Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yuki Yuna Is a Hero Review


Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a cute anime if you're into the magical girl thing.  It has an interesting plot with twists and turns you wouldn't see coming.  It's one of the more original magical girl plots.  The world seems more fleshed-out than you usually get in a short anime like this one.  However, it does have its flaws.


We start out with our little gang of magical girls.  This anime definitely gets a little tropey.  You can count on just about every trope for a main character showing up in the first few episodes.  Fu is the responsible but firey older one, Yuna is the innocent and charitable one, Karin is the arrogant and brash one who later changes her ways, Mimori is the smart but shy one, Ituski is the younger adorable one.  Though tropey, the characters synergize well.  They are introduced in a way that it's easy to remember their names.

The story opens with the girls being part of the Hero Club at their middle school.  The club is basically a volunteering club.  They have their own room.  Seriously, each club gets its own room?  Suddenly they are transported into an odd forest and attacked by a weird monster that looks oddly like a phallus.  Then it is revealed: they have been chosen by a magical tree to be Heroes.

The magical tree is called the Shinju, and it is the source of all the blessings of humanity on the planet.  More of the Shinju's backstory is revealed later in the series.  The Shinju is protected and worshiped by a group called the Taisha, who also have a say is who is chosen to be a Hero.  The Heroes protect the Shinju from monsters that want to destroy it, thereby destroying the world, called Vertexes (they say Vertexes in the anime, but wouldn't the plural be Vertices?).


The show doesn't do a good job of really explaining what the Vertexes are and exactly why they keep attacking.  It tells you a little bit, but they don't explain it all that well.  They also don't explain very well exactly what the Shinju is, or the role of the Taisha.


What the anime lacks in exposition, it makes up for it in stunning visuals.  Seriously, this anime is gorgeous.  At first it looks like your run of the mill animation, but then once they get into the spirit forest it's like they're in a watercolor painting on steroids.  The flower imagery is also beautiful and it becomes apparent that each girl has a color and flower association.  This is incorporated into the henshins.  The henshin sequences are just as beautiful as the rest, and the costumes are very pretty.  Every Vertex looks unique and not something you see in other anime.  The way the ribbons are incorporated into Mimori's movement while transformed is something very unique that I haven't seen before.  The girls also get super henshin forms that augment their original weapons.


The weapons in this anime is unique.  Not a single girl has a magical stick that performs their attacks for them.  They have swords and some sort of weird wire chakram.  The battles are really cool.  One cool thing that this anime explores is that fighting has actual consequences.  Girls become crippled doing this work.  It's very reminiscent of Madoka Magica in that way.  There is a dark secret hidden in the Hero system.  It leads to some very dark suicide shit, and this show gets super fucked up.  Not quite to the Madoka level of fucked up, but it gets close.  Another parallel is that the main character is pretty innocent and has pink hair, while the other girls is her best friend with long black hair and wants nothing more than to protect her, even at the expense of everyone else.  See a similarity?


However, it does have its lighthearted moments.  Sometimes this anime seems more like a slice of life than a magical girl show.  It gives some depth to the everyday lives of the girls, but the fighting aspect sometimes falls to the wayside and backstory is never explained fully.  There is one episode dedicated solely to helping Itsuki pass her singing test.  Not a single fight in it.  While I see later why it was necessary to put emphases on her love of singing and how important to her her voice is, they could have done this is a less time-consuming fashion.  Also, I'd like to say the tarot desk Itsuki uses is the same as my old one.

Though the show has a very interesting integration of modern technology in it, I have to wonder if it makes a lot of sense.  Everything is done within an app.  When they want to summon their familiar, they must use an app.  I think it would be a pain in the butt to have to do everything from within an app, that would get tedious.  Also, the girls communicate in battle using their phone.  What if one of them dropped or lost their phone? Or the screen broke?  It would make more sense for the girls to use some sort of headset for communication.


A couple other things bothered me, like the fanservice.  I know, we gotta lure a male audience somehow.  And it's really only one girl they do this with.  It zooms in on her jiggling boobies every time she transforms, and the ribbons tie around her body like some sort of fucked up bukkake.  It zooms in on her ass a lot.  I roll my eyes every time I see her asscrack showing under her skintight outfit.

