Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weiß Schwarz Portable

I received Weiß Schwarz Portable in mid December, and just recently I totally finished it, getting all 9 endings and having 4 cards of every kind available.

There's two versions of the game available, the "Boost Weiss" and the "Boost Schwarz", and I purchased the Schwarz version. Both games have the same cards available, but each is focused in one side and the cards of that version are easier to obtain (they have half the price on the in-game shops).
The Weiss side is composed of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha (A's, StrikerS and Movie 1st), Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, To Aru Majutsu no Index + To Aru Kagaku no Railgun and Angel Beats! + Kud Wafter, and the Schwarz series are Fate/stay night + Fate/hollow ataraxia, THE iDOLM@STER + Dearly Stars, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes and Macross Frontier.
The first time you play you can only choose one of the four franchises of the same side, but in a second and succesive playthroughs you can select any of the eight series available.

I purchased the Climax Box, the limited edition of the game that includes a few more extras:

- Weiß Schwarz Portable PSP game
- Weiß Schwarz Portable 2nd Turn PSP game
- 60 card sleeves of Shiyoko
- 16 promo cards (4 types)
- 4 playmats
- Mini booklet (that I forgot to put in the picture)

Weiß Schwarz Portable 2nd Turn is not truly a game, but some sort of expansion that allows you to fight against some of the series characters: young versions of Nanoha and Fate from Lyrical Nanoha, Index and Mikoto from To Aru Majutsu no Index, Kanade from Angel Beats!, Kudryavka from Kud Wafter, Haruhi and Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Saber and Rin from Fate, Haruka and Chihaya from iM@S, Sherlock and Cordelia from Milky Holmes and Ranka and Sheryl from Macross F.
Each character's voice is used as the announcer, and plays with decks that heavily features their own self.
It uses the same save data from the main game and you can choose "chalenge mode" (you play 8 consecutive card battles against Fate, Index, Kud, Nagato, Rin, Chihaya, Cordelia and Ranka in random order) and "extra challenge mode" that unlocks when you beat the previous one (you play 8 consecutive battles against Nanoha, Mikoto, Kanade, Haruhi, Saber, Haruka, Sherlock and Sheryl in random order). Once you beat any character you can choose her for a single battle.

The promo cards included that features images from the newly animated scenes in the climax cards. Since I'm only keeping one of Saber and one of Haruka, I'm willing to sell the rest:

MF/S13-116 PR 思い出の歌 ランカ (Memories Song Ranka)
FS/S03-109 PR 真なる守り手 セイバー (True Defender Saber)
IM/S07-120 PR レッドスパンコール 春香 (Red Spangle Haruka)
MK/S11-123 PR とっても元気 シャロ (Extremely Vigourous Sherlock)

For WS cards sales and trades, please visit this post!

The 4 playmats are also using scenes from the animated climax cards, but they are only a plain paper sheet.

The 50 pages mini-booklet is just a glorified user's manual (slightly larger than the real one):

It features a short description from each series included.

A barebone bio for the original characters from the game.

And a short descripcion for the game-only Bandai Namco cards. In the picture the ones you get once you finish each girl's route, but there's also a few more from Tales of the Abyss, God Eater, The Tower of Druaga, Wonder Momo and Mr. Driller.

The story is pretty lame; you transfer to an elite high school that heavily promotes Weiss Schwarz card fights among their students. The card battles are done in pairs, a male student that plays the cards and is called "knight" and a female student that gives orders to the knight and is called "queen". Your main objective is to meet a compatible female partner and go to the final cup (but in fact the only unavoidable card battle is the last one).
In a pretty predictable plot twist, the school have an ulterior motive to do it (you must mistrust any high school that have an state-of-the-art laboratory that nobody knows what investigates), and each girl hides an unspokable secret that for one reason or another is related to the last battle.

The cast, designed by refeia, is so cliched and generic that it seems some kind of joke. Is like they tried to stuff each girl with the most frequent traits of galge characters, down to the very nineties-ish multicolored hair...

