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Friday, April 20, 2018

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar volume 8 Read:

When a book is good, it can be read in a breeze.  Hai to Gensou 8 was good, really good.  There was character development, there was important dialogue, new situations they'd never faced before, and like always fantastic action scenes with perfectly choreographed, complicated battles.

This is what happens when you get back to Grimgar, the actual setting for the plot, instead of wasting your time in worthless meanders.  I have no idea what the author was thinking in books 5-7, but book 8 is right back to where the story used to be, at the same fever pitch of excellence as the anime.  There are still three more books out in Japan, but the translation is moving along so swiftly that maybe we'll see them all by the end of 2018.  Hai to Gensou may be one of the bright spots of the year after all.

The value added of Full Metal Panic!'s books is going down as the anime comes out, and the value added of Hai to Gensou keeps going up with the release of these new volumes, so Ao Jumonji has moved up to 3rd in my light novel rankings and Shoji Gatoh down to 4th.  Hai to Gensou may eventually surpass even #1 SAO, given that SAO's anime is supposedly adapting all of Alicization.  #2 Index is also receiving a third season, so its value added will also be shrinking even as Hai to Gensou grows.  We might be looking at the #1 must-read light novel series by 2019.  Another way of putting it is Hai to Gensou not receiving a second anime season is the greatest tragedy on Earth.

Spice and Wolf volume 19 is next on my reading list, and then Parchment and Wolf book 2 comes out just four days from now.  (Though who knows if or when the pirated version will be released.)  Aside from those two, I've read every translated snippet of the 27 light novel series in my Good Books hall of fame.  It's tough keeping up with so many various works, but someone has to do it.

After Spice and Wolf, I want to find some more good light novel series, because Kakashi Hiden and Sakura Hiden really aren't up to snuff.  I'd at least like to replace those two.  But I can't take on any new projects until I at least finish my old ones.

I listened to all my newly introduced music Hall of Fame songs at least a second time to make sure they were really worthy, but it turns out they were all fine.  The songs that were actually lacking were Asuka Sakai's which I've been listening to for a while.  Both of those were cut and the composer reduced to 0 worth and eliminated.  There was also a frustrating moment when I realized that FF 6's opening theme not only copied a portion of Terra's theme, which itunes could be used to snip out so wasn't an issue, it also copied a portion of another song from FF 6, Catastrophe.  At that point I just threw up my hands in disgust and deleted it.  Nobuo Uematsu is the worst when it comes to remixes, though everyone does it, he's just completely shameless.

Even Coin Song is partially a remix of Edgar and Sabin, but at least it eventually deviates into its own tune eventually.  So for now I'm putting up with it.

I added in the title theme of Valkyria Chronicles 4 to make up some of the gap, one of the only two songs youtube has released from the game, but that still leaves my music hall of fame at 4798 songs.  The perfect symmetry is lost once more.  I guess like a flower, nice round numbers occasionally bloom but they always wilt again afterwards.

Nobody is really in my hall of fame until I've heard them 100 times and am still satisfied, and even then sometimes songs are kicked out afterwards.  But when you've heard a song twice and still haven't changed your mind, generally you don't change your mind on the third time either.  So I'd say at the very least these tunes have gotten through the danger zone.  Which means all these new game soundtracks I downloaded are exactly as good as I touted them to be.

There was a humorous survey where Americans listed their main causes of stress -- not having enough money, not getting enough sleep, ill health, etc.  They said that their favorite stress relief activities were listening to music and watching tv (as well as exercising.)  I'm just sitting here smugly laughing as I listen to my 500 new euphonious treasures and watch all the anime I want while sleeping in as long as I desire.  If everyone had taken my advice to begin with, they could all be living like me, the ideal life by their own self-admission.  But they spurned my advice and went off to do their own thing, and now they're reaping the whirlwind.