I'm also wondering why they just randomly switched school uniforms halfway through and then switched back during the last couple episodes?  That was weird, but their first uniforms were cute.  The second ones were pretty plain.  One thing I love about anime with schoolgirls in it is how unique the school uniform designs can be.

I also hated that the girls kept repeating the tenets of the club over and over and over.  In battle.  In the hallways.  In the club room.  My god, shut up.  We know.  Once is enough.

The music in the show was fine. Just fine.  Neither song appealed to me much.  The opening animation was interesting, as it shows the characters doing everyday things and battling, and it also emphasizes the flower imagery prevalent in the series.  The songs just aren't that good.  The opening sounds more like an ending theme - slow and cutesy.  I felt like it should have been more upbeat.  The ending isn't anything special and the entire time they're just walking on a beach.

Overall I really enjoyed this anime.  I wish it had been longer so the story could have been expanded upon and fully explained.  It had its niggles but it holds up really well against the other magical girl anime out there and I definitely recommend it, for the visuals if nothing else.  If you like Magica Madoka, Sailor Moon, or Cardcaptor Sakura, you will like this too.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bastion of Shadows Tips for Resto Druids


1. Shadow-Lord Iskar


This fight has a special job for healers: possessing the Eye of Anzu in order to dispel Fel Bomb.  It is likely that one healer will be designated to dispel.  Usually a tank will hold the Eye during the downtime it isn't being passed around, and will give it to the healer who is in charge of dispelling.  Dispelling from a single target will dispel everyone, so you can send the Eye back to the tank for interrupting.  If you are not using the addon Iskar Assist (which you should), be sure your raid frames are set up to show the debuffs and create a macro for your extra action button so you can pass the Eye.  There will be two groups for most of the fight: ranged/healers and melee.  I generally recommend keeping your mushroom under melee.  Displacer Beast may be helpful if you have trouble with your reaction time, but if your reaction time is good, then Feline Swiftness is perfectly fine.  During the Phantasmal Winds, popping Dash and Stampeding Roar will keep you alive.  If there are multiple druids in your group, you can set up a Stampeding Roar rotation so that it is always available during Phantasmal Winds.


2. Socrethar the Eternal


Socrethar is basically a tank n' spank so there isn't a whole lot you will need to worry about.  Definitely spec into Typhoon so you can use it against the ghosts.  It will buy you some time for kiting.  It may become necessary to use Dash or Stampeding Roar to run around until your DPS take the ghosts down, but it shouldn't come to that.  People will be spread out for most of the fight so I would keep your Mushroom under the tanks/melee for the most part.  It may become necessary to dispel Shadow Word: Agony from the tank once it reaches too many stacks.  Your raid leader can decide how many stacks they can handle.  Players with Gift will need significant healing due to the damage debuff.  The Soulbound Construct cannot be healed in Phase 2 so make sure it's healed up before the phase shift.  There isn't anything that will require super good movement.  Usually you will just move out of the way when Socrethar targets you and you should be right as rain with plenty of time to move.


3. Tyrant Velhari


This fight can be a bit of a heal check.  Velhari will put an absorption shield called Touch of Harm on everyone.  You will need to outheal it with big single target heals like Healing Touch.  Don't dispel it unless the target is in danger of dying.  In the beginning the ranged and healers will be spread, so place your mushroom under the melee and tanks.  Later the whole raid will be stacked during the burn phase and you will need to move your mushroom quite frequently during the movement to avoid the despoiled ground.  You and your fellow healers may wish to set up a cooldown rotation for the edicts in Phase 2, as it hits quite hard.  Phase 2 also means you have to deal with font, so you may want to keep your mushroom under those affected by it, who will usually stack at a designated marker..  It's really up to your discretion.  There aren't any major movement obstacles so any movement talent will do you dandy.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Little Witch Academia Review


Little Witch Academia was an anime that came out of nowhere for me.  I was randomly reading Kotaku one day and saw an article about a little anime short called Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade.  It looked cute but I find it difficult to watch subs so I skipped over it.  Then one day in December, I saw both of the shorts had been dubbed and were now on Netflix.  Of course I had to watch it.

