer” placed next to the lyric “The Courtesans are going here and there on a parade for their regular guests” refers collectively to military expansion/victories of the Meiji and Taisho Periods as well as a period of political and social degradation starting in the late Meiji Period and extending into the early Taisho Period before the implementation of the Taisho Democracy. While it explores the darkness of Japan it also reminds us of the greatness and resilience of its Empire and expresses hope and the final result of a happy enough ending.

#1: As The Gods Say – Hatsune Miku, Rin Kagamine, GUMI

Ame-no-UzumeI am not in the least bit ashamed to say this song brings tears of joy to my eyes. It tells a very important story from the Kojiki about how Amaterasu-Omikami hid herself and her light in a cave (Amano-Iwato) after being tormented by her brother Susanoo-no-Mikoto. The Kami (Gods/Goddesses) grew worried and held council near the cave. They finally came up with a plan to coax Amaterasu-Omikami out of the cave. Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto performed a wild dance and began to bare her skin, and the Kami laughed with joy. When Amaterasu-Omikami peeked out to see why the other Kami were celebrating, Ame-no-Tajikarawo-no-Mikoto pulled her out of the cave while the other Kami sealed it up behind her.

Amaterasu-OmikamiThis is a really important story in Shinto. It establishes the basis for the ritual of Kagura. It also teaches many other things such as the burden the Kami bear, the importance of the Sun as a bringer of life and hope, the love our entire solar system feels for the sun, and the value of loving oneself and recognizing how important you may be to others. The video for this is done in the style of a scroll unfurling from right to left which is beautiful, and the imagery is based on traditional art patterns as well as the manga style. The music itself is mostly pop but it has a traditional flavor to it. This is really my absolute favorite song, it always brings me tears of joy near the end, and I usually listen to it when I am feeling bad. It was not hard to decide on this as #1 in my list, the happiness it brought me is priceless.

 

So hopefully this article was not too bad. Please, especially for this piece, leave feedback in the comments. I am always hesitant to add new content since I don’t want to risk diluting the subject matter of the website too much. Luckily with this, I was also able to tie it into subjects I already established. Anyway, good or bad feel free to drop that feedback. I value it greatly from my friends, and I need it from my readers. Oh, and if you are interested in purchasing Vocaloid software you can buy it here at Crypton Future Media’s online store, or if you are more comfortable buying domestically (within the US) you can purchase them through Big Fish Audio.

Oh, and before I forget, here is an honorable mention because the composer is deserving of recognition.

Honorable Mention: Luka Luka Night Fever

Luka Luka Night FeverThe composer of this song Sano Takayuki, or as some called him, Samfree, passed away September 24th, 2015. He was only 31 years old. His family did not release the cause of death but it was assumed that it was an internal disease as Takayuki was not suicidal. It is hard to see someone who had a promising career die so young, the only thing we can do though is to continue celebrating their work. This is still in my top 15 by the way.

Cowboy Bebop

I really should kick myself for not doing a piece on this sooner. I really do ask the forgiveness of my non-political readers for the long string of political posts, this has really been a politically charged year so far and it has been hard to do a lot of other posts. I have been playing video games less so some posts on games that I was planning to complete are sort of on hold. I have been watching a lot of anime though and rewatching some of my old favorites, and at some point in the near future hopefully, you can look forward to between 12 to 15 back to back weeks of UC Timeline Gundam which I will soon review. But for now, I hope you enjoy my meager offering of this classic from the golden age of anime.

Before I get to the plot I want to cover some of the most remarkable things that made this series great. As a 90’s kid, I am proud that I grew up during the golden age of anime even though my only contribution was my viewership. Cowboy Bebop was one of the crowning achievements towards the end of that age, a mix of classic western and sci-fi space opera. Most remarkable was the use of music as part of the framing of the story. Each episode explored fringe music styles such as Metal (Heavy Metal Queen), Blues (Sympathy for The Devil), Funk (Mushroom Samba), and most frequently Jazz and Bebop. In the Golden Age Tradition of shattering every boundary, this show redefined many. That’s why it will always remain in my top 10 favorites, it is a hard show to top and only a few have ever topped it since its debut in 1998.