I'm already happy.  I want other people to be happy too.  But if they don't follow my example, there's nothing more I can do.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Death March Read:

I'm all caught up on web novel 16 of Death March.  The novel should be ending shortly since it's already on part 44, but it's still ongoing.  From here on I'll just be reading Death March in short segments as it comes out.  Luckily the translator for Death March is the best in the business, so there won't be long delays like defan's translation of SAO.

There's no telling how good book 16 is until future plot developments occur.  If he was earnest in stating his romantic inclination to Zena, it's a great book.  But if he just used that as an excuse to break off her engagement with the prince and ignores her from here on, I'll be peeved.

I want Satou to requite the feelings of all these girls who are in love with him.  It makes no sense to be a buddha in a situation like this.  If they don't mind your being polygamous, why should you?  All these girls are happier with a part of your attention than the whole of someone else, so everyone wins.  Zena is a great girl so there's no reason Satou would see marrying her to be a chore.  He has infinite wealth so it's not like he can't support innumerable wives and kids.  I just don't see the problem.  Book 16 might show that the author is slowly beginning to agree with me and setting up actual marriages with the girls who have grown to like Satou, or it might just be another feint and another disappointment.

Death March should just go for it and have him marry everyone.  Thirty, forty, fifty girls, whatever it takes.  Aze-san suggested 100 wives, so let's go with that.  As a superhuman god, that number of girls should be easy to handle.

Now I've read everything in my good books hall of fame, so none can doubt my sincerity when I encourage others to do the same.

Next up is Hai to Gensou no Grimgar volume 8, which just came out a couple weeks ago.  Then there's still Spice and Wolf volume 19 to read.  Is it possible that I can just keep reading great books all the way to the World Cup?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Good Music 13.5:

In my continued assault on Sarah Brightman, I've discovered another eminent composer behind the curtain:  Jose Maria Cano.  He's responsible for 3 of the songs she sings, which gives him a spot in my top 200 eminent composers list.  I kicked out Emi Nitta (who mostly just sings as part of u's anyway) to make room.

Frank Peterson was also responsible for an additional song, When it Rains in America, which moved him up to 7 and Brightman down to 72.

ABBA is the source of one song by Brightman and two by Erasure, so they also make the eminent composers list with 3 song credits.  That moves Brightman down to 71 and Erasure down to 21.  To make room for ABBA I kicked out May'n, who isn't that great without Yoko Kanno composing behind the scenes anyway.

That means there are 11 no-name composers/performers who have composed/performed at least 2 good songs now.  When it rains it pours.

I also corrected the one-hit wonder total to 245 after finding some obscure hidden singers who were in my hall of fame but not my one-hit wonder list through diligent needle in a haystack searching.

As proof that all my composers/performers are being credited properly, if you add up all the song credits from all the 200 names, the 2 song no-names and the one-hit wonders, it adds up perfectly to 4800.  That may be the first time that's ever been true.  I took special pains to give everyone their proper credits this time around and it's finally paid off.

There was an error where if the name of a song was just a number it wouldn't show up properly in the left-hand column, but I fixed that as well.

I don't believe there are any more composers hiding under Sarah's dress, I think this ends the bleeding, and she'll stick with her hard-earned 71 song credits from here.

Of course, most of those 71 songs are covers or composed by professional songwriters, but so long as they're just 1-offs, I figure Sarah's singing talent is more the cause of the song's excellence than the artist's composition ability.  It takes two or more songs composed by the same person to convince me they are the power behind the throne.  If it's just one song I think that should be credited to Sarah.  (The same policy is used for everyone, if a popular singer has 30 song credits and is singing a cover from some random nobody, that credit goes to the singer's clearly excellent voice, not the nobody of dubious compositional ability.)

It's probable that if I investigated other singers like Kana Hanazawa or μ's as thoroughly as Sarah, I'd have to start breaking them apart into smaller fragments too.  But Sarah Brightman is a particularly egregious example of singing cover songs and borrowing from other people, so she stuck out like a sore thumb.  She deserved the extra scrutiny because she cheated more than anyone else by a huge margin.  I'm fine with letting the petty criminals get away with their crimes, but Sarah's reputation was grand larceny.