The premise of Little Witch Academia is that it takes place in a school for witchcraft, populated by only female students (as far as we've seen).  The main characters are Akko, Lotte, and Sucy.  Akko is our quintessential fiery, happy go lucky magical girl, who's actually kinda shitty at magic, but makes up for it with an astoundingly happy attitude.  Lotte is shy and a bit of a bookworm.  Sucy is a very deadpan character who likes making deadly poisons- er, I mean, potions.  Diana is Akko's overachieving and haughty rival, with Hannah and Barbara being her little sidekicks that follow her around.

Akko is not an ancestral witch like almost everyone at Luna Nova.  She became inspired to become a witch by watching a witch named Shiny Chariot perform flashy magic shows, which almost all the other witches look down upon as exploiting magic.  Shiny Chariot eventually faded into obscurity, but she inspired Akko to love magic and want to use it to make people happy.

Shiny Chariot, the witch that started it all... kind of.

In the first episode, one of their teacher sends their class down into a magical labyrinth populated by monstrous creatures and traps, to come out with a rare artifact within an hour.  This, as you might guess, leads to some life-or-death shenanigans with our dear heroes.  In the second episode, Akko and her friends get into some major trouble thanks to Sucy's penchant for toxic substances, and their punishment is to manage a parade that the school holds every year.  The witches go into town and are ridiculed and have tomatoes thrown at them.  Akko is disgusted by this tradition and tries to change it to celebrate magic and witches instead of ridicule them.

Little Witch Academia is an adorable little anime.  The animation itself reminds me a lot of Tweeny Witches, another very good series.  I love the effects like the fireworks in the beginning that are really cool and give the anime a definite magical feel.  It's like your right there with Akko watching Shiny Chariot for the first time.  I know after seeing something like that I'd wanna be a witch too.

How much trouble could this cute little guy cause?  A LOT.

I like the characters, but they can be a little annoying.  While watching, there were a few times I wanted to tell Akko to get her head out of her butt and get real.  It's not really like she's WRONG or anything.  She's just really bad at articulating what she thinks and feels.  Lotte needs to develop a backbone.  Sucy's just kinda weird.  But their friendship is really cute to see and even mean girl Diana gets some character development.

While the music wasn't exactly bad, there wasn't really anything very special about.  It was dramatic when it needed to be, and whimsical when it needed to be, but not anything worth mentioning.  As this is a short anime, it had no traditional anime opening or closing sequences.  If the show gets picked up as a full-length series or film I'd love to see opening and closing sequences, and some great music.

I feel like dub voice acting is a lot better than it used to be, and Little Witch Academia mostly came out unscathed.  Most of the voices seem to fit the character and situation, and aren't too annoying.  Amanda, one of the new supporting characters in the Enchanted Parade, got the short end of the stick with her VA.  The voice actress doesn't seem to fit her and the acting is very flat.  She could have been cast better, but the rest of the acting is almost perfect.

Squad goals.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes of Little Witch Academia.  I hope that the studio is able to create a full-length series of a film sequel the the shorts because it is such a cute anime with so much potential.  I come out of watching them with so many questions that I want answers to and I'd love to explore the world of the anime.  I hope they do well on Netflix and then the studio will have to make more.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Halls of Blood Tips for Resto Druids


Hello raiders!  This is Part 2 of my Tips for Resto Druids series.  Today we will be covering the Halls of Blood.

1. Hellfire High Council


This is a pretty straightforward fight.  The only major mechanic you will need to worry about as a healer is the debuff that Dia gives you, called Mark of the Necromancer.  It does continual stacking damage.  Your group may have the healers only dispel when the debuff turns red, or it may tell you not to dispel at all.  It will really depend on how well your group does at mechanics and how much your fellow healers can heal through.  The group will be stacked for long period of time, so place your mushroom where it will heal the most people.  If you suffer from poor reaction time, it may be beneficial to take Displacer Beast so you can more easily run Reap to the far area of the room.  It would also be beneficial to hit Stampeding Roar just before Reap occurs to give your group an edge running it out of the group.  The glyph shouldn't be necessary due to the small area the fight takes place in.  If there are multiple druids in the raid, you can organize a rotation for it.  In the mythic version of the fight, the healers might want to arrange a cooldown rotation for the mirror image phase when Jubei'thos uses Windwalk, which deals heavy damage to the raid on that difficulty.