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The Bebop during Hyperspace Flight. Image from 1.bp.blogspot.com

In 2071 Humankind has inhabited the rocky planets, moons, and asteroids of the solar system with the help of a Hyperspace gate system. However, an accident with the gate exactly 50 years prior has left the Earth virtually uninhabitable. With mankind spread from Venus to Saturn crime has become a greater issue, leading to the Inter Solar System Police to push for the legalization of Bounty Hunters. With the task of bringing in criminals alive in exchange for money, Bounty Hunters are universally despised throughout the system by criminals, police, and everyday citizens. For them, space is a cold place to exist.

Nobody in their right minds would willingly live this kind of life, but nobody on the cruiser Bebop is really in their right minds. Not Spike Spiegel, a man who faked his own death and is on the run from the Red Dragon Syndicate. Not Jet Black, a former ISSP officer who quit in disgust over the general corruption in the organization. Not Ein, but he is just a genetically enhanced dog with super intelligence. Not Faye Valentine, she is just a con artist deep in debt who had been cryogenically frozen for over 50 years. And certainly not Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, she is just a totally eccentric hacker from Earth who invented her own name. Together though these crazy beings are the best (well actually worst) Bounty Hunters in the Solar System.

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Image of a ship coming through the Warp Gate. Image from inetres.com

Shinichiro Watanabe initially coined the tagline “A new Genre Unto Itself” to promote Cowboy Bebop, however, he later said this was an exaggeration. I have to disagree though, he was about right as Cowboy Bebop was a one of a kind mix of multiple genres that nobody, not even Watanabe-san himself, has ever been able to repeat much less exceed. The beauty of the show for me lies within this hopeful yet a dystopian vision of the future. On the one hand, humanity seems lost after being forced to part with their home planet, searching for meaning and a place to belong. On the other hand, there is hope to be found in humanities expansion to the stars and their will to survive and return to some semblance of normalcy.

Of course, the music cannot be discounted either. The series was almost experimental with its choice of background, barely recycling any themes and always coming into each episode with a fresh set of tracks. Yoko Kanno composed the music for the series and even formed the “Seatbelts” exclusively to perform the soundtrack for Cowboy Bebop. Later on, Watanabe described how Kanno’s composing heavily influenced the actual creative direction of the scenes. Rather than taking Watanabe’s direction, Kanno would often follow her inspiration and come back to Watanabe with a musical piece he was not expecting, and even though he didn’t ask for the piece just listening to it would inspire him to write entirely new scenes. He described it as a back and forth between them, so both the writing and the music drove the direction of the series. This symbiotic back and forth process really does make the anime a new type of genre that is not driven by just the story or the music.

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The Crew of The Bebop. Image from cotygeek.com

I can’t really express how much I personally have enjoyed this series. It has actually gotten me through breakups and life failure with its deep and whimsical stories. Now approaching 20 years it has aged well and even today gets a late night run on Adult Swim. I highly suggest you buy a copy of this show. You’ll never regret it and never forget it.

Osamu Tezuka’s “Metropolis”

I really don’t know where to start with this one honestly. This movie is truly a masterpiece of the anime art form, from its breathtaking scenery to its rich storytelling. That is, of course, a given since it is based off an anime which drew inspiration from the 1927 silent film Metropolis. The character design evokes a feeling of nostalgia from the manga art style of the 1950’s through 60’s. If you are familiar with that style then you will immediately notice how the character design is reminiscent of the work of Shotaro Ishinomori.

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Characters from Shotaro Ishimori’s “Cyborg 009”.

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The subterranean level of Metropolis.

Much like the 1927 Silent Movie, Metropolis takes place in the not too distant future. In the grand city of Metropolis, humans and Androids live side by side. However, there is great hatred for the machines, especially from the lower class humans who became unemployed because of the Androids and have to live in the subterranean level of the city. This hatred has given rise to an anti-machine vigilante party known as Marduk. Things seem to be on the breaking point.