With all the corrections made, now's as good a time as any to check out my good music permapost:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

That didn't last long:

The excellent ending theme of Death March's anime, 'Suki no Skill,' by Wake Up, Girls! took them from a one hit wonder to a 2 song eminent composer when it was added to my music hall of fame.  It was impossible to eliminate via mental tricks and shenanigans any further composers/performers, so I had to add a new category -- people responsible for 2 or more songs in my hall of fame, but still not worthy of being mentioned by name.

Two of the songs sung by Sarah Brightman were composed by the same guy, Francesco Sartori, so he was the first to be included in this new category.  That brought Brightman's total back below 100 again, after all the effort I put in to get it to 100.  Another two songs Brightman sings are by Dvorak, so that brought Dvorak's credit up to 10 songs and Brightman's down to 96.

Puccini is responsible for 2 of her songs, so that's down to 94.  Frank Peterson is responsible for 6 of her songs, so that's down to 88.  Andrew Lloyd Weber is responsible for 6 of her songs, so that's down to 82.  Angelo la Biondo is responsible for 2 of her songs, so that's down to 80.  Francis Lai is responsible for 2 of her songs, so that's down to 78.  Rachmaninov is responsible for 1 of her songs, so that's down to 77.  Lastly, Handel is responsible for 1 of her songs, so that's down to 76.

Since 6 > 2, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Frank Peterson made my eminent composers list.  I decided to kick out Simon and Garfunkel and Asuka Sakai to make space.

I also decided Handel, newly responsible for a second song, was a better composer than Celtic Woman so they were banished from the eminent composer list as well.

Rachmaninov had 2 song credits now, but still wasn't worthy of mention.

The other unfortunate prisoner of this new category is Yoko Ishida.  Francesco, Puccini, Rachmaninov, Francis, Asuka, Angelo, Simon, Celtic Woman and Yoko can hopefully get along in their cold barren wasteland of insignificance now that I've spurned them.

I suspect I'll eventually find more 2+ composers behind Sarah's songs, she usually sings someone else's product so it wouldn't be surprising if there were more actors behind the curtain, but this will do for now.

At least I kept my song total pretty at 4800, by eliminating Terminator 2's theme at the same time I added Death March's.  But ultimately that won't last long either.  There's just too much good music in the world to hold the line forever.

Meanwhile, the final chapter of Saki Biyori - Otona no Maki has been translated, so everyone should go read that manga if they haven't already.  There was also a lot of Sakura Trick translated recently, which was a welcome surprise.

A little bit more of SAO volume 18 was translated.  Every little bit helps, right?

Suka Suka EX received another translated chunk today as well.

I'm finally to the halfway point in Imouto Paradise 2.  3 routes down, 3 to go.  Hopefully I can finish by the end of the year. . .

Due to Death March's volume 15 being so good, it moved all the way up to 9th best Japanese series in my good books rankings.  I've only just begun volume 16 but it seems to be pretty good as well.  I knew Death March's author had it in him.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Good Music 13.0:

My recently renovated Good Music permapost is ready for viewing again.  I added in all the new songs I've recently been adding, corrected the misattributions found in Terra Battle and Final Fantasy 10, corrected the song total credits to the various eminent composers that were slightly off, etc, etc.

At a beautiful even 4800 songs, with the top 10 composers all at a nice 100+ level, and still exactly 200 composers who are responsible for 2 or more songs, now is the most aesthetic moment to check the post out.

I've added 500 new songs since January, many I've never heard before in my life.  Not bad, not bad at all.  And there's still Valkyria Chronicles 4 and Soul Calibur 6's music to look forward to.  This still isn't enough to match last year's music-crazed festival, but it's certainly more productive than any other year.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sarah Brightman +13:

I wanted my top ten eminent composers to all breach the 100 barrier for aesthetic, symmetrical reasons.  I'd gotten Junichi Nakatsuru over the top recently, but Sarah Brightman was a bit tougher, having only 87 songs to her name.