2. Killrog Deadeye


Kilrogg is a bit of a pain in the butt for druid healers.  The melee group will be stacked on the boss the whole fight, so make sure your mushroom is always under them.  This is the only boss I can think of off the top of my head that I like to take Force of Nature on, and that is for death throes.  You can't stand still during this ability, so I find that it's helpful to drop trees to do some additional healing to complement my Rejuv spamming.  For the Heart Seeker, you may once again want to take displacer beast if you have trouble with your reaction time.  Otherwise, popping Dash or Stampeding roar will be enough to get you to the predetermined marker in time.  After someone is targeted by the heart seeker, they are given a damage over time debuff.  These people will need additional healing until the debuff falls off.  The vision phase is where this fight really kicks a druid's ass.  Druids are not built for super high instant single target healing.  Our healing takes place over time.  The visions phase has very high spike damage that is almost impossible to heal without popping tranq.  If you are chosen to go into the vision, pop your tranq, spam regrowth, and pray to Illidan that you don't fuck up.  And use Genesis a LOT.

3. Gorefiend


Gorefiend is a pretty easy fight when you have the mechanics down.  It's a bit of a heal check.  DPS is less important on this fight.  Ranged will be standing a certain number of yards apart, so it's best to put your mushroom under either the melee or the tank.  As always, I would take Displacer beast if you have poor reaction time, otherwise using Dash or stampeding roar is fine when you get targeted by Touch of doom.  Run to the edge of the room or whatever marker your raid lead has designated.  Make sure you don't run right off the edge, because you WILL die.  I know this because I did it once.  If you are targeted by Shadow of death, and also the first time you die, you will be transported into Gorefiend's stomach.  Heal up the friendly Draenei spirit NPCs as much as you can.  What I usually do is get two stacks of Rejuv, Lifebloom, and a Living Seed on them and move onto the next one.  If you use VuhDo, make sure you turn on target frames in the 'Panels' section.  It makes it a lot easier to heal up the spirits.  Feast of Souls is the real healing check of this fight, so it is strongly recommended that the healers have a cooldown rotation for this, as it lasts an absurdly long time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Guild Slut


I have a confession to make.  I was that girl.

You know.  THAT girl.  The girl in your guild who flirts with all the guys, makes raunchy jokes, and has a collection of dick pics on her phone.  That girl.

I was the guild slut.

It's not a title I claimed on purpose.  When I first started playing WoW I barely talked.  My guildies didn't even know who I was or that I was even a girl at all.  Eventually, I guess I discovered that if you were a girl and you flaunted it, you got attention.  In real life, I'm a pretty shy person.  My social interaction is pretty limited.  So when I found that I could get attention from guys in WoW, well gosh, it was an epiphany.

I mercilessly flirted with just about every guy I could.  I made sure to stay away from the guys who I knew were too old for me or had significant others.  That was drama I didn't want.  My long-term guild at the time had a guild Facebook so I always looked on there to make sure to only flirt with the guildies I found attractive, because I'm shallow like that.  Sometimes the flirtations would turn into sexting, or worse.... e-romances.

I was naive.  I didn't realize then that a lot of time, my flirting only lead to trouble.  Most of the time, the girls in my guild didn't like me because they thought I was a big immature slut.  At the time I just ignored them and thought they were just prudes and couldn't handle my openness.  Looking back, I wish I'd at least respected that sometimes there is a place and a not-place to flirt with guildies, and maybe raid wasn't one of them.  I annoyed the fuck out of people.

My need for attention lead me to make some bad decisions.  I got into relationships I shouldn't have.  They all ended up with my heart broken and my feelings hurt when I should have known better than to bring them into a game in the first place.  I made enemies because I didn't care about anyone else's feelings.  I sold pictures of my body for gold.  Yeah, I did that.  I'm not that ashamed, except I should have charged more because my boobies are priceless, but I lost a friend because of that transaction and that I am sad about.