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The upper city and the skyscraper Ziggurat.

During all of this turmoil however, the upper city holds a huge celebration. The festivities are inspired by the completion of Ziggurat, the portentous skyscraper constructed under the oversight of the enigmatic Duke Red who promises that it will expand the power of Metropolis over the entire world. It is amid these celebrations and under the Orwellian gaze of looped recordings from Duke Red’s momentous speech that Private Detective Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi arrive in Metropolis to pursue Doctor Laughton, a criminal accused of trafficking in Human Organs. They are unaware however that Duke Red has commissioned Dr. Laughton to build a special android named “Tima” in the image of his own deceased daughter. With the help of a Metropolis Police Android Shunsaku and Kenichi pursue Dr. Laughton, totally unaware of the larger series of events they have unwittingly stumbled into.

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Tima Stares up at the Sun pouring down into the depths of the subterranean city.

Artistically speaking, every aspect of this film is amazing and conveys a message. The Soundtrack is an exceptional selection of New Orleans-style Jazz Music. Some notable tracks from the movie include Atsuki Kimura’s cover of “Saint James Infirmary Blues” and the Ray Charles cover of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” from 1962. The Soundtrack really sets the atmosphere of a Steampunk world where things seem so fantastic yet also so familiar. It really evokes a feeling similar to nostalgia. The combination of the music and the visuals is really powerful.

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The above ground city where the wealthy work and live.

The visuals themselves help convey a strong message about the society of Metropolis. In Metropolis there is a drastic difference in the quality of life between the rich and poor. Those who live on the surface enjoy a paradise of beautiful buildings, fresh air, and sunlight. Those underground though live in squalor, inhabiting buildings in various states of disrepair. The disparity between the wealthy and the poor is highlighted from the start and the scene at the end where the roof of the subterranean city collapses is a sort of symbolism for the collapse of the divide between the rich and poor, a pretty heady symbolic message for any film.

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Shunsuke Ban, Kenichi Ban, and the Android Detective from Metropolis PD.

The interpersonal relationships between the characters however are pretty basic. This disappointed me really. On one side you have the healthy familial relationship between Shunsaku and Kenichi. Shunsaku’s concern for his Nephew is highlighted by his time-consuming pursuit of Kenichi after he disappears. He even stays in a Hotel in the subterranean city which is nothing more than a bunch of abandoned train cars.

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Duke Red and his Adoptive Son Rock

On the other side, there is the exploitative relationship between Duke Red and Rock. Rock serves in Marduk, the anti-machine party secretly funded by his adoptive father Duke Red in his pursuit of power. Rock is blindly loyal to Duke Red and craves his approval. Duke Red however is only obsessed with the pursuit of power and his deceased daughter, and he only views Rock as another means to achieve his goal. This only becomes apparent to Rock when Duke Red disowns him and casts him out into the streets upon learning of Rock’s efforts to destroy Tima.

Metropolis, in my opinion, stands alongside Akira and Ghost in the Shell as groundbreaking classics of the anime film genre. It blends the elements of a classic film story, stunning visuals, and a stimulating soundtrack into an unforgettable experience. Indeed time and time again I have found myself compelled to watch this film again and again because it never really gets tiresome to me. I am not sure how it compares to the 1927 classic from Fritz Lang but it has left a powerful impression on me. I highly recommend you grab a copy of this masterpiece on DVD or Blueray and experience it for yourself.

Tuning Out: How to Combat The Fake News MSM with Your Remote and Your Wallet

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Most “Mainstream Media” Outlets colluded with Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Election

Recently many people have become absolutely fed up with the “Traditional” Mainstream Media. During the 2016 Election Cycle and ever since Trumps election win, they have caught many times lying, selectively reporting news, colluding with a specific candidate, and basically sending the message that they think the American people are a bunch of dumb cattle. It wasn’t any better overseas with the BBC showing a clear bias against the “Leave” side of the Brexit Vote. Beyond that Liberal misinformation and trashy indoctrination has gone beyond the news broadcast to Entertainment such as Television Dramas/Sitcoms, Comic Books, Print Media, even Video Games, all of these have become playgrounds for Liberal Censorship and Thought Control*. In the face of all this, many people might feel helpless, but there is hope and it is a page out of their own playbook.