In order from left to right:

Erizawa Ei (red haired): The delinquent girl, bad-mouthed and fight picking but nice at heart. Also an indie singer that plays the guitar.

Yotsuki Aria (blue haired). A year younger than the MC, this genius girl have a liking for the occult and the ability to predict the future with her crystal ball.

Ega Serina (blond): This half Japanese and half Russian exchange student is a fun loving otaku. Despite her gorgeous body, is a year younger than the MC.

Kureo Nana (violet haired): A kind and soft spoken senpai, is the ojousama character. Animal lover, always carries her weird mascots, a monkey and a chamaleon.

Ameku Suiko (green haired): The strict and tsundere class representant.

Yukino Suzuka (pale pink haired): The sweet childhood friend, friendly with everybody and good at cooking.

Shiba Minami (brunette): A miko aprentice that can't touch males due to her training. Extremely good at sports (specialy kendo) and with a large female fanclub.

There's an eight not-so-hidden heroine available once you finish the game once, Kawatou Shio aka Shiyoko (Bushiroad's mascot) and a 9th ending if you don't get any of the girls to reach a minimum trust level at the end of the game that pairs the MC with his male classmate Kishi Asao in a "more than friends" way.

The gameplay is divided in two main parts; the visual novel part and the card game part.
The game takes places in one year, and each month is divided in 8 "turns" (2 per week). In each turn you can select any place in the campus and/or choose any girl. This randomly triggers an event, that can raise any of your parametes and/or raise their trust/mood. The parameters determines what cards you can buy, the girl's trust also determines what cards you can buy but also what route you will follow (you'll follow the route of the first girl that achieves a level 3 trust) and the girl's mood determines the rewards in a card battle.
Each month there are an optional card battle and an optional mini tournament (3 card fights in a row). For every card battle you need to choose a female partner to become your queen, and she will randomly ask for actions like "do a direct attack" or "do not use a climax card", that if successful raises the mood of the girl and rewards you with "chivalry points".
There's 2 types of currency in game, one is yen (received when you win a battle or as an allowance each month) that can buy consumable items (raise parameters), 8 card packs, sleeves and playmats. The other is the "chivalry points" that can be used to buy single cards. The single cards available depends of the deck that you choose at the beggining, you parameters and the trust level of your female partner.

The usual events are insignificant plot wise (you meet with a girl in the library to study together, or lunch together in the cafeteria) and are unvoiced, but each month there's also a fully voiced story related event.

Minami in the sport festival event.

Out of them, only 4 or 5 have event graphics, so adding them to the ending scene, each girl's gallery consist of 5 CG (except for Suzuka and Minami that have 6 and Asao that have 3).

Suiko dere dere version in her ending, with faceless MC.

The are two main problems with this game:

- Extremely long loading times. Everytime you move from your room to the campus menu it takes about 30 seconds, and 30 seconds more when you select a destination. When you enter the shop, manage your card collection or see the gallery mode it takes over a minute to enter and about half minute to exit. Installing the game seems to do nothing, so at the end of each gameplay about a 15% of the time spent was in loading screens.

- Absurdly dumb IA during the card fights. The computer never moves their back-line character cards or made self-injuring moves like willingly level up. This makes the fights extremely easy, if not for your partner requests, that are equally dumb, random and most of the time hurts you. The few instances that I lost against the game was when I tried to follow all of my partner's requests.

Those two makes the game rather unenjoyable, considering that you need to finish it at least 9 times in order to unlock all the cards and all the event CG's. The story part is slowed down too much because the loading times and the card part, and at the same time the card part is unplayable as a stand alone because of the loading times and the unskipable story part.

There's also another thing that I'm quite unhappy about. One of the most advertized selling points (and also the point that made me decide to buy the game) is that the climax cards are animated, the so called C.X.M ("climax motion"). Well, there's only a handful of cards that have their own animated clip (about 1 card for each series), the rest are either cheap looking cutout animations (about 2 cards per series) or a zoom-in/zoom-out effect (all the rest).

There's also good points too, but those are rather small compared with the bad points:

-The game features over 1200 cards in total, and can be played anywhere unlike a real Weiß Schwarz card battle. It can be a nice method to build and practice with different decks.