It's difficult to make real friends in-game when everyone already thinks of you as an object.  I got guys' attention by flirting with them and acting sexual, but when I tried to have real conversations or talk about something that wasn't sexual, they didn't understand.  I'd conditioned them to think of me as an object of sexuality, not an actual person.  It took me a while to realize I was doing that.

I broke up a relationship and lost a dear friend because I couldn't keep my nose out of other peoples' business.  I was infatuated with someone, so I butted into their relationship and they eventually broke up.  I still maintain that they would have broken up eventually anyway, but that friend has never forgiven me and he probably never will.  It's my biggest single regret from the last 4 years of playing WoW.  Every mistake I've made doesn't compare to that single moment because I lost someone I cared about.

I just joined a new guild.  Their raid chat is raunchy and I love it.  They shit talk each other all night and it's the most hilarious thing ever.  I've been easing into talking because I don't want to make the same mistakes I have before.  Instead of being an object, I want to be a valued and respected member of the guild, who maybe happens to be a girl.  I want to be accepted and respected, not be known once again as the guild slut.

I am worth more than that.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hellbreach Tips for Resto Druids


Though it's a little late to the party, I thought someone might benefit from the little tricks I've learned healing Hellfire Citadel.  These are geared for heroic, but would probably work for other difficulties too.  As always, before attempting a new boss, you should read or watch a thorough guide so you aren't a burden to your team.  I also recommend VuhDo and DBM because that is what I use.  You can also read my post A Raiding Primer, and my Restoration Druid Guide series.

1. Hellfire Assault


Talents and glyphs aren't going to matter too much on this fight.  Your group will likely place markers for a group on the left and the right.  Whichever group you are in, place your mushroom  under where it will heal the most people.  Depending on the difficulty, you may be asked to handle running the ammo crates to the cannons.  If your reaction time needs a little work, you can talent into Displacer Beast to give yourself an edge.  But under normal circumstances, Feline Swiftness coupled with cat form and either Dash or Stampeding roar should be just fine.  There are no big raidwide damage abilities you will need to coordinate cooldowns on, but sometimes the Felcasters can get out of control and you may need to pop a tranquility.  Dispel Conducted Shock Pulse as soon as you see it.

2. Iron Reaver


Iron Reaver is much like Hellfire Assault.  It's kind of Hellfire Assault Pt. 2.  There is a lot of stuff to avoid.  Make sure your mushroom is under the largest group of people, but when the fight gets going people will be moving a LOT.  Make sure you stand near melee.  This is not a fight where you need to distance yourself from the boss.  That will just make it much harder to avoid Barrage.  As with the previous fight, if you have poor reaction time, displacer beast is your friend.  Your group may want to set up a cooldown rotation for Pounding.  If you get Artillery, run well away from the rest of the group and HoT (Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, and Living Seed and Wild Growth if possible) yourself up, and apply Barkskin to yourself.  When the tank has Artillery, make sure you have HoTs rolling on him and cast Ironbark on him.  When you are not targeted by Artillery, make sure you're staying in range of as many players as possible because people tend to scatter and it can be hard to heal people.  If possible, it's even better to mark the healers and tell people to stay near them.

3. Kormrok


Movement on Kormrok isn't very difficult, so your movement talent is really up to you.  When the explosive / empowered start to come up, it's a nice little boost to your raid to cast stampeding roar.  You can also use glyph of stampeding roar to increase its range.  Your group will likely be stacking on the boss's butt for most of the raid, so place your mushroom under the group.  Healers may want to arrange a cooldown rotation for Pound.  Make sure you're spaced away from other people and pop a Tranquility.  There will be spiking damage from the runes and the grasping / dragging hands, so make sure to HoT people up and spot heal with Healing Touch or Regrowth as needed.  If someone gets dragged into a pool, you can try to keep them healed up but it's unlikely they will survive.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Review



I recently purchased Black Ops 3 for PC, and I've been playing it almost non-stop ever since.  It's overall a pretty good game but has a steep learning curve.  This is coming from someone who's never played a Call of Duty game for any length of time.  I do have Advanced Warfare but I didn't play much of it and found it difficult to learn.  Black Ops 3 is still difficult to learn if you've never played a CoD game before, but I found it pretty enjoyable.

I purchased the game for PC.  At first I tried playing it with a controller and found that my aim was rubbish.  Then I started using a mouse and that's a little less rubbish.  I'm not very good at aiming and my mouse goes every which way, usually everywhere but where my target is.  Even so, this game was a good introduction to the franchise.

I completed the campaign in about 12 hours.  I actually really liked the campaign.  The story is interesting and has some good twists and turns.  You pick your person and do a little bit of customization, and they lead you right into the opening scenario.  You end up passing out and wake up with robotic shit you can kill people with.  It's pretty sweet.  The narrative goes into some pretty deep conspiracies and philosophical stuff, which I only barely understood and can get a bit weird.  The edge the campaign has over multiplayer gameplay is that it does a good job of explaining things to you, like how to use your abilities and which situations would benefit from them.


The game is visually weird.  The campaign has a bunch of crow imagery, and it's sometimes hard to tell what's actually happening and what's just happening in your character's head.  OR... is it ALL happening in your character's head?  You don't even fucking know.  There's also a lot of gore.  During the opening scenario you get a front row seat to your character getting viciously dismembered.  You also see some cool skeletons and corpses with the noses cut off.  So that's cool.

The campaign doesn't have much replay value.  You finish the story and you're done.  You could go back and play on a different difficulty or gender, but really, why the fuck would you want to.  I can only take so much gore and crows.

Multiplayer is not so nice.  It doesn't explain mechanics or terms at all, which would probably be less shitty if I'd actually played a Call of Duty game before. But I haven't.  All these acronym are ridiculous.  I can't figure out how to use a scorestreak.  I only just figured out how to use the Black Market.  It doesn't tell you a god damn thing.  And the aiming sucks.  Or maybe I just suck at aiming.  On a personal level I don't like most of the maps because I'm generally just not that good at the game, but objectively the maps are nicely designed and have lots of nice hidey holes.  It takes a while to memorize them.  Infection is the best map for sniping.


Speaking of sniping, the game has a good array of guns.  A lot of the guns feel the same, but it's a matter of finding the one that fits you best.  Personally I like using the HVK-30 and Drakon.  I basically just sniped my way through the campaign.  Visual customization isn't very user friendly.  OR I'm just not very creative.  Arctic camo for all the things.  After each session of playing the campaign, I'd still hear bullets for an hour.  I haven't played zombie mode because I can't even with zombies.  I don't do zombies.

If you're good at aiming and have good reaction time (unlike me), multiplayer is awesome.  You can pick a specialist and pick outfits and it's like Barbie but with guns.  Mostly I just cuss a lot.  I usually play Outrider with Sparrow because I like blowing things up.  Some specialists are really annoying to go against.  The Firebreak is the most annoying thing ever, and Gravity Spikes is awful.  They just jump and can kill a while group of people.  My little exploding arrows can't compete with that.  I wish you could change a specialist's gender like you can with your campaign character.


Speaking of that, I am really glad I can pick my campaign character's gender.  I don't think other CoD games gave you that choice.  Even while you're playing as the female, though, it still feels like the man's story.  It's like you're playing the dude but wearing a girl suit.  Your character is kinda-probably a lesbian, and I don't know if they're just being super progressive or they were just too lazy to change it.

Though the game has reasonably good graphics, it does have issues.  The game can be super laggy even when your internet itself is fine.  It also has some pretty bad screen tearing sometimes.  These bugs should have been rooted out before the release of the game and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Sometimes the game is nigh unplayable.

Overall I really enjoyed the game.  It is fun and has an engaging story when you don't have dead corpses in your face.  Campaign doesn't help prepare you for multiplayer, which has a steep learning curve and can make you want to pull your own hair out.  If you have good aim, though, this is a game you'll probably like.

Pics from Google because I realized too late that Steam doesn't archive screenshots like WoW does. Or I haven't figured it out.