* Using the Term “Thought Control” sickens me and makes my ass clench like I am in prison and the biggest guy in the cell block is stalking up behind me. I hate this term. It, however, best describes what the media has seemingly been attempting this past year and longer.

Many are worried and rightly so that this left wing media indoctrination will affect our youth. Amazingly however it seems the left are losing ground with millennials and that Generation Z will be more conservative than the Baby Boomers. But let’s not let our guard down since Liberals are actively attacking their access to information. The only way to stop it is to stop their cash flow through a boycott. Some think that is as easy as tuning out of a show you don’t like or even a network, but it takes a lot more than that.

Network Media

A major problem is that Liberals have worked the industry to their advantage. A major joke that they throw around about Fox is that their shows get canceled so often, but that is because Fox runs as a meritocracy and contracts programs so they don’t get stuck with a sucky program. Other networks like ABC and NBC have been known to keep running unpopular programs which one would assume they fund from the revenue brought in by the good ones. Factor in Ad money and the fact some small group of people eats that shit up and it seems like a lost cause to get them to cut the SJW crap much less shut them down. After all, how can you penalize them when they seem impossible to hurt?

10 or even 20 years ago this would have been hard if not impossible. Luckily for Gen Z at least the technology age brings us so many possibilities. Since 2007 the perfected streaming service has provided consumers with the option to virtually cut the networks out of the loop. Funded by advertising fees as well as subscription fees, their survival depends on picking the high-cost production shows that bring in the most viewers. Some networks have tried to start their own services too but the bottom line is that shows that cost more require viewers to justify it, so by abandoning the traditional TV distributors and networks (and their streaming services), the model of tuning out of shitty shows works and brings us one step closer to purging a left wing dominated media.

Vote With Your Wallet

Obviously, they will still get money from advertising. That’s how they have run a free TV service for years. We can fight that though by avoiding name brands. Not entirely of course cause that is just a bullcrap move that can have an adverse effect on the economy. The goal is to reduce sales just enough that they have to reconsider where they focus their marketing, and that will be away from networks and towards streaming services.

Another source of their funding is the money they get from Cable and Sattelite providers. Some of these providers also offer internet service as well and have been known to gauge speeds on certain streaming services. Now obviously my first suggestion is to ask only for the internet and no TV service from these providers, but of course, the theme here is that it is never just that simple. Be sure to look into the providers since some will gauge speeds in favor of their own services or may be connected to one of the major networks. A fine example is Comcast, which as of 2013 has full ownership of NBC Universal which as we all know hosts an embarrassment known as The Rachel Maddow Show.

Anti-Hero

Did you know they even have their fingers in comic books now? The once beloved DC Comics which provided role models for young boys for over 80 years is now a subsidiary of Time Warner, the same Media Corporation that owns CNN and has close dealings with Comcast. This can account for some of the more left-wing tones in DC work, like how The Penguin from the Gotham TV program is now Gay. And not to drive the point too far home, but when criticized by fans for breaking cannon one of the shows actors gave the typical SJW response to criticism. It is a pretty sad fall from grace.

Marvel has not been much luckier. Along with adding new poorly written characters who are a monument to Virtue Signalling, they have pulled the exact same move as the writers of Gotham. Far from getting the positive reaction they hoped for, they instead face criticism from readers and surprisingly by some who rightly point out that the author in this basically made a “Bisexual Erasure” type statement. For those of you who don’t know, Bisexual Erasure is the tendency to minimalize the importance of or deny the existence of Bisexuality and it is basically a gays equivalent of homophobia since this tendency is seen most in the Gay and Lesbian communities. I like the idea of a sexy young Twink Iceman, but at the same time considering the motivation and the completely forced way they did it I would have to classify this as another thing to Boycott with your wallet since it is propagandistic trash.