-Huge voice cast (about 65 different characters) that voices almost all the cards and can be selected as battle announcers.

-Even cliched as hell, the original characters are actually not that bad (mostly because they draw a lot from To Heart and I have nostalgia goggles with that game).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weiß Schwarz Fate Zero Trial Deck

A brief entry just to say that in late December I received Weiß Schwarz Fate/Zero Trial Deck:

The trial deck exclusive cards are "Proxy Master Irisviel", "Dark suit Saber", "The most skilled class Saber" and "'Weak blood' magus Waver" in the last row and "Camlann Hill", the last climax card in the 3rd row.

Fate/Zero extra booster is scheduled to be available at the end of February.

(For WS cards sales and trades, please visit this post)

Tomorrow I'll try to finish my lenghty (at least for my standards) review for the PSP game Weiß Schwarz Portable.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


A few weeks ago I decided to update the TYPE-MOON related manga that I follow all at the same time at CD Japan, except for the ones that were too recent (like Fate vol. 17) and some of them that they didn't have in stock (like the last 4 volumes I'm missing of Shingetsutan Tsukihime). And to think that while I was living in Japan buying manga was SO easy...

Anyway, the list:

-TAKE MOON Sakuhin Shu Special Edition by Takenashi Eri
-Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! volumes 2, 3 and 4 by Hiroyama Hiroshi
-MELTY BLOOD volumes 8 and 9 by Kirishima Takeru
-MELTY BLOOD X volumes 1 and 2 also by Kirishima Takeru
-Fate/Zero volumes 1 and 2 by Shinjiro
-Fate/Extra volume 1 by Robina

And now a bit more in detail:

TAKE MOON Sakuhin Shu Special Edition is the limited reprint of the original TAKE MOON volumes that I already have (and I talked a little bit about them here) in one big tankoubon instead of two.

The reason of the re-purchase is because includes a dvd called Carnival Phantasm EX Season, an extra episode that includes some gags that didn't make the cut to the regular OVAs.

Cute ashamed Bazett.

My only grudge is that is a dvd instead of a Blu-ray, and now that I'm getting hooked at watching anime with blu-ray quality, dvd quality is an eyesore...

The manga doesn't includes anything new (besides two pages of Takenashi thanking her fans and TYPE-MOON), but the paper is of much higher quality than any normal volume.

The multicolored Ren's chapter. The quality of the paper is not visible in photos, but the page is more white than usual.

A mini-booklet called TYPE-MOON Artworks is also included, that features color illustrations by Takenashi.

Random page.

Most of the illustrations already appeared (also in color) in the first pages of the previous edition of TAKE MOON.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! volumes 2, 3 and 4 by Hiroyama Hiroshi.

Until now I only managed to buy the first volume almost a year ago and the limited edition of the volume 4, so now I bought the volumes 2 and 3 and the regular version of volume 4 (because of the different cover).
A pleasant surprise that I found is that in the volume 2, the bonus chapter featuring the cross-over with Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha was included! I missed the chance when was released in the Comp Ace and I thought it was lost forever (or pay an absurd amount of money for it).

Nanoha and Illya.

MELTY BLOOD volumes 8 and 9 and MELTY BLOOD X volumes 1 and 2 by Kirishima Takeru. With this Melty Blood manga is totally over, no new arcs after this. Is a shame because despite I didn't liked that much at first I found it rather enjoyable at the end.

The first 6 volumes included the main story (Sion vs Wallachia) and the volumes 7 to 9 included all the half-joke scenarios (Miyako, Mecha-Hisui, G. Akiha...)

Miyako was the main heroine in the second arc.

MELTY BLOOD X was not based directly in the Melty Blood games, so in an original arc starring the Back Alley Alliance formed by Sion, Riesbyfe and Satsuki. Is a non serious arc like the Miyako one, were the main characters are forced to climb a pyramid-like house made by mistake by Sion.
Even if it was not based in any story arc from the game, it included some characters that didn't appeared in the previous volumes.