I had to wander through youtube and wikipedia, searching for any song that wasn't on her regular albums that I hadn't tried before that might be good.  That got me six new obscure songs.  (And two songs composed by Joe Hisaishi (Stand Alone and Path of the Wind) so his credits moved up to 8.)  Pasion, Alhambra, Shall be Done, Sarah Qui, Hawaii '78, and I Will be with you (where the lost ones go).

The remaining seven I had to salvage from the list of music I already owned but just didn't think was good enough.  Delving through that deep pool of rejects, I just needed to raise up the seven least bad ones, and my new Sarah Brightman: 100 songs 10th place finish would be complete.

I decided on Ghost in the Machinery, Heaven is Here, Free, Probably on a Thursday, The Music of the Night, Schwere Traume, and La Wally.  In La Wally's case, I just had to cut off the beginning and ending of 'A Question of Honor' so there wouldn't be any overlapping content, which thankfully itunes is adept at.

For 'least bad,' it's not bad, huh?

Like with Toshiro Masuda, I was probably just being too strict with Sarah to begin with.  A lot of these songs are far better than the stuff from Front Mission or Dragon's Crown I've been picking up.

I also grabbed a single song from Sword Maniac by Hayato Matsuo, The Brave Fencer, moving his total up to 34.  I doubt it's as good as any of my new Sarah inclusions, but I didn't want my downloading of the game's soundtrack to be a total loss.

That got me to 4798 songs, so for aesthetic reasons I wanted just two more to reach a beautiful even 4800.  I decided on Future Gazer by fripSide and Hugtto Precure's opening theme 'we can'.  It's a fleeting dream, but maybe I can keep things at this nice even total for a while.  At least until Valkyria Chronicles 4's soundtrack comes out. . . 

In any case, the new Hall of Fame total stands at 4800, 10.8 days in length.

I've finished book 15 of Death March, and it's suddenly good again.  Book 16 isn't even finished yet, so I've almost caught this author's tail.  The blu-ray sales for this series were really low, so there's no chance a sequel season will ever happen.  I encourage everyone to just get to work reading like me.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Natsumi Fujiwara:

The newest addition to my voice acting hall of fame is Natsumi Fujiwara.  She's been in a few minor roles up until now, like 'Girl A', but her performance as Daigo Shigeno (a boy) is scintillating.  Everyone should be watching Major 2nd.  It may not last long, but every episode so far has been fantastic, and it's all because of Natsumi Fujiwara's wonderful delivery of Daigo's stream of consciousness.  Of course, having Kana Hanazawa playing as your heroine counterpart helps too.

Meanwhile, a new composer joined my music hall of fame.  Junya Nakano, who was actually responsible for 8 Final Fantasy 10 songs in my hall of fame.  (Masashi Hamauzu was actually responsible for 15 of them).

I was feeling bad for Nobuo Uematsu, who suddenly lost credit for 23 songs, so I threw him a few more FF 10 songs he really did compose into my hall of fame -- Rikku's Theme, The Path of Repentance and Jecht's Theme.  But wow, I had no idea how little Nobuo composed for FF10.  I figured he had a couple helpers who added one or two meaningless songs.  Not so.  Junya Nakano and Masashi Hamauzu composed virtually everything, from battle themes to event themes to terrain themes.  Take away all the remixes and Nobuo was maybe responsible for 1/3 of the soundtrack.  No wonder I thought 10 was lacking compared to 'his' previous works.

To make room for Junya Nakano, I had to roll up the Lily White band, which is composed of 3 singers from u's, into the u's brand.  Since it's the same people and they were both singing for the same love live franchise, I think it's fair enough to just write Lily White off as a phantom entity undeserving of mention.  u's moves up to 17 song credits as a result.

Most importantly, I get to stay at a nice even number of 200 composers/performers of note.

While I was at it I added another Yukari Tamura song, Honey Days from Nanoha Reflection and a new Sarah Brightman song, Canto Della Terra.  The new total is 4782 songs, still 10.7 days in length.