Worth Less than Toilet Paper

I am not a fan of Bernie Sanders, I just want to state that for the record. All the same, it is fun to point out that last year the Washington Post published 16 negative stories about him in 16 hours on the 6th and 7th of March. There is no coincidence that this happened to coincide with the Primary Debate in Flint Michigan. They also were forced to acknowledge a story about Russian Propoganda they published was based on sham research. It is a shame since they used to be a reliable news source.

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The Huffington Post which claims to be unbiased and has even criticized a group photo taken by a GOP Congressman for being “Too White” has an editorial board that is mostly white and entirely female.

Don’t forget the New York Times feud with the President. They have told so many lies about Trump, it is hard to keep track of the entire exchange most times but it is clear that they have a major boner for Trump. There are also outlets that are unashamedly left-leaning such as the Huffington Post. That said there is a website known as AllSides which gauges the bias and reliability of both print and broadcast media. Upon giving it a cursory look over I can say that it seems legit and it allows you to vote on the reliability of any source then balances it against blind surveys conducted with average Americans to see which articles from which source people find most trustworthy.

SJW’s Killed the Video Game Star

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Alison Rapp who was fired for violating Nintendo Corporate Policy also used the Nintendo Treehouse division to work her social justice politics into the localization of video games. She also posted lewd pictures like this to twitter with no regard to how they might damage Nintendo’s Corporate Image.

Yes, I parodied a music video from nearly 40 years ago for this sections header, you can thank my father who is old as sin and listens to the same music over and over for that. Don’t lose sight of the point though, SJWs are destroying the video game industry. It is not paranoia either, remember the controversy around “Fire Emblem: Fates”? Before the release news came out that features and dialogue from the game had been removed by Nintendo Treehouse, specifically an employee known as Alison Rapp who aside from being an advocate of pedophilia was also abusive towards Nintendo’s Customers/Fans on Twitter. She was later fired not for harassing customers imposing her political beliefs onto how certain video games would be localized, but because she was prostituting herself on the sidelines and selling lewd images to customers. Not the reason I would have liked to see her fired for but, ehhhhh. Of course to her and her followers, it was “Muh because sexism” and her termination had nothing to do with her being a crappy worker with a shitty personality (which sadly it didn’t) or being a stupid whore and endangering Nintendo’s family friendly image.

And now we have the issue surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda. Not surprising though. This was a long time coming since EA stopped hiring on merit and just started hiring any old SJW they could find apparently as many of the most valid claims from former EA fans is that game quality has dropped and SJW stuff has gone up. Mass Effect Andromeda is a prime example, besides complaints of its poor quality it had an almost forced and poorly written transgender character as well as an openly racist game designer who is suspected of making it impossible to make a fair skinned character in the game due to his political beliefs which may finally have gotten him fired for opening them up to a huge lawsuit. Whew, well with that run-on sentence aside my bottom line is that you should stop shopping EA and maybe research who is working on the development teams of your favorite video games.

The Battle Fought Far and Wide

After reading this I bet you feel overwhelmed and a little depressed. Yes, liberals like a plague of locusts are eating away at societies pathways of expression and recreation. Even sports are not safe anymore from being tainted by the left wing agenda. We have gone from a society of merit to one of mediocracy. We were pushed there by left wing tyrants with cash for years and have just come to notice it the past 8 years.

As with their efforts to push us here, our efforts to dry up their cash flow will take years. It can be sped along with lawsuits which I do encourage where appropriate and necessary as is the case with EA for allowing an openly racist developer to use his job as a medium to discriminate. It will still take plenty of patience however and a lot of willpower. I want to make it clear though that this article is not a call to action but a series of suggestions, some of which I myself will not follow because of my own limitations. I will however make one call to action, and that is a call to support alternative media online and on air. To quote the slogan for Alex Jones website Info Wars, “There’s a war on for your mind.” And I can tell you, the most meaningful battle of this war can only be fought by you yourself.