The short appearance of the tsundere White Ren

Actress Again final boss Dust of Osiris.

Fate/Zero volumes 1 and 2 by Shinjiro.

It covers until the battle royale of Saber, Lancer, Rider, Archer and Berserker. I don't have nuch to say besides that the male characters looks quite ugly, and some females (like Maiya) looks weird as well.

Berserker vs Saber

And finally Fate/Extra volume 1 by Robina.
did a Fate/Extra one shot for the Type-Moon Ace 6 (that is included in this volume) and that escalated to a whole series. The pace is pretty quick, in one volume they are already fighting against Archer, and for now I like it better than the game.

Main characters are the male MC and Saber.

Archer, Caster and female MC appears in some extra pages, quite unhappy for not being the main characters.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 Tokushima Awa Odori Poster

One of the items that I bought back in August was a 2011 Tokushima Awa Odori poster, but I didn't wanted to do a review until I got it laminated and hanged.

The poster was made by studio ufotable to promote Awa Odori festival in Tokushima.
Tokushima for the past few years is comissioning promotional posters featuring anime characters, and because those posters are not for sale reach quite high prices in second hand markets. This time was different, the poster were sold at Animate stores because half the price was destined to charity efforts for the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake.

Since it was for a good cause, 2011 poster features a lot of guest characters. The bigger ones are the reason that I purchased it: Saber drawn by Takeuchi Takashi and Shiki drawn by Sudou Tomonori (character designer of the Kara no Kyoukai movies), but it also features Major Kusanagi drawn by Nakamura Satoru, Black Rock Shooter by huke, Vash by Nightow Yasuhiro, Asuna from Shinkai Makoto's movie Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo, Nitroplus Super Soniko drawn by Tsuji Santa, Minori from Minori Scramble!, several characters form Milky Homes, Tsukineko, Manabi Straight! and Vanguard, as well as the character mascots of Animate, Mosaic.wav, NipponIchi, Seikaisha, Anime Style, ufotable and the prefecture of Tokushima.

Monday, January 9, 2012

IDOLM@STER Blu-ray & Gravure For You! Vol. 2

Next in the review line is the second Blu-ray of iDOLM@STER and the second volume of Gravure For You! for PS3.

This Blu-ray includes the episodes 3 to 5, and as a bonus includes a drama cd (pretty much the girls talking about what kind of program they would like to host) and a booklet called Model Sheet Collection Volume 1 that features character settings.

The cover of the Blu-ray features this time Yukiho and Makoto (volume 1 featured Haruka and Miki)

Postcards with the photos from the endings.

Again, the "Special" section includes creditless endings and the extended episode previews from the website.
This time the extra audio commentary track features Asakura Azumi (new voice of Yukiho), Hirata Hiromi (Makoto), Imai Asami (Chihaya) and Hara Yumi (Takane).

Model Sheet Collection Volume 1 is 104 b&w pages long, and includes general settings for each main character, and specific clothes and sub-characters from episodes 3 (the festival) and 4 (GeroGero kitchen).

Azusa face expresions.

Yukiho on stage clothes.

Hibiki and Takane kitchen clothes.

Gravure For You! Vol. 2 setting is in school, and the 2 clothes available are a school uniform ("School Days blazer") and a school swimsuit ("765 school swimsuit").

Random photos:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tsuki no Sango hardcover edition

I received this harcover edition of Tsuki no Sango in early November:

The contents are pretty similar to the previously reviewed Tsuki no Sango booklet, but with more illustrations and 2 cd's containing the narration by Sakamoto Maaya.

The book (right) is 75 pages long, so is almost the double amount of pages of the booklet version, and features pictures that where not present before. The thing to the left is the cover of the digipak containing the cd's.

One of the pictures not included in the previous booklet.

By the way a translated version of the story can be found at Mazui Subs webpage.

The cd's voiced by Sakamoto narrates the whole story. Both discs together are about 90 minutes long.

I hope they release sooner or later a Blu-ray (or at least a dvd) of the Tsuki no Sango video that was originally aired during the recital. I thought it was to be included in this version, but sadly is not. The promotional video below: