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I don't know if there's much to say about My Neighbor Totoro. It was my first Ghibli but it's not my favorite - that probably goes to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso, or The Cat Returns. But it is lovely in its own way, certainly visually a delight, and filled with a sort of nostalgic sweetness only a Ghibli movie can provide. Besides, who hasn't always wanted a Catbus?

But Kotaku had me thinking about a concept I really want to explore in things beyond Totoro: the role of fans in understanding a work, and how fiction can go far beyond what the authors intend in people's minds and hearts.

Because it's fairly clear to me that Totoro was never intended to be ominous, to be about death and loss - Ghibli has tackled those topics elsewhere, and those works have a totally different feel from Totoro. It's not that Ghibli isn't capable of taking on serious topics - it's honestly that they didn't want that for Totoro. But people have insisted that that is what they see when Mei gets lost and when Mei and Satsuki visit their mother, and this concept has taken a life of its own.

If interpreting works is purely about author intent, then we would ignore this entirely. But viewer reaction - fan reaction, the interpretations of those who love the work and analyze it deeply purely for pleasure - is so important. This is especially true now that the boundary between fan and creator is so thin, but even in Totoro's day it was important. Without this "misinterpretation", Totoro may merely be seen as a particularly beautiful and innocent children's film; with it, it has importance and urgency to everyone, even those who don't believe.
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I know I'm breaking my "even numbers for anime/manga and odd numbers for video games" concept (I'll fix it soon, I promise), but this is too good not to share.

There is a well known annual challenge/competition known as 7 Day Roguelike Challenge, where developers attempt to create a completed roguelike from scratch in a week. Much like NaNoWriMo novels, while many are terrible, sometimes these roguelikes expand to bigger and better things.

I usually don't check out 7DRL entries (again, much like NaNo novels, they are far from perfect), but one was brought to my attention recently that, um, fits me perfectly.

It's called Math: the Roguelike, or just MathRL. It's so literal and abstract and beautiful, I can't even stand it. Here's an official screenshot:



I haven't even played it yet and I'm already in love. It's such a great conceit, stripping away everything beyond the beauty of the numbers themselves. Apparently the plot is even about finding Fermat's Last Theorem! I can't even handle this, guys. Cannot wait to get it downloaded and start playing. :D Expect another post eventually when I do get around to playing it and can have a reaction or two worth saying.
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We were the Terrible Lightness of Crawling, and we had never won this game before depsite many, many attempts. But each of us had a plan, had a build in mind, strategy gleaned from a terse bot/wiki named Henzell or random posts at a place called the Tavern.

The goal was not to directly beat other teams, though occasionally we'd run into a ghost of a player in the past. We didn't even really get to work together, but we did all have one common goal - to defeat the dungeon itself, the random traps and pitfalls it set along the way, find the runes and snag the Orb of Zot.

Like a number of games I'll be discussing, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is a roguelike - a procedurally generated dungeon crawler with a high degree of randomness and permanent character death. It's not as plot-focused as Ancient Domains, not as item-focused as Nethack, but it's very slickly made, with automated exploration and extremely well balanced skills. And unlike both of these, it's still in active development, with new species and classes constantly made.

One of the ways the community keeps abreast of these changes - and legitimizes their victories - is having a centralized server (actually two: I play at Akrasiac, the North American server; there's also a European one known as Develz with more features but also more lag for me as an American.) with a copy of the most up-to-date version of the game. People can telnet into this server and play online onto a shared leaderboard, with deceased players taking the form of powerful "player ghosts" found at random. Nethack does this too but I feel more connected to Crawl's. It has its own community and its own feel.

Crawl as a whole is a great game - as I said, balanced very elegantly and autoexplore is one of the best innovations in modern roguelike theory. I love it so much I'm awkwardly making a Let's Play. I suck at roguelikes, to be honest - because I move quickly and carelessly - and so I hope that by recording and explaining my movements I can slow down and be a better player. I'm glad Crawl is my first LP and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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I've decided to not hold myself quite as steadfastly to the "one post per series" concept because there are some things that just deserve more in depth discussion. I'll still try to limit myself somewhat - this is 50 thoughts on anime and 50 thoughts on games, not 50 thoughts on SHAFT and GitS and 50 thoughts on Minecraft, FF6, and roguelikes, haha - but I think I'm more likely to, you know, FINISH this way.

SPOILERS AHEAD for most of Bakemonogatari, especially episode 12.

You're kind and you're cute and you're the prince that saves me when I'm in trouble. )
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I know I said my next game post would probably be about Minecraft (and that's coming, I promise). I also know that this is not my usual format for my 100 Things posts, but hey, it's related to my topic and interesting to me so you all are just going to deal with it!

Anyway.

I have never been a sports gamer. (No, not even for footie games. Weird, I know.) I've found the format for many of them - yearly titles with at most incremental improvements to a time-worn format - kind of annoying, to be honest with you. (I feel the same way about first person shooters on the same cycle.)

And EA itself has gone in weird directions - I felt their absorption of Maxis was done improperly at best, and they've fully embraced a community of gamers that I feel doesn't include me.

But I have to say, their support of Kelly Worrall is good news. It's more than just good PR for them - it's a legitimately good thing they're doing, supporting a woman who hasn't always had the fortune of being able to be herself.

The gamer community (much like, say, the footie fan community) has never been known for being open and tolerant. We've had issues with how we treat others who don't look or think like ourselves, and it's something we're often struggling with. We're loud and obnoxious and loyal to our views and sometimes a little brash and hurtful. We're still establishing our identity as a group of fans of a particular medium, and the growing pains often show.

But I think and hope this - showing that even the big, often-considered-evil companies can do good things to people who really need them - will be a turning point for us. I hope that this little community of nerds will wake up and notice that there are all kinds of people out there, people who are passionate about the art and science and entertainment involved in great games, and that all people who love games should be welcome to play, to compete, and to enjoy.
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possible real life and Avengers and football thoughts later

but for now

2.B.A. Master - or at least, a fanfic writer )
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Really, this is about Tomoyo. )

***

PS: I know, I know, I said no Ghost in the Shell post until #100, but can I just quickly plug this LEGO CUUSOO project? MOTORIZED TACHIKOMA OMG YES PLEASE
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{Take the 100 Things challenge!}


My theme: 50 thoughts on anime/manga + 50 thoughts on video games

There will be some series overlap, though no overlap on things I haven't seen/played. (So I can't comment on the Steins;Gate visual novel as I've never played it, as one example.) Also I will restrict myself to two posts on a franchise maximum, and only one (ONLY ONE I SWEAR) about Ghost in the Shell, which will be #100. There will also be a handful of less series-specific posts (e.g. "Ruminations on the connection or lack thereof between character class and gender").

Expect the first post sometime this week.

this may be an excuse to rewatch/read/play things. just sayin'.
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