Image from nocookie.net

The Irregular at Magic High School

Don’t let the title fool you, this show is full of things you will not expect. Take Tatsuya Shiba and Miyuki Shiba. On the surface, they look like normal students attending the prestigious First High School Affiliated with The Magic University, the younger sister a First-Course honor student or “Bloom” and the older brother a Second-Course remedial student or “Weed” with inferior magic ability. In reality, the younger sister is heir to the Yotsuba’s, A family that is part of the 10 Master Clans of Magic in Japan. And the older brother is a disgraced member of the family tasked with acting as his younger sisters bodyguard because of his unparalleled skill with magic, though his powers have been limited by a seal. Scratch the surface and there is a lot going on under it all. That is what I find most appealing about this anime that exceeds all expectations for the discerning anime connoisseur.

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The Cast of the show and Tatsuya’s main group of friends. (Weeds to the left, Blooms to the right) From left to right: (Mikihiko Yoshida) (Mizuki Shibata) (Leonhard Saijo) (Erika Chiba) (Tatsuya Shiba) (Miyuki Shiba) (Honoka Mitsui) (Shizuku Kitayama) Image from nocookie.net

The show takes place in the year 2095. After a 3rd world war that altered not only the world’s political climate but the climate of the planet as well, many things have changed. The first is that as a result of wars sparked by the chaos of diminishing food supplies in the 2040’s the world’s countries have consolidated into 12 distinct nations, among them the USNA, the Federal Soviet Republic, and The Great Asian Alliance, with nations like Japan and Australia being the only recognizable countries. The second is that Magicians and Magic have become the greatest asset in warfare since the implementation of tanks, they are more lethal than any bomb or missile and more effective than commandos. This has led nations to encourage the study of magic as a science and to cultivate young magicians as valuable military assets.

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The Locations of the 9 High schools Affiliated with the Magic University. This map is apparently from the Manga as they do not really elaborate on the school’s locations in the anime. Image from nocookie.net

In Japan, magicians are identified and trained at 9 High Schools across the nation affiliated with the Magic University. Here young men and women who are so carefree and innocent are trained as weapons, barely aware of the fate of both glory and tragedy that awaits them. In this setting, we find Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki. Despite on the surface being a remedial student with mediocre magical ability, Tatsuya is, in reality, an extremely talented magic engineer who is employed by the JSDF in addition to his job at a well-renowned company that produces magic equipment. (CAD’s)

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First Course Students (Blooms) wear the school’s crest on the shoulder of their uniform, while the Second Course Students (Weeds) wear a field of gray. Image from pinimg.com

Despite his skills, however, he falls victim to the systematic discrimination of First-Course students towards their Second-Course peers. He also faces troubles at home as he is a disgraced member of the Yotsuba Clan. Not only is his power sealed as punishment, he is forbidden to garner praise or attention from the rest of the Magic Community. With the support of his sister and friends as well as some more intuitive First-Course upperclassmen, though, Tatsuya achieves the admiration of his peers and elders while shattering the stagnant status quo.

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Tatsuya being greeted by two Second Course upperclassmen after being forced to join the disciplinary committee. While initially skeptical of a “Weed” being allowed to join they immediately change their mind when the head of the disciplinary committee relates Tatsuya’s amazing ability to them. Image from littlecloudcuriosity.wordpress.com

So first off what I really love about this anime series is how they approach the concept of magic. Rather than the mushy gushy “wave a wand and anything is possible” bullshit, the magic of this world is a science. Just like in science there are things you can’t do with magic (for example sustained flight magic was impossible until Tatsuya solves the problems surrounding that magic concept), and unsolved problems (like the Cardinal Codes referred to on and off starting in the second story arc.) making this vision of magic very real and believable. Even the explanations behind the magic are scientific in nature. One example, Tatsuya’s friend Leonhard Saijo uses Convergent Systematic Reinforcement type Magic, a type of magic that reinforces the position of one physical object in relation to another allowing the user to do things like fortifying the integrity of an object by fixing the molecules in place or fixing the position of one object to another effectively binding the two objects till the caster releases the spell.

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Leonhard Saijo using the spell “Reinforcement” to prevent himself from being injured in a fight with terrorists while also effectively increasing the severity of damage his attack does. Image from mahouka-koukou-no-rettousei.wikia.com

There are also Ancient Magic Types that are stylized in the Shinto Tradition. These are used by Tatsuya’s friend Mikihiko Yoshida. In fact, I think he is the only one in the show who uses this style. I nonetheless enjoy it since I myself am Shinto (Not that I think there is any actual practice of what would be termed magic in actual Shinto.) so it excites me the way I imagine a Catholic would be excited to see a stylized rendition of an exorcism on TV. It adds to the cultural context of the show and is pretty cool to watch, my favorite spells are his Thunder based attacks which use Talismans as a point to concentrate electrons and then disperse them in the form of a Thunderbolt.

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Mikihiko Yoshida using the spell Thunder Child while competing in the 9 Schools Competition event Monolith Code. Image from mahouka-koukou-no-rettousei.wikia.com

So Magic Aside this show also tackles some pretty mature themes in a mature way. Take for example discrimination. A theme from the first story arc was the frustration of the Second-Course students over the First-Course student’s preferential treatment. Some Second-Course students choose to complain about it, ignoring the empathy of the few progressive first-course students who agreed with them. Tatsuya and his friends overcame this all though by demonstrating merit rather than complaining, this is a lesson that translates to real life.

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Student Council President Mayumi Saegusa giving a speech during a debate about discrimination at the school. She expresses her desire to do away with a rule that says Second-Course students cannot serve on the Student Council. Image from formeinfullbloom.wordpress.com

The series also deals with the role of soldiers as objects. Throughout the series, they break from the lighthearted theme and remind the viewer that these teenagers are being prepared as weapons, and some like Tatsuya and Third High’s Ichijou Masaki have already seen combat and have killed. To spare his sister from this fate Tatsuya’s goal is to solve the technical issues behind using Gravity Control Type Magic to create a sustained nuclear fusion reactor. Despite all of this it is very clear to the viewers that war has already started and that their fate as weapons is all but guaranteed. There are also a few underlying references to Genetic Experiments, Tatsuya not being able to feel emotions because of an experiment, Human Trafficking, and Using Body Parts of Magicians in experiments that really drive home the idea that many people view the magicians as an asset without taking into account that they are human.

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Ichijou Masaki covered in fake blood after target practice. Masaki uses the Dispersal Type spell “Rupture” to cause his enemies to explode from the inside out. He learned this in 2092 when despite being 13 years old, he volunteered with the armed forces to repel an attempt by the New Soviet Union to invade Sado. This garnered him the title “Crimson Prince”. Image from pinimg.com

It isn’t all high-tech magic, mature themes and war though. The show has a real Slice of Life aspect to it as Tatsuya and his friends go about a relatively normal High School life. There are also parts of the plot that monopolize awkward teen hormones and the social dynamic of high school to provide comic relief. Some examples are the obvious attraction between Mikihiko and Mizuki that causes them to be very awkward and clumsy around each other or the rivalry/friendship between Leonhard and Erika that also sometimes really feels like there is an element of attraction between the two. The funniest joke is the impression that Tatsuya and Mizuki give to others that their love may be more than just that between a brother and a sister. Of course, that doesn’t seem to be the case since Tatsuya doesn’t really have emotions. I dunno about Miyuki though, it’s hard to tell what she is really thinking about her brother.

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Miyuki might have a serious bro-con and Tatsuya is too dense to notice it.

There is currently one 26 episode season of The Irregular at Magic High School out right now. There is also a movie due to come out in Japan on July 17th, entitled “The Irregular at Magic High School: The Girl Who Calls The Stars.” It is unclear however when or if a second season of the show will come out. There is plenty of material for them work off of but as always in the anime industry, the decision to renew or a continue a project is determined by ratings and popularity. Let’s keep out fingers crossed though, this is an exceptional anime that is very smart with a story I feel is worth telling. I would love to see more and I am sure you will too. Enjoy the show guys!!

A Certain Scientific Railgun

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Well thank god the election season is over, now we can focus on the real issues. Like how can a city that is 80% students run normally when they have students with esper powers running amok on a daily basis? I mean what is the police force Anti-Skill doing? It seems like they let the student run investigative force Judgement do all of the legwork which makes things worse. And I know this is s scientifically advanced city designed to study these espers and rank them with numbers 1-5 but what is up with all of those shady experiments? I mean damn, every couple of weeks it’s either a rogue AIM Beast or a sadistic mad scientist in a Power Suit. Is there ever a normal day in Academy City?

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I guess that’s what we would be saying if any of that were real, it’s really just the
plot of A Certain Magical Railgun. It’s the story of Esper and Middle School Student Misaka Mikoto as she and her friends go about their day-to-day lives being dragged into the dark mysteries of Academy City. It’s a city decades ahead of the rest of the world in terms of technological advancement where 80% of the population are students attending the academies and schools about the city. Many of these students are Espers, people with special abilities that allow them to control different aspects of matter and physics. All of the student’s powers are ranked from 1 being the weakest to 5 being the best of the best. Misaka is the 3rd strongest Esper of only 7 Level 5 Espers in the city. Her Powers to manipulate electrical current and magnetism earned her the designation “Railgun”.

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With her title of Railgun though she attracts a lot of friends and despite her refusal to join the student-run security force “Judgement” she also attracts a lot of trouble. Being able to turn a coin into a high-powered projectile using electro-magnetism can’t solve all of life’s problems and Misaka quickly finds her unwitting role in the dark side of the cities experiments.

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Her hot temper doesn’t help her much nor does her obsession with beating Toma Kamijo.

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Luckily she isn’t alone, she has friends of all esper powers. There is, of course, her roommate Kuroko.

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Kuroko along with being a member of Judgement is also a Level 4 esper, her power is teleportation. She is powerful enough to travel by teleporting herself from place to place within her line of sight or in a combat situation she can use her ability to turn objects into weapons and projectiles. She also happens to be an aggressive sexual deviant in love with Misaka. XD

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Speaking of sexual deviancy there is also their friend Ruiko Saten. She may be a Level 0, or a student who exhibits no power whatsoever but she helps Misaka out a lot. Well, that is when she isn’t flipping Uiharu’s skirt to see what color her panties are and gossiping about the cities urban legends.

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And who could forget sweet Uiharu? A fellow member of Judgement and Level 1 esper, Uiharu is soft-spoken and often a pushover. She carries a huge amount of responsibility though and helps out more with her computer skills than her “Thermal Hand” ability that she is too embarrassed to share with her friends.

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In stories like this with a mix of comedy and action, of course, you must have the teenage boy who the main character likes. Or doesn’t like? Or is just friends with?

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Toma is a wild card, he doesn’t appear a lot but when he does he and Mikasa fight, which enrages Misaka. Toma is recorded as Level 0 but he does have a power in his right hand that nullifies other abilities. Love burns hottest in the sparks of battle and what is sometimes a rivalry between these two is other times a partnership or even a date.

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Now what I like most about this anime is how diverse it is. It’s technically Shojo but is has so many elements of Shonen all audiences can enjoy it. There are elements of action and comedy that delightfully intertwine, but some episodes take on the feel of the Slice-Of-Life Genre of Anime. It’s a good feel really and gives the whole show and its characters almost real life human feel despite all the electrical shocks and people appearing and disappearing in an instant. All in all, it is a top-notch anime with 2 seasons covering 4 very compelling story arcs.

You can buy both seasons here directly from Funimation

Season 1

Season 2

Don’t be shocked when you love it. 😉

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